Thursday, March 30, 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I wasn't going to post today...

I promised myself I'd be in the gym by noon. It's 17 'til...

The fearmongers are at it again; I wrote the following as a comment, then decided to "bring it home":

"Somehow the irony of people whose ancestors all came from somewhere else and took the land from those who lived here first deciding that no one else should be able to come here has always fried me!

Then there's that Lady in the harbor in New York who has "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses" written on her...

That there are people in this world who are so desperate to get ahead that they will pay someone to lock them in a shipping container for a month or month and a half with a bit of food and a couple of 55 gallon barrels of water (to be reused for other things as they are emptied) and risk suffocation; that they will pay someone to lock them in a trailer in the hot sun in the desert; that they will risk everything to drive a pickup from Cuba to Florida or walk across the desert means that these are people who are driven to do something to improve their lives and those of their families. They are the kind of people this country needs instead of the ones like me who have so much and do so little with it..."

I am a proud "Heinz 57". I know I have French and Irish, and Native American blood flowing through my veins. Though our family history doesn't acknowledge it, I know there is African blood in there as well. Somwhere along the way I am sure there are lots of others as well!

On occasion I look at the arbitrary lines we draw on maps and wonder what gives us the right...yes I know we need civil codes to live by and means to enforce them, but still; Iraq was created out of the remains of 3 countries that were part of the Ottoman Empire by a bunch of guys sitting around a table after WW1. The people in these countries had never gotten along, had different religious and language identities, etc.. Yet in our wisdom we threw them all together and said "you're a country now, get along and play nice".

They've never gotten along, and until the "little green men" are hovering over the major national capitals in their "flying saucers", they never ever will! Of course, all we'll have to do is explain to them they are "illegal aliens" and I'm sure they'll fly right back to the mother ship or the home planet!

Nothing unites people like the fear of some outside force coming to "get them" or "take something" from them...

11:54...gotta go!


Monday, March 27, 2006

It's Monday...again...

after a one day weekend. I worked Saturday, while my wife kept our grandaughter and younger grandson overnight Saturday. I got up and cooked breakfast on Sunday and we kept them until dinnertime last night. Grandaughter liked the Barbie movies we had acquired with her in mind and late yesterday afternoon we went and played at one of the parks until the wind got too nippy and they were due home for dinner.

Frankie seems to be transitioning to family life as well. He and Angel, our dog seem to get along all right. Angel doesn't quite understand what the big attraction he has for her wagging tail is all about and looks at us like "did you see that? What is his problem?" each time it gets pounced on.

He wanted no part of being petted until late last night. As we were watching some TV he was on the foot of the couch. I was lying under a blanket and started giving him a belly rub with my foot. A bit of playing, then lying back to be rubbed and as my wife went off to shower I sat up and he didn't run this time, so I slipped my hand under the blanket and continued the rub, then slipped the blanket off, and finally picked him up and held and petted him. That's where he was when she got out of the shower.

This morning I got up and he was sleeping on the foot of my bed, and didn't run when I got up. I called to find out if our dealer was on the State Farm list for the PDR work on the Malibu (they are) and then called our vet to ask if I could get Frankie to cooperate if I could bring him in for his shots. We bought a small carrier over the weekend, so I slipped it together then picked poor Frankie up off the foot of my bed and betrayed him by putting him in the box and taking him to the vet!

We've been home a while now and the canned food I gave him when we got back seems to have soothed his feelings a bit, though I don't think he'll be letting me pick him up again right away!

Now it's off to rent a shelter house at the park for my son's birthdays next month. We used to do that when they were younger and have a family party, cookout and take bicycles and footballs and baseball stuff, then they kind of outgrew it. Now with the grandkids in the picture we thought we'd try doing it again...hopefully the weather will cooperate!

I'm glad it's only a five day week this week!


Friday, March 24, 2006

Apparently we're adopting!

My daughter-in-law called me Wednesday morning. Unusual, so I know something's wrong:

"What would you do if you had a cat?"

In my teens I used to take care of a neighbor's Persian while they vacationed; my great-grandmother had a tabby I grew up around. In about the 5th grade I developed grass, pollen and mold allergies, but was fine around pets. Until I was about 20...

