Thursday, December 20, 2007

one more phase completed

The sliding patio door is in, caulked, and weather tight. I need to paint the trim, but right now I'm tired. I know professionals could have put it in in a couple of hours, but I'm not a pro. We worked on it eight hours Monday, about eight hours yesterday, and three today. What a project! I thought about it for days before we began, dreamed about it every night and woke up with it on my mind, and now it's finished. For me, the hard part of remodeling is trying to install something that is straight and square into a house that is not. Remember that little ditty about a crooked man who built a crooked house? This is the house that he built. It could be that levels and squares had not been invented when the house was first erected. Or maybe such technology hadn't made this far back into the woods.

I know what your thinking. When am I going to build a deck level with the door?

quote of the day

When I compare
What I have lost with what I have gained,
What I have missed with what attained,
Little room do I find for pride.
I am aware
How many days have been idly spent;
How like an arrow the good intent
Has fallen short or been turned aside.
But who shall dare
To measure loss and gain in this wise?
Defeat may be victory in disguise;
The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, December 17, 2007


Dorothy's brother Bill, and my neighbor, Mike Wolf are dismantling a window and pulling siding off the wall to make a patio door shaped hole in the wall. Honest, I helped. I just stopped from time to time to take a picture.

The door is in, but as you can see, the sun is going down so we buttoned it up and we'll continue squaring it up tomorrow. When we started it was 38 degrees outside. It warmed up to 50 and then began a down hill slide. I'll be glad when the project is finished.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

quote of the day

Find peace with yourself by accepting not only what you are, but what you are never going to be.
-- Anonymous

a big hole in the wall

I've been absent from the blog recently because of the busy-ness of remodeling, piano lessons, and caring for my grand daughter, Tara, who endured an emergency appendectomy last week. I have a new patio door that was delivered last Wednesday, but I haven't been able to install it because of the weather. Tomorrow, the temperature is supposed to rise all the way to 50 degrees so I'm going to jump at the opportunity to cut a 72"X80" hole in the wall to accommodate the new door (photos forthcoming).

Thursday, December 06, 2007

i want my chair back

Lizzie, the dog that lives at my house, is a mean and spiteful dog. She won't get out of my chair. She's old and deaf and won't respond to stern language, but then again, she never responded when she was a pup. I can't hit her with a stick or the animal lovers would have be put in prison and tortured for years and years. Even if I went to the trouble of tilting the chair and dumping her out the chair would still smell like her. I can't win. I usually just sit in Dorothy's recliner, but then she complains that her chair smells like me.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

  • I went to the store today for Dorothy. As I was walking between two cars, I heard a click and then something hit me in the back of the head. I looked around as one of the cars back out and drove away. There was a man sitting in his car who looked puzzled. I told him I had just been hit in the head with something. He told me a little boy in the car that drove away had been playing with a toy pistol. That little twerp was a pretty good shot. I hope his mother took the toy away from him. Little kids don't need to be shooting people with toy guns. It just gets them used to shooting them with real ones.
  • Our ESL lesson this week was about ordering food in a restaurant. I asked my students if they are comfortable ordering from a menu. One student said she just asks the waiter if he can speak Spanish and if he says no she orders from the buffet.
  • I've been so busy on the remodeling and my piano lessons I haven't had the time to post to this blog. I'll have some photos of the progress posted here soon, and maybe I'll upload an audio file of a song I've mastered, that is if I ever master one.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

remodeling progress

Dorothy's brother Bill is helping me on this phase of creating a dining room. This old house has very uneven floors so we're leveling them.

Friday, November 16, 2007

marley's baptism

Marley and Kelly have their picture taken before the baptism.

The youth minister, Jason Kelly, explains to the congregation that Marley has made a commitment of faith and is now publicly demonstrating her personal identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

quote of the day

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?" Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more than one night."
-- Charles Schulz, Peanuts cartoonist

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

tara's birthday

It's Tara's twentieth birthday and as she attempts to blow out the candles on her cake she gets lots of help from her younger cousins. As per our tradition the birthdayee (I just made up a word) gets his/her choice of cake and dinner. Tara chose a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and for dinner we had tacos.

