Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Those Wacky Cicadas

Readers of this blog know that I get my marching orders from Princess Norah.  Those orders usually revolve around getting her ice cream (I introduced it to her at a local McDonald's 4 years ago), giving her horsey rides (not so much now that she is getting bigger), seeing the bees (our spot we check where bees have a nest),  and most recently: "I want an army of cicadas".   

We found one down here before I went to Northlandia and she was at first appalled, then fascinated.  Once she discovered it was merely a shell rather than a creepy crawly bug, she  became smitten and wanted more.  And so it became something of a mission to find as many as possible and send them back to an anxiously awaiting little girl.   

I walked along the north road by my place in Emerald City and then the East-West road after that.  I walked the cemetery and gathered quite a few.  I found a lot at the Bushnell Car show park.  I think they like apple trees best.  I found absolute clusters on those trees, and much less on pines.  

My first job packing down to Norah was a disaster as I found out later.  Many of the shells didn't survive.  However, I upped my game and came up with a perfect packing process after that debacle (sturdy plastic ice cream container and cotton balls).  

I have no way of knowing if this was a natural piggy back kind of thing, or whether it was a natural need to breed.  But if it was the latter it must have been frustrating for both participants - those shells are like nature's chastity belts.  

Terrible picture, but apparently proof positive that any structure is fine for de-shelling.  Spotted this shell on a tombstone in the cemetery in Emerald City.

A cicada climbing out of his armor on a tree in Bushnell.  

While gathering them at various places people called them locusts more often than not.  Therefore, in the interest of education and knowledge here are the facts about these guys.

  • These are cicadas.  Locusts are grasshoppers.  
  • This is the familiar late summer sound that fills the dusk and nighttime of Northlandia:

  • The Northlandic cicadas are the genus Magicicada or Dogday Cicada because it arrives in late summer.  
  • It has a lifespan of 13-17 years, hiding most of the time in the ground then, as legion, coming up en masse.
  • The males make the noise by vibrating a set of muscles on its side.  The reason: to procreate, of course. 
  • Cicadas feed on tree sap and are not harmful to humans.  Got that, Norah?
  • They were featured in Homer's Iliad and mentioned in Shang Dynasty literature 4,000 years ago.  
If one must have a favorite bug, perhaps the cicada might be a good start.  Norah has made her choice, and I concur.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

We all have pet peeves.  Some of mine may be because I'm just out of touch on some things.  But those Star Trek type phones people attach to their ears look goofy and self-important.  I understand Illinois' zero tolerance for phone usage when driving, but dang if I understand why you have to have one dangling from your ear when you get gas like this guy filling up at Casey's.  


The Mets won the East Division last Saturday and will be in the post-season for the first time in 9 years.  I have a bottle of champagne in the fridge that I will uncork at some point to celebrate.  I need to get a nice cigar for the occasion as well.  By the way, those T's are pretty cool, too.  (The East Is Ours)


This beautiful creature was on my front step in Emerald City one morning.  Lovely, lovely beast.  Slugs are snails without a shell and while I admire this guy, they can play havoc with a garden.  They are mollusks and are hermaphrodite.  Class dismissed.


While in Le Claire the Wombie and I had a seat on a bench while Miss Holly was shopping.  He brought up the question as to how difficult it would be to bring down that pine tree.  That is, indeed, a long way up.


Cloud cover prevented any picture taking of the Supermoon eclipse Sunday night.  Hopefully I will be able to try again next time it 2033. 

However, I did take this picture of what looks like a blood moon while I was back (September 1) in Northlandia.  Why was it red?  The Western fires. The farther up it rose in the sky the less red it looked.  It was from the smoke in the atmosphere that caused its color.   


I had a complete Norah-less weekend.  I hate it when that happens.


My fantasy baseball worst-to-first campaign came to an end this weekend.  The best I can do is third place.  My guys had a poor week and the Peoria Prodigies whooped me good.  Best i can do now is third place.  Go Fighting Flamingoes. 


Sports-wise this is the best time of year when we have baseball and football overlapping for a couple months.  


Monday, September 28, 2015

Things I Like At Car Shows

Last Thursday I discussed some things at car shows I don't particularly like.  Today I will list a few things I do like.  Like most things, this is a subjective view and not universal by any means.  

