Sunday, August 31, 2014

Group Photo...

...tough to get everyone looking at the camera at the same time...

Putting the Tree Creature together got me thinking about Halloween, so I did a few things...ordered a bunch of cool treat bags to put candy in for the trick or treaters, bought a bunch of gospel tracts  to hand out along with the candy, and pulled out all the Halloween stuff...need to try and decide what goes where this year...

If it wasn't me talking I'd say someone might be developing a Halloween problem...on the other hand, All Hallow's Eve was in my top two for favorite holidays when I was a kid, but that was before all the ignorant cut and slash garbage started infecting it.  My memories are of the old Frankenstein, Dracula and Wolfman movies of the 1930's and 40's, when you stared in breathless anticipation at the black and white screen for the monster to appear...
...and when he finally did it was fun being "boo!" scared, not "terrified-of-being-cut-in-pieces-by-a-crazed-psychopath" scared.

And though I know there are many Christians who disagree with me and believe the only proper thing for a Christian to do is ignore this holiday, my view is this:  what other day of the year is there when people will come to your door, ring the doorbell and take whatever you give them?  Talk about an opportunity...so Karen and I do our best to give the little trick or treaters an old timey spooky thrill, some good candy, and the gospel of Jesus Christ...and yes, along the way I enjoy reverting to my childhood for a day...


Christmas...

...the other holiday in my top two was Christmas, of course...

In spite of the problems at work and the fact I've had to sign on and be involved every day I'm allegedly "off" of work, this has been a pretty good Labor Day weekend so far...

Friday we did in fact get down to Douglas / Saugatuck to wander the antique malls and bowl a couple of games...then got back in town and visited another antique store, where Karen found some drink glasses she's been searching for...

Saturday we visited the downtown market and bought a few things, including a couple of pastys...very dee-lish.  That afternoon we put on our music (AM 1000, Wild_Hare Radio)...


...lounged in the pool and enjoyed a fire in the chiminea at night, and today has been more of the same...in between work issues, very relaxing and enjoyable.

One more day - Labor Day -

- and then it's back into the salt mines...

Later, mcm fans...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Labor Day...

If you look closely at the end of the log on the left you can see the remains of my early morning cigar...
...weekend.  Started this Friday morning at 5:30 with a problem from work...appropriate I suppose since we are after all celebrating labor...so I got my butt out of bed and fixed yet another problem caused by a recent operations upgrade from hell.

Since I was up anyway, I showered, padded downstairs, and spent some time outside in the pre-dawn darkness...eventually decided to enjoy an early morning fire, and shortly after sunrise, a good morning cigar.  No whiskey...yet...

So this week we and a couple of neighbors paid to have several trees removed from the property behind us that were blocking the horizon and crowding out the sun...here's the new view:

kinda reminds me of Sinatra's Twin Palms...ok, I'm reaching...
That view used to be dominated by a wall of walnut trees...now we can see blue sky and sunshine...unfortunately we can also see the outline of an ugly apartment building, but that's life in the big city I guess.

While we're on the subject of trees, here's another addition to my upcoming Halloween display:

The Tree Creature during the day...
...and at night.
If you're not a fan of Halloween, we should talk...but either way, you have to admit this is cool...I'll put a spot light on him to add to the creep factor that night.  As always our goal will be to give the little trick or treaters an old timey spooky thrill, some great candy, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  A good time will be had by all...

Earlier this week I got a surprise in the mail from Bob Adams of www.RonsonRepair.com and this time he was in cahoots with Karen...sent a package to her attention, and this was the surprise:



I think Bob knows this may be the closest I'll ever get to having my own bowling lane...what a great lighter...thank you Bob!  Oh, the ashtray it's sitting on was also a gift from Bob.  Truly, he is all about his passion for collecting, fixing, and promoting Ronson lighters and related items.  Very cool!

So the rest of today will be about getting down to the Douglas / Saugatuck area, browsing the antique mall there, then bowling a couple of games at the LakeView Lanes.

Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about...(please ignore the fact that was a brooklyn strike...even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while...)

Later, mcm fans...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Metro Cruisin'...

...with my '56 'vette.

Yeah...I wish.  Don't know who owns it - no "for sale" sign on it, unfortunately...but it is in fact the car of my dreams.

This was metro cruise weekend when 28th street becomes visually enticing and mostly impassable due to the huge influx of classic cars.  If you're going to render a major thoroughfare pretty much useless for a couple of days, this is at least a cool reason for so doing.  Besides all that classic car eye candy driving up and down 28th street, they have a huge display of them at Rogers Plaza, and late Saturday afternoon Karen and I wandered the dozens of beauties from a bygone - and yes, better - era.

A Model T roadster, another of my faves.

While very cool to see and lust after, it's also pretty sad when you think about it...we used to produce some beautiful, even stunning, cars in this country...now everyone drives these generic egg mobiles.  Bo-ring!  Not to mention, stupid.  O well...the decline of our once great nation continues on every front.

