Saturday, January 31, 2015

Newlyweds in the Fifties

A few days ago Jim Grey shared pictures and memories of his first apartment.  Warm memories for Jim, and a challenge to me to present a "first" in my life.

In an East central Indiana city immortalised as "Middletown" which was not its name, I established my first home with my first wife.  So far as pictures, the above rapid sketch is the best I can do, for in the early days of our marriage taking pictures was not high on the list of my priorities.

Prior to our wedding, we had found a nice apartment in the central city and not far from my workplace. The flat was upstairs.  You may note an outside entrance on the south of the building.  The elderly couple who owned the home lived downstairs.  Our place was nicely furnished if dated and was very clean and quite spacious.

The nuptials took place in Fort Wayne where the bride resided.  Following the reception, the car wreck, the wait for the State policeman, and so on, we arrived at our place for our honeymoon night.  We paid eighteen dollars a week rent, which when one considers that my income was about sixty-two dollars take-home, a pretty hefty portion of our income.  But we had no utility bills!

We discovered very quickly that there was one drawback to this Edenic arrangement.  The Old Man, our landlord, was an inveterate cigar smoker.  He parked in his Barcalounger directly beneath our living room and puffed his life away.  The carpet, nice carpet it was, too, did nothing to prevent the invasion of the offending aroma.  We lived there four months.

I took a Google Earth tour down that street and found that the house is still there, still occupied, but looking somewhat the worse for wear.  It is not the best-maintained house in the neighborhood, and I am sure the sweet old couple we knew would be appalled, for they built that home and raised their family there.

Lynd and Lynd. Middletown: A Study in Modern American Culture,1929.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Social Obligation

January 18 we were invited to dinner with friends whose house is less than two miles from ours.

January 20 mailed bread-and-butter note.

January 28 the note was in my mailbox.

Right, I am an idiot.  I am the one who neglected to stamp the envelope before posting it.  Yet. Yet it took the postal service eight days to get it back to me.

Well.  They were working for free, so. . .

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Revisiting the Christmas Cactus

The Christmas cactus actually gave us a few blossoms at Christmas, and it has had a few blooms ever since.  The flowers have been fewer in number this year than it has had some years in the past, but they are no less beautiful, wouldn't you agree?

The plant has been moved, repotted, 
overwatered, underwatered, chopped back, 
broken and otherwise abused over the years.
It is at least forty-three years old.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Winter History in Perfect

37 years ago today this is what it looked like in this neighborhood.  This was the most intense snowstorm I have ever experienced, before or since.  The snow was driven by sixty mile winds. There was still snow on the ground in April.

I found an envelope in my desk tagged "Blizzard of 78." Inside were strips of 35mm black and white negatives. I no longer have the equipment to print negatives via wet chemical processes, and I don't know anyone in the area who does this anymore. So, onto the scanner, into a folder in the computer, and with a good deal of "messing around" with two or three programs, I managed to "develop" these images.

The first shot shows me in front of our house. The rest of the pictures were taken at my workplace shortly after the snowfall stopped. I had to walk over a mile, through drifts and all, to get to the building.

From the inside looking out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Little about Nothing

Dear Reader,

To paraphrase a character in "Pogo" from many years ago, "If I could only write, I'd send a nasty letter to the mayor, if he could only read."

What you should take away from this is that the post today is vacant (vacuous? empty? bereft of sense?) or nearly so, because while I do have things on my mind, I am less than sanguine of the possibility that any of them would be edifying.

Stay warm, stay alert, and stay out of trouble.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Buses and a Hobby Horse

I was an elementary school principal for eighteen years.  I have shared some of my experiences as a student and even a few incidents from my teaching career.  Yet I have written virtually nothing about my years in the office.

Do not infer that I had no noteworthy experiences.  Do not conclude that I did not enjoy my work.  Do not expect that this article is a precursor to my memoirs as an administrator.

One of the teachers on my staff was a brilliant young woman, an excellent teacher and quite outspoken.  Janet, some might say, had a strong personality.  Dismissal time was 3:05.  To ensure safe and orderly egress from the building and safe boarding of the waiting buses by some four hundred, five hundred children, I deemed it essential to establish some simple procedures.

