Wednesday, December 30, 2009

quote of the day

There are three kinds of people. The ones who learn by reading. The ones who learn by observation. And the rest, who have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Christmas

Everyone one made it to our house through the snow and the slippery roads. It snowed all Christmas eve and stopped somtime during the night
We woke up to this sight.

Who's that peeking around the corner?

It's Hunter


Pulling the sled behind the car

Playing the new Rockband. Marly on the mike, Hunter drums, while Jenna wails on the guitar

Every year we all get new pajamas. Here's this year's picture

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

bracing for the blizzard

The latest forecast for our area is 6-9" of snow. That's a lot for us. We're hoping all the kids can make it in for Christmas before the roads become slick. Once all are present and accounted for we'll be cozy and comfy and who cares if we get snowed in. Dorothy's made enough pies and cookies and candy to last us for days

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

what i'm reading now

I'm a fan of John Irving. Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany were excellent reads. I really haven't been able to get into some of his novels published in the interim between Owen Meany and this one, but with Last Night in Twisted River I found the great story telling and plot twists that I so enjoy with his books. It's a tale about a father and son who become fugitives after the 12 year old boy accidentally kills someone. The novel spans five decades and introduces some of the most interesting characters that can be found in a work of fiction. Here's a quote from the book: "We don't always have a choice how we get to know one another. Sometimes, people fall into our lives cleanly--as if out of the sky, or as if there were a direct flight from Heaven to Earth--the same sudden way we lose people, who once seemed they would always be part of our lives."

White Christmas

It rained this morning and I was able to catch this patch of blue in the west before the snow storm arrives tomorrow. It looks like we will have a white Christmas this year. That's uncommon in these parts.
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

daring do

Dorothy called me from work and told me our local department store had Zhou Zhou pets. Only one to a customer.

"OK, I'll go and buy one. Are you going to get one on your lunch break? And maybe Rachel can get one on her lunch break," I told her. (Then we will have one for each of our youngest grand children)
"No, you go buy them all," she replied.
"Isn't that against the rules?"

So, I went to the store. There they were with a sign indicating only one per customer per day. I bought one and took it to my truck. Then, I went back and got another one, went to a different check out line and took that to the truck. Then back into the store for the third Zhou Zhou. I felt like that guy in the movie Midnight Express who was caught trying to smuggle cocaine out of Istanbul, except, I didn't get caught. That was the most daring thing I've done since that time I returned a video to a rental store without rewinding it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Marley's Birthday Party

Marley's tenth birth day party had the Amazing Race as its theme. Here she is (center) with her pink team, including her dad. On the left of the picture you can see the Travelocity Gnome cake Dorothy made for the occasion.
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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

quote of the day

Banks know a fatter hog when they see it. And that hog is the consumer credit business (nobody has figured out yet that consumers need paychecks before they can consume anything, on credit or otherwise ). To that end the Federal Reserve has logically set a low interest rate policy. And in true accordance with banking logic, the banks took the Fed's money, then raised the annual percentage rate (APR) on credit card purchases and cash advances and on balances that have a penalty rate because of late payment. Next they raised the late fee. What the hell? If Americans are on the ropes, struggling to make their payments on time, then the logical thing to do is to stick it to them. Bleed 'em for all they're worth. It's an American free market tradition. We the people do not complain. We expect no mercy. America is a business and the American concept of business is pure ruthlessness.

--Joe Bageant

Saturday, December 05, 2009

what i'm reading now

If you liked Freakonomics then you will probably like the latest book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Superfreakonomics. Steven Levitt is an economist who can sift through mountains of statistics and come up with plausible reasons for the cultural trends in our society. He asks (and answers) such questions as:
  • How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa?
  • Why are doctors so bad at washing their hands?
  • Did TV cause a rise in crime?
  • Are people hardwired for altruism or selfishness?
  • Can eating Kangaroo save the planet?

If you like books that spur you into out-of-the-box thinking then you are in for an entertaining read.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

done for awhile

I finished the latest phase of the remodel project. I've been leveling the floors in the living room. now I need a few days to recuperate and let the knots dissolve from my muscles. Working with wood is very satisfying. Building things is a manly art. There's no greater sense of accomplishment than cutting all the parts to a project and putting them together to form a seamless whole. I would like to experience that before I die. You see, I'm one of those carpenters that will cut a board twice and it will still be too short. I measure and measure again and when I finish sawing and measure it again, it's wrong. Well, I'll keep trying. They say that practice makes perfect.

quote of the day

Few of Sarah Palin's religious compatriots were shocked by her messy family life, because they've grown used to the paradoxes; some of the most socially conservative evangelical churches also have extremely high rates of teenage pregnancies, out-of-wedlock births, and divorce.---It's your ability to see beyond such things, your willing blindness to even the most hopeless-seeming circumstances, that makes you a certain kind of modern Christian, and a 21st century American.

