Monday, April 30, 2012

In this morning’s mail

b&s s&p

An original Boots & Saddle salt and pepper from the Wallace China Westward Ho series. They bear the Till Goodan artist’s signature at the rear of the saddle.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saluting the best investigative reporter I ever knew

skipfloflash I rolled into the driveway a little before 6 p.m. today, having spent more than 18 hours behind the wheel of the Lexus over a three-day period.

The point of the exercise was to attend the induction luncheon Saturday of the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame because my old Indianapolis News buddy, Howard K. “Skip” Hess, was one of five inductees.

I left Friday morning in a state of turmoil, having just discovered that my desktop hard drive crashed and praying that I can recover the data before it dies completely. That’s not a fitting prelude to a carefree road trip.

I spent Friday and Saturday nights with good friends Jim and Lauri south of Crawfordsville. They are superb and generous hosts and feted me Friday night with a great dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

I was up before the sun on Saturday to beat it down to Shapiro’s Delicatessen in downtown Indianapolis for breakfast with Indianapolis BMW Club friends and to collect a tank bag Harold Patterson generously offered. Then it was off in a driving rain to Bloomington and the Hall of Fame festivities.

Skip’s acceptance speech was the highlight of the event and he dazzled me by including a shout-out to me calling me the best reporter/rewrite man he ever worked with. High praise, indeed, especially delivered to an audience of about 200 of the state’s journalism luminaries. His remarks recalled a breaking story in the 1970s when disgruntled businessman Tony Kiritsis wired a shotgun to the neck of real estate broker Richard Hall and paraded him down Washington Street in downtown Indianapolis. Skip was on the scene, dashing from one pay phone to the next and I was on the other end taking down notes and quotes. It was the best work we ever did together and stands as a high point in my newspaper career.

I slept a little later this morning. Laurie made breakfast and modeled the 1940s apron I brought her from my mother’s collection. I made a quick dash to Maria’s parents’ house to drop off some of Austin’s stuff, then drove down Ind. 75 to pick up I-74 west as an alternative to construction-jammed I-70 to connect with I-57 south through Illinois to Sikeston, Mo. and I-55 to U.S. 412, U.S. 49 and home.

I covered 1,115 miles over the weekend.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

In this morning’s mail


The fabulous, ultra-rare Donner Party meat platter from Tepco China Co.’s Early California series arrived in this morning’s mail.

Yes, it’s a creepy concept if you know how the Donner Party survivors stayed alive by cannibalizing the bodies of friends and relatives who starved to death while snowbound in the Sierras during the winter of 1846-47. That just adds to the cache, in my twisted view. The fact that I got it for only $36 plus shipping makes me very very happy.

Nobody cares


This is perhaps an extreme reaction, but I really don’t care about the stick figure families that some people use to decorate the rear windows of their cars, trucks and SUVs.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012



A decent portrait of Jack. It’s really hard to get him to sit still.

He was feeling mischievous this morning when Maria let him and Pete out. Jack doubled back into the bedroom and grabbed my right Bates boot, dashed out into the back yard and ran about four victory laps around the yard with it before surrendering the boot to Maria.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Only 51 years ago

In a cottage on a Wisconsin lake, summer 1961.

Still cleaning out boxes in the garage and rediscovered a bunch of photos and negs. This is a Polaroid shot taken by my buddy Mark Rhodes in a cottage on a lake in Wisconsin during the summer of 1961.

Mark and I were high school bandmates – he played trombone – and we were in the marching, concert, pep, and dance bands. Mark died of cancer a couple of summers ago.

I was mostly just a “carrier” for the legendary Irvin Flora musical DNA. It manifested beautifully in my two sons.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Let’s have a Donner party!

I had the amazing good fortune to buy this 1950s Tepco China Co. Early California series platter for a mere $36 plus shipping at 12:20 a.m. on Ebay.
Corinne Joy Brown gives the Early California series a passing mention as being rare and hard to find in her landmark book “Come and Get It! The Saga of Western Dinnerware.” The only example illustrated in her book is a dinner plate with a cowboy on a bucking bronco, with the notation that the artist for this line was Californian Ken Bemis. (That would explain the "KB" cattle brand-like logo in the lariat loop at the bottom of the platter.)
I sent her this photo and she shot back: “OMG-that is spectacular. I have never seen it before. Anything from that series is rarer than rare. You snagged the Mother Lode. Nice job.”
The next challenge is to persuade my wife that it’s OK to serve steaks or burgers on a platter that commemorates an expedition that ended in cannibalism.

