Friday, August 30, 2013

Sonic in panorama


It’s 97° with a heat index of 106° so it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of Sonic’s mid-afternoon drink special on the way home from town.

Maria had her annual checkup and the doc was very pleased with how much healthier she is since she left the poisonous atmosphere at the Sun.

Then we dropped by our office building to check in with our tenants. One of the tenants called this morning to say the air conditioning in his reception area wasn’t working. I called our heating/AC guy and he got right on it, texting me about 1 p.m. to say one of the roof units was kaput and it will cost about $2,500 to replace, including $250 for a crane to lower the defunct unit and raise the new unit.

Thank God we have an LLC with a good contingency fund to cover such emergencies.

Maria wants to play with the crane. I am arguing against the idea.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Free coffee!


I had to do some banking in town today so I headed out early on the K75S while the weather was still relatively cool – 79 versus the predicted high of 96.

After making my deposits, I rode on down to the new Starbucks where I cashed in an empty Starbucks Italian Dark Roast bag for a free cup of coffee and some Wifi. Before this Starbucks opened, I threw my empty bags into the trash because I didn’t want to mess with them at Barnes & Noble or the Starbucks in Target.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I needed a battery after all


I took the 5-year-old battery from my John Deere LA125 mower to Greenway Equipment a couple of weeks ago, ready to buy a replacement.

But the parts guy tested it and declared all it needed was a charge. So I hooked up my high tech BMW battery charger and left it on for a nearly two weeks after the green test light came on, signifying a full charge.

But when I tried to start the mower yesterday, it wouldn’t even bump the starter. I tested the voltage with my multimeter and found it was only putting out 11 volts. A call to Greenway confirmed what I suspected two weeks ago – I needed a new battery.

So I hauled the old battery down to Greenway on the southside of Jonesboro this morning and put its $10 recycling credit toward a new battery. Once installed, the new battery fired the engine right away. Problem solved. Now all I need is a cool evening to mow.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Here comes Clay, #98


Our neighbor boy Clay had his first practice scrimmage this afternoon, so I drove up to the Greene County Tech Junior High football field to make a photographic record of the event.

His parents are soooo proud of him.


We're keeping Morgan's bulldog Samantha for observation today while Morgan is at work.
Sam tangled with a big brown recluse spider last night and was acting like she might have been bitten. So we're keeping an eye on her in case her condition worsens. She's on an antibiotic and Benadryl, so she mostly sleeps.
She looks OK to me.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My dogs


Did I mention how much I love my dogs?

Two-dog Sunday morning


What could be more fun than photographing Jack and Dora on a Sunday morning in August?

Can you tell we’re just crazy about our dogs?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The return of Suzi Barrett

You may remember her as the snarky girl in the Esurance commercials.

Up on the roof

roofguy inset

While I was hanging out at the courthouse square monument in Delphi, Ind. with my high school classmates last Saturday evening for our reunion group photo, I noticed a guy sitting on the roof of a building on Main Street. (See inset.)

Out for a smoke, perhaps?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Gentleman Jack


The game of "fetch" has changed. Gentleman Jack runs ahead and retrieves the ball for the first four or five throws. Dora runs out to meet him about halfway back to the thrower and makes playful grabs for the ball in his mouth, but each time he brings the ball back and puts it into my hand.

Then and interesting thing happens - I throw the ball and Jack stays put while Dora races out to retrieve it. From then on, it's Dora's turn until she tires of the game.

This has happened several times, so I know it wasn't just a fluke.

Sticks are for dogs


Dogs love sticks and our dogs are blessed with plenty of trees in their yard – oak and hickory trees that shed a constant supply of sticks for gnawing.

And if you’re a puppy like Dora, the only thing better than having a stick is wrestling over one.


