Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pre-Teen Wit And Art

We have a large white-board at the house. Our grandchildren can entertain themselves for long spells writing goofy things and drawing pictures. It is so refreshing to witness the minds and wit flowing from the young and impressionable.

Recently they had their fun at the board and left an assortment of interesting notes and cartoons.

Interesting point

What is 'Lol' ? . . .  look out Lucy!
This brought a big giggle among the young'ns. . .  I don't get it.

A good one!

Underlying point: Why worry (I guess)

Or fluid retention.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Making Silk Purses Out Of Sow's Ears

By now you know I've stumbled on a quarry of old wood, salvaged from a hundred year old house.

I have used the chestnut to lay a floor, build kitchen cabinets, two nightstands, a coffee table, a 4x8 foot dining room table, a vanity, many knick-knacks and trays, and the latest project is a shaker style serving table.

First you've got to remove the nails, then one hundred years worth of crud from the grooves.

Then choose the better sections of the wood that does not show termite damage, is badly twisted or bowed.

Very little wood is this bad.

After I designed and formulated a plan of attack (mostly in my head), I start building the sections. The tapered legs came first, the front next, followed by the rest of the box, (sides and back). Then the shelf ten inches off the floor, and finally the top. All is pocket-screwed and glued together.

The table top I created out of various woods that were originally in the wainscoting (walnut and some rose colored wood that no one recognizes), and chestnut flooring. Not all the wood used is the same thickness. The old wainscoting is just a bit thicker than a half inch, while the flooring is a heavy one inch thick. I glued the thinner woods to some old larch boards to get a more substantial thickness. After that, I cut the pattern boards into two inch strips, and their various lengths.

The entire top is biscuit-glued. Squeezing in four directions was a nightmare.

Lots of gluing, sanding, staining and varnishing later, I gave birth to what some folks call furniture.

Notice the random width flooring the piece is on. Tongue and groove chestnut, honey oak stained.

The top has four coats of 'Hard Rock Table Top Finish'. Super hard and super shiny.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rubber, Can Be A Blessing

I’m sitting here trying to think how rubber impacted my life as a kid.             ––Blank. I can’t think of anything made of rubber. --No, wait a minute, my slingshot used strips cut from a tire tub. 

As a kid we didn’t have rubber garden hoses. We watered out of a watering can. Wagons had wooden wheels. Toys had wooden wheels. Bicycles had rubber tires, but I didn’t own one until I was eleven. 
Bubble gum has rubber in it. How great is that invention? The first piece of gum I chewed long and hard. Real long, I could not figure out when to swallow it. Nobody told me you couldn't eat it.
In the early '50s, I remember solid rubber tires on electric postal trucks in the city of Munich. Solid rubber tires on beer barrel wagons. My stepfather used an ax to chop up old truck tire to burn to heat the water on washday.
However, I never saw an old tire used just to save the rims of a rusty bike.

This bike is to be pushed only. It is used to carry whatever needs transporting; a bunch of bananas, a bundle of sticks or a sack of sweet potatoes. Look at it, the tire is as flat as a pancake, hardly any rubber left.
Here in America one can hardly give away a bike. Donation places are full of them. (I guess bikes and video games do not blend) 

. . . Count your blessings my friend, and have a merry CHRISTmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

SMILE ––'tis the Season

Let me introduce the newest members to our family. . . . . You may agree:                                  As group they are a cheerful bunch.

This little group is a collaboration between my wife and me. I had some 6x6 pine posts left over. I band-sawed 6 eyeballs from an one inch dowel, painted black. Their noses are reshaped shaker pegs. My wife then showed off her design and sewing skills, and in no time whipped up the scarves and stocking caps.

Take a closer look as we introduce:

SNOOPY with his nose turned up.

DROOPY with his nose turned down

and POOPY with his nostrils flared.

Of course, Poopy is the baby.

Have a blessed CHRISTmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Revenge Is Sweet

Revenge is sweet. I have used that line before, but it sure isn't biblical.

As humans we have a propensity to rejoice if a wrong was made right. Even to a point when a criminal is executed for his crime. We say, good, he had it coming to him.

