Archive for May, 2010

When I reached for my phone at home Sunday morning to call someone on Freecyle Springfield who had expressed interest in a computer keyboard I want to give away, I was surprised to find the line dead. Thinking maybe it was an accidentally disconnected cord from the phone box, I picked up the headset in the nearby living room. Dead as well.


Even so, I discovered my computer connection to e-mail and internet still works.


If someone knows how I can lose my phone service and keep my computer connection, please comment and explain, aye? I KNOW why my phone doesn’t work. I’ve heard that “sound of silence” before. Service was terminated Friday (no doubt)  because my bill wasn’t paid on time. I simply had no reason to notice the change until Sunday.

If my employer was paying me what he owes me  — if he at least paid me a thousand bucks of it — I could  have made the fripping phone call this morning. Between his irregular paying and the erratic arrival of the rent check to my checking account due to this new direct pay system that almost puts the dollars in the account before I’ve waited a week into the new month, and my bouncing some more checks because of this silliness. I’ve not even visited the bank this past week to see what I have. I’m back to bananas or oatmeal for lunch and soup, sausages and peanut butter sandwiches for dinners again.

Not that there’s anything wrong with it.

There have been times I’ve lived with less. The hole my heart just seems larger somehow when I’m blogging and missing writing assigments that used to come to me every month.

George at The Granite Guy is allowing me to work four hours more than half the hours I was working last year in May. It benefits the business to have me there every day, and because I believe this, and because I’m still driving the pickup truck he’s loaned me for a year, I’m okay with the everyday routine. Hell, I can rest on the sabbath. At least the irregular pay schedule is consistent, and you’d think I’d learn to live with it.

So with real estate taxes due in a few days (I’ll pay half this week and the other half in September, but it will cost me a bleeping home equity loan to do it

dang it),

I’m pretty much resigned to living without a phone, or better, paying my bill and then asking the company to put my service on hold. It’s another thing in my life (including but not limited to having a working TV converter box that allows me to watch more than the local PBS station on TV) that impairs my productivity. Any call I need to make, I will make when I’m at work, and that includes the call to the woman who wants the free keyboard.  I will save a ton o’ money this way, dollars not actually saved, but directed to the many money-dues. They’re almost the  only people calling me for the past several months anyhoos. To blazes with it.

If anyone wants to talk to me, call me at The Granite Guy, 217-753-9062. Email me with your number (writer@eosinc.com). Or send me a personal message on Facebook that you want me to call you and include your number. You will need to be a registered Facebook “friend” to do that. But it’s easier than being a friend in the sense more commonly understood in lo, these many years gone by.

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.


Read Full Post »

Gallery II's Jennifer poses beside a fab painting by Felicia Olin May 25.

One of the best reasons to belong to Springfield Poets and Writers (SPandW) is the opportunity to participate in a project that will culminate at a Prairie Art Alliance Gallery II reception June 24.

Last week SPandW president Anita Stienstra group-e’d members inviting them to visit GII, find a painting that inspires, tell Jennifer which one you selected, then write a poem about it by June 24. Poets participating are invited to print their poem on good paper and put it in a frame. That production will be displayed next to the inspiration for the poem, and all who write a poem for the occasion will be invited to read their poem at the event. We were told Jennifer would put a ribbon by paintings selected by SPandW members, and artists have agreed to keep their paintings present at the gallery, at least until after the reception, even if they are sold before the big event.

a particularly inspiring painting by Toni Wrightsman

I gazed at the paintings, chatting with Jennifer, Delinda Chapman, Kevin the saxophone player and PAA volunteer, and Joan Burmeister, but mostly gazing as one might at the Chicago Museum of Art or a nude beach. Paintings speak to me as they do to many of my friends who listen with their eyes. Selecting the most inspiring painting is not the same challenge as choosing the painting that most impresses. It’s the same challenge with poetry: rating a poem on technical merit is not the same as responding viscerally to a poem.  I was impressed with MANY paintings at GII, and I liked many of them. If money were no object and I had a full-time employer, I could have departed the gallery with at least five to hang at home.

