Wednesday, November 30, 2005

quote of the day

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these
--Jesus, Luke 12:27

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Yesterday a massive storm dumped snow across the prairies, but northeast Oklahoma received only flurries. You had to look real hard to see the white specks swept along by the wind. For years I've dreaded the yearly snows. Working as a letter carrier necessitated driving along slippery roads to work and along the mail route during the day. When I was younger I didn't mind the cold so much but in recent years I would be chilled to the bone. Sometimes I would eat lunch in the truck and stay cold because it was just too hard to warm up after spending time in a warm restaurant. But now that's all behind me. I'm looking forward to a substantial snow just so I can watch it through the window from the comfort of my recliner. I might venture outside if the grand kids are down and build a snow man or even a snow fort, knowing that when our cheeks begin to sting and our fingers are numb we can go inside for hot cocoa and watch movies while we thaw. I am so grateful for retirement.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

thanksgiving weekend

My neighbor's horses and mules are over wintering on my property and Marley loves to pet them and feed them apples.

Friday, November 25, 2005

pint size artists

Whenever Marley and Hunter come over and see my easels and paints, they want to try their hand at it. Top: Marley is a budding Georgia O'keefe. Bottom: Hunter, the next Jackson Pollock.

black friday

We were up at 2:45 am getting ready for the Black Friday shopping frenzy, when Dorothy told me I could stay home if I wanted to. It was to be my first experience in this annual ordeal, but Dorothy spared me in an act of love and devotion, or perhaps, like a military commander, seeing the fear in a soldiers eyes, left me behind for the sake of the mission.

I prefer to do my shopping online. No lines, no frustration. I just hope Dorothy and Kelly don't injure themselves or anyone else today.


This is my latest painting.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


What I love about the Thanksgiving dinner is the combination of tastes. The stuffing (cornbread style, is there any other?), the sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green beans; hot rolls drenched in butter (not margarine), broccoli and rice casserole. You just can't beat that combination, can you?

Some flavors are great by themselves. Here are my favorites:
  • Black Jelly Beans
  • Black Pepper
  • Iced Tea (a strong brew with sugar. Most of the country does not know the taste of real iced tea)
  • Peanut Butter (this is what we'll all eat in Heaven)
  • Sweet Onions
  • Cilantro
  • Bull's Eye spicy hot barbecue sauce.
  • Hominy
  • Dorothy's cinnamon rolls

Then there are certain food that when combined are just delicious for me. I have trouble stopping when I start eating:

  • Beans and cornbread, then add fresh diced onion.
  • Tacos (lettuce, cheese, tortilla, meat, hot sauce, oh boy!)
  • Spaghetti with meat sauce and toasted french bread.
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Tuna sandwich and french fries

I think I'll stop this post. I ate a small breakfast in anticipation of a big dinner, so my blood sugar must be low because thoughts of food keep popping into my head. I'll go get ready to eat. Have a great Thanksgiving.

i'm thankful for:

  • Dorothy (the love of my life)
  • My children and grand children (they all bring lots of joy to my life)
  • Health (my quality of life depends on this)
  • Retirement (I'm still adjusting, I dream about work, but it's great)
  • My blog and email friends (I feel like we've always known each other)
  • Living in the country where the air I breathe is clean and crisp.
  • Not having to commute to work and be exposed to the weather this winter
  • Books (some of them are life changers)
  • The ability to express myself through poetry and painting.
  • Travel opportunities (I get so tired on the road, but upon arriving home I'm ready to go again.

quote of the day

What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.
-- Bob Dylan

ice skates

top: Burk and the girls get the skates on while Hunter looks on
next: Marley's ready
next: Tara and Sam skate with Marley
bottom: Burk and Marley

Sunday, November 20, 2005

tara's birthday

Tara blows out the candles on her birthday cake with a little help from Marley Kate. I think Hunter was able to blow out the last one. Whenever there's a birthday in the family the honoree gets to chose his/her birthday meal which is prepared lovingly by Dorothy. Tara requested tacos. Then we had a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and you guessed it, chocolate ice cream. It's Tara's 18th birthday. She said she wasn't ready for adulthood. I consoled her with the news that it only lasts 47 years and then you can goof off again when you retire. She didn't seem consoled, though.

