Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Morning

Pardon this interruption. This has been a very exciting week here in Spadoville. What started out as an easy going exercise in putting the finishing touches on our Day of the Dead altar and assembling a pile of items slated to go to New Mexico next week turned sour when I woke up Wednesday morning with pains in my chest and some kind of rumbling instead of a heartbeat.
I have been diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation. Basically, I feel it as an uneven beating of my heart with upper chambers, the atrium, not in sync with the lower ones. This made my heart rate race to levels well into the 160’s. On top of this, I am still dealing with the after effects of Pneumonia and Bronchitis, and a touch of Congestive Heart Failure is being investigated as well. Given my heart history, this is just another piece of the why am I alive puzzle.
Three days in the hospital after a 45 mile ambulance ride has my life changing once again, yet I live on, in spite of it.
I’ll spare any more details for now save to say I am home and have so many new medications and doctor appointments scheduled that going anywhere is out of the question. This means there will be no trips to New Mexico until things settle down and my health gets stabilized, what ever that means.
Right now, I need to concentrate on breathing, one breath at a time, and following the instructions on my pill bottles. I’ll throw in some relaxation as well.
Our Celebration for Los Dias de Los Muertos is scheduled to go as planned on November 1st. Family members will pitch in and help with the cooking and set up. Other than that, I have no other plans and will take life day to day. That probably means participation in the usual blog memes and activities may experience a set back.
I don’t know what the plan is for me as far as the next step. No sense in wondering how this will turn out as I cannot predict the future, but it seems to be another turning point in this road called life. I’ll deal with it as I can and try really hard to make the burden on my family as delicate as possible.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Mystery Tour, October 24, 2011

It was two years ago in October, I took a trip to Seattle, Washington for a reunion of the Army unit I was with when I served in Vietnam. I wrote a couple of stories about the reunion, but I never told anyone about the trip. I used Amtrak to travel across the country. Train travel has a unique feel to it and I like it. It’s not quick at all, and these days, it’s not cheap either. In fact, the airlines can be quite a bit cheaper when you consider you have to feed yourself for the days you are on the train, where the plane has you there in hours. There is also the problem of having a place to sleep on the train. The coach seat can accommodate, but is not very comfortable, and the reservation of a sleeping berth really brings the cost up for the train travel.
But sometimes, it’s not about the money. I see it as you have to eat anyway, whether it is boarding a plane and getting there in a few hours or riding for 36. I prefer the adventure of the train ride, the scenery, the people watching and interaction, the small towns and big cities, the ability to get up and move around, and time to think. 
In the case of the trip to Seattle, I needed to think a lot. Going there, I was anticipating what the reunion would be like, who I’d see there, what would be said. On the way home from such an experience, I just needed time to debrief what had just taken place. After all, it has been over forty years since I got home from Vietnam. I knew I’d have a lot to contemplate after getting in touch with so many old memories.
The platform at Minot, North Dakota

The passenger train routes have names. Here in the USA, if you were to travel West from Chicago, the hub of the Nation, the Empire Builder, which made the trip along the Northern reaches of the country, took you to Seattle or Portland. The Zephyr, which traversed two mountain ranges and crossed the midsection through the Rockies and Denver and The Sierras through Sacramento, ended near San Francisco at Emeryville, just on the East side of the San Francisco Bay. The Southwest Chief, took the route through Albuquerque and on to Los Angeles in the Southern part of the United States.
I’ve been on all these routes at one time or another. My trip in 2009 for the reunion was the Empire Builder to Seattle. I boarded at St. Paul, MN at around eleven PM and arrived just about 36 hours later, a little after ten AM.
If you’ve never been on a train, let me give you a blow by blow description of a normal no frills coach passenger trip. I bought my ticket on line. I had a print out and simply held the SKU bar code under a scanning light at a small kiosk which was well marked and there for just that sort of service.
My tickets were promptly printed out. If I had bags to check, I filled out label cards and attached them to the bag handles and brought them to the manned ticket counter to check them.

