Monday, April 17, 2017

On Vacation

What are here for?  I've told you for the past couple of weeks I was taking some time off.  Aren't you paying attention?  OK, as long as you are here.  

I'm taking a couple weeks off.  Existing In BFE will return on Monday, May 1st.  Yes, that's me above in some vacation casual wear watching the traffic go by.  After a nice workout on my pogo stick I'm going to have a Bloody Mary and a cigar. 

Be sure to catch the three bonus posts made last Friday.  Do it today before the subscription rates increase.  Got that?  Now I don't want to see you sneaking around here unless you are catching up on past entries and that will take you awhile since we've been around for awhile.     

Friday, April 14, 2017

Flashback Friday - Iliff - Part 4

When does a boy become a man?  Well now, there's a question for the ages.  Some do it in fits and starts.  Some too late.  Some, of course, never do.  It's generally not a single event, but a process, like so many things are.  Its not a single day or a weekend, as much as we'd like to remember that special night in the back seat of the folks' Buick.  No, it's a progression for most of us, a kind of layering of clothes like our mothers did when they sent us out to play in the snow.  An armor and shield made of woolen socks and heavy boots, of coats so thick they made movement almost impossible.  Stocking caps that blinded and gloves that bound.   A layering of sights, thoughts and imaginings that progress us through a tunnel of exasperation - culminating in a juggernaut toward a light that brings us to an awareness called manhood.  Often we enter it unaware, only to recognize its visage when looking back.  At its heart, we are propelled by a combination of loneliness, an out-of-body self awareness, adversity, acute knowing, empathy for another's suffering and a knowledge of goals or motivation toward a goal.  If we survive our moment of night, then at this moment we know we can pretty much handle the howling winds of misfortune and the onslaught of life's devastating days of darkness.  

(I think girls become women much the same way only faster and more class and awareness than we poor mopes.)  

And so it was that if I have any semblance of manhood at all it was the confluence of several events that streamed into my consciousness during my two Iliff years.  This is the final entry of Iliff and my time in Denver, Colorado. 

The Studies

As an undergraduate at Iowa Wesleyan College, now University, I had a double major (Philosophy/Theology) and a minor in History.  For me it was a perfect storm of fields that I most enjoyed.  Originally I signed up for Political Science as a major but they hired a new guy to head the academic program and he was quite unimpressive.  That class was a letdown.  It just so happened that all freshman have to also take some required courses and one was with the renowned Dr. George LaMore and it was love at first listen.  He gets any credit for any academic success I may have had in college.  he was simply the best.  Dynamic speaker, he could, if he wanted, make a light switch the most interesting thing you had ever seen.  He was locally famous and a campus god and deservedly so.  After graduation I had the opportunity to continue my studies so I chose a small school on the campus of the University of Denver that had a Master's program in the delicious stuff I had been studying at IWC.  

At Iliff the studies weren't as much fun, primarily because they didn't have George LaMore around, or anyone like him.  Stodgy  would best describe these professors - seemingly 120 years old and robotically going through their notes they had written and been unchanged since the previous century,  the work became less fun and more demanding.  While there was plenty of time for socializing at IWC, all of a sudden studies began soaking up most of the time necessary, but weekends were still available for fun.  

I persevered through a couple years of classes and a thesis (I'll still get that for you Neighbor Tim) and learned that like a student- based Peter Principle, that I had run my course academically.  I toyed with going for a Doctorate but it got to the point where classes were becoming a drudge and I wanted to get to work doing something other than staring at blackboards.  The end of school had arrived.  Graduation was held, I had survived and attained a B-level GPA and at the last hour of the last class I soon got in my car and drove, without stopping, from Denver, Colorado to Seaton, Illinois.  The sense of relief was overwhelming.  I was heading home to work for Uncle Ed and spend the summer like I had the previous ones; baling hay, cultivating, shelling corn and laughing with Ed and the gang.  I couldn't stand the thought of spending any more time there and graduating with the pomp that I enjoyed at IWC.  It was over.  They sent my diploma and Master's robe to me in a week or so.  

The last page of my graduate school transcript. It may be full of numbers, grades and such but all it says to me is it was over. 

The People 

This was the place I dated a lesbian,  then a Filipino.  I was buddies with Eddie, a cool dude Hispanic, and palled around with a couple redneck brothers from Mississippi, The Calhouns.  Other kids from small towns have awakened to the vastness of the world, both in size and people, so I certainly wasn't unique.  Military service will open your eyes, too, but for me it was a small school nestled in a big one, centered in a city that opened mine.  After I met Jan we began to explore not only Denver but the surrounding environs as well.  Wyoming is a relatively short trip and I thought I'd gone to a different planet when I saw some of that land.  

