Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Likewise the candy, cake, pie and other naughty goodies are pretty well gone as well. Good thing - I tried my best to live up to my diabetes regime but last Thursday the blood sugar was up almost to 300 -- unthinkable - never been that high and both my doctors (one civilian - the other VA) would have a fit had they known. Fortunately the next day it was back down to; normal - right where it should be - and usually is. Like I say, some things don't last.
But then there are practical books that last a year - and sometimes go into bookcases to be treasured for years to come. For instance, I loved a book that showed a whole flock of church signs bearing humorous admonitions why one should be a part of that congregation. Then there was another book gift that showed pictures of all kinds of outhouses. (Both of these books were from the same individual who either thought I had a warped sense of humor or had a warped sense of humor themselves. Maybe true in both cases.)
But the classic book (in a general sense) is the one that stays in the bathroom. I had a brother-in-law who subscribed to a magazine about ships - I spent a lot of time reading these magazines and when my brother-in-law passed away a number of years ago I inherted that stack of magazines and I still have them. Not in the bathroom - but I have them.
Well, this year I was give a book titled "Uncle Johns Endlessly Engrossing Bathroom Reader." It has all kinds of stories - long and short - serious and funny - and just stuff to while away the time doing whatever one does in the bathroom.
For instance, I didn't know this before: Barack Obama said, " I don't keep track of paper that well. My desk is a mess." Hey, I'm qualified to be president - MY desk is usually a mess - ask my beloved. But if I cleaned it up I couldn't find anything.
Billy Connolly is reported to have said, " Why do people say, 'It's always the last place you would look.' Of course it is - why would you keep looking after you found it?"
George Carlin commented one time: " Did you ever notice that people who say they don't care what other people think are usually desperate to have people think that they don't care what people think." Huh? That's enough to keep you thinking in the Loo for an extra five minutes or so.
Finally, a thought from one of my favorites, the late Lewis Grizzard: "Ever notice that the first thing you see at an airport is a big sign that says 'TERMINAL'? Then somebody says, 'Have a nice flight'."
Anyway, my endlessly engrossing bathroom reader will continue to fill my days with great wisdom. And the spirit of Christmas will last until next Christmas. And who knows what great book will appear on the scene next year?
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Fact of the matter is, I had to get up at around five in the morning to get to the station by six when we went on the air. I looked around the house - especially on the roof - for Santa's sleigh tracks and couldn't find any so maybe he wasn't going to make a stop until I got off the air at one in the afternoon. Or maybe I didn't have a positive spot on his list that year. But the fact remains, I was among those who never had a holiday - even at Christmas - or Thanksgiving - like everyone else.
So I want to recognize those people who might be taken for granted on Christmas. People who work in radio or television where the show must go on - even on holidays or in bad weather. (I remember opening up the station one morning after driving twenty miles on icy roads and even beat the engineer in, and he lived right in town).
But there are others more important than I was. People in law enforcement, or firemen. How about emergency rescue crews? How about people in the medical field - nurses, doctors, and others who provide care to those whose health depends on them? (Our youngest daughter has spent a lot of holiday time caring for people in a hospital. And I think of Christmas babies in neonatal where she worked for quite a while. She's earned the cruise she's on right now.)
So let this be a salute to those whose jobs dictate working when most people are celebrating. Like the old saying goes, "Somebody has to do it" and eventually there comes that time when they can celebrate just like everyone else. Only a little bit later.
Friday, December 18, 2009
One family was heading for Columbia County in upstate New York. The station wagon was loaded - the rack on top was filled with Christmas gifts, the five-hundred mile trip began around noon on Christmas eve and went well -- no bad weather, no major problems with traffic. By eight in the evening the family had driven through New Jersey, and had reached the New York State Thruway at Harriman.
At this point, the driver thought it wise to call home to let the folks know that they were only a couple hours away and would be home soon. The response to the call was unexpected: the voice on the other end of the line said, "You're so early - we're just not ready for you; you'll have to find some place to spend the night."
What a shock! What an unexpected turn of events within two hours of home. Then the driver said, "We'll do the best we can" and he returned to a wife and children (including a five-month-old infant) who were all tired and cranky from the four-hundred miles already driven since noon-time.
