THE WAR BEGINS!

This evening my war with thistle began. I’m finished with pulling and digging the darn things out of the ground. The weed propagates via runners. Pulling on them just breaks the vertical shoot and leaves the runner below to sprout again.

The evening is incredibly warm for April, and the wind died down. There is very little vegetation showing except the dreaded thistle. It is the perfect night to spray. This time the assault emulated Sadam Hussein’s, and Bashar al-Assad’s attack on their own people, chemical weapons. Earlier in the month I met the scourge head on with a biodegradable chemical know as vinegar. Vinegar  had little to no effect on these vermin. Tonight I bumped up the game to full strength Round Up. Certainly this will put the running bastards down for good. I can only hope.

After last summer’s dreadful lack of attention to my garden I have promised myself that this is the year of the Monet Vision-abcdefg, The second name will come later after I have planted and know what the color scheme will be. One thing for sure, it will not be orange or yellow. The Monet Vision-Golden Glow will be hard to beat.

Most likely, I will be stupid enough to plant flowers that the Wabbits love. After two years of a very sparing Wabbit population, I have evidence to believe they are back. The evidence being visual sightings of as many as three Wabbits in the yard at one time. This would be the year to plant Wabbit repelling Marigolds, except they only come in yellow, and orange with some brown.

Wabbit Wars and Mosquito Terrorism

Lobelia erinus

Image via Wikipedia

I just stepped outside with a glass of Shiraz in hand after finishing a beautiful plate of Tilapia and wheat rotini to admire the 2011 Monet Vision. I looked forward to wandering about  the yard sipping the sumptuous full-bodied red while admiring the perennials at sunset. Within nano-seconds, a swarm of Mosquitos attacked. Caught by surprise, I flailed about vigorously swatting with the Shiraz swishing dangerously close to sloshing over the lip of the glass. I fled to the safety of the house without spilling a drop of the mellow red, but now I itch all over. Without a doubt the Mosquitos are a formidable enemy, and put the Wabbits to shame. The Wabbits confine themselves to eating flowers, the Mosquitos attack people. That is not fair.

Thank God, the new air conditioner is working well. I can hide within the Man-Cave in comfort and admire the Vision from behind the safety of glass.

It will be painful to watch the Wabbits accost the Lobelia and be too afraid to leave the safety of the house to chase them away.

A new ally will be visible tonight. The Fire Flies have arrived. I look forward to watching their showy aerobatics around the darkest corners of the yard. The Fire Fly Air Force of 2011 will enhance the 2011 Monet Vision to add a moving light show, and night-time splendor.

A side benefit, the Fire Flies eat mosquitos.

Fire Fly Air Force 2011 Arrives Just in Time To Save Grumpa Joe

Nature is cruel at times.

Kick It Into High Gear

It is time to reflect on the past year and to account for the precious time granted me by the Lord. I struggled with my accomplishment list as I took inventory of what I did. I recalled that during my working years, at the end of a busy day, I often told my staff, “Well, we didn’t get much done today, but we will give it hell tomorrow.” So here goes my advice to myself, “Well Joe, you didn’t get much done in 2010, so give it hell in 2011.”

My accomplishment list is short this year, but the projects were larger. Here is a short list of things I am proud of:

I posted one hundred and seventy-five pieces on my BLOG. Among these posts were fifty-six political cartoons. Some of them were genius, others mediocre.

I wrote two children’s stories and submitted them to publishers: “FLYING TO THE SUN,” and “MOON CAKES TO GO.”  I rewrote a children’s story titled “FIRE FLY AIR FORCE,” for summer, and two Christmas stories, “SANTA IS MISSING, and “THE GIFT,” in time for Christmas.

Peggy and I spent twelve weeks basking in the sunny climes of Arizona while my kids stayed home to shovel snow. We visited cousins and friends in California.

Lion Joe organized and led the STRIDES: Lions Walk for Diabetes Awareness, with a team of really great Lincoln-Way High School teachers, and Lions.

In between those activities, Grumpa Jose  kept the garden in order, and the lawn maintained. This is the first year, I was proud of the green grass in front of our home. While I was tending the front with loving care, the backyard lawn turned  into thistle and chickweed.  Jose also waged a war with the Wabbits and built barriers around his flower beds. The Wabbit wars were documented on the BLOG. Just as the fence along our southern border fails to keep out drug runners, my fences were no match for the Wabbits. It turned out that West Nile virus is a more effective deterrent. While I waited for the virus to kick in, the Wabbits consumed my prize perennials.