I was partying at a friends who had a long haired white cat I had played with on other occasions. This time my eyes swelled shut! I thought I must be reacting to something else, grass, something. I few days later I was fine; the next time I visited them the same thing happened.

Then it got to the point where most any cat would set me off.

As I entered my 40's my grass allergies seemed to get a bit better. My sister's orange tabby would get to me sometimes but not everytime. Now Chip doesn't bother me at all. My other daughter-in-law has two orange tabby siblings (Willow and Alley); no reactions in 3 years. The daughter-in-law who called me has 2, one very old calico who bothered me a bit 6 or 7 years ago, and a kitten who doesn't at all.

So more than once I've thought I wouldn't mind; I've cruised PetFinder and looked and even bookmarked a few, but my wife steadfastly has said no, if for no other reason than our dog is almost 10 and it wouldn't be fair to her.

My daughter-in-law was crying hard by the time she finished asking me her question. She was leaving our vets after finding out that it was time to put her old cat to sleep (Missy is 18, not eating and when she does she can't hold it, she can't walk the last few weeks, etc.) and that the stray she had been feeding and had moved onto the porch and then into their entryway over the last month and half had just tested positive for feline leukemia, which meant she couldn't keep him around her year old adoptee.

But she really wanted to find him a good home; one where she could visit him if she was lucky...

So I'm in the middle of vacuuming and moving cords and trying to kitten proof the living room before Frankie comes to live with us tomorrow night, while someone is home over the weekend to make sure Frankie and Angel (our dog) don't become like Frankie and Johnny (in the old song). My wife is off this weekend, I work Saturday but I'm off Sunday.

So apologies in advance if I don't get a recipe up this Saturday or if I miss Photo Sunday. I usually draft those in advance of her off weekends on Thursday night, and instead I'm cleaning, lol!

I should be careful what I wish for, I know!


On a sidenote: State Farm's claims adjuster saw our car and wrote us a check today for $1847 for the hail damage on the Malibu and said if I take it to an approved body shop and they find more damage or if it's more than that then they will pay whatever additional amount is needed!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

It doesn't seem possible!

33 years ago today, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy! In some ways it seems like something in the dim, dark past; in other ways it seems like the blink of an eye ago.

I had a full paid music scholarship to attend a university 180 miles from home, but my Dad said that was too far for me to be from home at 17. He told me I'd be staying here and working and going to the "junior college" (now a community college). He had never encouraged any of the things I'd thought of pursuing, be it flying, or becoming a veterinarian (might as well go another year or two and be a real doctor) but he openly discouraged music. Since he had been a trumpet player (better than I was) I always assumed it was because his Dad (the minister) discouraged him; I never did find out why he felt the way he did.

I had been playing Taps at Navy funerals for several years, and was picked up at school by a recruiter to attend them and then returned. Of course my future was discussed, and he suggested the Navy Band if I couldn't take my scholarship. Seemed like a good idea to me, but that required a 4 year enlistment and since I was 17 Dad had to sign my papers. He would only sign for 2 years, so that was how I ended up a jet engine mechanic. The recruiter said "just do your two, then when you re-enlist you can sign for 4 and go on into Navy Music School"; by the time the end of 2 years rolled around I wanted nothing more to do with the Navy, even though I was obligated to play weekend warrior for 3 more years after I got off active duty. My attendance suffered accordingly and in proportion to my partying and riding motorcycles...

So I went from having Wichita be too far for me to go to college to spending Christmas of that year in the Philippines and bound for points further west. I don't know whether I showed Dad or he showed me!

I know I wouldn't trade any of it or my family and grandkids to know what might have been!



Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Quite a day!

My wife works days, I work's been this way for years, and over the course of 30 of them you make adjustments. When she works a weekend she gets the Friday before and the Tuesday after it off, then the next weekend she's off.

Last year my overtime Saturdays were the same Saturdays she was already working, so it wasn't that big a deal, we still had Sunday and all of the next weekend. This year, GM hit the wrong weekend, so she worked last Saturday and I work this next one. This continues through the rest of the year. So I've scattered some Tuesday vacation days through the year, mostly for the time with her, and partly to break up a 6 day work week! I get 200 hours a year now, and she only gets 80, so I can do that or sell them back in January; I'd rather take most of them...

