April 30, 2008

I do love chili. I have tried it in just about every restaurant I've eaten at here in my hometown. I rate them personally and know where I will or where I won't order it again.

I've seen some varieties of those innocuous looking little green, yellow, red peppers that will blow your head off. I like a little heat in my chili, but not so much that all I am trying to do is trying to prove I can stand the heat as they say. I can't. I figure about a 3 on the heat register is my limit.

April 28, 2008

So what else is new.

I ran across this in ALTERNET today. My first comment is that it is nothing more than one of the first zaps from Democrats into a Republican. Does it strike me as an oddity or an uncommon practice? Heck no.

Comment 2. It's now the Republicans turn to zap the Dems, and they will. Do I think the American public will lose any sleep over this? Heck no.

Comment 3. I don't know about you or the rest of the American public, but I think it's a darn good idea to use prisoners in every state for public works. I am sure that this would free up some state money for other purposes and I am sure most of the cons would like to do some consturctive work for which I think they would be paid a stipend, and maybe even learn a skill that maybe, just maybe they could turn to when they are released. As it stands now, I think they just sit and think of how better to commit criminal acts when they are released.

McCain Gets 80% Discount; Free Inmate Labor for Fundraiser

Homewood AL Mayor Barry McCulley (R-obviously) has stepped in it with this one. He's supposed to bring requests for discounts to the City Council, but for some reason he decided to rent the McCain people a room at Rosewood Hall for $250, substantially less than the going rate of $1,200 for a weeknight event. He also provided free inmate labor to set up the tables and chairs, waiving the usual $100 set-up fee.

Homewood Mayor Barry McCulley said the rental rate was discounted because the event was on Monday, a slow day for business. City Council members say they always vote on such discounts but didn't get a say in this deal. They're upset, as are local Democrats.

"I think it's outrageous," said Robert Yarbrough, chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party and a Homewood resident.

"I was charged full book rate. I was never offered any free inmate services to set up for my event. Mayor McCulley owes an apology to every citizen in Homewood as to why he arbitrarily changed the fee for this out-of-state senator from Arizona."

Yarbrough rented the entire hall, three rooms, on Thursday nights in September 2006 and September 2007 for the Democratic Blue Dot Ball fundraiser. The weekday fee is $1,700 for all three rooms, according to the official rates. Yarbrough said the Democrats paid more than $2,500 for all charges each year.

McCulley claims Council President Ginger Busby agreed to the discount, but she says different.

"The mayor asked me if the hall could be free for the McCain event, and I said absolutely not," Busby said. "He then asked if it was appropriate to charge a lesser fee for Mondays. I said as long as it didn't cost the city money, it could be considered."

That's right. The Mayor had no problem charging one of his own tax-paying citizens full freight, but he wanted to give away the store for John McCain. Does anyone else think party affiliation might have played a tiny part in his decision?

City Council member David Hooks is also concerned about the legal ramifications of the city making what amounts to an in-kind donation to a political campaign. Perhaps the Mayor just assumed that every taxpayer in Homewood is a McCain supporter. Robbie Yarbrough won't be the only person telling him he's wrong.

April 27, 2008

April 26, 2008

Here is the url to look at some great pictures taken by Ansel Adams in 1942
But what I like is his car that he's standing atop of. I don't know the model but I sure did like woodies.
Take a Master Class With Luciano Pavarotti : NPR Music

Click above then scroll to the bottom and click to see John Candy portray Pavarotti talking to his Godfather about getting work. Performed at SCTV. John Candy died too young.

April 25, 2008

...and the grocery store took their bite out of us, and of course OPEC our friendly oil providers.

April 24, 2008

Could it be. Perhaps it's time for the slumbering Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians to start looking a little like what was advertised. Cleveland wins 15-1 and Detroit wins 19-6. A lot of frustration being taken out on someone. Right now they share last place in the division. I think when the season is over they will be first and second in their division. Cleveland first of course.

