Friday, September 22, 2006

...hey, it's at least as newsworthy as the "Weekly World News"... on the image if you have a hard time reading fine print...

...I think my journalism teacher at the University of Idaho would be proud of me...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

QUE SERA SERA...Whatever Will Be, Will Be...
(which is the title of Doris Day's 50's hit which waxes existential)

When you see people doing something dumb, you've probably asked yerself, "why'd they do that?", but it's useless to ask "why". In short, "Que sera sera...whatever will be, will be." Sometimes I think we human beings have a heavy price to pay for (allegedly) being the smartest creatures on the planet. After all, have you ever heard of an animal daydreaming, wasting time, planning to murder someone for the insurance money, or whatever? So, those of us who are not predisposed to live a life of crime, end up having time on our hands when the rigors of work, or any organized activity come to a standstill. In short, we have time on our hands. But, unlike an animal, the Human Being has to figure out what to DO with that time. And, as a result, "dumb stuff" just happens. Just look at any episode of "America's Funniest Home Videos" and you'll see what I mean. I absolutely CRINGE whenever someone gets hit in the crotch with something...that's worse than watching an episode of "Will and Grace". It's worse than trying to listen to Greta Van Susteren. It's even WORSE than hearing Michael Bolton SING!

There have been times when I am just totally amazed (or flabbergasted) by the things people do sometimes. But then again, it's hard to look away from a train wreck. I've never seen one, but through witnessing such things as demolition derbies, or pro wrestling, I'll see stuff like that, and I'm glad I decided to remain a spectator. I once saw a flat figure-8 race out at State Line Speedway, and it was more INSANE than the demolition derby! Here you have these cars, doing laps around the figure-8, but the "catch" is, you've gotta make it through the intersection where the ovals intersect! And you figure, the drivers all PAY for the chance to have their cars (and their bodies) end up in crumpled heaps that have to be carted away. There are the hang-gliding thrillseekers who risk life and limb, grasping onto a flimsy aluminum bar which is hooked to a piece of fabric. John Denver got "dumb" and piloted one of those home-assembled aircraft over the Pacific Ocean...he's now swimming with the fishes. Ironic, for a guy who warbled forth about a "Rocky Mountain High".

There are people who seek to achieve a place in the Guinness Book of Records by eating the most hot dogs, belching the loudest, sitting on a flagpole the longest, what have you. I myself was part of an attempt to get into the Guinness Book. I don't know if the event actually made it, but I had a good time anyway. Back in the late '90s, as part of the Fourth of July celebration at Riverfront Park in Spokane, "whoever it was" was trying to set a record for "The most guitarists ever to play LOUIE, LOUIE at one time." And I'll betcha there were at least a couple-hundred guitarists, of various skills, playing, "NA-NA-NA...NA-NA...NA-NA-NA...NA-NA..." So that was my attempt to be part of something that was unique. Why did I do it? Does ANYONE know why they do what they do, when they do something crazy? As a matter of fact, that might be a good question to ask the people wrestling around in the photo below...

This points the way towards an impending pumpkin shortage. Buy now for Halloween!

...after taking in this photo (and spending WAAAY too much time defacing it), I think I'll try something more seeing how loud I can belch. BRAAAAAAAAP!!!

Of course, what you're reading now could be in the Guinness Book as the "world's dumbest post"!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

An excursion into LITERARY MADNESS...
This post is an example of random-blogging-dementia.

Gimme a head of hair, long beautiful hair dept.: At ye olde local coffee shop today, I was talking to the young girl who rang up ye olde obligatory coffee and cookie. Her hair consists of "dreadlocks"...kinda like what some of the Rastafarian Reggae Musicians (Bob Marley, etc.) wore. The hair bunches itself together in long, coarse strands that are about as thick as your average rope. I asked her, since women seem to change their hairstyles a lot, what does she do when she wants to change hers? Her answer: She CAN'T change her style unless she shaves her head! In short, she can't untangle her hair. Hey, I'm trying to understand those younger than I, so give me credit. In a way, I know how she feels. My hair ties itself in knots all the time. I'll try to untangle it, and if I can't, I just rip out the knot. A thot comes to mind: Is this the physical manifestation of my Dad calling me a "knot-head" all those years? Quick Quiz: Who had a big hit with the song, "Hair"? And when was it a hit? Answers below in the italicized little ending-thing.

Oh, the shark, babe...has such teeth...dear dept.: I actually rented a movie the other day; it's a film Kevin Spacey stars in ("Beyond The Sea"); it's the story of Bobby Darin, the pop singer who tragically died at 37, due to a heart weakened by rheumatic fever. (pictured at left). Spacey did a doggone good job of singing, and moving on stage like Darin did. But the scriptwriters must have been on psychedelic drugs or something; the movie is full of fantasy-like dream sequences which, to me, dilute the subject of the movie, and if I hadn't read Darin's biography first, before seeing the movie, I wouldn't have had a clear picture of Darin's life. I wanted a more DIRECT portrayal of Darin overall. I have a really great DVD which shows Darin performing onstage about 8 months before he died in 1973. And he knew early on he wouldn't live long. He took to keeping an oxygen tank backstage, and he'd use it before, during, and after performances. So anyway, is this a movie review? Sounds like it, huh?

Jus' lookit them thar thangs a-poppin' outta the ground dept.: I'm pretty amazed at how fast construction on that tall building on the North side of Sherman between 6th and 7th is progressing. POP! Already, the back wall of that building is way up there. Which means that the view of the lake is already partially obscured, and when the mega-tall-humonguous-monolithic building across the street is built, well, we'll have to stretch our necks to see the lake. And, as U head west on Sherman, on the north side near 1st Street, what used to be "land" is now a pit; I guess that's where the new Chamber of Commerce is gonna be located. I'm kinda thinking that if there were NO Chambers of Commerce anywhere, no one would miss 'em. It doesn't seem like they do a lot, other than collect dues from participating merchants.

