Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Seven years ago today

house clouds

We first laid eyes on our Arkansas home seven years ago yesterday and our offer to purchase was accepted the next day, Sept. 30, 2007.

The house was two years old when we took possession, so everything in it was relatively new. Compared with our 1903 house in Indiana where something always needed fixing, this house has been maintenance free. About the only thing I’ve had to do is replace light bulbs and furnace filters and replace the spring on the garage door opener.

Lawn mowing was the biggest chore. I really hated mowing our 1.23 acre lot with a walk-behind mower, especially after I learned I am much more likely to encounter snakes here than in Indiana. Consequently, we bought a John Deere LA125 riding mower the following May and now I mow and murder snakes with wild abandon.

I miss friends and family in Indiana, but I truly love our home here in the woods. We have a better rapport with our neighbors here than we did in Indiana and really enjoy visiting with them.

There is an abundance of wildlife, especially in the woods that flank our house on the west. We hear or see deer, rabbits, coyotes, raccoons, armadillos, squirrels, owls, turkeys, and a huge assortment of smaller birds that come to our back yard bird feeder.

The fenced portion of the back yard has proven perfect for our dogs. Ruthie and Pete, who came with us from Indiana, have moved on to the Rainbow Bridge where they await us. They’ve been replaced by Jack and Dora who are also a source of endless entertainment and joy.

The financial opportunity that brought us to Arkansas turned out to be a cruel joke, but we’re survivors and have faith in the future.

Arkansas autumn is long and winter is mercifully short and usually mild and I have no desire to ever endure another Indiana winter.

I never would have picked this place to live these years of my life, but now that we’re here, I like it.

Next to godliness

clean k1200gt

It must be the weather or the approaching Falling Leaf Rally or maybe just craziness, but I washed my 2003 K1299GT this afternoon.

This is only the second time I’ve washed it in the seven years we’ve lived in Arkansas, the first time being June 10, 2013.

To be truthful, it was just a light wash and hardly a detail job. I was never one for spending a lot of time cleaning motorcycle wheels, so the best they can expect is a good rinse.

And, of course, it will all be undone in the first .2 miles on our gravel subdivision road which we were told would be paved once the last lot in our subdivision was sold. But then the developer opened up a second section where another four homes have been built and more lots remain unsold, so it doesn’t look like we’ll see pavement for another few years.

Now I can go back to feeling guilty about not washing the 1994 K75S. Yet.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bless you, Bergeron’s

gunswelcomeYou may think otherwise – in which case you’re wrong – but I feel a whole lot safer in a restaurant or business that encourages customers to carry their guns.

I get a little twitchy when I dine at Memphis restaurants where guns are banned, i.e., the patrons are at the mercy of bad guys who ignore the “No Guns” signs.

That also includes:

  • Starbucks
  • Chipotle
  • Panera
  • Target
  • Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Hooters
  • Regal Cinemas

There are many more. These are just the ones that come to mind.

An armed society is a polite society.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Maria’s contribution


David Head auctioned the quilt Maria made and donated to the Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church's 8th annual ice cream social and auction in Jonesboro last evening.

The quilt earned $210 for the church's coffers. David's wife Cheryl, whose mother died earlier this year and left a huge stash of fabric, passed much of it on to Maria and Maria used it to create the quilt.

The Heads own a cattle ranch on the other side of the woods from our house and are great neighbors. Visit their website at http://nineoaksbeef.com/index.html

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A standout performance this morning from Clay


Maria and I drove up to Greene County Tech’s campus this morning to photograph our neighbor boy Clay Holland’s football game.

Clay is an outstanding member of his team’s defensive line and repeatedly sliced through the opposition’s line like a hot knife through butter.

His team lost, but Clay was very impressive, making some great tackles.


Friday, September 26, 2014

The oldest family photo I have–it’s a tintype


This is a tintype most likely made in the 1860s or 1870s. (That was the heyday of tintypes.)

I believe one of the couples are my great-grandparents John G. Dietz (1839-1918) and Elizabeth Ray Dietz (1844-1923). They were married Feb. 11, 1871.

