Wednesday, November 1, 2006

This afternoon I went to the photo shop and picked up a box of slides. Yep, slides. I'll keep shooting film as long as it's available, because I don't trust digital images to last. And since I found a scanner that can handle slides, I can shoot those as long as slide film is available. Why slides? Because there's nothing like seeing those full color pictures projected on a big screen, and with a scanner I can make my own prints from slides without spending a fortune.

One of the shots on the roll of film I picked up today was this picture of Andy, taken a few days after he arrived on the scene. Here he is about 6 1/2 weeks old and weighs about 41/2 pounds. Now, at the age of two months, he's probably almost ten pounds. He has a good appetite, which was motivation enough for him to learn how to use the dog feeder in less than ten minutes. This morning he figured out how to get in through the dog door. He still hasn't figured out that he can use it to get out, too.

After work today I stopped at the garage to check on the VW. Nothing appears to have been done since yesterday, when a note on the door said the guy had gone to Wichita for parts. Today another note said he was on a "parts run", and would be back in the morning. I'm leaning toward the theory that the guy is an alcoholic or a meth head. We'll see tomorrow if any more work gets done.


Thursday, November 2, 2006

Today after work I stopped again to check on the VW. The story today was "waiting for the right parts" which are supposed to arrive in the morning. If that's true, the car should be finished next week. And if bullshit ruled the world, I'd be king. The next stop was at the shop where my pickup has been waiting for generator repair. When I walked into the office, the rebuilt generator was sitting on the counter, so I should be able to get the truck tomorrow afternoon and haul some firewood this weekend. When I got home, I found no piles of puppy poop in the west porch where I left Andy this morning, so he's learned to crawl out through the dog door as well as in.


Saturday, November 4, 2006

July 8, 1964, New York City. You're at the Copacabana, and Sam Cooke is performing his night club act. He performs an interesting mix of material, opening with old songs like The Best Things In Life Are Free, a Cooke adaptation of Bill Bailey, Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out, and Frankie and Johnny. There's a medley of Sam Cooke hits: Try a Little Tenderness, For Sentimental Reasons, and You Send Me. There are some songs currently popular in 1964, such as If I Had a Hammer, Twistin' the Night Away, and Blowin' in the Wind. Cooke gets back to his Gospel roots with This Little Light of Mine, and revisits some pop songs of recent years like When I Fall in Love and Tennessee Waltz. Recorded just five months before Cooke's death in a bizarre shooting, this recording catches one of the greatest soul stars at his peak.

This was the weekend to get back to some normal weekend activity. This morning I walked to town and brought home the pickup with its newly rebuilt generator. After a noon meeting of the family reunion planning commnittee, I loaded the chain saw into the truck and spent the afternoon cutting firewood and hauling a load up to the house. This evening I drove to Ponca City for shopping. I use a Parker fountain pen, and the closest place to get ink cartridges is at the Staples store in Ponca. I took advantage of the trip to eat at Tortillería Los Compadres. It's exactly the kind of place I look for when I want Mexican food. There was quite a crowd, and I was the only non-Mexican in the place. That's usually a pretty good indication that the food will be the real deal, and it was.


Sunday, November 5, 2006

Another good day with the chainsaw. First I cut up a lot of dead branches and hauled a load of firewood up to the house. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon clearing more of a roadway through the trees. Before long, this road through the north end of the trees will connect with another farther south to form a loop so I can drive through without having to turn around.


Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Yesterday and this afternoon were both good sessions with the clippers and the chain saw. I got enough of my road through the trees done today that one more session should finish the loop. With that done, I can do more collecting of dead wood for this winter.


Thursday, November 9, 2006

As Jack Benny used to say, "Well!" On my way home Tuesday, I stopped to check on the VW and found that the transaxle was back in. Mr. Tech said if I checked in on Wednesday, I'd find the engine back in. So I went by yesterday, and guess what! Yep, the engine was still sitting on the ground and nobody was there. So it was a bit of a pleasant surprise today to find the engine back in the car. Supposedly the job will be finished tomorrow.

Meanwhile, grocery shopping ate up enough time yesterday to keep my road clearing session short. I made up for that today by getting the two parts of the loop road within a couple of branches of being connected. Tomorrow I'll return with a ladder to reach those branches, and the loop will be complete. Then I'll get back to harvesting dead wood for the fuel supply.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Can you guess what I found when I stopped to check on the VW this afternoon? That's right, the place was closed and it appeared that no work had been done since yesterday. What a big surprise.

Back at the farm, it was the day to finish my loop road through the trees. I used a ladder to reach a few branches that remained in the way, and the loop was complete. I drove the truck all the way around the circle, and as I approached the west end a buck bounded out of the brush and crossed in front of me, then ran off across the alfalfa field to the west, pursued by a neighbor dog. It's not unusual to see does around here, but bucks seem less common.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

