Friday, July 31, 2009

More limericks?!?

This post will be a combination of limericks and recommendations.

There once was a young man named Chuck
Who shaved the hairs once running amok

Most recently he has sat
In a chair with his fat cat

Reading the very latest in junk!

I first heard of Chuck while cruising the net almost a year and a half ago, and had the opportunity to 'catch an eyeball' (a CB term) on him this past January when he was in Houston.

Chuck is an avid outdoorsman and has more than one blogsite. You probably remember my mentioning his name before. (And yes! He is the Cubs fan from the north who often seems to be in a terrible stew about his team. Poor baby!)

I doubt if he reads much "junk", btw. (His life is quite full and that is no bull ... ... oh, stop it already, Goldenrod!)

The latest entry of his that I'd like you to see is this one. It's a really unique performance by an orchestra group that he titled "Indoor Rain?". DO close your eyes when listening to this! The only thing that I found the slightest bit distracting was the audience's loud applause towards (but not at!) the very end, which I could have done without.

However, after I hit "Publish Post" I'll probably go back and listen to it again. It's great!

There once was a young philatelist named Steve
Who had more than one trick up his sleeve

His posts are infrequent
But most often decent

And filled with just delightful reverie!

I discovered Steve in January this year from "Absolute Write", a blogsite for aspiring writers.

He has left a few comments on my posts ... vice versa with me on his. The one I'd like to recommend for you today is this one, where he talks about how he is as smart as a first grader. It's funny! I love his realistic approach to life and self-deprecating sense of humor.

There once was a home-schooling mom
Who thought her life was just "Ho hum"

Little did she know
That sirens would soon blow

And all the rage her street would become!

This is Tammy, of course, my oldest and dearest blogger friend, who 'tells it like it is'. For photos of what caused all the rumpus, go here.

My latest (and last) recommendation - again via limerick - is this one ... ...

There once was a young man with a journal
Who tried to encapsulize his life in a kernel

Of wisdom, note jottings and more
Little did he know what was in store

For him on down the road that we now know as 'eternal'!

Steven is keeping a journal. Have you ever done so? As far back as I can remember, I have not! (At least, not to this extent.)

Check out this post, where he shares two personal entries. It might take you awhile to wade through all of the comments section*, if you choose to take that route, but I recommend that you do so. (You can skip through mine, if you wish.)

*One of the many reasons I enjoy Steven's site so much is that - normally, when you leave a comment, he responds in kind.

Talk atcha!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More limericks

There once was a young man from down unda
Who thought nothing of taking many hundra

Until one fine day
He was heard to say

"My eyeball is stuck to the camera!"

Just couldn't help myself. More to come, I'm sure!

Here's another (think I like this next one a touch better) ... ...

There once was a young man from down unda
Whose photographs made many wonda

But then one day
He was heard to say

"My eyeball is stuck to the camera!"

I may have unleashed a monster. Let's see if I have another one in me ... ...

There once was a Cubs fan from up north
Who was often heard to loudly spew forth

Words of frustration
And high condemnation

But where is he now? Come forth!

Be careful, peoples. The monster, she's a roarin'! Oh, oh! Here we go again ... ...

There once was a young lady from Muskegon
Whose conduct had everyone's tongues waggin'

When she wasn't flirting
She was lightly skirting

The very edges of St. George and the dragon!

Think I'll stop while I'm ahead. Nope. Never mind. One more ... ...

There once was a young lady from Firth
Who had trouble because of her girth

Fitting into her bed
There was no room for her head

It was entirely filled with her mirth!


I was surfing the net a couple of weeks ago, and came across one of those blogsites that was talking - and posting pictures - about their recent trip. In this particular case, the trip was through Ireland.

There was a pretty good-sized group on this tour. On one of their longer bus rides, the tour guide suggested a limerick contest for those who were awake and wanting something creative to do.

All of the entries were posted on their blogsite. This was the winning one ... ...

There once was a surgeon from Dallas
With a camera he loved like his phallus

He took pictures all day
Of the hills, town and bay

And developed a fingertip callous.

Well, ever since then a few limericks have gone through my mind. Here are a couple ... ...

There once was a young lady named Suzie
Whom everyone thought quite the floozie

She pranced here and there
With her chin in the air

Then went home to enjoy her jacuzzi!

There once was a young lady from Houston
Who yearned to get away from pollution

She relocated to Nome
Where the sun never shone

And thought, "This is not the solution!"

Limericks are fun. Try one!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Remembering Ed Lynch

I first met Ed in 1977, when I was living in an efficiency apartment at one of Oakwood's several complexes here in Houston. He was only one of many 'characters' living there, but he caught my attention because he was so friendly and his interests were so diverse.

That's just a great shot of Ed, btw!

I've been trying to think of where Ed might have been when that photo was taken. He was probably in the 'lounge'. Ed was often there, along with several other "regulars" (myself included) and he could carry on a conversation for hours on end - on almost any subject - if you had the time and/or inclination to listen and participate!

He had a record collection numbering in the thousands, I would say (with not even the slightest attempt at exaggeration!) ... meticulously categorized and kept almost pristine clean (he dusted like crazy!). I spent many delightful hours in his apartment listening to more than just a few of them.

Ed did not get around very well. By that, I mean that he never went on walks or danced ... stuff like that. He often told stories about when he was much younger and figure skated with Sonja Henie. I cannot say for sure if his stories about Sonja and him figure skating together were true or not, but ... ... you know what? Now, after many years later, I believe them!

He was having problems with circulation ... particularly in one leg, which seemed to 'balloon up' at the slightest provocation. I do not recall if he was diabetic. Probably was.

He wanted to become an artist, a painter, and I encouraged him in his efforts. I thought that he, as an artist, should have a "cape" - or serape, as I liked to imagine it. I hand-knit one for him. He didn't like it. I still have it. It's huge! It's heavy. However, I like it and - at this point in time - you may not have it!!

He wanted me to save every picture or photograph that I thought "beautiful" for him, and so I began saving while he was practicing his new craft. The pictures or photographs could have come from calendars, cards, whatevers!

One of the 'beautiful' images I selected for his perusal was this one (do a single click to enlarge) ... ...

Ed chose to do an oil painting of that one. It's on the wall in my bedroom.

The painting is really 'not very good', critique-wise, but it means a lot to me. You can no doubt understand my favoritism towards this one, I'll betcha.

He visited in Munising with my dad and stepmother in the 1980's and created a small* (6x4, 7x5 maximum) multi-colored fall leaf oil that was extraordinary. Extraordinary! I don't have the vaguest idea where this painting might be now. When I last saw "GG" (my stepmother) in 2000, the painting was there in her room in the assisted living facility, but she had no idea where it had come from nor did she have the slightest idea of who had painted it.

[*Dimensions quoted are in inches.]

Oh, Ed! I hope that, wherever you are now, you can catch just a glimpse of this post and know how badly I wanted to come out to Phoenix to be with and possibly help you - certainly, I could have at the very least given you a hug! - in your last days ... try and give you some comfort. I'm sorry I let you down.

I couldn't 'afford' either the time or travel $$ it would have taken to get there, Ed. (I let my sister down in her last days, as well ... same reasons. And all about at the same period in my life - late 80's, all the way through the 90's and well into the very early 2000's ... ... not good years for Goldenrod.)

This post has ended on kind of a 'downer', hasn't it? I didn't really intend for it to be that way, folks! I wanted this post to be an 'upper' in memory of Ed Lynch.

What started all of this reverie? Well, ever since I first saw the header on Steven's new blogsite, I've wanted to write about this.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A botched defense

Are there any bridge players out there who read my posts? If so, I've got a mind-blower for you.