Notwithstanding this sad truth, the rest of our weekend was pretty good.  Friday we did in fact do the slow crawl up and down 28th street in the metro cruise just to say we did...and then we opted for our usual fire in the chiminea and relaxing outside by the pool...Saturday I was up early, shortly after 6 am...this was upgrade weekend with a major software installation, and besides, I just don't like to sleep in on the weekends...they fly by too fast as it is without sleeping half of them away.

So I got outside early after checking on system issues, and opened up the backyard...turned on all the fountains, filled the bird feeders, put out peanuts for the squirrels, etc.




I admit three videos in a row is overkill, but at the time I was taking them it seemed like a good idea so I'm going with it.

Saturday night I attended the Greek festival downtown as part of a company function to honor some of our employees who help put company functions together...it's a lot of extra work on their part, and they do a great job so we wanted to have this event as a way of saying "thank you" to them.


So if three videos in a row is too much, why not go with four?  This was one of the musicians there playing a traditional instrument - which name escapes me at the moment - but pretty much everything sounds kind of like Zorba's Dance, so it was all good.

This was the main course of the 5 course meal they served us:


Along the way there was lots of wine, music, food, and laughter, and a good time was had by all.  Gotta love those greeks...they know how to par-tay.

When I got home from that Karen and I watched a Marilyn movie...a kind of documentary about some of her personal writings that were recently discovered in storage.  Didn't realize more than 1,000 books have been written about her, and she continues to be one of those most famous, recognizable, and tragic figures in our society.  I hope O'reilly decides to do a Killing Marilyn book like he's done with Lincoln, Kennedy, and others...I think there was something very sinister there involving both the Kennedys (JFK and Bobby), and it would be satisfying to finally get at the complete truth surrounding her death.

On a happier note, did you know we sleep with Marilyn every night?

I think it's a phase Karen is going through, but as phases go, it's not bad...

Today was more work upgrade stuff, and it has not gone as well as we hoped...lots of work and last minute issues, but I think we're on track for a go live tomorrow.

So that made today less than wonderful, but I did manage to get a good workout in, enjoyed some pool time, and dined on some delightful delectables outside..  We'll end today with a fire in the chiminea, and then it's back into the salt mines, but this will be a short week...taking Friday off so I can properly grieve the end of the summer in full mourner's regalia...heavy sigh...

Later, mcm fans...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

O When Those Saints...

...Go Marching In...

Saw these guys on Saturday morning at the Rockford Farmer's Market of all places.  I expect to find sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, and various and sundry farm type wares at a farmer's market, but not necessarily street musicians.  They were talented, if a bit out of place, and I dropped some money in their guitar case after I videotaped them.  Kinda made me want to learn how to play the saxophone.  I might actually follow up on that whim...we'll see.

I jumped ahead, but not by much...backing up to Friday I got a care package from Bob Adams of www.RonsonRepair.com   He sent me a Ronson Danish Modern lighter:

This is typical of Bob who is not like any other collector I've ever dealt with...he really is all about his passion of preserving and promoting Ronson lighters, and this one is a beauty.  Thank you, Bob!

So last week was hectic at work, and a general feeling of foreboding has settled over my psyche.  I attribute this to two elements: one, the inescapable and disheartening reality that summer is retreating like a coward before the schoolyard bully of autumn - stupid autumn - and two, my inability to ignore grim, future reality and fully embrace the present.

By far the latter is worse than the former, since we do have at least two more weeks, and possibly four or even six of summer like weather.

But no matter..the neural network that passes for my brain has registered the coming demise of summer and so I am already dreading shorter days and colder nights.

Yes, autumn does hold some true delights of its own - crisp, sunny, afternoons...

...and cool, bracing evenings with the enticing smell of wood fires and ripening apples wafting on fall breezes...

...the excitement of All Hallows Eve when we scarify our home...

...and do our best to give the trick-or-treaters a spooky thrill, a generous bag of Halloween candy, and the gospel.

But none of this makes a whit of meteorological difference...though far from ready for summer to depart, like a spurned lover she is ignoring my pleas, packing her bags and heading to the station for parts south.  Drat.

Notwithstanding this unpleasant reality, we pressed on with our weekend...we ended our time at the farmer's market in Rockford with a good meal at the Corner Bar:
No, we did not drink our lunch, though the Oberon was good...we also had actual food - sliders and a smoked turkey and bacon sandwich on a pretzel roll with fries and onion rings...good stuff...

Departing the upscale burbs of Rockford we headed east and picked up a 1948 Zenith radio / phonograph I had mostly repaired by Bob Chase in Lowell:

I say mostly repaired b/c the radio works great, but the phonograph is still not quite right.  However, it only plays 78 rpm records anyway, so it's definitely a relic...we replaced the felt on the turntable, applied some Old English to the wood and it looks, if not just like new, a whole heck of lot better than it did when I got it...for free, I might add...a donation by a co-worker who found it abandoned and neglected in her garage.  I'll stop by the The Corner Record Shop
...and see if they can get the 78 rpm needle / phono working correctly.

My plan, if I can get it functioning completely is to offer it back to her free of charge.  We'll see how it goes this week.

