Saturday, July 1, 2006
The cover picture is fitting. Leon Redbone likes the music to be the center of attention, rather than himself. Redbone is the master miner of musical treasures old and new. Some of the songs are familiar, former great popular hits. Others are obscure gems not heard for decades. Both varieties contain nuggets of melodic and lyrical gold. Along with possessing a talent for choosing good material, Redbone always arrives in good company. Whether it's just one other musician or a whole band, you're going to hear people like Vince Giordano, Arnie Kinsella, Cyndi Cashdollar, Joe Venuti, and many other talented players. This particular CD includes a duet with Merle Haggard on Settin' By the Fire, and with Ringo Starr on My Litttle Grass Shack. If you like good old songs, and new songs that sound like good old ones, Leon Redbone is your man.
After doing laundry this morning, I spent the day on this weekend's project: replacing some sheetrock and building window molding in the southeast upstairs bedroom. This weekend I'm also running a little water on some of the plants that were drooping from dry weather. Some of the young plants need help surviving the dry parts of summer until they grow a big enough root system to make it on their own. I ate in town this evening, at the taco truck. After a burrito al pastor, a taco asada, and a shrimp tostada, I came home and had some ice cream. It's 85º now, down from this afternoon's 95º. The cicadas are droning in the trees, and the lightning bugs will soon be out, and I'm going to enjoy one of summer's pleasures---a nap on the front porch swing.
Sunday, July 2, 2006
Today I worked on the window project, adding some framing under the window and putting in a new piece of sheetroock, then plastering cracks.
Monday, July 3, 2006
This morning I bought lumber and spent the rest of the day cutting pieces and installing window trim. The last thing I got done was filling finishing nail holes with plastic wood. Tomorrow I'll do the sanding and a little more plastering, and then I'll be ready to paint.
Tuesday, July 4, 2006
All I did on the window project today was some sanding and final plastering. I decided to give the plaster a day or two to set up before I do the final sanding and painting. I spent the rest of the day cleaning up junk around the old dairy barn, and then did a little mowing. The mowing stopped when the mower threw a drive chain, which the blade chopped to pieces.
Wednesday, July 5, 2006
This afternoon I did some sanding on that fresh plaster, vacuumed up the dust, put up some masking tape, and painted with primer.
Thursday, July 6, 2006
This evening I went to the band concert in Wilson Park. Now that I have the time for such things, I've been enjoying the Thursday evening concerts in the park by the Arkansas City Municipal Band, now in its 135th year. The director commented that most of the members don't look nearly that old.
Friday, July 7, 2006
This afternoon I went to buy paint. When I commented to the clerk in the paint department that none of the samples quite matched the old paint on the plaster chip I was trying to match, she put my chip into a machine that scanned in the old color and came up with the formula for new paint in the same shade. I thought that was a pretty neat bit of technology.
Saturday, July 8, 2006
For this week's music we go back to The Man. I first heard this piece when I lived in that different world that existed long ago, before we descended into the great national dumbing down of the past fifty years. I was in Mom's 1940 Plymouth coupe, waiting while she took my little brother into the doctor's office. I violated the rules ("You'll run down the battery!") and turned on the radio. The part of this story that will be incredible for young readers is that KFAC, 1330 AM, was a commercial station that played classical music! That was the day I first heard and fell in love with Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto. The whole concerto is great, but the Largo is great plus. It is just absolutely gorgeous. The Fifth is a more famous concerto, and it's wonderful, but the Third is my favorite. This performance by Dubravka Tomsic is one of many recorded versions. The Third has been recorded by a lot of pianists. I have a couple of other recordings, including one by Claudio Arrau on LP. No matter who is the pianist, I keep coming back to this great piece of music. This disc also includes the third version of Beethoven's overture to his only opera, Lenore.
This morning I went to Wichita and got a rebuilt transaxle for the VW beetle, and some needed mower parts. When I got home I went upstairs and applied some of that new paint. All that remains on that job is some touching up on the sill, which I'll do tomorrow. I spent the rest of the day working on the two door latches in the downstairs bedroom. These are the old nineteenth century latches that screw onto the door and lock with a skeleton key. I took them both apart, cleaned out the dirt and dust, and oiled them so they work like new. I had time to wire brush the old paint and rust off one of them and repaint it with epoxy appliance enamel. I went shopping for a key that would work in both locks. I found it right where one would expect, at Bryant Hardware. This store has been in business over eighty years, on the spot where there has been a hardware store since 1870. Their slogan is "Yes, we have it." And many times, they really do.
