Friday, October 30, 2015

Flashback Friday

Originally posted on November 2, 2012, today we going to throw out an old halloween themed entry.


Some random Pictures of Halloween for the Blythe's.

The current Mrs. Blythe on the left with her little gaggle of ghouls: Asa, Evelyn, Brendan and Mackenzie.

Don't ask, I haven't a clue.  It's apparently me, but I have no memory of it.  But man, those legs are looking gooooood.

King Khahaackatoobig.  This may have actually been a get-up for one of Lisa's next door parties, but it makes this post because I found it and was, for a time, quite proud of my creation.  The insignia on the front of the headpiece was an "American Breeder's Association" logo.  I remember getting it from Jeff Sutor.  Thanks again, Jeff. 

Making another appearance on EIB, this is Brendan in one of his costumes.

Mackenzie at 18 months old and enjoying her first carved pumpkin with dad.  Nice plumber thingie going on there.

We must have had or was going to a Halloween party.  See, we had the Walking Dead back then, too.

Mackenzie as Carrie.  

Clowns?  God I hate clowns.  I don't remember who the clown is, but it might be Penny, who is the current Mrs. Blythe's neice.  That's Amy in the Minnie Mouse thing, then Mackenzie and that's the current Mrs. Blythe's sis, Patti on the right.

The ethereal and current Mrs. Blythe floating in from the other room.  She is the one who really got into the Halloween thing, me, not so much.  The only meaningful Halloween I remember was the one back in '77.  That's the day I started working at the Mary Davis Home.  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ghosty Ghost!

Not too long ago I read of an interesting little literary exercise.  It was called the 2 Sentence Horror story.  The object is to come up with something spooky and complete in 2 sentences.  It is almost a kind of haiku in prose.  In honor of Halloween, I present you with some and feel free to come up with more.  It's kind of fun.
My only contribution is the last one.
  • I woke up to hear knocking on my glass.  At first I thought it was the window until I heard it come from the mirror again.
  • The last thing I saw was my alarm clock flashing 12:07 before she pushed her long rotting nails through my chest, her other hand muffling my screams.  I sat bolt upright, relieved it was only a dream, but as I saw my alarm clock read 12:06, I heard my closet door creak open.
  • Growing up with cats and dogs, I got used to the sounds of scratching at my door while I slept.  Now that I live alone, it is much more unsettling.
  • In all the time I've lived alone in this house, I swear to God I've closed more doors than I've opened.
  • She went upstairs to check on her sleeping toddler.  The window was open and the bed was empty.
  • I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, "Daddy, check for monsters under my bed." I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, "Daddy, there's somebody on my bed."

  • A girl heard her mom yell her name from downstairs, so she got up and started to head down.  As she got to the stairs, her mom pulled her into her room and said "I heard that, too."
  • She asked why I was breathing so heavily.  I wasn't.
  • My wife woke me up last night to tell me there was an intruder in our house.  She was murdered by an intruder 2 years ago.
  • You get home, tired after a long day's work and ready for a relaxing night alone.  You reach for the light switch, but another hand is already there.
  • I can't move, breathe, speak or hear and it's so dark all the time.  If I knew it would be this lonely I would have been cremated instead.
  • Don't be scared of the monsters, just look for them.  Look to your left, to your right, under your bed, behind your dresser, in your closet but never look up, she hates being seen.

  • I awoke to the sound of the baby monitor crackling with a voice comforting my firstborn child.  As I adjusted to a new position, my arm brushed against my wife, sleeping next to me.
  • I always thought my cat had a staring problem - she always seemed fixated on my face.  Until one day, when I realized that she was always looking just behind me.
  • There's nothing like the laughter of a baby.  Unless you are home alone.
  • I was having a pleasant dream when what sounded like hammering woke me.  After that, I could barely hear the muffled sound of dirt covering the coffin over my own screams.
  • "I can't sleep," she whispered, crawling into bed with me.  I woke up cold, clutching the dress she was buried in. 
  • There was a picture in my cell phone of me sleeping.  I live alone.


Every morning is the same as I turn off the alarm, in a cold-sweat, something feeling not quite right as I awake in an unfamiliar darkness.  I open the blinds and see the swaying palm trees and scream in horror, as the realization hits me that I am still in Florida.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Art of the Deal

Last Wednesday, at approximately 9:20 a.m. Central time, my property at 107 Marion in Henderson was sold.  I bought it about 5 or 6 years ago.  It was, frankly, based on a desire to return to Illinois from this dreadful place and my unwavering conviction that one is best served when one has supplemental income.    

