Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On the Road Yet Again

For a guy who says he doesn't travel as much as he used to in the old days, I'm sure on the road a lot! The plans called for a post about my last trip to Ashland and the pottery I bought, but that will just have to wait. I'll be on the road early on Wednesday morning. I'm headed to Flagstaff, AZ. My brother has taken ill and I need to be there for support. Please forgive my absense. I don't know how long I'll be away.

In the meantime, I invite you to scroll down and have a look at Round Circle. Maybe you'll find something you like or get a laugh or two.

And as always, Peace to all.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Useless Sundry Information and The Real Cost Of War

A photo I took a long time ago I call, "Footprints on the Beach", Near Ferndale, CA around 1990. Appropo for the references of the beach at Normandy, France in 1944

Thank all of you for visiting the art auction that I had posted during the last week. I bid on two items and seems that I won them both. They will grace our Days of the Dead display next November.

I have stayed very busy and it looks as though this will remain the trend right on through Summer. Every day I hear about something or some event or I am asked to attend this or that. Now, there is a mini-reunion in the works for later in June with all my cousins on my Dad’s side of the family. I have absolutely no problem changing my plans to attend this event. I was going to be out in Northern California, but I’ll just start the trip a little earlier and head back home in time to make the party.

There are more events coming up in May. Every weekend is full on the calendar and the days of the week are filled with doctor’s appointments, work at the food shelf and general get-something-done-and-finish-the-projects-you-started-like-the-downstairs-bathroom!

So, just for a complete change of pace and some mind fodder for you the reader to read and take a look at, I am posting some very interesting and historical photos. I received these some time ago from a friend that I shared military service with in the 1960’s. It was a whole Keynote presentation. I have copied just seven of these amazing photographs for this post. The entire project has over 40.

If you can, go back to World War II and the invasion of Normandy.

These comparison photos are actual before and after shots of buildings and street scenes from the Allied occupation after June of 1944 and those taken at the same places fifty or more years later.

Having been in the American war in Vietnam, I have seen places where I have served blown to bits, but never have seen any pictures of any rebuilding that has taken place, nor do I know if anything like that has ever been done. Maybe some day I will return to Vietnam, but as of now, there are no such plans in my future.

But I do have some facts about Vietnam and the years the United States was involved there. These statistics are staggering. I will print them after this paragraph and intersperse the before and after pictures from Normandy amongst them. I'm sure statistics such as these will be maintained about the progresss of the current wars the United States is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Click on any photo for an enlarged view).

These statistics were taken from a variety of sources to include: The VFW Magazine, the Public Information Office, and the HQ CP Forward Observer - 1st Recon April 12, 1997. Read these facts and get a sense of the real cost of war to our families, communities and our countries.


"Of the 2,709,918 Americans who served in Vietnam , Less than 850,000 are estimated to be alive today, with the youngest American Vietnam veteran's age approximated to be 54 years old."

* 9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam Era (August 5, 1964 - May 7, 1975).

* 8,744,000 GIs were on active duty during the war (Aug 5, 1964-March 28,1973).

* 2,709,918 Americans served in Vietnam , this number represents 9.7% of their generation.

* 3,403,100 (Including 514,300 offshore) personnel served in the broader Southeast Asia Theater ( Vietnam , Laos , Cambodia , flight crews based in Thailand , and sailors in adjacent South China Sea waters).

* 2,594,000 personnel served within the borders of South Vietnam (Jan. 1,1965 - March 28, 1973). Another 50,000 men served in Vietnam between 1960 and 1964.

* Of the 2.6 million, between 1-1.6 million (40-60%) either fought in combat, provided close support or were at least fairly regularly exposed to enemy attack.

* 7,484 women (6,250 or 83.5% were nurses) served in Vietnam .

* Peak troop strength in Vietnam : 543,482 (April 30, 1968).


The first man to die in Vietnam was James Davis, in 1958. He was with the 509th Radio Research Station. Davis Station in Saigon was named for him.

Hostile deaths: 47,378

Non-hostile deaths: 10,800

Total: 58,202 (Includes men formerly classified as MIA and Mayaguez casualties). Men who have subsequently died of wounds acco unt for the changing total.

8 nurses died -- 1 was KIA.

61% of the men killed were 21 or younger.

11,465 of those killed were younger than 20 years old.

Of those killed, 17,539 were married.

Average age of men killed: 23.1 years

Total Deaths: 23.11 years

Enlisted: 50,274 22.37 years

Officers: 6,598 28.43 years

Warrants: 1,276 24.73 years

E1: 525 20.34 years

11B MOS: 18,465 22.55 years

Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years old.

The oldest man killed was 62 years old.

Highest state death rate: West Virginia - 84.1% (national average 58.9% for every 100,000 males in 1970).

Wounded: 303,704 -- 153,329 hospitalized + 150,375 injured requiring no hospital care.

Severely disabled: 75,000, -- 23,214: 100% disabled; 5,283 lost limbs; 1,081 sustained multiple amputations.

Amputation or crippling wounds to the lower extremities were 300% higher than in WWII and 70% higher than Korea .

Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of 18.4% compared to 5.7% in WWII.

Missing in Action: 2,338

POWs: 766 (114 died in captivity)

As of January 15, 2004, there are 1,875 Americans still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.


25% (648,500) of total forces in country were draftees. (66% of U.S. armed forces members were drafted during WWII).

Draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam .

Reservists killed: 5,977

National Guard: 6,140 served: 101 died.

Total draftees (1965 - 73): 1,728,344.

Actually served in Vietnam : 38% Marine Corps Draft: 42,633.

Last man drafted: June 30, 1973.


88.4% of the men who actually served in Vietnam were Caucasian; 10.6% (275,000) were black; 1% belonged to other races.

86.3% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasian (includes Hispanics);

12.5% (7,241) were black; 1.2% belonged to other races.

170,000 Hispanics served in Vietnam ; 3,070 (5.2% of total) died there.

70% of enlisted men killed were of North-west European descent.

86.8% of the men who were killed as a result of hostile action were Caucasian; 12.1% (5,711) were black; 1.1% belonged to other races.

14.6% (1,530) of non-combat deaths were among blacks.

34% of blacks who enlisted volunteered for the combat arms.

Overall, blacks suffered 12.5% of the deaths in Vietnam at a time when the percentage of blacks of military age was 13.5% of the total population.

Religion of Dead:

Protestant -- 64.4%; Catholic -- 28.9%; other/none -- 6.7%


Vietnam veterans have a lower unemployment rate than the same non-vet age groups.

Vietnam veterans' personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent.

76% of the men sent to Vietnam were from lower middle/working class backgrounds.

Three-fourths had family incomes above the poverty level; 50% were from middle income backgrounds.

Some 23% of Vietnam vets had fathers with professional, managerial or technical occupations.

79% of the men who served in Vietnam had a high school education or better when they entered the military service. 63% of Korean War vets and only 45% of WWII vets had completed high school upon separation.

Deaths by region per 100,000 of population: South -- 31%, West --29.9%; Midwest -- 28.4%; Northeast -- 23.5%.

There is more information available. If you are interested in receiving the entire Vietnam statistics report and/or the Normandy Keynote Presentation, let me know via e-mail and I’ll send them along. In the meantime, have a great day.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sunday April 25 Is The Last Day To Bid!

Not all the art is the Dia de los Muertos theme, but many of them are. This one is of my favorites done by Susanna Gordon of New Jersey

This is it folks. The last days of the auction. If you haven't done so already, please consider taking a look at and bidding on some great creative art pieces and support a good cause. Bidding will close at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, April 25th, 2010. Read about it below.

Here is the link directly to the Auction Site: Recuerda Mi Corazon

Folks, I have been waiting for this day for a couple of weeks now. Some time ago, I posted one of those Meme theme photos and heard some comments from people who participate and look at others offerings. I likewise went to sites and looked at their offerings. What happened was a chance cyber meeting of a wonderful artist and introduction to this marvelous auction project to raise money for a good cause.

First of all, this Art Auction is special because the art pieces created here are truly one of a kind and so very unique.

Most are made from cigar boxes.

Now you know my affinity for a good cigar, so there was no problem drawing me in. Then, the first piece I saw displayed had a Los Dios de los Muertos, or Days of the Dead, theme, and once again, those that know me know how much this November 1st celebration means to me and my family.

Cigar box art, remembering their Grandmother. This work by Adriana Esqueda

The charity is The Oaxaca Street Children's Grassroots. Here is the website: Oaxaca Street Children's Grassroots

I found a great article about one person's visit to Oaxaca and their heartwarming story. HERE is their story.

Please visit the art Auction site often, comment on the fabulous works of art and bid on something you might like. The money is for something that will truly make a difference in someone's life and you get an exquisite work in the process.

Yes, there are other charities that may be closer to home. Yes, we have our own children in our own country to worry about. Yes, there are so many people and children in particular that have needs. And yes, You may not even know where Oaxaca is and how to pronounce this name of the Mexican State that is famous and well known for Mole.

Well, Oaxaca is pronounced Wah-Ha'-Ka, generally, and is the Capitol City of the Mexican State with the same name in Southern Mexico. One of the things that found me learning about Oaxaca was the Seven Moles, (Mole-Lay'). I have never been there, but a visit there is on my short bucket list. I believe that what we do for our children, or the children in general, will come back as a blessing to this earth ten thousand times over, if not in our lifetime, then in the next.

Cigar box art by Paula Scott

Not every piece is the Day of the Dead theme. The materials used are so wide and varied. Polymer clay, tin, paint, cloth, paper mache' to name a few. Each artist describes their piece on the site.

Each is a creation of their own heart, so giving, so rich in spirit.

Bidding on fabulous pieces of art from some of the most generous and creative people I have ever heard of is a great way to raise money to help children who are everyone's future, no matter what country they are from. Go to the site and have a look at the items up for auction. Meet the artists and visit their websites. See more of their works. Who knows, you might find something in their collections that you just gotta have! You can also just make a donation to The Oaxcan Street Children's Grassroots. Any gift will help.

