Sunday, February 14, 2021

Christmas china from True West - Merry Christmas to me!

It's been a few years since I added anything to my cowboy china collection so I claimed this Christmas platter as my Christmas present from Maria.

The Christmas series was never produced by Wallace China. The rest of the Wallace cowboy china line is now being faithfully reproduced by True West China. The owner of True West was visiting with the late artist Till's daughter when he was shown a series of Till's drawings for Christmas cards and got permission to use the images on a new Christmas series of china.

This platter arrived on Dec. 18 and I planned to use it for Christmas dinner, but I liked seeing it in the china cabinet so much, I couldn't bear to cover it up with food.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Confronting the reality of ending my motorcycling career

I fear that the Covid-19 pandemic has ended my motorcycling career that began in the 1970s.

My BMW K1200GT (on the left) sits idle in my shed connected to a battery trickle charger. It hasn't run in nearly a year and I fear the fuel stabilizer isn't sufficient to prevent starting problems. I just haven't had the heart to find out.

My BMW K75S has been sitting in the neighborhood Gold Wing repair shop since just after Labor Day, 2018, waiting for rear brake service. I haven't talked with the proprietor in more than a year and I learned the other day that his building is in foreclosure, so I probably ought to rescue the bike before it gets seized by the lender.

I rode a pathetic 10 miles last year - just down Ind. 75 to Western Boone Junior-Senior High School and back. Not long after, I began to notice I was having balance problems, which eroded my confidence and got me thinking about the slippery slope that goes with breaking a hip. That's what put my dad into a nursing home at the end of his life.

Plus, the pandemic took away the initiative to ride anywhere now that most destinations are problematic (first time I ever used that word in print). 

I joined some Indianapolis BMW Club friends for lunch last summer and another long-distance rider shared that his confidence isn't what it used to be and we agreed that it may be time to retire from riding.

I had a good run - about 400,000 miles on five BMWs and a couple of Kawasakis and rode all over the U.S. with multiple trips to California, the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and Florida to mention a few. I took lots of photos and kept logs of my trips, so I have plenty of memories to revisit in my advancing years.

So when spring arrives, I plan to sell the big blue bike and maybe keep the K75S for puttering around.

Visiting fox

My trailcam captured this fox strolling across our neighbor's driveway at 5:50 a.m. on Nov. 21.

We live on the edge of town, so it's no surprise that wildlife comes to visit occasionally.

We routinely had foxes and deer and coyotes in our yard when we lived in Arkansas.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

My big German binoculars have been restored to their former clarity

My WWII E. Leitz 15x60 Campofortit arrived yesterday after being refurbished by Suddarth Optical Repair of Henryetta, Oklahoma and I am astonished at the improvement in clarity and sharpness! They're as optically impressive as the day they were made.

Cory Suddarth learned his craft while in the U.S. Navy and he and his son Eric have been repairing/refurbishing/rescuing binoculars for several years. Eric did the work on my binoculars which were brought back from WWII by my first father-in-law Philip Kroon.

Judging from the serial number, I think they were manufactured in the late 1930s. I am awaiting information from the Ernst Leitz Museum in Germany as to the precise date they were made. The eyepiece cover has a Wehrmacht waffenamt mark, identifying them as being used by the Gerrman military.

My research indicates they were the most powerful binoculars ever produced by Leitz and were in production from 1932 into the 1960s. One source asserts they were the third best binoculars in the world at the time of manufacture, but he didn't bother to identify the first and second-place binos.

In my experience, it takes very steady hands to use binoculars this powerful. Generally, I find 7x50 to be the most practical for hand-held use.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Happy 50th birthday, Steve!

 My son Steve, seen here with his mother Diane in April, 1971, is 50 years old today.

It seems impossible that both of my sons are in their 50s, but me being 75 seems odd too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

When dad was less than half my age

Going through an old scrapbook the other day, I found this photo of my dad in the 1940s - he would have been in his early 30s - on the Carroll County Courthouse square in Delphi.

Kind of startling to see him downtown without a coat and tie.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Using a bore sighter to adjust my Combat Commander's laser grips

When I bought a set of Crimson Trace Laser Grips for my Colt Combat Commander 1911 a few years ago, I adjusted the laser to align with the iron sights.

It seemed to work okay and I was able to put rounds on target as far as the 50-yard length of my neighborhood shooting range, even shooting from the hip.

Even so, when the Amazon Vine Program offered me a laser bore sighter, I jumped on it.

The device comes with two sets of three batteries. You unscrew the back of the .45 caliber-size bore sighter, insert three batteries and screw it back on. This turns on the laser. Insert it into the chamber of your gun and, voila, you can see precisely where the bullet would impact, distance and wind notwithstanding.

I found the Crimson Trace laser was off by about 3-4 inches at 20 feet - not terrible, but not perfect either.

Then came the hard part - finding the original Crimson Trace box containing the tiny Allen wrenches used to adjust the sight. I hunted high and low for about 20 minutes before I finally located it.

It was a simple matter of dialing in the Crimson Trace laser so it was in synch with the bore sighter's red dot.

Now I am reasonably confident that my laser grip is spot-on. Of course, the proof will be in the shooting, but I'm impressed that my original seat-of-the-pants setting was so close to perfect, considering that the iron sights are ever-so-slightly off.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Isle Royale sunrise

My sons, Sean and Steve, were up with the sun for our first day of hiking and camping at Isle Royale National Park in late June, 1976.