Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jib-Jab's 2009 in Review

Happy New Year Everyone!!! Mike S

Monday, December 21, 2009

Another Year In The Journey Gone, and Another Begins

One Tribal Emblem of Many
As another year draws to a close, I'd like to thank everyone who wandered by for your interest & warm comments. It's my strong desire to be able to return to blogging and reading blogs on a more steady basis. I miss reading the adventures & thoughts of my blogger friends and being able to share my thoughts with those who happen upon this site.
My other abiding wish is that all who inhabit this wondrous planet will find it within themselves to make peace with their foes and with the earth that sustains us all. With that in mind, I'd like to share with you the Passamaquoddy Environmental Department at Indian Township insignia. (thank-you to Martin Dana)
Earth (Katahkomiq)
Water (Samaqan)
Wind (Wocawson).
May health, peace, joy, and prosperity walk with you and reside within your lodge and people forever.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Idle Contemplations

Tonight I stepped out onto our porch/balcony for some fresh air. What struck my senses first wasn't the rain, it was the aroma of the rain. The wind was wafting softly up from the river in the bottom of our valley already infused with the unmistakable scents of woodsmoke from the houses on the other side. Along its journey it gathered the soft marshy odors from the river banks and the fresh smell of clean, flowing water from the river itself. Then the breezes crossed the main road picking up the wet pavement, oil, and diesel exhaust smoke from passing log trucks. The trucks went past fairly rapidly, but not so fast as to be able to carry away with them the wonderful, rich aroma of fresh cut wood. Finally, just before reaching my nostrils, the air was additionally able to transport as its last gift to me the fresh tilled garden of my neighbor as he prepared to plant spring blossoming bulbs. All this got me thinking how much the earth tells us through just one sense if we're used to seeking out the information. Most folks know the smell of a body of water, but lakes, rivers, and oceans all have their own different aromatic traces of their make-up. And I wonder how many have had the pleasure of being at sea for days beyond the sight and smell of land. As the vessel transporting you approaches land, you immediately feel overwhelmed by the richness of the unmistakable scents. But, if enough attention is paid, the differences between desert, jungle, temperate, swamp or marsh, even man's various forms of settled areas assault our noses with a complex mixture. A walk through a northern forest is vastly different in aroma than tropic forest after a rain. The high desert smells much fresher than one near sea level. Even the different hemispheres & continents are endowed with their own aromatic medley. Sometimes the differences are subtle, sometimes very apparent. A public transportation ride in a 'meat eating' area varies greatly from that of areas where seafood is the main diet. We almost all recognize the abrupt differences like a fresh mown hay field, a barn with animals, city streets, alleyways, the vapor trail of a lawnmower, or the clean and softly pleasing smell of a very young baby. These we're usually familiar with and seldom notice if exposed regularly enough. We remain alert, however, to dangerous smells. Ammonia or other toxic chemicals, burning materials, electrically generated ozone and/or burning wire insulation aromas, even filthy water gives us warning through our noses. And musn't forget skunks! What all this contemplation of smells suggested to me was that we often miss so much because we simply tune things out. We avoid unpleasant or annoying sensory clues, often to our peril, but more often to our loss. So much of life just brushes us gently and moves along that we tend to only absorb the brash, harsh things that demand we acknowledge their presence. Next time I decide to absorb the delights carried on the breeze, I plan to stand down-wind of the Mom & Pop Variety Store/Pizza Vendor just down the hill. Might as well go for the GREAT aromas, but I'll have to settle for pizza oven exhaust, as my favorite seller of fried clams is too far away for daily visits. Until next time, take care, and as the trite saying goes, "stop and smell the roses" along life's journey.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

So simple, yet at times, so hard

Found this little clip and really like the message as it closely mirrors the way I was taught. At times I slip into being thoughtless and inconsiderate, at times it seems all in vain, at times it seems like the problems of myself or others are just too huge to tackle, but somehow we always seem to plod along and try to stay positive until either success is achieved or failure is thrust upon us. The key is to learn from your failures, look for a way to overcome obstacles, and just keep trying until you succeed. Failure isn't final in most cases, it's merely an indication that a different approach to the problem is needed. The following quote was drilled into me daily by my Uncle 'R' who always seemed to me to be a 'tractor driving philosopher'. Plenty of time to think, unless he was listening to a Red Sox game on the car radio he mounted on the old Farmall. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." Reinhold Niebuhr Autumn in Maine Until next time, be well, stay safe, and share your smile with others, smiles are VERY contagious.