I'll be busy this weekend, going back and checking the auction site and hopefully going back and forth with some new friends, especially Rebecca who maintains the recuerdo mi corazon blog. By the way, recuerdo mi corazon means I remember my heart or Memories of my heart. Rebecca Brooks is one of the artists in this auction as well as the one responsible for putting it all together. I think she did a fabuloius job.

I truly believe in this project. I have already placed a bid on one piece and will try to bid on more as the week goes by. The auction runs from today, April 17th and will end on Sunday, April 25th, at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Specifics as to how to view, comment and bid are on the Recuerdo mi Corazon auction site. Click and go there now!

Happy bidding, and as always:

I wish you peace on your own heart and all you hold dear.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Only the Good Friday, April 16, 2010

On the Road

Only the Good Friday was created by Shelly over at her This Eclectic Life blog. Her idea is that she wants to post only “Good” things on Fridays, no matter what. Her attempt is to at least have one day a week that we all can accentuate the positive. If you’d like to participate, go HERE and get the guidelines and particulars.

I’ve had an interesting last few days. I did have plans to motor west. I was all set to get packed up and get on the road for a couple of weeks and get back to New Mexico. I was either going to trailer the motorcycle or just ride the Triumph right out of Wisconsin and into the sun. That didn’t happen. I realized that I’m needed around here, so I put off any traveling until Summer when the kids are out of school.

What I did do was take a short jaunt up to Ashland. Ashland sits along the South shore of the Great Lake Superior in North central Wisconsin. I used to live up there and I return and visit often. This particular trip had me filling water bottles, from one of the artesian springs, and picking up some pottery I ordered from a friend. I always get a chance to visit some old friends as well, so I was looking forward to a run up there.

The weather has been wonderful. Spring has sprung around here and we’ve had the sun, warmth and thunderstorms to prove it. The robins are pulling worms out of the ground at such a rate, you’d think we’re gonna have a sink hole if they take any more out of the ground! Even the nights are starting to stay on the warm side with temperatures in the 50’s overnight.

I was planning on meeting my potter friend on Thursday morning. I certainly could have left early and driven up there on that day, but I decided to do things a little different. I left at eight o’ clock on Wednesday night and pulled in to Ashland right around midnight. It’s a 175 mile trip from my house. Since I had the seats out of the van for some moving, I set up my bed and when I arrived in Ashland, I crashed in the van.

I have this big over length, over width, heavy duty cot, two of them actually, but I only needed one, and I set it up with my Big Agnes sleeping bag, right in the cavernous back end of the van. I stuffed my empty water bottle carboys in there, some CD’s for the road, and took off into the balmy night.

I tell you, I had such a great night’s sleep in the fresh clean Up North air along that beautiful lake. I woke up to a beautiful day and a little sunrise. I caught some breakfast at one of my old watering holes and went to the Black Cat Coffee Shop to meet my friend Eli.

I met Eli, (more about her and her work in another post very soon) all right, and thirteen other old friends, some of which had come around because they heard I was coming to town. I sat around and visited, drank coffee and just soaked in the morning life on the sidewalk outside, just like we had done when I lived up there. I have been gone for two years now and I can honestly say that really miss living in Ashland. My heart felt warm when I saw and greeted my friends. That was so nice and felt so "Good".

The highlight and the best part of the day was actually on the way home. As I traveled US Highway 63 South, I passed through Hayward, WI. On the stretch between Hayward and Spooner, the road runs along the Namekagon, (Nam-a-cog’-en), River. Near the small town of Trego, there is a short nature trail. I hadn’t been on the trail in years and I stopped and took a walk. Just taking a walk is a “Good” thing as I need more exercise in my life and sometimes I’m hard pressed to manifest a walk into my daily routine.

It had rained all morning on and off, but the sky was clearing and a South wind was blowing rather hard, drying things out quickly. I stretched a little, then took off down the trail. This path runs along the River along a ridge that dips down close to the water and rises up in places. It is completely forested with many kinds of pines amidst the oaks, birch, maple and willow. The landscape was still empty as the leaves on the deciduous trees haven’t really made progress so early in the season.

As I walked, I stopped from time to time and looked at the water. The life blood of Mother earth, passing by at a rapid rate. Swollen, but not overflowing its banks, from the Spring run-off, the melting of snow and the rain. The occasional swirl around a submerged rock and eddy’s created by fallen timbers. The land was soft, made so by the rain. It was silent except for a few sounds nature would make in such a place.

I remember that a friend had asked me what “Being Here” means, and the answer came to me that instant.

I was here. All around me was nature. The trees, in plentiful amounts, weren’t planted in rows for harvest in years hence by lumber companies, but scattered, by the wind and bird droppings and by the raising and lowering of the water in the river over running it’s banks each Spring. Trees of all shapes ands sizes and just like man, some tall, some short, young and old. Some bent and some straight, some with disease and some healthy. Some broken and crippled along with some just hanging around in clusters.