My solution required each teacher to escort his or her charges from the classroom to the bus lot.  Two teachers on a rotating assignment basis were to remain on the bus lot until the vehicles moved out.  The size of the staff was such that this meant each teacher would have two nonconsecutive weeks on bus duty during the course of the year.

I typically held faculty meetings on Monday afternoon immediately after school, said meeting, not to last more that twenty minutes.  Or so I planned.  And this was not every Monday, but once a month, or as deemed necessary.  Toward the end of such a meeting, I would note the twinkle in Janet’s eye, and I knew exactly what was coming, and she knew I knew.  I knew I would not do anything about her grievance, and she knew that I would not do anything about it.  A game, you see.

But Janet was serious about the issue, and she had some support amongst her peers, perhaps even widespread support, who knows?  They let her take the lead.  Janet was quite content to be penned up with a classroom full of children for most of her working day.  Nay, she was excited that she had such an opportunity.  But for some reason, weather perhaps, contrariness maybe, Janet resented having to spend ten minutes a day, ten days a year on the bus lot after school.  Thus, the issue was to place in my lap the problem of solving the dismissal supervision problem.  A problem which I had already solved, and hence to my way of thinking, did not exist.

And sometimes this caused the faculty meeting to go past the twenty minutes I had allotted.

 Janet was engaged in what I call riding a hobby horse.  You know you are not going anywhere, but you just have to rock it anyway.

After several years with us, Janet moved on to other pastures, her choice because she was an excellent teacher.  I lost contact with her, but through the grapevines that entangle the educational world, I was able to “follow” her career.  She later became a principal and a school superintendent. 

I have often wondered how Janet solved the problem of “bus duty” in the venues where she served as an administrator.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sometimes You Read the Darndest Things #T

I was doing a web search last evening, a search that had nothing whatsoever to do with school girls, surgeons, pins, rheumatism, or Pennsylvania when I happened upon this, from sixty-seven years ago.

Surgeon Removes 13 Headless Pins From Leg of School Girl
KIRKSVILLE, MO.  Dr. Paul R. Koogler, surgeon-in-chief at the hospital of Kirksville college of osteopathy and surgery, said he had removed 13 or 14 headless pins imbedded in a leg of Mary Serena Beach, high school junior, of Sigourney, Pa. Miss Beach registered at the hospital with symptoms of rheumatism. Pictures disclosed the pins, which the girl could not explain.
 Jeffersonian (Jeffersontown, Ky.), April 4, 1947

And sometimes you witness something just as weird.

It was, I think 1948 or about a year after the needled leg incident in Missouri.  This happened in Colorado.  Al, a lad of fourteen, was an attendee at a camp, escaping Kansas for a week or ten days in Colorado's scenic surroundings. 

Suddenly one evening he reported to a camp counselor with an extremely swollen hand and excruciating pain.  Clearly, a trip to the emergency room at the local hospital was required.  The surgeon ascertained that some foreign object was embedded in the flesh at the base of the thumb.  The offending intruder was surgically removed and proved to be the tip of a pair of sewing scissors, perhaps an inch in length.  Now, how did that happen?

The boy told this tale.  Many months ago, nearly a year ago, in fact, he and his sister had gotten into a contretemps, the upshot of which was a stabbing inflicted to the hand by the sibling.  "We knew the scissors had broken, but we couldn't find the missing piece."

Nasty, rusty thing.  Successful treatment for the infection, though, and the wound eventually healed.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Caesar and the 21st Century Child

January 22, 613, Constantine was crowned emperor of the Roman Empire.  He was eight months of age.

So, then.  What were you ruling when you were eight months old?  Like Constantine, and like most other people, the roost, would be my guess.  Hollering loudly, ordering people around, whenever you were hungry, or wet, or generally aggravated with life itself.

In all fairness, it should be noted that the child was crowned co-Caesar with his father, Heraclius.