I must be some sort of a jinx dept.: How about this...I've watched Mariners baseball all season long, even right now as I type this. And the M's have a losing record. On the other side of the coin, I haven't watched Seahawks football AT ALL so far this year, and they're undefeated. Right now, Ichiro is up to bat, and I wonder what he must be thinking..."I can't wait to leave this bunch of LOSERS"...he'd implied in an interview a couple of years ago that he wasn't used to being on losing teams. Which reinforces my viewpoint that Seattle is where all good athletes (and coaches) go to die. Look at all of the former Mariners players who are doing better, elsewhere on other teams. Jamie Moyer's won a coupla games since he took off for Philly. Freddie Garcia is a feared, dominating pitcher for the White Sox. Even Jeff Cirillo's hitting on the team he plays for. Randy Johnson's a Yankee, and he'll probably get another World Series ring this year. But then you tell me, "how about the Seahawks going to the Super Bowl last year?" Easy...I didn't watch the Seahawks ALL SEASON LONG. That may be twisted logic, but it works for me!

And to think we pay their salaries dept.: President Bush has pretty much inferred that Colin Powell, the former Secretary of Whatever, was WRONG in his assessment of the Iraq War. Bush has said that "thinking is UNACCEPTABLE", if you're thinking that maybe the Iraq War is fruitless, and that in our own way, we might be as bad as they are. Oh, all of the talking heads have had fun with that quote, and probably will for weeks to come. Now the Pope has gone and made followers of Islam mad when he inferred that they have a violent religion. And those Islam extremists have vowed to cause severe damage to his Popeness if they aren't placated with a blanket apology. No violence THERE, rrrright? Meanwhile, there's probably a whole bunch of other obscure political stuff going on that we don't know about, so I've summed it up below in the photo:

I have once again defaced a photo. They probably really hate me by now.

By the way, you do remember that song, "Hair"? The Cowsills had a #1 hit with it in 1968. The lyrics were, in part..."I want it oily, greasy, powdered, flowered, spangled and SPAGHETTI!!! Oh say, can you eyes...if you can, then my hair's too short..." Now, if I could just apply that logic to the top of my head!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Ah, the wonders of Photoshop...
Bringing an old photo back to life...

The "Picasa" program which I use to post some photos has "fine-tuning" things that you can do to a can lessen or deepen shadows, you can add "fill light", and you can increase the "color temperature" of a foto. I took this old photo and played around with it a bit, and really increased the "temperature", so what appears looks like a summer afternoon in Coeur d'Alene's "Blackwell Park" (where City Park is now)...this'll take you back to around the turn of the century...somewhere around the early 1900's...

It almost looks like you could jump right into that photo and get warm, doesn't it? I think I feel this way due to the onslaught of the cool temperatures around here the last few nights. I do think fall is on the way. First, SeptemBRRRR, and then OctoBRRRR, then NovemBRRRR, and finally, DecemBRRR. And I have reserved the right to alter the names of the next two months: JanuBRRRay, then FeBRRRuary.

What's the best way to tell when a blogger has nothing to write about? When he talks about the WEATHER.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Let's hear it for...

Obviously, the lady in the photo below plans on trying to be the replacement for that beloved crocodile guy, Steve Irwin, who passed away recently. I hope someone tells her not to swim near any suspicious-looking creatures of the sea...

I had nothing better to do than deface this photo from Well, at least it's not a crime. Yet...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Just when you think you've done something NEW, you find out...

In today's "Huckleberries Online" blog (, there appeared a photo that just literally nailed me to the wall! I couldn't help but just stare at it, because it's one of the coolest things I've ever seen...someone used a camera trick to take this picture of the great outdoors...I'm no photo-bug, so I can't even begin to guess how this was done...

So, the above image, nice as it is, immediately reminded me of an old record album that came out back in the late '60s, by "The Cyrkle" (Circle), you know, those guys who had hits with "Red Rubber Ball" and "Turn-Down Day", the latter of which is just about the most-out-of-tune song ever to hit the has a "Sitar" twangin' away in the background tunelessly...

Anyway, this album, "Neon" came out after the Cyrkle hit big with those two aforementioned songs, the only two hits they would ever have. Still, they got to make records, and even went on tour with the Beatles in 1966, so they did all right. Certainly, something to be proud of. I must have a one-track mind, though. I see a beautiful picture and I immediately think of an album cover. I think I have a "Stereo" copy of this album. So, make that a "two"-track mind...

Sixties musicians continue to have an 'impact' dept.: It turns out that Chad Stuart, half of the '60s English duo "Chad and Jeremy", actually lives in Blaine County, here in Idaho. I would imagine that's south of here (Coeur d'Alene), somewhere. Anyway, he's having to pay a court-settlement for hitting a lady flagger with his car and then driving off. The newspaper article I read said Chad & Jeremy acquired fame with their song, "Rest In Peace", but actually that tune came out after they'd had their only-THREE big hits, namely "Willow Weep For Me", "A Summer Song" and "Yesterday's Gone", a tune which I'm sure ol' Chad will be singing when he gets his court debt paid. They also recorded "From A Window", a song written, but never recorded by, the Beatles.

So, I'll now conclude this posting with a song in my heart. Which comes from the tons of vinyl in ye olde record room...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

So you think YOU'RE having a bad day?
Well, I'm not kidding when I say that things could be WORSE...

My hijacking of this foto is evidence that I need to have my head examined.

yeah, right, as if I needed a reason...

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been doing these photo-postings so long now, I've seen a lot of what's out there as far as historical depictions of our area, but every now and then, I get a foto I ain't seen before, and such is the case with the following shot:

Judging from the position of the Point on Tubbs Hill, I would place this location at roughly where Independence Point is now. It's another one of those "Scotty's Studio" photos from the mid-to-late '40s. And, it looks like wooden boats will never go out of style. A boat similar in style to the one at "foto-right" is used to ferry passengers from the CDA Rezzort to the overpriced Rezzort golf course. Heaven forbid anyone actually set foot in Coeur d'Alene if they don't wanna, after all.