The auction went 1H by South (dealer) - 1NT O/C by my partner (15-18hcp, "Systems On") - Pass by RHO - 2C by me (Stayman, artificial & conventional) - Pass by LHO - 2D by partner (denying a 4-card major) - Pass by RHO - 3C by me.

That's not the end of the auction, but I want to stop it right there to ask you a question or two. Ready for them? Here they are ... ... How many black cards do I have in my hand? How many red cards? (Keep in mind now, when playing the game of bridge, that each player holds only 13 cards altogether.)

What were your answers? You need to know that my 2C Stayman bid specifically asked partner if he had a 4-card major (major suits are hearts and spades). No way I might be interested in hearing about whether or not he had four hearts - not when LHO already opened 1H, indicating a 5-card heart suit!

I want y'all to think about these questions for just a little bit more before you continue reading. Will you do that?


All right. Time's up. The first question was, "How many black cards do I have in my hand?" Well, you have to first realize that I must have at least four spades ... elsewise, I would never have used Stayman! Make sense?

Then, what did I do after partner rebid 2D? I bid clubs freely at the three-level!! Now, I knew that partner had two clubs for his NT overcall. How did I know that? Notrump bids promise balanced hands - at least two cards in every suit - so I know that, if I bid the club suit at the three-level, we have an 8-card ("magic") fit. How many clubs must I have to know that?

[You can only take what is "known" ... forget imaginative wanderings in a competitive auction such as this one at the duplicate bridge table!]

Geez, I hope your answer was '6' to the previous question! Was it? (You get an "A".) And so, how many black cards am I known to have - minimum? (10 ... four spades and six clubs) How many red cards - maximum? (3 ... just subtract 10 from 13)


OK. Let's continue now with the auction. Are you with me so far? Good!

LHO passes, partner passes and RHO (in the balancing & passout position, with three hearts to the ten) chimes in with a 3H raise of partner's suit!!?!! I double, all pass.

Partner leads one of his top diamond cards (the Ace or King, I forget which) - a really good lead! The dummy hits the table with three diamonds to the Queen (all other of dummy's cards are really immaterial for purposes of this discussion). Declarer calls for a low diamond from dummy and I play my lone three spot.

Partner views my low diamond as a discouraging card - immediately forgetting (I guess!) the bidding and what my hand must look like because of how the auction went - and discontinues the suit!!!??!!!

The very sad upshot of this whole long story is that South made three hearts doubled, for a score of +530 for them. We should have been +500! Ye gods!! (If partner continues cashing his other high diamond and then gives me a low ruff at trick three, I can get to his hand in one of the black suits and he should stay on the attack with another diamond! I will overruff the dummy with my remaining heart, the Queen ... down three, doubled, for all of the matchpoints instead of almost none!!

Well, that's it for very early on Sunday morning, July 26th. I've let it all hang out. Maybe I can finally get some sleep! (Tried the sleep act a couple of times already tonight, but kept tossing and turning. If I hit "Publish Post", might that be the answer? Sure hope so!)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bill Gates vs. GM

For those of you who have seen this a gazillion times already, please wait for my next post. This one is courtesy of Jennie, again, whose accompanying comment was, "This is so true, some of the time."

The e-mail forwarded to me from Jennie begins, "For all of us who feel only the deepest love and affection* for the way computers have enhanced our lives, read on." [*I don't happen to feel the 'deepest love and affection' for computers, altho I'll certainly admit that I've had an absolute blast this past year and a half with mine!]

At a recent computer expo, COMDEX, Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated, "If GM had kept up with technology the way the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon."

In response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued a press release stating, "If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash ... ... twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally, your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason, you would simply accept this.

4. Sometimes, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive ... but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single 'This Car has Performed an Illegal Operation' warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask, 'Are you sure?', before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced, car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You'd have to press the 'Start' button to turn the engine off."

And then the initial author of this e-mail added, "When all else fails, you could call 'Customer Service' in some foreign country and be instructed in some foreign language how to fix your car yourself!"

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lawdy, lawdy, lawdy, lawdy ... ...

... but this is one of the funniest home videos I've ever seen!

Why ever did Chuck choose to post this on his site? (I have no idea - maybe he's planning a wedding? ... you'd have to ask him, but I'm so glad that he did!)

Doesn't this kind of remind you - more than a little bit, probably - of a couple of videos on YouTube of staged group dancing in various bus or train terminals around the world? In particular, the one I'm thinking about occurred in London this past January. Here it is (that is, if I haven't done something really stupid with my computer's memory banks) ... ...

There's another one, too, that I saw recently, but I can't find it. Oh well, you get the idea, I'll betcha!

I just got off the phone with Evelyn Berger, one of my regular bridge partners, and we have scheduled a date to play this coming Monday.

While we were on the phone, she was telling me stories of some of her recent mishaps, and I interrupted her by saying, "Stop, Evelyn! I just can't take notes fast enough!! Can you possibly write some of these down between now and Monday and then I'll put them in my blog (sans her name, of course!)?"

She said "Yes, I can!" Don't you just love it? Rrvit, rrvit and rrvit some more!!

Wonderful woman! She thinks she's old and doddering and that her stories have only to do with her age. No, no and no again, Evelyn! Your stories are timeless and have nothing to do with age, I can guarantee you!! (And you, my dear readers, will have some absolutely delightful stories to look forward to.)

In lieu of responding to comments on my previous post ...

... I thought I'd do an additional one. It won't be terribly long, I promise, but there might be some others out there who are interested in what I have to say.

First off, Tammy, the only reason that any of the rest of us are 'still in the hunt' in the National League's Central division is the fact that your Cardinals have been playing only .500 ball in the past month, month and a half or so!

[I need only reference the Rockies' and Braves' valiant efforts to at least come a little closer - forGET overtaking! - to the #1 teams in their own divisions (the Dodgers in the West and Phillies in the East, respectively). The best that each can hope for now, reasonably, is a wild card berth.]

When you're ten games below .500 - and are the doormats for your division, as my Astros were at the end of May, you can only hope and dream that your team acquits itself enough better in subsequent games that the record will ultimately show that your team was not the 'worst of the worst'.

Traditionally, the Astros have been a 'second half' (after the All Star break) team, but the hole we dug for ourselves this year was so far down!!

I know that Chuck moans and groans a lot about his Cubs, but I have a really hard time feeling sorry for someone whose team has already won a World Series - and I don't give a flip how long ago it was, either. I mean, give me a break here!

And no, we didn't sweep the Cardinals for your team's sake, Chuck! Right now we are fighting tooth and nail - and playing some pretty good baseball, I might add. These next ten days or so will be really telling, won't they? Pins and needles all the way!

I wrote - somewhat proudly, in my post of July 14th, that my Astros were now at .500. That was a huge accomplishment, actually! Took them a month and a half to get there, but they did it!!

That last statement, btw, should give everyone a pretty good idea of how long it takes to make up deficits. Those teams who are currently eight or more games back of first place in their division are, for all practical purposes, out of the playoff picture. That sounds harsh, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it's true.

I'm sorry, Steven, that your Jays have re-upped their prescription for mid-season-doldrums. What a downer that must be for you! Year after year after year? Ugh!!

Later, gators!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

If this is a dream, please ... ...

... don't pinch me or try to wake me up!

My Astros are now tied with Chuck's Cubbies for 2nd place - only one game back of the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals - in the National League's Central division. Criminy, yowsers, etc!

How the devil did we ever do that? Well, we took the first two of four games against the Dodgers in that series out in Los Angeles and just last night completed a 3-game sweep of the Cardinals in our park! Hooray for home field and last at bat advantage!!