The rain had allowed me to walk in silence. No twigs snapping, no crunching of leaves. Every step was soft and quiet, and I heard no noise nor saw any activity around me. Absent were the squirrels, chip monks, rabbits and such that I usually see, and no birds were singing or flying, not even the crows. The wind was blowing and swirling as the storm that had just passed had created a change in the weather.

I stopped and was standing and looking at the water when I saw a flash below me. A huge hawk came out from along the bank and flew aloft down river, in front of me, then off to my left. I followed its flight and watched as it spread its powerful wings. It was the same color as the forest floor, browns of the decomposing leaves and gray like the dry side of the twigs, black like the earth and golden and copper like the pine needles. It was clearly right in front of me before it took flight, and I never saw it camouflaged against the natural world.

It flew, strong and swift, down river, then rose and went to the left, over the bank, high above the tree tops. I watched its form as the trees, empty of leaves, allowed me vision of the movement of this bird. It swept left, then a long sweeping curve to the right in a large circle and came back towards me. I stood there, motionless, and it came over me, right over me, at tree top level, I watched as it soared past me and on to the West, then another turn North and out of sight.

It was silent. I felt as if this hawk had come to see me. Why a hawk, why that hawk, right at that time, right in that space? And why was I there, the only car in the parking lot, the only one there, at that time, in that space? I pondered this as I started walking back along the Trego Nature Trail. I heard a bird singing, but saw no motion. I heard a woodpecker, but saw no movement.

As I walked, I kept my head up, anticipated and prepared for any more of Nature’s surprises. Then I heard the noise of the nearby roadway and the whirring of tires on pavement. I was back into the man-made world again. Just like that, like a switch had been turned on, I was back. I got into my van and traveled toward home, but with a peacefulness, granted to me by some force, some power greater than myself.

The series of events that started many days before this walk along a trail led me there, but none of the previous days movements were for the purpose of being there that day at that time. I was to take a trip, but I didn’t go. I went to Ashland, the times I left to travel there and travel home were determined by nothing but whim. The hawk that showed himself to me was by pure chance, and I am grateful for such a thing.

I laid down my tobacco in thanks for the experience afforded me yesterday. And I want to have more like that. It dawned on me, something I already knew, that to have a chance at being “Here”, you have to be here and pay attention. You have to look for it, be aware of it, concentrate sometimes, and seek it. Put forth the effort, so to speak, and allow yourself time with the natural world.

When I got back into the van to start the rest of my journey home, I took my time. I lit a "Good" Dominican cigar and turned on the radio. The CD that I had listened to was still in the machine, I picked up right where I left off with music that I consider Spirtual:

And even when "Here" is hard to find, it’s there, somewhere, and that’s “Good”.

Peace to all

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ruby Tuesday 04/13/2010

Tuesday already. And here I am scrambling for a Ruby Tuesday post. I'm already late as the folks down under and across the pond have Tuesday in their rear view mirrors. Oh well, I'll post one anyway. In fact, as I was sorting through photos, I came across these shots of a pair of snowshoe frames that I decorated. I finished the shoes, and donated them to an auction for a fundraiser. I never did get a snapshot of the finished product.I dipped the webbing in piant of the same colors as the frames before weaving. They were truly one of a kind.

I love Ruby Tuesdays. The idea is the creation of Mary T/The Teach who writes the Work of the Poet blog. For guidelines to participate in Ruby Tuesday fun, CLICK HERE

But here are the frames. They are made of Canadian white ash. I wood burned the separation lines and hand painted the turquoise. The red and black were spray painted randomly as the first step. I have been making snowshoes for over twenty five years, and decorating them for the last ten or so. I decorate with beads woven into the webbing, or I inlay gemstones into the wood. I woodburn tracks up the sides, tracks like the wolf and the bear. These, I just painted.

These snowshoes are called Ojibway. The indigenous people of the woodlands used this style

This past winter season, I sold all I had made. I am thinking I am done making them unless I get a specific order. In the past, I made them and sold what I had made. I'm concentrating on other projects these days and have orders for a hot tub step and some Adirondack chairs. There has also been some requests for a Mexican Bench or two. I better get busy.

The pointed toe and heel will push through the underbrush like a boats prow in water, pushing twigs and branches to the side and keeping the snowshoe webbing from getting damaged

Have a great Tuesday. Have a great everyday. Peace to all

Monday, April 12, 2010

Anniversary Days

Another sunrise, a new day, another chance at it.

Today is another one of those anniversary days. I usually don’t give these kinds of days much thought until I’m feeling strange, then I remember, “Oh, today is...”. Well, today marks the 42nd anniversary of the day I was drafted into the United States Army. April 12, 1968. That’s a lifetime ago, isn’t it? Yet my body and mind remembers.

I wrote down some memories of this day a while ago. I’ll share excerpts of that writing today. Hope you don’t mind. It’s really all I have left besides a little dignity. I’m not down about it and it doesn’t conjure up all sorts of bad things or anything like that. It’s just the day I reported for military service. Here’s some of what I wrote a few years ago.