I did not check any bags. There is a large area as soon as you step into the passenger car where you can stow bags before you ascend a flight of stairs to the upper deck and claim a seat.
It can get tricky here. Some seats are marked reserved, and in my case, I got on after the train started in Chicago. Some seats were already taken and could usually be seen by a bag or jacket if the passenger was up and away from their seat. But sometimes people were up walking around or grabbing a breath of fresh air or a smoke outside. I’ve seen folks sit down only to have to move if they weren’t paying attention.
Shelby, Montana

The train whistle blows, the train pulls out of the station and this scene gets repeated at every stop along the route. The train keeps on going down the tracks and the passengers boarding in the middle of the night negotiate the seating process in the dark.

If you are in coach, you have one seat. If no one is next to you, you can stretch out a bit, but if you have another passenger next to you, you might be a bit cramped, especially when trying to sleep. And you will have to sleep at some point as 36 hours is a lot of time to sit in one spot awake!

In my case, I got on pretty late at night. The lights were turned way down and I did stretch out and get some sleep as I had the entire pair of seats to myself. The bathrooms were downstairs when you boarded the train, so if you needed to do any of that business, you had a flight of stairs to negotiate.
View from the lounge car in the Cascade Mountains

During the daylight hours, the country whizzes by. Hour upon hour will see many changes in landscape. On the Empire Builder, you’ll cross the plains and wheat fields of North Dakota and Montana. In Western Montana, the mountains will appear. There are large tunnels. Then the Palouse of Eastern Washington before crossing the Cascade Mountain range. The train pulls in to Seattle and Puget Sound is nearby.
Puget Sound

I’ve seen a lot of wildlife along the way. Deer and antelope, hawks and eagles, coyote and small animals. As I’ve taken this route in both Summer and Winter, the scenery is fantastic in either while climbing and descending through the Northern Rockies and the Cascades.
You can walk along from car to car of the train. As the train sways back and forth and to and fro, you have to have some balance. The elderly or someone with a cane had a hard time. Handicapped seating is available on the bottom floor of each passenger car.
The Rocky Mountains in Montana as seen from the train

One of the places to walk to was the scenic or lounge car. This car had a seating area like a lounge, with some seats together, some facing each other and even a couple like a living room sofa. People sat in this well lit space and read, listened to their iPods, used the computer, engaged in conversation or gazed out the large windows at the scenery as the train sped through the countryside at 69 miles per hour.
Downstairs in this scenic car was a snack bar that served food, snacks and beverages. The prices were higher than a restaurant, but less than a major league baseball game. There were places to sit down below in the snack bar, but many people took their food upstairs and ate in the seating portion of the lounge car, or even back to their coach passenger seats.
There was also a dining car where you could sit down, order a meal and be served, all while riding the rails steadily to your destination. I like the dining car early in the morning. They start serving breakfast around 5:30 AM. The coffee, a tart hot black affair, is served in china cups and was adequate for my taste. I’d usually order the regular standard bacon and eggs with toast.
Lunch and dinner are available in the dining car as well. Dining times are announced through a public address system that broadcasts in all the cars. The dinnertimes are reservation. A steward comes to each car and signs you up for a place at a table at a specified time.
In the dining car, you wait at one end of the car when you walk in. A steward seats you. You may see many empty booths, but the steward will place you with others. In the dining car, they fill every seat. Each booth holds four people. You will sit with a stranger or strangers if you are traveling alone.
I have never not had an interesting lively conversation while having a meal on the rails in the dining car. I’ve also had some small world experiences and have met people that knew a place or a name from my home town or a place I have visited before.
After dinner, back to the scenic car or my seat for some relaxation. At a stop, I might get out and stretch my legs, grab some fresh air and just watch the hustle and bustle of the station platform. There are bathrooms in the depots of the larger stations and the usual array of vending machines. Many people will smoke at the longer stops.
Personally, I like the train experience. If you’re not in a hurry, it may be an option for you. At this time, there are no inspections of your bags or your person like the airlines have, and certainly no one will grope you. That might be the turn off for you, who knows??!!
I have some traveling coming up soon but it will involve travel by car. Although there is talk in the Spadoville household about taking a train named The City of New Orleans from Chicago to, you guessed  it, New Orleans, for a few days of chicory coffee, beignets, muffaletta, jambalaya, po’ boys and gumbo. Not at the same seating of course.
Illinois Central City of New Orleans back in the day

