Saturday, September 1, 2007

When Jim Croce died in a plane crash at the age of thirty in 1973, some of his biggest hits had not yet been released. Those include Bad, Bad Leroy Brown and Workin' At the Car Wash Blues, which are among the selections on this $6.88 bargain disk. Born in Philadelphia in 1943, Croce began his musical career after graduating from Villanova, performing in small clubs around Pennsylvania while truck driving and doing other odd jobs to pay the bills. He carried a notepad and a tape recorder in the cab of his truck, and wrote songs while waiting for loading or unloading. When he married, his wife Ingrid joined the act, and eventually they released an album together. Croce continued to write songs, and eventually had a repertoire of 3000 songs by himself and others. Not a bad guitar player, he stuck to singing and songwriting after he met and teamed up with Maury Muehleisen, a superb guitarist. You hear them together on this disk, which contains fourteen selections that include Operator, Time in a Bottle, I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song, You Don't Mess Around With Jim, and the only one not written by Croce, I Got a Name.

Success at last! With dry sand in the blaster, it worked as intended. After a trip to Winfield to buy pipe for a frame to hang the swing, I blasted the rust and old paint off the bench supports and got the first coat of new paint on them. The only snag of the day came when the blade on the saw wore out and I couldn't cut any more pieces for that frame. The worst part is that the snag is probably for a week. The blade was out of stock at the hardware store, and with tomorrow being a holiday it will probably take until Friday to get another one. Oh well, there's plenty of other stuff to do.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

It was housework day. Vacuuming, toilet cleaning, mopping, dusting, etc. Sometimes you just have to take a day for that before the mess takes over.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day was a day of labor, sort of. The family reunion committee, a bunch of us cousins, worked on scanning old photos and updating family history. I learned that my cousin Mary's husband, Paul, was in the Army Air Corps, stationed on Saipan, where he worked in the photo lab in 1944 and 1945. As soon as combat phtographers landed, the lab guys would rush the film to the lab where they processed it and printed the pictures. Today I looked through a couple of albums, filled with dozens of great photos, including over fifty shots of "bomber art" on B-29's. The phtographers and technicians did a lot of very impressive work.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I spent the afternoon trying to get more memory into my web page program. It was a futile effort, but I'll keep working on it. When that "Out of memory" notice shows up and won't go away, it's pretty aggravating.


Saturday, September 8, 2007

There have been many great gospel singers, from Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith to Clara Ward, but the most famous is Mahalia Jackson, for good reason. As the twenty tracks in this two disk set demonstrate, Jackson posessed a powerful voice and the talent to use it with sensitivity and taste. She also benefits from having lived in an era before great traditional hymns were abandoned in favor of lesser material. While the greatest of all gospel hymns, Thomas A. Dorsey's Precious Lord, is surprisingly missing from this collection, the selections that are present include some of the best. The collection begins with A Mighty Fortress and ends with When the Saints Go Marching In. In between are such great songs as Amazing Grace, Down By the Riverside, His Eye Is On the Sparrow, How Great Thou Art, Just As I Am, Rock of Ages, and Sweet Hour of Prayer. For those unfamiliar with Mahalia Jackson, this is a good introduction that should inspire many to seek out more of her recordings.

Today I went to Wichita to visit the Railroad Musem where Union Pacific #844 was making a stop for the day. The locomotive is very impressive, and as the last one still being operated by the last major railroad with a steam program, it gets a lot of attention. But I was also impressed by the beautiful condition of the other rolling stock. The train included three dome cars, other passenger sars, a baggage car, and a shop car for making repairs on the road, and all were very nicely maintianed. Tomorrow I'll go to Caldwell and watch the train in operation when it arrives.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Here's Union Pacific #844 in its stop at Caldwell today. I'll post a separate page of pictures after I get a roll of film developed.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Not much blogging this week. The daily trivia haven't merited much attention. I spent most of one afternoon at the dentist's, and a couple of others putting tarps over the upstairs roof to deal with the leaks until I rebuild some parts and install new roofing.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Here's another in the series of Toscanini reissues. Born in 1867, Toscanini made his debut as a conductor in 1886 at the age of 19. In 1892 he directed the premier of Pagliacci, and four years later he conducted the world premier of Puccini's La Boheme. Over the next forty years he became one of the world's most famous conductors, including a stint as principal conductor of the New York Philharmonic. In 1937 David Sarnoff established the NBC Symphony and persuaded Toscanini to be its conductor, and for the next seventeen years the orchestra was a regular feature on NBC radio and television. The two performances on this disc are both by Tchaikovsky: the Manfred Symphony, recorded December 5, 1949 in Carnegie Hall, and Romeo and Juliet, recorded April 8, 1946, also in Carnegie Hall. As with all the NBC Symphony recordings, these were made with the best technology available at the time. With digital remastering for these disks, the sound is very good indeed.

