Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Prayer For The Aging



While waiting to get a new tire put on my bike the other week I grabbed a magazine about riding that had this guy on the cover.  He is country singer David Allen Coe and has had a long career.  I noticed that he no longer has his hair so he wears a wig the same color he used 40 years ago. 


Once upon a time, Mr. Coe was a handsome man. And I suppose he was successful with his music.  I don't follow country music so I'm not sure if he was "big" or not, but he did have a famous writing credit with "Take This Job and Shove It", sung by Johnny Paycheck. 

It seems, however, that Mr. Coe has not adapted to his age.  At 75, most guys don't have flowing golden colored locks,  but do have the noticeable hearing aids.  

Maybe there simply comes a time at which you should begin to age gracefully.  Be as mischievous as you want; be hell-bent on eccentricity, but for God's sake, don't look foolish.    


Grant me wisdom to know when I'm done, 
When I can walk, but no longer run.
And gently nudge me toward the Light,
When I've lost all my sight. 

Getting older means you creak 
And occasionally leak, 
Nothing wrong with being riper,
so cinch up your diaper.

Give me knowledge and sageness
For the young and the ageless.
Give me wisdom to know as I grow older:
 put in my teeth and end the comb-over.

Let me smile with pride
And try not to hide, 
That I've made it this far,
It's has been a Hell of a ride. 

On second thought, think, 
When my synapses are in the pink,
Perhaps it's best to test the grids, 
And do something wild to embarrass the kids.

Maybe Old David, here, has it right
Throw on the wig and look like a fright,
Charge down the hill like you used to charge Up, 
Through the wrinkles and drooling, pretend you're a pup.




I've always thought that I didn't want to embarrass myself when I die.  Although, heck, it's my death, I suppose I can do it any way I want, huh?  But maybe I should focus instead on the embarrassment of aging.  David here, is still out there rocking or country-ing, whatever he does, and that's all good.  He dons his golden-locked wig, shoves in his ear pieces, and sits on stage and entertains people.  That's all good, too.  Very good.  So what if his wig and his gray beard don't exactly match?  You've got to hand it to anyone past retirement age if they are out there doing their thing, impervious to the rules, blind to the conventions; and not molting in front of a TV set watching reruns of Gunsmoke.

Nope!  Do not age gracefully.  Fight the fight, don the wig, make tongues wag.  Do it all and then keep doing more.    Meat Loaf says at the end of his concerts, "Don't ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, stop rockin'!  Good advise.  I hope to embarrass my kids with my aging.  Now that's a legacy!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits

1.  Don't be surprised if we take a few days off here real soon.  The staff has been getting itchy and they all want to go to the beach after a long winter.  It's been awhile since we have had some time off so in the interest of team morale I just may oblige my overworked and underpaid staff.  

2.  Unoriginal Thought Of The Day:  Everyone who ever lived, lived in modern times.

3.  Under the "Real Floridians Suck" category,  this doesn't change my opinion of Floridians, it only reaffirms it.  We Northerners give the place a little class.





4.  Go to Bodine-DILLIGAF on my home page to read an interesting tale set in 1957 when Florida dropped a nuclear bomb on Georgia.  
  
5. Mainsail Art Festival was held at the Vinoy on the 19th and 20th of April, and I am sorry to say I did not see anything that dazzled my eyes and was in my price range.  I was smitten by Jane Slivka and her acrylics, but ended up not patronizing (buying art work) the arts this year.  


Jane works with bright colors and en plain air style.  I liked it but not enough to shell out.  We'll try again next year. 

6.  For you Norah watchers, this was taken last Sunday.  I think Kenzie posted it on Facebook, too.  I took it with my iPhone I'm holding in my other hand.  That's me in the black shirt.  She turns 3 next Thursday.

She seldom has her hair up, and in fact, this was to last only a few moments until she reached up and took the hair-thingy off.  




I don't have anything else, today.  Come back tomorrow.

Monday, April 28, 2014

It's The City

Traveling somewhere the other day I spotted this fellow (?) by a bench at the corner of 34th Street and 22nd Avenue.  He was waving, sashaying, and provocatively dancing at cars driving by.  Perhaps showing off his latest Spring fashion he was wearing a tight blouse (?) or top with equally tight jean short-shorts.  Rounding out the ensemble were white sneakers and wristband. 