Like many of you, I am a parent, and thus shared with their mother the responsibility of raising several children.  It is right and meet that the infant express his* desires and expect his demands to be met.  The demands are reasonable, and can usually be met, barring extreme poverty and illness.
But.  Here I pause to mount my soapbox
It is my belief that it is the responsibility of the parents to teach the child as it grows and develops that he is not Caesar, and that the world does not exist for the purpose of gratifying his every whim. 
And believe me, I could go on and on.
*Note that the masculine pronouns in the tirade
are to be considered gender-neutral in the 
grammatical sense.  Humor me.  That is how
I was taught.  In school.  By licensed teachers. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

222 years ago today

Louis XVI completely lost his head.

Monday, January 19, 2015


W. F. Drown and D. W. Lacy

During the years my father, D. W. Lacy, was President of Colorado Springs Bible College, gathering food and provisions to feed students and staff was a high priority.  The school acquired an old Ford two and one-half ton truck, military surplus, which was used in this endeavor.  Someone painted the vehicle black to cover the standard olive drab and thus, to some extent, disguise its origins.

Each fall the truck made a trip to Palisades, Colorado to get a load of peaches.  These were brought back to the school's kitchen where volunteers prepared and canned them for use over the winter.  My mother was always one of those workers.

The vehicle also made an annual trip to Saguache, Colorado to get a load of potatoes which were then sorted and stored in the produce cellars in the hillside next to the dining hall.

I recall as a thirteen-year old boy, making such a trip as ride-along to Dad, basically dead weight, but what memories for me!  Coming back from the Western Slope, middle of the night, the truck groaning and laboring in granny to get the load up the pass, I lying atop the peaches listening to the rur-rur-rur of the machine.

In the picture above we see Mr. Drown who was Rocky Mountain District Superintendent and a member of the school board, along with the President of the school, working outside the kitchen to prepare the produce.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

More Adventures in the World of Health Care

In the nephrologist's office today we sat opposite this wall.  What, BBBH wondered, is going on behind that door?  We found out when an attendant came out to call the next patient.  She left the door open long enough, more than long enough, three or four minutes, for us to see that inside people were undergoing hemodialysis.  Beautiful was not encouraged by this.

But to my issue.  I am not obsessive compulsive, but my first glance at the wall impelled me to move forward in my seat, intent on straightening that mess.  I am not afflicted with OCD.  But before I could rise, I saw that it was not just the stuff pinned to the wall, but horrors! it was the stuff attached to and built into the wall as well.  I am not anal retentive, but this sort of things drives me nuts.  Good thing I am not obsessive compulsive.

So then we had an hour-long chat with the doctor.  There is no dialysis in the immediate future, but there were some suggestions to improve the quality of life.  God bless physicians.

Before we left I had to snap this picture in an anteroom.  To someone's credit, there was a sign on the chair reading "Please do not sit in chair."
I showed the picture to BBBH and said, What is wrong with this picture?
She told me almost instantly.  My woman is not only beautiful, she is very observant.  Smart, too.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Requiem for a Pile of Concrete

 My hospital is being razed, turned into a pile of rubble, which in turn is being transported to parts unknown.

No, I do not own the hospital, but over the past forty-five years I have developed some strong connections here.

The building which is going away is laid out as a giant

These views are from the south, as though you are looking at the two bottom legs of the above diagram.

During recent years, additions have been built, growing a much larger building than the original. As time went on, portions of the old building fell into disuse, and finally the entire thing was considered no longer viable for the practice of modern health care.  Goodbye. 

I have sat beside my dying wife in a room in this building on two separate occasions, nineteen years apart.  My children have been transported here for emergency care when kidhood booboos occurred.  

My first grandchild was born in this hospital, but transported immediately to the city for specialty care.  Two days later, my son-in-law and I came to my daughter still lying in a room in this building to tell her that her firstborn son did not make it.

I was in the delivery room holding my younger daughter's hand while she was in labor, long hours of labor, with her first child.  She was not saying kind and loving things about her husband. The good news is that she and her hubby raised that child and two others to adulthood and are now the loving grandparents of four.  And I was in the maternity ward again when this daughter of theirs gave birth to her first child.

