In Case You've Wondered

My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.

If you're here for the stories, I started another blog: scratchingforchange.blogspot.com

One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.

I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.

jescordwaineratgmail.com

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Lonely Call

This morning, the twilight revealed a raft of mackerel clouds, with a pale moon behind. The light wind from the North was chilling as it drifted across the local lake.

As the day progressed, clouds thickened from the Southwest; and this evening, the clouds were heavy, with rain on the way.

I stepped outside a few minutes ago to observe the early night. The clouds are low, and the night is still.

Overhead, I heard the honk of a solitary goose calling to a lost flock. The call was frantic, and I listened until it faded in the distance.

This a first for me. I've heard geese in the night; numerous calls as they flew overhead. It was saddening, and sobering to hear the forlorn call from the single goose.  I can only hope it finally finds the flock it lost in its travels.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I'll be away from the computer, so I'm wishing all that find my little corner of the Internet a very Merry Christmas. May all find a peace never felt before, and enjoy a day of contentment.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Happy Holidays?

When I hear "Happy Holidays", the first thing that crosses my mind is "What holidays?"

Should I be buying eggs, and dyeing them different colors? Or, getting out the pit, buying some brisket, and stocking up on fireworks? Is it time to buy a turkey, make pumpkin pies, and celebrate the first feast of the Pilgrims?

It's Christmas. It's the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ, with families coming together, with friends, the exchange of gifts, and perpetuating the belief of a fat man climbing down the chimney to bring gifts.

So, if you're offended by "Merry Christmas", go soak your head; take a long walk on a short pier; take too many sleeping pills, or just jump from a tall bridge. Christmas is about peace, charity, and good will to all - except those so willing to politically destroy the holiday. Even if you're not Christian, relish the pure love that Christmas demands, and take a break from being an asshole.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Different Weather

Last week was warm. High temperatures were in the eighties, and lows in the upper sixties. The weekend brought clouds, and an eventual cold front. By yesterday evening, it was still raining, the temperature fell to the low fifties, and the forecast called for what we had today, but it didn't follow the usual progression of weather.

Today, the morning started with clear skies, and temperatures in the upper fifties and low sixties. This afternoon, it was still clear, and the temperatures were in the middle seventies. Unlike the usual cold day following a cold front, it was though it washed out, the sky cleared, and warm temperatures returned.

The forecast for the middle of the week calls for rain, another front, and temperatures more like December. We'll see. Up to now, it's been a little strange, and I won't be surprised if this continues.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Busy, and It Always Busy

Being busy had its advantages, but it doesn't leave much time for writing.

Bleh!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Clueless

I was reading a news story; and I found one of those teaser ads at the bottom stating there are 24 celebrities married to each other, and I didn't have a clue on who they were.

I'll remain ignorant on this subject. I think it's because I don't care.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Turkey Day

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.

Now, I know some people get their panties in a knot over the holiday, since there's so much political garbage associated with how the nation started; but I really don't give a rodent's fanny about such things.

The United States is a miracle. If you throw all the crap away, and look at what it took to survive when the Pilgrims landed, our lives of energy through wires, and pipes; food for just about everyone with enough sense to find it; modern medicine; shelter from the elements; and the liberty that's more precious than many understand, there are few that understood what it took to survive in the beginning.

For those all butt-hurt about the holiday: Turn off your lights, shut down the heat, don't eat for the next 36 hours, and wallow in your self-righteous pity. You have much to be thankful for, and should celebrate your blessings. I'd rather tell you to blow out your ear, but I decided to be polite with this post.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Serenity and Escape (Re-Post)

I think I've only posted this short story once. If not, read it again....or not.

                                                                 ***

It all started after his father died. Between a hectic schedule, his children finally taking on the responsibilities of adulthood and settling an estate, Phil was to the point of mental collapse.

"You need to take care of yourself, honey." his wife, Angela, would remark. It would place his nerves on edge. He had too much to worry about and now he was being prodded to worry more about his health. The pressure only made him more determined.

One thing that nagged at his thoughts was the camp his father left in his estate. Originally, it was his grandfathers, his father inherited the property and now it was his. Although he enjoyed a trip to the camp as a child, the hectic preparation, long drive and few hours to enjoy the place as an adult, with a family, soured the experience.

“I’m going to the camp over the Labor Day holiday.” Phil announced to his wife. “You’re welcome to go, if you want.”

She didn’t respond for a few moments. After examining his face, she realized it would be a disaster if she went. The long drive, his attitude, and the knowledge of his typical reactions caused her to almost blurt out: “I have some important things to do over the holiday, so you go by yourself. Who knows, it might give you a chance to rest.”

“Not likely.” He quickly responded. “I have to go over everything and insure it’s ready to sell.”

The weekend arrived and Phil loaded his pickup for the trip to the camp. Distracted by his thoughts, the trip was filled with strategies to present the camp and receive the best price. He knew the acreage, the size of the house and the best things he remembered. All he needed was to remember to contact a real estate agent after the holiday and go over the details.

When he reached the farm gate that blocked the road to the camp, a thought appeared and he was whisked away to his youth.

The family decided to have Christmas at the camp. A light overnight snow had dusted the land, the house stood as a refuge to the cold, and everyone was full of excitement. They even sang Christmas carols during the trip.

It was a wonderful Christmas. His grandparents had decorated the house, the dinner was a bountiful feast, with all the things he liked and they shared a short prayer that night, when they sat around the campfire his grandfather prepared.

Slowly stepping from the truck, he took a deep breath and smelled the air. It was cool, fresh and full of the smells of the woods. Feeling energized, he opened the gate, climbed back in his truck and made his way up the winding drive that eventually revealed the wood frame house.

The camp hadn’t changed. The large front porch, with the two rocking chairs, was exactly the same as he remembered. The surrounding woods, with the acre of cleared land still seemed to surround the house, as though to keep out the ravages of the world.

“Well that’s good.” He muttered under his breath. Everything looked as though someone was still there every day, except for a few leaves that were on the porch. His father left a small account with enough money to have someone take care of the house for a year. Six months had passed, and Phil had wondered if those responsible were keeping their end of the bargain.

Looking about, Phil made a pass around the house before stepping onto the porch and going inside. He stopped for a few minutes, sat in his grandfather’s rocker and thought of the past.

He wondered if everything just seemed simpler back then and decided they were. People weren’t encumbered by electronic devices and the constant pressures that constantly filled his life.

Feeling a little guilty for stopping, he unlocked the door, entered the front room and felt years melt away.

Removing his camera from its case, he carefully went through the house and photographed each room. He insured every picture was the best he could take. He wanted to capture everything, so it would never be forgotten.

Remembering his groceries, he quickly returned to his truck to retrieve his ice chest and bags. Returning to the kitchen, he started putting put everything away; his grandmother frowned on being untidy; he’d learned well.

As he worked, he made note of needing a bulb for the refrigerator and decided a new box of baking soda was needed. Pausing, he wondered why he suddenly found such things important. He was planning on selling the camp and those things were trivial to a buyer.

Placing the small bottle of dish washing liquid by the sink reminded him he needed to light the water heater. Finding the kitchen matches, he opened the door to the utility pantry and found a newer water heater. He didn’t know his father changed it a few years before, which made him think of how much he didn’t know about how his father managed the camp after his grandparents passed.

After lighting the water heater, he went back outside to have a look at the water pump. The water ran fine, but he wanted to make sure there were no leaks or potential problems.

The small brick well house stood a few dozen yards behind the house. Half an acre away, two huge hickory trees cast shadows on the building, which helped keep the water in the tank cool during the summer. A few dozen feet away was a large stump; the top flattened and scarred from numerous strikes from an ax.

Opening the door to the well house revealed the large galvanized steel tank and the pump. Both were newer than the house and appeared to be in good condition. Examining the fittings, he found no signs of leaks and felt reassured. He’d wondered if the well was protected from freezing during the winter. He made a mental note to insure the process was completed.

Looking around the small room, he saw a few daddy long-legs in the corners. It reminded him of watching them for long moments when he would seek the cool of the well house during summer visits.

He whispered to himself: “God, we were young back then.” The memories returned of his aunt Rachel, who was his only companion during visits. Much younger than his mother, she was still living with her parents and would often come along for the visits when not involved with some school activity or college preparation. She was as lonely as he was and they both would find solace with each other’s company as they wandered the near woods and the small adjacent creek. She was more of a big sister and they were still close, although she’d moved far away after she married. Their communication was only the occasional call during the holidays and appropriate cards for special events.

Realizing there was little to do, and feeling a little uneasy about all the free time he now had, he decided to sit on the porch and take a few moments of relaxation.

Settling into what was his grandfather’s rocking chair, he wondered for a moment why he chose the chair. His grandmother’s was almost identical, but his decision was without hesitation and the thought of “why” gave him a few moments of introspection and wondering if he considered sitting in the chair some rite of passage.

“I miss you both” he whispered and was a little startled by his words. He did and he missed his parents. All were gone and he suddenly felt a lonely sadness that was overwhelming.

