Month: June 2014

Better late than never I suppose….

Well here we are just entering the month of July and most folks have already shared their spring photos of their flowering yards and busy gardens. For most those thoughts of the season’s first flowers have long faded. But my flowers of choice are only now just making themselves known to the yard.

My yard got its first flower this past week and there is something rather special about that first flower of the season, regardless of when it makes its entrance into one’s year. It’s quite the relief when you see those first buds appear and fill with that flowering surprise.

DSC_0398b(Sugar Tip Rose of Sharon – Click to Enlarge)

My first flower of the season was produced and presented by one of my one-year old Rose of Sharon bushes. I have always liked the Rose of Sharon bushes but never had any of my own. Last year on one of my stops at “Lowe’s Home Improvement” I was pleased to notice they had some very healthy and robust looking young Rose of Sharon plants and I couldn’t help myself. I purchased four plants, two hybrids called Sugar Tip and two of the standard Althea plant.

They have done well and made it through their first pretty rough winter and my Sugar Tip produced its first bloom this year just last week. Of course I had to take a quick photo for posterity’s sake.

DSC_0401a(Sugar Tip Rose of Sharon – Click to Enlarge)

All four of my plants are currently sporting numerous blooms so I look forward to several months of flowering bushes and no doubt another photograph or two to share along the way….

Doc Martin has arrived….

The final episode of Doc Martin – Series 6 will be concluding this evening on PBS. Whether this will be the last season or not remains a mystery at this time but it will be interesting to see how they bring this last episode to a close. They aired all the episodes this season in weekly succession but did bump one episode of season 6 somewhere around episode 4 for one of their viewer donation drives. And missed episodes on PBS don’t usually get rebroadcast until such time as the series is rerun. But fortunately I have resolved that issue as discussed below.

Doc Martin - Series 6 - 1

I already have purchased a box set of all the first 5 seasons including the original two pilot movies so it only made sense that I order Season 6 to complete my collection. I did just that this past week and it arrived day before yesterday. But I have decided to be patient and not watch the final episode until it airs tonight at its scheduled time. I then will probably re-watch the entire season, 8 episodes, during the coming week or so.

By the way, I should note that when I purchased the boxed set of the first five seasons, within a period of a few short weeks I had watched all the episodes. And even though PBS had not finished airing all the episodes at that point in time I remained a loyal fan and still watched them again every Sunday evening when they aired…. 😀

Good News…. Pun intended by the way!

Diane Sawyer - 01Back in early April I published a post titled “The Big Three Network’s TV Nightly News Anchors” where I wrote about the various news anchor personalities and noted who I liked and didn’t like, not that it was of any real consequence to my life or others. But… as you may have heard at some point over the last couple of days, there is a major change coming with regard to one of those big three’s TV nightly news anchors.

ABC News is moving Diane Sawyer out of the nightly news anchor position and assigning her a new position. She will lead “ABC News Programming” where she will be, and I quote, “tackling big issues and extraordinary interviews”. Of course as I had previously noted in my prior post referenced above, Ms. Sawyer was my least favorite of the female news anchors so it was no disappointment for me to see this big change.

Definitely on the plus side of this change by ABC is the fact that two of my favorite news personalities are moving into top positions on the ABC Nightly News. David Muir, a top favorite of mine, will now be the “Nightly News Anchor and Managing Editor of World News” while George Stephanopoulos will be promoted to “Chief Anchor of ABC Special News and Breaking News”.

ABC Nightly News

These changes are currently scheduled to take effect September 2nd of this year. I, for one, very much look forward to the change and wish all of them the best in their new positions…

Senior Moment #43

Buttering ToastAs many of my peers are aware, those classic ‘senior moments’ can come at anytime. They seem to lurk everywhere and spring out to grab us when we least expect it!

Such was the case yesterday morning as I walked up the hallway on the way to the kitchen to fix my ritual breakfast which always consists of one solitary piece of toast with of course, butter. Now I ask you, whose thinking about having a senior moment for something as simple as that?

So… I take a small plate from the cabinet for the toast and a butter knife from the silverware drawer, setting them next to the toaster as always. I then get the butter carton from the refrigerator, scoop the ritual amount of butter from the carton onto the knife, lay the knife on the plate and return the butter carton to the refrigerator. As I wait for the toast to pop out of the toaster, I walk to the patio door and take a look or two outside and then casually walk back to the kitchen. As I gaze out the kitchen window I suddenly come to the stark realization that I have been waiting a while now for my piece of toast to pop out of the toaster. As I look over to see what’s going on with the toaster it only takes a split second to understand. There is no bread in the toaster. The toaster sits idle. I never got my loaf of bread out of the cabinet and put a slice in the toaster!

