Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012

 happy halloween... and don't text while flying... or fly while driving... well, you get the message.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jewel Heist and Unheist

The Star of India was given to the American Museum of Natural History by J.P. Morgan in 1900. The gem safely resided there until October 29, 1964. Soon after that night it found a new place of residence in a public locker in a bus station in Miami, Florida.  

The bad men who effected this transfer of locale had unlocked a bathroom window in the museum during public hours, thereby assuring themselves an avenue of ingress and escape. That night they completed the job, making off with this star sapphire the weight of which was over 563 carats. They also took the Midnight Star, the DeLong Star Ruby and the Eagle diamond.*

Subsequently, Jack Murphy, Roger Clark, and Allan Kuhn were indicted for the theft.

Fast forward to Miami in early January, 1965. A group of New York City detectives brought Kuhn to Miami in an effort to locate the swag. According to reporter Milt Sosin in the Miami News of January 8, “All day Wednesday and early Thursday, the assistant D.A. and the detectives, with Kuhn in tow, raced around Miami, Miami Beach, and North Dade in their quest.”

Apparently the group checked into a motel and eventually received an anonymous call specifying the location of the jewels. The informant told them where the key was hidden. Early on the morning of January 8, the group rushed to the sites specified and did, indeed, find the booty, with the exception of the DeLong Star Ruby, which was later recovered, and the Eagle Diamond which has never been found.

The crooks got three years.

*According to Wikipedia, the only one of these gems that had an alarm device was the Star of India.  The battery was dead.

1.  Wikipedia

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mortality and the Eternal

"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." I Peter 1: 24-25  --KJV

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Major Rudolph Anderson, Jr.

Today, October 27, 2012, in Cleveland Park, Greenville, South Carolina, a ceremony will be held to rededicate the Memorial to Major Rudolph Anderson, Jr., USAF.

File:Rudolf Anderson.jpgMajor Anderson was the only direct casualty of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962. Fifty years ago today the U-2 spy plane of which he was the pilot was shot down over Cuba.

The U-2 reconnaissance missions which had been conducted by the CIA were turned over to the USAF on October 14 and the planes were badged with Air Force insignia.

Major Anderson qualified as a U-2 pilot in 1957 and had over 1000 hours on mission assignments. The Major’s body was returned to his hometown, Greenville, where he was interred on November 6, 1962. Anderson was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross by the President of the United States. Greenville conducts an annual memorial service for Major Anderson. This year they will unveil the redesign of the Anderson Memorial.               

Major Rudolph Anderson, Jr. USAF 15 September 1927 – 27 October 1962 RIP
Image:     Wikipedia

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, 50 Years Ago Today

US Ambassador Adlai Stevenson addresses the UN Security Council and his Soviet counterpart Valerian Zorin on 25 October 1962.

I want to say to you, Mr. Zorin, that I do not have your talent for obfuscation, for distortion, for confusing language, and for doubletalk. And I must confess to you that I am glad that I do not!

But if I understood what you said, you said that my position had changed, that today I was defensive because we did not have the evidence to prove our assertions, that your Government had installed long-range missiles in Cuba.

Well, let me say something to you, Mr. Ambassador—we do have the evidence. We have it, and it is clear and it is incontrovertible. And let me say something else—those weapons must be taken out of Cuba.

Next, let me say to you that, if I understood you, with a trespass on credibility that excels your best, you said that our position had changed since I spoke here the other day because of the pressures of world opinion and the majority of the United Nations. Well, let me say to you, sir, you are wrong again. We have had no pressure from anyone whatsoever. We came in here today to indicate our willingness to discuss Mr. U Thant's proposals, and that is the only change that has taken place.

But let me also say to you, sir, that there has been a change. You—the Soviet Union has sent these weapons to Cuba. You—the Soviet Union has upset the balance of power in the world. You—the Soviet Union has created this new danger, not the United States.

And you ask with a fine show of indignation why the President did not tell Mr. Gromyko on last Thursday about our evidence, at the very time that Mr. Gromyko was blandly denying to the President that the U.S.S.R. was placing such weapons on sites in the new world.

Well, I will tell you why—because we were assembling the evidence, and perhaps it would be instructive to the world to see how a Soviet official—how far he would go in perfidy. Perhaps we wanted to know if this country faced another example of nuclear deceit like that one a year ago, when in stealth, the Soviet Union broke the nuclear test moratorium.

