Anything goes

Wildcat Creek...I think
Wildcat Creek…I think

I took this picture a few weeks ago. I got around to looking at it today, and with some careful cropping, decided to use it. It isn’t anything special, but I like it.


In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Anything Goes.

Good authors too who once knew better words,
Now only use four letter words
Writing prose, Anything Goes.

The world has gone mad today
And good’s bad today,
And black’s white today,
And day’s night today,
When most guys today
That women prize today
Are just silly gigolos
And though I’m not a great romancer
I know that I’m bound to answer
When you propose,
Anything goes

Cole Porter

I was listening to a CD of Rosemary Clooney singing this the other day. It occurred to me, old fogey that I am, that Mr. Porter was making the same points about change in 1934 that I might make today, Of course, I’m not sure if all of the above words are original to the song. A quick search of the Internet garners a variety of lyrics. But these words match my feelings, so I’m using them.

I could probably do a whole diatribe about the way the country is going to the dogs. But if I look at the this song that has been around for decades, the dogs have been gnawing on this bone for a long time. It isn’t likely that I would find any new meat on it. Why bother.

Cheap Watch


I took this picture of the watch in attempt to approximate the look of a monochrome photo without manipulating the color.  I’m not sure it qualifies as monochrome, but it is better than the picture I almost sent to Leanne Cole for her Monochrome Madness challenge. It is funny because this is the first I took. I had thought to send my seventh shot, but thought about it for three days before deciding. I never showed this picture to Cindy. She liked the other one.


The true feeling of helplessness occurs when you have to sneeze and cough at the same time.


 Here is another sign of my aging. I get no real satisfaction binge watching  a TV series. I can seldom watch more than two or three episodes at a sitting. Cindy can watch all day. In fact, I’ve tried to rein her in each time we bought a new season of Dexter. If I get a D VD set for a series that I know Cindy would have no interest in, such as Battlestar Gallactica, I watch one episode per week (like it was being broadcast) and I’m perfectly satisfied. I guess I’m just a media stick-in-the-mud.


I don’t have anything else to say today. Sorry for the shortness of the post.

Classical Gasbag – The Lost Posts 2

Silo and Barn
Silo and Barn

In case you’re wondering about those two things that seem to be poking out of the roof of the barn, they are not lightning rods. They are two of the blades from a wind farm’s windmill that is in a cornfield well behind the barn. The color version of this picture also turned out quite nicely.


It is time to clear out more partial posts from my draft files. It is possible that some of them could have been melded into one larger post, but I didn’t want to take the time. (I can hear you thinking, “Isn’t that what you’re doing now?” Yep, but I don’t have to worry about sweet transitions from one topic to the next.) 

First, there is the minimal irritant I often feel when watching TV with Cindy. We watch a lot of prime time soap operas dramas that have continuing story lines. Often the show will begin with a series of short clips from previous shows while one of the cast intones, “Previously on…” At that point Cindy will often look up from her iPad, see the clips, and say, “I’ve seen that, is this a rerun?” No, dear. It isn’t.

Another Cindy/TV/movies topic is the facility with which Cindy suspends her disbelief. She becomes so enraptured with the story’s plot, that she starts believing that they are real people performing real actions. She may actually believe that she is in the room with them, because she often talks to them. She has been known to shout when something unexpected happens, such as a car crash. She also does that in the movie theater, and that can cause embarrassment to those who attend with her. When watching a comedy she will say to me, “He/she’s funny isn’t he/she?” I respond, “The writer was good.”

And yet, I love her.

Finally, let me throw out some post titles that I never got around to using. Feel free to use any of them, as long as you tell me that you have.

What doesn’t make us laugh kills us.

Here in the hinterlands.

The good old days aren’t coming back.

And finally: Nothing goes unchanged 

Rolling Prairie again – this time via music

Maxine and Molly
Maxine and Molly

I promise that is my last post about my recent trip to Rolling Prairie (RP). Today I want to take you on that trip through the music I listened to on the way there, and part of the way home to Lafayette.

I have mentioned many times that I often have a variety of music types on many of the CDs that I burn, and now I also fill flash drives with a variety of music. When I play the flash drives, I put the player on random shuffle. That’s what I did on my trip north.