Another passing scene moment: While watching a commercial between innings I am subjected to another degradation of our language. The actor uses the term, MYBAD. What the h--- is that supposed to mean?

April 23, 2008

During a week-end in NYC, Miss Eula and I visited Tiffany's and purchased that same piece. It was the only think we could afford also.

Cleveland 15

Kansas City 1

April 22, 2008

Just listening to the Indians play each day is bad enough, with this guy keeping you company, it would be unbearable.

April 19, 2008

Monet's Garden

April 18, 2008

My formula for success is rise early, work late, and strike oil...John Paul Getty

April 17, 2008

This piece appeared today in the New York Times Opinion section. It was written by Timothy Egan. For those of you who have not discovered the Opinion section in the Times, it is a great place to listen to America talk on many different subjects. Todays subject is close to my heart as I like so many have watched this happening in my hometown.

My hometown like many in the forties through the sixties was a town of industrial diversity of about fifty thousand well paid individuals living the good life. Then in the sixties the bubble burst, the industries infrastructure needed updated, but the powers that be decided it was financially to their benefit instead to relocate to other areas where they were welcomed with open arms and lucrative financial packages. It happened here in my hometown as it did in thousands of others.

Today my hometown is still here, the population is almost the same, but it is at its core much different. We no longer make things on a world size scale, we have become a service economy with lower pay scales and a less proud population, but we persevere. We lose our children to other locations where they can compete and prosper, that hurts. No longer do we enjoy multi-generational family life and this maybe hurts the most, but we are still here.

We will never be the same, but that's the way life is, always changing, always interesting to say the least.

My comments #34 in the Times are found here http://egan.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/16/lost-town-blues/index.html?ref=opinion

April 16, 2008, 6:41 pm

Lost Town Blues

In the town where I grew up, men had new trucks in their driveways, and three weeks of vacation for chasing deer in the fall and fish in the summer. They drank beer at a morning happy-hour after the graveyard shift ended, and voted for Democrats because they cared about the little guy, or so it was said.

In less than a generation’s time, the life jobs at the aluminum factory disappeared and the men lost their health benefits, their pensions, their self-confidence. You could say, without starting a fight, that some of them turned to God or guns for comfort — or at least for diversion. And then there were those who turned to alcohol.

It’s an old story, the grinding of winners into losers, a sort of geographic lottery. My town was Spokane, Wash., which has rebounded somewhat from the collapse of Kaiser Aluminum. But it could be McKeesport, Pa., or Utica, N.Y., or any of the 900 counties across the country that have lost jobs or population for decades.

People who live in small towns that have been passed over don’t need to be told that they’re bitter, or heroic. They’re stuck, is what they are. The honest ones say they would follow their kids out of town, if only they had the means. A few years ago, a University of Nebraska survey of 3,087 people in rural counties asked people how they felt about their lives. Only 11 percent of them said they were satisfied with where they lived. Optimism, as much a part of the landscape as winter wheat, was disappearing.

This sentiment, real but wrapped up in pride over place, may be in part why the polls show little change in Barack Obama’s standing since his comments about the bitterness of small towns and the working class. The pundits and voters are having two different conversations, not for the first time.

In that sense, the arc of this controversy is typical of how these things go: struggling towns are props, not issues.

One side rushes to drape themselves in flags, guns and the kind of Norman Rockwell hagiography that is far removed from the 2008 reality of meth labs and foreclosure frontiers. The other side says religion is for fools, and if only they had a new Starbucks in town, some of those Bible-banging gun nuts could learn to love Sundays with Norah Jones and a Scrabble game.

The low point in this discussion was Hillary Clinton talking about how she learned to shoot — “behind the cottage that my grandfather built on a little lake called Lake Winola outside of Scranton.” Yes, and after that it was Wellesley, Yale, the White House and the $109 million fortune she made with her husband trading in their name and influence. She’s got elite cred with the best of them.

