Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's ALMOST Spring in Michigan

The sun is starting to come out and we are finally starting to see the deer wandering around again.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


It seems that it passed quietly in the night, without so much as a dying gasp. I didn't realize it was even gone until a little while ago. It has been suffering since the first snowfall in November and has been slowly falling apart ever since. At Christmas it was getting forced and as the New Year progressed it weakened daily. Wednesday it was hit hard after accompanying my Dad and his wife to the ER because they were both very sick. And seeing how they were treated as a burden to the staff and sent home instead of being admitted for the care they really needed. Thursday it took quite a blow at the news of the death of a person I cherished dearly, even though we were never really close. As a matter of fact it probably started with the death of her son a few months ago. And yesterday after visiting my Dr. for the umpteenth time for the illness I have had for the last month, being told I had pneumonia, and the trip to the hospital for blood tests and scheduling for a CT scan of my lungs, must have finally done it in.

Humor was preceded by Innocence, Childhood Dreams and Work Ethics. And is survived by Depression, Self Pity and Laziness. Grieving friends include Smile, Laughter and Ambition.

Services are pending.
Donations of jokes, witticisms and cartoons are welcomed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Siberian Elms = TIMBER!!!!!

Or maybe I should say FIREWOOD.

These trees are a nuisance around here! If a leaf or branch hits the ground, it GROWS. They are a very fast growing and prolific tree. For many years I have been calling them Chinese Elms and it wasn't until just a few seconds ago I found out their true name, via the Internet.

Anyway, I have been telling my son to come over sometime before the sap starts running and cut down some of the larger of the many of these trees, so that I will have a jump start on seasoning them for next winters firewood. Yesterday he came over to do just that, and he brought my ex son-in-law Tim with him. They also brought their dogs along to visit Harley and Bear. About the time of their arrival, Angie's husband Eric showed up with Aden and Ethan. He was going to plow my driveway and pick up an old computer I had here to try out since theirs wasn't working. But my son Eric and Tim had already plowed it.

Aden & Ethan hadn't seen the Tim's dogs for about 9 months, neither had Wifey or myself. Bear and Harley hadn't seen them either. So it was quite a homecoming for Dixie and Rebel (Harley's sister and brother). At first they were all moving too fast to get any good photo's of but I did manage to get a few.

SIL Eric, Eric, Ethan, Aden

Aden & Dixie

Rebel & Dixie & Ethan
Grandma has her hands full.
Rebel Loves Grandma

Off and running.
After the grand kids left I started making chili for supper as the boys played lumberjacks. After supper we sat around talking.
Dixie and Rebel couldn't get enough Grandma love.
Eric and Kane did a little playing.
Bear had to get his share of attention from Tim.

And Harley was all pooped out, hiding under the table.
This morning I took these photos of some of the work the guys did.
Can you see the bird IN the bird feeder?
We have a couple of Chick-a-dees that do this trick and it drives the other birds crazy.
These guys are waiting patiently for their turn at breakfast.
Shhhh, quiet, the sun is peeking out.
Drats, it heard you, now it's gone again!!!
And it's SNOWING!!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Brought to you by the letter..."P"

After reading Warren's blog about this game, I decided to join in the fun. He was right....it was harder than it looked. If you want to play along...be my guest!

Here are 10 things I love that start with the letter "P" ( well okay, I cheated a little).

Phition: (for those phonetically challenged, that's fishin') for Perch
& Pike. Two of my favorite catching and eating types of fish.

And speaking of eating I might as well add Prawns, Portabellas ( love that fungus), Pears (very firm ones), Peas and Potatoes (fresh from the garden and in cream sauce), Pickles and Peppers (I love canning these two together for hot pickles), Pork-chops, ribs, steaks, ham, sausage & roast, Porcupines (only from hardwoods), Pickled Beets, Pizza, Pumpernickle Rye Bread, Poached eggs and Pancakes.

Planes: horizontal & vertical (I love architectural drafting) and air (I am an aviation nut), I like to build model airplanes and I would love to learn how to fly a real airplane, and of course own one.

Poultry: like raising and eating all types. I would like to try raising some Pheasants.

After my first year of hunting them, I quit because they were too few and looked better than they tasted. Also they were too easy to hunt, I preferred Partridge or Ruffed Grouse.

