Just a few words to let my online family know that I didn’t forget about you. I’ve been trying to write this since yesterday so forgive me if I ramble.
My family appreciates your outpouring of sympathy and grief over Sam’s loss more than you could possibly imagine. The response we received when I let y’all know that he had been ill was heart warming but the reaction to his death from all of you was both heartwarming and astounding. Not having him in our lives is a little easier to bear with each new day but I just can’t focus on photography or writing. The words won’t come and nothing seems to look right through the viewfinder. There are still too many reminders of him in everything I do.
The girls and I sat down together and agreed that while no dog will ever be able to take Sam’s place he would be upset to see us grieving the way we are and that he wouldn’t mind having another dog in the family to help him watch over us. Anytime one of us was hurt, ill or upset he made it his mission to comfort and console us, almost as if he was trying to take our pain.
We’ve decided on adopting a rescue animal and have narrowed the field down to three, a year old red hound at an animal rescue facility in a neighboring county and two Labrador Retrievers, one yellow and approximately 3 years old and the other solid black and about a year old. Both of the latter are at the local animal shelter and will be available for adoption the end of the week if their owners haven’t claimed them. We visited the shelter to allow a dog to choose us, rather than the other way around. Both of those Labs acted just like our boy, trying to lick us to death while the tails wagged the entire dog. We have an appointment to meet Badger, the hound, Thursday morning, with the same goal in mind, to see if he chooses us. One way or the other we want to provide a loving forever home to a deserving animal.
If I don’t get another blog written between now and then you can be sure I’ll have some photos to post over the weekend to introduce everyone to our new family member. I wonder what he will think about becoming world famous overnight. Sam sure was! I also won’t be the least surprised if the new guy picks up some of Sam’s old tricks. We all still feel his presence in the house and it would be just like him to give the new kid a few pointers. I could swear I’ve heard his little “let’s go for a ride” whoof a couple of times and I’ve caught myself talking to him several times, as well. Both girls say they’ve caught glimpses of him at different times and Frankie felt him climb up on the bed to keep her back warm.
Once again, our most heartfelt thanks to all of you. Sue Mac is right when she says that friends are the family God lets you choose. I couldn’t have chosen any better.God bless each and every one of you.
I don’t know how else to do this so I’ll just spell it out. As many of you are aware, my best friend Sam has been battling a sudden onset of illness for the past couple of weeks that we suspect may have been caused by deliberate poisoning. He had been responding to treatment and slowly regaining the weight and strength he had lost.
Last night he showed no interest in his food bowl even though Frankie had added a few special treats from the fridge. This afternoon he had a bloody stool followed shortly after by vomiting a large amount of blood. Our vet is out of town until Monday so we called the toll free veterinary emergency line. By the time the vet in town called us back Sam was no longer able to stand or even lift his head and his breathing was very labored. The vet agreed to open her clinic but even the 10 minute drive to town took its toll and he was just too ill to save. Putting him down was the only option left.
Frankie and I stayed with him until he drew his last breath because we didn’t want him to die in the hands of strangers. Laura arrived shortly after and had a chance to say good bye to the first dog she had ever had. When we first moved here we promised Laura she could have a dog as a way of easing the heartache of leaving all of her friends back home. It seems like only yesterday when she brought that little furry ball of teeth and energy home from the cow shed where he had been born.
We’re trying to take comfort in the knowledge that Sam is in a better place and his suffering is at an end.Still, this was the hardest decision I have ever had to make and I have had to make some tough ones in my day. He will be sorely missed.
Sam the Wonder Dog
21 May 2004 – 27 November 2010
He was a very good boy
Re-posted from my Blogger page
Suddenly, the problems associated with genetic engineering to produce larger, plumper turkeys became all too apparent.
Let’s see, take the knob off the oven, flip it over…..that’s 90 minutes at 650……..flip that rascal over again, twice………6 carry the 3……..
Do you suppose that was supposed to be 325°F?
US and metric time are the same, aren’t they?
I had a feeling buying that oven on sale at Tesco.com might present a problem one day.
If tenting the turkey is such a good idea how do you keep the tent poles from catching fire?
Why doesn’t Reynolds make fireproof turkey tents?
I read something about stuffing the bird. Does shoving him in an itty bitty sleeping bag count?
Did you know that if you mix Spam and Jell-O you can mold it into any shape you like, just like Play Dough?