There are sights in all cities; many are there to promote a happy and harmonious living standard.  The Vinoy comes to mind, as do the beaches, and the nature reserves scattered all over the place.  There are also things not so happy, such as this man (?) who felt compelled to harass drivers along 34th and 22nd.   


This seductive "come-hither" pose was directed toward me as I was driving by having circled back to get more for my loyal readers.  I like to think this is a Springtime gift (?) to all of you, readers of EIB from our Ambassador of Wackoville from St. Pete. 








This is a video I took while stopped at the corner.  Meanwhile, the video below was recorded by other people and was posted on a site that Kenzie found.  







In the movie, Chinatown, the final scene contains a bit of dialogue ending in "Forget it, Jake.  It's Chinatown."  

For our pink-clad Rihanna above, it may be best to simply keep on driving and remember, "it's the city".


Friday, April 25, 2014

Flashback Friday

Word has filtered down from the North that was kind of sad.  Tweety's in Keithsburg, a bar and restaurant is closing.  OK, so what is the big deal?  The big deal is this is the same place that was also known as Blackie's Hi-Way Tap back when I was a younger man.  And by younger man, I mean a younger drinking man.   



Keithsburg for dry town Seaton residences was kind of sin city.  Several bars, a Tastee-Freez and watching the Mississippi amble down South made the place, and the 7 miles, well worth the trip.    

Helen and Blackie ran the bar and with a cold beer and Blackie's skills in the kitchen made the Hiway the go-to spot.  

The Wombie and I used to go down and play pinball on machines that are considered obsolete now.  A fine cast of characters inhabited the place and it was always friendly.  Blackie for a time would fix smelt and serve it free for patrons, then he switched over to chicken wings.  It was where I had a party before getting married the next day.  Don Levine joined us and made it extra special because he was there. 

We even brought down a contingent of college buddies one Sunday and ended up having a coaster battle that by all accounts was friendly and approved by the owners.  My loyal reader, friend and fellow student, Russ Foust, was part of this adventure and maybe he will send in his recollections.  

Not known for his philanthropy, Blackie used to slip me a free carton of cigs whenever I'd stop by on my way back to Denver and grad school.  he was a bit hard of hearing and every so often he'd reply with something totally opposite of what was being discussed with humorous results.  Nice people, he and Helen and they set the tone for an atmosphere conducive to harmonious chatting with friends.  If I ever saw a fight or unruly drunkeness, I can't remember it.  

The above picture is a family visit to the place when we all went down to have a final meal and beer.  They retired and closed the place around '93-'94.  That's the Wombie and Herb.  It almost looks like the Wombie is picking up the tab but I can assure you that is not the case.  

Blackie was at the Monmouth nursing home for awhile and he died  in 1998.  Helen is still alive but suffers from Alzheimer's.     



Sometime after its closing, the place was sold to someone who renamed it Tweety's Hi-Way Tap.  They remodeled the place and it lost its charm.  I think they may have kept the grill going, but whenever I went down it wasn't to eat.  Tim and I went down a few Sundays on the bikes to partake in Bloody Mary Sundays.  They had this $1.00 Bloody Mary Sunday Special and became the best bargain in the two-county area.




Here we are in the back beer garden area enjoying big fat cigars from the Dominican Republic.  It had become a rather odd place, it seemed, populated by odd people, and an owner who didn't hold back any on her disdain for the certain owner of a certain bar in Aledo.  

It occurs to me that we find pockets of perfection throughout life:  perfection of childhood in Seaton, perfection at Iowa Wesleyan,  perfection at work, and family and friends at BFE.  The perfection of a Bloody Mary, a big cigar and a buddy on a bike ride.  These pockets don't last forever, and we don't always recognize the perfection at the time, but only in looking back. 



Blackie's was a pocket of perfection for quite a while.  So long again Blackie, and so long Tweety's.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Painter Painting Once Again


My latest painting was based on a photograph I took at the Gulfport pier sometime last year.  It was a night scene with some people scattered about the railing.  Some were fishing, some were just taking in the summer evening.  I wanted my rendition to have some fog to bring out the community isolation of all of us there that night.  Well, here goes. 




First step was do a quick wash over the new canvas.  I used a turpentine wash with some cobalt and then painted the whole thing a a combination of ivory black, Payne's gray and a bit of ultramarine blue.





Next, I drew the general design onto the virtually black canvas with a pencil.  




