Monday, July 25, 2011


I have been experiencing an unfortunate feeling the past week or so. Prepping a post for String Too Short to Tie has taken on the aspect of a job. This is not good. I have had a lot of fun with this thing, and I hope to continue in that vein for a good long time to come. Meanwhile, however, I am taking a break. Perhaps you would visit Bob Warr and Picket Fences, the blog written by my other persona, alter-ego, whatever. Truly, I have not yet gotten to the point of referring to myself in the third person, but I do go in some directions here that I do not travel in STSTT. The entries are usually quite brief.

In any event, look for the soon return of String Too Short to Tie.
I will still be visiting you.
Stay cool.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Psalm 1

1Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

2But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

3And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

4The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

5Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

6For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Ordinary Heroes

"We invite you to please nominate your choice for the:
2011 Samaritan Heart Award.

We all know...citizens who have a heart for service... "

Followed by a form one may complete and submit, this filled a third-page in the local newspaper.

It is true that many of the citizens, friends and neighbors are involved in "volunteer" activities which will be recognized via these nominations. But my thoughts turned this morning to those who will never be recognized, yet their lives are lived every bit as heroically as are those of the ones who will be feted in the press.

What are the standards for the determination of life heroically lived in this community, as seen by Vanilla?
1. The individual owns a set of responsibilities to the job and/or the family and meets them.
2. The individual stays out of trouble, i.e., s/he is a "law-abiding" citizen.
3. The individual pretty much minds his/her own business, unless called upon to assist someone.

Can I think of anyone who qualifies? Indeed I can.

Theresa opens the doors of the cafe at four every morning except Sunday. She would be seen by most people, if seen at all, as a "hash-slinger" for she does her duty so that the linemen and the trash-haulers and the lawyers can chow down on good old "home-cooked" Hoosier food come breakfast time and lunch time. Theresa closes down about four in the afternoon after she has the place cleaned and prepped for the morrow, then she goes home. Minds her own business. That's what small-business owners do.

Delbert "gets the call" at 3:35 A.M.Monday morning of the long holiday weekend. He works for the "water company" and he is on call this weekend. He goes to the site of the "emergency" to discover the "break." He will make arrangements to deal with the problem, for it will require a crew. The next time we see him, Delbert may be five feet deep in mud and muck, but the repair will be affected. Then he'll go home to his kids and grandkids and mind his own business. That's how water company employees live.

The garbage truck went by the house at 11:20 A.M. There is a crew of three, one driver, two heavers-on. One of those two is Jeremy. He's just a kid, twenty-one years old. But he has a full-time physically demanding and sometimes smelly job. They start their route, five days a week, at six in the morning. Jeremy will go home to his own "digs" but he is still single, so he goes home to an empty house. But sometimes he visitis his sister and entertains the nieces and nephew. That's what responsible young people do.

Jess and I were born the same year. We lived neighbors to each other for a long time. Jess went to work, came home. Worked many hours in his yard and garden, shared the produce with us, and with others for his garden "worked!" Evenings, he would sit on the front porch, watching the world go by. Minded his own business. Jess loved and cared about his many children, stepchildren and myriad grandchildren and a whole raft of great grandchildren. Not remarkable? Oh, yes he was. He met the criteria. Jess will be buried tomorrow in the local cemetery. JESS 1934-2011 RIP

This list is incomplete, because there are literally dozens, yea, even hundreds, of people within a mile of my house who meet the criteria. The ones I have chosen are representative of pretty much most of the people who surround me!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bad Men

The James-Younger gang robbed a train in Adair, Iowa by derailing it on July 21, 1873. Although it has been said that this was the first successful train robbery in the Old West, that is not so. Smiling Jack Davis pulled one off in Nevada in 1870.

My cousins, Frank and Jesse James along with the Cole brothers and various other bad men, robbed banks, trains and stages, beginning in 1866, shortly after the War Between the States, continuing their crime spree until the death of Jesse James in 1882.

These crooks, and in particular Jesse, have been romanticised in the popular literature, and in movies. No matter how one may twist it, they were bad guys and not to be emulated or admired.

I was told before I started genealogical research that looking up the family tree might reveal someone hanging there; and so it is. The James brothers are sixth cousins, three times removed, agnate.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ford Starts Something

July 20, 1903, the Ford Motor Company delivered its first automobile, the Model A shown here.