So this was my day today:

Crashed at 3:30AM, up at 10, cooked breakfast and stopped and shopped for a few minutes on the way to a 12:55 showing of "V for Vendetta". Loved the movie; left and hit "Ted's Montana Grill" for lunch (we seldom eat out, so stopping anyplace like that is a treat for us; then after we're in the booth we find out "Ted" is Turner; damn I wish he was back in the news business). Home for a minute, covered up my tulips because they're saying 22F tonight, let the dog out, brought the mail in and went out to catch a 4:55 show of "8 Below" (if you love dogs, you have to see this movie!).

Stopped at Best Buy on the way home from there to get a gift card for a nephew's birthday, then Hallmark to get a couple of birthday cards. Got home around 8:30, stuck my new pizza stone in the oven to preheat while my wife called and checked up on my Mom in the nursing home, then we slipped off for a bit of time (ahem) and after I ran through the shower I stuck the brushchetti in the oven while she showered. She got out, I started a load of laundry, then made salads, and we sat down to watch "The Legend of Zorro" as we had missed it on the big screen. A few pauses while I moved laundry (3 loads through before she went to bed) and while she addressed cards I loaded the dishwasher. She went to bed at 1 (she has to be up at 8 to go to work) and I programmed 4 VCR's for tomorrow night, then started blogging...

It's 4AM now, my clock is set for 10:30 so I can get up and go to the gym for the first time in two weeks. I'll probably hit snooze once and be up at 11...and of course back to work tomorrow night for another 9 hours building Malibus!

G'night all! I started to say "Goodnight Moon", but it's dragging behind me on the floor so far back I don't think it could hear me...



Sunday, March 19, 2006

Grandpa and grandsons...

Back in January I posted a photo from a slide of my Dad's Dad and I in 1958 on the front porch of this house I live in now. I was about two and a half. My grandsons spent the night last Saturday and my Monday post was about the storm we awoke to on Sunday and showed some storm damage.

After we cleaned up the first wave of debris last Sunday (little knowing what was in store for the rest of the day, lol!) I tried to get two little boys to let Grandma take a picture of us on that same porch. Dillon, who will be 7 in May didn't mind much. Caleb, who'll be 3 in September didn't mind as long as he got to blow "raspberries" at Grandma...

Happy Photo Sunday everyone!


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Recipe Saturday 4...

This is my wife's "family" chocolate cake recipe. It came from her mother, and has been the family favorite for all of us since the 1st one. It's a "heavy" or dense cake that I love dearly. Years ago, watching someone put the "treasures" with someone as they prepared to bury them, I told her if they decided to do that for me, I wanted one of these to take to the next world...

This is written for a 9"x9" pan; double everything for a 13"x9" (which is all we ever make)

2 cups flour
1 (heaping) cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 level teaspoons baking soda
4 tablespoons of cocoa (she puts heaping ones and and I've heard her tell the kids to put in "extra" for the flavor, and to add extra sugar to compensate, which is why I wrote "heaping" above. 4 tablespoons is 1/4 cup, so a heaping 1/4 cup would probably work well here...)
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup Miracle Whip
1 teaspoon vanilla

Bake at 350F.

She doesn't have the time on this old yellowing card from when she was in high school, but I want to say 50 minutes is about right...

We don't usually even frost this, it's so good straight from the pan with just a glass of milk. On occasion we used to dust the top with powdered sugar, but usually it's just bake it and eat it; if that 13x9 lasts three days something's wrong!


Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St., Patrick's Day!

Whether you are Irish or not, this is that day they say "everyone is Irish"! Of my "Heinz 57" heritage, the three I am sure of are Irish (my Mom's Mom was a Moore), French and some American Indian...there are a lot of others but none "documented", lol!

A day for celebrations and friendships; if you are reading this, you are a friend indeed!

May your day be lovely and wonderful, full of joy and laughter!

To you each I give my warmest and most sincere wish for a Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Expanding, expounding...

Yesterday I wrote a reply on my own blog and thought later I should move it up here and perhaps expand it a bit...