Driving north, they saw a major-chain motel sign at Newburg. Leaving the highway they pulled up to the motel and the nondescript drive in rumpled clothes entered the lobby. The desk clerk looked over his glasses and asked if he could be of help. The father asked if there was a room for two adults, four young children, and an infant. The desk clerk just looked at the young man and said, "Don't you know this is Christmas eve? We've been sold out for weeks. We're sorry, but there's no room at the inn". When asked if the clerk could suggest another motel or hotel, the desk clerk just shrugged his shoulders and said he had nothing to suggest.
Tension began to build in the car and, to top things off, the baby started to cry -she hadn't had a bottle in quite some time. It was nearly impossible to find a restaurant open on Christmas eve but finally a pizza restaurant was spotted and somehow they found a way to heat a bottle.
Traveling further north, and crossing the Hudson River a neon sign was seen glowing in in the sky over Poughkeepsie - a sign that simply said, "Hotel.'
Pulling up to the entrance, the exhausted family was ready to give up hope of a place to stay. Yet here there WAS room in the inn for the family. They checked into a very simple, no-frills room at almost precisely midnight on Christmas eve.
Thus the story of Christmas - the story of the inn with no room - the story of a family settling in to the simplest of accommodations came true in our time. To be sure, the family did not end up
in a stable but the hotel was one most people would have ignored under normal circumstances. In a way, the sign in the distance might well have been the Bethlehem star leading the way to a special place. In a sense, this became a miracle story in our own time.
It turned out to be a wonderful Christmas - a great family reunion - and a very positive experience. But I will never forget that Christmas eve, since, as you might guess.......the family trying to find room at the inn was mine. Now, as Paul Harvey might have put it, you have the rest of the story.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
I've never been overly troubled by winter weather although my beloved hates it. From the time I was a child I loved to play in the snow and now at 82 I guess I still do.
That reminds me of an episode in the late sixties when we lived in St. Charles, Missouri. We had a major snowstorm and the children wanted to go sleigh-riding. Only problem was, we didn't have a sled and we were low on money. So I decided to build one.
I went down in the basement of the house to look for materials. There was some hardware, some two-by-fours, a four foot slab of wood, some tin, and some clothes-line. In an hour or two I had a sled of sorts with tin on two-by-four runners and it looked like it would work.
The sled was loaded in the car and off we went to the local sledding hill. When we took it out of the car we got a lot of weird looks from other people, but hey, it was a sled - a bit like an old bob sled we had back in the early 1940's. But we had not figured on deep snow and a good-size hill and the sled was heavy. I mean REALLY heavy. But we eventually got it to the top of the bill and got four of us on it.
Would you believe, it worked like a charm. Between the weight of the sled and the riders it went through the snow like a flash.
I'm not sure how many more times we used it but it was a conversation piece every time we went out. I don't think we took it with us when we moved - maybe we got enough money to buy a real sled (or sleds) but for that season it gave us fun making it and we got a lot of use out of it. Most of all, it was a family project - several of us pitched in to make it and it took every rider pulling it to get it to the top of the hill.
Come to think of it. there probably might have been no better time to have come up with a rope tow like they had (and maybe still have) at ski slopes. Reminds me that if you are saturated in, lemons it's time to make lemonade. Except when you are saturated in snow and don't have a sled. And there's scrap wood in the basement. The important thing was that we had a lot of fun in the process. Family fun. And a lot better than today staying in the house playing computer games but I guess kids today might not agree. Oh, well.......
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Well, I thought I'd invite you to our house to see some pretty neat etchings. Only thing is, it isn't etchings - it's Joyce's collection of staples from last Tuesday's knee replacement surgery. All fifteen of them.
And she didn't give me a lot of static about taking the picture. I guess she is being cooperative because she is somewhat dependent on me for help with therapy, doing laundry, cooking, making the bed, and a few other things that I might not have thought about.
She is doing amazingly well - is able to bend her knee almost 90 degrees (with a little bit of help) and is able to get around the condo quite well with her balloon-equipped four wheel drive walker. And she says there 's no pain to speak of other than that which I create when I push her on some of her exercises. And the stitches come out next Monday.
She's an amazing patient but then, I've thought she has been amazing for quite a few years.
