MAY, 2007

JULY, 2007


Friday, June 1, 2007

During the night a storm knocked out the electric power, and I dressed and ate breakfast by kerosene lamp light. Just as I drove down the road toward town about 5:45 AM, the power came back on in this neighborhood. But the north end of Arkansas City was all dark. When I got to work, we waited a couple of hours for the power to come back on, and finally gave it up and left. I drove around north of town and found a lot of poles broken off and the wires on the ground. From what I saw, I expect it will be several days before the power is back on in the area. Later I found that the storm had destroyed a house a quarter mile south of my place, and wrecked several trees in the cemetery.


Saturday, June 2, 2007

The great Vince Giordano band takes you back to the heyday of Harlem's Cotton Club in the thirties. Almost all the songs are by Harold Arlen and lyricist Ted Koehler. The exceptions are Cotton Club Stomp, by Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, and Duke Ellington, Minnie the Moocher, by Cab Calloway, and Truckin', by Koehler and Rube Bloom. Along with famous songs like Stormy Weather, I've Got the World on a String, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, and As Long As I Live, there are less familiar gems that bring back the spirit of the era. Among these are Get Yourself a New Broom (And Sweep the Blues Away), Trickeration with Maestro Giordano doing the Cab Calloway vocal, Harlem Holiday, Happy As the Day Is Long, and Raisin' the Rent. With meticulous transcriptions of the original arrangements, Giordano's Nighthawks do a great job of bringing back the sound of the Jazz Age.

Today I dug up a few more peonies I found in the garden and transplanted them in front of the house. Judging by the ones I put out back, they'll bloom in two years.


Sunday, June 3, 2007

The good news is that the broken arm has recovered enough for me to use the chainsaw. The bad news is that it's still a little sore. Anyway, I was able to cut up the big branch that the storm brought down in the yard Friday morning.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Pulled weeds this afternoon. All the moisture this spring has produced a wonderful crop.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

And more weed pulling again this afternoon.


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I was printing some pictures to take to the tractor club meeting when the power went off for over an hour this afternoon. So, I went outside and, guess what: pulled weeds again. Since the rain Friday morning it's been dry weather. With the warm, dry, very windy weather today, the ground has really dried out. I even started watering the tomato plants, as some were beginning to wilt.


Thursday, June 7, 2007

Today after work I stopped at the hospital to begin physical therapy on the broken arm. I'll go there three times a week, and also do squeezing and stretching exercises at home. I'll be glad when I can do most things normally again.

I just watched a TV show called "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" A chief financial officer knew that 3 x 11 = 33, but went down because he was unaware of the Erie Canal ("I didn't know there was a river in New York"). A high school history teacher thought all birds are mammals, and that the only state named for a king of England is New York ("because it sounds English"). The host explained that it's Georgia "named for King George III". The contestant went down when he said Mount Kilimanjaro is in Asia. A rocket scientist, on the first question, said Vermont was one of the original thirteen colonies. He went down when he said Indiana borders on Lake Erie. I hardly know what to say. Cliches leap to mind. Dumber than a stick. No more brains than a box of hammers. The IQ of spinach. But these are not stupid people. How does one account for such jaw-dropping ignorance on the part of people with college degrees? I don't know. Over the course of the past five decades I've watched the dumbing down of American life and the lowering of standards, and I can cite plenty of examples, but the reason is a mystery to me, and what to do about it is even more of a mystery. It's too hard to think about the subject. I'm going to put it out of my mind and concentrate on the full-time, in-depth coverage of Paris Hilton.


Friday, June 8, 2007

Well, that was the best ever. I did my three miles this morning in 29:10. If I can cut it down to 29:00 or less, I'll have a passing score on the Marine fitness test for guys 27 to 39 years of age. The 29:10 is passing for ages 40 to 45. For ages 17 to 26, the goal is 28:00. If I can make that, I'll be delighted. If I can make that, I'll be amazed.

After work today I took advantage of last week's storm to profit from the misfortune of others. Driving up Chestnut Avenue I noticed piles of destroyed trees waiting to be hauled off to the city burn pile, so I went home and got the truck and the chainsaw and harvested a couple of loads of firewood. I aim to have a good pile of wood ready before winter this year, instead of spending the winter scouring the woods for dead trees.


