Friday, October 31, 2008


When I was in Santa Fe earlier this month, I made a terrific buy at the Wal-Mart there--a clear, plastic Halloween mask that had been tossed aside at the check-out counter. The one dollar I paid for this mustachioed little gem has been well worth all the laughter it has created. There's just something creepily familiar about anyone who wears it. I'm the goober with the "dog ears" but the rest shall forever remain anonymous friends and relatives. Have a sweet Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


A year ago tonight, Big Bore discovered poor, pathetic, cry baby Critter in our garage (see Jan. 11 blog)--our early Trick-or-Treat present. I can’t say that either one of us was too keen about adding a fourth cat to the household mix, but I have to admit that life around Case de la Flaming Bore wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if Critter wasn’t here to entertain us.

Since tough-looking Big Bore is really a Big Pushover in disguise, last night he bought two rotisserie chickens for the cats to share in honor of Critter’s so-called “birthday.” Mmmmmm-good! They each got their own plate and BB was the head server. Every once in a while, he sampled the goods himself, and I had dibs on part of the breast. Tender and juicy and plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week. Critter says she’s mighty glad she got dumped at our house last October. Living here has been a real treat.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I got really ticked off while reading one of yesterday’s top online news stories. You’ve probably heard about it, too. An eight-year-old Connecticut boy accidentally shot himself at a gun show, trying to plug a pumpkin with a loaded Uzi--under the so-called supervision of his father and a gun instructor. According to the police report, the front end of the fully automatic machine gun kicked upward with the backfire, called a recoil, and the kid received a round of ammunition in his head.

The father (who is, go figure, a hospital director of emergency medicine) was baffled. He was quoted as saying, “This accident is truly a mystery to me….I really don’t know why it happened.”

Well, helloooooo! I’ll tell you why it happened. Because that gun instructor and you are idiots for allowing an 8-year-old to shoot an Uzi! That’s why. There’s no mystery to it. Now, since I’m not a parent myself, I usually keep my big, critical mouth shut when it comes to ideas on raising children. But anyone with a lick of sense knows that a child has no business holding a loaded Uzi, let alone being encouraged to shoot it. And, listen to this, the doctor dad was getting his camera ready to take a picture of his little boy playing grown-up pumpkin assailant when the incident happened. What were these people thinking? Morons…total morons. What a shame.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Boo-hoo! Woe is me! We had our first freeze of autumn yesterday and, even though it wasn't a terribly hard one, Big Bore and I still had to say good-bye to a lot of the friends we'd made over the summer. The green beans, morning glory, zinnias, and most of the impatiens are gone, as well as a whole plot of little yellow flowers, perennials, that I never did identify. What's more, the wind blew enough sticks down out of our big elm tree to keep me busy picking 'em up for the rest of the week.

Just this past weekend, the strawberry plants were put to bed for the winter underneath a pile of leaves.

And we brought inside what was realistically savable. Critter has been having fun investigating everything. Right after this picture was taken, though, the philodendron was moved out of harm's way. Cats and philodendron don't mix.

Only the purple mum that bloomed late in the season remains a beauty. As the old gardening saying goes, "You can't keep a good mum down."

Today looks like it will be a fine one for planting bulbs. We're already plotting in our minds what we want to have growing in the yard next summer. Let's see. How many more days is that? 235? Let the countdown begin!

Monday, October 27, 2008


The other night when I was pedaling in overdrive on the exercise bike and watching Game Show Network, a commercial came on the boob tube that irritated me more than most commercials already do. The product being pushed was a CD called “Christmas at Rockefeller Center.” For the “amazing price” of something like $9.95, we dimwits out in TV land could buy this amazing piece of crass merchandising.

Now, what really got my goat about this CD promo was that about 20 or so of the dancing Rockettes were kicking up their cellulite-free long legs to a jazzed up version of “Joy to the World.” I suddenly had a nightmarish vision of the Christmas manger scene with Mary and Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds, angels, the three wise men,----and (drum roll, please) “All the way from New York City, let’s give them a great big Bethlehem welcome: the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes!!”

What would baby Jesus do? Start crying, roll over in his cradle, or gape at the gams of those galloping gals?