This morning I went to an auction down at Deer Creek. I passed on some items I would have liked to have because the bidding went too high. At some auctions you can find real bargains, and at others there are a lot of people willing to pay too much, bidding the price for a used item up to the cost of a new one. At this one I did get a box of funnels, a box of fuel tank valves, and a bunch of miscellaneous stuff that came with them.

I spent most of the afternoon pulling out small trees with the tractor and cleaning up a pile of trash that some hired "help" left in the yard several years ago.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Today I did more tree-pulling. Over the years a lot of little trees have come up under the big bur oak tree in the back yard, so I'm clearing them out and getting rid of some big weeds.


Friday, September 21, 2007

I spent most of my afternoons this week working on the new A-frame to hold the back yard swing. I've been cutting, grinding, welding, and grinding some more. I should have it finished this weekend, then I'll start assembling the swing.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Chet Baker was a great trumpet player and a wonderful singer. Women melted over his good looks and his way with a romantic ballad. Unfortunately he lived during the era when young musicians wanted to emulate the great Charlie Parker. Too many of them thought that being a heroin addict made Parker great, not realizing that he was great in spite of the addiction, not bcause of it. Chet Baker was one of those young musicians who got into heroin, and it destroyed him. The high point of Baker's career came in the early 1950's. After playing for a time with Charlie Parker, he joined a quartette with Gerry Mulligan. Baker and Mulligan were a hit, but the group lasted less than a year because of Mulligan's arrest on drug charges. Baker's own drug use wrecked his health and his career, but he made something of a comeback in the early 80's. He died from a fall in the Netherlands in 1988 under mysterious circumstances, amid speculation on whether he had fallen, jumped, or been murdered. The selections on this disk give a taste of the early promise. Among them are My Funny Valentine, especially associated with Baker, Time After Time, I Get Along Without You Very Well, and My Buddy.

This was A-frame day. I spent most of the day and got it finished except for a little bit of grinding.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

And today it was done. I did the little bit of grinding the A-frame needed, then went as far as I could assembling the seat. I got that mostly done, but will have to get some longer bolts for a couple of the boards tomorrow when the hardware store is open. I spent the last hour of the afternoonon on a nice weed-pulling session.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Old friend Mark came out after work today, and we carried the A-frame out of the shop and hauled it over behind the house where the old one used to stand.


Friday, September 28, 2007

I spent most of my time after work this week assembling the swing seat, making notches in one of the boards to make it fit better, and making and finishing arm rest boards. Today I took the seat out to the A-frame and hung it. I'll finish varnishing the arm rest boards tomorrow and should have them installed Monday.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Alicia Villareal is very popular singer who gets a lot of airplay. Popularity and airplay don't always indicate talent, but in this case they do. Villareal is very good indeed. Besides being a talented singer, she selects good material and writes some of it herself. Te Quedo Grande La Yegua was written by Villareal, and three other songs on this CD she wrote with Cruz Martinez. The CD is packaged with a DVD containing videos of seven out of the eleven songs on the CD.

Today was yard day. I got out the chain saw and did a lot of tree trimming. I concentrated on removing face grabbers, those low hanging branches that make mowing a bit too much of an adventure. I also got out the tractor and pulled a few small trees that were in unfortunate locations. Finally I cleared a lot of weeds. Tomorrow I'll cut up and clear away the branches I cut down today.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Today I did more tree trimming, wood cutting, and weed clearing. This afternoon a flock of big birds flew over here, headed south. There were at least a couple of dozen. They sure weren't geese; you can hear them coming a mile away, and these were quiet. White mostly. Pelicans, I guess. Meanwhile, down here at ground level, the Monarchs are passing through on their way to the mountains of Michoacan. In another six weeks, I'll be burning wood.