Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Birthday, Steve


My son Steve is 43 today. Here we are in the summer of 1983 when he was 12, dodging a Lake Michigan wave on the pier at Frankfort, Mich. I was only 38 then – significantly younger than Steve is today.

Steve has grown into an exemplary man – good husband, doting father, and world-class musician. (One of his friends opined that he is the best jazz bass player in Las Vegas and I have no reason to doubt it.)

Considering that I had all the parenting skills of Homer Simpson, I see both of my sons as miracles and a continual source of pride.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sean’s new domain

sean sauvie

My son Sean moved into his new home/studio/recording resort on Sauvie Island over the weekened and looks pretty pleased with the situation.

Sauvie Island is northwest of downtown Portland, Ore. and lies between the Willamette and Columbia rivers.

sauvie mapHere’s how he describes it, noting that he has long had a “vision/ambition to rent a house suitable for recording albums and having musicians stay during their projects. The most ideal version of this is a place with a lot of room and a little extra 'wow' factor, which will allow me to attract more out-of-town artists even from NYC and LA.  Well, that most ideal version is coming to pass!”

His amazing new place is only about 20 minutes from downtown.

“It's exactly everything I need it to be: the rent is reasonable, lots of room(s), a beautiful setting, loads of personality. I'll be charging $400/day for people to record there with me - and that includes lodging. So it's an amazing deal for them, and it works out great for me. (The rule-of-thumb for studios is you should conservatively be able to meet your operating costs with about ten booked days per month, so I'll be in good stead).” 

Cool tool

I’m evaluating the Automatic gizmo for the Amazon Vine Program. Here’s my review:
After a few minutes of frustration because I wasn't plugging the unit in firmly enough, I was able to complete the setup process and start tracking my driving habits.
Automatic gave me a grade of 97 after a 59.1-mile day of running errands. I would have graded higher except for a couple of stops that were a little too abrupt for Automatic's sensibilities. The unit beeps to protest quick starts, quick stops and speeds over 70 mph. Given those criteria, I don't expect it to save me much money because I'm not an aggressive driver. If I drove like a 16-year-old, it would be a very different story, but I'm 68 and I save that kind of behavior for my motorcycles. I like the security of the Crash Alert feature that will call my wife's smartphone in the event of a major mishap. It sent a test message to her this morning when I entered her number into the app, which she found startling until she figured out it was just a test.
My car has full functionality with Automatic except that it does not have a sensor that reports fuel level (then how does the gas gauge work?). Consequently, trip costs reported by Automatic are based on local average gas prices. I assume it references Gas Buddy or some similar gas price database for the price of gas.
Our other car is an '03 Subaru Forester that is not supported by Automatic. The web site let me sign up to be notified if and when they figure out how to make Automatic work with the 10-year-old Forester. I'm not holding my breath.
As a tool for improving fuel economy, Automatic's best use is with young or undisciplined drivers. But if you are a gadget geek or want to make an accurate record of your daily to-ings and fro-ings, or want the security of having someone notified if you crash, this is an excellent product.
Oh, it also reads and interprets engine fault codes, so you don't have to freak out when the "Check Engine" light comes on. Automatic will tell you what's wrong, tell you how to fix it if it's owner fixable, guide you to the nearest mechanic if it's not, and let you clear the code and turn off that annoying light. That's an added feature that's quite a bonus considering that people can pay more than $100 for an engine code reader.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Barrett Strong said it well in 1959

The phone rang a little after 7 a.m. today with Maria’s first substitute teaching assignment – special ed assistant at Brookland Middle School.

She was dressed and out the door in record time to check in at the nearby school by 7:30 a.m.

This is all about generating some positive cash flow and Maria was intrigued when our teacher neighbor Sophie suggested the try subbing.

In the meantime, I’m working on a deal with our attorney to sell a piece of our downtown property that is being used by an adjacent business. The business owner’s property resale value will be seriously compromised if he doesn’t own the tract in question and we’re quite willing to help him out for the right price.