Now, I’m not a member of PETA. But I totally agree not to treat animals out of meanness or out of shear brutality for the joy of watching them suffer. This I believe applies to all animals, pets, in the wild, and even insects. When God gave man the charge to have dominion over all the animals, it implied to eat and sustain mankind and also be a good steward of what He has given us.
I’ve gone for a walk on a nearby country road and spotted a feed sack discarded along the side of the road. When I looked in it, I saw the carcass of a young doe, her hind quarters and loins were the only portions missing. The vile, so-called hunters didn’t even dress the animal. On another occasion I spotted the carcass of a young doe with only her tenderloin stripped. What kind of animal does this to an animal?

The Revenge
God also gave us a sense of humor. For a family of moose (meese?) to string a human onto the roof of a vehicle sort of makes you look at the hunting thing from a different angle. This photo came to me via e-mail. A lot of you have seen it before. As so often though, I had to make a few comments about it.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

High Heels Vs Sneakers


Let me see now, what shoes would look good on me?
With the help of my wife I listed some types of foot coverings available for presents at Christmas. We came up with: sneakers, high heels, flats, pumps, wedges, spikes, flip flops, slippers, walking shoes, running shoes, soccer shoes, dancing shoes, dress shoes, hunting boots, hiking boots, foul weather boots, work boots, steel tipped boots. 
Imelda Marcos (the wife of former Philippine President) owned over three-thousand pairs of shoes. I venture to say she didn’t even own any boots to go with that soooo necessary need of 3000.

These two pairs of shoes shown, I enlarged out of photos shot at Cusco, Peru. The two boys were begging. They showed off a few tricks they had taught a pair of pigeons sitting on their shoulders. It was obvious they were not out for us to notice their shoes. Cusco is a city 11,000 feet high in elevation. Though near the equator, it is always jacket weather. Not to mention the nights are cold.
Notice the toes hanging out. (top picture) What about the straps on the sandals? Check how thin the soles are. Are they hand-me-downs or what?
Are most of us saying, “Bah humbug” to those kids? 
May I suggest to check out some Christian charities and adopt some of these children. Check into the charity’s ratio of actual assistance to the needy versus administrative costs. Some of the so-called charities in this country chew up your contributions as much as 80% for administrative costs. (Buildings, staff, office space, commercials etc.) Only 20 cents out of the dollar you gave goes to cause! 

Let Christmas come from your heart all year long. Has the Lord blessed you with plenty? If so, be a good steward of those blessings.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kindness, It Doesn't Come Naturally

Recently, we took the train to Washington, DC to attend a concert at the Kennedy Center.

On the way up, five college students were busy moving about the train, getting snacks, then drinks and so on. Of the five young people, three were young ladies, and two young men. Two of the girls were pretty, shapely and well dressed. One was loosely dressed, obviously trying to hide a life of eating too many gravy biscuits. Always, and I say always, the pretty girls led the way, followed by the two males, admiring you know what, and the odd one out made up the caboose. Why? The chubby girl most likely has always followed others just to be a part. Why couldn't the guys say to her, "Come up here with the other girls? Why couldn't the two pretty girls include her and let her lead the single file procession, up the isle on that train? . . . INSTINCTIVE SELFISHNESS.

After the Brahms and Beethoven concert, a bus was furnished to take the crowd back to the subway station. You can imagine, the bus was packed; standing room only. Most folks, squeezed onto that bus were elderly. Dozens had to stand, hold on to straps. Surely some had bursitis and couldn't hold to straps. Some used a cane, they stood and wobbled as the bus weaved through the streets. AND YOU HAVE GUESSED IT. Four young persons sat on the bus's bench, right in front of us, laughing, texting and jabbering. NEVER even considering to offer their seat to an elder. . . . SELFISHNESS  

Kindness is impossible if you have made yourself god in your life. This sounds ridiculous, but if your life evolves around you, there is no use for kindness. Some may be kind to a certain person to obtain something they want, or wind up with a benefit that will further their desires, powers, or position. True kindness only comes from abandonment; that is a dismantling of self.

