Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back to School

There's a nip in the morning air. The leaves on the trees shutter as they begin to morph from green to hues of brown, yellow and red. Little children walk and skip in their crisply ironed shirts and newly purchased saddle shoes…

Wait, I think I have my generations mixed up. But it is Back to School time and it's got me to thinking of my own school days. I did skip and walk to school on most days, occasionally I was less enthusiastic and I would drag my toes and scuff my shoes. From kindergarten through my high school years I lived within walking distance to school. My longest trek, probably a mile or mile and a half, was seventh and eighth grades. Actually those were the years I qualified for riding on the bus, but that didn't last long when I found that I was picked up first and let off last which cut dramatically in to my morning sleep time and my after school play time.

Elementary school was about three short blocks from home and high school was around three long blocks. I'd like to tell you that I walked for miles each way with baked potatoes in my pockets to keep my hands warm but that was my Mother's story. She was born in Wisconsin and spent her early years in Iowa so maybe her story was true but I can't say for sure. I have been known to tell it as my own story to my grandchildren on occasion but I don't think they ever believed me.

I ponder this now as I think of my own nine grandkids and probably only two have ever walked to school and I am not even sure about that. For sure the three that live here in St. Louis, two in high school and one in fifth grade, have never walked to school. And I think about the things they have missed. Things as simple as finding a shinny object in the street or as major as rescuing a stray kitten from the bushes and bringing it home to call your own.

My Mother always knew when I was approaching home as my dog Dottie would have her nose pressed at the bottom of the backyard gate in anticipation of my arrival. Once home I would change out of my school clothes and in to my play clothes. Do kids do that anymore?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Yummy...

I got an email tonight from a friend of mine out in California. She wrote to tell me that she saw some chocolate eclairs in a bakery today and remembered how much I loved them. So she bought one and emailed me to say how delicious it was. Now that's what I call friendship. Thanks for thinking of me.

WTG - Sophie!!!

Just got word my granddaughter won her first high school tennis match today. That's terrific!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wrigley Field West

Being a Cubs fan here in St. Louis isn't unheard of, but it's strange enough to get people to ask me why. I usually just respond that I like rooting for the underdog and let it go at that. But recently I had an epiphany thanks to my childhood friend Mollie. We exchange emails, not daily, but often and reminisce on things we did as young kids. Back in the early 1950's the only baseball we had out in Los Angles was the Pacific Coast League and a little team called the Los Angeles Angels. William K. Wrigley, Jr., owner of the Chicago Cubs, bought the Angles in 1921 for $150,000. In 1924 he began construction on Wrigley Field West, which opened in September of 1925. The park was designed to be like the one in Chicago with a few California touches, like a red-roofed white fa├žade to fit in with the surrounding homes. In 1931 Wrigley installed field lights for night games, beating its Chicago counterpart by fifty-seven years.

In order for us to get to the park we would take the Pacific Electric Line, Red Car to Yellow Car, into Los Angeles. Imagine that, a couple of kids heading off to a ballgame together! What fun, I guess we were a responsible duo. I was hoping to unearth a program from one of those games, but I haven't dug that deep yet. But I have a vivid memory of getting an autograph from Chuck Connors, whose career included playing for the Celtics, Brooklyn Dodgers, and Chicago Cubs before getting shipped out to Los Angeles. Later he would launch his acting career – I remember him as the Rifleman.

Mollie and I would dutifully keep score of the game, recording every move of the ball in a most official manner. Unless, Mollie recalls, on one occasion when I got in a good natured shouting matching with an opposing manager named Lefty O'Doul. Hmm, I wonder what I thought I knew that he didn't know. Too funny. So I guess it was my teething and growing up in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field West that somehow left its Cubbies imprint on my baseball soul.

I have never been to the 'real' Wrigley Field in Chicago, but it is on my bucket list. I probably should really do that soon since the Cubs officially have a new owner now and it will probably not be long before the old park is brought up to today's standards. I would like to be able to experience the real deal before those changes take place.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Just the facts ma'am"...