Friday, November 18, 2005

found treasure

Dorothy's been doing some housecleaning; going through closets, drawers, etc.. She found this old, crumbling water color painting I did of her cat, Nutmeg, back in 1963. We were just kids at the time; I caught her cat sitting on a pillow and sketched her in pencil, then applied water colors. I was 17 years old. I'm going through all that stuff she unearthed. Maybe I'll find some more things for show and tell.

blast from the past

Today, two things reminded me of my work years. One, the alarm went off. That was a most unpleasant sound. We set the alarm because we were to pick up grandson Hunter this morning and keep him until Kelly picks him up this afternoon. I don't know why we set the alarm, we always wake up before that anyway. Two, it was 18 degrees outside and I had to scrape ice off the windshielf of the minivan before we could leave. I was hoping I had done that for the last time after 26 winters of scraping, scraping, scraping. Oh, well. It's Friday. I'll just take the rest of the day off and play with Hunter. He's in the kitchen right now with Grandma helping her to cook -- I'd better go relieve her.

looking back over the week

It's Friday so it's time to look back over this week and survey what I've accomplished. Not that I have a big desire to accomplish anything. I'm perfectly capable of sitting in the porch swing and watching the cars go by. But, I did work on a few projects this week. I cut down a snowball tree that hadn't bloomed in several years and replaced it with two Crepe Myrtles, one on each side of the side walk. I also cut up some limbs that had fallen out of trees around the place, adding to the stack of firewood I'll be hauling up to my daughter's house, soon. They burn wood during the winter.

I also made a frame for the painting my grand daughter, Sami, did for us. I painted it yesterday and today I'll give it another coat and mount the painting this afternoon.

I stained our bathroom door. It was unpainted and after I stained it, I noticed spots where Dorothy's hair spray had marked the door. They were unnoticeable before I stained it, so now I'll have to sand it down and restain it.

Wednesday I reformatted my computer. I was up til midnight on that project, but at least now the old 'puter is running smoother and faster. It's still going to be a few days before I get all the programs reinstalled.

So I haven't spent the whole week lollygagging, although that would have been an equally satisfying pastime.

quote of the day

"Cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit, cannot be severed; for the effect already blooms in the cause, the end preexists in the means, the fruit in the seed."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th century Transcendental philosopher

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Did you watch the country music awards? I did. I haven't been listening to country music in awhile. Who were all those people? Why were Paul Simon, Nora Jones, and Billy Joel, and Elton John on the show? I'm a fan of theirs, but does country music really appeal to them? I'll admit I'm getting older, but, not one song set my toe a tappin'.

quote of the day

We need the moral high ground and our troops need the moral high ground because we've always believed we were better, we weren't like other armies--we didn't abuse people, we didn't torture, we didn't kill them. And to strip that core value from our troops is to strike at the very heart of the patriotism, the morale, the spirit, that animates the force of free men and women fighting for democracy.
--General Wesley Clark on torture

Monday, November 14, 2005

three month report

Well, it's been three months since my last day at work. I'm still in a state of euphoria; it's going to take a little longer to realize that I'm finished with work.

At first I couldn't get into a good sleep routine. Sometimes I was up at 3:30 and sometimes I slept as late at 6:30. Some evenings I would go to bed as early as 9:00 and other nights, midnight. But, I think I've finally found my sleep groove. 10:30 seems just right for a bedtime, and 7:00 is a good time to get up, although it was after seven this morning before I finally rolled out of the sack. Dorothy brought me my coffee while I was still in bed and breakfast was on the table by the time I was dressed.

I think I should step up my exercise routine and walk more. I'm gaining a bit of weight. I put on an old pair of work pants this morning and I couldn't get them fastened, so I just tied the belt loops together with twine and went about my yard projects. I waved to a couple of neighbor ladies that drove by and I'm afraid I may have shown them the color of my boxers, so I went in and changed into some sweatpants.

The weight problem began on vacation. We cast dietary caution to the wind, and ate at all our favorite restaurants and at a few we discovered. We ate huge chimichangas in Holbrook, Arizona, jumbo pastramis at the Hat in Upland, California, and of course there's the obligatory cheeseburgers and fries at the In'n'Out. I tried octopus for the first time at a Chinese restaurant in Yuba City, Ca., and of course the world famous tacos my aunt Atha makes at her house in Live Oak. Dorothy's brother Bill introduced us to some great places to eat in Claremont, Ca. I certainly don't want to leave out the breakfast buffet at the Ramada Express in Laughlin, Nevada, and the cinnamon raisin french toast at the Denny's at Winslow, Arizona deserves a mention. I guess you could say we ate our way across the heartland of America.