Reflecting on the Year Gone By

Well, its time once again to look back over the past twelve months and take stock of life. As always, some people are sharing the earth with us that weren't here last fall; some who were here are no longer with us; and all in all, the year has been full of the usual ups and downs. We've had good health, some health scares, some things are a bit worse for wear, and some things have even been repaired by the great folks in the medical professions. Still some to be repaired, but gradually gaining some ground back that we lost along the way. We've one less kitty with us than last fall, Bandit, one of our two oldest, weakened and failed last spring. She was going on seventeen, fairly blind, lame, and just plain tired. She'd rallied twice before, but each time left her weaker until she didn't do much except lay quietly until one morning she was gone. She's joined the other kitties and one dog in the little pet cemetery by the woods in the back yard. The spring also saw Shirley's sister take a turn for the worse and she got too unpredictable and violent for our safety and was moved to a secure location by the state. In her present mental state she has removed herself from family ties completely So, all in all, I've reached the same conclusion I reach most every year: Life is good, the world is full of beauty and peace if we seek it out, and many things are still possible for us to do. There'll be folks needing help, some to comfort, some to mourn for, some to welcome, and through it all runs the common thread that joins all beings and nature. We'll look forward to the challenges and joys as we always do, and revel in the joy of a young life discovering this magical planet that will be theirs to care for and pass on in their time. Once more, the Old Indian's scoring system indicates that once again, more good than bad has befallen the earth and its inhabitants. So, as I try to do each day I've been allowed to enjoy, I'll look forward to the coming months with bated breath. The following photos were sent to me by my good friends the Allens who got them from a web cam. To me, they perfectly express the way I feel each dawn: it's a beautiful gift, this earth, and even though each day dawns a bit cloaked in mystery, the trend is generally in the direction of clearing skies and bright vistas upon which to gaze.
Until next time, take care, stay safe, and be well

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day Celebrations....

