Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Close Encounter with An Outlaw

"Public Enemies" is a recently released movie, starring Johnny Depp, about the notorious bank robber from the Depression Era, John Dillinger. The name triggered a memory, so I went to the bookshelves and dusted off an old collection of family biographies I'd helped assemble years ago.

Scanning through my Uncle Bernard's autobiography, I found this entry:

"One night I was hitch-hiking back to Toledo [from Chicago], and a guy picked me up. We were in Indiana and drove over the Ohio line. He drove up to what looked like an old farm house where a single bright light hung in front of the garage. I had thought perhaps it was a little gas station, it was so close to the road, yet it didn't look like one. We talked about things and where I went to school, but he didn't say much about what he did. Then we got out of the car, and as we did so another man, who could be taken as the driver's father, appeared. He said, 'Well, how did it go?' The driver said, 'Fine.' The he said to me, 'Would you like to see my tools?' I told him I would, so he opened the trunk of his car and there was a beautiful wooden tool box that contained tools. Now I've seen watchmakers' tools and machinists' tools and construction tools. But this man's tools were a mixture of all of them--not a typical collection. He said he could surely do a lot of things with those tools. He opened the garage and we went in. I still remember this guy's face with a small, puckery mouth. Finally I thanked him for the ride and walked back to the highway, where I caught a bus on to Toledo. It was not long after this trip that John Dillinger was shot and killed. Dillinger was a notorious bank robber who hit banks in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. He had a couple cronies and they would all disappear after blowing a safe. I started thinking about this whole episode. I have no doubt, after seeing pictures of Dillinger, that he is who I had ridden with, and that those tools were used for drilling into safes!"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Rodeo

The California State Rodeo, held locally in Salinas, is a big deal around here. Locals either make a day of it, or avoid it all together. We only attended once before, a few years ago. Watching grown men chase a terrified calf around a pen in order to put a pair of pants on it wasn't entertainment to us, so we didn't go back. However, this year we decided to give it a second chance. Frozen yogurt and ice cream in hand, we made our way to the grandstand....

Bucking broncos: Some cowboys made it to the sound of the horn...
...and some didn't.
We were always happy for the steers that "got away".
Showing the horses running free, this was when the announcer talked about how much they loved their animals (appeasing the animal rights enthusiasts in us):

What would a rodeo be without country music?

And just in case you forgot your hat...

For sale: everything from kettle corn and barbeque burgers to belts and signs (we had to giggle over the sign with Obama's name -- as if it was as common as the name David or Kelly).

That was enough rodeo to last us several more years.

To Blog or To Facebook?...

...That is the question.

I found myself in So. California this past week, taking care of my dad who wound up in ICU last Sat. morning. He had a scare with his heart, and they decided to put a pacemaker in. Considering he is a tremendous exercise enthusiast, it was hard to imagine his heart giving him trouble. He bicycles an average of 20 miles/day. But he is 86 years old, and sadly our bodies do wear out. He is doing just great, up and around!

After cleaning his house, grocery shopping, and running errands for him, I found myself with time on my hands so logged in to my facebook page. It was something I created several months ago, primarily so I could see the photos in my daughters' albums. I didn't check it very often -- mainly when they told me they had uploaded some new pictures. This past week, I started logging in daily. I discovered I had several "friend requests". It was fun to reconnect with people I hadn't heard from since high school and from organizations I'd been involved with. Soon I discovered many of them had all sorts of online farms, African safari campgrounds, and hatching eggs.

The next thing I knew I was gathering eggs from friends' sites. Horses neigh and sheep bleat when I plant rows of strawberries on my farm in Farmville. A friend sent me an elephant for my safari camp. It was all very cute! There is pleasure in doing some things for the pure nonsense of them.

But one morning I learned that one of my hatched eggs had run away! My strawberries had withered because I didn't harvest them in time and I had to replant the field. On top of that, termites had invaded my friend's safari camp so I had to help her out. An hour had evaporated into thin air before I knew it! These facebook games could be addictive. I thought about my REAL yard, hedges needing trimmed, deck needing restained; the REAL children in Africa and other countries that I'm due to write to through child sponsorship organizations. Yes, the practical side of me began whispering in my ear -- hey, don't you have enough to do without plowing a virtual field? Well, at least with the African Safari game you earn REAL money to send mosquito nets to children in Africa. And do we always need to be doing something constructive? What about simple relaxation, engaging in something not on our "to do lists"?

Checking in on all my friends' facebook pages is like going to a party -- making the rounds, commenting on this and that. At the end of the day, I was ready to come back to my blog. Time alone, where I can just write all my thoughts about a topic. No expectations. Just a blank page and a keyboard. Ahhh. It's good to be home.