The rest of the weekend was all about relaxing and enjoying our backyard paradise...
Mr. Bumbly-bee intoxicated with his pollinating duties.

A yellow finch dining on some delicious (I assume) thistle seeds.

Supposed to be keeping a sharp eye out but seems a bit casual to me.

We did enjoy an afternoon of fun in the pool on Saturday...

...and at night I slummed by the fire with a whiskey and a good cigar...

And tomorrow it's back in the salt mines...

Later, mcm fans...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Retro...

1963 Airstream Bambi
...Weekend.

Wasn't necessarily supposed to be, but that's how it worked out.  Friday I was whipped, and after supper I ended up sleeping for awhile...when I got up we put a fire in the chiminea and sat by the pool for a couple of hours...low key, relaxing, fun.

Saturday we needed to run some errands, and on our way we passed by the first annual vintage trailers show, so on our way back we stopped in to see what the big yank was.

Turns out they had some very cool, vintage camping trailers, dating all the way back to the mid 1930's...but the ones that caught my eye are the ones I remember from being a kid in the 60's when families piled into station wagons and drove across this great country for two week vacations.  No one does that anymore, including yours truly...the world moves much too quickly now.

So we stepped inside a couple of the 16 and 17 foot airstreams, and guess what bug I now have to fight??

My head tells me I don't do the camping thing because it's "almost, but not quite"...you know, it's almost comfortable, but not quite...almost convenient, but not quite...almost enjoyable, but not quite...plus every time I drive by a campground with 30,000 plastic boxes on wheels stacked up together like sardines, close enough to each other that you can reach out your window, into your neighbor's window, and borrow their salt shaker, I shake my head and say a prayer of gratitude that I'm not doing that this weekend...

...but my heart is calling me back to a simpler time, when your little silver bullet provided everything you needed for a romantic, if rustic, getaway, and you towed it right behind the family car.

Is it possible to find places now like they would have found then?  A campground that does not have the population density of a city block in New York?  And even if it is, do I want to spend $40k on a vintage airstream trailer?  Wouldn't I rather have that 1956 Corvette first?  Oh, I see where this is going...get them both, and use the 'vette to tow little Bambi...

That ain't no 'vette, but you get the idea...

A couple of other pics from the Vintage Trailer show:

The inside of a non-airstream trailer

Not sure how the fire truck got in...I guess in case there was a vintage fire in one of  the vintage trailers...?
Sunday we visited the downtown market because they had a bunch of antique / vintage displays set up as well...didn't see anything compelling, but it was a pleasant hour of browsing.

The rest of today was spent in the pool and relaxing in preparation for another week in the salt mines.

I'm usually a whiskey and cigar man, but changed it up today just because...don't want to get in a rut.

Now I'm off to write a letter to my aunt Alta...

Later, MCM fans...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Green, Green, Grass...

...of home.

Well, almost...we trekked north to Rogers City this weekend for the end of their Nautical Festival, and Karen's uncle...
Dick Kowalski
...let us stay in the family farmhouse.  Karen used to sit on the front porch with her grandmother way back in the day, so it was a little bit of a melancholy trip down memory lane for her.

No, that's not one of the walking dead photo bombing the farmhouse pic; her uncle has several home made scarecrows standing guard over his garden and that's one of them.

Here are some other pics around the farmhouse:
Work waiting...
Alvin's cousin, Belvedere...

An odd juxtaposition of old and new.
As Tom Jones crooned, "the old house, it's still standing...though the paint is cracked and dry..."

But they do have dish tv now...and Karen's uncle has done a lot of work on the inside to make it nice.  He and his boys use it during deer season as their hunting lodge.  It was really very nice of him to let us stay there for a couple of nights.  He stocked the fridge for us to make sure we had everything we needed to be comfortable...he's definitely one of the good guys.

Besides seeing Karen's relatives we also toured the local museum...they have a room devoted to the 1950's and 60's, so Karen got her picture taken with Elvis...
K and K...the King and Karen.
...and enjoyed a bite at the local malt shop:

Since fake food isn't all that filling, we stopped at a local eatery, "The Water's Edge", overlooking Lake Huron:

The view from the deck where we ate our meal.  The food was decent, the view good, the company, excellent.

On the collecting front, I own two of the three Ronson "bartender" lighters, both touch tips...the Junior Bartender and Senior Bartender...the one I don't have is the Senior Bartender "striker" model...in my search for that I occasionally come across knockoffs, though to be fair it's not absolutely certain who copied whom.  Was Ronson first with the bartender striker model, or did they copy the ones produced in Austria, Africa, etc?  In any event a very nice bartender striker lighter showed up on ebay recently:
It's a beautiful piece, but  a) it's not really a Ronson, and  b) it's expensive...so for now I'm still in search mode.

Made it home after 6pm, unpacked, unwound with a drink and a cigar, then put a fire in the chiminea and chilled for a couple of hours.

Tomorrow - Monday - is ostensibly another vacation day, but as long as the salt mine is working I'm on call...so it will really just be a day I'm not in the office.

Later, mcm fans...