That my dear friends for those who may not know is a classic senior moment! And for me it is number 43 since I have been counting for several years now!

Introducing my friend…. Little Eddie

Over the past year or so I have cultivated a great friendship with one of my canine neighbors who lives next door. His name is “Eddie” but so as to not confuse him with a much more famous “Eddie” of the same breed I’m sure most are familiar with, I call him “Little Eddie”.

Little-Eddie-02(Little Eddie – Click to Enlarge)

My friend Little Eddie is a Jack Russell terrier and I have found out recently that he is around 12 years old. Based on dog years, that makes him about ten years older than me. So that turns out to be actually good. We’re just a couple of old codgers that like to hang out together and enjoy each other’s company.

Now if you are a dog person to any degree and know anything at all about dogs, then you probably know that a little dog like Little Eddie with his breed’s heritage is keen on chasing and catching little critters and rodents. Since Little Eddie doesn’t appear to get a lot of exercise and is not able to work off his stored up energy, I decided to pitch in and help a friend out. At any rate, at our age we could use the exercise although admittedly these days Little Eddie is getting a whole lot more exercise than I am.

Just about every morning around 9:00 AM or so I can look out my back window and there is Little Eddie sitting out by the fence waiting for me to come outside. I’d like to think his waiting is all about wanting to see me but I have a sneaky suspicion it has something to do with the little game we like to play most every morning while it’s cool out. We call our little game ‘Critter-Gitter’.

I have attached a short video showing a bit of our typical morning routine. In the beginning of this particular video Little Eddie tries to patiently wait for me to get things ready to start our game but not without a little anticipatory pacing. Then he begins his duel with our make believe critter although I’m not so sure how ‘make believe’ Little Eddie views it. It appears he may have gotten tangled a bit in the ivy vine on the first toss which seemed to cause him a little concern, perhaps thinking the critter had gotten a hold of him. There are times when he seems quite sure of having things under control and then other moments when he quickly backs off. But I can’t help but smile for the five minutes or so we play. I figure at our age, about five minutes of intense excitement is about the limit for either of us.

When we get through, Little Eddie will watch me intently as I put away the fishing pole and then sit down on the patio to enjoy my coffee. Once he realizes the day’s game is over, he will go around to the other side of his house and get some water, then return a few minutes later, lays down next to the fence and just stares into space. You just know what he is probably thinking, “I am going to get that little critter one of these days!”.

Favorite Words….

Words - 02

Whether I am reading something or watching television, my mind almost immediately reacts when I either see or hear one of my favorite words. I have to assume that most all of us have a least a couple of favorite words although I don’t know that to be a fact of course.

I have four rather longstanding words of note with regard to my own personal favorites. Sometimes the reason why we are attracted to words may be illusive but with regard to my own favorites I feel reasonably secure in my reasons. But first, here are my four favorites….

1. Kerfuffledisturbance; fuss

2. Nonsensicalbehavior that is silly, annoying, or unkind; words or ideas that are foolish or untrue

3. Oxymorona combination of contradictory or incongruous words

4. Spoonto show affection or love toward (someone) by kissing and caressing, especially in an openly sentimental manner

Kerfuffle and nonsensical are for me simply fun words. I just love the way they sound and I love saying the words. Oxymoron on the other hand is a favorite word because I love the word simply for the fruit of its meaning or definition. In other words, I love words that are considered oxymorons. And lastly spoon, a common word of no real consequence unless in my case, you associate the meaning of the word when used as a verb from those olden and golden days of courting and romance.\r\n\r\nIn researching my subject matter a bit further I found that according to “Merriam-Webster” resources, the ten most popular “favorite words” are as follows…

Defenestrationa throwing of a person or a thing out of a window; or a usually swift expulsion or dismissalstrong>Flibbertigibbet– a silly flighty person

Kerfuffledisturbance; fuss

Persnicketyfussy about small details; fastidious

Callipygianhaving shapely buttocks

Serendipityluck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for

Mellifluoushaving a smooth rich flow

Discombobulatedupset; confused

Palimpsestwriting material used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased; or, something with diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface

Sesquipedalianlong; characterized by the use of long words

I’m afraid I must confess there are a couple of those words I personally don’t recall ever seeing or hearing before. But I must admit also, I find one of those words, “flibbertigibbet” very enticing although I’m not sure why. It may be the pronunciation or sound of the word or perhaps its just that it reminds me of a Thanksgiving dinner.

The Adventures of Snake Boy….

I ran across something recently referencing the Chinese Zodiac which peaked my curiosity, so like anyone I suppose with any sense of curiosity and not knowing under which Chinese sign I was born… well of course I had to investigate. Low and behold I was somewhat surprised to find that I was born under the sign of the “Snake”.