....mark the end of summer in most of the USA. At Chez Indian, the kitties are back from their 'far south' vacation, but left a note that says they're taking the day off because it's Labor Day which, contrary to common belief, wasn't originally intended to reward laborers. The original day was intended to mark the end of the idleness of summer & signal it was time to get back down to business, but that's another post.
In most places I've been during Labor Day around the USA, it wasn't celebrated by much more than a cookout or picnic. But, in the little place I was raised, the Fourth of July wasn't really more than a cookout or picnic, Labor Day was the biggie. This was likely as the folks living in town generally worked at the paper mill, which in those days was still owned mainly by those employed there. In most families, the parents were from Europe or Canada and part of their pay when the mill started in the early 20th Century was given in shares of the company. These immigrants, mostly poorly educated, might not have known the way it worked, but they certainly understood when told the shares were important and to keep them safe.
That they did, as did their children when they went to work there and when those called to WWII returned they saved the shares that had been accumulating since the beginning of the mill to pay for their kids education. Shortly after I left the area to seek my fortune, the mill was sold to an International Company based in the USA & was greatly expanded. Today, many years and many owners later, it's struggling to stay alive with sporadic closings & openings. I understand that Labor Day is still a big day there, although on a greatly reduced scale. But, as it's those long gone days I remember, it's those days I write about.
Summer in Maine is notoriously short and, on a farm of any type, very busy. For the town kids, days of summer were filled with Boy's or Girl's Club, Little League, Pony League, part-time jobs, and a slower pace. For farm kids, it was filled with long days and evenings of dusty toil, an evening swim if possible, and early bed followed by an equally early rise. For us, the days we had free were few in number and thus very precious and were spent packing in the most we could while the day lasted.
One big event made us all rejoice and moan in anticipation, Labor Day. Even farm kids got a final reprieve for a few days of fun and, for older kids, a chance to pick up some quick money. That was the rejoice part, the moan part was that school ALWAYS started the Wednesday following Labor Day, which is ALWAYS the 1st Monday in September. In those days you didn't get 'snow days' as often as now. Perhaps if the plows were unable to clear a path in the stuff, but that was rare. So school years were more fixed. Because of the impending days sitting in classes, we likely held on to Labor Day festivities as long as possible.
The 1st signs Labor Day was nigh upon us was the appearance of 'Carnival Coming' posters being posted on every available surface & pole in town. Why they were ever needed was always a mystery to me, as EVERYBODY for many miles around KNEW that on the Wednesday before Labor Day the little traveling carnival rides on trailer trucks would arrive and congregate on the open rail-yard space opposite the Little League Field at the north end of Main Street. The Paper Company would ensure the lot was clear of logs & coal well in advance to allow the ground to 'settle' a bit for the rides. Usually there were two outfits working together to provide rides and numerous traveling & local vendors & games to round things out. They almost always had a 'Girlie Show' which most of the women opposed and almost all the men would go to see at least once. Set-up started shortly after arrival and opening was always noon Thursday, just like clockwork every year. Occasionally there was talk at Town Meeting of switching to a circus for a change, but this was usually strongly opposed by those folks who sold snacks & ran games every Labor Day. Thus, the wonderful 'sameness' stayed the same.
Uncle R would, from when I was 11 or so, always allow me to go try to earn some hard cash spending money over the few days I could. When picking kids to hire, the Carney's weren't very discreet about it. The kids would cluster around the van marked 'Boss' as soon as the wheels stopped moving. After a few minutes, out would come the fella in charge who would tell all of us to back up, he'd make a line in the dirt, and tell all over 10 years old to step into one side of the line. The rest, being too young for any job, were sent away disappointed. Then the current 'Boss' would invariably yell out for all farm kids with loads of chores to move to the other side. For some reason, the 'Townies' always fell for it and us farm hicks stepped over the line without them. Then the 'Townies' were sent packing with a promise that if they came back every day any extra jobs would be doled out first come, first served. All the farm kids were always hired with the same old line about no time for auditions, I want boys that can work and work hard. Girls in those days might get on serving snacks, but much care needed to be taken to protect their 'reputations'.