Before I had a computer, when I had a few extra dollars I would buy British Sunday papers; the "London Sunday Times", "Scotland on Sunday" and such at Borders when they came in on Wednesday. I always learned more about what was going on in America through them than I ever did from our news here; let alone the rest of the world.

Sometimes I actually think about going back to the monotony of the assembly line just to have time to read again...

I remember learning that in the 40's the government sprayed radioactive mist from civil defense towers to see how the air currents spread it through the city (as I remember it was East St. Louis) and that they fed kids at a boarding school radioactive oatmeal because Quaker said that the oatmeal "killed" radioactivity. (I believe that was a study done by MIT with government funding, but it's been some years since I read it.) That came out because the families had found out and sued; it was settled out of court with them because there were no survivors. There was another one where they placed radiation in the milk in school lunches and tracked it's effect on the kids (I want to say that was in Memphis). All of these came out in Freedom of Information Act documents and were coroborrated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the time the article was written. No doubt those are some of the documents I heard about the current administration reclassifying (story on NPR last week about 1500 pages of things they've "taken back" that had been declassified).

I remember finding out that Nikes sold in America had a "safe" chemical in them for an antifungal treatment, while the ones sold in Latin America had formaldehyde (the chemical I think started my Dad's fatal cancer). Of course, after NAFTA, the ones from Latin America were making their way back into the US to be sold here as well...

I remember learning about Alison Hargreave, the only woman to climb the highest peaks on each continent without oxygen, losing her life on her descent from topping K2...

So many things we never hear about or read about in the American press...

I miss Murrow (what I know of him and what I've heard or read of him,I'm not quite that old) and Cronkite and true JOURNALISTS!!! Every now and then Walter turns up on NPR commenting on the anniversary of stories he covered when they were new; he is still as sharp as ever, and his hindsight adds so much along with the behind the scenes information he adds to the stories. Would that he were still on camera, but I am sure he couldn't be muzzled, just like Daniel Schorr; that's how he ended up at NPR after so many years with "the networks".

There is no place for truth in advertising I guess, and that's what most of our news is intended for...


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The stories we never hear (here)!!!

I mentioned this story and tried to put a link to it in a reply I left on someone else's blog and the link kept getting cut off. I've pasted the entire story here and the title should be a link to the original Daily Star page.

I read too much for my own good, though not as much as I used to. I have an e-friend in Lebanon, and in trying to follow what's going on there I read the headlines from this paper daily, and some of the stories when I find time. With all the hand wringing and furor here this last few weeks, you can see why the following headline intrigued me:

"Dubai company provides port services to U.S. Navy"

By Agence France Presse (AFP)

WASHINGTON: While Dubai Ports World bowed out of running six US port facilities to quell an outcry over security concerns, another Dubai-owned company has since January provided services in 12 U.S. ports and to the U.S. Navy, Time magazine said on its website.

The British company Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) was sold in January to a "Dubai government investment vehicle for $285 million," Time said.

ISS has more than 200 offices around the world, including more than a dozen U.S. port cities including Houston, Miami and New Orleans, where it arranges "pilots, tugs, linesmen and stevedores, among other things," said the magazine.

The U.S. Navy in June of last year signed a $50 million contract making ISS its "husbanding agent for vessels in most Southwest Asia ports, including those in the Middle East," said Time quoting from an unclassified Navy logistics manual.

As husbanding agent, ISS is responsible for arranging everything from fuel to spare parts to fresh vegetables for vessels at ports of call. "More critically," said, "they often provide security, like erecting concrete barriers and what the military calls force protection."

The company knows ships' schedules weeks in advance.

An ISS spokesman contacted by Time refused to comment on the report but a statement issued by the company said ISS had undergone rigorous external security checks and has comprehensive internal policies on security, adding that all port staff are fully vetted and undergo a background check.

The Washington Post said Friday the ISS was purchased by a Dubai company whose executive, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, also heads DP World, whose takeover of British firm Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company was opposed by many U.S. lawmakers but supported by the White House.

DP World's announcement Thursday that it would sell its US ports operations headed off a showdown between President Bush and Congress, despite its being in the control of his Republican Party. - AFP

Copyright (c) 2006 The Daily Star

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Big Bang...