I was inducted in April of 1968. April 12th. The first in a series of dates and times of year that turn my life inside out every time they show up on the calendar. My health suffers. My stress level soars. I tremble and live on the edge. I didn’t know that was why until many many years later, but I know now why, around this date, I feel like crap. April 12th, 1968. I say it and I want it back. I can’t help but wonder how I’d handle it today.

I remember taking a bus, actually the same bus route we used going to high school when I was taking the bus to school, before I had a car. In those days, you rode the city bus to school for a quarter. That was the student fare. It was the regular Madison St. bus that went from my neighborhood in Melrose Park, past the Forest Park Armed Forces Induction office, and on into Chicago and downtown. This day, I got off in Forest Park.

There, we were given breakfast by a very nice bunch of old ladies. They weren’t really old, I was 18, everyone who was an adult was old. Moms, I’m sure, of other soldiers, or wives and widows, of Veterans, making sure we were well fed and sent off to war properly. I want to believe that they were crying for us on the inside. I want to believe they knew what fate lie ahead for us all. I still had no idea. I still have this shame for not knowing, not realizing, being so dumb, so out-of-touch with the gravity of it all.

I am jealous of those who actually thought about it beforehand and decided to go to college or dodge the draft all together by going to Canada. Even those who got married and fathered children, either on purpose or accidentally, knew more than I. Can I find peace? Can I get rid of the shame? Will I ever heal?

From Forest park, we got on a bus which took us to downtown Chicago and the huge draft induction facility. I think this was on Jackson Blvd. We got off the bus and got in line. A long day of lines and of doctors prodding, and a lot of time spent in your briefs standing around with a bunch of other guys in their briefs. All as natural as can be, all in order, all just the way it would become as the way the Army does things.

By the end of the day, I was in the Army. In one of the lines, we picked up this piece of paper. It was green and in a plastic sleeve. There were a few pink sheets interspersed with the green ones. You grabbed one as you passed by. Green, green, green, pink. Green, green, green, pink. I got a pink one and the guy behind me wanted to trade, he got a green one. I found out later the pink guys went to the Marines, the green ones were for the Army.

The day went on into night and by 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning on the 13th of April, we landed in Shreveport Louisiana. It was my first airplane ride. I don’t remember a thing about it. We were given a pill as soon as we got off the bus. We were told this was salt peter and it was to inhibit us from wanting to get laid. I wish I could remember if the Army had anything around to stimulate wanting to get laid that they needed to supress. I don’t know what it was really, probably was salt peter, or maybe just salt as the heat and humidity of the Louisiana swampland evaporated our nutrients and the Army, in all their wisdom, replaced our sodium level with a pill. By the way, saltpeter doesn't inhibit an erection. Being away from home and women does.

We had been up since early the day before. I think I might have dozed off a few minutes here or there but I don’t remember. All I do remember is that we had been treated politely up until that point. After arriving in Shreveport and getting on another bus, we were broken down to the lowest common denominator. Stripped of self esteem. Stripped of values. Stripped of our souls. Stripped of our clothes and hair and given a uniform to wear and a haircut that matched everyone else.

From that moment on, I can remember only a handful of nights when I have slept all the way through without the help of drugs, alcohol or exhaustion. Was the Army that smart to be teaching us and helping us to get used to the fact that we would not have one peaceful night after they send us to Nam?

Proof positive, here I am, it's four fucking AM and I'm wide awake. I read this and remember vividly standing out in front of this building, in a light rain, sweating profusely. It was muggy, even in April, and the months ahead would be brutal as far as muggy humid weather would be concerned. I was from Chicago, and weather there in summer is certainly hot and humid, but not like Louisiana.

We would sweat. The sweat made me feel wet and slimy. The sweat would dry and leave the salt of our own bodies in the pores of our skin to crystalize. It felt like needles pricking my back when the skin dried to the touch. We took showers at night, and the towels we used and hung over the ends of our bunk beds were wetter in the morning than they were when we hung them up to dry.

I walked, marched, for hours every day. I got up early and exercised. I lost a lot of weight and took six inches off my midsection. I made muscle. I took care of my own affairs as an individual, things like laundry and handling money, for the first time in my life. I grew up, so to speak, and learned how to kill people, with a rifle, aiming at them and shooting them down, and with my hands, in hand-to-hand combat training exercises using pugel sticks, but being told we’d be using our rifles if this were to be the case in a real combat situation.

After almost five full months in Fort Polk, Louisiana, I came home for a two week furlough. My folks, being empty nesters, moved to a smaller home, an apartment actually, and I felt very out of place, like a fish out of water. The restlessness started back then. The feeling that I needed to get out of a place in time.

Not much of a concern today, I guess, these memories. Not good ones though, like the memories I’ve had recently when my cousin sent me some pictures from 1958, ten years before I got drafted. I rekindled a relationship with my cousin when I saw her for the first time in 38 years at my Mom’s funeral. She sent these pictures of a much more cheerful contented time in my life.

So, today I’ll post a couple of pictures of my family. The black and whites were taken in May of 1858, over 50 years ago, the other is from Fort Carson, Colorado and taken in September of 1968. Private Spado, in front of my bunk in the barracks. Looks like I haven’t changed a bit!

