Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Burgess Party

While in Northlandia and the weekend the kids were up, we were invited to the Barton's in Burgess for a good old fashioned summer cookout.  

Chef Richard manned the dogs and the amount of food brought in by participants was a declaration that no one would go home hungry.

Because my kidlings were there my presence in the pool was mandatory.  Besides having them here from Kitschland making it a rare and valued visit, but to see them having fun was even better.

Naturally Alfred was beguiled by the doggies. 

And she seemed to have invented new ways to win at bag toss.

A big thanks to Andrea and Richard who extended the invite and who always host such fun-filled get-togethers.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits

Progress isn't always good.  Somewhere along the way I lost the ability to record stuff on TV.  I know they have something called DVR, but with my cable bill rates that function became a bridge too far.  


“The warrior ethic has damaged us. As we move into the twenty-first century we need to mature beyond war and warriors. I disagree with those men’s movement writers and activists who speak so highly of the warrior. I appreciate some of his traits—like courage, teamwork, loyalty—but the archetype itself is bankrupt at this point in history. We surely need guardians, boundary-setters, husbandmen, and citizens. If we are to survive on this planet, so threatened by war and warriors, we must get beyond the obsolete archetype of the warrior and value images such as the peacemaker, the partner, and the husbandman who cares for the earth and animals.”

I'd need at least a three beer lead to tackle this subject.


And then apparently tired of family, Alfred grabs her Happy meal and moves over to an isolated spot over by the window.  Atta girl.  Carve your own path. 


Shopping till they dropped.


Took this video while in the car after a trip to Wal-Mart.  It won't be long now.  How appropriate for Kitschland and my mood right now. 


The Cabin awaits.  57 days, 9 hours and 1 minute.  Give or take when you read this.


 One of the local watering holes in Emerald City, Beer Bellies, has a kind of neat ceiling tile motif.  For a large or small amount of money (depending, of course on your luck at the Golden Goddess money machine),  you can get a tile emblazoned with your favorite team.  Or anything, I suppose, within reason.  You can imagine that there are some Cubs and Cards tiles with fan names.  There's an Alabama logo and I think the local high school mascot and logo are represented. 

Last week this logo went up for relative posterity.  Seaton of course is hometown to some of Mercer County's most dynamic, intelligent and upstanding citizens.  Con, one of the Seatonites behind this movement, is the daughter, of Howard, Class of '42.  Glenn Blythe was class of '40.  Ed Rader was class of '30.  Ed always bragged that he graduated sixth in his class.  Yes, you guessed it, there were six in his class.  

The school is long gone, but the Blythe boys all went to the school when it was a grade school. 

Congrats to the Wolves.  Can't wait to tip a beer in toast to the new logo.


       I'm on a roll.  I moved into binging on Godless after Ozark and I'm giddy with wonderment.  Both are absolutely MUST SEE.  


The place here at Sinkhole Estates. or as I like to call it, Death Valley, was rocking.  Grandkids had a sleep over.  Movies and pizza.  Kids laughter and racing feet.  Fun.


In an attempt to find some measure of adult enjoyment in this arid desert of pleasures, I have established Thursdays at "Bar Night".  This is when I head out to sit, alone, and have a glass of beer and feel like a normal guy.  My first Bar Night was at a place called Average Joe's.  It is walking distance and I had high hopes. 

The place was OK, clean and the beer was cold.

Sadly, it was a yuppie hangout from some tech people who work nearby.  Not that I have any problem with techies, but their taste in music was, well, techno.  It really, really sucked.  It was so loud and so geared that at one time three techies with man-buns were bobbing their heads in sync.  I had a glass of Lite and the waitress hardly said anything, but then a bit later a couple came in and she asked if they wanted anything to eat.  Am I too sensitive? Maybe, but I was hungry. 


One of a bar's cardinal sins was violated at Average Joe's. The wooden raised lip at the elbow rest area was uncomfortable and annoying.     