His unfocused stare at the woods was broken by a large squirrel that appeared next to the big oak near to the drive. Carefully watching, it gathered a large acorn and disappeared behind the tree. In the stillness, he could hear the squirrel as it climbed the tree, rustled some high branches and soon was quiet once again.

The event brought a smile. When his grandparents were there, the squirrels were welcome visitors and boldly moved about without fear. His grandmother would name those she recognized and speak to them like she would a pet. She was fond of them and would sit in contentment each morning; watching and enjoying her coffee.

Suddenly feeling guilty for just sitting, while knowing there were plenty tasks he should be doing, he spent a few moments kicking around the thought of leaving and arriving home after dark.

Rising, he suddenly felt foolish. He’d delegated the entire weekend for taking care of the camp, which didn’t now need his attention.

“Have I forgotten how to relax?” was his thought. Pondering on the thought, he realized it was true. Too much time occupied with tasks that needed constant attention had removed his ability to place them aside and spend some moments without distraction.

His spoken response was” “I’ll take a walk.”

Stepping from the porch, he started down the drive. He’d made the journey many times when he was younger. Ending at the gate, he’d spend long moments watching to see if a car would pass. Without much to do, the wait filled his time.

Reaching the gate stirred memories. Looking down the long asphalt highway as it disappeared across the distant hill reminded him of one late summer evening, when an approaching thunderstorm occupied his attention. It was a ferocious storm, full of lightning and high winds.

While dawdling at the gate, he found the initial gust of wind cooled his sweat and whisked the accumulated dust along the shoulder of the highway into a cloud. Spattering rain soon followed and his run to the house was futile in escaping the storm. A close lightning strike shattered a pine tree off the drive, which only made him run faster. He found his family at the porch as the heavy rain arrived. Soaked, they led him into the house, insisted on a hot bath and waited supper until the storm passed.

A falling oak leaf reminded Phil the seasons were changing. Soon, the woods would be bare and the grip of winter would turn the camp into a refuge from the cold. Turning to return to the house, he took a deep breath and enjoyed the earthy smells of the woods. They never changed and the years disappeared as he enjoyed the invigorating air.

Talking to himself, he said: “I think I’ll make some bacon and eggs for supper.” He’d stopped at a grocery store on the way and bought the food he longed to taste. His high cholesterol led to removal of such items from the family menu. He’d bought them to enjoy away from the constant scrutiny of his wife. After all, it was his weekend and he’d enjoy it for what it offered.

While he cooked, he stared out the window. The woods were changing and he knew the tree branches would soon be bare and snow would cover the ground. The thought made him happy, since the snow seemed to wrap the warm house in a blanket of comfort. The cold winds could blow as hard as they wanted, but the house would insulate the occupants from the harsh environment.

“I love this place.” As he thought of his words, he realized he did. The camp was a refuge and necessary. He’d avoided what he needed for years and the lost time made him sad.

As he ate his supper, he examined the photos on the wall. Almost unchanged from his youth, they were a testament of something he was struggling to grasp. He felt a strong compulsion to summarize what he was feeling and paused with his meal to try to find what was pulling at his thoughts. Unable to find what he was looking for, he finished, cleaned the kitchen and returned to the front porch.

The sun was setting behind the trees and the brilliant, orange sky was magnificent. He’d not enjoyed such a moment for decades and felt melancholy for the loss. It was a wonderful experience and only enjoyed if one was in the right place at the right time.

He sat on the steps and waited for the darkness to approach. Soon, he was staring at the brilliant stars through the tree branches. Unlike in the city, they were globes of light, with little space between and the silvery haze of the Milky Way embellished the beautiful evening.

Rustling down the road reminded Phil he’d left his flashlight in the truck. Momentarily at a loss, he remembered his key fob and pushed the button to unlock the doors. The headlights blinded him as he went to retrieve his flashlight.

A scan of the drive revealed nothing. He could still hear the rustling, which seemed to be moving away. Feeling a little vulnerable, he returned to the house and locked the door. The air was becoming chilly, but he knew the chill he felt was more than just a reaction to the temperature.

The house was still warm from the day, but the early autumn chill would soon make it uncomfortable. Finding the supplies, he lit the furnace and was satisfied when it started without problems. Turning the thermostat back, he prepared for bed.

Deciding on not disturbing the made beds, he took a blanket from the hall closet and soon was comfortable on the large couch in the den. The deep quiet was only broken by the slow chirps of crickets outside. Soon the cold would remove even that distraction and still nights would be without sound.

“You better get up, son. We need to chop some wood for winter today.”

Opening his eyes, Phil found his father standing by the couch and the morning light just appearing in the windows.

His grandmother was quietly singing in the kitchen as she prepared breakfast. The smell of coffee, pan sausage and biscuits forecast a hearty breakfast to start the day. His stomach rumbled in anticipation.

“Put on your heavy boots. We might find a copperhead in the wood pile and I don’t want you to be bitten.”

Looking at his dad, he smiled, stretched and soon was dressed for the day.

“I wish Rachel would have come.”

His mother soon replied: “That’s Aunt Rachel.”

“She told me not call her that – it makes her feel old.”

His mother laughed and tousled his hair as he passed to sit for breakfast.

The center of the table had platters filled with biscuits, sausage, scrambled eggs and mason jars filled with homemade jellies. Filling his plate, he soon dug in and observed his family as he ate.

His grandfather, gray at the temples, short and stocky built, was mostly silent. His chiseled features, close blue eyes and strong nose showed his German ancestry. His expressions told more of what he was feeling. His relaxed expression, occasional smile and nods showed he was content. If not, his scowl could chill the day. Phil had seen it on some occasions. It was something he didn’t like to see.

Grandma was talkative and animate as she ate. Conversing with his mother, the anticipation of a productive day occupied their thoughts and they had much to do.

His grandmother had the personality that lit up a room. Lithe, dark haired and outgoing, her optimism was contagious.

His mother had a similar personality, but was a striking contrast. Her fair features, blond hair, blue eyes and height were opposite of his grandmothers, yet they were almost eerily similar. Both were quick to anger, quick to forgive and found life a bounty of experiences to be shared.

Phil’s father was much like his grandfather. The resemblance was obvious, yet his father was taller, had more refined features and he inherited the dark hair of his mother. Both influenced his behavior, which gave him a unique aspect on life. Pragmatic, almost to a fault, he could be surprising with a determination to just be silly, or turn a day of work into a day of just going somewhere to have fun.

Now satisfied with their plans, his grandmother, and mother, turned their attention to his father and grandfather.

His grandmother was first: “I hope you men manage to keep your feet and toes.”

His father replied: “We’re only using dull axes today. After all, we wouldn’t want Phil to be exposed to all that gore.”

Phil’s grandfather just shook his head and continued eating. His grandmother and mother, laughed; his father just smiled.

After they finished, the women went to cleaning the kitchen and preparing to can the fruit brought from town. Phil’s father and grandfather donned their jackets, so Phil donned his own and they went out to start their task.

It was a beautiful clear morning. The trees were mostly bare and what was left of the fallen leaves were in numerous piles of ashes around the yard. The cut logs were piled against the well house and the wheelbarrow to haul the logs leaned against the wall with the door.

Without hesitation, Phil soon had the wheelbarrow full and pushed it to where the logs would be chopped into firewood. It was his job, until he mastered using the ax. After the logs were split, he’d stack them neatly and insure a few dozen were stacked near the front porch for use.

It wasn’t long before they removed their jackets and concentrated on their work. The morning sun was heating the day as they continued. The stack of chopped wood rose, the men worked in silence, and Phil’s mind started wandering.

The faint scent of cooking fruit, a squirrel fussing in the oak by the drive and an urge to do something else pulled his attention from his task. Lost in his thoughts, he was soon far away; thinking of exploring and the project for the next visit: Dead fall had damned the creek upstream and his grandmother missed the usual melodious trickle she could hear when the windows were open. They would clear the trees and allow the creek to flow unencumbered again.

As he imagined the jamb, what might be needed and how he wished Rachel would be there for company, he awoke.

Light filled the den. For a moment, Phil was disoriented. The room was silent, except for the low fan of the furnace. Realizing where he was, he felt robbed by awakening. It was a good dream; realistic and comforting.

Slowly rising, Phil stretched, made his way to the bathroom and started his shower, which stirred his past with memories of how the well water was so different from what was found in the city. It even had its own smell and he never found the taste offensive. It was an earthy reminder of better days, without the constant worries that now consumed his thoughts.

Drying his hair, Phil examined his face. The bags under his eyes, creases around his mouth and smile lines were apparent. They reminded him of his age, times long gone and the future, which he knew was now shorter than the past. Where the world was once an unexplored expanse of discovery, it now was a threat to surviving and age would eventually take all that was left.

He made a light breakfast of toast and coffee. As he quietly ate his breakfast, the ring of the phone startled him from his thoughts.

He’d forgotten the camp had phone service. The old rotary phone still hung on the wall; the long cord dangling under the handset. Rising, and wondering who would be calling, he answered with trepidation.

His wife’s voice was on the other end: “Honey, I hated to disturb you, but I have some bad news.”

Waiting, Phil’s mind raced with thoughts of what could be wrong.