I worked 6 days last week, 4:30PM to 2AM Mon.-Fri., then on Saturday they let us go at 1AM (8 hours). My grandsons were spending the night, the older one's bicycle had come along with him and we were planning on spending Sunday morning after breakfast riding bikes in a park a few miles west of here.

I came home from work and made some photo back up discs (I've been lazy, and needed to clear memory cards), showered and got to bed a bit after 3. My clock was set for 8:30; I had promised pancakes and sausage or eggs and sausage for breakfast, of course, they wanted all 3.

I knew there was a chance of rain, so at 8:30 I kicked on the Weather Channel to check the radar on it's next cycle, and started getting up for the day. I was reading STB's "Photo Sunday" post when I saw the radar showing some pretty wicked stuff on it's way; we looked outside, and though it wasn't raining, the sky was a color you don't like seeing around here. I started trying to shut down the computer, my wife took the boys to the basement, and the first clap of thunder shook the house literally like it had been hit.

The wind howled for a few minutes, then let up; it never really did rain much. I came back up and started peeking out the windows, and saw my trash cans all over the back yard, the neighbors trash bags blown down the street, etc..

I went ahead and made breakfast and we ate, then since we weren't going to go to the park with so much severe weather around, I went outside to pick up the mess. The boys followed, of course!

My grandfather (Mom's Dad) gave Dad a "tulip tree" (George Washington Poplar) to plant "for me" the spring after I was born; that's the tree you see growing next to my driveway...

It's a "soft" wood, sprouts very beautiful flowers in the spring, and has huge leaves that shade the front (south) of the house wonderfully in the summer. I've always been a bit afraid of something happening to the tree for fear my fate may be linked to it's. (Yes, I know that's silly. Grandpa gave Dad a Mimosa tree to plant on the other side of the yard when my sister was born, but it started pushing the blocks in the basement wall in and Dad had no problem cutting it at all, and my sister is fine...)

When I went around front I found a branch from the tree lying on the ground next to the front of the house, it's end almost on the stoop. From the dent in the gutter I thought it had hit the front of the house, explaining the "big bang" when the "gust front" came through...

When I zoomed the Nikon in, and confirmed as I was fixing the gutter, the branch actually twisted off and came down on the roof, gouging the edging metal as it twisted and flipped, tearing away the shingles, then denting the gutter as it rolled and fell off the roof to the ground. Had it been a few inches further back, it would have landed on wood instead of metal over the wood, and probably have gone through like an arrow...

We cleaned up the mess, limbed the branch, then I got out the chainsaw and cut it up; by the time we were done the sun was actually showing a bit. We looked for the missing lid for one trash can unsuccesully, then came back inside to check for weather updates, finding out that a store had lost it's roof a few blocks away, and that they were expecting things to get really "bumpy" in a few hours.

The boys watched TV and played, I started running laundry and doing the breakfast dishes. The commode gurgled again, so before it rained anymore I went back up on the roof and used my Drain King again just to make sure we weren't going to have any problems with the plumbing again; by then it was lunchtime and starting to rain again.

The boys were supposed to leave at 2 with their Mom and Dad to go to a movie; right as the kids came to get them, the sirens went off and we were all heading to the basement again. I kept coming back up to peek outside; we were getting enough hail to whiten the ground, it started as dime then nickel sized, grew to quarter size, and then some golf ball sized stones started hitting. My son's new van was sitting in my driveway as was our 5 month old Malibu. I could see the Malibu from the window in the back door, watching a few of those hailstones hit it and explode...

The hail quit, the kids left and went home to check on their pets and their house instead of going to their movie; the weathercaster were saying that there was more coming in a few hours, even as it cleared a bit and the sun came back out briefly. We went out to survey damage again, and I ended up cleaning out some downspouts that had clogged with debris. We finished and came back in as it started to rain again; then the hail started again. This time it was quarters when it started and grew to a steady stream of golf balls, a few were silver dollar sized, the biggest I've seen in my 50 years...

When it was done and had quit again, I went out to look at our poor car; it has over a dozen strikes I can see plainly in the roof, hood and deck lid without cleaning it up to even really look...I don' t know how State Farm is going to feel about it, but I've never had a claim in over 25 years, so I guess I'm going to see!