The uncle I never knew


Cleaning out boxes in the garage yesterday, I came across this high school senior portrait of my mother’s younger brother, John Dietz.

Uncle John, for whom I suspect I am named, along with my dad’s brother John, died Sept. 18, 1938 at the age of 18 from head injuries suffered in a horseback riding accident on the family farm in Carroll County, Indiana. He was a handsome and intelligent looking fellow and I wish I had known him.

His mother died 12 days later in Central State Hospital in Indianapolis where she was being treated for some kind of mental illness. One of these days, I’m going to request her records to learn more about her condition and the circumstances surrounding her death at age 57.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Back to the shop


John, from the Greenway Equipment service department, secures the ramp/tailgate after we loaded my John Deere LA125 lawn tractor aboard his trailer about 8:15 a.m. today.

I made two circuits of the yard yesterday afternoon before I hit a bump and apparently threw or broke a belt, stopping the mower dead in its tracks. With rain in the forecast for the next 24 hours or so, the grass will be plenty long by the time I get the mower back next week.

I’ve only mowed a couple of times since the mower went in for spring service about six weeks ago.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Godspeed, Levon

Bob Dylan and The Band at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind. on Feb. 3, 1974. The 40-show tour in January and February of 1974 resulted in the "Before the Flood" double album, released in June, 1974.

Levon Helm is in the bottom right of my photo of Bob Dylan and The Band at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind. on Feb. 3, 1974. The 40-show tour in January and February of 1974 resulted in the "Before the Flood" double album, released in June, 1974.

Levon Helm, musician, actor and son of Arkansas, died today at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York of throat cancer. He was born in Marvell, Ark., and grew up in Turkey Scratch, just west of Helena.

The elusive free lunch


The weather this morning was perfect for running errands on a motorcycle – high 60s, low 70s and a cloudless sky – so I rode the K75S in to town.

I dropped some papers off at Maria’s office and our chiropractor’s office and got some new heartworm meds for Pete in the wake of Tuesday night’s bad reaction to Advantage Multi for Dogs. We hope the new stuff won’t put him into seizures.

I stopped at the post office on my way into town. Before getting back onto the road, I cleaned my visor and noted I was almost out of Honda Spray Cleaner & hondaspraycleanerPolish. I have a nearly full can in the left saddlebag of the K1200GT, but the K75S can was nearly empty. So I put a stop at the Honda shop on my agenda.

(I discovered Honda Spray Cleaner & Polish several years ago when a BMW friend took a job at a new Honda dealership in Noblesville, Ind. It’s an excellent product for cleaning visors and detailing bikes and it’s only 6 bucks and change for a can.)

Riding down Parker Road, I found myself wondering what to do about lunch. Should I look for something cheap in town or should I save money and probe the fridge at home for something to eat? I realized my problem was solved when I pulled into the Honda parking lot. A local radio station group was there to help promote the Victory demo rides by serving free hot dogs, chips and drinks.

A hot dog, bag of Cheetos and bottle of water later, I considered myself fed and headed for home.

And, no, I didn’t take a Victory for a demo ride. I still think they look like something Willie G. Davidson would design if he dropped acid.

Remembering mom

I subscribe to the Facebook group “You know you are from Delphi Indiana when…” because I am. It’s a place to share memories of life in the Carroll County seat (population when I was there: 2,500) and maybe reconnect with old friends.

My mother, Eileen Flora, was a Registered Nurse and worked most of her career as the office nurse for Dr. George Wagoner in Delphi. People used to call her at home with their medical problems when they couldn’t reach the doctor and it was clear to me that the patients liked and trusted her.

In retrospect, I suppose she was the prototype of what we know as a nurse practitioner today.

I posted this photo of her in the Delphi group last Sunday. It was shot around 1969 or 1970 in the waiting room of Dr. Wagoner’s office on the southwest corner of Main and Market streets in Delphi.

docwagonerofficeI was surprised and charmed by some of the comments it elicited:

Beth Everett Flores I remember how excited your mom was when she found out my sister was going to school to be a nurse. I miss seeing the Mustang parked in her driveway!

Tom Freeman Wow, what memories of your Mom and Dr. George. I understand the first time I met my wife was when my Mom and Susan's Mom were in his waiting room when we were babies. We were born two months apart. I was taken to his office when I had a serious lawnmower accident when I was 13. He also took me to his office at halftime of the last football game when I was a senior. Yep, my ankle was broken. Your Mom gave me a lot of shots as I was growing up. If you had to get a shot, she was the best as the pain was always minimal!