And now, it's into the kitchen to make lunch. (Now you know why this blog is pretty short)
Friday, November 6, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
It was a wonderful three years and I have missed it. In some ways. I miss the people and the personal aspects of being a pastor under appointment. The people of the church - each individually - became a part of my extended family and it was a deep personal loss when we
were not part of their family.
I was asked to go back there last Sunday to share a Communion service and it was really wonderful tom get back if even for one day. For a couple of weeks before I worked hard to
develop a message that would be meaningful. I finally came up with one that I titled "All In
the Family" but it was not oriented toward the Archie Bunker TV series. Instead, I borrowed from Bill Gaither music - a song called "The Family of God" It goes (in part) like this:
"You will notice we say 'brothers and sisters' round here
It's because we're a family and these are so near;
When one has a heartache, we all share the tears,
And rejoice in each victory, in this family so dear."
We walked into the church last Sunday morning a little early and it felt like 'Old Home' week. It didn't take long for the choir director to ask if I'd sing with them like in the old days. "Sure," I said and I wandered back to where they practiced - and what do you know -- they were singing................"The Family of God." "Oops," I said, "You guys just took care of my sermon for the morning!" They said, they could sing something else but I said, "No, I think this will fit in just great."
I think the amazing part was that both of us were thinking of the same thing at the same time. I'd like to think that God was in control that Sunday morning - that we all were focused on the same thing. That we're part of God's family - and it's wonderful.
"I'm so glad I'm a part of the Family of God
Washed in the fountain, cleansed by his blood,
Joint heirs with Jesus, as we travel this sod
for we're all part of the family - The Family of God"
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
"But Dad, you don't understand. Things are different nowadays." And so they are.
I suspect one of his children (and maybe some other grandchildren) will say to others
of our children in the years or decades ahead. I have to agree that things are not today
what they were when I was growing up. And I worry about changes we've experienced and
I worry about what changes lie ahead for our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
I've just finished reading book titled "Marching Home" written by Kevin Coyne. It begins
toward the end of the Great Depression in the late 1930's and focuses on six young men growing up in Freehold, New Jersey. They become sailors, soldiers, and airmen in World War Two, survive, and come back home again after the war. Then the book offers a narrative of their lives after the war -- the changes that went on on in their town in post-war years - manufacturing plants closing - their rural atmosphere being converted to a bedroom community - and the changes in priorities that became part of society from the mid-sixties up to recent years.
And yes, things have changed but as some might say, "That's life".
My wife talks about her growing up years in Detroit. At one time her house was the only house on the street - by the time I met her it was wall-to-wall homes and today the crowded
housing spreads for miles and miles west and the environment of where she grew up has radically changed. I think of when a major retailer put up a store outside of a town where we
lived and the home-town stores in the town center fell by the wayside. Small mom-and-pop stores fell by the wayside and major chain management from out of state got rich at the cost of home town life. You've got to have lived in a time when Main Street was just what the name implies - the main center of town where families and friends gathered to shop and visit and live a life that was personal and neighborly. I have a hunch that some of our children don't know what I'm talking about because they, for the most part, have let modern lifestyle and values become a way of life. Yes, times are different and I probably don't understand why our values and priorities have gone the way they have because the priorities fifty years ago were pretty good.
So what's the difference? We (as a nation) has deteriorated. In business. In personal values. In moral values. In national pride. In politics. And it's not getting better. In some ways it is live for today - who cares about tomorrow -- tomorrow will take care of itself. But what will tomorrow bring?
Coyne's book says this: "The small town is no longer the typical American way of life. Today's society is increasingly mobile, urban, impersonal, anonymous; it is no longer capable of enforcing its moral and behavioral codes simply by force of community opinion.....today thousands of Americans live in fear -- crime is our nations number one internal problem."
To go a step further, we've lost our sense of values and have embraced a life of permissiveness.
When I was a teenager I don't think I worried about what the world might become in fifty years. I might have said to MY father, "Dad, You don't understand. Things are different from when you were growing up." The older I get, and the more years that pass, the more concern I have for what my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will experience forty or fifty years from now. And I wonder if they will feel the same way I do today.
By the way, the town Coyne talked about is Bruce Springsteen's home town. I wonder what he thinks of the world today.