Since acquiring Chris Coste from the Philadelphia Phillies off of the waiver wires on July 10th, the Astros are 8-3. I don't want to say that he has made the team better or made it gel all by himself, but it certainly helps that he's been swinging the bat well and has been able to fill in for Lance Berkman (strained calf) at first base for the last three games.

We're "off" today ... a well-deserved respite and a chance to take a deep breath before focusing on our next opponents at home, the "hapless" Mets. Boy, do I hate that adjective! I heard it over and over again these past few days and I don't like it even the least little bit!! Talk about locker fodder!!!

So what if the Mets have been on a downward slide lately? So what??

After the 3-game series with the Mets, we travel to Chicago (a 4-game set, including a makeup game from May) and then St. Louis (3 games) before returning back home on August 3rd to face the San Francisco Giants. Our next 'break' is not scheduled until August 6th.

There are a whole lot of other teams in 'our club' who will be facing tough foes in the next week or week and a half. However, my son-in-law's Red Sox are not amongst them! (You can check out their schedule for yourself, if you don't believe me.) Tammy's Yankees have - at least what would appear at first glance to be - a far tougher schedule. Steven's Blue Jays fall somewhere in the middle.

Patrick's Braves, currently, have a record of 8-2 in their last ten games. Unfortunately, they are playing in the same division as the Philadelphia Phillies and have a formidable schedule coming up against the Brewers and Marlins (both away) and then the Dodgers at home.

My Astros' National League Central division has been, perhaps, the most interesting to watch since the All Star break. Three of the teams in this division - Brewers, Reds and Pirates - are scheduled to play against the Padres and Diamondbacks during this next week or so. Those three teams we could probably term as having the 'lightest' schedule, but one never knows, right?

I know I said that there would not be another major update of 'our club' until August 3rd, but too much has been happening not to post one of an interim nature, wouldn't you agree?

Before I sign off on this post, however, - and I sure hope I'm not jinxing my Astros by publishing it! - there's one other thing I'd like to say ... ... Michael Bourne, who has been getting hit after hit recently - and is the National League's premier base stealer, was loudly booed last night by the fans and decried in no uncertain tones of condemnation by Milo Hamilton (our radio announcer) when he failed to deliver (twice!) with men in scoring position.

A case of, "What have you done for me lately?", I guess. I don't like that attitude. I don't like it at all, folks! Not even the least little bit!!
Let's hear it for Michael! Yea, Michael!!


Monday, July 20, 2009


I have a dear, dear friend ... one whom I have never met, but one whom I consider very dear ... who has recently undergone radical breast surgery (her second time around with this dreaded disease that we commonly term 'cancer') and is trying to recover from trying to rid her body of its latest alien invasion.

She is my age! She talks about 'having to take naps now' - whereas before the surgery she didn't, she says.

I'd like to share with you a couple of e-mails that she recently sent. This first one, titled "If my body were a car", goes like this ... ...

If my body were a car, this is the time I would be thinking about trading it in for a newer model. I've got bumps and dents and scratches in my finish and my paint job is getting a little dull, but that's not the worst of it.

My headlights are out of focus and it's especially hard to see things up close. My traction is not as graceful as it once was. I slip and slide and skid and bump into things, even in the best of weather.

My whitewalls are stained with varicose veins. It takes me hours to reach my maximum speed. My fuel burns inefficiently, but here's the worst of it ... ... Almost every time I sneeze, cough, or laugh, either my radiator leaks or my exhaust backfires!

Not enough of an inspiration for you? Try THIS one! It's called "Smiles or groans" ... ...

1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much 'pi'.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from Algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

6. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

8. A grenade, thrown into a kitchen in France, would result in Linoleum Blownaparte.

9. Two silkworms were in a race. It ended up in a tie.

10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, "You stay here. I'll go on a-head."

14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said, "Keep Off the Grass".

16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, the nurse said, "No change yet."

17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

18. The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a "small medium at-large".

19. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a 'seasoned' veteran.

20. A backward poet writes 'in-verse'.

21. In democracy, it's your vote that counts. In feudalism, it's your count that votes.

22. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

What could I possibly add to these? Nothing of worth, certainly!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What's the Matter with Helen?

I've just spent the past hour or hour and a half making myself half dizzy reading about the various childhoods/exploits/marriages/affairs/partners of Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, Debbie Reynolds, Shelley Winters, Farley Granger and the like.

How the devil did I ever get on this topic? Well, I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to watch "What's the Matter with Helen?" - a movie that is due to begin on 2.2 (local TV - a new digital station that shows movies 24/7) in less than an hour.

[Digital television has opened up a whole new world for me! Most of you know, probably, that I absolutely love movies - especially good ones, and ever since I got my new TV a little over a month ago, I've had a 'tough time' redoing my schedule to accommodate all that is now available even w/o cable ... no additional Astros baseball games, however, which is a downer.]

"What's the Matter with Helen?" (1971) stars Debbie Reynolds, Shelley Winters, Dennis Weaver, Agnes Moorehead and Micheal MacLiammoir (whomever he is!).

I stopped my delving further into the actors' past histories with Shelley Winters. It seemed that - every time I looked a little bit more, there was yet another link to be followed up on. You have to stop somewhere, right?

I've only seen this movie once. However, I remembered the unhappy ending and thought I probably would not want to watch it again. Not only does it have an unhappy ending, but the Astros game begins (I'll be listening on the radio) about halfway through it.

[Speaking of my Astros, they won their first two games against the Dodgers - !!!!! - but lost last night ... left the bases loaded in the top of the ninth with "Pudge" at bat ... if he had scored, we'd have been ahead. It was exciting!]

I have decided to watch it again. I'm more than intrigued by what I've read and will mute the sound during commercials. Let's hope that the outcome of today's Astros-Dodgers game is more positive for the Astros than Adelle's (Debbie Reynold's character) was in the movie!

In other news, my house received some blessed rain last night - thunder and everything ... thanks be! (In fact, at one point - when the lights went out momentarily - I went in search of my flashlight 'just in case'.) I had been watering like crazy. Puddles actually formed, but they have since dissipated. However, the ground is still nice and soft today. Wunderbar!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gorgeous photographs!

Well, Polimom's at it again.

The other day she posted this shot of a Giant Swallowtail ...

... on her site, along with a few words of explanation,

and just last night published this photo that she's called "Droplits" ...

She was experimenting with her new macro lens on this one.

If you'd like to view more of Polimom's photos, go to her photostream on flickr .

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I will watch over you

Beth sent me this the other day. It's a beautiful poem. Altho I've never experienced anything quite like this, I have no doubt that such a thing is possible.

'A drunk man in an Oldsmobile' they said had run the light
That caused the six-car pileup on 109 that night.

When broken bodies lay about and blood was everywhere
The sirens sent out eulogies, for death was in the air.

A mother, trapped inside her car, was heard above the noise.
Her plaintive plea near split the air. "Oh, God, please spare my boys!"

She fought to loose her pinned hands, she struggled to get free,
But mangled metal held her fast in grim captivity.

Her frightened eyes then focused on where the the back seat once had been,
But all she saw was broken glass and two children's seats crushed in.

Her twins were nowhere to be seen. She could not hear them cry.
And then she prayed they'd been thrown free. "Oh, God, don't let them die!"

Then firemen came and cut her loose, but when they searched the back
They found therein no little boys, though the seat belts were intact.

They thought the woman had gone mad and was traveling alone,
But when they turned to question her, they discovered she was gone.

Policemen saw her running wild and screaming above the noise
In beseeching supplication, "Please help me find my boys!

