June 30, 2006
Ah the good old summertime. As a kid I loved it because I was out of school for three months and that was great. But now fast forwarding through many many decades to those autumnal years of my life it is enjoyable again. Last night we went to our local campus of OSU and watched for free under a red and white tent one of five nightly historical portrayals of men and women from our past. Last night was the one I selected to go to. An actor portrayed Ernie Pyle, a journalist who wrote about WWII from a soldiers vantage point and who was also killed on the battlefield. After his portrayal he would answer questions from the audience as Ernie and then as the expert he really was. Quite enjoyable and I learned a couple things I didn't know before. Tonight another freebie. At a local garden center we will be treated to a band concert under the stars by some members of our local symphony orchestra playing, I think, some music from Sound of Music among others. The weather is cooperating just great. After last weeks terrible weather it was dicey but all has turned out well. This entry is almost like a diary entry which I try to not do. I will try not to do it again.
June 29, 2006
A HOME DESTRUCTION, I MEAN A HOME IMPROVEMENT ESSAY
By Jim Kittelberger
One of the joys of home ownership is the chance to tinker in 'home improvement'. Home improvement is a multi-kazillion dollar industry that tells American men that you don't need to hire a professional, you can do it yourself and save lots of dollars and be proud of your accomplishments. The sales job has been hugely successful, but the sad fact remains that there is a segment of the American male and female population that are outrageously inept mechanically. I believe I may be the calendar boy of that group. It's not that I'm stupid exactly, but I definitely lean toward being mechanically challenged. My fingers, for example, don't seem to be able to hold a screwdriver in the appropriate slots for more than one turn before it pops out. Maybe I'm a little cross-eyed, but I can't hammer three nails in succession without one of them bending in the wrong direction. I have installed overhead fans, but each night when I say my prayers I give a little thanks to God for leaning a little on the side of the unskilled, and saving us all from going up in flames. I got some dandy power tools from my late father-in-law's estate that he used with precision and proficiency. I, of course, have lost the user manuals, and am reluctant to use THE table saw. I know the saw looks at me with repugnance as a horse seems to with a novice rider. I am throughly intimidated by it's ability to eliminate one or all of my fingers in a microsecond without warning. I am in awe of that kind of power, thus I keep the electrical current away from that one. My aforementioned father-in-law was the antithesis of me. He was so good with his hands and anything mechanical. He could work with electrical wiring without first turning off the electricity, because he knew which wire not to touch or whatever, it was all a magical ability to me. His daughter, my wife, has been the model of spousal support by never comparing his abilities to my woeful arsenal of ineptness. But comparison is inevitable, and I know below her understanding smile and supportive assistance is an 'oh my', and a shaking head when another nail is bent. I blame the shame I live with on the Home Improvement industry and their attempts to put their power tools into hands that should never, I repeat, never be allowed free rein with instruments that can bore holes through walls, slice through a large piece of wood like it was butter, or shoot nails like bullets into anything they wish. There should be a little qualifying quiz given to anyone who steps up to buy one of these marvelous inventions, like "can you pound a nail in straight?" That will eliminate guys like me and make America and the world a much safer place in which to live.
June 28, 2006
I watched the GRAPES OF WRATH again yesterday. Trying to find a clinker among the cast is impossible to do. They convinced me, they were Okies for sure. If you have never watched a movie and don't know what the story is about, it is about a family of Oklahoma tenent farmers who fell victim to the dust and the great depression, were thrown off the property and hit the road. They were poorer than anyone now days could visualize. This was before FDR and his life saving social programs. They head off to the land of promise, California. Jane Darwell won the best supporting actress award, Henry Fonda was nominated for best actor. John Carradine,the father of the Carradine clan of actors was great as Casy, the preacher who lost his calling, and John Qualen who played Muley early in the film didn't get a mention but I think he should have. Rent the film if you've never seem it, it's a movie you don't want to miss seeing, and thinking about.
June 27, 2006
As we grow older and the poignant moments of
partings begin to pile up, we learn to accept the
natural order of things.
