What is your Favorite Holiday?

Once retirement sets in, Holidays are a lot like every other day. That is especially true if you happen to have life where you want it.  As a kid, Halloween was one big junk food run and I loved it.  Now that we live out here in the woods where in 21 years we have never had a trick or treat-or, not so much.   Barbara always complains about the early Christmas ads but I'm sure that she is a Christmas junkie to the core.  We will host the Petty family party the week before Christmas and I'm sure that Barb will have me working overtime to decorate everything to Martha Stewart's standards.  The really good news is that we'll have time to decorate.

I am probably more in tune with the seasons than the holidays.  I watch for the last time I mow for the season.  I am in tune with the time I put the first suet block out and start feeding the sunflower seeds.  The in the spring the last time I mow and stop the seed feeding.  

It is always fun to see what the Master Gardner will do to put the plants to bed and get ready for the spring.  Bales of hay and all the compost I can carry is high on the list.  I am pretty sure that the tiller would not dig in enough to till the baked clay this fall.  Perhaps by next spring if there is enough moisture things will be different. 

Better run and see what mischief I can get into or out of.



Can the NCAA Be the NBA Replacement?

We finally put the Baseball season to bed and I for one am looking forward to a NCAA Men's Basketball season.  Barb chose one of those half season ticket deals for Jay hawk basketball and we will see our first game early next month.  I think it will be their third game of the season and for me it will be a blast to see what miracle Bill Self can pull out after losing so many leaders off the team from last year.  They always seem to re-load not rebuild and it goes on.   I do think it is bad that the Morris twins turned pro the year there is a lock out.  They could have developed so much this year.  As it is, a lot of first year players will travel overseas and a lot of the players that might have gone there will not have any place to play.  I will watch college ball and be glad for what I have.

Last night, I watched the program Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on TV and went to the World Series game during the commercials.  I am just a junkie on new food ideas and I love to see a small place make wonderful food.  I would love to eat most of that food but it is to me a wonder how hard some of the places work to make a meal. One small diner makes their own wild rice/Blueberry bread just to make French Toast.  I know that Barb likes to use her bread maker and some of her loaves make wonderful French Toast. The other day, she brought me some apple slices with caramel.  She sprinkled sunflower seeds in the caramel and it made a wonderful snack.  I wonder if there is a way to incorporate that taste into French Toast.

Back in the day, I worked in a fast food joint in Wichita and we made our own french fries.  One of my jobs was to slice, soak and precook the fries at the start of the day.    I can't figure out why more people don't do their own and blanch the fries to get them started.  A few minutes at a lower temperature and then let them sit makes for a great fry. Now days almost all of the joints use pre bagged and prepared fries. What a shame.    Our little joint had our buns toasted with butter and we worked hard to make sure that there was an even concentration of mustard and ketchup on each burger.  When I was on the grill, I made sure the dispenser had all the proper holes cleaned out so the ratio would be the same.  Throw on a few re-hydrated onions and a pickle or two and we made a great burger for not a lot of money. 

Do you know why I got out of the fast food business?  One day a white cheerleader came into the restaurant and had her black football player's arm.  One of the black girls and her friends were waiting and a fight broke out.  About the time the white girl was on the floor and getting stomped, our rent a cop came in from the parking lot.  I had just gone over the counter from the other direction and was about to stop the fight.  As the cop cleared the door, he took the loop on his holster loose and prepared to use his gun.  He must have changed his mind and when he bent over to pick the white girl up, his gun fell out of his holster.  One of the kids there inside the restaurant watching the fight picked up the gun and brought it up pointed at the officer.  The cop snatched that gun so fast that the kid didn't even know where the gun went.  I saw the gun go back into the cops hands and I reversed direction and jumped  back over the counter.   I went over to the boss and told him that I had a Bronze Star from Vietnam and had no intention of being in the middle of a gun fight in Wichita.  I clocked out and went home.  

As you can guess, I didn't die there at Sandy's by North High and I survived to move on. 



Smile On My Face

One night years ago, I was teaching a class at TeleTech and one of my students asked me why I don't smile more?   I said I smile all the time and the entire class agreed that I was like an Army Ranger on a Mission and all business most of the time. I counted  to the class all the things I had to be happy about in my life and made sure that they knew they were a part of that happiness.  Getting to meet those kids and teaching them about what to expect was one of my joys.  I guess too many years in the Military took that smile and hid it.  I promise you that there is a big old smile in my heart most of the time even if it doesn't leak over to my face.