Diane Schnabel LOVED Dr. Wagoner and his nurse. He made several house calls to my house and was my favorite person. Your mother was so kind and gentle.

Janet Nelson Allbaugh I remember your Mom. She was awesome gave inspiration to the nurse I am today.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cannibal-themed meat platter? OMG!


Folks who follow this blog know that I collect Western-themed dinnerware and have a special fondness for items that are decorated with interesting artwork, like the cowboy and pioneer illustrations by the great Till Goodan for Wallace China.

Tepco, a company that produced some great Western stuff, had a line called Early California that depicted historic scenes from California’s pioneer days. I haven’t seen much of the Early California stuff, so I was startled this morning when I discovered their 13” wide platter celebrating the Donner Party. For the historically impaired, here’s the Wikipedia entry:

The Donner Party was a group of 87 American pioneers who set out in a wagon train headed west for California, only to find themselves trapped by snow in the Sierra Nevada. The subsequent casualties resulting from starvation, exposure, disease, and trauma were extremely high, and many of the survivors resorted to cannibalism.

The wagons left Missouri for California in May of 1846. Encouraged to try a new, faster route across Utah and Nevada, they opted to take the Hastings Cutoff proposed by Lansford Hastings, who had never taken the journey with wagons. The Cutoff required the wagons to traverse Utah's Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake Desert, and slowed the party considerably, leading to the loss of wagons, horses, and cattle. It also forced them to engage in heavy labor by clearing the path ahead of them, and created deep divisions between members of the party. They had planned to be in California by September, but found themselves trapped in the Sierra Nevada by early November.

Most of the party took shelter in three cabins that had been constructed two years earlier at Truckee Lake (now Donner Lake), while a smaller group camped several miles away. Quickly, food stores ran out and a group of 15 men and women attempted to reach California on snowshoes in December, but became disoriented in the mountains, then succumbed to starvation and cold. Only seven members of the snowshoe party survived, by eating the flesh of those who had died. Meanwhile, the Mexican American War delayed rescue attempts from California, although family members and authorities in California tried to reach the stranded pioneers but were turned back by harsh weather.

The first rescue group reached the remaining members, who were starving and feeble, in February 1847. Weather conditions were so bad that three rescue groups were required to lead the rest to California, the last arriving in March. Most of these survivors also had resorted to cannibalism. Forty-eight members of the Donner Party survived to live in California. Although a minor incident in the record of westward migration in North America, the Donner Party became notorious for the reported claims of cannibalism. Efforts to memorialize the Donner Party were underway within a few years; historians have described the episode as one of the most spectacular tragedies in California history and in the record of western migration.

It just strikes me as bizarre to memorialize an expedition that ended in cannibalism on a meat platter. Someone at Tepco obviously had a twisted sense of humor.

Looking for payback in November


My painfully large check to the IRS cleared this morning. This pretty much sums up how I feel about how my money is being pissed away.

Bad reaction


Pete gave us a scare last night.

It was time for his monthly dose of Advantage Multi for Dogs, a topical medication for heartworms and other parasites, to be applied to his skin between his shoulder blades.

About an hour after I dosed Pete, Maria hailed me from the kitchen to say Pete was having a seizure. Now, Pete has already been diagnosed as borderline epileptic, but this was the most severe seizure we’ve seen. His legs were extended rigidly away from his body, he shook uncontrollably, his pupils were dilated and he looked absolutely terrified. It also went on for a good five minutes – it felt more like 30 – and didn’t end with him barfing, as do his epileptic episodes.

I called the vet’s emergency answering service and the operator hooked me up with Dr. John Huff, Pete’s personal physician. He opined that Pete was having a reaction to the medication and recommended that we wash the stuff off of him. If he had two more seizures that evening, Dr. Huff said, we should hustle him into the vet’s office pronto.

After Pete staggered to this feet, I ran a warm bath, but he was stumbling and crashing into a second seizure by the time I picked him up and put him into the tub. Maria gave him a good going-over with puppy shampoo as he gave us poignant looks that told us he was scared but trusted us to make it all better.

Once we got him dried and out of the tub, Pete perked up and was back to his old frisky self within an hour or so. We watched him carefully the rest of the evening and I checked on him periodically as he slept on the bedroom carpet next to my side of the bed.