107 Marion

It was, on first blush, a nice little place with many plusses.  A two-car garage, a breezeway,  two bedrooms, a nice big living/dining room.  It was cheap, on a huge lot, and even had an outdoor shed.  It was also in a small town about 4 miles away from G-Burg.  Perfect, right?    

Nice big living room.

Huge yard.

I had the place rewired, bought a new furnace, paid for a lift station, new roof, new appliances, new sump pit and pumps.  This doesn't take into account some new pipe work, paint, and new motherboard for the new furnace.  But I don't want to dwell on all that.  I want to dwell on something else.   

I met Jeff at Three Birds Tavern in St. Pete shortly after I bought the place and he told me he knew someone, recently retired, who had some carpentry skills.  He said if I needed any help on the place he would get in touch with them.  I am embarrassed to say I bought it sight unseen.  When I arrived the first time, I sat in the living room and briefly cried.  I looked around and saw nothing but dollar signs.  I called Jeff to have him get in touch with that retired guy he knew.  I bought a single mattress, called for some internet access and hunkered down to get the place in shape.  

He and his two helpers took a couple weeks out of their schedule to help me replace ceiling tiles in one of the bedrooms, build a counter in the kitchen, replace some walls in one of the closet, and hauled away old ceiling panels and junk in the basement.  Load after load out to the landfill.  We worked on the hardwood floors, replacing the kitchen linoleum with new press tiles.  We even cleaned up the driveway and had it resurfaced.  

Somewhere the decision was made to try renting until I was ready to come back.  The basement needed a dehumidifier so I got one of those.  The place looked a Hell of a lot better and I dreamed of one day mowing the yard with my sit-down mower.  Maybe building another garage for an old car or three.  I also dreamed of having a screened in porch like Mark and Holly on the side door.  Did I mention Jeff used his own resources for much of the work? 

I rented it out and after a couple years they decided to move on.  The place required some more work and enter Tim and Carrie who took it upon themselves to help me out with their kind assistance. They went above and beyond.   Thanks also to Mark and Holly who helped paint once.  

But this post isn't about the house, which also, unfortunately, had a defective basement and an awkward entry into the kitchen.  It is about friendship.  It is about people who cared enough about me to lend me assistance when I needed it.  People who neither sought any recognition or thanks - folks who just were there when a friend was in need.  It happens every day in America, of course - I'm no one special.  But dammit, this is the stuff that poets and authors write about.   People at their best.  Helping each other out.  Some people go their whole lives and don't really know who their friends are.  I do.  

As for today, however, there is one less raincloud hovering over my head.  My sleep tonight will be deep and fretless.  No more jumping out of my skin when the phone rings.  But, as is life, rainshowers are never far away.      

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

Strange that with the recent showdown on the Confederate Battle flag, and its subsequent historical and social removal that I spotted this house in St. Pete with it flying still. 


It's when I see everyone wearing heavy coats and gloves at Citi Field in New York that I miss the seasons. 


Mackenzie took this shot of a kid riding his bike.  I'd like the opportunity to ask him about 3 questions.


Excellent week of walking:  I found 17 cents.


My Mets...My Mets.


Mackenzie has worked for New York Stores and Piper Fire for the past seven or eight years down here.  She has married and has 2 kids.  She is also scheduled to graduate from Saint Petersburg College with a BA in Business on December 12.  She has slogged through it with all of those irons in the fire and I couldn't be prouder. 


Norah loves Halloween.  Her costume, understandably will be Anna from Frozen.  Here she is on a recent riff talking a little ghosty ghost.


I hope there is a little warm weather up North when I return there in November.  A couple last rides would be nice.  I'm also getting Miss Frump out a little and driving her - I'll bet she loves the colder temperatures.  


Monday, October 26, 2015

Early Morning Meditations - Part 4

Fourth in a series of trips to New Boston with the camera to catch barges, stars and bugs.

Once this guy passed New Boston I hopped in the truck and drove to Keithsburg for the opportunity to experiment with the camera once again.  In college I knew a unstable student named Jamie who seemed to have an unhealthy attachment to trains.  When they would speed through town not far from the dormitories, he would race out and chase them.  Gee, I hope I'm not turning into Jamie.  First off, I can't race anywhere anymore.  And chasing barges seems a somewhat futile endeavor.  By the way, Jamie was killed by one of his trains after he got too close to one, and, well, that was the end of his fixation with them.  