The bar keep's wearing apparel was a strange layered, pajama bottom, short-shorts, sweatshirt combo that, add the ponytails and baseball cap reverse-bill thingy and I almost felt like I was in a  circus fetish sideshow for adults.     

Man buns and pony tails with the requisite full beard that seems so fashionable amongst certain strata.  I'm starting my own fashion trend - grizzled gray four-day old stubble, cargo shorts and T-Shirt that says:

I'd score the place a C- or maybe even a D.  The summary review:


  • Cold beer
  • Didn't have to wait to get served.
  • Close to Sinkhole Estates
  • Had Wifi
  • Grill


  • Loud, loud, loud.
  • Music selection sucked.  I was going to put on some Meat Loaf but figured everyone would know it was me because...
  • I was the oldest one there
  • Cliq-ish
  • Menu was yuppie  
  • Cheapest item on menu was $8.50, and that was 3 egg rolls.
  • Awkward elbow to bar configuration
  • techno clientele
This next Thursday I will be walking or bicycling to a place called Birdie's Tap not far from Joe's.  One of Yelp's reviews was you could scrape the dirt scum and grease off the walls.  Looking forward to it.


Monday, December 11, 2017

She Approaches - Part 2

I feel like one of my wordless photo essays today.  Besides, what could I add that would make these pictures any better?  When in Northlandia I try to make it as often as possible to the river to get pics just like these.  I think they are beautiful:  things happening at night, and interplay of light, the mystery of water.  

Friday, December 8, 2017

Flashback Friday

Yesterday was the anniversary of the infamous Bomb Threat at Aledo High School.  While occasionally I am wracked by the notion that it is "too soon", I am prepared today to give you some recollections of that day, for the first time on this blog.  Well, for the first time ever, I guess.  I'm sure memories have dimmed some of the elements, but here's what I do remember.  

I was a senior whose graduation was assured.  In a few weeks I would receive acceptance papers to Iowa Wesleyan College for the Fall.  Sweeping the country was a new craze - high school bomb threats.  Back then it was construed by school officials as a kind of inconvenient disruption rather than the terror threat it is now.  There had been a couple already in nearby schools, Kewanee and one in the Cities.  The national mood was edgy:  the social fabric was ripping.  Vietnam was in disfavor with student rioting and groups taking over university administration buildings.  It was a time of free-wheeling protest and youthful unrest.  Combine all that with a personal domestic upheaval and you had the perfect storm:  boredom, stupidity, goal and means, and a kind of messed up kid ready to get more messed up.   

December is always a kind of strange month in school - nothing is too earth-shattering since you are really just running-in-place until the two week Christmas vacation.  Monday, December 7th.  So it was with a certain kind of anticipation that I approached a table at third hour study hall.  Already there were Doug, Tony, and Gary.  These guys weren't part of my entourage.  But they were there, and that was good enough. 

It was at this point I mentioned the possibility of perpetrating this crime in an effort to get the rest of the day.  Contrary to popular myth, there was no real reason to do it that day other than the fact I was bored.  Had I targeted December 7th because of its historical significance there surely would have been more planning than the 15 minutes we devoted to it. 

At our school you could come and go for particular reasons but you had to sign out.  I told my fellow conspirators that I would sign out and go uptown to a phone booth not far from the Frontier building and say there was a bomb at the high school, set to go off at noon.
All four decided they were "in".  And why not?  They didn't have anything to do except sit back, and wait for the announcement to go home after the call was made, right?  The plan was hatched.  No one would ever know who called.  Soon, we'd be told to go on home and ready to enjoy a nice long weekend.

At approximately 11:30 am I signed out.  I found the phone booth, inserted the coins and called the school.  I told them there was a bomb set to go off at 1:00.  I returned to school.  Perfect planning.  No one would ever know.  I should say at this point that the amount of time planning the plot was likely shorter than my trying to decide between an apple fritter or vanilla frosted cake donut at Casey's.