He seems completely recovered this morning.

I recall now that he had a minor seizure last month after I gave him Advantage Multi, but nothing on the order of last night’s reaction.

His coat has thinned considerably since he developed a thyroid deficiency several months ago and where the topical medication is normally diluted by absorption through layers of hair, yesterday’s application went pretty much straight onto bare skin. My guess is that’s why it hit him so hard.

At any rate, we’ll look for alternative protection from heartworms, etc. In the meantime, Jack, who got a larger dose because he now weighs more than Pete, suffered no ill effects from the medication.

Monday, April 16, 2012



Here’s Maria with George Jared and his two first-place awards for Best News Feature and Best Health-Related Story at Saturday night’s awards banquet of the Arkansas Associated Press Managing Editors in Heber Springs.

Jonesboro Sun staffer Kellie Cobb also took home a first place award for Best Page Design and Brian Smith won a first place award for Best Non-Traditional News Item.

The Sun won its third APME Mark Twain Award for cooperation with the AP – the second since Maria came aboard in 2007.

And Maria was elected president of the Arkansas APME.

Damn! I buried the lede!

APME footnote

Mark Perrin, a drive train speciialist at Nordex, tightens bolts on a 24-ton wind turbine gearbox. Perrin is a son of Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin.

When the award winning entries were flashed up on the projection screen at Saturday night’s Arkansas APME awards banquet, I was startled to see one of my photos.

This shot of Mark Perrin working on a wind turbine component at the Nordex plant was on the cover of the Jonesboro Sun’s 2011 Outlook section.

It won a third place in the Special Project – Community Service category for Division III (largest) papers.

It’s fun staying involved with newspapering.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, Morgan!


Happy Birthday to the coolest librarian west of the Mississippi (and probably east of the Mississippi too)!

Dogless in Goobertown

jack&pete toy

We woke up dogless this morning.

That’s because Jack and Pete are at the vet’s kennel facility until we pick them up at 4:30 p.m. today.

I dropped them off Friday afternoon before we left town for the Arkansas APME meeting in Heber Springs.

The dogs are my alarm clock. I get up to the sound of Pete shaking his head and jingling his collar tags – his signal that he wants to go out. If I wait long enough, I’ll hear Jack repeat the signal from the crate where he sleeps.

Once they’re out in the back yard, my next task is to fill the food bowl in Jack’s kitchen kennel. Then they come in and I give Pete his liver and thyroid medications.

Not seeing their smiling faces and having that part of my morning routine suspended feels very awkward.

Pete and Jack are a very real presence in this house and it feels empty and incomplete without them.

That’s Jack on the left in the photo. Since Pete developed a thyroid deficiency, his coat has thinned and dulled. Seeing them side-by-side gives the impression that Jack is in color and Pete is almost in black-and-white.

Dr. Heather Curry is the vet who diagnosed Pete’s thyroid problem and put him on the appropriate medication on March 1. His health and disposition have improved dramatically since then and he’s lost most of his extra weight. I thanked her for helping him when I dropped the dogs off Friday and she told me the coat is the last thing to respond to the medication, but that we can expect his looks to improve over time.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Red apples


We’re at the Red Apple Inn & Country Club on Greer’s Ferry Lake near Heber Springs, Ark. for the annual meeting of the Arkansas Associated Press Managing Editors.

This place dates from the early 1960s and has a curious Spanish decor. The bed was about as comfortable as a sheet of marine plywood with a rug over it.

The breakfast buffet was cold and lacking in flavor. However, Maria wisely ordered off of the menu and pronounced her Eggs Sedona (toasted English Muffins topped with sliced beef tenderloin, poached eggs & Orange/Chipotle Hollandaise Sauce. Served with fried asparagus.) to be exquisite.

The view of the lake from the dining room is pretty spectacular, too.

Other than APME folks, the place is full of golfers. I grew up playing golf, even played on the golf team in high school, but I lost interest in the game after high school. Now, the whole thing seems insufferably stupid. No game of golf could ever excite me as much as racing a thunderstorm across a Nevada desert on a spirited BMW motorcycle.

But that’s just me and if beating a little white ball down a fairway and into a hole in the ground entertains these guys, good for them.

More later…

Friday, April 13, 2012

ATO flashback


I don’t recall what led me to it, but I discovered an archival site yesterday that had a couple of long-lost (to me, anyway) images from my Alpha Tau Omega allendale boxedFraternity days at Indiana State University.

