Friday, July 3, 2015

Flashback Friday - Hippies Like America, Too

In what looks unfortunately like a mix between Dennis Hopper and Corey Feldman,  here is your patriotic blogger back in a day when headbands and "cool" were in.  Of course cool is always in, but capturing it for film is not, and looking back, I likely missed the mark by a wide mile this time, too.  But a kid tries.  No year is mentioned on this pic but it is definitely college era as attested by the fraternity T.   It is summer and flag is half mast honoring the end of another great American, unknown on this particular day.  It could very well have been the 4th of July, so that's what we will pretend on this 4th Eve many years hence.  

Tomorrow in America we will gather for family cook-outs, fireworks displays, and picnics.  From BFE at the Civic Center to the Vinoy Park folks will mingle with a beer, a soda and families and friends will embrace to enjoy a day off.  There will huge 4th of July sales for everything conceivable in an effort to empty full warehouses.  The word Independence (capitalized for a reason) will be splashed wherever human eyes can see it.  When was the last time you thought about the word?  I mean really thought about it. 

Independence: "not influenced or controlled by others" is the general definition.  Imagine that.  Today across the world there 35 major conflicts with 3 billion people being influenced or controlled by others.  People whose lives have been shattered, families separated, normal routine schedules eliminated resulting in danger, physical threats, loss of belongings and personal wealth and even death.  There are refugee camps all over some continents holding the displaced and abandoned.  In the Sudan babies will die of hunger, in Ghana people will die of unsafe sanitation.  In Pakistan children will be sold to pay off debts, and in Thailand 8 year-old girls sold to  sex profiteers.  Slavery is still big business in all parts the world.   

When you arise tomorrow and make your coffee you can be assured your water will work.  When you walk out to check on the grill in the garage you likely won't see military trucks with their guns aimed at you.  When you go to the nearest grocery store you will know that anything you need for that big party bash will be well stocked and abundant.   Your guests will arrive and leave without going through checkpoints or fear hijacking from roving gangs.  That it my idea of Independence.  All too often we take for granted the freedoms we enjoy, assuming that what we have is a common experience.  But for 3 billion fear and hunger is their common experience.  Enjoy the 4th of July but also remember that running water, that convenience store, and the smiles on all those faces.  It is a rare and valuable thing - a little more than half of every soul alive today enjoys true Independence.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Saturday Ride

Text: "Still up for going to Wataga breakfast tomorrow?  If so, Kickstands up at 8:15 my house."  Stage 

There are any number of definitions ascribed to heaven.  Philosophers, theologists, poets, lay and professional commoners alike all have an opinion or vision.  For me, I am too busy navigating this world to worry about the next.  My head tells me there is no next, so to find heavenly places closer to home here.  One kind of heaven is a text like the above.  Heaven can be attained by a nice day riding, a buddy or two in my rearview mirror and all day to do it.    

A little touch of homesickness, two weeks of shivering cold and rain in Northlandia and then a window of good weather and an invite in my inbox.  Heaven can be conjured by a rising sun surrounded by blue sky, a full tank of gas, and a riding partner you call friend.  

Neighbor Tim's New Blue Harley parked in front of the North Henderson Civic Center ahead of my Yamaha Strato.  The itinerary called for meeting up with one of Tim's buddies, Diane and some of her friends, then on to Wataga for breakfast - one of those firemen pancake breakfasts I loved when I lived up here.  

Bikes tend to multiply on nice riding days.  Diane's friends kept showing up and a small party soon blossoms into a large group.   

A couple rough mean looking old bikers.  

The group ended up being about nine or so bikes and with that many at that time, long runs become a little less manageable.  It all depends on the leader, and this morning, the leader was flying.  Our destination was the Psycho Silo near Annawan.  Tim and I decided  it wasn't necessary to fly with them so we lagged at the rear, losing interest in the chase.  

Fortunately or not, they stopped at an intersection to wait for us to catch up and then we all stopped at a bar just outside Wyoming.  A good Bloody Mary later Tim and I parted ways and headed back to Knox County, a grandkid's birthday party became a priority.  That is something I fully understand.  

A beer at the Civic Center and a ride with Tim and Carrie into G-Burg - they heading to a park to party and me to LaGondola's for a Torpedo.  A day in the saddle of a motorcycle.  A most heavenly day indeed.     

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mama and Fawn

There are, in nature, riveting and heartbreaking stories played out endlessly.  Like humans, animals too, have their accidents,  sometimes ending in tragedy or safety.  During the road trip I posted on Monday, this scene played out for as long as we could stand it.  A young deer was separated from its mother.  It had become lost under her watchful eye and need up in a ravine area next tot he road.  There must have been fence somewhere because the little one was having trouble jumping up and reuniting.

The baby was skittish because of our presence, no doubt, and becoming more frantic having lost its mother.  She ran back and forth trying to leap up, with no success.  Meanwhile, Momma was up above doing her own anxious pacing back and forth.   

Finally, realizing we were contributing to the problem, we left.  We like to think everything worked out well, and why not?  They had all day to find each other and probably in a more leaked fashion without a yellow jeep full of people watching.  Yeah, that's what we think happened - nature sometimes provides happy ending.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

1.  Awesome Cloud  

On the way back to Floriduh this big guy was over to the right and I saw several lightening bolts as we passed by.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a shot of one.

Last week a guy walking on the sidewalk was killed by lightening.  Floriduh is the lightening capitol of he US.  Since 1959 477 have been killed. 