Obama can counter with the endorsement this week from Bruce Springsteen. Nobody in American literature or politics has done a better job than the Boss of describing (as in “My Hometown”) the heartbreak of a foreman who says, “these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back.”

But for a presidential campaign, we should forget rock lyrics, guns and God, and who can throw back a boiler-maker like a real man. The only question should be how — or whether — rust belt and rural towns can join the tomorrow economies.

For that matter, we should retire the test over which presidential candidate voters would most like to have a beer with. George W. Bush, when he was drinking, was probably a fun guy in a bar — all those frat boy tricks, flatulence jokes and arcane stats on long-retired major leaguers.

But he’s run the country into the ground, even if the only measurement is how blue collar workers fared under his watch. And he is the only leader who has actually embraced the elite label. At a fundraising dinner during his first term with the “haves and the have-mores,” as he referred to them, Bush said: “Some people call you the elite — I call you my base.” Now, he was joking, but there’s an element of truth there. And for the record, median hourly wages in Pennsylvania are down 16 cents from five years ago, adjusting for inflation.

So, solutions? On John McCain’s Web site, he talks as much about reviving small town America as he does about Lindsay Lohan’s love life — zilch. Clinton and Obama each have detailed, multi-point proposals. They’re heavy on new energy solutions — solar, wind, converting crops to fuel, with faded factory towns doing the work. The problem, as we’ve seen with the huge rise in commodity crop prices, is that when food and fuel compete for the same source, family budgets strain. Hillary is out with a new ad in Indiana, promising to keep defense jobs in the state — pork as public policy, another sleight-of-hand trick for small town America.
Is it too much to ask one of these candidates for an honest but painful statement suggesting that perhaps a lot of these towns may never come back? Or that the way to economic revival is to lose the pipe dream that Google is going to relocate to an old steel town because they have a tax-free enterprise zone and some cool mountain-bike trails?

“By the time November rolls around,” said Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, Hillary’s top surrogate in the state, Obama’s comment “will be long forgotten.”
So will small town America. Again.

Comments (17)

1.April 17th,
3:06 am Thanks for the interesting analysis. The reason I worried about Obama’s recent insensitive remarks was that they sound very urban-centric/ethnocentric and may express an underlying attitude. Is he really committed to going going beyond stereotypes and visiting small towns and talking seriously with people and planners? Or will he focus on urban America after he’s elected? As you say, ethanol is not the future. How about a new WPA for rebuilding the infrastructure? There’s a big shortage of health care workers now. Could some small-town people be retrained for that? If the Dems offered solutions for people moving out of dying towns, probably a lot of people would be willing to move out — but not without a safety net. How about a national organization called Rust-Red Panthers or something like that?

— Posted by Chris
2.April 17th,
3:27 am This was so painful to read because it speaks to the core of what’s wrong with our leadership. George Bush ran the country into the ground and none of the candidates give any hope that they will, or can, do any better. Whether its the pain of the small town, or the pain of urban decay, the truth of what’s going on seems to be either mis-stated or avoided. It will be very hard to vote in the actual election because the long, expensive, wasteful drive to the election has not given any evidence that a true, insightful leader will result.

— Posted by Bliss Siman
3.April 17th,
3:28 am Excellent article! (For the record I support Barack Obama.) As I type this I am living in the Pacific Northwest. I am not originally from here, but I love this part of the country- I am in the Tri-Cities, which is an anomaly as our employment rate has just risen.

— Posted by Mary A
4.April 17th,
4:19 am Mr. Egan — I usually respect your work enormously, but this piece was appalling. You accuse the pundits of a disconnect while writing about these small towns as if they were exclusively male. Would including — or simply acknowledging — women in the discussion have somehow damaged your anti-elite cred?

