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Three score and ten or more

Saturday, July 29, 2006

J'ever had one of those days?

I sat at the computer this afternoon with an idea of posting some post-seventy blues. I have felt crappy all week and, as a result, have had multiple Doctor visits, some so gross that I can't discuss them on the blog. Just when I was settling into a reasonable feel sorry for myself state, I got a notice, down in the right hand corner of the computer, that McAfee was about to install an update, did I want to get out of all the stuff I was doing, and let her rip, or did I want to do something stupid. I did something stupid, I let her rip. It took a surprising amount time to download it, so the dear wife and I offed to see the matinee of Pirates of the Caribbean, which was rather funny even if I did get tired of Davy Jones and his locked box.

When the movie was over and I came home to find that McAfee wanted me to shut down the computer and reboot, so that all the good stuff they had done would become effective. I did so, and again was treated to a surprisingly long installation (followed by an installation that I wasn't prepared for of Adobe 7.0 or 7.5 or something.)

When it was over, I found a little green button in the upper left corner of the screen called McAfee site advisor (with some of the stuff that I had put on that toolbar having disappeared.)

"Oh," says I, "I wonder what kind of advise I will get?" What I found was that the speed of my computer was cut by one third, and going through my regular blogs was virtually impossible. Some times on a blog itself and always on the comment section as it arose the computer gave a loud BOINK, and I began to aquire pages of McAfee site advisor pages. (At one time, fourteen of the darn things). As I shrunk, minimized or signed out of the pages, new ones would crop up to plague me. I finally found that the only way to get rid of the blarsted things was to control/ALT/Delete the whole thing (I have 2000 Professional on my main computer so I can do that. I am not sure what I would have done on the computers that have XP and don't recognize Control/Alt/Delete.)

"OH!" says I, I will now go to programs on the Start Menu and uninstall "Site Advisor", but I found that I couldn't seem to do that without uninstalling all of McAfee, and as much as I shlepp around on the web, that's not a good Idea.

Anyway, I have figured out how to read your blogs, but it won't let me into the comment pages for awhile (at least) so don't expect any witty repartee from me.

A fun computer experience was teaching my (almost totally) computer illiterate eldest daughter how to do Email (by long distance telephone). She is the only one of my children who isn't head and shoulders above me on the computer (she went away and got married young and only has access to a friend's computer). I set her up an Email address on my web-page, then, because she's using a borrowed computer and I couldn't set her up on Outlook or a regular mail program (for some reason our attempts at Hotmail went down the tubes) so, by telephone (She lives in Florida) I had to teach her to access her Email by Webmail. It was great fun, took a ridiculous amount of time, and was a learning experience for both of us. (She just got her second grandchild, and wanted to be able to send pictures, so our next lesson will be photgraphic attachments.) Our phone conversation was almost as silly as Pirates of the Caribbean, but not QUITE as long.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I still have a couple of posts that I would like to make from the Mississippi-Tennessee area, but they take thinking and description, and I am a little blank right now. I just celebrated another birthday. Three score and ten ormore is one more today than it was yesterday. I didn't have a big restaurant celebration as Saurkraut did for her fortieth and her father's seventy somethingth, I just got up this morning and went to church where, as I am wont to do, I listened to about two thirds of two very good sermons and dozed through a little of each of them. I can out doze just about anyone, doing just about anything. In our class we discussed the seventeenth through nineteen chapters of First Kings which involve the knotty relationship between Elijah and King Ahab of Samaria as well as the widow lady who provided Elijah and her family (and possibly friends) with food, taken from one handful of meal in a bag and a small bit of oil, but who never figured out why it worked until tragedy overtook her. We also discussed Jezebel, the namesake of all women who steer men astray.

It was both an entertaining and informative discussion even though none of it was exactly new to me.

While we were at church my son had a pot-roast cooking, so when we got home we had a nice potroast dinner followed by some Blue Bunny ice cream (I love the "Banana Split", and the "Bunny Tracks" and most of the remainder of the day was spent reading, conversing, watching a little TV, and thinking. I am not sure why, for a coot, the thought that there may not be another birthday seems to bring about meditation, when it is as true for all of us that there may not be another birthday. One out of one of us will die, and no one of us really knows where we will be, or if there will be another tomorrow, but, right after one takes a full handful of pills, rubs down with muscle rubs it all seems a bit more real.

I married the most wonderful woman I ever knew. I wish she knew and believed that as well as I do, but we all look at ourselves either more critically than we should, or less critically than we should. But in my meditation today, I have thought about some of the things I have taught others and decided that some of them were not entirely accurate. In dealing with some of the problems in communication I have always tried to teach that no one can make YOU happy. Happiness is ultimately your, or my decision and that if one is happy, it is because one has made the decision to react to life's stimuli in a way that creates happiness and joy. ( I still think that this has a great deal of truth). I see the flaw in this only when I realize that my dear wife Janet has truly made me happier than my own nature would have allowed, and for that I will be eternally grateful (or at least grateful as long as I last).

Happy birthday to me.
Thank you Janet for everything, I wish I could make you understand how grateful I am.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Let me begin this post with the clear statement that I LIKE sports. As a high school student I did pretty well in football, when I physically could play golf, I could do so without embarrassment, I have been on swim teams, boxed a very little, put the shot for a track team and done a fair amount of tennis, though my apalling lack of hand-eye coordination continually made me an embarrassment in most ball sports (baseball, basketball, soft-ball etc.)