I have myself been the recipient of "inpatient care" at this facility on two occasions, the last time during the earthquake that disrupted the World Series.  I have taken BBBH here on numerous occasions for treatments, and probings, and proddings, one test or another.  Over time, those services have been moved into the new facilities, and I got these pictures on a trip to the phlebotomist to relieve the lady of several vials of blood.

I have had some interesting doctor-related experiences here.  I once got into a rather loud exchange of opposing ideas with a cardiologist who was caring for my mother-in-law.  On another occasion, I had taken an injured student from school to the ER.  The physician would not touch the child without parental consent, whereupon I assured him that I stood "in loco parentis" to the child, and he informed me that he could not care less.  And that exchange got loud.  Two young professionals over-zealously guarding their turf.  He is now a good friend of mine, and like me, retired.

I was having a stress test on the treadmill one time, and the cardiologist was an old guy who should have been, and soon was, superannuated.  The oscilloscope flatlined during my strenuous exercise.  Doc got quite excited, and I said, "Looks like you lost me, Doc."  He was not amused.

When my second wife died, my doctor, who was not the attending physician to the late patient, came to me to console me in my loss.  She hugged me and comforted me.

The beginning of life, the end of life, the best efforts to maintain life while it lasts, the very essence of  "hospital."  I did not say that the memories I had were all happy ones, but they are important ones, and that old building, which I will no longer be able to see except in my mind's eye, has been a vitally important part of my life.

 On the lighter side, click on over 
to Bob Warr's  blog.
I just realized that last Sunday's "Regrowth"
is post number 2000 on STSTT and I let it
pass without comment.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

History and Geography...

...which the schools years ago lumped together with civics and economics and called it "social studies."  The state of the world today is testimony to the outcome of that.  Perhaps.  Just a thought.

But that is not why I chose the title.  Rather, it has to do with this picture.  There will be a test.


1.  Where was the picture taken?
2.  Within six years, when was the picture taken?  (Credit if you can name the decade.)
3.  Who is the individual in the picture?  (That's a gimme.)
4.  What would you call those trousers?  (If you didn't laugh out loud, you really didn't look.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Career Revived

 Folsom Prison, California, January 13, 1968, 10: 00 A.M., the words "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash" were pronounced; and the rest is history.

Johnny Cash 1932 - 2003  RIP

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Tiny crystalline water drops were blowing in the cold wind.  The heavy coat recently grown is now a blessing in spite of the additional weight.  Buck Whitetail had dropped the antler on the right side of his head, and it was annoying to walk along, head listing to the left.  But presently this sleek and well-muscled animal caught the remaining antler on an overhanging snag of the old dead pine, and he was free of the antler.

 Buck had successfully served and serviced his little harem, protecting them from would-be suitors and threatening predators alike.  But now seeking forage over the long winter months would be the focus.  As the magnificent deer walked up to the little pond for a drink, he caught sight of his reflection in the water, and might have thought he looked like an old doe, head naked as it was.  His greatest asset, perhaps it seemed, was no longer a part of him.  Gone.
Have you ever found yourself in a position where it seemed that your spiritual gift, like the buck's antlers, had fallen away?  You seem to be facing a cold and cruel winter, no longer prepared to minister?
Your gift may have been explication, and you can no longer parse the scripture for spiritual truths to share.
If exhortation, it seems you've nothing left to say.
If encouragement, you have nothing left for the needy, for you are empty yourself.
You had the gift of prayer, yet now your petitions and praises seem to rise no higher than the ceiling in your room.
If music, your voice or your chords seem brassy and unpleasant to your own ear.
 As the winter snows began to melt, the stirring of growth in the cranial regions are felt; the cartilage  almost spurts from his head as new bone develops to ultimately create a set of antlers even larger than the ones Buck had before.
In our human-ness we may face discouragement, we may feel we are bereft of the tools with which to promote God's kingdom.  But
God is in control.