The next step was nothing more than painting on the pier, and the figures.  It isn't important to get it right at this point, its just important to get the structures and general figures in so you can make sure the placement is OK.   Above you can see the floor of the pier has been painted a gray cement color and the first person has been started.  There will be 5 people in all when I am through. That white object in the center is a light that shines on the flag; the pole which will be put in later.  The fog will highlight the lighting if all goes well.  There is a reddish-orange light that they shine on to the flag and I hope I can get that blistering look going through the sky well.  You know how lights reflect the moisture in the sky so that lights shine through the air?  You'll see. 




OK, here you can see the general idea taking form.  The picture I took is on the upper left hand corner of the painting for reference.  More people are painted in and the lights are starting to take shape.  




So here it is on my easel out in the porch.  The go reflects the lights on the pier as well as the lights over on the beach.



I will probably do some tweaking on it as I am not happy with a couple things on it, but for the most part it is finished.  Again, I can't take pictures of paintings too well, but this is it for better or worse.  It is titled, "Foggy Summer Night At The Pier" and is 40"x 30".  

Painting is kind of like an exercise in deception.  There is a kind of painting called "photo realism" and these artists paint picture-like paintings that make you think they are really photographs.  They have steady hands, are versed in shadows and valuations and have enormous talent.  Then there are hacks like myself who couldn't do something like that in a million years; but what we can do is give you the illusion, through lights and darks of something you recognize.  It's all deception, of course:  put a dark color and a light color next to each other in a shape you have seen before and your eye and mind will know that it is an orange shirt, or jeans or a person.  

This one took a little longer than the last one, so I am slowing down a bit.  I must get back going at full speed again, and so I have my next one drawn out and ready to become something I saw when i was back in G-Burg.  But you'll have to wait a bit.  Thanks for the company today.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gazebo On Steroids

I had a buddy in high school named Ed Johnson.  He and I used to ride around in his 62 Chevy and do a little country road drinking and Quad City cruising.   There is always a lot of jockeying between activities and people and groups in school days but Fast Eddie was always a good friend and has remained so through the decades since graduation.  I was in G-Burg and he was in Peoria; families to raise and careers to establish.  I've talked about Ed in the past on this blog and longtime readers will remember the great story of him finding his Dad's old truck in a junkyard near Aledo a few years ago, and restoring a door.  His son, Michael, a Floridian living not too far from St. Pete, and my name is not just a coincidence.  Michael also had me and Brendan on his boat for a fishing trip last year, too.  

When I was up North I got a call from Eddie asking where I was.  In an ironic twist of fate I happened to be in G-Burg and he was in Florida.  He was down here building a gazebo as a wedding gift for Michael and his bride-to-be.  

When I returned to Florida he wondered if I could run over one day and help him build this structure that had started out small but had grown to a double-decker that he called a gazebo on steroids.




I'm no genius but when a friend calls for help, you drop everything (not that I had anything to drop) and go running.  The downside of my life now is that I have no projects or need to hold a drill or hammer.  When you own a house you have projects to do,  maintenance to fulfill and tools to use.  A day with Eddie and drills was just too exciting to pass up.  So I hopped on my bike around 5:00 am and headed over the Skyway Bridge and up I-75.  Now the bad part:  I'm not a big fan of night riding and it was a little chilly.  Damn chilly.  

But I made it in about an hour and 40 minutes.  I got lost but eventually made it to a country area between Dade City and Zephyrhills.  The picture above is what greeted me.  A damn fine looking two-story deck that Eddie had been working on for a couple weeks all by himself.  The house on the right is new and will be the home of Michael and Dee Dee.     



From the upper deck was this beautiful site.  Across the road was a band of newly planted pine trees.  Beyond that was a field with cows grazing and once in a while a flock of egrets would move from place to place.  A couple of farmsteads in the distance reminded me of Illinois.  And then I heard a train in the distance and that was the topper.  

That's my bike in the foreground.  It was a damn cold day and even spit a little throughout the day.  I seriously wondered if we'd see snowflakes.  




This is Eddie sawing some edges.  My contribution was minimal throughout the day - my primary mission was to not screw anything up.  I drilled a few screws and helped move some lumber around, but it was really Eddie who did the bulk of work.  Eddie was the builder and prime mover on this thing and he was understandably proud of it, and it sure looked good.  Frankly, I wasn't aware that Ed had that much talent.  





A beautiful new house on 4 acres out in the country.  A swimming pool and a new two-story deck round out a damn nice place for the newlyweds.



This is Michael's Packer's decorated office area in the house.  