In my coothood I have become a fan. I follow the Braves, The Falcons, Georgia Southern University football, horse racing (I have a post in the archives about South Carolina steeplechase) the Olympics, both winter and summer, etc. I have even enjoyed some of the motor sports. In my least distinguished teen age activities I was known to attend the occasional demolition derby at the Bannock County fair grounds. Motorcycle hill climbs have intrigued me, though I am convinced that anyone who rides a motorcycle up a steep hill until it reaches the vertical limit, turns over and dumps the rider back down the hill, often with the motorcycle riding the rider on the return trip has a few screws missing in parts that have nothing to do with the motorcycle.

That said, since I have moved to the South I have been acquainted with a number (actually a large number) of folks who like to watch NASCAR auto races. I have two or three otherwise intelligent friends who organize large parts of their years around the Biggest Activity (I can't remember the name) at the Daytona Speedway. (The name of the event is unimportant, it is commonly referred to as "Daytona") Third son is one of those unfortunates who know the rules of racing, the names of drivers, where the races are, etc. Traditionally I have snickered at all those. Other sports make sense, but the idea of sitting for multiple hours watching cars go round in circles has always just seemed silly. Except for the occasional spin-out, even on television with multiple close-ups it just hasn't registered with me

Third son decided that it was time his old man should see the real truth in racing before coothood expired and true immobility or expiration occurred. For that reason, (and also because we really don't see enough of each other) Yesterday, July 15, he took me to Memphis, Tennessee to see the NASCAR Craftsman-OReilly truck races.

To be honest, I wasn't even sure what kind of truck would be on hand. Over the years, I have seen mud-bogging, Monster trucks that ran over other trucks, and I have spent more time than reasonable in the cab or sleeper of, what I called a semi, but is now called an eighteen wheeler, but I agreed that it was time that I opened my mind to new experience and looked forward to it. (I think)

Off we went to the Memphis Motor Sports park. Arrival was much like that at any large sports event with little men carrying flashlights and/or signal flags, wearing yellow tunics, funneling incoming automobiles to preferred or non preferred parking. We wandered off to the appropriate grandstand walking past people in Pop-up shelters with outdoor grills who had come MUCH earlier that we had. When we got closer to the stands we passed sales booths, displays from manufacturers, food and drink pushers, a couple of soft rock bands playing live to the crowd, and lots of people. The general dress standard was casual, and, much like I have experienced in Georgia, very eclectic. I felt a little out of place in long pants and a shirt with sleeves and no Nascar slogans, but my beard fit in well as did my baseball style hat from Duluth Trading.

It was fun to register for prizes at the Craftsman tool display (where they had in their employ the thinnest teen age girls I have ever seen in one group-- as if they had hired all the residents of a local anorexic acadamy), and the OReilly Auto Parts Displays as well as to examine the features of Toyota trucks and a wide variety of engines. We had tickets to wander in Fan Alley which is the area behind Pit Row, and it was interesting to realize that there was equipment in every pit to replace or repair almost every part of the car but the engine block. We got to stand rather close to the racing trucks which were modified pick-up trucks. I was impressed to note that the pole car (don't you like the way I throw around the lingo as if I knew what it meant?) Number 60, had qualified at about 105 plus miles per hour. It ocurred to me that the modifications must include some weight in the back of the pick- up to keep the vehicle from lifting off the ground in the back.

Finally, after a couple of eighteen inch corn dogs, thirty-two ounce cokes and a funnel cake we climbed the stairs to our seats in the 29th row of the central grandstand -- terrific seats. As we sat, my son handed me a set of earplugs and advised me to put them on. "Why?" says I. "You'll see." was the reply, so I put them into my ears.

Before the races could begin, organizers were introduced, Miss Tennessee walked across a stage on the trailer of a flat bed semi- truck, we were introduced to three American Idol also-rans who were going to present a concert after the race, all the drivers were introduced, one by one, and a navy color guard presented the colors while one of the three American Idol folks sang the Star Spangled Banner. She had a terrific voice but couldn't resist improving the tune with a lot of glissando, which is the style, but which I really hate.

When all this was completed, and the Stage/Truck had been driven off the track, the announcer called "GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES". The roar of thirty or forty souped up eight cylander engines without mufflers made me quickly aware or the reason why I had been provided with ear plugs. As I looked around, I became aware that almost half of those in attendance had taken out something called a "race scanner", and were wearing headsets that were plugged into their scanners. The rush of adrenaline that came when those mini-monsters fired up their engines was remarkable. I hate to say it, but no football kickoff in the world could compare. That may explain why auto race fans seem to have an inordinate desire to "stand up" to watch the races. Said "standing up" is a real problem to those of us who are, to any degree, crippled. (and I am.) There were a few occasions when I said (under my breath) "Stand and be damned, I am going to just sit here and look at all your backsides for a little while (Which might have been interesting had the crowd been made up primarily of attractive young ladies, but which, under the circumstances was an occasion to, even briefly, close the eyes.)

I watched the race with real interest, but little understanding. I knew that a yellow flag meant that something dangerous had happened on the track, but, on most of the occasions, I had no idea what it was that was dangerous. I saw two trucks spin out to create the yellow flag, and apparently one pit crew member threw his truck pit sign out onto the track to create another. I found the yellow flag moments interesting. From the inception, as soon as the pace car got in front of the line, the trucks began little movements to shift their rear ends back and forth. They looked for all the world like scout bee's at the entrance of a hive, dancing to show the other bees where to go. I assumed that this was some attempt to "psych-out" the cars behind them, which seemed silly since most of them were required to maintain the same position. I discovered later that this was a process of "scrubbing" the tires to remove debrie which might have attached to the tires as they were going slowly. Another strange thing about the yellow caution period was that one or two trucks who were well back in the running would speed up to be in line next to the leader. When I asked "howcome?", I was told that they were Lucky Dogs. I didn't understand at the time, but it appears that there is some mystic rule that the lead car in the last half of the pack gets an opportunity to move up near the leader on a yellow caution. That car is called the "Lucky Dog" and I still don't have a clue as to why this is allowed.