I don’t mind if the sequined, scantily-clad Rockettes want to make their money by lifting their legs to the little holiday ditties, like “Winter Wonderland” and “Frosty the Snowman” --but please, ladies, drop the songs about Christ’s birth from your repertoire. I’m not a religious fanatic, but, good grief, it just doesn’t seem right! I know I don’t have to buy your stupid CD if I don’t like it, but you’d truly bring a lot more joy to my world if you’d stop prancing around to sacred music. Thank-you and Merry Christmas two months early. End of rant.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Sheila as a James Bond Girl----Halter Top Day at Royals Stadium----Co-hosting with Steve Martin

In response to yesterday’s mannequin blog, Dr. Maureen asked if her former housemate Sheila ManneQuinn (see March 19th blog) had been spotted by the window dolls I wrote about. Sheila, god love her, has been missing since being kidnapped at the reception of Maureen’s first wedding, (which we all want to forget) back in 1981. Having served as the guest book attendant, Sheila borrowed from my wardrobe closet and was wearing my sexy, hot pink senior prom gown at the time she was ripped off, so the whole crime was a double heartbreak to be sure.

Sheila was the shy type (or was she just aloof and playing hard to get?), so it’s likely she could have gone off with a stranger and not have kicked up a fuss. She was a double amputee at the time, not armed to fight back, and I don’t believe she was carrying any identification. Anyway, sadly, we’ve neither seen nor heard from her since.

I’m encouraging people who might make “Sheila Sightings” to contact this blog immediately. Dr. Maureen is probably willing to pay big ransom bucks for a tearful reunion. Sheila and she have a lot of catching up to do after all these years, you know, ---and, darn it, I desperately need that prom gown back!

The missing prom gown and armless Sheila. I filled out the gown much better than the missing Miss ManneQuinn, but she looked more like Cher than I did!

Friday, October 24, 2008


Back in the late 1950s-early 1960s, when I was an impressionable teeny bopper wanna-be, I was a fan of The Twilight Zone TV show. One of my favorite episodes, “The After Hours,” was about department store mannequins taking turns coming to life for a month out of each year. They’d go out and about and live among the truly living, then return to the store when their time was up. It was spooky deluxe in a cool sort of way…and I’ll betcha that most of my Baby Boomer readers remember the same episode

Well, we’ve all heard the adage that “truth is stranger than fiction,” so here’s the scoop: I think something similar to that Zone show is going on in my hometown. You see, there’s this dress shop that has been located at the same place on the town square for close to 50 years, but it doesn’t really seem to be open for business anymore. Every time I’m home, I drive by, just to see the “Sorry, we’re closed” sign plastered to the front door. What’s going on here?

The same ancient, pasty mannequins are always in the store windows--two little girls and two adult-like females, eyes staring vacantly into nowhere and arms positioned stiffly. They wear really ba-a-a-a-a-a-d wigs, poor things. Anyway, my theory is: they run the joint. From time to time, their clothing changes. I suspect they occasionally get tired of wearing the same old outfits, like most fashion conscious gals, so at night, when everyone in town is fast asleep, they go back into the bowels of the store, dust off something different to wear, and make a quick change.

I’ve assigned Mama Bore to do an undercover investigation to find out what’s happening. She’s to call me the minute that the “Sorry, we’re closed” sign is switched to “Open,” so I can get inside the store for a personal interview--human owners or mannequins, I don’t care which. Until then, I will keep making drive-bys around the square when I’m home, looking for some signs of life. When one of those brittle window babes finally winks at me, you’re gonna be the first to know that I’ve totally zoned out and, as Twilight Zone host Rod Serling used to say, gone into “another dimension.” ;)

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Ten sure signs that old man winter is knocking at autumn’s door:

1. Our hammock has been rolled up and is ready to be put into storage. :(

2. The ferns and cactus have been brought inside.

3. The mums have lost their luster.

4. Big Bore has cleaned out the heater in the basement and checked the pilot light.

5. We’ve started raking leaves into mulch and compost piles.

6. I’ve dug out the stocking caps and gloves and, as usual, none of the gloves matched.

7. The squirrels are getting squirrelier.

8. I’m starting to mainline hot chocolate.

9. I’d rather drive to town than walk or ride the bike. To hell with outdoor exercise and saving on gas money. (Okay, so I did bundle up and walk 3 miles yesterday after it finally stopped raining, but I despised every cold and windy step of it!)

10. No more flip-flops!!!

Summer, I want you back!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


When at the park Sunday for the big birthday party, I took this picture of my 2-½ year old great nephew Boomer, as he was walking on the miniature train track.