--Hanna Rosin

Thursday, November 12, 2009

working on the house

As the years go by I don't mind growing older. I'm more at peace with myself and the world than I was years ago, and that's a good thing. But, I've been working on a remodeling project this week and I'm reminded of a few things that I miss from my younger days. I wouldn't mind having the eyes from my twenties. Using the measuring tape and level requires getting real close and using two sets of eyeglasses. Other than that I'm OK. Well, actually, I could use the stamina I had when I was younger. Back then, I started a project early in the day and sometimes worked on it until after dark. Now, I need several cups of coffee to get me started in the morning and by two o'clock in the afternoon I'm ready for a nap. Aside from those things I'm doing all right. No, there's one more thing. Having a youthful short term memory would be great. I'm spending a lot of time looking for tools that were in my hand just a moment earlier. There are probably other things I could mention but they don't come to mind right now. I'll be back later if I think of them.

Monday, November 09, 2009

what i'm reading now

In grade school we all learn that George Washington cut down a cherry tree. Then when as adults we begin to read history on our own we find that the cherry tree incident was just a legend. Richard Shenkman's book, Legend, Lies, & Cherished Myths of American History is full of information that everyone knows but just isn't true. Some of the actual facts from the back cover:

  • The story that Columbus discovered that the world was round was invented by Washington Irving.
  • The Pilgrims never lived in log cabins.
  • In Concord, Massachusetts, a third of all babies born in the twenty years before the Revolution were conceived out of wedlock.
  • Independence wasn't declared on July 4 (and the Liberty Bell was so little regarded that Philadelphia tried to sell it for scrap metal but nobody wanted it.)
  • There's no evidence that anyone died in a frontier shootout at high noon.
  • After World War II the U.S. Government concluded that Japan would have surrendered within months, even if we had not bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

the day is saved

I was sitting on the front porch waiting for him when his truck careened around the corner of our dirt road in a cloud of dust while he leaned out of the truck window singing, "Here I come to save the day!" We have been using dial-up Internet for the past nine years and it has slowed to a snail's pace. Have you missed me commenting on your blogs? It was near impossible. It was a weary thing to do just to post on my own blog. I've been waiting for the price of satellite Internet to come down to an affordable level and finally the price and my frustration level met some where in the middle and I made the call.

He was quick and efficient. Up the ladder and down the ladder. In the house and out. Drilling holes, tightening bolts, stringing wire. Had there been others there when he finished I would have enlisted their help in carrying him to his truck on our shoulders singing praises while the grand kids lay rose petals in our way. I was the only one home and I don't think I could have lifted him, plus he would have thought that odd, so I sent him on his way with a simple hand shake.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

quote of the day

From time to time, in some moment of peril or anxiety, a statesman appears on the scene promising to eliminate tyranny, ensure the triumph of liberty, and achieve permanent peace. For a moment, the statesman achieves the status of prophet, one who in his own person seemingly embodies the essence of the American purpose. Then reality intrudes, exposing the promises as costly fantasies. The prophet's followers abandon him. Mocked and reviled, he is eventually banished--perhaps to some gated community in Dallas.

--Andrew J. Bacevich

war eagle

This weekend Dorothy and I went to the War Eagle arts and crafts fair in Arkansas. Dorothy always likes to look at the stuff for sale. What attracts my interest is this:
This is the War Eagle mill. The mill is still grinding corn and wheat. There's a gift shop inside and a restaurant on the third floor.

Looking down to where the water runs into the sluice and pushes the wheel.

The big wheel on the far wall is being driven by the external water wheel.

This grain mill is being turned by those large leather belts which are being ran by the water wheel outside. The power is transmitted by a series of gears. The grain is fed at the top of the red box and is ground by two round vertical stones. The meal or flour falls into the plastic bins you see at the lower left of the photo.