First, I made a special point to go to the Bushnell Car show with Miss Frump.  Bushnell holds a show each year in conjunction with their Fall Festival celebration.  It was always one of my favorite shows back when I was living in Northlandia and showing my old cars.  The Bushnell show was always a little different than the other participant judged shows.  This one is judged by car people who examine each vehicle with a list that includes such topics as Interior, Stainless, Chrome, Engine Bay, Undercarriage and others.  There are 10 categories with a possible 10 points for each totaling 100 points for a perfect car.    

This was my vantage point for the day.  Kind of like sitting behind a pretty lady you have a crush on.   Those are Florida Antique plates but I think I'd like to change to Illinois personalized plates.  Maybe 63 880.  That would be nice.  

The park is held in the village park.  There are several places to grab lunch.  The best deal is at the Kiwanis Tent where you can get a sandwich, chips and a pop for 2 bucks.  Or you can go over to the 4-H tent for a brat.  Around 2 o'clock locals and collectors parade around the park in their tractors.  

Always kind of fun and different are the twofers.  This one features an old restored truck with a great old moped in the back.  Two antiques in one.  I once saw a restored flat-bed truck with an old car strapped on.  That was unique and fun to see.

Norah wanted an army of cicada shells while up North so I went all over the park to look for them.  Actually I found an army right there.  When I approached some trees some folks were there seeking shelter so I would tell them what I was after.  At one tree I guess an old lady didn't hear part of my explanation and when I was walking away I heard her say, "That seems like a stupid thing to collect."

I ran into several old friends from the car club I once was a member.  The picture above isn't them - it is just a representation.  Frankly I'm not a fan of old guys with ponytails.  I took this picture because this guy's amazed me.  Florida seems to have its share of pony-tailed geezers.  One of these days I'll draw up a typical Floridian male: balding with ponytail,  camo cap and shorts,  dirty T-shirt with something having to do with Weeki-Wachie emblazoned on it.    

Seeing something you seldom see is always a joy.  This is a 1958 big window VW.  My first car was a '57 small window Beetle.  The owner of this car rightly pointed out that if I still had it, it would be worth a lot.  And we are talking in the 18-33 K area!  Not having a gas gauge if you ran out of gas you could flip a switch and get an extra gallon.  

Some cars have a certain style and look that always make them easy to spot.  This is a Studebaker turn signal on a Hawk.  It is stylized and almost art-deco.  Remember when car makers went the extra mile to make their products look really neat?  

You get a chance to do some walking and exploring at a car show.  You are there from 10-3 or more so take the newspaper, and take a walk to kill some time.  Heading back to the Frump, its always nice to get back to your love.   That is a presentation poster propped on the front that I had done in Floriduh.  Lot's of people stop and read it.  

Bushnell always had tight classes.  Miss Frump was in the 1960-63 Class and she beat out a couple nice cars to win 2nd place in her class.  Her first trophy.  What a rush.  Never was a $2.20 piece of plastic so appreciated by an owner.  Her score was 91 - averaging 9's in each category.  Not too shabby.

A couple weeks later Miss frump and I would travel to Monmouth for the Prime Beef Festival Car Show.  I spent the day with Ed Johnson and JC Clayton.  Fun day and we all three won with our cars.  Ed has a 62 Chevy and JC has a 85 Fiero.  Fun day.  I love shows, but the best part of them is driving to them and driving back home.   

Friday, September 25, 2015

Flashback Friday

During summers in high school and college I worked for my uncle on a farm south of Seaton.  It was a small one, only 320 some acres, but we also shelled corn and baled hay for neighboring farmers.  Today's flashback is a bibbed, hatted college kid in the summer after work.  We had a fantastic back porch and this is where most of the family congregated in the summer months.

With me is Magic, the family boxer who in the first picture looks at the picture taker, then deciding that all is well, or simply overcome by a desire to show affection starts licking the college kid.     

If you slide down Magic's back to her tail you will notice that the camera wasn't quick enough to capture her tail, it's a blur.   Usually it was going a mile a minute.  If she hadn't had it cropped like most dogs it could have done real damage.    

In a side note, last week's Flashback showed a party in the g-Burg Boxcar which featured a wall full of my early paintings.  One of them is a painting of the above picture with Magic licking my face.  

