Family Stuff

My grand daughter is into making Emoji pillows, and this week she presented me with a design I asked for.

Photo on 7-14-15 at 12.00 PM

This afternoon I had the pleasure of celebrating my daughter’s thirty-third radiation treatment. She is shown here with my emoji pillow-making grand daughter and a small slice of chocolate mouse.

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Not to be outdone my grandson from Michigan sent me a picture of his prize winning fish. He won the smallest fish category in the Heddon Lure Fishing Derby.

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A week earlier, Ben sent me this photo of a fish he caught while at Scout camp

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Ben is a catch and release fisherman. He lives for the joy of catching one, it doesn’t matter what size it is. Actually, it takes skill to catch the teensy-weeny thing he got credit for.

On July 3, their day off from work, my step grand daughter Shannon, and her husband Kevin helped me paint a room at the house I’ve been working on.

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On July 4, at a family cookout, my grand son Joe showed me the Willy Warmer he received as a gag gift from a friend.

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He asked me if I wanted it, I told him it was too small.

Writing for the Sake of Writing

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The wine buzz tonight is taking my head into a tail spin. I guess three glasses of wine is too much for my feeble brain to handle. I just read a chapter of my book to Peg, and for once she didn’t fall asleep. Either the story was good, or she was awake. Earlier we went to a local place called Ryan’s Pub for a wine, and some fish. Being it is Friday during lent it is a meat less day. Ryan’s is a mile and a half from our house, and we have driven past it for ten years without ever going in to check it out. Well my virginity is gone, we walked through the portals for the Friday night fish fry. Lo and behold I spy my friend Al sitting at the bar when we walk in. This is better than I imagined. I ordered a Cab for my self, and a lemonade for Peg, and two Walleye dinners to go. We kibitzed with Al while we waited. I’m telling Al and Peg that the last time I was in this place was thirty years ago for a going away party for an engineer from work. Don’t ask me who was leaving I don’t remember, but I do remember the place. It hasn’t changed much in thirty years. Then I proceeded to talk about my old friend Pat from work who owned the place with his daily presence. He lives right around the corner a block away. A few minutes later a short thin guy with bowed legs, white beard, cowboy boots, and cowboy hat walks in. I ask the barkeeper Heather if that is Pat. She says “it sure is.”

I walk over to him fortified by four ounces of Cab, and greet him with “Hey you old bowlegged sum-na-bitch how are ya doin?” He looks at me with a long dumb look. “You remember me don’t ya?”

“Yeah, but I don’t remember your name.”

“It is me , Joe from Panduit.”

“Oh yes I remember now.”

First impressions hit hard sometimes, and when I looked into Pat’s face I saw an old man, a very old man, a lot older than I ever remembered him to look. Pat was a vigorous young tool-maker who grew up in suburban Harvey, Illinois and moved to live in Tucson, Arizona for a several years. He loved it there, and never got away from the cowboy look. He returned to Chicago to work at the Panduit plant in Tinley Park for his old school chum Roy Moody. Before Pat moved to Arizona he was a motorcycle racer. He loved speed on two wheels, and loved the adrenaline rush he got from speeding shoulder to shoulder around a clay track at ninety miles per hour. Of course his knees are shot, and he has lots of broken bones to his credit. When the weather was right he rode a motorcycle, when the weather wasn’t right he drove a pick up truck. He and his wife raised two kids on a mini-ranch in Frankfort, IL. He still lives there.

One of the most spectacular wakes I ever went to was for Pat’s first wife Bev. She and he were riding home on his Harley one Sunday night about ten p.m. with the Bike Club when a rider in front of him lost control,and began swinging in broad “esses” across the road in front of him. Pat T-boned him going sixty mph. The two bikes went in different directions. Pat’s wife who sat behind him like a proud Harley Girl went flying over his head and landed on her neck, crunch! She was dead with a broken neck.