There are many reasons to like a painting, but synthesizing the elements of INSPIRATION, like explaining LOVE perhaps, is a different challenge that connects to the winds within the soul.

I came to GII Tuesday ready to be inspired by my friends’ paintings as well as those by artists I’ve not yet met. I was not going to allow positive regard to obligate me to anyone, though I cherish my acquaintanceship with many local artists.

As time on my parking meter neared its slated end, I told Jennifer what painting I selected. Unfortunately, she was fresh out of ribbons. Maybe they hadn’t yet arrived.

slated to evolve from bard to verse

Yes, it’s one of the paintings I’d LEAP to take home, but I have real estate taxes to pay and a continuing infatuation with groceries to stoke until “discretionary income” as a phrase and practice returns to my life.

In the meantime, become a member of Springfield Poets and Writers, go visit Jennifer and engage poetry. Tell Anita and Jennifer that Honey & Quinine sent you. They will understand.

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »

A former major shaker at Disney Corp. appearing on Charlie Rose Show earlier this week explained the best day of his life was when Michael Eisner (Disney CEO) fired him. Tem days later he became a partner with Stephen Spielberg and another principal and they launched Dreamworks. About 10 days ago, Arcadia Publishing regional editor Jeff Reutsche (great fellow who guided my book Springfield Aviation to successful publication) told Tony White and me that our Reisch Brewery history we were working on had been scrubbed from the publisher’s plans. I’m waiting for Mr. Spielberg to call, but I’m not holding my breath.

There are reasons. which if phrased properly, can be read as lessons.

When I wrote Springfield Aviation, I had no part-time job and was substitute teaching, sometimes a day a week, sometimes a day a month, sometimes seven days a month. The rest of that time I had for writing the book.  Even when I began doing web maintenance and writing for George Jaworski, owner of The Granite Guy (TGG) in Springfield, I did it at home for a few hours a month, tops. My time with TGG began expanding to include helping in the showroom and sales and by fall of 2009, I was working a blistering 20 to 30 hours a week. Jeff contacted me in July and asked  me to help Tony to write the Reisch book and I gladly agreed. Copious amounts of information were copied and shared with me, most of it photos with information about them and included notes from Reisch family interviews, correspondence and other documents. Tony was enthusiastic and cooperative in working with a new helping hand, though he was busy running his successful business in Virginia.

It became evident early in the interfacing there were some serious problems with the kind of content needed for an Arcadia-format book and the resources on hand. It was clear there were major voids to fill, especially in the early part of the story. Tony had thought the data and picture gathering part of the process was complete, but this was not the reality at hand. We decided to continue looking for more facts.

Tony was in the process of selling his business in VA, and correspondence became sparse, almost as sparse as the time I had to research and write. Since Tony had bemoaned the time he was spending in the protracted course of selling his business to a new owner and that he had to focus on that, and since there was a need for communication between us involving issues we could not address over the telephone (me being in Illinois), we arbitrarily delayed action of any kind until his transfer of business was complete. During this delay, we agreed that I would become primary author of the book, meaning my name would appear first on the cover, and that I’d produce the initial draft of the complete project. Everyone was fine with that because I had a successful Arcadia book to my credit and I knew and liked the method and the people involved. The months flew by sans significant progress.  Finally, Jeff explained in an e-mail that  we were running out of time. Arcadia had been waiting for a book in the proscribed manuscript format far too long, and he asked me for a deadline I intended to KEEP.  I knew that if I finished other projects I had pending, I could concentrate for a month and a half to write the book. I could hardly work fewer hours at The Granite Guy because I was working sometimes as few as NINE a week during February and March and being paid pathetically irregularly for my time. Even local media I had been writing for were cutting back. One month I had NO ASSIGNMENTS from an editor who appeared — at one distant time — t0 have approved of my writing style and rewarded it with two or more assignments every month. So I’d be good to cut off communication on Facebook, go on hiatus from AeroKnow web maintenance and become a voiceless digit with a computer. I also realized after promising JUNE 6 to Jeff that I’d have to get my draft of the book to Tony with time for HIM to go over it, make corrections and suggestions and to wrap THAT up by June 6.