My lifetime friend and I have endured saying
goodbye to our grandparents, our parents, and sisters.
Now we have said goodbye to the last of our children,
Each one pursuing their dreams at locations
far from their onetime home. It's natural, it's normal,
But damn it gets old.
“Buck up you old fool”, I’m told. “That’s the way
Yeah, I suppose it is.
2005 jim kittelberger
June 23, 2006
June 22, 2006
The word "time" is the most common noun in the English language, according to the latest Oxford dictionary.
Time is a relative word it seems to me, an under-educated old man standing with one foot on the proverbial banana peel. The flip phrase of a retired person is, 'I've got all the time in the world'. What a nothing statement. When you enter the last third of your life and not knowing the final parameter, that might mean five more seconds, or who knows. Well maybe it is an accurate statement. When your time is up in this world you're outta here. Whatever. But what if time was not measured. What if we didn't wear watches. Think about it. My answer is only in the Garden of Eden, before the apple episode, was time not important. Even in retirement it's relevant. Everybody and everything must run on business time. How would we oldies know when we could show up at the sugar shack for a morning donut, or find the door open at the library? It's interesting though, me being sort of a bullheaded type, removed my watch upon retirement, only to re-attach it later because there is no ignoring the fact that we are all on the clock. It just really depends or varies to whose clock we are attached. The world runs on schedule and only in the movies can we ask the world to stop, I want to get off. That only will happen when indeed your time runs out.
June 21, 2006
June 20, 2006
June 16, 2006
June 14, 2006
One of the most surprising moments in my recent travels was a trip taken to Hannibal, Missouri. I drove into town expecting to see I knew not exactly what, but not the complete nothingness I found. Of course, I speak about Hannibal and Twain; Mark Twain that is; Samuel Clements if you prefer. Twain grew up in Hannibal and called it home. Hannibal Mo, Twain and the Mississippi are words that would be connected in any word association game. Hannibal is situated right on the Mississippi river just like in the books. My God there is nothing there. In fact according to the most current biographer of Twain, a native of Hannibal himself Ron Powers, the town has been taken over by drug interests to boot. I recall one restaurant there, not a very good one and a pizza shop down the highway somewhere. The townspeople either do not have the wherewithal or the inclination to celebrate a writer who is pure Americana if there ever was one. This man who was a journalist, public speaker, humorists and writer; a man who is widely quoted to this day, a man who wrote of things American and was our greatest ambassador of America in his time has been forgotten by the place he called home, a place he never forgot.
I am reminded of a man named Rockefeller who was interested enough to endow some of his money to reclaim a place called Williamsburg, Virginia. Williamsburg, an invaluable learning tool and a great place to visit, is still to this day visited by people from all over the world, not just Americans. Money well spent by someone who certainly could afford it.
What Hannibal Missouri needs is for some entity to step up and say I will do this for the country, for future generations to have a touchstone to visit if their interests turn literary. To me it seems a natural for someone like the Ford foundation, or someone with pockets deep enough to step up and save a town steeped in American fiction. To me it seems so perfect to use in commercials. Ad-men would have a heyday using Twain quotes and his immediately recognizable visage in proclaiming the foundations deep concern for an American legend and his hometown. It needs saving.
June 9, 2006
June 8, 2006
June 7, 2006
Today is the birthday of my most cherished and beloved wife. The woman I have spent the last fifty years married to and a couple more before that when we went to school together. I can’t imagine her not being with me, so I won’t. I ran across the quote above and I think it’s great. It is apropos for any age, but especially for we who have been around the block a time or two. One of the things we learn from life is that we can look at things through positive eyes or not. I’ve done both at times like almost everyone does but really put it into use when I got to within seven years of retirement age and didn’t think I could go one more day. But at that late in life moment I decided to put everything into a positive mode and behold you all know the answer, it’s not one of life’s mysteries, the next seven years flew by happily. It can really be of help when you start reaching that golden age. Now isn’t that about the most uneducated phrase ever used. Getting older is like the bumper sticker says, not for sissies. The body starts to fail you and prevent you from doing the things you love the best, like the elementary exercise walking. Arthritic knees or hips make walking hard work so the walks are pared down and become very short and brief. So a positive attitude becomes very important and becoming a philosopher is one talent you should pick up. What’s that phrase, from the bible I think its, there’s a time for everything under the sun. There’s a little more to it but you know the line. The memory still functions and I remember the many long walks the birthday girl and I went on with happiness. When and if the memory goes that would be terrible, but it probably won’t, most people keep their wits about them for the duration, so it is important that we read and heed such elementary thoughts as the one I started this piece with. We can make the next year a walk in the sunshine or, well we won’t go there. As for me, as long as that birthday girl is with me the year will be bathed in sunshine. Happy birthday.