The photo above was shot on Nov. 1, 1963 at ISU’s Allendale Lodge on the south side of Terre Haute, Ind. at an ATO beatnik-themed party.

A slightly cropped version of the photo appeared in the 1964 Sycamore yearbook, so it wasn’t until I saw this image yesterday that I noticed I was in the shot – barely. That’s me at the far left.

Also in the shot is my fellow Delphi Oracle and ATO brother C. Reed McCormick, who died late last month of a heart attack. Reed is circled.

atodance02The site – Wabash Valley Visions & Voices: A Digital Memory Project – had one more photo with me in it: This shot of an ATO dance at the Tirey Memorial Union Building on Oct. 16, 1964.

ato dance circleHere I am again, this time with my girlfriend and later my wife of 26 years, Diane Kroon. I was a sophomore and Diane was a freshman at Indiana University. And there’s Reed, just to the left of Diane.

Happy Birthday, Doreen!

mmc5My friend Doreen Tracey, one of the original Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers, is 69 today.

We've been acquainted since I did a story on her for my newspaper about 35 years ago.

She's got a few pages in Paul Auster's book of true life stories titled I Thought My Father Was God. Auster, you may recall, has a program on National Public Radio.

This is one of a set of photos she sent me a few years ago.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


This is Suzi Barrett, a comedienne and actress who has become insanely popular on the strength of Esurance and Metamucil commercials.
More recently, she’s appeared in a Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky dog treats commercial, which is unfortunate because it’s been linked with poison chicken products from China. She announced on her Facebook page that she’s asked her agent to get her out of the Milo’s Kitchen contract and kill the commercial.
I blogged about her in March, 2011, and that blog entry has become the most popular of anything I’ve posted in the 8 years I’ve been posting here. As of this morning, it’s received 18.9 percent of the pageviews since Blogger started tracking it.
When you Google her name, my blog comes up third or fourth.
The post has attracted lots of comments – some favorable, some snarky – but an anonymous poster left some disturbing stuff the other day:

Anonymous said...
I wasted two hours of Easter Sunday searching for nude pictures of Suzi Barrett, to no avail. I fell in love with her as the "cute Tech Nerd" on the esurance commercials I guess i have no life.
Sunday, April 8, 2012 12:15:00 PM CDT

Anonymous said...
I love ya, Suzi Barrett. I hope your career goes wel, with your snarky, sarcastic self. I hate L.A. too. we need more snarky, sarcastic people in the world, btw. I went to L.A. to be a famous screen-writer, and well, the studio people said "No Soup For You", so... i may try again, seeing im'm not dead or anything yet
Sunday, April 8, 2012 12:21:00 PM CDT

Anonymous said...
Suzi Barrett, do you read these comments? I hear you might possibly be gay. which is just fune with me I've supported gay, lesbian transgender rights for equality since i was fifteen. I'm a male of course.Oh, i watch Rachel Maddow religiously. I love you Suzi Barrett. I am thinking about forming a "Suzi Barrett religious cult.I am just likng
Sunday, April 8, 2012 12:29:00 PM CDT
“Anonymous” sounds like a creepy stalker to me. Anyone who takes Rachel Maddow seriously has some major issues.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Internet’s down. Again.

b&wpanera The owner of our cable/internet/telephone provider remonstrated with me several months ago because I wrote some very unflattering things about the quality of service. His point was that I shot from the hip and blogged about the problem without first calling the company to report problems.

The record will show that I’ve called them at least a half-dozen times in the past couple of months about repeated outages. They sent a technician to our house and he confirmed that all of our connections are in order and that the problem is somewhere between the head-end and our place.

I edited a trailcam video around noon today and tried to upload it to YouTube, only to discover the internet was down. Ditto the telephone line. So I called them on my cell phone and was assured they had someone working on the problem. AT&T and satellite TV are looking better every day.

I can be detached about it because I wasn’t trying to snipe an auction on Ebay, but I’d be livid if that happened.

So I rode into town for coffee and Wifi at Panera, only to have my debit card declined because someone tried to use my card number to buy stuff in L.A. and Virgnia. Happily, MasterCard spotted the deviation from my shopping habits and shut it down. I rode a block to the bank, got the problem sorted out and a new card issued, and now I’m back at Panera.

Let them eat cake. Possums, that is…

I put most of a stale angel food cake out as trailcam bait the other day, curious to see what kind of critter would go for it.