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. --Psalm 27:14

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sorry about that

Yesterday, in spite of the beautiful sunshine, the darkness of the world in which we live overwhelmed me, and I spewed out a bit of my response to that darkness.  Pulling the covers over my head seemed a good idea in that moment, and I posted what I wrote.

Jim reminded me that God has won.  I needed the reminder.

Lying awake between three and five this morning, I was processing the possibilities of making better responses.  The chorus of an Ina Ogdon song that we used to sing in Sunday School kept running through my head:

Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;
Brighten the corner where you are!

Notwithstanding that there may be some minor mixing of metaphors, I think I had determined to take the message to heart, or as another little chorus put it:

This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine!
This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine!
Let it shine,
Let it shine!

I may have slipped up on this, or as a politician might put it, "Mistakes were made."

Sorry about that.

Friday, January 9, 2015


 It is below zero outside, it's warm and cozy inside.  What better way to spend such a day?

The temptation this week has been to cover my head and shut the world out.  I feel I am about to give up on it; it's not worth the effort involved in staying in touch with it.

Making an exception, of course, in your case.  I shall always try to find time for you.

Are things really as bad as I made it seem?  Yes, probably.  Maybe worse.  The glass half-full analogy does not apply, for the glass has been tilted mouth-downward, and the last drop is barely clinging to the rim.

Now let me be clear.  There is nothing wrong with the relationship with my Maker, the marital bonds are as strong as ever, and no one is actively mistreating me.

It is the condition of this old world in which we live.  Clearly there is not much, probably nothing in fact, that I can do for it.

Do you suppose I could achieve some peace of mind were I to cancel the subscriptions to the newspapers, cancel my subscription to cable, and shred my library card?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Winter's Day

We were out and about after the snowfall.  I did not take any pictures outdoors, because everything was covered with cold, white stuff (blecch).  But we stopped in this nice warm, cheery place!

BBBH leisurely assayed the newest offerings, walked out with an armload of books.

As I prepped an early evening cup of coffee, I saw a fabulous red glow through the west window.  My camera does not do justice to a sunset.  You might note the thermometer on the tree.  19o was the high for the day.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Blogging: Thoughts on a Snowy Day

Have you ever clicked on the "Next blog" tab at the top of the blogger page display?  Just one trip through a few of these gates will raise some interesting questions.  Or it did for me, at any rate.
 1. Why does this blog lie dormant?

 I clicked through five consecutive blogs which lay unattended for some length of time ranging from eleven months to five years.  Someone wanted to blog, conceived and initiated a blog, then quit without so much as a by-your-leave.  In some cases the blogger may be deceased, which I know for a fact, for I had a certain cousin x-times removed who died five years ago.  His blog floats in perpetuity in the nether world of electronic communications.

2. Why did this person try blogging in the first place?

Glancing over a couple of these dead blogs suggested nothing would be more appropriate than a decent burial.

3.  Did this blogger cave to some other social medium?

In some cases I know the answer to be "yes," because I followed the blog in question, saw the end, and later found the former blogger doing stuff elsewhere.  It is not the same thing.  I am thinking of three instances in which the writer was well-suited to blogging activity, an excellent writer with something to say.  It is sad to bid farewell to a real writer who opts to bury his or her material amongst the drivel on --------.  No disrespect to a blogger who chooses to use another platform in the manner for which it was devised, but why must they give up writing for real?

Not that everyone would agree that blogging is of necessity "writing for real."

But there are some excellent writers in the blogosphere.  I wonder if some make the switch thinking that the accumulation of several hundred friends will guarantee that their posts are flashed across those hundreds of news feeds, whereas with a blog someone must intentionally click on your site.  I would never accumulate hundreds of friends anyway, and the handful of people who regularly read this blog are of greater value to me than would be hundreds scrolling by with a yawn because they support me and are here on purpose.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Saturday Night and I Just Got Paid

We went out Saturday night.  Not unprecedented, but unusual.

 I took my lady to a class place.  See, it says so right there.

The Six Old Guys whomped up over two hours of darn good music, too.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sharkey's Picks

Friend Joan, aka Sharkbytes, or Sharkey, who shares her quality life with us at My Quality Day weighed in on post choices on STSTT.  She kindly said "it was hard to choose" but she picked the selections from Dora's Diary.