We have a couple of other ideas that we will explore in the coming days and weeks in the hope of building wealth and security.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Serious road rage

bmw machinegun

There are a few times when I wished I had one of these bikes.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Scanning for Alla Mae


I just finished scanning and burning to a CD a set of 88 photos of my neighbor’s mother, Alla Mae Lantz, who died Thursday afternoon after an extended illness.

The images will make up a slideshow of Alla Mae’s life to be shown at visitation tomorrow evening.

She was a year younger than me – something I find rather disturbing.

Here and gone


Gene and Sandra, Maria’s parents, left about an hour ago for their Indiana home.

We had a great visit and wish they could have stayed longer.

They visited Morgan’s new house, toured her library and bought some books, and got a tour of our downtown office building. We never got to explore the cotton harvest and a cotton gin, so that will have to wait for another time.

And once again, I am impressed by how well our house works for hosting visitors. The west end of the house has a two-bedroom, one-bath guest suite that can be closed off for privacy with a pocket door. Maria has her quilting machinery and supplies in one of the bedrooms, but the other is newly furnished with a kingsize bed with a memory foam mattress that has won rave reviews from all who have used it.

About the only thing the guest room lacks is a TV and I’m hopeful that we can fill that need sometime in the near future.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Company's here

Maria's parents are visiting
from Indiana and Morgan joined us for breakfast this morning.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The coffee tastes like crap, but that should improve with use

I’m evaluating a Black & Decker 12-cup programmable coffeemaker for the Amazon Vine Program. Here’s my review:

blackdeckercoffeemakerI did a side-by-side comparison, right out of the box, with my new Black & Decker 12-cup programmable coffeemaker and my 2-year-old Mr. Coffee 12-cup programmable coffeemaker. The Black & Decker box claims 2 minutes shorter brewing time, but in my test it blew Mr. Coffee into the weeds by 4 minutes 30 seconds.
I loaded each with 12 cups of cold water as measured by the carafes with a filter in each, but no coffee (why waste 24 cups of coffee?), and started them simultaneously. Both beeped well before they were finished - the B&D at 9:40with 10.8 cups in the carafe and Mr. Coffee at 11:29 with less than 9 cups in the carafe. The B&D stopped dripping at 11:30 with 11.5 cups in the carafe. Mr. Coffee quit at 15 minutes with only 10.2 cups in the carafe, leaving me to wonder what happened to the water than didn't come through the machine.
The temperature of the B&D water was 170ºF, and the water in the Mr. Coffee carafe was 164ºF.
Next, I loaded the B&D with 8 cups of cold water and 1 scoop of Starbucks Dark Italian Roast coffee. It beeped at 6 minutes and 4 seconds and quit at 7 minutes 50 seconds with only 6.1 cups in the carafe.
I had followed the instructions and thoroughly washed the carafe and the basket before first use, but the coffee still came out with a hint of a plastic taste. I hope that will go away with continued use.
We're expecting guests who will stay for four days, so I'll give the B&D a good workout. If anything happens worth noting, I'll update this review.
I am mindful that this coffeemaker has more than its share of bad reviews. Like most small kitchen appliances, the Black & Decker 12-cup programmable coffeemaker is made in China. It's been my experience that Chinese quality control sometimes permits the manufacture of substandard units and buying a Chinese-made appliance is something of a crapshoot. It remains to be seen what kind of day they were having at the Chinese Black & Decker plant the day my coffeemaker was born.

It’s my 191st review to be published on which makes me the 6,925th most prolific reviewer.

There are some pretty awful reviews for this coffeemaker but it’s just like the Black & Decker coffeemaker my son Steve and his wife use and theirs works fine and makes good coffee, so I remain guardedly optimistic.

Catching comes later


She retrieves like a champ.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I’ve seen this show before…


Despite his size and strength advantage, Jack is mostly noise and bluff when he and Dora play-fight. He could hurt her badly if he wanted to, but he is gentle and careful not to injure.

It reminds me of my two sons. Sean was the older with a kind heart and Steve was the berserker. Sean pulled his punches whenever they fought and often got the worst in the battle. I think it was frustrating for him to realize that he was constrained by this own rules of fair play, while Steve apparently figured he could go all-out.