Why do we teach young children that there is a Santa, then sign the package from 'Aunt Lois'? . . .  Because, we want the thanks, the praise, the reward! We, the grown-ups want to keep track of what was spent. . . . SELFISHNESS

Why do we send Christmas cards wishing them a Blessed Season AND sign the card? . . . We want to be recognized. In a sense we say, "Look you've got your card early enough so you can send me one." I say: send the card, wish them a Merry Christmas, and don't sign or put a return address on the envelope. Then the recipient will say, "Who likes me enough to buy a card, spend 44 cents to mail it, and don't want anything in return?"

One more point. Do you only say "Hello" after someone said so to you?

Matthew 5:46-47


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sardines On Strawberry Shortcake


Some people like to live HIGH ON THE HOG.

Don't forget about us folk that like it LOW ON THE HOG.

The highfaluting people like their pork loins, their pork chops, their baby back ribs, and their hams. The common folk, and I'm proud to be in that group, can savor the delicacies a bit lower on the hog.

How about a hunk of sows belly, smoked, cured or just plain, cooked with your cabbage, sour kraut or soup beans. If you want to go a bit lower on the hog, take the snout, the ears, the jowls and the tongue,  chop them up, cook them with vinegar, salt, peppercorns and bay leaves. Let it set, it'll jell. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and a have of a hard boiled egg, you got a Julia Chiles masterpiece.  Yum, yum!

A little lower are the knuckles. Lot of gristle (Glucosomine), little meat, plenty chewing. To suck out the marrow of the bone is the best part.

How about the INNERDS. The brains, the lungs, the kidneys, the sweetbread, the liver. A major yum yum if it's done up right.  See my book.  PS, soak the kidneys in salt water for a day or two to remove the urine flavor.

My well experienced taste buds have evolved to a status of renown, making me a connoisseur of the world's most exquisites delicacies.

Just look at them precious little fish tails, delicately pickled in wine sauce, invitingly hanging from the kaiser roll. The taste explodes in ones mouth, etching an unforgettable memory.

As you may assume by now, whenever my wife and I are in a "Fancy" restaurant, I tend to order the "Unique" special. Well, at such places, she often moves to sit alongside of me, to avoid having to look at what was presented on my plate. She doesn't like fish eyes staring at her. Nor does she like to see little turtle feet, with cute little toenail, waving at her.

This delicacy (above), was presented to me in a restaurant in Florence Italy. Proudly titled "Stuffed Chicken Neck." The skin of the neck was filled with a picante mix of ground, white chicken meat and spices, baked, then sliced.

What you see below is the verification of authenticity of the sacrifice the fowl in the matter had to make. Standing erect, on my plate, was the head of the chicken, who's stuffed neck I was about to savor.

My wife moved to sit alongside of me. (I don't know why, you couldn't see the eyeballs. They were toasted.)

Yum, yum!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Shuttle Launch. . . and the Rocket's Great Glare.


With the launch of the Sputnik spacecraft by the Russians, and then followed by orbiting the first human, Yuri Gagarin April 12, 1961, (my 21st birthday), the Russians put the American's get-up and know-how to the test. The embarrassment of us, the USA, not being first, prompted President John F. Kennedy to vow to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade (1969). AND WE DID. The Russians were left behind and we roared into the lead and stayed there.

It saddened me to hear our shuttle program has been disbanded. The entire space program always was a point of highest pride to us Americans. Now, if we want to send a man into space, we have to ask the Russians to let us hitch a ride. Something not right here.

We had the privilege of witnessing a shuttle launch.

Booster rocket separation. . .

Booster drifting, on parachutes, into the ocean, to be reused.

Since president John F. Kennedy, PATRIOTISM was the glue. In order for this country's glue to stick again we need to pull together as a people. When we tear each other up, the enemy just smiles.    

If you don't like this country, . . . LEAVE.    I dare you to find a better one.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Beauty, Depends How You Look At It.

Like the country song says, "It's hard to stay humble if you get better looking every day."

A workout is good for the proper reasons. I get mighty stiff sitting on my caboose all day. I figured if I walk in and out of my driveway 10 times, I have walked one mile.