This is my new keyboard. I'm slowly and haltingly playing "Happy Birthday" as we all sing for Tara.

quote of the day

"Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits."
--Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, November 09, 2007

cyber democracy

This morning I emailed my congressman expressing my concern over the importation of defective and toxic products from China. So far, toxic pet food, tooth paste, toys made with lead and other dangerous substances, and fish treated with antibiotics have been discovered. Who knows what other harmful things have been introduced into this country that haven't been detected? All in the name of global trade. At a time when our government should be protecting us from unsafe imported food, the FDA is closing 7 of 13 laboratories that test for these problems.

Thanks to the Internet, we have opportunities to communicate with our elected Representatives like no other time in history. I urge all citizens to express how you feel about the state of our country to the people you sent to Washington to represent you. Online, you can track your congressman's voting record and see if he is watching out for your interests like he promised when he campaigned for your vote. America is beginning to suffer from the actions of corrupt politicians and special interest groups, and its our responsibility as voters to let them know that we're not going to stand for it.

To email a member of Congress or the Senate use these links:

Thursday, November 08, 2007

quote of the day

A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct of what is beautiful and awe-inspiring is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.
--Rachel Carson

work work work

We need more room. Our extended family is growing by leaps and bounds and our holidays and family get togethers are pretty crowded affairs. So I'm eliminating the wall between a storage room and the pantry to make one room 10X13. We'll make this into a nice dining area. The contents of the pantry were moved into the laundry room, and the stuff that was stored in the other room are now in a storage bin in town. I think we should have had a bonfire in the back yard and burned all those possessions that we never use, but, the chief executive vetoed that idea.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

quote of the day

The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance. Like music, also, it is fulfilled in each moment of its course. You do not play a sonata in order to reach the final chord, and if the meanings of things were simply in ends, composers would write nothing but finales.
--Alan Watts

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

quote of the day

There's a schizoid quality to our relationship with animals, in which sentiment and brutality exist side by side. Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us pause to consider the miserable life of the pig - an animal easily as intelligent as a dog - that becomes the Christmas ham.
--Michael Pollan

what i'm reading now

Once in a while I read a book that causes me to take a look at my world in a different way, to rethink my thinking. The Black Swan is such a book. In this book the author, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, discusses the impact of the highly improbable. Here's a blurb from the cover:
"A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For the author, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives."

toward another goal

If you've been reading my blog for some time you know that one of the post-retirement goals I set for myself was to learn the piano. I learned the guitar when I was 17 and over the years I've been able to play a few rock-n-roll tunes and sing a ballad or two while accompanying myself on my 6 string. This weekend Dorothy, Kelly, and Karon went on a shopping trip to Branson, and among the goodies she brought home was a 61 key piano keyboard. Well, I sat down and started lessons immediately. I'm taking lessons online to learn piano theory and get acquainted with the layout of the keyboard, but I'm surprised at how quickly I'm picking up chords and melody. I can already play the tunes that I used to play on the guitar, although very slowly. On a guitar you can play chords or the melody but not both at the same time (unless you're Chet Atkins), but on the piano it's great to be able to play chords and melody together. For me playing the guitar was like traveling to Musicland over a twisting, turning trail through the forest, but on the piano I feel like I'm making the same trip on the autobahn.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

happy halloween

What a scary witch Jenna makes
Power Ranger (Hunter), the wicked witch (Jenna), Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz (Marley)

Trick or treating down town. Burk pushes Jenna while Marley and Tara walk along.

another absurdity of american life

A little over two years ago when I retired; the people at work gave me a party. My boss presented me with some service awards for 27 years of faithful service, and he made a speech bragging on my dependability and how I would be missed, blah, blah, blah. We had cake and ice cream. I walked away from the job with a modest pension and health insurance for life, a valuable reward for enduring the stress and strain of working for years and years at making a living.
Yesterday, there was a news story about the CEO of a major company who was fired for losing the company eight billion dollars. Where I worked if I had been responsible for the loss of as little as 100.00 because of my own negligence, or malfeasance, I would have been fired too. There would have been no pension, insurance, nada.
But, this person, who dropped 8 billion (Yes that's 8 followed by nine zeroes) into the abyss, walked away with a paycheck of 160 million dollars. Most people today think there is something amiss in America, and this is just one of the many things in our country that makes no sense. If a person is so talented and competent that he can earn his company billions of dollars in profit, then, OK, cut him a check for a few million. But, if that person causes a loss of 8 billion dollars, shouldn't he be held accountable? Jail may not be out of the question. What do the share holders think? If he's not going to be summoned to an inquisition to explain himself, maybe a talk show host should invite him to appear on their show for an interview. I would like to hear what he has to say. What was he doing when the dollars began to flow out the sluice gate?

