Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Scavanger Hunt

A few years ago Neighbor Tim and I began placing a wager on the Super Bowl.  I am by nature a temperate soul who abhors vices of any kind, so when he suggested it I was appalled.  However, in the interest of fostering comradeship I acquiesced.  Along the way we each got a little creative with the payouts.  One year Tim paid in coins.  Another in Canadian currency.  I didn't lose often but when I did I tried making it as much fun as possible.  This past year I went with Atlanta and, sadly, lost. 

I bought a tacky Florida clamshell with some trashy crap attached and then bought a small glass bottle with prehistoric shark teeth inside.  The original plan was to put the twenty into the bottle and then glue it onto the clamshell.  However, that plan didn't materialize because I was unable to jam the bill into the hole.  After repeated efforts, even using dish soap for lube, I still couldn't get the bill inside the bottle.  

After some contemplation I decided that maybe a scavenger hunt with our planned bike ride would be a fun way to pay out.  With the help of the Wombies we mapped out a route and a few clues.       

I placed the first clue into the glass bottle.  Unfortunately, Neighbor Tim decided to use his drill to open the hole.

The clue was:  Soldiers and Wizards on the left, bullshit on the right; stuck in the middle with you.  Note the black tape on the finger which was the result of the drill accident. 

Soldiers and wizards refers to Roosevelt Military Academy and the fact I call Aledo Emerald City which is where the wizard lives in Wizard of Oz.  Bullshit refers to New Windsor where the World's Biggest Little rodeo is, thus stuck in the middle, according to the map is Viola.

The next clue was something like: Betcha a "Dollar"  "Rocks and Roll teen angels will guide you to your next clue. 

Behind Dollar General in Viola is the cemetery.  At the back is a pile of rocks where we placed heads of two kids, one had the next clue inside.

So far, so good.  Neighbor Tim did a great job putting it all together.  The teen angel at the cemetery clue called for a higher education at "college" and sometimes all you need to know is right under your ass.    

There is a bar on College Avenue in Emerald City and it didn't take Tim long to start looking under the stools stools.


The final clue was to send Tim to Keithsburg.  Unfortunately, a beer led to a few more and the hunt ended at Beer Bellies.  Had we finished this is what Tim would have discovered. 

The last clue would have sent to a place that helps guide barges from the rocky shores.  This is the old Lighthouse bar and grille at the river's edge.  Had Tim climbed off his bike and investigated, he would have seen the following.  

On a window facing the river was this final clue:  a coaster.

At this point I was going to reach in my pocket and hand the Victor a $20.  It was a fun project and Tim was a good sport.  Can't beat a scavenger hunt, good company, a bike ride, cold beer and new cash.    

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits

Two readers have answered my questions of last week regarding chickens.  No, a chicken need not engage in chicken sex to lay an egg, that happens regardless.  In order for that egg to produce another chicken however, that hen must be fertilized.  Brooder chickens lay eggs throughout their lives, and sadly, when they don't produce anymore they are not put out to pasture, but end up at KFC.  

As to which came first, the chicken or the egg, the answer is simple.  Just ask me.  

Visited with old family friend and neighbor Dorothy Levine and son Lance who are now residents at Rosewood in G-Burg.


Received this picture from Kitschland of Miss Norah on her last day of kindergarten.  She is now, officially, a first grader.


In the 120 some years of people sitting at their drafting tables in front of an empty sheet of paper preparing to design an automobile, this is likely my choice for most beautiful.  Miss Frump probably just decided to not start after that comment, but I am sure, even she would admit, to the timeless, exquisite lines of this car. 

Note the chromed front headlight sweeps that extend from way below the lower sheeting.  And the single chrome spear along the door and rear quarter.  The hidden tires and the sweep of the fender wells.  This is Art Deco and looks to be whooshing by even when at a standstill.  Oh, and that cute little hood protrusion just above the grill.  I could look and dream at this all day.

No, this is not a car.  A Buick and a Chevy are cars.  This is a piece of art - a sculpture in steel.  I could easily house this in my garage at the Cabin, but after this there would be very little left to live for.  These types of art should not be named or aged - that's so common - and more reserved for maybe Studebakers Larks - but those of you curious to know, this is a Delahaye.   