None of the paintings on the wall by my hand have survived time.  At least not to my knowledge.  If they are still around they are in someone dusty basement, better than they deserve.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Things I Don't Like At Car Shows

I've been to scores of car shows, maybe even hundreds.  For a few years there I attended one every weekend all summer long.  Some people golf, others fish.  I went to show off my Plymouth or Imperial.  Did I want a trophy?  Of course.  Did I often win? Yes.  Don't let anyone fool you: people will say they aren't in it for the trophies, but they lie.  We are all proud of our cars and want to gain recognition for them.  

I used to know a guy who I have forgotten his name who was terribly obnoxious at shows.  He had a late 50's Chrysler 300 which was perfect in every way and when he didn't win he would bitch to anyone and everyone.  He died of cancer shortly after I started going to shows.  I didn't like him at all.  

There are other things I have grown to dislike at car shows.  Not everyone,m thank God feels the same way - these are strictly my feelings.  

I don't like guys bringing their brand cars to shows.  The car above is a new Mustang.  Big deal.  I do make exceptions for new Corvettes or those retro Chevy trucks.  They are rare but Mustangs are a dime a dozen.

I don't like having to put up the hood and trunks for exhibition.  My engine bay is pristine and truck is perfect, it's not that I have anything to hide.  I just don't think cars are at their best with all the openings exposed.  It's like lifting up the skirt of a ladies garment - rude and uncivil.  Cars were made to be seen naturally - as if they were adding at a stop light.  For car shows perhaps hoods and doors and trunks can be lifted a couple hours while judging is being done, then lower them.

If you have a crack in the vinyl or leather, throwing a towel over it to hide is actually brings more attention to it.

I don't like it when people keep the windows rolled up.  I want to take in the interior and its smells and nook and crannies.  I won't vote for anyone who doesn't allow a complete inspection.  

The above two pictures show owners trying to impress me with a class award and a trophy their car has won in the past.  As if that will sway me to automatically vote for their car.  That big trophy sitting in the back is nothing more than braggadocio - it needs to be back home in the garage, not the back seat. 

This is an old car with stock interior.  Old Mohair seats and an old 30's dash.  Looks nice, real history.  So what does he have on his shifter?  Its an old Budweiser tap knob.  It ruins everything.  

I hate the drive-in restaurant accoutrements people put on their cars.  You know, those old trays that the girls on their roller skates put on the sides of your car to hold the burgers and root beer.  This owner not only has the ugly paraphernalia hiding their car but the inside was plastered with stuffed dolls, boys in bib overalls and all the other stuff that turns the rolling art into a gaudy sideshow of silver and plastic.

You've spend a gazillion on a truck restoration complete with wood staining and paint job.  You decide to show it and throw everything you will need at the show in the back.  Okay so far.  But then when you  get there you leave everything in the back end.  Tacky and lazy.

I'm not much for non-stock cars.  Too much chrome and crap in the engine area makes me want to just keep walking on.  

Bushnell isn't a concours event.  By all means take a cover and enjoy the day under it to stay out of the sun.  I said you, not the car!

I do like things about shows and I will post them in a few days.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Florida Monsoon Season

For a month prior to heading North the monsoon season down here was as intense as I've ever seen.  It was a daily event and not one of those weak-willed 10 minute rains we get so often.  No, these were full-throated blasts of driving rain that lasted all day.  Actually since I'm one of those that enjoys storms, I was loving it.  But not when stuck on the road like I was in the last videos.  I was at the Causeway taking pics.  That storm came up slowly but when it did hit was awesome.    

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

I have returned to Floriduh.  My stay in Emerald City was superb.  I did lots of things, saw lots of people, and miss it already.  But I am with Norah and if there is anything to assuage an old man's heart it is the tearful plea from a 4 year-old, "I need you." 


The wonder of young eyes discovering something new.


This is an apple-laden tree in Seaton. 

This is Mark after peeling many of those apples and making a pie. 

This is the end result.  I can attest to its deliciousness.  In all the possibilities life affords, I never once imagined I'd eat an apple pie that my brother made. 


The simple magic of a lonely Northlandia country road.   


I stopped at Hi-Lo while in G-Burg early in my Northlandic stay.  A guy in a jacked-up pick-up truck stopped and this small guy threw out a milk carton with a top attached like a guy in a boat would throw out an anchor.   Step stools are handy for short folks in raised trucks.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sunset - Part 3

Our third and final sunset pictures from the Causeway.  Because Mondays seem a good day to not put too much effort into a blog.

See how easy that was?  A lazy post to start the week.