Pine Trees & Scouting: I grew up playing in the woods, and evergreen trees became my favorite. The big old white pines were landmarks and shelter from the elements, but the smell was the greatest. I spent many hours in the woods practicing to become a Boy Scout. I had found a Boy Scout Handbook and not only memorized it but tried to do everything in it on my own. I finally joined the Explorer Scouts on my birthday at age 13. I was a finally a Boy Scout ( in the old White Pine District and our local Scout camp was named "Camp Pine Acres". It was in Scouts that I received the name "Lone Wolf" from our District Supervisor Ken Meyers. When my Scout Leader, Chuck Reed, heard that Ken desperately wanted an Explorer Scout in the Eagle Program he took me to see him. Ken was amazed by my knowledge of Scouting and tested me on many subjects. Ken did his best to get me into the Eagles and went all the way to the District Committee to get me through as a "Lone Scout", all was going well and I attended the next Eagle Ceremony. But they never called my name, at the last minute they had turned him down as I hadn't been in Scouts the required amount of time (Which kind of went against the whole concept of the Lone Scout). Ken was so mad he could barely contain himself, he took off his own Eagle Medal and presented it to me. Of course I wouldn't accept it, as it was not earned through proper channels, but I sure appreciated the gesture. After that Ken always went out of his way to show me off as his "Lone Wolf" (Wolf as in smart and cunning) and throw it back in the committees face when I would refuse to try to get the Eagle Badge after that. And when I was turned down for the "Order of the Arrow", Ken threw in the towel and quit Scouting. I was very saddened by his decision, but understood his frustration.

When I joined the Explorer Scouts, we were a "Service Post" that supervised the local Boy Scout activities and were in demand at the District Camp, "Camp Rotory" to run the activities there. I taught Gun Safety and Marksmanship from Cub Scouts on up to visiting parents. I also taught Archery, Knife Care and Sharpening and Traps and Deadfalls as part of the Survival Course. I was an Explorer Scout for 5 years until forced out at age 18.

When my son was in Cub Scouts and they needed a new Den Leader, I volunteered for 3 years and then was the driving force to start a new Boy Scout Troop when it was time for him to join them. As a Scout Leader I took the name of "Grey Wolf", for the obvious reason, and it sounded better than "Bald Wolf" or "Mangy Wolf". Due to my job I could only become the Assistant Scout Leader and served that post for another 3 years before my health deteriorated. During those 6 years I pushed for the rebuilding of the lake at Camp Pine Acres that had been destroyed during a flood in 1986 and a few years after I resigned, my dream was finally fulfilled. Camp Pine Acres was restored to the condition it was in when I was a Scout.

Pine is also my favorite choice for woodworking projects. I just love it's smell and softness.

I even planted many pine trees on our little 5 acre farm on the east and west ends.

Projectiles: bullets from guns, arrows from bows, stones and marbles from slingshots, pellets and BB's from air rifles, knife and tomahawk throwing. I love hunting, competion shooting and target practice.

Parks & Public Access: I love nature and getting to it.

Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse Park: We discovered this little known park and campground and immediately discovered a love for lighthouses. We camped there for many years in comfort unknown in any of the other lake shore campgrounds either public or private. The rustic or tent camping grounds were hardly used while just a few miles away they were packed like sardines. The lighthouse was turned into a maritime museum which we visited frequently. Since then we have visited all of the accessible lighthouses on Michigan's shores (Michigan has over 110 lighthouses many on Islands or built up on shoals). And I have climbed all of the ones open to the public.

Praise: Of course I love it, who doesn't?

People: I am a people person. Some of the best jobs I have had have been the ones where I had to deal with customers.

Plymouth's & Dodge's: My first vehicle was a 1963 Plymouth Valiant that I bought from a guy that was going to race it at the local Dirt Track. It had a 195c.i. slant 6 motor and 4 on the floor. He had put a racing cam in it and high performance pistons. He made a few other engine modifications, cut the wires to the running lights and installed a roll bar, jacked up the rear end by installing 6 inch shackles on the springs and put in a heavy duty suspension. I blew all of my available funds $100, on it. Before I could put it on the road I would have to splice all the wires back together and put in new floorboards as they had rusted out. About halfway through making it roadworthy my dad talked me into buying my grandmother's 1965 Dodge Dart. It had a 225 slant Super 6 engine with a Rochester single barrel carb and an automatic trany. I din't want to do it, but I had to. Grandma needed the money since Grandpa died and I needed a car to get me back and forth to my first job (making$1.65 an hour). I soon fell in LOVE with that car and treated like a rental. I had a racing engine that I could drop in it anytime. I raced my brother in his new 1972 Chevy Nova with a 350 c.i. engine 15 miles from Caro to Cass City. At work that night he got to talking big and since it was a Sunday morning at 7a.m. I agreed to race him ( I had beat a new Ford Mustang the week before in a 5 mile race and was feeling cocky myself). That Nova passed me like I was standing still, and disappeared fast. But it had a top end of only 104 mph. I kept my old Dart floored and got sight of him again about half way. One mile out of Cass City I finally passed him. Yes, that little 6 cylinder beat his BIG BAD 350. We repeated the event a couple of more times and the results were always the same.

