Friday, September 30, 2016

Hedge apples, aka Osage Oranges


I just had a flashback to the autumn of 1969 when I was a reporter for The Indianapolis News.

Another reporter was doing a series of profiles of wives of Indiana college presidents and I tagged along as a driver/photographer.

I have a vivid recollection of the day we went to visit Polly Seymour, wife of Wabash College President Thaddeus Seymour. She had a bowl of hedge apples decorating the bar in her kitchen. I suppose I should have been familiar with hedge apples, but they were new to me and made a lasting impression.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Today's cool autumnal weather reminds me of autumn in Delphi, Ind. when I was a kid - specifically about time spent after school on the way home.

There was a large buckeye tree next to the Monroe Street entrance to the Delphi City Park on the city's eastside that bore its seeds/nuts around this time of the year. My friends and I would stop on our way home from school to fling sticks up into the branches and knock down as many buckeyes as we could before it was obviously time to head for home.

I used to collect a cigar box full of buckeyes every fall and just as regularly, my mother would throw them away.

I haven't seen a buckeye or a buckeye tree in years and, according to the map of the tree's range, I'm not likely to see any here in northeast Arkansas.

Interesting Volkswagen history

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


I pulled the seat off of my 2003 BMW K1200GT this morning to secure a strap for the tank bag and discovered that somebody forgot to re-connect the cable for the heated seat when the guys at Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles put my bike back together last week.

No big deal. I easily found where to plug it in and it works fine now.

Dogs gone, dogs returned

I mowed the lawn yesterday afternoon, including the fenced section of the back yard where the dogs hang out.

This necessitates bringing the dogs into the house and putting them into their kennels so they are out of the way and so they don't bolt through the gate that I have to open to get the John Deere LA 125 lawn tractor in and out of the enclosed area.

Once I finished mowing, I parked the mower next to a hose spigot, attached the hose to the mower deck and activated the blades for two minutes to flush out whatever grass was stuck to the underside of the mower.

Then I turned off the water, disconnected the hose and parked the mower in the garage.

I let the dogs out into the yard and sat down with an iced tea to watch TV.

About an hour later, I thought I heard a voice in the back yard and saw Jack come onto the porch through the dog door and get a drink. Moments later, I noticed someone at the front door.

It was Tony Micenhamer, one of our neighbors, asking if I was OK. He said our dogs were out and the gate had been open. Yeah, I forgot to close and cable lock the gate before I let the dogs into the yard.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Tony said Jack showed up at his house, prompting him to come over and see if I had some kind of medical emergency.

With Jack secured in the back yard, we set out to search for Dora. Tony went south and I went north, up into the newer section of our small wooded subdivision. I went to the end of the road and turned around, scanning in all directions.

As I crested a rise, I looked over to my right toward the back of the house that sits across the cul-de-sac from our place and saw Dora standing inside the neighbors' fenced in-ground swimming pool area. I parked the car and walked to the pool with Dora's leash in hand. The gate was open, but Dora seemed stuck at the other end of the pool enclosure, apparently creeped out by the tarp covering the pool. She seemed glad to see me as I snapped the leash to her collar and led her to the car.

I thank God for protecting our dogs from my carelessness and making their recovery so quick and easy.

Our first Aussie, Pete, went walkabout a couple of times when we lived in Thorntown, Ind. and was gone for a few days each time, creating horrible anxiety. I'm very grateful that we were spared this time and am doubly grateful for Tony's alertness and help.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Another big adventure

We drove up to Cape Girardeau this morning to retrieve my 2003 K1200GT from Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles where they did a major clutch overhaul, new rear brake pads and replaced the exhaust system that had a broken header pipe. The cost was $2,492.96. Could have been worse. A new exhaust system costs $1,700 but one of the employees had a used one he let me have for $250.

Maria was following me home when she called my cell phone, Bluetooth linked to my Garmin Zumo GPS. I have no microphone for the setup, so all I can do is hear the caller in my in-ear monitors. Seems she had a flat tire and was on the berm about 4 miles behind me. I stopped under an overpass around the 44-mile marker on I-55 and called the USAC road service we pay for through Shell Oil Co. I doubled back and found her around the 48-mile marker. There was nothing more I could do, so I rode about 10 miles south to a rest area and checked in on her. The road service guy had arrived and was working on the tire change.

She told me to go on home and she'd be along as soon as the could. I got home a little after 3 p.m. and checked her whereabouts on my iPhone Friend Finder app, confirming that she was about a half-hour behind me.

Never a dull moment.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Why I hate going to Little Rock

Maria had a work-related conference to attend yesterday in Little Rock, so I served as chauffeur for the 294 round-trip miles.

I was reminded again how much I hate going to Little Rock. It's a 2:20 trip and the Little Rock interstate system is a freaking nightmare. I've driven and ridden through a lot of cities, and I can't think of any with a worse-engineered road network. We get caught up in traffic jam bottlenecks every time we go there, regardless of the time of day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Adios Starbucks, Hola Cafe Bustelo

I bought a 10 ounce can of Cafe Bustelo yesterday at Kroger, noting that it's supposed to be an espresso grind and is about half the price of the Starbucks Espresso Roast beans I've been buying.

When I opened the can this morning, I was pleased to see it truly is a finely ground, espresso-grade coffee, meaning I can put the coffee grinder away.

And it tastes every bit as good as Starbucks, maybe better.

African Violets

I found myself thinking about my mother's African violets this morning.

I have no idea why.

African violets, aka Saintpaulia, come from Tanzania. They are a houseplant that likes indirect sunlight. They have thick, puffy leaves that I couldn't resist squeezing to death when I was a little kid, much to my mother's dismay.

Now, I wouldn't mind having some around to remember her by.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Meet Hayden Marie Dunbar

I became a grandfather again, or at least a step-grandfather, at 2:32 a.m. CDT today when Hayden Marie Dunbar was born to Megan and Austin at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. She measured 21 inches and weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces. She showed up exactly on her due date and, so far as we can tell, is absolutely perfect.