Now granted, there may be a lady or two from my love life of days gone by who still bears some measure of ill-will toward me and would perhaps find some measure of gratification in such a sign being associated with me but for the purposes of this post, well… that is neither here nor there.

Chinese Zodiac Sign - Year of the Snake(Chinese Zodiac – The Year of the Snake)

Now the snake is not a critter that a very substantial number of folks want to hang out with, pet or fondle… or so I’ve gathered over the years. But finding out about my Chinese zodiac sign is an interesting discovery because oddly enough I have never really had any measure of disdain toward the creatures. And when I was a young boy I use to spend hours hunting snakes, small snakes for the most part, and putting them in my big jar which brings me to my autobiographical anecdote regarding the adventures of ‘Snake Boy’….

“The Adventures of Snake Boy”

It all began innocently enough from my point of view when I would, as a young boy around ten or eleven, bring snakes home in my “big jar” (an essential snake-hunting tool) that I had captured from my numerous snake-hunting adventures and then let them go in my backyard after making them miserable for a day two with a little stick-poking. Now all this was pretty much unbeknownst to mom of course, since even at that young age I wasn’t totally devoid of any sense.

With regard to these type adventures as a young boy, none are more memorable or hold a more enduring place in my heart than that which I will relate and in so doing, finally disclose publicly my true identity – hidden for these many, many years.

Snake Jar - 2

The Big Jar

Now, as previously noted, I did have a passion as a young boy for going out and hunting and catching snakes. Usually my victims were of the garden variety for the most part although….there were those few times when I would take on a small venomous critter and coral him into the “big jar”. And yep, I would let those go in the back yard also so you can see why I kept mom out of the loop on this issue.

Many of my “snake adventures” as a young boy use to take me into an area along High Street from Wright Avenue down to around 23rd Street where quite a few black families lived at the time. There was an old concrete storm drain about 10 foot wide with 6 or 7 foot high sides in ill repair that ran along High Street for a number of blocks tunneling under the side streets as it made its way to wherever it was going – Fourche Creek probably. There were lots of weeds and saplings growing within the old drain and little tiny ponds of standing water with all sorts of critters and tiny fish in them. This is where a number of my adventures took place. Some of the black kids use to follow me around when I was in the neighborhood walking inside the storm drain on my snake hunts. We would all be in the stealth mode in my quest for snakes but as soon as one of the creatures made an appearance I would find myself quite alone. This phenomenon actually became quite predictable.

First there was whispering amongst me and my companions….then silence as I would lift a large piece of wood or rock….then blood curdling screams in unison from my traveling companions when the snake would make its initial appearance. Even after I had safely secured the little critter in my “big jar”, my entourage was nowhere to be found. Later I might see one of my ex-companions sheepishly wave from their front porch but that was about it.

And now this is where this adventure takes on a “legend” proportion. It didn’t take any time whatsoever for the black kids to start calling the little white kid “Snake Boy”. And one can only imagine how my little head filled with visions from my new found fame and stature in the world. Every now and then I would make a trip down to High Street and none of the kids would show up. If after a little while no one showed up, Snake Boy would just drop his head and mope home totally devoid of any reinforcement of his true identity. The snakes would be safe this time from the dreaded Snake Boy!

Disappointingly as it turns out, in my own neighborhood I was simply known as “Alan” or “A.E” as mom used to call me. That was my first and middle initial. But just as Superman had to deal with his secret identity, I too had a like burden that had been thrust upon me at such an early age. The black neighborhood quickly became my favorite place to go for adventure needless to say. Sure, there may have been a Frank Buck, there may have even been a Tarzan, but there was only one Snake Boy!

My true identity has been well hidden for all these years but now as I reach the autumn of my life it is finally time to come out of the “Snake Boy” closet! Now that the world will come to know my true identity by these public disclosures there will surely be autobiographies and movie deals to clutter my life. And from now on even you will be able to brag to your family and friends that you really knew…..Snake Boy! In fact, if you go down to that area of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive even today there is still a portion of that storm drain in existence. Perhaps after reading my story, someone will suggest marking it with an historical marker…..you think?

Now, whether one can draw any conclusions with regard to the significance of zodiac signs such as this one, The Year of the Snake, which is part of Chinese culture or other astrological signs pretty much rests on each individual. But I believe that I am compelled to a degree to give some credence to my Chinese zodiac sign given the evidence presented here today.

Snake Boy

‘Like Father…. Like Son

Rex-Allen-Rex-Allen-Jr(Click to Enlarge)

One of my personal favorite cowboy stars from back in the fifties was Rex Allen. He was one of the singing cowboys of the day and to top it off, at least for me, his horse Ko Ko was my favorite horse of all the horses those cowboy heroes of the day mounted on any given Saturday. In fact, the personal relationship between the horse’s actual owner, Rex Allen, and Ko Ko is something quite special in itself. But we’ll leave that for perhaps another day.