That's the way the ball bounces dept.: Something I wanted to touch upon is the danger baseball pitchers face every time they take the mound. Raphael Soriano of the Mariners got hit in the head by a baseball smacked by Vladdy Guerrero (pound-for-pound, probably the strongest player in baseball). Soriano was on the ground for quite a while until he was gurneyed off to the nearest hospital. Two weeks later, Soriano is still having minor headaches, and according to a news article I read today, he can't perform motor skills (whatever that means)...and Soriano's season is over, if not his baseball career altogether.

I read something in a Beatles' biography how John Lennon's friend, artist Stu Sutcliffe met his fate. Sutcliffe sold a painting, and Lennon talked him into buying a bass guitar because the Beatles needed a bass player (This was approx. 1960-61). One night, after playing the Cavern Club in Liverpool, the Beatles were attacked by a bunch of guys who were mad because their girlfriends admired the group, and Stuart was kicked in the head. Afterwards, he began having severe headaches, and later died. The autopsy found that Sutcliffe had a small depression in his skull that was pressing upon his brain. And I hope that ain't the case with Soriano.

I've seen so many close calls, where a batter will smoke a ball back at the pitcher, faster than it was thrown. I've seen pitchers hit in the shins, in the stomach, in the back, and even when the pitcher catches the ball, it's more of a defensive, protective reaction, more than anything else. Batters are stronger and beefier than they used to be, and it is my firm opinion that someday a pitcher will get killed. I'd like to see some sort of protection for a pitcher...a pitching helmet, or SOMETHING that will protect the pitcher? By the time the pitcher tosses the ball, he's about 60 feet away from home plate, with the ball coming back at him close to 100mph. Something to think about.

So, that's it. Get in, get out. I am embarking on a career of cost-efficient blog posting. I will not post a blog before its time. Contents of this blog may have settled due to shipping and handling. Just so ya know.

There is no truth to the rumor that...

Half the time, I have no idea why I watch Court-TV...I have no police record, I haven't spent ONE SECOND in a jail cell. Why, then, do I feast on all of that channel's prime-time documentaries on escaped criminals, prison life, watching the escapades of psychic Detectives, and subject myself to all of the morbid coroner stuff on "Forensic Files"? There's no way I'd want to be a part of ANY of those situations.

I have no idea why I watch this stuff, but I do. Maybe it's the "Walter Mitty" factor. There's a short-story about a meek little guy titled, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty". I don't know when it was written, or who wrote it, but then again, did I say I knew everything about literature? No. I rest my case.

Anyway, like Walter Mitty, I live a quiet life and do not go to extremes concerning anything anymore. So, like Walter Mitty, I live vicariously through my own fantasies and the lives that other people lead. That's a theory, anyway. Is it time for me, though, to not watch this stuff anymore? I mean, I've gone too far when I see a nice little picture from some friendly humane society shelter and alter it as follows:

The folks at probably think I'm a sick puppy for doing this to their photo.

In closing, "meow meow meowrrrrr purrrrr meow meow FFFFFTTTTTTT!!!"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

From the SPECIFIC to the GENERAL...
Or, I can't know everything all of the time!

In the previous posting, I was able, with the aid of a photo, to determine exactly where Coeur d'Alene's old USO club was located. Pinpoint accuracy; a global-positioned-satellite couldn't have done any better. But...that ain't the way it is all the time, especially with the photo you'll see below...Paul Simon once sang (in the song, "Kodachrome"), that "everything looks worse in black and white, but this photo looks pretty durn good...

This is an old photo, taken by Leo's studio of Spokane. I've seen a bunch of other "Leo's" photos which were all taken in the late/40's, early/50's, so I'm pretty sure that's how old this picture is. And it's on Coeur d'Alene Lake, somewhere. Perhaps in the area near Tubbs Hill/Mullan field, where lumber smokestacks were long ago? (Note the smokestacks in the background. I think it's also safe to say this photo is pre-EPA!)

I think someone either had malice on their mind, or they got carried away with the ol' Barbecue; it looks like someone tried to set one of the picnic tables in CDA's City Park on fire; one of the table's benches is severely charred. I think the food is supposed to be hickory-smoke-flavored, not the furniture, for cryin' out loud.

Here's a new twist on the "don't tailgate me" messages that you see on so many bumperstickers...I saw one that said, "back off, or I'll flick a booger on your windshield." Okaaay, fine. That's never happened to my car; not that I know of, anyway, although from time to time, I can tell that birds have flown near my windshield.

The boys of summer are just about done for the summer. The Seattle Mariners have set a goal of trying to get to .500 (winning as many games as they lose); they've got about 15 games left in the season to accomplish that. They're about 8 games under .500 right now. They got shut-out for the 15th time this season in today's 10-0 loss to Toronto. Yet, how can a team play to win if all they're doing is auditioning up-and-coming young baseballers from the farm team (which is what always happens to the Mariners this time of year, 'cos they'll never again be in the postseason). That's what the M's are doing at this point. Yawn. I'll bet Ichiro wishes he was somewhere else, ANYWHERE else. I'll bet he has fond memories of being on winning teams in Japan. Next move? Ichiro in Yankee pinstripes. It's bound to happen sooner or later.

I came away recently with a much better idea of the devasting attack on the World Trade Center and the repercussions of the whole "9-11" thing; MSNBC rebroadcast "The Today Show" from 9-11-01, so I was able to get a "real-time" sense of what happening. How awful that whole scene was. Kinda makes me wish the U.S. had actively pursued Bin Laden instead of focusing on another country and another leader. How did that happen? I still don't know. Maybe Iraq had "weapons of mass destruction", but I Bin Laden and his Iranian ilk actually achieved that "mass destruction".

Oh, by the way, if you look at my little counter-thing at the left of this page, you'll see I now have over 13,000 views since roughly this time last year. 1,000 views per month? Sounds to me like a lotta folks out there are gluttons for punishment!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A long-forgotten image of yesteryear...
Coeur d'Alene's USO club...