The Ford Motor Company had been founded in June of that same year. Twelve founders held 1000 shares of stock. The rest is history.

I've lost track of the number of Ford vehicles I have owned. Presently have two of them. Review them here.
Photo: Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What're You Gonna Do When the Well Runs Dry?

July 19, 1553 Mary I took the scepter, thus ending the nine-day reign of Lady Jane Grey.

If you haven't anything better to do, check this:
If you still have two minutes, listen to this:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dan'l and Rebecca

A few years ago, we were traveling through Missouri on the I-44. At St. Clair, we decided to get off the thruway and avoid St. Louis altogether by winding our way up to the I-72 in western Illinois. It's complicated and you'd need a map to understand just what we did.

Anyway, as we were on SR 47 and near Washington, we saw signs indicating that a brief side-trip would bring us to the original gravesite of the world-famous American hero, Daniel Boone. Thus it was that we stayed on 47 until just before reaching Marthasville, we turned north on Boone Monument Road. This is not a superhighway, and in fact, after viewing the monument and snapping a couple of pictures, we found the road almost too narrow to accomplish a turn-around.

There would be little point in relating any of the myriad tales and legends about this bigger-than-life explorer, for you doubtless know more of them than I, and better, too. Fact, though, is that Daniel and his wife Rebecca were parents to ten children, and Mr. Boone lived the last twenty years of his life in this area of Missouri. At age eighty-five he took a hunting excursion, it is said, to the Yellowstone. He was described by someone who saw him on this trip as a "sturdy man, about five-foot seven in height." Boone died before his eighty-sixth birthday.

Rebecca and Daniel were both buried on this site in Missouri. Much later, the bodies were exhumed and transported to Kentucky where they are interred. Maybe. Missouri claims that the Kentuckians dug up the wrong body, and that Dan'l is still in Missouri. To which, one assumes, the KYians say, "Poppycock."

Daniel Boone 1734-1820
Rebecca Bryan Boone 1739-1813

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Contentment in an Unthankful World

Thus Pastor Mark entitled his message. He prefaced his remarks with the reading of Psalm 16. Here, in outline form, is the gist of the sermon.

I. What is contentment?

It is an attitude cultivated by consistent realization of Christ's provision for our life. God meets our every need.

II. How can one conquer a spirit of discontent?

1. As believers, we must cede our desires to God.
2. We must acknowledge God's power to satisfy every need.
3. We must realize that God knows what is best for our lives.
4. We must understand that our blessings are not always material needs. If you have Christ, you have everything!

III. With what one thing should one never be content?

We should never be satisfied to live on past blessings. Be a growing Christian! If we become content spiritually, we become discontent with God's blessings. Read I Timothy 6:6-10.

One of my thoughts as I mulled this over in my mind is this. We live in an economic and social milieu in which we are bombarded by marketing techniques and advertising ploys which are specifically designed to engender dissatisfaction! The devil is good at what he does, and he will use anything available to draw you away from contentment in Christ!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Not With a Bang But a Whimper

In reference to the final stanza of "The Hollow Men," whether Eliot was alluding to Guy Fawkes and the end of his plot or not, it is the case, in my estimation, that Eliot was prescient beyond his own, or his critics' ken. Not by bombing or by warfare, but literally by the whimper that may be heard when the world as we know it fails and falls due to the breakdown of the information age as it is contained within cyberspace. Whether this is due to a deliberate act, or acts, or due to unintended consequences of inadvertant overload, it is evident that the possibility of such failure is real, and perhaps imminent.

That someone, or some electronic entity, is lurking within your personal system, taking and planting information unbidden by you, the user, is a given. In my own case, my computer has virtually maxed out its capacity by the simple addition of layer after layer of "protection" against such threats, and still they come.

This is nothing, given that we are hearing now of the extent to which the US military has been compromised by unbidden "spying" within its secure cybersystem. That world banking could be likewise compromised goes without saying.

Do you think it unrealistic that "it" may all come tumbling down?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Georgia, USA

Georgia was established in 1732, the last of the original 13 colonies. One hundred twenty-nine years later, she seceded from the Union and was "absent" for nine years. On July 15, 1870, Georgia was restored to the Union, the last of those states which had broken away.

