Friday, March 24, 2017

Flashback Friday

First Published on 7/22/11

One of my very best buddies was Mike Johnson.  I met him through Pat Johnson, his wife, who worked as an Administrative Assistant in the Probation department when I started at the Mary Davis Home.  We golfed together along with Randy from work and had a few on Friday nights after work.   He was one of those guys who would really, really do anything for you.  He helped me move, helped work on the house now and again, and always helped to cheer me up.  He was funny.  Never met a salesman yet who wasn't.

He's the one who joined us all in a smoke-cessation class where you throw your pack of cigarettes in a trash can at the 1st meeting.  At the break I go in with mike to pee and he pulls out another pack and lights one up..  Mike died of heart problems, and he'd been told by his doctor to stop smoking.  Well, he didn't and then he died.  To the credit of health awareness and education, and those of us ex-smokers who nag on smokers, most all of the people I know have quit.  Thanks for giving us your gift of health, may you live long.  These are circa 1991-1996.

For five years after his death we put on a benefit golf outing with proceeds going to the Heart Association.  The motto was always "to do something good and have fun doing it."  It was tough work.  We had to get raffle prizes from businesses, create fliers and distribute, book a golf course, buy food, and arrange an after-golf place to party.

Golfers getting ready for tee off at Windmill Golf Course.

Me presenting a portrait of Mike to his widow and my long time friend Pat.

Charlene taking pictures.

Volleyball at Oak Run.

We got some good crowds along the way.


Steaks on the grill.

Our first Open was at Oak Run Golf course and then at the beach area.

Randy did the cooking.

Looks like I'm tallying something, no idea what.  But whatever it is, don't bug me, I'm really into this, and you know me and numbers.

The last time I saw Mike was about a week before St. Patrick's day.  I was sitting alone in a bar on Main Street, apparently wanting to drink alone and get depressed over something.  One moment  isolation and solitude, then the next moment, there he was, on my right.  Cracking a joke, making me laugh.  We stayed awhile, even donated a buck to some St. Pat charity four leaf clover (I went in after he died and asked for it and still have it).  Turned into a good night.  A week later he was dead, somewhere in a motel in Chicago.

I'm a bit of a softy anyway, but I cried that night.  I'd lost Ed a couple of years before that and it seemed I was losing my friends.

After five years we ended it.  Not being or wanting to be in charge of the money I can't say for sure how much we ended up giving to the Heart Association, but it was certainly hundreds.  The Johnson family graciously gave me a putter thanking me for my meager contributions, bu they needn't have, that's what friends do.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Largo When Everyone Else Is Asleep - Part 2

More black-and-whites from my walk a couple of weeks ago of my area of largo in the wee hours of the morning.   This is the companion post of my camera and I walking just a few blocks away from Waterboard where I presently call half-home.  

Thanks for keeping me company.  It gets kind of scary walking around all by myself in the underworld darkness of the city.  Just like heading out to the South Lagoon in Emerald City.  I keep my lights on like that will keep the ghosts and goblins away.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What's On My Nightstand

I just finished a book that I picked up through one of those Amazon $1.99 sales.  They send me an email every morning with a selection of on-sale stuff.  More often than not I delete it but once in a while I take a couple-buck chance on something.  I always check the reader views though, and this novel had a pretty high rating.  

Briefly, it is the story of a 104 year old woman in Maine who signs up for a local boy scout troop project where a kid shows up once a week to help seniors around the house.  The old woman, Ona, happens to draw a scout who, although never quite diagnosed, must be autistic.  He has the numbers fetish like Rain Man but doesn't have quite the social awkwardness.  He also has a thing about the Guinness Book of Records and soon gets old Ona revved up on the possibility of breaking a record of her own.  

What follows is a week after week birth of a great friendship between a 9 year-old boy and an a 104 year-old woman.  But one Saturday, the boy doesn't show up, but his father does.  I won't go into the plot details any further but I found this to be a richly layered remarkable novel.  

This is where I must confess a personal bias in literature.  Better sit down.  This is a bit of a shocker.  In my reading experience, rightly or wrongly, I have found that some women authors tend to write from their hearts whilst males tend not to.  It is, rightly or wrongly, a bias for which I plead guilty and for which I feel somewhat guilty.  Think of it as Jane Austen vs. Tom Clancy (both whom I have avoided) syndrome.  So its out.  I feel liberated.  And sometimes their penchant for "heartfelt prose" can slow a book down to a snails pace and be just on the cloying side.  Of course, being a guy I like things to move along briskly.  Hang me from the nearest yardarm (hopefully a maritime nautical sailing yarn from a male author).  I freely admit this bias and am, literarilly speaking, ashamed.  

Having said all that, the author of this astonishing book, Monica Wood, does an excellent job of writing from the heart without grinding scenes to a halt or creating sleep-inducing dialogue one might see in romance novels.  When I mention a layered book I mean it, in the best sense.  There aren't a lot of characters but how they all end up interacting with each other is wise.  The tape recording sessions is a unique device that adds immeasurable context.  