And then it was gone, again, in that dark, almost silent, watery highway.

I will post more photos from this fun picture-taking opportunity in a few days.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Flashback Friday

Last Friday I posted about the Wombie and my trip to Quincy to search out my grandparents' houses.   Today  we see Mona and Dick out on a fishing trip.  The location is unknown but most likely somewhere near Ponemah or Monmouth, where they lived.  Ponemah no longer exists but was about 4 miles southeast of Kirkwood.  Sinclair Oil had a pumping station there and Dick was Superintendent of the plant.  This was where my mother, Marj, was born and lived until she was 14 when they moved the house to Monmouth.  Yeah, moved the whole damn thing to another city.  That had to have been subsidized by Sinclair. 

Mona is in an apron - I somehow think she spent a lot of time in one.  She used to make custards in little ceramic bowls complete with a red bandana cloth for us kids to eat on the long trip back to Seaton whenever we'd go down for a day.  Apparently she is waiting for Dick to catch something in that stream.  In the foreground is an abutment like maybe an overpass at a road.  Most likely this is a bridge and Dick is out trying to catch supper.  Wonder how he got Mona to go, and what is she holding in her right hand?  

In the first picture you can see him intent on something and she is hidden from the sun.  In the second it looks like maybe he has caught something as is taking it off the hook, and she is prepared to take it from him.  Who know?  But I am most curious as to who was taking the pictures.  They seem oblivious, or at the very least unconcerned, about possible picture-taking.  Curious pictures.  Unanswerable questions. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Only In Florida

In what may be a semi-regular feature on BFE, we present the second post that focuses on the strange, creepily different land called Florida.  Quite simply, things happen here that don't happen anywhere else.  It is my conjecture that it was first settled by aliens.  That is the only theory that makes any sense to me.  

"Two Florida parents reward their kids 

for good grades in school with marijuana and cocaine. I'm impressed with their commitment to education, which is so rare in this state."  Walt Disney

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A couple gave their teenage daughters cocaine and marijuana if they went to school and did household chores, authorities said.
Chad and Joey Mudd, of Largo, a suburb in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, gave their daughters, ages 13 and 14, drugs as a "bargaining tool" for school attendance and doing chores, Pinellas County Sheriff's detectives said. They were arrested Monday.
According to an affidavit, the mother said she smoked pot with her daughters five times and the father snorted cocaine with the teens and one of his daughter's boyfriends in his truck.
Chad Mudd, the 36-year-old father who works at an area beach bar, was charged with six counts of child abuse and one count of possession of cocaine. Joey Mudd, the girls' 34-year-old mom, was charged with two counts of child abuse. Arrest records say she works at a pediatrician's office.
Joey Mudd was released Wednesday on bail and Chad Mudd was released Thursday on bail. Calls to telephone numbers belonging to the Mudds weren't answered. It's unclear if they've retained an attorney.
It's not clear who has taken custody of the children. The sheriff's office hasn't immediately returned a telephone call. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Little Blue Ranger That Could

Back in the mid 90's I bought a pick-up truck from Lakis Ford.  It was my second Ranger, and I was experimenting with getting a new vehicle every 2 years.  The first was a '94 black Ranger and then a '96 blue version.  My experiment ended, and I have had the blue ranger almost 20 years now.  Long payed for it has been my wheels through many life events.   

My blue 1996 Ford Ranger parked on the shoreline in New Boston last month.

In a recent trip to Northlandia I went to New Boston to do some picture taking and the Ranger sits awaiting to take me home.  Through the years she has sustained some dents and bruises.  A Publix grocery store pylon dented the left side. while a fender-bender near Atlanta banged up the right.  One of he rear cab sliding windows is actually plexiglass after an unfortunate event at Fyre Lake.  The emergency brake is funky and the brakes need some work, too.  I think the transmission may be slipping a bit, too.  The odometer is shot and the miles rests at 102,588.  The engine runs fine and there are only a couple of rust-outs that has occurred in the past couple of years.  The interior is still in great shape, no rips or tears but the air only works on "max".  

Inside the ashtray is a toy sword and a dum-dum sucker: both belonging to Michael when he lived with us. 