The best thing about a caution period is that the cars line up behind the pace car, and when the green flag is shown the adrenaline crunching roar of the start begins all over again. The lead car, number 60, lead for at least two thirds of the race, losing the lead temporarily two or three times but taking it again only a little while later. I found myself watching a black truck number 33 who began the race at about 20th position gradually work his way up to fourth place. When I expressed my admiration, second son said, with some disgust, that the driver, one Jeff Hornaby had bumped several cars on his way to the front and was responsible for most of the
yellow flags. I also kept my eye on number 08 which started last, finished last, and was lapped at least once by every other driver (two or three times by those in the lead). I reflected on how discouraging that must be, and that the driver must be tempted to drop out, since his engine just wasn't in the same league with all the others. Second son replied that he was "getting laps" which seemed to have a mystic importance that I don't perceive. To me, "getting laps" was generally a punishment inflicted by one's football coach when one did something stupid. In auto racing, it must have some other function.

I must confess that somewhere about 120 or so laps into the race I began to trance out and remember how silly I had thought this whole process seemed, but as the end drew near I found myself actually cheering at various automotive interactions. The end of the race was truly exciting. I was a little puzzled that some of the obviously hard core fans began to filter out of the stands before the race was complete, like LA Dodger fans when the Dodgers are behind in the seventh inning. We waited till the awards had been made and might have stayed for at least part of the American Idol concert had not my body let me know that I must urgently get out of the stands to dispose of the fluids left over from drinking a couple of quarts of diet soda and a bottle or two of bottled water. At my age, when the body says "excrete!" time becomes of the essence.

All in all, it was a good experience, and the following day, I got a kick out of seeing some of the brief episodes of the race on the TV sports news.

Since we had already left the stands we decided not to worry about the "concert". We wandered to our car and tolerated the seemingly eternal problem of being guided (or not) out of the parking lot and onto the highway. The hour and a half drive home in the dark provided me an opportunity to ask about the vagaries of the race, and aquire some of the explanations I have attempted to convey, though, in my ignorance or innocence I have often felt like the blind leading the blind. (the former being me, the latter being those of you who are not Nascar fans.)

Well, If I can get my mind around it, I will go back to the second half of the Funeral post tomorrow or the next day.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Another three score and ten or more meditation
I am off on vacation to visit one of the sons, and I had an old coot experience. Before I tell you about it though, I have to go back to the past. When I was young, and had not even acheived adulthood, let alone coothood, I played high school football for four years. In the ancient days, when football players sprained, pulled, pummeled or otherwise injured muscles and joints the universal ointment of relief was something called analgesis balm. In other manifestations it was sometimes called tiger balm or a number of other trade names. It was (may still be) a yellow colored petrolatum based ointment that, applied to the skin, was fiery hot, usually hot enough that one could forget the original injury. Jars of it were everywhere around the locker room.

One of the prevalant practical jokes was to apply a liberal dose of this stuff to the inside of a victim's jock strap (for those who don't understand jockstrap, try google or wikipedia). This was never done on game day because it almost disabled the victim.

It really never happened to me, I think because I was a lineman, and linemen tend to be large and have a bad attitude anyway. but it was a frequent occurence, especially early in the season (after a while one begins to inspect one's gear before putting it on). The result was a frantic dancing and screaming by the victim as he headed for the shower (useless, the fiery stuff is persistent), and loud laughter by all others.

I was reminded of that today, while visting in my son's new home. To explain that, I have also to give some back story. When one gets old, stuff happens to the body. In my case, I have arthritis in a number of spots and take liberal medication to slow the stuff down (Naproxin in quantities that are scary --with a Milanta tablet each time to keep the stuff from eating my stomach, think double or triple doses of Aleve that are supposed to last all day). At the same time, topical ointments are helpful. These heat up the skin surface and relieve pain, my favorite is something called Flexall. Other cootnesses include a peripheral neuropathy which means loss of nerve function in hands and feet. Makes fingers and legs tingle ,like you legs are "asleep" and makes the bottoms of the feet burn and hurt like hell. There are internal medications which help sometimes, but also surface medications applied to the bottom of the feet. (In my case I use a cheap athlete's foot fungal medicine and capsasin -made out of the juice of hot peppers and much like analgesic balm except that it is a cream.--If you are a neuropath, try it in small quantities first, but if you are like me, you slather it on, it can really relieve the burning-- sounds silly right?) Other coot medications are Vicks Vapor rub for toenail fungus (don't laugh, it helps, and doesn't kill your liver like the toenail fungus medications advertised on TV.)