After 'set-up', most kids were let go until 'tear-down' the following Tuesday. Some of us always seemed to end up being included in the 15-20 'lucky' few who were hired on to help with almost everything requiring a strong back and weak mind. When not doing something we were free to wander the grounds, which to us meant checking out the members of the 'fairer gender' wandering the stands and rides.
That we were 'employed' by the carnivals was a plus as we would get paid every night and thus, starting on opening day, we had money to lavish on them trying to gain their favor. We ALWAYS fell for THAT as easily as the Townie boys fell for the 'choosing help' ruse. If we were wanted, the ticket seller at one of the 2-3 ride ticket sales stands would call us by name over the speaker system and tell us where to go.
Very heady stuff indeed for a buncha farm kids who spent most days doing nothing more exciting than shoveling dung, milking cows, delivering farm goods, baling hay, etc. Occasionally a real lasting friendship would spring up among the local girls & guys that was beyond the school kind winter allowed for. A couple friends are still married to 'Town Girls' they met while working the carnival. Both gals decided they liked farm boys & now they both have farm boy grand kids as they became farmer's wives, and happily so from all accounts.
I was a bit different, not that I didn't chase girls, but I always spent a fair amount of time hanging quietly around with the men & women who spent most of their time moving from city to city around the country east of the Mississippi River. It may have even instilled a bit of curiosity in my young mind, one that moving in at 16 or so with a friend who had just finished his Navy enlistment converted into more of a quest. Topped off by all the tales I heard from veterans of WWII & Korea who had been all over the place, my remaining in that town wasn't even an option when I left for the Navy at age 17 after graduating early due to skipping ahead grades a few times.
On Friday it was 'Veterans' night, Saturday had day-long contests and events ranging from tricycle parades to egg tossing and similar contests. Saturday night was 'teen' night. Sunday, the midway opened at 2PM and there were more games, greased pig chase, greased pole climb, and dance contests.
Monday, the big day, started at 11AM with a pretty long parade. There'd be several school bands, floats, baton twirlers, and every other thing anybody wanted to enter. Go-karts, square dancers, etc, followed by the perennial parade ending horses. I'd go to my Dad's house as the parade always passed by it because the marshaling area was the Elementary School ball field on the next block down, so we got to see it when the folks in it were fresh & at their best.
The day ended shortly after 9:30PM with fireworks for 45 minutes or so. In my latter years in the area we'd speed to Milltown, New Brunswick, Canada, about ten miles away to watch their Labor Day fireworks, a neat trick allowed by them being in a different time zone and the display starting at midnight there, 11 PM our time. Then I'd spend the night at Dad's and go down early the next morning to help finish up tear down and packing. This was an easy time for the regular Carney folks as the next show was always about two weeks later, allowing them a bit of a breather for the first time in months.
Even today, when I see the trucks going by in mid-September to set up for the county fair, I get a deep sense of the old wanderlust that settled deep in my very soul all those years ago listening to all those adventurous tales that sounded so unimaginable back then. Today, having been fortunate to do what I love as a part of my career, I know that those 'unimaginable' places and events only scratched the surface of what the world has to offer those willing to take a leap of faith & step beyond familiar boundaries.
Until next time, which will be shorter than the last idle period, take care & be well.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Be Back Before Too Much Longer as...