Cooking tip: Don’t use lime Jell-O.
“Daddy why is the turkey green?”
“You’ve heard of aged beef…..this is aged turkey! It’s considered a delicacy in Japan!”
At least I didn’t set the yams on fire like a certain idiot I know did last Christmas!
Oh, wait…….that was me.
Cooking tip: If you mix Spam with orange Jell-O you can mold it into very realistic looking yams.
Does anyone else smell smoke?
Just a few shots from my morning.
Downtown Wytheville at 7:00 AM
The world famous Wythe Office Supply Giant Pencil.
On the way home
The weather is chilly, damp and gray and this is the type of day that makes me want to stay indoors and nurse my arthritic bones. However, I have long suffered an acute case of cabin fever that makes me want to bolt out the door as soon as my morning coffee gets my heart started. Today was no exception.
Just because the light is poor that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to shoot.
Even if it’s just the tree hanging over the truck as I sat in the library parking lot waiting for THE BOSS.
I’ll sure be glad when I get the new lenses for my glasses. Until then, checking any books out is a waste of time. At least I can increase the font size on my laptop.
Even the wading birds are trying to get in out of the weather!
I spotted this guy in a tree on the way home. He even flew down and landed in the pond for me to get a few frames but I like these, too.
I may be wrong but, while reading the news sites it sometimes seems to me that the STOOOPID is getting awfully deep out there. No, that’s not a typo; I intentionally spelled STOOOPID that way because when it comes to items like this a single U just don’t seem to get the job done. These are some of the news items that tripped my trigger today: (My comments are in red italics.)
John McCain: Cut the Defense Budget
(Wait a minute……haven’t we been fighting a 2 front war for the past 8 or 9 years? Don’t our troops deserve the best equipment we can supply them with? Now this DEEDLE DEE wants to cut funding for equipment?)
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), speaking to a foreign-policy forum Monday, called for sharp cuts in defense spending by clamping down on lawmakers’ pet projects and on weapons programs that routinely run over budget. McCain said Defense Secretary Robert Gates should be able to find $100 billion in savings. “I’m not sure that we could say that everything in defense is sacrosanct while the rest of these cuts in education and social programs, et cetera, are taking place,” McCain said. Rep. “Buck” McKeon, likely the next chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said, “A defense budget in decline portends an America in decline,” and said he would oppose cuts to the Pentagon’s budget.
42 Million Americans on Food Stamps
(If the United States is the wealthiest nation on Earth, or so the politicians would have you believe, why does nearly 15% of the population rely on food stamps?)
And this is happening in America? Hunger rates in the U.S. rose sharply in 2008 to their highest levels since the U.S. Department of Agriculture started tracking the number in 1995, and they’ve held steady ever since. As many as 1 million American families with children were forced to go without eating at some point in the past year. The number of Americans on Food Stamps is up 10 million from a year ago, to 42 million people. “I know meeting with, whether it’s government offices across the country or with food pantries and food banks—in all of those instances people have reflected the fact, to me, anecdotally that they are serving people who never envisioned in their lifetimes needing to turn to either a state or a county for federal assistance or to a food bank for assistance,” said Mark Nord, a researcher with USDA. And the problem is set to get worse—economic forecasters, the U.S. government among them, predict a rise in food prices in 2011.
Cali. Gives Illegals In-State Tuition
(Isn’t California facing a $25 billion budget shortfall?)
As Congress prepares to debate the DREAM Act, the California State Supreme Court voted unanimously on Monday to give in-state tuition at public universities to illegal immigrants who have graduated from state high schools. California is one of 10 states to make this offer, and the court ruling is the first of its kind. While federal law prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving college tuition based on residency, California law carves out an exemption for students who attend the state’s high schools for at least three years.
Britain to Pay Millions to Gitmo Detainees
(Make me a British subject and I’ll go to Gitmo for $1.5 million!)
Does this count as hush money? The British government is going to pay millions of dollars to seven Guantanamo Bay detainees who accuse it of cooperating with the United States in their detentions. The move comes as part of an effort to keep out of court thousands of documents detailing its complicity. While the exact amount of the payments to the prisoners will not be disclosed, at least one is believed to be receiving at least $1.5 million.
The view from our kitchen window. Mile marker 68.5 on Interstate 81. Luckily that northbound rig rolled over before it could cross into southbound traffic.
We still have a little autumn color, both natural and man made.