For $60 dollars a month my wife and I could join the Y. We did that. It's a ten mile roundtrip. Our car gets 15 mile per gallon. Adding all other costs to run a vehicle, the total, $7.50 to go to the Y.

We tried to go the the Y twice a week, but most often only made it once a week. This amounts to $15.00 every time we stepped into the Y. Add that to the cost of getting there, the total is $22.50 for walking on a treadmill for 18 minutes to walk a mile.

Walking in and out of my driveway ten times is a pretty good deal; cost wise. Not to mention the fresh air I get vs breathing recycled sweat vapors.

That is all I'll say about the health aspect.

What really blows my mind if folks forgo the health part and build their shapes to look pretty, or should I say- . . . you put in the word.  What would be the adjective to describe the pictures below:

Now look at the exquisite forms of the soft and enticing female counter part of looking pretty:

Can you imagine the hours spent looking at yourself. Watching every ripple grow to a defined piece of art to rival the famous Venus DeMilo. . . . GIVE ME A BREAK.

The headless fellow below got his shape by laying in artificial light for two month, with never a grunt, or never breaking a sweat.

Isn't he pretty!!!! Happily flaunting his stuff. Check out them biceps, The proud chest.


Burp. . . . Soft shell crabs are some of my favorites.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Are You Frazzled Yet?

Black Friday and cyber Monday have come and gone.

The shopping days toward Christmas are ticking down, and the pressure of accomplishing everything on your list seems ever more impossible, are you starting to feel panicky?

You have to learn to chill. (I can't believe I said chill). Forty years ago we said "be cool." Further back, you may have asked, "Do you find him a bit irritable?

Here are a few poses that'll get you through the coming days. During the workday, no matter where you work, there is always a spot or a means to kick back and unwind. I use to take a nap on my workbench. Maybe you can stretch out in your car. Maybe sit on the toilet and read the funnies. If you can't do none of the above, park you a wheelbarrow out back somewhere. The handlebars make a swell footrest. A stack of cinder blocks just right for under the head.

Now at home, it's almost routine. You've got to unwind first. The clock quits dictating when you're at home. You can kick your shoes off, get you a cup of tea, park your tired derriƩre in your favored recliner and
RECLINE. . . . oops,

A little too far. . .


Sunday, November 27, 2011

All Good Things Will End

Halloween is over. To some folks that may be a sad thing.

If you dwell on it, it will get worse.

So, cheer up! . . . even if you have to be a square.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

All Creatures Need A Home


Nippy comes before cold. Cold works its way in before frost. Frost is the greeter who welcomes snow. Snow comes to cover, to hide, to shut out. . . All creatures need a home.

I recently went to the barn to start my tractor. No reason, just to keep the battery ready. . . Well, it would not crank. When I opened the lid to expose the battery, I found this huge nest on top of it. Earlier in the year I removed a mouse nest from the same place. It was smaller, tighter, and the stuff used was more fuzz and fibers. This nest however, looked wild and thrown together.

Thrown together with leaves, small sticks and, look at it close, a snakeskin.

Now, I know a little mouse could not haul that thing up the tires and under the hood without a big rat helping. 

Maybe that isn't a snakeskin at all. Maybe a bunch of squirrels ordered in some steamed shrimp?


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

There Is No Fool Like An Old Fool

It was 1950 when the challenge presented itself. The only apartment my mother could find in bombed out Munich, Germany was an attic flat. Two rooms, about seven feet wide and fifteen feet long, under a mansard roof. The view was great, however the stairs leading up to the rooms counted one-hundred-and-ten steps. ( The full stories are in my book)

Not only did we have to carry our groceries up 110 steps, but also our coal and bicycles every day. Needless to say, lots of good exercise. But who cared about exercise in those days. We did not even know about germs and never hear of calories.

One fun thing for a kid my age and size was the method I got down those flights of stairs.

For five years, until we immigrated to the US, I practiced and perfected the sliding down on the banisters. I could master the five stories of elevation in just seconds. The banisters were of wood and slick as a greased eel from decades of use.

Over the years I've been challenged to slide down banisters in many different public buildings, and other inviting single rails.