They're four years old and wear blue shirts; their jeans are blue to match."
One cop spoke up, "They're in my car and they don't have a scratch.

They said their daddy put them there and gave them each a cone;
Then told them both to wait for Mom to come and take them home.

I've searched the area high and low, but I can't find their dad.
He must have fled the scene, I guess, and that is very bad."

The mother hugged the twins and said, while wiping at a tear,
"He could not flee the scene, you see, for he's been dead a year."

The cop just looked confused and asked, "Now, how can that be true?"
The boys said, "Mommy, Daddy came and left a kiss for you.

He told us not to worry and that you would be all right
And then he put us in this car with the pretty, flashing light.

We wanted him to stay with us because we miss him so,
But Mommy, he just hugged us tight and said he had to go.

He said someday we'd understand and told us not to fuss,
And he said to tell you, Mommy, that he's watching over us."

The mother knew without a doubt that what they spoke was true,
For she recalled their dad's last words, "I will watch over you."

The firemen's notes could not explain the twisted, mangled car
And how the three of them escaped without a single scar,

But on the cop's report was scribed, in print so very fine,
'An angel walked the beat tonight on Highway 109.'

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More baseball?!?!?

Well, yes, actually. Last night I watched the All Star game from start to finish, including all of the opening and closing ceremonies, interviews and comments. That was a 'first' for me, and I'm really glad that I took the time to do so. Did any of you watch? Beautiful! Particularly the long segment where Fox was honoring 'all stars' from everyday walks of life who are making significant contributions to their fellow man. Inspirational and quite moving, I thought.

Hunter Pence (rf) and Miguel Tejada (ss) were our two representatives to the All Star game, and I thought Hunter could almost have jumped halfway up to the moon in his excitement. He was voted in by the players. A nice honor by his fellow outfielders. He didn't get to play, altho "Miggy" did, who acquitted himself nicely with good defensive plays and a couple of really solid swings at bat.

I was particularly interested in seeing for myself Roy Halladay's pitching prowess. Rumors were that he was on the trading block, and it would now seem that the rumors are true. 'Insiders' say that the owner is 'shopping around' for the best deal. Well, that cuts us (the Astros) out, altho Drayton has been known to throw good money around after bad! I'm not saying he'd be doing that in this case, but I was not that impressed.

The American League won this game by a final score of 4-3, and so they will once again have 'home field advantage' in the World Series. It was a good game. The AL made a couple more fantastic plays than we did, including an almost unbelievable catch in deep left and a 'leg triple' that subsequently led to the winning run.

One kind of funny story from last night's game. Roy Halladay didn't anticipate having an 'at bat' in the game, so he didn't pack his batting helmet. He had to borrow one. Rrvit!

A couple or three things I was noticing earlier today, when I was doing final recaps and noting current standings, upcoming schedules and so on ... ... 1) ALL of the teams in the American League East are "Off" tomorrow night (the resumption of regular schedules), and so all of them have an extra day to 'recuperate from' and celebrate their win. Doesn't seem fair, somehow! 2) In the National League East (where Patrick's Braves play), every single one of their next series is against opposing teams from within their own division. That'll be an interesting set of 4 games each to watch, won't it? (You will no doubt have noticed that I left out the Washington Nationals here, but I talked so much about them in my last post that I didn't feel the need to continue.)

3) ... ... Outside of the facts I mentioned in the preceding paragraph ... of the 18 dates between tomorrow night and August 2nd (I'll be doing my next recap of 'our club' on or about August 3rd), only the Philadelphia Phillies (from Patrick's NL East division) have all 18 scheduled! I thought that was noteworthy. And then I thought, "Well, let's see, who else in 'our club' has 18 dates scheduled?" You know how many? None, that's how many!

The Phillies would have had 'only' 17, but they have a makeup game in there vs. the Padres (rescheduled from 4/20) on July 23rd. Most of the members' teams in our club have either 16 or 17 games scheduled between now and August 3rd except for the Blue Jays, who have only 15. Wouldn't you just know it? What will Steven's Jays be doing on their extra day off? Contemplating their navels? Commiserating with each other? Calling up all of their lady friends? Seeing their chiropractor? Whaat?!? Geez, I would hope that they would be working on their basics -- pitching, hitting and fielding. Well, we'll see, won't we?

Tammy, check this site out for the latest 'wild card' standings. It's way, way, way too early to be talking about the wild card, but you asked - so, here it is. I'll talk about this neat little added feature to the major league playoff picture sometime later on down the line ... I promise!

I'm going to close today's post with an oldie - but most treasured goodie - from the YouTube files. Here you are, with Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Baseball ... and almost 'nothing but' baseball!

This post has been a while in the making. As you might imagine, I've spent many enjoyable hours recording results, making notes, etc., in preparation for this momentous event.

Earlier today I discovered that I had made an error. "Oh, no!" you say. "Yes," I confess. In this post, I actually wrote, There's just an inning or two to go in that game, I think. It could have been called. Wonder why it wasn't? Well, guess what? The reason it wasn't 'called' is that the game was tied, Goldenrod, oh ye of limited memory banks!!

We FInally finished the game this past Thursday. It preceded the first of four games here at home against the Washington Nationals. Completing that game took all of about five minutes. The game was resumed in the bottom of the 11th, with the Nationals batting - game tied - one out, and a man on first. The first pitch thrown was not towards home plate but to first base! It was a real stranger. There were so many weird statistics from that game, including players who are on the roster now who weren't then and vice versa. I did not take copious notes. The truth is, I had barely set my rear end down on a chair to listen and the game was over!

I wrote later, in this post, As an added plus, I was able to watch my Astros soundly defeat the Washington Nationals in the second of two games ... the first one of which was a carryover from an early May suspended game (in Washington) in the bottom of the 11th inning, I think it was, with the score tied at 10 apiece. The game was over within five minutes of its resumed start, when 'Pudge' Rodriguez (our catcher) made an errant throw of what probably would have been an almost 'automatic' double play to end the inning and send the game to the 12th. As it was, however, the 'bad guys' scored the winning run and the game was over. Oh, my!

All I can say, guys, is, "Watch out for those Nationals!" They might have the worst record in professional baseball - and they do, with a record of 26-61 - but let me tell you, they have some big-time bat swingers! Not only that, but they have a guy who, if he gets on base, is a real threat to steal - not unlike our Michael Bourne. (I want to say his last name is Morgan, but I'm not for sure on this one.)

It's their bullpen that is suspect. Sunday - bottom of the eighth, I think it was (we had runners at second and third) - one of their relief pitchers lost his balance and kind of 'fell off' the pitcher's mound while trying to issue an intentional walk to our next batter and load the bases. A balk was called and another run scored. Incredible. Just incredible!

And so, I guess the upshot of all this is ... if you can get to their bullpen, you can win the game! (It almost should go without saying that your 'good guys' have to be scoring some runs in the meantime, right? Right?!?)

Something a little bothersome about that whole Washington Nationals series. In the game that was resumed here last Thursday and in the game Friday night, I think it was, Roy Oswalt - who was our starting pitcher both times - had to leave the game in the seventh inning due to (what was it called - stiffness? [no], - soreness? [no], - numbness? [Yes, I think that was it!]) numbness in two fingers of his pitching hand.

In the first game (which had been suspended from May 5th, I believe the date was), Roy had incurred the injury while attempting a bunt. As far as last Friday is concerned, I don't know why he suddenly had to leave the game, and I'm such a coward that I haven't even begun to delve into all of the many things (I'm sure!) that have been written or said about the various reasons why that numbness might have re-occurred. I sincerely hope that this is something short-lived. He's our "Ace" and one of our really good guys.