I pray for our children and their children in the years ahead.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
We left Oscoda very early Sunday morning and drove to Durand, Michigan to catch an AMTRAK train to Chicago. I love going by train - no strain - no pain - no heavy city driving - no high speed traffic on Interstate highways. Just go business class and sit back and watch the world go by. You get into Chicago around noon - and leave for home around four in the afternoon whenever you've worn out you welcome in Amy and Vic's condo. And we always have a really good time.
The picture this blog is one that goes back a couple of trips but it is one of my favorites of all our trip photos. It was taken in the former Marshall Field (now Macy's) a few blocks south of the condo building. Two devious girls having a good time. But that's what our trips are all about - at least I like to think that's the case. This time we went to a movie ("Julie and Julia") which was excellent especially when Julia Child's "French Chef" TV program fell right in the middle of our adult lifetime. WE also went to an Italian restaurant up State street from where we stay in Chicago, and rode a subway/elevated railroad from the Loop to O'Hare Airport - which consumed he better part of 2 hours round trip. Oh, Joyce had to make a stop at her favorite store for chocolate (Ghiradelli's) which is right across the street from competitor Hershey's.
If you like to shop Chicago is wonderful although I have yet to see much that is heap. There's virtually nothing cheap in Chicago but, hey, where is anything really cheap anymore.
On other visits we've gone to museums, parks, the Navy pier which has a little of most everything, and stage shows. What a wonderful place to be!
Most important, it is great to be with family and we do a lot of laughing. And evensympathize when a barbecue grill goes up in flames. Poor Vic really struggled Sunday evening but the steaks and crab legs and Swedish meat balls were great. Who needs to go to a restaurant when one can eat in luxury at home?
Anyway, this is a vote of thanks to Amy and Vic for always making us feel at home in Chicago.
It's always a trip that is special and ends up with fun stuff -- even liked the picture this time.
I just wonder what our mothers would have thought when they saw that picture. Guess we'll never know.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
It was from our youngest and I wondered: "Did she read this book herself before sending it? Did she see something in it about me? Have I got a problem coping I wasn't aware of?
Anyway, I read it through in about one sitting and I enjoyed it. Erma Bombeck (bless her deceased soul) has been one of my favorites for years. Much better humor than Karl Rove or Bob Woodward - but not quite as much of the reality of family growth. Along with Erma Bombeck there was Lewis Grizzard (also deceased but hey, his books like "Come Home Billy Bob Bailey" live on as classics of southern edification) and Tom
Bodette who continues on with lights being left on at Motel 6.
To be sure, Tom no longer writes about Alaska, but he does a great job of exposing the lifestyle of northern Vermont.
I've been accused of warping the young minds of our children. That goes back to my love of Spike Jones and Smothers Brothers music but that's not all bad. In fact, I've been accused of occasionally continuing a weird outlook on life even today. Better that than living in a world of negatives or filth.
With that in mind, Maybe that is why Lisa sent me the book on coping. I've coped with a lot in life. I've coped with being fired a few times. I've coped with work that uprooted me and the family more times than I like to think of. I've coped with children growing past the age of Lisa's and somehow making it into adulthood without too many scars. And now I'm coping with retirehood when I always enjoyed being productive and creative. And trying to figure out what day of the week it is - what day of the month it is - and how long it will be before the next retirement check comes in.
Well, I still wonder if Lisa read the book before she sent it to me. You see, she is at that age the book is talking about. Her daughter is named Jill (just like the book) and her boys are a lot like those in the book. And there are a few similarities between the book husband and Lisa's husband. I can't ignore the book telling about a friend who is always first to a party and last to leave and hovers in the kitchen offering little if any help. Lisa has one of those too.
I look back to 1979 when the book was published and realized that we (mommy and me) were past the stage in Bombecks book - but we were coping then and are coping now. Trying to get from Monday to Friday in twelve days. Sort of reminds me of something the kids used to ask: "Are we there yet?" At this phase I have a problem figuring out where there is. But
I'm coping the best I can.
Thank you Tom Bodett, Lewis Grizzard, Erma Bombeck - and so many others who lighten up my life. And thanks to Lisa as well - she's helping me cope with another 12 day week ahead.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
I think it was in August 1946. I might have been standing in the doorway to the left.. You see, I had run away to join the Cole Brothers Circus and I ended up spending a day working in the cook wagon. That's what you see at the left - the cook wagon of the Kelly Miller Circus which rolled into our town late last night or early this morning and will leave town tonight or tomorrow morning.