This week, I went out to the National Guard Museum at Forbes Field and got to say good bye to my friend Melvin Simpson.  He lived a full life and dedicated a lot of it to the Museum.  His was the first viewing and funeral there inside the new meeting room.  I didn't stay to meet his family as like most of the people I knew in the Guard, I didn't know much about them and I'm sure they didn't know me.

I am sure that after this last time, I want there to be a cremation and no public viewing of me after I die.  I want goofy pictures and smiles abounding not the body without any life left in it.  I have a picture of my mother on my computer and one in my heart.  The picture of Mom in my heart is one of smiles and laughter and love.  That's the way I'm sure we all want to be remembered not at the end of life.

I think one of the solutions of the debt Crisis for the Government is to find a way to have the seniors out there buy some of the houses on the Fannie and Freddie roles with some of our IRA's, 401(k)s or 503(b)s without any tax consequence.  I have to believe that the relief today has to be better than the possibility of a little tax revenue later on.  I'm not for having the seniors use all their savings in such a manner, perhaps just one house per family.  I for one will turn it into rental property and help a family that is struggling to make it without the big house payment to worry about.  

OH well, Smile and make them wonder what you have been up to.



Good Day Part 2.

Yesterday I mentioned some of the reasons I felt things were no going as well as they could for Americans.  Here are just a few more thoughts.

America has to be one of the most generous countries in the world.  Who else would give money to other Nations that they have to borrow?  We have sent billions of dollars overseas in the hope that others would love us and I'm pretty sure that in a lot of cases they don't even like us.  It looks like the Arabs and the Chinese have all the excess money in the world and it is about time they bailed out the really poor.  Wait, if it was a dumb idea for us, it isn't any smarter for them.  I have an idea, lets stop sending the foreign aid to other countries and start paying our national Debt with that money.  Last time I looked the French don't like us, why are they on the list? 

If the foundation of our freedom is the strength of the voters, we are in a sucky hole.  Look at the results of any election and you will find that a good share of people don't take the time and energy to vote.  If you don't care enough to vote, why would a politician care enough to do things the way you want?  At best, in a republic, you elect people and they try to do their best, not what you think is best, but what they think is best.  If you don't tell them what you think, contribuite to their campaign and vote, don't expect things to get better.

I am blown away that the Occupy Wall Street movement is so all over the place with their message.  Hey guys, pick a topic, make it clear and push hard for it.  Having 300 things you don't like is just madness.  Boil your list down to a list of the most important in priority order and shout about that.  Sitting in a park and not having a clear message is stupid. I heard on the evening news that most of the tents in one London park are empty at night. They were erected and the people go home to sleep.   Stupid and smart and I'm not sure which one stands out the most.

Don't let all thios talk about student loans fool you.  The government isn't offering to pay the for you or to give you relief from the debt.  They are reducing the percentage of the loan they expect you to pay every year once you start paying on the loans.  Same on the Mortgage programs, they are leaving you with the debt, just reducing the interest you have to pay. 

The way to find our way out to the mess we are in is to have everyone only borrow what they need and not what they want.  Work hard, pay your debts and whenever possible pay cash.  I loved Dave Ramsey the other morning when he told one of his new listeners that being debt free will eventually lead yo to not have any credit rating.  Borrowing money to have a credit rating is only prifot for the banks.  Put your money in you account and pay cash as much as possible.  Having 20% down to buy a house is a darned good way to get a loan and a better interest rate.

Now get out there and do things the right way.



Today is a Good Day to Live!

Somewhere in the morass of data that overwhelms us daily, there has to be enough truth to say these are some of the causes of the problems that have us perplexed.  here is just a few thoughts on what I think happened and somewhere out in the future I will try to offer some answers to the problems.

A few years back, people said that it was unfair that the United States had all the money and benefit from the production of goods and our life style was too great.  Does anyone remember NAFTA?  As I remember it, many of our jobs went overseas in the hope that the lower production costs there would benefit us all.  It had the end result of having a lot of production jobs to migrate to cheaper sources of labor and there were fewer jobs here in the US.  Companies like GE migrated their corporate headquarters to stop paying taxes in the USA.

During the Reagan years,  we spent tons and tons of money on the Military Industrial Complex in the hope that the then Soviet Union would blink and the weakness of their system would show through.  They did and it did. Many of the Former Soviet Union States left the USSR and left Russia to face the world alone.  Someone forgot to tell Washington that we no longer needed a large standing Army and we continued to spend money on the Military and that led us into looking for places to send our Armed Forces to justify the expense.  That cycle just about has us spent into the hole and perhaps it is time we blinked.  