So now it's back to working out with weights, and walking. How did I get out of shape so fast? Hard work and discipline were not part of my retirement plans.

After three months of fun, now we're settling down to living on a reduced income. That's going to be hard. We'll have to learn to economize more than we already do so we won't be forced back to work.

Yellowjacket Report: As I reported in a previous post, I was having trouble with a yellowjacket nest near the house. It was in the ground and I was stung after rolling the lawn mower over the hole. I found a method of control on the web and thought I would try it. I put a clear glass bowl upside down over the hole and spread shredded leaves around the edges making a seal (dirt works fine too). The next morning it looked like a popcorn machine with the wasps bouncing off the inside of the bowl. It took ten days but they're all dead. An excellent way to rid yourself of a nest without getting stung.

Friday, November 11, 2005

what I'm reading now

This is an interesting book that claims the idea that oil as a "fossil fuel" has never been scientifically proven. The authors share theories of other scientists that state oil is not the result of decomposing dinosaurs, and plant life, in fact it is abiotic. Last year researchers created methane from exerting extreme pressure on iron oxide, calcium carbonate, and water. The implications are paradigm shifting. We're not running out of oil? There is a never ending supply? Wow.


Today we honor the men who have served our country in the military services. Originally Armistice Day was dedicated to the soldiers who gave their lives during WWI, in 1953 it was changed to Veteran's Day to honor all military men and women who served in uniform during all the wars.

Of all the boys from my neighborhood, one died in Vietnam, and another was wounded. A coworker of mine lost a leg there. My military duty was not quite as sacrificial as that of those brave guys, in fact, I was expecting something resembling a John Wayne movie, but my experience was more like a Beetle Bailey cartoon.
I've always thought that military service was good for young men and that the draft should be re-instated. I know it helped me to get away from home and gain confidence and learn what I was capable of accomplishing. But as I've grown older, I see governmental officials who were able to avoid the draft through family or political influence, sending other families' sons to risk death in a war that is losing national support day by day.
The question I've had to ask myself is this: Am I willing to give up my son/daughter for this cause? No, I'm not willing.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

You Should Get a MFA (Masters of Fine Arts)

You're a blooming artistic talent, even if you aren't quite convinced.
You'd make an incredible artist, photographer, or film maker.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

quote of the day

The facts are simple enough. If we had left the olive groves and the cotton fields and the oil wells of this region alone, we might not have had to worry about this equilibrium--at least not yet. But we have not left them alone. We have sent our ideas and our ideals, and our motion pictures and our radio programs, our engineers and our businessmen, and our pilots and our soldiers into Middle East; and we cannot now escape the result.
--Wendell L. Willkie, One World, 1943


The What Should I Read Next? website suggests books you might like reading based on real readers' recommendations.
were the results:

1776: America and Britain at War
- David McCullough

The City of Falling Angels
- John Berendt

The Haunting of Hill House
- Shirley Jackson

The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History
- John M. Barry

Under and Alone: The True Story of the Undercover Agent Who Infiltrated America's Most Violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang
- William Queen

- Tom Peters

Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate
- Steven A. Johnson

Mind Wide Open: Why You Are What You Think
- Steven Johnson

The Millionaire Next Door
- Thomas J. Stanley, William D. Danko

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century
- Thomas Friedman

another leader of the 21st century

On our trip to California we stopped in Twenty Nine Palms at a McDonald's to buy some cokes. The cokes cost 3.00 and I handed the young man behind the counter a 20.00 bill. I heard him say "uh, oh". I looked at the cash register and it displayed: "No Change 00.00". The boy started counting on his fingers and after a moment I said, "seventeen". He counted out the money and hesitated before giving it to me as if I may have tried to fool him into giving more change than what was due. With the millions of dollars being poured into education why can't these kids do simple arithmetic or read? I think we need a back to basics program. Have the three R's been forgotten?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