— Posted by Maggie
5.April 17th,
4:58 am You sound like a Seattle nutcase who, when one asks ,”Which way is the road to Spokane?”You get the reply,”What do you want to go there for?”
Perhaps you should make a trip to your hometown and see what a really nice place it is. I have been around the world more than once, and I live here because I like it.

— Posted by Frances McCaffrey
6.April 17th,
5:30 am How convenient: a poll that says a small percentage of folks in rural America want out as overwhelmingly as the inmates of nursing homes!

Similar results will be found in major metroplitan areas but in fact it’s not that different than it ever was - these ARE the good old days.

As we link into ever-widening interest groups and resist categorization we emerge from these over-simplified analyses with possibilities for cooperation for humanity unlike any ever had. Small town “values” are still valuable and living in rat-races where the air is cancerously polluted is even worse than the “despair” of lost jobs that nobody wants.


— Posted by William Loughborough
7.April 17th,
5:48 am This is an excellent piece. In the final analysis it’s going to be about marketing and the ‘golden’ rule. Power has left. Like the mining country of East Kentucky where the mine owners had the gold and the people had the poverty that same scenario seems to be playing out in the land of corn and wheat fields. Nothing new here.

— Posted by e t gregory
8.April 17th,
5:51 am Well, Mr. Egan,
Then why leave Spokane for Seattle?

— Posted by ileftspokanetoo
9.April 17th,
6:03 am How very true. I’ve worked all over the most rural and unpopulated counties of the West, and some rural and depopulating counties of the East.

“Is it too much to ask one of these candidates for an honest but painful statement suggesting that perhaps a lot of these towns may never come back?”

Yes. Just as the dream in my state of a university for every quarter of the state, offering every major, at every level, is likely destined to die. Just as the small rural schoolhouse did.

It’s an urban country now. Ghost towns don’t come only from the 19th century’s mistakes and lost dreams. (And the West? Can be very bitter and clinging-to-narrow-values, too.)

— Posted by Idaho Pine
10.April 17th,
6:05 am Basic problem is that Americans are voting for public relations perfect people. The real experienced people with talent and ability to put America back on course will never run for high office. They have lived a life with both successes and failures triumphs and mistakes. These are the trials and tribulations that make us men, that forge real leaders.

Observing a modern American election is like watching a bunch of mouthy beauty pagant contestants trying to show us just how perfect they have been and hence just how much they deserve to win. Their messages are tailor made for the specific state, the specific town but in the end it is all hot air. One of these public relations hounds is elected and political business returns to normal.

Change will come only after Americans learn to vote for those who are not perfect, who have climbed high mountains and sank to low valleys, who will really bring the interest of the little guy to bear on all issues. This person is you and me. He is in all of us.

Until we change we must resolve ourselves to a long slow slide into the status of second rate nation talking of the good old times and imagining that we still are rich and prosperious.

Washington, DC

— Posted by Robert
11.April 17th,
6:10 am (oops, hit submit by accident).

So kudos to you and Obama for pointing out this “bitter” truth. It seems that so far he has proven himself a new kind of leader, indeed: unafraid to confront reality with thoughtful words, which may be clumsy at times.

But when isn’t it awkward to articulate a truth that’s been denied for decades? These truths - about the rural decline, like the role of race in our society - have been by most politicians behind the rhetoric that disguises their disinterest, or even fear, and certainly, often, inability to tackle the real questions facing the U.S. and the planet.

— Posted by Idaho Pine
12.April 17th,
6:15 am Small town America is a bedrock of values, hopes, and dreams. It is also a tumbleweed, wind-blown ghost town of misery and lethargy. Feelings wash across this land with the connectivity of the internet - somehow giving the impression that the world is moving on without us and we are part of a glacial decline - a backwater - yet an early indicator of national trends as much as a canary carried by coal miners to sense the toxic atmosphere…by dying first.