This morning I get to get up and go back up and check my roof closely, and then try to fix the shingles over the front porch. More rain on Tuesday they say...I know we need it, but I'd love to get it without the rest of the violence!

Happy Monday, everyone!



Sunday, March 12, 2006

My first motorcycle...

When I got out of boot camp at Memphis in '73 I went "southside" (the base was divided by a highway) to attend my aircraft mechanic's schools. There was a band and drill team, "The Flying Rifles" and I tried out and was good enough to make it. Playing trumpet, marching in parades and practicing got me out of "standing watches" and other duties, so I was happy to do something I loved and profit!

One of my roomates had taken a few flying lessons and desperately wanted to continue them. He had a '71 Yamaha 650 with about 4200 miles on it he had tried to sell to everyone else; when he got to me I offered him $500. He took it! He also paid our airfare from Memphis to Omaha, then the Amtrak ticket to his hometown, where I stayed with him at his parents for 2 days while I figured out how to ride it (I'd ridden a mini-bike one afternoon 4 or 5 years earlier, never a motorcycle). Since I had graduated my jet engine school that Friday, on Sunday he left to go back to Memphis. On Monday I went to the courthouse and used his parents address to title and register the bike in my name so my Dad couldn't make me sell it (I was only 17) and then rode it home from Hastings, Nebraska to Kansas City.

When I left Nebraska it was 37F and drizzling. I was so cold my teeth chattered, and my nose was running, the draft past the bottom of the helmet turning the inside of the face shield into a snotty mess. Finally after what seemed like a lifetime of cold and bucking a 25 to 30 mph crosswind, I broke into 70 degrees and sunshine when I hit Topeka, Kansas about 70 miles from home.

I pulled into the driveway of Mom and Dad's house, rode up onto the curved sidewalk that led to the front door, and as I stepped off and started to pull my helmet off Dad came out the front door to see who had dared to do that...

My "little" sister also came running out and thought I was the coolest thing ever!

When Dad figured out he couldn't make me sell it, he let me leave it there while I went on my WestPac cruise on the Kittyhawk. When I came back after my cruise we had another minor skirmish. Dad wasn't happy I was smoking (though he did) and said if I was staying there I would still live by his rules, he didn't care if I had been 2/3 of the way around the world. The next night as I went to leave on a date, he told me be home by 12. I came home at noon the next day...

After a few days he calmed down and started speaking to me again. Dad painted the metallic blue you see in the photo.

The bridge in Pierson Park, KCK, where this was taken is long since gone, as is the Yamaha. I let a roomate in San Diego ride it and he blew the transmission up trying to speed shift it with the kill button. I got $400 for it and bought a '64 Falcon 2 door...

Happy Photo Sunday!


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Recipe Saturday 3!

This will take almost as long to type as it does to make:

1 pound lean ground beef (Costco is my fav)
1 pound Jimmy Dean Sage sausage
2 cans red kidney beans
2 cans tomato sauce
1 package Williams chili seasoning

I put my tomato sauce and the chili seasoning into a 5 quart pan, open the beans and rinse them in the can 'til they quit "foaming", then add them to the sauce which is heats while I cook the meat...

I mix the beef and sausage together and fry it most of the way done as a patty so I can drain the grease off several times while I cook it, then crumble it towards the end. I also get a bit more of the grease out by lining a colander with 6 layers of paper towel and dumping the skillet into it, then using 4 more paper towels to press the grease out of it, so it soaks into the towels. Then I put the meat into the pan with the sauce. Usually it's a bit too thick so I use about a 1/2 can of water (using one of the sauce cans) until it's the thickness I like.

We are salt addicts, so usually a couple of tablespoons have found their way into the sauce as well. Sometimes some diced onions as well...

When Dad moved into supervision for Milgram he was in charge of the meat counters in 18 stores, and had to start attending meetings and business lunches and such. One of the first ones he ever told us about was when Jimmy Dean came to Kansas City to get Milgram's to carry his sausage; it was him who told Dad about adding it to chili. Back then it was just regular sausage (also works great in a meatloaf). When the sage sausage came out, that was absolutely the perfect complement to the chili seasonings, and has been "the family recipe" ever since.


Friday, March 10, 2006

No matter where we are...

in this big old world, we all get to look up at this same lovely moon...