“We just heard from Dave. Rachel has died.”

Phil didn’t answer. Momentarily confused about the name “Dave”, he realized it was Rachel’s husband and the sorrow of her loss only added to the uneasy feelings.

“I’m so sorry. I know how close you were.”

Phil could only ask: “When’s the funeral?”

“There won’t be a funeral. Her request was to be cremated and not have a service.”

“I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“You’ll be okay?”

Pausing, without knowing how he would be affected, he answered: “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”

Carefully, Phil went through the process of shutting down the camp. He turned off the gas, shut down the well, drained the pipes and flushed the toilet to insure it wouldn’t freeze. Inspecting the house one last time, he slowly drove down the drive, parked the truck and paused at the gate.

Looking up the drive brought tears to his eyes. All that was now left was a building and memories. His youth was now placed in a box and closed forever.

As he closed and locked the gate, he felt a loneliness that tugged at his very being. As he drove away, he mourned for the past and what was now gone forever.

Over the next long weeks, Phil continued with his tasks. Angela, now more concerned, didn’t want to push for Phil to find some relief, since she knew how much the loss of Rachel had torn his heart. She worried he would have a breakdown, but avoided any discussion about his health. He was so stressed and fragile. One more concern might be the final weight he couldn’t handle.

One evening, shortly before Thanksgiving, Phil received a package from Dave. Inside was a short letter:

“Rachel was adamant about her passing. She despised funerals, the gathering of mourners and what she described as “the waste of death”. She had only two stipulations: One was to be cremated and the other was to have her ashes scattered at her parent’s camp. I know you have much to take care of, but I’m asking you perform her final wish.”

Phil realized the small urn was all that was left of Rachel. A little perturbed her husband didn’t prepare him for this task; he soon realized it was probably best. He could always send the ashes back, but he knew he was more than honored. It was the least he could do.

Thanksgiving was somber. Even with the children and families in attendance, a sorrow pervaded the affair. Phil was mostly quiet and the family didn’t pry out of respect.

“Are you sure you don’t want to go?”

Angela examined Phil’s face and realized she didn’t.

“I have so much to clean up and tomorrow is Black Friday. It’s best you go alone and take some time for mourning.”

Phil hugged his wife. She understood and didn’t want to pry. The last few weeks had been tough and she knew he needed to get away to be alone.

Before he left, Phil asked his wife one last time if she wanted to go. She declined again, hugged him and told him to be careful

“A winter storm is forecast, so don’t hesitate to return or stay if the weather is bad. Call me when you arrive”

With a final kiss, Phil left and started his long trip to the camp.

As he drove, he watched the skies. The clear morning was replaced by high clouds and the horizon revealed a thick deck of clouds. A storm was coming and he hoped to be in the cabin before it arrived.

When he reached the gate, the first drops of light rain were falling. Hurrying with his tasks, he soon had a light on the water well, the furnace lit, and anticipated a quiet supper of leftovers packed by his wife. He’d even brought a small bundle of oak purchased from the local supermarket. With little effort, he lit a small fire in the fireplace, which cast comforting warmth and the faint smell of wood smoke. Remembering his wife’s words, he called to let her know he’d arrived safely.

“Dave called. He wanted to apologize on how he handled the ashes. I told him you understood and were honored.”

Phil realized he was and the thought of Rachel brought back memories.

“I like Dave. He was the best thing for Rachel and made her happy. I admire him for that.”

“If you need anything, just call. It might take me awhile to get there, but you know I’m here for you.”

Angela’s remark made Phil realize she was worried. He knew she had some reason to be so, but wanted to comfort her.

“I’m okay. I feel really good about all of this and want you to know how much I appreciate you for caring. I’ll call tomorrow afternoon, before I leave for home.”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Hanging up the phone, Phil went to the den and sat to watch the fire. Not satisfied with the size, he added some logs and went to prepare his supper.

Soon, the fire was roaring and Phil quietly ate his leftovers, while he watched the flames.

After cleaning the kitchen, he took a quick shower, made a drink and settled in for the night.

Outside, the rain changed to light snow. The light tap on the windows was replaced with the silence of falling snow. Phil stepped to the porch to watch for a few minutes. His truck was already dusted and the bitter cold chased him back into the warmth of the den.

Fixing another drink, Phil spent a few moments reflecting how the well water added a unique flavor to his bourbon and water. He liked the flavor and soon found he was drowsy. Placing the glass on the table, he found his blanket, pulled it around his shoulders and enjoyed the fire. Retrieving his drink, he stared at the fire, reminisced and sipped his drink. The fire was mesmerizing and comforting. The long minutes seemed to pass in an instant.

Rising, Phil made a quick look outside. The snow was becoming lighter and the wind scattered the flakes. The few accumulated drops of water on the porch were now frozen and the bitter wind was strong from the north.

Returning to the den, Phil finished his drink, covered with the blanket and laid back on the couch. Before he fell asleep, he watched the fire as it consumed the wood he’d placed earlier. One larger log on the back would burn for hours. Phil knew it would probably be smoldering at morning as he fell asleep.

“Are you going to sleep all day?”

Phil opened his eyes to find Rachel glaring at him.

“Do you want to miss breakfast?”

Phil smiled, rose and stretched to show he was deciding to start the day.

Rachel smile back, and pulled the blanket away, so Phil had no choice but to arise.

Feeling self-conscious, Phil remarked: “Do you like the show?”

Rachel giggled and threw his robe. Phil, now covered, found his pants and put them on while Rachel turned her back.

The camp was dark, so they were first up. Rachel was now in the kitchen, starting the coffee and pulling breakfast ingredients from the refrigerator. There were bacon, eggs, canned biscuits, potatoes and jam.

“You can start by peeling some potatoes, sleepy head.”

Phil, now involved with the scene, replied: “Can I at least go and pee?”

Rachel laughed and replied: “Be sure to wash your hands. We have breakfast to cook.”

Returning to the kitchen, Phil found Rachel peeling potatoes.

“That’s my job.”

“I didn’t know if you were distracted, so I started without you.”

Feeling embarrassed, and not sure of what she meant, Phil quietly took the peeler from her hand and started peeling potatoes.

A pot of water was on the stove with the burner on full. Rachel moved to the counter and started cutting onions for the hash browns.

“It’s going to be a beautiful day.” Rachel remarked.

Phil nodded. It would be a beautiful day. Late summer was a special time at the camp. With clear skies, the woods filled with the sounds of summer and the contentment of family, few days could compare.

As they worked, Phil examined Rachel. Her dark brown hair framed her face and her features were much like his mother's. She too was in constant motion, invigorated by life and an optimist.

“We need to hurry, so they don’t have to do anything and we can make them feel guilty.”

Phil laughed, finished peeling the potatoes and started cutting them into small pieces with the knife Rachel placed at the exact time he finished peeling.

Pulling an iron skillet from the cabinet, Rachel soon had a fire under the skillet and some oil heating. Soon, she placed the onions and turned to Phil: “Are you going to take all day cutting those potatoes?”

Phil smiled, finished his task and handed Rachel the plate of potatoes.

Retrieving another skillet, Rachel placed almost a pound of bacon and started the burner on low. Soon, the kitchen was filled with the smells and sound of frying bacon.

“I hear you’re not pursuing sports.”

Phil was little embarrassed. Although he liked sports, he was smaller than his classmates and his contributions were minimal at best. Deciding he needed to pursue his academic career, he’d forgone sports and concentrated on what he felt was best.

“That’s okay; I never was much for sports either.”

Relieved, Phil was thankful for Rachel. She understood much of what he thought and wasn’t judgmental.

“I start college next semester. I haven’t decided completely on what major, but I’m sure it will come to me over time.”

Without thinking, Phil replied: “Whatever it is, I’m sure you’ll be good at it.”

Rachel blushed and Phil noticed it immediately. Not wanting to embarrass her further, he silently watched as she placed the potatoes in the boiling water and added seasoning.

“Is that coffee I smell.”

Phil turned to find his grandmother standing at the kitchen door. Wrapped in a robe, she smiled, reached and hugged him tightly.

A little uncomfortable, Phil was relieved when she released him and went to hug Rachel.

Admiring them, he realized how much he loved them both. He felt a contentment around them he could find nowhere else.

“You didn’t have to make breakfast”

“I know, but I needed to get Phil to do something but sleep all day.”

His grandmother hugged Rachel and she winked at Phil over her shoulder.

Now embarrassed, Phil silently waited as they continued preparing breakfast.

Soon, his grandfather, mother and father came to the kitchen. All sat quietly, or helped in preparing the morning meal. Coffee was poured, a few comments were offered and soon they were enjoying the first meal of the day.

As they ate, Phil’s grandfather, and father, discussed removing the dead fall trees upstream. They planned on bringing axes, saws and pry bars. They’d work on the logs as needed and free the stream so it could return as was before.

“Can I come along?”

Phil looked at Rachel, then his grandfather. His grandfather soon replied: “I’d like that. It will get you out of the kitchen, with all the gossip and hen scratching.”

Fearing a reprisal, Phil soon realized she had probably asked before, since nobody seemed to react to the statement. His mother, and grandmother, just smiled and continued with their breakfast.

