Friday, September 24, 2010

We've been invaded!

Well, actually it happened a couple of years ago. However, we've never forgotten the event, and maybe, just maybe, you may have been exposed to a similar situation.

When we left our last church appointment a little over two years ago the folks in Whittemore gave us a really nice farewell/retirement party. Among the gifts were a beautiful eagle plaque which rests on the top of my desk at this moment. Another gift had to be left behind when we moved to Indianapolis -- a beautiful, very large, bird feeder. We put it in the yard outside one of the back windows of our house and loaded it up with really good bird seed. For a while we had what seemed like every bird in twenty counties at the feeder. It was a sight to behold - just what the lady of the house had dreamed about for months. Until.........

The squirrel moved in. Not just to munch on the bird seed but to take up occupancy.
It no longer was an exotic bird feeder - now it became a luxury squirrel condo. Fully
equipped with tender vittles enough to last through a winter. Well not really - that squirrel made short order of the birdseed - and had the audacity to sit on the feeder porch and glare at us for not filling the feeder back up. (See picture for a glare stare you have to look closely)

I don't think the feeder has seen a full load of feed for quite a while. No sense in tempting the squirrel to come back. The feeder looks great behind the house but now it's not a squirrel glare to contend with - it's stares from hungry birds who can't understand why the cupboard is bare. Well part of the situation is that there's no feed in the shed - moreover, we don't live there any more.

Well, there's another chapter in the bird saga - the story of a deer and bird feeders. I'll have to hold off on that tale until I can find the CD with those pictures. Meanwhile, old photos leave good memories of pleasant days. And yes, we are both for the birds. If you know what I mean.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

On a Wanted List?

Joyce and I just got our Indiana driver's licenses - but it wasn't easy. If I remember correctly, it was a much easier task in Michigan, and much more challenging in Florida and I'm really glad the process is over with. But it isn't altogether over - I have to live with this photo for at least the next three years hoping that the actual license picture is better than this.

In fact, I think the camera person came from a police department job taking photos of out and out criminals. Can't you see the evil in my eyes? And she has missed the top of my head and shows more of my shirt. Yes, there is a definite criminal aspect to the photo.

As I remember, a person didn't have to take a written test or driving test in Michigan if you already had a license from another state. In Florida I needed both even if one had thirty or more accident/violation free years behind them. I got the impression Florida didn't want any more drivers than was necessary. Michigan seemed to welcome drivers from other states. Indiana splits the difference -- they have a fifty question written test you have to pass before you can even apply for a license. Of those questions, at least 20 were recognizing highway signs.

The first day at the Beech Grove BMV office Joyce had everything she needed relative to identity. I didn't - somehow I had misplaced my Social Security card and even if I had a letter from Social Security with my name, old address, and new address, I was rejected from even applying. Joyce at least got to take the test which she failed relative to street signs.

The next day she passed the test and got her temporary license. Having found my Social Security card, I was allowed to apply and managed to fail the written test.
I missed by one sign and the reason I failed was that, although I knew the answer, I put the mark in the wrong box. My fault? Yep, but I still fussed and fumed all day about the injustice of it all. Joyce was much better than I about it.

Day three to Beech Grove: I passed the test -- aced the signboard portion and missed only a couple of the questions. Thus, I could proceed to get my temporary license and have the dubious privilege of living with this picture for months on end. Maybe I'll be blessed and not have to show the picture to any other person. Meanwhile, I'll be checking every post office bulletin board to see if it shows up there Meanwhile, I no longer have my wonderful 45 dollar enhanced Michigan drivers license but will enjoy my 11 dollar Indiana Secure license.

Am I on a wanted list? I hope so, as long as it is limited to family and friends.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

From the Memory Bank

We have had the privilege of sailing in and out of New York City's harbor several times and it has always been an impressive experience. My first was when I was in the Air Force returning from a tour of duty in Europe. That particular time I was sailing First Class on the famed liner United States. In First Class I was like a fish out of water - I was not comfortable sailing with notables like movie star Robert Taylor and the Lord Mayor of London. But as we entered New York harbor, like so many GI's from the past, I got goose bumps when I saw the Statue of Liberty. I knew I was home and proud to be an American.

In the mid-nineties I sailed out of and back into New York harbor again, this time on a seven day cruise to Canada and back. I felt the same way about Lady Liberty, but I was also impressed with the New York Skyline near Battery Park. As we left the view was very similar to the picture with this blog with the sun setting in the west and the World Trade Center reflecting a rosy glow. A beautiful and impressive sight and, on our return a week later,had an equally beautiful view as morning dawned over the city that never sleeps.

In May of 2001 we sailed through lifting fog into New York Harbor, this time halfway through a cruise from Port Canaveral, Florida to Montreal, Canada. The Trade Center towers loomed high over the city, and again it was a sight to behold. This time we were in New York long enough to take a tour through the city and in the process we passed by the Woolworth Building where my father had worked at one time, and right under the soaring towers of the Trade Center. Later, well into the evening, we sailed back out of the harbor passing by the same towers lit brilliantly with lights on all floors. Who could have known - who would have imagined - that in just a few short months those towers would be gone, replaced by ugly clouds of smoke and piles of debris and the remains of thousands of people.

I hope the nation never forgets what happened September 11, 2001. In many ways we will never think or live quite the same as before that date. I know it is a very special memory for me and worthy of a lot of special prayers for lives lost and lives that have to go on with that loss. I pray we never forget what happened that morning nine years ago.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Good Guy

The picture shows some of Joyce's family a couple of years ago. From left to right you can see Wilbur Welsh (brother-in-law), Jim Lakin (Joyce's brother), Jim's wife Sandra, my wife Joyce, and Willie's wife, Joan, one of my wife's sisters.

Willie passed away last week after a horrible bout with cancer. I thought to myself, why is it that good guys sometimes suffer the worst. Of course, Joan went through it right along with Willie and it had to be terrible for her to see Willie suffer and have his life slowly ebb away. Unless one has been through something like that it is hard for others to really understand the struggle people go through. The Bible talks about 'fighting the good fight' and Willie did just that.

I have a lot of good memories of Willie. Sometimes I remember him working on cars in his back yard. He was a wizard shade-tree mechanic. His real job was at Ford's Mercury Division in the Detroit area. He worked hard, studied hard, and eventually became highly skilled in machine set-up processes. At one time he and Joan came and stayed with us when he thought about changing jobs. Eventually he retired and Willie and Joan settled in a lovely home in north-central Michigan. When we moved to Michigan from Florida we got help from Willie and for that I was extremely grateful. They lived about two hours west of us when we lived in Michigan, and we always enjoyed going to their house.

He and Joan also had a remote bit of land (40 acres) that they called Willieland. He loved it there. It was peaceful - away from the pressures of life and I think the happiest I ever saw him was when he would hike around his land, do target shooting, and just feel a part of nature.

Willie was a very private person. Very quiet spoken. But he had a strong sense of values that I agreed with and I felt at peace with life when I was with him. We talked about his service with Army artillery during the Korean conflict. He had a lot of stories about his army days and would grin when he said his Army specialty was 'polishing big guns.'

Last Friday the family celebrated his life. I would like to think that Willie would have been happy with the way it was done. No big hoorahs. No big speeches. Nothing false - just a recognition that the world had lost a really good guy. I appreciated our daughter Lisa driving up andback from Michigan -- it meant a lot to us to be there. And, yes, Willie will be missed -- a lot. He was a special friend.