I'm reasonably sure it's the couple on the right. John G. and Elizabeth are buried in Rock Creek Cemetery, Carroll County, Ind. If I had to bet, I'd say this tintype was probably made in a studio in Logansport.

I have their kitchen table in my Arkansas kitchen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cannonball bikes stolen, recovered

stolen bikes

Five antique Harley-Davidsons, four of which completed the 3,000+ mile Pre-1937 Cannonball Endurance Run, were stolen yesterday morning along with a pickup truck and trailer from a Tacoma hotel parking lot.

The trailer and bikes – minus spare engines and some parts – were recovered today at the Port of Tacoma where they were apparently about to be shipped overseas. The truck turned up at a different location.

I am reminded of the time in the 1990s when I spent an uneasy night in a Tacoma Motel 6. When I was loading my bike the next morning an Air Force officer loading her car in the adjacent parking spot, said, “I’m surprised your bike is still here this morning.” The officer was in Tacoma visiting her husband who was stationed nearby. She said there was a lot of gang activity in the area and vehicle thefts were commonplace.

I guess it helps that BMWs are rarely targeted for theft because dirtbags see more profit in Japanese sportbikes and Harleys.

I consider this one more reason to give Tacoma a wide berth when traveling in the Pacific Northwest.

Cinnamon and Honey? Seems to work.


I noticed a Facebook posting the other day about the efficacy of cinnamon and honey for a host of ailments, including indigestion. (http://p2t2solutions.com/cinnamon-honey-18-home-remedies-for-better-health/)

So I checked the pantry and confirmed we have a large container of powdered cinnamon, then bought a 5 pound jar of Sue Bee Honey at Sam’s Club.

I’ve been mixing about a teaspoon of cinnamon and a tablespoon of honey in warm milk and drinking it first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

The first change I’ve noticed is that I no longer wake up in the middle of the night with indigestion which I blamed on diabetic gastro paresis (look it up). My stomach feels surprisingly settled and I’ve slept soundly the last few nights.

I was getting over a cold when I started the cinnamon and honey regimen and it went away quicker than expected.

This is all anecdotal, non-scientific stuff, I realize, but I’m going to continue consuming honey and cinnamon for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I took the oath and got on the plane 49 years ago today

lacklandcap2Forty-nine years ago today, I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and flew to Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas.

We flew from Indianapolis to Shreveport, La., to Houston to San Antonio. (Changing planes in Houston, I ran into another Delphi boy – Ron Crumbo – who was already in the Air Force. Ron was married to my childhood friend Susan Kent for several years and became a pilot.) The last leg of the journey was in an old DC3 twin-prop job.

The photo is from one of those automated photo booths at the BX (Base Exchange).

I can still remember my serial number – an eight-digit number that was years before the military started using Social Security numbers as service member serial numbers.

I had a brilliant 41-day career in the 3703rd Basic Military Training Squadron before I was given a medical discharge for allergies.

During my time I was put in charge of the cleaning crew for the second floor latrine and shower area, did one night of KP (I hated the pots and pans detail) and pulled guard duty several times – in the barracks and outside in the squadron area.

I qualified as an expert with an M1 .30 carbine, earning a ribbon to prove it. The day we went through the obstacle course, the teargas building was out of order, so I missed out on that experience.

Besides teaching me the finer points of toilet cleaning, the Air Force turned me into a proficient shoe-polisher and bed-maker. I already knew how to march, thanks to four years in high school marching band, but it seemed like a real challenge to some of the guys. I learned not to carry stuff in my right hand while walking about, since one never knew when one would encounter an officer and be required to salute.

I had worked as a hand sander in the RCA television and stereo cabinet factor in Monticello, Ind., in the months before I enlisted. As a consequence, I had inadvertently sanded off my fingerprints. They brought me back multiple times for fingerprinting, but I don’t think they ever got a useable set.

flousafI have always been good at orienting myself to the points of the compass, but I never could get and keep my bearings while at Lackland AFB.