There is much at stake and it is the core of the rhetoric of politicians. Small towns provide the incubator for our economy and future success in technology, business and politics. Tim Egan, one of my fdavorites,comes from the State of Washington where the barefoot schoolboy law prevailed, providing a threshold of funds for rural schools to offer education to kids that would build their understanding and incubate their dreams. Kids were so smart they saw their opportunity far, far away from their small town - they migrated to the big city. This has been the rule for the last 100 years. Some stayed and invested in the local community, some made it big then came home, some vowed like Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With the Wind - Lord I never want to be poor again…and never, never came home.

As I travel the world I find old friends from my small town of Sunnyside, Washington in every imaginable walk of life - many very successful because that small town was an incubator of big dreams of the greatest nation of the world. We still believe that stuff. We benefitted as a community of farmers from the huge public works projects that provided good jobs for our families building the national highway system and running the huge energy research laboratories at Hanford, Washington. The schools eagerly polled their students to get a piece of that federal money that was distributed to schools of federal worker children. We attended Community Concerts provided by the federal government grants bringing artists from the New York Metropolitan Opera and the Chicago Symphony into our little town - we learned about diversity and respected culture.

It is true there were twice as many taverns in town as there were churches, but the churches were on every corner. Sunday morning was a rousing chorus of church bells coaxing mothers to bundle up their kids and attend services. In small town America fathers and sons sneaked out on a Sunday morning and went fishing and hunting - still do. We had our Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, our Rotary Clubs, our Masonic Lodges and our Kiwanis Clubs, our American Legion, VFW and our Little League baseball teams sponsored by the A&W Root Beer Company and the local John Deere distributor. Yes we learned how to shoot, how to survive in the wilderness and how to respect life and preserve our freedoms. This deep love of freedom and soul and trust in God are values deep seated in American culture - not bitterness about lost American Dreams. These values are strong as bedrock and can be reinforced to bolster the strength of our hopes for a brighter future of our nation and its leadership role in the world community.

We have our heroes - those who leave our small towns and make it big- by careers in public service, the military, business or professions. We are not - repeat - are not psychotically clinging to religion and guns - we simply associate guns and God with our love for individual freedom. Despite our reliance on occasional federal programs creating opportunities for good jobs and future for our kids, we are wise to maintain a healthy distrust of the federal government’s insufferable tendency to want to dictate how we are to run our daily lives in our “village”. We may be bitter and frustrated - but we are proud - we have dreams - and somehow - with our faith in God - we know our kids can be anything that they want to be - with hard work and sacrifice. We only wish that more would finally come home and reinvest in the intellectual capital that they left behind for the opportunity of the big city.

— Posted by Dennis Egan
13.April 17th,
6:22 am Mr. Egan makes some pithy observations. The frustrating thing I am resigned to is that we the people actually require our politicians to ignore unhappy facts.

Proof is provided by recalling the public and political reaction of former Presidents Jimmy Carter’s pronouncement that we were in an “era of limits” compared to Ronald Reagan’s fondly remembered “Morning in America”.

Mr. Carters conservation programs were abolished by Mr. Reagan with assurances that oil supplies would be bountiful if only government would get out of the way of the market forces.

So, here we sit with market forces causing gas prices to four dollars a gallon and a collapse of the housing market that will remove the possibility of the “American way of life” for millions of Americans whether they live in large cities or rural communities.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned because he was insane. Our candidates fiddle while America falls because we the people insist on it.

— Posted by Greg
14.April 17th,
6:45 am Compelling insights to the real condition of small town America. Bruce Springstein has endorsed Obama. That is a telling analysis


— Posted by Richard Fortner
15.April 17th,
7:15 am I sure that, given the chance, Hilary would do just as much for the small towns around the country as she has done for upstate New York; nothing.

I am equally sure that Obama would find spending a weekend in my small town completly beyond him. we have one traffic light, but no starbucks.

— Posted by John Torgersen
16.April 17th,
7:25 am We’re all props for the politicians. Energy independence has the greatest potential to bring jobs back, but it all boils down to corporate greed.