If Jack feels conflicted, he does a good job of not showing it.

Rock on, little chair


Somehow, I still have this little oak rocking chair that I used as a child more than 60 years ago.

Amazingly, most of the joints are tight and nothing on it is broken, despite the passage of the years, including six years of temperature extremes in the unheated attic of our Thorntown house.

When I was still too young for school, I would drag this chair into the living room and park it in front of our giant Philco Model 41-295 console radio.

I remember hugging my teddy bear (I called him Ted), rocking in this chair, and listening to Hopalong Cassidy, the Lone Ranger, and Captain Midnight.

I hardly ever missed the Storytime Special program at 5 p.m. on weekdays on WBAA, the Purdue University radio station broadcasting from West Lafayette, some 20 miles to the west. And this is where I sat to listen to the National Barn Dance, sponsored by Prairie Farmer magazine on Chicago’s WLS every Saturday night. (One of the featured acts was Captain Stubby and the Buccaneers. Captain Stubby, whose real name was Tom Fouts, went to high school with my mom in Deer Creek. He was three years younger than mom.)

My granddaughter Lisa used it on visits with us and these days it’s the preferred seat for Jackson Holland, our kindergarten-age next-door neighbor.

The incongruous penguin decal is showing its age, but hasn’t faded much in six decades.

The only older pieces of furniture in the house are my parents’ bed frame, now stored in the garage, and our kitchen table, which belonged to my great-grandmother Dietz. Maria refinished the top a few years ago and gave it a durable polyurethane coat that should last at least another 100 years.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

2 more treadmill miles in 35 minutes


Another great workout on the treadmill this morning at St. Bernards Health & Wellness Center.

We also made an appointment with a fitness specialist for Tuesday morning to give us an introduction to the resistance training equipment.

I’ve used Nautilus equipment with great success in the distant past and have high hopes of recapturing the muscle tone and strength that I’ve lost through years of couch potatodom.

One of the really cool features of the facility is the electronic lockers that eliminate the need to bring your own lock or to carry a key.

You put your stuff in the vacant locker of your choice, then press C and key in a 4-digit code of your choice, then press the Key button and voila, the locker is locked. Just repeat the procedure to unlock it.

I know, it’s a small thing, but I really like it.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I have to admit it’s getting better

Monica Specking, a fitness specialist, tries out one of several treadmills at the new St. Bernards Health & Wellness Institute.<br />Photo by John FloraWhen I shot this photo of Monica Specking, a fitness specialist at the St. Bernards Health & Wellness Center two years ago, I had no way of knowing what a difference in my health those treadmills would make.

Maria and I bought a membership at the St. Bernards fitness facility about seven weeks ago and had a fitness evaluation a couple of weeks later. We were advised to focus on aerobic exercise first before adding weights or resistance training to the program.

The recommendation was to do 30 minutes on the treadmill three times a week for a few weeks, then bump it up to 35.

I’ve noticed some subtle improvements on a day-to-day basis – more energy, being the most obvious.

I had a routine checkup with my doctor last week at which time he agreed that my blood pressure is back within normal limits and opined that I could dial back my Lisinopril dosage from 40mg to 20mg daily if I found myself getting light-headed upon getting up from a seated position.

It happened twice last Saturday at the Falling Leaf Rally in Potosi, Mo.

But the most dramatic change for me centered on the experience of setting up and getting in and out of my tent at the rally.

The last few times I’ve pitched my two-man Eureka tent, I’ve ended up huffing and puffing from the simple act of repeatedly kneeling to pound in tent pegs and standing up again. And getting up from a kneeling position to exit the tent had become a minor challenge.

Not so last weekend. Dealing with the tent was a breeze and it went up without me breaking a sweat.

