Tuesday, March 26, 2013

End of the Line

This is the final post on String Too Short to Tie.  At least that is the case until such time as I can figure out why I no longer have access to my dashboard, and in fact my explorations so far indicate that Blogger doesn't even know String exists.  Well, bummer.

Not to fret, though.  If you are a reader of this blog and you wish to continue with that, you may find vanilla's scribblings at Bob Warr and Picket Fences.  Bob has graciously granted me access to his blog, so starting today, please go to http://bobwarr.blogspot.com.

You folks are great.  Hope you won't be disappointed.  You may let your friends know about this move if you like.

Monday, March 25, 2013

This and That from Nebraska

A couple of weeks ago my sister commented on the "Nebraska" series.  She suggested some things she hoped I would tell.  This one, about the lamb, I posted among my Christmas stories in 2009.

  • The year I turned two, we lived in Nebraska and there was no such thing as money in our household, except, as Dad told it, the sole nickel he had in his pocket. Wanting desperately to buy me a present, he shopped the small town over and found there was nothing to be had within his means. But. On Christmas Eve before the stores closed, he took one last walk into the village, and behold there was a sign in the drugstore window which said "all toys and Christmas items, 1/2 price." And there was a stuffed lamb in the window with a ten cent price tag on it. He bought it with his last nickel, and presumably a happy Christmas was had by all.
Yet even more important than the retelling of this incident is that I say "happy birthday" to this sister, for Vee was born in the parsonage in this little Nebraska hamlet in which we lived exactly a certain number of years ago this very day!  

Happy Birthday, Vee, and may you have many more!

My memories of life in this village are limited by the shortness of the time we were there (four years), my own immaturity (we moved the day before my fifth birthday), and the length of the backward view through time (2013 - 193x, you do the math).  In addition to these few little stories over the past three weeks, I also recall several other things, most of which I think I have mentioned in the past on STSTT.  
  • Mrs. Anderson's great console radio.  How did those teeny tiny people get inside that thing?  Who fed them?
  • The interurban cars that ran perhaps a quarter mile behind our place.
  • The harvest crews cutting and thrashing wheat in the field behind our house.  Stationary steam threshing machine, horses pulling wagons through the field.
  • The baby diverting my parents' attention from the one who had been the center of their universe to another more cuddly, more lovable.  Well, even that turned out okay.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Phone Home

A couple hundred yards down the way is a resident's private junk yard.  It is at the back of the premises behind the barn.  One supposes it may be in violation of some zoning code or another, but one sees no need to rat his neighbor out, especially since we'll be neighbors only briefly.  More, were the pile of clutter not there, this little tale would not have been possible.

Apparently a space ship from some far away galaxy found itself with electromechanical trouble, perhaps a broken anti-gravity generator.  Said ship seems to have landed nearby and has sent forth Ferrous Boiler in search of parts for repair.  Luckily I was passing by, camera in hand, just as Ferrous bent over to retrieve a likely item.

Here's wishing Scout Boiler and his traveling companions good fortune.  May they cobble together an effective repair and be gone.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

'36 Ford

I spotted this '36 Ford across the parking lot.  Clearly it was a Ford, and I was able to identify the model year by the distinctive rear bumper and tire cover.  By the time I had camera in hand, the driver had entered and started the car.  As I raised the camera, a truck came between me and the subject, the Ford backed out of its space and took off across the lot.  The shots are at a distance and cropped.

My interest extended beyond the fact that this was a nicely restored example of the marque.  When I was about eight years old, my dad traded his '28 Chevrolet for a '36 Ford.  Rather than the five-window coupe, though, he had a more sedate sedan, befitting his position as minister and his needs as a family man.  Dad drove this car through WWII, trading it, as I recall, in 1947 for a '41 Chrysler.  The speedometer did not work, and I recall that Dad timed his travels against his wristwatch.  Reading a sign that would say, for example, "Peyton 21" he would plan to be in Peyton in 21 minutes.

In the bottom picture, note the three chrome strips along the side of the hood.  There are three on the other side as well.  In our town, there was a young man who had a similar Ford.  Dad's car had the chrome strips, the youngster's car did not.  He was envious.  He had cash.  Dad needed cash more than he needed chrome strips.  He sold the six items for what he thought was a good amount of money.  I don't remember how much it was, if I ever knew.

