Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Desperadoes



Over Christmas of 1949 my family moved from the isolation of a swamp into a town. After the Christmas-New Years vacation ended, I resumed third grade in a new old school. I put it that way because I had statred in that school in First Grade, but we had moved away half through that year, so it was an old school for me, but by now also a new one. I was starting over again and was very much the oddball, the hick, the country bumpkin as far as most of the other students were concerned. That is my Third Grade picture on the left, but I am not certain in which school it was taken.

I did make a few friends in my new situation. One of the first (I did have a continuing friendship with a girl I had known since whenever we can actually know others) was a tall, gangly fellow named Ronald. That is his Third Grade Photo on the right.

Our friendship started as just an exercise in trading comic books, but quickly grew to best friend status. Ron was someone I felt very comfortable around, more so than probably anyone I have ever known. After 61 years, differences and distances, we remain close friends and I insist we do until one of us is a pallbearer for the other.

There really was a third member of this life-long friendship, another boy I counted as a best friend and who also remains so to this day. I met him around the same time as Ron, so we three desperatoes have been a group for a long time. This other guy was Stuart. All three of us were probably something of outsiders in our little town.

That is Stuart in a Third Grade group photo, the boy standing on the right in a striped shirt. Ron is standing directly behind and half hidden by him in this picture.

We hung together through Grade School and pretty much high school, although I moved from town to country in 1956 and it was as often we could get together.

On the right are we standing behind the carriage house behind Stuart's home in 1957. That is your's truly slouching on the left and Ron on the right; both of us using Stuart as a leaning post between us.

Both Stuart and my birthdays were this week, three days apart, so Ron remains very much our junior, since he will not turn 70 until November.

Stuart is the furtherest flung since he lives in Florida. Ron and I both dwell in the wonderful state of Delaware, me at the top and he at the bottom. Right now we are making plans to all get together in Philadelphia next month. This should be wonderful.

I supposed the years have made some changes to our appearance, but not to our love of each other.




Last week, Ron invited me down to his place and a visit to Rehoboth Beach. It was his birthday present to me, much appreciated too. We went to the Olde Tyme Photo Shoppe (not certain they actually spell it this way) and had our picture taken as the cowboys we really are at heart. Here is the result:




Don't we look like we rode with John Wayne?

Here is video of our day. (I suggest you turn off my music player by scrolling to the bottom of my blog and then turning up your speakers.)









Saturday, June 25, 2011

Follow Up on Retired in delaware's Latest Meme to Keep Him Happy


1. What colour are your socks? 

It’s summer. I’m not wearing socks. I hate socks with sneakers. I only wore socks to Rehoboth because I knew you’d make me take my shoes off to enter your house and I wasn’t sure what the deal would be at the photo shop. Now I’m back to normal, no socks.


2. What are you listening to right now?

Nothing.


3. What was the last thing you ate? 

Chocolate-covered peanuts.


4. Can you drive a stick shift?

I learned to drive on a stick shift, took my driver’s test on a stick shift. My first car was a stick shift. I have owned a couple of cars since which were stick, a VW Beetle and a Toyota five-speed stick shift. I have driven pickups and box trucks with stick. Yeah, I can drive a stick shift. Doesn’t mean I want to.


5. Last person you spoke to on the phone? 

My mom telling me my dad was going in for surgery next Thursday and asking me to come up on that day, which I will.


6. Do you like the person who sent this to you? 

I’ve been friends with him since 1950. But the question is, do I like him? Hmmm, I’ll have to think about it.



7. How old are you today? 

I’m 69 years and 363 days old.



8. What is your favorite sport to watch on TV? 

Baseball, although tonight I’ll be watching from the stadium as the Blue Rocks take on the Hillcats.


9. What is your favorite drink?

Turkey Hill Orange Iced Tea.  I’m finding it difficult to find in the stores near me, though.


10. Have you ever dyed your hair? 

No.


11. Favorite food?

Sometimes it’s this; sometimes it’s that.

12. What is the last movie you watched? 

“Lost in Translation”


13. Favorite day of the year? 


Day after Christmas. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas, but the day after is a time to really enjoy because all the hoopla and hype is over.


