Snoooze-VVVVVVVVV

Today is one of those days when I am falling asleep on my feet. My body missed an hour of sleep last night and now it takes the initiative to make up for it any way it can. Usually, it in in the middle of a sentence as I am writing or reading. If you see a string of a single character running across the screen you will know that my body just went into rest mode. The single character comes from my thumb which has stopped while in the middle of a stroke and is resting on one key.

September days can be outstanding in, Illinois and today is one of them. It is sunny bright with sparsely spaced billowy white clouds streaming across the sky. The temperature hovers around eighty mid-day and then quickly descends into the sixtes after sunset and finally bottomming out in the fifties near sunrise.

I should be out riding my bike, but that is a sport I gave up fifteen years ago and now it would take me a better part of the afternoon just to prep the machine for riding. At one point cycling was my life, I belonged to a bike club that went of regular rides several times a week, and in between I commuted to work by bike. I scare myself when I think about the number of hours I spent riding and enjoying the physicality of it all. I also realize how lucky I was to have an understanding wife who tolerated my sport. We spent many hours apart because of my selfishness in choosing to pump the pedals instead of spending time with her. That is one regret that I have which I have compensated for by abandoning the sport.

Today, I spent the afternoon cooking my supper. As I write there is a pot of beef stroganoff simmering on the stove, and next to it is a pot of water in a very slow boil ready to accept the wide noodles to compliment the dish. This is certainly not a KETO meal, but it is so very delicious that I have to forget KETO once in a while. I use a recipe from Paula Dean who showed me how to do it on the Cooking Channel. It is way too simple but tastes like a very complicated affair. It is my favorite recipe. Next to the stroganoff my next favorite is chicken parmesan cooked in home made tomato sauce. It is another a recipe downloaded from the cooking channel years ago. I learned from these two recipes that cooking can be much like chemistry. Pay attention to the details and measure the ingredients to make it taste like Emiril made it.

My plan is to chill until it is time to eat, then afterwards go for a walk. The walk will take off the edge of a big meal and allow me to enjoy the evening watching a few episodes from two series that I have become attached to: Bosch, and Downton Abbey. I have to control how much I see of the detective program because it is very explicit in showing murder scenes. A month ago I overloaded and decided to take a few weeks off to unload the depressing story and the scenes that come with it. The stories are so enthralling that It is like being hooked on a drug.

If there is any energy left in me after the walk I may forget TV and choose to descend into my wood shop to work on my bird. My latest Intarsia project is an owl in full flight going after prey. I started this project in December of 2020 and feverishly worked on it to about 75% complete in March 2021. The devil is in the details however, and after taking a break from the wood shop to concentrate on a number of other projects one being my garden, and another my wedding it was not until September that I resumed. Now I am competing with beautiful days and the regret of not spending those hours with my partner. Thankfully, my body tells me how much time I can spend in the shop just as it tells me when I need to rest.

My goal to read a book a week for the year is finally becoming real. After a non-stop reading marathon to catch up to four books a month I am at thirty-three and on track to reach thirty six by the end of September. To give myself some variety I’ve decided to mix non-fiction with fiction, male and female authors, old and new. Mostly they are stories copyrighted in 2020 and 2021 because I zero in on the large print section and they are recently published. I love historical fiction because it blends facts with characters and story’s that become real. For instance, last week I finished Kitchen Front which takes place in England during WWII and deals with the population that didn’t fight. They are the ones who contributed to the war by dealing with rationing of food and other necessities like gasoline, and tires. At the same time I have been watching Downton Abbey, a story about how an aristocratic family living in a huge manor deals with World War One. The two stories mirror each other and the difference in life between 1918 and 1940 were not very large. One thing that did change was the attitude of the people who were serving the aristocrats. The servants began to realize that maybe they had the short end of the stick and were itching to change their lives to become something better than a maid, butler, or valet.

It is time to blend the sour cream into the stroganoff and to drain the wide noodles. It has been pure pleasure staying awake throughout this report.

Bathtub Gin

The hot humid days of August are in thier final throes, and I am enjoying it as much as I can. Although I stay out of direct sunlight which makes me feel like I am standing in an oven. The dichotomy of loving heat but hating the direct intense heat of sunshine makes me wonder what it is that I really do like. I know I like hot days spent in shade with a wisp of breeze. That is what I just experienced as I sat next to Joe’s lake reading a mystery novel. Do successful fiction writers ever write about anything that does not involve murder, mystery, love at the beach etc? Each time I stare at the large print editions on the shelf at my library it is loaded with murder mystery and love stories. Mostly they are by lady authors. I opt for male writers if I can find one. My latest ploy has been to select two books at one time; one will be fiction, the other non-fiction. Although I read the non-fiction books I don’t find them as enjoyable as I do the fantasy of fiction. My last fiction read was Blind Tiger by Sandra Brown. I couldn’t put it down. The story tells of bootlegging during Prohibition in Texas.