Speaking of "Aces", what's this I hear about Roy Halladay, one of the Blue Jays' star pitchers being on the trading block? I posed the question, "Any truth to those rumors?" to Steven recently in the comments section of this post, but he didn't reply. (Probably because he didn't have a ready answer.)

Is anyone from 'our club' playing against the Nationals in the next couple of weeks? Let's see here. Well, yeah! A bunch of the teams from the National League's Central division are scheduled to play against the Nationals ... Chuck's Cubs will start the party after the All Star break with a four-game set in Washington ... a touch later on in these next 18 days or so, Tammy's Cardinals will make up a rainout from May (sound familiar?) in Washington ... following that, the Brewers will 'entertain' Washington in a four-game set at home and then the Pirates will close the frivolity.

[I realize that no one in 'our club' has a special interest in the Brewers or Pirates, but three of our members' teams are in the National League Central, and it's a division that Tammy, Chuck and I follow pretty closely. More a bit later about this division.]

The Reds and my Astros are out of this mix for a while. In fact, we won't see the Nationals again until 2010 (spring training), thank goodness. Watch out, guys! They're not the 'pushovers' you might think!!

The All Star game will be played tonight at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and Roy Halladay has been named as the American League's starting pitcher. A nice honor. I'll be watching with interest. If the rumors are true and he is on the trading block, I'm sure that Drayton McLane (Astros' owner) will be among the bidders.

The game will be played in a National League ballpark, so the DH will not be in effect. (At least, I don't think it will be! Does anyone know something different?) A curious question here for Tammy ... ... Who will you be rooting for, Tammy? The American League? The National League? What say you? You have favorite teams in both leagues. See the problem you created for yourself? I find this hilarious, actually! (And what if both of your teams play against each other in the World Series? [Which is a theoretical possibility.] Then what?!?)

Steven's Blue Jays have been on a terrible downward slide since I last did an update, and have lost 10 of the 13 games they played ... all, except the Tampa Bay series at the very beginning, by a difference of only one or two runs and a few had to go to extra innings. Those are heartbreak-type losses, and Steven has probably found more positive and uplifting things to do with his time than watch his team fall so far from the top spot (the Jays are now 11.0 games back in the American League East).

My son-in-law's team, the Boston Red Sox, is currently enjoying the top spot in this division. In fact, they have the second best winning percentage in all of major league baseball (61.4%) ... only the Dodgers have a higher winning percentage. Tammy's Yankees are holding down second place in the American League East, just three games back. Both of these teams have won eight and lost five games since my last update. Both are 6-4 in their last ten games, whereas the Jays are 2-8. That's a huge difference. The Yankees and Red Sox did not face each other this past couple of weeks, nor will they these next couple, so there won't be any head-to-head confrontations that could result in dramatic changes in the top two places.

You have to beat the teams in your own division! That's a hard and fast rule. Within the American League East, the Red Sox beat the Orioles 2 out of their 3 games and will be playing 3 games each against the Jays and Orioles coming up after the All Star break. The Yankees swept all 3 games against the Jays and have 3 games each scheduled soon with the Orioles and Rays. If either (or both) the Red Sox or Yankees win the majority of their games against their lower-ranked division rivals, the distance between them will widen. Of all of the teams mentioned in this division, it would seem that the Orioles will have the most difficult task. Both they and the Jays must start winning some of these series to stay within even reasonable 'shouting distance' of the leaders.

Let's move on to the National League East, where Patrick's Braves have been in the mix ever since the beginning of the season. Remember the torrid start the Marlins had? How they led the majors with an almost-unheard-of winning percentage in the 90's? But then they fell on hard times and the Phillies strung together a whole bunch of wins, took over first place and then had their own hard fall?

Well, things have evened out somewhat in this division, altho the Phillies right now have the hottest streak going in baseball (winning 9 out of their last 10 games). As of today, the Braves are in third place - 6 games back. The Marlins have steadily crept back up to claim second - 4 games back, and the Mets are breathing hard on the Braves' heels at 6.5 games back. Let's see what happens after the break.

Between my last big recap and this one (which is even bigger!), the Braves swept the Phillies - helping out their own cause tremendously, lost two out of three to the Nationals (Remember them?), won two out of three against the Cubs and split a 4-game series in Colorado. What does Patrick's team have coming up? Well, let's see. Among the scheduled games, they have four against the Mets and three in Florida vs. the Marlins in their own division, three in Milwaukee against the Brewers, and then they'll host the Dodgers at home. Not an easy schedule at all. Good luck, Patrick! We'll be watching.

The National League's Central Division, as per usual, has my (almost) undivided attention. Boy, oh boy, has this ever been an interesting division to watch - at least for the first part of this year! The Brewers and Cardinals, for what seems like all year, have been jockeying back and forth for first place, while my Astros were the doormats for this division. Well, a whole lot has happened in the meantime.

The Astros, since my last recap, won 9 games ... nine! (The most of any team in our club. The Phillies equalled that number, but they're not in our club.) We're now at .500, which might not seem like a big deal to you guys, but it took us a long time to get back to that number! As of right this minute, we're tenuously enjoying occupying the 3rd spot in our division, statistically even at .500 with the Cubs, but we've won one more game than they have.

We've got some tough ones coming up after the All Star break, starting out with four against the Dodgers in LA. We took two out of three from them in a series earlier this year, but I haven't the vaguest idea how we did that! We follow that series with three each at home against the (1st place in our division) Cardinals and the Mets. Then, we travel to Chicago and St. Louis, where we'll scheduled to play 4 (one makeup game from a rainout in May) against the Cubs and 3 with the Cardinals. Now, if anyone thinks they have a tougher schedule than this one that the Astros have coming up, I'm listening. Let's hear it!

I've already talked about who all would be facing the Nationals soon so, instead, I'll focus primarily on those upcoming battles that will be within our own division. Except for the Pirates, who have fallen on hard times recently, the rest of the places in our division are really up for grabs ... I mean, the Reds are currently in fifth, but even they are only five games back!

OK, so who's playing whom? And does it matter? Well, yes, it does, particularly when you're playing against teams in your own division. Remember what I said earlier? You have to beat the teams in your own division! And boy, do we have some good matchups coming up!

Outside of my Astros, whom I've already talked about, let's start with Tammy's first place Cardinals. In addition to the one makeup game at Washington, they'll be playing 3 in Philadelphia, 6 against the Stros (3 at home and 3 here in Houston) and four at home against the major-league-leading Dodgers. Their other three are at home against the D'backs, who are presently below .500 but are 7-3 in their last 10 games. (Of those in our National League Central club, the Cardinals have - perhaps - the second 'easiest' schedule, and even it will not be easy!)

Moving on to Chuck's Cubs, who will they be facing? Theirs might be the easiest, but we'll see. They have the four in Washington that I already mentioned, in addition to three each against the Phillies and Marlins in their parks, along with seven at home vs. the Astros (a four-game set, including a makeup rained-out game from May ... sound familiar?) and Reds (three games).

This will definitely be the division to watch in the next couple of weeks!

I won't be doing another post until after the trading deadline which, I believe, is July 31st. Until then, I'm sure that the rumors will be flying fast and furious! I'll try and keep up with some of them, but no promises on this one. (It's not usually an area of interest for me, but I'll try.)

Just one more thing to report before I FInally hit the "Publish Post" button. Have you ever heard of a 'bee delay'? Well, we had one - and it lasted for 52 minutes - out in San Diego earlier this month. Did you hear about it? How strange! There was a swarm of articles written about it. Check out this one for more details about this bizarre event.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Take a break!

This was fun! Even though I only got 15 points out of the possible 20, I had fun. Would you like to try it?