With the world changing rapidly and the economy faltering here in the US, many train routes have been cancelled. Rails have been torn up and competition for business is non existent. Amtrak is publicly operated and extremely under funded. The equipment, once sparkling stainless steel, is dull to the finish and maintenance struggles to keep up with demand for door knobs, light bulbs and services.
It’s a shame that options for travel are so limited, and the option of flying carries so many ever changing restrictions it seems impossible to know who will charge you for what. Baggage fees, carryon luggage limits, liquid allowed, packaging requirements and the highly controversial screening policies.
For me, I usually drive to where I’m going. My second choice is always the train. I prefer to never fly again in my life, but would if I had to. Have you been on a train in America? How about the country where you live? What’s it like in other places around the world?
Thanks for letting me take you along for the ride.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Here is your personal invitation:

Los Dias de los Muertos

This years “Days of the Dead” Celebration will take place:
Tuesday   November 1, 2011
523 E. Johnson Street
River Falls, WI 54022
Come anytime around 6 p.m. or so
Bring a dish to pass if you would like
Traditionally, “Los Dias” are a time when the Spirits of those departed from our lives are thought to pass through the realms and visit us
We await them with comforts from when they were still among us
Feel free to bring something and a picture of someone you’d like to have pay us a visit, we’ll put it on the Ofrenda
We’ll eat and drink and talk into the night with old and new friends, and invite these souls here to join us for the evening, 
in Spirit
Hope to see you there

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shadows in Fog

Shadow Shot Sunday
October 23, 2011
Every Sunday, folks from all around the world post their shadow shots. See more and find out how you can participate at Hey Harriet's Photography

The morning fog never did burn off completely this particular day. With sunshine all around, College Cove near Trinidad, California remained shrouded in fog and shadows.

This beach is a place I visit often when I am in Northern California. It features large sand hills, blow holes, rocky outcroppings and plenty of rock hunting, all in a rain forest-like atmosphere. Agates abound along with many other colors and varieties of round edged stones. A great place to hike, climb and surf. A true jewel of a beach on the Pacific Ocean.

Enjoy your day today as you wander through the blogs looking at Shadows.


Random Thoughts from Spadoville

 Disclaimer: This post has absolutely nothing to do with Veterans or Vietnam

Here it is, Saturday already. This week has just flown by. Glad of that as last week I was down for the count. This week, I feel much better, but being older seems to make it take much longer to feel 100%, but I’m getting there.
The roofers are here this weekend. They started yesterday, they’ll finish today. I opted for a local contractor to do the work. I did get four different estimates. All of them were in the same general price range except one. He was over a thousand dollars higher than everyone else!
Two of the other three did business in my town, and one has an office here, but neither hire their work crew from the local work force. I decided to go with the local contractor that hires local labor. When I pay them, the money goes right back into my community and not taken away to Minneapolis.
The weather is calm and bright, cooler now than it has been. Everything slowly melting into Fall and getting us ready for Winter. The heavier coats and jackets have come out. I found those screws I was looking for in my jacket pocket. I guess that’s what I was wearing when I removed the screws from my motorcycle windshield.
The temperature must have warmed up and I placed the jacket on a hook in the garage. When frost was on the pumpkin, I reached for the jacket and found those screws. I put them in one of the jars on the workbench with the other hodge podge of unused hardware.
The World Series is on TV. No game last night. Mrs. Spadoman and I watched Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood’s acting swan song. I love that movie on so many levels. Have you seen it. What did you think? Sure, there was some violence, but not your typical murder, cops and robbers and stuff. This movie shows us that we are all one people. I’ll gladly explain via e-mail if you care to carry on a conversation about it.
This morning, I’ll be calling an old friend and we’ll arrange to meet for a cup of coffee so we can visit a little and catch up on each other’s life. I haven’t seen Dave in a while. I look forward to getting together.
That’s about it. A simple life right now. I love it when I don’t have any of other people’s baggage hanging around my neck. I know I never should, but it is inevitable at times. But today I am free of it. And not only do I not have to crawl around on my hands and knees to replace our old worn roof, I don’t even have to watch them work.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Stone Beings

