Oil change, morning TV, and late-October musings…

cropped-countryroad1.jpgLate October—very late! Halloween rolling in tomorrow. Weather changing. Patio and deck furniture hauled to the garage. Solar lights pulled from their places of importance around the yard and brought in for cleaning, battery removal, and storage.

One of the last mowings, trimming, and edging for the year before mower gets traded for snow thrower that’s been hiding out in son’s shed down the road a ways.

Car in for oil change this morning. Large TV blaring in waiting room in Service area. Screaming fans in the street and gushing hosts and hostesses on program annoying and headache inducing! I hate TV in the morning, especially GMA, but I can’t very well get up and turn it off. It’s not mine, after all! So I sit and wait. Try to read my Jeff Shaara book about the siege of Vicksburg, but Taylor Swift is rattling my concentration with her birdlike warbling.

Commercial break. Two to three minutes of political spots that paint opponents as the most evil and vile persons walking this planet! These do nothing but add to my distaste for having the damned TV turned on in the first place!

A lady beside me is bending the ear of an older gentleman two seats away—something about the tree that fell next to her house and the giant sinkhole that scared the bejabbers out of her neighborhood. He shakes his head as if to say that he is spellbound at all that she is telling him.

Some employee from the front comes in, apparently on some mission of importance, and re-stocks the styrofoam cups for the coffee machine, that is now woefully near empty!

Fortunately, oil change and tire rotation is done within forty-five minutes, so I’m free to escape and regain my equilibrium in the peace and quiet of my Equinox. Best part: maintenance service still under warranty and no charge, and everything checks out A-OK. Still like new!

On the way home, I pass many farms and fields. Harvest in full swing, and farmers working hard to beat the impending rain and big weather change that’s heading our way here in northern Illinois by tomorrow.

Nearby orchards and farm stands have closed for the season. Out of apples, pumpkins, and other autumn delights. Signs proclaim that another season has come and gone and “Thanks for your patronage…see you next spring!” Owners preparing to head south for the winter, I would think. Basking in the sun while we’ll be basking in the driving snow as it flies at us from our snow throwers on a regular basis.

The busy “writing season” is creeping in now. Important to take care of outside chores so when the frigid winds howl and the snow begins to fly and the furnace reports for duty once more, work on next novel and short stories can move along without so many interruptions. No NaNoWriMo for me this November. Have enough work to do on current WIPs. Maybe again next year.

Now, time to move along to next items on “To Do” list. Happy late-October, all…CortlandWriter 🙂No Sun Up in the Sky...

First “dings” and other thoughts…

Hemlock and Maple Island, on Magician Lake, Do...
Hemlock and Maple Island, on Magician Lake, Dowagiac, Mich. (Photo credit: Boston Public Library)

Last week I wrote about the wonderful experience of purchasing a 2014 Chevy Equinox and all of the tech stuff that comes right along with it. I am very pleased with everything about it (though I miss my 2001 Ford Ranger!) and I have grown comfy with how things work and all of the “hands free” technology that is very nice.

And as sure as death and taxes, my new vehicle received its first “ding” or very slight dent in the driver’s-side door. For one brief shining moment, I felt as though the whole thing was ruined, tarnished forever after, and that it had been de-flowered so unjustly!

Actually, this tragedy occurred shortly after my grandson’s soccer game Saturday morning. In his haste to climb into the front seat of his dad’s F-150, the large door swung just enough to catch the side of my car, which I had thought I’d parked a safe distance away for that to happen.

I got over it and realized that it had to happen sooner or later, but I’d hoped that maybe this would be the one car that would escape all of that. But, there’s no escaping the inevitable, and now I can put that “fear” all behind me and get on with things.

Magician Lake, Dowagiac, Mich.
Magician Lake, Dowagiac, Mich. (Photo credit: Boston Public Library)

I’ll be loading our two cars on Thursday for our annual migration to the cottage on Magician Lake up in Michigan, and I’m certain that I’ll probably add a “ding” or scratch of my own!….CortlandWriter

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My marathon sports TV day and other annoyances…

OK, today was a rather long stint of television, with the Blackhawks hockey on early,

Chicago skyline with the CNA Center showing th...
Chicago skyline with the CNA Center showing the Chicago Blackhawks’ logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

followed by the two NFL championship games to determine the Super Bowl participants in two weeks. And, of course, I spent most of the day right there watching them all, making me the epitome of a true couch potato! (I hate this term!) And dubbing myself this, calls to mind many similarly annoying terms and expressions that are becoming more prevalent. For example, staycation, vacay, man cave, or any cryptic texting language that isn’t spelled out: UR for “you are.” And I need capitalization and punctuation, please! And could we avoid statements such as the following: “I love me some cowboys!”? Where did any of this come from?

