Thursday, August 31, 2017


Sometimes its just plain weird out there.  My routine up here has been to awaken at 3:00 am (same as in Kitschland),  head down to K-Burg for barge pics, back to Emerald City, shower, do my computer reading, and head over to Seaton to assist the Wombie in his water work.  

The trips to the river don't often vary except for the various critters I might see along the way in a very dark, often foggy, adventure.  Oh, yeah, that annoying little feature with my 21 year old pickup when the lights go out momentarily go out raises the blood pressure some, and the deer in the headlights thing can get your attention, too.  But generally traffic is non-existent, the river is without barge, and the creatures that ply the lands at this hour pretty much stay on the side of the road.  

Except for this particular trip.

It was a dark and stormy night.

As I entered town I saw a car a few block down and straight ahead but didn't think anything of it.  I turned right to head to the dyke and was not surprised to see no barges at all.  How can I perfect my ISO and shutter speed to get enough light into the camera and freeze a moving object in the dark without a barge?  Such are the calamities that sprinkle my existence.  

As I am sitting as the raindrop fall I notice lights in my rear view mirror.  And then, the blue and red LED's.  It's been a long time since I've been pulled over (a traffic ticket in 1978, no lie) and I wasn't sure of the protocol.  I opened my door as if to get out but thought better of it and stayed there with seat belt on and door wide open.  Old Lives Matter.

A young swarthy cop by the name of Mason or Munson approaches and asks how I am doing.  And like a first time offender wishing to expunge the guilt I sang like a canary.  With barely a breathe I confessed: "i'mfromFloridaandeverysooftenicomeupNorthtotakepicturesofbarges

OK, it wasn't quite like that.  But...close.

He looked me over and the truck a bit but he seemed more interested in the surroundings.  If you know the K-Burg dyke you know that you are right up against the river.  There is no beach.  There is some undergrowth ahead and river.  River on the left and front.  But this officer kept shining his light over ahead, toward a picnic table and swing.  After a short conversation he wished me a good night and off he went.  

As I am sitting there and filmed some of it for your pleasure, it started raining buckets. Absolute downpour.    

This is me sitting in the truck with the rain coming down.  If you look closely I have started filming what seems to be a flashlight that came up from the edge of the river and move to the right, over toward the swing and a bulletin board they have constructed.  It stops, then seems to head back from whence it came.

My first thought was the sheer improbability of a guy with a flashlight ascending from the depths of the river at 3:30 am during a torrential downpour.  The Creature From the Black Lagoon who needs a flashlight to see where it is going.

My second thought, being an old friendly and courteous Midwestern guy, was to offer him a place in my truck to dry out.  This idea drowned in the knowledge that things and society have changed since I was a kid.  Once again, Old Lives Matter.  

It was rather astounded as I sat there of the series of events this morning.  And then my third thought sprang from the depths a barren brain:  the cop was looking for someone.  He was the car I saw as I came into town.  He was patrolling the river front for someone and came over to check me out - perhaps I was his ride or accomplice.  Very likely he saw the lights turn off from my truck as I parked and he thought I'd left.  Then he saw the lights of the officer's car and when they, too, left he came up from hiding.  Once he saw that I was still sitting there he decided to return to his watery hiding spot.

No barge, no night sky, no pics to take.  I left and headed home eventually but it was a fun, freaky, weird night on the banks of the Mississippi in K-Burg at 3:30 that morning.  Wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Pictures I WIsh I'd Taken

Once again a portfolio of pictures I have found on the internet, are not mine, and I steal them with the greatest respect.  I wish I'd taken them. 

Can you tell we are coasting toward Labor Day weekend without spending the usual amount of time posting great entries with thought, care, and with the similarity of the loving embrace of mother and child?  It is because I am lazy and doing other things.  Refunds are in the mail.  

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits


This was a beautiful overnight natural creation in the Wombies yard last week. Genus: fungus amongus.


Just when I thought Northlandia sunrises couldn't get any better.

I'm trying to tone down the politics.  The life of an independent thinker in these tribal times is risky.  My subscription numbers have fallen dramatically since the election.  If I'm going to have my ass handed to me it's going to be over something more important than Donald Trump.  My advise?  "Steady, Lads."  


Exclusive Eclipse Pictures




Picture of our mini-MDH get-together at Pat's place in Knoxville.  From left:  Julie (Secretary), Rebecca (Assistant Superintendent), Pat (Administrative Assistant,  Randy (Superintendent), Courtney (Supervisor), and Mike (Program Coordinator).


