Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lay Down the Load

June 30

Twenty-three years ago today I was officially superannuated. Closed out the career.  Retired.

Thanks to time off for good behavior and other favorable considerations, I had actually turned in the keys a few days earlier.  But the record shows June 30, 1990 to be the official retirement date.

You step off the train.  The train moves on.  It is bound on a journey which brought you to this point, but you cannot go now where it is going.  You may go somewhere else by some other means, but that train is gone, and its destination is not your destination.

The beginning of the twenty-fourth year of retirement sparks a bit of reflection.  I am not one for "what ifs" or "it might have beens."  In fact, regrets make up a very tiny package, and I do not carry it with me.  Thus I do not regret that my portfolio might have been more impressive had I stayed longer on the ride.  I not only do not regret, I revel in the choice I made, I rejoice in my journey along the byways that that train does not travel.

"The laborer is worthy of his hire."  Work is not life; it is an honorable provision of the means for living.  To those who ask, What do you do with yourself?  I say, I am living.  I am abundantly blessed.




Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Few Unimportant Things

I observed while waiting for the granddaughter's return.  (See previous post.)


 Back in the (boring) day of my youth, girls came in basically three categories:  blondes, brunettes, and redheads.  Yes, there were hundreds of shades, but each pretty much belonged to one of these classes.  Not so today.  There is virtually no color that one is not likely to see in any group sufficiently large.  And varied in age.  This coif, color ranges from ash blonde in front through shades of blue, to a vivid blue in back.

It was a very hot and humid day, and these ladies had put their hair up out of the way.  Much cooler this way, no doubt.  The interesting thing, though, is that these are probably two of the most intricate hairdos one might encounter, for those topknots are composed of dozens of braids piled up and, I suppose, pinned in some manner.  Cool.*

I can't show you the green hair, because that is a picture I did not take.  BBBH called my attention to it as the lady possessed of the green hair walked by.  The camera was not ready and I missed the shot.

I hope to convey a mental picture for you of a photo I really wanted, yet hadn't the courage to ask if I could snap it.  The lady was beautiful, and I was afraid she'd think I was a masher.  Yeah, right.  She was two generations my junior.  Anyway, she was dressed in a beautiful summer dress, frock, I believe it is called, in yellow and white.  She had a very neatly handmade sign. about 24" x 36".  Four lines.


Welcome home signs:  $10

Pretty yellow dress:  $60

Case of Miller Lite:  $18

Having Captain Schraum home:  Priceless!

*The lady on your left does not have blond extensions.  That hair belongs to the woman in front of her.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sheena is Home!

Three o'clock.  The place is beginning to fill up.

Part of the contingency present to welcome Sheena home.

The colors are being arranged for the welcome.

The troops are in the house!

Sheena has found the family; nephew is locking her up so she won't go away again.

Mom gets a hug.

And so does Dad.

BBBH and Sheena 

27 June 2013

This Thursday afternoon is the day Sheena is coming home!  She has been deployed along with her unit to Kuwait for almost a year.  It has been a long year.  We have been advised of the location of the welcome gathering and the estimated time of arrival of the plane from Fort Hood.  We are on the road a few minutes before 2:00.  I have estimated that it will take an hour and a half to get to the site, allowing forty-five minutes before the plane arrives, which will be a half-hour before the actual reunion.

So here is how it goes down.  We arrive in one hour and twelve minutes, thus increasing the wait time by almost twenty minutes.  About an hour later, her mother gets a text from Sheena advising that the plane will arrive at 5:15 rather than 4:15, thus adding another hour of wait time.  Oh, well.  There are enough people here for a party anyway!

Finally at six p.m. the troops arrive.  To the credit of the military, there was no fooling around.  The troops were marched in, ordered to halt, to left face, and DISMISSED!

Pandemonium reigned.  The house was full of tearfully happy people.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Big Bill Broonzy




The embers within me that carried the fire of the blues in my soul were fanned into flame primarily by Big Bill Broonzy and Bessie Smith.  I am a musician at heart, yet have virtually no talent for making music.

This is some music!

