Friday, July 29, 2016

Flashback Friday

Unfortunately back in my time, film and processing cost money.  because of this we never did the kind of "Day In the Life Of" kind of random picture taking that would have been so special to see now.  In one of the few advances in technology that I can think of, digital pictures are virtually free today.  You can takes hundreds on an outing, sift through them, keep the good ones, and display them on the internet - all without any charge at all.  While it is true that camera sensors do have a finite lifespan, and copy  processing through Walgreen's cost money,  the home do-it-your-selfer can take pictures of their activity through a day absolutely free.  That's pretty cool.  

But back when I was a kid or young adult, the only picture taking we took was for Christmas cards or some other formal event.  I can't remember sitting around and hearing someone say with a Mickey Rooney "Let's put on a show!" enthusiasm - hey, "Let's take our pictures!"  

Today we have late high school/early college era family pictures that must have been done for one of Marj's homemade Christmas cards for this particular year.  The upper picture shows a smattering of snow on the ground so I'm guessing Thanksgiving break.  What makes it a bit strange for Marj's cards is because through the years the parents were not in the pictures, just the boys and whichever boxer was around.  But here she is.  Also, dating the picture can be narrowed a bit due to no dog being part of he action.  Archie, our first dog and the one who was with us for the most part growing up.   One morning as I was heading out to go to work for Uncle Ed, she was on the front sidewalk and I knew it would be her last day.  I'm not sure when Marj got Magic but it had to be in the first year or so of college so this pic was indeed, somewhere between junior-senior year in high school and the first year of college. 

Once again, the real mystery isn't the actual date but who took the pictures.  Was it Dorothy, our neighbor in Seaton, and who is still chugging along at 91?  

This is "Dot" one of Marj's closest friends, perhaps her best, and someone we still check in on when in Seaton.  When I was in Northlandia I stopped by to see her and her son Lance.  Great family friend and she has always taken an interest in us boys.  Don, her husband, owned the grocery store in Aledo and he died several years ago, way too young.  

If I have a regret, and who doesn't, it would have been to take more pictures of all of us in our natural habitat.  I'd love a picture of Phil in his bedroom playing that homemade baseball game, of the Wombie winding up and throwing a would-be base stealer out at 2nd with that rocket arm.  I'd love to have a picture of Marj when she went on one of those face-scrunching rants when one of us boys would get gross.  I'd love to have a picture of Herb down at the elevator on one of those Fall Friday nights when we were allowed to stay down there until midnight while he was drying corn.  I'd love to have a picture of Ivan Ewing's face when the first cherry bomb went off over at Buster Board's eaves.  I'd love to have a picture of that roadkill badger that we hoisted at the bank with a blank check wrapped in its claw.  Or the picnic tables that we placed at the roads going in and out of Seaton that night when we seceded from the Union.  Or a picture of me baling hay or shelling corn out at Uncle Ed's farm.  So many memories - so few pictures.  A Day In The Life.  Get your cameras out, guys, and document your loved ones and your lives - unposed - those pictures will be a comfort to you when you are older.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Revisiting Seaton Power Show - Part 1

There's not much left of Seaton, Illinois anymore.  When we boys were living there as kids there was a gas station, an auto repair shop, a hardware store, a plumbing business, a newspaper, a post office, restaurant, grocery store, a bank, a veterinarian, grain elevator, trucking business, barber shop and the Smarjasse shop that was hard to catagorize.  All that is left is a bank, cafe, post office and fertilizer company. 

Every couple of years they would bring in a small carnival and the weekend would bring in all kinds of folks.  I recall one time that they had go-carts at these things, too, which was always something I kind of wanted growing up.  It was a big deal for our little town.  

Nowadays they have a pancake breakfast a coupel times a year and the Seaton Power Show in July.  "Power" mostly meaning tractors.  I stopped in last year, too, so these pictures will be reminiscent of last years.  I think they have a pretty good show, along with small engines and they even had an old car.  

Let's walk, shall we?

Since this is Part 1, you can expect Part 2 in the upcoming few days.  OK, so maybe being a farmer helps you digest this post, but beauty and art in iron and an appreciation of things that help us in our work is always worth our consideration.  Thanks for tagging along.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

South Henderson Church and Cemetery

Head Out On the Highway, Looking For Adventure

There is about a 4 mile long winding country road (those are the best, aren't they?) east of Gladstone that takes you to the South Henderson church.  Thet all by itself is worth the trip,  but across the street is a cemetery that holds surprises for the uninintiated.

The church was built in 1854.  The congregation was led by the Reverend Robert Ross who just happened to be one of the founders of Monmouth College.  The church was in use until 1954 when it was officially disorganized and taken over by the local historical group for maintenance.   

