Month: March 2014

The Cars of A Lifetime….

1949 Dodge(1949 Dodge – My First Car)

As we reach our senior years and find ourselves in one of those reminiscent moments, there are times for some of us when the cars, trucks and perhaps other types of vehicles we have owned through the years start touring through our minds. The only motorized vehicles I have owned during my life have been cars with the exception of one used Cushman Eagle motor scooter I owned in the 11th grade for a time. Never owned a truck and for a southern boy that pretty much borders on blasphemy I suppose.

I have owned large cars and small cars but the small cars, for what ever reason, have always been my favorites. When I was in my late twenties and early thirties I was a sports car enthusiast. I loved the camaraderie that existed among sports car owners. I expect that sort of thing went out of style years ago however.

Some time back I put together a collage of all the cars I owned over the years – came to a total of nineteen cars all together. So, if I got my first car at age nineteen and my last car seven years ago at age 65, that averages out to about one new or different car every three years of my life. Actually of the nineteen cars, eight of them were used cars and eleven of them were purchased new. I purchased my current car some seven years ago and it will definitely be my last – no if’s, and’s or but’s about it! The photo at the top of this post was my very first car which was purchased when I was almost nineteen for $125 from my aunt and uncle. My current and last car pictured below was purchased in June of 2007.

2007 Chrysler 300 - Last Car Ever(2007 Chrysler – Last Car Ever – Click to Enlarge)

And that collage I spoke of a moment ago, well it is shown below and contains photos or pictures of all the cars I have ever owned to include a set of keys I still have from the orange 1972 MGB-GT you’ll see featured in the collage. Am clueless as to why I still have them. Obviously it was an extra set….

A-Lifetime-of-Cars-2(A Lifetime of Cars – Click to Enlarge)

I still have several of the window stickers from vehicles that I purchased over the years which are always interesting to look at after all these years. I suspect we all had love affairs with our cars, if not all at least one or two surely…. 🙂

That is one angry Cardinal….

Male & Female CardinalLately I have been seeing my resident Cardinal couple flitting around the bird feeder and the large holly bush I have in the side yard. Spring has sprung and obviously they have begun planning I suspect for this year’s family. Cardinals are always a joy to watch, not so much for their beauty as for their loving relationship. If the the male and female pair are next to each other they will often touch beaks (an obvious little kiss) and what I really enjoy is the male. When they are feeding he will often pick up something to eat and take it over to the female and feed it to her. I guarantee, that will bring an instant smile to your face. When I have had sunflower seeds in my bird feeder, I have seen him often in the past fly up to the feeder, grab a seed and then take it to the female if she is nearby and give it to her. That is actually what had just happened in the photo you see above. I have never observed this type behavior in any other species of backyard variety birds.

But this week all of a sudden things turned a bit to the ‘dark side’ for a time. I began to notice that every time I opened to side door of my house to go out into the carport the male Cardinal would fly away from the vicinity of the driver’s side of my car. I decided to watch through the window to try and see what he was up to and it didn’t take long.

He was landing on the on the door next to the side-view mirror and then he would viciously attack the mirror. Then he would fly to the top of the mirror, look around and then fly back to the door in front of the mirror and attack again. Then it dawned on me. He was attacking his reflection of himself in the side-mirror and I’m sure it was because he thought it was a male rival in his territory. That car is located some ten feet or so from the holly bush where he and the female hang out – and that may well be where they will be building their nest.

At any rate, after I realized what was going on I walked out to look at my car and around that area and on the pavement it was a mess (no pun intended). Some of these photos aren’t really all that great but hopefully suffice so here is a little show-and-tell. First up is the not so happy male sitting on the car mirror (had to take this photo from inside the house through a screen door)….

Male Cardinal(Angry Male Cardinal on Mirror – Click to Enlarge)

Then these next couple of photos show what a mess he was making on my car. All those white and grayish markings on the mirror in the second photo below was from all the pecking he was doing at his reflection….

