Batting 1/3

Last Friday, I stood outside on the driveway chatting with my grandson as he added fluid to his sacred diesel pickup truck. Suddenly, I heard a familiar noise coming from above. I saw the vee formation of a gaggle of Sandhill Cranes flying past high overhead. Their distinctive noise identified what they were. They are often misidentified as Canada Geese because of their flight pattern. I called Lovely out, too, so she could also see them. She saw them, but being vision impaired, she didn’t really understand what I was getting excited about.

Later, she and I went for a brief walk, and I told her that we would see the birds the next day. Again, she didn’t understand what I told her, but she knew we would drive to Indiana. We left at ten the following day to go to Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Preserve in Medaryville, Indiana. Luckily, it was sunny, which made driving in the countryside enjoyable.

Even though I had used a GPS to navigate, I became a little confused when we were within two miles of the preserve and stopped at a service station for instructions. The lady I asked was accommodating and excited to talk about these magnificent birds. “I live across the road from here with my Uncle, and they stop in the cemetery behind his house. I saw a flock take off early this morning at breakfast.”

Five minutes later, we arrived at the parking lot of the viewing area. It was sunny, windy, and bitingly cold. It wasn’t lovely weather to be bird-watching in an open field. The two-story viewing stand was a short walk away, so we hiked to it to get a closer view. About a thousand birds bunched up along a tiny creek that meanders through the field. Some were standing with their heads tucked under their wings, probably sleeping, while others were pecking at the creek, searching for a snack, and still others danced about each other as though courting. Luckily, I brought binoculars, which made them closer to view. The flock was a hundred yards away from the fenced viewing area. Since it was so cold, we cut our viewing short and hurried back to the warmth of the car.

Lovely and I sat looking out through the windshield using the binoculars when three birds appeared out of nowhere and landed in the flock. Then four more came down, and the stream of arriving birds continued. I opened the sunroof and looked up into the sky, and there they were, a vast flock circling downward, then landing to join their friends. The cranes will fly as high as six to seven thousand feet, rising to twelve thousand feet to cross mountains and travel up to five hundred miles daily.

After watching the cranes land for thirty minutes, we headed out for the next leg of our day. We were only thirty miles from Rensselaer, Indiana, the home of Saint Joseph College, my Alma Mater, for the first two years of college experience. The GPS guided us through towns like DeMotte, Hebron, Roeslawn, Monon, Remington, Rensselaer, and Collegeville. All are etched in my memory from when I traveled through them to get home for the holidays. Along route 231, we passed through field after field being harvested for corn. The traffic encountered is the long thirty-foot-long dump trucks filled with corn going to the storage silos. Between the corn fields were acres and acres of solar farms and a few scattered windmills with the blades turning. Indiana’s top three crops are corn, soybeans, and electricity. Power has to be considered a crop because once the panels are installed, the rich, fertile black soil is unusable to grow anything. We, as a culture, choose electricity over feeding the world.

We entered Collegeville after passing through Rensselaer from the North. A wave of nostalgia passed over me as we approached, and I spotted the bell towers of Saint Joseph’s Chapel at the entrance to the campus. The nearer we got, the stranger things became. I expected to see at least a few of the eleven hundred students everywhere, walking, carrying books and backpacks as they crossed from buildings to the library and the dorms. It is a ghost town. I tried to enter the campus from three separate drives; all were blocked off with heavy concrete barriers like we see on the highway separating lanes. I finally found a road that took us around the back door of the campus. A public highway that encircles the campus. There is not a single car or soul to be seen anywhere. When did this college close its doors? Maybe it was because of COVID-19, but I didn’t get an honest answer until I searched for it online.

Saint Joseph’s College was founded as a private college in 1889 by priests from the Passionist Order. They formally closed the doors one hundred and twenty-eight years later, in 2017. They were in debt for one hundred million dollars, with only twenty million coming in. We all know you can’t run a business that way. Sadly, I turned around and headed for the next stop on the agenda, which was to get lunch. Before we left to visit, I figured we’d find a nice restaurant in Rensselaer, a town of 6300. I asked Garmin for suggestions and decided on Somebody’s Bar and Grill. We walked in, got one whiff of the place, and decided against it. The odor reminded us of smoke, beer, and greasy food. Our Second choice was Joan’s Kitchen, across from the courthouse. It looked nice but was closed. I spotted a sign for Interstate 65 and headed for it. We ended the trip by dining in Frankfort at a well-known, comfortable place.