In my case, I also apply the fungal stuff to my "private parts" because I am a fat old man and fat old men tend to chafe and develope fungus near the private parts so attacking it early seems logical. Now you know more than you ever thought you wanted to know about coothood, but you are about to learn more.
I left home without my Flexal, for my shoulders, and didn't sleep at all well the first night. When morning came, I went off to the nearbye Wally World to pick up some Flexal, and they didn't have it. (Have you noticed now often Wal-Mart gets you hooked on a product, only to discontinue it?) Not wanting to spend the day shopping, I bought some house brand "Muscle Rub", (I never use capsasin on my shoulders, it is too darn hot and stays that way long after relief is needed) and, as long as I was there I bought the house brand (EQUATE) foot fungicide as well (are you beginning to suspect the ending?). Last night, at bedtime, number three son rubbed the rather hot muscle rub into my shoulders and I slept like a baby. This morning, I showered and made my way to the bedroom to medicate feet, private parts, etc. , and get dressed. Feet medicated nicely, I grabbed the antifungal to apply to the "private part area" and slathered some on, not really realizing that Equate muscle rub and Equate foot fungal medication are in almost identical tubes. I slathered on a quantitiy of the muscle rub, and was instantly reminded of the analgesis balm victims on the football team. If you ever wanted to see a massive old coot move up and down and side to side more quickly than he had moved in years, you would have enjoyed the view. Fortunately the rest of the family had gone off to the farmers marked and was spared the view of the uncovered naked old man dashing to the bathroom and into (under) the coldest shower available in Mississippi. After considerable washing, rinsing and dancing the heat lowered to an acceptable temperature, and I was able to reflect back on the dancing screaming victims in the football shower room with real sympathy.
DONE (Well, almost, this is one post where you will not hear me moan about blogger's reluctance to post my photographs.)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006



I am having trouble concentrating enough to finish the funeral tale, but it bothers me to see my blog space empty, so I thought I might go back to my “memoir” and tell a little more about the stupid kid tricks with which I was involved.

I wrote a little segment about one of the jobs I had in high school at the Idaho Concrete Products Company and the fun I had “driving” a delivery truck.

There are two or three other interesting things relating to that job, at least indirectly.  I have to mention again that it was not an easy job.  We had to be to work every morning at about seven A.M.  We worked a ten hour day, getting off at five thirty in the evening (we had half an hour for lunch). We all liked the ten hour day because we got time and a half for everything over forty hours a week and with a ten hour day we automatically got ten hours of overtime each week.

Some of us would also be called in on Saturday, till noon, and that was “money in the bank”.  We didn’t do manufacturing on Saturday, but we would often have deliveries, pick-ups (bad blocks or bricks were “culls” and we picked them up and credited the contractor for the cost).  As a result, I was physically stronger than I had ever been in my life.  I had a great tan (I worked much of the time with no shirt), and I was usually completely pooped at the end of a day.  Sometimes I would shower and go out, but frequently I would come home, grab a shower, eat dinner and go to bed.

That summer, my brother, Doug,  was on his mission up in Canada, and dad and mom took dad’s vacation and went up to Canada to see him, leaving me home alone.  I don’t have a clue what they did with Virginia and Byra Lou.  They must have either farmed them out to aunts and uncles, or taken them along to Canada.  At any rate, I was home alone for about two weeks.  Now, whole books have been written about leaving sixteen year old boys home on their own for two weeks, but my folks trusted me, and I tried, mostly, to be trustworthy.  At least, nothing happened in our house that would have upset my parents, but some rather strange, teen age, stupidity happened outside the house.

The first event of interest (at least to me) happened on a weekday evening when I came home really exhausted from work.  It was one of those rare evenings when I had a date or/and appointment with someone after work (with whom and for what I don’t have a clue, but I know I was supposed to be somewhere by seven P.M).    I went downstairs to get a shower and change clothes.  I remember sitting on the bed, and the next thing I remember was the alarm clock going off.  I had obviously slept through my date, or appointment, or whatever and slept through until morning.  I jumped off my bed, took a quick shower jumped into some clean work clothes and, grabbing a banana or something out of the fridge rushed down to the corner.  One of the guys from work picked me up each morning at the corner of Washington and Maple.  I stood there at the corner, waiting, and he never showed up.  He always came at about 6:45, and that time went by, and I stood there waiting.  As frequently occurred, there was no one else on the street.  Sometime after 7:15, I got really edgy and was about to run home to call the boss and tell him I would be late, when a woman I didn’t know came walking along the street.  I stopped her to ask the time.  

“Almost seven thirty,” she replied.  Then suddenly an idea came to me, and I asked another question.

“I feel a little silly asking this, but I had a hard, confusing day at work.  Could you tell me if it is morning or evening?”
Her eyes went a little wide and she backed a step or two away from me.  “It’s evening, of course.”

Realization of what had happened hit me and I sputtered “Thanks”, and went dashing back home.  I had obviously just napped long enough to think I had slept all night, and for some unknown reason the alarm was still on from that morning.

It was too late to do whatever I had planned to do.  I made a couple of phone calls to make sure but it was too late, so I grabbed a book turned on a Bix Beiderbeck record and settled down with a good book.  I can’t remember any bad feedback about wherever I was supposed to be that evening, and I still wonder about that woman and what she (and at my current age, I wonder who she was, or what “it” was or??) thought.  I am glad “she” wasn’t a friend of the family or I would never have lived it down.

Second adventure while the folks were out of town: The single guys at work (and, except for Mark Hancock, who was a close neighbor, I can’t remember the guys’ names) and I decided to go up to Lava Hot Springs on Saturday.  One of the guys had a thirty-nine Plymouth four door that was yellow with black fenders, which had to be one of the ugliest cars in the world. (Isn’t it ridiculous that I can remember the car better than the guy).  He volunteered to take his car, and we all (there were four of us) volunteered to ride with him and pay for the gas.  

On Saturday morning, early, he picked me up, then swung by to pick Mark up on the next street.  We had talked about taking lunches, but we ended up buying a couple of loaves of bread and some lunch meat and cheese from the Bargain Barn.  We also picked up some cokes, some other pop, and some beer.  I don’t remember who was old enough to show an I.D. to buy the beer, but I remember that someone did.  I probably could have bought beer anyplace downtown.  I had learned early that I looked older than I was, and could do things like that without an I.D., but the people at the Bargain Barn knew me, and there was no way anyone would have sold me beer..