2.  While at North Henderson Civic Center I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of an old electric train that took me back to one we had when we were kids.  Big, heavy and the real deal, this set, I'll bet, could run today with just a little cleaning and electrical tape. 

This isn't the cheaper quality plastic stuff they have today.  This is an iconic Americana toy.  What a find!  And yes, it takes the drop in the smokestack that makes smoke come out.  

3.  "We mature with the damage, not the years."  Unknown

4.  While at McD's on 66th Avenue in St. Pete.  Pretty ballsy bird.  At one time it was shooed away and still returned looking for a handout. 

5.  Tough week for conservative-minded folks.  Great week for progressives.   Obamacare, a half-measure at best is now the law of the land.  Hopefully both parties will now tackle the deficient provisions and make much needed improvements.  As for me, I think they should institute "Medicare For All."

And now LGBT individuals have the right to marry.  Except for a bump in the road now and again, the endless arc of history for individual rights marches forward.  

6.  Around 70 days remain till the Great 2015 Cycle Adventure.  

7.  Effective August 15th,  Iowa Wesleyan College will be renamed Iowa Wesleyan University.  I lost my Aledo Green Dragons high school 10 years ago when it merged with Westmer and became Mercer County Golden Eagles.  And now, in a sense, I have lost my college as well.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Road Trip

Mark, aka Wombie, and Holly, aka Ms Wombie, are always up for a road trip.  We jump, not so nimbly into the Jeep and head out for parts unknown.  Today we went east of town and some country road.  The mystery and excitement of an unknown road evokes some kind of need to explore.  Little boys explore by bicycle, but big boys scout in 4 wheels.  

We started out by finding this old school.  At first I couldn't figure out why there would be a chimney on a farm storage shed, but then it became obvious that this was, long ago, a country school.  Some owner along the way built a doorless shed on the the school.

 Perfect vistas.  

This is known locally as Horseshoe Bend.  The erosion caused by the creek reminded me of other places I've been but not Illinois.  Look at the trees and their exposed root systems.  It won't be long till another foot or so falls from the top and the natural re-definition of the creek and its bank changes once again.  I do love road trips.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Flashback Friday - Grad School Posse Part 2

We revisit once again the grad school days in Denver and my buddy Eddie Valverde.  Like I said in the previous post regarding these times,  I had some really nice friends to spend time with when I wasn't studying.  No snickers, because grad school did entail some intense study to ensure successful graduation.  

As a side note, as I type this message on Thursday,  June 25th, at 6:52 am, I just awoke from a sleep that included a dream/nightmare of a Logic paper due and unfinished.  Funny, isn't it, that school tests and homework still invade my head decades after it all became irrelevant.    

These Denver days were likely the least photographed of all.  I'm not really sure why, except that study here was pretty important and took up a lot of time.  Dr. Schmidt hardly ever thought my thesis was good enough so I'd go back and tinker, expand, and take it back a month later to seek approval.  Dr. Wilbanks would have a "Whiplash" like, in-class meltdown telling all of us to step up our work and performance.  But we tried to meet on weekends for fun or Jan and I would hop in the car and head out to Pike's Peak,  Red Rocks,  Golden, or cruise around town.  We all went to Wyoming once and I thought it a desolate other-world vista that was unlike anything I'd ever seen.      

Eddie and his little camera about to zero in on something. 

Me and my little trusty electric typewriter that served me well for several years of reports and term papers. It's last assignment was to type my Master's Thesis, "Civil Theology in the American".   Dr. Schmidt finally signed off on it and it is now bound and amongst all the other thesis' written at the school in the Ira J. Taylor Library.  One of these days I'll travel back to campus and the library and ask for it at the reference desk.   

See that ring on my hand?  That's my high school class ring that I lost in a vat of meatloaf at the Mary Davis Home when I would start there a few months after this picture was taken.  

Looks like Eddie is reading my report and finding it lacking in serious content.  Hmph.  Everyone's a critic.  

Is this Eddie signaling my impending hanging by the school's academic standards?  Fleas?  An Hispanic sign about Midwestern hick gringo's?  Nope, this was a hoi-paloi sign we used regarding other's pretentiousness.

Apparently someone wanted to take our pictures so we posed, it looks like, somewhat reluctantly.  This was my phase of wearing bib overalls, and, oddly, as I remember, was somewhat popular.  Eddie was a gentle kid who laughed as easily as anyone I ever knew.  Not at all like the menacing figure he appears above.    

Happily, once graduated, I headed back home.  Sadly, however, I didn't keep up any correspondence with my compadres and they drifted into my history as "past tense".  Eddie, the Calhoun boys, Jan and the others remain young in my mind's eye and photos, whilst my mirror reveals the real truth: time marches on, rapidly.  Denver must have been like military service - tough character builder and not sure I'd do it over, but eternally grateful for the friends around me that made it all worthwhile.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bald Bluff

This is the Bluff road between Keithsburg and Seaton.  This valley was formed by the most recent Ice Age that started about 2 million years ago and ended approximately 8000 B.C. When we were in high school and college it was not uncommon during exceedingly wet and rainy nights to have this whole road filled with live small frogs.  It made driving an exercise in animal genocide, but it couldn't be helped. 

Take the first right on the bluff and go down a ways to find an open area that overlooks the valley.  

As stunning a view as you can find in these parts.  Mrs. Olson, Seaton's 6th grade teacher always took her students to Bald Bluff Overlook.  Not sure if this is it, but it would have been a similar view.