We're taking a walk through a gallery with the great Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky. After the death of his artist friend Viktor Gartmann in 1874, Mussorgsky went to an exhibition of the late artist's work. Some of Gartmann's paintings, drawings, and water colors inspired Pictures At an Exhibition. The composition began life as a piano piece, but is more often heard in this 1922 orchestration by Maurice Ravel. The ten sections of the piece range from a little over a minute to just under six minutes, and like much Russian music of the romantic era, they are rich in melody. Some of the titles of the sections suggest their colorful sounds. Some are "Gnomus", "The Old Castle", "Ballet of the Chicks in Their Shells", "Catacombae - Cum mortuis in lingua mortua", "The Hut on Fowls' Legs" (sometimes known as "Baba Yaga's Hut"), and "The Great Gate of Kiev". This is wonderful stuff, done well by the Berlin Radio Symphony. A Night on the Bare Mountain (more commonly known in English as A Night on Bald Mountain), contains some of the world's most familiar music. It's been used in many settings, including a Dodge truck commercial. Composed for piano by Mussorgsky, the piece is more familiar to audiences in this orchestration by Rimsky-Korsakov. One memorable performance is the 1940 collaboration by Leopold Stokowsky and the Philadelphia Orchestra with the Disney animators in Fantasia. At one theater showing of Fantasia I attended many years ago, the wild music of A Night on Bald Mountain grew in frenzied intensity while imps and demons writhed and danced as Beelzebub himself presided. The music grew louder and wilder in a crescendo that crashed into silence, broken by the wails of a frightened toddler somewhere in the theater. I suppose some parent thought that because Fantasia was by Disney, it was for kids. I think I was seven the first time I saw it, and I've loved it ever since, including A Night on Bald Mountain. The final piece on this disc is Mussorgsky's Khovanschina, which includes more exotic romanticism in "The Dance of the Persian Slaves".

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Long time no write. It wasn't a terribly busy week, I just let the blog slide. So, after a little on Jimmy, some news.

Music critics, no doubt, would not classify this as great music. But it is good fun. If you're too young to remember Jimmy Durante, here's your introduction to one of the great vaudeville stars of the twenties. In the thirties he made the transition to radio, appearing on other people's programs as well as his own comedy/variety series. A recurring subject of jokes was Jimmy's big nose. Less well known to the public was his tender hearted generosity. His business manager had to keep an eagle eye out to be sure Durante didn't go broke giving handouts to every panhandler with a hard luck story. When early television came along, Durante was there too, again as a guest and on his own shows. This disk brings you some classic Durante material, beginning with his theme song, Inka Dinka Doo, which he wrote. Other familiar Durante pieces include Jimmy the Well Dressed Man and Start Off Each Day With a Song, both with Jimmy's old vaudeville partner, Eddie Jasckson, as well as Durante the Patron of the Arts and Unbirago. There are Durante performances of lesser known songs, and a couple of songs with Groucho Marx, Danny Kaye, Jane Wyman, and Ethel Merman. Most offspring of the boomers will be utterly mystified by this material and the style of performance, while the generations born before the war are likely to take it as enjoyable nostalgia.

And now, the news. Believe it or not, the Volskwagen was actually finished this week. After more than four months at the "Master Tech" garage, the defunct transaxle was replaced, the engine was back in, rotten fuel lines and the fuel pump were replaced, the brakes adjusted, and the wheels back on. Thursday afternoon I got it insured and registered, this time with an antique registration. Then yesterday, Andy and I walked to town and I drove it home. Today I replaced the broken driver's side window and did some cleaning. I still need to get the horn and the turn signals working, but at least the thing is now driveable. Eventually I expect I'll replace a lot of rubber and plastic that's gone bad after thirty-eight years of time and weather, but for now I'll just enjoy driving the old beast.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

This afternoon I did some more brush clearing in the garden. I probably won't get the whole area cleared this year, but I'll have room to raise a few vegetables next spring.


Monday, November 20, 2006

What a surprise! Last night I was dozing in my chair with the TV blathering away when my chair started shaking. Turned out it was being shaken by my brother, who had just driven from California for a surprise visit. It was good timing, since Thanksgiving week will give me four days off.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Picture an imperial ballroom in Vienna, filled with ladies in gorgeous evening gowns, dancing with dashing officers in their handsome uniforms. Of course, the orchestra is playing a Strauss waltz. Johann Strauss the Elder (1804-1849) and his three sons, Johann Strauss the Younger (1825-1899), Josef Strauss (1827-1870), and Eduard Strauss (1835-1919), wrote so many great waltzes that it's hard to think waltz without thinking Strauss. This three disk set from Pilz Meida Group contains twenty-six pieces by the various Strausses, mostly waltzes with a few polkas and marches, performed by the Orchestra of Vienna Volksoper. The most famous pieces are here: The Blue Danube, Sweetheart Waltz, Tales from the Vienna Woods, The Voices of Springtime, along with a lot of lesser known but just as well-crafted pieces.

It's been an enjoyable week. Mike arrived Sunday night with his two Saint Bernards and small auxilliary dog. A couple of afternoons we took the dogs out to the woods and collected firewood. With Andy fully into the chewing puppy stage, the big dogs endured a lot of mauling, which they took with remarkable patience. On Thursday we drove down to Broken Arrow, a Tulsa suburb, for a Thanksgiving Day visit with cousins on Dad's side of the family. Then today, we had a couple of cousins from Mom's side of the family over for another Thanksgiving meal. The turkey, and all the rest of the meal, were done by Mike, who is better cook than I am. I think I'm going to have to go to work on shedding some pounds after this week.



Monday, November 27, 2006

I'm on my own again. Mike took off early this morning, prompted in part by forecasts of coming winter weather.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mike called this afternoon to let me know he and the dogs made it home OK. He says he drove through fog that formed ice on his vehicle in western Kansas and the panhandles.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

A couple of days ago we had a high over 70º. Today the high was under 20º and the snow came down all day. It would have covered the ground, but it was blowing sideways, so it drifted. After such a dry year, I'm not complaining. At this point, the more moisture, the better. If I had my way, though, I'd skip the freezing rain and go directly to snow.