Saturday, June 9, 2007

Este disco de la Tejana Tish Hinojosa contiene una docena de cantos...OK, OK, I'll speak English. I've featured some Mexican singers before, but I think ths is the first Tejana. A difference in this case is that the producer (Tish herself) not only had the lyrics printed in a little booklet, but provided the English translation for songs sung only in Spanish. The twelve songs range from a corrido to a crying drunk song to sad or wistful love ballads. Three are by Tish, and she wrote the lyrics for a couple of others. Particularly pretty songs are Poquita Fe and Dejame Llorar. The corrido is Con Su Pluma en Su Mano, a tribute to Dr. Americo Paredes. This disk bears repeated hearings. Tish Hinojosa is a fine singer and songwiriter, not afraid to sing songs by others as well as her own, and backed by excellent fellow musicians.

Tonight I mounted an expedition to Ponca City, to shop for things I can't get here. One item was a package of red Bic pens. I intend to go to our local "super center" and rub their nose in the fact that I had to go to a real super center to find those pens. While in Ponca I went to see "Surf's Up". I thought it was a very enjoyable movie, with beautiful animation, a good cast, and some funny gags. In my book, the outstanding performance was by Jeff Bridges. In addition to his acting in the movie, he does a great job on a song during the closing credits. A trip to Ponca also provided an opportunity to eat at Los Compadres. The food is so good that actual Mexicans spend their money there.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Today I planted the rose of sharon I got in Ponca City yesterday. It's a replacement for one that didn't survive last summer. The bigger job of the day was cutting up, hauling home, and stacking another load of firewood. I'm getting a good start on next winter's supply.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Well, it was quite an afternoon. After work I was headed to the hospital for physical therapy, when the cell phone rang. It was somebody at a vet's office in Winfield. Her message: "We have Andy." Putting it mildly, this was a surprise. The last time I saw this doggie was the morning of May 10. When I came home from work that day, he was gone. After a month, I was watching for "free puppy" ads, for a replacement. After I finished at the hospital I drove to Winfield to fetch him home. I asked the receptionists at the vet's office why they had him, and they had no idea. So as I type this he's lying on the floor here in the living room. We'll see how long he stays around.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The neighbors across the road have a disk harrow they're willing to give away if I can get their WD-45 running, so I started tinkering today. With the battery charged, the starter wouldn't turn it over, so I'll check that out tomorrow.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I took that starter off and lubricated the switch, and made sure it was making contact. When I put twelve volts to it, the starter wouldn't turn. Apparently it's toast. I'll take it to a parts store tomorrow and have it tested to be sure.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Flag Day, and no flag. For the fourth morning in a row, more rain. Rainfall since Sunday night is 4". The plants are enjoying it. I found that the little oak I transplanted next to the west drive has started sprouting new leaves. The tomato plants are getting big and starting to blossom. Some of the weeds are approaching six feet. The forecast for the weekend shows a break in the rain, so I expect I'll have a big weed-pulling session.


Friday, June 15, 2007

All this rain is killing my exercise. For the fifth morning in a row, I lay in bed an extra hour this morning while the rain poured down. Another half inch this morning makes 4.5" since Sunday night. It's better to have the moisture than to not have any, but it would be nice to have a few dry days.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when great music was popular. An unbilled performer in this Jass concert recording is the enthusiastic audience. In this age of rap, rock, and whatever currently passes for country, Basie and the stars of Birdland would probably have trouble filling a phone booth in Topeka. But in 1955 hipness and musical sophistication were so popular that a large and appreciative audience would turn out for a concert like this even in the rural heartland. In this case, you can judge a disk by its cover. This is the Basie "Atomic" band of the fifties, in great form, swinging mightily through their own numbers and backing the great singers. Joe Williams, with the band for only a few weeks at this time, does a set that includes Ev'ry Day (I Have the Blues) before the recording was released and became a hit. The divine Sarah Vaughan's set includes standards like 'S Wonderful, Easy to Remember, and That Old Devil Moon, and a couple of forgotten songs, Idle Gossip and Make Yourself Comfortable, that benefit from the Vaughan treatment. The guest soloists Stan Getz and Lester Young shine, and so do the Basie stalwarts, including the wonderful Freddie Greene. Here's more than an hour of great music to make a jazz fan feel good.