He was mesmerized by the railed road for a long time, silently watching his feet cross the wooden slats, totally ignoring me for about half the loop when he suddenly looked up, put out his hands in front of him, and shouted, “Stop!”

“Where’s Daddy?” he then quietly asked me.

I could sense that he had snapped out of his train track hypnosis and was now more aware of his whereabouts. His parents were out of sight, and this was not good.

“He’s way over there by the picnic table,” I pointed out, but Boomer was too little to spot his dad through the trees and playground equipment. He left the track and took my hand, making a bee line for where I promised him he could find his daddy.

He was jabbering now, most of which I couldn’t understand. He wasn’t crying, but there was a bit of urgency in his tone of voice until his parents finally came into his view. He then let go of my hand and toddled off to them. Boomer had just learned the first rule of serious rail walking: never lose track of Dad and Mom.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Yesterday, Blogger Sarah responded to me that "Birthday cake is the best!" With that idea in mind, here is today's photo blog:

Here's Maddie with her birthday cake AFTER the Batman decoration flew off with the Bat Cave.

Ol' Dad found it a bit hard to keep five candles lit on a windy afternoon, but he had lots of help.

Luke wins the longest green tongue contest.

Boomer agrees with Sarah. Birthday cake (with lots of gross frosting) IS the best!!

Monday, October 20, 2008


Maddie's Daddy at 5

Yesterday was my great niece Maddie’s 5th birthday. She went with a Batman theme for her party, since she’s going to be Cat Woman for Halloween, so I guess she’s outgrowing the little kid characters and moving on to the more sophisticated preferences of a 5-year-old. I think I blogged earlier this year that she had given up Dora the Explorer for Strawberry Short Cake, but that relationship apparently didn’t stick.

I don’t recall having any cartoon or comic book idol get-ups when I was as a kid. About all I can remember is, after baths, running down the hallway, bare naked except for the towel around my neck, yelling “Superman!” Fortunately, there are no pictures to account for those occasions.

Maddie’s daddy, however, was very much into morphing into anyone who wore a cape when he was five, as these pictures show. Mama Bore made him the Dracula cape, which also doubled as the Darth Vader cape. My big sister says she saved that vital costume accessory and her grandchildren now wear it, 30+ years later. I’m glad that kids nowadays haven’t gotten so jaded by computerized gizmos that they have ditched dressing up like their idols and using their imaginations to have fun. They grow up too soon, as it is. ---

---Maddie always has her wonderful October birthday party at a big park, and she and her cousins unload their energy on the jungle gym and ride the miniature train, roller coaster, and airplanes. She opens a few gifts, then runs off to play. Opens a few more gifts, eats some cake, then runs off to play again. On the drive home from the 5th festivity yesterday, Mama Bore and I wondered aloud how many more birthdays there will be before Maddie outgrows the park…and her family. Alas, no super hero in a cape will be able to keep that from happening. :(

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Last night Big Bore and I did what we often do when he gets home from work…stimulate our brains by watching Game Show Network. Who Wants to Be as Millionaire had a revolving door of dumbos. Even the audience was stupid. The majority thought a serape was clothing from India. That’s a bunch of New Yorkers for you. We kept yelling at the contestant, “Mexico, you idiot!” He didn’t listen to us.

Next up were two episodes of Family Feud. BB and I are certified geniuses at this game. What I don’t get, he usually does and vice versa. If we ever go on this show, we’d just be a family of two and we’d wipe out the competition. The only problem is, sometimes our brains don’t quite make a complete connection.

For example, one of the categories last night was to name rock bands of the 1960s. We had The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Grateful Dead, and Led Zeppelin out of our mouths in no time. But then I got stuck on the name of a group I just knew would be on the list.

“The ‘Light My Fire’ band,” I said. “Jim Morrison was the lead singer.” I started singing, “Come on baby, light my fire.”

“Try to set the night on FIRE!!!!!” Big Bore screamed.

Well, of course, that didn’t count, and the real contestants said, “The Doors,” before we could get it off the tips of our tongues. Bummer.

What followed, though, was the inspiration to sing a litany of Doors songs that we sort of knew, at first, but then the words ended up badly botched.

“Riders in the skyyyyyyyyy. Riders in the skyyyyyyyy. You know it is a lie. You’re eatin’ apple pie….”

