Sunday, December 28, 2014

Second Chances

We all seem to need them at sometime. I can only speak for myself, but I think they come in many forms.

When I was a little kid (with hair on top of my head) I would occasionally screw up by forgetting to do something the way I was told it was supposed to be done. Usually this was pretty trivial stuff. If I realized my mistake my stepmother would often give me a second chance to not screw up. Usually I caught on, but not always. Sometimes I needed more than just a second chance. Sometimes a third or fourth was necessary, but I was usually pushing my luck at that point.

This is my younger brother and I with our grandmother. My hair was short, but covered the whole top of my head.

Then came the teenage years. I still had hair, but it was showing up in more places.

At this time of my life I didn't need many second chances because I was usually right the first time. Or so I thought. I really didn't need many second chances with the girls because I rarely had a first chance. I was actually pretty shy. In my own mind I was pretty cool and my big chance to get away from home was coming as I was almost done with high school.

Here I am with my brother and his cat. I'm cool, but the cat has me beat.
Then came college. I didn't start out so great and they gave me a second chance after the first semester. I didn't want to go to Southeast Asia dressed like everyone else, so I took them up on their generous offer.

I didn't date much, being shy and all (And poor. You can't show a girl a good time with a quarter in your pocket), but there were a couple of second chances I maybe should have taken.

After college I moved to Minneapolis and tried to make it. I hated my job, my dog got run over, and I couldn't afford to keep my piece of shit car running, so I went running home for a bit. My parents were usually gone so I found a job, took care of their house, worked nearly every day for nine months, and took a second chance at Minneapolis. It took about 2 years to get back there after I left Delaware because of a detour to Iowa, but that's another story. This time I made it after all. Just like Mary Tyler Moore, who helped inspire me at the time, I made it back to Minnesota where I lived with my goofy, yet capable, friends.

All these years later as an over ripe adult, I have gotten quite a few second chances from the Cooker. I'm not sure I deserved all of them, but I'm not one to second guess a second chance. No sir, not me! I will always take a second chance opportunity nearly every time I get one. As time becomes THE precious commodity that won't give me a second chance I have to be alert.

So after my last post my friendly neighborhood Northern Hawk Owl came back to give me a second chance at getting a good look. I put on a longer lens and got to take a few more shots. They came out much better.
 Second chances always give me a chance to improve. Do they work for you?

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Poetry, painting, music, writing can all talk about dreams or be inspired by them. Humans have looked for meaning in them as well as glimpses of the future. Physiologically they are just electrical and chemical actions going on in our brains. Are they controlled by the subconscious ramblings of our minds or just random electrochemical operations firing off whatever and whenever they want?

Beats me! I'm no genius! Sometimes they are pure entertainment and other times I try to figure out if there was a trigger that caused a certain subject, scene, or event to occur in the dream.

One of the most fun things that happens is I get to see old friends. One of my very best friends died in the summer of 1995 of a congenital heart condition. Every now and then he comes for a visit and sometimes we play music or just hang out or go exploring something. Last time he was helping me pick out an area in my huge concrete basement for a music room. At the far end of the basement (it must have been a couple of hundred feet long) was a restaurant and bar run by some other friends. I guess I didn't think much of it other than the convenience factor.

Sometimes my father comes to visit. He died back in 2006, but still hangs around in my thoughts and dreams. It's comforting in a way, now that I'm an orphan.

Of all the songs about dreams I think this is one of my very favorites.

Sometimes dreams come on the wings of an owl (Northern Hawk Owl) and depart just as quickly and in a haze. I remember what it felt like, but the details are gone.

It might be fun to see how other people dream or what scenes play out in their heads, but my own are curious enough. What would Sigmund Freud think?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Songs stuck in my head

You may or may not know that I am a rock and roller at heart. Although my father played classics and some Big Band music when I was a kid. I also played trombone for about 6 years. I probably would still be playing trombone if the band director hadn't been such a douche. I had started guitar a bit before I gave up on trombone and have been playing ever since. Up until a few years ago I played with a large band performing mostly international folk dance music. We had about three people who were callers and taught folk dances. It was a lot of fun, but once in a while I would break into "Smoke on the Water" or "Wild Horses" with one or two of the other musicians. Reactions were mixed.  

I have listened to many genres and have appreciated many. Everything from bluegrass to blues and jazz, even polka. So it might surprise you, but it doesn't surprise me that most of the morning I had the Frankie Yankovic singing and playing "Who Stole the Kishka" rolling around in my head as I did other things. Sometimes it comes out of my mouth, but I have learned to control that to some degree because of the reactions I sometimes get.