Haiku My Heart
October 21, 2011

Every Friday, people from all over the world join in and post their haiku. Stop by at Rebecca’s recuerda mi corazon to see more and find out how to participate.
Strong pillar aloft
Carved by water, etched by wind
Silent stone being

Arches National Park, Utah. One of the many natural wonders of the world. There are more than seven you know. I was looking through some photos from a trip out West we took in 2009. I came across these shots.
I remember wandering through the park and stopping to walk amongst all the giant monoliths and arches of rock. It fascinated me then, and it does now to gaze upon them again in pictures.

My wanderlust overtakes me at times. And now, as I am just a couple of weeks away from going back to New Mexico, I am thinking of trips I must take and places I must visit while I am down there.
I am planning a vacation from where I take vacation.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Piece of My Life

In the Winter of 2009, I was offered a program through the VA to help me with some things I was struggling with. It took place at a Department of Veterans Affairs facility near Cleveland, Ohio. I did write a short piece mentioning that I would be away in Cleveland. Not sure I ever posted this story about that trip. If I did, sorry to waste your time. If I didn’t, well, here it is:
The trip to Cleveland from Minneapolis is about 750 miles or so. I could have driven this distance in a long day on the Interstate Highway System. I have many times before taken such a trip or covered such a distance in a day. This time I settled for another type of conveyance. I used Amtrak.
Train travel is unique to this era for many. In fact there were many people who were overheard talking about this trip being their first time on a train. I have used Amtrak before this. I would travel by train often in the 1990’s. Before that, the occasional local trip, but I had never experienced the travel style of the twentieth century train trip when train travel was in its heyday. I’d never ridden on the Orient Express but wish I had.
I booked on line and printed out a bar code. I took the bar code to the station and held it under a reader and my tickets were printed out immediately. I showed them when I boarded the train and that was it. No check in. No contact with a human being. No metal detector. I guess if the contraption won’t fall from the sky when it crashes from the explosion of a bomb it’s okay to carry more than three drops of sun tan lotion and a gun. Also, since it’s on tracks, you can’t steer it away from where it’s headed.
I got a call the night before I was to board the Empire Builder. Empire Builder is the name of the train that runs on the route from Chicago to Portland and Seattle. It passes through Minneapolis on the trip back to Chicago from the West coast. The phone call told me that the train was late, but to be at the station at the correct time and not wait until the internet web site says the train is suppose to arrive.
This particular train this day was 22 hours behind schedule. Some huge snow storm in the Cascade mountains had put the train behind by almost a full day.
I was to show up when the original ticket specified. Amtrak provided a through bus, actually two of them, to take the Minneapolis passengers directly to Chicago. So my train trip was a bus ride. We left on time and arrived in Chicago, at Union Station, a full hour before the scheduled train would have arrived.
I laid over in Chicago for almost seven hours before the Lake Shore Limited left Chicago headed for New York and Boston. I was getting off at Cleveland and due to arrive a little after six o’clock in the morning.
That train left on time and pulled into Cleveland on time. I slept pretty much right up to the time I had to get off. A friend, someone I had met on The Longest Walk the year before who lives in the Cleveland area, picked me up on that Monday morning. I was traveling light. A small backpack and one duffle suitcase. The Cleveland station was small and compact and it was easy to make the connection with my friend Jen.
We left the parking lot and set out to find a coffee shop to have a cup and visit a little before she’d drop me off about fifteen miles south of downtown Cleveland at the VA facility in Brecksville, OH. Traffic was of little consequence as we headed in the opposite direction of rush hour. We found a Starbucks and went in and caught up on what had been happening in our lives since we last crossed paths in Washington DC the previous July.
