Archive for July, 2010

Over drinks at a local hotel Friday night with friends I remarked I couldn’t understand why anyone should be afraid of sharing oral (public speaking, reciting or reading poetry and creative writing) or music with others in addition to sharing it with themselves (I call that “practice.”). They smiled politely and told me I’m an extrovert, which for me — and for those within earshot — is usually a good thing for me to be.

Today I’ve been thinking that an extrovert is what I am not. There are times when I am hesitant, “afraid,” even, to share poetry, theater and song with others. Those times come when I’m not confident the material will be delivered as practiced, as intended. It’s the “fear factor” that drives me to practice.

I do it because I’m afraid of reciting it wrong.

The motivation to deliver words and music from memory comes not from a sense of liking or loving people I don’t even know but from a need for validation from strangers that my effort has produced a positive outcome delivered back to me in laughter, applause, and if I’m lucky, conversation with friends and strangers afterward.

When a local poetry group I was part of read and recited regularly at Barnes & Noble, I participated as much for the pleasure of what followed — pizza and beer at The  Barrel Head and burgers and Cokes at Steak & Shake. You may ask, “Are you telling me that you memorized Vachel Lindsay’s “The Santa Fe Trail” for the outcome of pizza and beer?” My answer is “Yes, in the short-term.”

I’m spending less time with poetry these days as I continue to move into the AeroKnow Museum, and I miss that time. I miss meeting with the gang at Trout Lily Cafe downtown Saturday mornings where — even though they don’t focus at length on talking POETRY and passing around POETRY  as consistently as in the early days — I’ve discovered on occasional brief visits on the way to my part-time job at Rock World that the subject occasionally gets mentioned and I am moved to think about it, like massaging a muscle I haven’t used in a while.

My magnum opus these days is the AeroKnow Museum at the airport. I loaned the Museum $77.62 I could not afford so that I could pick up eight more glass shelves Friday. I’ll be setting them up today after I leave Rock World. I’ll also be unloading another file cabinet and eight file drawers and two small boxes of model kits manufactured during World War II. I need about $400 more to finish the initial glass shelving effort. If YOU want to help, make check’s payable to AeroKnow and send to AeroKnow, 428 W. Vine, Springfield, IL 62704-2933. And if more than $400 comes in, we will find something to do with it. This is just the START of something big.

I used to think that as long as the collection remained at my house, the support would never come. I was right about that. I thought that as soon as I established presence at the airport, the dollars would come. I was partially right. Support has permitted the purchase of a few glass shelves, an incredible color printer that will allow us to generate income from the sale of pictures and copyright-expired document scans. We also have a terrific desk and some recently donated historical publications. This enterprise involves more focus than what’s required for rattling out three or four pages of a favorite Lindsay poem. And I’m giving everything I can to the effort — including ignoring obligations to others I would honor if the museum were better set. I’m doing this not because I like to haul and heft and arrange and box and pitch.

I’m doing this because I’m afraid of doing it wrong.

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


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The paucity of posts here at Honey & Quinine this month surprises no one more than me. I’m communicating with readers here the way I used to communicate with my mother after she retired to Florida in 1979. I was guided in that approach as I’m guided by the story of an F-86 pilot en route to terra firma, trapped in the cockpit of his airplane and unable to eject, the canopy refusing to jettison because of damage wrought by the winning opponent, an opposite number in a MiG-15. The Sabre pilot was screaming of his plight through his radio to all who could hear the open com frequency, obviously in tears and holding nothing back. The mission leader radioed the doomed airman, in so many words, to quit babbling like a baby, get off the radio and honor the uniform by dying like a man. The ill-fated pilot came to his senses and met his fate as braver men do. There were times of the year when I called mom to see how she was doing with her new husband (two or three times a year) and not much in addition because I simply didn’t want to reveal much about my sorry circumstance. I didn’t want to relate my failures, and I didn’t want her to be concerned over what was beyond her concern.

Ditto here at H & Q.

I’m letting most of my life go on hold while stridently trying to put a ribbon on the move of most of AeroKnow to the airport. I’ve ignored book reviews and a story for Illinois Times because I’m focused on the move. Today, I’ve been taking back my home, rearranging furniture and cabinets for literature and a beautiful roll-top computer desk given to me for a song by John Watts, last of the Watt Bros. Pharmacy Watts — his dad was one of the originals. I can’t believe how much there is to do in just returning order to my office: thousands of pieces of paper, loose files and more to put away. I’m beginning to enter the frame of mind where the growing satisfaction of the result of the effort exceeds the sweat paid in the process of getting it done. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.

That said, the end of the tunnel is at least two weeks away.

I’ve been too much the coward to contact the IT editor to see if I can still produce the stories when I could out of my little maelstrom and into calmer waters. If he’s as patient and understanding as I hope, I’ll hunker down to the delayed tasks. If he’s not, I’ll owe Mike Shepherd of Springfeed and George Scott of Hannibal, MO a whale of an apology times two. In the meantime, what I’m writing for Springfield Business Journal is on track and progressing well. I will make deadline because it’s a different ball park. I can have fun at bat there. I always make it to first base, and sometimes, I even score a triple.