We stuck the drinks in an old metal ice chest (with some ice) and away we went.  The  thirty plus mile trip to Lava was without incident, except that the driver offered a prize of a beer to the first person to see the “L” on the side of the mountain over Lava.  Of course, since I didn’t drink beer (at least as far as anyone of them knew), I won the prize and spent the rest of the day with everyone bugging me to drink the beer.  I spent the day as a self righteous hypocrite refusing.

When we got to Lava we spent most of the morning in the outdoor pool (there were two, one indoor and one outdoor) with the other guys trying unsuccessfully to pick up girls and the rest of us giving critiques on “pick-up” lines.  We went out and made sandwiches for lunch and used some of the bread to feed the monster trout that lived under the bridge by the pool.  There was always a crowd of people lining the bridge, tossing in scraps of bread.  I have no idea how many fish lived under the bridge, but most of them were large, and sometimes they would jump right out of the water to snag a piece of bread or popcorn.  I don’t remember much of the rest of the day though I am sure that we wandered up the main street of Lava Hot Springs (such as it was), and I remember hiking out in the brush on the edge of town.  I also remember that we got back in the pool, spending most of the time in the indoor pool.

The guy who owned the car was a smallish guy with dark black hair, and once we got in the pool, we played some game where one person would get on another’s shoulders and we would try to knock each other over.  He rode my shoulders and was pretty tough, and though Mark was on the bottom for the other team and was even bigger than me, my team usually won.  After the game, my partner went down to the shallow end of the pool and laid there under the slide.  He laid there for almost an hour and we went down to hassle him.  He finally admitted that he laid there against the edge of the pool under the ladder for the slide because he could look up at the girls who climbed up the slide ladder, and when they had two piece swimsuits he could see parts of their breasts.  We teased him a lot, and then went over and took turns looking up at the girls as they climbed the ladder.  It WAS interesting, and I suspect that if the girls had any idea what was going on the slide would have been empty most of the time.

We hung around till the pool closed then went out and finished the refreshments.  I finally “weakened” and drank my one beer, and the rest of the beers disappeared.   I was glad that most of the beer had been finished at lunch because I wouldn’t have looked forward to the ride home if the driver had been high on beer.  It probably wouldn’t have made any difference because he scared the living daylights out of me without being drunk.

The trip home from Lava, that night, was one of the worst experiences in my life.  Something in “Joe’s (I still can’t really remember his name, but Joe works) brain seemed to slip after we left Lava.  It was a perfectly normal drive for the first couple of miles then Joe decided to switch off his headlights.  If this had been a four or six lane expressway, perhaps it wouldn’t have bugged me, but this highway was a winding two lane road with fairly marginal upkeep.  Even with headlights the road was not well marked and was hard to see.  Without headlights it was hard to see the road, the cutoffs when we were on the side of a hill, or the drop-offs on the OTHER side of the hill.  Even this might have been “no problem” but he was driving well over sixty.  I suggested that I might like to get out and hitchhike home to which he replied “Sure, get out!” .  To which everyone laughed, but which invitation did not include stopping for me to do this, or even slowing down.  About this time a car’s lights showed over the hill and another car came zipping along in the opposite direction.  The other car, seeing us, honked wildly, flipped his own lights off and on the roared past us.

After I had exposed my total horror of this activity, Joe turned the lights back on.  As I thought I might relax for a moment, he then turned into the left hand lane zipping down the wrong side of the road.  I don’t remember my exact reaction but it was probably some gibbering noise.. “ Don’t worry,“ yelled Joe, this isn’t dangerous, you can always see the lights of an on-coming car and dodge out of the way.  My thought was “What if the other car sees our lights and dodges in the same direction?”  The remainder of most of the trip was same-ol, same-ol repetition of the stupidity last to stupidity next until we passed the Port of Entry (truck weighing station) near McCammon.  (which we passed with headlights on and on the right side of the road.  The presence of Idaho State Troupers at the Port of Entry seemed to affect Joe’s driving.)  At the end of the Port of Entry an eighteen wheeler with a large box trailer pulled out just in front of us.  Joe cursed a bit, pulled into the left lane momentarily till oncoming traffic stopped even him from trying to pass.  He continued along behind the truck till he noticed a sign for a “scenic overlook” along the road.  He then pulled over onto the right hand shoulder of the road and gunned the car down the shoulder, passing the truck on the right at the turn off for the scenic overlook.  That move can only be appreciated if one knows how poorly Idaho Highways were maintained at that time.  Some movie star, I believe it was Bing Crosby , had crossed Idaho by highway about that time and was quoted as saying that he couldn’t believe Lewis and Clark had made it across.  The act was fortuitous however because it was too much for Mark as well and Mark reached up over the back seat, took Joe by the neck and promised to lift Joe out of the seat and throw him out the window if he tried anything stupid again.  The remainder of the drive home was with headlights on, on the right hand side of the road, and only slightly above the speed limit.  I lost my early morning ride to work, but Mark started taking his car and swinging by to pick me up.

The folks came home the next week, and though I told them about my sleeping confusion, I never bothered to tell them about the Lava Hot Springs trip except to mention that we had gone swimming.

