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Several years ago, I was working night shift, delivering feed to egg farms, when I saw a little irrigation shed by a farm lane and thought, “This would make a nice picture if the sky was right.” Months later, I finished loading my truck, walked out, looked at the sky and thought, “The sky is right.” I headed over to my delivery, and on the way, I stopped and took this photo. Didn’t even notice the second rainbow until I brought the picture up on my computer..

My Great Grandfather

We recently found an old family photograph from when my great grandfather moved houses for a living, in the same small town where my family lives today. I never met him. He died long before I was born, but apparently he was quite passionate about his work. He advertised that you could leave your china in the cabinets and none of your windows would break in transit. They would put beams under the house and roll it on logs, pulling it with a team of horses and a windlass. It must have been tedious work.

Passing In The Night

She had the beauty of youth…had it in spades.
I saw a clerk…couldn’t have told you if she was sixteen or sixty.
It was two am.
I just wanted to finish my shift, handing her paperwork for the fuel I had just dropped.
She was flirting, as young girls will, for practice, or for fun, with old men, maybe quick witted, probably harmless, “Nice mask!”
The sarcasm dripped.
The smile invited.
The flint sparked in dark eyes.
Eyelashes fluttered, and waves of curly, waist length hair swayed seductively, coal black…almost blue.
I looked at her, through her, seeing, not comprehending, wanting only for her hand to grasp the papers, so I could let them go and be on my way.
I saw an orange polo…a c-store clerk, oddly animated at this awful hour.
What about my hat?
Oh…my mask, “My wife made it. It was a bad one…her first try, so I got it.” (It’s bright green and covered in sunflowers, not what you’d expect on a 250 lb. truck driver.)
I was oblivious.
She persisted, flashed a Hollywood smile and cocked her head expectantly.
This guy must be a little slow on the uptake.
Oh…the spark flashed.
Well, hello!
Ain’t I all tingly and awake now?
That’s electric!
I couldn’t hide my huge grin, even behind my flowery mask.
She grinned back and finally took my papers.
Some dimwitted old fool will have an insufferable ego and a stupid grin the next few days.
Some day, some other poor young idiot’s never gonna know what hit him.

Wedding

Made a road trip to Florida last week, for my nephew’s wedding.  I met the photographer prior, and didn’t want to be “that” uncle, so I didn’t pull my camera out of the car ’til after the wedding.  I did sneak one of the bride’s side of the wedding party, on my phone.IMG_20191228_112601093-02.jpeg

The road trip down and back was fun, with two stops in North Carolina, one in South Carolina, and one in northern Florida, all to see various family members we haven’t seen in years. After the wedding and reception, most of the bridal party climbed a tree for pics. The bride is very fond of climbing, and the venue, Chisholm Park, in St. Cloud, FL was alongside a beautiful lake, with trees, covered in Spanish Moss, and roaming Sandhill Cranes.

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I grabbed the camera after the reception and took some pictures of the cousins and my girls, but WordPress is compressing them funny, so I’m gonna have to upload thoseto Flickr and link them from there. Another job for another day, I suppose.

Here’s a fun one of my second daughter, Sam, from my phone, though.

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…and one of Sam and Grace in the tree, as well.

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Happy New Year, to you all!

 

 

College Milestone

My second daughter, Sam, finished her last final exam today, completing her bachelor’s degree. She’s already in the process of applying to masters and doctorate programs. You can imagine, we’re very proud of her.

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Amps and Guitars

I’ve been going through the house, looking for stuff I might not have had the heart to get rid of the last couple years. Stuff that was Danny’s or that he and I worked on together but that will never again see use with him gone. A month or so ago, my focus fell upon an old bass amp I had picked up as part of a trade for a motorcycle.

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Since he was the only bass player in the house, and it hadn’t been touched for at least two years, it appeared as likely a candidate as any. I opened it to see if any dust had accumulated that would need to be cleaned out prior to selling it. Inside, I found a folded piece of paper with just a few hand printed words, “I cleaned it already. Danny.” What an amazing and unexpected gift! I got it put back together and fired it up, but since I’m no bass player, I plugged in the acoustic Gibson a friend had gifted me last Christmas, just to see if the amp was still in working condition. Turns out it’s a pretty good amp for an acoustic guitar, even if that’s not its original purpose. I sure could use the space, but maybe we’ll let it stick around for a while.