14. How do you vent? 

I throw things. I have to get pretty angry, though, and fortunately I am fairly easy going, because when I do throw things I usually break something I wish I hadn’t.


15. What was your favorite toy as a child? 

Electric Trains.



16. What is your favorite season? 

Fall, then Spring.



17. Cherries or Blueberries? 

Cherries, I guess. I never particularly liked blueberries. I’d rather have raspberries or strawberries. I like cherry pie, especially with ice cream. I never liked cherry flavored candy.


18. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back?

I don't care. 

19. Who is the most likely to respond? 

I don’t know.



20. Who is least likely to respond?

Most.


21. Living situation?

Married for 50 years (this September). Yes, to the same person. Two of three kids living with us. Just scraping by.


22. When was the last time you cried? 

A couple weeks ago when Little Man died.


23. What is on the floor of your closet right now? 

Good grief, I don’t know! If you mean the bedroom closet, nothing of mine, except one pair of shoes. A lot of other stuff my wife has put in there. If you mean this computer room closet, then three file cabinets. If you mean the entry way closet, more stuff my wife put there, nothing of mine.


24. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending to? 

Ronald, Retired in Delaware. We became friend 61 years ago this year. Our mutual Friend Stuart is probably in that same neighborhood, but I don’t think Stuart reads this Blog.


25. What did you do last night? 

My wife and I went out to dinner at Dead Presidents in Wilmington.


26. What are you most afraid of?

Losing my mind.


27. Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers?

Horseradish Dijon or Smoke House BBQ Cheeseburgers at Barnabys.



28. Favorite dog breed? 

Labrador Retriever


29. Favorite day of the week?

Any day I wake up.


30. How many states have you lived in?

Three- Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware



31. Diamonds or pearls?

Who cares?


32. What is your favorite flower?

Pretty ones.


33. What is your current favorite song? 

I don’t know.


34. Read any good books lately? 

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain; Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott; Life by Keith Richards


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hot Summer Something or other

Use to be this delightful time called spring. You know, right after those April showers came May flowers and balmy breezes and friendly skies. Temperatures hit somewhere in the mid-seventies and you could walk about in shorts and T-shirts being comfortable, neither too cold or too hot. Yeah, that lasted what? About an hour this year?

Those chiller degrees lingered about like Old Man Winter couldn't force himself to completely let go. We shivered and shook through those April showers, which were often April downpours, and then through the May showers cause the rain kept coming, and the temperatures weren't rising.

Then they gave a bit of tease and we thought maybe we would get a spring this year. Yeah, sure, it zipped right to July and August, figuratively speaking, before it got to June.  They said we were in a cold spell. Temp was only 86 outside at 7:00 that night. Going up to 97 or 98 these next two days. Where am I? Arizona?

Good think I get my walks in early or I'd burn my shoes off.

So this month isn't what we'd like, especially with Little Man dying last week followed by the air conditioner stopping conditioning. Yes, came home last weekend and we are greeted by my son at the door, never a good sign, saying the air conditioner is making an odd noise.

Squeal, squeak, squeal, then the noise stopped for a while, then off and on dimly. Still, I had the yearly maintenance scheduled to come on June 6 and it was still pumping out cool. Except they had cancelled that appointment and moved it to the 14th. They do this all the time, schedule my maintenance, then call and postpone it. Once or twice maybe, emergencies come up. But this has been every time, twice a year, these last couple years. Maybe I could overlook it, but I'm paying for this service, I paid for the annual contract. They got their money, they didn't postpone that did they, but come to service, to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, "They know how to make the appointment; they just don't know how to keep the appointment."

Then when the air died, I reacted too quickly. I called it in. I made an appointment to have a service tech come to check it out. Earliest he could come, June 6. Hey, wasn't that supposed to be my maintenance date before? And now it will be $79 dollars just to come diagnose the problem and who knows what to fix it.

So I cooled off, even though the air wasn't working, and I called them and cancelled the service call. Ah Ha! I get to cancel an appointment for once. It was silly, the maintenance guy is scheduled on the 14th. I can wait; we can survive that extra week, and that call won't cost me anything for them to come. And if they decide what is wrong will cost me, I may turn them down. I had window air conditioners down in storage. I've put them in our rooms. It's feels better in here than what the central air worked and probably won't cost me as much to run. I can live without central air and this bloated vendor.