Not that many years back, people worked for one company for most of their lives.  My Dad retired from Beech Aircraft in Wichita and he spent over 40 years there.  I retired from the Military and my wife retired from Teaching after 30+ years.  I talk to young people today and they have many of them worked for two and three companies and have no thought that there would be one entity that would owe or pay them a retirement.  In fact, many young people have trouble finding one job that will even give them a full 40 hour work week.  Benefits? Ha, I laugh at the idea that you have benefits let alone retirement.  

Countries change year to year and those that were strong Republics are moving towards a more socialist society.  Free enterprise is moving towards more socialistic and those countries that were very Socialistic are moving to a more democratic.  It is pretty clear that communism and its sister socialism is on the wane.  Free enterprise is also suffering movement and what was the norm a few years ago just isn't working.


Fall has Fell

After about a week of days that just got nicer and nicer, we have a morning of about 40 degrees and a light rain falling. It would be nice if it were to continue to rain on and off all day.  Barb thinks it is good for her plants to go to bed for the winter with their feet wet.   After turning over a small patch of the garden yesterday, I can attest to how hard and dry the ground out there is.  The clay in the soil was a lot more like concrete than just dirt.  Barb planted some potatoes this last spring and I'll bet that we didn't get over a handful of anything worth eating. The tomatoes this year were equally as disappointing.  Oh well, Barb did her best, it was the hot dry weather that ruined things.

One of the things I love about the fall and winter here is the activity at the bird feeders.  I keep a black oil sunflower seed feeder, a couple of suet blocks and a finch feeder full.  I have a water dish out by the feeders and a heated water dish for the really cold days.  I think of it as about the cheapest entertainment you can have for the money.  So far, we have been blessed to not have a flock of sparrows hang around and most of the birds are very pretty and seem to work out a system that allows the birds to fly in, get a seed and then stage back in the tree for their next turn.  It is pretty funny when a new bird shows up and tries to sit in the feeder and not take turns.  New birds son get the message that they need to take turns and it all works out.

The creek valley below our house is really down and out of the wind.  When it is cold and windy, a lot of turkeys and deer will hang out in the valley.  I love to see a flock of turkeys come through scratching up the leaves and looking for things to eat.  Now that there is no fruit in the orchard, the deer won't show up for a month or so.  I'm sure there is a car they need to run in front of and scare the hell out of the driver.

A red bellied woodpecker just landed on the suet block and announced his arrival.  They are as noisy as blue jays.  Probably one of the noisiest days here was when a sharp shinned hawk flew in and grabbed a blue jay.  The jay's mate sat in the tree and raised holy hell the entire time.  The hawk seemed to enjoy eating the blue jay right there on the ground by the feeder.  Oh well, it sucks to be lower on the food chain than  some one else.  

Today is Dave's birthday.  We will probably take them out to dinner if his wife is well enough.  If not, we'll just buy them a pizza or something.    The other day I was talking to a pair of Grandmothers at the store as they showed off their granddaughter.   I told them that we have the world's best Lego collection.  They said that their son-in-law banned Lego's from his house  because his son kept taking the things he made apart.  I told them that when Dave was little, I would try to make a car or a spaceship every day before I went to work.  I fully expected him to take the vehicles apart so he could learn how to make his own.  After all, it is the learning part of Lego's that just amaze me.  



Nice Guys Don't Always Finish Last

This morning I read the paper as is my usual way of starting the day.  The front page, the funnies and then the Obits.  I check the last one to make sure that I'm not there.  This morning I saw that a great friend to the Guard and fellow Guardsman Chief Master Sgt Melvin Simpson passes over the weekend.  He was one of the people that adopted the idea of a National Guard Museum and helped us make it happen.  For a long time, there was a vision of a museum dedicated to our history but there was just not anyone that could make the ideal and the money happen at the same time.  It is only fitting that the viewing tomorrow and the Funeral on Thursday will be held at the Museum.  I'm sure that a lot of the younger soldiers have no clue how hard he worked to make it happen.  In spite of the fact that there were always potential blockers to the Museum, I never heard him say a bad word about those people.  RIP Chief Simpson.

Reading about a departed friend always makes me wonder what really will be my legacy.  I'm sure that there are people that will say good things and some that won't.  One of my best things was to find and marry my wife Barbara.  I have often said that there are a lot of guys that would have benefited from having someone as strong as her in their life.   Can you imagine a Guy like Ex President Clinton if he had a wife that kept him in line?  If he had given up those cigars, he might have made it.   What would we have to say about Nixon if Barbs' sense of fair play had kept the Watergate idea in check?    Just how many damn toys and how broke would I have been without her guiding light.