That's me, with the hand gesture, with my cousins and Grandma Spado, my Dad's Mom. In Chicago, May of 1958

This is the entire Spado family, (except for my aunt who is probably taking the picture). All my aunts, uncles, cousins, my Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa Spado. Taken on the back porch of my Aunt's house in Chicago, May of 1958

Taken at Fort Carson, Colorado in Sept. 1968, soon after basic training. I stayed in Fort Carson for five months before being sent to the American war in Vietnam

Yours truly, February of 2010


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday, April 11, 2010

When I started having Grandchildren, my life started to change. I never thought about that part of living back when, but realized something was happening when I was holding a new born child in my arms. The first was Anna in 1998. She quickly became the object of spoiling as her Grandmother and I did all the things Grandparents do. One of these things was to buy soft cuddly toys.

On one of my trips out West, I was passing through South Dakota. I wandered in to the infamous Wall Drug just to pass some time, use the bathroom, etc. As I browsed the rooms full of tourist compliance, I saw this stuffed buffalo and bought it to bring home to Anna. Anna loved this toy and still does at age twelve. This also got her interested in the real live buffalo.

A couple of years ago, I traveled with her to Custer State Park near Rapid City, South Dakota, and their annual buffalo round-up. The subject of today’s Shadow Shot Sunday are a couple of shots from that outing. I’ve included a few more non-shadow shots of that trip at the end of the post. By the way, Shadow Shot Sunday is the creation of Tracy’s over at Hey Harriet blog. If anyone wants to participate, just click on THIS LINK for the guidelines.

The first shot is a close up of some of the buffalo running by in front of us. They were on their way to joining the larger group. In the second shot, the large herd was headed towards the corrals to be counted, checked for disease and generally looked over by State Park personnel. This event takes place each year on the first Monday in October. If you go, get your lodging reservations in early. Over 14,000 people showed up for this event in 2009. They lined the tops of two ridges overlooking a small valley below. The cars, busses and RV’s were parked on the hillsides and the place took on an atmosphere of an NFL football game pre game tailgate party!

We took plenty of photos both on the way there and back to preserve our memories. One of these days I’ll get that film onto a DVD and post a YouTube. Seeing the buffalo stampede through the arroyo below us was quite a sight. The sound, the dust, the mounted riders, the beasts themselves and their shadows.


Maybe not very photogenic in this one

Anna, at age 8, at a rest stop just outside Chamberlain, SD

The buffalo herd, kickin' up some dust

A bull waiting for the round-up to get started, but on his own time schedule

More of the herd coming over the hillside

Peace to all

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Recipes for Summer

Okay, so it’s getting summery out. I’m spending a lot more time outside, and I’m staying busy as there are so many projects going on. That doesn’t leave a whole lotta time for meal preparation. Sandwiches are all right, but I get tired of the same old same old. I need something quick and easy.

I was making my own bread quite often over the colder months, but now that the weather is warming up, I’m buying bread. Mrs. Spadoman works right next to a Breadsmith shop. They have some wonderful hand crafted artisan breads. Check out their website and see the vast list of breads they produce. We like the simple French Boule’ or French Peasant. My favorite is something they call Multigrain.

A loaf of Multigrain ready to slice

Lately, I’ve been hard boiling eggs and using them to make egg salad. I love an egg salad sandwich on a good whole grain bread with a slice of tomato. I’ve been buying the tomatoes in the store that are on the vine. They are expensive, but up north, where the growing season is short, there won’t be any Farmer’s Market tomatoes until late Summer. I buy one or two and use them wedged for a salad or sliced in a sandwich.

Tomatoes on the vine seem to have some flavor this time of year.

I also like chicken salad sandwiches on the same whole grain bread. This is great with the same tomato slices and a thin slice of muenster. I make my chicken salad by pan frying the small chunks of chicken in a wok in olive oil. I use a top quality extra virgin olive oil that has been rendered by the first cold pressing. Since I am Italian, I use mostly imported Italian oil, but I have used Greek. The California stuff is good too.

I season the boneless skinless chicken breast meat with a granulated roasted garlic. I found this at a small specialty store. I think you can get some from Penzy’s spices. If they don’t have the roasted granulated garlic, the regular granulated will work fine.

I drain the chicken on some paper towels and chop up some red onion, celery and maybe some water chestnuts. I put everything into a medium mixing bowl and season it with coarse ground black pepper, a little more granulated garlic, a pinch of granulated onion and some Szeged brand Hungarian Hot Paprika.

Add some mayonnaise, mix well and it’s ready for the bread. I use Hellman’s Light mayo these days. The light is just less of the fat. Hellman’s Light has good flavor, and cuts a few calories. It’s the only fat in this recipe and you don’t need much to moisten the ingredients.

The "light" variety does fine in summery salads

My egg salad is pretty similar. I season that with salt, pepper and the paprika. There is regular (non hot) paprika available. It is a good source of Vitamins A, D and E. The Hungarian varieties are best and come in a wide range of flavors from very sweet to very hot.