Sixty or so years ago this month I heard that the Cole Brothers Circus was going to be in a nearby town and I decided to watch it come in. I didn't really mean to run away from home but, hey, there's a charisma to the circus - even a small one.It would be the adventure of a lifetime. In late evening I expected to see at least one or two trucks roll in.. However, nobody showed up until around dawn and I had a terrible nights sleep in the grandstand of the fairgrounds where the great (certainly not the GREATEST) show on earth was to set up. When the trucks began to roll in, I wandered up to see the big top go up. Somebody called out, "Hey, kid - want some work?" The cook wagon sounded a lot better that shoveling elephant poop so I said sure and immediately found myself cooking eggs and burning bacon. They let me eat a bite or two and then it was back to sweating over a hot griddle.
Any thought I had of seeing the big top go up went up in smoke - I slaved in that cook wagon right up to six in the afternoon when somebody handed me a couple of free (did I say free?) passes. I hadn't seen anything of the circus stars except when they ate, or the setting up of various tents. Never saw any of the animals. Just worked up a sweat over that hot griddle.
By the time the day was over all I wanted to do was to go home and sleep for a week or more. I vowed I never wanted to see another circus. Until today.
The folks at today's circus invited anybody who was interested to come at nine in the morning and watch the big top go up complete with an elephant pulling up tent poles. Finally I had my chance - I could visit the cook tent and visit with the cook telling her she had my sympathy - and she responded with a smile - "It's hard work but someone has to do it." I replied, "Yeah, I know what you're talking about - I served my time (a day that seemed like an eternity) sixty years ago.
So go my memories of the circus. And I finally got to see what I didn't see back in the last century. And I did not volunteer to work in the cook tent.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Thought I would review the trip with a few thoughts. Like high points, low points, etc.
For instance, the high expectation: see family and exciting places.
The big downer: Linda having to go home.
The big surprise: Theodore Roosevelt National Park
The big disappointment: Not getting to ride the Royal Gorge train
The dumbest thing: leaving stuff at motels
The most awesome: Grand Canyon
The most beautiful: Yellowstone Falls
The most laughs: with Greg and Michelle
The most worrisome: People that got caught up in significant illness
The hottest: Needles California to Albuquerque, NM
The stormiest: Bismarck, ND and driving into Albuquerque
The most peaceful: Redwood Forest, CA
The town I liked best: Ennis, MT
The town I liked least: Seattle (traffic)
The most heartwarming: family reunion in Arlington, WA
The best food: Mexican restaurant in Jamestown, ND
The worst restaurant: California restaurant in Lone Pine, California
The most challenging roads: Oregon and California coast (US-101)
The most impressive: The Spruce Goose at Evergreen Museum, Oregon
The most frustrating: highway construction. Now, if I can only get
The wealthiest area: Lake Tahoe
The poorest area: Along US-395 in California (desert areas)
The best motel chain: Days Inn
The most disappointing motels: Super 8
The most satisfying: Gas mileage with our Dodge Caliber
There may be more but my mind is slow this morning. It was a wonderful trip and great to be
with family a significant amount of time. But next time it will be by plane or train. Now, on
to video editing.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
How about one of our first motels where a shower fitting blasted water everywhere except on the body. The motel said "sorry about that" - and that was all there was to that.
Just after we left our eldest son's house in Washington - we were on the road to Oregon when we heard about it - Jeff went to the emergency room with a kidney stone. Having endured one some years ago I really felt major pangs of sympathy because it is a horrible experience.
Another day or so I the three of us lost some lines of communication and left a small bag in a motel
in Florence, Oregon. Wouldn't be a major thing except it had all my medication and diabetes glucometer and some other stuff of some significance. I usually leave some money in that bag but thankfully, the money was in another bag. We contacted the motel and asked them to ship it to our home. We tried to get the prescriptions transferred from the pharmacy back home to a
similar chain store in South Lake Tahoe but the Tahoe store did not have a pharmacy. Solved the dilemma by going to an urgent care clinic where I got prescriptions to cover the rest of the trip.
