Saturday, August 13, 2011

Late Summer Update

Well, the corn is almost ready and the peas are picked and gone. The hay is baled and the grass won't quit growing. There is three weeks left of summer and then the fall into winter again. Ugh. It has been really a great summer, being semi-retired I've had much more free time to enjoy it and spend time with my wife who is off for the three months school is out. I have been spending a little more time on the target range but can't say I've improved much. Old guns and old eyes. I've been working an early shift and get done at 10:00 am, so I feel like I have the whole day off. I cut back on hours so I didn't have to get up so early, and here I am back at getting up at 5:00am every day. That will change when Cindy goes back to work and we go to a 10-2:00 schedule. Other than that, its has been an uneventful summer, except for the 4th of July weekend. We had our first immediate family gathering this year and what a swell time. Tents and campers all around, grandchildren abounding and sons and daughters galore. What an absolute blessing to have everyone here. We are blessed beyond measure with our family. God is so good.  Well, I'll write more later, that,s what I said last time and sure enough, its real later! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New year update

Well, 2011 is here, not so different than 2010 so far. The winter blues have set in and the yearning for spring is strong.Not being an outdoors winter type, but more of a spring, summer and  fall person, I'm beginning to get cabin fever. We have had much snow so far, and now the sub-zero temps. Well, that's what we Minnesotans brag about is, is our heartiness. I'd personally prefer to brag about warmth and comfort.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter Fantastic

We had our first really large snow storm Sunday afternoon into Monday and the results were breathtaking. The snow remained in the trees until Wednesday afternoon, when these shots were taken. The first two are of our hay field and the last is of our driveway coming past Cindy's Dad and Mom's. When the sun came out today it just turned the landscape into a beautiful sparkling white enchanted world. In it's newness,  the snow makes the world look forgiven for a moment. Our God sure knows how to share His beauty and creation. I am amazed at His awesomeness.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Almost There.

This is one of my all time favorites. There is just something about a gull that fascinates me, I love watching them up the North Shore. This was taken in Grand Marais, MN on a gray cloudy day. The gulls were up to their usual land, take off and soar, then land again routine. I noticed the 'evidence' of previous occupations of the lamp and pre-focused on it in anticipation of another visitor. I caught this harbor denizen on approach and was rewarded with a 'decisive moment' photo. I relate to it in many ways. Sometimes I look at it reflecting how I need a higher outlook on life. Sometimes it makes me think of solitary moments spent musing other things. Some days it reminds me that no matter how careful we plan things, we wind up stepping in it anyway. It always reminds me of a book I read in the '70s, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach.

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's a girl this time!

For my gun buddies out there, this is my latest find, a Smith and Wesson 3913 Lady Smith in 9mm caliber. Yes, I said Lady Smith. No gender issues here. I had the bobbed hammer replaced with a spurred one for single action target shooting. I have added a set of Hogue grips for better feel and fit for my big hands. This is a dying breed of handgun, retired from the S&W line up a few years back. These all metal guns are being replaced by the new 'plastic' arms. This one being heavier than the newer types is easier to shoot with much less recoil. This is one of what is known as third generation autos made by S&W and there are claims that these are the most accurate and reliable ever made by this company. All I know is it is a pleasure to shoot and extremely accurate. All I have to do is learn not to shake when I try. That's me alright, steady as a rock.... In a mud slide!
Here are some birds of a different feather, so to speak. These are shots of the USAF Thunderbirds at the Duluth Air show a couple of years back. I was stationed at the Duluth Air Base back in 1968-70. It has since closed, but the facilities are used as a federal low security prison now. I was able to see the T Birds fly in 1970 just before I was discharged when they flew F-4 Phantoms. These birds are F-16 Falcons. The years do go by don't they?

I was able to talk my better half into going to her first air show this day, and the best part of the deal was, upon arrival at the parking lot, someone gave us free tickets! So the enjoyment level rose somewhat and we had a great time together, sunburns and sore necks included. We couldn't look upwards for about a week.

No matter how old I get, I never seem to fail to look up when a plane flies over or at a train or at some other large piece of equipment as it goes by. Always the little boy inside.

Jerome Little Story

A couple of years ago, I wrote for a local newspaper under the name Jerome Little. Jerome won first place in the Minnesota Newspaper Association annual contest for best columnist for weeklies under 1,500 member circulation. A total surprise for him (me). Here is one story as it appeared.
I hope you enjoy it. I am working on a book that may or not ever get published called "The Night The Martians Stole our Garbage". Hope you like this excerpt.