In a completely unrelated story, ten or so years ago, my wife picked me up a beautiful archtop, acoustic/electric. If you’re as old as or older than me, you’ll remember the style Chuck Berry and Chet Atkins played.

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I’ve always loved the guitar, but it simply wouldn’t stay in tune. I did some research and found out that before you start making adjustments or replacing expensive parts, you may be able to fix that problem by spending a few extra dollars to put on a higher quality set of strings. I had been using the cheapest extra light strings I could find, so a few months ago, I stopped at the local music store and found a higher quality set. I also went a couple thousandths heavier, as I’ve gotten used to playing super heavy strings on my acoustic. Being the cheapskate I am, I wasn’t going to simply replace the old ones, while they still had life, so I just left them on, and the new strings sat in my basket of guitar stuff. I was playing around with my acoustic last night, and set it down and picked up the archtop, because it has a lower action and I wanted to play some finger picking stuff. After playing a really nice guitar with really good strings, the really nice archtop with crappy strings was noticeably inferior, so I decided it was time to restring. New strings, tuned, stretched a bit, then tuned again, and not only does it stay in tune, it sounds amazing. It’s like a new guitar. Honestly, supposing I could put crappy strings on a nice guitar and not degrade its performance, was pretty dumb. I had so much fun, my wife finally came out and threatened violence, if I didn’t put it away and come to bed.

Now, if I could just learn to make it sound like music…

June Is Busting Out All Over

Can it be we’re almost halfway through June already? We’ve had amazing weather, with only a few of our normal hot, humid, spring days. The variation from cool and dry to hot and humid, though, has made for beautiful skies to look at while I deliver chicken feed in the evenings. I always struggle to capture the detail in the sky in the same shot with the gorgeous evening light. Last Thursday night, there were beautiful rainbows on and off, as the storms came and went and the sun popped in and out from behind them. Looking for a good vantage point to capture the whole thing, I passed this lane, then stopped and backed up to get the shot just right. I really wish I had had a real camera, but the cell phone seems to have been going all out to get the job done.

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My youngest, Isabel planted some seeds last year and assumed they simply hadn’t come up. I went out the other day to get some mint leaves for the tea and saw this wonderful, black hollyhock. I didn’t know what it was, so in researching, I found out, you generally plant hollyhock one year, then don’t get a flowering plant ’til the second season.

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We got so busy, we ended up hiring another night shift driver, so now I at least have a little company working through the nights. It really does make a difference.

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Delivering to one of the farms where they raise the pullets until they’re old enough to lay eggs, I found this old farm house covered in ivy.

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We have done a lot of planting this year, but everything that is flowering so far is stuff that reseeded on its own from last year.

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I’m not sure why, but my flowers really do bring me a lot of satisfaction, even when they come up on their own.

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For Father’s Day, Sunday, I woke to a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon and scrapple, cooked by the girls. I then was presented with an amazing triple chocolate and orange marmalade cake, made by Samantha and Grace, and finally best of all, an electric guitar. The story behind the guitar really made the day. Apparently, Sandra and Danny had done the research and bought all the tuners, the neck and the electric bits and pieces two years ago. Sandra had started making the thing, learning to use the jigsaw and router along the way, but couldn’t bring herself to continue after we lost Danny. Finally, a couple weeks ago, she decided it was time to try, and she has been industriously routing and assembling, wiring and soldering, finishing and polishing wood in all her spare time since. It will need a few tweaks before it is just right, but early Father’s Day morning I was presented with a homemade guitar that was the joint effort of my oldest daughter and my late son.

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Theses & Prom & Flowers, Oh My!

It’s almost 90 degrees outside. The two youngest are swimming. Tina’s coming home from work. I’ll be heading off in a couple hours to feed the chickens. Grace is at a friend’s Memorial Day party. Sandra’s relaxing, and Sam and her friends will be over before long for dinner. I’m sitting in front of the computer in a quiet dining room wondering where the winter went.

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Grace and her boyfriend, Will went off to prom a couple weeks ago, with a bunch of their friends.

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It seemed like they had a good time, and the property where they gathered beforehand was simply beautiful.

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I’m not a big fan of sitting through huge graduation ceremonies, but I was tickled I got to go to an event I really did enjoy. I got to hear Samantha and three of her classmates presenting the results of their theses. It was a lot of information, but Sam’s presentation evidenced her hard work and preparation and stood far above the rest. I was a very proud father that day.