I've been experiencing a real photo-drought lately. My usual source, Ebay, which sends me "Coeur d'Alene" photos, has pretty-much been lately sending stuff I can't use, or stuff that I've seen before. And, doing these posts for quite a while now, I can read Ebay's item-description, and 75% of the time, I know what it is, 'cos I've seen it before. But there are times when I get a photo I've never seen before...and that's always nice. Gives me something to post, after all.

Coeur d'Alene had a USO club here in town back in the days of World War II...I can imagine that servicepeople from Farragut and the Spokane area could escape the rigors of military service by coming here to the USO club. I've posted pictures of it before, but those pictures didn't really reveal its exact location...other than it was in the City Park area somewhere.

That has changed...this photo, looking westward, reveals EXACTLY where Coeur d'Alene's USO club gaze at THIS, why don'tcha...

Coeur d'Alene's long-gone USO club...located just west of the City Park Entrance, those stone columns which still stand today. This makes me wonder if the old restroom building, which was torn down and replaced with the Rotary Bandshell building, was a remnant of this old USO club. That is mere conjecture on my part, tho. The basketball court area is off to the right of this picture. I was surprised to get this photo, and am glad that I can put this "USO Myth" to rest. Hopefully the picture will get bigger if you click on it.

I still think it would be great to jump into a time-machine, and go back to the '40's or '50s, and spend a couple of days here in CDA. I suppose posts like this are the next-best thing. Like the old restaurant sign says, "We aim to please; hope we hit the mark".

Monday, September 11, 2006

I realize that some of my posts have been really BAD...but...

What you see above is from the days when smoking wasn't politically incorrect. Indeed, there are all kinds of smoke-free laws now in bars and restaurants, but it wasn't that long ago when restaurants actually handed out matchbooks. The matchbook advertises, of course, the old Brunswick Cafe, which was located (roughly) where the Iron Horse Restaurant is now, on Sherman Avenue in Coeur d'Alene.

I haven't eaten there in ages, but someone told me not so long ago they'd had an "awful-awful" in the Iron Horse. The "awful-awful" is a huge hamburger that's been on the Iron Horse's menu for ages. Well, on the fold of the matchbook pictured above, you can see the words "awful-awful". I can imagine more than one customer asked a waitress, "hey, what's this "awful-awful thing?" And I'll bet a lot of 'em were sold that way. Anyway, it seems that particular burger has been around a long time, longer than I'd thought. (Now I'm getting hungry...again.)Anyway, this matchbook could've been printed up anytime during the 60's or early '70s...and maybe earlier than the 60's.

My own little story about the Brunswick is as follows: It was the winter of 1968; over 100 inches of snow fell that year, burying our fair city. The snow berm in the center of Fourth Street was so high, that drivers put red flags on their car antennas so they could be seen. School was out for over 3 weeks in a row; all they could do to us later that year was take away our 2-day "Spring Break"...I thot that was a fair deal! Anyway, after shoveling out the driveway at our house, I'd take the snow shovel and walk all over Coeur d'Alene, looking for sidewalks and driveways to shovel.

With my snow-shoveling money, I'd go to Woolworth's (where Sherman Park is now) and see if they had any of their "4 for $1.00" 45-rpm singles for sale; I used to also go over and shop at P & L Vending, which was located in the Priano building near 2nd and Lakeside; I'd buy "juke-box" 45's there for a quarter each. I still have some of those 45's I bought way back then. After that, I'd go into the Brunswick Cafe, and I'd have a "Shirley Temple", which sorta tasted like a mixed drink, but of course it wasn't; it was a coke with a cherry or two in it, and there might have been some cherry syrup in it as well. Ah, the small pleasures in life. But I've never wanted for much, ever. Just let me buy "musical things" and I'm happy.

Yep, time to extricate myself from the gloominess of postings past. Writing this entry was fun. Memories like this make me smile.


...God be with us all.

Trying to take NOTHING for Granted...
...I may not know WHY I'm still alive, but I am, after all...

Probably a weird title for a blog posting, but then again, this is a weird blog, so it's apropos. One of my fellow bloggers (lady blogger), Cis (the "word tosser") had sent a comment to my gloomy previous entry, about the death of my classmate. Essentially, she said that people are here to teach us things; some people comprise a chapter or two in our lives; others are brief footnotes. Cis, I think you made some heavy-duty sense there. So I left her a comment on her November 6th blogpost that said something to the effect of, I continue to marvel at how good people are taken from us, while those who ain't so good manage to live on. In cases like this, the old adage, "God works in mysterious ways" is true indeed.

So, when I woke up Sunday, I felt myself wanting to emerge from my self-imposed cocoon of gloominess...and as usual, I meandered down to City Park. It was definitely a day not to be taken for granted; the sun shone warmly, not HOT, but "just right". The crystal-clear blue skies were reflected in the waters of Coeur d'Alene lake; the haze from the fires in Washington State dissipated, for Sunday, at least. It was one of the most PERFECT days I have ever experienced in my 40+ years in this locality. I've made it plain in best "feeling-sorry-for-myself" manner, that I can't do the things I used to do. I used to run, and actively partake of the scenery around here. And I still love to be outside, breathing the fresh air, gazing at the birds in flight, watching people do what they do (as long as they don't drive me crazy in the process). I even felt good enough to do 3 walking laps around the park, and my back seemed to be in less pain. How about that!

To cap off the day, I had 'soft tacos' for dinner; Taco John's has them on special every Sunday. But I "augment" my tacos. I order refried beans and then I put some of them into my tacos. MMMM! It was the kind of day in which everything just looked great, felt right and tasted really good; I am sad to see the sun set on days like this. An author might refer to this day as "idyllic". A "Utopian" day, perhaps. But with every sunset lately, comes the gloomy feeling that "well, this is another day that is GONE FOREVER." That's a little hard to cope with sometimes. Especially with the sun setting earlier and earlier. And as I look back on how great yesterday was, as I sat by the lake, I was thinking about a whole lot of things, including the memories of those I've known who have passed on to 'the other side'.Those memories zoom through my mind in fragmented, haphazard fashion; they rush past, and at any given point in time, I'm going through a virtual cascading of jumbled memories...