You can see in Jack’s eyes that he’s just playing along – just trying hard enough to make it interesting for Dora. Moments later he relaxed his grip and let Dora have the stick. Jack is such a gentleman.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

It must be August in Jonesboro – the Wienermobile is here


I lived in Indiana for 62 years and never saw an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, even though I desperately wanted to see one ever since I saw Little Oscar in a Wienermobile on TV in the 1950s.

Now, after six years in Arkansas, I’ve seen them three times!

I followed WEENR from Paragould to our county road on Aug. 10, 2010, then caught up with it again on Aug. 14, 2012 when it was parked in front of the Hays supermarket at Stadium and Nettleton in Jonesboro. I was freelancing for the local paper at the time, so I got the red carpet treatment and was allowed inside the fabled machine.

Morgan texted me a picture of BIG BUN about 1:30 p.m. today, saying it would be in front of the Walmart on Highland in Jonesboro until 5 p.m., so I hustled down to check it out.

There are six Wienermobiles rambling around the country, piloted by a dozen carefully chosen Hotdoggers – recent college grads judged to have the right stuff to be the face of Oscar Mayer for a whole year. I signed up for a chance to win the use of a Wienermobile for a day, but I’m not holding my breath.

My personal postal express

k75s postoffice

I rode down to the post office a few minutes ago to collect our mail.

The round trip is about 6 miles and at the current price of 89 octane gasoline, I reckon the ride costs me about 15 or 16 cents. Some days, that’s the only motorcycle ride I take, so it’s a lot of pleasure for 16 cents.

Even though home delivery has been available in our subdivision for a couple of years, we prefer to get our mail in our post office box for a variety of reasons:

  • It’s more secure. It’s an easy task for identity thieves and other dirtbags to steal mail from rural mailboxes.
  • It keeps our physical address confidential from everyone who has no business knowing it.
  • It makes it more likely that we will continue to receive mail on Saturdays, should the post office make good on its threat to stop Saturday home delivery.
  • It gives me an excuse for a ride.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It goes on…

dhs suncatcher

I seem to have found a way to keep the nostalgia going in the wake of my 50th anniversary high school class reunion last Saturday evening in Delphi, Ind.

I solicited old photos from classmates and created a slideshow of about 250 images that I presented at the reunion and got orders from 17 people for copies of the slideshow on CD.

Then it occurred to me to sweeten the slideshow CD with photos from the reunion, so I added what I had and put out the call for contributions. I got 15 photos last night from Dave Goyer and more are coming.

This is the commemorative suncatcher that was handed out at the reunion. At the risk of being nitpicky, it really wasn’t the “50th Reunion.” Since our reunions occur at five-year intervals, it was the 10th. The 50th, at that rate, would occur 250 years after graduation. Which is why I take pains to refer to it as the 50-year or 50th anniversary reunion.

I don’t suppose anyone else notices or cares, but you know how I am about words.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lisa flying solo

lisa flies

My son Steve posted this photo this morning of his daughter Lisa on her first solo cross-country journey by plane.

Lisa, who is 9 but has the poise and confidence of a woman three time her age, flew from Las Vegas to Cincinnati to visit family there.

I can’t tell you how proud I am to have a granddaughter who is so bright and capable. Steve and Nicky are doing an incredibly great job of parenting.

You go, girl!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday, Monday. Again.

63classhdrI’m standing a bit to the right of the second row and it almost looks like I was Photoshopped into this HDR image, but I can assure you that I was there Saturday evening on the courthouse square monument in Delphi for the DHS Class of 1963 reunion photo.

Maria shot this image and I think I like it better than the official photo.

Gabriella Adler Budzinski, our German foreign exchange student, made it back for the reunion with her husband Udo, but they missed the group photo because they thought Delphi was in the Central Daylight Time Zone. I just noticed that my high school bud Lonnie Miller didn’t show up for the group shot either. Maybe I should photoshop both of them into the picture.

So the reunion is in the rearview mirror and Maria started her college classes this morning. I’m on my second cup of Panera’s coffee and contemplating a ride home by way of the post office.