Norah is growing up.  Besides graduating to 1st grade, she also has learned how to text.  This is her first text to me.  Just 7 sleeps, Sweetheart.

Is this a kidcentric Tidbit?  So it seems.  Bear/bare with me.  

This little vid was sent from Kitschland, and appears to be Alfred showing us her latest dance moves.  Must have got it from her Papa.


This is spray painted on a country bridge north of Seaton and south of Emerald City.  It is hard to see in this picture but it says:  "Douger Slagel can thank John Marshall for 4 years in prison."  Me thinks there is a cool back story to this message and might just not be over yet.  Besides the opposite guardrail is blank.  Plenty of room for more intrigue.   


Real honest-to-goodness fog at the Cabin in the Woods near Emerald City last week.  Always reminds me of two things.  Adrienne Barbeau in The Fog, for obvious and maybe not so obvious reasons, and Carl Sandburg's Fog.  This poem was framed and hanging on a wall in the front area of the Mary Davis Home when I started working and was still there when I left.  

"The fog comes on little cat feet.  
It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches.
and then moves on."

I hate cats but I love fog.


"A gentleman is someone who can play the accordion, but doesn't."

Tom Waits


Saturday, the 27th, was spent in Keithsburg at the First Christian Church.  I had no plans and decided to show off Miss Trump.  It was a long day.  A forthcoming post on the day will be winging its way into your inbox soon.  

Needless to say attendance was light.    


The trip to K-Burg and home was the highlight of the day.  Here is a small clip heading back to the Cabin in the Woods.


Spotted behind one of those motorcycle trikes with presumably a husband and wife - an open trailer with a dog relaxing and enjoying the ride.


Closed on Sunday and Memorial Day:  Emerald City Tastee Freez.  Huh?  On the opening summer weekend?  Doesn't make sense.  Same with any other business that caters to weekend customers.  


 The Cabin in the Woods has new neighbors; as much as one can out here in the wild.  Whoever it is has a little boy who was mimicking boyfriend/dad mowing with his own little toy mower.  Only thing is, the little kid was doing it in the nude. 


Monday, May 29, 2017

Lest We Forget

While it is true that I wish all my readers a Happy Memorial Day weekend, I also wish you a conflicted one, as well.  There is a place for relaxation, family get-togethers and grilling.  There is also a place to reflect.  To think about our nation, our responsibilities and our soon-to-be 17th year of war.  The bloody remains of soldiers lie in every cemetery in the area.  Newer ones in Keithsburg, Wataga, and Monmouth.  Older ones in every town and village.  Our politics may be strained, and our country may see the ravages of slow decline, but the one constant has been the sacrifice of American youth. 

They have always stood tall against the authoritarianism of the British, the Constitutional crisis of the Civil War, the imperialism of the Germans in WWI and the cruel transgressions of the Axis nations in WWII.  From Mexican invasions to the Indian wars to Grenada the American Armed Forces have been a bulwark against those who change or destroy our "way of life", whatever that may mean to us as individuals.  

Please spend a minute or many to those who have fallen, or sacrificed their well-being so that we may continue as a nation.  In battles large and small, forgotten and remembered, in far-off lands or in places down the road, our men and women have given so much, sometimes all they have, for us and our children.  We owe them our immeasurable thanks and appreciation.           

Let's make them proud of their sacrifices and strive to be better Americans, kinder citizens and with a renewed sense of who we are and what we have created here.  Not just on this weekend, but everyday. 


Friday, May 26, 2017

Flashback Friday

Caption Fun

"Mark,  I really thought the Goddess was going to shell out."

"Mark,  you're the water guy.  Why am I getting spots on my silverware?"

"Mark,  I want a Jeep.  Lime green."

"Mark, are twins really too ugly to be one?"

"Mark, are you sitting down?  Michael's coming back up...again."

The place:  The Blythe kitchen back in Seaton.  The event:  unknown.  The year:  unknown, but likely 20 years ago.  A second of time caught in what appears to be a serious conversation between the Wombie and Mrs. Wombie.  The bartender said, "Hey, why the long face."  I don't know what was going on, but it looks very much like the camera (and me) is intruding on a private chat. 