And while we are asking questions, let me ask you why your Government—your Foreign Minister—deliberately, cynically deceived us about the nuclear build-up in Cuba.

And, finally, the other day, Mr. Zorin, I remind you that you did not deny the existence of these weapons. Instead, we heard that they had suddenly become defensive weapons. But today again if I heard you correctly, you now say that they do not exist, or that we haven't proved they exist, with another fine flood of rhetorical scorn.

All right, sir, let me ask you one simple question: Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the U.S.S.R. has placed and is placing medium- and intermediate-range missiles and sites in Cuba? Yes or no—don't wait for the translation—yes or no?

(The Soviet representative is waiting for translation. then responded) "This is not a court of law, I do not need to provide a yes or no answer..." (was cut off by Mr. Stevenson at this point) *Source United Nations Assembly video archives.

You can answer yes or no. You have denied they exist. I want to know if I understood you correctly. I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over, if that's your decision. And I am also prepared to present the evidence in this room.

(The President called on the representative of Chile to speak, but he lets Ambassador Stevenson continued as follows.)

I have not finished my statement. I asked you a question. I have had no reply to the question, and I will now proceed, if I may, to finish my statement.

I doubt if anyone in this room, except possibly the representative of the Soviet Union, has any doubt about the facts. But in view of his statements and the statements of the Soviet Government up until last Thursday, when Mr. Gromyko denied the existence or any intention of installing such weapons in Cuba, I am going to make a portion of the evidence available right now. If you will indulge me for a moment, we will set up an easel here in the back of the room where I hope it will be visible to everyone.

The first of these exhibits shows an area north of the village of Candelaria, near San Cristóbal, southwest of Habana. A map, together with a small photograph, shows precisely where the area is in Cuba.

The first photograph shows the area in late August 1962; it was then, if you can see from where you are sitting, only a peaceful countryside.

The second photograph shows the same area one day last week. A few tents and vehicles had come into the area, new spur roads had appeared, and the main road had been improved.

The third photograph, taken only twenty-four hours later, shows facilities for a medium-range missile battalion installed. There are tents for 400 or 500 men. At the end of the new spur road there are seven 1,000-mile missile trailers. There are four launcher-erector mechanisms for placing these missiles in erect firing position. This missile is a mobile weapon, which can be moved rapidly from one place to another. It is identical with the 1,000-mile missiles which have been displayed in Moscow parades. All of this, I remind you, took place in twenty-four hours.

The second exhibit, which you can all examine at your leisure, shows three successive photographic enlargements of another missile base of the same type in the area of San Cristóbal. These enlarged photographs clearly show six of these missiles on trailers and three erectors.

And that is only one example of the first type of ballistic missile installation in Cuba.

A second type of installation is designed for a missile of intermediate range—a range of about 2,200 miles. Each site of this type has four launching pads.

The exhibit on this type of missile shows a launching area being constructed near Guanajay, southwest of the city of Habana. As in the first exhibit, a map and small photograph show this area as it appeared in late August 1962, when no military activities were apparent.

A second large photograph shows the same area about six weeks later. Here you will see a very heavy construction effort to push the launching area to rapid completion. The pictures show two large concrete bunkers or control centers in process of construction, one between each pair of launching pads. They show heavy concrete retaining walls being erected to shelter vehicles and equipment from rocket blast-off. They show cable scars leading from the launch pads to the bunkers. They show a large reinforced concrete building under construction. A building with a heavy arch may well be intended as the storage area for the nuclear warheads. The installation is not yet complete, and no warheads are yet visible.

The next photograph shows a closer view of the same intermediate-range launch site. You can clearly see one of the pairs of large concrete launch pads, with a concrete building from which launching operations for three pads are controlled. Other details are visible, such as fuel tanks.

And that is only one example, one illustration, of the work being furnished in Cuba on intermediate-range missile bases.

Now, in addition to missiles, the Soviet Union is installing other offensive weapons in Cuba. The next photograph is of an airfield at San Julián in western Cuba. On this field you will see twenty-two crates designed to transport the fuselages of Soviet llyushin-28 bombers. Four of the aircraft are uncrated, and one is partially assembled. These bombers, sometimes known as Beagles, have an operating radius of about 750 miles and are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. At the same field you can see one of the surface-to-air antiaircraft guided missile bases, with six missiles per base, which now ring the entire coastline of Cuba.