The quiet of the Cabin in the Woods will be invaded soon with the sounds of kids.  In two days my daycare clients, Norah and Alfred will be staying at the Cabin for the long Labor Day weekend.  I have plans for them as do their parents.  Hmmm.  I hope I don't get too whiney when I don't get my fill of them.  Fishing, hiking,  zip lining, kayaking, barge watching, vulture spotting, in short, conquering the county.


Mr. Coffee carafes freak me out.  The level markers on the pot seem so out of whack.  The six cup mark and the full 12 cup mark appears to be unreasonably out-of-proportion.  Is it just me?


A big applause for Pat in the group picture above.  She has just deployed to Texas for the Red Cross and it is the 25the or 26th time she has headed out to a national disaster.  I volunteered once to read "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" to Kenzie's 3rd grade class.  I haven't found any reason to volunteer for anything since, much to my chagrin, unreasonably uninspiring funeral eulogy and empty karma jar.


Last Saturday was a great day of camaraderie at the Aledo Antique Days car show.  I had a hard time choosing between my usual old standby Bushnell, or keep it very local this year.  I like driving the car more than showing it but I chose Aledo because I helped break in a virgin.  My friend Richard from Burgess displayed his '85 Caddie for the first time.  We got nice spots right across from the registration table by getting there very early, like 6 am.  Right around the corner were former high school buddies Danny and Ed.  There was a steady stream of folks saying hi, some I knew, some I didn't, but should have.   Sadly, neither Richard, Danny or myself won anything, but Ed won one of the Top 75 awards with his nice '62 Chevy Impala.   

And I never took one picture.


For those readers with a combo eclipse and river barge compulsion, this is your lucky day.  This barge was slipping by in Keithsburg just as the eclipse was at its peak.  Enjoy, but clean up afterwards.


New definition of being pissed at yourself:  driving from Emerald City to Keithsburg at 3:13 am in white-knuckled fog dodging deer and possum and finally seeing a barge in the distance imagining all the great shots you'll get with that kind of set-up and learning you failed to recharge the battery and coming back home without any pictures at all. 


Spontaneous gathering at Beer Bellies in Emerald City last Sunday.  From left: Dan, Neil, Donna, Bob, Holly and the Wombies right hand.  Where did Connie go?   

Bob is from England and is spending time with Neil over here in America.  A past military man, Bob provides us with the proper British RAF salute.  Her Majesty would be proud. 


The Wombie and I went together on this ceiling tile of the Iowa Wesleyan Tigers logo.  Beer Bellies is selling these tiles to customers for whatever.  When I return to Kitschland I am supposed to find the old Seaton Wolves logo and it too, then, will be memorialized for future drunks who fall off their bar stools and can read the tiles without craning their necks. 


It's cicada time!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Perseids - 2017

The Perseids meteor shower is an annual event in August.  Simply find a dark sky, and watch.  On really good peak nights perhaps 50 sightings an hour.  Unfortunately, this year much of the shooting star show was drowned out by the moon's brightness.  You couldn't see any but the very brightest, and I saw 4 or 5 nice ones.  Otherwise, the camera had a better shot at capturing them.  Here, then, are the ones it caught, mostly small and unseeable by eye.    

By chance or by foresight I have managed to be in Northlandia during the Perseids the past few years. Kitschland night shots are impossible.  The first time I came back, sans Cabin in the Woods, I was staying with my friend Pat in Knoxville.  She lives right by a cemetery and I chose that spot to aim my camera.  Around 4:00 am here comes this wispy, ethereal vision out of the mist and it was Pat with a cup of cocoa for me.  I never forget acts of friendship.  Never.  

Although this year was blinded by the light I was still able to make the trip to the Keithsburg dyke worthwhile.  You lucky Northlanders - the perfect skies, the perfect weather, the perfect people.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Flashback Friday

I was going through some old boxes and came across a couple of items from college days.  The first, a card with Hymie was on my room at Hershey Hall, commonly called Hymie Hall.   The nickname derived, ahumphh, from a certain female item that, well, get out your anatomic books and read up on it for yourself.  I think I know who coined the phrase, we still keep in touch, and is a  nurse in Iowa City.  Nicknames are fun - they engender a kind of casual friendly familiarity.  This one didn't survive college - when I graduated it went to nickname heaven.    

I wonder where Bebe Brooks is today?  On the occasion of my 21st birthday, my frat bros took me to Gulfport and the nudie bars.  G-Port was a real den of sin back in those days.  Later they would introduce dwarfs to the miasmic fog of the place and sink even lower.  It was wonderful.  G-Port isn't anywhere what it used to be today, but then neither am I.  But at one time it was a place where young guys, and old, I guess, could enter a kind of fantasy world where, for enough money, you could spend a night drinking and ogling.      