Then we got word that Linda's husband ended up in the hospital with a serious blood pressure problem. But we got word after we left the Tahoe area for Needles, California. It was serious enough that Linda became convinced the needed to fly home. Were we to cut the trip short and drive back to Minnesota as quickly as possible? Then we figured it would be faster for her to fly.
But there were no connections out of Needles which meant another day on the road so she could fly out of Albuquerque which allowed her visit to Grand Canyon (a primary reason for her going on the trip in the first place). When we got to Albuquerque we fought a terrible rain storm in the dark and Joyce managed to get us to the hotel with not much help from me (I have now come to the conclusion that no matter what I said, the GPS lady never failed us and I better listen to her more closely).
Linda got a 4:45am transfer to the airport where her flight (I won't say what airline it was) was delayed because of a missing flight attendant) Once airborne, and about 15 minutes into the flight there was a bang and the pilot (not saying what had happened) announced that the flight was returning to Albuquerque. At any rate, Linda made it back to Minneapolis safely albeit a little late. Oh, and by the way, most of her souvenirs and other bags will be shipped back from Oscoda when we get home. Assuming all goes well between here and there.
Well, the latest was when we got to Canyon City, Colorado and experienced a major rain storm.
This morning we checked in for the Royal Gorge train ride. Half an hour so later a voice over the PA system announced that our train ride was canceled because of a storm-induced rock slide that blocked the tracks in the canyon. Couldn't wait to see if the tracks would be cleared for the 1230 departure so we got an earlier start back home than planned and a nice refund of the fare for the trip. Got pictures of the train -- and a commercial video so we'll be able to see what we might have seen.
I may have something but this was enough. Tomorrow it's on to Indianapolis - Murphy's Law
Oh, about the picture - Joyce wanted to have some warm weather. The dashboard thermometer indicates an outside air temp of 108. But wait - a little bit later it went up
to 112. I'm ready for some cooler weather.
See you next time with the next exciting chapter.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
We have had a lot of mountain driving on this thrip. The picture will give you an idea of a little of what what we have experienced. Narrow two lane roads winding, twisting roads often with construction in the worst locations. And I do not like heights which doesn't even approach what Joyce thinks. I think she cringed on the floor a couple of times when we were on some particularly challenging stretches. We thought there were some challenging roads on I-90m going to Washington. But it was even more challenging along the Oregon and California coasts.
The roads were challenging in the Redwood Parks of Northern California. The super wide
I-80 over Donner Pass was not so bad in itself but there was a lot of consthruction which was
The last couple of days we have been at Lake Tahoe - about 7,000 feet above sea level. We have had a great time visiting son Greg and family and it was Greg that gave us the greatest thrill of all. Yesterday he took us further up - MUCH further up - to an overlook where we could see Emerald Bay. It was all very beautiful until we came to a two lane stretch of road that went along a ridge way up -- way WAY WAY WAY up looking straight down on both sides of the road. No guard rails. And I throughly panicked.
Well, as I said, there's no where to go but down from here unless we take that road again and I'll never ever do that agon unless I'm blindfolded and nobody says "Hey, look down there!"
But I must thank Greg for the greatest thrill I can ever remember. He really presented us with the reatest thrill of the whole trip. And if I repeated myself it's because it was just that. Today it's off the mountain to see Virginia City.
Fortunately I have video of the entire trip so we will see yesterdays views layet. I'm not sure what I saw yesterday when I was cringing on the front seat floor.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
For years and years I have carefully planned itineraries for vacations. I've ordered
AAA maps and trip-tics by the dozens. Nowadays I use google maps and mapquest
but my reputation is that All the effort that goes into the planning more often than
not is ignored once we are on the road.
The past few weeks has been such an occasion. Only this time I sent copies of my
itineraries to five or six important family members - including any who might be
traveling with us - or would find us stopping somewhere at their front door. One of our
daughters responded by saying that the fourth final itinerary began to make her wonder just when we (I?) would come up with a FINAL final FINAL plan for a vacation. I removed the
word final and began to use the date of the day I did the last itinerary.