Another set of two photographs covers still another area of deployment of medium-range missiles in Cuba. These photographs are on a larger scale than the others and reveal many details of an improved field-type launch site. One photograph provides an overall view of most of the site; you can see clearly three of the four launching pads. The second photograph displays details of two of these pads. Even an eye untrained in photographic interpretation can clearly see the buildings in which the missiles are checked out and maintained ready to fire, a missile trailer, trucks to move missiles out to the launching pad, erectors to raise the missiles to launching position, tank trucks to provide fuel, vans from which the missile firing is controlled, in short, all of the requirements to maintain, load, and fire these terrible weapons.

These weapons, gentlemen, these launching pads, these planes—of which we have illustrated only a fragment—are a part of a much larger weapons complex, what is called a weapons system.

To support this build-up, to operate these advanced weapons systems, the Soviet Union has sent a large number of military personnel to Cuba—a force now amounting to several thousand men.

These photographs, as I say, are available to members for detailed examination in the Trusteeship Council room following this meeting. There I will have one of my aides who will gladly explain them to you in such detail as you may require.

I have nothing further to say at this time.

(After another statement by the Soviet representative, Ambassador Stevenson replied as follows:)

Mr. President and gentlemen, I won't detain you but one minute.

I have not had a direct answer to my question. The representative of the Soviet Union says that the official answer of the U.S.S.R. was the Tass statement that they don't need to locate missiles in Cuba. Well, I agree—they don't need to. But the question is, have they missiles in Cuba—and that question remains unanswered. I knew it would be.

As to the authenticity of the photographs, which Mr. Zorin has spoken about with such scorn, I wonder if the Soviet Union would ask its Cuban colleague to permit a U.N. team to go to these sites. If so, I can assure you that we can direct them to the proper places very quickly.

And now I hope that we can get down to business, that we can stop this sparring. We know the facts, and so do you, sir, and we are ready to talk about them. Our job here is not to score debating points. Our job, Mr. Zorin, is to save the peace. And if you are ready to try, we are.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nashville; Little Nashville, that is.

" Let's go to Little Nashville," Beautiful said.
"Sure.  But you'll have to get up and be ready to go early in the morning."
And she was.  She was ready to go by 11:10, so we started our outing on a lovely, sunny morning.
 I selected the quickest route which entailed a good bit of interstate driving.  We got to Columbus about 12:30 and I said, "Do you want to eat here, or go on to Nashville, which will take about twenty minutes.?"
"I'm really hungry," BBBH replied, "and there is a Denny's just ahead."
"Nah," I said, "I didn't drive all the way down here to eat at a Denny's.  Let's go on into Nashville."  And we did.*

 This was the middle of the week, perfect timing, for we would have the place to ourselves.  Well, with everyone between the Rockies and the Smokies.  Otherwise, we were by ourselves.
I should probably relate that I was doubtful about the "color" for our trees at home are quite splendid, so why a 200 mile round-trip to look at trees?  It is the thing one does in October.  Brown County is noted far and wide for its fall display.

We walked through the touristy downtown, selected a restaurant, a nice not-Denny's cafe, white tablecloths, and so on.  Decent lunch, touristy price. Following lunch, we walked a few more blocks, then came the promised rain, not hard, you understand, but enough to wet the shoulders.  We hiked it for the vehicle.

We drove the three or four miles to Brown County State Park.  The rain stopped and we started our Color Tour.
After the Park, we drove home, but by a more leisurely back roads route, much longer but not so nerve-wracking.
 Tomorrow will be a Wordless Wednesday in which the posting will show a few of the many snapshots we collected in the park.

*I've nothing against Denny's; I rather like them.  But given a choice of a Mom 'n Pop over the chain, I'll take the Mom 'n Pop.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Saint Who?

or, The Usefulness of Memory and the Erosion of the Banks of the River of Knowledge.

Over the course of my two years in junior high, specifically to the times, grades seven and eight, we studied a good bit about our country, its history and its government.  This was clearly long before the days in which children who know virtually nothing about our nation were granted the "right" to vote in our local, state and national elections.  But I digress.