And if they claim what is wrong will effect my heat come winter, well, ho ho, I have a maintenance contract elsewhere on the heater that will fix it for nothing. I had called that place, but I never took a contract on the cooling system, but this breakdown may actually be in the heater.

But anyway, here we go again. Little man dies, air conditioner shut down and a couple weeks ago the garbage disposal died. Last night the Little Woman  and I are coming home and grrrrrrind, grrrrrind, grrrrrind! Yes, my car brakes start grinding. Oh well, I hope that's all. I've had this car over seven years, over 77,000 miles and you know what? I don't think I ever had new brakes installed. Still, it's another expense, but I've been expecting the brakes to wear out for a while now.

Speaking of our motor vehicles, I had to visit my friendly DMV yesterday. What an ordeal that was. I had to go and renew my driver licenses. We have to do that every five years in this state. Not much to it, you say. You go in, they test your eyesight and issue a new card. Yeah, right, simple.

First of all, I was concerned about my eyesight. I haven't worn glasses for years now, not since the cataract surgeries, but I knew my distance vision had slipped a notch. Last month I went to the eye doctor and got an exam and now have new glasses. Good thing as it were. I tried the eye test without the glasses and couldn't read the line, so now I have that restriction on my card, "Must wear corrective lens".

But that's no big deal. It is the new Federal Driver License requirements that bug me. You see, driving has always been a state determined affair, but now the Federal Government has to get involved. If you don't get a Federally approved driver's license, then you can't even take domestic flights let alone get a passport. You won't be allowed to enter Federal Buildings, either, which I don't know if also includes Post Offices.

To get a license here now this is what you need to provide (originals, not copies): your old license if renewing, your social security card, your birth certificate and two pieces of mail addressed to your name in your current address and delivered by the U. S. Postal Service within the last two weeks. You also have to bring proof of every time you ever had your name changed, if you ever have.

Not so bad for me, a male who was born with this moniker, but harder for my wife and other married women. I'm concerned because proof of her name change can be our marriage license, but after 50 years I have no idea where that is. I think about some women I know who have married multiple times and after the divorces changed their names back. They have to provide proof for every single time they changed that name one way or another. Good luck, ladies.

There is irony in having to have pieces of mail. It can't be something delivered by FedEx or UPS or Online. It has to be delivered by U. S. Mail. Problem is every kind of bill or statement I use to get by U. S. mail, the company has encouraged "Going Green" and not receiving a paper statement or bill. Most of my stuff is that way. You can bring junk mail, finally a use for it. Most of my junk mail goes from mailbox to trash can. (Sorry, mailbox to recycle bin, cause we do that recycle stuff now because once again the government has to butt into our lives.) But you have to be certain whatever junk mail you bring has a date on it somewhere or it doesn't count. I took four pieces of mail with me, which turned out to be smart, because one of the first two pieces I presented wasn't accepted — no date.

So I get to the DMV and the main parking lot is full. I park in the secondary lot and walk back to the building. The temperature is now up to like 98 degrees. It ain't real cool inside the building either and it is full of people, so it only gets hotter. I check in at the reception desk, am given a number and told to stand in a line nearby.

This line gets you to the person checking that you have the correct handful of credentials. A lot of people were turned away. I had everything. I was told to get in one of the two lines by the windows to the front. They were two fairly long lines leading toward two booths on the side wall stationed by two clerks. There was a board on the wall saying how many people were there for varies services. It said, "Driver License Renewals - 72: 50 minute wait." Sorta like going on a ride at Walt Disney World. Let me tell you right up front, 50 minute wait — double that and you are nearer to the truth.

I pick the second line from the window. Both lines are pretty even at this point. I have number 222 and the booth in front of this line has a 220 something number over it and the other has a 210 something number, so I think all 220 somethings get in this line. Number had nothing to do with it. You just shuffled along in line until your turn.