Sunday, July 9, 2006
I finished painting around the upstairs bedroom window and cleaned up the room, painted a door of the downstairs bedroom and reinstalled its latch, and replaced the bent drive shaft and broken chain on the Dixon mower. That last job doesn't seem very urgent. There won't be any mowing to do until we get enough rain to grow some more grass.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Excellent! Sunday and Monday nights were disappointing, with rainstorms reported all over the state but not here. Tonight is the remedy. We're having a nice, big, dark storm, with rain pouring down in sheets. The radar shows a lot of orange over the area, and it's not moving fast. Molly and I were on the front porch cooling off when it started, and we soon had to come inside when the rain started blowing onto the porch. The customary puddle places in the front drive are submerged in one giant puddle. It looks like this storm will easily bring at least a couple of inches of very needed rain. A lot of the lawn has gone brown, and even some of the weeds have been wilting. And speaking of weeds, this will soften the ground for a good weed-pulling session this weekend. Now the wind has eased up and the electrical show has started. A Kansas lightning storm is great entertainment.
Wednesday, July12, 2006
Wow! The rain gauge in the back yard measures up to five inches, and last night's storm filled it up beyond that. It looks like about 5.3". Too bad the rain will be followed by a lot of heat. The forecast calls for several days near or above 100º. Oh well, that's summer.
Friday, July 14, 2006
I closed the bedroom windows when it started raining in the wee hours of the morning, but it turned out to be just enough to wet the pavement. As dry as it's been this year, another good soaking like the one Tuesday night would be nice.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
This week I'm back to an old favorite. I recently got another CD by Vicente Fernandez, the absolute king of ranchero music. Actually, I bought this one after I heard Pepe Aguilar on the radio, singing a song I really liked, Bohemio de Afición. Doing some research, I found that Vicente Fernandez had recorded the song, too. I got the Aguilar version and bought this one at the same time. I didn't need to hear Chente's version before buying the CD, because he always has that great set of pipes, accompanied by an orchestra playing excellent arrangements. I wasn't disappointed. One of the reasons this guy has been on top for decades is his choice of material. Like Crosby, Sinatra, Elvis, or any other singer, not all the songs he records are great ones, but he picks enough winners to make it unlikely that any Fernandez CD is going to disappoint. Some of the good ones here include the title song, Entre el Amor y Yo, the wonderfully catchy aforementioned Bohemio de Afición, a lament for a lost love, No Lo Puedo Creer ("...I can't believe, that kissing another woman, I still remember you."), No, Que No, and Golondrina Sin Nido, a duet with Chente's son, Alejandro Fernandez. I have to be careful here. I like this guy's work so much that I could easily buy too many CD's and spend way too much money.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
At 12:45 PM the outside temperature has warmed to a steamy 94º on the way to around 100º, if the forecast is right. The kitchen temperature is 91º, and the living room is only 88º. I expect the front porch, catching the little breeze from the south, is the most comfortable place. I'll go there as soon as I finish messing with this infernal contraption. This was the day to take advantage of the ground being softened by Tuesday night's rain. I got up at five to take advantage of the morning cool. I think the low was about 74º. First I went out to the barn and wire brushed the old paint off a door latch I want to repaint. Then I pulled a lot of weeds west of the house and around the shop that have been waiting for softer ground. I watched some of the Sunday morning news shows, then took the Model B Allis out to mow along the road to the west and in back of the shop. All went fine until I took the little Dixon mower out to mow around posts, treees, etc. After being sidelined by two bent drive shafts, a couple of broken chains, and a broken drive gear, I had it back in seemingly good shape and working fine---until it broke another drive gear. By the time I finish replacing parts on this thing, it's going to have a whole new drive train.