Dora Marlene Rutledge was the little girl who lived in the Appalachian hills and heard Uncle Jep relate stories when she was a young 'un.  Some years after Uncle Jep and Aunt Grace had passed, Dora gave her childhood diaries to Uncle Jep's amanuensis who transcribed some of the Old Uncle's tales which she had recorded.  Two additional entries from Dora's journal may be accessed here and here.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Think-piece for Sunday Morning

Our pally Lin who feeds the duck and turns the wheel over at Duck and Wheel with String has written a wonderful and thoughtful piece about her reflections on the season as she repacks Christmas decor and puts it away.

Rather than comment on the essay, I commend it to you, suggesting you click on over there, forthwith.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
    and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
    the righteous to be moved.
             --Psalm  55:22 RSV

Friday, January 2, 2015

Writer's Imagination

Our friend Chuck who maintains Michigan's finest Secondary Roads responded to the invitation to name his favorite snippets from String Too Short to Tie (2014) by naming the series of tales as told by Uncle Jep.  I thought I might tell a bit about how those developed.

The first tale I wrote was, as I put it, an experiment in fiction.  The story seemed to generate itself in my head and flow from my fingertips onto the keyboard.  It did need some redacting before it was published as The Courtship of Otto Kranz.  I was sufficiently pleased with it that I decided to undertake a series of tales as told by the Old Uncle.  If you reread this first tale you will note that Uncle Jep appeared only as the narrator of the story.  He had neither name nor character.  I soon decided to give the gentleman a name, and I chose Jeptha Miller, aka Uncle Jep.  His character seemed to develop as the stories progressed.

At the time I picked the name Uncle Jep I was totally unaware that there is a character by that name on an apparently popular cable TV reality series.  In fact, I learned this only two days ago when I was googling Uncle Jep hoping to find my own creation. (I did.)  My Jeptha sourced his name from my family archives.  My father's paternal great grandfather was named Jeptha, as was his grandfather, along with ancillary uncles and cousins.  So the name has been in the family since 1769 at the least when my four greats grandfather was born in Hunterdon, New Jersey.

The package finally included fifty-two tales.  Four of them centered around a riverboat gambler named Slade/Sloan and were not told by Uncle Jep, but a character from them is referenced by the Old Uncle.  I posted these on Thursdays over the course of a year.  They are archived under the tabs "Stories" and "More Stories" which you may find at the top of the page when you visit STSTT.

As a general rule, I liked for each story to run to 600 or fewer words.  In this I was mostly successful, though a couple of them exceed the count.  I have long been a fan of the short short story, perhaps because my attention span is limited.  I like a good tale succinctly told.

If you followed the series, you possibly noted that the style evolved somewhat over time.  The first story, by design, followed lots of rabbit-trails and introduced extraneous characters that really did not propel the story forward.  In fact they did quite the opposite, causing some to wonder just who these characters were and what they had to do with anything.  It was a fun exercise, but I decided that Uncle Jep should get more to the point though I allowed him some wandering and wool-gathering, as is the wont of some older fellows.

Since this account is now five hundred words, I shall bid you good day!

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Friend Grace, proprietor of Dragon's Alley, suggested that I might ask the readers to specify their choices of posts from STSTT.  She then gave the project a kick-start by picking a couple of her favorites from last January.  Since they are so appropriate to this very day, I am copying them here, so you needn't even click to view them!

The first, from January 1, 2014:

"What are your New Year resolutions?" asked Beloved Beautiful .

"I'm not making any this year," I replied.

Silence. No response. Nothing. Nada. Nil. Zip. I turned a bit to look toward her. She wore a quizzical, nay, even puzzled look on her face. "What?" I said.

"Nothing," she replied. "I'm just trying to grasp the concept of being satisfied with that level of performance."


Happy New Year, Everyone!

Grace's second choice was from January 26. It is entitled "Wind Carving on Concrete":

Happy 2015, Grace, and also to all who read this!

Anyone else have any favorites from 2014?