Booths didn't have a lot to do with it either. I'm in line and the guy my line seems to go toward finishes with a person, then gets up and leaves. His fifteen minute break, I guess, because he was gone that long. Now there is just the woman in the other booth taking people. It looks to be one from column A and then one from column B. Every person who wins a moment in the sun is there more than a moment. It seems each person takes 15 minutes. I think, we will be here to midnight.

Time goes by so slowly and time can do so much, and the guy comes back from break. Hooray, maybe we'll speed up.

The lady now goes on break.

Fifteen minutes later, she comes back. Finally, two clerks. The guy handles two more people and what? He gets up. He leaves. He's done. He's through for the day. Are you kidding me?

And the lady now stops processing to confer with her supervisor or something.

When she resumes processing, somehow the line nearest the window, column A, has dwindled to one person. The lady clerk now stands up and yells there has to be two lines. She starts telling every other person in column B to duck under the rope into column A. Mass confusion reins. People are asking, "What? What she say? Do what? I didn't hear here. Etceteras, etceteras, etceteras." Some do duck, some don't. I don't, but people from far behind me in column B rush forward into column A and I lose one spot in line in all the shuffle.

Now there is more confusion up front, more conferences, I am standing there thinking, "And some people actually want the government to run their health care!"

There is a young fellow ahead of me. He has been growing more and more anxious. We have been waiting a long time by now. I tell him, "By the time you get up there, you'll have grey hair like me."

People around us laugh.

He looks horrified. "No, I won't," he says, "I'm only 22."

"You won't be by the time you get up there," I say.

He is really getting nervous. Turns out he has a bus to catch in about a half hour. He yells out at the clerk, "Hey, let's speed it up up there!"  I expect big heavy security guards to flock upon us and haul him away as a terrorist.

We have finally come to the point it is his turn. He leaps in joy — literally. He does a little dance up to the counter. Even the clerk laughs. He is so happy. He is being processed. But then at the end the clerk asks for payment and he has no money on him. He says this is his first time doing this, he didn't know it cost anything. He has to leave empty handed. I feel bad for him.

Now I wait while the next person in column A goes up. The second person in that line asks me, "Say, weren't you ahead of her."

"Yes," I explain, "but I lost my spot when they did that line switch thing. But it's okay. What's one more person at this point?"

The woman likes my attitude.

My turn comes, and other than being unable to see anything in the machine without glasses, I pass and have my photo snapped and am given my receipt and sent off to another room to collect my license. The clerk was very pleasant to me, let me add. But oh what a confusing, long and hot ordeal getting to see her face to face.

I'm glad I don't have to do this again for another five years.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rockwood in the Morning

  Still noodling around with the Flip camera, I did a little monologue on the history of Joseph Shipley's Rockwood Estate. I would suggest you turn off my music and then turn up your speakers in order to hear my narrative.  


  Rockwood in the Morning, Part 2.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Flutists, Mosquito Hordes, Golden Doodles, Bird-Watching Mailmen, Falling Horses and Other Distractions at the End of the World

There has been nothing wrong that explains my absences from these pages for so long. Perhaps I could claim in light of the imminent end-of-the-world, now put off until October 21, I was busy contemplating my fate before the Judgment Seat, but that wasn't so. No, I was just entangled in the usual knots of daily existence I suppose. I also have been writing, you know the old fashioned kind before the boom of Blogs. So one can say that writing took me away from writing, something of a contradiction or conundrum.

The rain was something of a downer, too. Those dark and stormy days, denying me walks, tended to lower my energy and flare my arthritis. But the rains have passed and in their place has come heat, up in the nineties, July and August temperatures in May and the First of June. So I walk early, which I always do anyway, to beat the heat and survive another day.

I also bought a Flip Video Camera. The videos I did before were on my digital camera, but the quality and clarity were never up to the same standard as the still photos. I decided to try something dedicated to filming. I am still experimenting and working on a more steady hand. After the words here upon, you will find three videos of my practice. The scenes were not all shot on the same day, although I arranged the sequences to be in proper order. The first takes I did still had some shake and bounce, so you will identify the earlier bits by that. I bought a tripod the next day and screwing this in to the Flip as a handle seemed to remove some of my quiver.

Anyway, if you view the videos I suggest you scroll down and turn off my music player. There is no narrative on the films, but you can hear distinctively the forest sounds, especially birdsong to the backbeat of my crunching steps upon the trail.