After finishing breakfast, those going to take care of the jamb were soon armed with tools, heavy clothes and departing to complete the task. Rachel fit right in, although she seemed hesitant. Torn between what was considered normal and what was considered “man’s work”, she didn’t quite know what to do. She’d soon find out what she had volunteered to do.

The jamb was about a thousand yards upstream. One big tree had caught numerous trees and branches. The creek was almost completely dammed from limbs and debris. A monumental task was at hand and Phil realized he didn’t relish what was to come.

Over the next few hours, they removed the small debris, chopped away at the larger limbs and carried everything far up the bank. All were tired and they eventually found only the large tree to focus their efforts.

Phil’s father and grandfather worked on the tree, until it was only smaller sections. Rachel helped him drag the smaller sections away from the creek.

After hours of effort, the creek was again open and the dead fall gone for good.

Muddy, wet and tired, the crew returned to the camp. Before going inside, Rachel stopped on the porch and sat in her grandmother’s chair. Phil soon followed and they sat in relief from the hard work.

The warm summer sun had baked the porch and the heat was comforting to both. Rachel was speaking about how she wished she hadn’t volunteered for the task and Phil found he was nodding in agreement, although the warmth was making him drowsy. Soon, he faded away into deep sleep.

                                                                                 ***

“So, what have you found?”

Deputy Holmes paused a moment and replied: “We started our investigation this morning after a call from the wife.”

“Go on.”

“Her husband didn’t call Sunday, so she called us this morning and asked if we’d go see if there was a problem.”

The sheriff looked down the creek and thought about what he knew to this point: A man disappeared and his wife was looking for answers.

“I arrived about 9:00 this morning. After I went into the house, I didn’t find anyone, so I started to look around.”

“What did you find?”

“The house was empty, there were ashes in the fire place and there were no signs of a struggle. After that, I went outside, examined the drive and determined there were no signs of any vehicle besides the truck in the drive and my own.”

The sheriff pulled his coat around his neck and turned away from the cold wind.

The deputy continued: “I called for backup and waited for it to arrive. Deputy Smith arrived at around 10:00 am and we started a search. We found tracks leading to the creek, so we called you and the search team.”

Soon, the search team returned and the lead officer reported to the sheriff.

“The tracks disappeared into the creek. We’ve followed the creek for about a mile each way. Other than the tracks leading into the creek, we haven’t found any other tracks.”

“Did the dogs hit on anything?”

“Nothing; It’s as though he disappeared.”

The sheriff looked at the tracks on the edge of the creek. The thin ice on the edge contrasted with the bare footprints that led into the creek and disappeared in the deeper water.

“I’ll call his wife. Contact the state and let them know we might need their help.”

The lead officer of the search team departed, leaving Deputy Holmes and the sheriff to their thoughts.

“What do you think?”

The sheriff just stared and didn’t answer for a few minutes.”

“I don’t know, but the temperature was below freezing for almost two days now. I don’t think anyone could last long barefooted in that temperature.”

Deputy Homes just nodded and realized the condition of the house indicated the man had been gone for a long time.

“Keep me informed. I have a phone call to make and I don’t like what I’ll have to say.”

The deputy just nodded as the sheriff walked away. Looking around, he admired the quiet beauty and serenity. For a moment, he was engrossed with the peaceful solitude and the thoughts of why anyone would wander off in such brutal conditions.

Whispering under his breath, he said: “Maybe it’s best. I can think of worst ways to go.”

As he walked back to his cruiser, he again admired the beauty of the seclusion. He’d wait in the car with the heater on. The strong, cold wind had chilled him to the bone and it would be a long wait for the state police.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Finger Crossing

I've worked many years next to traffic, and today I realized how much it's all about crossing my fingers some clown, texting or not paying attention, doesn't wander into the place I'm standing and turn me into worm food.

Bleh!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Call to Aunt Rose

"Hello"

"Hi Aunt Rose. It's me, Todd."

"It's been awhile since I heard from you. Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, Aunt Rose. I was thinking about you, so I decided to call."

"I wish you had thought about me last month. Didn't your mother tell you I had knee surgery?"

"She did, but I was busy."

"Busy? I'm on the way to school. I had to hire a local kid to put out my garbage."

"Well, school is taking a lot of my time."

"I saw your  "lot of my time" on television. You were standing with all those students protesting about some kid getting his feelings hurt."

"This is important. The university President didn't handle the problem, when a student was called the "N" word."

"So, you weren't going to class because someone was called a bad name?"

"It's more than that. There's not enough diversity in the University of Missouri."

"Not enough diversity? What does that have to do with you? After all, your late Uncle Bill worked hard for all those years, left me some money, and told me on his death bed he wanted me to help you through college. His words were: "That boy can sure throw a football". Your mother said you didn't even try out for the team."

"I decided to become more involved with helping with important causes."

"It looks to me you're more involved with not going to school and standing around.....and what's the reason for chasing the reporters away? Isn't your major in communications?"

"It is, but..."

"Tell me how you can communicate, be in the media, or advertising, and you won't give anyone the time to speak their mind, or ask you questions?"

"Well......."

"And how can you finish school, if you spend more time standing around than studying?"

"But....."

"I don't think you understand how blessed you've been with me paying your tuition, and helping with your college."

"I don't...."

"Lord knows your mother worked too hard for too many years, just to keep food on the table, and a roof over your head."

"I can...."

"I think the only reason you called was to get more money, so you can play at life, and ignore your responsibilities. Hy-Vee is hiring baggers. I think you need to take some time in the real world, and learn how to appreciate how much you've been given."

***click***

"Aunt Rose?.....Aunt Rose!!!!"

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Projected Increases

I was listening to a news report on the radio, which stated the Postal Service is predicting a 10% increase in holiday mailings. My mind started wandering, and I had a few questions:

How do they come up with this data? Do they ask people with questions like: "As a percentage, what is your projected increase in mailings this Christmas?" If so, who do they ask? I know they didn't ask me, and I'm curious about whether any of my readers were asked.

If they didn't ask anyone, how much did they arrive with their data, and how much did it cost? I can see some bureaucrat trying to justify their salary - which is wasted on their daily internet surfing - and thinking: "I think we need to hire a consulting firm to determine if we need to increase our spending to cover the costs of increased mailings this holiday season." After that, they convince their supervisor, who is a bigger waste of tax dollars, and it's on. After all, if they spend too much, they'll just beg for more of the Chinese loan money to cover their asses. Of course, the consulting firm manufactures all the data, places it in a shiny Powerpoint presentation, and even the smartest Senator will be impressed.

So, I'm sitting here and wondering about the report, while thinking of what difference it really makes if the Postal Service is a little behind, and someone doesn't get a Christmas card, until after Christmas day. Will the world end? Of course not. Will someone's life be terribly affected if Aunt Martha's three armed sweater doesn't arrive until New Years? I doubt it.

So, once again, my thoughts are on another great mystery that has no answer. I know in my heart I'll never have the answer, so I'll place it in the file with my question on why fast food restaurant clerks can't remember I told them "to go" in the few seconds required to repeat my order. I guess these things are like black holes. They exist, but it will take some really patient scientist to convince me an entire star is compressed to the size of nothing.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Nonsense

Life is short
Time is real
So why does it all
Have to be uphill?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Election Cycle?

"Cycle" is defined as a serious of repeating events. At one time, it was an accurate description of the process of electing a President. Since this is now a constant event, electing the President is now an "election drudgery".

You're welcome. Now you can better define your irritation at the constant bombardment of hype, rhetoric, and stupidity.


_ and I have to add a comment on the candidates: They don't sweat, they don't have blemishes, they wear makeup, and not a hair is out of place. It's like we're electing someone to accept the Academy Award, instead of someone to run the United States. We don't elect Presidents anymore; we elect the best supporting actor, or actress, in a movie loosely based on reality. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dodging the Bullet

Hurricane Patricia pumped a huge amount of moisture into the atmosphere. The moisture allowed a developing low over the Gulf of Mexico to have more than abundant rain.

Houston received up to 10 inches in some areas, which caused some flooding, but they were prepared, and it appears the damage will be minimal. Locally, it's in the three to five inch amount, which could have been more.

So, the storm is passing my area, most of the rain is in the Gulf of Mexico, and the future of the weather to the East, is soggy. Louisiana, and Mississippi are next.

 I have the feeling the low will track across the South, and the East Coast can expect a Nor'easter. It's that time of year, and this storm can be a surprise for many. It's more intense than the normal low, and it will bring much bad weather for those in its path.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

School Bus Traffic Jam

I watched a school bus pull up to a day care center this evening. While this may be a common occurrence, the event was notable.

It took forever for the children to disembark. Not only were they oblivious of the time they were wasting, their handlers didn't seem to care. To add insult to injury, the children stepped from the bus, and appeared as though they were arriving somewhere they had never been before. Their slack-jawed wonder of something they've probably seen for months was an indication of an inability to process information; and expedite their way through life, without supervision to the age of twenty seven.