I have refrained from stating specifically whether this information I share was learned in the seventh grade, or in the eighth; though more likely it was both, which may account for the fact that it sunk in. As a seventh grader, I was seated in the row adjoining the eighth grade and may well have mastered their lessons before I moved to their row the following year-- and had to endure it again.  Will I never get to the point?

Yes, here it is.  During a sleepless period between three and four ayem, the expression "St. Wapniacl" impinged itself upon my mind.  So naturally I had to run through the mnemonic which I had learned those many years ago.  This was the technique by which Miss Stetson taught us to remember the posts in the president's cabinet.  Not only is the term easy to remember, probably because of its weirdness, the words are created in such a way that the offices are in the order of their creation and in the order of their significance within the cabinet.
S = State; T = Treasury; W = War; A = Attorney General; P = Postmaster General; N = Navy; I = Interior; C = Commerce; L = Labor.

So of course in my semi-conscious state I was compelled by whatever possessed me to name each office before I could go back to sleep.  A very easy task-- except that for the life of me I couldn't remember the "P".  Finally, I got up, went to the small room and peed, and the "P" came to me:  Postmaster General.  So I went back to sleep.

This information became less than accurate while I was yet a tadpole, for in the summer of 1947, the Departments of War and Navy were combined into the Department of Defense.  One supposes the mnemonic could have become "St. Dapiacl," but that would have thrown the sequence off track.  And today so many posts have been added to the cabinet that I don't know if youngsters could remember them all even if they had a mnemonic.  Ask your teenager how many cabinet posts she can name.

In addition to the above Departments of 1947, minus the Postmaster General which no longer has cabinet status, there are seven more cabinet seats, making a total of fifteen.  I think.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Zelophehad's Daughters #T

In the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Joshua we are introduced to five strong women, sisters, who resolved not to stand idly by while the menfolk partook of an inheritance, designing to omit the women from the division of the land.

It is only right that these sisters be remembered by their names, for they are so remembered in scripture.  They were Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.  They were the daughters of Zelophehad who was the great-great grandson of Manasseh.  Zelophehad had no sons, and hence the rightful share he had in Manasseh should go to his daughters.  They thought so, and they prosecuted their case before Eleazar the priest, and before Joshua and the entire assemblage of the princes of the Israelites.

This court ruled in favor of the women, and they were awarded the appropriate share of the land.

If one understood the customs of property and inheritance, even to primogeniture among the sons determining ownership of the heritage, one would better appreciate what it cost these women to plead their case, and the courage it required. We would not overlook the fact that justice prevailed in spite of precedent, not because of it.

While it may be the case that it is sometimes convenient to go along to get along, we have here an example of justice bestowed because of righteous determination.

The women were told they should choose whom to marry as they "thought best," but with the admonition that they must select their husbands from within the tribe of Manasseh.  To this injunction they were obedient. Thus the land would remain within the tribe.

With possession comes responsibility.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Happy 50th, Mr. H

Mr. Evander Holyfield, four-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

Holyfield was cruiserweight champion in 1988 when he moved up to heavyweight to defeat Buster Douglas for the championship.  He has defeated such boxing greats as George Foreman; Larry Holmes; Mike Tyson, who bit off part of Evander’s ear, thereby losing to Holyfield for the second time; Riddick Bowes; and a bunch of other top-tier fighters.

Holyfield is a very popular public figure and has appeared in numerous TV programs and has played minor roles in several films.

Happy birthday, Mr. Holyfield!
Image: Wikipedia

While I am not a great fan of the sport, I recall the first fight I listened to on the radio was between challenger Billy Conn and Champion Joe Louis.  Louis won by KO in the eighth round.  Five years earlier in his first challenge against Louis, Conn outboxed him for 12 rounds and in the 13th managed to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The London Beer Flood

occurred on October 17, 1814 in London, England.

The Meux and Company Brewery on Tottenham Court Road had several huge vats to hold the product of their enterprise. A vat containing 135,000 imperial gallons of beer ruptured, causing several other vats to burst releasing a total of over 300,000 gallons. The beer ran into the streets. Two houses were destroyed and a wall of a nearby pub succumbed. Worse, in this poor neighborhood many families lived in basement rooms that filled with beer. Eight people lost their lives in the torrent.  A ninth person succumbed to alcohol poisoning. Yes, the survivors literally drank ale in their cupped hands from the muddy puddles in the streets, or recovered vessels in which to take and partake of the boon. Waste not, want not. 