Tony said he couldn’t work that fast. His mother was ill — true words. He came to Springfield, we talked, he promised to write Jeff to ask if we couldn’t simply pull the Reisch book out of the publishing schedule until we got our book together. The Brewery closed in 1966 so it’s not like the information we intended to share would be obsolete if we published in 2011 instead of 2010. Without a real EMPLOYER, I had to scramble for every can of soup and jar of peanut butter I could get my hands on. And there was house insurance, taxes and etc. Not much etc., I must say.

Then my computer crashed, and it took me more than two weeks to resume home internet computer activity. Total bummer. Worst inconvenience and impediment to cozy sanity I have endured in my nutty frikking life.

So Jeff lowered the boom and rightfully so. I don’t blame him OR Arcadia. Tony and I will produce a book in Arcadia format when we can, and then OFFER it to them, ready to FedEx to Chicago for Jeff to consider. How soon? How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky. The best lesson to be learned is that one should not commit without knowing one will have the time to concentrate on getting the work done. It’s also a matter of priorities. Producing Springfield Aviation had been a challenge, but it had been an adventure. Getting into a harmonious mind-set with Tony, who is a very likable fellow, had been like waltzing with a partner who is naturally inclined to the jitterbug. We are not discontinuing the project. Things have evolve so that we can move on it and glad to be engaged in the process.

We shall see . . . . . . .

Live long . . . . . . . . . . . .  and proper.

Read Full Post »

Things were set for the first performance of the folk group of Richardson, Baker, Musson and me when I caught a debilitating bug that kept me out of school for a week. This kept me away from rehearsing with the group, and when I returned to school with just a week to go until the talent show, I learned I had been voted OUT of the group! Other factors contributed to the vote: We had verbally slugged through protracted discussions of what songs we would play, I had wanted to wear white slacks, and everyone else wanted black slacks, so I was history. To this day when I perform music or recite poetry as a featured artist, I wear white trousers.
. . . . . . This is not to say I dodged the bitter bilge water of a drenching in my shape for having been voted out of a group I had initiated. Earlier in the school year, Dad, with permission from Dan Sprecklemeyer and the school authorities, had been recording the school’s a cappella choir concerts (I didn’t get kicked outa a cappella) and providing copies for all who wanted them for no charge beyond the cost of the tapes. As the date for the big talent show approached, I arranged to tape it as well. As the show played on, I sat at a table on the floor in front of the stage and audiotaped the entire production. I also took pictures of the performers with Dad’s expensive Rolleiflex camera. Why did I put myself through it? Reason one is that the bitterness over my disengagement from the folk group was largely between those most closely connected to it, so for all appearances, I was just a nice fellow helping out with the tape recorder. Second, it was important for me to pull a plum from the event, so to speak, to do something constructive that night. I would continue to study folk guitar for the rest of my life, write songs eventually heard by many friends and strangers, and I’d know, many times, the satisfaction denied that night at Springfield High School.
. . . . . . . . For the rest of my days at SHS, I had some “like life” but no love life and few friends. My drawing the line in Zoology class and blowing the whistle marked me as a loser for the rest of my life, and I have regretted the consequence — though I have not regretted my whistle blowing — since that unfortunate debacle in 1962.
. . . . . . Life at school settled into a near-normal routine.  I stayed in a cappella choir for all three years and enjoyed every minute. I came close to “love” with Suzanne T. who was a year older than me and an alto in choir. I asked her to a Valentine’s Day invitational dance at Hotel Leland downtown I had received an invitation to, and she assented.  I guess I had some redeeming social qualities to have been on that mailing list, though it’s worth remembering that invitational dances were financed by parents of young ladies who wanted to have a presence in the social milieu of polite society at SHS, and there’s a chance that parents of one or more of the ladies knew and respected my parents and knew of their first son, so I received the note; probably the highlight of my social life.  It was a snowy, cold night and I remember it like yesterday.
. . . . . . . I even bought Suzanne a corsage — pro forma for these occasions — and we had a decent time. She was one of the best looking babes at the dance, a confident and erudite conversationalist and of pleasing temperament, though there was not a lot of room for things to go sour at the event. I was pretty happy dancing slow dances at extended arms’ distance, but I preferred to be away from the dance floor where the music wasn’t so loud, especially during the fast tunes. Dad picked us up on time, we delivered Suzanne home on time, and I fell hopelessly in “looooooooooooooove” with her. A few days later, I wrote my first love song for anyone and accompanied myself on my guitar the few times I played it for friends.
. . . . . .  The chorus ran,