The artist was born Lee Conley Bradley on June 26, 1893.  Or maybe it was 1903.  Or 1897.  The exact year of his birth may never be established, but his musicianship is undisputed.  Basically, the lad was self-taught, but was performing in public at an early age.  Broonzy was a prolific song writer and a fantastic picker.

Broonzy served in the military two years in Europe during the War to End All Wars.  Thereafter his life was devoted to making music, and making the world a better place because of his music.

Big Bill Broonzy 1893 - 1958  RIP

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Visiting with Sister

Vee and vanilla along with their spouses got together for a brief visit.  Special time, all too rare.  Miles and obligations, don't you know.
We did not solve the world's problems.  In fact, we are at that stage of life where the recognition that we are never going to solve them has set in.
(You aren't either, no disrespect intended.  But don't stop trying.)  We had a great visit!

Vee and vanilla in Indy.  (Pronounce my name in South Texas style-- va- nee- ya for best effect in this instance.)

Lazy Summer Afternoon

 Monday.  After lunch, Beautiful  spread her paints and brushes across the table in the sunroom.
She created this angelic being on a chambray shirt.  Hers, not mine.

 I strolled around the yard.  You may note that our gardening has turned largely to wild things.

 Thistles thriving.

 Sparrow dining.

Neighbor's garden is a bit more formal than is ours.

 BBBH is thrilled; her potatoes are in bloom!

 Pretty petunias.

Yarrow yields white and pink touches.

Otherwise, I read a few chapters in a Matt Braun Texas western, setting 1870s.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Still Shearing


I opened a box of my father's papers.  This cartoon, yellow with age, was on top of the papers therein.  The only evidence  of time of publication apart from the subject matter of the cartoon was a bit of cut-up material on the back.  Much of it was covered with tape placed to hold the paper together.  I am guessing this was published after the election of 1948 in which Truman defeats Dewey, but before the January 5, 1949 announcement by President Truman of "The Fair Deal."  I have not been able to locate the cartoon in an archive.

A lot of things came to mind as I removed the tattered piece of paper from the box.  Among the thoughts was my recollection that Dad was not a fan of Roosevelt, and no more so a fan of Truman.  Also, Father was amused or appalled as the situation required at the antics of "The Wonderful Wizards of Washington."  Saving such a cartoon was just the thing Dad would do.  I have found others from the same era.

Then these thoughts quickly followed.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Isn't the subject matter exactly a picture of today's political scene?  We might have to change Delilah's moniker slightly, but...

In the January 5 speech to Congress Truman announced that the Fair Deal would include equality for all, universal health care, increased public housing, higher minimum wage with broader coverage,  and a score of other social and economic programs.  This declaration that every citizen should be entitled to a fair deal was the distinguishing mark of the Truman administration.  Prior to this time, as the cartoon suggests, Truman's administration was an extension of Roosevelt's New Deal.

 People were no less acerbic in their criticism many decades ago, but it seems to me there is a difference.  People seemed to be able to disagree politically and still have a cup of coffee or break bread with one another.  Today, our differences seem to have escalated into hatred and divisiveness.   My way or the highway.  Not good.  Not good at all.  imho

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
--from Isaiah 5

Saturday, June 22, 2013

LV 23=Training Wheels, a Little Girl, and the Monkey

Back in 2010 I ran a series of little stories I called "Loonville Vignettes."  It was a set of memories from the lives of my young family long, long ago.  I have prefaced the title here "LV 23," since the event took place in Loonville.

In the middle of August our younger daughter celebrated her sixth birthday.  Her sister, on her sixth birthday, had received a beautiful blue Western Flyer bicycle.  Quite possibly Ivanelle expected a like gift on this day.  She was not disappointed.  Daddy had assembled the machine, complete with a nice set of training wheels.  Please understand that inasmuch as our intentions were that the bicycles would see the children through their childhood and teen years these were full-size bicycles.