The last really dumb thing that I did relating to the job had to do with football at the school (and with greed). I had lettered in football my Junior year and was one of only two returning lettermen coming back on my senior year.  Bob Johansson was the other.  We were both linemen.  Our coach, Chase Anderson, from the previous year had left our school and gone to College coaching, somewhere in Oregon, so we had a new coach.  When the new coach announced the beginning of football practice, some two or three weeks before school began, I just panicked at the loss of income from the job, so I went over to his house, introduced myself, and gave him some cock-and-bull story about how my brother was on a mission, things were tight, and how important my income was to our family (dad would have killed me if he had known) and asked if I could start a week or two late.  I hastened to explain that on my job I did a lot of lifting etc. and would run in the evenings so that I would be in shape to start at the later time.  If I remember, he said something like “What the Hell?” but he agreed that I could start a week late.  It did not increase my value to the team and I got a lot less consideration and playing time than I would have otherwise, and I truly regretted it for the remainder of the year, but I enjoyed the extra money.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Apologies to all

Apologies to all.  The arthritis in my left shoulder has been so painful that doing much hasn’t been in the cards, and otherwise, for the last few days I have felt like death warmed over, so I haven’t finished a number of things I promised (both on and off the web).  I did read a magazine in the Doctor’s office yesterday that may suck me, for a moment, out of my resolve not to do politics.  Are any of you familiar with a mag called The  Philadelphia Trumpet.? A magazine designed to infuriate liberals and conservatives alike.  By for now.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Reality TV American Talent?

Reality TV American Talent.

I am not a fan of reality TV. I watched the great race or whatever it was for few episodes, and have glanced at Fear Factor, Survivors, etc. only long enough to be sure that I was not interested. I have watched some of the talent things. I watched a season, and even a few episodes since of the American Idol, I enjoyed the ABC dance contest for the first season and even tried an episode of So You Think You Can Dance, but I never built up the passion that I saw on some blogs for favorites on the American Idol, or for that matter much passion about any of it.

I belong to a puppetry list, and after the first broadcast of America’s Got Talent (or whatever) a number of folks wrote to the list recommending a vote for Kevin Johnson, a ventriloquist who uses a couple of nice bird puppets in his act. Since I had never seen his act, I didn’t vote, but when they re-broadcast the West Coast auditions, I tuned in to get a look. He was truly exceptional, (and I own a copy of one of his puppets) and though I don’t think he has a chance in hell to win the thing, the publicity he will receive will keep him in bookings for a long time. Some of the other acts were very good, especially the eleven year old who can belt a song like the best of the modern divas, and who will support her proud daddy in the style to which he would like to become accustomed for a long time.

I did get really irritated at the three judges. A singing trio who called themselves “Velvet”, came out, posed, and made one chord, to which all three judges pushed the X button and chased them off the stage. They didn’t allow them to sing one word, or one bar of their music. These are the same judges who watched patiently while an overweight factory worker balanced an apartment sized gas range on his chin, and another singer sang in three different keys. They even passed on to the next round of competition a nine foot tall, cross dressing juggler, in an angel costume of sorts, who came out and wept for another chance. (Actually, he could make a good living doing his show in a couple of bars in Savannah that I could identify—from hearsay of course.) For the entire length of the show I got more and more irritated at the no talent or minor talent folks that they did listen to, without giving the singing group more than a chord. ((I think that some of the trio might have been a “little older” and the style of music they were about to present was not “to the moment”, but I still think they should have been given at least five or six bars to sing. The one chord savaging was uncalled for.) Well, if you had said that I would post about a reality show, I would have laughed, but I “went and done it”.

By the way, and off topic, do any of you computer masters have any idea why my blog ID has slipped down to the bottom of the page? It is a bit of a pain.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Wonderful Joyous Funeral.

I know, the words in this title seem like total oxymoron, but Clifton Dayley’s funeral was, for me, a joyous event. Let me assure you that it was not a joyous event for his wife of almost forty five years, and that it was not a tearless event for me, but I will always think of it in terms of joy. I will try to detail the entire trip to you, and let you judge.

I think I began to feel that this week was going to go well when I debarked from a long Northwest Airlines flight and trundled our baggage to the Avis counter. I had reserved my car through RCI, the timeshare trade company, because I have never been able to equal their car rental prices from any other source. When I reserved the car, the telephone clerk asked me what kind of car I wanted, and I replied “The smallest, cheapest, and best on gas.”

He noted that he would reserve a Chevrolet - - - (I cant’ remember the name, but he assured me that this mini-chevy would be comfortable AND cheap). When I presented my reservation printout at the Avis desk the young lady looked at me, and with a smile, said, ”Suppose I didn’t have a Chevy—in stock, would you be satisfied with a new silver grey Cadillac at the same price?”

Grinning to show that I was a good sport I replied, “Sure, I would take two at that price (which was something just over twenty dollars a day.)”

There was a medium long pause and the attractive young lady said, “No, I’m serious, I am out of small cars, would you object to the Cadillac?” I was a little taken aback, and mumbled something about “I was hoping for good mileage”.

She assured me that the mileage was much better than the three SUVs, which were my alternative, so I took the Caddy. When I opened the trunk of the four door silver/grey 2006 Cadillac DTS and realized that it would not only hold our baggage, but, as one of my favorite Gospel Singer/Comedians often says, “It would also hold missionaries on furlough.” I felt a little lump in my throat. When I deposited my own more than ample carcass in the front seat and leaned back just in time to hear Janet say “I love leather car seats, and that new car smell,.” I knew instinctively that MY week was off to a good start. (I had no way of knowing that up in Idaho, things at my sister’s home were a bit less pleasant, as I noted in a previous post.)

I saw a television commercial for that model just this afternoon. The value price in the commercial was over forty two thousand dollars. That car is worth more than the combined prices of the first two homes I bought (on thirty year mortgages). Oh well, as the L’Oreal commercial spokeswoman says “I’m worth it”. Since I was in Utah, even though I had driven to my sister’s home in Bountiful before, I accepted the fact that anyone who can get lost going to Wal-Mart (me) should get directions so I took my handy-dandy new Kyocera/Alltel cell phone (You would think I was getting paid for commercials) and called my sister for directions. After receiving them, I said, nonchalantly “Just look for the new Cadillac Sedan.” By then I am feeling more and more like Hyacinth in the British sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, The only thing I lacked was some famous geek to wave at me from the street. (or at whom I could wave???)