 The foul odor remained for weeks.

Ultimately the company who owned the brewery was sued in court, but the court ruled that the accident was “an act of God.” No responsibility was imputed to the proprietors.*
The company itself, though, was facing extreme difficulty because of the financial loss due to the loss of product and sales; and that was exacerbated by the fact that they had already paid the duty on the beer.  But, Government to the rescue! Parliament allowed the management to recover the duty, which allowed them to continue operations.

The brewery no longer exists.  Meux was eventually bought out by others.

*I think it might have been an act of fermentation within the confines of an inadequately banded wooden vat.  Or it might have been an act of God.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, STSTT

The sun will rise today on the fourth anniversary of the birth of String Too Short to Tie.  Happy birthday, dear Blog.

I never imagined at its inception that this program would still be running four years later.  Oh, I have had "blocks."   The blogging has been placed on hiatus from time to time, but I always keep coming back.  "Hi, my name is vanilla, and I am a blogoholic."

As I have indicated on other occasions, I do this thing for my own amusement; but that is not to say that I am not gratified when another finds entertainment in the material I post.  I appreciate those who take time to read this thing, and I especially appreciate those who leave comments.  I make an honest effort to respond to those comments.

On October 15, I look back over the year and point to those posts that I think are my favorites for the year, in no particular order.
  1. Autumn in Black and White
  2. Snake!
  3. Family Friday 2
  4. King James Authorized Version
  5. And a three-part serial relating a hitch-hiking adventure in the Fifties.
           a.  Part 1  "A Journey Home-- The Road to Heber
           b.  Part 2  "A Journey Home-- Into the Middle of Nowhere"
           c.  Part 3  "A Journey Home-- Welcome Home"
"Chupacabra, Palm Rats and Roadrunners" was the most-read of the year, having well over 4400 hits. And it is all-time most-read post.  Most visitors were looking for "roadrunner."  :-)

"Pallies' Palaver" represents the true all-time highlight for the author of this blog, for it tells of vanilla's meeting with three of his favorite bloggers Lin, Sharkey, and Chuck.  I am looking forward to another reunion with these writers, and there are others whom I would very much like to meet in person.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Achsah's Heritage #T

In the fifteenth chapter of the book of Joshua we are told that because Othniel went up against Debir and conquered it, Caleb gave to him Achsah, his daughter, to wife. Tradition demands a gift to the bride. Caleb gave her land.

Achsah rode out to her father on her donkey, alighted, and confronted him. “ You've given me desert land, unproductive if it have not water. Give me water.” And so Caleb gave her springs of water, both in the upper region of the land and in the lower.

We have a saying in our day, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Achsah was much smarter than that. The completion of a gift is in the acceptance of it. The girl knew enough to know that the “gift” from her father was worthless in the incomplete state. So rather than a simple “thank you” followed by abandonment of the worthless property, Achsah chose to confront the giver of the gift with an analysis of its value. This yielded the desired result, for now the additional gift of water made the land valuable and the woman secured it as a valuable inheritance for her progeny.

How often do we offer a tepid “thanks” for a present, shrug and go on our way never utilizing the offering? Why do we do this? Well, because we “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” And we are “polite” to a fault.

Are there lessons in Achsah’s actions in this story?

I think a deep spiritual lesson in the actions of this good woman in claiming her heritage is this. God offers us the gift of salvation, a good and perfect gift through the blood of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. We must appropriate the gift by accepting it. Then it behooves us to ask for the in-filling of the Holy Spirit so that we can be productive citizens in the Kingdom of God. Without water, Achsah’s land is not productive; with water it is valuable and useful land. Filled with the Spirit we may be useful in the building of the Kingdom!  On our own, we are nothing.

(Verse 18 says Achsah “lighted off her ass.” (KJV) We might more likely prosper if we, too, get off our asses. Just sayin'.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Lake Property

In Monday's story of Pig and Duck the lake property figured prominently.  Here is a memory of days of yore and an update.  Many happy days were lived here.  We hope the current occupants are enjoying this beautiful spot.

Upper left:  As it was.  A bit of the redbud tree can be seen on the extreme left.
Upper right: Dock and lake.
Lower left:  As it is.  The redbud tree in the foreground is about the only thing that was not removed.

The next-door neighbors to the east bought our property and razed both their cottage and ours and replaced with this home.  The blue shed is neighbor to the west.  It is still where it was those many years ago.