It is also a somewhat fascinating picture of the hub of the family, the kitchen.  Marj loved redecorating and this final edition with the darker wallpaper and cornflower blue cabinets reflects her always interesting but tasteful approach.  The place looks to be quite untidy which would be unusual so my guess is that after Marj's passing the boys have been called home to help Herb sort through things.  

The room further back was the utility room with the washer and dryer and more cabinets.  On the wall back there was a switch that was connected to the town siren.  On designated day when we were kids Marj would let us ring the siren at noon.  How cool was that?

And finally, as I wrap up this somewhat enigmatic edition of Flashback,  and as we approach the Memorial Day weekend, I want to congratulate the Wombie's on their 25th wedding anniversary.  

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Second American Civil War

The initial shots of the First American Civil War were fired on a Union occupied Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.  The Confederate state of South Carolina had seceded from the Union in December and on this date, after having asked for their surrender, the Southern garrison at nearby Fort Jefferson opened fire.  And they fired continuously for the next 34 hours.  The Union supply lines were cut off and the fort surrendered the next day.  The next four years would be one of pitched battles, blood, and loyalties tested.  Families and friends were separated by ideology. 

I don't know when the first shots were fired in the Second American Civil War.  Maybe it was the  Supreme Court nomination fight that the Democrats mounted against Reagan's pick of Robert Bork 30 years ago.  Maybe it was the  doctrine that Senator McConnell espoused upon the election of Obama of absolute non-cooperation.  Perhaps it was the Arab Spring that seemed to shift the entire world into a more Conservative/Fundamentalist vs. Progressive route.  

The Second American Civil War is alive and well and raging in our Congress, our cities, our small towns, in all states and every family.  The political system has always been fervent and fermenting, but when the dust would settle on elections the victors and vanquished would usually get on with the business of governing.  Up until the last few years Supreme Court nominees were voted by both houses almost unanimously, not including Bork and some memorably unqualified picks.  The victors would pass legislation sometimes with the help of the vanquished.  The model has been that of a pendulum that swings toward the left and then to the right.  Party fatigue would set in after 8 years and the vote would propel the pendulum to the other side.  A great way to moderate legislation.  Only the good stuff would survive.  

With three branches of government it may seem like a civil triumvirate, but those of you who follow history know, triumvirates are always awkward.  It is the jockeying of the three that has made our government so damn good.  FDR tried to pack the Supreme Court and the Judicial branch struck him down.  Nixon tried to neuter the Judiciary but we all know how that ended up.   The Judiciary has likewise struck many things down enacted by the legislative branch.  It works most of the time, and that's enough for successful government. 

We have been complaining about gridlock for ages in Washington.  That gridlock was one of the reasons the pendulum swung from left to right this past election.  That and the worldwide shift toward conservatism.  Along with the Arab Spring, we saw it also with Brexit, and the French and German rise in the right-wing fervor in those nations.  

As someone referred to it, this is the new abnormal.  

This post, and its writer is far too to ignorant to know what to make of it all.  But in my limited perspective and grasp this is what seems pretty clear to me:  if the old adage "information is power" is to be believed, then the second American civil war revolves around how many souls can be persuaded by that information.   In my hay-chewing days in the mid-70's the news was presented three ways:  John Chancellor, Walter Cronkite and Harry Reasoner.  They had 22 minutes to tell America the news.  And that was it.  Morning shows had some news but mostly fluff.  There was no late night news programming and certainly no round-the-clock information channels either.   Those three anchors told the same story, more or less, with differing amount. of time given to each feature.   Rarely would any of the major networks go off the reservation with different news.  And there was no fake stuff or programming geared to sway one's opinion.  The only time that ever happened was when Walter Cronkite announced the futility of Viet Nam, hastening not only its end but LBJ's proclamation, "If I've lost Cronkhite, I've lost the nation.

My, how things have changed.