Monday, October 29, 2007


Marley is ready to carve pumpkins

Grandma shows Jenna how to remove the seeds and pulp but Jenna has doubts Hunter is reluctant to get pumpkin slime on his hands too.

While Marley is busy removing the pulp, Jenna is still not sure about putting her hand in there.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

quote of the day

The head chief told us that there was not a family in that whole nation that had not a home of its own. There was not a pauper in that nation, and the nation did not owe a dollar. It built its own capitol, in which we had this examination, and built its schools and its hospitals. Yet the defect of the system was apparent. They have got as far as they can go, because they own their land in common. It is Henry George's system, and under that there is not enterprise to make your home any better than that of your neighbors. There is no selfishness, which is at the bottom of civilization. Til this people will consent to give up their lands, and divide them among their citizens so that each can own the land he cultivates, they will not make much more progress.

Senator Henry Dawes --speaking of the Cherokees at the Lake Mohonk Conference of the Friends of the Indians in 1883

Friday, October 26, 2007

weenies and marshmallows

We haven't had the younger grand kids down for a while so tonight all three of them came to spend the night. We built a fire under the maple tree and roasted some weenies for hot dogs and then blackened a few marshmallows in the flame. Then, we popped popcorn the old fashioned way, in a skillet. we haven't done those things in years and it was fun.

Grandma has a marshmallow for Jenna.

the arrival of fall

I know that fall officially arrived a month ago, but yesterday morning it made itself known . It started off with 38 degrees and frost on Dorothy's windshield. Today it cloudy and cold. I'll enjoy the chilly days until I'm forced to wear a coat outside, but, until then I'm sticking with shorts and a t-shirt.

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quote of the day

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
-- Robert Brault

senior survey

Yesterday, I received a report on The Attitudes of Seniors and Baby Boomers on Aging in Place. There were some interesting revelations about the concerns of Baby Boomers and their aged parents. The biggest concerns for the aging population are being able to maintain their independence and staying in their own homes as they get older. Very few of those surveyed received any financial help from their children, and both the parents and Baby Boomer children were satisfied with the level of involvement in each others lives.

This survey was conducted by Prince Market Research on behalf of Clarity, a company that offers products such as amplified telephones, and devices to enhance the sound of television for the aging and hearing impaired.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

quote of the day

"The main effort of arranging your life should be to progressively reduce the amount of time required to decently maintain yourself so that you can have all the time you want for reading."
--Norman Rush

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

cherokee women

Dorothy is taking a class in Cherokee history. She was telling me some of the interesting things she learned yesterday. It seems Cherokee women had more control over their personal lives than women have today. In their culture, if a woman decided to end her marriage she simply packed her husband's belongings in a bundle and left it outside the lodge door. When her husband came home from work (hunting) and found his things, he knew it was over. Ending a marriage was the sole prerogative of the woman. A man could not walk away from the responsibility of providing for his wife and kids. A Cherokee woman would likely have at least three husbands during her lifetime. The first would be a young, sexually appealing warrior, who would take care of her physical needs and father her children. The second husband would be a good provider of material goods and economic security. And, finally, an older man for companionship in her old age. I hope I've been all three husbands in one for Dorothy. I don't ever want to see my suitcase sitting on the front porch.

fall walking

Lately, I've been doing my walking at Wal-mart to avoid the ragweed pollen, but this morning I was able to take a stroll around the pasture. It was recently mowed and on these cold mornings the ticks seem to be inactive. I wore shorts and a t-shirt so I had to walk at a brisk pace to keep warm against the cold wind. The brittle leaves were noisy in the trees. It's a good day to be alive.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

pronounce you man and wife

Yesterday, we attended the wedding of my oldest grand daughter, Tara. It was a simple but beautiful affair attended by family, and friends of the bride and groom that they have known since grade school.
For more photos go here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

autumn wedding cake

Here's the final wedding cake. Who left the window open and let those leaves blow in? Now to transport the cakes 25 miles to the wedding tomorrow.

groom's cake

Dusty's gnome cake

anatomy of a cake

Dorothy is busy making cakes for Tara's (our grand daughter) wedding.