After plying me with alcohol they somehow got me on stage with ole Bebe where she put on a show with a feather boa, spotlight and moves that could raise the dead.  Such nights need remembering, thus the old faded tabletop d├ęcor and feather.  

Bebe had her way with me, on stage anyway, and then back to the studies.  Some lessons are best learned in the company of others, rather than in the pages of books.  Much in the same vein as sinners sinking to the depths in order to rise to the heavens.  Bebe was both that night.    

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Are some of you missing the beauty of Kitschland?  Well, in that case you can either look out the window at your neighbor's faded plastic pink flamingo lawn ornament or look at these pictures I took just before my trip up here.  It was another bicycle trip on the bike path from Largo to Clearwater.  It takes me 20 minutes to ride from here to there and the path is kind of neat:  it has sensors along the way that turn on caution lights to stop traffic.  Kind of like a train.  You just keep pedaling and piss off drivers.  How fun is that?  Tommy, my old neighbor from G-Burg and long-distance bicyclist could actually go from one end of the peninsula to the other on the Pinellas Trail going through St. Pete, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, Largo, Seminole and South Pasadena for 38 miles.  Cool, huh?  These pics are the Clearwater waterfront and causeway bridge.           

Who knows, maybe Santa will bring me spandex biker pants and one of those nifty biking shirts with Michelin and some numbers on it.  I'll really look the part rather than my cargo shorts and faded T-shirt.  Hey, pssst, Santa?  Forget the spandex - bring me a softer seat.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits

Tuesday Tidbits

The Existing in BFE Book Sweepstakes is now history.  But before I announce the winners let me make a couple comments. First, the number of applicants was small, very small.  I had anticipated a higher number if only because we were giving away a free top-rated book.  I recall a couple around Emerald City, now long gone, who went to all the local visitations to eat, even if they did not know the decedents.  They even stuffed food in her purse as a kind of doggie bag.   Spouses and friends of friends, I wrongly assumed, would be throwing their hats in the ring.  Unfortunately, I discovered this blog either has readers who can't read, or don't, or no readers at all.  

But I'm a plucky little pirate and am thrilled at those who did take the time to send me their emails for the chance to win.  Thank you to those who joined in the sweepstakes.  

As a thank you to those who have followed the blog all three applicants will receive a copy of A Gentleman In Moscow.  Thank you Mses. B., H., and M!  Thanks again.  I'll be getting those to you as soon as I can.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.     


The Wombie has been golfing lately.  It is the end of the season and they are like Mayflies:  doing as much as they can before the end.  I even spent a few hours out at the Club having a cold beer with him and a couple buddies, Danny, Mike and Ed.  I must be out of form, however.  Woke up with a headache.  Just goes to show you can't expect to be good at anything if your don't practice.


The tree in the Wombie's back yard is a nice big majestic thing.  While looking for cicada shells  (Norah's coming up here in a week!) I spotted this tree pearl.  Never seen anything like it.

Explanation:  it's not an egg or a pearl, but seems to be some sort of fungi that sprang/sprung from a previous one.     


Soprano's fan?



I saw this somewhere and thought it perfect for exes, lost relationships, brief encounters and just about anyone who has grown distant from another.  

“Growing apart doesn't change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I'm glad for that.”

Ally Condie


Did you all enjoy the eclipse?  It was fun to see all the supply-and-demand increase in prices around the affected areas.  Rooms, car rentals just to name a couple all went way way up.  While trying to get a $5 pair of eclipse glasses I noticed they went up to $58.00.  By the way, its only gouging if it is a national emergency.  All others are considered capitalism, and legal. 


Disgusted by your $25-35 gas bill fill-up?  Not as bad as the guy who gassed up before me.


Remember my talking a bit about barn finds.  This is one found in some unknown spot, maybe even Europe.  My heart would stop.  Right there.


Watched a clip last night of Frank Reynolds telling us on ABC news 38 years ago that the next solar eclipse would be on August 21, 2017.  Even more amazing, to me anyway, is the astronomical math responsible to determine that.  How could they have known, even with the computer technology of  1979? 


Walked by this car somewhere and noticed a very safety conscious kid protecting her friend.


You simply can't beat a sunrise in Northlandia. 


Gone a couple weeks and my clients are falling apart.  Well, Papa's gone fishin'.


A Trumpian moment, captured by White House pool reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian:
  • "At approximately 2:39, the President initially gesticulated to the crowd below and pointed at the sky. As he did so, one of the White House aides standing beneath the Blue Room Balcony shouted 'Don't look.'"
He looked.