What you won't see in the videos are most of the distractions that disrupted my walk and filming.  I have tended with age and curiosity to speak to people along the way, especially if they are puzzlements. I do not care to stick a camera in their face, however, so I generally snap it off during conversations. So here in print are the gaps and the tales of these interesting encounters.

Let's begin with Jerry the Flutist, or Flautist for any Anglophiles, who is pictured walking along at the top of this post. I met Jerry a few weeks ago, right after the floods we had. He had a long, strange object in his hand and so I asked, "What's that, some kind of musical instrument?"

Yes, it was, a kind of flute, but very different and very beautiful. It was shaped more like a Recorder than the flutes we see in marching bands. You blew in the top and played finger holes straight down the tube and it was quite long. I don't remember the name, but it was a Native American instrument, all hand carved from wood, polished up to bring out the shine and distinction of the gain. It had been made for him by a friend who does those things. Jerry said he had another, but was reluctant to bring it because of its size, fearful people would be spooked, think it a weapon, perhaps a bazooka.

He was going on a trip to Colorado and would take this flute with him. He hoped there would not be any problem taking it on the plane, but he would not go without it. It was too important to his soul now.

His wife had died last fall and this was his consolation and his spiritual connections to his love. He came to the park and wandered its paths playing music, very well I will add. I've passed him several times since, tootling and soothing away his lost in melodies played to the trees.

And I saw him as I began my filming walks these last few days. So we can start with him tooting our overture as we march upon our own way, our own spiritual journey along the creek.

Ah, the creek, the creek, the Brandywine is more river here, broad and flowing. I choose the West wood path right by its side and decided to walk this to Ramsey Road and then back on the higher, wider Piken Creek Road and finish it off with a climb up a Piedmont Hill.  These are the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. They sit like humps and bumps between the sea and the higher climes from New Jersey to Alabama. They are beautiful festivals of color in the fall and bleak landscapes in winter, covered with leafless trees standing like tombstones above the carcasses of fallen brothers.  Now after the weeks of rain, they are green jungles steaming with this current blanket of heat.

They run down this edge of Delaware like its spine, festooned with the hard blue rock we are so proud of and rising to our higher elevations of 400 feet or so. Not enormous, but still somewhat challenging to hiker and biker.

I start out along the flat and low lying river, following a narrow dirt path into the tangle of shrubbery, sometimes coming near crumbling edges of riverbank, sometimes twisting as if after a wandering snake into honeysuckle or thorn. You can follow my amble on this first video.

After entering and traipsing deep into the woods I come to a cross trail. Here a kind of marsh has formed on one side and there is another pool of stagnant water right next to the creek on the other side. I stepped into this area and was immediately a buffet luncheon for a batch of mosquitos. Every time I glanced down some bug had its straw-like mouth in my flesh happily slurping away.

I swatted my way through this thicket of bloodsuckers and then forded a little run by crossing a fallen log. If you look in the video you will see this run is festooned by brown, flat material. This stuff is cornstalks, carried and trapped at this place from the cornfield we will soon walk beside. The cornfield you see was a few weeks ago under water from the flooding of the Brandywine. You have to realize how high the banks are here to appreciate the amount of water that overflowed them and its power to pluck the field clean of last years empty and dead stalks.  Now the field is all planted with the sproutings of this years crop. It was also aswarm with circling clusters of gnats. These tiny insects swirled about in the air, tiny dervishes of constant motion.

And while I watched this dance, a large splash from the creek caught my attention. I thought perhaps some large fish had jumped or perhaps a goose had landed. In a moment a large, soppy-wet, oddly furred hound bounded from a small side path before me, shaking droplets in all directions. Ahead came a couple with another large dog I easily recognized as a Yellow Lab, much like the Tucker we lost last spring. The two dogs came rushing to me, tongues lollying and tails wagging. The soaked beast was a Golden Doodle, part Golden Retriever and part Poodle. This was Melvin and Maxine. The owners explained there was a third dog, a Chihuahua and Jack Russell Terrier mix, but he was at home.

I actually learned most of this on my second meeting with Melvin and Maxine, but I give it here anyway.