A Moment in Time
Killing time as I was waiting for my wife to finish her shopping, I passed through the sporting goods department. I was not in the market for any equipment, but it is sort of a genetic reaction when a guy sees a piece of sporting paraphernalia to go ‘hands on’ with it. As I passed the baseball section, I pulled a bat out of the rack, took a couple of slow swings and I knew immediately that I had found the most perfect ball beater ever made. The handle portion was of a small diameter and slowly tapered up the length, widening into a lump of power filled ash at the business end. Everything about this bat said it had been made in heaven exclusively for me. I don’t remember the length or weight, or even the brand name, but on that day it became one of my prized possessions.
Now, I was never a great ball player, I played Little League and Babe Ruth as a kid. I never played high school ball, my grades stunk worse than my talent. I did play some in the service, but mostly my sports career was relegated to pick up games at local ball fields. But I absolutely loved the game. Other than a chicken egg, there is no object that lends itself so perfectly to the act of throwing as a baseball. By the way, that’s why God didn’t give chickens hands; they would have been pegging eggs all over the place and never had any chicks. A baseball thumping into a well oiled and broken in glove is something you have to experience to understand. And oh, the feeling of connecting with a pitched ball with the ‘sweet spot’ on the bat and the sound of wood and horsehide coming together is just about the most satisfying thing there is. It is my personal opinion that the advent of the aluminum bat was…well, it don’t sound right, it don’t feel right and it just ain’t baseball.
My new bat and I were to spend many years together. I don’t know if that bat was waiting for a future major leaguer to buy it, but it got stuck with me. Let it be known that although I was no Mickey Mantel, I was not exactly a duffer when it came to hitting a baseball. I could pound out long balls pretty well in my youth. I just lacked all the other skills that mark the difference between an average player and a really good player. One of the greatest catches I ever made in the outfield was swallowing a large flying insect. I still got the ball and unleashed an arrow straight throw into the third base dugout. Every time I see a player charge a hard ground ball I can taste that bug. My little league coach once told me I ran like molasses in January. I was pretty proud until I had that explained to me. But then came the game.
I was in my 20’s, sharing an apartment right next to a school yard. One Saturday morning my roommate and I noticed some guys our age getting a game. Up and over the fence we went with the age old introduction, “Hi, can we play?” Dick, (my roommate) and I wound up on opposite teams and the game was on. The school yard was basically a large square field. Home plate was in one of the corners, and the outfield, well, was out in the field. A chain link fence ran around the edge of the field. It did not curve around the outfield, but ran away at a ninety degree angle from the left field line. This made the distance to straight away center half again as long as if the fence actually encompassed the playing area.
My turn at bat came and I stepped up to the plate, my longtime friend on my shoulder. Dick was the other team’s pitcher and was throwing good stuff, but not too hard. I got hold of a nice outside ball and took it deep to left center, over the defender’s head for a double. As I trotted out to my center field position at the end of the inning, I asked the guy coming in how close the ball came to the fence. He looked at me with surprise and with a laugh said, “About forty feet. You don’t think you’re going to hit one over it, do you?” I said “Well, I thought maybe...”
The next time up to bat I told Dick to put a little more speed on the pitches, that I wanted to try to really blast one. About three balls later he served up the pitch of a lifetime. It was a moment when all the forces of physics and nature come together. The ball came in looking like it was moving in slow motion. I could see the stitches and seams as it began to break low and outside. As I came around with the bat I knew if there ever was a homerun ball to be served up, this was it. I felt the bat make contact, the force of the blow traveling down the shaft into my hands, mind confirming what body felt. I knew it was a candidate for at least the lower deck. I watched the ball leave the infield and the center fielder turn to begin to chase after it, then stopping as he watched it go high overhead. The ball cleared the fence by a good twenty feet, going up in the tops of the trees in the yard on the other side. It was the moment all my ball playing years had been waiting for. There were no cheering crowds to see it, but that was a homerun in any major league stadium in the country. So on a very ordinary Saturday morning long ago, on a ball field buried between a school and some apartment buildings, I hit the longest ball in my life. Only a handful saw it, and probably only I remember it, but it was grand. Some years later in another pick up game that bat was broken. I felt a real sense of loss as we had achieved great mediocrity together. I never found a replacement that felt as good. Over the years my ball playing went on to softball, then sort of ended without fanfare. But in my mind is a memory of a warm summer day and a special bat, when for a brief moment I felt like Babe Ruth. I wish I had the foresight before I hit it to have pointed to center field. I guess that’s what separates the amateurs from the great ones.