We spent 18 hours and 45 minutes in the Lexus from Friday morning until we arrived home about 5:30 p.m. yesterday. Garmin says my maximum speed was 83 mph and my moving average was 61 mph.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the new four-lane section of Ind. 25 is open from I-65 at Lafayette to Ind. 18 on the south side of Delphi. Old Ind. 25 was a curvy, hilly two-lane road that shadowed the Tippecanoe River most of the way from Lafayette to Delphi and it could be treacherous in winter weather. It was on old Ind. 25 near Americus that I got my first speeding ticket when I was a new driver at 16. The road has few places where line of sight permits safe passing and it could be a nightmare on summer weekends when it was choked with traffic heading to and from Lake Shaffer and Lake Freeman at Monticello. I suppose the only downside to the new route is that it’s bad news for the handful of businesses in Americus and Prophetstown State Park.

The other pleasant road trip surprise came at the I-74 rest area west of Danville, Ill. where I discovered the restroom stalls are stocked with full-width toilet paper instead of the ribbon-like stuff you usually find in those places.

I miss nothing with my amazing powers of observation.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Heading home

We're on I-57 between Champaign and Effingham in central Illinois, cruising down to Arkansas.
We has a splendid time at my 50-year class reunion last night and I got to catch up with one of my best school
friends, Lonnie Miller.
We were unable to get my photo slide show to play on the flat screen TV but managed to make so with our laptop.
I was surprised at how many people I didn't recognize, but then 50 years is a long time.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Back home again...

Breakfast with Indy BMW Club friends, then a cruise past the old homestead where I raised two sons, then up to the Catholic bookstore in Carmel.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Heading for Indiana

On the road for my 50-year high school class reunion tomorrow night.
We stopped for gas at Boomland where the Obama busts are still available for $5.99 and, no, I didn't buy one.
Maria is at the wheel, eating Lemonheads - her favorite road candy - and sipping Coke.
We're 18 miles north of the Mississippi River with a Thorntown ETA of about 5 pm.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thursday morning report

jmfpaneraaug15Maria is in college orientation this morning, so I seized the opportunity to ride in to Jonesboro for coffee and a cheese Danish at Panera – the first such outing in several weeks.
Two hours on the aging trickle charger failed to restore the mower battery to usefulness, so I jump started it from the Subaru and mowed the entire 1.23 acres after dinner last evening. I figured that much mowing should have recharged the battery, but when I tried to restart it nothing happened.
So I pushed it back into the garage and hooked up the more sophisticated BMW charger. When I looked at the charger this morning, it was showing a green light, which supposedly means the battery is fully charged and ready to go. I didn’t test it. I’ll just leave the charger on the battery until the next time I need to mow.
I’m very close to blogging about Maria’s departure from The Sun. I’m feeling less and less vindictive about it. For now, I’ll just say that Maria is blessed to be out of that poisonous atmosphere. She looks five years younger and more fit and she’s on a path to greater happiness.
Now I’m going home to scoop up the trash and dog poop on the back porch – Dora thinks it’s her foul weather toilet – and pressure wash the concrete floor.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wasting time, saving money


The weather finally broke today after weeks of beastly heat and humidity culminating in nearly a full week of rainy days.

So I resolved to fire up the John Deere LA125 lawn tractor and harvest the yard.

It’s been more than a month since I mowed and, as I feared, the battery was dead. This is about the fifth year for that battery and I figured it was done for, so I called the guys down at Greenway Equipment – my local John Deere dealer – and priced a new battery. It was only $42.50, minus $10 for my old battery.

So I pulled the battery, put it in the back of the Lexus and drove down to Greenway on the southside of Jonesboro.

But when I plunked it down on the counter, the parts guy hooked up the tester and proclaimed it still functional and capable of 200 cranking amps, or something like that. The only problem was that it needed to be charged.

I was annoyed to have wasted a trip, but grateful that I saved myself the price of a new battery.