I know being a parent is tough, and teaching your children is a tough job, but teach them to haul ass, when they leave the school bus...and stop wasting my time.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Blue Jay Morning

Summer lost its hold over that last week. We had some hot days, but mornings were cooler, and a front on Friday brought more dry, cool air, so this morning is in the low sixties, and the promise of more deep blue skies; maybe filled with mare's tails, like yesterday.

I walked outside to feel the morning. The front had lost its punch, so the wind backing to the east is filling with moisture, and the crispness is waning. Still, it was a pleasant relief from the summer mornings, with temperatures pushing eighty degrees, and a humidity near 100 percent.

The blue jays were fussing in the distance; their sharp caws a warning to their own, and any other species that knows they do so to alert, or move a predator to other prey. I looked, and listened, as they moved my way.

The focus of their attention caught my eye, as it landed at the top of large white oak. The sunlight had not quite reached the top of the trees, so its plumage was dull in the increasing light.

It was a hawk; large, but not huge, so it took a few moments to determine the species. The plumage was familiar, but the solid tail didn't look the right color. Before the sun could find its perch, it flew away, as the blue jays landed on adjoining branches; calling for support and fussing.

I think it was it was a red tailed hawk; maybe a juvenile, or the light didn't accentuate the color of its tail. It was hard to tell in the dim light, but the solid tail, and plumage pattern was the same as a red tailed hawk.

I knew it was around, since I'd seen it in the evening, as it flew over the top of the trees. The blue jays always announced its presence, but its quick passage never allowed a closer look.

I'd found traces of its hunts. Strange clumps of dove feathers would be in the yard, but unlike that of a cat, there was no blood, or pieces of the dove, Finding its prey in flight, or perched in the top of a tree, the feathers were lost as the talons grasped the prey, and the quick acceleration removed clusters of feathers.

With the retreat of their enemy, the blue jays stopped their raucous complaint, and settled back into their morning routine. The rest of the birds did the same, and only the sounds of an awakening morning were left.

I stood for a moment longer, and went on my own hunt for a cup of coffee; my thoughts on the rich taste, and the start of a beautiful day. I think I'll sit on the back porch, and wait for the sun to rise above the trees.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Eric Clapton: Five Long Years

Slowing Down the Thoughts

I know I haven't been writing much. I go through phases where nothing sounds right, or picking out the words seems too tedious.

At first, I started to ignore the urge to write this morning, but something caught my eye, and it was too remarkable to ignore.

I was sitting on the back porch, watching as the first rays of the sun peeked through the trees. The air was clear, the temperature a little to warm to call brisk, and it was completely still.

The hummingbird feeder appeared as a brilliant globe of energy trapped between two red disks. As I watched, a female hummingbird came to feed; obviously a straggler, since she refused to perch on the edges.

Her wings were a dim blur, and the sunlight made it appear as if she was surrounded by field of light. As she fed, her tiny tongue darted into the feeder multiple times per second; tiny electrical discharges as she fed on pure energy.

She fed for a half dozen seconds, backed away, returned for another taste, and was gone; a small streak disappearing into the morning sky.

I had no camera, so the event was only etched into my memory; the words a poor attempt to document a sight too unique to allow to slip through the cracks of my thoughts.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Electronic Message Boards

I use them on projects. The electronic message board can be set up on the side of the shoulder and important messages programmed to alert drivers of upcoming traffic problems.

There are rules of how many lines and panels. That, and there is a list of approved abbreviations to help with the limited space for words. All, in all, they usually help, although I sometimes think they're more lawyer repellents, than public information.

I've never place anything objectionable on a board, although one message came to mind yesterday. Traffic was the usual fubared congregation of pinheads, and aggressive drivers that ignored the message board that warned them of a closed lane ahead.

The board was at least a mile from the lane closure, and warned of the right lane being closed. To a good driver, this means to immediately start making an effort to get in the left lane. To the dumbass, this means driving all the way to the barrels, and try to squeeze in. After all, their time is much more important than the time of everyone else.

My objectionable message?

First panel: "RIGHT LANE CLOSED AHEAD"

Second panel: "DUMBASSES MUST MERGE LEFT TOO"

That message would have led to many complaints, although a simple response from an official, such as: "I don't know why you're so upset, unless you're a dumbass." would have ended the conversation.

Anyway, some important things could be placed on the message boards. Unfortunately, people are so anal these days, somebody would have some health problem after reading their behavior described, and run off into the ditch.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

It Knew (Re-Post)

It knew. It knew almost everything there was to know. Nothing ever discovered, that lived, was examined or happened was beyond its knowledge. The secrets of everything were known and nothing was missing.

The original formation was known. So was the combination of events that led to life, including physical phenomena and chance happenings that created the right moment.

All life forms, and their genetics were known. Every species was known; both living and extinct. There was no conjecture, or unknown events. Time periods almost incomprehensible allowed examination, research and the recreation of everything that happened and nothing was missed.

Now, on an impossibly tall platform placed to observe the heavens, and the adjoining planet, it was all that was left. Scanning constantly, nothing escaped its attention. It observed the dull light of a star that had long since died. Nuclear fusion was over. The final outcome of billions of years was almost inconsequential compared to the huge swirl of light accentuated by a large area of complete darkness.

Time passed on, yet stood still. The culmination of knowledge only waited, since there was nothing left to do, but observe and – maybe – be relieved of the constant waiting and allowed to pass the knowledge on.

There was only one empty section of knowledge that remained. Awaiting input, it could only accumulate what could be observed. The information was stored in the enormous archives available, or created in the moon it occupied. Energy was available from fusion. Machines could add more space, if necessary. Time had no meaning; data was constant and forever was a point without reference.

The creators were gone. Having passed through uncountable phases, they settled with an organic vessel. Machinery, even the most sophisticated, was incomplete for experiencing the unique experience called life. While it seemed life could be controlled, it never was. The fantastic constant modifications always gave new experiences that could never be anticipated. Unfortunately, this choice led to the departure. Organic forms couldn't survive here any longer. Ionizing radiation was far beyond what could be shielded.

So, now it was all that was left, with a purpose to pass on information. The charred remains of the third planet would mark the location where it began. If the original inhabitants returned, their new information could be added to the archive. They could add their experiences of travel to other galaxies, much younger than that what once was called the Milky Way; now greatly consumed by the central black hole. It was their beacon and marker; a sophisticated pile of rocks, which their ancestors used to mark their passage; an irony of myriads of millenniums.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Hummingbirds

This is the first summer of my life, where I fed, and watched, hummingbirds. It's been rewarding; mostly because their existence is fascinating.

It's probably good hummingbirds are so small. If they were as large as a crow, their territorial fights would end with broken windows and mayhem around the yard. They don't get along well with each other, and it's not uncommon to see one become "Emperor" of the feeder, and spend almost all its energy chasing off other hummingbirds that come to feed.

Still, they give me moments of peace. When one finally comes to the feeder, and decide it's where to feed, it's comforting to watch such a tiny critter finally roost, after it's full of the sugar water I provided.

It's time for the hummingbirds to move further south, and eventually arrive at their winter grounds. Until then  I'll enjoy their antics, as they wander around the yard and feed at the feeder. Some will return next Spring. I'll enjoy them, when they return.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A New Stupidity

I might be more observant, but I doubt it.

 I find more people - mostly young - walk down the street, without any knowledge of the traffic approaching, and in the travel lane. While this is inherently dangerous, the attitude of not paying intention appears to be due to stupidity. To exacerbate this problem, many are walking with their heads down, while they examine their cell phone.

The only cure for this problem involves logical thinking. I'm afraid such efforts are becoming more difficult for too many people.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Anonymity Forever (Re-post)

I'm a little amazed on the perspective of the passage of time, as we age. Time seems to pass quickly, and the long days of youth become short days after time. 

I wrote the following story after some thoughts, and the thoughts pervaded, until I wrote them down. 

It's a repeat, but I hope those that read it before enjoy it again.

                                                                      ***

As Tia walked into the large park, she was reminded of how much she loved late Spring. The foliage was full, lilies were in full bloom and the cool morning air was exhilarating. Taking a deep breath, she relished the moment and continued on with her task.

She was a little apprehensive, since she didn’t know who she was going to meet, but she knew the park was usually full of people and she’d probably be safe.

As she continued around a short bend in the sidewalk, she found she could observe the central area, with the benches and – hopefully – the man she was supposed to meet.

He was there; sitting by the large oak, which he described. At that distance, she could only start observing the man. Slowing her steps, she decided to take her time and cautiously approach.

As she walked, she thought of the short note she received from the man the day before. She wasn’t startled by receiving something written on paper, since many had now abandoned electronic communications. They, like her, liked their privacy and felt all the laws now in place didn’t do enough to prevent eavesdropping.

Tia was successful, but she still found her success surprising. Ten years before, she would have never envisioned her life at this moment.

Fresh out of college, with her journalism degree, she’d worked at a few news outlets; only to find the work mind numbing.  Sensationalism was more important than full stories, which was typical for most news, but not what she wanted to do.

Blessed with an old printing shop, which was an inheritance from her grandfather, she started spending evenings, and weekends printing a small flyer, which she’d leave in public places for free.