“Tell a tale of woe and grief
Tell a tale of trouble
Tell Suzanne my heart is gonna break
Just like a bubble.”
and there were five verses.
. . . . . . . A few years later I played “Suzanne” for Bill Wilson, my neighbor, whom I had taught his first guitar chords and who had taken his much greater talent for the instrument to considerable success in a bluegrass group he played with during his years attending Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He was impressed with the song, asked for a typed copy of the lyrics and I understand his band played it at Southern.
. . . . . . . Suzanne also inspired my first “looooooove” poem. It read in part. . .
“Just friends” she said.
“Just friends may we forever be”
But can’t she see?
“Just friends” is nice and clean and neat,
But in my heart “just friends” is bittersweet.
For now I find I must conceal
The truth of what I really feel for her.”
and it continued for two more stanzas. For 30 years I didn’t share — with the public — this poem or any other poem inspired by a woman I really cared for. I thought there was nobility in honoring the “objects of my affliction” by keeping the poems between us and letting no one else in on that part of my life. I felt that way until I was 40-something. To this day  I have not shared the entire poem and song I wrote for Suzanne. I never will.
. . . . . . . . Despite the folk group travails, Jim Richardson and I remained friends and avid aviation enthusiasts. I had been buying and building flying model kits, and flying a few, but I not as committed to building them, nor as good at building them, as Jim. When he wanted to visit the smaller airfield at Peoria, Illinois, known to have examples of Ryan Navions (a popular light plane of the late 40s and 50s) to take pictures of Navions since he was building a large Berkeley u-control kit, I was invited along. I was the photographer. Stu Laird, a high school friend of Jim’s who lived at the corner of Outer Park Drive and Noble volunteered to drive. We had lunch at VonAchen’s Junction, a railroad-themed establishment next to an abandoned spur of railroad track. Occasionally, the owners would play the sound of a train “roaring by the restaurant” and the place would actually rattle a little, though the noise was not uncomfortable. It was a fantastic place for lunch, long since closed, I understand.
. . . . . . We had a great time wandering around the airport and went for a ride in a Navion based there, an act of serendipity I believe Stu arranged by lucky chance when we arrived.  We flew some touch and goes at Peoria’s big airport, and we heard on the radio intercom that we were following a flight of Air National Guard F-100s. As we circled the airport we saw the jets landing, seeming to crawl up to the runway before lightly touching down. Jim did a fine job building his flying model Navion and flew it once before it “bought the farm” in the field between his house and Richardson Manufacturing Company.

. . . . Coming next — High School Junior

Live long . . . . . .  and proper.

Read Full Post »

It’s been the kind of day, this day, when a person can eat lunch under a mature shade tree without getting soggy sandwiches or watery wine: a peaceful day with very light rain, that dries off a truck’s windshield as one wends one’s way to work without engaging the windshield wipers.  As I drove north on Walnut past the new Kindred Intense Care building probably five months from a grand opening, I noticed it was also a perfect day for children to play in their front yards under the eagle eyes of loving parents. What I didn’t see was they were playing with a nice, big inflated ball, the kind they sell in large bins at Shop ‘N” Save on nearby North Grand, the kind that any dog larger than a gerbil can puncture with an aggressive swipe of a forepaw.