Corporations owe their loyalty to shareholders, not employees. Their job is to provide the biggest return on the dollar. All other things being equal, they go where they can pay the least.

Small towns all over the world are drying up.

— Posted by Robert59
17.April 17th,
7:48 am Mr. Egan,
How, exactly, does the 2nd largest city in the state of Washington qualify as a small town? If you want to talk about Republic, or Metalline Falls, or some other NE Washington small town that’s lost industry, then the analogies presented in your opinion piece might fit, but a city with a quarter million people is not a small town.

— Posted by Sean

April 16, 2008

Backyard gardens may start out as a place to plant a flower, but soon can become a passion; a passion that grows. A passion that never ends but requires more and more from the gardener. A requirement that is joyfully met.

April 14, 2008

When communication breaks down problems multiply, and well look at this cartoon. It's funny, and at the same time, could be so true.

April 12, 2008

Once upon a time two young kids started to hang out together,
so much so that they got a whole lot used to it and each other.

The boy graduated and left for the military, but became worried
that the girl might get used to him being gone and might decide that she liked it.

What to do, what to do? He knew he loved her, but wasn't so sure of her feelings toward him.

He was brave enough or dumb enough to volunteer and let them send him wherever they wanted, certainly he was brave enough to ask the girl to at least wait for him.

Elaborate schemes ran through his head on how to pop the question, but elequance was not his game. He studdered, he stammered, he cleared his throat and she said yes.

Years passed by and the boy and girl became as one. They discovered each was the others best audience. They finished each others sentences so familiar each was with the others thoughts.

Where once they could run free and wrestle with the kids, and walk miles on end for the pure joy of it, they now discovered aches and little discomforts.

As life is designed where once they were two, plus three, time moves on and kids move on. Now they were two again.

Fifty plus years have gone by now and the two kids that were once young are not so young anymore. But time compensates us in some ways.

The boy is no longer afraid the girl will think the grass is greener and the other boys cuter. They are content now sitting side by side chattering and cramming as much life as they can into whatever is remaining.

They seem to hold hands more now as they've gotten older, but about
equally it seems to steady the other and steer a straight course, and of course,the hands that have been useful are now a means of touching, a wordless email, that speaks a message of reassurance and fidelity together.

April 11, 2008

I use both windows and firefox as browsers. One of the things I missed when using firefox was the inability to 'create shortcuts'. Well Firefox has added an extension that fixed that. It's called Desk Cut. Download that, then right click and there it is, your ability to create a shortcut on the desktop.

I'm probably the last guy on the planet to discover that. Oh well.

April 9, 2008

saw this at http://www.secondose.com. Best tattoo of the year. I'd say so.
When I was about fifteen events occurred that I remember to this day. Earth shattering events, heck no, but to me they were memorable. One of which happened whenever my aunt would come visit my mom. They would chat and catch up on family or local gossip.

Why do I mention this or why do I remember this? Well I was at the cusp of sixteen that age when a drivers license seemed the most important milesone I would ever reach. My aunt who drove a Studebaker for some reason I can't remember would allow me to take her car for a spin around the block while she drank her coffee and helped change my moms picture arrangements.

I don't know why she allowed me to do that, except she had two boys, my cousins, who were older than me so maybe she had been through the 'can I drive the car?' question so many times she never gave it a second thought when I asked her, 'can I drive the car?'.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Studebakers since then, so when I saw this poem I had to include it as a post.