“Come on, come on, come on, touch me babe. Don’t you know that I am not afraid. You’ve got me lyin’ in the shade; you’ve got me flyin’ in the shade….”

“Hello, I love you. Won’t you tell me your name? Hello, I love you. And I sure am ashamed….”

Well, you get the idea here. Family Feud was all but forgotten. If there is ever a TV game show developed that is all about creating the wrong, pathetic song lyrics, we’re sure winners.

Friday, October 17, 2008



Before I left for New Mexico, alone, last week, Big Bore and Mama Bore made me promise to buy a cell phone. The round trip would be over 1,300 miles, and they didn’t want to have to worry for 1,299 of those. So, to make them happy, I went out to ALCO, bought a TracFone and 60 minutes worth of calling on it. That was the easy part. Getting it set up was another story.

The misery began with a call to Ishmael, whose job it was to assign me all sorts of number sets. After 40 minutes on the phone trying to understand him and see various numbers on the phone, we parted--with the idea that I was to plug in the phone and it would be ready to go in about four hours.

The next day, one day before trip departure, I decided to try out my new purchase. The first message on its screen was that I could make collect or credit card calls only. Well, this wasn’t right. So, it was back on the regular phone for TracFone assistance…this time from a female version of Ishmael, who eventually determined that somewhere along the line Ishmael and I got a number messed up. She would have to give me a whole new set of numbers to enter into the cell phone. Midway through the numbers marathon, however, I dropped the regular phone while trying to press numbers on the cell phone. Disconnected!!!

I was so pissed off at this point, I just decided to hell with it. I was taking the cell phone back to ALCO and would hope for the best on the trip to New Mexico…just like I’ve done without a hitch for the past 35 years on the road. Big Bore didn’t even protest my decision. He just sat in his easy chair, mute. He knows not to argue with me when there’s steam coming out of my ears. Plus, he truly does hate cell phones, too.

Well, the good gals at ALCO asked me if I’d keep the phone if they could get it working, since it’s hard to work refunds on them. Fine. Three clerks, one manager, and about 15 minutes later, all systems were go.

As it turned out, I used the cell phone on the trip, just for the heck of it, to see if it would work. I called my hostess once, but she was gone and her message machine was full so that was a zero. I tried calling Big Bore when in New Mexico, but there was apparently no range to connect to him. On the way home, when making a pit stop in Greensburg, I tried calling him again, with no luck. It didn’t dawn on me until I got into the next county, though, that I punched in the cell phone number and not our home number! Duh!!!

I managed to reach Big Bore at the next stop, Pratt, to tell him where I was. Probably a 30-second conversation, if that, but, at last, I was an official cell phone user…with 55 minutes left to use. Ugh!!!

Two days later I drove to Pittsburg to see a friend, 240 miles round trip. The $#@! cell phone stayed home.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I’ve known for quite some time that my pal Mary likes to make over houses--“flips” as they are called in the construction business--but I didn’t know she was also into personal makeovers until I went to Santa Fe last week. After we’d helped Rat pick out some fashionable new jewelry and shirts for his wardrobe, Mary decided our hair needed a pick-me-up and she was just the person to elevate us to a better look.

Rat only needed a little gel and hair scrunching, but The Flaming Bore was a bigger challenge. My hair hasn’t been colored for 17 months, and it looks it. The bottom half is lighter and has no gray in it. The top half is a darker brown with mucho gray stragglers. Since my health insurance rates have risen over the past year, though, I’ve just decided that 90 bucks a whack for a beauty shop dye job is more than I care to spend, especially since the roots with the real color pop back out so quickly anyway.

But Mary, bless her, has the answer. Buy a box of any old brand and color of hair dye for about $3.00, then just use a little dab here and a little streak there with a toothbrush, wait for 40+ minutes, wash, and voila. The gray is maybe, sorta, kinda gone and there is still plenty of dye left for future jobs. It’s a subtle change. So subtle that Big Bore has yet to notice it, even though I told him Mary played with my hair during the trip.

She also told me to get about two inches cut off and have my bangs layered somewhat, to give them more volume. Both good ideas, though, which will be passed along to a real, licensed hairstylist.

While she was dying to dye me, Mary told me a funny little story from the grade school days:

“You had such long, beautiful hair and I just couldn’t keep my hands out of it. I was always wanting to touch it and brush it. (Her own hair at the time was cropped short.) You finally got fed up with me and told me that your mother had given orders that no one was to mess with your hair!” she laughed.