The absolute bottom line is that if I were to die today, I hope that everyone would know how full a life I have lived and how I want Funny stories and not tears over my passing.  I don't want a funeral, but I sure do want a wake.  I want people to gather and laugh at the smiles in my life.   No, I don't want to go right now, but I don't fear death.  I have been shot at, shit on, poor, sick, healthy and wealthy.  Just remember my motto- Smile and make the Bastards wonder what you have been up to.  



Risk Communication

Many years ago, I was taken to a Risk Communication class with the Chief of Staff and the Adjutant General.  Probably because I was too outspoken and they wanted to give me some tools to keep me from saying things that embarrassed the Guard.  I have a tough time noticing that what I say sometimes hurts people so they must have thought it was worth a try.

We attended the two day workshop on how to deliver the Guard message about the time everyone found out what poor stewards we had been when it came to environmental factors.  We were told to deliver our speech in the following order.  a.  Remind people that a lot of us were ignorant of what the environmental hazards were and until the 1980's, the Military was exempted from the requirements.  b.  Now that we know, we will do our best to confine our activities the best we can and,  c We will do our best to mitigate the damage done because,  d. We too live in our communities and want to feel that we have done as little as possible to damage you and ours.

 The final warning was when surprised go back to the commercial that briefly as stated above.  I was selected by our group to sit on a panel where we were meeting with the Environmental Group that was protesting our poor stewardship at Camp Swampy.   They asked some tough questions and I thought I stayed inside the guidelines and the approved script.  When the taped interview was concluded, we were told that the panel members would be critiqued down the hall by one of the instructors.

When I arrived in the room down the hall, the door opened and a camera crew immediately turned on the lights and camera and the reporter asked me what I thought of Homosexuals in the Military.  My first response was "Good Question."  I told the reporter that I had served with a young soldier who did his best to serve but even though he was one of the hardest workers I ever had, was finally discharged.  I told the reporter that such decisions were made at levels far above my pay grade and even though I might have a different opinion, I would continue to obey the orders of those appointed over me.  Seems like the Military has finally decided that those junior in rank don't care as strongly as the Generals and Admirals. 

I will watch the development of the Military as it evolves.  I would personally warn the young men and women that serve that they must at all times conduct themselves properly.  Hell, I can remember a short time back that you couldn't hold even your wife's hand in public and I'll bet personal Displays of affection will be against proper protocol for even non homosexuals. I am pretty darned sure that for a while, discrimination will rear its ugly head.  After a while, what you do in the privacy of your own bed is you own damn thing and it won't matter to most of us.  



“Hey LT. Did he kiss you good bye”.

This is a Pre-War story because it happened to me prior to my attendance at the little skirmish I call Vietnam.  It is intended to show you that I didn't have any anti-homosexual bias back in the day.  Hell, I was so unbiased that I was ignorant of the whole thing.

I grew up in a lower class neighborhood on the East side of Wichita.  I was a baby boomer and the drug of choice where I grew up was beer.  I swear that to this day I have never done a refer, a joint, Marijuana, bong or whatever the street name of Cannabis is today.  I have smoked Swisher Sweets but they were stuffed with the horrible tobacco they came not loaded with cannabis.
I was exposed to a lot of things growing up and I know first hand what Ron White means when he says, “You can’t fix stupid, stupid is forever”.  The poor white trash that I grew up with were  a collection of Oakies and Arkies.  To make matters worse, they married each other and I think the whole damn place was related to each other.  To have escaped that neighborhood without impregnating someone whose brother’s name is Bubba, is no small feat. I also grew up somewhat sheltered from a lot of the normal experiences those in a big city stumbled upon each day.  There wasn’t a black, a Jew or a homosexual that would have lived there.  I did learn a lot of creative expressions for them but my experiences were very limited. 

 I was drafted in to the Army in 1966 because I learned to play 10-point pitch in the basement of the Campus Activity Center at Wichita State University.  I mean I seriously started out only as a casual player until I met Chuck, my card-playing buddy.  We very soon learned to cheat and our system of signs went undetected until we were so good that it was a hell of a lot more fun to win than go to class.  Hell, it was more fun to loose than go to class but winning was a lot more fun than loosing. Well, to make a long story short, hell I don’t get paid by the word so what do I care how many words get killed in this pieces of thesis. (or, substitute Feces here is you desire)  I went through 8 weeks of Basic Training, 8 weeks of Advanced Individual Training (AIT) and 23 weeks of Officer Candidate School at the Fort Sill School of wayward boys or Cannon Cocker College of Cannon Knowledge.  