I suppose that qualifies me as a Vietnam-era veteran, but that’s a claim I will never make out of deference to the guys who really served and fought.

I came home in splendid physical condition with the shortest haircut I’d had since I was a little kid.

Here I am on my first day back in my hometown of Delphi. Mom photographed me in the back yard with Snoopy, the family dog.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Columbian Park nostalgia


This is where I learned to swim – the public swimming pool in Lafayette, Ind.’s Columbian Park, right across the street from Home Hospital where I was born.

The pool was built in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration and was the place to swim for kids in Lafayette, West Lafayette, Delphi, and other surrounding communities in the 1950s and ‘60s.

basketI know it was a huge part of the growing-up experience of tens of thousands of kids because I posted a picture of a basket, like the ones we used to put our clothes into in the bathhouse, on a Lafayette nostalgia Facebook page a couple of days ago and it generated a frenzy of reminiscences.

At last count, it had received nearly 400 “likes” and more than 60 comments, which is exceptional.

When you put your clothes into the basket after changing into your swimsuit, you got a safety pin with a corresponding number to pin to your suit and use later to redeem your stuff.

I begged my parents to take me to the Lafayette pool every chance I got in the summers in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. I think it was the summer of my sophomore year in high school that the Carroll County Country Club in Delphi finally got a pool and my friends and I shifted our attention there.

There were similar round WPA pools in Kokomo and Lebanon. I don’t know when or why the Columbian Park pool went away, but I suspect it suffered the same fate as the one in Lebanon – cracks and leaks that were too expensive to repair.

A water park called Tropicanoe Cove has replaced the pool and judging from the comments on Facebook, it lacks the charm of the old WPA facility.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The fair is over


The 2014 Northeast Arkansas District Fair ended last night.

I had wanted to shoot some night photos this year, but the prospect of fighting miles-long traffic jams to get into the fairgrounds parking lot was just too much.

So this shot from the 2012 fair will have to do.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Not as bad as I thought


I shot 30 frames of grade school football this morning at Greene County Tech before I discovered my neighbor boy’s game wouldn’t start for another two hours.

I shot some of his games last fall with good results, but they’ve changed fields this year. The different sun position, the heat and the prospect of spending much more time shooting than I expected combined to dampen my enthusiasm. So I packed my gear and came home for breakfast and a mocha cappuccino.

I figured what I had shot was crap, but reviewing my images just now I found a couple I like.

I told his dad I’d come back on another day and do some serious photography.

In the meantime, I kinda like this image.

Friday, September 19, 2014

iOS 8: backup your data first!


I spent about 90 minutes upgrading my iPhone 5 to iOS 8 this morning and I have to thank Kim Komando for some very good advice.

She recommends doing a synch/backup to your computer before beginning the iOS 8 download and installation so all of your data is recoverable should something go amiss.

I did and it did. My iPhone crashed when it tried to install iOS 8 and directed me to do a restore, which wipes the slate clean and restores the phone to its factory defaults.

Happily, the restore process installed iOS 8 and reinstalled all of my personal content – contacts, music, videos, apps, the works. I don’t recall when I synched the photo before this morning, but that would have been the status which would have been installed had it not done a synch this morning.

Now, I’m exploring some of the new features, like time lapse videos in the camera, keyboard word suggestions, audio messages, etc. You can even summon Siri by saying, “Hey, Siri!” without pressing the Home button when your phone is connected to a power source, like a car charger.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

72,000 miles. No big deal.

k1200gt hdr[4]

My 2003 BMW K1200GT recorded its 72,000th mile this afternoon as I rode in to Jonesboro to cash in an empty coffee bag for a cup of Starbucks coffee.

I’m a little embarrassed that it’s so few miles for 11 riding seasons. By the time my 1991 K100RS was this old, it had more than 159,000 miles on the odometer.

That said, my semi-obsessive record keeping tells me I’ve run about 1,800 gallons of gas – mostly 89 octane – through the GT at a cost of about $4,900 with an average fuel economy of 42 mpg.