One of the summery salads I like to make is a simple pasta salad. I use elbow macaroni, but any style of small pasta will work. Around here, the Creamettes Brand is common. I use onions, carrots and celery in this one, maybe a few black olives. It is also made with mayonnaise, but I spice up that mayo with Adobo sauce, a tomato and jalepeno pepper sauce made from roasted smoked jalepenos, or chipotle, (chip-oat’-lay). By the way, we call ‘em japalinos (Jap-a-lean’-ohs) around here.

I shred the carrots into slivers. I cross cut the celery into pieces not more than a half inch. I chop the onion in the usual way. If I use olives, I slice medium black olives in half. I don’t like canned sliced olives as they are too thin. I want a hunk of olive I can taste.

Boneless skinless chicken breasts. You can find these as free range organic if you'd like

I prepare some chicken the same way I did for the chicken salad, that is, pan fried in olive oil and seasoned with granulated garlic, salt and black pepper. After I drain it on paper towels, I add the chicken and the carrots, celery and onion into a mixing bowl.

Elbow Macaroni. A summer salad staple.

I make some of the elbow mac pasta. I drain it and rinse in cold water. If I made it earlier on, I take it from the refrigerator. I add this pasta to the chicken and veggies. Now, it’s time for my mayo concoction. I use the adobo sauce from a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo that I can readily find in the ethnic section of a grocery store, or in a Mexican foods market.

Chipotle in adobo sauce.

In the can are the small smoked japalinos bathing in this rich dark sauce. I spoon out some of the sauce and mix it with the mayonnaise. That’s it. Mix some together. It is hot and it can be quite strong, so, a little goes a long way. If you want, you can use a food processor and use the peppers with the sauce. Run them into a puree, then mix with the mayo. Either way, it makes the mayo and your salad come alive.

Mix some of this mayo in with the chicken and veggies, add the black olives and serve cold. A great side dish, or stand alone with some baguette with dipping oil. To make this a full blown meal, I like to slice up some Italian salame with cheese and crackers.

A small serving of my Chicken w/ Adobo Mayo salad

Whatever you do, it’s summer and it needs to be simple. Meals are lighter. These kinds of salads are easy to make and last a while. I like to have a few choices on hand. Next time, I’ll make my own version of the famous Waldorf salad and a Mango Salsa I like with tortilla chips.

Gotta get back to the yard, I’m working on the swing set today. I’ll be in for lunch a little later.

Peace to all.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Getting Ready for Summer

Summertime fun a few years back, at Lake Sissabagama, (sis-ah-bay'-gah-mah), near Stone Lake, WI

What a busy week I’ve had. Seemed like every day I was working on some kind of project, and yet the main remodeling project I have going is at a standstill! This ever happen to you? That’s been the case here in Spadoville this week. And today is no different, I’ll be headed to The Cities.

Yes, there is more than one big city. Minneapolis and Saint Paul over in Minnesota are right next to each other along the Mississippi River. Minneapolis on the West bank, and Saint Paul on the East. When out-of-towners travel to either city they usually say, “Twin Cities”. We locals just say, “The Cities”.

Saint Paul, Minnesota skyline

I'm partial to Saint Paul. That's where we landed back in the 1970's when we moved from Chicago. We've never lived in Minneapolis. Even though these two cities are right next to each other, they both have their own individual personality. If you're from this area, (and maybe even if you're not), you can tell you're in a different city if you were to visit or do business in either one. (I guess if you're not a local, you might not know which one you were in without looking at street signs.) Saint Paul is the Capitol of Minnesota, and in my opinion, it's just better. I call it a big small town. I'm always running into someone I know when I go there, and where I live in River Falls, WI, it's just a short 30 minute drive to downtown Capitol City.

And across the Mississippi River, the Minneapolis skyline

When I return from my errands, which will be a few stops at stores where I purchase things I can’t find regularly here in the smaller town where I live in Wisconsin, I’ll be getting ready for a short overnight road trip to Ashland, the city on the South shore of the Great Lake Superior. I really miss living up there. I still go back often.

I’ll be filling up my water bottles at one of the artesian well springs. You may remember the video from a trip where two of my Grandchildren helped me haul the heavy carboys into the van. We called it the Solon Springs Water Run. This trip, we’ll go to Maslowski Beach, just West of Ashland on US Highway 2.

Looking at the Great Lake Superior from Maslowski Beach, Ashland, WI. This is where one of the artesian spring water wells are located

My daughter will be going with me. She has some business to take care of in Ashland, and she’ll help me with the water bottles.

I tell you, as I age, not only do I get up very early every day and eat dinner at 3:30 p.m., I also have a hard time with heavy objects at times.

The help, and the company, will be nice to have. Besides, I need someone to talk about the pills the doctor gives me. (I don’t really, just practicing for when I’m real old).

I’ll return by early Saturday afternoon. Not sure how I’ll feel about jumping in to the downstairs bathroom remodeling project. Depends on the weather. If it’s nice, I’ll be riding that motorcycle. If it’s not, well, I hope it’s nice! Maybe on Sunday my friend Steve will stop by. He’s been away to Florida and I haven’t seen him in a while. We talked about getting together over the weekend. So I do have some half baked plans, but nothing pressing.