Jen knew where Brecksville was and we drove directly there after the coffee. The VA hospital and grounds there is a huge complex right on the main highway, and after I had her drive around looking for a suitable building to drop me off in front of, I got out and started my next adventure which would turn out to be a 37 day stay in ward 24B attending and participating in an in-patient program designed to help me overcome some problems I was having a hard time dealing with.
The typical VA bureaucracy was in full force and I stumbled through the admission process following orders and answering the repeated questions. The first day was an easy one. Get checked in, drug screened, searched and orientated to my new surroundings, then sit and wait. I first came familiar with “Hurry up and wait” in April of 1968 when I was involuntarily inducted into the Army via the draft. Little has changed in the process and span of 40-plus years, only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
I was restricted to the ward until I was properly orientated to the protocol of this facility and that meant no leaving without permission and waiting for the meal trolly to bring me a tray instead of joining other inmates, I mean patients, at the dining hall. The protocol sheet of rules and regulations would be read and I would sign my agreement with the terms that evening. By the start of the second day there, I had full rights to leave the ward and go anywhere in the nine building complex and on the many acres of the campus of the Louis Stokes Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Brecksville, Ohio.
The day shift was in place when I arrived. The evening shift took over around four PM, and the overnight shift woke me up in the morning. The day shift returned, but due to budget cutbacks and short staffing of all the programs at Brecksville and throughout the entire VA system, the staffers worked different shifts and one who might have been there one time during the day would do an overnight later in the same week.
These ward staffers had nothing whatsoever to do with why I was there or the program I was going to attend. This was just the ward staff who were in control of order in the living situation end of the stay. The staff for the program was in place on another floor where the group meeting rooms, classrooms and offices were. Dorm life, as it were, on the ward was not to my liking in any way shape or form. The VA allowed an atmosphere of humiliation and control, much like a penitentiary.
You were accused of wrong doing and guilty unless proven otherwise. My wife mailed me a package soon after I arrived. I had asked for some hot sauce to spice up the daily cafeteria offerings and some nuts to have around to snack on. I wanted a few more short sleeved t-shirts as the heat was cranked up in that place like you wouldn’t believe. Sundry stuff that I didn’t carry with me on the train. This parcel had to be opened and the contents inspected by the staff. They told me they were looking for contraband, but never explained or offered a list of what they considered contraband.
My personal belongings were searched when I got there. I had to turn in the prescriptions that the VA had given me and received a fresh seven day supply of the same drugs I was prescribed from the pharmacy there. I had to turn in my pocket knife, the very tool I used to cut up oranges and apples and remove stubborn labels off the skin of said fruit. I didn’t bring a cell phone, but that would have been confiscated too, along with any lap top computer or music generating device like a walkman or MP3 iPod player and its headphones.
I was given a key to a lock on one drawer of a night stand. All my meds were to be put in this drawer and random checks to see if the drawer is locked were made. The pills given to me by this facility would be randomly called for, and I would have to show them the bottle and the number of pills counted to make sure I was taking them and not selling them.
“Hey man, I got some nitroglycerin, man. Dude, this stuff will give you a headache but it goes away after you’ve used it regularly for 20 years. Only five bucks a hit, man.”
