Saturday, April 19, 2014

"There Ain't No Easy Money"

Mankind is a funny, dream-chasing species.  One common dream is the wish to capture the gold ring of prosperity, the magic winning lottery ticket to riches which will set our lives on top of the world.  Then, or so the thinking goes, all will be right with our lives.  We can then do anything we like, go anywhere in the world, dance all night and chase the moon.

But real life is not like that.  It never has been.  Our forefathers certainly found that out as they rushed off to the silver mines or followed the gold rush stampedes to the far corners of creation.  God does have a sense of humor, doesn't he?  The places that supposedly lead to prosperity are often found in hard territory with horrible climes.

One such was Bodie, California, which came into being in 1859 with rumors of gold just lying around waiting to be picked up by the industrious minors.  It took awhile to be "rushed," but by 1880 it was said to be "booming," with a population numbering more than 5,000 people.  They had 4 volunteer fire companies, a brass band, several daily newspapers, a railroad, jail and 65 saloons.  It earned such a reputation for violence that a common phrase was the "Badmen from Bodie."

With its high elevation and bare plateau, the daily winds could easily reach 100 miles per hour.  With no natural surroundings capable of protecting it from the elements, there was plenty of cold weather to suffer through.  There were no forests and all wood had to be brought in from far reaches.  In other words, even if you had money, there was a lot to endure.

Of course the mines played out.  By 1912 the last of the newspapers closed and people were moving out in droves.  It now a real ghost town and has been designated to be a California State Historic Park.  Maybe I'll go there one day.  I've always liked ghost towns.  It would be a pleasant trip back in time.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Teenage Fantasy Remembered

Once upon a time I was a teenager.  I'm sure of it, and yes, there are times I can even remember it.  And when I was experiencing such a time, there was one thing in particular that captured my imagination.  As E.B. White once said, "Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car."

When I became an adult, when I had a job and could buy whatever I wanted, I knew what would be on the top of the list.  A 1957 starmist blue Ford Thunderbird automobile.  That was the coolest car ever as far as I was concerned.  And one day such a vehicle would be all mine.  I couldn't predict when, but it would happen.

I could just see myself tooling down the highway (do they even say that any more?), window down (because they didn't have car air conditioning at that time), the wind blowing through my hair, freedom in my heart and soul.

Jan and Dean nailed the feeling in their song "Fun, Fun, Fun" about a teenage girl driving her daddy's car, but not where and how he would have wanted her to.  But who could drive the straight and narrow in a car like that.

Well, you know what happens.  Life interferes with our hopes and dreams.  I never got the kind of job that would allow such a thing to happen.  Other things became more important and over time the dream became dormant.

One time my son suggested I go ahead and get that car.  They had new ones out that were just like the original, go for it.  But reason prevailed.  As I told him, I not sure I could get the arthritic knees down to get in the car.  To say nothing about the reverse action to get me out of that same car.

But I'm okay with that.  I've had other dreams that have worked out, and life has been good.  Sometimes a teenage dream should stay just that - a teenage dream.  Not everyone agrees with that philosophy, but I'm okay with that as well.  And since it was my dream and it has been my life, it works for me.  Other folks will have to decide for themselves if their dreams worked out okay or not. 

So how have your dreams worked out?  I hope it's all been good, whatever happened.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

1900 and Now

Time does have a habit of changing the way we look at things, doesn't it?  This includes items all across the spectrum of human activity.

The 1900 Paris Summer Olympic Games was a year of innovation as they tried many new games.  There was one I read about that really caught my attention.  This was the Obstacle Swimming competition with 12 athletes from 5 nations in this event.

It consisted of three parts while swimming 200 meters in the strong currents of the Seine River.  They would swim down river to a pole, climb up and down the pole, then swim to a row of boars which they would then climb into and over, then back in the water to another row of boats which they swam under, and continue on to the end.

Would you say this was a mini-triathlon, all occurring within the 200 meters?  Swim, climb up and down, swim, climb over, swim, dive under, then swim again.  Well, actually that would make seven separate activities within the designated area.  All 12 swimmers competed in the semi-finals the first day, then ten were back for the finals the next day.  The combined scores determined the winners.

First place went to Fredrick Lane from Australia, 2nd to Otto Wahle from Austria, and 3rd to Peter Kemp from Great Britain.

Something tells me this could still be a popular event, but 1900 was the only year it was included in the games.  Now compare this to today's competition of swimming a simple 50 meters in a designated lane up and back.  Not to be too picky about the whole situation, but does it appear that now is just a bit wimpy in comparison to then?

What do you think?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Write Good Week

It's been a venturesome week.  The Fource River Performing Arts Readers Group presented my play:  The Man in the Closet.  The cast was enthusiastic and did a good performance, the audience small but receptive with nice comments.  I appreciate all of them.

This Friday, April 4th, the Hidden Gallery will host a book signing for my print book: Exasperating Love.  The e-book edition will be out shortly and it will be good to have that making its way in the world.  This book is, of course, a collection of short stories about various relationships.  I do hope you will take time to check it out.  I'd love to hear your comments, and welcome any reviews you take time to post to Amazon about the book.