In order to keep my sanity during this activity called 2010, I kept calm and chilled by consuming eight cases of red wine. Of all the accomplishments, the wine tasting was my favorite.

Finally, here is some  wisdom for my friends:

I know you didn’t get much done in 2010, so kick it into high gear, and give it hell in 2011.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Author’s Note on Fire Fly Air Force

For the loyal readers who read all twenty chapters of Fire Fly Air Force, I thank you. I wrote the story for my seven grandchildren to celebrate the fifth anniversary of their Grandmother’s entrance into heaven. I wanted them to know that she is still involved in their lives. For the three kids that were born after she was gone, I wanted them to know that she loves them too.

The setting for the story came from a recollection of one magical night in July. I just shut off the light to get into bed. I looked out of the bedroom window and saw something special.

“Barb, come here, you have to see this.”

Reluctantly, she got out of bed and looked with me. We stood and watched a million fireflies blinking all around the garden in the back yard. There were thousands of them. We stood and stared. The magic of it all mesmerized both of us. We had never seen so many lightening bugs in a single night, ever. We never saw that many again.

This week marks the seventh anniversary of her death, and I thought it appropriate to publish the story again. I believe Barbara is in heaven and eternally happy. I refer to her as Saint Barbara of Prestwick. Every time I see a lightening bug blink its light, I think of her and one magical night in July.

Morty Angel has a special message for you from God…

Fire Fly Air Force-Chapter 21-Final

Chapter 21.

Exhausted after the big performance, the air force wanted to get home. Before he dismissed them, Luke thanked them for delivering the message in such a beautiful way.

“No fire fly in history can repeat what you just did.”

“No, they won’t,” chimed Morty from behind. “You were outstanding, thank-you for the great performance. Your delivery was perfect. God is pleased.”

Morty thanked Luke again before Luke joined Bonnie, and his mother Nancy.

Next, Morty found Torch to thank him for being so patient and so diligent.

“God is pleased that you gave yourself so completely to deliver his message Torch.”

“I thank you,” said Torch, “for saving me from the Phyros.”

Morty wished Torch well and bid him goodbye. I am going to miss the fireflies thought Morty to himself. Their lights have cheered me all summer. I can hardly wait for next year.

Morty returned to the house, and said thanks and goodbye to Gracie and Max.

It is time to watch over Ben again, he said to himself as he waved goodbye..

The End

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Fire Fly Air Force-Chapter 20

Chapter 20

The air force arrived, just as Ben came out to the patio. They had hundreds of squads now. All because a single firefly had a dream to be the best that he could be.

Luke led the squads into the yard. All taillights blinked in unison. The sky sparkled with thousands of flashing yellow lights. It was a magical evening. Luke’s show went for most of the evening. First, the squads flew by the patio in a single file. Each pilot followed the other in a magnificent spiral. Next, they flew up to the rooftop with their light out. On a signal, all the squads began a spiral dive with lights blinking.

They looked like a waterfall of light. The waterfall transformed into a giant spiral. The leader flew up in a large arc, and then turned downward ever so slowly. He swooped downward in the same arc, picking up speed. At first, it looked like he would crash into the fliers that were waiting at the bottom.

Flash started to turn inward a foot above the waiting line. He continued the arc inward and upward to form a second loop inside the first. Each time he finished a loop he tightened it, and formed a new one. He flew faster as he did. When he reached the center of the spiral, he turned off his light and disappeared. The string of fliers followed him. They landed to rest.

Morty flew into the yard, just as the giant spiral began to shrink in size. The last of the fliers spiraled into the center and turned off his light. He sat down between Ben and Gracie.

“Where did you take them?” asked Gracie.

“I took them far enough away that they won’t bother Luke, Nancy, or the Lucerns anymore.”

“You are just in time for the finale.”

“Great,” said Morty, “I want to see the look on Ben’s face when he gets the message from heaven.”

Luke assembled the fliers for a talk while they rested and sipped nectar.

“You did a marvelous job this summer,” he lectured. “We had fun and learned how to fly in new ways. Soon you will all return to your families to prepare for the winter. Before we do that, we have to deliver a very important message for Morty Angel. He trusts us with the job.