As I was scampering around on the floor drilling in screws like a mountain goat I would be reminded the next day that I wasn't 18 anymore.  I thought I was going to need kneecap replacement.  It was great day with Eddie, Michael and getting out doing something.  It made me feel useful again. 

The trip home was in daylight but during rush hour.  And several points home it was stop-and-go traffic on the Interstate.  Imagine that.  Heard later there was an accident someplace and everyone was funneled over to where I was.  But then again, I really don't mind stop-and-go traffic - it slows everyone down.  

In the next week or so you will see the finished job and how it was integral to the wedding.  Stay tuned.  Thanks again for calling, Eddie. I got more out of it than you did.    


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits

1.  I love Meryl Streep.   In August: Osage County she gives the best acting performance I may have ever seen.  It's a tough film regarding family dysfunction, but she chews the scenery like like a herd of beavers in Yosemite.  I was left stunned after I saw it.  Amazing actress.  

2.  Spotted on April 16th in mid-morning in St. Petersburg was this  ring around the sun.  Also called the 22nd Degree Halo, these are fairly common and happen when sunlight filters through ice crystals in cirrus clouds.  



It didn't last long but was a sure sign from the gods that a cat must be sacrificed in order to insure a good harvest…oh, sorry, I drifted there.  Anyway, like I said, this happens with ice crystals and a 22 degree bend of the light.  Here Kitty, Kitty………

3.  I don't post on Facebook very often.  I'm not fond of the site but I'll throw something up every few weeks just to let folks know I'm still alive.  I posted these pictures on Easter and post them again, for people who follow this site but may not do the Facebook thing; could there be another person like me out there?  




A fellow was walking his dog at the park on Saturday at the Vinoy and he had added a special touch to his beautiful golden retriever.   Being a dog lover, the guy gushed at the chance to pose his best friend for some Easter pics.  

Later on I saw more wildlife:  

This hooded apparition approached me at the Mainsail Art Festival.

And behold! From yonder knoll, like a hobbit troll, arose…



Miss Norah!!

4.  A friend from my old BFE days got hitched on the 12th.  Congratulations to Dave "Ole" Olson and his new bride Sandy.  They live in Springfield.  Ole would much rather be riding a motorcycle than just about anything; and he's not alone in that.   


We had some good times in the North Henderson Community Center.  I see she has cleaned him up pretty good.  Damned near didn't recognize him.   


That's all for today.  Hope everyone had a great Easter Weekend.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Oh, Dear!

On the last evening (Sunday) of my stay up North I struck out finding anywhere to eat. Rib Shack was closed as was LaGondola and my last try was the Brickyard.  Thank God St. Pete is open all the time.  The only place closed on Sunday around here is Chic-Fil-A, for religious reasons.  But a guy can starve up North.  

As I was leaving East G-Burg to head back to Pat's I came across this herd of deer on either side of the highway.  I naturally stopped to take in the beauty of it all.  The sun was setting, I was in a quiet area and heard nothing but nature.  My camera was handy so I started taking pictures.  Unfortunately many were blurred; my need to snap under pressure no doubt.   






These guys were on the right side of the road and after gazing at me for awhile, then took off back to the forested area on across the field.  It was only after I got home and previewed the pics did I see this unusual sight.   




Now I'm no forensic expert, and I don't always get the angles, but is it my imagination or is this guy's nose a bit off?  I distinctly had the impression everyone was looking at either me or the big blue thing parked on the road.  Even if this one wasn't peering directly at me, and maybe the hood of the truck or maybe even the herd across the road, would his nose be this off?  Did he have a trauma? Is he malformed?  Guess we'll never know.







These deer seemed all well proportioned and normal.  They, too took off after a while and so my session was over.  The pictures didn't come out as well as I would have liked but it was a memorable meeting nonetheless.  Except for that one guy's nose…

Friday, April 18, 2014

Flashback Friday 2004-2014


I wasn't too bad at what I did.  The first part of my Mary Davis Home career consisted of counseling kids.  The second part was in administering a rehabilitation program.  The first part was more enjoyable, but the second had its perks as well.  It is true that we are only as good as those around us,  and I had some great people on my side as I ended my tenure at program Coordinator at the Mary. 



War Room

You've seen pictures of my office before, but not this one.  There are two cups of coffee on the desk and looks like work is happening.  Good thing we took a picture of that.  Since I had staff reporting in to me on a weekly basis it was important to make it as inviting as possible.  