My marathon sports viewing day cruised merrily along, and as it did, the repetition of so many insipid commercials really began to grind away on the nerves. For instance, all of the car commercials where there is the legal disclaimer that it’s a professional driver on a closed course and that we shouldn’t try this, particularly the one where the car leaves the street and drives up some ramp and jumps onto a speeding train! I’m hoping that the words “Cars can’t jump on trains” is meant to be an attempt at humor. But then, I’m not too sure about that. Can there really be people who think that cars really can jump on tops of trains?

Then there’s those overdone, annoying commercials featuring young kids. You know, the kids who are maybe twelve years old at the most, lamenting about how tough they had it when they were young and not having the same technology as today’s youngsters. Or the one for a certain communications provider, featuring an adult sitting at a round table surrounded by little kids who say off-the-wall things and blatant nonsensical utterances. OK, the concept was cute and funny the first million times it was shown, but it’s time to move on.

And would someone please clue me in as to the significance of the bathtubs in the commercial for the product that helps correct the problem of male erectile dysfunction? Why are they in separate tubs? Wouldn’t it be more practical to have them both in one? Curious.

And finally, aside from the constant droning of the commercials, there are the broadcasts of the sporting events themselves. Aside from many smarmy play-by-play guys who blather on and say nothing, there are the cute female sideline reporters whose job it is to try to interview a player or coach immediately at the end of a half or at the conclusion of the game. This can’t really be that important, seeing as though players and coaches generally are either over-the-top joyous for having won, or they are bordering on insanity because they lost the contest! Either way, they have nothing much to add to the game viewing.

A real gem of an example of this very thing occurred at the end of the Seattle victory earlier today, when a Seattle player made quite a classless spectacle of himself. These on-the-field interviews aren’t needed, but they’ll be there forever. Alas!

All in all, it was a fine afternoon and evening, but I have to mutter and grouse about things every now and then, and I guess today was the day for doing so. It would seem that I spent just a bit too much time tuned in today. Back to writing and work on the novel in the morning. Nothing to grouse about there! Have a good week, all…CortlandWriter

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Air Conditioning is good…

Back home and enjoying the comfort of our air conditioning, sitting here and beginning to watch the White Sox against Detroit. A big game, to say the least, as the Tigers lead the Sox by 3.5 games at the moment. It would be a big game to win, but it’s never easy. The lead off man singled, so we’re underway.

Have enjoyed the recent “break” in the weather. I had a wonderful trip out to Ohio where I enjoyed a wonderful weekend at my sister’s house in Marblehead, on the shores of Lake Erie. It was filled with lots of good food, good laughs, and good “sitting around” in the shaded areas and enjoying cold beverages and talking. Both my sisters and their husbands were there, as well as my son, daughter-in-law, grandsons, nephews, nieces, and our mom. As is always the case when it’s a wonderful occasion, time flashes by in a wink. 

Tomorrow will call for some early-morning yard work (to beat the heat as much as possible) and then to visit a friend who is very ill right now. Will also go see the father-in-law, who continues to hang-in at the nursing home. Will return to the lake on Thursday afternoon–if the heat doesn’t keep me ensconced here at home, enjoying the comfort of air conditioning! Down the road we go…MLA


Kind words from Kipling…

It’s amazing how we stumble upon something that we had absolutely no intention of looking for–even though thoughts about the topic may very well have been swirling around in our heads at the time. This happened just this morning as I realized that the emptiness that lurks around here since our little black dog is gone seems ever deepening. 

Good wishes and kind words by so many people have helped, but there’s something missing just the same. And while looking for a short story I’d read a long time ago–along with my 8th graders in literature class–the Kipling poem jumped out at me. I share it with you now, to enjoy and  to remember all of the joys our furry friends have given us. Happy Easter, one and all!