The prose does what it is supposed to do - it gives us an interesting story with people we really care about doing things they love doing or are impelled to do out of nature or kindness.  Yeah, I like this book a lot.  Unlike a lot of stuff I read that seems good and then quickly fades, I'm going to remember these guys for a long time.  Best of all, reading the One-In-A-Million Boy one wouldn't know if the author was a guy or a girl.  High praise indeed.


Here is upcoming reading list:

Bird Box, A Novel - Josh Malerman
Way Station - Clifford Simak
Take Me With You - Catherine Ryan Hyde
The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey
A Gentleman In Moscow, A Novel  - Amor Towles
Conclave - Robert Harris
Ordinary Grace - William Kend Kreuger
Leaving Blythe River - Catherine Ryan Hyde
Lincoln in the Bardo - George Saunders
Bear Town, A Novel - Fredrik Backman
Dead Wake - The Last Crossing of the Lusitania - Erik Larson
Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy

Here is a list of books I tossed aside.  Maybe I'll try again, maybe not:

Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel
A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara
Down the Memory Hole - Bonnie Turner
The Terror - Dan Simmon
Paranoia - Joseph Finder
Pride Runs Deep - Cameron Cooke
Before the Fall - Noah Hawley

I have discovered that I do not have a thirst for knowledge.  I have a thirst for escape and entertainment.  While I generally like biographies, I am more driven to the novel.  It is my escape, and my poultice against insomnia.  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits

The Cabin in the Woods will require a little maintenance when I get up there.  Some painting, a broken window glass in the garage - the usual stuff.  I am toying with the idea of putting in a wildflower garden.  I want to do my part in bringing back the bees and less mowing.   You can get a packet of wildflowers from Cheerios: 

Just finished toying.  I am going to put in a wildflower bed.  I will need a tiller.   Wombie, know anyone? 

Hey Wombie.  If you go to the Cabin and run into one of these guys would you please call AAA Pest Control.  A spider with hands, you gotta be kidding.


The level of supervision at Papa's Daycare is almost criminal.  But I swear, I was laying on the bed tinkering with my phone after changing Alfred's diaper and then it got real quiet.  Well, as anyone who sits kids can tell you, it can either signal a bit of peace and free time, or it can denote something really bad happening.  Most daycare providers will tell you (I'm forming a Union) that you first take the peace and quiet until the alarm bells go off.  This usually happens after it is too late for corrective action.  It is the quiet that makes the hair on your neck stand up.  


I am heading toward a week or two off from blogging soon.  Prepare yourselves.


I hate cats.  Let me repeat:  I hate cats.  If you didn't know already, then this will add to your enjoyment of me if you feel the same way.  If you don't agree with me, then we can still be OK, right?  

(Hey Washington, this is how it is done.)


Saw this in the parking lot at Waterboard.  I hope that insurance check you got for this accident paid for a nice party and all that duct tape.


Miss Norah lost her first tooth last week.  She received a visit from the Tooth Fairy.  Apparently Comrade President Trump has made cuts to that program as well.


The gang wanted to do some shopping at Michael's but I didn't feel like aimless wandering so I took a seat on a bench out in front.  While sitting I noticed something in front of me on the sidewalk and took a closer look.  

It turned out to be a condom. On a sidewalk at an outside mall?  Don't know if I was more disgusted or jealous.


Cute, but can you back it up?


At Target the other day I noticed an old guy wearing a Navy hat.  As one of my continuing personal efforts I approached him and thanked him for his service.  And like all of the old guys I approach he was more than happy to talk to me.  John told me he was in Korea and flew jets.  He told me he was one of three replacement pilots in his squadron for guys whose jets had been brought down by the North Koreans who installed cables across ravines.  He was given the personal effects of one of the pilots who had no family.  He told me he still has them.  

John told me he served his time in Korea and then re-upped for an additional six years as a flyer and then in 1962 got married and started a family.  His wife wasn't too hot for him flying so he left the Navy and never flew again.  

Strangely, I asked if he had been on one of the Honor Flights and he said he was aware of World War II vets taking those trips but wasn't aware they have been doing the same for Korean vets for a few years now, too.  I hope he looks into it, he's earned it.


This bird was looking for ice cream last Saturday at Dairy Queen. The owner took some scrap food and fed him while we were there.  Unfortunately a herd of semi-domesticated terns swooped down to see if they could get in on the snack, too. 


I have four fantasy baseball teams this year.  One draft down, three to go this week.  


The Iron Giant is now on Netflix streaming.  The kids (and me) love it.  

The Iron Giant.  Cult favorite.  Bombed when it came out, but make no mistake, it is an overlooked classic.  "You stay...I go...No following."  "You can be anything you want to be."  "Superman."


So, Comrade President Trump sits at the White House and watches Fox News shows of dubious content and then tweets unverified BS.  Alrighty then.

(It was just announced that the dubious Andrew Napolitano, a Fox regular, has been fired.  Good for Fox News.) 