Another '36 Ford entered my life during my teen years.  My best friend, Wes, bought one during our senior year of high school.  I took my first ever driver's exam in that car.  I did not get a car of my own, though, until I was 21.  It was a five-year old 1950 Ford with nearly 100 thousand miles on her.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Curiosity and Illusion

 As I was attempting to photograph this lichen formation on the live oak tree in our yard, I espied

this koala climbing the neighbor's palm tree.

[Bwaa-ha-ha-ha!  We are in South Texas, not southern Australia.]

Monday, March 18, 2013

Politics, Poverty, and Prayer #T

1933 and 1934 were the worst of the Dust Bowl years. The  disaster lasted much longer. Politics aside and disregarding that his mother was a staunch Republican,1 my father had no kind words for President Roosevelt. Over time, and as I began to find interest in the greater world outside the walls, I was able to determine exactly why Dad was not enthused with the Washington administration. Principally it centered around the decision of the President and his “communist”2 Secretary of Agriculture, Henry A. Wallace to assist the farmers who had little or no feed for their livestock due to drought and crop failures. The government bought thousands of head of cattle, thereby saving many farmers from loss of their farms and livelihoods. The price paid ranged from four to sixteen dollars a head. (So near as I can learn. I am not an historian, economist, or agronomist.)

Nevertheless, I believe the purchase of the cattle was not the thing that stuck in Dad’s craw. His problem was that while thousands of people in the Dust Bowl area were going hungry, the cattle were slaughtered and buried in deep trenches. It was forbidden by government regulation to use the meat for food. That was not right in my father’s eyes; and he was far from alone, for I have read somewhat about this era. Many people shared his disenchantment with the wonderful wizards of Washington who devised and executed such a thing.

Dad’s sole give-back was his observation that the cattle burial ground along the railroad tracks near the small town in which we lived provided the very best and most lush beds for the lambs quarter which grew wild in the area. These weeds in turn provided part of the nourishment the parents were able to provide for us.  In addition to the weeds, we had a nanny goat, who utilized weeds in her own way by turning them into milk which we consumed. It is not untrue when I tell you I was raised on goat’s milk, for until I was five years of age, I knew no other.

Disastrously, one day the goat died. I don’t know why, and I don’t remember any story relating the incident. But what I do remember hearing about was the prayer meetings we had during family devotions in the home. Mother and Dad both told me that I prayed, along with them, for a productive new goat. They said I concluded my plea, “And please, Lord, give us a white goat.”

A farmer showed up at our house with a nanny goat, claiming she needed a new home. She was white.

God is good.

1Dad told me that he recalled that when he was a lad, his mother and father “spared the horses the trip to town” on election day, because they both knew that she would mark straight Republican, he straight Democrat, thus cancelling each others vote.
2Or so Dad believed. He was not the only one. Wallace became Vice-president in 1941 and was replaced in that office by Harry Truman in 1945.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Psalm for the Day

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Big Tree

 We drove out to see The Big Tree.  From Rockport we headed north across Capano Bay.  Traffic was not impeded by construction, but a new bridge is being built right up next to the old one.  Pictures would have been nice, but there was no stopping, and in this case no shooting through the window of the moving vehicle.

 The tree is in Goose Island State Park which is perhaps a dozen miles from Rockport.  It is a beautiful drive through Lamar and around the bay.  After some leisurely exploration, we finally arrived at the home of the behemoth.

 That is BBBH on the other side of the tree.  There was a bench near where she is standing.  We sat thereon for some time, looking at this tree and the surroundings, reflecting a bit on the history that has transpired since this creature was a seedling.

The tree is judged to be over 1000 years old.  The acorn would have germinated and the tree might have been a small sapling about the time that Lief Ericson sailed to Vinland.  The  mature tree would have been near seventy years of age when William conquered England.
 Tree would have been observing its 500th birthday about the time that Columbus set foot in the New World.

This venerable example of God's handiwork was well over 800 years of age when Texas declared its independence and became a republic.

End today's history lesson

Friday, March 15, 2013

Great Blue

The early morning walk around the park yielded only one picture, but I like it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Winterize by Staying Clear of Winter

Where's vanilla?  Unlike Waldo, he sometimes hides in plain sight.  We left the Island mid-morning and made the first twenty miles homeward!  This is where we settled back in for an indeterminate period of time (though I am guessing not less than three weeks.) 