I could see Gloria, the lady singer whose band I drummed for off and on; she was almost like a second mom to me. Gloria was probably the only senior-citizen Panamanian Country singer on the planet. I played in her band off and on for over 10 years. We had a good relationship; if she needed a drummer, she'd call me first; if I was booked with another band, I'd tell her. But if wasn't, I'd join her band again for a while, finish all the gigs with her, and when she found herself gigless, I'd tell her I'd be drumming for someone else again. But I'd always end up drumming for her for at least a portion of the year. She appreciated my honesty and I appreciated her friendship. I also took her seriously, (something a lot of area musicians didn't do) and she counted on me to set a comfortable tempo for her songs. Our band played Eagles, Elks and VFW clubs, mostly. And we always had a good time.

I can see old John, the grizzled old drummer who was responsible for people calling me "Lefty". Once I walked into a club where he was at, and he yelled out, "Hey, LEFTY!" (I played drums left-handed), and the nickname stuck. Though he was 20 or 30 years older than me, he'd show up when our band was playing, and he'd always tell me, "I'm studyin' ya, Lefty". Whenever he showed up at our gigs, I'd always get him up to play a set with our band, so we had a sort of musician's kinship. He passed away in the '80s. I went to his grave one year and laid a drumstick on his headstone. John was evidently an old hell-raiser from way back when; he'd tell me about the time he was riding choppers across the Arizona desert and his hair was down to his waist. Quite a wild character, for sure. And I still remember him every time I drive past Forest Cemetery.

I remember my exuberant classmate, Ron, who passed away earlier this year; I'd seen him at our 30th reunion, and he had such vibrant, positive energy. He told me at the time he hadn't been in great health, but he was very vibrant at the reunion, and I sure thought he would live longer than he did. I remember Ray, who was a true friend of mine. In all the years I knew him, he was one of the mildest, most peaceful people I'd ever known. I guess heart trouble was hereditary in his family, and that's what 'got' him; all of us missed him when we went out for Pizza at the 30th reunion. just like old times. I hung around with a bunch of guys in high school who weren't genuises, nor were we hoods; we were just average people, a little goofy, and we had so many good times together, cruising on Sherman, going to Pappy's Pizza way back when. I was amazed at how natural it felt to be around my old friends at the last reunion; I hadn't felt that great in years.

Another good friend of mine, Ron (another Ron) stays in touch; he and his family live nearby. When his Dad passed away back in the mid-80's, I was honored that he asked me to come to the funeral. I'd gotten to know his family quite well. Although we don't associate much anymore, there are so many memories. Ron introduced me to archery, and I actually joined an archery-shooting league with him back in the '70s. We'd go bowling, swimming, have snowball fights; I guess he was my best friend. I would've gone crazy without him; I was having bully problems at school when I met him. He has always been a good friend. His house was a great place to escape the tensions in my own family, back in ye olde high school days.

I think of my crazy friend Steve who now lives in Colorado; he was a high school, and later, college, classmate. I still laugh, at some of the goofy things he did way back then. And he hasn't changed a bit. For that, I am thankful. Once, at the University of Idaho, in the dorms, I heard this "ROAR" from the far end of the hallway; I went down there to see what was going on, and he was cranking his guitar thru a 6-foot SPEAKER as loud as it would go! I think of my other crazy high school friends, Bill, Mike, Guy, Tim, and all the others who meant so much to me. (I was way too shy to talk to girls back then!)

I think of all my former co-workers when I worked at Buttreys' store in the '70s. I still see a few of 'em around town, and without exception, I can tap into old memories when I'm talking with one of them. And each time one of those former co-workers pass away, I feel like I lose a little bit of "me" somehow. And maybe that's what happens; when someone we've known passes, a bit of us goes with them. Interesting thought...anyway, of the store managers, Bob, was a good friend of mine. In 1972, we rode our bikes all the way around Coeur d'Alene lake. Exhausting! Last time I saw him and his wife, was back in the '90s. He and she are long-haul TRUCKERS, would you believe. They're traveling and getting paid for it. And he'll always be a good friend of mine, no matter how many years pass by.

I remember old Eben, who passed away at 84, back a few years ago. He was swimming a MILE 3-times a week at age 75! He taught me the bi-lateral swimming stroke at the YMCA; a bunch of us would go in for "rec swim" at the "Y"; we'd all swim for a while, then touch bases with each other. It was always a good, mellow time. At his funeral, his wife said, "he wanted to live to be 100, but his body just gave out on him." He was kinda like a father figure to me. My Dad never had anything nice to say to me. Yet Eben, who was about the same age as my Dad, treated me with dignity and respect. And his passing was hard for me to cope with.

I think of my little sister (who is now 47!), and the great times we had growing up. I'd take her and one of her friends swimming with me and my friends; she was just like "one of the guys" and we all had a good time. Other times, Sis and I would go record-shopping in downtown Coeur d'Alene back in the '60s. I remember once, when our parents were attending a dinner in another city, my sister was making hamburgers for dinner while I was at work. I came home, and found out she'd cut her finger while trying to cut not-quite-thawed meat; I took her to the hospital; she'd sliced a capillary. In an e-mail this week, she thanked me for not yelling at her when that happened, so very long ago. So I guess she has memories of me, too. I remember, once when we'd gone swimming, she was scared to swim in the deep water, so I threw her off the dock, not knowing how she'd do...and I was right there on the edge of the dock, ready to go in after her, but she surfaced, and yelled at me, and I knew after that she'd be all right. My little sister. Yes, I have a lot of good memories of her. She has a husband and a son now, but we still communicate via e-mail. I guess it's important for her to hear from me.