1. What builds strong bodies 12 ways?

A. Flintstone vitamins B. The Buttmaster C. Spaghetti D. Wonder bread E. Orange juice F. Milk G. Cod liver oil

2. Before he was Muhammed Ali, he was ...

A. Sugar Ray Robinson B. Roy Orbison C. Gene Autry D. Rudolph Valentino E. Fabian F. Mickey Mantle G. Cassius Clay

3. Pogo (the comic strip character) said, "We have the met the enemy and ..."

A. It's you B. He is us C. It's the Grinch D. He wasn't home E. He's really me F. We quit G. He surrendered

4. Good night, David ...

A. Good night, Chet B. Sleep well C. Good night, Irene D. Good night, Gracie E. See you later, alligator F. Until tomorrow G. Good night, Steve

5. You'll wonder where the yellow went ...

A. When you use Tide B. When you lose your crayons C. When you clean your tub D. If you paint the room blue E. If you buy a soft water tank F. When you use Lady Clairol G. When you brush your teeth with Pepsodent

6. Before he was the skipper's 'little buddy', Bob Denver was Dobie's friend ...

A. Stuart Whitman B. Randolph Scott C. Steve Reeves D. Maynard G. Krebbs E. Corky B. Dork F. Dave the whale G. Zippy Zoo

7. Liar, liar ...

A. You're a liar B. Your nose is growing C. Pants on fire D. Jump up higher E. Join the choir F. On the wire G. I'm telling Mom

8. Meanwhile, back in Metropolis, Superman fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and ...

A. Wheaties B. Lois Lane C. TV ratings D. World peace E. Red tights F. The 'American Way' G. News headlines

9. Hey, kids! What time is it?

A. It's time for Yogi Bear B. It's time to do your homework C. It's Howdy Doody time D. It's time for Romper Room E. It's bedtime F. It's time for the Mighty Mouse hour G. It's Scooby Doo time

10. Lions and tigers and bears ...

A. Yikes B. Oh, no! C. Gee whiz D. I'm scared E. Oh, my! F. Help, help! G. Let's run

11. Bob Dylan advised us never to trust anyone ...

A. Over 40 B. Wearing a uniform C. Carrying a briefcase D. Over 30 E. You don't know F. Who says, "Trust me!" G. Who eats tofu

12. NFL quarterback who appeared in a television commercial wearing women's stockings ...

A. Troy Aikman B. Kenny Stabler C. Joe Namath D. Roger Staubach E. Joe Montana F. Steve Young G. John Elway

13. Brylcream ...

A. Smear it on B. You'll smell great C. Tame that cowlick D. Grease ball heaven E. It's a dream F. We're your team G. A little dab'll do ya

14. I found my thrill ...

A. In blueberry muffins B. With my man, Bill C. Down at the mill D. Over the windowsill E. With thyme and dill F. Too late to enjoy G. On Blueberry Hill

15. Before Robin Williams, Peter Pan was played by ...

A. Clark Gable B. Mary Martin C. Doris Day D. Errol Flynn E. Sally Fields F. Jim Carrey G. Jay Leno

16. Name the Beatles ...

A. John, Steve, George, Ringo B. John, Paul, George, Rosco C. John, Paul, Stacey, Ringo D. Jay, Paul, George, Ringo E. Lewis, Peter, George, Ringo F. Jason, Betty Skipper, Hazel G. John, Paul, George, Ringo

17. I wonder, wonder, who.

A. Who ate the leftovers? B. Who did the laundry? C. Was it you? D. Who wrote the book of love? E. Who I am? F. Passed the test? G. Knocked on the door?

18. I'm strong to the finish ...

A. Cause I eats my broccoli. B. Cause I eats me spinach. C. Cause I lift weights D. Cause I'm the hero E. And don't you forget it F. Cause Olive Oyl loves me G. To outlast Bruto.

19. When it's least expected, you're elected, you're the star today

A. Smile, you're on Candid Camera B. Smile, you're on Star Search C. Smile, you won the lottery D. Smile, we're watching you E. Smile, the world sees you F. Smile, you're a hit G. Smile, you're on TV

20. What do M & M's do?

A. Make your tummy happy B. Melt in your mouth, not in your pocket C. Make you fat D. Melt your heart E. Make you popular F. Melt in your mouth, not in your hand G. Come in colors

Answers: 1. D 2. G 3. B 4. A 5. G 6. D 7. C 8. F 9. C 10. E 11. D 12. C 13. G 14. G 15. B 16. G 17. D 18. B 19. A 20. F

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pink, yellow and blue

Here's kind of a poignant one from Beth that I've been meaning to share with all of you for several days now. There's a lot of truth in it. Here goes ... ...

I bumped into a stranger as he passed by.
"Oh, excuse me!" was my reply.

He said, "Please excuse me, too!
I wasn't watching out for you."

We were very polite, this stranger and I.
We went on our separate ways after saying goodbye.

But at home a different story is told,
About how we treat our loved ones, young and old.

Later that day, while I was cooking the evening meal,
My son stood beside me -- very still.

When I turned, I nearly knocked him down.
"Move out of the way!" I said with a frown.

He walked away, his little heart broken.
I didn't realize how harshly I'd spoken.

Later that night, while I lay awake in bed,
God's still small voice came to me and said,

"When dealing with a stranger, common courtesy you use,
But the family you love, you seem to abuse.

Go and look on the kitchen floor.
You'll find some flowers there by the door.

Those are the flowers he brought for you.
He picked them himself ... pink, yellow and blue.

He stood very quietly, so as not to spoil the surprise.
You never saw the tears that filled his little eyes."

By this time I felt very small
And now my tears began to fall.

I quietly went and knelt by his bed.
"Wake up, little one, wake up!" I said.

"Are these the flowers you picked for me?"
He smiled. "I found 'em, out by the tree.

I picked 'em because they're pretty like you.
I knew you'd like 'em, especially the blue."

I said, "Son, I'm very sorry for the way I acted today.
I never should have yelled at you that way."

He said, "Oh, Mom, that's okay.
I love you, anyway!"

I said, "Son, I love you, too,
And I do like the flowers, especially the blue."

Friday, July 10, 2009

More scattered thoughts

Well, it's Friday. My cell phone chose to 'give up the ghost completely' mid-afternoon yesterday, and I spent most of the rest of that day stewing and moaning and groaning about that fact. At one point, I even went so far as to go next door to use my 'dreaded' next-door neighbor's phone.

(An aside here. Goldang, but he's good-looking. He's my son-in-law's age, too, for crying out loud! Down, Goldenrod, DOWN!! And don't you dare for even one half of one second try to imagine I feel 'that way' about my son-in-law. I DON'T, OK? I mean, my son-in-law is one heck of a terrific guy, but he's just not 'my type'. "What type is that?" you might well ask. My only answer would be that I know the 'type' when I see it. How do you like THAT answer for nondescript?)

I tried to correspond with my daughter via e-mail, but - as luck would have it - about the same time, she discovered that she was unable to send e-mails. Wouldn't you just know it? Dear lord!

ANYhoo, I traveled west to Katydid-land in the evening and my son-in-law provided me with an "extra" cell phone that he had, along with a new battery and a spare (for 'just in case') ... ... where does he get all these "extras" from, anyway?? (Might this be a case of 'don't ask, don't tell'?) In addition, he was able to re-program my "new" phone to my cell phone number. Sneaky little devil, isn't he? (LUV these sneaky little devils, particularly when they're on my side!)