Gerald Stern

Try a small black radio from any year
and listen to the voices you get, they were
much faster then, they raced ahead of us
and rushed the music; love was in a rocking chair,
the floor was crooked, the moon was already in
the sky, though it was daylight still; or love
was in a Studebaker, we were driving east
and we had no idea how long the corporation
would last, or if there was a corporation, how could we?
And did it have its headquarters in Delaware
for taxes and connections, though the doors
were heavy and solid, what was the year? '55?
The Lark appeared in 1958 or
'59—it was their last attempt,
though I remember the Wagoneer, it was 19-
66 and something called the Cruiser, we had
Nat King Cole on the radio though static
was bad in Pennsylvania, given the mountains,
and there was a lever you pushed to make a bed—
I hope I'm getting it right—the leaves on the windshield
were large and wet, the song was Unforgettable,
the tree was either a swamp maple or a sycamore.

April 8, 2008

This is a sad picture in the story it depicts, and I have debated with myself whether to post it or not. Not lost the debate and here it is. I wish I could give the picture-maker credit but I don't know who did it. It's titled: Life

A clever collection of verbal comebacks has been published by Mardy Grothe and it's titled: Viva La Repartee. Very funny stuff. Here is one:

W. C. Fields

W. C. Fields died at age sixty-seven on December 25, 1946, his life cut short by his notorious alcohol consumption (by some accounts, he drank as much as two quarts of gin a day). Some wags thought it was a fitting irony that Fields died on Christmas, the one holiday he despised the most. As he lay in his hospital bed shortly before his death, Fields was visited by the actor Thomas Mitchell, a good friend. When Mitchell entered Fields' room, he was shocked to find the irreligious Fields paging through a Bible. Fields was a lifelong agnostic, and fervently anti-religious (he once said that he had skimmed the Bible while looking for movie plots, but found only "a pack of wild lies"). "What are you doing reading a Bible?" asked the astonished Mitchell. A wiseacre to the end, Fields replied:

"I'm looking for loopholes."

and speaking of clever repartees, here is a great one from the movie DINNER AT EIGHT. The two ladies in case you don't know are Marie Dressler and Jean Harlow.

April 7, 2008


I don't usually have bad dreams, but last night I did.

If I do have a bad dream, and I'm sure everyone does, it dosen't carry over into consciousness. I only remember that I had one. But last night was an exception.

I don't believe that dreams are precursors of things to come, or precognitions, but they seem so real.

As I write this I am still hung over with the thoughts of my journey through dark thoughts.

I think I understand that dreams are dramatizations of our worst fears, ignited by I don't know what. If I did I would be sure not to consume whatever it is or not think such thoughts again just before bed.

My dreams have changed through the years as I have aged, as my life circumstances have changed, as my greatest fears have rearranged themselves. One of the prevailing themes of my night trips is that I am lost and spend the whole night, it seems, traveling to nowhere or in circles.

Another is that I am at work among someone I remember from my real working days, but just kind of hanging around because I did not know what to do or that I was a pretender that had not yet been caught in my ineptness.

Last nights dream sent a chill up my spine literally and woke me up at a too early to stay-up hour, but I got up, stayed up for a short time and then returned to my bed, and darn if the dream didn't start right back up again.

This time my dream has a little twist to it, but God it was scary to me. I was lost again, but this time I was driving and it was of course dark and dreary, and I turned up a road I did not know of course and it turned out to be railroad tracks that I was driving on. The roadbed got steeper and steeper and my wheels started slipping on the slippery tracks until I became more and more panicky. I finally in desperation turned the steering wheel and the car came off the tracks and started to plunge downward. I woke up remembering it all.

I wish I hadn't.

April 6, 2008


April 4, 2008

the cow has jumped over the equinox
or something
and spring is here.

like every spring the weather is
nicely put, unsettled.

today as I look out my window at
my expected location of sweat and toil
I see clouds swollen with rain preparing
a new unloading of same.

the same ground that yesterday was receptive
to my initial ministrations and promises
that I would preen it and feed it and bring
it back to an appearance it could be proud of

today is water laden, akin to dry skin
sucking up skin lotion it will emerge from the rain
a little greener, a little more prepared for the human
toilers excavations, and scratching of the earth,
planting this and that, rearranging and sowing

rituals from time immemorial repeated, only
differing in size and scope, and purpose.