I was not allowed to have things out of my locker or on top of any furniture which was my locker and said night stand. I had to have my bed made by eight AM. No signs or pictures could be posted or taped to the walls. There would be random room checks by drug sniffing dogs handled by the police from the host city of Brecksville, Ohio. Staff could call a search of your personal property at any time for any reason and you have to succumb to a urine test before using the latrine if your name was posted to give, or drop as it is said in the vernacular, a specimen. Refusal of any of these rules meant removal from the program.
Each staff member had their own way of dealing with their responsibility of upholding the law. Like prison, the guards, or ward clerks, were of different demeanor and personality. Some drew the hard line and shouted orders, others had snappy voices and spoke down to the program attendees. Others were mellow and easy going and turned the other way instead of being bothered with counting your pills or making sure you weren’t hanging a picture of your Grand kids on your bed rail.
One in particular was a man we’ll call Tom. Tom was a military retiree. He was in his 40’s. Had already served 20 plus years in the Navy and was on his second career. He looked for rule violations and even when he couldn’t find any, he’d recite the rule to you anyway. He was a real asshole. I got along with him, but made no pretense about the fact that his humiliating manner held me from having any respect for him as a human being at all.
Once, when returning from a town pass on a Saturday evening, there was no request for me to drop a urine sample. Tom was so distraught that I was coming back from town and didn’t have to be tested for drug and alcohol use, he went into a frenzy trying to figure out what was wrong with the system. For surely, in his eyes, I had used and was getting away with it by not having to produce the sample. The next day, Sunday, when I returned from a day pass to go see a movie with friends, he made sure I had to be sampled. We are allowed up to four hours after returning from town to produce the sample. I made him wait until nearly one AM, with him seeking me out multiple times per hour to ask if I was ready, to piss in his cup. Of course I accused him of selling my “clean” stuff to his drug using friends and I insisted on a percentage of the take. He didn’t think I was funny at all.
Another staff person was someone we’ll call Yvette. Yvette was laid back and easy going. You lived and caused no trouble, Yvette left you alone. She never looked for wrong, was polite and respectful to everyone, all of the time. If she was on staff when you came back from a day pass and you were to leave a specimen, she’d put the plastic bag with the sample jar on the counter and when you brought it back, she’d present a tray and ask you to place the sample on it.
My bed was horrible. Not an old army bunk, but a bed with a plastic covered mattress that was hard as a rock. I was given one pillow and it was a small soft pillow at that. I asked one staffer for a second pillow. He told me, “Good luck with that, we don’t have extra pillows.” The next day, I asked another staffer for a second pillow. She asked me what room I was in and what the bed number was. She not only got me another pillow, but she put a case on it, brought it to my room, fluffed it up and placed it on my bed. Sure was a difference in the ward clerk staff. From the ridiculous to the sublime was but a short leap.
On a very personal level, I wondered what I was doing this for. Why was I, at this stage of my life, going through this crap. I volunteered to be here. I asked for help and this is the program they offered. I could have packed up and left, and thought about doing just that, several times. Even though it felt like incarceration, I knew I was free to call a taxi or get on the 77F bus and leave Brecksville VA at any time.
The program itself that I was involved in was very good and helped me immensely with my problems. I met some great people and great staff, people that truly have dedicated their lives to helping people, helping Veterans, overcome certain problems. 
I looked for the positive side of this entire experience and to my own surprise, I challenged myself to stick it out, despite what I felt were horrendous dormitory living conditions. I cited to myself that if I could complete the commitment and finish the program, I would be accomplishing something and that would help me in the long run with healing and growth. I actually made a pact with myself and didn’t complain or bitch about my living situation for the last three weeks I was there.