The drifting clouds and moon visible at 2:00 PM made for some interesting shots.
The view from the parking lot captured while Sam was doing some “lawn care”.
I thought the swirl in the clouds called for a black and white treatment.
The view from another parking lot while THE BOSS was making the car payment. “Objects in rear view mirror are closer than they appear.”
By request, Laura’s dinner of steamed snow crab legs. That platter was stacked full when she sat down.She is a lean, mean crab eating machine. What is not shown is the plate of steamed shrimp her mother had to help her eat while the crab legs were cooking. I also made a pot of Shrimp Creole that will be just fine for lunch tomorrow.
Oh, did I mention we discovered that Sam is a fiend for shellfish? Frankie gave him half a shrimp which he wolfed down. When she gave him the other half he dropped it on the floor…..until she moved to pick it up at which point she nearly lost a few fingers. Not only did he practically inhale that jumbo shrimp, when Laura gave him a taste of crab he tried to climb into her lap!
Continuing from the last post, Frankie and I met at my youngest brother’s birthday brawl and have been together ever since. Two years later we were married and 4 years after that we were blessed with our own little bundle of joy. Actually, we both had kids from previous marriages who were living with our ex-spouses which was a good thing because we were still partying like there was no tomorrow. We hadn’t planned on having any more kids and were content to wind up our nephews and nieces and send them home for their parents to deal with.
All that changed when nearly losing Frankie to medical problems from all that partying scared us straight. Much to our friends’ amazement we quit drinking. God said “Good job, here’s a gift!” Our friends thought this was just hilarious. They delighted in telling us that raising a baby at our age would keep us young. There were times when I thought keeping up with that little bundle of energy was going to kill me! Then there were the surprises like the one in the shot above. At the time, Laura had one tooth. One VERY SHARP tooth! In that photo said tooth is buried in my nose and she’s giggling like a maniac. I, on the other hand was screaming for Frankie to pry her loose but Frankie was too busy laughing like a maniac. Like mother, like daughter I guess.
As I said, we both had kids from previous marriages. That’s my daughter Brenda with Laura on her lap. Laura thought it was most excellent to finally get a baby sister at the ripe old age of 18. Shortly after this photo was taken Brenda got married and started a family of her own, calling me from Kentucky the following year to announce the birth of my grandson. I tried telling her I was too young to be a grandfather but she was just like her mother, my ex, and wouldn’t listen to a thing I said!
The next thing I knew, Brenda was really not listening and presented me with my second grandson. As you can tell from her expression, Laura was more than a little jealous because her mama was paying attention to another child and she was no longer the baby of the family. Luckily, Brenda and her family live in Kentucky so there aren’t many photos of Laura with steam coming out of her ears.
Occasionally, all of my siblings manage to congregate at Mom & Dad’s house and, on rare occasions, the first fights stop long enough for all of us sit down for a photo, (left to right) My middle sister, Linda. My oldest sister (who would have been a pony if Santa Claus hadn’t screwed up) Sharon aka Crazy Horse. Dad with my youngest sister, Stormy and her son Patrick in front. Mom with my brother Robert aka Dutch next to her and youngest brother David next to him. That’s me down front, looking to see if the escape route is clear because I have Laura on my lap and need to get her out of range before the fists and beer cans start flying again. I no longer drank beer by this time so usually picked up something heavy instead of a beer can.
Since Frankie and I owned firearms we were determined to teach Laura how to use them. I didn’t care if she never fired another shot as long as she lived but I wanted her to understand how firearms worked and what they could do so that she would never be tempted to play with one. When she was 8 I bought her an air rifle and started her out shooting BBs at plastic sups. She took to it like a duck to water. In this photo we’re on vacation here in Southwest, Virginia. Four years later we moved here. The boy on the right is Linda’s son, Christopher. There wasn’t a soda can, cup, cardboard box or plastic bottle in the county that didn’t get perforated by those two that summer.
As I said, Laura’s love of firearms took off from day one. When she was 10 I bought her a .22 caliber rifle and she was a natural sharpshooter from the first shot. In high school she joined the US Army Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC) and signed up for the 3 position rifle team. That year she was the first freshman in battalion history to shoot 240 points out of a possible 300. She went on to co-captain the team, compete at the JROTC National Championships at Camp Perry, Ohio twice and eventually rose to the rank of Cadet Colonel and commanded the battalion during her senior year. She’s on the left, front row, in the photo above, taken at her last nationals. Her boyfriend, John, is standing behind her.