I was going to fib and say that this was the first song that started playing as I backed out of the garage. It wasn’t. I was the second song, and I don’t remember what the first song was. This song was so appropriate for the day that I consider it the song that should have started the trip.

The highway north from Brookston to Monon runs parallel to the railroad tracks. I was happy to be on the road, and it seemed just right that this song came up on the shuffle about the time that I got to Chalmers. It would have seemed more appropriate if it had been dark when I heard it, but, alas, there was early morning sunshine going on.

From Monon to LaPorte there was a good mix of Diana Krall, Rare Earth, Dave Brubeck, The Byrds, Chicago and many others. I was even tempted to sing along with some of the vocals because I was in such a good mood. When I got to LaPorte I was less than ten miles from RP, and this Karla Bonoff song came on.

Now a short break from the music: The picture at the top is of Maxine and her dog.I had called Maxine to get directions to her home and the ferns that were waiting there. Remember the ferns? I put the address into my phone’s GPS and stared following directions. It was  the first time I had seen Maxine since my dad’s funeral, and I was very happy to see her.

At one point, when I was loading the ferns into the car, I glanced over and saw her staring at me. I must have had a quizzical look on my face because she said, “Normie, you look just like your dad.” OK, yes she still calls me Normie even though I’m in my mid-sixties…it’s endearing. It is also the nicest thing she could have said to me. I knew there was a reason that I liked her.

From her home in the country, I drove into RP proper, visited the graveyard, and drove around town and some of the surrounding countryside. I took some pictures and headed home.

Back to the music. I was about five miles south of LaPorte when this next song came on. I glanced at the gas gauge but saw that I had plenty of fuel to get home. I did seem to be approaching the empty mark emotionally, though, so the song matched my mood.

Post Script: There were enough phone calls received after this trip to fill a Ferns – Part 3 post, but I just want to put that in the past. There is still plenty of other drama going around. Perhaps I’ll post about that sometime in the future.

The other reason

The other reason
The other reason

Ferns (remember the ferns?) were not the only reason I went to Rolling Prairie. There was another reason that I chose to make the trip. No, it wasn’t to make a pilgrimage to Oprah Winfrey’s former house. It was a more personal reason. At the risk of being labeled maudlin, it has been too long since I last visited my dad’s grave site. He has been gone now for a little over eleven years. Those of us who are still alive, still miss him.

I often wonder if he would be happy if he were still alive. My answer is a resounding, “I don’t know.” My first instinct is to say that he would love to be alive. Mom is still with us, and he loved her dearly. My sister, and her family, are still here, and he loved them as well. Of course he loved Cindy and me. There was love enough for all.

He would like to spend time with his neighbor Bonnie who drove him everywhere after we told him he couldn’t drive anymore. He and Mom were like surrogate parents to her when she moved to Indiana. And she was like a surrogate daughter to them because my sister and I were never around enough. I know he thought of her as a daughter because he disapproved of every man she dated after her divorce. He would want to spend time with Bonnie’s sons, whom he helped raise…even though they only come back to Rolling Prairie to visit.

He would want to spend time with his other friends, but most of them are dead now. Most of them are in the same graveyard as he. If you believe in an afterlife, you can imagine them lined up at the heavenly VFW bar, trading stories and laughing at lame jokes.

On the other hand, something vital seemed to go out of his life when he could no longer drive himself wherever and whenever he wanted. That loss of independence was terrible. And yet, leaving him behind a wheel would have been dangerous not only for him, but for others as well. It was an obvious, but heartbreaking decision that we made for him. I wish that children didn’t have to make decisions for their parents, it robs them both.

He and Mom would not be able to live on their own if he was alive. As it was, I don’t know how much longer they could have cared for themselves. Cindy and I once talked to them about moving closer to us so that we could spend more time with them and look out for them. They seemed to go along with that idea. Then, one day, Mom called and told us that Dad had told her he never wanted to move from Rolling Prairie. I can understand that. He lived most of his life in or around that town. He built the house in which I grew up, and where he eventually died. He would have hated to leave there. Mom hated to leave there when she moved in with my sister and her family. They take care of her better than she ever would for herself.