Frank Yankovic 1958.JPG (thank you Wikipedia)

This afternoon while setting up the barn to put the horses in (cold night ahead) another tune got stuck. This time it was Tony Bennett doing "I left My Heart in San Francisco".  I have no idea where this stuff comes from. Maybe there's a leaky file in the song memory part of my brain.

Tony Bennett in 2003.jpg (thanks again Wikipedia. Yes, I contribute)

There was nearly a week last fall that I couldn't shake Captain Beyond out of my head and had to buy the album again after not having owned it for about 40 years. I don't know how all this different stuff fits in that file in my brain, but it must take up a lot of room.

It really rocks!

Then the question is, "Does this happen to everybody or is it just me?" I'm not sure I want to know the answer. The strange thing is that the music is so eclectic. Sometimes it's part of the Peer Gynt Suite, Carmen, Debussy, Gershwin, The Beatles, Cream, Lester Flatt, The Roches, Béla Fleck,  Joni Mitchell, J.S. Bach, and the Liszt keeps going.

I don't call this stuff up knowingly, but something must trigger it. A word, sight, smell, or another sound, I just don't know. It might be a concern to some, but for me it's just free entertainment that comes and goes as it pleases. It's usually a good thing so why question it?

Friday, November 28, 2014


Everyone’s writing seems to have picked up in quality and/or quantity. The autumn leaves me exhausted and partially brain dead. 

First it starts out as an inkling to get prepared for winter. After a few weeks of lollygagging and just casually getting things in order we’ll get a couple of days of really crappy weather which then slaps me in the face to get my attention. This is a predictable pattern that repeats yearly and yet causes me the same amount of stress as if it were a completely new phenomenon.

On the farm everything has to be put away, organized, mowed, repaired, prepared, examined for wear and tear, cleaned, replaced, and inspected. Winterizing the water troughs, making sure the heater in the tack room works and nothing has been piled on it, fixing fences (I guess that is ongoing), moving piles of manure or gravel to get them out of the way of any potential snow removal, and putting heated water buckets in the stalls are just a part of it.  

The day job has been busy, but the overtime is like getting a temporary raise. October was our busiest month (by far) since 2006, but we did it with three or four less people (there are only seven of us now) and it took its toll on everyone’s mental stability. Yes, even mine! Hard to believe, isn't it?

Most of the pictures I have been taking have been of odds and ends I have been trying to sell on eBay to make up some of my “fun money” that went away when my car needed an unexpected tow. Well, not totally unexpected as it is nineteen years old.

So, I’m tired of keeping my nose to the grindstone because all I seem to get is a bloody nose. That season seems to be coming to an end and winter sets in.  

And so I'll leave you with this because this is only temporary and I am already regaining my strength.
Here is Lili von Schtupp, the Teutonic Tit-willow in her famous rendition of  "I'm Tired".  

See? Isn't that better? It's a fwiggin shame!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

2014 National Erection

So, what’s all this I hear about a national erection?

 I hear that many of the male politicians are having one and probably some of the females. As with most erections, it’s all in their heads. They get themselves worked up into a frenzy for at least a few months preceding said erection until they can no longer hold back. They tell their lovers, the public (or is that pubic?) anything they want to hear so that they can get the most from their erection. Half-truths and outright lies are just about the only things that come out of their mouths until, at long last, the erection is over. Those who win their attempt bask in the afterglow and puff up like the cock of the walk and those who lose their erection usually walk away downtrodden and unsatisfied with their performance. Their public is usually left disappointed and wanting. Some may later come back and try again, but their public may have other ideas.

What?!? Election? I thought you said erection.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Funny Happy!

In these ever darkening, shortening (lard, if you prefer), cooling, and gloomier days of autumn a little jocularity will lighten the mood. Along with a beer or two or your favorite antidepressant.

There now. Isn't that better? I know I feel better!

Now to get back to the life at hand. Well, maybe just one more cold beer and a shot of Aquavit for medicinal purposes.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

News from the farm and around the world

So in past news...

Downton Abbey.

Can you believe it? The Brits got to see the beginning of season 5 on the 21st of September, just because they're Brits! Here in the colonies we still get no respect! Maybe it's time for a Tea Party. No, not the twisted maroons that stole that moniker and use it for their own backwards agenda, but a real revolution in the cross ocean entertainment biz. I can't believe how sucked into this I have become.