It’s carried me to the Colorado Rocky Mountains several times and the Pacific Northwest and the California coast a couple of times.

The 1004 K75S that I bought for Maria in the fall of 2000 with 2,417 miles on the clock, now has accumulated another 14,394 miles – some of them Maria’s but mostly mine. It has consumed 328 gallons of gas since we got it, for a fuel economy of 42.4 mpg.

That’s enough stats for now. Time to ride.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Here’s something you don’t see every day


This was my collection of Third Reich flags and banner back around 1990, spread out over much of the back yard of our house at 5009 N. College Ave. in Indianapolis.

I have several more now, but don’t have a convenient place to array them for a similar photo.

That’s the problem with collecting unpopular, inflammatory things. You can’t display them, especially if they’re huge like the biggest one here – a State Service Flag that’s about 10 feet on the short side. If I were to run one up a flagpole, it would be sure to cause a stir.

I took it and some other German stuff to Austin’s high school English class several years ago. They were doing a unit on the Holocaust and the teacher asked if I could bring some things to show. A student volunteer and I got onto chairs to hold up the State Service Flag, which pretty much covered the front wall of the classroom, so the kids could see it in all its graphic savagery.

That was about the time the principal strolled down the hall and glanced in through the vertical glass panel in the door and was transfixed by the biggest swastika he’d ever seen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I didn’t even know she was sick

leslie collins

Leslie Alig Collins was one of my best correspondents when I was chief of the Metro North Bureau of The Indianapolis News from the mid-1980s to the mid-‘90s.

Her copy was always exceptionally clean and usually needed little or no editing as she covered stories in her hometown of Zionsville and in the county seat of Lebanon, Ind.

She was a Facebook friend in recent years, but I never saw a clue that she was ill with cancer.

So it was like a slap in the face this morning when I got an email from Indianapolis News colleague Art Harris telling me she died Monday morning.

Art got the news from former Boone County Commissioner Wendy Brant and passed it on. Wendy wrote, “The cancer was throughout her body - kidney failure. She was a strong Christian and told me recently she was not afraid to die. The funeral is at Zionsville Fellowship this Friday.”

Godspeed, Leslie, until we meet again.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Around the fire pit


We were discussing what to do after dinner last evening when we noticed that our neighbor Shannon posted a photo of his fire pit ablaze in his back yard.

So we walked over to join the fun. It was Sophie and Shannon and their extended family, sitting around and torching marshmallows, hot dogs and bologna.

I got thirsty after about a half-hour and made a 10-minute (round trip) run to the county line liquor store for a 12-pack of Budweiser, which I shared liberally with our hosts and other guests.

It was cool – in the upper 50s – and pretty much mosquito-free and a good time was had by all.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Jack gets a checkup

jack and heather

I took Jack, aka Briarbrooks Gentleman Jack Flora, to the Animal Medical Center for a routine checkup and shots this morning.

Dr. Heather Curry, who we and our dogs love, pronounced him a healthy boy.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Motorcycle Pin of the Day

cannonball pin

Here’s the official commemorative pin from this year’s Pre-1937 Cannonball Endurance Run from Daytona Beach to Tacoma.

The 100+ riders completed the fifth day of the trip on Tuesday afternoon at Cape Girardeau and Charlie Parsons and I were among the spectators waiting for them.

56 hd1 1914 10E Victor Boocock

Victor Boocock of California rode the oldest bike in the group, a 1914 Harley-Davidson 10E.

103 guzzi sport giuseppe savoretti

Giuseppe Savoretti brought his 1931 Moto Guzzi Sport from Italy to participate in the event.

1928 indian scout kirk macgillivray

Kirk MacGillivray, riding his 1928 Indian Scout was the only rider I saw in heavy leathers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More Cannonball Endurance Run photos

53 bmw john landstrom 1928

Here's John Landstrom on his 1928 BMW R62 arriving at the Cape Girardeau, Mo. checkpoint Tuesday afternoon in the Cannonball Endurance Run for pre-1937 motorcycles. The riders started Sept. 5 in Daytona Beach. By the time they end their 17-day trip in Tacoma, Wash., they will have covered about 4,000 miles, averaging 250 miles a day. Today's destination is Sedalia, Mo.

rudge stuart surr 72

Stuart Surr, Manchester, England, on his 1926 Rudge.