It took Torch all summer to find him. Torch delivered the message from God. Now Morty wants us to deliver it to Ben. You can do it. You are ready.”

Luke gave the sign and all the fliers scurried into position, each squad in place behind its leader.

“Torch, “said Luke. “ Give us the light.”

Torch flew straight up into the center of the yard, and blinked his light three times. On the third blink, the squads all rose like helicopters. They peeled off behind Luke with their lights off. When the entire force was in place, Torch blinked again. Luke turned on his light. As he flew, the squads followed in single file. Each flier turned on his light at the exact same spot. The effect was a line of lights. Luke was the tip of the pen, his fliers the ink. He flew slowly and deliberately. He turned in a loop then back into another.

Ben watched from the patio in amazement as the letters of light appeared in the sky over the yard.

“Mom, Dad,” he shouted, “Come out quick.”

“What is it?” asked his mother. Dad ran out to see what the commotion was.

“Look in the sky in the back of the yard, the fireflies.”

They watched in amazement as the line of lights continued to form letters. Slowly the letters became words. . .

“GRANDMA LOVES YOU.”

“There it is,” said Morty. “God sent Ben a special message, and he used his creatures to do it. He also gave me a wakeup call.”

“How,” asked Gracie?

“Normally, He tells Michael the Archangel to send me instructions. This time, he used another route. At first, I missed the signal, and Torch had to keep looking for me all summer. I saw his signal weeks ago. Remember, how they taught us at the academy, that God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, he sends us signs, and we are not alert enough to recognize them.”

Luke and the fliers hovered in place blinking their lights to keep the message alive for as long as they could. Eventually, they tired and their lights began to dim, one by one. Torch sent a series of flashes to let them know they were finished. The air force scattered around the yard into a mystical display of twinkling lights everywhere.

“Mom, Dad, did you see it?”

“Yes, it was beautiful.”

“Please come in now, it’s getting late,” said Dad.

Ben followed them.

“Thanks Gracie,” said Morty. “I couldn’t have delivered the message without your help.”

“It was my pleasure.”

“Before you leave, I have another thing to do,” said Morty.

To Be Continued . . .

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Fire Fly Air Force-Chapter 19

Chapter 19.

Gandor held his order to the tribe, until Lex came to tell him where the games were to be.

“Something special is going on,” said Lex “Luke had every squadron move to Ben’s yard. He is planning the games for the night of no moon.”

“Good,” said Gandor, “I will make it extra special. We will be waiting for him.”

“The games will begin when the brightest firefly light he has ever seen, flashes. The entire air force will fly in when they see the light.”

“You did a Great job son.”

The comment stunned Lex. It was the first time Gandor had ever paid him a compliment, and called him “son.”

“Thanks Dad. I have to leave now.”

“Why are you leaving?”

“I’m going back to spy on the Lucerns. Don’t you want me to get more information?” Lex had to think fast because Luke counted on him to help deliver the message.

“No, my son, I need you here with me tonight. Besides, after tonight I won’t need to know what Luke is up to.”

“Why not?”

“When the bright light flashes, our tribe will be waiting. Our lights will be off so they will not see us. When Luke flies into our space, we will capture him and his air force. Now, come with me.”

Lex could not leave Gandor now, that would reveal his secret. Gandor believed Lex was spying from a distance.

Gandor will kill me if he finds out that I confessed to Luke. I told Luke that I was sorry for spying, and he forgave me. I promised to be true to him. I cannot let Gandor know that. What do I do? If I leave now, I risk losing Gandor’s approval that took a long time to get. If I stay, I betray Luke. What should I do?

“Quickly,” said Gandor. “We are wasting time.”

*************************************************************************

The sun dropped, and the night of no moon finally arrived. Morty scooted to where Luke waited for him with the air force.

“Is everything ready?”

“Yes it is. Except one thing, Lex didn’t return yet.”

“Hmm, he must have a problem.”

“I hope for his sake that you are right, I don’t like pilots who don’t keep their word.”

“Let’s get started. I want Torch to come with me,” said Morty.

Torch came forward and settled on Morty’s curl. Morty touched the turbo button on Skye, and they were gone.

“Leave your light out until I say it is okay.”