I’ve known for years that just about everything that ails me – high blood pressure and cholesterol and type 2 diabetes – can be improved or eliminated by losing weight and getting fit. Being able to cut my BP meds after only seven weeks impresses the hell out of me. And it motivates me to stay with the program which very well may be my last chance to stave off the debilitating effects of advancing age.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Good day

Maria and I went to the gym and work out this morning. It was a great workout on the treadmill for me. I usually use my iPod, close my eyes and walk in rhythm with the music. My favorite song is Corazon Espinado from the 1999 Carlos Santana "Supernatural" album.
I managed a quick 2 miles in 35 minutes. We hit the hot tub and then the therapy pool for a while.
Jack and I are hanging out on the patio at the moment while I grill a couple of fillets for dinner.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Just what I didn’t need


I filled out a survey card for Epson (I’m in their database because I bought a couple of Epson printers over the years) and was offered a couple of lame prizes for participating. I forget what the other choice was. It must have been really unimpressive. So I chose a t-shirt. They didn’t offer me a size preference. When it arrived in today’s mail, it turned out to be an XL.

I might wear it if it were the only t-shirt I owned, but I must have 100 BMW motorcycle-themed t-shirts and I find the message obscure and unappealing. Maybe Goodwill would like it. Or I could save it for the rare occasion when I paint something.

The porch has been dogged


This is the time of year when squirrels are building their winter nests from branch ends they gnaw from our hickory and oak trees.

There are lots of fumbles that result in the yard being littered with leafy branch ends. When they fall within the fenced area of the back yard, they become dog toys – something to be dragged onto the screened back porch through the dog door and chewed to bits.

The porch was swept clean a couple of weeks ago, but Jack and Dora – mostly Dora – have trashed it, along with their legitimate dog toys, an elk horn and beef shinbones.

Maria’s parents are coming to visit in a week or so, which means the porch will be swept clean and maybe even pressure washed.

So the dogs can start again with a clean slate.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Only two pins in 2013

rally pin collection

My motorcycle rally season is over.

I had high hopes for the 2013 riding season when I opened it with a ride to Daytona Beach Bike Week in early March.

My calendar was blocked out with dates set aside for the European Riders Rally in Burkesville, Ky. in May; the BMW RA Rally in Asheville, N.C. in June; the BMW MOA Rally in Salem, Ore. in July; the BMW Riders Association of the Mid-South RAMS Rally in Parkers Crossroads, Tenn. the first weekend in October, and the Falling Leaf Rally the second weekend in October in Potosi, Mo.

But diabetic gastroparesis kept me home from Burkesville and Asheville and cash flow problems arising from Maria’s liberation from an abusive employment situation killed my plans for Oregon, which included a visit to my son Sean in Portland.

Lack of interest struck the RAMS Rally from the list, but I did make it to Potosi last weekend.

So counting Daytona and Falling Leaf, I only added two rally pins to my collection (see photo above).

Maria is encouraging me to consider one last rally near Lafayette, La. in the coming weeks, but I’m not keen on a 5-hour ride to spend the weekend without any friends present.

So I’ll stop whining and start thinking about the 2014 riding season. I already have plans to ride to Daytona again with Charlie Parsons, which sounds like a very good start.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Proof that I was there (as if I needed any)


The Gateway BMW Riders, who put on the Falling Leaf Rally in Potosi, Mo., posted some photos on the rally Facebook page this evening that included this shot of me at Rally Registration last Friday afternoon.

Dora is fascinated by the sight of other dogs on TV, especially Aussies.


I’ve never had a dog who behaved as if they could discern images on TV, until now.

Jack and Dora have proven themselves to be TV watchers. That’s why I love to stream YouTube videos of dogs at work and play for them.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Falling Leaf in my mirrors


This is the campground at the Falling Leaf Rally in Potosi, Mo. about 8 a.m. today.

By the time I left some 90 minutes later there were maybe 3 or 4 tents left. It always amazes me how quickly a “village” like this of some 671 people (the official registration total) can vanish with the rising of the Sunday sun.

potosipinI covered the 175 miles to home easily, stopping for gas south of Poplar Bluff, Mo., and rolling into my garage precisely at 1 p.m.