Although I don’t remember this, I don’t doubt it at all. Blaming Mama Bore would have been typical modus operandi for me since I wouldn’t have wanted to lose a friend, especially over such a silly issue as hair.

I’m going to follow Mary’s advice and keep playing with the hair dye. I have an aging box of auburn Clairol something-or-other stuffed somewhere in the bathroom. Maybe if I use enough of it, Big Bore will take notice. If not, I guess it’s no big, fat, gray, hairy deal.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


"Is that so?"

In continuing our quest for great art in Santa Fe last week, my pals Rat, Mary, and I meandered through the downtown Plaza area where there are more galleries. Mary took us to a photographer’s studio that had impressed her during an earlier visit. The photos were brilliantly colored shots of peasants from South America…or maybe India or China…I can’t remember. Anyway, they were big, blazing photos--nothing you’d want hanging from the walls of your home, probably, but they’d look good in a museum.

The Gallery Greeter Gal was effusive with her praise for the photographer, explaining what a wonderful connection she had with these peasants, who included a little boy with six toes on each foot, the haunting painted face of a disabled man in repose, and various smiling old women. Since the hostess repeatedly spoke of the impoverished living conditions they endured, I had to open my big mouth and make an even bigger gaffe. You see, since these photos commanded prices ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, without the matting and frames, which were up to $3,000 extra, well, I had what I thought was a legitimate question:

“Does the photographer pay them to pose for her camera?” I was hoping that they were at least getting a little cut of the action here to help relieve their poor lifestyles.

“Well, no,” answered Gallery Gal.

“You mean to tell me that she (the photographer) is raking in up to $15,000 a picture and not sharing a little of it?”

“Oh, they don’t want the money,” Gallery Gal responded.

I’m sure a skeptical look washed over my face at that point. I can make a really good skeptical look--where my mouth twists up, my nose scrunches, and an eye squints, as if I’m saying, “Are you sure about that?”

“You’re telling me they would refuse money if she offered it?”

“Well, she’s calling world-wide attention to their situation with these photos, plus she has lots of travel expenses, …and I’m sure she’s helped them out,” Gallery Gal muttered.

I could sense her defensiveness building, as well as perhaps a touch of anger. Rather than risk turning the art gallery into a mouth-shooting gallery or getting into a down and dirty bitch-slapping with her, I immediately dropped the subject, said I needed to take some medication, hustled up my companions, and we left. Probably not a minute too soon. One of the many triggers of my spazzy ear muscle is when I get riled about something.

You know, if I was making major money from taking pretty pictures of poor people and didn‘t spread the wealth around just a little, I think I’d be a pretty poor excuse for a person. But that’s just my opinion.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


There’s an interesting area in Santa Fe called Canyon Road. On both sides of a narrow street, sit adobe buildings that serve as art galleries. Now, Pat is an accomplished weaver, but Rat, Mary, and I barely survived junior high art classes. Our talent pretty much peaked when we made seed and pasta plaques at Harriet Hesslegrave’s summer art program in Fredonia; we were probably eight or nine.

One of our early stops was to check out some modern art etched into mahogany. The colors were brilliant and the price tags sky high. The dapper Gallery Greeter Guy was a young, tall chap with a fake French accent (Rat’s expert opinion; after all, he took Intro to French at Fredonia Junior Hgh School when he was 14.) He explained the artist’s skill, speaking so quickly and Frenchy that I had no clue what he was saying. I liked the paintings, but Mary and Rat were more interested in critiquing Greeter Guy’s necktie, a red and yellow sunflower print that they determined was not apropos for the job of mumbling about fine art.

Next up, was a cool vintage western shop. The friendly Gallery Greeter Gal was loaded down with more turquoise jewelry than I’d ever seen on one body--clunky, chunky, gaudy turquoise and silver draped around her neck, clamped up and down both arms, and hanging about six inches from her ears--and she had a braid running down past her butt. A walking masterpiece if I’d ever seen one. Mary and I liked the painted cowgirl boots and fringed, beaded cowgirl jackets for sale, but since we haven’t entered any rodeos recently, we passed on making any purchases. Rat bought a couple of vintage black and white postcards for about a dollar apiece. At last, there was a serious buyer among us!