There has been a lot of screaming and shouting lately over this health care issue. Not sure all that takes the place of good discussion and debate. I think what bothers me most are the lies that are floating around out there that are scaring good people senseless. Everyone has the right to their opinion, but people don't have the right to circulate lies. Please take a moment to check out the facts at http://www.factcheck.org/ and help to stop the spread of rumors.

The Chairman

The Chairman - Iron Chef America
Dancing With the Stars 2009 has announced its line up for the new season. Strange group of people to say the least, but I am going to go out on the limb, before even seeing if these stars can walk and chew gum at the same time, and pick Mark Dacascos as the winner. Don't let me down Chairman. And please don't pull a muscle or snap a tendon. Good luck to the entire group.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

H-O-R-S-E

Maybe President Obama will invite old Number 22 to the White House for a beer and a game of H-O-R-S-E and settle their "death panel" differences. Just saying...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Belated Happy Birthday

Belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY my friend. You know who you are.

Road Trips Remembered

I stopped by McDonald's on my way home today to grab a quick meal. In line I was behind a Cadillac Escalade, its big, black frame towering over my little VW bug. Despite the darkness of the tinted windows I could still make out the colorful images of a children's DVD playing inside. This reminded me of my own childhood when on family road trips, I would be floating freely in the in the backseat of the family car, unrestrained by seat belts and hot and whining and a little car sick. Sometimes I would stick my hand out the window and play airplane with the rushing stream of air passing by. I tell you these kids today have it made and they don't even know it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Home A Last - Chesterfield, MO - 2005 - Present

Monarch Trace

This could be the final chapter in the seventy-one years of various towns, cities and countries that I have called home over time. It's odd to think that I would never move again, well of my own volition at least. So perhaps this isn't the last stop.

You know how they say location is everything. The location here is almost perfect. I can easily walk to the library and to the mall should I desire. There is a swimming pool just across the street that I usually find my way into at least once a summer. Sometime in the future they will build the little proposed shopping area that proclaims it will include a book store and coffee shop. Both would be nice. I might stick around for that.

The condo layout for me is just perfect, I like it when all rooms are used. I am in the process of converting the guest bedroom into a research storage area. An easily accessible spot to store all the old photos until I can complete my scanning projects.

The condo association just completed cleaning and staining all the decks and power washing the siding so everything is nice and spotless. I have returned the deck furniture to the outside and with cooperating weather temperatures will soon take a comfortable seat and enjoy my book and perhaps a glass of wine.

Our mid-west approach to Fall can be one of the most delightful times of year here. We sometimes call it "California" weather.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Uncle Francis

My Left Foot

If you are a regular reader of my blog you know about my passion for TOMS shoes. My newest acquisition is the shoe on the left, designed by Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band. It's made from LivityEco-Textiles and is a combination of 77% hemp / 23% recycled plastic bottles. A lunch with Woody Harrelson does not come with the purchase of the shoes though.
I love TOMS shoes and the philosophy and mission of Blake Mycoskie, owner - One for One. For each pair purchased a pair of shoes will go to a child in need. So far there are five little kids running around in shoes because of me. Well, it does make me feel better about being so possessed by these colorful and comfortable shoes.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Going Home Again - Lake St. Louis, MO 2000-2005

Heritage of Hawk Ridge
When I moved to this new active seniors community there weren't many seniors and even fewer activities. A handful of residents had moved in a couple of weeks ahead of me while I waited for my house, the first one to be built, to be completed. The beautiful clubhouse pictured here would not be completed and opened for another year, along with the swimming pool and tennis courts.
Looking back on those early days it was fun and a unique experience for me. It will forever be the only place where, at least for the first few years, I knew everyone in the community. Usually I would stop by and introduce myself and welcome the new resident within the first couple of weeks after they moved in. By the time I moved away there were people living on my own street that I had never met.
I wouldn't call myself an unfriendly person, though others may, but I do prefer small numbers of people versus large numbers. That goes for parties as well. I just feel over-whelmed by big numbers, feel about the same way when I step on a scale.
I think my downfall in this active seniors community was really all the rules and regulations. I mean, really, what's wrong with painting your house purple if you choose? And being limited in size and number of yard ornaments, what's that all about? I was so hoping to find a home for my life size statue of David in the front yard. Oh, well, another time, another place.
When the swimming pool opened that second summer, it was mine all mine. I loved it. Little by little more residents found the pool and began enjoying it as well. Finally the clubhouse was at last completed we started up our little parties, all twenty of us. Fun. The last time I went out for a visit there were several hundred people now enjoying the benefits of an active senior life.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Still Learning