June 6, 2006
When I daydream, I oft times dream in black and white. Of sitting in a dining car on a speeding train, smoking, and listening to the different conversations all around me.
Have you heard the latest Miller tune? Jeepers, it's keen.
My son is in the Pacific somewhere, I worry about him so.
Mrs. Roosevelt says in the Saturday Evening Post that many things will be different when this is all over.
Please marry me I may not come back.
I used all my ration stamps and bought a big steak.
Make sure you read part of my letters to the kids so they don't forget me.
Did you see the picture in Photoplay of Gable in his uniform? He's so dreamy.
I hardly have enough gas to go anywhere, darn war.
I understand there's no more sleeping space available, we'll just have to sit here and talk all night.
My dad got killed at Guadalcanal. Gosh, I miss him.
June 4, 2006
I watched the movie ORDINARY PEOPLE for the second time last night. It was made in 1980, but lost nothing in the passage of time. Mary Tyler Moore was just as cold, Donald Sutherland was just as whiny, and Timothy Hutton was just as great. The only new thing I missed the first time around that I caught this time is that Mary did not cry at the funeral of her son, so whatever her problem is she had it before the tragedy. Moore’s role was sure a reversal of her TV role as Mary Richards, the needy girl around the office. In this film Mary needed no one. I repeat no one. The film earned four Oscars, best picture, best director, Robert Redford, yeah that guy, and a best supporting Oscar for Timothy Hutton. Rent it and watch it again.
June 3, 2006
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.- Cicero
A RENEWABLE JOY
If you are a gardener or just a garden lover, this is the time of year you have to love. It’s time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your, or someone else’s, labor. We have for the last few years been planting perennials with a sense of abandonment. We, for clarification, are my wife, Hazel by name, and I. By rank she is THE gardener. I, on the other hand, am the mover of plants, bushes and other growing things, digger, opinion giver, and sycophant in my opinions of “yeah that’s great, couldn’t be better, or I love it”.
I should mention here that by saying garden, I mean flower garden, not the veggie, practical garden that helps to sustain you in time of need and satisfies those cravings for hot radishes, cold watermelons, and the top of the food chain, the glorious, red, plump, sweet, king of the garden, the tomato. No, I am talking about the other kind of garden, the one that satisfies another basic need, the need for beauty in awe-inspiring shapes, colors, and aromas, that reappear each spring, to reaffirm the promise of renewal.