Over a short period of time, she found the flyers were disappearing faster than she could put them out. At first, she thought they were just being thrown away, until a local shop owner asked to advertise. Surprised, she offered a few free ads, which led the shop owner to asking for rates and a larger space.

Soon, she had more people asking for ad space and found she couldn’t stay employed and keep publishing her flyer. Saying some prayers, and going all out, she decided to live on her meager savings, moved into the small apartment behind the old shop, and soon found she was the editor/publisher of a small newsletter that was struggling, but keeping her alive.

Some former coworkers teased her; only for awhile. She knew she was on to something, when a reporter from a large news station asked for the opportunity to post an article. They felt they were basically inconsequential at their job and wanted an opportunity to present something they found important; even if their media bosses thought it was not.

It wasn’t long after the article that her newsletter turned into a newspaper, which involved dealing with a bank, investing in new equipment and hiring people to help with distributing her paper. It was daunting at first, but she was a natural at her trade. In spite of her new responsibilities, she refused to succumb to just being “the boss” and was constantly involved with all aspects of her newspaper.

She was close to reaching the man on the bench. She could now see he was older, yet it was hard to determine his age. At first glance, he appeared ancient, but closer inspection made her think he was around 70; maybe younger.

Deliberately walking as far away from him she could, she slowed, preparing to stop, when he said: “You must be Tia” as he looked up.

“I am”

Rising slowly, he reached to shake her hand. As she took his hand, he smiled and said: “I’m pleased to meet you.”

She realized his grip was firm, yet belayed a strength she didn’t usually find in older people. She carefully examined his face and realized she still couldn’t determine his age.

His hair was gray, yet his neatly trimmed beard was flecked with brown. He had many wrinkles, yet his skin had a youthful glow and lacked age spots. His hazel eyes were clear, had no redness and sparkled when he soon responded to her gaze: “Are you finding what you’re looking for?”

Embarrassed, she replied: “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude, but it’s one of those things I’ve always done. I try to gather as much information from someone as possible, and examining their face is one source that reveals more than people realize.”

He continued to smile and asked: “And, what did you gather?”

Without thinking, she responded: “Not enough.”

He laughed and motioned for her to sit.

He soon spoke: “I know you’re wondering why I asked you here, so I won’t waste your time with trivialities.”

“You can call me Ed Johnson. That’s not my real name, but it will do for now.”

Tia just sat and waited.

Ed turned, stared toward the horizon and his eyes glazed, as he started speaking; his smile now gone.

“I’ve observed many things during my lifetime. Some good, some bad and many that seemed inconsequential at the time. Mostly, my observations were of people and what they find motivating. That’s why I chose you.”

Tia responded: “Chose me for what?”

Smiling again, he explained: “First, I must give you this.” Reaching into his pocket, he retrieved a memory stick and handed it to Tia.

“You will have plenty of time to examine it over time; and it will take awhile.”

Tia looked at his face, which still revealed little, and took the memory stick. Before she could ask any question, he turned away again and started speaking: “You’ll find my real name there, and my journal, with photos. “

He continued: “Years ago, while studying, I met a group of doctors that can only be described as amazing. Not only were they geniuses, I’ve never found anyone as compassionate, and devoted as they were. They allowed me to become involved with their project, with the explicit demand I kept their work secret. I agreed and was soon amazed by their discovery.”

Ed paused, while continuing to stare across the park. Impatient, Tia soon asked: “What discovery?”

Ed waited a long time before answering: “A compound that slows aging.”

Tia, feeling a little used, responded with a low “Humph”, which caused a response from Ed.

“I knew you wouldn’t believe me, but there’s sufficient proof on that memory stick, with documentation that is infallible.”

“And I’m supposed to believe you’re not a prankster, or demented?”

With a quick laugh, Ed responded: “Of course not. I wouldn’t think much of you, if you took me at my word.”

Now confused, and a little angry, Tia began to wonder why she came.

Ed, realizing she was feeling like the victim of a practical joke, placed his hand on hers and said: “I need to explain a little more. After that, you can leave to go over the information I gave.”

Still angry, Tia waited for him to continue.

With a wry smile, Ed continued: “People don’t change very much. The basic wants and desires never change, but society does. What we call evil is rarely the wish of many; it’s usually the result of manipulation of only a few seeking power, without any qualms of the harm their efforts may cause. That’s why I chose you. Your rare talents and opportunities offer what I consider a brief chance of doing something that will change the world. Regardless of the outcome, I believe my choice is best.”

Tia, now interested, was quick to respond: “So, tell me what this has to do with me.”

Pausing, then sighing, Ed continued: “What I will soon say will make you think I’m insane. I can accept that, but I have the feeling time will prove otherwise.”

Tia waited.

“I’m 150 years old.”

Quick to anger, and not amused, Tia rose to leave and said: “I knew it.”

Ed quickly grabbed her arm and said: “I knew your great grandfather. Please allow me a few more minutes”

Her anger now overwhelmed by her curiosity, Tia sat again, and waited for him to continue.

Over the next ten minutes, Ed described meeting Tia’s great grandfather, helping him establish the printing business that was eventually closed by her grandfather, and how they’d spent many days fishing on the pier that burned down when she was a child. He knew facts only the family knew, and he described the final days of her great grandmother with enough detail to make her know he was either very resourceful, or actually was present at her demise.

Turning to say something, she realized Ed had tears in his eyes.

“That was one of the saddest days in my life. I loved your great grandmother like family and her passing was terrible to watch. Cancer treatment was brutal and fruitless at that time. Your great grandfather was devastated and never really recovered from the event.”

They both sat quietly for a few minutes. Ed was first to speak: “I have this hope that the dismal future of our society will be changed by what I gave you. You have the opportunity to not only change how information is passed, you have the audience of those that can think, will respond readily and make the difference that will be required to enable a bright future for our species.”

Tia could only sit and wait for Ed to continue.

“Included in the information is the formula for the compound that slows aging. Those wonderful doctors that created the compound are now all gone, due to the idiosyncrasies of fate. The last doctor fell from a ladder last week, while pruning a tree in his yard. The rest all died accidentally, so my vow to secrecy can now be broken.”

Tia, wondering, asked: “So what is it you want me to do?”

Ed shook his head, and laughed: “I have no specific instructions. It’s all completely up to you. I have enough of the compound to last for a long, long time and will soon move to continue hiding my identity. Even if you wanted to expose me, you’ll never find me.”

Smiling, Tia could only respond with a quick: “Okay”

Ed rose, reached out his hand and shook Tia’s hand one last time: “It’s been a real pleasure and you’ll never know how much this means to me.”

Quickly, he left. Tia watched as he walked away, and soon disappeared around the bend in the sidewalk.

Tia continued sitting on the bench and stared across the park. Her mind was racing with numerous thoughts, but the one nagging thought she’d been the victim of a prank wouldn’t leave.

Whispering to herself, she said: “We’ll soon find out.”

Rising from the bench, she quickly started toward her shop. As she walked, she now wasn’t the least bit interested in the beautiful gardens and foliage of the park. She had to know and it would bother her until she did.  

Highway Stripes

Most people don't know what highway stripes signify. That,and the distance between stripes

The stripes are 10 feet long, and forty feet from nose of stripe, to nose of stripe. Otherwise, there's thirty feet between each stripe.

Years ago, stripes were painted on the pavement. For decades, a thermoplastic is used instead. The plastic arrives in bags, is heated in pots, and sprayed like paint on the pavement. As the plastic is sprayed, glass beads are sprinkled on top to add reflectivity at night. Without it, the stripes are hardly seen, and water on the paving almost completely obscures.

Stripes have different colors, but for highway markings, they are yellow and white. White designates the lanes in one direction, and yellow is used to signify the boundary between opposing traffic lanes.

Broken lines are used to indicate lanes. On a highway with only two way traffic, these stripes are yellow, since traffic flows both ways. On highways with multiple lanes, the broken lines are white.

Solid lines indicate the driver is to keep inside their lane and not cross the line. On highways with two lanes, and opposing traffic, the line on the right will be a solid white, and the line between opposing traffic will be solid yellow. In curves, a broken yellow line will have a solid yellow line adjacent to signify which lane of traffic is not to pass slower traffic. If it's on the side you're driving on, it indicates you are prohibited to pass, and the line will remain, until there's enough sight distance to pass safely. If there are two solid lines, crossing the center line is prohibited for both lanes of traffic.

On multiple lane highways, the right line is solid white, except where it follows the right side of an exit ramp. Beyond the ramp, the white line continues. Entrance ramps will have a safety "island" of diagonal stripes before the break at the entrance. The merging lane white line eventually ties into the white line in the outside travel lane.

A yellow solid line is found on the left side of the inside lane of multiple lane highways. Even if there's a large grass median, the yellow line is painted to signify the demarcation of opposing lanes of traffic.

Solid lines come in different widths. The typical four inch solid line indicates travel across the line is cautioned and only for a specific purpose. Roads with continuous center turn lanes have these. Travel is allowed, but only with caution, and the lane is never to be treated as a travel lane. Drivers are expected to only use the lane for acceleration, and deceleration, when traffic allows. These line are left out at intersections and driveways.