Mirror 1(Car Door Covered With Bird Poop – Click to Enlarge)

Mirror 2(Pecking Marks Cover Side Mirror – Click to Enlarge)

Last but not least, I drew on a little of that so-called ingenuity and wisdom we elders are always running our mouths off about, scrounged up a pair of old socks and used one of them to cover the mirror to discourage the Cardinal and convince him his adversary had left the scene. And what’s more, it worked…. 🙂

Mirror 3(Mirror With Sock Over It – Click to Enlarge)

Well I guess that pretty much covers this press release. All’s well that ends well as they say. The Cardinals are happy once again but I’m stuck with a rather dirty and gross looking automobile! 🙁

The Infamous Georgia Hedge Fly….

Georgia-Hedge-Fly

I was reminded recently, when a friend noted their disdain for house flies, of an incident regarding a particular breed of house fly that intruded into my life some many years ago when I was living in Augusta, Georgia. Now, I also detest these things with a passion. So much so that I may actually be in need of some measure of psychological counseling. When one of these critters enters my space – things get tense and I become extremely focused on the mission at hand – to get rid of the little bastard! Case and point….

It was a lazy summer day, I was around 35 years old at the time (not elderly) and was simply lounging one Saturday afternoon on the couch which was located beneath a large and lengthy picture window appropriately covered with sheer curtains. I would of course drop off in to a snooze from time to time. I was rudely disturbed this particular afternoon by a whining, buzzing sound that seemed to emanate from the vicinity of the picture window. It was an unmistakable sound that I had heard all too often in the past. That awful sound of a fly caught between the window and the curtain with no way to show its displeasure but buzz, and buzz and buzz. I would lay there listening, and then it would stop. Then moments later it would start again, then again stop. After about five minutes of this I had heard all I could handle. This is one fly that has simply pushed his luck too far! “Damn it,” I bellowed as I leaped from the couch and charged for the pantry.

I went to the kitchen pantry, grabbed the swatter and returned to exercise my right as a home owner. I stood there watching for the tiny black monster to fly around so I could pull back the curtain and put him out of his misery, but to no avail. He kept on buzzing around but I couldn’t see him anywhere. I finally went down on the couch to my knees and began jerking and pulling the sheers in any and every direction to roust the little critter out. Then I would stop, look and listen. No fly, but still the incessant buzzing.

Never had I been locked in such a duel before. I took a deep breath and then preceded with yet another search and destroy mission but this time, in the middle of my rage something outside the window seem to catch my attention. I froze! “Could it be,” I wondered in amazement. After watching and listening for a minute or so, it was evident…. “Uh-oh!”

The man across the street was trimming his hedges with an electric hedge trimmer and the sound of that trimmer was eerily reminiscent to that of my prey. The reality of what I was seeing caused me to stop and try to focus. My head was spinning as my thoughts tried to resolve the epiphany which was sweeping over me like a tsunami. There was no fly. There was no buzzing. There was only my neighbor across the street doing what every neighbor does from time to time on a Saturday afternoon – trimming his hedges.

My trips to the grocery store or supermarket these days are not quite as enjoyable as they used to be some years back. It seemed to me in those days gone by that no matter how much time you may have spent looking for an item; dealing with rude people in the food aisles or waiting in long check-out lines as you got near the cashier to check out, all those issues seemed to fade away and your spirits were somehow lifted when you got to the magazine racks and those beloved tabloids.

I’ve actually only noticed one of those journalistic treasures sitting there in the rack these days and it focuses solely on celebrities. It’s the typical stuff, who’s having an affair with who; whose baby is she really pregnant with; has so and so really had a butt transplant; you know what I’m talking about because I’m sure you have all seen them.

Well, I miss the ones we use to have. The ones with the “real news” and not this made up gossip stuff. It was the journalistic fodder that was Pulitzer Prize worthy. How can we forget some of those gut-retching headlines…?

Tabloid Cover 1(Click to Enlarge)

Tabloid Cover 2(Click to Enlarge)

See… I can tell, one look and you are already beginning to remember. And I can remember just how bad I wanted to pick one of those tabloids up and read it but my vanity just would not let me do it. It would be too embarrassing. What if someone was watching – they would surely be thinking I believed it all and god forbid if I were to ever get caught purchasing one. I would have been more prone to buy a Playboy Magazine while standing in front of my preacher and the choir director as to have someone see me purchase a tabloid newspaper.