As I mentioned earlier, most of Dad’s friends are dead, and most of them had preceded him in death. Dad was 92 when he died. He would have celebrated his one hundred and fourth birthday today. He would have loved that.

Three songs worth remembering

One lane bridge
One lane bridge

Why would anyone choose an Interstate Highway when a road like this is available? I can say that because I’m seldom on such a tight schedule that I need high speeds. I’ll be on Interstates again, probably sooner than I would wish. Until then, these are the roads that I choose.


I know that I’ve mentioned in at least one previous post that there are some songs that demand your attention. By demand, I mean just that; you have no option but to stop and listen. You may even feel compelled to sing along if there are lyrics. We each have our own internal list of these songs. My list is very long because I’ve been around for a long time, and I like many types of music. I’ve just added a couple of songs to my list in the past few days, but I’ll not be writing about them today. Today is for songs that still make me think.

The Times They Are A Changin’

I could fill two or three posts like this one just with Bob Dylan songs. This song isn’t significantly better than any of the others, but I think that it somehow captures the political spirit that I was feeling around me, in the 1960’s, more than his other songs. The song speaks to youth, and these days when I listen to it, I have to remind myself that I am no longer in my teens or early twenties. In my mind, though, I hear it and again I don’t have to get out, I can lend a hand. In reality, however, if someone sang the song today, they would be singing to me. We get older, we get complacent.

Give A Damn

I was surprised when I first heard Spanky and Our Gang sing this song. I always thought of them as a group that sang pleasant pop love songs. I enjoyed their highly produced, top forty hits. This was different. They used their studio artistry to put out  a song that said as much about civil rights, and complacency, as anything else that I heard. I remember this song more than any of the others. I also play it often.


I said that these songs make me think. After listening to Stoney you may be asking yourself, “Just what is he thinking?” Well, it is a more lighthearted song than the other two. That doesn’t mean that I can’t think about the nature of friendship and shared experiences. I can think about mentors and other people who teach us life lessons. I can think about those who are a presence in our life even when absent physically. And I can think about a pillowcase filled with books by Durrell.

This isn’t my favorite version of Stoney, my favorite version is on a VHS tape buried either in a large plastic tote, or in a shoe box in the basement. I taped it from Austin City Limits many years ago. I wish they would release that particular show on DVD, I would snatch it up. Saying that, this YouTube video has a good version.

These are songs that I can’t just listen to playing in the background. I have to give them my attention.

Today it’s the picture


Dystopian Blues
Dystopian Blues

This may be the first time that I’ve made the photo the central theme of a post. I usually have another topic or three that I write about, and then the photo is either just an afterthought, or it has something to do with the words.

When I started blogging, the photo each day was often an afterthought, because the words were more important to me. When I go back and look at some of my posts, it is often, “Nice picture, blah, blah blah.” Of course there are also those posts that are, “Ugly picture, nice words.”

You may recognize this photo; I used it last October, but without the blue colorization. I used a black and white version back then. This time I decided to add color and give it a cutesy name. Why? Read on.

I know that I’ve mentioned in a past post that I follow the blogs of a few photographers. I do that because a) I admire the pictures that they post, and b) they write more about the places they photograph than the techniques that they use. I appreciate that because most technical jargon goes over my head and is lost in the stratosphere. One of the photographers I follow is LeAnne Cole, a photographer in Australia. You can see her work at  I made the changes because I plan to send the picture to LeAnne in hopes that she will add it to the gallery called Monochrome Madness that she posts every Wednesday. I’m not holding my breath, but today I’m willing to take a chance.

The other reason I colorized the photo is because I think it shows off the contrasts better. The cutesy name is to show that words are still important to me. I want to make the statement that the pictures I take of abandoned structures and of rubble are my record of lost beauty and utility. My. Isn’t that grand? Really, I hope you like the picture.