By the time I returned the announcement was made.  We were all told to walk out to the bleacher area at the football field.  On the way, I stopped to take a bathroom break.  There was Eddie, who was part of my entourage and I exclaimed to him, likely giddily, that I was the one who called.  Eddie and I now have old cars and we meet at various shows in Northlandia and somehow he still brings that up to me.   


    The picture above is a likely interpretation of that day of the student body shivering out on the bleachers.

Once school ended, and I don't remember now if we got the rest of the day off or not, I went home and as usual, started watching Star Trek which was our must-view TV at that time.  I recall being half sick at this time, with the approaching foreboding of what I'd done beginning to sink in.  About that time a police car drove up and I was whisked away to a holding cell at the old police station, and what is now The Slammer, a restaurant in Aledo.

Half miffed about not being able to see the last of James Kirk and crew wriggle out of another jam, the questioning was more telling me the consequences of not telling them who else was in on it.  I didn't tell them.  There were 3 personal triumphs in this sordid tale, which I'll get to a little later.  What I was unaware of is that all the others had.  And why not?  The thing that tripped us all was that I signed out.  Ever the rebellious law-abider, I followed the rules.  The record was checked, the times were synced and my goose was cooked.  

My early Monday off scheme resulted in a suspension of seven days.         

I honestly can't remember the above noted meeting but I can remember the evening of the 7th once I came home from the questioning, and subsequent reveal that all the details had been fleshed out by the local authorities.  Not that there was any future book or miniseries in the discovery.  It was a spur of the moment activity and had the complexity of a an eraser.  

That night was, as you can imagine, a tense evening at the Blythe household.  Herb was upset and vocal, but to this day I believe Marj helped tamp down the recriminations.  I think she realized the person who would be the hardest on me would be me.  And she was right.  In the following week she and I took many road trips, had some fun, chatted about things and she never once, not once, ever laid anything on me other than things would be fine and I was a good kid.  My mother was always in my corner but never more than that week of suspension.  

One other thing that happened that week, and I have to thank Bro Phil with this little project.  After chatting with him that evening, we decided the best move might be to apologize , in person, to all of the teachers whose day was disrupted by my stupidity.  I found them at their homes after school within a few days of the hoax and everyone accepted my apology with grace and politeness.  In fact, more than one said that I had actually done a good thing in that it helped to mobilize and organize emergency services for the school.  

But that was not the end of it.  In fact, it was just the beginning of my punishment.  The school district meted out the following conditions:

1.  Students will voluntarily work on school related jobs at the direction of school officials.  Mike Blythe to be the lead worker of the group.  Students and parents to cooperate in every way possible to accomplish the work schedule as presented to them.

2.  All days off from school to be cancelled with the time to be spent on the program of work (Dec. 24exception).  Saturdays may be used as work as necessary.  

3.  All students collectively must make up total number of hours missed by students, faculty and other adults because of bomb call - total 550 hours.  

4.  Diplomas of all students so cooperating will be issued with their class after above hours of work have been satisfactorily achieved, plus up to eight Saturdays work on the curve beautification project adjacent to the athletic field along the highway, between Mar. 1, 1971 and the close of the school year.  

5.  If at any time a student fails to complete his share of he necessary hours of work on the above mentioned project, he will be expelled from school by Board action.

Dated Dec 14, 1970.

And so my little afternoon off scheme has now resulted in most days off of school would be devoted to working for District #201.  And then, come March, all Saturdays would be spent on a beautification project.  All of it tied neatly to graduation if successfully completed.

And it began almost immediately with Christmas vacation.  Those couple weeks were spent at the newly constructed Apollo Grade School in Aledo.  I painted classrooms.

In the ensuing weekends I would go where the coordinator would send me.   Some of the work was at the high school, some of it was in other local schools, but mostly Apollo.  Once in a while they would call and say they had no work for me and give me the hours anyway.  

In the spring, we began work on the football field beautification project which consisted of cleaning and landscaping the area and planting evergreens.

A posed photo for the yearbook.  Me with an ax seeming to be chopping down the school sign.  Behind me is the beautification area next to the football field. 