The deal is I have no intention of returning to Winter Wonderland.  I plan not to winterize the RV before October.  Once a year is quite enough.  In fact, I was talking with Chester Wednesday afternoon.  Chester is from Muncie, Indiana.  He has been here every time we've been here, and many more times as well.  He told me he bought his current RV, which is a gorgeous Class A, seven years ago and it has never been winterized!  How does he manage this? He leaves Indiana in October at latest, and preferably in September and will not arrive back in Muncie until May.  Now there's a plan.

This is an auspicious day for our friend Richard Prout.  It is his birthday.  The number is a multiple of ten.  He is older than I.  Happy birthday, Dick!

Dick and his wife, Heide, make it possible for us to stay away from winter, for they do stick with it. They take care of our mail and our plants, and look out for the property.   And while we appreciate all they do for us, we care more for the fact that they are good, kind, and loving friends.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Final Day in Port A

...and a fun play day it was!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Daily Planet

Last phone booth removed from Metropolis
Superman thwarted

Metropolis- The last remaining phone booth belonging to RD&D (Ring a Ding and Ding) Telecom Corporation has been taken away by its purchaser, I.D. Ott, the well-known collector of memorabilia from the mid- to late twentieth century.

As we all know, the phone booth was a crucial aid to Superman in his relentless fight against crime in the City.  He now has no place to change while maintaining his anonymity.  We caught up with Superman recently as he sat nursing a nourishing drink at Sourduck's Health Bar on Third Avenue.

Planet:  Superman, we have noted a decrease in your activity recently.  Surely this is not due to a drop in crime?

Superman: No, unfortunately.  But remember, I started leaping tall buildings of Metropolis three-quarters of a century ago.  I like to think I am not in my dotage, but I'm not so young as I once was, and a twelve-story building taxes me these days.

P:  What about flying?  Are you still able to pursue the bad guys by swift flight?

S:  Flying is for the birds.  Besides, I have rather lost my enthusiasm for crime fighting since Lex Luthor died.  One just naturally needs a nemesis to keep him focused, to keep him in the air, so to speak.

P:  Do you consider yourself retired, then?

S:  I've been drawing Social Security since 1981, and with some good IRAs I built up over the years, I really don't need the work.

P:  I am sure the Metropolitans will miss you and your exploits.

S:  Well, they can get their thrills from TV reality shows; or better, by simply being out and about.  Crime is so rampant these days one can hardly miss being in the middle of it.  Catch your own crook.

And there you have it as Superman finally flies, er, ah, strolls off into the sunset.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Nebraska and the Depression

The church was tiny by any standard, and the congregation was correspondingly small. In fact, small as the building was, I am sure that more people could have been seated within at any given service.  Principally what I recall about the edifice was the imposing, to me, bell tower with its spire pointing heavenward. An exciting time it was for me when I got to watch Daddy pull the rope to swing the great bell, calling the congregants to worship!

The other building feature with which I might have been impressed was the front porch, a stoop, really, because the elevation to the floor level also corresponded to the wee nature of the structure. I might have been impressed, but memory fails and here I rely on the first-hand witness of my mother who testified to taking me from the service on occasion to the front steps. The purpose was two-fold. First, it was to relieve the worshipers of the annoyance of an ill-behaved child; and second, and more important to Mother, to instill in that child the fear of God, and coincidentally, the fear of Mother.  Years later Mama told me that she was the object of criticism among some of the old ladies (and the church was mostly old ladies) for applying corporal punishment to a child so young. Mama’s theory of child-rearing: Conquer the child. Clearly some children need more “conquering” than others!

Corresponding to the minuscule nature of his charge, Daddy’s salary was virtually non-existent. The nation was in the thrall of the Great Depression, so there was all but no work to be had. A gentleman in the community, though, had a piece of land that he wanted cleared of timber. While he was doing the work himself, he needed a second set of hands. He hired Daddy to work with him. The wages amounted to fifty cents a day, early morning until evening. The most exciting part of this work was blasting stumps and logs. They drilled holes in the wood with an augur, then sweetened them up, literally, with a compound they mixed up using a couple of common farm and household materials.  The substance was carefully tamped into the holes, then fireworks! I heard my father relate stories about this work many times, and yet today I can picture a length of log cartwheeling thirty feet into the air!