 I wound up in wonderful Southern California where you couldn’t raise hell with a dozen Indians and a case of whiskey.  Fort Irwin was the armpit of the Mojave Desert (notice only one s here because you wouldn’t want a second helping of that hell hole) We were about 50 miles from Barstow and if you have been there it is in the middle of “no” and “damn where”.   The unit I was assigned to was training to go to Vietnam and I was assigned to the battery as a Forward Observer and had an additional duty as the Supply Officer.  That meant that in addition to making sure that everything that went out of the supply room was signed for, I had to figure out how to ship the whole damn mess to Vietnam.  Going out was fairly easy.  When everyone started turning stuff back in I needed more help that I had assigned.  For the record it was me, a Staff Sergeant and a PFC trying to make sense out of the pile of “stuff” and trying to figure out where to stuff it so it would all fit in a half a dozen Connex containers.  

  One day I finally went over to the 1st Sergeant and asked for some help.  He thought about it for a minute or so and smiled.  I should have known that I was about to be the recipient of someone he didn’t want or someone who didn’t want to be a “Supply Specialist”.  I met Private Johnson  ( I really don’t remember his name and there are a hell of a lot more Johnson’s than any other name so what the hell)  and put him to work.  That kid was motivated to doing a good job.  He was so motivated that he moved his bunk into the supply room and was there night and day for well over a month.  To say he was a good worker was an understatement.  I was thrilled and never looked that gift horse in the mouth.  Like I said, that went on for over a month and one day he was standing there in his Class “A” uniform and leaning on his duffel bag.  I noticed that he didn’t have an insignia or a name tag on the uniform and asked him what was up.  He said that today was his discharge date from the Army and he was leaving.  I knew that the bus stop to Barstow was clear on the other side of post so I offered him a ride.  He gladly took the offer and I drove him to the bus stop and wished him well.  We shook hands and off he went.

 When I got back to the supply room the guys were giggling like a bunch of little kids.  I made them tell me what was so damn funny.  They said didn’t I notice something "queer" about the soldier?  No, he was a clean-cut hard working guy to me.  The Army had a policy of discharging Homosexuals in 1967 and he went home so branded.  The final words I heard that day were “Hey LT.  Did he kiss you good bye?”  

Tomorrow I'll tell you about the risk assessment class I took and the ambush interview where I was asked about the Military's anti Homosexual Policy prior to last year.           


Occupy Wall Street

Have we as a nation slipped so low that we have made it seem impossible to be a success through getting an Education and Hard Work?  If that is the case, I could kind of develop a good feeling about the OWS crowd.  I  tried to listen to them articulate their ideals yesterday on the Dave Ramsey program and I find it like taking a shotgun to kill a mouse.  The damage done by the gun would surely cost more than the mouse could.  They also do not have a clear message that anyone could solve.  I contend that the problem is in Washington not just Wall Street.

I agree that the Presidents of major Corporations should not be paid millions of dollars in bonuses when they strip their workforce to save dollars.  Golden parachutes would be gone and the door would hit a lot of them in the ass on their way out.  But, with that said, why don't the protestors feel that John Travolta who has enough money to fly his own Boeing 727 is not just as wrong?  Why do Athletes in Major Sports make so damn much money that the only way we can watch them play is to stay home and watch TV?  Why should it cost $10@ (without any popcorn and a coke) to go to a movie?  If we want to complain about the fat cats and robber barons that can afford homes near Bar Harbor, Maine.  Martha Stewart has one there too.

Put the Congress back in the real world retirement and Medical system like the rest of us and see how soon they find a few answers.  Make them have a real budget and pay them only what they save from last year.  Make the president pay for the excesses in the White House and see how long it takes clear out the Lincoln Bedroom and make it pay for its self. I'll bet people would pay for the tour of the White House if they knew it was for a good cause.  Hell, people pay good money to go to Graceland and Elvis has been dead how many years?  

How can Washington expect us to think they are telling the truth when they say there is zero inflation.  I would rather that they say, "OK you old folks,  no raises this year tighten your belts" than try to convince us that it isn't costing us a hell of a lot more to live this year.    I'm not saying I can afford it, just saying that I expect them to tell the truth when they lie to us.  