Three dogs from long ago.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


So many references in the entertainment world to aliens these days, though this is really not new.  We've seen the fascination with "other worldly" creatures for many years.  I think this Marlette cartoon pretty well captures the essence of people's fascination with the concept of alien life.

In memory of and in honor of Doug Marlette.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Pig and the Duck #T

Our cottage was situated on a very nice lakefront lot with a fifty-foot seawall and pier.  The area close to the seawall, especially at the east end of it, was soggy a good bit of the time, though it was planted to grass.  Too, forget-me-nots grew freely in that area, and very pretty were the shiny blue punctuation marks they provided in the lawn.

Across the lane and opposite our next door neighbor's house lived a young man named Steve with his son, Trey.  One summer, probably about our tenth year at the lake, Steve acquired a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig as a pet for himself and his son.  What a cute little pet!  The neighbors adored the animal, and it was allowed, more or less, free range of the territory.

Summers come to an end, though, the October leaves are raked, the pipes are drained and the cottage is put to sleep for the winter.  But oh, frabjous Spring when the place is reopened and "the season" starts again!  Now we discover that Pig, while still very friendly, is much larger than she was in the fall.  As the summer wears on and the days become hotter and hotter, the human inhabitants of the environs spend more and more time in the lake.  The Pig likes to swim, too, and she strolls across the lane and down to the lake for a dip betimes.  However, she is a pig, and pigs are given to rooting and wallowing.  Pig discovers the soft spot in our yard this side of the seawall.
The little blue flowers are so attractive.  Let's dig them up!  Pig is a very talented digger, and when the hole is sufficiently deep to satisfy her needs and accommodate her body, she wallows.  This is not a pleasing behavior to the human inhabitants.  Pig must be banished from the yard.

Now it should be related that Pig had a playmate and frequent companion, for at Easter time Steve's next door neighbor acquired a little duckling.  Duck grew, as ducks will, and it attached itself in friendship to Pig.  Everywhere Pig went, Duck tagged along.  Duck's owner would take Duck to the lake and attempt to get it to swim, but Duck was having none of it.  Believe it.  A duck that did not want to be in water.  So much for the old saw, "Takes to it like a duck to water."
Karen was frustrated that Duck would not swim, for it was her plan that when fall came the duck would respond to the call of the wild and fly off to wherever ducks go when the vee formations soar overhead.
I was fortunate enough to witness this little vignette.  One afternoon Pig walked across the lane and down to the lakefront.  Duck waddled along close behind.   Pig stepped into the water, launched herself and started to swim leisurely around the area.  Duck stopped on the bank, quacked loudly, no doubt scolding Pig for her reckless behavior.  But it became clear that Pig was enjoying her swim and was not giving it up.  Duck stepped into the water; and to her surprise she discovered that she could remain afloat on the surface.  Then she discovered that she could swim!  Oh, fun together with friend in the water!  The story of the pig that taught the duck to swim.

Fall came, leaves were raked, and so on.

When the cottage was opened in the spring we missed the presence of Pig.  I saw Steve one evening and asked what happened to Pig.  "Well," he said, "she went to the farm.  When I got her I was told she would probably get to a weight of 45 pounds in her adulthood.  When she got to 150 pounds I realized that I could no longer keep her as a house pet."

All things come to some end.

Images: Wikipedia

Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, BBBH

I've gone light on the birthdays this year. Yet here is one that must be observed. The lady has attained a milestone in her journey.


On your seventy-fifth:  I love you, Baby.

You've come a long way, Little Jo.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


The reason for the link will become clear with tomorrow's post.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Redhead is Fifteen

The youngest grandson turned fifteen a few days ago.  I stopped by to visit with him a bit.  He owed me a chat because he went to Australia this summer and he had not yet given me a report on the experience.  

Brayton shared his pictures with me and gave me some commentary on the trip.  Not bad, really, for a teenage boy to be able to talk with his grandfather even if the two of us do occupy different worlds.  Or so it seems to me sometimes.  Young people these days pick up electronic gadgets and almost without conscious thought push the right buttons to obtain their desired results.  Anything with more than three buttons is a mystery to me, with the exception of the standard qwerty keyboard.  And do you know how long that has been standard?  I don't even use the AC and the radio in the car because I have to know the three buttons for lights, wiper, and seat adjustment because BBBH drives the car too.  Don't get me started on buttons within buttons and multifunction "stalks" sticking out of the steering column.