With all the satellite technology you'd think we could just download it from space. I guess not. :(


Scotland got to vote on whether or not they wanted to be part of the U.K. or a separate entity. While 55% wanted to stay and 45% wanted to be independent they would consider it a "landslide" I think 45 out of 100 disgruntled Scots is a lot of disgruntling. The British P.M. David Cameron needs (and actually promised, although he is a politician) to address the issues that made the Scots get all uppity. Otherwise they might get uppity again. Who could blame them?

 Hadrians Wall was built by the Romans to keep the barbarians in the northern part of what would become England. Many British citizens feel that it is still there for that reason. So now England has to get serious about the needs and demands of Northern Ireland and Wales, as well as Scotland. Otherwise those countries will get all uppity and may not want to be part of the United Kingdom anymore.   Maybe that's why this guy was making a point in Trafalgar Square.

Sand hill cranes.

I heard a strange noise in the sky, but finally found the source after squinting so hard I started to look like Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti western. I haven't seen any stop by and hang out in the pastures, but at least I saw them fly by. I zoomed in and there was a formation heading south like any intelligent animal would do this time of year.

Harry Beaver.

This particular beaver, whom I refer to as Harry, has now damned up the trout stream that flows through the farm as well as made a mess (to me, probably not to him) of the upper pond and surrounding area. So I thought I would spy on him for a while just to see what he's up to.

He's just minding his own business and doing what beavers do.

Annual geese:

As per their annual visit there are greater and lesser Canada geese eating the horses' grass whilst hanging around. I suppose they are fattening up for their annual trek to all the city parks and lakes south of here. You would think the added weight would make flying a little more strenuous, but what do I know?


Rummage sale:

We participated in the community rummage sale a couple of weeks ago. We were determined to come home with less crap than we brought to sell. It was a moderate success as we brought one truckload and two heaping carloads of really awesome crap to sell and came back with only one truckload and one heaping carload of said crap.

My share of the take was still not enough to offset the towing bill when the subframe of my car departed from the rest of the body a couple of months ago. I think I need to get busy on Ebay to make up the balance.

Beat Buddy:

I have never participated in a crowd funding event until this little item came along. It was about a year ago that I became informed of this little gem. I had the money in my hobby fund and decided to risk the investment. I got the Beat Buddy for about 1/3 of the retail price by being among the first group of investors.

It took about six months longer than anticipated with tweaks and other delays, but it was worth the wait. It doesn't replace a real drummer, but takes up way less space and much less beer. My first foray into venture capitalism was a success. The return on investment puts a smile on my face, but no cash into my wallet or beer into my fridge. Still it is a good thing.

P.S. I got the footswitch, too!

I thought summer was a busy time and forgot, like I do every year, that Fall is even busier. It took me two weeks to write this!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

It's coming!

It is officially meteorological autumn and things are doing what they do. Every living thing in this part of the world is either getting ready to go dormant, hibernate, or migrate. Most of these activities require fattening up. If I wanted to do all three, and there are many days that I do, I would need to eat a lot and practice sleeping. And there are many days that I do. Practice filling a suitcase would be another useful task, but alas, I am not able to accomplish any migratory desires. Sometimes living vicariously through other species will have to do. Take for instance this enterprising spider. It is a very nice web, but with morning dew it loses it's invisibility and effectiveness. Until the dew dries up.

Another species that fattens up and flies south is the hummingbird. The ones that nested here are already gone. I suspect these are young Canadian bred (I could swear I saw a few with little hockey sticks) hummers on their first trip to the Gulf of Mexico. Most will probably fly over the gulf to Central America where they hang out on beaches sipping little nectar umbrella drinks for a good six months before returning to the north country to have orgies create little hummingbird families.

We had some company last week when a young woman from central Minnesota came up here with her horse and met her trainers from Ohio who brought another horse back to her. Several days of riding on our local trails with the Cooker as their guide was last weekend's big fun. Here are the trainers holding up their local newspaper (apparently some kind of tradition in Ohio) and the Cooker sitting on our mule, "The Colonel", who is probably the awesomest mule in the whole county. A good time was had by all.

The skies are losing their summer appearance as the weather does it's seasonal change. The days are noticeably shorter, the leaves are changing color here and there, and it is a bit chilly some mornings, but still above freezing. Here is a little rain shower out on the lake.

The sky last night was showing us some "mares tails" and this morning I had to put on a light jacket when I fed the horses.

So before I start seriously tackling the weekend chores I think I might start to prepare for the coming winter. I will have a piece of pie and a nap. Winter! Bring it on!