A trip to Rolling Prairie via memories – Part 2

Water tower

A brief background from Part 1 and other posts: I recently took a trip to my hometown of Rolling Prairie (RP) to dig and cart away some ferns that a former neighbor of ours was trying to get out of her yard. On the trip I started thinking of things from past trips from my youth through adulthood that I had made on the route. Often the trip north started in Clinton, Indiana, where we had traveled to visit my mother’s relatives and sometimes bring my grandmother back to RP with us. OK, that’s the nickel recap.

I only covered 23 miles in the previous post. I hope to cover at least 80 miles in this post. That shouldn’t be too hard, there are fewer towns per mile in this leg of the trip.

After Reynolds comes Monon. Monon always seemed to be the most memorable part of the trip from Clinton to RP. For me, reaching Monon meant that we had made it half way home. I looked forward to seeing the water tower. When I was very young, as far as I was concerned Monon didn’t have a name. I knew it as “The Big Ball.” I don’t remember who came up with that moniker. It might have been Mom, it might have been Dad, it might even have been my sister (she who must not be named). I realized later that many towns have ball-shaped water towers, but back then I thought that it was unique. Part of me still thinks of this town as “The Big Ball.”

At Monon I turned east onto highway 16 and took it to highway 39. Going north on 39 takes you to LaPorte, avoiding most of the intervening towns. But it doesn’t avoid all of them. North Judson is there. The only real memory I have of North Judson is riding on the fan’s bus there for a high school basketball game. I guess I didn’t notice how long the trip was on the way there, we were all having a lot of fun. After our team lost the game, the trip back to RP seemed to take hours. Of course,we were in a school bus on a two-lane highway and it was winter, so perhaps the trip did take hours.

Thirty miles north on 39 brings you to LaPorte. LaPorte is only about seven miles from my old home, so I have many memories from there.  One of my memories concerns a drug store where I would go to buy comic books. Those were the days when you bought your comic books from spinner racks; before comic shops came along. I went to that store because they seemed to get the comics out earlier than other stores. It was there one week, in the summer before I went to college, that I picked up my first copy of Playboy magazine. I don’t know where I got the nerve to take it to the cashier, on the bottom of a stack of comics. I also don’t know why she sold it to me. Playboy was sold only to adults, and I was certainly no adult. I took the magazine home, along with my comics, and read it. Everything I had heard about Playboy was true! The articles were good! I started my journey, that day, from post-pubescent boy to callow youth. What a memory!

Finally, from LaPorte to RP is just a matter of minutes. There are so many memories from RP, I could go on for hours, but I shan’t. I’ll leave you with this one: As I mentioned in the recap, we often brought my grandmother back with us for a visit. One thing I shall always remember about Grandma was that she couldn’t be in a room with my mother for more than half an hour without getting into an argument or something meaningless. They would butt heads over the most trivial things. I’m not sure it is much better between my sister and Mom…and they live in the same house.

A trip to Rolling Prairie via memories – Part 1

Something new
Something new

This is just a small part of a larger construction project on the north side of Reynolds, Indiana. I wanted to get a photo of  a more interesting aspect of the construction, but I could only do that from another road where traffic was heavy and there was no convenient place to pull off and get out of the car.


When I started my tip to Rolling Prairie (RP) I didn’t realize how much grist the trip would supply for this blog’s mill. I’m not sure how many posts will grow out of this two hundred mile round trip. I learned years ago from Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet that a story can be told from many points of view with different dimensions and different emphases. This trip brought back a lot of memories for me because I had made it so many times, from the time I was a small child to and older adult. It seems that the older I get, the more I remember the trips from the further past. We made the trip numerous times when I was a child because we would visit my maternal grandmother in Clinton a various times through the year. The easiest route from RP to Clinton and return took us through Lafayette. In later years I often made the trip from university in Bloomington to RP via Lafayette. The fern trip (remember the ferns?) starts and ends in Lafayette, with RP being the mid-point.

I wrote about a memory of going north through Lafayette on our way to RP in my post Day 58, so I won’t bore you with that again. The first town north of Lafayette on my journey was Brookston. I don’t have any really old memories of Brookston. But I have more recent memories. By recent, I mean within the past fifteen years or so. In the last couple of years of my dad’s life he would drive himself and Mom down to visit us. He was OK for most of the tip, but he didn’t want to face the traffic in Lafayette, so when they got to Brookston they would stop and call us. Cindy and I would drive to Brookston where I would take over their car (Dad didn’t trust female drivers) and drive to our home while Cindy drove our car. Mom would usually ride with Cindy, and Dad with me (female drivers).