Another place we liked had mostly acrylics, shown by a woman from Iran, who was gracious but suspect of the Kansas amateurs as she followed us from room to room. There were some fine paintings of aspen, horses, and odd-looking men and women who had the slicked back hair of 1920’s gamblers and their molls. One large, bizarre painting begged for analysis. It was filled haphazardly with bright, miscellaneous images: a rainbow, fish, birds, a naked man and woman in the bushes, an American flag, a long-haired man, among them. Who better but the Flaming Bore to explain this work of modern art.

“Okay, I believe this is a religious piece,” I expertly speculated. “We have Adam and Eve, of course, and the rainbow and birds and fish symbolize Noah’s survival of the flood. That long-haired guy lying below the flag means that Jesus loves Americans.”

“That’s not Jesus,” Mary said. “That’s a hippie.”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“He’s wearing a brown leather belt,” she correctly pointed out.

“Well, maybe this means Jesus was a flag-waving hippie.”

The Gallery Greeter forced a smile. (“Crazy Americans.”)

I lost track of how many great galleries we hit up that afternoon. We also saw sculptures (including the stoned lady in repose, above), weaving, pottery, fountains, antique furniture--just about every type of fine art imaginable. Well, I take that back. There WAS one medium missing. Perhaps Rat and Mary and I need to test out the market and see if Santa Fe is ready for seed and pasta plaques.

Monday, October 13, 2008


There’s a hiking area not too far from my friend Pat’s Santa Fe home. It’s both flat and hilly, sandy and rocky, and has typical desert vegetation. Quite frankly, it didn’t look like much of a challenge, and I soon became restless as I was walking in the area with Mary and Rat last week. Heck, we could still hear and see vehicles traveling on the highway parallel to where we were. This called for action!

“Let’s get off of the trail and head on up,” I suggested.

Rat expressed a little concern about snakes, but he was still game, as was Mary, so we got off the beaten path.

“This reminds me of Survivor Man,” Mary said, as we zigzagged our way up a rocky hill.

“Who’s that?” Rat asked.

“Oh, this goofball guy named Bear who has a TV show about surviving in the outdoors. He’s a hoot,” I said.

“Yeah, he takes off his pants, blows 'em up, and uses them to float across a lake instead of just walking around it,” Mary added.

We kept our pants on, continuing to weave through dry creek beds, stickery bushes, and the like. At one point, Rat got on his cell phone to call a friend back east, telling her that we were surely lost in the wilds of New Mexico. Eventually, we got high enough to see where the car was parked.

“Civilization, at last! And not a minute too soon,” Survivor Man would say, exhausted.

We picked our way back and finally found the trail from which we started. Before getting to the car, though, we found an escarpment that we’d somehow missed earlier in the day.

“I wonder what made those holes in the dirt?” one of my companions asked.

“The perfect hand and foot holds,” I said and took off to climb the little wall.

It was a cinch to scale, but I pretended it was tougher than it actually was. Mary turned camera person and photographed the stunt, while Rat just laughed at me grunting and groaning, a la Survivor Man. I pulled my way to the top and collapsed in victory.

“Who’s next?” I asked.

They did what any smart survivor would do: walked around it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I’m not sure the reason I’m sore today is because I recently drove over 1,300 miles to New Mexico and back within a 4-day period or because I laughed so much with my friends I was visiting…probably a little but of both. This past Wednesday in Santa Fe, I met up with two gal pals, Pat and Mary, and our buddy Rat, who I’ve blogged about before. We have all known each other for over 50 years. In fact, Mary, Rat, and I were in school together from 1st grade through high school graduation. Pat is a year younger. Her husband and she now live in Chapel Hill, NC, but they still have a beautiful adobe-style home on the southwest outskirts of Santa Fe. Mary is sort of back-and-forthing it from Fredonia to Santa Fe, checking in on Pat’s place periodically. Rat lives in Vermont. Anyway, we had a totally great time--well worth the long drive. I will be blogging about our escapades starting tomorrow with: “Survivor Hike.”

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Ever since my kidney stone surgery and the subsequent order to start drinking a river of water every day, I’ve had to readjust my walk/jog schedule. In spite of unloading my bladder before taking off on the 3-mile jaunt, I can’t seem to hold off the urge to pee for more than about a mile; therefore, I try to make sure there is an official pit stop along the route I take. Typically, the recreation center out by the high school is open from 6-9 PM, so Sunday night I confidently headed out, knowing that the bathroom there would save me from the embarrassment of piddling in my Hanes.