This one was mine at 2AM when I came home...shot from my front sidewalk...

So as I think of you each when I look up on my way home, I wonder if any of you ever think of us sharing this wonderful sight?

May each of your Fridays be grand, and your weekends fantastic!


Monday, March 06, 2006

12 minutes of your life for something beautiful...

I don't know how many of you have ever explored the links to the right; some might intrigue a few of you, perhaps not. Some, like "My Writing" probably don't warrant much attention, lol!

In the "Blogfriends" list is one called "FilmlessPhotos". The blog is by a Canadian photographer who really has "it". The eye, the heart, the technical prowess; the "whole 9 yards" and then some.

He just returned from the Olympics; I followed his coverage there through the photos he put up on his blog in his downtime. (Meaning instead of getting a few minutes of sleep he desperately needed he took time to post photos for us!)

As he was getting ready to leave, he held a discussion with two other photographers and the link that is my header (and slipped in again) is to a slideshow of their images from the games, set against their discussion of covering them; what was hard, what was great, what meant the most, etc.. It runs in Windows Media Viewer...

12 minutes of stunning images, wonderful stories, and a tear-jerker ending I hadn't heard about in the coverage I saw here; the highlight of my week!

Thank you John Lehmann!

If you can spare the time to watch, and you have the bandwidth for the download (42mb, so dial up isn't an option, sorry) I think you will be amazed, impressed and awestruck as I was with this man's talent, along with his colleagues, and their determination and dedication to their craft...


Sunday, March 05, 2006

More about Dad...

Dad was born on Feb. 13, 1927 at Thackerville, Oklahoma. His first name was Kenneth, same as mine; his middle name was Ray, I have no idea where it came from, but he hated it. I've already written about Grandpa and Grandma going to New Mexico for mission work in the late 20's and moving back to Oklahoma toward the end of the 30's so the 4 brothers would have a better education.

They moved back to Marietta, Oklahoma and when Dad was 11 or 12 he traded his bicycle and a few dollars to a farmer for a broken down '27 Ford Model "T" touring car. He later said he wished he'd kept the bicycle because pushing the "T" up the southern Oklahoma hills when it was broken down was no fun. As he was dying in the hospital, his next older and younger brothers were telling stories about him and they told of him parking that same "T" sideways on the front steps of the Marietta school at 13 or 14 so his teacher would have to accept a date with him to get out and go home...

At 15 and 16 he was driving a gasoline tanker truck for Phillips Petroleum; it wasn't a semi, but a Ford straight truck, early 30's vintage, with a tank on the frame, mechanical brakes (before hydraulics, cable operated and since the cables stretched they weren't much good at all). He told me that more than once he had to back it off the one lane bridge over the Red River into Texas because the cars coming the other way after he was already on it wouldn't back up...

Dad dropped out of high school his junior year and enlisted in the Navy, February of 1944 at 17. He had ridden the train to Kansas City to enlist in the Merchant Marine (the pay was a lot better!) but they wouldn't take him because he wasn't 18. I never got him to talk a lot about his time in the service, he just wouldn't for some reason. I know he was on troop ship that took some of the Marines to the Pacific island invasions the last year of the war; when I spoke of Subic Bay in the Phillipines he talked of being there in '44 when there were so many sunken ships in the bay that most ships couldn't get in and he worked on a water tanker ferrying water out to them. He talked about how thick the sharks were because the food was so plentiful. I know he was in the Marshalls, the Gilberts and the Marianas, some of the same ground his future father-in-law covered in the Seabees. Dad was working as a mechanic in temporary assignments. He told me of working on some of the earliest diesel Caterpillar tractors and of a jeep with an Alison P-38 engine in it...

He came home from the Navy in 1946 and worked in the Packard garage in Ponca City, Oklahoma while he finished high school. He put together a '36 Ford roadster with '40 brakes to get the hydraulics, and when the Mercury ambulance in town blew it's motor on a run, pulled his flathead to send in as the core for it, and kept the ambulance engine (they were a lot bigger displacement). He (and his brothers agreed) said it was good for 105 in 2nd, and 115 in 3rd flat-out on flat ground. He used Lincoln 2nd gears because they had a bronze bushing in the center, and wouldn't "gall" the shaft and seize, where the Ford ones were steel on steel.