“The Power of a Dog”

By Rudyard Kipling

There is sorrow enough in the natural way

From men and women to fill our day;

But when we are certain of sorrow in store,

Why do we always arrange for more?

Brothers and sisters I bid you beware

Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy

Love unflinching that cannot lie–

Perfect passion and worship fed

By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.

Nevertheless it is hardly fair

To risk your heart to a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years that nature permits

Are closing in asthma or tumors or fits

And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs

To lethal chambers, or loaded guns.

Then you will find–it’s your own affair

But–you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will

When the whimper of welcome is stilled (how still!)

When the spirit that answered your every mood

Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,

You still discover how much you care

And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way

When it comes to burying Christian clay.

Our loves are not given, but only lent,

At compound interest of cent per cent.

Though it is not always the case I believe,

That the longer we’ve kept ’em the more do we grieve.

For when debts are payable, right or wrong,

A short time loan is as bad as a long–

So why in Heaven (before we are there)

Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

On the Road in Columbus…

The Road to the Past in Columbus

I’m writing this from somewhere outside of Dayton, Ohio. I’m having a wonderful time trying to maintain an Internet connection, so I’ll write as fast as possible and post soon.

I accompanied my wife to Columbus, Ohio, today for one of her Ancestry/Genealogy “field trips,” and I must say it was lots of fun. I had never really toured the capital of Ohio, and we enjoyed many of the cemeteries and early houses where her great-grandparents and various other relatives spent many years. One of the cemeteries we visited is the final resting place of one of my favorite authors: James Thurber. It seems strange to know that he’s resting there while my wife and I are driving all over the massive place!

The Columbus Public Library–where we spent a couple of hours going through old microfilm searching for obituaries–is an outstanding place! All in all, her search and places to visit today was a complete success. We hit no snags or “dead ends” (no pun intended!) and we cruised out of the city and made our way along I-70 to near Dayton.

Tomorrow morning we will visit her aging aunt and uncle here before heading back up to Lake Erie for another overnight at my mother’s. Then, back to northern Illinois on Wednesday. I must say, I have lots to write about my cemetery experiences today. Will do so once I have my good home Internet connection in a couple of days.

So down that road we shall travel…MLA


March Madness…


The road I’m traveling this morning really isn’t about basketball and the insanity that will swirl around it the next few weeks. Instead, I feel compelled to write about a few of the other examples of the “madness” that seems to be closing in on us–one day at a time!

Madness in Japan…

The surreal pictures from the tragedy in Japan are completely numbing. When I first saw them last Friday morning, I thought it was a promo for some new sci-fi movie–one loaded with all the special effects–that was due to open. How stunning to witness complete towns and surrounding farms wash totally away in seconds! The trucks, cars, boats, trains, and buildings appeared as toys or miniature models. And now, a few days and several after-shocks later, the added crisis is the deterioration of nuclear power plants. And the news reports this morning told of thousands of bodies washing ashore. Yes, this MUST be science fiction! Or could it be a higher presence is saying something? This is certainly something which tries one’s faith.

Madness…Teachers under attack

On another bend in the road, there’s the ever-growing attack on teacher pensions. Illinois is in terrible shape and has dug a hole which getting out of seems impossible. The present hue and cry that teacher pension benefits are excessively high is pure myth! Here is an interesting FACT: “The benefits have been studied repeatedly by outside consultants and found to be average and in the mainstream nationally. Moreover, the lion’s share of the cost is currently paid by the employees, not the state. Teacher contributions currently are among the highest in the nation at 9.4 percent. The real problem is the debt, not benefit levels.” (Department of Government Relations)

Add in the state’s failure to live up to its obligations for its part of the funding, and one can see why this “hole” is growing ever deeper. Cutting benefits will not solve the problem!

Beyond the Madness?

This beautiful mid-March morning, full of sunshine and blue skies, seems so distant from the “madness” that is eating away at us. Can we somehow stave off this illness? Once again, how strong is our faith? Once there was a time when we could rely on the good faith and intentions of others. Now, though, there appears to be an “everyone-for-himself” attitude. I fear that it’s going to be a long, sad, and bumpy ride over this particular road, and I suppose we will have to work extremely hard to find answers as we move ahead on this road.

So, we travel on...MLA