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I was puttering around with the two youngest, last Saturday, and at a junk store, I came across this bike. It was the twin of my grandmother’s old three speed. When I outgrew my first bike, I graduated to this, same color, seat and everything. I was so small, when I wanted to stop, I had to jump down between the seat and handlebars to get my feet on the ground.

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The girls wanted to visit both Oxford and St. Michaels, while we waited for Tina to get off work. It had been a long time, but they were excited when I remembered we could cut twenty miles or so off the trip by using an old ferry. Ferry service here was started in the 1600s.

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We saw a beautifully restored, old Volvo station wagon. The Oxford style picket fence with the hole in the top is a design from our own small town, Oxford, MD.

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Spending closse to 60 hours a week feeding the chickens allows me to see some beautiful skies..

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I don’t even have all my flowers planted for the season, but already, the perennials are giving us their beauty.

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I had a procedure on my elbow last week, to reduce the pain and inflammation from a fifteen year old injury. I’m not certain it went well, though, as it has hurt more since the procedure than it ever did before. Here’s hoping it’s just in the process of working. Oddly, in the same time period, I seem to have started getting noticeably more clear headed, for the first time since losing Danny.  Time marches on, and seems to bring at least some distance and perspective.

Spring is rushing toward summer, but  despite the drudgery of work and the difficulties life brings, each day seems full of beauty and the company of friends and family, if only you take a little time to appreciate them.

March Came in Like a Lion

Not sure how the weather is in your parts, but this year, the old saying didn’t hold quite true. March certainly did come in like a lion, but if it went out like a lamb, it was a really chilly, loud and blustery one.  I suppose I should have included updating this site in with my goals, but I think I may have done well, because I’ve always enjoyed when I can update on a blog, and don’t wish to make it a chore.DSC00204

As I mentioned earlier, the first two weeks of March, the high school put on their production of The Little Mermaid. In order to allow the most kids to participate, they actually run two different shows. The main characters in one cast are supporting characters and ensemble in the other, except in cases where there aren’t enough kids. Rebekah is a tenth grader and had a minor role this year. She’s the one to the right, above.

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Grace (above)  was Ariel in one cast, and her friend, Maya was Ariel in the other cast. They’re both excellent singers and performers, though their voices are very different.

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Here’s Grace as Ariel, trying out her new feet for the first time.

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I obviously didn’t take this one, but I was proud to have caught a mermaid!

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The kitchen scene is always a good one, and they didn’t disappoint.

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On another note, my mother is going through thousands of old slides, scanning them into digital files, and she found this, from 1985. There are many stories brought to mind by this one. The plane is a Maule that belonged to South American Mission, based in Pucallpa, Peru. A team of us had spent the summer in Peru’s Gran Pajonal, a mountainous foothill region of the Andes, making an airstrip out of the top of a mountain, using picks, shovels and other hand tools that had been dropped in out of this very airplane.  This was a proud moment, because had we not finished our project in the allotted time, we’d have had to hike eight hours down to the nearest airstrip to leave. There were less than thirty of us, and after a few days to acclimate, we worked like horses and were proud to see the first airplane land on our airfield.

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Driving with my kids one afternoon, I had to stop and grab a photo, when I saw this.  Someone, it looks like he’s named, Rob Glebe, is quite a craftsman.

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The same day I saw the bees, I found this, in a neighboring town. I was disappointed when I got home, to realize I had overexposed and lost a lot of detail, but if you’re not doing something, you never learn, so I’m glad I stopped and caught it anyway.

I’m doing ok with my goals, though I did have to take a hiatus from the guitar playing for a week or so after playing with a cat, poking my finger down from the side of a piece of furniture, then hiding it and repeating in a different spot. The cat anticipated me and got the pad of my finger with her claws, slicing it open in exactly the spot I use to press the strings on the fretboard.

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March 30 would have been Danny’s 20th birthday. I had a few smiles remembering the day he arrived. Those were tough days, but they were happy ones, too. Here’s a shot from a few months later, in Duncanville, TX.

 

Two Weeks of Musical

I haven’t laid aside my new goals. I have had two weeks where most of my spare time was spent in support of our high school’s musical, but I did squeeze in time to write and shoot and play.

I’ll probably get around to posting for real, tomorrow. The musical was a resounding success. I will share a poorly recorded clip of my daughter singing one of her songs as Ariel. We weren’t allowed to video, so this is the best I could do with my phone.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jmK4CBpuLFiNhVaJo4xkd3qw6BfWjwm8/view?usp=drivesdk