While many people idolized the President who had been reelected for a second term and would soon be elected to his third term, my Dad was not among them. If I haven’t already told you why, I’ll try to work that into the Saga of Survival in Nebraska next time around.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Passing the Mantle

While Elijah, the great prophet, was abiding at Gilgal with his apprentice, Elisha, he said, “Elisha, you hang around here for a time. I have to go to Bethel to take care of some things.” Elisha replied, “Not so. Not so long as you live, nor so long as the Lord lives. Where you go is where I am going.” So they departed for Bethel.  

When they arrive there, the sons of the prophets of Bethel took Elisha aside and said, “Stop, man! Don’t you know that Elijah is going to be taken from you?” “I know it,” responded Elisha. Then Elijah told Elisha that he had to press on to Jericho, but he should wait here in Bethel. “No way,” responded the younger man. “Where you go, I am going.” So they departed for Jericho.

At Jericho, the sons of the prophets of Jericho drew Elisha aside and told him that he should stop following Elijah, for the prophet would be taken away. To these, as he had said to the men at Bethel, he replied that he was aware of what was about to happen. Again, Elijah told Elisha to wait as he went on; and again, Elisha defiantly asserted that he would not. They progressed to the Jordan. Here Elijah removed his cloak, folded it, and struck the surface of the water with it. The waters parted to the left and to the right, and the men walked across dry shod!

As they stood together east of Jordan, Elisha pleaded with his master to grant him the blessing. Elijah told his protégé that if he saw Elijah’s departure, he would receive a double portion. But if he was not alert and failed to see the lift-off, he would get nothing. Then a chariot of fire swooped down and caught up Elijah and he was carried away in a whirlwind! Elijah’s mantle fell away, and the young prophet picked it up.

Back at the river. Elisha emulated the old prophet’s move, and again the water parted to allow the man dry passage. On the west bank awaiting his return were fifty men of Jericho whose curiosity impelled them to stand there watching, for they knew Elijah would be caught up. Elisha is clearly the anointed successor to Elijah. He begins his journey from Jericho back along the way by which he had come. Along the way there are disrespectful young people, and bears,  and other things beyond the scope of today's lesson. You can read it in The Second Book of the Kings.

The prophet’s persistence profoundly profits the prophet.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sea Mammals and Race Car Driver

A few posts back I mentioned that we had been watching the dolphins along the ship channel. Grace questioned why no dolphin pictures? I replied honestly that I am not quick enough.

Yesterday afternoon, though, we visited the City Park and spent most of our time along the Channel watching the ships, the birds, and yes, the dolphins. This time I was fortunate enough to get a couple of shots as the critters made their arcs back below the surface. Lots of animals, only two pictures.  Best I could do. So here, especially for Grace.

Happy 75th Birthday to Janet Guthrie.  I am not an avid fan of auto racing, but the ladies on today's circuit owe a debt of gratitude to this pioneer.  Guthrie was the first woman ever to compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


America's favorite cookie was produced in lower Manhattan.  It was introduced on March 6, 1912.  Over a century later, the Oreo is America's best-selling cookie..  It is not my favorite cookie. There.  I said it.  If you offer me an Oreo, I will eat it with thanks and gratitude, but if I am buying cookies for myself, they will not be Oreos.  Better yet, I may buy a jar of peanut butter and make my own cookies!

Possibly a little known fact is that Oreo was introduced to compete with Sunshine Bakery's Hydrox cookies which had been on the market for a few years.  The popularity of the Hydrox doubtless impelled the people at the National Biscuit Company, later Nabisco, to horn in on the market.  Perhaps this demonstrates two truths.  One, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; and two, an imitation good enough and backed by deep enough pockets can drive the original from the market.

In keeping with the fanaticism of the health nuts, Oreo recently changed their recipe to eliminate trans fats.  I mean, there is nothing America needs more than a "healthful" cookie.  Of course, any benefit could be offset by the introduction of Oreo Double Stuf.  But I don't know that for sure.

The original Oreo Biscuit, as it was called at the time, sold for twenty-five cents a pound and came in a decorative tin.  The company has expanded the product line greatly, offering numerous variations on the original.

Statistical data from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I'm Tired; Good Day!

 Just in case you had forgotten this.
Then we went to the  wildlife sanctuary and watched the birdies.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Little Family in a Little Town

Reminiscing and scrolling through some old pictures, this one brought back a flood of really ancient memories.