Seriously, it was really comfortable, and if I could have figured out how to use all of its features, I wouldn’t have had to call for directions. It had a little map gizmo in the front, and Onstar (which I wouldn’t have used anyway being a skinflint at heart), and though I would not consider paying a monthly fee for Sirius radio, I did enjoy the commercial free music as we drove along We arrived at the home of my sister and brother-in-law where we settled in and spent several hours (till 4:00 A.M. visiting, with much of the conversation dealing with family, family health, and the funeral in Boise of my aunt, the previous week, which I really couldn’t attend, but I was eager to be filled in on the house and health of all of my family members. When you reach “a certain age” reacquainting with people that you love is very fulfilling. If we hadn’t a funeral to attend, other relatives to mix with, if there were nothing else, the long discussions that evening would have justified the flight to Utah.

Our plan was to drive to Magic Valley the next day, taking my older brother with us. We would then focus Friday and Saturday on Clif’s funeral and the attendant activities, then on Saturday evening, after the funeral Virginia and Sherman would drive up to Idaho and we would spend the rest of the weekend going to church, reminiscing , going to church, wandering about the farm, etc.

It didn’t turn out to be that simple. Early in the morning we received news of Deedee and Dan’s adventures with the swat teams, and my brother called to let us know that he could not travel with us that morning. He suddenly didn’t feel well, and, not being sure whether his blood sugar was messing up or his heart was giving a problem, he felt that he should see his doctor that day. After having pie for breakfast, and going out to lunch with Virginia and Sherman, Janet and I were faced with the ordeal of a two or three hour drive in our “new” car. Sigh, the agony of it all.

For someone with my family background, the drive from Salt Lake City up to the Magic Valley (Magic Valley is a term that includes the counties of Cassia, Minidoka, Twin Falls, Filer, and a couple of others. It stretches almost from the Utah border on the South to and past the Grand Canyon of the Snake River up to Lincoln County in the north). It is a remarkable area. It was regarded as part of the great American desert till irrigation made it one of the most fertile areas in the world. The crops, literally bursting from the ground contrast with visible flows of lava cropping up amongst the sagebrush and the cheat grass almost at the fertile field’s edge. Lava rock was considered one of the easiest and best building materials in some areas, and the town of Shoshone has some remarkable buildings made of lava rock, while the town of Oakley and the area surrounding it an hour or two to the south, are famous for top quality granite that is exported as far as California.

Not long after the turn of the century, my mother’s family found it necessary to move from Ogden, Utah to Lewisville, Idaho north of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation and not far from the Craters of the Moon National monument. As they moved by wagon for the several hundred mile trip, they had a newly freshened cow with a calf that would be unable to move as fast as the wagons. My mother’s uncle Charlie, then about 11 or 12 years old was given a pack and directions and followed on alone with the cow and calf, starting up toward the Magic Valley, and cutting off to the Northeast somewhere along the path, trying to avoid as much of the Reservation as possible but still having to ford the Snake and several other rivers by himself, arriving at his destination some two or three weeks after the rest of the family. I have been shown, by relatives, at least six different routes for his journey, and a variety of tales of his adventures, and was shocked to learn that, only a few years later the family was found back in Ogden, where my mother was born, only to make the trek again (this time with the help of the Union Pacific Railroad for more than half the way) a few years later.

Even when you have been away a long time, as I have, traveling through these valleys and over these passes brings a wrench to the heart. A part of me will always be in the mountains and valleys of Idaho no matter where my bones are finally buried.

We made the trip up to Minidoka and Cassia counties in short and comfortable order. There is no comparison between “shank’s pony” and a ride in a new Cadillac. When we arrived at my sister’s home we heard all about their adventure with the swat team, but things had become largely peaceful, and we had a long and fruitful visit with the family, making a trip that evening to a small town to the south, the name of which slips my memory (I want to say Albion, but it may be just mental confusion because we made a lengthy visit to that town a couple of days later) for a wonderful prime rib dinner, then we went back to the farm to visit, rest and get prepared for the funeral the following day.
We had expected some kind of family activity preceding the funeral, but, though we used up all our phone numbers we couldn’t seem to locate anything.

Janet called her sister in Pocatello and made arrangements to meet her on the way to the funeral so she could ride with us. On the way they shared all the family news. We got to the funeral almost an hour early so they had time to visit with people they hadn’t seen for several years. As people came in, some of them ooohed and aaahed at the Cadillac wondering whence came such prosperity. (You could never guess that we are plebeians all.)

To discuss the funeral, or more accurately, the celebration of the life of Clifton Vere Dayley, it is probably necessary to talk a little about the man himself. I have a great source. My wife, Janet spent the better part of four years writing (or editing) his autobiography. I can’t really go directly to her text, but I can tell some of the things I learned about Clif Dayley while helping her select pictures and do layout. One of the most revealing things would be her impetus toward the project. She took a class dealing with biographical records and the instructor made the statement “Is there anyone you know, or who is in your family who has made such an impact on you that you would be devastated if his or her story was not told? If there is, you now are aware of your task.”
This became a true labor of love.