What seems rather intriguing as I look back is that, besides Jan, I left Denver and school and never kept up with any of my fellow students.  It's like we all used each other to help us get through the days and weekends of the time, but once it was over, we hurried home.  To this day i have contact with high school friends and college, in both the fraternity and out.  But the grad school experience was business.  Serious business that required our minds, our study and our attention, but did not lend itself to making lasting friends.  It seems add as I write this, but perhaps it shouldn't.  The difference between 4 years of college and 2 years of grad school marks a wide differential as well in the area of fun and games and adult responsibilities.  

The Growing Up 

So, did I want the continued fun with friends like college or the continued personal study of subjects that sated my thirst?  As I look back, I can honestly say I wanted both.  College was an amazing time for me, a true awakening.  I wanted more.  I wasn't ready to begin the drudge of work.  In reality, my time in Denver was fulfilling both needs:  I learned more and I also had more fun - pushing away the encroaching adult world that consumes us all.  The area that most enthralled me: the psychology of why we are what we are was continued with solid professors with a wealth of knowledge.  That was worth the extra years alone. Pikes peak, the sub going down in the Colorado River story Eddie and I cooked up, Wyoming, Colorado Springs starting to paint, and Jan were all worth the extra years as well.  

Marj and Herb sent a kid for further education and while I can't comment on any degrees of increased maturation or manhood, I came back a kid who was ready to embrace the adult responsibilities I had attempted to keep at bay.  I was more educated and more aware of a world that included all manner of things and people. 

This ends the Iliff years posts and I see no further reason to revisit.  But it still revisits me.

I still wake up from nightmarish dreams all these years later, occasionally,  sweaty and in a panic over classes I missed or assignments I failed to hand in.   

(This is the last post until May 1st.)

Flashback Friday - Part 2

(This is the third post for today's Flashback Friday)

Summer's First Good Ride - Part 2

From left: Tim, Carrie, Mike, Rick, and Dave. Jen took this picture.

Saddle up!

Mike, Tim, Carrie and Rick's hand.

"Aw shucks, Jen."

Before we went to Tim's parents' house we stopped at Captain Ron's along the Mississippi River. We like to stop fairly often on rides to have a cigarettes/cigar/soda/beer and stretch our legs. Our asses need limbering, our thirsts need quenching and voices need repartee.

After our lunch at the Driftwood (tomorrow's entry) we saddled up and left Peoria by heading up to Spring Bay and Mike back in the lead. We went up to Lacon, across to Sparland (and saw Capone's safe house) and then across country to Wataga (Tim: it's 1st gear then 2nd and so on) and rested at the Nowhere Bar. My leading across this portion of Illinois was kind of fun because I knew where I was but others didn't, which doesn't happen to me very often.

We debriefed at the CC upon landing in BFE and discussed the ride. A good one incorporates good company, plenty of laughs, great food, a beer or soda along the way, excellent roads and the sights, sounds, smells of riding a bike. What a great weekend. No way next weekend will be as good but we'll do our best to make a memorable riding experience. Any ride is worthwhile with good friends.

Flashback Friday

This was first posted in June of 2010.  

Summer's First Good Ride - Part 1

Group ready to ride after breakfast in Galesburg. I'm not sure my impression of the place was the same as my companions, but suffice to say the food was OK, the price was good, but the ambiance was more akin to a Red Cross disaster relief cafeteria.

This is Gillies tavern in Kickapoo and hasn't seen a scrubbing since Moses carved his initial in the bar. Our bar wench was a sight to behold and I would have taken a picture of her but I was simply too stunned. A lady whose middle age years seem to have come and gone with a dirty blouse that exposed her midriff. The place was filthy and since it was my idea to go there I had to put up with a lot of guff the rest of the day.

Fellow bikers putting on a good front in Gillies.

Tim attempting to mask the smells.

Two Gilles patrons stunned into perpetual silence. Oh, and I didn't put a sepia tone on this picture, everything was this color. Years and decades of cigarette smoke caked everything, including Lolita our barmaid.

The sun came up and with it a summer ride. I love the morning of a ride: what will we see, do, encounter? Today (Saturday May 22) we organized a ride that was going to take us to Galesburg for breakfast at a place I don't even know the name of. After that we went for a soda/beer at a place in Kickapoo called Gilles. We had also planned on a trip to Creve Coeur to see Tim's parents and lunch at Davis Pizza. This was the itinerary. It's what happens at these places and in between that makes for a good or not so good ride. This was a very good ride.