So we left on Sunday on a massive trip from Michigan, to northern Minnesota, to Yellowstone
National Park (and other parks on the way) to Seattle, to the Oregon Coast, to the Redwood
Forests, to Lake Tahoe, to Grand Canyon, to New Mexico to a train ride through Royal
Gorge, to Denver, to Mount Rushmore and then back to Michigan by whatever route
crops up. Thus far I've used 95 percent of my itinerary, 70 percent of the AAA Trip-Tic,
and it's only three days out of 21. By the way, we had a significant problem trying to
find our daughter's house and if we had listened to our GPS device we would have found
it easily. Using instructions she sent us got us totally lost and for a while we couldn't
contact here because our cell phone didn't work for a while in her isolated area.
The word we have come to expect is "recalculating" -- which has sounded off repeatedly
when we deviated from the directions they (that unidentified voice on the little black box)
insisted were correct. But their recalculations always seemed to catch up somewhere along
And so we are currently in a motel in Columbus, Montana where a shower fixture was
maladjusted and soaked everything in the bathroom - EVERYTHING - including my
beloved and all her fresh clothes for the morrow. It did get fixed but it was a tense moment.
Well, tomorrow is Yellowstone Day. Let's see how things go then.
By the way, if you ever make it to Montana, on Interstate 94, be sure to take a while to
visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Never heard of it - never expected it - but it
was a hidden jewel very close to the Interstate.
See you again soon.
Monday, June 29, 2009
fireworks celebrations. We had one not far from our condo a weekend ago and it was a pretty
good display considering that there were trees and the base chapel hiding a major part of the
low-level display. But what we could see was great. By the way, the display was a part of
what Oscoda calls its "Red, White, and Blue Festival" This weekend was the annual art show
on the beach and next weekend will feature the township fireworks display at the park in the
center of town. Later in the month are a couple of major canoe races and a Native American
Pow-wow. And I don't want to ignore the Yankee Air Force Museum fly-in and USO dance. Who says small towns don't have a bunch of celebrations during the summertime?
When I think of the Fourth of July I think back to the late 1930's (last century) when fireworks
were different and in most states were legal. In one place I remember tissue paper balloons
with candles floating up along the Hudson River. (I don't remember whether they set
any fires but balloons like that (containing incendiary bomblets) were sent up from submarines off the West Coast and came down in Washington and Oregon forests.
It may have been 1939 r 1940 that New York State outlawed most firework. However, I was not going to allow the State ban on fireworks to end my holiday celebration. I made my own.
I tried to buy gunpowder at the local hardware and they wouldn't sell it to a little kid. So I bought up box after box of the big wooden kitchen matches, cut off the heads and glued them together. Then these big bundles of match heads were put on small rafts, lit, and floated on the
stream behind the house. When the bundles of match heads flared up there was applause from family members sitting on the lawn looking over the pool behind the house. The State of New York was not going to do my celebration in.
Well, it wasn't the fourth of July but later in life I was involved in a church play and I was tasked
with creating a flash in a fireplace (A 'Devil and Daniel Webster' special effect). This time I used regular gunpowder and the first try did not create enough flash and smoke. So my second try I used a significantly larger amount of gunpowder (almost filled a pie pan) and this time the flash
was huge and the entire basement of the church was filled with smoke. It was gently suggested that I not involve myself with pyrotechnics again.
And I must sat that there are times that I find it hard tom get past the fireworks stands and displays even now. Guess you can take the fireworks away the old boy -- but it's hard to take the old boy away from the Fourth of July celebration. Know what I mean?
Friday, June 12, 2009
While Rebecca, Ella, and Maddie were here we had a real treat - a visit from one of our 1970's exchange students, Paul Ickx. He was from Belgium when he stayed with us in the early 1970's - he then became a doctor and has spent many years providing medical care in places like Haiti, Africa, but most of all, for years in Afghanistan. He today heads up a hospital in Kabul but in the eighties he worked with the Muhajadeen (hope the spelling is right but it probably isn't) where as a surgeon he worked under extremely primitive conditions. I wish I could find some of the old photos he sent where he was dressed in the native robes.
It was a wonderful reunion - and I will say that the last couple of days have been tough with
none of the family around.
One of my other problems has been that I wanted to write about a particular place and I can't get the picture I want to come up in the blog. I can find it in "my pictures" but it won't transfer.
Maybe it will another day.