My batting average for this trip is .333; birds, yes; College, no; lunch in Rensselaer, no. If I were playing Major League Baseball, I’d be paid at least half a million dollars a year with that average.

I Love the Smell of Freshly Cut Wood

Today, I treated myself and got lost in my workshop to test a new toy. As a treat to myself, I bought one of those genius spot heaters that are supposed to save the world. My workshop gets very cold, and I have to add a couple of layers of clothing when I work there. Why not add a space heater? Anyway, the heater works fine, but only winter will tell. Currently, the temperature outside is in the sixties, and the basement is still warm. Now that I know the thing does function, the real test will come when it is zero degrees outside.

When I finished my Libre project, I closed the shop and went away to do other things, like writing a story that will become a book. Libre is the title of my last Intarsia work depicting a Bald Eagle in descending flight. Libre and I were fast friends from January until August, when I finished the work and hung it under the spotlight. Since then, I’ve learned that three and a half months is sufficient time to get over a love affair with wood. This month (November), I secretly began a new project, but today is the first time I cut wood again. I have decided to use Zebra wood, naturally light-colored wood with brown striations running through it. It is costly, and I learned it is scarce. It is expensive because it is scarce, or it is scarce because it is costly. It doesn’t matter; I only know that I shelled out over a hundred dollars on wood and must go shopping for more.


This is the first Intarsia project I am making that is relatively flat, allowing me to use thinner wood than usual. The thickness will enable me to cut faster. The half-inch Zebra cuts like a hot knife through butter. The problem with cutting fast is that I struggle to stay on the line. The more wiggles there are in a piece, the harder it is to match the wiggles of an adjoining part. So, the benefit of using thin wood is lost because I must cut slowly to get the precision I need to make the art piece look good. I can’t complain because this is why I do what I do. It is a hobby, so it is supposed to take time. After all, what else do I have to do, write a book?

War with a Caveman Slugger

Why do you blog?

When I first began blogging my goal was to motivate people to achieve their goals. I had read numerous books on self motivation, goal setting, and time management. In addition I listened to tapes by motivational speakers like Zig Ziegler, Tony Robbins, Wayne Dwyer, a Brian Tracy and others. I was pumped. My goal was to write motivational stories incorporating the rules I had learned.

At first, I did exactly as I set out to do with little to no success. Then, the world changed. Obama was nominated by the Democrats to be president of our great country, but then he hit us with his qualifier to transform the country. He kept preaching that he wanted to transform our great country into . . . What? He never answered that question.

That question bothered me. What did he mean? I began reading any and all material related to Obama, his parents, and grand parents. It became obvious to me that his transformation was to make us Communists.

His mother, father, and grandparents on his mother’s side were radical socialists. Which is journalist code for communist.

Obama’s father became a member of the Kenyan government. While in office he proposed a law to redistribute the wealth of the country to the masses. Thankfully, the Kenyan leaders saw through this plan and demoted his father to a very low position in the government.

Obama’s plan was modeled after his father’s failed plan of redistributing the wealth. When he was in office he spent money liberally at every chance.

My motivational blog succeeded in changing my goal to fight the communist front being pushed by Obama instead of trying to motivate Dylan’s like myself to to wonderful things.

My blog posts tried to point out the hypocrisy and stupidity of his administration. One problem I had was the enormous wall put up by the modern press. They believed, and tried feverishly to make you and me believe that Obama was lily white pure. They succeeded in making him Saint Obama and anyone who didn’t go along with the program was stupid and insane. The same press that put Obama on the pedestal turned 180 degrees to oppose Donald Trumps. Now that same press has Joe Biden on the Obama pedestal.

My blog GrumpaJoesPlace became a raging battle between me and the world of Obama.

When Joe Biden came into play, I changed the direction of the blog again. Instead of fighting a war I can’t win, I’ve decided to tone things down, and write about subjects that I have some control over. Occasionally, I lose it when Uncle and or Joe Biden do something so stupid that I can’t ignore it.