A plastic toy warrior lies in the right door storage area.  They remain where they were when we would cruise around.  They will stay there until he needs them again.

The Ranger took me to work at the Mary and on my last day there, back home.  It took me to work at Dick Blick and Knox Academy until my last days there and back home.  It took me to Florida with a bike in the back that almost broke its spine.  Years of snow and salt rusted the bed mounts and shock absorber clamps.  A garage down here said it was unfit to be on the street but they had really nice truck for sale.  I said no thanks and found a place that refitted the bed mounts and new shocks.  It came back to Northlandia and took me to Florida again.  

Fishing with Michael at Littlejohn

It took me to Wisconsin to check out an old car with JC, and took me Lake Littlejohn to fish.  It took me see my friends and it took me to funerals.  To doctors and dentists and every mundane thing in between.  It took me home...and then took me home.

Michael is 12 now.  Wonder if he needs his sword and Megatron?

Every event great or small it carried me safely and carries me still.  If the transmission holds and the brakes slow me down I may get another few thousand miles from her.  She sits now, in semi-retirement in Emerald City.  Fewer miles, but important ones.  An amazing set of wheels, and after 20 years, an old friend.   

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

Correction:  Yesterday's post had an error in it.  While Existing In BFE isn't necessarily a temple of veracity (Our motto is Never Let The Truth Get In The Way Of A Good Story), sometimes a mistake comes along that must be corrected.  We said a grapefruit was the symbol of welcome.  Actually it was a pineapple.  Thanks Jeff.


Saw this in a thrift store.  Amazing. Never knew they made such a thing.  A lot like my manual stirrer, only cheaper.


Champagne bottle when we (the Mets) beat LA last Thursday.


People are pigs.  These pictures were at a bus stop last week.  There was even a decomposing crow.  And poor Olaf. 


Why does shelf milk never go bad?*


Norah getting ready for the runway.  


Recent sunrise.


This past weekend I was browsing Netflix Streaming and ran across the Glen Campbell - I'll Be Me documentary.  When I was a kid Glen Campbell was like The Partridge Family and Neil Diamond in that you would never want your high school friends to know you listened to.  More than a little square, Glen Campbell was big but not quite the type of stuff you wanted to hear. 

I had read that he was suffering from Alzheimer's and was going on tour with his family one last time.  This is a record of that tour and I not only found it educational, but damn heart-warming as well.  I now have a fuller understanding of the disease and seeing him not only not knowing the date or year, but trying to hide it and act normal was powerful.  I shed a tear as the family finally (after 151 dates) pulled the plug after a concert in Napa, California that displayed the degree to which Glen had deteriorated.  Man!  Watch this.  Watch this for your self and for your loved ones.  


* My guess is it is vacuum packed - thus preventing spoilage.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Baronoff Oak, Count Philippe and Safety Harbor

Safety Harbor is a city north of Clearwater of about 17,000 people.  Like most cities around here you just run into it and never know it, since most everything is developed.  It is a pretty nice place, colorful municipal buildings, a touristy feel to it and lots of those little niche shops that are never part of the chain malls.  The initial reason for coming was to go to Philippe Park, whose sign is posted on the way to the neat Causeway area that is great for taking pictures.   

In downtown Safety Springs, Florida is this tree.  It is an oak.  It is majestic.  And it is somewhere between 300 and 500 years old.   It is the Baranoff Tree which is the oldest living thing in these parts.  City officials did their best to kill it but yet, there it is, still blooming and majestic.  A few years ago after  arborists determined its age, the city fenced the area off and started making brick paths and brick markers at the corners.  In doing so they started to cut off water to the root system.  It began to die until officials removed the brick and today it has regained its health. 

At the park there are a number of interesting things to see.  One of them is the burial site of Odet Philippe.  A Frenchman he was the first European to settle the area, and was the first person to introduce the grapefruit to the are and establish cigar-making in Tampa.  A factoid I recently learned from there website of Bodine-DILLIGAF is that the grapefruit was an early sign of welcome.  Legend has it that sea captains would spear a pineapple outside their homes alerting friends and neighbors that he had returned and to stop by to visit.  Soon businesses placed pineapples on their signs as a display of welcome.  

Before Baron Philippe settled the area, however, another group settled, actually about 6000 years ago.  They were the Tocobaga Indians and I'll post one of their burial grounds on an upcoming post.