I am pretty sure that we all have a little wiggle room in our budgets to  take trips, have a cabin by the lake and buy new cars.  It is just that I want to be the person to decide what way I wiggle when I squirm around and pay my bills.  The last thing I want to hear is that Washington is "here to help us."  



Hate and Evil

This last week, a man broke into the home of a mentally handicapped man near Council Grove Kansas.   He had some perception that the handicapped man had somehow said something bad about his family.  He beat the victim and then poured alcohol on him and started a fire.  Though burned badly, the handicapped man lived.  The question is, was this a hate crime?  What is a personal injury crime but the expression of a hatred for the other person?  Because the victim was black and the perpetrator white, does this carry some special level of hate?  Is there a possibility that the perpetrator thought so little of the man that burning him was just another thing to do?  Is this almost the opposite of hate and the absence of feelings for another human being? Beats the heck out of me in this case.  I would task the NAACP to find ways to celebrate where the races find common grounds and celebrate life as hard as they look for places to label as hate.

My niece Rebecca De Mauro was interviewed by the BBC and in that interview she talks about her struggle with hate against the man that took the life of her daughter Andi.  She talks about the mixed feelings she has and how she has struggled to forgive Karl Roberts before that hate consumed her.  I am a much lesser man in that I haven't found the ability to not hate him.  I would shed my worldly possessions to have just one hour to share my disgust directly with Uncle Karl.  Where I do differ is that I can function with a pretty high level of hate and not turn my innards to ash.  I would never seek you out and do you harm intentionally, but trust me when I say do not threaten me or my family and expect me to turn the other cheek.  I urge you to go to Andi Brewer's Facebook page to read more.

Over and Over we hear the plea that insanity prevailed in the killing of others.  Do I think you have to be borderline insane to take another person's life?  I guess so, it is the intent that causes me concern.  If a person had the capacity to know right from wrong and he knows what he did is wrong, he is sane in my book.  In the case of my Niece Andi, Karl tried to hide the body and cover up what he had done.  He was one heartless son of a bitch to rape and then kill a 12 year old.  Do I think he needs to be executed for that crime?  Yes sir, and I would be "Johnny on the spot" to do it if Arkansas could not find a willing executioner.

Andi Brewer 


Moose Madness

The entire State of Maine is filled with people that want to see a Moose.  From the beginning of our class, they said there are no Moose on Mount Desert island or anywhere near Bar harbor.  

Either they were wrong or like Barb Says you can't trust most of what you see.  This was on the front page of the Mount desert Islander Thursday, Oct 12, 2011.


Boys and Girls

No, this isn't going to be a sex education blog and point out the obvious difference between little boys and girls.  It is the numbers that interest me.   The Petty Girls seem to not remember that there was a proliferation of little girls in some families and seem surprised when two in a row turn out to be boys.  Lets see, Rick had two daughters, Myrna had two daughters, Carol had two daughters and one boy,  Beck had three daughters, Janet had two daughters.  See, the world turns slowly and the numbers catch up.  Yes, I understand it is the contribution of the fathers that determine the sex of the child. 

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with the topic below. It is just a pretty bridge .

On our Road Scholar Trip, one of the presentations was about the people in and around Desert Mountain Island (MDI - home to Bar Harbor and Martha Stewart) as the Civil War erupted around them.  This is the 150th Anniversary of that terrible War and historians are looking for ways to tie it to modern times.  Right prior to the Civil War, the percentage of women on MDI was about 46%.  Even though they sent a large percentage of their men to war, and lost almost 25% of those that served, by the time of the next census, the percentage was again about the same.  One of the reasons MDI was populated with so many more men was that they had a lot of laborers to quarry the granite.  The Scots came to take out the big blocks and Italian men came to carve granite trim for buildings.  I'm pretty sure that a lot of them came as indentured servants and were not able to bring their families over to the New World until they moved to new places.  

Barb's great-great Grandfather came to America without his family.  It wasn't until he and his brother both were farming that they could bring their families over from Germany.  I talked to a  German School teacher and he indicated that in the 1870's a lot of Germans immigrated in that manner.  There had been a change in the way German land was owned and a lot of small farmers had to come to America to make a living.  

Oh well, miles to go and things to do.  Write if you get work.



Back at the Keyboard Again

While I enjoyed the freedom to order what I want as we dined out, I missed the ability to cook what I like and spice it the way it tastes best to me.  One of my cooking secrets is that Barb doesn't like her food too spicy so it leaves me the opportunity to add heat post cooking.  I love ground pepper, seasoned salt and the new Tabasco Sauce that is made out of the smoked Jalapeno.  Yesterday evening I cooked a big old pot of chili and made corn muffins.  I put about half of the batter into the muffin tins and then add about a cup of cut up pickled jalapeno slices  in the remaining half.  Barb loves the cornbread um-molested and I love the jalapenos in my chili. The really good news as I cook is that Barb is really easy to please and always makes me feel good about what I serve.