Judging by the way our government is headed I’ll probably be losing my cool frequently in the up coming months.

One thing is for sure, since I changed from bashing Obama, my readership has dropped to one half of what is was when I tried to slug him in the head with a caveman sledgehammer at every chance.

Morning in Frankfort

A walk into town this morning revealed lots of activity. It is special for me for two reasons. First it was my first walk into town this year. Usually, I walk this walk several times a week beginning in January.

Second, the annual Frankfort Fall Festival rated in the top ten craft fairs in the country, begins on Friday. Today, however, is the set up for the entertainment venue and food court. My Lions Club will arrive at 5 this evening to set up our Wurst Fest venue. The Wurst Fest kicks off the Fall Festival on Thursday evening with German themed entertainment, food, drinks, and lively fellowship.

Everyone is invited to join us. All it takes is to buy a raffle ticket good for two people to enter. In addition to the grand prize of $10,000 and six lessor cash prizes we will have 50/50 raffles and chances to win any number of liquor baskets and more.

2023-Wurst Fest Venue in Preparation

Too Busy To BLOG

Since I finished my Intarsia project, I have not been in my wood shop, but I have jumped into the next project on my bucket list, i.e., write a book, or should I say write a half book. This project began in 2013 and was shelved in 2014. The story was taking on a life when I had a second story burst through my brain membrane. Walla, book number one, took the back seat. Space Rod lost out to BAC. Sadly, both books were tabled by 2015. Peggy began her journey with dementia, and I decided she was more important than any of my stories. In this return to book writing, I have decided to focus on completing one. Space Rod is a story that has been playing in my mind like a movie so it will be the one I finish this year.

An important lesson I have learned is that picking up a story almost ten years after it started is not as simple as I thought it would be. The initial enthusiasm that I had when I began is deeply rooted in the memory sector of my brain, and it requires a lot of coaxing to get it to resurface.

I began by editing the part I had written so long ago. I made another decision to use an editor program called Grammarly to assist with my shitty punctuation and phraseology. My logic was that if I edited the twenty-three chapters I had written, the story would become refreshed in my mind. It worked.

What hasn’t worked is recalling all the ideas I had to finish the story, like how it ends, and simple stuff like that. I am now at a point where I must go forward and struggle with what to write. I have reverted to my BLOG system of if I don’t have an idea of what I want to write, I should just start, and the words will flow. It did work for one chapter in which I tried to describe a character with all her wonderment and flaws, but when I go back to the story, I hit a wall because I don’t know how to blend the new stuff in with the prior stuff. When I BLOG and just begin writing, the flow carries me toward an eventual point that makes sense. Does that make sense? No? Not to me, either.

Another step that has consumed me is researching for the Space part. Back in 2023, when this idea first germinated, I thought the reader would believe any bullshit I wrote about space travel because space travel is a relatively unknown entity. What has happened in the past ten years is that Space X, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic have come into existence and are making space travel seem like it will be commonplace, and available very soon. That tells me that my readers will need to be convinced that what I am writing is within the realm of possibility. Up until now, I’ve taken the attitude that all things are possible, and I don’t need to answer questions about how they are possible. Anyway, this is a Fantasy Fiction story so maybe my first plan of making the reader fill in all the gaps can still work.

As I’m writing this Fantasy, I am also researching how to publish. The traditional method of submitting a manuscript to the major publishing houses seems no longer workable. These big guys are so inundated with material that they can’t handle it all, so they have trumped up an intermediate step of recommending that writers use an agent. The writer must convince the agent to read the story and to decide if he can make money on it. If he deems it worthy, the writer signs a contract to include the agent in any and all income derived. A alternate system to use is to self-publish on a platform like Amazon. Either way, the work of selling the book resides with the writer. Marketing is probably 99% of getting the public to read the story.

As I write this tome, I am considering establishing an Author BLOG or website dedicated to the book. Another BLOG will no doubt steal my effort from writing BS on this BLOG and spending all my effort on the book-selling BLOG.

The bottom line is I am better off making pictures out of wood. At least I can use the finished product to heat my home by feeding the works of art into the flames of a fireplace.