I reinstalled the battery, hooked up my BMW battery charger to it and am now waiting for it to revive in time to mow before sundown.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It’s a compass


My late father-in-law Capt. Phil Kroon brought this aircraft instrument back from WWII. I supposed it was an artificial horizon, but never knew for sure, nor did I know what kind of aircraft it was in.

I sent some photos to the Freeman Field Recovery Team Facebook page this afternoon and received this in only a few minutes:

This is a WWII Luftwaffe compass known as an FK-38 FuhrerKompass. They were common to several German aircraft. The compass card was immersed in fluid,...usually mineral spirits. Thank you for sharing.

So now I know.

Freeman Field at Seymour, Ind., was where the bulk of the captured German aircraft were taken for study after the war. To the horror of historians and aviation buffs, virtually all of the hundreds of exotic planes were destroyed and buried there and are now the object of extensive archaeological excavations.

Monday, August 12, 2013

My first newspaper job


Years before I began my reportorial career at the Tipton Tribune, soon moving up to The Indianapolis News, I was a newsboy, carrying the Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier.

I started during the summer of 1966 with about 55 customers. The Journal & Courier was an evening paper in those days (it switched to a morning paper in the mid-1980s because most people want their paper in the morning).

The newspaper bundles were shipped the 20 miles or so from Lafayette to Delphi by railroad, so we carriers picked our papers up at the Monon Railroad Depot just northwest of the Delphi courthouse square.

I had the obligatory canvas newspaper bag that I loaded with papers and stuffed into the basket on the front of my bicycle. Some kids rubber banded their papers for throwing, but I just folded mine in thirds.

Those were the days when home delivery meant going to the door and placing the paper in a hanger bracket on the mailbox or putting it between the storm door and the regular door – none of this crap of bagging it and throwing it in the driveway.

journalcourier02Judging from the profile above, I guess I did a fair job. I managed to win a weekend trip to Great Lakes Naval Training Center north of Chicago.

We got to climb around on a destroyer, were forbidden to photograph the “hedgehog” anti-submarine weapons, watched the sailors parade in formation and saw a nifty performance by the Blue Angels. We slept in a barracks and ate in the chow hall. (That’s me in the front of the chow line.)

I thought it was pretty damned cool.

The worst part of the job, other than having to walk the route on snowy winter evenings when it got dark early, was collecting from customers. The paper only cost 35 cents a week, but it was amazing how many people would refuse to answer the door and tried to beat me out of my money.

I guess that was part of the learning experience too.

I only had the route a couple of years before the social pressures of being in junior high became too much of a distraction.


I looked pretty relaxed and confident, didn’t I?

Jack & Dora’s Facebook Group


I post a lot of photos of Jack and Dora on the Australian Shepherd Lovers Facebook group and they never fail to generate a blizzard of “likes.”

So last night I created The Adventures of Jack and Dora group and after less than two hours, we had 70 members.

Some folks just can’t get enough of our dogs.

I can’t either.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mud dogs


It has rained here off and on for the past week and we got another deluge this morning.

Jack and Dora noticed a mudhole developing near the corner of the fence and thought it would be great fun to see how filthy they could get.

They did a pretty good job of it. So much so that they’re not going to be allowed into the house for awhile.

They say there is nothing friendlier than a wet dog and these two are very friendly.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

My life as a high school athlete, summed up in one photo


Here I am in the front row of the 1959-60 Delphi High School freshman basketball team.

I was terrible. I was, by far, the worst player on the team, which is why I only played a few seconds in one game, during which time the ball was stolen from me.

See the kid in jersey number 99, the second from the right in the front row? That’s Jerry Martin. He was born with half a right arm. Jerry was way better than I was.

It was such an embarrassing experience that I never went out for another sport in my high school career until I played on the golf team as a senior. I wasn’t especially good at golf, either, but by that time I just didn’t care and did it for a lark.