23bmw norm nelson 1928r52

Norm Nelson on his 1928 BMW R52.

63 years ago today

firstdayschool001 Sixty-three years ago this morning I posed with Jeannie Taylor and Susan Kent in front of the bush behind the big brick duplex their families shared on East Franklin Street in Delphi, Ind. It was across the alley from my parents’ house at 609 E. Franklin.

We were on the threshold of academia. Minutes later, I was in Mrs. Kathleen Baum’s first grade classroom at the southwest corner of Monroe Street Elementary School with my pencils, crayons and oilcloth (to protect the desks from modeling clay).

Our first assignment was to draw a big red apple on a sheet of manila art paper to take home to our mothers.

Mrs. Baum seemed very nice and I remember trying to show her a photograph of our house that I kept in my wallet. Yes, I carried a wallet as a 6-year-old.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Cannonball Endurance Run for pre-1938 motorcycles


The 50-or-so motorcycles and riders participating in the 2014 Cannonball Endurance Run arrived in Cape Girardeau, Mo. about 4:30 p.m. today.

Charlie Parsons and I drove up to witness the spectacle and I shot a bunch of HDR images. We counted 5 BMWs in the group.


Monday, September 08, 2014

Indiana newspapering

These are depressing times for newspapering in Indiana.
The Indianapolis Star downsized this week, cutting loose a lot of loyal and talented people, as part of a reorganization involving the move from the longtime home of the paper at 307 N. Pennsylvania to abandoned retail space in the faltering Circle Center Mall. The Mall, anchored by a Nordstrom’s department store, lost much of its local patronage because of the presence of teenage gangs. That should make for an interesting newsroom environment.
While we were back in Indiana last week, our attention was called to an ad in The Lebanon Reporter seeking a new managing editor. Among the criteria, a requirement of a journalism degree. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people I’ve worked with who had J-school degrees that I considered competent journalists.
As I have pointed out before, that requirement means the following brilliant writers, many of whom worked on newspapers, could not get hired at the Reporter:
James Baldwin
Ambrose Bierce
Erskine Caldwell
Truman Capote
Agatha Christie
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)
Joseph Conrad
Theodore Dreiser
William Faulkner
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Dashiell Hammett
Ben Hecht
Ernest Hemingway
William Sydney Porter (O. Henry)
Jack Kerouac
Jack London
Henry Miller
Dorothy Parker
Edgar Allan Poe
Geneva Grace Stratton (Gene Stratton Porter)
William Saroyan
Mickey Spillane
John Steinbeck
Dylan Thomas
Hunter S. Thompson
Leon Uris
Requiring a journalism degree is pretty close to a guarantee of mediocrity.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Sorry about the blog. I’ve been busy.

I think it was Maria who shot this rather flattering photo of me around noon last Monday as we worked out the final details before the wedding of Austin and Megan at Dull’s Tree Farm east of Thorntown, Ind.
All told, we shot more than 3,000 images and I’ve spent several hours since we got home on Tuesday night sorting and editing and posting representative shots to Facebook and, since yesterday, to my Flickr account so the kids can have a slideshow of sorts to run in the background when they open their wedding gifts later today.
As I write this, they’re en route from Atlanta, by way of Chattanooga, to their Indianapolis home.
Now, I need to burn everything to a set of DVDs and send them off to Austin and Megan to do with as they will.
I also spent a few hours Friday shampooing the living room rug and it appears no permanent damage was done when Jack barfed on the carpet over the weekend. I also sucked up enough blue merle dog hair to make a second version of Dora. At one point, it almost choked the Bissell ProHeat 2x Cleanshot machine.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Friday wrapup


Here I am on Monday morning at the home of Gene and Sandra Bayless, Maria’s parents, in Thorntown, Ind.