This past June Laura graduated from high school and, soon after that, moved into her own apartment in town. She’s a freshman in college now and wants to pursue a career in education. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to know my little girl wants to be a teacher and not a soldier!
She sure is the spitting image of her mama at the same age, isn’t she?
I left a few gaps in this narrative. My 14 year military career is best left in the foot locker where it belongs. Maybe one of these days………..My first marriage is a nightmare I’ve spent nearly 35 years working to forget and that’s best left that way as well.
We still go back home to visit Mom a couple of times a year. I’m the oldest of my siblings and, now that Dad has passed on, I’ve become the de facto head of the family. Each time we get home my brothers and sisters take turns calling me aside to tell me “Mom needs to do this or that but she won’t listen to me. If you tell her it’s a good idea she’ll do it.” Mom is almost 87 years old and still sharp as a tack. If there is a decision to be made and she wants my advice, she’ll ask for it.
My younger siblings are also on their very best behavior when I’m around because they realize that I haven’t mellowed with age. They also realize that I no longer fight fair and will seriously injure any of them who gets on my bad side before they get a chance to injure me. At my age those lumps, bumps, scrapes and bruises from fighting with my hands just take too damned long to heal so I’m liable to pick up something heavy and brain one of them. I often wonder how many scraps hey get into out behind the garage where I can’t hear or see them when I’m home.
As I said, Brenda is just as hard headed as her mother. Despite my protests that I was too young to be a grandfather, she just kept ignoring me. Everett “Junebug” on the left and Dustin “Dusty” in the middle. The little one on the right is my grand daughter Faith. I call her Monkey Butt but if anyone else does she’ll hand ‘em a knuckle sammich!
Man, I can’t wait until one of them makes Brenda a grandparent!
In observance of Veteran’s day I posted a blog on my Blogger page entitled Our Family of Veterans. As we honor the service and sacrifice of those men and women, as well as that of all veterans, this post is for one in particular; my father.
Dad served in the US Navy through World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and numerous minor conflicts around the globe. He served in what was referred to as the “Rocks & Shoals Navy”. Chief petty officers (CPOs) have always been the backbone of the Navy just as non-commissioned officers are are in any military force. In my dad’s Navy most disciplinary matters were handled by the CPOs. If a sailor had a problem following orders he was invited to the stern of the ship, the fantail, where he and the chief would settled the dispute, stripped to the waist, with bare knuckles. If the chief won the sailor would do as he was told and if the sailor won he would get his way. It was a rare occurrence for the sailor to come out on top and nearly every chief I can remember from the days when I was growing up had a set of scarred knuckles.
My dad was a hard charging, hard drinking American sailor and anyone who had ever been around the Navy could spot him as a CPO in or out of uniform. He served his beloved Navy loyally and faithfully for 26 years and would have stayed in longer but for the turbulence and changes brought about by the war in Vietnam, both in the Navy and the nation. When Admiral Elmo Zumwalt was selected to serve as Chief of Naval Operations one of his first policy changes was the relaxation of grooming standards for enlisted men. With sailors being allowed to grow their hair longer,sport sideburns and mustaches and other changes Dad declared that he "wasn’t serving in any damned hippy Navy!" and he put in his papers to retire. He said it was bad enough having a long haired hippy at home (me) but he wasn’t putting up with it at sea.
Dad and I butted heads over our differences for years but we eventually got most of our problems ironed out. We never did see eye to eye on a lot of issues but we learned to respect each other for the men we were. Then I married Frankie and she really hit it off with Dad. She was responsible for keeping the peace between Dad and me on more than one occasion. We lived with Mom for several years and when our daughter, Laura, came along that was icing on the cake because he adored her. She was Pop Pop’s little darling.
In his later years Dad suffered from many severe medical problems; asbestosis, diabetes, heart disease, emphysema and finally Alzheimer’s disease. During more than one medical crisis he refused to allow paramedics to treat him or take him to the hospital until Frankie asked him to go. He trusted her and she could get him to cooperate when no one else could.