But, when I finished the first mile and approached the rec center, doom set in. The place was closed! Well, maybe I could stifle the urge and keep going. I’d do a mile around the track and then finish with the mile back home. I could do it. On the second circuit around the track, though, I wasn’t so sure. There were flag football teams of kids playing on the west and east practice fields, so I began scoping out an unofficial pit stop underneath the grandstands, out of their sights, if worse came to worse and the dam began bursting.--which it just about did during my last lap. But just as I was about to put the emergency plan into motion, one of the kids’ teams decided to move to the main field at the track, putting the brakes to my idea.

I somehow finished the second mile without floating away, giving myself a 50-50 chance of making it back home with my bulging bladder intact. And then I saw my salvation--the math teacher’s truck parked at the locked school. Hallelujah! Saved. When I got outside his room, I knocked on one of the windows. He looked up from his computer, recognized the desperate goofball peering inside, and said, “You want in?” Not only is he a brilliant mathematician; he’s also psychic.

“You wouldn’t laugh at me too much if I told you my bladder is about ready to explode, would you?”

“Meet you at the side door.”

Relief came, and not a minute too soon. Believe me, I’m sending my former teaching colleague a thank-you note this week. It’s going to be addressed to: “My #1 hero.”

(The Flaming Bore is leaving for New Mexico early tomorrow morning and will be silent for the rest of the week.)

Monday, October 6, 2008


(The ol' gang at the Nut Hut--December, 1967)

Saturday was my hometown’s homecoming. This is a ritual that’s taken place the first Saturday in October since the beginning of time in Fredonia. There’s always a streetload of activities going on, including a tractor-laden parade, rockin’ car show, top notch carnival (is that an oxymoron?)…the usual. But the main business of the day is visiting. Old classmates get together to recall high school war stories, relate what’s going on with the job and family, and, as they grow older, to compare health histories. (“Let me tell you about my kidney stone….”)

This was the 41st year since my class graduated, so we didn’t throw together a parade float like we did last year, but we still had a little gathering at the gazebo on the old school grounds, which is now a grassy plot of memories. Twenty from the Class of 1967 showed up to talk and take pictures during the windy afternoon, and some of us ended the day at the nearby Altoona Nut Hut for an early dinner. I’ve written before about the Hut, aka: The Mountain Oyster Shack and A & B Tavern, so I’ll skip the description here and go straight to my role in Saturday’s venture: designated driver for The Glass Blower.

Now, the Blower is arguably the most successful guy in our class, although he’s no hotshot college grad with a fancy degree. Long ago he developed a talent for glass blowing, eventually got hooked up with a world renowned artist’s Seattle-based organization, and he has since accumulated enough Frequent Flyer Miles to travel to the moon and back…his words, not mine. The glassworks he and his colleagues create are mind blowing. Go to about any fine art museum, North America and elsewhere, and you’ll see them.

At Homecoming, though, GB was back to his small town roots, grooving on possibly more than a few beers, and enjoying life. And that’s how I became his designated driver to the Nut Hut. We were good friends growing up, even once had a date to the Valentine Party when we were 15, so I was a likely source to escort his glassy ass to the Hut. But first, I had to make a stop at Mama Bore’s house, and I certainly wasn’t going to deny her the opportunity of seeing the ol’ Glass Blower after all these years.

Back in our school days, when he wasn’t a Frequent Flyer, he was a Frequent Friend at our house and Mama Bore knew him well. So well that one time when he was over, she hightailed it to the half-empty, half-pint of cherry vodka that was in the refrigerator and filled it to the brim with water when she suspected he was sampling the goods. I don’t know why she just didn’t spirit away the spirits elsewhere, she just didn’t. But anyway, when I re-introduced GB to Mama Bore, they had a good laugh about how he was such a “little stinker” 40-plus years ago.

Time and success has not changed him. He looks the same. He acts the same. Slight of stature. Loud of mouth---commanding our group at the Hut with nonsense: “Sometimes I work eleven days a week!” and rising in jest to tell those at the neighboring table to quiet down. He wanted me to take pictures of him…outside with the Hut sign, inside eating his Hut nuts…so he could show his metropolitan west coast pals what life in the Midwest is all about. As I drove him back to Fredonia to deposit him at his sister’s house, he spoke of the beauty of the scenery at his relatives’ digs southwest of town. This from a guy, albeit a little loaded, who has literally seen the world and could just as easily have been describing Venice or Paris.