Maybe that problem is part of my problem with Hotmail. All of sudden I have had significant problems getting on line with Hotmail. When I talked to my friendly computer guru he said it wasn't just a problem for me - it was a problem for others who use Hotmail for mail (not necessarily HOT mail - but any mail on Hotmail. So now I have taken on a new e-mail address with Yahoo which I was on years ago and Joyce has been on for quite a while without a problem.
Which all goes to say that it isn't that I haven't wanted to do a blog but rather a lot of distractions and obstacles have made the last two or three weeks a challenge. Frustrating to say the least.
Well, hopefully there's be another blog afore long. As the used to say on an old radio program back the thirties: "I hope, I hope, I hope...." Bye for now
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
The Pageant began in 1938 and lasted fifty years. When it came time for the Easter Sunday morning production at 6 a.m. lines of people waiting to see the Pageant stretched for blocks before dawn. The music became a regular Easter program on Armed Forces Radio network and was heard around the world annually. It was an amazing event considering that the city of Marion has a population of less than 31,000 people. The lower of the two pictures shows the cast of the Pageant enacting a portion of the persecution of Jesus.
I was a "scenery mover" and "rope-puller" for scenic drops on the stage. My wife sang in the choir. Even though we who were mostly out of sight it was a most amazing spiritual experience for those in the production - even behind-the-scenes people. Surely one of the greatest in my personal memory. There was no admission charge that I recall - but the Pageant lived on free-will offerings and industrial and civic contributions.
This holy week I look back with profound memories of a very special Holy Week experience where denominational labels were set aside and folks were afforded of very special view of the Christian story of Easter.
Unfortunately, there have been no presentations of the Pageant for a few years. I understand that the city has fallen on hard times and hasn't been able to underwrite utility costs for the weeks of preparation before Easter, and because Marion has been a victim of industrial cut-backs (especially within the automotive industry) the funds have not been there. But the Pageant lasted over fifty years and one of my treasured memories is being able to the Holy Week story come alive in a most meaningful way. Perhaps in years to come the community will be able to renew this event but like so many things today, it will probably remain only a memory for those thousands who made it possible and who found great inspiration from a community that set aside labels and made Easter come alive.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Well, it's baseball season -- at least for the grapefruit league. And baseball season means little kids who hang around the ballpark hoping for an over-the-fence ball (foul or otherwise).
And then there was the knothole gang - the kids who wanted to watch the game but there was a board fence around the field and the only way to see the game was through a knothole in the fence.
Then, again, there was the knothole gang out behind our two-room school. Only thing was, it didn't involve a baseball game - it involved a couple of outhouses.
At our school there were two large four-holers - one outhouse for boys; one for girls. I'm not sure why four-holers - we were not that community minded - but, hey, it gave one an option of which seat to use.
Anyway, sometime before MY time, some of the larger boys got a great idea. Both outhouses were surrounded by metal fences for privacy. That held true for the girls but the door of the boys outhouse faced the entry through the fence so privacy was not a factor for the boys. The older boys decided that they needed a view for themselves so they brought a pipe, or a broomstick to school (the teachers didn't know or looked the other way). It so happened that two sheets of metal met just opposite the door the the girls outhouse. So, the broomstick, or pipe was used as a pry bar and separated the fence metal just enough to create a gap (in wood it would have been a knothole). It was just big enough to see the girl's outhouse door (which wasn't always closed). Needless to say, it created quite a stir among the boys over the years. Especially when one of the girls neglected to close their outhouse door.
However, once in a while, though, one of the girls might hear some giggling on the boys side of the fence and, looking through the gap in the fence, would see an eye peering through the hole. There'd be a scream - "I see you over there." "I'll tell the teacher on you!" That would get the boys attention and they would bail out of the outhouse enclosure with innocent smirks on their faces.
Outhouses were commonplace in our town. There are a number of stories about different outhouse events but we'll leave some of the other outhouse stories for another time. a few are better than this one.
Meanwhile, the old school has been converted into a museum and civic center of sorts. I've been back there a few times over the years, but I can't remember ever seeing the outhouses after the school no longer was a center of learning. (In more ways than one). If they are still there, I wonder if the crack in the fence is still there. And I wonder if the view through the fence is any different.