Yesterday was Turkey day here at Rabbit Run.  With the neighbors working during the day and Barb and I gone, the turkeys had free run during the days. As I was leaving to go to the store in the morning, I saw a bunch of hens out near the end of the driveway.  I only had my phone with me and by the time I got the pictures big enough to really see, I lost resolution to really see them.  A little later on, I counted about 10 hens right outside the south side of the house..  They were just moving through the area and moving the leaves to find tidbits on the ground. I had my camera handy and snapped many pictures.  There is a bush about 1/3 of the way down the hill that had red berries and at least one hen would jump up and eat as many as she could reach. 

During our trip to Desert Mountain Island where Bar harbor is located we noticed that they didn't have concrete curbs along the roads.  It appeared that there was about a 5 inch wide granite curb everywhere.  During the classes, we had a man show us the secrets of the Granite quarries on the island.  A lot of New England streets   were paved with granite pavers and had curbs made of granite.  The workmen would gang up on blocks of granite and cut them down to size in no time.  It seems that the granite holds the break fairly well at right angles so they can make blocks for paving or four feet lengths for curbs.  Many of the early 1900 buildings also have polished granite slabs for decoration.  There on the island the granite varied from white with black flakes to a kind of rose or pink color that polished into a beautiful rock.   

Here they drilled holes with a chisel and put feather wedges in the holes to tap the rock apart
Shown here, the rock in spite of being hard as granite split to make a perfect curb.

I was fairly amazed that when I built a rock wall using limestone, I found that the rocks would break where I drilled and struck a lot like the granite did.  Most of the granite quarries on the Island are not in use today and have filled in with water.  The instructor said that in spite of the weight, most granite used for counter tops in the US are imported.  What a shame.

Oh well, Miles to go and things to do.



Home again, Home again, Jiggyity Jog

New England is a beautiful place to visit, but I personally wouldn't want to live there.  The roads are narrow and the traffic crowded.  If I had been just going for a visit and didn't have to concentrate on the road, a lot of scenery was pretty spectacular.  The leaves here at Rabbit Run were in their fall beauty just before we left and along the way a lot of  the trees were right on the cusp of turning.  In Bar Harbor the paper said they were about two weeks from the peak of turning. 

Leaves at our lunch site
Had I to make that trip again soon, I would have flown a lot of the way.  I would have spent the extra days exploring Boston and the coast up to Bar Harbor.  The days we spend driving were some of the best days with temperatures in the 70's and sunny.  The third day we were at our Road Scholar trip the weather turned 50 and rainy.  Perhaps we did get to see places we might have missed and the trip to see Melanie, Shane, Dexter and Dalton was great.  

Melanie and Dexter
House near Syracuse and just off MUD Road

Along the way picture
Right now, I am either really feeling worn out from the trip or just coming down with something.  It is possible that all the farming dust along I-70 has my sinuses plugged up and that thick feeling is just half of Indiana, Illinois and Missouri that was blowing in the air.  We did drive into a fierce head wind most of the way home with gusts of up to 30 MPH pretty regular.

I did my best to eat enough seafood to keep me filled without having to file an Environmental Impact Statement.  I think my favorite meal was the lobster meal last Wednesday night.  They served us a cup of chowder, a lobster and Cole slaw and finished the meal with the absolute best piece of Blueberry pie I have ever eaten.  Normally Barb eats kind of light and I get some of her dessert.  Not one speck of the Blueberry pie.  I had most of her chowder and an extra lobster tail by then so I was probably blessed to not get any more pie.  I didn't see many left over pieces of pie on any of the other plates either. (Here is where I would post a picture of the lobster dinner but I was charging my camera battery and forgot to put it back in my camera) - dang I hate it when that happens

The hickory trees here at Rabbit Run have for the most part lost all their leaves.  It doesn't look nearly as spectacular as when we left.  It does feel and is great to be home and once whatever I have clears up I will probably do something about the leaves and dead plants on the outside.  Going to Frost tonight and hard freeze tomorrow night so I'm sure that Barb will have plans for the head laborer later on today.  



Off to see the Leaves

I hope Barb and I will be posting lots of pretty pictures for the next week or so.  I know that Barb will take many more than I will as she will sit with her camera nearby as we look for pretty trees in pretty places.  The fall is spectacular so far and I hope we don't let you all down.