Big Sister got her bike, of course, and invited the newbie to a little ride.  Ivy got on the bike, but insisted that Daddy hold onto it, which I did for a bit.  She soon discovered that the training wheels did their job well, and along the sidewalk to the corner she would ride, stop, get off, turn the vehicle around and ride back to the house.  This went on for several weeks with Daddy frequently offering to remove the training wheels.  But neither Daddy's loving tenderness nor Sister Ann's teasing would persuade the child to allow the removal of her crutch.

The end of summer approached.  We decided a trip to the amusement park was in order.  The kids were three, six, and eight years of age.  We all piled into the Mustang, and we were off to Ohio!  The girls and I had a blast, and I suspect that Mother spent most of her time holding onto the three-year old boy.  Ann was so enthralled with the roller coaster that no sooner would she and I alight from our seat than she would grab my hand and drag me to the line for tickets for another ride.  I don't remember how many times we went, but the other three family members were having none of it.

Finally we moved on.  We came to a pavilion which had a little stage.  The show, or the part I remember, was a monkey doing various acrobatics.  Then the creature mounted a bicycle and started riding it around the stage.  Around and around he went!  Ivy's eyes grew bigger and bigger, and she was uncharacteristically silent for the longest time.  In fact, she had practically nothing to say during the entire three-hour ride home.

Tired to the bone, all five family members immediately hit the hay.  A sound night's sleep was had by all.

Bright and early the next morning, literally, Ivy took her bike from the porch, came into the kitchen and said, "Daddy, take the training wheels off my bike."  I did, of course.  She got on, I held the seat-post about three seconds; and she was then sailing down the sidewalk on her own!

She had processed the lesson and clearly had concluded that if a monkey could ride a bike, so could she!


Friday, June 21, 2013

The Day the Sun Stands Still

Scienterrific lesson.

The title today is simply a reminder that the solstice occurs on June 21 this year (as it will every non-leap year for the next quarter-century.)  It is a non-scientific reminder, for the Sun of course continues in its orbit, and the Earth in hers.  But if Sol has transited a certain number of degrees of latitude on its "northward" journey and has reached the highest north latitude it can achieve, then turns southward, it must surely "stand still" if only momentarily.

Do not pass this stuff along in a middle school science class.  It won't fly.  But the date and the event are correct.

Hope your summer is a jolly good one!

Blog update.

This little site, String Too Short to Tie, for some time has been getting between 4,000 and 6,000 hits per month.  I guess the spammers are having an effect, though, for suddenly during this month of June the number of visits according to blogger stats exceeds 20,000.  Is that even possible?  And why?  Of   course none of these people is interacting, unless one counts the posting of spam as interaction.

If you are a new reader, and you are really reading the posts, leave me a one-word comment, "Yes."  Otherwise, I will have to assume that I really have no new readers, just trolls.  I really hate to go to the captcha thingie, I hate it, but what does one do?  Oh, yes, blogger filters ninety percent of the spam, but still I have to empty that folder daily.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Great Seal


The Great Seal of the United States of America

The Great Seal of the United States was officially adopted on June 20, 1782 by resolution of the Congress.  On June 13 Congress provided its Secretary, Charles Thomson, with the materials that had been generated by the three committees which had worked on the development of an official seal over a period of years.  One week later Thomson submitted his design for final approval.

The Seal's obverse is the Coat of Arms of the United States.  Take a dollar bill from your pocket or purse and study the back of the note on which appears both the obverse and reverse sides of the seal.

Notes about the development and symbolism of the Seal are readily available on the internet.  The official State Department account of the development may be accessed here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Car Show

I mentioned yesterday that there was a car show in Kokomo, so on our way home from the display of aerial military machinery, Kent, Rick, and I stopped to view some autos which were built in the day of auto design, a day in which each vehicle was unique and easily identifiable.


A pretty little 1956 Ford in black and what I call "tomato red."  I acquired my first car, a 1950 Ford, when Dad bought a new 1956 Ford.  His was four-door, and blue-and-white.

 The 1966 Charger in black caught my eye.  This one is powered by the Mopar 383.

 A contemporary of the Charger was this Imperial Crown, also by the Chrysler Corporation.

 Imperial was introduced as an independent line in 1955 and continued production through 1975.  It appeared again from '81 to '83.