Epilogue:  I participated in this program almost three years ago. I still use many of the tools I gathered there to keep me running on a steady keel. I did find the dorm conditions to be more like jail than a learning and help center, but never voiced my concern to the hierarchy of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
I did write about the City of Cleveland and the economy as I spent many days traveling through the city on their mass transit system. This information for this editorial writing was gathered while I lived at the VA in Brecksville, OH.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Morning Report

This bee was enjoying a meal on a beautiful Fall afternoon

Just want to report that I am feeling better than I was before the weekend. Thursday night, I was coughing pretty hard. I didn’t sleep too good and went to the urgent care at the VA on Friday. They checked me out and told me I had bronchitis. That didn’t surprise me. I’ve had it before and that’s what it felt like.
They took a chest xray and wouldn’t let me go until the results were in. They came and told me the xrays showed some pneumonia in my lungs. So, after six hours at the VA, I was sent home with antibiotics, an inhaler and some codeine laced cough syrup. I already had a fresh bottle of Tylenol
I spent the weekend in the EZ chair. The codeine is hard on me with my history of heart disease, so after one dose, I threw that away. Otherwise, I am feeling better, but still weak. I will spend at least one more day on the sofa. Especially since the weather is changing drastically now.
We have had a wonderful October up to this point. Warm, sunshine. But the winds have been ripping through for the past week and it is time to search the closets and the plastic tote bins and break out the Winter arsenal of coats, boots, hats, scarves and mittens.
The real harbinger that Winter is coming to this hemisphere is the fact that the World Series starts this week. I picked Milwaukee and Texas. Texas made it, but Milwaukee stumbled and it will be St. Louis versus Texas for this years Fall classic.
I don’t usually get too excited about football and hockey until after the World Series, but last night, the Chicago Bears played the Minnesota Vikings. I moved from Chicago in 1974 to Minnesota, but never switched allegiance to the Vikings. The Bears are not having a particualrly good season, so when the Bears beat the Vikings last night, (when anyone beats the Vikings), it is like winning the SuperBowl. And when we moved to Wisconsin, I couldn’t bring myself to cheer for the Packers either. I did, however, lose the Cubs and White Sox for the Brewers.
Strange is that I do like the Minnesota Wild hockey team, but that’s probably because there is no Wisconsin team in professional hockey.
So, you can tell that I spent a lot of time looking at TV over the weekend. I never searched for anything with any redeeming qualities like PBS or a great movie. If I could have tolerated the codeine, maybe my mind might be a little less gristled today.
I have started on a pair of snowshoes that someone ordered. I will attempt to take photos through the process of wood burning artwork onto the sides and the actual lacing. If anyone is interested in a pair of heirloom quality hand laced wooden snowshoes, let me know. I can also assemble a kit, complete with instructions, and you can make them yourself.
Lastly, I have been paying attention to the Occupy Wall Street reports from cities all around the world. Those that know me know where I stand. I am a 99% person and totally agree that things need to change. I just wonder who the rich think is going to spend any money if we don’t have any? Henry Ford paid a good wage so the workers could buy his product. I’m Occupying with them in spirit. 
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dia de Bloglandia #3, October 16, 2011

 The Art of Remembering

Each Sunday in October, many of us gather and share our memories and tell about our preparations for the upcoming Los Dias de Los Muertos, or The Days of the Dead which take place on November 1st and 2nd every year. See more submissions at Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon and Stephanie's Mango Studio. Be ready to participate in Los Dias Bloglandia on November 1st.

I'm not remembering where I got this pencil drawing, but I like it a lot!

Not feeling my best this weekend, but didn’t want to break the chain of Los Dias Bloglandia, The Art of Remembering, posts for Sundays in October.

From Stephanie Hilvitz of Mango Studio

From Susanna Gordon of Susanna's Sketchbook

Posada Quilt from close friend Donna G, Ashland, WI

Dancing Figures print from Rainey Davis, Saint Paul, MN

From Adriana Esqueda of LaLlorona Studio

These are photographs of some of the Mexican Los Dias de Los Muertos folk art we have collected. Most of these are recent additions to our home, within the past five years, coming to us in various ways. Some were gifts, some were bought. These pieces make up a year around permanent altar display that we keep here at Spadoville.

This shallow tin box was given to us by a close friend. It has hidden joy inside

The tin box opened

The Days of the Dead isn't just a one day fiesta here at our place. We celebrate the spirit life of our lost loved ones every day. I want to say that I never understood the place of art in my own life. We never had much. I learned a great deal from Rebecca through the Oaxaca Street Childrens Shrine Auction. An annual event where many of these fine examples of Los Dias Mexican folk art come from.

Next week, you'll be invited!


Saturday, October 15, 2011


I screwed up with Mr. Linky this week. HERE is this weeks Shadow Shot.


Shadow Shot Sunday
October 16, 2011

Every weekend, on Sunday, people from around the world gather and show us their shadow shots. To find out what this is all about and to see more fantastic photos, visit Hey Harriet's Photography blog.