As I approached about 20 feet from their yard, that kind of ball literally leapt from between two parked cars and into my lane. I had already begun to slow down from the posted 30 mph when I saw the kids, and thanks to light traffic at 9:45 am, there was no vehicle heading in my direction in the lane across the white line. I had just enough time to swerve to the left to avoid the ball.  The timing was perfect for a fellow seeking to break the hearts of innocent children, which I was NOT, and the POP of a truck’s rear tire running over and bursting the ball coincided with my relief as I saw a young lady, maybe 10 years old transfixed and motionless at the curb.  The ball was the only casualty of the encounter.

For three-tenths of a nanosecond I considered pulling over to the curb and offering to pay for the ball, but since I was by then a quarter of a block away from the yard and I had no cash, I almost floored the accelerator and lurched back up to 30 mph, okay, maybe 40  but only for a few seconds. I didn’t want an irate parent chasing me to write down the truck’s  license number. Fortunately I arrived at North Grand to a green light and sailed right through.

I am relieved by the outcome of the incident, but I wonder why any conscientious parents let their kids play in their front yard on Walnut. I hope they are as relieved as I that only thing which was hit was a ball, but I’m taking no chances for second chances. For all I know, they’re still on the front porch waiting for that big black Chevy S10 pickup truck and its heartless and inconsiderate driver to drive by in the opposite direction later today, a logical expectation, it seems.

No, I’ll be taking “an alternate route,” probably Reynolds.  It’s a narrower street with many residences where the chances for crushing another bouncing  ball seem MORE likely than I would have expected a few streets west. But I’ll be driving slower, 25-ish.  I’m never in a “semi-rush” going home as I am when going to work. I love work, even when pay for services rendered seems to coincide with the appearances of blue moons and Lucifer wearing ear muffs. Better a slim chance at redemption through fiscal responsibility than no chance at all, I always say.

I am a mother’s lucky son.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »

Sayonnara SJ-R

When I stepped onto the front porch Monday, looking forward to my daily glance at every page likely to have something of interest in my favorite news daily, the State Journal-Register, I was surprised to find no waiting newspaper. Perhaps “surprised” is overstating my reaction. For the two or three years since I re-subscribed with “auto-pay” (automatic withdrawal of payment from my checking account), I would have been surprised for sure. During those years, my carrier put the newspaper inside my front door, rain or shine 99.9% of the time, and when it wasn’t between the front doors, it was inches away on my porch before the cock crowed at the crack of 7 am. Something changed about two weeks ago. I knew it when I found the paper on my front lawn. And during that time, it’s never been between doors. Sometimes I found it on a low step, sometimes way off to the side of the door, under a porch chair. Monday morning, however,  it was clear that the new carrier missed my house completely and all my loyal pontificating shared here at Honey & Quinine about the importance of journalists supporting other journalists departed through the window of my life perspective. I’ve decided that paying off my debt to people I owe money to — my bank for a home equity loan ($11,000 remaining) and my roofing contractor (more than $20k still owed) is more important than supporting the editor and management of the daily newspaper who have never considered hiring me as a writer or photographer. Granted it’s been years since I’ve applied, and I’m thinking it’s time to update the resume and re-apply.  Every month of 2009 I had monthly assignments from my favorite business news monthly Springfield Business Journal  and had written occasionally for  my favorite community weekly Illinois Times but things are different this year. In place of the contentment of consistent assignments has come the discontent of  irregular wordsmithing  , and believe me when I tell you that in a one-money-earner household, irregularity is not my friend.  

What I have been paying for SJ-R home delivery I’m splitting and delivering half that to my roofing contractor and the other half to my home equity loan payment. With any luck I will be debt-free by 2056.

I called the SJ-R circulation office, and when I explained I had been a happy subscriber for years, but the new carrier was coming up short — sometimes 10 feet short of the entire front porch — she sounded over the phone the way you sound when your lover tells you it’s time to start dating around. For ten seconds after I hung up the phone, I considered changing my mind, but I came to my senses.

With Facebook and the web, WUIS public radio and PBS via WSEC — I can’t get anything but WSEC on my crippled TV — I’m as aware of my community as I want to be. And when I want to wallow in the woe of the community, I can always tune in Jim Leach on WMAY, 970 AM, from awakening to 9.