But what a smile would slide across my face from the pleasure of those headlines. I truly miss not seeing those any longer but at least for a brief moment here on the old blog I can share a brief memory and hopefully as smile also…

Tabloid Cover 3(Click to Enlarge)

My Birthing Movies….

Movie CameraA couple of nights ago after a little supper I headed for the couch in preparation for a little television. Hopefully there would be a good movie available. Ended up settling on the ‘Turner Classic Movie Channel’ yet again and watched a movie that I hadn’t seen in years and years, “The Maltese Falcon” – one of those good old Humphrey Bogart films. As the host Robert Osborne began his overview of the film I noted the point he made about the film being released in “1941”. When he said that I was reminded of a couple of other major films that I recalled were also released in 1941.

So… what’s so significant about that? Well, what is significant about that to me is the fact that I was born that year. Then I got to wondering what other great films may have been released the year I was born that I was totally unaware of so, that ended up being what this particular post is to be about.

There was in the neighborhood of some 156 American films released that year and from that listing the ones that have crossed my path and I have enjoyed watching are listed below….

Citizen Kane (Orson Wells)
Dumbo (Walt Disney Film)
The Maltese Falcon (Humphrey Bogart)
How Green Was My Valley (Walter Pidgeon and Maureen O’Hara)
Sergeant York (Gary Cooper)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Spencer Tracey)
High Sierra (Humphrey Bogart)
They Died With Their Boots On (Errol Flynn)
The Shepherd of the Hills (John Wayne)
Road to Zanzibar (Bob Hope & Bing Crosby)
Buck Privates (Bud Abbott and Lou Costello)
The Wolf Man (Lon Chaney)

Of those films listed above, “Sergeant York” has always been in the Top Ten of the films I have most liked in my lifetime and “Citizen Kane”, in spite of all its accolades over the years, has been my least favorite film on the list. But overall I am quite happy with my “birthing movies” although I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed there wasn’t a good musical somewhere in the mix.

Making Sense of “Turn Signals”….

A good friend and fellow blogger, Gabby Geezer, just published a post on the subject of ‘respect’ in our classrooms these days as relates to teachers. Now respect has many tentacles and the one that most riles me I suppose is respect as relates to the highways and byways where we drive our automobiles and constantly interact with our fellow man.

In one sense most traffic laws are, at least in my opinion, nothing more than society’s way of enforcing ‘courtesy’ and ‘respect’. Simply put, traffic laws require us to respect and show a measure of courtesy to those who share the road with us and in addition many of those laws are instrumental in saving some lives along the way.

But let’s get specific for an example. Take “turn signals”, certainly not something necessary whatsoever in getting us from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ in our automobiles. But they are a simple way of letting our fellow drivers know what our intentions are when it’s time for us to change lanes or directions. This in turn allows them to make any necessary adjustments to their driving and keeps both parties informed of each other’s intent.

Turn Signals 1(Click to Enlarge)

Now most of you who are my age can remember when, come rain, shine, sleet, or snow, we rolled down our windows, stuck our arms out the window and gave a predetermined hand signal to indicate to others we were about to change direction or even stop. Here’s a little reminder about those good old days and those manual turn signals.…

Turn Signals 2(Click to Enlarge)

Now that was taking courtesy and respect to a whole other level. These days all we have to do is simply move a lever a few inches away from our hand or finger either up or down to accomplish the same respectful and courteous act. I don’t think they can make it any simpler or less intrusive into our operation of a vehicle than that!

Turn Signals 3(Click to Enlarge)

I am reminded of an incident last year when I was driving into my supermarkets large parking lot. Of course as you know there are lots of parking lanes along with the main access lane. I was going to have to cross from right to left across the access lane to get into the parking lane of my choice. Now even in parking lots I use my turn signals to alert other drivers as to my intent. I encountered an oncoming car in the access lane and the driver of that vehicle used their turn signal before I had actually used mine to signal their intent. Well I was shocked! While in the store I actually passed by the lady in one of the shopping aisles who was driving the car, stopped and told her how much I appreciated her courtesy in the use of the turn signal. She agreed that use of the turn signal was pretty much a lost art.