I have visited Georgia on several occasions, and these for an amount of time that "counts," not just a drive-thru on my way to somewhere else. From the hills in the north to the swamps in the south, from the western peanut fields to the southeast coast, the state is blessed with true and varied beauty.

I could name some favorite places, but that might be at the risk of offending someone whose favorite Georgia "spot" is in a different locale. However, no offense intended, I have to mention the Brunswick-St. Simons Island area, and certainly Savannah, Skidaway and Tybee Islands. Perhaps one of my favorite lowlands features is the salt marsh, and of course I've always been partial to the seashore.

By all means, visit Madison. Warm Springs should be on the itinerary. While you are there, visit nearby Callaway Gardens, too!

Happy touring!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Money, Money, Money, Gimme...

July 14 rolls around I always think "Bastille Day." But for this post, let's head in a different direction. It was on July 14, 1969 that the United States withdrew from circulation these denominations of official currency.

That "Woodrow" was certainly no "greenback."


Why is the $100,000 bill not a greenback?

Which bill above features a portrait of a non-President?

Who is it, and what is his "claim to fame"?

Which bill currently in use features a portrait of a non-President?

Who is it, and what is the denomination of his bill?

Images: Wikipedia

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 13, 1787

The Northwest Ordinance should be remembered by all citizens, but particularly should it be recalled by those of us who live in the area which comprised the old Northwest Territory. By description, it is that land that lies west of the Appalachians, north of the Ohio River, east of the Mississippi River, and south of the Great lakes. This area ultimately became the five states of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin; and it contains a large portion of what is now Minnesota as well.

This area was desired by the citizenry who wished to move West and settle the land. It was territory under dispute, as it was claimed variously by the states of Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and Virginia. As well, the British still claimed much of this land. Thus, the Continental Congress passed the ordinance which created the Northwest Territory, requiring the cession of claims by the various states. The British claim was not ultimately resolved until the conclusion of the War of 1812.

The Northwest Territory was under the control or governance of the Continental Congress, until the formation of the United States Congress in 1789. On August 7, 1789, the Congress affirmed the Ordinance. Thus it was assured that as the territory was developed it would result in the creation of new states, rather than extensions of existing states into new territory.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Car

Beautiful and I went car shopping. It has been five years since we bought a new car, and it already has 17,906 miles on it. Don't you think it's about time to trade?

We have decided that we have waited long enough for a Cadillac. So this is where we looked. I felt that the CTS-V was the way to go, for after all, who knows when one might need 556 supercharged horses underfoot!

We found one a mere thirteen miles from home, and priced right, too. Or so I thought. BBBH loved it, too. Until she heard the price, then she said, "I hate it." This beauty is black, exterior and interior, and is priced at a firm $65,665 with discounts and incentives. The seven percent Indiana sales tax brings it to $70,261.55.

And did I mention that this model is subject to the gas guzzler tax? But wait. I forgot the twenty-five cents per wheel disposal tax for the tires and...
oh, forget it. This is getting out of hand.

The best part is that the entire shopping excursion took place on a ninety-degree afternoon, but from the comfort of our love-seat in the air-conditioned living room. Never turned a wheel, never encountered a salesperson, and best of all, never bought a car!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Yikes! School Starts Soon

Our local jeweler thoughtfully reminds us that the 4-H Fair is just days away. And, too, he reminds us that he has "merchandise" inside.

It is hard to believe that fair time is upon us, for I have always associated that event with the beginning of another school year. And how can that be? We've scarcely seen summer. If we don't count the ten 90+ degree days, if we ignore the calendar which does assert that mid-July is near.

Also, as I walk around the yard examining the garden, and the weed crop, it is evident that some things are thriving! Just take a look at these. And I did pluck a nice, juicy serrano. I'll have that with my bbq'd spare ribs. Mmmmm!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Music for Sunday, and a Memory

I related earlier that I attended a Christian school during my teen years. I sang in Mixed Chorus. The director did not dignify it by calling it a choir, but she tried her very best to elicit choir-like performances from us. I truly enjoyed participating in this thing, one of the very, very few things I enjoyed about school. This video features one of my favorite songs that we did. This group may do it with more technical skill, but they do not hold a candle to CSBC Mixed Chorus for enthusiasm!