The picture was taken in the front yard of the parsonage in which we lived in Bladen, Nebraska.  I am guessing it was Spring or Summer of 1938.

We moved to this village of perhaps 500 souls in the Summer of 1935.  Little Sister was born in March 1937.  We moved to Colorado on July 4, 1939.

It was in Bladen that my first memories of life on this Earth are set.  In addition to my awakening awareness of my surroundings, I was exposed over the years to the stories the parents told of the times here.

One of my memories involves a blue drinking glass and a two-inch crescent scar across my right wrist.  Somehow the glass was broken in the kitchen, and Mama's Little Helper was carrying some shards oh, so carefully, in his hands, taking them to the back porch and the trash receptacle.  For no good reason, other than to create a tale and a memory, MLH stumbled on the threshold and fell.  The glass provided a severe cut to the base of the right palm, so Mama said.  It has migrated fully three inches up the inside of my arm in the intervening three-quarters of a century.

I also have a weirdly disfigured left index finger, the nail of which requires a minimum of nine snips for a proper trimming each week.  That's a nine-snip nail.  Three-year old self had climbed onto the deck beneath the windmill.  The child was fascinated by the action of the pump rod and for no other good reason, reached toward it.  Unfortunately, the rod had a bolt protruding which came just to the level of the deck before returning on its upward stroke.  That spot was exactly where the child had his finger when the down-stroke was completed.  Smash!

I have many other memories, both mine and those of my parents, which are set in this village.  Perhaps I shall attempt to mine and refine some of them!

Though I have worn my hair combed straight back pompadour style for decades, left to its own devices, the part still falls on the right.
You might also like this Bladen story posted here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


We revisited Charlie’s Pasture. This time we chose to walk some of the trails. One short trail took us to the edge of a pond where nice benches were built on a deck. Very comfortable seating while we rested and watched the waterfowl. 

 Our next choice was a trail over the salt flats. In the interest of full disclosure, I will state now that the trail was much longer than we were up to, and we did not go the entire distance. Nevertheless, it was an interesting walk so far as we went.

As we strolled down the board walk, we saw imprinted into the soil below many footprints of quite a variety of critters. Soon enough we came to a sign board which had been erected to help visitors identify the creatures by their footprints. We found that several of these animals had been using the wash  below us.

And this got me to thinking about the pathway of life, and the footprints we leave behind as we travel along its way. Like the animals, I think that in our absence we can be identified by the footprints we leave on the hearts and minds of those with whom we have had contact.

What sort of creature are you? Will folks look with pleasure and fond memories on your “footprints”?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Let Good Sense Be Your Umbrella

I do so hope this blog doesn't become an imitator of those cable tv networks which major in reruns.  However, encountering some people and some situations recently, I thought, "I have already addressed that."  And so I did, in this manner.

I have been acquainted with any number of people over the years who could well have carried the name of this Al Capp character. Pronounce it, no, probably not, but live up to it, yes, certainly.

Like this lovable little pinned-together character, these folk go around with a rain cloud as a constant companion. An observation that I have made is that in a good many of these "cases" there is no provision made for the impending rain. They carry no umbrella, probably don't own one, and if they did they wouldn't know where they last put it down.

Now, generally speaking, I like people. I feel for the misfortunes that befall even those with whom I'm not acquainted. But while we may not live in a victim-less society, it is certainly the case that there are more instances of self-inflicted misfortune than most people like to own. Many of the people I have observed are near and dear to me, yet their ills are more often than not brought upon themselves by their own choices and behaviors. I could go on and on. Just saying.

He doesn't have sense enough to pound sand in a rat hole  --Dad's second-favorite saying. (The pronoun is interchangeable with "she." And with "they" and "you" combined with "don't" instead of "doesn't.")

Friday, March 1, 2013


March 1, 1845 President John Tyler signed the bill authorizing the annexation of the Republic of Texas by the United States. Texas became the 28th state on December 29, 1845.

Tomorrow, March 2, is Texas Independence Day.  It commemorates the Texas declaration of independence from Mexico and was promulgated on March 2, 1836.  Texas Independence Day is a legal holiday in Texas.  It is also known as Sam Houston Day and Texas Flag Day.

Official flag of the Lone Star State

In addition to Texas, two other states of the Union were independent republics prior to joining the United States.  Name them.