Anyway, back to Brayton.  It is interesting the things that impressed the lad.  In one picture he was holding a koala in his arms and the pleasure of the experience was evident both on his face in the picture and in the response to my comment, that response being, "Yeah."  But when I noted a picture of the Sydney Opera House and asked if he had had the opportunity to visit its interior, the boy lit up.  Yes.  It was fantastic.  And what impressed him most?  The basement area and its work rooms, the commodious space for people therein to practice their skills or their arts.  The size of the rooms.  You never know what someone else will enthuse about.  See, I didn't even know the place had a basement.  (Though of course I was not surprised.)

Conjecture might conjure up some of the ways in which the world might change in the next sixty-some years before Brayton attains my current age, but likely with much inaccuracy.  Little do we know what might develop, just as I am amazed at the developments that have occurred in the short space of my own memory.  I won't get to see Brayton's world of 2075, but I wish for him the maintenance of the sense of awe and wonder that will enable him to absorb and enjoy the changes as they come.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


The photo was taken October 12, 2006. 

Miss Chamberlain was my English teacher during my sophomore year in high school.  I got a phone call from her last night.  She lives in California now in a retirement village.  She is blessed in that many of the residents in her complex are bright, well-educated people with whom she finds common ground.  Her health is not good, and although she plans to become a centenarian, the trip to that goal is not easy for her.  She called because she was "down" and needed someone to cheer her up.  I hope I was able to do that.

When I was a lad of fifteen and a self-professed detest-er  of school this teacher saw something in me that I did not see in myself, for otherwise she would have given up on me, I'm sure.  She was one year only in the school and moved on to other places and endeavors.  What I am about to relate I learned after many years had passed.  Betty married a fine Christian gentleman.  However, he died young and left her with five children to raise.  She never remarried, but supported her family on her own.  Her endeavors included teaching, and that not entirely in America as she spent considerable time in missions endeavors abroad.

When I was about fifty-five years of age, I discovered that she was living in Northern Indiana and teaching school there.  It was not far to her home, so I contacted her and we made a visit there.  As you may have noted there was a forty-year gap between this visit and our common experiences in the English classroom.  But the thread of friendship had remained unbroken and we picked up, as the saying goes, where we left off.  We met I think twice after that visit and the above picture was taken on the most recent face-to-face.  But we have had many telephone and email conversations over the years.  She moved to California several years ago, and I have remained in Indiana.  When Betty calls, BBBH refers to her as my "girlfriend."  Well, she certainly is not a girl anymore, if she ever was.

Yesterday she told me that an old gentleman to whom she had become quite close, with whom she had a standing Wednesday evening dinner date, had failed to show last week.  It was learned that he had passed away alone in his rooms.  I began to see more clearly why she was blue.  We had a good chat, and I really think she felt better after we talked.

But, remember youngsters.  Going down the hill is harder than the trip up.

Monday, October 1, 2012

October, Then and Now

And harvest time provides a promise of plentiful provender for man and beast. ('09)

So here's how it went down. The oven quit working.  ('10)

Ever drifting down the stream--
Lingering in the golden gleam--
Life, what is it but a dream?  ('11)

And so began October in years past here on String Too Short to Tie.  How begins it in the here and now?  Cloudy, harbinger of rain.  Soon.  Chilly, reminder that finally summer is past.  Excitement level, here I am looking through old documents.

The morning glories this year waited until late August to do anything, inasmuch as it was too hot and too dry prior to that.  We got all-purple this year.

The ornamental grass looks nice as the heads turn pink.

Whatever else may be said about the coming of October, here is a huge benefit for me.  I have had tinnitus for many years, actually more than thirty years.  It seems to be progressive in the sense that the humming and singing in my ears increases with time.   For a long time it seemed to occur only in the left ear, but four or five years ago it "migrated" to the other, and now I have noises in both ears.  The left seems to contain a basement full of crickets unmolested by intruders and thus free to sing. The right ear is a sycamore tree full of cicadas.  So we get to the benefit.  On hot summer afternoons and evenings I would have to ask BBBH if I were hearing cicadas in the trees, or just hearing my imaginary friends in my head.  But the cooler weather assures me that the sounds are all inside.