Once that has been accomplished, then it's upward and onward to other projects.  My next book is Shades of Revenge.  This will be a full-length book and is a humorous look at two female ghosts haunting the same mansion.  There will be a bit of jealousy, a bit of sleuthing, and eventually maybe a little collaboration.  The projected date of completion is late June.

That's been my week, with a look forward to coming things.  I do hope your week has been good and the one to come will be even better.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Joy of Creation

Some folks just have a job.  Others have a passion for what they do.  This is a man who loved his work so much, he wanted to be close to it always.

Fredrick Baur was such  man.  Born in Ohio in 1918, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in organic chemistry.  During WWII he joined the Navy and worked as an aviation physiologist, doing research  on the medical aspects of flight.  Undoubtedly he was a man of great intelligence.

Later he worked in creating and developing new items.  One of his creations was freeze-dried ice cream.  It didn't really go anywhere, but he was proud of it.  But one of his proudest accomplishments was the creation of the Pringle can.  He got a patent one it and it went on to revolutionize food packaging. 

Fredrick was so proud of this item that he asked his kids to have him cremated and put his ashes in one of the cans.  He lived to be 89, but when he died, the kids followed his wishes.  The story is that on the way to the funeral services they stopped to pick up a can of Pringles.  After discussing which flavor to buy, it was determined it was only right and appropriate to get the "Original" flavor.  This they did.  They subsequently put some of the ashes in the can,  An urn was also purchased to hold the rest of the ashes and they can and the urn were buried together in Ohio.

I like Mr. Baur's way of thinking.  He made something he was proud of, something he liked, and he wanted to have a continuing association forever.  Now that's a man who must have had a good sense of humor, wouldn't you say?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Old Folks Having Fun

The sun has come up and the sun has gone down several consecutive days now, and it's just possible Spring is really on the way.  Summer will follow quickly behind and it won't be long till you hear kids piping up with that age-old complaint:  I'm Bored!!!

With that in mind I was checking out a couple of sites listing fun things to do for the whole family.  Some were clear possibilities, but others, maybe not so much.  Then my mind twisted to the thought:  How about the old folks?  Would we like to do some of these things?  Hmmm.    Set's check out a few suggestions.

1.  Learn to peel a banana with your feet. Sure.  There's nothing like a squishy mess of ripe
     fruit dripping from the toes to put you in a good mood.  If you do decide to do this, may
     I suggest you go outside.  Cleaning up could be a barrel of laughs - especially to any
     grand kids that might be lurking around watching.
2.  Shave your head.  I don't think so.  I need the protection from the sun,  Besides, bald is
     not my best look.  I'd probably just scare the neighbors.
3.  Climb a tree.  Now, I have to admit there was a time in my past when this was a regular
     pleasure.  However, that's been a lifetime ago now.  I don't think I could get up there,
     and I'm darn sure I couldn't get down.  Not without the help of the fire department
4.  Make faces at strangers to make them laugh.  Hmmm.  Sounds like a good way to either
     get beat up or else get arrested.  I think I'd rather smile and say "Good day."
5.  Get a motorcycle license.  Oh yeah.  My arthritic knees and slowed reflexes would love
     this.  And the license would do me no good without the cycle.  I'm sure not buying one,
     and I don't know a single soul that would let me borrow theirs.  Not if they are in their
     right mind anyway.
6.  Go dumpster diving and see what you can bring home.  Ha!  At my age I'm looking for
     stuff to get rid of, not more to drag home.  Anything in a dumpster is not going to be
     in tiptop shape, and I'm not into trying to fix up someone else's old broken down junk.

At this point I stopped looking at the sites.  Who thinks up this stuff?  I have the feeling if I actually tried any of these and the family found out, they might decide it's time to  have a certain conversation along the lines of "What are we going to do with Mom?  Is it time to consider putting her in a home, because it's not safe to let her live alone any longer."

I'm not ready for that conversation.  So I'll just try other things, or go ahead and settle for being bored.  What do you think?


Saturday, March 8, 2014

An Undeniable Presence

Spring is on the way, no doubt about it.  The evidence is beginning to show up, along with some of the springtime critters you see around the Arkansas countryside.  Herewith, a little ditty about one that can be pretty, but doesn't always smell that way.


If you want to raise a stink
You don't even have to think
Just wander out in search of the cat in black
But if you're not sure about it
Don't take the time to doubt it
Especially if there's a stripe along his back.

The odor though horrific
Is really quite specific
There's not another like it I suppose
It lays along the ground
And lingers all around
And even finds its way inside your nose.

So he struts in majesty
And there is no travesty
Of justice in his form of self-defense
To think this little fellow
Can turn a man to Jell-o
With just a little squirt from his bag of scents.

                      * * * * * * *

Enjoy your week.  And watch out for the critters in the wayside.