This year, like each of the last two, Hazel proclaimed the work finished, and all we would have to do from now on is to pull a few weeds and just enjoy. Just like the last two, not so. In the first couple years, she planted all the gardens around the perimeter of the lawn and one round garden in the middle of the back portion. “Ahh”, all the work is done and now all we need to do is watch what she has wrought. As we sit in the shade of tall maple trees in our Adirondacks sipping on cold iced teas and discussing the world’s travails, all is well. Silence. I glance over and see THE gardener, Hazel staring toward the front of the lawn and I know, I sense, a plan is being formed. I was right, the front, middle portion of the lawn was just that, just lawn. In Hazel’s view of the world, that is blank canvas and her mission is to fill the canvas with color. To cement her view, the local paper is advertising our favorite garden center’s “fifty percent off sale” on all perennials. After filling the autos backseat with flowers, off we go to our beloved, much visited, home improvement centers. We have two, Lowe’s and Home Depot and we visit both. What we want is an arbor. Home Depot gets the first chance and they only have plastic, which doesn’t inspire us. We find a wooden model at Lowe’s that suits us both to a tee. I dig deep into my pocket and pay the ransom and leave the store with the arbor tucked under my arm. Everything is unassembled these days and this is no different. Fast forward and it is standing tall and proud in the formerly blank canvas area awaiting adornment. After our return from the fifty percent off sale we are loaded with yellows, reds, purples, and one or two red hot pokers, which looks like it sounds. We purchased trumpet flower vines that will grow up the sides of the arbor and when mature will sport some red trumpet shaped flowers. Now the reason I mention the red trumpet shaped flowers is because it will attract one of nature’s curiosities, the hummingbird. I visualize sitting in our screened-in back porch and looking out directly onto the arbor, and seeing those little creatures sticking their long beaks into the trumpet. Off to one side of the arbors perimeter, we planted a butterfly bush several years ago. It is in full bloom and does just what it is advertised to do. It attracts butterflies. Our butterflies come in August and it is indeed a magical time watching the butterflies of various shapes and colors flutter around and in the bush. The bush is rather tall; it is flourishing at about eight feet high. Next year if the trumpets are in bloom, I dream of sitting on my porch and watching the hummers and the butterflies darting here and there and thinking it can’t get much better than this.
June 2, 2006
The phrase that runs through my mind every time I think of these events is,
I'm glad I didn't have to make the decision.
The decision I am writing about is the dropping of the atomic bomb, which Harry Truman made without any sleepless nights, I've read. The other is the fire bombings on Tokyo. There were others also, Dresden in Germany for example, and many others in Japan.
It is one of those decisions from an American point of view at the time was clear and concise. Do it and save many thousands of American lives. The figure of a million lives saved by the dropping of the bomb was close they said. But in hindsight, always an easy thing to do, what horrendous results they wrought. But you say, dead is dead; in the final analysis, of course, there are many levels at which this could be discussed, and they have been and will continue to be for many more generations. But to my mind the fire bombings reached a high or low in the methods used to eradicate human beings. These words below come from a description of the Tokyo fire bombings:
(In 1944 a group of manufacturers including Standard Oil and DuPont came up with a jellied gasoline called napalm. It would stick to anything and set ferociously hot fires.)
On March 9, 334 B-29s took off from Guam, arriving in Japan under good weather conditions. The planes were stacked up from 4,900 ft. to 9,200 ft. They dropped one 500-pound cluster of firebombs every 50 feet. The target area was 3 by 5 miles, containing a large industrial complex, however each square mile held over 100,000 civilians. The bombs fell, and within thirty minutes the resulting fires were out of control, driven by 40-mph winds. Tokyo, hit by strings of incendiaries, became a holocaust. Water boiled in the canals after the temperature reached over 1800 degrees F. For three hour the B-29s kept coming. Only a few fighters appeared causing little damage. We lost 14 planes with damage to 42. An official Japanese count reported nearly 84,000 killed, 41,000 injured, and over 250,000 buildings destroyed in this one raid. 16 square miles burned out.
The good guys won and for this I was and am ecstatic. I am so very glad for those who didn't have to make those invasions on Japan and went on to live a full life. I also understand that for those whose job it is to make war that they would use the tools they needed to get the job done, and the sooner that is done the better. But sometimes the grotesqueness of the results seems inhuman and certainly we would learn from such experiences. But no, we do not. America for example since WWI has been in some conflict about every twenty years. After each of these conflicts the unanswered question arises, there must be a better way to solve our problems, but perhaps not. Sad isn't it.
June 1, 2006
He is a man of many talents. He is a novelist whom I read frequently, and a bloggist supreme-O. He is from what I can tell the most unpretentious blogger out there. He seems to have a good word for anyone who makes an effort at blogging. He hits all my hot buttons frequently with his inside knowlege of authors, otr, and movies (although his taste in movies is not what I like but that's o.k.). But he gets a big ten on the rating scale because he is never boring. Please don't leave the blogging scene. I learn something everytime I click in.