About a day after it tossed it into our side yard next to a salt block for deer, an opossum showed up about 11:45 p.m. and ate part of it. He returned about the same time two nights later and carried away the remainder.

When I first saw him, I had high hopes of seeing a coyote pounce on him but he enjoyed his cake unmolested on both occasions.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday morning check-in

082935I hadn’t planned to have breakfast at Panera this morning, but I my Honda del Sol had a dead battery and I needed to drive it somewhere after I jump-started it.

I got into it night before last to put the new insurance card into the glove compartment, failed to close the passenger door completely and the dome light wiped out the battery. Doh!

The good news is that it started right up. After airing up the tires, I cruised in to town and took advantage of the free bowl of oatmeal I’ve earned through my regular patronage of Panera with their My Panera program. Another $1.89 for coffee, 16 cents in tax and I have a breakfast for $2.05.

The stump fire is in its 17th day today and we’re running out of fuel, even after chainsawing about 15 feet off of the fallen tree from the other side of the back yard on Sunday. So it looks like it may go out for lack of fuel rather than because of rain. At any rate, we have reduced the stump considerably and disposed of several hundred pounds of wood, most of which came to earth in the January 2009 ice storm.

Monday, April 09, 2012

No I.D.? No problem, Mr. Holder

James O’Keefe, the guy who unmasked ACORN as a criminal enterprise, demonstrates how easy it is to impersonate a registered voter and steal their vote in the absence of a voter I.D. requirement.

He went to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s home precinct in a recent Washington, D.C. primary and posed as Holder. The poll workers didn’t raise an eyebrow and were prepared to let him cast a ballot under Holder’s name.

It’s pretty clear to me that the only people who seriously oppose voter I.D. laws are those who want to commit voter fraud and rig elections.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Buying beer on Easter Sunday


Here I am at Mr. T’s Riverside, just across the St. Francis River in Missouri, doing something you can’t do in Arkansas – buying a six-pack of beer on Easter Sunday.

Nearly all of the vehicles in the parking lot bore Arkansas plates. I guess Missourians don’t run out of booze on holiday Sundays.

I made good on my vow to give up beer for Lent and am breaking my beer fast easterspatenwith my all-time favorite, Spaten Optimator Doppelbock.

The stump fire begins its third week today, stoked with deadfall from our side yard that I’ve been mowing around for three summers. We hooked the wagon to the lawn tractor, loaded it with a chainsaw and gas can and cleared out the fallen tree limbs I’ve been ignoring for so long.

If I get ambitious this afternoon, I may start in on the dead tree that fell in our back yard with a resounding thump about 11:30 p.m., Sept. 11, 2010. The 45-foot-long log has lain undisturbed since then. Now that I’m feeling ambitious about clearing and burning, it may be time to deal with it.

But I’ll wait at least an hour to metabolize my beer before I think about picking up a chainsaw.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Flea market find


You never know what you’re gonna find in an Arkansas flea market. Like this morning when we found this woman, channeling Elsa Lanchester from the 1935 horror classic “Bride of Frankenstein.”


Friday, April 06, 2012

Stump fire–day 13


The stump fire we ignited 13 days ago is still going strong, thanks to re-stoking that has finally depleted both of our remaining woodpiles and consumed all but one of the trunk sections we used for seats around our fire pit.

I fully expected rain to drown it on at least two occasions, but we just got a few sprinkles. We still have plenty of deadwood on the property, so I’m confident we can keep the fire going for several more days, slowly but surely eating away at the massive oak stump.

Big Sur *Sigh*

me big sur

I’m hearing the siren call of the road these days, but I have to content myself with revisiting past adventures until I can clear my calendar and indulge my craving for motorcycle travel.

This is me on the morning of July 22, 2004, savoring the sights and smells of California Highway 1 south of Nepenthe in Big Sur. The photo was shot by Wayne Garrison’s wife Peggy as I led them down my favorite road.

We connected at the BMWMOA Rally in Spokane a few days earlier – me riding from Indiana by way of Tim and Linda Balough’s place in Alma, Colo., and the Garrisons from Indiana by way of Alaska.

We spent the night at the unusually luxurious Motel 6 in San Simeon, parting company in the morning. They were heading to New Orleans and I had plans to visit my son Sean in Portland, Ore. That is, until I got rear-ended by a doofus at a construction site west of I-5.

You can read the rest of that story here.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Prof. Kari Norgaard thinks you should be treated for mental illness if you question the global warming hoax


Call me crazy.

The Professor looks like a Jim Carrey character. Read all about it here.