Pat was President of his Bike Club and his wife was first lady. She was one of the most beautiful women I had ever laid my eyes on, and now she was dead at age thirty-five. The wake was in Frankfort at Gerardi’s Funeral home. Back then Frankfort didn’t have more than twenty-five hundred people and Gerardi’s was a small place. Because Pat and I worked together my wife Barb and I attended the wake. At the time we lived in Alsip twenty miles north of Frankfort. We approached Frankfort on US Route 30 from the east. I noticed many Harley riders going the opposite way. We knew when we arrived at Gerardi’s because there were motorcycles parked two inches apart wrapped around the entire building. I remember saying that if I kicked the first bike they would all fall over like dominos. The line of people attending the wake wrapped around the building too. We assumed our place in line and patiently waited. A number of big brawny Harley guys carried Pat out into the parking lot on a chair for him to get some air. His wife was dead, and he looked like he rolled over the road for a mile or two before he finally came to rest. Lots of black and blue with red raw abrasions on his arms and swollen head. He didn’t look too healthy, but he was alive. The big guys set him down in the center of the lot. The line of people walked past him to the parlor. He sat there swilling a beer accepting condolences like a man who has lost his partner in a bike accident.

Inside the Parlor, we finally got to pass Bev’s coffin. She wore her best Harley attire. Her black leather Jacket with the club emblem was hanging on the kneeler in front of the casket on display. She looked as beautiful as ever.

Funny what memories a little Cab, and a chance meeting of an old friend will induce.

She Puts Me To Shame

When I was a kid, I lived to fish. I write about my fishing experiences extensively in my book Jun-e-or, Reflections of Life in the nineteen Forties and Fifties (click the link on the right). I will only say those experiences soured me on the sport.

I have seven grandchildren and three step-grandchildren whom I love equally. They range in age from 6 to 33. Of the ten, guess who the best fisherman are? Yep, the youngest ones. For some reason unknown to  me they love the sport. The secret is their parents encourage them. My Dad tolerated my interest at best, my Mom loved to cook and eat them. My Grandfather fostered my interest in fishing the most. It doesn’t matter, I don’t fish anymore.

Yesterday, my grand-daughter Jenna Rose called to tell me a fish story. Yes, at age eight, she is becoming a catch and release fisher. My two grandsons in Michigan ages six and eight are also big time sports fishers.

My heart jumps with joy when they send me photos like the one below to show me their prizes.

Largemouth Bass Taken 4 July 2012 in a C&R pond in New Lenox, IL.

Can you believe that? This little girl loves catching the really big ones. I can’t get over it.

New Development in the Wabbit War

Image courtesy of Warner Bros, free use agreement.

A new force has mysteriously intervened in the Wabbit War. Striking in the dark of night, the new force has divided the Alliance. Grumpa Joe smilingly approves. The Alliance consisting of Wabbits, Grandma Peggy, birds, squirrels, mice, ants, and the dreaded Heron have suffered a major setback. Still unidentified, the strike force snuck into the garden climbed the window style and stole a bird feeder. In a fit of disappointment, Grandma Peggy directed Grumpa Joe to search for the lost feeder. He spent three hours in the yard mowing and weeding without spotting any evidence of the feeder or its hanger. Meanwhile, the Wabbits continue to eat any new plant sprouting in the flowerbeds. They also continue to enjoy the birdseed that Grandma Peggy now spreads on the patio for the birds. Is it possible that the Wabbits themselves are responsible for this latest act of aggression? Have they allied themselves with the opossum or the raccoons in order to avail themselves of easier food?

Wabbit War Mind Game

War is definitely a mind game. Strategy is critical to the success of one, or the other side. Right now, I am trying to understand the new strategy of the Alliance. This morning my intelligence indicated a new player on the scene. Could the Wabbits be so smart as to ally with the Herons? Even if they are not allies, the heron represents another attack on Grumpa Joe. Now, I have to fight the enemy on one more front. Wabbits, ants, mice, now herons; how many more will join the battle before I raise the white flag?

I thought I won the heron battle last fall, but I lost. I last saw him standing on the frozen pond waiting patiently for the thaw. The temperature turned down, and he disappeared. All winter, I waited  to determine if any of my fish had survived his onslaught. They did not; he had eaten every one of them.

The heron is a formidable enemy. He is cunning, clever, and observant. The least bit of noise or movement, and he flies off making a giant circle around the neighborhood only to return and land on the roof of the castle. When opportunity presents itself, he glides down to the water, and patiently fishes.

I avoided buying new fish because of the heron threat. I did not see Great Blue for months, so I finally broke down and stocked the pond with five bucks worth of Comets. The fish are so small, that I have only seen them three times in a month. They disappear rapidly under the foliage of the water lilies.