After breakfast we rode down Rte. 150 to Kickapoo. I'm usually the lead bike; I'm not sure if this is an honorary position or if it's just something no one else wants to do. It's not so bad if I know where I'm going, otherwise its torture. Well, I missed the turnoff to 150 East like I always do and I had wanted so to do it right this time. I had suggested an old bar in Kickapoo I had been years ago as a place to stop and rest. Gilles was something else. As explained above, the place has been virtually placed in a time machine. It is what actually comes up if you type "dive bar" on Wikipedia. We were the only ones there while another large biking group went down to the next block to a nice place we have been to before.
After our eyes had had enough of the barmaid and our glasses were empty we couldn't beat cheeks fast enough to leave. This made the breakfast restaurant seem like the Ritz. But, you know, that's what makes for good rides and creates lasting memories.

Our next destination was Creve Coeur, Tim's hometown, and he led the way; if I can't find Kickapoo I sure as Hell can't be trusted to find Peoria. We got separated a couple times at stop lights, but quickly regrouped and parked in Tim's boyhood home driveway. Mom & Dad (Gary and Patti Stage) greeted us and a very pleasant half hour ensued. Tales of growing up, Mom and Dad swapping stories about each other, and a back yard forest gave us a bit of an insight into why Tim is Tim. Lucky man, nice family.
By the way, Creve Coeur means "Broken Heart". We may be bikers but we like to learn.

Flashback Bonus

Today I will be posting two Flashbacks.  The first one is a final piece on my 2 years in graduate school in Denver.  The second is a 2 part post I wrote in June of 2010 for the blog after a ride to Peoria and other places.  I felt the Denver piece was an inappropriate farewell for the 2 weeks I'll be gone from the blog.  I scoured the site and found a more upbeat entry that I hope keeps you all in good fettle till I return.  God.  I must be getting old, I used the word fettle.  I just looked it up and I used it appropriately.  Whew.  Fettle is a word I may have used in Denver, but would probably not use on a day long bike ride with friends.   

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Lynx - Part 3

Privateer Lynx
Home Port - Newport Beach, California
Winter Port - Fort Myers, FL, St. Petersburg, FL

After our aborted sailing, I stepped downstairs for a history lesson from one of the crew members.  As she was talking about and displaying basic food on the original Lynx back in 1812,  such as hardtack and salted pork.  Any livestock on board was for the officers.  The salted pork was usually anything left over after the good parts were removed, again, for the officers.  Hardtack was a mix of flour and water, left to harden and was, in essence, a kind of biscuit. 

The above picture is a cabinet in the hold area which is where the present day crew live.  It is a pretty example of carved wood that one might well expect on a sailing ship.  

This is one of the bunks the crew use.  It is narrowed at one end and eyeballing it I'd say the widest head area is smaller than the widest part of a twin bed while the feet area is about half the width of a twin size bed.  They do double duty; two people to a bunk: when one is working the other is down taking it easy or sleeping.

During the day light is provided by glass panels above.

Heat is provided by this gas heater.

Nice gas lighting along the sides with a table in the middle.  Quarters are cramped.

As expected all of the books in the small library cove are nautical in nature.  

Examples of period piece wearing apparel were passed around.  The most interesting aspect of sailor-wear were the pants all tars wore.  They had a buttoned flap in the rear.  When nature called they would go up to the black wooden rope and anchor hold (above) which all sailing ships have, drop the panel, do their business and head back to work.  Yup, this was the bathroom on ships for the regular crew.  Officers used nicer and private quarters elsewhere on board ship.  

Crew members buttoning up canvas after our sail.  They attempt to make the work and tasks just as authentic as when the original Lynx was sailing.  There are no motorized sail hoists.  Some of the additions to the ship were mandated by the Coast Guard such as radar and fire extinguishers.  

My impression of the crew is that they are hard working - friendly, and man-oh-man, they seemed young.  It should not be surprising since climbing around ropes and yardarms wouldn't be for older guys.  I helped man some of the ropes and I can tell you it is hard.  These guys (and girls) have to do it by themselves when there aren't tourists aboard and it can be tough raising those heavy sails.  Also nice to see is the number of women crew members.  As you can see in the above picture there appeared to be an equal number of female sailors to the guys.  

I opened the post and now close it with photos of the Lynx in action elsewhere around the world.  I'm not sure why I am smitten by the Lynx - maybe because there is a certain romance to the tall ships.  I like old cars, it stands to reason I'd like old ships too, I suppose.  After all I come from a sailing family (my Dad was a 90-day wonder in WWII).  But then again, I have no desire to see old sewing machines...but I digress.  

The Lynx is enjoyed her last sail in the area this past weekend and will be traveling from her winter home to visit places where she can resume her educational adventures and tall ship summer circuit.  

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


More GIFS!