Rex-Allen-Sr-03(Rex Allen & KoKo – Click to Enlarge)

In 1962 Rex Allen would surprise everyone when he released a recording, “Son, Don’t Go Near the Indians”, which would reach Number 17 on the Billboard Music Charts. His professional success would continue on through the sixties and seventies during which time he narrated over 80 Walt Disney films.

Then… along came junior. I’m speaking of course about Rex Allen’s son, Rex Allen Jr., who in my opinion got the golden voice gene from his papa, no doubt about it. Like father, like son, I found myself a fan from the first time I ever heard Rex Allen Jr. sing.

Rex Allen Jr. became much more well known for his vocal talents when he, along with Janie Fricke, became regular guests on the Statler Brother’s Show television show which ran from 1991 to 1998.

I chose a music video featuring Rex Allen Jr. which was his first music video by the way, because it showcases those old westerns we use to love but perhaps even more importantly, contains a message that seems so appropriate for the times we live in these days. You may even catch a glimpse of papa in one or two of those background film clips if you’re watching closely….

Taking it to the limit one day at a time….

I probably shouldn’t write about this subject without knocking on wood since I don’t want to jinx myself or bring down any bad luck on myself but….

I’m curious, do any of you have something that has for all practical purposes outlived its standard ‘shelf life’ of some measure but you have boldly taken it where no man has gone before? Well, such is the case with my refrigerator I think. My Kenmore refrigerator was manufactured in June of 1989 and I purchased it in the fall of 1990 at Sears. So it would seem I am approaching my 25th anniversary.

Kenmore-Refrigerator-1990(My Kenmore Refridgerator – 1990 – ?)

There have been a few times over the years when a power outage has hit and my dear friend has seemed to have taken its own sweet time about getting things chilled down but in the end, it has never failed.

Perhaps it has now become somewhat of a personal challenge, a death race shall we say. Should I go ahead and purchase a new refrigerator at my age or shall I stand fast on the chance that I go before the fridge? Should I put all my efforts into outlasting the fridge or should I simply take the much wiser approach and replace it before I’m left in a freezerless (new word) dilemma?

I have taken the time to sit down and try to put my true feelings into words. It is surely prudent to let my refrigerator know how much I appreciated its steadfastness and loyalty over the years. So it is with my “Ode to a Fridge” that I try to convey my thanks for all those years. And now that it is finished I think that I shall print it out on some nice, fancy paper and place it on the refrigerator door so that my fridge never doubts its worth.

“Ode to a Fridge”

I think that I shall never see
A fridge that’s been as good to me.
There to meet my every need
Day to day like a faithful steed.

Standing tall through thick and thin
With your sturdy shelves and large veggie bin.
The stores within, they may come and go
But your love for them all, you continue to show.

Your gentle hum soothes the mind
You have no fear of the passing time.
I cannot bear to think of the day
When the Sear’s truck comes to cart you away.

Your days like mine are surely numbered
But the chains of death remain encumbered.
So on we will go until our end
Stand tall to the wall my steadfast friend.

For now my dear fridge together we stay
Looking forward to each freezer filled day.
I’ll keep you clean so you continue to shine
So let’s take it to the limit one day at a time.

The “Out-of-Border” Experience….

Funny sometimes how one post will lead into another. Seeing the German Shepherd photograph in my previous post reminded me of one of my favorite techniques to apply to photos and other various pictures.

There is a technique that is referred to as the “Out of Border” technique which can be created with some of the more sophisticated graphics programs such as Adobe Photoshop and PaintShop Pro. As for me, I have always been a PaintShop Pro user for many years now.

The object of the technique is to take for example a photograph of your choice and using your graphics program create a spin-off of your photograph that gives it an almost 3-D effect making chosen parts of the subject matter appear as if they are actually outside of the border of the picture. In the first sample I took a really nice photo taken by an aquaintance of mine of a knife and extended part of the knife blade outside of the picture frame giving it that 3-D look.

OOB - Knife(Click to Enlarge)

I also did the same thing with my favorite German Shepard photo which I had shared in my previous post. It just seems to give the portrait a little extra pop I think!

OOB - German Shepard(Click to Enlarge)

And lastly, I took one of the many Spider Man graphics floating around on the Internet, applied the technique and the resulting picture looks as though Spider Man is literally leaping out of the picture.

OOB - Spider Man(Click to Enlarge)

If you want to see the larger version of the samples be sure to click on the photos and the larger version will open in a new window. That now brings to a close yet a few more of my ‘final thoughts’ regarding yet another entry into the show and tell Hall of Fame!