For the groom's cake I designed and built this stand. What's it going to be? Let's let that be a surprise. Whatever it is, it looks like it will be wearing boots, doesn't it?
Dorothy's starting to build the groom's cake Progress is being made.

I'll post the finished cakes as soon as I can.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

a poem

I just finished reading a post by Lucilocket over at Lucy Volume II where she says that eating a donut helped out of a bad mood. It reminded me of this poem I wrote years ago.

Donuts Give Me Solace

Donuts give me solace.
I'm embarrassed to make the claim,
But donuts give me solace
Just the same.

When life has my nerves frayed
And they're in need of balm
The sugar and carbohydrates
keep me calm.

A doctor could give me Prozac
whenever I feel crazed.
Instead let's have some donuts,
and make mine glazed!

What happens, I know your thinking,
When my blood sugar begins to drop?
I just have another donut
With chocolate on top.

Monday, October 15, 2007

do go gentle into that good night

Dylan Thomas wrote the poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night for his father who was strong and fierce in his youth, but had become weak and gentle in old age.

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

This has always been one of my favorite poems. I always thought I would put up a fight against the oncoming frailty of old age and that I would, at the last, go down with both barrels blazing. But I was much younger then. Now that I have arrived at that time in life where I no longer have to work for a living and my strength and energy are gradually fading, I can see the wisdom of going "gentle into that good night". Not that death is knocking on my door, but I can see it in the distance from my back porch.

I know that in our culture, men are reluctant to give up the image of the aggressive and masculine Alpha male, but, fierce and militant old men don't make good grand fathers. As elders of the tribe older men need to be strong, yet gentle pillars for their grand kids to lean on. We are the story tellers, the joke tellers, and the ones that can be depended upon to set aside our dignity for any silliness that will bring a smile to a toddler.

So, as time goes by, I'm going to allow myself to go gentle in the area of approachability, vulnerability, and kindness, while maintaining my strength to act as a family protector, advisor and loyal friend. And when it comes time for me to leave the planet, I'll simply slip out the back door unnoticed.

corn maze

Yesterday, Dorothy and I went with our daughter Kelly and her family to the Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze in Missouri. This is a great place to get your Halloween pumpkins and then find your way through the seven acre corn maze. There are lots of things for the little ones to do; slides, swings, hay ride, and even a corn cannon.
Getting pumpkins for Halloween

Bird's eye view of the corn maze. Finding our way through the maze. After 30 minutes we find the exit.
The cow train Hunter comes down the slide

The Keys family. A handsome lot, eh?

quote of the day

Suddenly, it becomes a subversion of progress to assert the common-sense principle that communities exist for the health and enjoyment of those who live in them, not for the convenience of those who drive through them, fly over them, or exploit their real estate for profit.
--Theodore Roszak

Friday, October 12, 2007

grab an orange, mother and child

My seven year old grand daughter, Marley, came home from school in tears because she didn't get the part she wanted in the school Christmas program. Her mom told her maybe they're saving a better part for her.
"Yeah, a donkey!" Marley replied.
She wanted a solo singing part. "I don't get stage fright," she claimed. "And I know the words, just listen: 'Silent night, all is bright. Grab an orange, mother and child' ".

i turned around and she was grown

This picture was taken almost twenty years ago. Here I am with my very first grand child, Tara. She's getting married this month.


Dawn asked me recently how my painting was coming along. Here is my latest painting. It's now hanging in an art store (not a gallery, but a store) for sale.

To the right is the photo I used for the painting. It was the banner header for this blog before the current one.