I’m actually seated at the end of the table and facing Gene and Sandra, but the iPhone panorama feature makes it look like I’m sitting off to the side.

I’ve spent the past few days reviewing and editing photos shot my me, Maria, Morgan and various other people who handled our cameras during the two days of Austin and Megan’s wedding and preparations. All told, we shot more than 3,000 images of the setup, rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, wedding and reception.

It was an impressive pooling of special talents from our photography and Maria’s quilting to Mike and Kim Gill’s organizational skills, to Dan and Dana Dunbar’s custom grown flowers and his grandfather’s antique Farmall tractor that Austin and Megan used to chug away from the barnyard at Dull’s Christmas Tree Farm.

We’ve photographed a lot of weddings, including a ceremony and reception at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, but this was the best. The ceremony was short and simple, the catered reception was tasty and efficiently served and the overall ambiance and amenities of Tom and Kerry Dull’s barn and cabins was warm and picturesque.


I even got to put my Nikon D200 aside and dance with my bride.

This was our second trip back to Indiana in two months, but the demands on our time were such that we never got a chance to visit with some of our closest friends. I hope our next trip won’t be so rushed.

On another subject, today was the day the folks at The Indianapolis Star learned whether they would be retained or fired as the paper goes through yet another episode of reorganization and downsizing to go along with the relocation of its offices from 307 N. Pennsylvania Street to improbably quarters at Circle Center Mall.

My old friend, photographer Joe Vitti, who worked with me at The Indianapolis News and later The Star, took a buyout. I hope it was a good package. He deserves it.

As I pointed out on one Star photographer’s Facebook page, not working at The Star can be a good thing. I have never regretted my decision to take early retirement 14 years ago when the job of education reporter in the Metro North Bureau stopped being fun.

I miss my Indianapolis News friends, but not the reptilian management team that came with Gannett ownership.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Back from Hoosierland

austinmegantractorMy blogging didn’t amount to much over the holiday weekend because I was insanely busy with events surrounding the wedding of my stepson Austin Dunbar and his fiance Megan Gill.
The venue was Dull’s Christmas Tree Farm east of Thorntown, Ind.
We – Maria and I and my stepdaughter Morgan – drove up on Saturday, arriving about 9 p.m. Indiana time.
We were at the wedding venue for several hours Sunday, setting things up and rehearsing the ceremony before we drove up to Lafayette to an Irish pub for the rehearsal dinner.
Monday – Labor Day – we were back at the big red barn at the Christmas tree farm before noon to finish up preparations and the bride walked down the aisle at precisely 3:45 p.m.
Maria, Morgan and I shot pretty much every part of the day from multiple angles and ended up with about 3,000 images to sort and edit.
Austin’s dad, Dan Dunbar, brought an antique Farmall tractor that was part of his father’s collection and the bride and groom departed the barnyard on it at the end of the day.
johnlongdayWe had toyed with the idea of leaving for Indiana right after the reception, but we were sweat-soaked and wrung out from three rather intense days and would not have been safe doing an overnight 7-hour drive from Indiana to Arkansas.
Consequently, we went back to Maria’s parents’ Thorntown home for a third night and rolled out Tuesday morning.

Getting re-tired

I'm at Gateway Tire this morning, buying a replacement for the left rear tire on our Lexus RX330 that went flat 14 miles east of Kennett, Mo. Yesterday afternoon.
Thanks to Morgan for her invaluable assistance and Maria for waving traffic into the left lane.
So far, the bill stands at $225 for a new tire, but there is also an as-yet unresolved brake rotor problem.
We were about 90 minutes from home, returning from Austin and Megan's wedding in Indiana on Monday.

Later: The total charge was $228. They were too busy to deal with the rotors, but assured me it was no big deal and to bring the car back in a few days when they weren't swamped.
BTW, Maria said she saw two dead black snakes near where she was standing - about 20 yards behind the car - but she was thoughtful enough to not mention it until we got back on the road.