As an added plus, I was able to watch my Astros soundly defeat the Washington Nationals in the second of two games ... the first one of which was a carryover from an early May suspended game (in Washington) in the bottom of the 11th inning, I think it was, with the score tied at 10 apiece. The game was over within five minutes of its resumed start, when 'Pudge' Rodriguez (our catcher) made an errant throw of what probably would have been an almost 'automatic' double play to end the inning and send the game to the 12th. As it was, however, the 'bad guys' scored the winning run and the game was over. Oh, my!

New topic ... ... I woke up several hours ago and tried to make my usual 'rounds' of the bathroom, fresh coffee, coming in here to see whatall was 'new' and so forth and so on with my computer and e-mails and such, only to discover that - when I tried to flush the toilet, there were these very strange gurgling noises. "Oh, come on now," I thought, "surely they don't have the water turned off!"

But, 'they' did - and for the next at least three hours, as it turned out. I had planned to wash the dishes and do a couple of loads of laundry - not to mention take a shower and wash the stench off of myself! As it was, I found myself in another 'snit' and ready to do battle with the first person/insect/cloud/whatever that appeared. (Fortunately, none appeared.)

My question is, and I put it to you ... ... When you're paying more than $175/month for 'maintenance', is it too much to ask that the Association inform you when they are going to turn your water off?

Water's back on. I'm still in a somewhat-rotten mood, but it's improving even as I write this.

It's going on 3pm. The powers that be have changed "Fantasy Island" to begin an hour later, so I've got to go. It'll be coming on any second now and I need to close and publish this quickly. Later!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


What is it with firefighters and fire, anyway? In comments to yesterday's post, you will find referenced the Australian rampaging fires of just a short while back, and the fact that at least some of them had been deliberately set by a former volunteer firefighter.

Those comments got me to thinking back and I remembered another occasion where a volunteer firefighter had deliberately set fires. Why? There wasn't enough fire-fighting business to suit him that he had to create more? Did he have a personal grudge against Mickey Gilley?

Yes, you read the name correctly. It was Gilley's, of Urban Cowboy fame, that was 'torched' in the late 1980's. Although Wiki has a pretty good writeup about Gilley's, it only mentions one arson fire. As I recall, there were two, but it was only after the second one that the culprit was discovered and apprehended!

And then I got to thinking about other strange incidents. Wasn't there one within the past very few years - in Colorado, I think - where it was discovered that a forest ranger had deliberately set a fire that got out of control? A woman, as I recall. Anyone remember that one? It was a shocker!

Fires hold kind of a morbid fascination for us all, in one way or another, don't they? In the little town of Munising, Michigan, where I grew up, there was a Beach Inn - at least, I think that was its name! ... a grand-looking* (from my memory banks) 3*** or 5***** hotel - whatever the highest rating was at the time - that sat perhaps 200' back from the Munising Bay waterfront. Once a week a cruise ship would come up to the dock and passengers would disembark to partake of lunch at the hotel and perhaps purchase a trinket or two.

But then, one year, the unthinkable happened. The Beach Inn caught fire and, despite the best efforts of volunteer firefighters from miles around, burned to the ground. I don't remember hearing anything about a suspected arson. There probably wasn't one. This would have been in the late 1940's or early 1950's.

I stood nearby, along with hundreds of other townspeople - tears streaming down our cheeks, staring at the blazing inferno. We were witnessing a vital part of Munising's history just disintegrating into ash-filled debris before our very eyes. The hotel was never rebuilt and cruise ships stopped coming into the bay. Sad.

Probably the most bizarre recollections I have of arson-related fires are those from the Keweenaw Peninsula, where my husband and I lived in 1959 and 1960. I've written a few posts about that area. Your best reference would be this one, which includes just a great link (click on "Portage Lake" in the second paragraph) to a map of that part of the world.

There had been a number of fires, all either arson-related or arson-suspected, within the past several years to historically-significant buildings - the latest of which had been the deliberate torching of the opera house in Calumet. (If you look at the map, you will see that Calumet is a little farther up the Keweenaw from Houghton/Hancock.)

Most people, unless they're from the far north, have heard very little and know even less about that part of our country. (I knew absolutely nothing about the Gulf Coast, for example, until I moved here in the early 1970's. But that's the way of it, isn't it?) That part of our country, known a century ago as "boom copperland", was a thriving and most noteworthy area. The opera house in Calumet was one of only three normally-scheduled stops in this country for famous singers - among them were Enrico Caruso and Jenny Lind ... the other two cities were New York and San Francisco.

And so, the torching of the opera house was just about the last straw for local citizenry. We were all up in arms! A massive investigation ensued and the culprits were discovered.

Who were they? They were kids! Twelve to fourteen years old - something like that. In order to become a member of the "gang", you had to burn down a famous or important building. Made us all sick just to think of such a possibility, but there it was and - worse yet - it was true!

*Grand-looking ... I've been looking back through hundreds of photographs, trying to find a good one of this hotel as it actually was. If/when I find one, I will amend this post and include it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Scattered thoughts

Baseball ... I'll have a post and a half for y'all Monday! Have been following everything pretty closely the past 10 days or so. There'll be some good stories in there, including the 52-minute "bee delay" in San Diego.

Bridge - mentoring ... I'll be off shortly to mentor someone new ... (somebody or another) Prasad. Wonder if Prasad is similar to Jones or Smith in this country? Game starts at 10:30, and think I've just got time to finish and publish this little post before leaving.

Bridge - teaching ...Met with my newest private students last night for our second session. Had a great lesson! Came home just 'higher than a kite', as is often the case with me after a good interactive class.

They were excited about their upcoming backpacking trip to Colorado. I told them I wanted to hear all about it after our next class ... we'll do two hours of intensive bridge stuff, and then relax for a few minutes afterwards while they entertain me with stories (some of which might even be true!) and allow me to do some vicarious living.

We won't be meeting again until July 29th - a Wednesday instead of Tuesday evening this next time. That's one of the HUGE pluses of private classes ... flexibility of schedule. Another huge plus is the individual attention that can be given. Often some restructuring of the subject matter is made to accommodate each student's needs. It's challenging, but very rewarding!

Rainfall ... We are dry, dry, dry! Some parts of Houston have received some beneficial raindrops, but not this area. So, last night before I left the house, I started the sprinkler in the backyard. I figured the yard could really use a few hours' worth of a good soaking, but I anticipated having to wade through a few puddles upon my return.

No puddles - not even a teeny one! I was astounded!! The ground soaked all of that good wet stuff up like there was no tomorrow. I probably could have left the sprinkler on for a while longer, but didn't want to forget it was on when I hit the pillow. Will do some more tonight and again tomorrow night ... these times in the front yard, which is browning out like crazy. Boy, do we need rain!

Gotta go! The shower beckons, and then I'm outta here!! Will probably do another post later today, but no promises. Beth sent me an e-mail that I'd like to share, plus I have a couple of other things on the back burner. Talk atcha!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tractors ... farming, plowing, pulling, rescuing

For a few years, when my husband and I were both doing graduate work at Purdue University in the early 1960's, we rented a little house out in the country.

That's where I met Jacky. I taught her little girl in the first grade at Montmorenci. Jacky introduced me to many others in the community, and we became good friends.

Like most others in that area, her husband was a farmer. I wrote fairly extensively about him here - well, in other posts, too, but this is the one I'd like you to read because it talks about how hard he worked and his massive body strength. There are a couple of funny parts in that post, as well.

[Btw, Jacky reminded me recently how reluctant Paul Joe had been to agree to go on the trip. He had never done anything like that before in his whole life. In fact, he had not even been out of the area much, I don't think, except to attend tractor pulls and such - very similar to the life style of many of the other farmers.]