This is the view from the Bean Palace restaurant on the third floor of the mill. We had two orders of corn bread and beans and ice tea for $17.00 I figure the ingredients were worth about a dollar and so we payed another $16.00 for the ambiance.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sami asked her grandma to make a cake for a friend's baby shower. The friend had made a sketch showing all the elements she wanted. Dorothy enlisted my help to do the art work and this is the result:

I cut out a cloud shaped paper stencil and held it to the side of the cake while Dorothy sprayed the sky blue. When the stencil was taken away, voila! Clouds. I used my pasta machine to roll out several colors of fondant icing then cut the shapes of the boat, sails, locomotive, etc. with a pizza cutter, then pressed them into the icing. Marley, Hunter, and Jenna helped by taking turns at the pasta machine crank. They also grabbed any scraps of fondant to do their own sculptures.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

deliver us from the bureaucracy

I went to the local DMV (in Oklahoma it's called a tag agent) to renew the tags on my truck. While I was there I checked my driver's license and discovered it was expired. I was five days past the grace period. When I told the agent she informed me that I would have to show a certified copy of my birth certificate in order to renew. This is a small town. She knows me by sight. Yet, I couldn't renew without proving my identity. That afternoon I returned with my birth certificate. No good. It has to be a certified copy. I explained that what I had was the original, not a copy. What I held in my hand got me enrolled in school, entered into military service, hired by every employer I had ever worked for, secured my civil service retirement, and got my social security checks started, and now it's no good for renewing my driver's license? That's right.

The next day I left early and made the 1-1/2 hour drive to Tulsa to get a certified copy. Although I was unable to renew my license with the original birth certificate, I easily obtained a certified copy of my birth certificate with my expired driver's license. The copy has a lot of features that the original was missing, such as numbers, bar codes and a watermark, things that are very important to a bureaucracy.

That afternoon I was back in the agent's office ready to renew. I sat in front of this computerized technical wonder that would electronically take my picture, signature, and finger prints, and then produce a new license. We started the process and then we had this conversation:

She said, "Uh, oh".
"What?", I replied.
"The computer compares the just taken photo with the one from your old license and it's saying 'identification failed' ". She turned her screen around so I could see it and both photos were identical. I hadn't changed in four years. I hadn't even lost any more hair. So she started the process over and had the same results. She called someone in Oklahoma City who could pull up the photos on her computer and authorize the resetting of the local computer in order to proceed with the issuing of the license. After conversing with the woman on the phone for a moment she turned to me and said,
"She said you have a nice beard".
"Tell her I said thank you", I replied.
"She said all the good ones live too far away or are taken," she informed me. My face began to feel warm. The other customers in the office laughed. Well, to make a long story short, I got my license.

I told my 21 year old grand daughter, Tara, the story about what the woman in Oklahoma City said. She said,"When grandma hears that there's going to be a smack down in Oklahoma City." But when Dorothy got home from work and I told her the same story, she just smiled, patted me on the back, and walked away.

Monday, October 05, 2009

what i'm reading now

Rick Shenkman is an associate professor of history at George Mason University. He is the editor and founder of George Mason University's History News Network, a website that features articles by historians on current events. In his book Just How Stupid Are
We - facing the truth about the American voter he states that
just as the American voter is wielding more power than ever the
voter is less informed and more easily manipulated than ever.

Here are some nuggets from the book:

  • About 1 in 4 Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. But more than half of Americans can name at least two members of the cartoon family, the Simpsons.
  • In January 2003, three months before our invasion of Iraq, a majority of Americans falsely believed that "Iraq played an important role in 9/11", according to a Program on International Policy Attitudes survey.
  • The majority of American could not answer these question that were asked in polls over the last three decades: What happened in 1066? (the Norman Conquest). Who said the"world must be made safe for democracy? (Woodrow Wilson). Who was Plato? Just 34 percent knew. Which country dropped the nuclear bomb? Only 49 percent knew it was our own country.

"......How ignorant are we? Ask the political scientists and you will be told that there is damning, hard evidence pointing incontrovertibly to the conclusion that millions are embarrassingly ill-informed and that they do not care that they are. There is enough evidence that one could almost conclude--though admitted this is a stretch--that we are living in an Age of Ignorance.

Another quote from the book that struck me was: "If an idea cannot be expressed on a bumper sticker you can probably give up any hope that it will ever attract much support. It likely will be ridiculed to death before it ever has a chance to be seriously considered. At the moment of its introduction somebody will be sure to cast aspersions on the intellectuals who dreamed it up in their ivory towers, and that will pretty much be the end of it."

Sunday, October 04, 2009

quote of the day

We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise anyone who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life. If he does not join the general scramble and pant with the money making street, we deem him spiritless and lacking ambition. We have lost the power even of imagining what the ancient idealization of poverty could have meant: the liberation from material attachments, the unbribed soul.