The temperature got down to about 45 this morning and I spent a very uncomfortable night in a nearly 40-year-old North Face down sleeping bag that was not up to the challenge of the cold. I misjudged the weather forecast and should have packed by bulky Browning bag that kept me comfortable through chilly nights earlier this year at Daytona. How quickly we forget the lessons of the past.

I dined last evening with Nate and Kelly Cash at Dos Primos Mexican restaurant. I was pleased to find enchiladas Suizas on the menu, but it failed to live up to my expectations.

At least it didn’t keep me up with heartburn.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Falling Leaf Rally weekend

potosimcdonalds I’m hanging out in Potosi, Mo. at the 36th annual Falling Leaf Rally where we got a bit of rain between 5 and 6:30 a.m. today.

Specifically, I’m at McDonald’s using their free Wifi where a couple of guys from the rally were checking out my bike in the parking lot (see pic).

I finally figured out how to use the solar-powered phone charging unit that came with my Nelson-Rigg tank bag. I tried to use it riding to and from Daytona earlier this year, but I hadn’t read the instructions closely enough to know I had to press a button on the charging unit to make the connection with my phone. I took another run at it yesterday and got it right.

Despite a weak Sprint cell signal, I was able to use my iPhone to surf the Internet last night until about 1 a.m., then plugged it into the charger, having brought my tank bag into the text with me. When I got up this morning, my phone was 100% charged. Pretty cool. Now I don’t have to hang out at rally registration tethered to a power outlet.

I got here about 3 p.m. and still found myself hours ahead of most of the Indianapolis BMW Club contingent. We’re widely scattered on the rally grounds this year, so we won’t be sharing a campfire tonight.

There’s an invitational high school marching band contest in town again this year, which means the main street is barricaded and we have to detour on side streets to get through town.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Falling Leaf preparations


Here I am with my morning mocha cappuccino, contemplating packing for the Falling Leaf Rally this weekend in Potosi, Mo.

Garmin says it’s only about a 3 hour 15 minute ride, so I’m taking my time about packing and leaving because I don’t want to have to wait around for my Indianapolis friends to arrive. It’s a five-hour ride for them so I figure I’ll get there about the same time they do if I wait until about 11 a.m. to hit the road.

That gives me another 45 minutes to fool around before I have to get out of here.

The forecast suggests rain tomorrow and maybe on Sunday, so I’m wearing my waterproof riding gear to assure that it definitely will not rain.

More from the road and the rally.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thank God for autofocus


I’ve been shooting photos nearly all of my life. Before I went to school, my mom occasionally let me snap a frame or two with her very basic Kodak twin-lens reflex camera.

My first camera was a Kodak Holiday Brownie that my parents bought me to take on a trip to Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 1955.

I’ve used a wide variety of film and digital cameras, ranging from 4x5 Speed Graphics to a Nikon F5 to my current workhorse, a Nikon D200 digital camera. (Yeah, I know it’s seven years old and obsolete, but I can still do pretty good work with it and I’m not in a position to spring for a newer model.)

The advances in photo technology are what’s kept me in the game. I would never have attempted to shoot weddings before digital photography came along. And it occurred to me while shooting a third-grade football game this morning, I would be totally screwed for sports photography were it not for autofocus and the continuous shooting feature of my digital SLR.

My all-around favorite lens for portraiture and action photography is the fabulous Nikkor f/2.8 80-200mm lens that once belonged to Indianapolis Star photographer and friend Joe Vitti before he traded it in at Roberts Imaging in Indianapolis. My favorite story-telling lens is our 12-24mm wide angle. It’s kinda slow at f/4, but the coverage and depth of field are great tools.

For extreme low-light situations, there’s the Nikkor f/1.4 50mm lens that I embarrassingly forgot to take with me on my trip to Las Vegas last month. I also have a 90mm Tamron macro lens that gets used once in a blue moon, usually when I need a close-up detail shot for something I’m selling on Ebay.

Shooting in the fog


Maria and I started our day at 9 a.m. shooting the third grade championship football game at Greene County Tech Junior High in Paragould.

Between the two of us, we shot more than 600 images, which I am about to review and edit with an eye to posting the best on our web site: later this afternoon.