As the old saying goes, with an alteration or two: You can take the nut out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the nut.

Great seeing you, Mike.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


When we were driving through western Kansas last Saturday evening on our way home from Colorado, Big Bore made a sudden stop on Highway 96.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“There’s a wallet in the middle of the highway back there,” he said. He has radar eyes and picks up on everything. Since there was no traffic coming from either way, he just backed the car, opened the car door, picked it up, and gave it to me.

“See who it belongs to,” he directed and resumed driving.

It was a nice brown wallet with a metal KU insignia on it, bereft of driver’s license and money but filled with current credit cards, an insurance card, and a season pass to Dighton football games. Dighton was only a few miles back, so Big Bore edged off the highway, pulled a U-turn, and away we went to turn it in to the police department there. Except we couldn’t find the cop shop in this sleepy little town, so we went to a convenient store and a customer told us it was located in the courthouse.

Well, on a Saturday night in Dighton, the courthouse is locked up and there were no signs indicating where there was a police department inside, so we stopped the next person we saw and found out we’d have to shake the front door to get the attention of a dispatcher. I was nominated for the job. Eventually, after talking to a woman through an invisible intercom, I was buzzed inside, dashed up to the second floor, and slipped the wallet through a security window. The dispatcher said she knew the owner very well…it’s a small town and everyone knows everyone…and she’d get it to him. I told her I was sorry that someone apparently took all his money and driver’s license, but maybe he’d be happy to get the credit cards back.

We got back on the road, about 20 minutes behind schedule, but that was okay. We had done our good deed for the day.

Toby R. Wilson of Dighton, Kansas, we hope you didn’t have much money in that wallet. And may the person who stole it and dumped it out on the highway be cursed forever. The Flaming Bore does not like thieves…or litterbugs!

Friday, October 3, 2008


On our way to Colorado last week, we had to make numerous stops…Quik Trip for gas, Wal-Mart for shaving cream, Walgreen’s for dry shampoo, the old Ness County Bank for a picture, and, of course, there was the all-important food stop. This took place at a grocery store in Eads, Colorado, population 800. We asked the meat market guy/checker for directions to a park, so we could dine al fresco--Big Bore on baloney sandwiches and me on an oatmeal bar and banana.

But when we arrived at the park, just as a high school physical education class was leaving, I suddenly was no longer interested in eating. This was a park with shuffleboard and horseshoes and checkers!!! Cool! I hadn’t played horseshoes since I was a kid, and then it wasn’t at a regulation pit. This was professional, baby! While BB ate and cheered me on, I tossed away--never making a perfect ringer but coming close.

We learned from some townspeople that at first the school kids were appalled at the suggestion of having to play “old farts” games, but they quickly came to like them (probably since they didn’t involve running and doing push-ups) and became quite competitive. I really got into it, but Big Bore was more content to chow on the baloney, give me pointers, and swat flies.

Well, now that we’re home, I’m ready to turn my neighbors’ big yard into a major league horseshoe arena. I’m not sure how they’ll feel about it, but I figure the worst they can do is say, “Hell no! Have you gone crazy?” And then maybe toss me back into my own yard.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Since I am a devoted member of the Loyal Order of Bambi Protectors, I had to take pictures of the deer we saw while on vacation. Now, I know if I lived in the country and my flowers and veggies were being their daily breakfast, I'd be cursing, "Damned deer!" But, there's just something about their gracefulness and serenity that appeal to me. So, without further ado...

My best shot.

Big Bore's best shot.

Oops! The one that got away.

Big Bore kept hoping we'd see a bear and even threatened to leave food outside the cabin to lure one into being our friendly neighbor so he could get a picture, but I made an even bigger threat to ex-communicate him if he did so. The only other so-called wildlife we saw in Colorado was a colony of prairie dogs in the foothills. Sorry, Literary Diva, no pictures of the wild life in the hot tub!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


"There's gold in them thar hills!" The third week in September has never failed me when I've been in Colorado. The aspen trees are spectacular this time of year. Here are four pictures I took of populus tremuloides from our vacation. #1 (above) was taken on the ride up to Pike's Peak.

These next two pictures were taken along a country road during an afternoon drive.

This last shot was taken outside the cabin. These aspen were in various stages of green, yellow, and red.

In my opinion, their beauty is richer than gold.