I made that trip once without coolant when a radiator hose burst and another trip out of oil when I was at the drive-in movies and the seal on my brand "NEW" STP Dual Action oil filter failed and all of the fresh Quaker State 10W30 oil I had put into it a few hours before ran out on the ground. Back then nothing was open at night. Both times the high speed 15 mile trip had no ill effects on that motor. I just let her cool down overnight and made the repairs and filler her back up and off we went like nothing ever happened. I finally gave up on using the motor out of the Valiant and sold it for a $25 loss.
And that was the start of my love affair with the slant 6 engine and the Chrysler Corporation. Oh, I've owened Fords and Chevy's, but given the choice it's MOPAR baby.

Me and my '65 Dodge Dart Wifey and her '66 Ford Galaxy 500

my first new car '79 Chevy Monza Coupe - Last new car '82 Buick Skylark - first truck

My favorite mini-van -The CRIP-MOBILE -My Dodge Ram
These a just few of the vehicles I have owned.

I even owned one of them P.O.S. Nova's. Here's my 1973 hatchback.

I still have the canoe, but that Nova left me stranded and I was forced to scrap it!

Monday, January 12, 2009

For REDDUNAPPY and others

I was touched by the response I received from my last posting, especially from Reddunappy. And as someone who took the time to leave a comment and has a child heading to Iraq, I was prompted to write this story for them and anyone who has family serving in the military overseas.

First of all I want to clarify something. We called our nephew Chuck after his Grandfather he was named for, although after he joined the Army he wanted to go by Charlie. So that is what his friends and team mates called him.

At Chuck's funeral I learned that one of his team mates was present. After the service I asked the Army Chaplin to point him out to me. I saw this sad, young soldier standing alone in the parking lot. So I went over and introduced myself. His face suddenly brightened and he very excitedly exclaimed, "Uncle Gary....I mean Charlie's Uncle Gary" as he shook my hand enthusiastically.
He said he was very happy to meet me and wanted to thank me.
I was blown away.
Not only that he knew who I was, but why in the world would he want to thank ME???

He said,"Charlie always shared the packages you and your wife sent, and that last one was amazing. It was like a mini Christmas in our tent. The food and cigars were great but the TOYS were a real hit. To see a bunch of soldiers playing like school kids! I have got to tell you about those airplanes, we had a blast throwing them around. Then one day Charlie took them up to the observation post we had on top of one of the tallest motels in Baghdad. He was pulling the evening watch and would have got into a lot of trouble for this. Any way about an hour before sundown, somebody noticed those airplanes floating in the thermal drafts around the top of the motel. We all watched them rising and falling with the air currents all around the OP. Finally as the sun was setting they floated off, high over Baghdad. It was one of the most memorable things I saw there. I'll never forget it!!!"

We talked a little more and then he was called away to his duties as poll barer.

When my wife and I were at the store getting items for Chuck's "CARE PACKAGE", along with the snacks, personnal hygiene stuff, and cigars, I grabbed a bunch of toys. My wife thought I was crazy to want to sent water guns, Nerf balls, cards, and styrofoam glider airplanes, etc., to a bunch of soldiers. I tried to explain that they needed stress relief too! But she still thought I was "nuts".

So Reddunappy, when you send your daughter packages, be sure to add some toys....GO NUTS!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Fourth of the Fourth Photo

After seeing Warren's open invitation to do a fourth photo from your fourth photo folder, I thought HEY. that's an easy blog subject! And since I like many others have been having "the after the holidays blogging blues", jumped at the chance for an easy blog. Until I checked my fourth album. (Hey, it's not your fault Warren)
I immediately decided to choose a different folder!!!
I was BLUE enough without opening another can of worms.
Then the more I thought about it I decided not to even do a 4th of the 4th.
I have been mulling this over for a few days, and decided that since I was already depressed I figured I might as well turn it into a tribute to my nephew Chuck.

Here is the 4th of the 4th photo

My son Eric, nephew Chuck and his brother Jason over 20 years ago.

JV Football

Varsity Football

Senior prom
After Completing High School Chuck found work and Went to an art school in Pittsburg, Penn. He was interested in doing animae type art. After 1 year of art school he returned home and back to work. He eventually decided to join the Army to get his act together.

He excelled in military life. He joined the Artillery and after 9-11 he was deployed to Kuwait as part of the 3rd Infantry Division and was with them in the push to Bagdad.
Here is his Paladin crew.
After his tour of duty in Iraq, the horrors of war weighted heavily on him. Chuck found a girlfriend and decided not to become a career military man, but to settle down and get married.
Chillin' on leave.
But 2 weeks before his enlistment ran out Chuck was re-deployed to Iraq. He was dreading this happening, but never-the-less was proud to return and do his duty.
1 week before Chuck was to come home on leave, we recieved news that he was killed in an IED explosion in Iraq.
A memorial service in Iraq.

His resting place at home, next to his grandparents.

Although Chuck has been gone for over 3 1/2 years, we still miss him daily.
He was a very bright star that vanished too soon. Along with so many others.

We pray for all of the servicemen and women and wish them a safe return, and thank them for their service to us and our country.