Today we have several 24-hour news channels, right-wing, left-wing middle-of-the-road.  In the need to fill that time channels have not only a standard news format but they have programming that pushes their agenda in an attempt to create new viewers and new profligates to the Cause (capital C intentional).  That cause may be Progressive, or Conservative, but make no mistake, they are mouthpieces.   That is nothing new in politics.  Newspapers used to have an agenda, too.  The Hearst paper chain was notoriously Conservative while Joseph Pulitzer and his media empire was Liberal.  The slanting of news was called "Yellow Journalism".  Apparently that term is no longer applied to the more slanted news networks at Fox and MSNBC.

We no longer tune in for the news.  We tune in to whichever news programming validates, confirms and strengthens our worldview.  Just for the hell of it, I'm going to repeat that.  We tune in to whichever news programming validates, confirms and strengthens our worldview.  We aren't looking for the news and nothing but the news, we are instead, like junkies, lapping up another fix, another high by a monolithic media machine which dangles their teats 24 hours a day. 

This is a graph I found somewhere online that has a fairly comprehensive list of news outlets and their ranking for bias.  This is what the creator of the graph, Vanessa Otero had to say: 


"Remember that journalism is a professional and academic field with a set of agreed-upon standards. People get degrees in it and people who are really good at it get jobs in it at good organizations. Peer review helps ensure mainstream sources adhere to standards; if a story doesn’t meet those standards, other news outlets report on that. Not believing the mainstream media just because it is mainstream is like not believing a mainstream doctor or a mainstream lawyer. Sure, you should question and rate the quality of what the newspaper, doctor, or lawyer says, but you shouldn’t dismiss them out of hand because the paper is big, the doctor works at a hospital, or the lawyer works at a firm."

So, what should we do in the middle of this civil war?  It is unlikely Congress will all of a sudden decide to cooperate on issues important to the country.  It is unlikely Fox Nation will start  embracing Progressive politics and just as unlikely Joe and Mika will start hugging each other in a dance of like-minded bipartisanship.  Wait a second.  My BFE staff is alerting me to the fact that Joe and Mika are now engaged!  What?  Huh?  Well, still, Rachel ain't gonna hug Sean and Charles ain't gonna hug Chris.  Never.  Why Joe, you smooth talkin' moderate.

I've come up with a list of things I think we need to consider as individuals.  Maybe if we start doing it then Congress will follow.  Here goes:

1.  Recognize that we are Americans first, not Democrats, Republicans or Independents.  Before we were anything else we were first Americans, right from birth.  It was only later our fathers told us to vote a certain way, or the entire family always believed this or that.  Take your birthright back and lets all be Americans.

2.  Stop taking everything so personally.  Is Nancy Pelosi a twit?Well, maybe, but basing a conviction on her is like hating M & M chocolate covered peanuts because you don't like the brown ones.  Is Mitch McConnell a destroyer of worlds?  Perhaps, certainly liberal ones.  These guys are just doing whatever they can to move along their agendas.  They are not the faces of evil.  They, to, are Americans.  If you don't like them, vote them out.  (On a side note, I thought it interesting many pundits called last election a change election.  They forget that most all incumbents were re-elected.) 

3. Find someone who is polar opposite of your thinking and sit them down and ask, "OK, help me out, tell me about your views."  Changing views never happens but maybe you will get a new perspective on their world view.

4.  Find a middle of the road, respectable source of unvarnished news and take out a subscription or watch it more.  Smack dab in the middle of the "minimum partisan bias" area in the above graph is the New York Times.  Because I don't want to be brainwashed by my usual TV fare I took out a subscription to the Times so I hope to get a clearer picture of the news.  

5.  Along the same lines,  I have decided to devote X amount of minutes of viewing to the other guys, in hope of gaining more perspective.  George Will was always on the other side but I have always appreciated where he comes from and more than once his commentaries have made me do more critical thinking of my positions.

6.  The other party isn't the enemy and their proponents aren't clowns.  Our particular brand of democracy relies on a two-party system as a check-and-balance and without the "other" guys we would have a authoritarian rule, or worse.  Thank the heavens for the them, they are as vital to our overall system as the air we breath. 

I don't know when this second Civil War will end, perhaps in a national crisis.  Maybe it never will.  I have thought for some time that we as a nation are in decline.  According to history all major nations and civilizations, in average, last 273 years.  America is now in its 240th year.  Many historians believe that nations tend to undergo a cycle of life:  genesis,  growth,  deterioration, collapse and decay. 