Monday, July 17, 2006
More warmth. This afternoon I went to Ponca City for a replacement drive gear for the mower. There I saw a bank sign reading 105º and a drugstore sign reading 110º. When I got back to Arkansas City, bank signs were claiming 105º and 109º. The forecast calls for a cooling down to 96º by the weekend.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
The scorching continues. When I left work this afternoon, three signs in town read 107º and one was at 110º. At home it was only 101º, another good example of why I'm glad I don't live in town.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
A lot of the public only remembers Nat Cole as a great pop singer. Before a series of big pop hits made him a star, musicians knew him as a great jazz pianist. He won the Esquire awards in 1946 and 1947, and was the top pianist in the Metronome poll in 1947, 1948, and 1949. The King Cole Trio (Cole on piano, Johnny Miller on bass, and Oscar Moore on guitar) made their first discs for Capitol in 1943. Their second disc, Straighten Up and Fly Right, was an instant huge hit. The trio continued to record for Capitol and had a syndicated radio series from C.P. MacGregor Studios. Then came Nature Boy. Cole had already had a popular hit, The Christmas Song, without the trio in 1946. With the 1948 release of Nature Boy, an immense hit, Cole's shift from great jazz pianist who also sang, to popular balladeer backed by a full orchestra, was cemented in the public mind. Subsequent hits such as Mona Lisa, Unforgettable, Smile, and what may be the most beautiful version of Stardust ever recorded, further eclipsed the great pop singer's jazz origins. But while the popular ballads brought fame and fortune, Nat Cole didn't forget about jazz. The "After Midnight" sessions, recorded in 1956, feature Cole piano and vocals, John Collins, guitar, Charlie Harris, bass, and Lee Young, drums. Guest soloists are the great trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison, Willie Smith on alto sax, Juan Tizol on valve trombone, and the wonderful violinist Stuff Smith. Some of the cuts are now-unfamiliar songs of the time, but there are such old King Cole Trio favorites as Just You Just Me, Sweet Lorraine, and Route 66, as well as standards like Sometimes I'm Happy, Caravan (with a solo by its composer, Tizol, of course), It's Only a Paper Moon, When I Grow Too Old To Dream, and Candy. There's also Lonely One, a knock-off of Nature Boy tht fails to recapture the magic. But even with a couple of less than sterling songs, the performances are first rate, and there are enough great songs to overshadow the forgettable ones.
Today provided a very welcome change of weather, with a high in the mid-eighties. I went to a couple of auctions. The first one, in Winfield, included a 1930 Model A Ford Tudor sedan. The car appeared to be in pretty good original condition except for some tacky vinyl paneling. But when I saw who else was there, I knew that there were enough deep pockets present that it would sell for more than I was willing to pay. So I went instead to a farm auction west of winfield which included a 1955 Allis Chalmers WD-45. The tractor was rusty, but ran well, and had a working loader attached. I made a couple of bids until the price got higher than I was willing to go. I guess I picked up a pretty good dose of my dad's frugality, or as some would say, cheapness.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Today I did a litle mowing, sprayed some brush killer on little trees coming up in the wrong places, and cleaned up a junk pile. That last item goes back a few years. A dropout of my acquaintance, between employments, was doing some remodeling work and had some leftover debris. "Let me put this in your yard for now," said he, "and I'll come get it Sunday afternoon." A couple of hundred Sundays later I cleaned it up myself. Some people are memorable because they're such prolific spreaders of verbal manure that anyone who knows them sooner or later comes to realize that nothing they say can be trusted. One person's comment after a conversation with this fellow was, "That's a pretty smart kid." My first thought was, "Not half as smart as he thinks he is."
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
After work today I started dismantling some old garage doors. They were home made, but I don't know who was guilty of making them. I say guilty because whoever it was put the hinges on with carriage bolts, but didn't square the holes to keep the bolts from turning. That made the job of taking off the hinges a bit inconvenient.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Today I hauled the last of the house repair debris from behind the house and put it out behind the old chicken house. There it will sit while I make little pieces out of bigger pieces and dispose of them. The other afternoon chore was catching up on some paperwork and paying bills. Last night's rain sounded pretty good, but when I looked at the gauge this afternoon I found that it amounted to only .1". Maybe our precipitation luck will be better tonight.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Bitter medicine, young folks. These two were big stars in movie musicals before your grandparents were born. In the intervening seventy years musical tastes have degenerated to the point where operetta music like this is unlistenable for most of the public. This is not surprising when you consider that the baby boomers are people who think A Horse With No Name is music, and that their children's tastes are even worse. Even the venerable CBS Sunday Morning, which once covered the fine arts, now shills for MTV with weekly features on aging rock stars. But for some of us with a taste for many kinds of music from bygone ages, the Sweethearts are sweet listening. Included here are hits from their movies, such as Indian Love Call, Rose Marie, Ah Sweet Mystery of Life, and Sweetheart Waltz. Other popular songs of the time are Beyond the Blue Horizon and Lover Come Back To Me. There are also favorites that were old songs seventy years ago, including Love's Old Sweet Song, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, and When I Grow Too old To Dream. If songs like that are to your liking, this collection is for you.
After doing laundry this morning, I went to an auction at Elgin. There were a few gems among piles of junk you couldn't pay me to haul home. It was a good one for bottle collectors, and the glass insulators went for good money. Long ago before construction zones were marked by flashing yellow lights at night, there were little oil-burning lamps for the purpose. I got one of those today for $2. A better bargain, that really made the trip worthwhile, was the transmission oil dispenser I bought for $1. Sometimes you get lucky at these things.