On July 3, 2003 Dad couldn’t breathe, even with the help of the oxygen generator beside his bed. While Frankie called the rescue squad I overrode the limit settings on the machine, giving him all the oxygen it could produce but it just wasn’t enough. The paramedics put him on 100% oxygen from a portable bottle and that helped enough that he was able to argue about going to the hospital. Knowing that the bottle only held a 30 minute supply, Frankie was able to convince him to get in the ambulance and go to the hospital. The doctors told us there was really nothing they could do and Dad only had hours left so they were transferring him to a hospice.
The next morning I took Mom and Frankie to the hospice to see him. I dropped them by the door and went to find a parking space in the crowded lot. Just as I got the doors locked and started up the walk Frankie and Mom came back out. They told me that they had walked into his room where the nurse told them he had been unconscious since he arrived and he was very weak. Frankie took his hand and told him she was there. He opened his eyes, nodded his head and stopped breathing. We don’t know if he even realized Mom was also there but we take comfort in the knowledge that he knew he wasn’t alone as he breathed his last.
I went into the hospital the next day for urgent spinal surgery. When I was released I spent the next several weeks heavily medicated, confined to a recliner and forbidden to even ride in a car. I missed the memorial ceremony when Dad’s ashes were spread from the stern of a boat on his beloved Chesapeake Bay. Between the medication and the pain I was really out of it and the grief never really set in until the following year when we attended a 4th of July fireworks display. The lump in my throat and hollow feeling in my chest that night had little to do with the aerial display. Every year since, those sensations return as we celebrate and I remember. Through the sadness I find comfort that it’s somehow fitting, a man who gave so much in the service to his country should pass away on the anniversary of it’s birth.
Home is the sailor
home from the sea
and the hunter
home from the hill
Arnold Ray Allen CSC, USN (ret.)
1 December 1923 – 4 July 2003
Fair winds and following seas, Chief
Answering the call to duty in World War II both of my parents enlisted in the United States Navy and eventually met when they were stationed at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. Mom was a Hospital Corpsman X-ray Technician and Dad a Commissaryman in charge of one of the base dining facilities, known as a galley in Navy speak.
They were married in 1952 and, in 1953, discovered a little bundle of joy (me) was on the way. At that time pregnancy meant an automatic release from the service so Mom left the Navy after 9 years and settled into my Dad’s hometown in southern Ohio while Dad stayed behind in Maryland, expecting orders to sea duty.
I came along in April 1954 and Dad got his orders to a ship home ported in Norfolk, Virginia. Mom followed him to Norfolk and shortly after Christmas 1956 my faith in Santa Claus was shattered when I got a baby sister instead of the pony I had asked for. I’m still holding a grudge against that fat man!
Things went from bad to worse in the following years when I was “blessed” with two brothers born 22 months apart. If I had had my way we would have had enough ponies in the backyard for me, Mom and Dad to go for a ride whenever we felt the urge but N-O-O-O! just two more rug rats putting their feet under the kitchen table! I’m not saying they were unwelcome but I sure got tired of pushing them around in that wheelbarrow. The ASPCA made us stop putting the dogs in the wheelbarrow with them because they kept giving Thunder & Lightning fleas.
While Mom and Dad were trying to figure out where all those house apes were coming from Dad found it necessary to take on a second job, slinging suds in a Chic’s Beach beer joint known as Allen’s Grill. No, we didn’t own the places as everyone thought, but I did spend enough time there to learn my way around a BAR.
Yes, I know I had cap locks on when I typed BAR. The reason for that will soon be revealed.
Dad was still on active duty in the Navy which frequently took him to sea for extended periods of time. While Dad was gone, Mom was in charge of raising the family. Two more crumb snatchers, both female, had come along but I no longer paid much attention to them because I was in my teens and busy seeing just how much mischief I could get into without Mom finding out. I was 18 in that shot and, as you can see, had a passing interest in photography back then.
I mentioned the word BAR earlier and this is where the concept first starts to have an effect upon my behavior. Having Dad working in a BAR where I could observe grown men and women making fools out of themselves was one thing. When Dad’s brother, Uncle Paul, came home from a tour in Vietnam he bought his own BAR, No, I don’t mean a beer joint like Allen’s, I’m talking about one to go in our house! He couldn’t take it to his house because he was also in the Navy and his house was big, steel, haze gray and often got under way.
My dad was happy to let Uncle Paul keep his BAR at our house, especially since it looked so nice sitting beside the draft BEER dispenser that Uncle Paul also purchased.