They landed in Ben’s yard. Gracie met them outside.

“Ben is still inside,” said Gracie.

“Good,” said Morty, “this is what I want you, to do. . .”

Morty explained his plan to them.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes,” replied Gracie.

“Nervous, but ready,” answered Torch.

“Okay, climb into the jar and go with Gracie, remember to keep your light off until she tells you to flash.”

“Yes sir.” Torch saluted.

The two angels became invisible, and took off in different directions. Gracie held the jar with Torch inside. She hovered in place high above all the bushes in the center of the yard…

Gandor and the Phyro tribe waited in the darkness of the grass below. The tribe was loyal to Gandor. He kept them in food all summer, and protected them from attack. They knew the plan well, and were anxious to get started.

High above them, a single Lucern firefly hovered in a glass container. He was waiting to play his part. Gracie got her queue from Morty, he was in position and ready.

“On the count of three,” called Morty over the Sentra-Vision, “one, two, and three.”

“Go Torch,” she commanded.

Torch lit his tail in a magnificent long bright flash. It was so yellow it was like the sun. He pushed so hard to make the light bright that he thought he would burst. He held it for as long as he could. He took a quick breath, and then flashed again. Over, and over he flashed. His flashes lit up the whole yard like lightening.

“There it is,” said Gandor. “Go get them.”

The Phyro tribe rose out of the grass. They spiraled upward covering the yard from one end to the other. Gracie saw them, but Torch was too busy to look

“Keep flashing,” she said. “Come and get them Morty.”

Morty remained invisible, but started blinking his halo mimicking a firefly. He was in the next yard when Gandor spotted the blinking halo coming toward them. Thinking it was Luke and the air force approaching, Gandor ordered, “Hold your lights until he is in the yard.”

The tribe obeyed.

Morty reached the edge of the yard.

“Stop flashing,” she said. She took off and left the yard. She remained invisible while still holding the jar with Torch in it. With Torch secure in the jar, he was out of the hands of the Phyros. Morty’s halo continued to blink, but he and Skye were invisible. They entered the yard with the dark Phyros.

Gandor watched as Morty’s light crossed over the line.

“Turn on your lights,” he ordered.

All at once, thousands of blinking lights covered the yard. The Phyros were anxious to capture Luke, the air force, and the Lucerns. Instead, Morty’s flying scoop shuttled them into the bottle. Morty’s invention worked beautifully.

“That is beautiful,” said Torch.

He and Gracie watched as Morty flew a snake pattern around the yard.

“Look, he snared Gandor and Lex,” he said.

They struggled to get out, but the momentum of the chute moving forward pulled them to the center. The harder they tried to get out of the chute, the faster they moved into the glass jar.

Morty finally made himself visible on his final flight around the yard. The jar glowed bright yellow from the flashing Phyros. Together, they gave off a light as bright as Torch’s. With the Phyros all in the jar, Gracie capped it. She wore sunglasses because the light was so bright.

Confused and bewildered, Gandor and Lex thought they were going to capture the air force, instead, they were the ones trapped.

Skye landed, and Morty unhitched the chute, and removed the capped jar. He used duct tape to paste the jar onto Skye Scooter’s nose.

“They can help light my way through the night.”

Just then, Gracie landed next to him with Torch.

“Let Torch out of the bottle now.”

“Wow, can we do that again?” asked Torch. “That was fun to watch.”

“Please bring Ben onto the patio,” said Morty. “The air force is ready to start the message.” Torch signaled Luke to start.

“I have some business to take care of,” he told Gracie. “I’ll be back in a flash.”

***********************************************************************

He flew North at warp speed. In a very short time, he landed on a farm field in Minnesota. He carefully removed the jar from Skye, and gave the lid two turns. The jar was open.

“You are free to go,” he said. At first, they did not make a move. Slowly, one, by one the fireflies found their way out of the bottle. Soon, a steady stream of fireflies spiraled from the jar into the night sky. They blinked a beautiful magical pattern as they escaped.

Gandor and Lex were among them. Lex stopped in front of Morty.

“Thanks.”

“For what?” asked Morty?

“Thank you for giving my people another chance and for keeping my secret.”

“You belong with Gandor. He needs someone to teach him how to be trustworthy. Now go, and start a new life together.”

Lex blinked a final thank-you and flew off.

To Be Continued . . .

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