This fellow is Atilla Nemeth.  He worked at MDH as a transportation officer who drove to counties to pick up offenders.  Atilla was riotously funny - and still is.  I stopped to see him at his C & I Embroidery shop in G-Burg last time I was there in February.   


This is Cathy Sergeant, AKA Katy.  Master of the malaprop, she was one of the cooks and had a more important job - she made us laugh.  Cathy deserves a more thorough write-up and I promise she will get it later, as this series proceeds.  Katy has since retired from her long service at MDH.  



This is Kris Weigand who was Secretary of the office area.  In actuality she was secretary of the entire staff; if anyone needed anything from staples to markers, and from faxes sent to phone numbers, she was the go-to person.   She is still at the Mary.  



This is a rare picture of Pat Johnson, Administrative Assistant.  She has long since denied any pictures taken of her and today you get two of them.  The heart that kept the front office humming belonged to Pat.  A bit of perfectionist that drove me up a wall sometimes, she made sure everything that left her office was professional and correct.  She retired with the rest of us. 



Pat and Lisa Junk, Supervisor.  If you wanted something "done", go see Lisa.  She was a driving force making sure the "trains ran on time."  No nonsense, but with a heart that belied her size, she was one of the best things that this institution had to offer our kids.  She is still at the Mary.  

Not every upcoming Flashback Friday is going to be devoted to what was happening ten summers ago, but every so often I'm going to post things that made 2004 a really special time.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Driving Vids

We are almost done with posts relating to my trip back North in February.  Then you all can go back to your Spring worshipping and trying to forget the winter that held you in its embrace for far too long.  But not yet.  Today is a look back to some fun winter driving videos that I took on a particularly snowy day heading tint G-Burg from Knoxville.  It had been some time since I drove in it, but my cat-like snow reflexes returned like I'd never left.  





This is County 10, I think they call it, just south of G-Burg.  I always referred to it as Thirwell Road.  Whatever it is, it was a fun trip and falls under the "Be careful what you wish for" category.  Kind of scary and when out, immediately wanted back in, but I stuck with it like the old pro I am.   




The Wombie, AKA Aquaman, and I were just running around near Keithsburg and New Boston one day and ran into a flooded road.  I told him to gun it and that God hates a coward, but the Wombie chickened out and played it safe.  






And one final short video of me tooling around in the snow-swept tundra.  It was exhilarating and I enjoyed this trip as much as any I've taken up north since exiled to Florida.  And as the memory of winter fades a bit for you, remember that the first day of November is a scant 180 days from now. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day, Norah

My Sis-In-Law, Holly, told me about a soft Teddy bear for sale at a store in Aledo when I was up there.  I thought it would be great to send to Norah for Valentine's Day.   



Thanks to Kenzie's thoughtful picture taking, I was able to see step-by-step Norah's first package she ever received through the mail.  


This isn't the same as being there, but almost.


The instant she realizes she has another stuffed friend.



And the smile I was counting on.

Valentine's Day has never been high on my list; sadly, in the past, I have seen it as a Hallmark holiday.  A superficial Madison Avenue exercise in consumerism.  I've changed my mind.  It was the smile that did it.  I can't wait for next Valentines Day, I've got a lot of catching up to do.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits

INTRODUCING, 

MISS NORAH.

SINGING LET IT GO, FROM THE AWARD-WINNING MOTION PICTURE, FROZEN.





(Any similarity between this video and Susan Kane, wife of Charles Foster Kane, is purely unintentional.) 

2.  Speaking of movies:  last week I stumbled again on a classic that you may have missed when it came out 33 years ago.  No love scenes, no English (unless you can find the dubbed copy), and a whopping 209 minutes (even longer in the uncut version).  Yeah, you'll have to read the subtitles.  But there may be no better movie portraying the dangers, hazards and claustrophobia of submarine warfare.  I speak, of course, of the german production of Das Boot.  It is on Netflix streaming if you have that service, or you can rent it from them, too.  And the ending is as heartbreaking as any ever on film.  In early production talks when it was considered by an American company, both Robert Redford and Paul Newman were considered for the role of the Captain.




Nominated for 6 Academy Awards and ranked #25th on the 100 Best World Cinema list, this is a great one for a rainy Sunday afternoon when the wife/girlfriend/other is out or gives you 3 hours to fill.  It may be sexist, but this is a movie for guys.  

3.   Kenzie saw this while driving in St. Pete this week.




I don't have a clue.  Just put it under the "It's the City" file and try to move on.