Try to picture this: there I am, an impressionable teen aged boy, frequently left to supervise the lesser siblings and my parents and favorite uncle leave a fully stocked BAR and BEER machine out in plain sight!
My friends said the same thing……..LET’S HAVE A DRINK!
It was no time at all before I was VERY popular, especially when we discovered that the bottles were marked but you can’t mark a beer keg! Besides, as long as we drank clear liquors (vodka, gin or rum) all you had to do was add tap water to the bottle to replace what you had consumed…….as long as you hadn’t consumed too much because six inches of water added to one inch of vodka ain’t fooling nobody, especially sailors!
I’m telling you, there was something about that BAR that just made everyone who ever laid hands on it act silly as all get out. The photo above illustrates my point. Will you just look at those faces? Mom was even feeling the effects!
By this time Uncle Paul had put his 20 years in, retired and bought his own house, actually a house and a cottage, right on the beach! That shot, taken in his cottage, is a classic. It also set the tone for my residency in this very same cottage when I returned from my first tour in the United States Air Force.
If I had a nickel for every lopsided grin, guffaw of laughter and short term love affair caused by coming in contact with that BAR Bill Gates would be typing this for me.
As I said, Uncle Paul’s place was right on the beach, well maybe not RIGHT on the beach. There was a sand dune between the house and cottage and the actual beach itself. Those familiar with that dune will attest that the height and difficulty of negotiating that dune increased exponentially as the volume of alcoholic beverages consumed increased. This was especially true for the female party animals because they had to climb that dune to use the bathroom in the cottage. The guys just walked around the corner and let fly on Old Man Wagner’s bulkhead (that’s it on the left) .
There were so many parties thrown on this section of beach that Dad got creative, drafted several of the less beach wise party animals and put them to work building a permanent frame for a sun shade under which many a cookout was held. He also had them put up a sign he painted on a 4’ X 8’ sheet of marine plywood which read “Private Property, no police vehicles allowed!” That put an end to the cops sneaking up on us with their lights out at night and spoiling our fun.
For special events, such as when all of my friends, especially young ladies, showed up all at once we often erected a cargo parachute or two to make room for everyone to get out of sun when the need arose or when someone passed out and someone else had enough presence of mind to drag them out of the direct sunlight. Take it from me, sun poisoning is no joke!
Lest you get the impression that all we ever did was hang out on the beach, drinking and raising hell, my group of friends had other pursuits as well. There were times when it was just too damned cold to hang out at the beach! January and February come to mind but there was that one New Years Eve…….. Anyway, when it got frigid outdoors we made the rounds of our friends and relatives houses. If you look very carefully at the photo above you can just make out the top of that BAR. This was taken at my brother’s house and, by this time, the BAR had been passed down to him.
This was rarely a problem because I had set a precedent, throwing what was essentially a non stop party at the cottage and later a house I shared with another single guy in the service. I was on active duty in the USAF Reserves and Mad Max (yes, I had a roommate named Mad Max), my roommate was in the Navy.
That brings up a point I’d like to make. While my circle of friends and family were party animals to the core, with very few exceptions we were all employed, most of us in highly skilled trades and several owned their own successful businesses. Partying the way we did was not cheap and many bar owners put up with our raucous behavior because they new that when we rolled in the door we were sure to spend money like it was water. The only time there was ever any real trouble with us was when some idiot made the mistake of mistreating a woman. Most of us were raised to respect women and those who weren’t soon learned to because not doing so was a sure fire way to get a ride in an ambulance.
As I said, this sort of behavior was rarely a problem. There was a time when my sister in law complained about a house full of rowdy party animals EVERY WEEK END but it fell on deaf ears when my brother pointed out that he had met her AT ONE OF MY PARTIES and that she had not only attended that party but she STAYED FOR THE ENTIRE SUMMER instead of going back home to Delaware!
While I enjoyed being a party animal and playing the field with all the young lovelies (There was a sort of urban rumor going around for years that the chamber of commerce had released a “survey” that said women outnumbered men by a ratio of 7 to 1 during tourist season and I believed them!) nothing lasts forever. I met my future bride at one of my youngest brother’s stinking, staggering, knee walking, falling down in the gutter birthday bashes. Both of us had been married before, gone through messy divorces and sworn off ever getting serious again but something just clicked between us. It wasn’t long before she had me half tamed and I quit chasing other women. I’m still allowed to look at other women but THE BOSS (my bride) says I can read the menu all I want but I have to take my meals at home!