Some days, I feel like a honey badger. Today is one of those days.

Official Puppy School graduation photos

puppy school graduation 01

The graduation pictures are up on the Hollywood Feed Jonesboro Facebook page.

I dropped in at the store to buy some puppy food this morning and store owner/certified dog trainer Ruth Meador told me they’d been posted.

puppy school graduation 02Here’s the group photo. I don’t remember the name of the mini poodle, but the dachshund is Ruby and the other Aussie is Jack’s best buddy Cowboy.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Utah sunset, 1994

utah sunset

I shot this photo of my 1991 BMW K100RS at sunset on Aug. 27, 1994 where U.S. 50 meets southbound I-15 just south of Holden, Utah.

I was eastbound, having left Tracy, Calif. just east of San Francisco that morning and aiming for Green River, Utah. Shortly after I got onto I-15, I overtook a thunderstorm, canceled my reservation at Green River and took a room at the Howard Johnson’s Motor Inn in Salina. I didn’t get as far as I’d hoped, but it was still a 714-mile day.

I used an Olympus Stylus point-and-shoot 35mm film camera that I bought 13 days earlier in Kalispell, Mont. The last time I carried that camera was to the BMW MOA Rally in Burlington, Vt. in 2006.

1994tripjournalI know these details because I kept a daily travel journal in those days. That was before I had the technology to blog from the road. Being a Cancerian who hates to throw anything away, I still have all of my travel journals, so I can retrieve all kinds of minutiae from my several Mid-Life Crisis Tours.

I rode to Breckenridge the next day and spent the next five days hanging out with Indianapolis BMW Club friends at our rented chalet in Breck.

Stump fire update


Rain is in the forecast, so it looks like our stump-burning project will come to a pause today.

This is the 10th day of continuous fire on the big oak stump that has been an eyesore in our back yard since the January, 2009 ice storm.

Burning the stump was Maria’s idea, recalling a maple stump she and her brothers immolated decades ago in Indiana. Oak burns considerably slower than maple and our effort has consumed most of our woodpiles and several of the large trunk segments we used as seats around our fire pit.

The stump has been reduced significantly, but it’s still not level with the surrounding ground.

Reed moves on to the Chapter Eternal. VTL, Brother.

Funeral services are today for my old friend and Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity brother Reed McCormick.

Here’s his obit:

Dr. Clarence Reed McCormick, 68, of Sun Lakes, Arizona, passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack on March 28, 2012. He was born on September 1, 1943, in Lafayette, Ind., and had grown up in Pittsburg, Ind. On June 11, 1967, he was married to Stella Kesterson McCormick, and she preceded him in passing on September 14, 2009. On October 3, 2010, he married Patricia M. Talbert in Arizona, and she survives.

Reed was a 1961 graduate of Delphi High School, and graduated from Indiana State University, where he was a charter member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He later got his Doctorate in Education, and was a Administrator at schools in Arizona, as well as Principal of Delphi Community High School, retiring in Arizona in 2007. While in Delphi, Reed was also a founder of, and very active in, the Wabash Erie Towpath Walkers Kiwanis Club.

Survivors with his wife include two daughters, Katrina McCormick Meyer and Tanya McCormick Mitchell, both of Arizona; and three step-children. Visitation will be Tuesday, April 3, 2012 ,from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. at Melcher Mortuary Chapel of the Roses, 43 South Stapley Drive, Mesa, Arizona 85204 (480) 964-4537. Funeral service will be on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Melcher Mortuary Chapel of the Roses. Interment will be Tuesday, April 3, 2012, at 2:30 p.m. at Mesa Cemetery, 1212 North Center Street Mesa, Arizona 85201. Please pay tribute to Reed by visiting

I blogged about one of my favorite memories of Reed back on Oct. 28, 2005:

I got an e-mail from fraternity brother Reed McCormick this afternoon. Reed and I were the only Delphi High School grads in the fraternity during our time there. He was a charter member and was instrumental in me pledging Alpha Tau Omega.
Reed was a skinny hell-raiser with a kind heart and an outrageous sense of humor. His face was almost skeletal and we often kidded him that he had been the model for the skull on the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity badge.