I was watching Charlie Rose today (recorded last night) and his guest was hulu.com's CEO Jason Kilar. What an interesting young man he is. I am sure I have heard or seen hulu mentioned before, but honestly I didn't know what it was all about. After hearing the discussion I became curious and went to the website.
Well, actually I did more than that, I signed up and now I am an official hulu-er. Poking around the various tabs and titles that were offered I decided I had time to watch one of their movie offerings. Now I know what I watched is not for everybody, it was an independent filmed entitled 45365, but I really liked it. It's a documentary about the town of Sidney, Ohio zip code 45365.
I watched it on my laptop and the clarity of the movie was unbelievable. The sound could have been better, but it was my laptop after all and had I viewed it on my desktop computer the sound would have been perfect.
You should check it out http://www.hulu.com/ - I really believe that hulu.com's video on demand concept or something close to it is our future. There were commercials during the movie but they were short 30 second, non-annoying spots. Why can television be like that?

A Pooh Moment

I probably shouldn't think and drive at the same time, that is to say, think about 'other' things, but I do. I was listening to a discussion on NPR today about the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act back in 1913. It was a time where politicians were suspicious of a centralized bank, and wealthy bankers wanted a private system with limited interference by the government. Republicans favored the plan brought forth by Senator Nelson Aldrich, which was private banks, little government influence but with the caveat that government would be represented on the Board of Directors. Progressive Democrats favored a federal reserve system, owned and operated by the government and out of the control of the 'money-trust' on Wall Street. Conservative Democrats fought for privately owned, decentralized reserve system that would still be free of control by Wall Street.

When all the hoopla in Congress ended, a compromise was made between private and public control and the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 was passed with most Democrats voting in favor of the act and most Republicans voting against it. The act was a result of distrust of a private banking system and fear of another banking crisis like the one that occurred in 1907. The Federal Reserve Bank is a public-private institution, a centralized and decentralized structure that serves as both the banker's bank and the government's bank.

Anyway, as this discussion went on I got to thinking about the current healthcare legislation being discussed in Congress today, and how similar the two situations are. We have those who fear and distrust the health insurance companies, those that fear a collapse of our healthcare system by misuse or over-use by the uninsured. Those who are afraid that any change to the current system would put their own situations in jeopardy. Those that fear the President wants the government to have complete control over their healthcare life, including choosing the time they will die.

I have always believed that there are intelligent people out there, even in Congress, who could sit down and hash out a program that would be an improvement upon what we have today, and it would work. But those rascals have to stop blabbering off the top of their heads, stop spreading lies and mostly stop being negative and use the brains that God gave them and come up with a workable solution. In a nutshell people, go to work. Read, highlight and underscore those 1,000+ pages of the bill. Write notes in the margins, constructive suggestions. And don't just have your best aides do all the reading, take some of the face time you spend before the TV cameras, and instead read the bill yourself.

And when it is all said and done, ponder these thoughts from Buddha.

O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim

For preacher and monk the honored name!

For, quarreling, each to his view they cling.

Such folk see only one side of a thing.*

*Source: Randy Wang, The Blind Man and the Elephant. Jainism and Buddhism. Udana 68-69: Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant

Going for the Gold

Synchronized kayaking - new Olympic event. Starting early and looking good, hang in there boys I know you are gonna make it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Homeward Bound

PHX to STL
As anyone knows there are good flights and there are bad flights. Delays, lost baggage, crabby crews and super silent or over-talkative seat companions can all made a trip miserable. And then there are good flights that get you where you are going on time and with the luggage you came with. Inside the cabin you are blessed with efficient and happy crew members and sometimes you really luck out with a seat companion that ends up feeling like you were traveling with a good friend. Yesterday's flight was just that - a good flight, beautiful in every way including the in-flight view shown above. I love flying when the air is filled with these beautiful white puffy clouds, it's like being in another world. So beautiful.