By the way…….that BAR is in the room right behind the two of us in that photo!
A few of the burdz outside our window this morning.
Chickadees (above and below)
And, last but not least, a Pine Siskin.
I was just about to go outside to photograph a pair of Purple Finches and two pairs of cardinals when all of the birds scattered. Sam quickly pointed out the cause; a pair of cats lurking in the flower bed. While he chased them off I managed to capture these shots through the window before they darted away, as well. I thought I would get these posted while I wait for the sun to move enough to do some more shooting.
This photo, taken in 1958 on Chic’s Beach where I grew up, illustrates why I still have sand and salt water in my veins. I’ve been a beach rat most of my life. That large boxer dog, Pete, was my protector from birth and best buddy. According to the pedigree papers that came with him when Dad won him as a pup in a poker game in Port Deposit, Maryland, his real name was Conawingo’s Royal Flush but I always knew him as Pete.
It’s ironic that this is one of the earliest shots I have with Dad in it. His ashes were spread just offshore from this piece of shoreline after his death on July 4, 2003. That he passed away on the anniversary of our nation’s birth seemed fitting for a man who gave nearly a third of his life in service of his country.
Dad was in the US Navy, as was Mom when they met. Mom was discharged in 1953, after 9 years service, when she became pregnant with me, and put down roots in the laid back beach community of Chesapeake Beach (Chic’s to locals) in the northwest corner of what was to become Virginia Beach to raise me and my siblings while Dad traveled the world, eventually retiring in 1968 after 26 years of service.
I’ve done my fair share of traveling, as well, in my 50 plus years as a Navy brat, US Air Force enlisted man and as a civilian. No matter how far I’ve roamed over the years I have always returned to this stretch of shoreline on the Chesapeake Bay , at the foot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, to recharge my soul.
As I type I can almost taste the salt air and hear the gentle hiss of the water kissing the sand.
While Sam was working on building up his stamina, chasing cats out of the flowerbeds, I pulled my lawn chair into a patch of sunlight and watched the critters flitting from branch to branch in Burd Town.
This one took brought back happy childhood memories.
What does a woodpecker have to do with my childhood?
Woody Woodpecker cartoons, of course!
It is cold and blustery out today and the National Weather Service is calling for a slight chance of rain.
Considering the looks of the clouds rolling in and the occasional flakes falling I wonder just what sort of showers they have in mind.
Add to that the special weather statement just issued calling for a hard freeze tonight and I think I can guess.
This shot taken during a quick trip for milk and bread this afternoon, looking north towards Big Walker Mountain. confirms my suspicions. Snow showers! Don’t ask me why but everyone runs to the store for bread and milk as soon as the first mention of snow is made. I figure I ought to join in, just in case……
Every time I pass this old shed it seems to lean another inch or two.
Titmice watching the pine siskins battle over the thistle sock in Burd Town this afternoon.
One day I’ll remember to ask someone what this weed is.
Last but not least, a woodpecker made a brief stop outside our window this morning/ past experience tells me there will be many more as winter sets in.
The following items just arrived in my inbox. We are not amused!
Forecast for Friday November 05, 2010
Chance of Precipitation 50%
No significant accumulation (My emphasis)
Wind NW 11 mph
Snow can create dangerous driving conditions. Check weather.com’s Driving in Snow and Ice before venturing out in your car.
Be sure you’re safe when shoveling and removing snow. Weather.com offers Tips for Snow and Ice Removal.
ICY PRECIPITATION ALERT
Forecast for Friday November 05, 2010
Rain / Snow Showers
Chance of Precipitation 50%
Wind W 13 mph
Ice can create dangerous driving conditions. Check weather.com’s Driving in Snow and Ice before venturing out in your car.
Be sure you’re safe when shoveling and removing ice. Weather.com offers Tips for Snow and Ice Removal.
EXTREME COLD ALERT
Forecast for Friday November 05, 2010
Near 29°F (Not really all that cold for these parts)
Feels like 29°F
Chance of Precipitation 50%
Wind WNW 13 mph
Make sure your home is protected and prevent freezing pipes during this period of extreme cold.
Right; time to plug in the heat tapes to keep the pipes from freezing, get out the coats, gloves and boots, just in case, and settle in until the sun comes back Saturday.
Man,am I ever glad that I’m retired and don’t have to go outside and dodge idiots sliding around on the slick roads!