To my knowledge there isn’t a single male employee working in the Frankfort Public Library unless you want to call the contractor who cleans an employee. I truly believe that is the reason I see so many titles by women authors.

While reading Blind Tiger I recalled a story told to me by my father when I was still a boy. Dad needed to be a little drunk before he could relate stories from his past. One Sunday after a few highballs he opened up. It seems that he and Mom had a little moonshine operation going on as a way to make some extra income. It was during the Depression and Prohibition and before I was born. He never did describe the still, only that they had it in operation in the bathroom in the bath tub. Whalla the term bath-tub gin becomes a reality.

The tiny house we lived in had one bathroom on the second floor, and that is where he and Mom set up shop. One day in the bathroom as they were pouring booze into bottles they were startled by a heavy knock on the door down stairs. Dad snuck down the steps to see who it was. The stair case was immediately next to the front door and it was easy to remain unseen coming down. He saw a man standing at the door through the curtained window as he quietly descended. It took him a few moments to recognize that the man was wearing a uniform, a police uniform. He ran back upstairs to tell mom they were busted, and she hurriedly began to hide evidence. He snuck downstairs again and this time opened the door a crack and asked what he could do for the cop. Dad was worried that the cop would detect the aroma of fresh alcohol inside so he kept the door cracked. The policeman introduced himself and announced that he was selling tickets to the annual Policeman’s ball. Dad almost burst out laughing, but remained cool and asked how much they were. “Five dollars apiece,” said the cop. “I’ll take two” was Dad’s reply. Dad paid the man and he left. At that point in his story, Dad did burst out laughing as he told me how sweaty he got talking to the police knowing Mom was just a few feet away with a fresh batch of booze. Maybe that is why I enjoyed reading a story about bootleggers.

Face Off Behind Joe’s Pond

The schedule I had for today was light. I didn’t make a to-do list and decided I’d make a day out of it anyway. The only thing I had after waking up was to deliver a package to the UPS store. After a very leisurely breakfast and after reading the final page of a book titled “First Steps, How Upright Walking Made Us Human”. It was time to attach a shipping label to the homemade box that contained my grandson’s old skate board and to drop it off at UPS. With that singular chore completed I decided to attack the overly grown stems of the shrubs behind Joe’s Pond. Every time I walked on that path the spindly stems swatted me in the face. The path is not intended to be a unwholesome activity. It is meant to give the guest another perspective of the pond and its surrounding habitat. Instead it has become a face slapping arm waving experience. Not to mention the many mosquitoes that are awakened at the scent of warm blood moving through their homeland.

I’ll give myself thirty minutes to cut this path free and that is it, I said to myself as I gloved up and lifted my lopper from its cradle on the garage wall. Oh, I’ll take the hand clipper and a kneeling pad too, and so I treked into the garden behind the house to perform the surgery necessary to make it enjoyable again. I stopped about twenty feet short of the target. There are some plants here that I’ve been hating all summer, I’ll just pull those out before getting started on the simple mission. Down on my knees I went to begin yanking the flowers that were weeds. Then there was the unwanted grass that crept beyond the stone border and invaded the perennial bed engulfing the lonely rose bush. I had a pile of detritus within a few minutes and needed to dispose of it. A short trip to the side of the house to pull the yard waste container into service was necessary. Then I headed for the mission target. Instead, I wound up along the stone border again extracting the weeds behind the marigolds. These ugly plants gave the garden a ratty look so I redirected to this target instead.

Eventually, I arrived at the path behind the pond to cut the unwieldy shrubs that impede an enjoyable stroll. Except, there happened to be a huge amount of the same weed that invaded the part of the garden I just finished weeding. This obnoxious plant was making the backside of the pond look horrendous. How can a person enjoy taking this path when all these invasive waist high critters blocked the view of my orderly perennials? They surrounded the boxwood and the Juniper tree behind the waterfall. “Go for it Joe,” the little voice inside my head shouted. I did go for it, and was doing a bang up job too. Then out of somewhere came this damned bumble bee the size of a golf ball whizzing around my head. Like a novice, I began swatting it away from my head. Anyone who gardens knows that bees don’t like to be disturbed, and if they are, they certainly don’t like it when the one disturbing them begins swinging wildly with a vengeance. I made a direct hit and knocked him to the ground. His response was one of immediate recovery and he flew up straight for my face. Again, I swung at him and pushed him away but now he was really mad. He landed on my arm just above my glove and I swished him off, but not before he gave me a stinging sensation that hurt like hell, and felt like fire. Finally, my senses returned and I ran away. He chased me for a short distance and then disappeared.