--William James

Friday, October 02, 2009

entertaining the grand kids

Today I picked up all three grand kids after school and took them out for ice cream. They had coupons for free soft serve cones at MacDonald's so we went there first. That's what Hunter (6) and Jenna (3) wanted. Marley and I wanted a cone from Braum's. It took no time at all for Hunter to finish his cone and Jenna had enough after a couple of licks so Hunter ate the rest of hers. Then on to Braum's. Hunter was full and didn't want more so I ordered a mint chocolate chip and Marley the peanut butter cup. Jenna said she wanted what Marley was getting, but when I handed her the cone she refused it. She wanted something different. OK, Hunter agreed to eat Jenna's cone and then Jenna decided on a birthday cake flavored concoction. So we sat at the table as contented as can be as we licked away at our frozen delights.

Before we left I bent over to tie my shoe. I heard Hunter and Jenna laughing and when I sat up they were not only laughing but their faces were lit up with pure joy.
"What's so funny?", I asked.
"We saw your butt crack!" they replied in unison, loud enough for all the customers and crew to hear. Even the kid in back flipping hamburgers looked up.
Hunter, being the sensitive kid he is, must have sensed my discomfort because he whispered in my ear, "It was hairy".
It gives me a sense of fulfillment when I can bring, even in some small way, merriment to my grand children's day.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

what i'm reading now

A few years ago I read a book called The Clearing by Tim Gautreaux. It was an excellent read. So I was anxious to read another novel by Mr. Gautreaux. The Missing is the best book I've read this year. It's a satisfying read on several levels. First, the dialogue is at times very funny, yet it's a serious story. The reader gets a history lesson about the waning years of the old steam paddlewheel boats that were still traveling up and down the Mississippi River just after WWI. And it's a protrait of human loss and redemption and the need for revenge.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

quote of the day

The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth--persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

--John F. Kennedy

Saturday, September 26, 2009

what i'm reading now

South of Broad is the latest novel by Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides. It is set in Charleston, South Carolina and chronicles the lives and loves of a group of teenagers who met in 1969 and follows their careers and struggles through the maze of marriages, class divisions, and racial strife. The group reunites after twenty years to go to San Francisco to rescue one of their group who is missing and feared dead. I thought the prose to be a bit ornate, but Mr. Conroy is an excellent story teller.

Friday, September 25, 2009


The mornings are cold and foggy now.

Water drips from the eaves.

There's gold and russet colors now

Showing up in the leaves.

Summer's no longer a bully.

Autumn's a gentler friend.

She'll give us Indian summer

And delay the winter wind.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

what i'm reading now

Liars and Saints, a book by Maile Meloy about four generations of the Santerre family from the 1940's to the new millenium. A Catholic family growing up in Hermosa Beach, CA are drawn apart and pulled together by the secrets kept from each other and the heartaches caused by those secrets. It is written in sparse but compelling prose. It's an easy story to read, but well worth the reading.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

quote of the day

"We cannot allow the thirst for reckless schemes that produce quick profits and fat executive bonuses to override the security of our entire financial system and leave taxpayers on the hook for cleaning up the mess."

--President Barack Obama

Monday, September 14, 2009

quote of the day

Conservative, n: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others.

--Ambrose Bierce

late summer

You know the summer is about to exit when the liriopes produce their purple blooms. This one looks good beside a pink impatiens. I've been planting the bulbs and rhizomes that we dug up around the yard. Next spring we'll have a new look.

game night

It was time to have a game night. That usually means something good to eat. This time it's tacos.

A pot of beans on the back burner, chorizo on the left and ground beef on the right. Our joints won't squeak tomorrow after eating all this grease.

Jenna, Blake, Marley, Sam play "Apples to Apples"

Sam, Burk, Kelly

Marley rolls the dice in "Cat-opoly"

Jenna ponders her decision to buy a cat property

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I am ashamed of us

Yesterday, President Obama gave an address to all school children. In his speech he encouraged students to work hard and study to make America a better nation. Many parents and some schools refused to allow the kids to be exposed to such socialistic doctrine. My God, we have become a nation of stupid people.

p.s. My dear readers. Not all twitters that tweet nor bloggers that blog are telling you the truth. Use your noggin.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

bulbs and beagles

The grand kids came down to spend the night and I put them to work helping me dig up day lillies and daffodil bulbs. They did a good job until they heard the distant bawl of my neighbor's beagles. We walked up to the highway and could see about seven hounds down the road. The kids called out to them and they came running.

Only three of them made it all the way to our house without being side tracked by some delectable scent. They greeted the kids with white flag tails waving and enthusiastic hound yodeling. I could only catch two at a time with the camera. Lizzie makes sure they behave themselves while they're here.