As I look back upon what I've written here, the only sense of continuity holding this haphazard collection of paragraphs together is the title...I'm "trying to take nothing for granted". All of these experiences, past, present, and yet to be experienced, are LIFE itself. I don't know what the purpose or rhyme or reason for all of this is. All I know is, we are here. NOW. I am here. NOW. I don't want to miss anything. When my time comes, I'll fight and fight, until I can intellectually realize "it's time", and I'll "let go". But hopefully that won't happen for a good long time. So, I have the memories of the beautiful day Sunday. I have memories, recent and distant, of those who have meant so much to me. And with God's grace, I'll get up tomorrow and have a good day. And if it's not a good day, hopefully I'll survive it. And perhaps I can make it a goal to focus on the good things when bad occurrences or memories arise.

There are places I remember, all my life, tho some have changed
Some forever, not for better...some are gone, and some remain
All these places have their moments of lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living; in my life, I've loved them all.
----John Lennon, "In My Life", 1966

This is a color rendering of an old photo, taken probably in the 1940s, of "somewhere" on Coeur d'Alene lake. Sunday was like the view on this card. Warm, rich, and just NICE. I'll try to hang on to that memory.

Friday, September 08, 2006

This time around, it's hit me kinda hard...

Earlier this week, I did something a little different; instead of reading the paper in the coffee shop, I went down to City Park and read the paper there. It was nice and warm, and peaceful, since things seem to have calmed down a bit after Labor Day. Indeed, summer "for the rest of us". I opened up the paper, and there it was, just inside the front page. One of my classmates from the Coeur d'Alene High School class of 1972 had passed away. I've been having a hard time with this all week. I'm trying to figure out why; I didn't know her all that well, but then again, I really didn't know many of my classmates well; I was never one of the popular kids; indeed, my main claim to fame was working at Buttrey's Grocery Store after school, and it turns out more of my class knew me for that, rather than anything I did in school, which was really not very much.

My classmate, Krista, really stood out, though. No, she wasn't the prom queen, she wasn't one of the cheerleaders, and she didn't make the honor roll in school. Looking through my high school annual, I couldn't find her in any of the numerous school clubs or organizations. She went to classes, and really, that was about it. Which was exactly what I did in high school. I attended and slogged my way thru the classes unenthusiastically. And that's pretty much all I did. Krista, like my dearly-departed Mom, was a redhead, and that immediately made her stand out. Not only that, but in remembering Krista, she paralleled my Mom's personality. From what I remember of her, Krista was soft-spoken and very nice, unpretentious and just a sweetheart.

In reading her obituary, I was right about Krista. Evidently, she "went to Europe and was a counselor for 'Teens' Mission'. She joined the Billy Graham crusade, working for them for several years." Afterward, she became a consultant in the cosmetic industry, and continued to be active in the Church. Perhaps Krista was active in the church all thru high school as well. I had last seen her at our 30th class reunion four years ago; we spoke briefly, and I couldn't believe how gorgeous she looked. It was more than just a physical beauty. There really seemed to be "something extra" about her, though I couldn't put my finger on it. She just seemed "kind" somehow, and indeed she was. Serene, perhaps.

In a perfect world, people like Krista would live, while all of the mean, rude and arrogant people, who spend their lives annoying others, would just die off. But life doesn't work that way. There have been good people, leaders in their community, family-oriented people who've done everything right, who tragically pass away, while those who don't have much going for themselves just seem to keep on living. I can't begin to understand any of this at all. The only thing that comes to mind, is that we're here for a reason, whatever that reason is. Assuming there IS a reason. Why doesn't this make sense to me? Because I'M still alive! I find that so strange. I suppose all any of us can conclude is that "for whatever reason, our time comes when it comes". I look at my own existence; I've lived 52 years to get to this point...I just can't imagine my "not being around"! Yet the obits continue to appear, and the monument makers make a steady living. All of this just kinda blows my mind.

I think of other classmates of mine that aren't alive anymore. Debbie died of a viral infection in the late '90s. She was an honor student, in just about every high school organization, and I'd known her since I was in 4th grade. Another, Mark, passed away in the '70s, when a logging truck spilled its load onto his car. A longtime classmate, Kay, passed away recently due to hepatitis. Yet another, Ron, had heart problems; he passed away this spring. And still another, Ken, crashed into a highway bridge support back in the early '70s. He was a math whiz. I was a math idiot. Go figure. Dwight, another classmate, evidently had liver problems; he's gone too. And one of my best friends, also a classmate, Ray, died of a heart attack in the '80s. He worked for the CDA Street department. Their memories are all hovering around me right now.

When I was young, I never thought about death or grief or sorrow or tragedy; but now, things are different. People younger than me are showing up in the obits all the time. The only positive thing I can come away with is that while we're here, life is meant to be lived; after all, in spite of all the unrest, deceit and inconsideration we may experience, this is still a beautiful world. Anymore, when I wake up, I tend to think, "well, I'm still alive; I'd better get up and do something with this day." My own mom, as sweet and beautiful as she was, is gone. Maybe I am meant to try and treat others with a bit of compassion, the same compassion she had all her life. So I try. Somehow I think my Mom and Krista would've been great friends.

In the meantime, I think of Krista, and Ron, and Ray, and Kay, and Debbie, and all of the others I've known; other friends, fellow musicians, senior citizens I met while driving cab, former co-workers and so many others...they're gone now. The only conclusion I can come to is, "we're here until we aren't". That's IT. All any of us can do, I suppose, is try to enjoy the little things. That warm cup of coffee. The warmth of the sun. The aroma of freshly baked bread. Little everyday things we take for granted. For who knows how long any of us has got?

Sorry if I bummed you out. One of the purposes of this blog is for me to get my feelings out, whenever something happens that affects me. Life hasn't been easy lately. But it'll get better. I hope.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Regarding this bird-feeding thing,
Well, maybe I've been overdoing it just a bit... the JUDGE!