oh yes, purpose. The land, a gift from God.
Land, the soil answers the call with
bounties to fill each persons needs, returning
in kind the diligence of the landowner.

so sit back while it rains and feeds the land
and dream of fields of flowers or vegetables
yet to be sowed, be content. You haven't come
across that huge bolder yet to be uncovered, or
those forgotten roots that eminate from China.

but that's for tomorrow, today smile, dream and
have another cup of coffee.

jim kittelberger

April 3, 2008

April 2, 2008


Why do I want to write?

Do I have anything important to get off my chest? Do I have anything I think is of value to the world, good lord no, then why spend time punching keys, spending time putting words on paper that no one will read? During moments of fancy I visualize my hand dipping a pen into an inkwell and like magic flowing words appear in a beautiful hand onto wonderfully thick paper stock. The ink running smoothly over the paper, the pen feeling like a machine built for speed and agility, moving in glorious loops forming words that are beautiful to look at. Perhaps it's not words that I yearn for, but maybe the art and flow of a highly trained calligrapher.

Yet the words in magnificent formation like a schooled marching band seem somehow incomplete and unalive, a creation that is waiting for its life blood that will lift it up and make it soar. Color, the cornacopia of the rainbow, the wild not quite sane mind of Van Gogh creating colors that rival the sunlit fields of sunflowers and yellow wheat swaying in the breeze; color, taken from Gauguins wildly splattered pallet of hurriedly applied deep and bright hues to heighten his images of the Tahati in his mind, more than in fact. These colors added to the black and white flowing words create in my mind what I desire.

Yet and alas, God has regretfully left me to only image how great it must be to be able to merge the beauty imagined in your brain and the hands obedience giving it life on the canvas. Alas.

jim kittelberger

April 1, 2008

Second Edition

The Run-Aways (shown above with Trixie the wonder dog)

The early years in Mansfield, circa 1943-44, were not without stress for two sisters who lived modestly on Cherry street, in a house of unpretentious size close to their fathers employment. At the early age of five and seven they had decided that they could take no more of ultimatums as they were newly emerging women of wartime America and should be allowed the independence they deserved. Of course the issue was of such a nature that the course was clear. The issue that caused the revolt was the demand made by their mother that they would be required to tidy up their rooms on a daily basis, which amounted to making their beds.

The remedy seemed clear, a clean break and a new start. The plan was implemented, but only essentials to life were to accompany them on their fresh start. To travel light was the method of choice of these world-wise new mid twentieth century women. Light traveling meant to take along only their newly acquired, last Christmas acquisitions, piggy banks and of course in their break-out for freedom a fellow traveler with a string around her neck, Trixie the fox terrier.

So off they went, the two sisters and Trixie on the road. The distance they traveled was actually quite impressive, three miles as the crow flies. Sisters and dog trudged with the sun bearing down on them, perhaps eroding their desire to be free and independent, but they continued on.

Their destination was in sight and perhaps not a moment too soon. Tired and sweaty they climbed the porch steps and knocked on the door. No answer. They knocked again, still no answer. The travelers had just assumed that their Aunt, where they were planning on a safe haven, would of course, be home.

They sat down on the steps, the two sisters and dog Trixie and tried to come to grips with this flaw in the plan. Perhaps also to start thinking about the fear of the unknown, always a big issue with women of the world of age five and seven, when pulling up in front of the Aunts house was Mom and Dad in the wonderful old car. Mom opened the door and invited/a little more than invited, maybe ordered the wayfarers to enter the car.

I never have heard, the sisters have forgotten? the next chapter in the saga, but they grew up to be fine women doing well into the twenty-first century.

The difference with then and now in early Mansfield, as in most of the country I venture to say, the little travelers were more than fairly safe walking the sidewalks in those days, where I'm sorry to say, today they would not be.