.....we're terribly.......OH HELL!! What I meant to say is ... feeble thinker is apparently all thunk out. That, AND....I broke down under the influence of 'medicinal' Single Malt Scotch & gave the Spellcheck Kitties an all expenses paid (also REALLY BARGAIN PRICED) long overdue vacation down South so they could enjoy the beach & get outta the rain for a bit. Boy, were THEY ever shocked. I can barely wait until they come back all eager to work!! Until I get motivated a bit, take care.

......rinnnnng......rinnnnng.....rinnnnnng....."Buenos dias, Jose's freight, animal aero transport, and discount vacation airline, Jose speaking. How may I help you?"

"....JOSE'S WHAT?!?!?!"

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Kitty's Blog Appearance Clarification

Okay folks, I confess. Our kitties are lovable and mischievous, but DESPISE posing for being photographed. Such endeavors are only undertaken when tranquilizers (for us), catnip, good reflexes, and leather welding apron and gloves are available and in use. Since this is so time consuming, not even taking into consideration the problems involved trying to herd five cats into one location, I must rely on photos of cats of possibly inferior qualities but better temperaments and superior egos who gladly let their owners capture them in cute poses. I then rely on those proud owners (those 'owners' obviously being the aforementioned cats of large egos) leaving the photos laying around all over the Internet for all to pilfer for their own use. However, after they read the draft of this post, our Spellcheck Kitties contacted their business offices and have assured me that THEY themselves ARE available for hire by those finding themselves in need of their services in the fields of scratching furniture, chasing toys, eating huge quantities of nearly ANYTHING they can ingest, and playing with shiny objects that make noise (or not noisy, just shiny). All services of this nature can be arranged for a set fee that starts at 1 kg (2.2 lb) of catnip per cat per day, non-negotiable. Any requests for 'Spellcheck Kitty specific' services should be forwarded to Mike's house in Jay, Maine, USA, accompanied by a non-refundable one-time registration fee of five cans of 'Fancy Feast Tuna'. All such requests will be ignored by the Spellcheck Furballs as long as possible in the order in which they are received. Requests for photographic services should be sent to the uptight losers at their parent company at the following address:
Feline Photo Resources Manager
Attn: Head Foto Furball
Kitty Komputer Konsulting Korporation
c/o Mike's Mixed Memories
The Spellcheck Kitties asked me to tell readers that the idiot furbrains 'over there' will work for next to nothing, such as a little milk, cat chow, and a bit of petting, and that all requests made to head offices will be answered as soon as possible by the wimps on staff there. I did try to question our kitties as to why the services were so different and they politely refused to favor me with an answer, sort of. Until next time, take care.
ps...Please excuse any spelling errors as it's the Spellcheck Kitties' night off and I haven't time to correct this post as I hear the ambulance arriving to take me to get the claw marks sewn up and some pain killers. Seems I may have overstepped my boundaries by questioning the kitty employment conditions here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A BlogRoll Update...... something I should really do more often, like writing new posts, much more often. BUT, my TV has been forcing me to watch a lot of movies lately to free up some DVR space, so.....I turned to the ever willing staff of Spellcheck Kitties who are only too happy to eagerly respond to my every whim. This is how it went, mostly, sort of, I think....
For some strange reason I can't seem to be able to get to sleep. Oh well, BlogRoll's updated anyway. If anyone got omitted let me know. Until next time, take care and stay safe.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Neat Baseball Bat Trick

This isn't a post I'd planned, but it's so neat I couldn't help myself. Many of you have likely seen it by now. It also reminded me of trying to do much the same one summer, resulting in a broken nose and two chipped teeth. I wasn't sure which would have been worse, having the injuries myself and paying for it, or the pain being suffered by a pal, which is what actually happened. I not only got to foot the bill(s), I got to feel the ire of the coach (who had warned me twice previously about it), my Uncle to who I had to repay the bills incurred, the fury of Durwood's parents, or perhaps being tagged with the name 'Strikeout' for the last couple years of school. My pal held no grudge though as he got out of summer school due to 'inability to concentrate as a result of injuries'. Funny thing was, didn't slow him down one iota in the swimming, ballplaying, and other areas. It even made him into a hit with a lot of the girls who 'eased his suffering' so to speak. Until next time, take care and swing the bats carefully.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

End Of The Saga & Beginning A New Life...

Finally the day comes when an empty nest is all that remains. The parents are gone and the chick isn't found until after some careful searching.

And then the little flyer is located.

The little addition to the neighborhood seems fine.

And apparently flight ability is part of the package Even seems that a bit of being an exhibitionist is ingrained too.And from here on, 'the sky's the limit'.

Sorry about that last little bit, just couldn't help myself. And so, until next we meet, be well & take care.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

More 'Dove Story'....

Today's post is a video grouping that shows the Dove's progress from near the beginning to the early days of the chicks. While one parent is very accepting of the human intruders....... .......the other is far less trusting!! Finally we get a chance to get a better look at the youngsters. Sadly, Mother Nature has a rather decisive way of ensuring the 'survival of the fittest.' In the case of many bird species the first hatched chick gets all the food. The larger chick had a good two day head start on the smaller one, an almost insurmountable difference in size and strength when competing for food. As Linda puts it, perhaps the second chick is a 'spare' in the event the first one dies. Either way, since Doves of this type mate for life as a rule, if each pair produced two surviving offspring every year, the population would soon exceed the area's ability to feed them all. Nature uses the 'survival of the fittest' method to control the population. Crude, but extremely effective. Before too long, the smaller chick succumbs to hunger and general weakness as the larger steadily gains strength. In a day or two, after sorting through the remaining images and videos, I'll post the final chapter of this saga of the diminutive but hardy feathered family. Until then, be well and take care.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Dove Tale