Peer inside the generous amount of windows and you'll see a time capsule that will take you back to a different time, a different country, a younger America.  Just think, when this building was dedicated the U.S. was only 70 years old.  

Inside you will see two-sections for seating, one aisle, two chandeliers and a dual-heating single-chimney system.  It's not hard to imagine people gathering early before winter services to get those plumb seats next to the wood-burning stoves.

Excuse the reflection on the right side of the picture, but this is a side view of the interior of the church.  A simple dais-less platform with minimal ornamentation.  

Now, walk across the road and you'll be in the South Henderson Cemetery.  This is where Danial Boone's grandaughter, Elizabeth Robbins, is buried and if that wasn't enough, so are a couple guys who fought in the American Revolution.  

Time and tree growth stops for no one.   Here is an old stone being slowly swallowed by a tree.  

Like an arm embracing a crying child, this tree root gives comfort to an old stone.  

This is a view of the cemetery from the church.  The Revolutionary War soldiers lie to the right and left of the flagpole.

Once again, all it takes is a tankful of gas and no maps to find interesting stuff wherever you are.  Search it out, take that road that looks fun and it just might be.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits

One of the workers here at Bedlam helping with the major renovations.  He has hair so long he clips it to his pants so it will stay out of the way.  I don't have a problem with guys with long hair, but I just wonder why he likes it this long.


Our Colombian neighbors next door brought over some tasty South American treat the other week.  Everyone at Bedlam is getting the boot, or at least many, so they can do a rehab on all the units.  We moved this past weekend, and our neighbors are leaving next month.  They are all heading back to Columbia.  He said he has a house down there that has 6 bedrooms and he pays $300 a month.  He invited me to move down there and start living cheaply.  I told him it was tempting.  Hell,  I just might.   


I like this shirt.


I tried to get into Mr. Robot, but finally had enough after three episodes.  Government guys in black suits and Matrix-type storyline, and lead actor who thinks dramatic lines should be delivered like you have irritable bowel syndrome.  Got bored with it all.

I recently saw The Witch,  a horrible movie that was supposedly the thing to watch this past winter.  It was so bad that I told Mark and Holly not to watch it - they then go out and spend money to see it, and hated it.  Hey folks, I put out these mini-reviews to save you time and money - don't be a moron and disregard them.  

And as long as we are discussing entertainment and idiocy, go ahead and watch The Final Hours, but it will decrease your IQ by .35%.  Story is good and true, but the execution was done by a team of monkeys.  In one scene the power goes out in the local bar/restaurant where apparently everyone in the town has gathered to worry about their local Coast Guard crew sent out to save guys trapped on a damaged freighter.  The only light is a bright beacon from the lighthouse that flashes on the crowd during its rotation.  Then some moron gets the idea to drive all the cars down by the waterfront with their lights on to help guide the boat-in-a-storm home.  Guess that 100,000 watt light from the lighthouse isn't strong enough.  

Another strangely weird thread has the boys on the small boat coming back to the coast town in a driving rain, but oddly, no Coast Guard crewman has rain gear.  All the better, I guess to see the dashing handsome lads with their hair falling in their eyes and faces for dramatic flair.  I could go on - like the old local boys in the bar when they find out the CG Commandant has sent these guys out in  foul weather.  They serve as a kind of Greek chorus by saying idiotic things like, "How can he send men out on a night like tonight? The bastard!"  Well, because that's what the Coast Guard does, guys.  Geez.      


Besides actually living in it, I also watch what it is doing elsewhere.  I have noticed in the past week that the weather between Floriduh and Northlandia has been inverted.  Every day, it seems,  Floriduh has been cooler than up North.  


If you think the 2nd Amendment gives you the right to walk around with an AK assault rifle you are an idiot.  If you think AK assault rifles should be sold to civilians, you are an idiot.  Will it stop the lone deranged madman intent on murder?  No, but we have to start somewhere to fix this problem.  

P.S. I wonder how many people who wrap themselves in the flag and chant about 2nd Amendment rights have ever read or understood ) what it says?


We hired 5 people off Facebook to help with moving this past weekend.  These guys (and girl) were amazing workers.  Marco helped us last time and returned just because he liked the present Mrs. Blythe.  Two of them were also professional movers who were moonlighting and they were something else!  We moved two households in 4 hours.  

I have decided to streamline my future moves - I'm not unpacking.


John Kenneth Galbraith

J.K. (I always called him J.K.) died in 2006.  How did he know Trump and Billary would be running for president this year?


Being a Manny ain't easy.

But it beats working for a living.


Early car wash.  


A 1979 Firebird that was destroyed in a garage fire last week in G-Burg.  It belonged to a friend I met when I worked at Blick.  Her son had been taking it to local shows recently.  Sad sight.


Until next week when all the conventions will be over and the BS will really start all the way to November.  Anyone wanna be my surrogate?