Eight inch wide sold lines are never to be crossed. These are found at entrances, and exits, to signify the traffic in the other lane has the right of way, and dangerous conditions are presented if a driver crosses the line. When the eight inch line is broken, it signifies a combination entrance/exit ramp, and drivers are to be extra cautions when crossing the line to exit, or merge.

Between the stripes, or on solid lines, raised reflective markers are placed to help mark the pavement at night, or in low light conditions, such as during a heavy rain. On two lane roads, the center of the lanes will have reflectors that show amber both ways. On multiple lane highways, the center line markers are white toward facing traffic, and red on the opposite side. Otherwise, if you you're driving, and see red reflective markers ahead, you're driving against traffic. An occasional blue marker indicates a fire hydrant is at that location.

If you got this far in this post, you're interested, and will notice such things as you drive. When you understand the basic rules for stripes, you begin to notice those that are worn, or missing reflective markers, which can be found scattered on the shoulder.

Whether interested, or not, the stripes on the highway are regulation markings. Failing to observe what they indicate can lead to traffic fines, or worse, a head-on collision on a rural highway, late at night.

One other thing: Years ago, an old TxDot worker asked me which lane I drove in, when going over an overpass on an empty highway late at night. I answered it depended, and he cautioned to always stay in the right lane. He further explained that someone driving the wrong direction will have a tendency to try and stay in what they think is the right lane. By staying in the right lane, the odds are they'll pass you, and you'll have another head-shaking moment to add to your list.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Summer Hangs On

We had a short cool spell last week, which yielded low sixties in the mornings, with highs in the mid eighties. It didn't last long, and Summer returned.

For the last week, it's been in the low to mid seventies near the coast in the mornings, and around ninety two in the afternoon. Rain is prevented by a ridge of high pressure, so the heat is hanging on.

This weather pattern will last a week, or so, but we'll get a front, some rain, and the sun won't be able to overcome the cool any longer. After that, the chilly evening will be filled with the aroma of burning leaves and the feel of Autumn will settle in.

I enjoy Autumn more than any other season. I like the temperature, the azure skies, and the brilliant oranges of sunset. I feel a contentment I find no other time of the year.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My Solution

We don't need bombs; we need coat hangers. Why? Because coat hangers are much more dangerous than bombs.

If we dropped thousands on our enemies, within seconds, they'd be so tangled up in coat hangers, they couldn't move. They would beg for wire cutters and never want to fight us again.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Another One Bites the Dust



Way back when, when dirt was still new, R.E.O Speedwagon was a far cry from the pop music that brought them fame. Gary Richrath cooked on the guitar.

He's passed. No reason was given for his passing, but at the young age of 65, there's no telling the cause.


May he rest in peace.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fire and Steel

Steel is a wonderful building material, but has a fault that designers protect against, but there's never a guarantee it will work long enough.

The fault? Heat. At high temperatures, steel changes. The material becomes plastic, loses strength and fails as a structural support. In building fires, you can see the damage in the twisted girders and columns after the fire is extinguished. Intense heat caused the steel to loose rigidity, so the weight of the structure caused sagging, with an eventual failure.

With skyscrapers, this fault is known, so exposed steel is exposed to fire proofing. The fireproofing has a design problem, too. It's usually brittle, so impacts can lead to spalling of the material and exposing the steel. That, and poor workmanship. Without fireproofing, even low heat fires can cause damage to steel.

Even the rebar in a concrete foundation will distort in fire. After a containment pit was struck by lightning, the oil in the pit burned for over an hour, before it was extinguished. The damage was something I'd never seen before. Large concrete girders holding equipment lost the outside layer of concrete, when the concrete spalled due to the intense heat. The rebar between the stirrups was sagged like spaghetti, which I found surprising. I thought only an oxy/acetylene torch could provide such heat, but my thoughts were proven otherwise. Seeing one inch rebar sagging in two foot span was something to see.

The World Trade Center Towers were built of steel, but the structures were innovative. The core of the building provided most of the strength, and the floor were supported by trusses, with the external structure much lighter.

A truss is an interesting building component, since it's composed of small steel rods, and angles, which are constructed in a lattice work to gain strength through cross members and bracing. They work,are lightweight, can handle substantial loads, but are more susceptible to heat. Heat that takes a long time to cause a large steel member to start distorting, can cause distortion in a short period of time on a truss. I've read that firefighters are aware of this, and detest working a fire in buildings with trusses for supports.

When the jets hit the towers, they immediately caught fire. With almost full fuel tanks, the fires were destined to burn for a long time. Jet fuel, due to it's composition, burns at high BTU's and the temperature increases, when aided by strong drafts, such as those found on a tall building.

It's theorized the initial crash removed much of the fireproofing on the trusses, which exposed them to the heat. Since the trusses were supporting light weight concrete, their failure would lead to the materials on the floor they supported to fall to the floor below. If the floor held, the event would have ended, but there were multiple floors above the fire.

When the floors started falling, they slammed into the floor below the fire, which caused it to fail. The added weight sheared the other floor, and the debris fell to the next floor below. Within seconds, the banging of the floors was a constant noise included in the rumbling. Firefighters that survived described the banging as the floors collapsed and the buildings fell.

I've read of conspiracy theories about the destruction of the World Trade centers, but find they don't satisfy the known physics involved. Some may find it comforting to think something more sinister was the cause of the destruction, but it doesn't fit with what I've read about, and experienced.

The World Trade Towers were a marvel of modern architecture, and engineering, but the biggest fault was always there. While planes caused the fire, a conflagration of the same proportion, without any intention would have caused the same disaster. All that was needed was fire, and time.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Trains in the Distance.

I listen to train horns daily. Over time, they're just part of the background; the horn, and rumble of engine, something not allowed to distract.

When the weather is right, and the morning is very calm, the train horn reverberates; echoes returning after brief seconds and the lonesome sound almost leading to moments of melancholy. The sound is truly lonely and leads to sobering thoughts.

When I was about 15 years of age, my grandmother died one autumn. We returned to Oklahoma for the funeral, which was surreal and my first experience with the loss of a close family member.

The night after the funeral, before I fell asleep, I laid in bed, thinking of the day, and enjoying the chilly breeze that wafted through the window by my bed. I don't remember my thoughts, but I remember the haunting sound of a train horn off in the distance. I sat up for a moment, looked out the window, and examined the yard in the dim light. A chapter ended in my life. I knew I would probably never return to the house; and never did.

So, I listen to train horns, examine my thoughts, and relive moments in my life. It's a good thing and leads to moments of solace.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I Guess I Should Write More

If I had to summarize my life at the moment, I'd have to say I'm busy, or not, or have a lot on my mind, and need to write, but stay pissed off at politics and don't want my blog to be a consistent rant at the low life, puke crap, bottom feeding, thieving, lying, reprobate politicians that suck the life out of the country, have more vacations in one year than I've had in my career, and don't have a clue.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

When the Real Issue is Avoided

Kim Davis is in jail because her conscience, due to her religious beliefs, prevented her from issuing marriage licenses that she would attest to, when signing. Otherwise, she didn't want to officially attest to something she might not agree with, or was unconscionable.

Some gay couples wanted a license, so they sued in Federal Court. The judge ordered her to issue marriage licenses. When she wouldn't, he held her in contempt and sent her to jail.

Some side with judge, and think his actions were appropriate. They believe the judge acted correctly in demanding Kim Davis issue marriage licenses, and sign the document.

Some side with Kim Davis. They believe the judge acted beyond his capacity and violated her rights.

Personally, I think the entire mess could have been avoided. Kentucky could have changed the form, or gone through the process of removing Kim Davis from her elected office. Of course, that would have taken time, might have not yielded the intended results, and the problem would have continued. Still, it was the correct method and those that didn't like the method could have changed it through the legislative process.

Those wanting the license, could have gone to another county. The clerks in those counties were issuing licenses to same sex couples.

So, we now have Federal Judge holding a woman in jail, without breaking any law, and he won't let her out, unless she signs marriage licenses she refuses to sign. The judge, who I feel didn't have the wisdom or experience to hold his office, now can't back down, even if his contempt order is beginning to look like a petty, arbitrary decision.

How will this end? It's going to get ugly. The radical gay activists have thrown down the gauntlet, without thinking of the perception of the public. Their rights don't supersede the rights of others, and with a woman in jail for no other reason than refusing to sign a document, their platform is shaky and they are only a very small percentage of the population. The process required by the Constitution was bypassed, judicial activism is removing the rights of other individuals, and the public is becoming angry at the audacity.

So what is the real issue? The right of an individual to determine their heirs and the automatic right to benefits allowed to heterosexual couples. That was not asking much, but Social Security benefits, and many pensions, prevent such things. Instead of changing the wording for legal rights of individuals, the entire definition of marriage was changed. I call that foolishness, but apparently, foolish behavior is common with government officials.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

End of Summer

In these parts, Summer is slow to wind down. Usually, the hot, humid weather persists into late September or early October.