This three-ton behemoth was powered by a 440 cubic inch V-8 (7.2L)  I always had a soft spot in my head for big iron, and I drove a Lincoln Continental for several years.  This marque was aimed at the Lincoln/Cadillac market.  Fewer than 14,000 were produced during this final year of the platform created in 1957.  The next year saw the introduction of unibody construction.

Kent was delighted with the '54 Chevrolet, for that was the car he drove during his years at Ball State.

My Mustang was a '65, predecessor to this model.

I sometimes imagine that I would enjoy owning an old car once again, but it is an expensive hobby.  Perhaps I'll stick with blogging.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Happy Fathers' Day



Ricky and Kent arrived at noon.  We had brunch at JD, then we were off to the Air Museum at Grissom Air Base.

 Kent in the pilot's seat of an F-4.  I once "flew" an F-4 in the flight simulator at Spangdahlem Air Base.  I did a good job, too, according to the instructor; but with one mistake.  I landed about 1000 yards short of the runway, an error which tends to be fatal.

 This is the deadliest device ever created.  It is a nuclear bomb which can generate the explosive force of nine million tons of TNT.  That would be 600 times more powerful than the A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima.


Notwithstanding the fact that it makes no sense for these behemoths to fly through the air, there is a large array of military hardware on display.  This KC-97 Statotanker has its refueling boom attached to the F-84F  which you can see behind the fuel ship.  They say this is the only display of its kind in the country.

During the Korean conflict in the 1950s, the Air Force acquired this site from the Navy.  Over time, stationed here were B-47s, B-58s, and the KC-97 Stratotankers, among others, under the control of the Strategic Air Command.   The site was known as Bunker Hill Air Force Base until 1968 when it was renamed Grissom Air Force Base.  It is currently a reserve facility.

This is the F-4.  Son Carl was Weapons System Officer on this machine throughout much of his service in the US Air Force.



There was a car show in Kokomo, right on the way home.  But that is another post.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Jimmying Around, and Jamming

 We were invited to a jam hosted by friends whom we met in Texas and who live in Indianapolis.  Saturday was the day, and we were eager to be a part of a fun afternoon.  We were on the road in plenty of time to get there by 1:30 or so, or so we thought.  Mae, our hostess, had given us directions by way of I-70.  I knew several other routes, but thought to take her advice.  Down highways 19 and 37 to I-69.  And there on 69 was posted a notice that I-70 was one lane from 465 into downtown Indy.
So here I decided to take 465 West to US 31 and then down Meridian Street through downtown.
As we were turning toward the west we saw a great pillar of smoke rising to the southwest.  As we proceeded toward town it seemed that the smoke never got any closer, at least for the longest time.  Then it was around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the Circle and thence west on Washington Street.  As we crossed the White River, it was clear that the fire was ahead of us; and suddenly traffic came to a standstill.  I fear I am making this tedious, but imagine how tedious it was sitting on a multi-laned parking lot jammed bumper to bumper with hundreds of other would-be travelers.

Finally, we crept forward a couple blocks to find an officer directing all westbound traffic off the highway and back to the north.  Enough detail.  With much zigging and zagging, we got to within two blocks of our destination only to be stopped again by an officer who refused us access to the street leading the the house.  I spun away, not happy, turned into a lane, squiggled around the block and arrived an hour after our projected arrival time.  We were two blocks from the fire!


 Music was underway, and most of the food had been consumed.  Except for desserts, and we had brought-- another dessert.  So with a scoop of potato salad and a spoonful of baked beans, and a lot of dessert we were ready to sing!

The pickers were excellent and knew how to accompany the singers.
Above, our hostess belts out a song, and here is BBBH at the mike.
BBBH puts a move on Big Bad Wolf

We were upwind of the fire, but a vast number of people on the downwind side were evacuated from their homes, we learned later.  Meanwhile, we blithely went along with our good times.  We also learned that the warehouse that was burning contained stacks of old tires over an 85,000 square foot space, and 65,000 square feet contained pallets.  Officials project that the fire will burn into this Monday at least, and perhaps longer.

Taking the road to the west, thence 465 and 31 northward, we arrived safely home before dark.