OK, I know what you all are thinking.  Nice GIFS and all that but we've seen half of them already on Yahoo.  Plus, what a ripoff.  You hardly put any work at all on this post, and you aren't supposed to be taking vacation for another three days!  What a jerk.  What a lazy ass.  And that uncalled for comment yesterday about those kids and their teacher - obviously you crossed a line with your humor.  What a mope.  And now you half-ass a post while celebrating 2500 entries.  More like 2000 with all the effort you put into some of them.  Geez.  I want my money refunded.  What?  I get all this free?  And you have to buy space on Google to make this website?  Hmmm.  OK, you can take a week or so off but you really did cross the line with those boys and their older teachers.  Really.  Shame...Shame...Shame...Shame.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits

Projects Inside the Cabin:

Different Washing Machine
Paint Bedroom
Change shower head
Replace my 12 year old computer

Projects Outside the Cabin:

Ride the cycle
Take Pictures
Sit outside so I can listen to the quiet
Visit BFE Community Center
Install Chrysler Highway Hi-Fi in Miss Frump
Smell Green Stuff Growing


Hey Wombie.  If you go into the Cabin in the Woods and prepare for my arrival in about three weeks and see something like this in the furnace room, would you call Triple A Pest control and have them come over and take care of this.   


Sometime this week Existing In BFE will publish its 2,500th post. Just info for those keeping score.

(Yeah, that skyline is London, but this was the only graphic I could find.)

OK, I've provided an extra couple of weeks of material for you but this is absolutely the last week before a short hiatus here at BFE.  I'm breaking out the champagne to celebrate our 2500th entry and take it easy for a couple weeks.  (Actually we will continue to feverishly come up with new material when we return.  The blog is always hungry.  Besides, I still babysit "It".)   Mark your calendar for May 1st when we return with some of the greatest stuff we've ever posted (marketing bullshit).


Alfred enjoying her first full swim for the year.  


I think the office of Press Secretary should be revamped or eliminated.  All it has become is a partisan exercise in B.S.  It was painful with Gibbs, Carney, Earnest and is even more so with Spicer.  Scrap it.


Almost every day now we read of poor 16, 17 and 18 year old boys having sex with their teachers.  I hope there are plenty of opportunities for these traumatized young men to get counseling to talk about their sexual forays with older, more experienced women.  Those poor guys.  How will they ever learn to cope with such victimization. 

(This opinion does not necessarily reflect those of the management of Existing In BFE.  It might, but might not.)  


Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend, with my Nasty current wife, an art show to benefit Planned Parenthood in St. Pete.  The art was donated by Nasty Women Resistance group which has sprung up to give voice to the rollback of women's rights under the new administration.   

I like art.  I like looking at it.  I was happy to attend and see other artists' views and creative energies.   The art was sometimes good, mostly angry and, in a couple instances, rather shocking.  

I have a favorable impression of PP:  its cervical cancer detection and medical examination services is indisputable.  And while I am against abortion I am pro-choice.  They do not provide any service without giving all the options for and against.  I hope we do not eliminate this avenue for lower-income women with their backs against the wall. 

"I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves.  We've been taught that silence would save us, but it won't."  Audre Lord 


I offered my Fun Bus (Pathfinder) a couple weeks ago for some family shopping.  While others went in the Mall for s supposed but erroneous surgical strike, I remained in the Bus with the kids.  We were watching a movie when the air conked out and I noticed some fluid puddling under the engine.   Turned out to be a relatively inexpensive repair (radiator cap) but scared me a second.  What made me less apprehensive was we made it back to Waterboard without it overheating.  But the words of Wombie echoed in my head, "Just something else to worry about."  Yeah, you are right, Wombie, but I'll have lots of time not to worry in eternity.


While going through some boxes trying to find my damn Master's thesis ( I swear I'll find it, Neighbor), I came across this that I'd forgotten I had.  During one of those PBS auctions they had all the time out of Peoria I won an autographed final script of the movie "Save The Tiger".   Jack Lemmon won an Oscar for his role.  

If you have never seen it, I'd recommend it.  It's dated a bit now but it is still extremely powerful.  


Reflection of street light in puddle on way to gym last week.  Puddle wasn't made by weather,  there is none down here; it was made by the watering system.


This Just In!

Neighbor Tim just sent this picture of a fire he had going in his pit last night.  Looks like he is clearing out some old limbs and dead shrubbery.  Fire is so primal.  One of my small joys of living in BFE were the occasional fires Tim created with some friends, beer, and joke telling.  Another reason for Northlandia.  Don't burn all the wood, Neighbor, save some for me.  Just 23 sleeps.


This will be the last Tidbit till May.  Behave yourselves and play nice.  This isn't a microwave but I'm still watching.