Friday, March 30, 2012

Tulip Time

A few years ago Joyce and I took a nice jaunt from our then home on the eastern shores of Michigan to go to a train museum in the center of the state and then we spent the night in Grand Rapids. The next morning we drove to Holland. Not Holland Holland - Holland Michigan. It was a perfect trip - the huge crowds that invade Holland were gone and it seemed as though we had the town to ourselves - except for millions and millions of Spring flowers. What a wonderful place Holland is - either the one in the Great Lake State - or the one in Europe. I remember that one well from my Air Force days when I spent several months in The Hague working with the Netherlands Air Force.

i guess that all came back to me yesterday when we drove down to Evansville for a a college honors convocation in which granddaughter Jill was one of the honorees. The University of South Indiana is one of those places that has masses of tulips at this time of the year. Not just the University - the flowers were all over the city and it was beautiful. It really brings to mind the beauty of God's paint brush and makes one glad to be alive.

But I wasn't all that glad when our cell phone went off a when we were in our local bankers office the other day. The cell phone sounded off and it seemed as though everyone started laughing. I don't know why - all it was was a cell phone ring.  It was just a ring tone of Tiny Tim of past years singing "Tiptoe Through the Tulips". If you haven't heard it, or are unfamiliar with who Tiny Tim was, look him up on the Internet -  I'm sure you will be impressed - or at the very least puzzled why anyone in their right mind would use that ring tune. Then, again, I''ve not been accused of a somewhat twisted mind for a long time. Or maybe Joyce doesas well - I think the ring tone was her idea.

Then there is the story about  long flower beds filled with beautiful tulips - a little like the picture above. This flower beds ran from a sally port entry to a large apartment complex in Rye, New York. Running along the flower bed was a concrete sidewalk leading to an ornate entrance to the building proper. I was quite young - perhaps four or so - and we had an apartment, our first home on the mainland after my father retired (for the first time) from the active Army. This row or tulips was the managers pride and joy.

Needless to say, I had not completed driver education but I was equipped with wheels - a four wheel pedal car. Unfortunately it was not equipped with GPS and so, when I drove it, the little car had a mind of its own as the direction it went. If you are think that the car might have  affinity for tulips, you are 100 percent right. Not just one side of the sidewalk but both sides experienced a floral demolition derby. From one end to the other. It was not a tip toe through the tulips - it was mass destruction.

If memory serves correctly, we did not last in that apartment complex. I've been told that the manager invited (urged? insisted? demanded) us to move quickly after my moment of floral devastation and we ended up in my grandmother's boarding house. The picture above is of the infamous vehicle with me behind the car and one of the Tucker boys to the left. Granted, the picture is a bit faded, but so am I at the moment. And wonders of all wonders, I have a considerably better respect for flowers - especially if they are my wife's.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March Madness

It's a glorious time in the Midwest - a time when all hearts and souls focus on basketball. High school, college, and most everyone else. Except this year when people held their breath to try to figure out where former Colt quarterback Peyton Manning would end up. And so it will be the Denver Broncos and now focus is back to basketball.

But I want to focus on something else - the March Madness of 2012 weather in Indiana. I thought it might be interesting to compare our 2012 weather to New York City winter in March 1888. As noted in the picture above, the Big Apple enjoyed a bit of snow in mid-March.  As much as 58 inches in one storm. There were 400 or so people who died, and there were damages estimated as high as 25 million in 1888 dollars (over a billion dollars in modern money) The storm produced winds as high as 80 miles per hours, creating snow drifts as high as 52 feet.

Then there was the time in my lifetime in New York State around 1940 when we had a snowstorm in which we had to use snowshoes to get to town because the snowplows couldn't get to our house. And the time in Rensselaer, Indiana when we had so much snow we had to cancel church three weeks out of four because churches were inaccessible for weeks at a time. When we were first able to make our way to some of them we had to drive on single lane roads with snowbanks on the side almost twice the height of our car. In Kokomo, Indiana we had an occasion where we couldn't get from our apartment into town for several days and Joyce couldn't get to get job in Marion (fifty miles away) for a week.

But then there is the year 2012 - another record setting weather year. Not for snow and cold -- just the opposite - warmth. It's been a really mild winter. And now it's mid-March. I venture to say we are

having Spring a month early and here is where we are this first day of Spring.  I'll take it but we do that with big question - It's great this year -- but what about Winter 2013? We shall see - but like I say, it's wunnerful this year.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

This was the morning that was

In case someone wonders, it is not all peace and tranquility back at the senior citizen ranch in good old Indianapolis. The above is a self portrait at around 9:30 this morning.

What it represents is my reaction to a smoke alarm going of in our apartment. I might expect it once in a while in the kitchen area when I have been incinerating a steak. Or maybe overcooking some of the good lady's favorite Brussels sprouts. (Let me correct that: LEAST favorite - it's me who has craved them ever since I had them for ten days straight in three Israeli hotels where they are a mainstay.)

At any rate, it was not a kitchen alarm that went off - it was a bedroom alarm and nothing I tried would cause it to stop screaming. Before anyone has any false illusions, we were far away when it sounded off so it wasn't anything we did - maybe forty years ago but not today.

Next thing we knew the phone rang - the manager downstairs wanted to know if we had a problem. Only an alarm that we couldn't shut off. Then the maintenance man showed up with three of the biggest and bravest firemen I've ever seen - all the way up to the second floor. Finally everyone agreed - a smoke sensor had malfunctioned  and had to be dissembled to stop the alarm. A few hours later a new sensor was installed and hopefully will continue to guard over us unless some dire (real) emergency occurs.

All this sounds like something not to big but in an apartment building like ours it affects every occupant in one way or another. Maybe it's that the building fire doors automatically close. Or maybe that a building-wide warning is sounded. So, though I really had nothing to do the problem, I got a lot of dubious looks when I went downstairs for the mail a little later. And a few questions as to what we had been up to in good old 227. The manager, bless her heart, said, it's happened several times the past few weeks because of failed parts and our friendly firemen have paid a courtesy call every time. Even last Tuesday when someone else's sensor sounded off at two in the morning.

Oh, well, things happen, and I'm glad the system is here - maybe sometime it will protect us when
something more serious happens. Meanwhile, enjoy the picture - it's pretty much where I was at the time.