Now what do I do? I was rubbing my arm at the site of the sting hoping the hurt would go away, it didn’t. I opted to go back to the garage and to retrieve my lawn rake. I thought if I stretched and raked the pile of weeds away from the Juniper I could gently continue my task of clearing the path. Before I could retract the rake he was after me again. That’s not going to work at all I said to myself. We humans have a very large brain and it was time to put it to use. After all the brain of the bumble bee has to be the size of a grain of salt. It was just a nano second before I concluded that I would attack the path from the opposite end and work my way back toward the Bumble Bee residence. The final pile of weeds lay on the path next to the Juniper. I stretched the rake toward it hoping I could finish the job and go in for lunch. Just as I began retracting the rake he appeared again from under the Juniper and was buzzing around the rake. He hadn’t figured out where I was, so thankfully I was safe for the moment. I dropped the rake and will complete the job tomorrow.

Illinois Natural History Survey entomologist Tommy McElrath points out features of a female bumblebee captured at Trelease Prairie. The hind legs of the bumblebee sport bulging stores of yellowy orange pollen.

The half hour job took two hours by the time I faced off with the bumble bee and finished lopping off the spindly long branches that caused my unhappiness. At least thirty minutes were spent cleaning up the mess I made except for the tidy pile behind the Juniper shrub where Mr. Bumble Bee resides.

Garden of Joe’s Eden

What the hell, why don’t I share something personal for a change? This blog is about me and my life, and not about generating huge readership numbers. Although I enjoy seeing stats that indicate that people read my writing. Most of the visitors and followers are interested in doing business. They join me just too generate numbers that will move them into monetization and money. Nothing wrong with that, but my aim is to generate catharsis from my own life decisions that back fire or worse yet don’t even make a dent. At least when I make a decision that sets me back I know I made change. It is the decision that doesn’t yield any form of movement that destroys me. They are wasted ideas and cost energy and time.

Today, I opened an email to myself which contained a group of photos that I took randomly about my garden. I love the colors of nature, they inspire me. Just a few evenings ago I looked out the kitchen window and saw a unique lighting situation that produced some really intense colors.

Two days ago I looked out and saw a sight that I will probably never see again. There was a swarm of dragon flies flitting all about the yard swooping, diving, soaring, and looking like purple martins having a feast on mosquitoes. One never knows what nature will gift me with next.

Here are some of the photos that turned me on:

It Is Time

This evening I spent some time reading blogs of fellow bloggers. One in particular got my juices flowing. The Blog is NUTSROK. Author Mary Beth a retired nurse who writes amusing stories about her family and friends. What I didn’t realize immediately that the last post I read was from 2020. When I see gaps like that I am puzzled. I tried contacting her but it seems the blog is shut down. My greatest fear is that we have lost her. She amazed me with the stories she told about her family and friends. Each one was genuine and her writing told me that. They were poignant, reminiscent, and humorous, mostly humorous.

Then it occurred to me that I had visited my brother yesterday and I thought to myself how many more times will I be able to say that? Next week I will turn 83 and in two weeks he turns ninety. We can’t both be living much longer. Although neither of us thinks about dying, we are just as busy and active as we can be. He showed us around his facility and pointed out the tower of tomatoes that he planted with a group of ladies he went to the nursery with to shop for tomato plants. He wanted four, and planted twenty-four. Each of them wanted to plant, but he was the only one with a designated plot at the residence. From his room it looked like a six by six plot with a six foot high center point. The plants were all headed for the sky and the contest was to see who had the first fruit, who had the best fruit, etc. Then he walked us past his flower garden. Another small plot hidden behind a fence but he had it blooming in bold colors. What every square inch the maintenance crew spares him he keeps on planting, and successfully too.

On the way home I asked myself why do I not visit him more often? He is the only one I know who knows more about my parents than I do. He is the resident guru of the family history. We share the same stories about our mother and father, except his begin seven years sooner than mine. That means he can teach me a lot about my genealogy. Another thing I thought about today was what did he do for me as a kid growing up? At first, I thought, nothing. Then I began to remember the letters he sent me from Germany while he was stationed there and I was recovering from my polio. They were a Godsend. I wish I had them now to recall how positive he was and how encouraging he was to keep me going forward. I’ve also heard stories about how he was in charge of me in the buggy when Mom needed some time alone. He was charged with watching me and Sis.

Although that was sixty-eight years ago, I think it may be time to say thank you.

Brother Bill and Mom
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