That part of Indiana is flat, flat, flat. Not 'pancake flat' like the Gulf Coast, but flat. For miles, all you can see are acres and more acres of farmland and - every once in a while - a house with some grass, perhaps flowers and a few trees around it.

That's where our house was. It sat all by itself, altho not in the middle of farm acreage. The property behind and around us, which was extensive, had been purchased and was all set to be developed as a housing community (West Lafayette expanding outward). In fact, before we left Indiana in 1966, streets and utilities had already been put in place and a couple of new homes constructed.

Across the road were a farmer's fields. We were told they belonged to Marion Klutzke, of whom stories that approached the preposterous and then became legendary were often told. Many of the wilder stories centered around his tractors, their enormous size and power and what he could make them do.

We believed very few of them, actually. (My husband was, himself, a great storyteller and loved to manufacture 'almost believable' fiction.) However, we came to understand how some of those Paul Bunyan-type tales might have originated.

Where our house was situated - and to our right, as we were looking out our front door, the road was flat for perhaps a mile or so. To our immediate left was a creek, and the road dipped down several feet at that spot to accommodate the lower elevation.

Winters in Indiana are not normally horrendous in terms of annual snowfall or storms, but - every once in a while, we'd get several inches of the white stuff that would be just blowing and drifting like crazy. The road in front might seem perfectly clear, but anyone who lived in the area knew that you couldn't get across the creek to get to town (West Lafayette) unless you had somehow found a way to get your vehicle to 'spirit itself' across the six or seven drifted feet of snow.

The county plowed all roads, but it was up to the individual homeowners/renters to see to their own driveways. This was no small task for us. Our driveway extended at least 100 (200?) feet from the main road! Marion came to our rescue more than once, as I recall. He'd attach one of those big snow-plowing-type gizmos to the front of one of his tractors and bingo! We weren't the only ones to whom he extended his good neighbor service, either!!

Now, the story you're about to read is true. The only thing missing is the name of the 'victim' ... an "innocent" road traveler, who - upon seeing that the road was 'clear' for at least a mile ahead, pressed down on the accelerator and revved up all of the available hp in his engine. We were home - couldn't go anywhere and were listening intently as he continued to accelerate ... ... vroom! (1st gear) ... vroom! (2nd gear) ... vroom! (3rd gear and continuing to enjoy his own private speedway as the road ahead appeared to be smooth as silk). He was still accelerating when - all of a sudden - the sounds of his engine disappeared almost as quickly as they had begun.

That was the darndest thing! All those speedway-type noises, and then nothing!! Marion, of course, was the one who had to come to his rescue. I don't remember how he did it. Certainly, there would have been chains involved. And, even more certainly, there would have been very loud guffaws involved - some even lingering to this day, I'll betcha, and I'm here to attest to the fact that this is a true story!

Why am I writing about this? Well, Jacky sent me an e-mail earlier today titled "Wheatstock III". I thought, "Whaaat!?!"

[It seems that she was a little 'off' on her Roman numerology for this one, but we'll forgive her. It should have been "Wheatstock VII", according to the newspaper reports .]

Talk about blasts from the past! I have looked at all of the pictures included in that newspaper link, and - try as I might - I am not able to identify Marion from any of those! Too many years have gone by, I guess.

[Inserted several hours after original publication ... Jacky sent me another e-mail after she read this post, telling me to click on each little picture from the newspaper article and the person/s would be identified. Here's Marion ... ...

I didn't recognize any of the other names, not even David Klutzke. The Klutzke boy I knew was Randy.]

I remember driving to a 'tractor pull' once (and it might have been Jacky and I going there together) ... it would have been in Illnois, but that's not really the subject of this post ... what I remember is hot, dusty and boring.

Here, for a somewhat more glamorous side of 'tractor pulling', is ... ...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Lest we forget

Beth sent me an e-mail two days ago that included a poem I do not recall seeing before. I'm sorry that I cannot tell you who the author is. Here's the poem ... ...

I watched the flag pass by one day. It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it, and then he stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform, so young, so tall, so proud.
With hair cut square and eyes alert, he'd stand out in any crowd.

I thought how many men like him had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil, how many mothers' tears?

How many pilots' planes shot down? How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves? No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night when everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play and felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times that Taps had meant 'Amen',
When the flag had draped a coffin of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children, of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands with interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard at the bottom of the sea,
Of unmarked graves in Arlington. No, freedom isn't free.

While we're all out celebrating our most important national holiday, it's imperative that we pause to remember those who have given their lives and who are currently serving to preserve the freedoms that we so enjoy and sometimes take for granted.

May God continue to bless America!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dave Barry's colonoscopy journal

Dave Barry, as I'm sure most of you probably know, is a Pulitzer prize-winning columnist for the Miami Herald. Here, in his own words, is his story ... ...

I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy.

A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis.

Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner.

I nodded thoughtfully, but I really didn't hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, 'HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!'

I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called 'MoviPrep', which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America's enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous.

Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor.

Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons.)

Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes - and here I am being kind - like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose, watery bowel movement may result.'

This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but: have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt.

You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep.

The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage.

I was thinking, 'What if I spurt on Andy?' How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said.

Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down.

Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode.

You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere.

I was seriously nervous at this point.

Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.

There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was 'Dancing Queen' by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, 'Dancing Queen' had to be the least appropriate.

'You want me to turn it up?' said Andy from somewhere behind me.

'Ha, ha,' I said.

And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, ABBA was yelling, 'Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine', and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood.

Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent.

I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that it was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors.

I have never been prouder of an internal organ.

Colonoscopies are no joke, but occasionally a patient has 'been known' to utter some really funny things during the exam. Supposedly, it has been claimed that the following were heard (from predominantly male patients) ... ... I really can't attribute these to Dave Barry - in fact, some are real "groaners".

Take it easy, Doc. You're boldly going where no man has gone before!

Find Amelia Earhart yet?

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Any sign of the trapped miners, chief?

If your hand doesn't fit, you must quit.

You used to be an executive at Enron, didn't you?

Would you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?

Thank you, Jennie, for forwarding this hilarious e-mail to me! And for those of you who haven't gotten enough of Dave Barry just yet, Craig posted "16 things that it took me over 50 years to learn" just a couple of days ago. Enjoy!!

By His Own Design

I have truly lived and opened every door I possibly could to realize my potential and satisfy my desire for inner expression. What age would you say the person who wrote that is? Does that sound to you like a person who has lived a very long and fulfilling life?

When I read those words very early this morning, I was reminded of a documentary I saw on PBS recently, "By His Own Design" - the story of Emile Norman, a California artist. Have you ever seen this film? I had seen it once before, and felt fortunate to have the opportunity to watch it again.

Norman's life story is fascinating. The documentary tells about some of his growing-up years, the eventual estrangement from his parents, his first meeting with Brooks Clement ... ...

and the home and extraordinary life they built together at Big Sur. This documentary was filmed when Norman was 88 years old and is as beautifully-crafted a piece of work as Norman's art.

[The makers of this film occasionally had difficulty cornering the artist at long enough intervals to complete various segments of the documentary. Norman felt they were cutting into his available 'creative energy time'. However, whatever lingering frustrated memories they might have had vanished completely when they learned that Norman had written in his diary, "I just saw the film. Wow, wow, wow!"]

You can read more about Norman's life here and view some of his artwork, many pieces of which are currently for sale, on his home website. Yes, he's still working at age 90! In fact, he says, "If I'm not working, call 911!"

The words I quoted at the top of this post were not written by Emile Norman. They were written by Craig Peihopa - our Australian blogger friend, who is more than 40 years Norman's junior - in his most recent post.

Craig is in the prime of his life, and is well on his way to realizing his potential and satisfying his desire for inner expression.