Tony decided the risk-reward wasn't worth it and dropped out.  My memory is foggy but I think the rest of us buckled down, put in the hours and graduated.  

Doug went on to have a media company in the Quad-Cities.  Gary joined the air force and then worked in the Galesburg area.  Tony died in 2012 in Muscatine where he lived.  Except for Gary I never saw any of them after graduation.

Apollo is still in use.

There are no longer any evergreens at the area that was beautified.

I mentioned earlier three triumphs.  The first was loyalty to the classmates who entered into this scheme.  I didn't snitch.  Secondly, I made a personal effort to make amends for my actions.  And thirdly, I persevered.  I completed the conditions set out by the Board and graduated.

 And that was the end of it.

Except, of course, even today once in a while I will run into someone who sat in those cold stands that Monday afternoon and will make a comment when they see me.  I take it all in good cheer.  Today it is simply something that I did which was stupid.  I own it but it is such a small part of who and what I am that it is no more than a penny in a jar full of quarters.


Memory is a funny thing, or maybe I should say elusive.

1.  I thought Dec 7, 1970 was a Friday.  Turns out it was a Monday.

2.  I can't for the life of me figure out what the other three guys did in this hoax.  If saying "yes" was all they did then their consequences, it seems to me, were very stiff. 

3.  I can't remember the Board meeting on the 9th.  I'm sure I went and it would seem both parents accompanied me, but thankfully, the memory of that is gone.

I should also note that at the post-graduation party we had as a class at the VFW there was a gift given to me which was part of a board game at the time.  It was a small black bomb that when you twisted the red top would tick for a few seconds then go bang.  Presumably much laughter ensued.

There was a second bomb scare at the high school in 2007.  I didn't do that one.

I also want to apologize to any reader who caught cold sitting in the bleachers that day.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Oh Wow.

A few weeks ago I posted a note about some Root beer Schnapps we used to make for neighbors while in G-Burg.  Everclear, sugar  and some flavoring, some boiling, some cooling and bottling and what resulted was a super smooth liquor that was simply put: fantastic.  We did this for a few years and some of our more addicted friends wondered when their next shipment would arrive.  We tried to time it around Christmas.  The current Mrs. Blythe was Mr. White and I was Jesse.  

Imagine my surprise when last in Northlandia the Wombie slipped into the storage room, or wine cellar, and came out with a pristine never-opened bottle of a vintage 1988 bottle of Mike's Root Beer Schnapps.  

Questions arose:  why wasn't it ever opened?  Would it still be good?  How would one possibly put a price on it?  What is Sotheby's phone number?  The answers are:  The Wombie's a coward, yes, priceless, no idea.

The labels are still intact:

"This special blend of sugar, water and Grain Alcohol is the culmination of an hour's work.  It captures, I think, the essence of the raw spirit of Mercer County.  

So sit back, and try some Mike's Root Beer'll make a cold winter day a bit warmer." 

This particular bottle will likely not ever be opened.  And I'll wager it is as smooth a concoction today as it would have been 25 years ago when it was new.

But I have good news for those of you who requested a bottle if I ever made a new batch.  When I come up in February I will be making a couple batches while in the Cabin in the Woods.  If you want some, just let me know.  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits

Thanksgiving isn't for everyone in the U.S.  For Native Americans it is a day of mourning.  


Today is Bug Sex Day in Kitschland.

Saw these guys the other day not too far from my present place of incarceration, Sinkhole Estates, and decided that Bug Sex Day was worthy of promoting.  I will be filing official documents and sending them to Tallahassee in hopes of a more formal recognition for next year.  My hope is to eventually expand it to humans, as well.  Perhaps maybe even making it a national holiday, along side Ground Hog Day, maybe.   