Since I'm now a grown man, and have to portray a certain maturity in my community, I don't take the opportunity to show off my sliding skills other than at my home church. (Where being a goofball is accepted).

My church is endowed with the perfect sliding rail. I've been sliding that rail for over thirty years. Many kids have tried to imitate the grace and style of a seventy-year-old phenom.

Come visit Mt. Olivet Baptist Church. I welcome the challenge. I might even lend you my Bible with which to balance on the way down the rail.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Law Of Local Folks

Why is it against the law to walk an alligator on the sidewalk of Chicago?

Why is it against the law to meditate facing north?

Why is it against the law to chew gum while starlings are gathering on power lines?

Why is it against the law to walk naked under a full moon?

Why is it against the law to paint your eyebrows green?

Why is it against the law to stand on your head, on a pier, at sundown?

These and tens-of-thousands more laws and rules have been arrived at by careful pondering, committee meetings and saying 'yeah' by the raising of a few hands. Many are simply on the books to collect a fine or two should some weirdoes venture into town. All that is okay with me, however, if it takes the hiring of a dude, or dudet, to slap handcuffs on the naked fellow blissfully communing with the full moon, the rule becomes a stretch.

I took the following photos in Charleston SC. Obviously the Feds had no input, (how refreshing is that!).

The following is not permitted:

1)  You can't dip your can in the harbor's water,
2)  You can't let your kids frolic,
3)  You must drink beer only out of cans,
4)  You can't blow honkers from either mouth or nose,
5)  and of course, should you know that you're about to come down with the flu, . . . you must stay out of Charleston.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Check Out Them Digs


Our kids and grandchildren fret over what to wear. With Christmas just around the corner, it would do us well to see how much the rest of the world is fretting over what to wear.

These precious and happy children don't know what is in style. They don't spend an hour getting ready, matching and styling, worrying if they fit into the in-crowd.

Most of the clothes you see them wearing have been handed down for years.

some are literally rags, or nothing at all.

Inside out, right side out, it does not matter.

Long sleeves, short sleeves, buttons, no buttons, It really does not matter.  

Personally, I truly do not need anything for Christmas. I have all the clothes I can wear, the best sleeping bed in the world, a pantry full of goodies and a wife that loves me. 

May I suggest you fill up a half dozen shoeboxes for the "Christmas Shoebox" world wide ministry through Samaritans Purse. AND PUT IN A T-SHIRT OT TWO––any color. 

Let us all consider the words of the Bible "It is more blessed to give than to receive."


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Snakes, The Quiet Helpers

Since the beginning, snakes have gotten a bad name. Rightfully so, the serpent deceived, and man fell from the fellowship with God.

But, snakes are still a creature created by our Maker. We were told by Him to have dominion of all the creatures He made.

Among the animal world, snakes are a tremendous asset in controlling rats, mice and insects. I suppose in the middle ages, when the black plague wreaked havoc with the peoples of Europe, an invasion of snakes would have shortened the suffering.

It seems to me that women have always been terrified by a snake. Just the mention of one makes them shudder. As it also does my wife.

I bought a black garden hose and placed it along the edge of our mulched flower bed. In theory it shortened the trip to the spigot when in need to fill the watering can. One day, my wife while tending to her plants and flowers reached for the hose. When, within inches of picking up the hose, she realized the hose had a strange tapered shape that was not so the last time. She let out a shriek, loud enough for the neighbor across the street to come running.

With her heart in her throat she called on me to "Do something." And I did.

I came and diagnosed the situation. (A man thing). The snake had wiggled its way into a mouse or mole tunnel under the mulch. only its tail was exposed and near the black garden hose.

I grabbed hold of the tail and started to pull. My wife by then was in her windowless sewing room with the door locked.

I gently tugged, not wanting to tear the creature's tail off. When I started to pull, the snake expanded its body and was not moving backward. I kept up the pressure. I noticed the only progress of backing up was when the snake relaxed. Inch by inch, slowly, in time, it came out of the hole.

Now, what should I have done with it? Kill it? Absolutely not. I carried it to our old pond and let it feast on varmints that I'm sure will crawl to get a drink of water.