After all the recent moisture, the plants, including the grass, have really taken off. After a morning session of weed pulling, I spent the afternoon mowing. The 1945 Allis Chalmers B hasn't lost its charm for me. It's still an excellent way to mow.

After a tasty burrito and tacos at Tacos Juqila, I went to see Ocean's Thirteen. This is not a classic. It's just a well-made entertainment with a lot of popular actors. There is no mystery about what's going to happen. You know at the beginning what George Clooney and his pals are going to do. The fun is in seeing how they do it. Al Pacino makes a wonderfully nasty villain, who fully deserves what they do to him.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

With a lot of cloud cover to keep the job from getting too sweaty, I pulled a lot of weeds today. I did have to take some time off for another rain shower. It really poured down for a while, and brought another 3/4".


Monday, June 18, 2007

Today was the day for another visit with the doc. The prescription was for another four weeks of physical therapy. The X-rays show that the fracture is impacted, which means the broken parts have been shoved together too far. The doctor said this could be fixed by rebreaking the arm and pulling the parts out to the proper position. I asked what is the advantage of that. He didn't seem to think there is any. The idea of going back two months and having to start healing all over does not appeal to me. I doubt that a half inch difference in the length of the arm will be a major problem.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The past few afternoons have been devoted to more weed pulling. So today I took the truck and went around tossing all the various piles of pulled weeds into it. Depending on where they were and how long they'd been sitting, the piles ranged from dried out and light as a feather to sopping and decomposing. It all added up to a pile higher than the cab of the truck.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Here's another of those bargain disks currently available. This one was $5.88 at Wal-mart. Certainly Crosby fans can find collections that include a lot of lesser-known gems, but this gathering of nothing but hits gives a good sampling of Der Bingle's best work over a range of years going all the way back to the early thirties. While this disk includes a dozen songs, ten of which were number one hits, there are a lot others missing. You get Pennies From Heaven, Moonlight Becomes You, Don't Fence Me In, and Sweet Georgia Brown, among others, but there are so many other unincluded hits that there could easily be a Volume II, Volume III, etc. While son Gary's book portray's Bing as "Daddy Dearest", the personal dysfunction does nothing to diminish the voice and great talent displayed in these performances.

Today I went to an auction that was the opposite of some other recent ones. Instead of things going for surprisingly high prices, today was bargain day. After spending $137.50, I came home to draft a volunteer cousin and get transportation. Shane and I took the suburban and the trailer and brought home these bargains: spike tooth harrow ($35); running and working Sears 8hp tiller ($52.50); working dump rake ($50). Some even better deals that went to other bidders included more than a cord of hedge firewood for $2, a nice running Case 860 tractor for $2400, and the one I thought was a real shocker, a running, working John Deere Model 95 combine for $175.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Before starting some overdue inside work, I went out and sprayed brush and weed killer on some of the weeds. With all the recent rain, they've been growing like weeds. I was happily surprised to find a volunteer tomato plant coming up among the weeds in the garden. Luckily, I noticed it in time to avoid spraying it along with the weeds. The first inside job was to patch the kitchen ceiling where I installed a new light over the table. With that out of the way, then came toilet cleaning, stove cleaning, dishwashing, sink cleaning, sweeping, and mopping.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

Here's another one of those $5.88 bargain disks. Thirteen of the Platters' greatest hits take you back to the days of young Elvis, Annette, and teens in pink and charcoal gray. First is The Great Pretender, which nobody who was a kid at the time can hear without thinking of Stan Freberg's funny parody. The stroll down memory lane continues with the Platters classics Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Only You, The Wonder of You, My Prayer, Twilight Time, Harbor Lights, and Red Sails In the Sunset. It was common at the time for white singers to record the hits of black performers with a more caucasian sound, and these covers often became hits as big as the originals, or bigger. But no such thing happened with the Platters. If there were white cover versions, they were doomed to oblivion in the face of the superlative originals.

What a week! The rain since last Saturday morning has added up to nine inches, and this morning it continues, with more predicted for today and tomorrow. I've spent most of my time since Tuesday inside, doing indoor activities, while outside some of the weeds are passing seven feet and in some places the grass is knee high. All the rain has revealed some roof leaks, so now I'm waiting for a break in the weather so I can go up and spread plastic sheeting to hold the water out until I can replace the roofing. I'd complain, but I remember too well the recent dry years.





MAY, 2007

JULY, 2007