Even off the beaten trail, Barb has her camera

Beaver lake as the sun sets


Who to Blame

As long as there has been a history of the United States, there has been one party blaming the other party for all the ills of our wonderful country.  The rancor you are hearing today is maddening, but not unique to just this time.  In Barbara's perfect world, the news programs would just report the news and not shape the debate to favor any party or person or sex. I know the economy is in a tough place, what can we do to fix it?  Unfortunately, there is the past election and the coming election that is on the mind and the lead off topic and the news programs are all fighting for increased numbers which relates to increased revenues.  I try not o listen to the National news any more than I have to.  Those "Gotcha Moments" don't appeal to me.   

Our local NAACP activist has a column in the paper and it never ceases to amaze me that she looks for those one or two examples of extremism and tries her best to  pin that label on us all.  One or two idiots shout "let 'em die" at a debate and suddenly in her world. the whole Republican party wants to kill all the poor people.   I think we need to "shout let 'em work."  I would feel a lot better if we had jobs for the poor and not support Pakistan when they build a 13 Billion dollar dam.  

My reason for writing today is that there is no national level plan to identify the problems today, let alone fix them.  Either party could sweep the next election if they could articulate a clear plan to start working on the problems of today.  My old sword of  "Lead, Follow or get the hell out of the way!"  never had a clearer message.  If you can't fix anything, don't shout at those that are trying.  By the same token, if they aren't working on making it better with a good comprehensive plan throw them all out. 



Life and Death

My niece was in an accident the other day with a 4 wheeler and described the fact that she almost died when it overturned on her in a water filled ditch.  She described the event in almost a clinical way and what thoughts went through her mind.  Having been there on more than one occasion, I too only felt the events unfolding around me and not the review of my life like some people say they saw.  What she wrote was the way I too have felt.

In her account, she said that she never wakes up with the "This is a good day to die" thought in her head.  Good sound advice.   I think my thoughts every day turn to what the heck can I do worthwhile and fun today?  There might be some days that at the end I find I goofed off more than I wanted and just accomplished the passing of another day.  But in the end, they are mostly my days and I am the source for my happiness so what the hell?  

I will fully admit that If my life was to end today, I would want people to smile and say that "Dennis, he was a hoot!"  I have lived  as full a life to date as I think anyone would want.  I have seen the world, Married a wonderful woman, survived a year in combat, had a son, had a great career, been recognized with lots of awards and Decorations and met hundreds of people that make me smile.  I don't want to die today because I don't feel like I have fulfilled my desire to slide into my grave all worn out, broke and be there a hour before the Devil knows I'm dead.   There is a lot more I am going to do, miles I plan to drive and bike paths that I will cover.  But in the event it ends, tell a Denny joke not shed tears.  

Don't think of this blog as a morbid thing, think of it as a statement of celebration from an old fart that has "Been there, going to do that,"  if I have a chance.   
MUD and Harvey in Bentonville at the American Art Museum overlook


Hep Yourself

One time I went to a meeting and the speaker came out and said I'm here to "Hep You."  He had a series of slides that listed all the things that were possible and not one damn thing that was real world.  It was at the beginning of the computer era and I had not one employee and no budget.  Heck, they didn't even have money in the budget to buy us a computer to HEP us do the job they thought we should be doing. Had this guy told us that he was going to give us a vision of what was possible, I would have listened and tried to work towards that vision.
My house in 1983 after a tornado
One of the things I said in what I stood for was "I think our Government should find ways to help those people less fortunate that I am.  With that said, I think people should work hard to find ways to help themselves. In Kansas, when there was a disaster, about half of the people would find their own solutions to the problem and never ask the local Government to do anything for them.   Only those that were completely without resources would put their hand out and ask for help.

As the Military Support Officer for the Guard, I went to one of the tornado sites about three days after the tornado to put my mind at rest that everything that needed done was being done.  One of the groups there with their trucks and gloves was the Mennonite's.  They went to a house and asked the owner if they could help him clean up the mess.  The owner was glad to have them and in a few minutes the owner started to tell them what to do and sat down on his porch.  After about 15 minutes the leader of the group came over to the home owner and told him they were leaving.  He asked why and they told him that they were doing what the bible told them to do.  "He helps those that help themselves."  They were there to help, not do the work for the homeowner.    

I guess the moral to this story is that if you can do some of the work for yourself, I think you should.  It will give you a feeling of satisfaction to see a job well done.