yellow jackets

A few weeks ago I discovered an underground yellow jacket nest the hard way. I was mowing the lawn and when I ran over the hole I was stung by one of the little devils defending the nest. I've been searching the web for a way to get rid of the nest and the best advice so far is to simply avoid them and let the cold weather put an end to the nest. It also advised using professional pest controllers because once you spray any kind of insecticide down the hole, you have to run for the house because they will be provoked and ready to retaliate. Then, I found a solution that I'm trying now. Here's what I did. At dusk when most of the wasps had returned to the nest I placed a clear glass bowl over the hole piling shredded leaves around the bold to seal it. (dirt is good too.) The next morning I went out to check the bowl and it looked like I was making popcorn inside the bowl. Hundreds of wasps were trying to get out and a few were outside the bowl trying to get in. Theoretically the wasps don't realize they could dig under the bowl, they just keep flying against the glass. After a few days without water or food they all die. I'll report back in a few days on my success.

what I'm reading now

This book has sat on my bookshelf for the last two years and this week I finally got around to reading it. I'm sorry I waited so long. It's a great story. It's about two brothers employed by their father's timber company and their struggle to make a living and at the same time struggle against the forces of evil they encounter deep in the cypress swamps of Louisiana.

Friday, November 04, 2005

fire fighter

At the end of summer I was asked to attend a meeting of our local volunteer fire department in view of joining. I attended, and it's a good organization with good dependable men, but I just didn't think it was for me. Yesterday, I saw two of my neighbors out in my pasture loading hay. (One of the neighbors (Mike) had cut and baled it last summer and they were loading it on John's trailer to feed his horses and cows this winter, an arrangement agreed upon by the three of us.) So I hopped in my truck and drove down there to shoot the breeze with them. (I needed a break from the project I was working on)

Well, the subject of the fire dept. came up and they both encouraged me to attend another meeting, and there just happened to be one for last night. So I told them I would be there. I'd been thinking I need to participate. After all that's what this country is about, democracy, neighbors helping neighbors. Everyone pitching in and doing his part.

I showed up for the meeting and they handed out a list of the names and telephone numbers of all the members. My name was at the top of the list. Hmm.

About halfway through the meeting there was a conversation that went something like this:
Mike: " There's a person here tonight that, I think, might want to join. He's recently retired, kinda smart, and trustworthy."
Jim: "Does he have hair?"
Mike: "Not much."

So I filled out my application and pending approval by the chief and his assistant, I'll be a volunteer fire fighter soon. Actually, I think they have the job of secretary/treasurer in mind for me. Dorothy thinks it's great. I haven't had my fill of piddling and day dreaming yet. I'm supposed to be retired.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

We leave I-40 and head north to the Hubbell Trading Post Historical Site at Ganado, Arizona. It was established in 1876 by Lorenzo Hubbell. It is the oldest continuously operated trading post in the Navajo Nation. Posted by Picasa

Dorothy walks toward the information office/gift shop. Posted by Picasa

This Navajo lady graciously gave me permission to take her picture. Posted by Picasa

Autumn on the high desert. Posted by Picasa

This is the trading post as it looked in 1915 Posted by Picasa

How it looks today. Posted by Picasa

Inside the trading post still selling to the Navajos (and tourists) after 126 years. Posted by Picasa

You can buy one of these rugs for around $2,400. Posted by Picasa

quote of the day

"Moderation? It's mediocrity, fear, and confusion in disguise. It's the devil's dilemma. It's neither doing nor not doing. It's the wobbling compromise that makes no one happy. Moderation is for the bland, the apologetic, for the fence-sitters of the world afraid to take a stand. It's for those afraid to laugh or cry, for those afraid to live or die. lukewarm tea, the devil's own brew."
--Dan Millman - The way of the Peaceful Warrior

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

winslow, arizona

Well, I'm a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see

It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me

Come on, baby, don't say maybe I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me

We may lose and we may win though we will never be here again so open up, I'm climbin' in, so take it easy

hey! i know her

While surfing the postal websites I found this picture of my long time friend Mary Ellis-Gilbert. She was recognized by the Postal Service for her and her employees efforts in helping Katrina evacuees at Camp Gruber, OK. She's the postmaster at Braggs, Ok. I've known her since 1984 when I transferred to Tahlequah, OK. to deliver the mail and she was a clerk. Congratulations, Mary!