Friday, September 04, 2009

end of summer

  • It's a full moon. I found that out when its light shone through my bedroom window at 4:00 a.m. this morning and woke me up.
  • The summer is spent. Fall has not arrived yet but summer has walked off the job like a recalcitrant employee; like a runner who, lacking the heart to finish the race, just walks away. We have plants loaded with tomatoes, but they are slow to ripen without hot days and warm nights. The mornings are crispy cold and the afternoons are warm with a cool breeze, perfect for sitting under the tree but inadequate for gardening. I think I'll go outside and dig up some Day Lillies, divide them, and replant them for next spring. Maybe after winter the sun will come back with renewed vigor determined to redeem itself. I've done that after a failure, haven't you?
  • I've been reading Pat Conroy's new book South of Broad, but I put it away for awhile because in the space of two days I received Newsweek, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, and the Sun, so I'm catching up on my magazine reading before I continue the novel.
  • As I peek through the blinds I notice the moon is gone, but the sun is beginning to light the sky. I think I'll put on a pot of coffee.

Monday, August 31, 2009


This week end we were able to visit with several family members that were visiting from out of state.

Here is our neice Cindy and her daughter Rachel (petting the donkey) Marley poses with them.

They are in from California.

LtoR: my sister Rita, Me, my sister Kay, my sister Natha, and our cousin Monte who is visiting from Boise, Idaho.

Back row: in white, my great neice Emily, my sister Rita, Dorothy,

me, my neice Robin, cousin Monte, his wife Joy. In blue, my

daughter Kelly, her husband Burk, and he's holding Jenna.

In front: LtoR, my grandson, Hunter, my sister's grand kids

Elijah, Lilly, and Morgan, and then my grand daughter Marley in

the black vest.

Dorothy and I pose with all our grand children except for camera shy Hunter. Sami's boyfriend Blake is with us.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

kids play

The grand kids love to imagine themselves in fanciful settings. So, with the help of Photoshop I let them see what it would be like.


Jenna and Marley assist in the blowing out of the candles on my birhtday cake. (Hunter wanted no part in it). We went with two candles because the first regular candle would have burned down before we got the 64th candle lit.

retirement report #4

Yes, it's been four years since I retired. Guess I'd better give you the lowdown on how retirement has affected my quality of life:

  • In the last four years I've joined several organizations and quit them soon after. First was the local volunteer fire department. It didn't take long to learn I was too old to be fighting fires, pulling hoses, and breathing smoke. Then I was hired by a greeting card company and resigned before I ever punched in. Last spring I was hired by the Census Bureau and worked for them for three days and quit. I'm really not a quitter; I worked in a career for many years and came away with a pension. I think it's just that now that I don't have to do anything I don't want, I'm not going to continue any activity that doesn't satisfy my soul.
  • I even quit attending a church that I have been a member of for eight years. I am appalled at how the neo-conservative faction that has hijacked the Republican party manipulates evangelical voters. I can't be a part of it. That's all I'll say about that.
  • Here's something I'm not too happy about. It took 3-1/2 years to gain 33 pounds after I retired. I've lost 8 pounds in the last few months and I'm trying to get back to a good, healthy weight. I'm not on any special diet or exercise plan. I just eat smaller portions and walk at every opportunity. Each shopping trip to Wal-mart I walk around the inside of the store several times before I begin shopping. I'm 64 years old and take no medications, but if I don't stay in shape and lose weight that will change.
  • I've been making progress on learning to play the keyboard. I use Youtube tutorials to learn the songs I want to play. It's a lot of fun and I call it my anti-senility therapy. As we age we should keep learning, keep learning, keep learning.
  • I've scaled back my gardening. This year I put out 10 tomato plants. I miss having new potatoes, green beans, and okra in the garden, but we can pick them up at a local farmer's market. I don't miss the back breaking effort to weed, cultivate, and pick all that produce.
  • I'm beginning to think it would be good to sell our place in the country and buy a smaller house on a postage stamp size lot in town. A place with minimum maintenance requirements would free me to read, play music, play with the grand kids, and pursue any adventure that strikes my fancy.
  • I think the most important part of retirement is trying to find your place in the universe. When we're young we are drawn away from self examination by the need to make a living, raise a family, conform to the social milieu we find ourselves in. But, as we mature we recognize the artificiality of a life composed of Pavlovian responses to the commercial, political, and religious stimuli that reflect the spirit of the age. I've never been able to fit in (except in my own family), but who knows? Maybe before I die I'll find a place for myself somewhere in this crazy world.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

quote of the day

The mind I love must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody's fathomed the depth of, and paths threaded with flowers planted by the mind.

--Katherine Mansfield

birthday tea

This morning, Marley, Hunter, and Jenna had a tea and cake party for my birthday.
Marley pours the tea (Orange Crush)

Marly instructed us to sip our tea slowly with raised pinky. Jenna did her best to comply