We are told the press is bad.  That facts are whatever you want them to be.  This surely is a dangerous time for democracy.  Dr. Timothy Snyder, a writer and authority on fascism writes: 

Fascism says nothing’s true. Your daily life is not important. The facts that you think you understand are not important. All that matters is the myth ― the myth of one nation as together the myth-ful connection with the leader.

When we think of “Post-truth,” we think its something new. We think its something at campuses. We think its something irrelevant. Actually, what post-truth does is it paves the way for regime change. If we don’t have access to facts, we can’t trust each other. Without trust, there’s no law. Without law, there’s no democracy. 

So if you want to rip the heart out of democracy directly, if you want to go right at it and kill it, what you do is you go after facts. And that is what modern authoritarians do.
Step one: You lie to yourself, all the time. Step two: You say it’s your opponents and the journalists who lie. Step three: Everyone looks around and says, “What is truth?” There is no truth.

And then, resistance is impossible, and the game is over.

Where are we on that timeline?  The politicians claim it is a time of growth if you elect them.  Maybe the Second Civil War will usher in a new era for America.  Information and strength is out there.  Which tree will you pick the fruit?

We may not be able to stop the natural progression of a national life cycle, but we can surely stall its ultimate decay by being a smart, aware and discerning citizen.   


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Everything Is Temporary

May 2016

May 2017

Not far from the Cabin in the Woods is a field road that goes toward a mound of trees far away.  On either side of this dirt path are fields.  As I was walking last year I spied this path and the single tree that stood tall in the middle of the field, in the middle of the path, providing a kind of sentry post where there shouldn't have  been one.  But there it stood.  Somehow against all of the adversity of the farmers ax and the weather's incessant pounding.  It provided a striking form, out there alone, and shade and perhaps shelter to wild things with four legs, maybe eight, and some with wings. 

My first walk being back and I noticed the sentry has been felled.  For how ever many decades it has been at that spot, it was there no more. 

Everything changes.  Everything is temporary.    

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits

The Cabin in the Woods is providing shelter and solace to the wild Spring weather I have experienced.  80 degrees one day, then down to 55 the next.  Sunny blue skies then tornado sirens blaring to warn of impending danger.  With all due respect to those who have lost their lives in recent storms I have found it exhilarating in comparison to the stultifyingly monotonous Kitschland weather. 


The Emerald City DMV has solved the age-old problem of Christmas tree storage and the hassle of putting it up and down every year.  Just keep it up and decorate with the colors of the upcoming holiday.  Problem solved.  So smart.  So clever.  So lazy.


FaceTime on our iPads is so cool for traveling Papa's.  I'm not sure how to capture a text message but the great surprise so far was I received my first from Norah.  She's getting so big.  


Coolest bar in North Henderson.  This picture captures it all:  pool table, motorcycles, beer, truck and Tim.  Don't see the beer?  Don't worry, it's there somewhere.


Stopped at LaGondola's in G-Burg last Saturday.  Noticed this.  Gee, just like Kitschland.


Congratulations to new High School graduates Richard Ferguson and Logan (Hippie) McCutcheon.  They don't know it yet but these are good carefree years.


The Peter Principle has officially been re-named: the Donald Principle.


This is a secret, previously unreleased tape of an example of keen and all-knowing supervision at Papa's Daycare.  First rule of child rearing:  nip it in the bud!  By the way, that's Alfred's hiding spot.  Pretty much in full view of where I sit.


Kinda funny how the Conservatives tell the Progressives they can't get over the election loss, but when they start talking about it they always mention Hillary.  Hey, wha? (that's not a typo, I'm trying to be cool.)


For those interested:  my exercise routine has been destroyed.  It has been cold, rainy and too much great Midwestern treats an beer.  So, I'm marking this all down as a long break and will resume when I return to Kitschland.   Not even stepping on the scales.


Just sent - Alfred hamming it up for the camera. 


I'm not certain certain, but my guess is your free range chicken egg tastes the same as your fenced in one.  Ah, marketing. 


Speaking of chickens;  do they have to be impregnated each time to produce an egg, or is one insemination good for a dozen? 