We had just a hint of blue sky this morning but, by the time I got outdoors with the camera……
…..and replaced the dead battery pack with the spare, fully charged battery…..
………the sky had clouded over and I switched from “capture what little is left of the fall color” mode to “maybe I should see what I can get in black and white” mode”…….especially after capturing this shot from behind the wheel as we sailed past at 45 MPH! I didn’t even use the viewfinder, just laid the camera on my left arm, hit the auto focus and held the shutter button down for 5 or 6 frames when I heard the beep. Man I love image stabilized lenses!
NOTE TO FISH HOOK: I have no doubt that you recognize this shed and I also know that the speed limit on this stretch of road is 35 MPH but that only applies if there is a police officer in the area. Still let’s keep this just between you and me.
A lady up the street has this wrought iron set in her front yard and I think they look great, no matter what the season. Note the dry stacked retaining wall she built to keep the ridge from sliding into her yard when it pours down rain. I wonder if I could get her to build one to make the ridge slide into
the village idiot dufus reason inbreeding is illegal Walter’s yard when it pours down rain.
Parking my rear end in my Adirondack chair a little burd brought me a burst of inspiration.
Note that, unlike our neighbor lady, I prefer to let the leaves remain where they landed, as Mother Nature no doubt intended. This is also done in the fervent hope that they will blow across the street and
the village idiot dufus reason inbreeding is illegal Walter will have to rake them up in his yard. In case you haven’t noticed, I really dislike that guy. I still think he had more than a little to do with Sam’s illness.
Back on track …..what better subject to photograph in black and white than a black and white burd?
Ah, my little chickadees!
There must have been a dozen of them flitting from branch to feeder then disappearing in a flash.
When I say they disappeared in a flash that is no exaggeration. Them little critters is FAST! I wonder how tough it would be to train them to fly across the street and dive bomb
the village idiot dufus reason inbreeding is illegal Walter every time he steps foot outside.
Fast as they may be I managed to get a couple dozen clear frames of them as well as a few of my favorite black and white subject, Sam the Wonder Dog, who is continuing to recover and, even when he’s ill, is always at my side. Right now he’s doing his impression of a foot stool after snuggling his way under my feet so that I can’t get to the cookie jar without him knowing it.
NOTE TO SELF: Turning the power switch to the OFF position before putting the camera back in the bag when finished shooting will make the battery last a lot longer.
NOTE TO SANTA: Thank you for the spare battery pack and power inverter for the truck that you brought last Christmas! I trust my wish list for this year has arrived intact. If not, just text me and I’ll e-mail another half dozen copies, complete with photos, best prices, online ordering info, and anything else to make this year’s procurement and delivery as easy as possible. I’m even willing to pay shipping and handling. How’s that for being nice?
NOTE TO THE US POSTAL SERVICE: Thank you for delivering the latest copy of the B+H Photo catalogue in time for me to get my Christmas wish list off to Santa. Now to get busy with the Cabela’s catalogue so that I can get my other list together for the family’s shopping convenience.
Even though I dearly love sleeping in, there are rewards for getting up early. Sitting in my Adirondack chair with my morning coffee and camera with Sam the Wonder Dog at my side may become a regular practice, at least until the snow flies.
Several days of high winds and rain have stripped most of the leaves from the Burd Town maple.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Now the burds are easier to spot.
The goldfinches seemed to be posing for me.
The male purple finch Frankie first spotted last week has become a regular visitor.
Yesterday I spotted a female purple finch perched high in the maple.
I’m really loving my 55-300 MM image stabilized lens. If the burds will stay still long enough for me to focus on them I can really get some tight shots.
While researching purple finches on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web site I learned that this female is putting on a display of agitation as she stretches her neck and points her beak towards this goldfinch intruder.
Wow; I learned something and my head didn’t explode!
When I first became interested in photography as a hobby I found that I began looking at the world around me differently. It’s almost as if I’m always framing a shot and I realized that I was noticing a lot of things that I had always overlooked. One of those things was song birds and I shoot a lot of them, especially around Frankie’s feeders.
Blogging about the birds I photograph led to Internet research and I now have a shortcut folder containing a wealth of information on ornithology and backyard birding. In case you’re interested, these are a few of my favorite references:
Peterson’s (I have a hard copy of the Birds of North America in my camera bag)
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (I carry a copy of their field guide, as well)