He also had quite a "racket" going on the side, flipping the linkages over on "3 on the tree" manuals, so the shift was on the left side and your right arm was free "for other things" (lots of cutting and welding involved on the other side of the firewall). He left Ponca after he graduated and came to Kansas City to use his G.I. Bill to go to a watchmaker's and jeweler's school, graduating about the same time Timex hit the market and put most of the watchmakers out of work. (He kept his tools and his love for clocks, and would stop in antique and junk shops all through the 60's and 70's buying them for 2 or 3 dollars and repairing and refinishing them. At some points there were 30 or so of them sitting all around the rec room in our basement, and a few made it upstairs into the main house. If anybody had a watch that needed adjustment or repair, or a family heirloom clock, it came home with him and went back "right", often for no charge...)

He worked for a bit as a hospital orderly, and took a part time job as an apprentice meatcutter for a budding grocery chain owned by Nat Milgram. By 1949 he was full time, and by '53 was "running his own counter" at Milgram's #5 on Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. It was just a couple of doors down the street from Kelly-Williams Ford dealership, and the two businesses shared the alley; everyday he saw new ones come and go. The '36 had long since gone and when he and Mom started dating he was driving a '47 Chevy convertible; after they married he bought a new '50 Ford, then a '53.

For '55 Ford did a radical redesign of their body styles, and Dad was much in love with them. He was seriously considering buying the first of the Thunderbirds, but when he finally decided to do it, he knew somehow he should buy something with a back seat, and so he spent $200 less and bought a '55 Fairlane Club Sedan. It was top of the line, with factory two tone paint, electric wipers instead of vacuum, a push button radio, whitewall tires, dual exhaust and a 4 barrel 272 V-8. The sticker on it was $2500, they gave him $1500 trade in on his '53, and before they made the first payment they found out Mom was pregnant with me...

The photo is Dad in the driveway of this house I live in now, with that '55...

More of the Fairlane later, with a color pic if I can find it...

Happy Photo Sunday!


Saturday, March 04, 2006

Recipe Saturday 2!

"The Family Rub"

1-1/4 cups white sugar
1-1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup salt
2 (level) tablespoons ground black pepper (originally was twice this amount)
2 (level) tablespoons paprika (originally was twice this amount)

Mix in dry container (I use a stainless bowl)
Rub onto meat (beef or pork)

I lay out a sheet of heavy duty foil with a brisket or slab of ribs on it, or a couple of packages of "country style pork" and apply the rub. Then I place the foil on a cookie sheet and bake it at 350F. A slab of ribs I'll bake an hour and a half, a brisket for around 2.

I used to pull the meat from the oven and place it on the grill to "smoke" but had trouble with the rub caramelizing since I have a gas grill and a small wood chip smoker box. Lately I've taken to sprinkling a half bottle of "liquid smoke" into the foil and onto the meat before I wrap the foil up, and the last two times I haven't even bothered to light the grill, just drain the juice out of the foil and serve right from the oven...

If I had a smoker instead of a gas grill I might try that again, but for now, it's so moist and so tender right out of the oven, I've given up screwing it up on the grill trying to make it better!

Which leaves the grill free for portabellas with the marinade from last week!

I should give credit where it is due, I found both of these recipes at All Recipes. The marinade was a hit right off the bat; this one my wife thought was too "hot" so I cut the pepper and paprika in half, and now it's just right by her and everyone else in the family loves it...



Thursday, March 02, 2006

Happy HNT!

I won't promise to make this a habit (none of you deserve to be struck blind!) but a while back I said something about "the world's ugliest tattoo" and Ceri said she'd like to see it.

I tried to shoot it directly several times but it wouldn't turn out right, so this is a "mirror" shot of what a morbid certainty you are going to die before you're 21 and $2 would get you in Hong Kong 32 years ago. It's not that some of the other guys weren't getting some beautiful "ink" slung, I was just sure I was making a statement of some kind...

Of course, the beer was free as long as you were sitting in the chair. Originally the "wings" were red and the "forks" were gold, but the color wasn't deep enough and came out when the scab came off.

Happy Half Nekked Thursday!