Sometime ago, Sheila Beebe declared something I wrote here her quote of the day. A sentiment similar to the one that earned that accolade comes to mind:  What do loyalty and peanut butter taste like? They taste like peanut butter.

Live long . . . . . . . . . . and proper

Read Full Post »

There was a time when I found all I needed in life (excepting affection)  without having to surf the “adult” sites on the Web and subscribe to The New Yorker. That’s because I found that thrilling combination in Playboy. After having my computer infected by what might be called a “sexually transmitted disease,” I’m considering letting my ‘The New Yorker (TNY) subscription expire naturally and talking another look at what is almost an anachronism I haven’t even thumbed through since about 1989. My home office internet computer is at the repair shop, and I won’t likely get it back until May 10 at the earliest. The price of untempered visceral passion will be much more than a year of pulp friction. I may not even recognize most of the features, now that Silverstein, Pfeiffer, Purdy and Mailer are demised out of its pages. Only my confidence that i will recognize SOME of the content, particularly around the staples in the middle has me considering it at all. At least, I’ll wager. Gahan Wilson is still there. He’s in TNY, so he must be alive.  

The unhappy malady (a pretty girl is like a malady) coincided with a recent promise to get off my keister and produce a book about Reisch Brewery I promised to Arcadia Publishing  late last year. I’ve been so busy with the rest of my life I put the book on a back burner. I no longer read any more Facebook (Fb) than I must: just checking to see if I can attract more than 153 Fb “friends” and any group or event invitations and personal messages from “friends” therein. I’ve also posted notice at AeroKnow that I’m on hiatus until mid-June so I can give Arcadia and the book they attention they deserve.  

It hasn’t been particularly frikkin’ easy with no computer. I can’t write the book on the one at work.  

And then since a storm passed through town last week I’ve had no digital television. All I get is WSEC which is terrific in keeping Charlie Rose and other terrif programming, but there are days — especially on weekends — when even that has no allure. As a result, I worked on the aviation collection more than 12 straight hours Sunday.  

Three days after posting about “anonymous” gift certificates, I received one from someone I’ve MET, good for Barnes & Noble. I shared some commentary about poetry she found worthwhile. It was not a “paid or a trade;” I’ll do as much and more for her and her Arkansas poet friends as I have in the past IF TIME WILL ALLOW. I was happy to do what I did. Even so,  this is one gift certificate  I will gladly accept. Thank you Barb Robinette!  

Having no working internet computer or television  at home is a blessing to me. People are my opiate. Folks who don’t respond to my Facebook messages — they know who they are — who needs that ragged screaming voidness? I’m not swearing off people, but with no regret and with best wishes, I am swearing off people who have sworn off me.  There’s work to be done beyond their walls of contempt.  

Oh, did I mention, my circadian rhythms is about as syncopated as a Scott Joplin rag? It seems I’m sleeping about four hours at a time, awakening, working duty work (things that MUST be done with AeroKnow) sleeping an hour and a half and back to the action until fatigue snares me to a pillow for another round.  It’s a hump thing. — UPDATE May 11, EIGHT days after I THOUGHT I posted this. I DID get over it in a few days. Sleep rhythms are stable. 

Totally enjoyed the Charlie Wells Scholarship Breakfast Saturday May 1 where AeroKnow displayed a bunch of 1/72 model planes and Kevin Panting helped,  talking  to model display visitors while I tossed down some pancakes and photographed the things with wings on the sunny tarmac.  The gallery receptions at Sangamon Watercolor Society and Prairie Art Alliance  were fab. Ditto the last Springfield Classical Guitar Society concert of the 2009/2010 season. I took a TON of pictures of all that Saturday action and will post them here after I get my computer back. The only order in my life is disorder.   

On the positive side, the May Springfield Business Journal  put my article about the new Southwind Park on the front page (THANKS, Bridget!).  

Live long . . . . . . . . . and get by the best you can. 







Read Full Post »