Last winter, when it got REAL cold out there, I was getting cabin fever REAL bad. I needed to get outside...I needed some "lake time". I needed to see some scenery; I needed to see the movement of the waves upon the short, I had to GET OUTTA THE HOUSE! So, with the temperature barely 10-above, I drove the car to the parking lot by Independence Point, and the sun coming thru the windshield was warm, and indeed it was nice to be out. It was while I was there that I saw 'em. The birds. Standing out there in the cold. And I began wondering, "how do they survive out here?" Well, it's obvious that I shouldn't take too much pity on them, because they do survive. Somehow. But, something within me just felt really, really bad for them. It was so cold on that particular day that the ducks wouldn't leave the water, since it was probably a handful of degrees warmer than the land.

Since then, I have been feeding the birds on a semi-regular basis. I went over to the "designated bird-feeding area" on the dike road, but I ran into problems there. The Canadian Geese crowd out the seagulls, and step all over each other (and ME!) in their quest to get fed. The Seagulls had to take a back seat. So I would throw over the heads of the geese so the gulls could get some food, too. I kid you not; there was a goose standing in back of me and it gave me a vicious peck because it wanted FOOD! Now I know how geese get their necks WRUNG. I was tempted! So, I decided that I just couldn't put up with the geese. They're big, and they get MEAN. So as the temperatures got warmer, I'd just feed the seagulls in the park. The gulls seem to be not quite as co-dependent as the geese. Also, the gulls, being less tame, will not peck me. So that is a big plus. I would like to think that whenever I'm in the park, the gulls would think to themselves, "oh, that's the guy who feeds us. I like him". But, bird brains being what they are, I'm probably forgotten as soon as the bread runs out. Hmmm...I see a metaphor for our society somewhere in there...

You see a different side of the seagulls when you feed them. They cry out for food like little babies...they act like little kids, each clamoring for food and squawking to get your attention. There are mean seagulls, and there are some who don't compete as well. I try to make sure they all get food. I don't know why I do this, but I feel good when I do. The way I feed them, spreading the crumbs around, they're patient because they know sooner or later I'll get around to them. Sometimes when I'm feeding them, they barely squawk at all. Am I the "bird whisperer"? Nah; they're probably not bright enough for that. I'm probably not either. It's my way of paying them back for all the pleasure they've given me when I've watched them fly around. "Free As A Bird". I can't expect those dumb birds to know who I am or remember that I just fed them half a bakery's worth of bread, or to be thankful that I brought them food. I can't expect that. From birds, or probably even, society in general. But what I can come away with, I suppose, is that I've done something good. I've come to like the gulls. They let their feelings be known...they're characters, they really are. "Rats with wings", they've been called. Maybe. Or, how about "God's creatures"? I think that's a better description.

Maybe I see a parallel between the Seagulls and me. They will approach people, but they keep their distance. And most of the time, you can see them in the park, actually not bugging anyone; they'll be quietly and deliberately searching for worms or crumbs people have left behind. And if a dog comes within half a mile of them, off they go until the dog goes somewhere else. They're even afraid of dogs on leashes. Well, I go about my life and I try not to get in anyone's way. I have friends and acquaintances, but I have never handled close relationships well. And, if I see danger on the horizon, I avoid it. Tonite, at precisely 5 minutes after 7pm, ALL of the seagulls left at the same time, to go to wherever they go at night. And I went home shortly after that. I don't know, part of me thinks I relate better to the birds than I do to other people. There's a lot of clamor in the human race, and I just don't have the energy to deal with it that I once had. And it's when I feel as if my energy is running low that I go and watch the birds fly.

So anyway, this is my first year of feeding the birds. They were getting food from others long before I came along. So, it is quite possible this year that maybe some of them have eaten just a bit too much? Observe the following situation...

...I guess I'd better start bringin' em bread with lower carbohydrates! SQUAWK!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Okay, people, SUMMER'S OVER...

I was in City Park this evening, and you know, the place almost looked forlorn. The last gasps of summer were fast drifting by as the sun set, and I was just about the only person in that large expanse. Can it be only a month or so ago that the place was still teeming with activity at 8pm; tonite at 8pm, darkness had come by then and everyone cleared outta there. I view the shortening of the days with mixed emotions. On one hand, things will (hopefully) get back to normal around here. On the other hand, shorter days mean the passing of the seasons, and I for one, just don't like the ever-earlier onslaught of darkness as it gets close to winter. Hmmm, how about that. I'm fretting about winter when fall isn't even here yet. Doesn't "summer" technically end sometime in September? But I can imagine area residents are feeling like ol' Snoopy here...

Of course, what our canine pal has failed to take into account, is that most of this area's native motorists drive just as badly, IF NOT WORSE, than a lot of the out-of-staters who've vamoosed outta here. Let's just hope Snoopy doesn't dance in the middle of the street. Of course, he probably shouldn't dance on a downtown sidewalk, either. There's probably an ordinance against that.

On another topic, I remember my Dad complaining about the CDA Press newspaper long ago (back in the '60's); way back then he griped that there was nothing in it, that he could read it in five minutes, and that the only thing the paper was good for was wrapping fish in. However, the Press isn't the only paper to be (mis) used in that manner, as this 1906 photo-postcard demonstrates...

As you can see, this fish was caught locally. You know something else my Dad used to tell me? He'd comment about a dead fish, saying, "see what happens when you open your mouth?" He was indeed a cheery soul. And a fly-fisherman. Actually, I hear the absorbency of your standard low-grade newsprint works quite well for purposes such as this. But newsprint is a multi-use commodity...I had a noisy cockatiel (that I later got rid of), but the dimensions of the local newsprint conformed quite well to the bottom of the bird cage. There. THAT oughta get the goat of any newspaper slave who's trying to get back to work after a Labor Day vacation! Speaking of goats and newsprint...don't they eat the stuff? Baaaaa...