Sometimes, when the world seems all too crowded with humans and their buildings, vehicles, and all the rest that seem at times so necessary to sustain us, some little 'miracle' of nature reaches out and grasps me fully by the shoulders and wakens me from the daze that is daily life on this big blue hunka rock.
Most such events go unobserved by us folks who seem to spend most of our precious hours going nowhere very rapidly and actually accomplishing very little that will outlive the year, let alone our frail bodies. Just such a small 'miracle' occurred recently in Spokane, Washington at the place my friend George Allen and Diana Kautzman work. Thanks to their efforts, and those of George's wife Linda, I'm in possession of a wonderful set of photos that follow the tale from beginning to nearly the end, which we're waiting to see if we'll also be privy to.
Today I'll post some of the earlier shots along with a couple that show better where all this mini-drama unfolded. Later I'll post a few videos and an address on You-Tube where more little clips are posted. For today, a bit of the beginning....

These are the racks where the events took place.

A bit of a closer view.

And it would seem the staring goes both ways.

Once the object of our curiosity leaves... becomes readily obvious why she's so guarded.

Even so, it seems the nosy humans are being watched from a short distance away.

After a quick check, it seems that the need for hatching the eggs takes over and the egg-warming resumes.

Not only does the dutiful parent return to the nest, it seems that Diana has been accepted to the point the dove will let her share a touch or two.

In a day or so, when I've sorted through another group of the photos these folks generously shared, I'll post a bit more of the tale. Perhaps by that time a few of the events of the last day or two will have lent themselves to the camera's curiosity. Until next time, take care.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vending Machine Mania

As many of you know, my life for some time now has involved more of the visual and audio input rather than written. A little blurb on TV recently about a new pizza vending machine got me thinking once again of a subject that has always fascinated me: the vast variety of these devices around the world, their local adaptations to fit specific set of needs, and the remarkably ingenuity sometimes involved.
I've seen them vending everything from firewood to cook with to eggs to used underwear(don't even ask, just know there's some rather strange people out there). The largest number of varieties of these units is found in Japan, probably to satisfy the urge for 24/7 availability of certain things, a monetary system largely involving coins, and the craving for more and more complex gadgets found throughout most of the population. So, for your entertainment(?) a brief clip on these things. At the end he gives a couple sites with more info that I couldn't quite read so, in the event you're for some reason as intrigued as I, check them out. Until next time, take care.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I'm Not An Art Critic, But......

......I do like some things. Never sure what's good or bad, so I tend to go with what I enjoy. I will go so far as to say that most 'abstract' creations are beyond my comprehension, although the melting watches is kinda neat. Anyway, having spent a good part of this winter looking at various paintings, photos, etc I seem to have narrowed my taste down to one word: 'Strange'. As evidence here is a jumble of stuff I like in no particular order, although, the first is a $3 thing that I got years ago at a garage sale that just appealed to me. It's on our living room wall, much to the dismay of Mrs Mike, who is far less fond of it. I can just look at it for a long time & it seems to draw me into the scene. Not even sure if it's a painting, print, or whatever. Does have a name on it & seems to have a backing of wallpaper or something of the like. I feel I've gotten my $3 worth out of it many times over. Anyway, here's Mike's hodge-podge of favorite images, some actually ARE famous, so I'm told or I read somewhere.
Mike's $3 Garage Sale Refugee
$3 Refugee as seen from Mike's recliner
Edvard Munch - The Scream
Japanese Fishing Village (unknown)
Times Square Looking South (A. Anderson)
Gauguin (don't know title) Claude Monet - Water Lily Pool

Santa's Summer Job - B. Foge

Maine (Kolb)

Taxi Hunter (A. Anderson)

Entrance to the Village of Voisin - Pissarro

Rowboat at Dock in Maine (A. Anderson)

Landscape With Figures - Gainsborough

The Hermaitage at Pontoise - Pissarro

Garden in Springtime in Eragny - Pissarro A Little 'BEERY' Poster Art for my Great Friend R.C.

And Lastly....My FAVORITE of ALL....Christina's World by A. Wyeth

And that's a fair sampling of what I like. Perhaps I'll try this again with photos as it turned out to be kinda fun. Until next time, take care.