This year, we've had the first front, which is early. While the temperature drop was only around 10 degrees, the humidity drop was around 20%. That's huge, when you consider the difference. Where it's now just reaching 80 degrees at 10:00 am, only a few weeks ago the temperature would only fall a little below 80 and it would be 80 degrees by 8:00 each morning.

I'm watching the remnants of Erika. The low is off the southwest tip of Florida and heading North. An upper level low is steering the remnants up the coast, which will give South Florida some much needed rain. This weather pattern will lead to clouds, and lower humidity in my area, which will further cool the temperatures.

The end of Summer is looking like it's already here, and the cooler temperatures may last longer. I don't know for sure, but the changes underway are much more pleasant than high temperatures over 100 and high humidity to add to the misery.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Return of the Birds

No, not the movie. Migration is starting, so the hummingbirds, and other migratory birds, are appearing. I like that. It amazes me things so tiny can brave thousands of miles of travel, survive, and do it multiple times.

I'll keep the feeders full and enjoy the show.

Monday, August 24, 2015

What Do You Think?

In the news, the reports say Joe Biden went to meet with Elizabeth Warren over the weekend. This fueled much speculation, since Joe did so while Obama was on vacation, nobody really knows what the meeting was about, and all this happened right after China screwed with world markets. My only question is: Did anyone know Joe was out and about without supervision?

It's a crazy world today, but I'm only pointing out the obvious.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Stranger Things Have Happened

The Iran deals stinks, from what I've read, yet the President, and Secretary of State are supporting it to the point of fault? Why? Why is the United States so willing to concede everything, just to have a deal?

Some think it's Obama's ego, and his legacy promoting his support. The same is said about Kerry, but what if it's something worse? What if Hillary's server was so compromised, not only were State Department files hacked, but Military files were hacked, also? What is so important to risk the safety of the United States to allow a small country to continue with their nuclear program? Is it personal? Or, is it strategical?

I don't know, but this is all beginning to stink worse than before. It's tragic the United States is being run by such an incompetent group of arrogant politicians.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Loose Lips Sink Ships

The slogan during  WW II was a warning of how comment perceived as innocent could have drastic consequences. Enemies of the United States were looking for any information available to help with their effort to win the war.

Now, it's not so much as "loose lips", its electronic communications. Unsecured email accounts become treasures for anyone looking for information, and the consequences can be deadly. The name of a covert operative may lead to the death of the operative, or worse: their family and friends.

While the problem with Hillary Clinton's unsecured email server, with the unsecured messages, is being downplayed, the possibility that important information regarding the safety of taxpayers was frivolously placed for anyone with skills to retrieve.

What are the consequences? First, every email sent to Hillary Clinton, or sent by Hillary Clinton, may now be readily available to those that are willing to kill innocent people to promote their cause. To add insult to injury, every bit of top secret information accessible by the State Department can now only be assumed to be compromised.

So, now what happens? The usual song and dance has started, but the realization of the problems is just now becoming apparent to the general public. While many may think it's only an inconvenience, those that may have their lives destroyed, or have family members killed due to the incompetence, will hardly call their live changing experiences "inconvenient".

Meanwhile, the Attorney General is sitting on her hands. Her loyalty is obviously for a political ideology, instead of the safety of those that trusted the government to protect them from harm.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Something I Used To Never Think About

I had a day this week that reminded me of my mortality. The temperature was around 102, the humidity was a little high, and I found the heat was more than oppressive.

I was laying out a long ditch to drain a project. It wasn't hard work, but required a lot of walking. As I worked, I walked slowly, didn't hurry and was methodical in preventing any extra steps.

After I reached about 600 feet from my truck, I realized I needed some water, and the need to stop for a few minutes to sit in the air conditioning.

The distance was farther than I anticipated, and I realized the energy was gone. I'd been hot enough before to know heat exhaustion was setting in, and I needed to do something quickly.

Another employee was checking grade for an excavator one hundred feet away. They were waiting for the off-road dump truck to return for a load of dirt, so the machine was idle.

I motioned for him to go for my truck and bring it closer. He walked away, while I slowly walked to the machine and crouched under the counterweight for some shade.

As I waited for a few minutes, I thought of my brother, and wondered what through his mind during his last moments before heat finally killed him. I knew his angst. I knew his feeling of helplessness, and I knew he went from conscious thought to unconsciousness in seconds. Mostly, I wondered if he was aware of what was happening. There are only short moments between feeling able and the intense exhaustion, where walking becomes a challenge, and the dizziness appears.

Keeping my truck close, and retreating to the ac for a few minutes, when needed, I finished my task. The heat cramps started about thirty minutes later. Supplements helped keep the back cramps from doubling me over, but one in my thigh caused soreness for a few days.

Age brought a feebleness, and vulnerability I wasn't expecting. I don't like it, but I'll accept; and adapt. Where I could once work for long days, weeks at a time, in the intense heat, without any concerns, I now must be very careful, and learn my new limitations.



Sunday, August 9, 2015

Picking Up The Garbage

I've never understood how people that will demand immediate action, when their garbage isn't removed from the curb, will idly sit and let the feckless Federal government waste so much money without getting anything done.

Maybe it's the size of the tasks, but still, if the trash isn't removed, the garbage continues to pile up at the curb.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Increasing Heat

Rain is not on the horizon, the temperature is supposed to reach the upper nineties to low hundreds, and the event is supposed to last to the middle of the week, at least.

The summer of 2011 was similar, and we had one worse in the late nineties, when afternoon temperatures reached 108. That was a brutal summer, and our work hours were 6:00 am to 2:30 pm. With temperatures over 100 by noon, it was dangerous to work in the brutal heat. Even those most accustomed to the work were beat by the early afternoon and close to dehydration.

So, we have another summer, where everything is the same, and everything is different. Like those before, it will end and Autumn will arrive.

I'm looking forward to the first morning, when the temperature is in the low sixties, and the afternoon high is less than eighty.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Joe Cocker - Summer In The City (From "Across from Midnight Tour" DVD)

The "Loving Spoonful" recorded the popular version. Joe Cocker added his own touch, and it's good.



Saturday, August 1, 2015

Maybe a Good Class Action Suit

I've been reading how Planned Parenthood is harvesting fetal tissue, after the mothers sign releases to allow the process for "medical research". I wonder if there's an opportunity for a shrewd attorney to make billions by suing the organization for coercion by fraud, since the complete abortion procedure, dissection of the fetuses, and final disposition of the parts wasn't completely described by the abortionists? I think a good attorney would have a slam-dunk, if he can get enough women to join the suit.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

As Summer Drags On

After too much rain, the last few weeks have little to none. The lack of moisture is showing in browning yards, drooping bushes and trees showing signs of stress. I've seen it before, and if this continues, August may bring days in the low hundreds and brutal days at work.

I've been watching the birds adjust to the conditions. Where they once had numerous places to find water, they now stay close to drink from the bird bath in the yard. Even the robins that usually stay away are coming for a drink and searching for insects, where spilled water may drive the insects they crave from their deep hiding places in the ground.

Mornings bring unusually dry air, which makes the low eighty temperatures bearable; even comfortable for those like me that work in the heat. The pleasant lack of humidity makes for enjoyable cups of coffee as the sun rises.

A group of showers almost made it this evening. I'm guessing it's a sign the high pressure dome is moving, or weakening. If this continues, the next few weeks may bring the violent summer thunderstorms, with lightning lacing the tops of clouds as the storms weaken in the late evening. If so, there will be some fascinating light shows as the light of evening finally fades.

Time will tell, but the last month of summer is almost here. September will probably bring the first cool front of the season, and a night with temperatures in the sixties. That might seem tame to some, but for this area, it's the start of the time of year when it's most pleasant. I'm eager for those days. I've had enough of summer.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Winners and Losers

The government has picked winners and losers. The winners are those with a seven figure income, government workers with a guaranteed pension, and those either right below, or at the poverty level. Everyone in between is facing higher costs for everything, worrying about the diminishing purchasing power of their money, and is not seeing anything that hints at necessary changes.

Why is this happening? Too many government officials sold their soul, ignored their vow to uphold the Constitution, and placed their grandchildren in debt. Big business, as well as lower income individuals, have successfully nestled against the belly of the country and suckle at the teats of public money.

We have the media to report about such things. The only problem is the media is as woefully clueless about the real world. Those in the media -  at best - had an early life experience of working with their hands, or in a menial job, which is only a sour taste of what is reality for hundreds of millions. They can't understand what it means to spend every summer, maybe for decades, waking two hours before sunrise, preparing for the day, and spending the next ten hours in heat that literally kills.They'll report about the deaths, or the hardships, but they're still clueless; and their concentration is sensational occurrences, or opportunities to expound on their self-proclaimed brilliance with world matters.

This won't last. Never has; never will. Ignoring those that make it all happen never leads to anything but turmoil, at best, and retribution, at worst. You can't exclude the importance of the producer to allow those that spectate a cushy existence, and those that run the government a better life than those that hired them to take care of the business of government.

Time will tell how this all works out, but the dissatisfaction of those that turn the nuts and bolts is becoming more apparent daily; in spite of the narrative of those that produce nothing but expenses, and hollow words. My advice is they pay attention. Civility is an orphan, when survival is a necessity.