Continuing on past the corn, I hook up with the Piken Creek Road, the wider main path through this side of the park. My plan is to come back along this dirt road after I turn around at Ramsey.

 Piken Creek Walk One


As I started down Piken Creek Road toward Ramsey Road I spoted someone standing in the middle of the trail. Not only is he standing there, he is staring up toward the tree tops. You know how it is, you see someone looking up, you have to look up as well.

"Something interesting up there?" I ask him.

He explains a certain bird hard to spot is in these trees. A bird tweets and he asks, "Hear that. That's its song." 

This is Don, the bird-watching mailman from West Chester, a Pennsylvania town not far from the Delaware border. He tells me he grew up in the country and took a notice and interest in the birds. I grew up a good bit in the country myself, but I'd be hard put to name many birds by sight, let alone by their call.

I wished him happy bird watching and continued out to Ramsey where I turned. Don was still there when I returned and now he joined me on my jaunt, pointing out various birds as we went. I had intended to follow the Piken Creek Road, but now we sauntered back down the cornfield path, once again encountering Melvin and Maxine and their jolly owners, where we paused for a lengthy conversation.

I told Don he might be interested in a bird-watching group that wanders through the park regularly. It is led by guides from the Delaware Natural History Museum. I had run into a group not long before this popping out of this very trail, older people like me, all with binoculars dangling about their necks. I wondered if this was the best way to watch birds, trotting through the trails in large groups, but Don seemed interested. I hope I meet him again, because I gave him wrong info. I thought this group met every Saturday morning, but on getting home discovered it was a monthly meet, not weekly.

I split from Don back in the midst of the mosquito infested portion of the woods. I took a side trail to get back up on the Piken Creek Road and then to the Piedmont hill I intended to crest.

As I walked along this winding passage, a horse suddenly appeared before me, a lovely creature of white with large patches of brown. A lady was amount. She probably had come down the Piedmont herself, from a horse farm up atop it.   I stepped aside to let them pass.

"Walk early," she said (the lady not the horse) "so you don't die." 

This was in reference to the high heat we were having. It would be up to 94 by afternoon. Just as they passed by me, the horse stepped either in a small hole or skidded on a hidden rock and stumbled.

"Don't fall on me, buddy," I said.

"He won't," said the lady.

I wasn't really worried about myself, but concerned the horse might get injured. He righted himself and they went their way and I went mine. 




Piken Creek Walk Two





I came back onto Piken Creek Road just below a bridge. I let a bicyclist zip by and then I filmed myself standing on the bridge gesturing like an idiot. I look as if I am telling you what is over there and what is over here, but actually I am not saying a word, just waving my arms about and dithering in silence.

From there I walked up to a couple of rocks along the trail and looked down. A month ago some bicyclist tried to ride his bike up this incline and flipped over on his head. I wish I had filmed that.

Now I begin the long climb up this Piedmont hill. It goes up and up and up for quite a ways. As I start there is another path to my right, which is where I will return after cresting this hill and heading down the other side, a complete circle.

Not far past this point I am struck by movement ahead. A big tan dog is racing -- alone -- toward me. He is woofing. This is always a nervous situation. I don't like meeting a strange dog in the woods. Who knows what it will do. Much to my relief its master, a young woman, and another dog soon appear. Both dogs are Labs, one a Yellow very like my late Tucker, meaning it is kind of plump. They pass me by and I hear the young woman direct them off on what will be my return path as I continue my climb.

At the top of the hill I come out in farmland. There is hay as far as you can see. The path, barely discernible, goes through the hay and reenters the woods on the far side. The hay is very high. It actually comes to above my hips. I came through this field a week ago, before our hot spell and everything was still wet from all the rains. By the time I crossed this field my shorts, legs and shoes were soaked. This was a situation best avoided this day, since I discovered the particular shorts I was wearing this time get quite transparent when wet.

I met the young lady and her two dogs again part way across this field, a situation which could be awkward in transparent shorts to say the least.

Finally it is back into the coolness of the forest. I was beginning to perspire in the field, caught directly in the morning sun. Now I snake my way  back down the mount on a narrow, steeper trail and end my first practices with the Flip.



Piken Path Walk Three