Saw this truck on East Bay Drive last week.  I'm no gun expert but that looks to be an assault rifle as part of the logo of this happily upfront gun-totin' fellow from Oregon.  I'm no hater of guns as I understand the pleasure they provide for hunters, collectors and target shooters.  But I am most definitely opposed to assault weapons: you don't assault deer or shooting range targets.  Keep them for our military.  There are changing social mores as well.  Just like the display of the Confederate flag has become uneasy at best, so is the glorification of the gun of choice for mass murderers.      

This strange and wonderful looking concoction is a cotton candy rolled ice cream treat from Iceberg in downtown St Pete.  The owner is Miss Norah who, gamely, devoured the whole thing. 


As the sexual harassment cultural renovation project sweeps the country my first thought was Lord Acton's famous quote "All power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."  These incidents are driven by power, after all, not sex.  But then I began thinking that that doesn't really tell the whole story.  Absolute power doesn't always corrupt absolutely.  Absolute power is more a prism that reveals the true nature of the individual.  I can site you many people who have enjoyed power and absolute power who have used that as a springboard for good.  Bill Gates has used his power to give away 72 billion dollars to charitable endeavors.  In fact, on Forbes 10 most powerful people list for 2017 there was only one person who has been accused of sexual harassment.  Yeah, that would be the President of the United States. 


I hope you have had your morning mush and grits and ready for something a bit on the gross side.  If your first instinct that this item is a frayed cord or frayed snake, your second guess would be the correct one.  This was found in the garage of Mackenzie's home after a thorough thrashing by their cat.  Species unknown.  But the damn cat is still alive.


The Cabin in the Woods has been decorated for the holidays.  Come on snow.  By the way, tickets have been purchased for February.  When I used to say "I can't wait" when I was a kid my droll mother would always reply, "Well, you'll have to."


I recently saw Marlo Thomas on one of those St. Jude hospital guiltmercials.  Looks to me like she has had so much work done on her face she can't hardly speak.  Wiki says she's 80.  Looks great,  though.  


While shopping with the crew on Saturday I took a break and had a seat on the bench.  There was a lady who was sitting there also but she wasn't sitting at the edge, but in a foot or so.  I didn't think all that much about it, but then Norah comes over and sits with me.  Now they are leg to leg but still the b^%$h won't move.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm up to my eyeballs with the spirit of Christmas but these damn people are driving me nuts. 


Adventures In Babysitting

While on a stroll last Friday as part of my job as a daycare provider, a job by the way, that is getting more tenuous with each passing day, I put the top up to keep the sun from little Alfred.  I kept[hearing things but continued on as passersby would stop and look and say hi.  What I didn't know was she decided to take sips of milk out of her cup and then spit it into the cupholder.   I kid you not: My dream is to drive a truck at the Grind.  I'd do it for free.  I can feel the end of the rope!


While back in Northlandia I received a text from a friend in Tybee Island, Ga. He told me that while watching Savannah TV news they had a feature on the post office situation in Seaton, my old hometown.   Its not often Seaton makes the news, and hardly ever in a good way these days.  As you will note after watching the video, Seaton is pretty low on the USPS ladder of things that must be fixed.  I kind of wondered why they don't erect one of those apartment-style mailbox towers for the village residents and be done with it.  And like my friend said, it must have been a slow news day in Savannah.

Here, old hometown, old bank, and hardware store, and restaurant, elevator, McKnight Trucking, Bill's Texaco, Stan's, and Sim's grocery, this is my gift to better days and a better post office.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Faint Signs

It's Monday so we must have some new pics from Northlandia, huh?  The EiBFE staff have been inundated with letters and emails calling for something else, anything, except these old repetitive pictures that seem to be a tiresome retread of things already posted.

Your comments are important to us. Rest assured we will inform the editorial board of your wishes.  Until then, please sip your coffee, relax and enjoy the pictures of the night.  What music they make.  

The first two pictures feature faint signs of a barge coming up and down stream.  

The last two are from new Boston at the dock.  

Now that wasn't so bad, was it?  I like to ease you into the new week as gently as possible.  We'll bang the pots and pans soon enough, but for today something soothing, and easy, and calm.  And, as always, thanks for stopping by.