As the date for my 50-year high school class reunion nears, I’m sure the NSA has noticed an increase in “chatter” between me and my classmates, mostly about gathering photos to include in a slideshow for the reunion.

One of my classmates, who married a Delphi boy who has done extremely well in the business world, lives in Baton Rouge, La. I had a bigtime crush on her when we were in grade school, but she never knew it. In later years, we did some genealogical research and discovered we are “double cousins,” that is distant cousins through two different lineages.

She mentioned in an email this week that she and her husband have bought the Faye Underhill house in Delphi and plan to move back upon retirement.

I haven’t a clue as to which house that is, although I suspect I had a customer there when I was a newspaper carrier for the Lafayette Journal & Courier in the sixth and seventh grades.

I’m a member of the “You Know You’re From Delphi When…” group on Facebook and it has heightened my realization that I was stunningly self-absorbed and oblivious to people outside my immediate circle of school friends and my parents’ close friends.

Conversations with classmates these days are filled with names of people I know nothing about. The names are vaguely familiar, but I can’t put a face with them or summon up any details about them.

I have the feeling of having lived there 18 years wearing blinders.

It doesn’t particularly disturb me, but I am aware that I was obviously not paying attention to the degree that many of my friends were.

I fully expect this will become glaringly apparent next weekend at the reunion.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Flashing or flushing?


The burgers at Five Guys Burgers & Fries win my vote for the best in town, but the design of the men’s restroom is desperately stupid.

Anyone using the urinal who doesn’t lock the door is setting himself up for more exposure than he probably wants.

Why in hell didn’t they put the hinges on the other side of the door?

Wednesday, August 07, 2013


High school classmate Sharon Hensley sent me a packet of photos and clippings for inclusion in the slideshow I’m creating for the 50-year class reunion next week and it contained this gem.
I’m the cool guy in the front row in shades.
The clipping is from The Delphi Journal, which no longer exists.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Thanks again, Gen. Tibbetts


Sixty-eight years ago today, the guy on the right flew the B-29 Enola Gay from the Pacific island of Tinian to Japan in the world’s first atomic bomb attack.

I count it a singular honor to have been able to meet Gen. Paul Tibbetts, shake his hand and thank him for what he did on Aug. 6, 1945.

My first wife and our two sons owe their lives to him because Capt. Phil Kroon, who was awaiting reassignment from Europe to the Pacific Theater of Operations, almost certainly would have been involved in the planned invasion of Japan. The Navy Department estimated that the invasion would have resulted in between 1.7 and 4 million U.S. casualties with 400,000 to 800,000 deaths. The Los Angeles Times guessed the American death toll would be closer to 1 million.


Monday, August 05, 2013

Just checking in

3DIt’s a rainy day, which gives me an excuse to put off mowing the lawn until tomorrow or maybe even later.

I’ve run out of images to scan for the high school reunion slideshow and Facebook page, so I hope some folks offer more photos so we can have more than 200 images in the rotation.

I found the baptismal certificate for my uncle John A. Dietz, who died in 1939 at the age of 19 from injuries suffered in a horse riding accident. He was my mother’s younger brother and his fatal injury is probably why she didn’t like seeing me on a horse or a motorcycle. I scanned the document and tried to email it to my cousin Sam Groninger in Nashville, Tenn., but discovered his email address is no longer functioning. Turns out he has a Facebook account, but it doesn’t look like he uses it much, but I’ve put in a friend request and remain guardedly optimistic about a response.

I’m overdue for a haircut, so I’ll quit here and head into town.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

How to break your collarbone with one finger

Dog Wants a Kitty

A story that bears repeating

yellowstonebear01I spent much of the spring and summer of 1955 on crutches after I rode a friend’s bicycle into the path of a doctor’s Cadillac in April.

I think my parents felt I deserved something special, so they took me on a trip to the West, that included a couple of days in Yellowstone National Park.