Sandhill cranes are relatively rare around here. I have seen them way up in Northern Minnesota in Summer before. This pair was wandering around along the shore of the Great Lake Michigan near Green Bay, WI.
They stand around 41/2 to 5 feet tall. For a large bird, they soar and float in the air quite nicely. I’m not feeling too good this weekend, been in bed most of the time, so I’ll leave you with these photos and sparse narration.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Proper Punctuation

Haiku My Heart
October 14, 2011

Haiku My Heart is a weekly array of wonderful haiku and photos from all over the world. Every Friday we gather and connect. To see more and find out how you can participate in Haiku My Heart, see Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon blog.

A beautiful moon
The water makes it shimmer
Lovely, “He exclaimed”
I traveled up to the South shore of the Great Lake Superior this past week. I went for one of my water runs. I was literally down to a few glassfuls left in the bottom of the crock that holds the large 5-gallon carboy containers.
Over the years since I moved away from Ashland, WI, I also have need for a few items I used to buy at various places along the South shore of this great lake. Fresh Lake Trout filets at Port Wing. Licorice for Mrs. Spadoman at Homestead Gardens in Washburn. Italian sausage at Louis’ Finer Meats in Cumberland. Cheese at the Burnett County Creamery.
I made all these stops and a couple more on a two day excursion last Monday and Tuesday. I went with a friend that went along for the ride. He sleeps later than I do, so I got out of the motel room early and drove over to a public landing just before dawn.
At that public landing, I watched a very large almost full moon set into Lake Superior. I did not have my usual camera, but I did have the cell phone camera and I snapped off a couple of shots. These are the result. I inverted one and saw the natural punctuation. I just had to share.
Front lawn at The Crest Motel overlooks Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior

After Ole Sol came up to brighten the day, I sat on an outdoor chair on the front lawn of the Crest Motel. I wrote prose in my head and when I got home, I posted what I had written. I want to post that writing again on this post even though it appears on the post previous to this one here at Round Circle. I hope you don’t mind. I also hope it brings you to a good place. It did for me.
Might be a nasty habit, but it's about the only vice I have left


The Water
The outdoor wooden chair structure was actually two seats with arm rests, connected in the middle with a built in table. I sat there, as the sun rose over my right shoulder and the landscape, at the water’s edge. My right ankle atop my left leg just above the knee.
My arms were resting. Right on the arm rest, left on the table. My hands were touching the fabric of my trousers, My fingers were feeling warm against the dark brown fabric that was catching the rays of the sun. My index finger was extended somewhat, catching the early morning coolness that was still in the air.
My shadow had been stretched across the lawn for forty yards, now closer to me, twenty feet. The flags hung still, lifeless, no breeze moving their folds. No one waving at me.
The water lay beyond the road. A lone fishing boat drifting, trolling by in the distance. My loft was on a knoll, above the road and water. Traffic moved left to right and right to left, steady, in bunches, with quiet intervals, trucks, cars, people, moving to and fro.
Behind the roofline of the last building was an eagle. Perched in the branches of a tree that had been stripped of its colorful Fall foliage from winds the days before now.
My eyes darted, the eagle, the water, the traffic, the water, the flagpole, the water, the eagle, my shadow, the water,  the eagle, the water, the eagle, the water, the eagle, the water, the water, the water.
The eagle stood still and flapped his giant black wings. I adjusted my position, moving my right leg and exchanging it with my left. My index finger still cold in comparison to the rest of my digits. The water.
I listened to my breath. There was no sound, but I heard it. I followed it into and out of my body. I watched my stomach rise and fall. I felt that finger, extended, I felt the coolness of the morning. The water.
Now. The water is always now, always there. The eagle watches here daily. I pass through, returning to a place I have been before with long intervals in between my visits. The water has such energy. I feel it. 
I watch and know that this large mass of the Sacred Earth Mother’s life blood affects us all, affects the land that rises from it, the sand and soil pushed into where I sit by glaciers millions of years ago. This view has always been here. The water always here. The eagle still stands nearby, seeing what I am seeing.
He glances at me as I glance back. Our eyes meet. I feel it. The water glistens in  the sun as small waves start to form. The boat is gone. The flags move. My shadow is next to me. I flap my wings. The eagle adjusts his position. It is morning. My finger is cool. My heart still beats. The water soothes, heals and comforts.
More Peace