No one could be more average than Clif. He was a farm boy and a good athlete who grew up in a small farming town in Idaho. He worked on the family farm almost all his life, but he was able to make himself known as a High School Football Player and he won local, state, and regional accolades as a Golden Gloves Boxer. He joined the navy right out of high school, because the Second World War was underway. He wanted to be a chemist, but the navy made him a cook, a baseball player, a boxer (he boxed with world championship level boxers in the navy) a Shore Patrolman, and did most of these on the way to, or while stationed in the Philippines. While he was in the navy, he got in a real fist fight, and knocked his opponent out with one blow, an experience that sickened him to the degree that he made a vow never again to hit another man in anger. He swore that he never did. When he arrived home from the navy, with the GI bill in front of him, his father took him aside and revealed that he (the father) was leaving, and that he(Clifton) was now the man of the family and had to run the farm, take care of his mother, and raise his little brother (two other siblings had already married and departed from the house). He did.

He homesteaded a little farm of his own next door in order to have more acreage, and ran the farm for many years. Not too long after his return he began to have trouble walking and was diagnosed with tularemia (parrot fever in the tropics, rabbit fever in Idaho) which he had contracted while in the navy. In his forties, he met a wonderful woman with three children and married her, only to extend her family a bit as their time together went on.

He worked on the farm as long as he could, then moved into town and worked for the Irrigation company, for the Bureau of Land Management, and for other farmers (One of my favorite stories is the one where he went to work in the harvest, in his wheel chair, and they used a fork lift to get him out of the wheel chair and into a tractor seat..) Eventually he had to move into an extended care facility and from there into a nursing home, but he continued to always raise a garden at these facilities. Over the years he was treated for the tularemia, and also for multiple sclerosis, and a variety of other disabling diseases. It is said that no child ever met him who went away without a lollipop and a feeling of love and caring. He said once, that the best job he ever had paid five dollars an hour, but he only worked there one day.

His extended family includes teachers (my wife, for instance) long haul truckers, commercial fishermen and a wide variety of other folks.

His funeral was held in the Shoshone, Idaho LDS chapel. He had asked to be cremated and have his ashes distributed over the fields and river of his home area, so there was no “viewing”. The rather large crowd attending included old (several in wheel chairs, motorized and not) and young, in dress ranging from suits with white shirts and ties, to tie dyed shirts, men in jeans and work shirts, a woman in a miniskirt, and a group of young men and women dressed in extreme, but respectful goth gear. The funeral itself was rather informal with the music consisting of singing mostly Mormon hymns dealing with children. My wife and I were both in tears when the principal speaker celebrated Clif’s life, dedicating most of his time to reading sections from Janet’s biography of Clif. That moment was worth the trip, the money, anything we might have had to do and didn’t in order to get there. (have you noticed how many moments were like this?) The actual funeral was followed by a movement of the crowd outdoors where a ceremony was held by a group of elderly gentlemen from either the VFW or the American Legion which included a several gun rifle salute and a presentation of a flag to the widow.

Almost everyone at the funeral then moved into the cultural hall where old friendships were renewed and new friendships were made as the mourners ate a meal which had been prepared by the women of the Shoshone Ward. There was a lot of hugging, “aren’t you ---?” and “remember when--?” questions, introductions, as well as re-introductions, with the flash of digital cameras penetrating almost every moment.

The fellowship between widely varied people, who had almost nothing in common except the experience of love and regard for and from Clif Dayley, was remarkable. Everyone seemed reluctant to leave, and the ‘over the table’ fellowship continued long after all the food was gone. It was only after we had said our reluctant good byes and departed that I remembered the large bouquet of lollipops which had graced the pulpit, and from which everyone was invited to take a souvenir. I am still a little irritated with my self for not taking one home.

As we left Shoshone, we made a decision to take the long way, and to drive through Twin Falls. We had spent two very happy years in Twin Falls while I was teaching High School Speech and Drama and Janet was teaching Junior High School English. I suspect that we would still be living in Twin Falls if the local banker had not made it clear that the combined incomes of two teachers was inadequate for an eleven thousand dollar loan to purchase of a little tract house. We left his office determined to go to graduate school to qualify for a bigger salary.

It was still a happy time, and we determined to drive through the city and refresh memories. We were both a little shocked at how the city had changed (after all, it had only been about forty five years since we left.) When we were teaching there, the area between the High School and the Snake River Canyon was a dry mile or so of flat land covered with sage brush and cheat grass. One of our saddest memories was of a group of five or so high school students who had decided to drive their car across that mini desert to chase jack rabbits. Apparently they were so intent on the rabbits that they didn’t notice the canyon rim and they drove off the edge, killing all aboard the car.

Seeing the canyon is still a shock, appearing abruptly in the flat plain, and dropping several hundred feet to the river with lava cliffs on either side. Most people in the U.S. are only familiar with the Snake River Canyon because Evel Kneivel a famous daredevil made a spectacle of it and of himself attempting to jump the canyon on a motorcycle for national television. It is spectacular. The Shoshone Falls at one end is superseded in width and height only by Niagra Falls, though the Snake River falls is often dry because the water was taken up for irrigation. Nearer the city of Twin Falls the canyon is crossed by the Perrine Bridge, from which you can look out over the Blue Lakes Country Club and wonderful orchards at the bottom of the canyon.
I was shocked by the buildings hard against the canyon wall at the top. The plain where the ill fated car was chasing jackrabbits is now covered by shopping malls and a massive Home Depot store, with two or three housing developments behind them. Borah Street, which was fairly long street, the site of our home, is now only one block long, and the area where stood our house is now an enormous church and its parking lot.

This thing is getting as long as Moby Dick, and, since I am not doing well with picture posting today either I think I will draw this part to a close and try to post the remainder of our Magic Valley, post-funeral journey in “Wonderful Joyous Funeral” part two.