(Sorry the second verse is cut short.)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mow Yer Lawn, Sir?

This is one of those posts I really want to write, but have no idea where or how to begin. I saw this rig parked across the street. It is a mobile lawn service. I am not kidding. KW rig, two axle trailer to haul the mowers. Here I am beginning to get an inkling as to why it costs so much to get a lawn mowed. (Disclaimer: we do our own, so just saying.)

In the bottom picture you see how the neighbor's lawn was mowed when I was a kid. He paid me a quarter to mow the lawn. It was hot, sweaty work. I was thirteen.

Today's thirteen-year-old boy sits in the comfort of his AC'd house and plays his video games, or chats on the whazzis via text messaging, while Dad is out with the KW earning bucks to provide all that. I guess I could be right-- I never see any kids out and about, and certainly not with lawn mowers.

Now Dad has not only to support this idler and his lifestyle, Dad has to feed the KW, and the last I looked diesel was less than three cents under four bucks; and the KW runs while Dad works!
Trust me, you aren't going to get that lawn mowed for a quarter. (My next-door neighbor pays such a service fifty-five bucks a pop.)

Now one might conclude that the household income is sufficiently high that the master or matron of the house cannot afford to take the time to mow himself/herself. And certainly those teenage kids aren't going to do it. They have electronics to play. So money well spent. Or I was born sixty years too soon. I'm really trying to work up a rant here, but no one is going to appreciate it anyway.

I'll stop now.

No joke. I own this mower. It still cuts. Still not easy.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Let TSA Tell Its Tale. Anew

Herewith is a follow-up to the July 4 post "Let Freedom Ring:" Let it not be said that STSTT is unwilling to report both sides of an issue. Someone may be lying; or possibly two totally contradictory accounts of the same issue may both be true. Or yet again, as we have noted before, perhaps we have all fallen down a rabbit hole.

TSA says it did not ask elderly flier to remove diaper

By Rebecca Ruiz, Senior editor,
This weekend it was reported that a 95-year-old flier was subjected to an extensive pat-down at the Northwest Florida Regional Airport, which allegedly included a request that she remove her adult diaper in order to comply with the search. (See TSA asks 95-year-old woman to remove diaper for pat-down)

While original news reports indicated that the Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security had defended the search, the TSA issued a statement to on Monday saying that no one required the elderly woman to remove her diaper.

However, the woman's daughter, Jean Weber, told, "My story has not changed from my first contact with TSA at the airport."

Weber’s mother, Lena Reppert, was attempting to fly to Michigan to see family members as she battled the final stages of leukemia.

"My choices were to remove the Depends or not have her clear security," Weber said.

...or yet again, referring to the headline, perhaps it all depends upon what "it" is.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Repeat Worthy

(Without apology, repost from July 7 two years ago.)

On this day in 1456, Jeanne d'Arc got a retrial for heresy. She was acquitted. She had been burned at the stake 25 years earlier, having at that time been convicted of that crime.

She did not get a do-over of the execution of sentence in the original trial. Few idividuals have attracted so much attention in the literary world in the intervening centuries. Many famous authors have written extensively about her life. These include George Bernard Shaw and Mark Twain, who was surely obsessed with her, at least during the time in which he wrote of her. His two-volume account is among my favorites.

Ste. Jeanne d'Arc c.1412 - 1431 RIP
Portrait, National Archives, Paris

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Scraping Face

Like most young lads, I could not wait (until it was really necessary) to get started with the shaving bit.

I had watched my Daddy shave with his straight-edge razor since I was a mere tadpole, and such a manly thing must be incorporated into my own lifestyle!

I started with a safety razor, Gillette blade, more than sixty years ago. When I ventured out into the world "on my own" at age seventeen, I moved to Wichita and took with me a straight razor. Every young smart aleck, I no exception, has to show off in some way or other. Wow, did I impress people, they knowing I shaved with an open blade! How did they know? I told them, of course. I used that razor until I decided I should give up factory work and go to college. I was smart enough to realize that such an object was not something to take to a college campus. I went back to the safety razor.