Those, as I've probably related earlier, were the Animal House days for American fraternities. Lots of drinking and plenty of what would be considered criminal hazing by today's standards.
The Tekes, whose house was next door to ours, had a grease pit in the garage. One of their favorite games was to crowd their entire pledge class - could be as many as 20 guys - into the grease pit, giving each pledge an onion and a cigar. Then they would cover the greasepit with boards and lay a piece of carpet over the boards. Nobody came out until everyone had eaten his onion and smoked his cigar.
Over at the ATO house, my pledge class had it considerably easier. Mostly we got to do endless push-ups, "happy time" (back against the wall, knees bent in a sitting position and arms straight out in front of us until our muscles screamed in pain and failed us), and lineups where we stood at attention while the actives got in our faces with generous amounts of "constructive criticism."
One or two pledge classes later, someone came up with the idea of "ice baseball." The playing field was the fraternity house basement and the bases were three cakes of ice. The bat was a fraternity paddle. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.
Anyway, there was also a tradition of "road-tripping" in which pledges abducted actives or vice-versa, drove them miles out into the countryside and dumped them.
I was among a group of pledges who got road-tripped one cold March night. I think there were six or eight of us. We were bound, blindfolded and driven many miles from campus before we were released far up a remote southern Indiana valley at the foot of one of the world's longest wooden railroad trestles. It was a moonless night and the temperature was well below freezing, but we'd been gifted with extra sweatshirts and coats, so frostbite wasn't an issue. The first three houses we stopped at didn't have telephones - it was that deep into the boonies. We finally hiked into a small town, found a storefront hotel lobby that was open and phoned one of our pledge brothers who lived with his parents in Terre Haute. He rescued us and we were back in town in plenty of time for me to use my starter pistol to awaken the actives, slumbering in the third floor dorm at the house.
So this is all leading up to a story about the time some pledges bagged Reed and were preparing to road-trip him. According to the gentlemanly rules of road-tripping, if you were abducted alone you could request a buddy or a bottle. Reed chose the bottle. They provided him with a fifth of whiskey and he drank most, if not all, of it. He got so drunk and so sick that his abductors were panic stricken, worrying that he would die. Obviously, he didn't die, but it made everyone think twice about offering a bottle to a road trip victim after that.
Reed went on to a career in education in Arizona and Indiana. At present, he's at a cutting-edge charter school in Arizona and presumably has maintained a respectable front for many years.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Pete’s payback


Aussies are highly intelligent and sensitive dogs – something we’ve known for a long time, but the weekend’s events underscored it.

Pete has become a little lazy about asking to go outside when he needs to poop and has a favorite spot on the dining room carpet.

We were watching TV Saturday evening when Pete strolled into the living room from the dining room looking a little guilty.

Maria sprang up, ran to the dining room and emerged with a couple of firm (thank God for IAMS) pieces of dog poop in a paper napkin, which she angrily showed to Pete while scolding him. Pete looked embarrassed. I’d like to think he was doubly embarrassed because he was being humiliated in front of young Jack, but that’s probably reading too much into the situation.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon when Maria was piecing quilt blocks in her sewing room. She said Pete strolled in, hunched down and dropped four big doglogs, right in front of her!

She also noted that Pete has preferred to sit or lie next to me, rather than her, since the Saturday night episode.

I’m reminded of a similar occasion during my first marriage when I abused our mixed-breed dog and he promptly took a dump on my toolbox on the back porch.

The late great Ruthie the Wonder Dog, was so annoyed when we deployed invisible fencing at our new house in Thorntown that she snuck up to our bedroom and peed on our bed. Fortunately, it was a waterbed and we weren’t stuck with a conventional mattress reeking of dog whiz.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Suddenly, it’s 1957 again

torani lemon

When I was in junior high school in Delphi, Ind., we were allowed to leave the school for lunch, just like the high school kids.

In those days, the preferred lunch venue was downtown at Bob’s Cafe on Main Street. Whenever I lunched at Bob’s, I ordered a cheeseburger basket (which included fries) and a large lemon Coke.

Lemon Cokes got harder and harder to find with the demise of the traditional soda fountain. In the interest of avoiding sugar, I quit drinking regular Coke a long time ago, switching to Tab, then to Diet Coke and finally Coke Zero. I’ve tried Coke Zero with Lemon, but it just didn’t light me up.

Then, a week ago, I ordered a 1 liter bottle of Torani Lemon Sugar-Free Syrup from At last, I could get the right strength of lemon flavor in a cola! The first bottle cost me $18 and change, but today I found another vendor offering the same product in a three-pack for $23 and change. Woo-freaking-hoo!

Give me a cheeseburger and fries and I’m back in 1957 at Bob’s, hanging with the big kids.