The next town north is Chalmers. You don’t see much of Chalmers from the road. The highway kind of skirts the town. As you enter you have a gentle curve to the left; just enough of a curve to encourage you to slow to the speed limit. Almost immediately you have a gentle curve to the right, after which you are leaving town and can once again speed up. As a child I wondered why we never drove into town. As an adult I went into town and found that there isn’t much to see. There was one mystery cleared up.

The next town is Reynolds, where today’s picture was taken. US 24 crosses Highway 43 (the road I was on) in Reynolds. When I was a kid there used to be a restaurant on the northwest corner of that junction. I don’t remember the name of the place, but I remember that it was in what appeared to be a converted house. On the few times I remember us stopping, the place was packed. There is no restaurant there anymore. It is now the location of a convenience store/gas station. Now, instead of getting a meal, you can get Slim Jims. That doesn’t seem like an upgrade to me.

Next time: Part 2

Ferns – Part 2

The cause
The cause

Just let me check back to Ferns to make sure of the numbering…got it.

The eighth call came on Monday. It was Mom. She asked me if I felt obligated to go and get the ferns from Maxine. I said, “Yes.”

She said, “What? I can’t hear you.”

I said, “YES.”

She said, “What? I still can’t hear you.”

I said, “YES. I FEEL OBLIGATED.” I’m pretty sure that the neighbors, on both ends of the conversation, heard that, but Mom didn’t.

“Hold on, I’ll get your sister to talk to you.” In the background I could hear Mom say something to my sister about “Tell him…call Maxine…ferns.” My sister said, “Did you hear that?” I said that I did. “Mom wants me to tell you to take a shovel and pots for the ferns. But I told her that Maxine probably has a shovel.” I agreed. (Mental note: Take a shovel, pots/boxes, and plastic to cover the auto’s carpeting in case there are spills or tip-overs.)

An aside: I find it remarkable that Mom seems to have no trouble hearing me when she is alone when she calls, but can’t hear a word I say if my sister is in the room. Also, she has trouble hearing me if I say something that she doesn’t want to hear.

The ninth call came on Wednesday afternoon.  Mom wanted to know when I was going to Rolling Prairie to get the ferns. I told her I was going on Thursday (which I thought I had already told either her or my sister). Perhaps Mom asked just to double-check the arrangements, or to determine if my sister was feeding her false information for some nefarious reason. Knowing Mom, either could be her reason. She told me again how much Maxine was depending on me. Right.

So, I made the trip to Rolling Prairie, dug some ferns, and drove home. I plan on posting about the actual trip in the future, not today. So in your mind, skip ahead seven hours and imagine me back home recuperating from driving two hundred miles, sitting in an easy chair, eyes closed, and listening to some West Coast Jazz from the sixties. Got it?

The tenth call came about half an hour after I got home. It was Mom, of course, asking if I had gone to Rolling Prairie to get the ferns, because Maxine was depending on me to do that. I told her that I had, and that I had taken a picture of Maxine and her dog with my cell phone and had sent it my brother-in-law to show her. I should have had Maxine holding up the front page of the local newspaper to prove that I had been there, but little details get forgotten. She asked if Cindy had seen the ferns yet. Well, no, Cindy was at work. I assured Mom that I would be planting the ferns.

The eleventh call came while Cindy and I were out having dinner. It was my sister, and I assumed it could wait until we were at home, so I didn’t answer the call. I was right, it could wait.

My sister was sarcastically anticipating my mother’s next call. “How many did you get? Did you dig them up or did Maxine? What color were they? Where are you planting them? Did Cindy like them?” And she is right, Mom will call with some of those questions. I just need to decide if I’ll answer the phone when the twelfth call comes in around 4:30 this afternoon. They are driving back to their home in southern Indiana, and that’s when they usually arrive. Creatures of habit much?