Back when I was really young and a Democratic voter, I shook this man's hand at a campaign rally and told him Illinois was behind him.  I was wrong about that and a few other elections since.  I have to tell you this year's has me buffaloed.  I'm one of those who believe the country is going in the wrong direction, and am quite bothered with voting for a status quo candidate and Grampa Bill walking the halls of MSNBC with nothing to do.  I also think the country works best when the pendulum swings from both parties occupying the White House.  It is the best check and balance we have.  But then the candidate of the other party is so flawed that further explanation is unnecessary.  I suppose I'll get it sorted out before election day, but, man, it isn't supposed to be this tough.  Death by hanging or firing squad.  But it could be worse - we could have Ted Cruz breathing down our backs in the election booth.  Oh, Mo, we could use you now.  

Monday, July 25, 2016

Wombie's Hummingbirds - Part 3

The third series of hummingbirds using the nectar at Mr. and Mrs. Wombie's home in Emerald City.  

I have one more series, I think, left and will post those in a few days.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Flashback Friday

This little gem of a picture isn't all that old.  It's not a school picture or baby or one of those family pics I've been inflicting on you recently.  On a life timeline, this is fairly recent.  It was taken on a trip to the Quad-Cities where we had lunch at the old Lodge, which, I don't think exists anymore.  If it does, its not called that anymore.  I was with the current Mrs. Blythe and Mackenzie and a friend of hers.  I'm thinking c. 2004.  Pre-gray, anyway. 

Since this was pre-selfie this was taken by someone at the table and by my look, I was not expecting it.  If you look at the backdrop,  this was my kind of restaurant - dark, dark and if you were placed at the right table, even darker.  

There isn't much else to this picture, except I direct you to my left ear.  Specifically the lobe.  Brendan and I engaged in a wager of sorts, and my part (having won or lost, depending on how you look at it) was this item that graced its place there for a few months.  There are no other pictures that I will admit to where it is in plain view.   I do remember having it on my bike trips that one summer of riding - tank top with new tats and earring.  I really looked like a biker stereotype that summer.  But then I learned that stereotypes are to be smashed, that we have to be true to ourselves, and decided my dark corner was more me. 


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Latest Waste of Good Oil Paint

The trouble with creating something from scratch is that we see the end result in a perfect or idealized state.  That's just the way our minds work.  Transferring what we see with our heads onto canvas, or any other artistic endeavor for that matter,  is what determines our level of success.  Shakespeare knew all about it and said as much in Hamlet's Soliloquy: "Aye, there's the rub."  

The Cabin in the Woods has a nice garage area so on a event-less afternoon I started to transfer something onto the large canvas I had lying around.  I'm going through a dark phase so I plastered the thing with black gesso and began to see what I had in mind for the thing, and it was pretty neat.  But putting that onto the blank blackness, aye, that's what separates true artists who command thousands for their work to guys like me who have closets full of these things.  But since I have a pension, I'm not in the starving artist category.  I can tinker with oils and not get too serious about it or too stressed out.  My problem isn't "perfection of the craft", it's   staying motivated.     

And so, as the days slipped by and I kept staring at the black canvas, the idea in my noggin began to take shape.  I thought of people I know who can turn something inside out and back and forth and see all the sides, like Mr. Sutor.  Then I thought of my friends who say keep it simple, like Mr. Stage, and I begin picturing what the final painting will look like.  Then I reexamine again.  Anything I should add?  Anything that isn't right?  Is it balanced?  And then I begin.  

Sadly for you, my time up North ended with the painting looking like this.  But I will return and finish it, hopefully.  I know exactly how it will look, in my head.  How you will see it, well, that's the rub.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sometimes Its Right Under Your Nose

My bike needed some work done so I took her up to Brenny's in Bettendorf.  They needed a few days to work on everything, and Mr. and Mrs. Wombie needed an oil change on their Trax, so after that they swung over and picked me up.  While waiting, I started walking and noticed a walk/bike path a couple blocks away from this area of town, which seemed fairly industrial.  

It was a bit like Dorothy going from black and white into color.  This walkway took me into a pastoral green park area that one wouldn't have guessed to exist from the roadway.  

The place is called Devil's Glen Park and the bike path took me along a winding creek with sandstone cliffs and several small waterfalls.

Another view of the waterfall.  Only had my iPhone camera so these aren't the best shots.

These block restrooms and picnic areas are remnants of work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the '30's.

The next few shots are of the cliffs that edge a creek that runs through the area.  This bike path is 3.6 miles in this park but hooks up to a Greater Quad-City bike path that is about 10 miles long.

A beautiful oasis in a business and industrial area of Bettendorf.  Alcoa isn't too far away as are many other manufacturing companies.  It was a surprising and pleasant find;  once again, when you  travel you will be amazed at the things you find right under your nose.