Like most of my fellow Americans, I was susceptible to the wiles of advertising, and thus I chose the Wilkinson blade with which to shave. I mean after all, the Wilkinson people had been making swords ever since Arthur pulled Excaliber from the Stone. How could I go wrong? Well, I paid more for my blades than did my peers who used lesser brands.

When I was probably a junior, I found there were a few dollars in my billfold, and I was in the very store that sold the new-fangled electric shaver. I needed one, didn't I? You may see the picture here of the Sunbeam Shavemaster, which I still have and which is more than fifty years old. It sits in its case (isn't that a beauty?) in a drawer, virtually unused throughout its life. It created such a rash on my neck that I was never able to endure it long enough to get past that stage and into a life of electric shaving. (It still runs. Sounds like a tractor.) So it was back to the safety razor. I have gone through several permutations, single double-edge blade, double blade, triple blade, but I drew the line when they went to "quatro," and I think I have recently seen five-bladed shavers advertised.

Ten years ago, I decided to give electric one more try. This does the job, I use it daily, and I am as delighted as it is possible to be with performing a necessary but nasty chore.

I am told that a type-A personality, go-getter, mover-of-the-earth and occupier of the corner office shaves in the morning before facing his world, and that a Lover shaves at night before retiring to bed.

The penultimate chore I perform each day is shaving. Then it's brush the choppers and off to bed!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Blast from the Past

What's with the "77" stuff? The route, my age. Oops.
Happy Birthday to me.
I have been blessed to live to see my 28,125th day on this Earth!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Let Freedom Ring:

And then there's this:
Jun 30, 2011 – An investigation has been launched after a man flew from New York to Los Angeles without a valid passport or ID, and with a boarding pass that did not belong to him.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Jacob is Home

Beginning where we left off last week in Genesis chapter 31, we conclude the story of Jacob's return to Canaan.

It took him seven days, but Laban and his brothers caught up with Jacob and his retinue at Gilead. (31)

Words, accusations; a pact. Final parting.
Rachel's Tomb, Bethlehem

Jacob sends messengers to his brother, Esau. As a peace offering he proffers much cattle, sheep, camels, a big enchilada.

Jacob sends his four women, his eleven sons a bit ahead; spends night alone. Well, not quite. Wrestles with God, names place Peniel, "for," he said, "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." Morning comes, Jacob pulls up lame. Why is only the front half of the steer kosher? (32)

Here come Esau and four hundred men. Esau runs and embraces his long-absent twin brother. Jacob offers the stuff; Esau declines, "I have enough." He takes it anyway. (33)

Jacob dwelt in Shalem. Stuff happens. (34)

God sends Jacob to Bethel to live. Ben-oni is born to Rachel. She dies and is buried. Jacob calls the child Benjamin.

God assigns a new name to Jacob. He is now Israel. (35) His dad, Isaac dies.
A bunch of genealogy follows; Jacob loves Joseph best of all his sons. (36,37)

The story of Jacob is placed on hold, while the account turns to Joseph's story.

Part five, and final instalment.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

They're Everywhere, They're Everywhere!

It was on July 2, 1962 that the first Wal-Mart Store opened in Rogers, Arkansas. Today, there is a Wal-Mart nearly everywhere. But. There is not one in Perfect! BBBH says, "You've moved me to a place that doesn't even have a Wal-Mart." Direct quote. I am not making this up.

The Spouse's feelings for the company typifies one of the two visceral reactions people seem to have to this retail giant. They seem to love the store with a passion, or hate it with an equally flaming passion. Those who do not share her feeling will curse the ground the buildings stand on, citing all kinds of arguments about economics and marketing. Some seem to make it their life's work to see that no more stores are built, or if they are built to make pariahs of those who work and shop there.

Me? I can sit in the parking lot while BBBH enjoys her experience. My problem is not philosophical, nor is it aversion to spending money. But there is something about the big box experience that is difficult to describe; but I tell you I am literally feeling the anxiety inside my soul, the heart-rate is accelerating and the sweat is breaking on my brow as I write this. The very thought is sufficient to put me into a panic. I may need the rest of this day just to recover from writing this post. If you find any errors in this due to faulty editing, don't tell me, for I will not read this again.

Have a great day!

Friday, July 1, 2011


Approaching the garden.

A little closer.

The catalpa overhangs part of the garden.

There's always a bit of therapy in the garden!

I love summertime!