However, speaking of things my Dad said about the local media, he didn't limit his comments to newspapers; he once complained that KVNI (back in the '60's) had "6 or 7 different records, and they just kept repeating them all day". Nowadays, though, there are no records. Just piped-in music that evidently comes from compact discs, because I've heard 'em skip on the air. There was one "oldie" that would play 75% of the way through, then there'd be a 'glitch' and the song would go back to the beginning and play all over again, 75% of the way thru. This particular time, it happened 3 or 4 different times. (for about 10 or 15 minutes) Ah, the wonders of broadcast automation!

Well, now that I've got EVERYONE mad at me, I'll end this madness. This particular post has no socially redeeming value whatsoever. Or if it does, it's "news" to me!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Summer's Last Hurrah...
Labor Day is upon that a collective sigh of relief I hear?

Coeur d'Alene has basically turned into a tourist town, and a good tourist season will probably be just that needed shot in the arm for local businesses. And, I can't blame tourists for being tourists. Well, after tomorrow, Labor Day, tourist season will pretty-much be over. But not for me...I'm gonna be heading outta here in October for a while, because I am in dire need of a change of scene. So I'm gonna be one of them $#@!! tourists. Hopefully, I can be considerate enough to coexist with the natives and not seem obtrusive, and hopefully I'll be able to flow with traffic, unlike the time I was headed up 4th Street, a NORTHBOUND one-way street, near Java on Sherman, and someone made a right turn (SOUTH) from Sherman, coming at me head-on. That motorist was an out-of-stater. How do you plan for THAT? "BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!"

Jerry Lewis came back to us dept.: I saw a little of the Muscular Dystrophy telethon, you know, that big annual event where stars of the past, present and future get up onstage to sing, hoping that Joe Bluecollar will dig deep and send in a donation. It's a noble thing, really. Although it's easier to contribute if you're a rich star. Hopefully they're contributing in a proportionate sense. In short, if I send in ten bucks, a star should send in, maybe 10-thousand dollars? They'll miss their ten-thousand less than I'll miss my ten bucks! Especially since I already donated this year. Over $5,000 to the Ironwood Medical Community for all kinds of "services rendered". So I can't contribute to Muscular Dystrophy, but if they want me to, I'll go onstage and sing! A lot of people will send in zillions of dollars...if I promise to STOP singing, that is! OWOOOOO.......

Some things never change dept.: I went to the store today, 'cos I needed a few essentials. Albertson's had green grapes for 88 cents a pound! Wow! Wish they were priced that low all year long! Anyway, as the checker finished checking and bagging my order, once again, it happened. I can never stuff the bills into my wallet and dump the coins into my pocket fast the time I've done that, the customer in back of me is paying for his order. In short, I try, try, try, but I can never get out of the checkstand fast enough! I'll pose this question: Am I a bumbling, imbecelic KLUTZ, or does this happen to everyone? Even at the coffee shop, when I pay and get change back, it seems like an eternity, me trying to get my money put away so I can pick up my coffee & cookie and sit down somewhere. The customers in back of me are probably thinking, "Get the HELL out of my way, you idiot...I haven't got all DAY!!!" (At least, that's what I think they're thinking. Do I think too much?)

What's this, "green space inside the city limits?" dept.: There indeed used to be green space in our town. Or, at least, OPEN space. I remember walking from my house up to the grocery store where I worked, and I crossed a big grassy field up near Borah School. We lived in a wooded area, and I would cut across a lot full of trees, and walk down another path to go to school. Mom would send us kids to a small store on 12th and Best (Anyone remember the LONE PINE GROCERY?) and my sister and I would ride our bikes in the Monte Vista subdivision, long before there were any houses on 12th or 13th in the area of McFarland Avenue. There were dirt roads at the time (back in the 70s); now when I drive in that area, it always blows my mind to see all those houses there, even though they've been there for 20-odd years. Because I remember that area when there was NOTHING there. Except dirt roads.

This here photo gets a little bit bigger when you click on it. Ah, the wonders of cyberspace...

Anyway, here's a shot of Coeur d'Alene (it's a 'dark' photo, sorry), and if you look in the middle of the picture, or at mid-upper-left, you can see OPEN AREAS inside of our city way back when. I think that big building in the foreground is CDA Homes, the retirement place, but I'm not sure. And at the bottom of the pic you can see Northwest Boulevard, and Canfield Mtn. at upper left, and Best Hill at upper right. The photo was taken somewhere around 1950, give or take a few years. I think that's why City Park means so much to me. A place that's still undeveloped, with plenty o'flat space to cavort in (except during weekends and holidays in the summer, that is).

When post-baby-boomers become grandparents in 30 years dept.: The following little drawing I've included here is meant to represent our gas situation. Right now, we can afford gas to get to where we're going. Of course, we might have to buy less food or other "store brands" rather than "name brands", perhaps. Or, heaven forbid, buy instant coffee instead of that latte', THAT would take some serious adjusting. But anyway, I'm drifting off-topic think gas is high? Well, it IS...but it could be worse, and probably will be. So, this is what YOUR kids are gonna be tellin' THEIR kids...

My parents used to tell me the same thing. Although, when I began driving in 1971, I was paying a cool 27.9 cents a gallon for gas. I could give THE ATTENDANT (that's right, you didn't pump yer own gas back then) a five-dollar bill, fill up the tank and get CHANGE BACK. If I had all of that gas I wasted cruising up and down Sherman during my high school days...I could stockpile it and never have to buy gas again. Or, I could sell YOU some for, say, 50 cents a gallon; you'd save and I'd profit. Oh, wait...there's that nasty thing called "inflation" out there...neverrrrr mind.........

Those of you who stop by here a lot know I'm cutting back on my posts. I think I try to be an out-and-about know-it-all, and I just can't keep up that kind of energy. Maybe no one cares about what I think anyway, regarding topical, well, "topics". I'll still blog probably twice at week for the forseeable future. Unless something really hoses me. Then, the fur will fly, the hammer will fall, and I'll roar out of the blog-gate.