This week had me doing bicycle repairs. I fixed up a vintage Schwinn Stingray for Yoody. Found it on Ebay. It needed tires and the paint job was kind of raunchy. Yoody wanted it pink and purple, so, I took it apart and painted it and replaces the old tires with new tires and tubes. After some minor adjustment to the seat and handlebars, she has a new ride and loves it. It is an upgrade in size from her old 16” tired blue one.

The Schwinn Stngray I bought on Ebay and fixed up for Yoody, (before)

Yoody's purple fendered, pink framed Stingray, (after)

One of my stops today will be at the bike store, looking for some pink and purple handlebar streamers and a bell. My mission includes a John Deere or seed cap for Gracie for when she's farmin' in the back yard on her new ride. Some returns of the wrong size merchandise, a couple of items from the grocery, some cigar smoking and coffee drinking are also on the agenda.

Ahhhhh Yes, my only vice

The others needed bike repair and adjustment too. Then the littlest one, three year old Gracie Jayne, never got her conveyance when she had her birthday in January. We promised her something and this week we bought and assembled a John Deere battery powered tractor for the back yard. She hasn’t been around in a few days, and this weekend will have her here. We don’t expect her to have any problems learning to drive it as her brother and sisters all had these kind of Jeeps and Dora The Explora (Explorer, I know, it’s just how we say it around here) cars when they were three. Gracie will be familiar with the idea.

The first battery powered Jeep in 2001 when Anna turned three

This is Yoody's Dora the Explora battery powered car with big brother taking a ride. She was three in 2007

Our back yard is pretty big. I plan on setting the mower real low and carving a path of sorts around the edge of the yard and making it sort of a roadway system. I’ll use the large cardboard box that the toy came in, cut it up, and make some signage. I’ll use regular traffic symbols. I see a Stop sign, a Curve sign and a No Parking sign in my future. Looks like the downstairs bathroom remodeling will be on hold yet again.

The one I put together for Garcie Jayne this week looks just like this one, (No, these are NOT my Grandkids)

So you can see, bike repair and maintenance, assembly of a large toy where I had to read the destructions, (I know, instructions, that’s just what we call them around here), and regular day to day living chores have kept me busy.

Gosh, look at the time. I better get going. I have a lot to do.

Hope everyone has a great day, or at least the best you can, dealing with whatever you have on your plate. If I get some time, I have a few projects I’ve been working on. I’ll share them when they’re ready.

Peace to everyone

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ruby Tuesday 04/6/2010

For Ruby Tuesday this week, I’m posting a photograph I took of a bird house. There were actually at least a dozen of these, all different, all on poles, at an intersection on a county road scenic byway in Northwestern Minnesota near Fergus Falls. They made up a whole little town with a store, houses and this church here. As you can see, this church has a nice Ruby red chimney, so I used it here, but further down this post are some other shots I took while on this trip, and the Red Barn I posted last week was also taken while on this trek.

Have a great Ruby Tuesday

The Otter Tail County Scenic Byway is a figure eight loop and passes through some unique rural countryside. In the town of Vining is Nyberg Park. Seems like an ironworker with a hobby of welding scraps together has made quite a stir with his art. I’m showing the alien and the large coffee cup pouring out coffee, but THIS SITE has pictures of many more of the parks sculpture.

Think this Alien is lost?

Must have gotten cold being poured out like that.

Then there is inspiration point. A hill by most standards, but a high enough vantage to see the countryside in all its glory. To the west of where this was taken, lies the Red River Valley, (a reference to red, Ruby Red River Valley maybe?), and the flatness of the great plains.

The view from Inspiration Point.

The trip was a couple of years ago and happened on a spur of the moment idea to get in the van and go somewhere. We were living in Ashland, WI at the time, along the shores of the Great Lake Superior. We were already North enough, we just headed West through Minnesota and into North Dakota. When we got to Jamestown, ND, where we saw this larger than life buffalo, we got a room and took a walking tour of the old town. The buildings used to be miles away, but were all dismantled, moved, preserved and brought together for display to the public to create a tourist attraction for the people who were curious about the buffalo. The buffalo really is big and is touted as being the largest in the world at 26 feet tall and weighing 60 tons.

The largest Buffalo in the world!

Hope you enjoyed this little travelogue. I just felt compelled to tell a story along with my Ruby Tuesday submission. By the way, Ruby Tuesday is the creation of Mary T/The Teach who pens the Work of a Poet Blog. If you'd like to participate in Ruby Tuesday, HERE are the guidelines.

It’s fun to just get up and go now and then, without a plan, without a map, following signs and billboards. I wish I could do it more often. Or maybe I should just do it ore often. Either way, this is a little information about my Ruby Tuesday submission. The row of beautiful and whimsical birdhouses seemed pretty natural among the pines and oaks of Otter Tail County Minnesota. And I found a pretty good coffee shop in Fergus Falls called City Bakery. If you ever get out that way, stop in for a cup o’ java and a scone.

Peace to all