And speaking of animals:  is the ground squirrel the same as a chipmunk?  And if not, has anyone ever seen one?  Even at the zoo?


Driving Miss Frump to Alpha to the Thrifty On 150 car show. 


Monday, May 22, 2017

Full-On Tourist In Tarpon Springs - Part 2

We have returned this beautiful Monday in Northlandia to a trip to Tarpon Springs the family took a few weeks ago.  Part 1 is somewhere if you want to refamiliarize yourself to our adventure upstate a few miles.  I think boats, the sea and all things nautical are usually pretty neat.  I it because I grew up in Seaton?  Or is it like JFK's remark, something like we all have a yearning to the seas, from whence we came?

Anyway, the large fishing boats above, the Miss Lexy and the Miss Lupe have their home ports out of Blythe Island, Georgia. 

A  moored spongeboat.

Someone's drink abandoned.

This is the Anastasi, an actual working spongeboat.  While sitting on a bench waiting for our boat to take off, I watched the Greek bag all of his sponges he found after having air dried a while.  


This one is for you Cub's fans.

Our sponge diver, Frank, suiting up in authentic hundred year old diving equipment.

Our navigator and guide on our trip pointed out that this is the only original sponge boat that is left in Tarpon Springs.


Here is our intrepid diver, swarthy Frank, walking the shoreline looking for a fresh sponge.

Sponges are retrieved from the floor bed with a glossy, almost plastic look and feel.  The outer coating is taken off and then you have the look and feel we all know and love.  Sponges are pretty cool.  I did not know that for showering and cosmetics they do not retain any bacteria.  

So, our trip was a success.  Norah and I slipped away from the rest of the group when we spied an ice cream store.  Shopping was kinda fun, too.  I got a glass starfish that glows in the dark for absolutely no good reason (buying it, not the glowing).  Kudos to the planners of this trip.  That's what makes Florida worth sticking around for - that and the kidlings and the year-around shorts, and the paycheck, and the occasional cookouts that we don't have enough of.  But I digress.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Flashback Friday

A few weeks ago I wrapped up my Denver graduate school days and said that that was all I had and there would be no more.  And then I go rifling through a box and find this picture of me and Eddie and his GF Consuela.  I'm not sure where we were but as certain as I can be I believe it was a Mexican restaurant in western Denver.   If I remember correctly it is where I firmly established my dislike for Mexican fare except for a cool little dessert they had.  It was a triangular puffy bread.  You tear off one of the corners and pour honey inside.  It was quite tasty and I have never had once since.  I ask around whenever I am in a Mexican place and everyone seems confused.  

Anyway, we dressed up in the stuff they had handy for other touristas, and they take the picture.  Then they collect a heavy ransom for copies.  Being touristas, of course, everyone pays.  I wonder if the place still exists?  

It was a second in time, away from the grind of study.  Three amigos out for a good time in a South-of-the-Border cantina.  There were more of us in the group and I think Jan was with us too, but she was either shy or didn't have the money.  I think the Calhoun boys were with us, too.  Anyway, this picture could easily be placed in a turn-of-the-century book on the Old West and just might look authentic.  It's a great picture, really.  Everyone looks spot on and I see no discernible snickers.  In fact, Eddie is hamming it up perfectly and Consuelo, dressed as a hooker, is perfectly posed and with an expression of a certain knowing weariness that I so enjoy in my hookers.  Of course, explaining why a Gringo is cavorting with Pancho and his woman may be difficult, but then perhaps maybe not.  The Old West was inhabited by many desperadoes with a kinship to each other.   These desperadoes had a kinship that helped them get through school.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Beach Time

Beach day.  It seems to always make the hear run just a little faster.  No one hates the beach and everyone is always happy there.  It also provides a photographic opportunity to see people at play and the majesty of surf. 

In another one of my personally patented quiet posts (lazy if you prefer) I present the pictures without discussion.  Hopefully they speak for themselves.   

Okay, I lied.  Footprints always remind me of Bette Davis' line in the movie, Mr. Skeffington.  "When we are no longer here, our footprints are easily washed away."

The sights and sounds of the beach.  Of life at play.  It never gets old.  Thanks for stopping by.