The field was shrouded in fog when we arrived, so the early shots are a bit murky. We never did see the sun but the fog thinned out enough that we were getting some pretty good stuff by the second half.

Maria handed out business cards with our web site URL to several parents, so we’re hopeful that we can make some sales from today’s effort.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Checking in with Jack and Dora


We’re having another perfect autumn day here with temperatures climbing out of the upper 40s, low humidity and heading for a high of only 81.

What better time to check in on the adventures of Jack and Dora?

Dora is filling out a little, but still looks like a lanky coyote. She and Jack are still in love.

We’ve abandoned our earlier plan to let Dora have a little of pups with Jack because:

  • It’s inadvisable to keep them separated every time she goes into heat between now and her second birthday on May 1, 2015.
  • The expense of doing all of the necessary testing and vaccinations of a litter of 8-10 puppies is beyond our financial reach at present.
  • We’d rather offer Jack for stud and get one of his puppies as payment.

That said, Dora continues to be a source of joy and a wonderful companion for Jack and us.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Foiling a computer scam and getting healthier

I just got a call from some guy in India claiming to be with Microsoft and telling me there is something seriously wrong with my computer.

He was obviously in some kind of call center where I could hear other conversations going on. He ended up passing me to his "supervisor" who wanted me to go to the Start Menu in Windows.

I’m sure he would eventually directed me to some web site that allowed him to take control of my computer and do all kinds of nefarious stuff, but that's when I told him to fuck off and hung up.

But on a brighter note, I had a routine checkup with my doctor this afternoon and he is much encouraged by improvements in my blood pressure and weight as a consequence of regular workouts at the St. Bernards Wellness facilities.

I’m down about 20 pounds from this time last year and we’re starting to talk about cutting back on all of the medications I’m taking for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

I’m at 229 pounds and he figures if I can get to 180 I’ll be at my optimum weight.

I started wearing the electronic pedometer a week ago tomorrow morning. It tells me I’ve taken 26,033 steps, covered 12.32 miles, and burned 17,689 calories since I got up last Wednesday morning.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Why the Global Warming "issue" is a hoax

Pedometer review

syncI received one of these little $29.99 electronic pedometers from the Vine Program to review last week. Here’s the review I wrote this morning:

This is a good little pedometer for the money. I've been wearing it every day for the past week and am impressed with its simplicity. It's a bit unsettling to see how few calories I burn on the days when I don't hit the treadmill at the gym, but I guess that's how it works as a motivator.
The interface with the MapMyWalk app on my iPhone 5 is a different story, however, and that's why I give it 4 stars instead of 5.
The instructions that come with the unit say to connect it with the audio jack on my smartphone, crank the volume up all the way on the phone, and "press the SYNC button on the MapMyWalk application."
The problem is, there is no SYNC button on the app.
Once you have the app running, the sequence is SETTINGS>EQUIPMENT>HEART RATE & OTHER SENSORS>SYNC DEVICES>SYNC ACTIVITY TRACKER. Make sure your Bluetooth feature is turned on. It took several attempts before I was able to synch the device, but I finally made it happen. Once you accomplish this, the devices are paired.
Subsequent synchings are accomplishing by going to WORKOUTS and clicking the "Update SYNC Activity Tracker" button.
This is all outlined in an online tutorial at:
It's a great little product that just needs clearer instructions in the user guide that comes in the package.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Good morning, Jack!


Peering through the kitchen window at the Dogcam.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Third grade football


We spend the morning shooting a championship qualifying game between the Razorbacks and the Eagles at Greene County Tech Junior High.

Some of the game was played in rain, which made the kids look particularly heroic.