Some of us use turn signals because it is just the right thing to do. Others use turn signals because the law requires that you use them. And then finally… there are those who will not be told what to do and in addition have no sense of respect or desire to be courteous to their fellow drivers whatsoever. That does seem to be what it all pretty much boils down to from my viewpoint.

Food for thought if you will…. Given what you know about drivers on the road today, how many of you really think that if we took down all speed limit signs associated with an indicated “school zone”, drivers would slow down “on their own” to an applicable safe speed (that would typically be 20 mph or less) for protecting the welfare of children in or possibly in the area while driving through that designated school zone? I’d be willing to bet a substantial amount of money it would be a shocking very “few”! ?(

The Art of Writing Love Letters….

Recently one of my blogger aquaintnaces, Cheerful Monk, published a post regarding “BroApps“, one of the new applications developed for mobile devices, solely purposed for sending short little love quips and notes to your significant other. It immediately reminded me of something I wrote some time ago which was actually published here in the local newspaper so I thought I would share that little essay with you this morning….

 

“The Art of Writing Love Letters”

Love Letter PNG Images - 108

A few days ago while listening to one of my favorite old music selections I seemed to have been drawn into a moment of deep and reminiscent contemplation for no apparent reason. The song selection I refer to is one of my favorite songs ever recorded by Elvis Presley and is titled “Love Letters” and although it is not one of his mainstream hits, it is a song that has always struck a strong chord with me and certainly captures the essence of a love letter.

(“Love Letters” – Elvis Presley)

But with respect to that referred moment of which I just spoke, I seemed to have come to the stark realization that we, our kids, our society in fact, are losing touch with one of the most romantic and meaningful things that we use to so willingly engage in with our girlfriends, boyfriends, wives and husbands – and that being the art of writing love letters.

In those past times I think it fair to say that to use the word ‘typewriter’ and ‘love letter’ in the same sentence seemed a transgression against all we held dear and sacred. And now we have the computers and other means of instant transmission. Sure you can still bang out a letter to the one you love on the old computer keyboard or even a cell phone text message I suppose, but from my perspective there seems to be complete lack of warmth, sensitivity and passion in such acts. There is a coldness and harshness that cannot be disguised by the words themselves. Simply words embedded in the cold metal and plastic of technology. Love letters weren’t just words on paper. They were words that flowed from the heart through the inked veins of the pen onto the paper with intensity and passion. The words themselves had a life and a purpose.

Remember the anticipation of going to the mail box or post office? Your heart pounding as you fumbled through the mail looking for that magical envelope that would lift your soul to the heavens. Realizing she had been holding the pen from which flowed the words that your heart longed to hear. Her hands had touched the paper, the envelope. She had touched the letter to her face before mailing it, perhaps even sealing the envelope with a tender and wishful kiss. And lastly, there was that subtle scent of perfume that gave you a sense she was at that very moment only a heartbeat away.

For many of us during those good old school days, a love letter was a four page note on notebook paper that we had written the night before while sprawled out across our bed in lieu of doing the homework and studying we should have been doing. The next day at some secluded water fountain in a school hallway I would meet the love of my life and quickly slip the note into her hand. And then I would spend the next hours in weighted anxiety and anticipation of an acknowledging and reciprocating reply.

To say there is something romantic, even magical about the art of writing love letters is perhaps to a great degree an understatement. And though those days have surely passed for me, I find myself almost in a state of remorse. Not because I may not write another myself, but because of all the feelings and sensations that so many others will miss for not ever having experienced the sheer joy and excitement involved with the writing and receiving of those love letters of which I speak.

It seems to me there are just some things that are sinful to lose as this world and our society progresses into its unknown future. I don’t know if the few words written here today will do justice or honor to the wonder and magic of the ‘love letter’ and all it has meant, but I had to try. I would love to end this brief dissertation on a high note but it just cannot be done from my perspective. There is for me, an aurora of sadness because of what I know so many will miss. No one will ever write or sing a song about love letters in the future it would seem. The art of writing and penmanship seem to be slowly fading into obliteration and with that, so must some of their treasured benefits such as the beloved love letter.

Honey, have you seen the paper?

They are referring to a Texas wife’s approach to her husband’s apparent philandering as a ‘passive aggressive’ confrontation. I suppose opinions will vary on the subject but it would seem that one would surely have to admit it was a somewhat clever and unique approach. She obviously refuses to accept any of the perceived shame that often accompanies such sad revelations.