Today, I did maintenance on the pond. I trimmed the creeping water plants, pulled the string algae out by the bucketful, and cleared the skimmer basket. The heat has evaporated several inches of water, so I ran the hose to top it off. As I picked up the trimmings and piles of algae, I spotted a toad. Then, a few inches away from the toad, I watched a green frog quietly slip into the pool. The frog is another threat. Will he win out over the heron, and eat the comets? Or, will Great Blue have frog legs for supper?  It doesn’t matter; I’m screwed either way.

As I said before, war is strategy. Grandma Peggy hates Great Blue because he eats fish. She will not have a fish eater as her ally, but she will remain faithful to the flower eating Wabbits. How do I resolve the dilemma of split Alliances? In one case she is with me, in the other she is against me. It’s a losin fight.

Finally, He makes Sense

 

My genius Senator Dickie Durbin finally made a proposal to President Barack Obama that could make some sense. The Honorable Senator Durbin is asking POTUS to assign a Carp Czar. These people really do not get it at all. The Democrats have so gotten into eliminating God from the universe that they believe they can build a government agency to outwit nature.

Durbin means well, but he has his head in his rectum again. This time he wants to eliminate the migration of Asian carp away from Lake Michigan.  He wants a new agency formed to coordinate efforts to eradicate an invasion of Asian carp into the Great Lakes. It is a noble idea that will go down in history with other Liberal, Socialist, Progressive, Communist concepts like Health Care Reform, and Financial Reform without regulation of Fannie or Freddie. How about keeping oil from washing ashore? The Democrats can’t secure the border, and eliminate the invasion of Mexicans from over running the United States. How in the hell will they control an underwater invasion of fish?

A Carp Czar could be a good idea if they take this recommendation; make Barney Frank the Czar. Throw him into the water at the mouth of Lake Ontario with a concrete slab tied to his ankles. He can catch the critters, and we kill two problems with one Czar. Barney leaves Congress, and the fish will have some natural food to nibble.

Rockin’ the Boat

Grampa Jim was a loving and kind man who did anything he could for us.  He was slim and short, only five foot two inches tall.  His hair was grey and thin.  He sported a neatly trimmed mustache.  On the left side of his face, right in front of his ear, he had a lump nearly the size of a golf ball.   He never worried about the lump even though he looked funny with it.  It never hurt him or bothered him in any way.

My wish to go fishing got through to him, and he agreed to take me to Little Paw-Paw Lake to fish from a boat.  Dad dropped us off.  Grampa never owned a car nor did he know how to drive, but he always got to where he wanted to go by walking, and asking for rides.

The lake comes up to the front door of the house next to the road. The owner rented row boats.  Little Paw-Paw is unique in that power boats are forbidden. The result is that there are no water skiers or speed boats tearing up the lake.   The lake is small, serene, and quiet.  There are houses on the lake, but much of the shoreline is still wild and undeveloped.  Gramps and I rented a boat, and I rowed out into the lake with my gear and a can full of worms.  The water was smooth as glass. Only the wake of our boat and paddles disturbed it.  Occasionally, a fish jumped nearby with a huge splash; making my adrenalin flow.

A third of the way across the lake we stopped and set the anchor.  I baited my hooks and swung out the bobber.  I used the bamboo pole that Grampa Jim bought for me. I waited patiently for the bobber to dip.  Here I was, fishing in the middle of the lake, in deep water.  Oh how I had dreamed of this moment.  I envisioned pulling in lots of fish when out in the deep waters.  With all the fish jumping around us, I thought we’d see non-stop action; nothing happened.  After awhile, I pulled up anchor and rowed to the lily pads near the shore.  I read that fish lurked in lily pads.  This time, we anchored about 30 feet from shore at the edge of the lily pads.  We’re going to fill the boat with fish at this spot, I thought.  Again, there were no bites; not a single one.  Gramps started to get antsy.  I was not a swimmer, so sitting in a boat was exciting enough for me.  The least little bobble of the boat terrified me.

Gramps couldn’t take it any longer, his bladder was aching.  Suddenly the boat began rocking and rolling as Grampa Jim stood up.  I hung on for dear life with visions of drowning.  I hollered at him to sit down, but nature called him.  He stood up straight, turned away from me, and took a whiz.  I sat there holding on for dear life. He rocked the boat again when he sat down. I was frozen with terror.

It turned out that Grampa Jim’s whiz was the most excitement I had that day.  I didn’t get a single bite during four hours of fishing. Dad came to pick us up, and asked how we did.

“There are no fish in this lake,” I responded. Grampa Jim didn’t say a word.

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