Obama took his first vacation after 4 months.  Donald has taken 7 in 2 months.  Alrighty then.

Acts like an ass with allies and most recently the new leader of the free world, German Angela Merkel.  Alrighty then. 

Never apologizes.  Isn't that one of the first things we learn as children?

54 Billion in additional funds for defense but no more Meals On Wheels.  U-S-A! U-S-A!

Go Trump, still rooting for you, you're the greatest!


A portion of the reason I am part-time in Kitschlandia.

A portion of the reason I am counting the days till I return to Northlandia.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Why I Like Night

One early morning trip a few weeks ago took me to Reddington Beach for some night sky shots.  I thought that would be a good place for star shots since light pollution around here prevents good shots.  I was kind of right about the stars but what really surprised me was everything else.  I really liked how these came out.  The settings were for 15 second exposure.

The beaches are supposedly closed at 4:00 in the morning and you can't park in the municipal parking areas but I laugh in the face of impending tickets.  Actually I scampered around like a chipmunk on Red Bull.  Quick quick quick.   I don't know how much they enforce it but I was in and out in a hurry. 

That's the Pathfinder sitting there in the lot.  I personally think nighttime photographs are so much more interesting.  The combination of light and dark, shadows and faint whispers of illumination are so mysterious.  Daytime shots reveal everything - there is no wonder.  

This was an intriguing enough of a shoot that I went out again two weekends ago.  I'll post those sometime, before or after the break.  

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday Flashback

The guy with the camera occasionally got his picture taken.  This is a shot that Kenzie took of our little in-house love affair between the guy with the camera and his dog.  It's been a while now since I lost ole Missy Marie and I wish I could say the pain has lessened.  Unfortunately every time I see someone with their dog a little tug yanks at my heart.  Its an old story:  daughter says she wants dog, Dad says no, daughter gets dog anyway and dog and Dad fall madly in love.  She was the family dog but I must admit she had a thing for me, as you can tell in the picture.  

She really was an amazing pooch.  never had a single class of obedience training and yet we could walk around our block in G-Burg without a leash and she would stay on the sidewalk.  With a jaunty kind-of-sideways gait she may get a little too far ahead of me, then I'd just say her name and she would stop until I said it was OK.  If we walked across the street to see the Harrison's she would stay at the corner until I went across and wouldn't budge till I called for her.  Like I said amazing dog.  

She hasn't been replaced for a few reasons:  the current Mrs. Blythe doesn't especially like them, I've been reduced to apartment dwelling, and I spend time away from Kitschland.  Besides, a dog that good is hard to replace.  I could find a single place to settle, preferably a home instead of an apartment, work around the two-state living situation and replace the current Mrs. Blythe which would probably take care of the problems not having a dog.  fact is, I don't know if I'll ever be a dog owner again.  I have a bowl, brush and leash all boxed up ready if it happens, but every day that goes by makes it that much tougher.  I'm reminded of the Bette Davis line in Now Voyager, "...let's not ask for the moon.  We've had the stars."

Regardless, it's been 8 years this week since Missy died.  I am thrilled to have found the picture far above which was taken by Kenzie and re-found recently.  Sometimes I forget how much she loved me when I focused my love for her.  She was my shadow for a long time and I hope I provided her with the same amount of warmth she gave all of us.  The words below were written 4 years ago on the same date. 

Today marks the 4th anniversary of Missy's passing.   Four years ago Brendan and I put her in the truck for her final trip to a vet in Aledo.  He was home on leave,  and I was and still am grateful for his help that day. I probably waited too long.  Next time I'll know better.  I knew the inevitable for awhile.  She had had surgery to remove a growth on her tummy, but it was not successful.  When it reappeared her regular vet said that she probably wouldn't make it.  These things happen, of course.  

The above picture is her on a couple levels.  First she always honed in on my truck whenever I arrived, and I'm sure when I left as well.  I can see her still at the window shaking (well, her tail was shaking and the rest of her followed).  Secondly, her hearing was about shot by now and I had somehow left the truck and entered the house without her noticing.  Here she is watching the truck and anticipating my arrival, but I was right behind her and took a picture.  

She was a heck of a dog.  Never needed obedience training.  And I miss her still.  I make forages out often to local pounds in hopes that, finally, my next best friend will find me, but so far, I am still alone.  This is the 4th anniversary of Missy's death.  In a way, I died a little, too.  

The past couple of Flashbacks have been on the darker side.  I'll see what I can do cheer things up next week.   

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Man The Ropes, You Rum Sodden Tars!

This is the second part of my reunion voyage aboard the Privateer Lynx.  It was a stormy voyage and we went out to the Bay for a short trip before mutiny and raindrops brought us back into port.  Since I was pressed into service I didn't get the benefits of the regular crew but I had to work just as hard.  The sailing was photographed as well as filmed.  The film is in black and white to add authenticity.

More on the trip in future posts.  Shhh.  Don't tell the captain but I snuck down in the hold and grabbed my ration of hardtack and rum before I was kicked off ship.  

Thanks Patti for the pics.