This morning’s effort can be viewed at

13 years an orphan


My mother, Eileen Flora, died 13 years ago this evening in her room in a Zionsville, Ind., retirement community. This is the eulogy I wrote for her a few days later:

Saturday evening, two nights after my mother died, I got around to going through her purse.
My initial thought was to make sure there wasn’t anything important or valuable there, but I think I was really looking for my mother – for some trace of her and her personality.
I found it.
Tucked into various pockets and pouches were the little notes that had become her memory in recent years, notepad lists of information she wanted to be able to recall as Alzheimer’s cruelly robbed her of her ability to retrieve all but the most basic information.
There was a yellow Post-It note to remind her of a beauty shop appointment she won’t be keeping at 10 a.m. tomorrow.
There was the list of meal times at the retirement center nursing home: 7 a.m. breakfast, noon lunch and 5:15 p.m. dinner.
And there were several little slips that listed my name, my address and my phone number, some with talking points she wanted to bring up when she next spoke with me:
• “Blank checks” – She wanted me to bring her some checks because she felt powerless without a way to pay for things she was sure she needed.
• “My car, where is it?” – She had places to go.
• “Ready to go home.” – She desperately wanted to get back to the house that had been her home for 46 years.
Going home was the dominant theme of all of our conversations and visits from the time we moved her to the retirement center last April. After asking if I had a by-line today and telling me I needed a haircut, she always reminded me she had work to do and the house on Columbia Street needed her. I would assure her that I’d checked on the house and everything was just fine, but she never really believed me.
My mother was a woman who needed to be busy, going places and doing things.
For a lot of years, that meant being a Registered Nurse and helping people. I remember when I was a kid and she was a nurse in Dr. George Wagoner’s office how patients would call our house on weekends and late at night with questions they didn’t want to bother the doctor with.
She was proud of being a nurse and she made sure everyone knew it, especially the staff at the retirement center. The director of nursing once told me how my mother would listen to the health complaints of the other residents there and how, more than once, they noticed her sitting wheelchair-to-wheelchair, checking the pulse of one of her neighbors.
I never expected this moment to come so soon. When I described her to friends, I usually compared her with the Energizer bunny who keeps going and going and going.
That’s why I couldn’t believe what I was hearing Thursday night when the nurse called to tell me my mother had just died.
How unlike mom.
I learned she died in her sleep and then it made sense. Her 85-year-old body betrayed her and death took her unaware.
I was sad until I had a vision of her emerging from the fog of Alzheimer’s and being welcomed into Heaven by Dad, her brothers and sisters and her parents.
Maybe, without knowing it at the time, that’s what she really meant when she scribbled those memos about “ready to go home.”
I’ll miss her, but there’s not the slightest doubt in my mind that this separation is only temporary. In the meantime, I have her notes to remind me of a mother who was proud of me and loved me unconditionally.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Happy 65th, Charlie

My BMW riding friend Charlie Parsons turned 65 today, so we celebrated this evening with several other friends at Vino’s, Charlie’s favorite bistro in downtown Jonesboro.
Charlie and I made a pact to ride to Daytona Beach Bike Week again next year.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Just passing through…

rick nelson oct 2013

Indianapolis BMW Club friend Rick Nelson was our guest for the night when he stopped here en route from Indianapolis to a rally this weekend in Schulenburg, Texas.

Rick was co-chairman of the BMW MOA International Rally this July in Oregon.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Company's here

Indy BMW Club friend Rick Nelson is spending the night with us en route to a rally in Texas this weekend.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

24 hours ago…


I was in seat 19F of Delta Airlines Flight 663 en route from Las Vegas, via Salt Lake City, to Memphis.

Can you tell I had a screaming 2-year-old sitting behind me?

Home again, home again

strip perspective

I landed in Memphis about 9 o’clock last night and pulled into my driveway a minute or two before 11, home from a very fulfilling six days in Las Vegas with my son Steve and his family.

The visit exceeded my expectations. Steve is an excellent host and has grown into an admirable father, husband and musician.

Maria and I hit the gym this morning and we’re back into our routine. Jack and Dora seemed happy to see me and I think Dora grew during my absence.


Other than the portraits of Nicky, I’m not especially proud of the photography I did in Vegas. They all need HDR massaging to be anything but ordinary tourist stuff.

I’m still kicking myself for forgetting to take my super-fast f/1.4 50mm lens. I could have done such good work in Steve’s low-light performance venues.