Those were the days when stupid tourists (us included) thought it was OK to feed bears from car windows. Consequently, there were bears all over the place in areas where they are rarely seen today.

(Yogi Bear, the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character who lived in Jellystone Park, had an obsession with picnic baskets – a reference to those careless days.)

I shot these photos from our 1955 Ford Fairlane with my first camera – a Kodak Brownie Holiday Flash – of three of the 49 bears we saw during our time in the park.yellowstonebear02These were black bears and I don’t think we saw any grizzlies.yellowstonebear03

Despite the seemingly high risk factor, National Park Service records show injuries in developed areas from both varieties of bear averaged only 2 per year from the 1930s through the 1960s.

NPS stats show only seven people have been killed by bears in Yellowstone National Park in the 140+ year history of the park. To put this into perspective, the National Park Service says:

More people in the park have died from drowning, burns (after falling into thermal pools), and suicide than have been killed by bears. To put it in perspective, the probability of being killed by a bear in the park (7 incidents) is only slightly higher than the probability of being struck and killed by lightning (5 incidents).

It was on that trip that I first encountered Wallace China Rodeo and Boots & Saddle pattern restaurant ware with the cattle brands around the rim of the plates and saucers. Today, 58 summer later, I have a cabinet full of Wallace cowboy china as a legacy of that trip.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Thank God for dogs

I’ve been unmotivated and too lazy to do any serious blogging for the past several days, but I know that fresh content is what keeps people coming back, so I fill the void with photos and videos of our dogs.

So what did I do today?

Well, since you asked…

We woke up about 8 a.m. and, as I often do, I let our puppy Dora in and plunked her down on the bed to hang out with Maria and me. She’s usually feisty and full of energy in the morning, so it’s a bit of a challenge to get her to calm down and submit to petting or a belly rub. Mostly we keep our fingers and faces out of harm’s way because she likes to nip with her needle puppy teeth.

Maria whipped up a breakfast of diced ham and eggs and biscuits and we abandoned our plan to take Dora to the Farmers Market because it was raining. The rain persisted all morning and I amused myself by setting up a Delphi High School Class of 1963 page on Facebook where I dumped the 182 images I’ve collected for a slide show to be presented at the 50th anniversary class reunion on Aug. 17.

I’ve only found 20 classmates who have Facebook accounts to include in the group and am particularly peeved at a few friends who have managed to stay away from Facebook.

Things dried out by 2 p.m. to permit me to fire up the K75S and ride down to the post office. It’s not much of an adventure – I managed a 50-mile ride last evening – but I like to get in a ride as often as I can as a consolation for having to forfeit my extensive motorcycle touring plans for this summer.

We’ve been working with just my Gannett pension and my Social Security income since Maria parted company with the Sun in late June, but we have yet to feel a serious pinch. I’ve argued for years that we spent way too much money on dining out and since we’ve curtailed that habit, there seems to be enough money to be reasonably comfortable.

We’re cultivating new revenue streams without tapping the resources of Bucksnort Properties LLC, which we use to manage our office building property in downtown Jonesboro. And I’ve only sold a couple of pieces of riding apparel on Ebay – stuff I almost never wear and which was cluttering up the hall closet. There are still a couple of jackets and other gear that need to be cleared out and this seems to be a good time to do it.

I have an extra Garmin Zumo 550 GPS unit that I’ll probably list on Ebay in the next week or so, since I have no use for it. And my brother-in-law in northern Indiana wants to buy the ‘94 Honda del Sol that I was prepared to donate to charity just to get it out of the driveway.

Maria is writing a book and is working with a publisher on another book about quilts, so she has plenty of fun work on her plate.

And maybe I’ll mow the lawn tomorrow. If we don’t get more rain.

Friday, August 02, 2013


We love our Aussies.

Jack, who will be 2 years old on Sept. 1, has lots of loving patience with 13-week-old Dora as she climbs all over him and play-bites at will.

Thursday, August 01, 2013