Thank you, Mae and Jerry for a fun time.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Celebrating the Days of Our Lives

This rant was posted a couple of years ago.  For one reason or another I have chosen to post it again.  The real crux of the matter, apart from my own aversion to the proclivity to use unnecessary euphemisms, is that each day is a gift.  Today truly is our best day.  Make something of it.

Seasoned citizen, keenager, golden ager, matured, senior. No. I am old. I may be your elder. There is truly no need to find a euphemistic expression to describe my progress through this adventure we call life. I may call myself a coot, but it is not necessary, nor even desirable, that you refer to me in that fashion. I would never refer to an older lady as a biddy. But I might call her old.

The Wesleyan Church has a ministry for people past fifty which they call "Best Years Fellowship." It is an achievement to have arrived at "these years" but if they are the best years, then what of the fifty or more years we frittered away getting here? Every year is your best year. It is the one you have now. The Baptists defer the membership in their fellowship of old persons to age fifty-five, but they designate them "Keenagers." Oh, yes. That is keen.

While we in the Western World tend to worship youth, seeking to hold on to it long after its time in our lives, the peoples of the East seem to have a rather different outlook. They actually go so far as to venerate and honor the old. Imagine that.

Spare me the pussy-footing around it. Call me vanilla, call me David, call me old if you must. But I am not a senior. I was. Twice. In high school when I was seventeen and in college a few years later. I may be keen, but perhaps not so sharp as I once was. What is golden about my age? Silver, yes. I can see that. In the mirror. The truth about this stage of our lives is perhaps best expressed in the final chapter of Ecclesiastes:

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:
In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,
And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;
Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:
Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Oregon Treaty and The Pig War

The June 15,1846 signing of the Oregon Treaty should have resolved the boundary dispute between the United States and Great Britain.  It established the boundary between the disputed territories at the forty-ninth parallel.  But a deviation from this strictly arbitrary line was necessary to divide the waters, so to speak.  The line was established through the center of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but wiggling it around the islands became a source of contention, for the details were ambiguous.

The British wanted the line established to the east of the San Juan islands, thus giving them possession of those lands.  The Americans insisted the line should go through the straits to the west of the islands, thus making them American territory.  A considerable amount of interesting history is contained in the period during which these differences prevailed.  Both English and Americans inhabited the islands.

Thirteen years pass.  On June 15, 1859, an American farmer named Cutler came upon a pig rooting in his potato patch.  He shot the pig.  An Irishman named Griffin was the owner of the porker.  Cutler offered to pay ten dollars for the pig.  Griffin demanded a hundred.  And thus started the war.
The British threatened to arrest Cutler; the Americans demanded military protection.  Sixty-six American soldiers of the Ninth Infantry  commanded by Captain George Pickett landed on San Juan Island.  Their orders were to keep the British from landing.    Meanwhile, the British dispatched three warships under the command of Captain Geoffrey Hornby.  By August the US troop count had risen to 461, possessed of 14 cannon.  The British contingency had escalated to five warships, mounting 70 guns and manned by 2140 men.

Both sides were apparently under orders that under no circumstances were they to fire the first shot.  So evidently the soldiers and marines spent their time heckling and needling one another, hoping, it is supposed, to provoke the first shot.  No shot was forthcoming.  Long story short, the dispute over the boundary was submitted to Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany for arbitration.  He submitted it to a three-man commissionl for consideration.  The final decision favored the Americans, and was handed down in October 1872.  After more than a decade the Pig War was over.  There were no casualties.  Except for the pig. 

The San Juans have ever since been a beautiful part of The United States.  Of course, apart from their beauty, the strategic location was important to the U.S. in controlling her waters and defending against potential naval threats.

I have had the good fortune to spend some time in the San Juan Islands, both in the 1950s and again in the 1980s and 90s.  It has been too long, though, for these are lovely places indeed.

This article is not thoroughly researched, as there is much too much material to study.  Much of the information contained herein is in a Wikipedia article about the Pig War.  It is much more detailed, should you want to know more.  See also the account of the Pig War at the National Park Service site.  Image: NPS