(Cheating Husband Newspaper Ad )

These kinds of infidelity moments that occur all too often in marriages these days are certainly not ones to make light of but if such actions such as the subject ‘ad’ give solace to the victim, then so be it. It’s certainly better for the philandering husband than his relatives reading his obituary!

The Whistling Craze of the Mid-1950’s….

Whistling-Felix-the-Cat

While working on my recent post regarding the history of the song Sweet Georgia Brown it got me to thinking about the whistling songs that had been prominent in my life. Bringing to mind a couple ofmy favorite whistling songs brought to light the fact that during the mid-1950’s there seemed to have been a bit of a craze for a little whistling in our music.

Rock & Roll as a major musical force and player in pop music was just about to take flight and the popular music of the mid-50’s was a bit of mix between the contemporary pop of the day and the rising surge of pop music referred to as ‘rock and roll’.

Given that musical setting, the first song that came to mind was a song that was featured in a 1954 film starring the likes of John Wayne, Robert Stack and Lana Turner titled “The High and The Mighty”. The theme song from that movie which featured a whistled melody line would crack the top ten musical charts of the day and also be nominated for an Academy Award in 1955 for Best Song. It did receive an Academy Award for Best Musical Score that year but was beat out of the award for Best Song by another great song “Three Coins in the Fountain”. Featuring an absolutely haunting melody,“The High and The Mighty” reached Number 6 on the Pop Charts that year and is featured below as recorded by Victor Young & His Orchestra….

(The High and Mighty)

Then in 1956 a total of three songs featuring whistling would hit the pop charts. Those songs included “Just Walking in the Rain”  by Johnnie Ray (Number 2 on the Pop Charts), “Singing the Blues” by Guy Mitchell (Number 1 on the Pop Charts) and “The Happy Whistler” by Don Robertson (Number 6 on the Pop Charts).

(Just Walking in the Rain)

(Singing the Blues)

(The Happy Whistler)

And finally in 1957 Pat Boone’s Number 1 hit would close out the five popular whistling classics of the day with his “Love Letters in the Sand”.

(Love Letters In The Sand)

I don’t follow popular music like I use to in my younger years but I’m not aware of any songs that feature whistling to any degree these days. In fact, I don’t hear people in general whistling anymore. Makes you wonder if our generation was just a lot happier and content with life in those days gone by than the folks are these days….

Movie Review – “Eat Drink Man Woman” (1994)

Anthony BourdainFriday evening I was quite surprised to see Anthony Bourdain, the well known food critic, standing in as host on the Turner Classic Movies channel. As it turns out, they were showing several classic film selections that had plots centered around chefs and their associated culinary techniques. I was 99.9% sure I wouldn’t be sticking around for the main feature, especially when they said it would be a Taiwanese movie with subtitles. I just don’t do well with subtitled movies. Foreign films are fine but all too often the subtitles interfere with the flow of the movie. The movie’s title was even a little bit screwy, “Eat Drink Man Woman”. That’s it – does that make any sense?

Nevertheless, I guess at that moment I was just too lazy to hit the remote so I continued to stare at the television as the movie began. In the opening scenes an older Taiwanese man was preparing a dinner apparently for his family and it showed in detail his food preparation. I almost immediately became engrossed in his food preparation and cooking techniques. And that was it, for the next 120 minutes or so I watched one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.

5-Star Post MasterEat Drink Man Woman - 1994 - 1

In short, it revolves around a widowed man who lives with his three grown daughters who are all pursuing their separate lives but are not married and still live at home. Every Sunday it is a ritual that they all gather for dinner and as it were, break bread together. The father, who himself works as a chef at an upscale restaurant, spends each Sunday preparing dinner for himself and his daughters. It’s all about family drama, leaving the nest and getting married and of course the Sunday dinner. The movie was over before I actually realized I had hardly moved a muscle during the whole film, so for me that’s being entertained. And the subtitles were exceptionally well done I might add.

The film received “Best Foreign Film” nominations from both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes although it didn’t win. Nevertheless, it was definitely a keeper in my opinion….. 😀