It’s amazing how the overpowering priority, combined with the toilet ambiance at my part-time has affected my physique. I’m pulling the belt through another buckle hole before I cinch it. Against my day of activity, foot doesn’t matter as it used to matter. And people have noticed the shrinking waistline. I like the change. As I told Sonja Lang who mentioned the improvement, “poverty has been kind to me.”

Life goes on.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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I grow impatient with drivers whose bodies are behind the steering wheels and whose minds are in the clouds. They’re the ones first in line at the stop light who take three seconds to react when it changes to green. They take two seconds more than I am prepared to wait, and for what? To get their fingers out of their noses so both hands can be on the steering wheel when they lurch into first gear?  To savor the last beat of Lamey Maw Waw hit tune on the wadio? Why is driving a car not the first priority of folks engaged, by their free will, in the task? When I was a younger hummin’ bean, I had time to give these distracted drones, but not any more. I’m running out of seconds. The inevitability of a finite number remaining mine confronts me more frequently than when I was 30 and given the near absence of positive input from positive energies from friends turned acquaintances and acquaintances turned to oblivion, and fewer strangers turned to friends, I increasingly am compelled to rely on driving not as a diversion where I can happen to go just about anywhere as long as I can listen to Lamey Maw Waw on the wadio, but so I can get where I need to go!

Life in the slow lane.

For someone most folks perceive as a crotchety introvert, I’m hanging myself  on the community flag pole a heck of a lot lately, engaging more people in social repartee than more typical sullen sycophants typically consider worth their trouble. To be honest, I value the face-to-face; it’s the protracted eons of seconds between that are driving me nuts.

Live in the slow lane.

It’s taking longer to set up the new AeroKnow Museum than I anticipated. There have been successes in the process. The old computer table that Bruce Mackey of Springfield Business Journal moved many years ago, which I’ve been using at the airport office is being replaced today by a big oak desk given on long-term loan by a former principal player at First Class Air, former fixed base operator at the same building where AeroKnow Museum is located. A new visitor has donated funds for a new color printer, and a long-time supporter of my arts and history activities has provided funding for a test run of plate-glass shelves for displaying model airplanes. The shelves, according to the supplier, would be delivered two weeks ago, but I’m still waiting for their phone call.

Life in the slow lane.

I MUST be at the museum office more than extenuating circumstances have allowed. Given my part time status with The Granite Guy and the fact I’m still more than — I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say he owes me many and has paid me few. With my commitment to social activities aviation and arts connected, I have less time to deal with the museum which — as a separate entity away from home — didn’t exist two months ago, and other activities are going to Helena hand basket. Foremost are articles slated for Illinois Times which I’ve not pursued so I could get the MUSEUM fit for public viewing and public support.  No time to spend watching a free Dreamweaver tutorial — not because I’m so crazee smashed from eventide revelries — but because I could no more focus on LEARNING in present circumstances than I could play checkers after dodging an idiot who runs a stoplight and nearly hits me. Even the happy social activities don’t facilitate other essential activities on the home front that must be engaged.

Life in the slow lane.

Why engage society and social activities? Because my reflection in the mirror is not an affirmation; it is an indictment. My reflection from acquaintances and strangers comes as close to affirmation as I’ve known in the last month and a half, and as long as I get any at all, I will expend the effort to reap what I need from the exercise.

I do not honk the horn.  Let those who park their cars in their front yard and wear their caps backwards to witch burnings honk their horns. The drama of the three-second green-light epiphany is more complete in its quiet dimness than any conclusion punctuated by a honking obscenity. Sometimes I take both hands from my steering wheel and jab index fingers (not the FINGERfingers but the more civil “Uncle Sam Wants YOU” fingers) at where I think the driver’s rear view mirror is in the hope that heorshe will be inspired by the horizontally kinetic action to engage forward motion by placing a right foot onto the appropriate pedal and accelerating away before heorshe either gets hungry or has to go to the bathroom and thinks of doing it unmotivated by my impatient gesticulating.

Life in the slow lane.

In the meantime, I’m giving my best impression of a creatively-writing sack of potatoes here at the edge of the world at The Granite Guy vowing I shall NEVER again come to work without aviation history work to do between customers which — like the eyes of most of the people I encounter leading the way from stop lights lately — are few and far between.

Live long . . . . and proper.

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There are days when I think I shall not complete the move to the new AeroKnow Museum at the airport until fall rolls around. The oppressive heat, combined with anxiety maximus over the upstairs duplex vacated two months early by a lease-breaker who gave me all of two weeks’ notice kept me behind closed doors July 4, cleaning up the disarray and packing more files to move Monday. It was a far cry from the previous Tuesday when I met a couple passing through Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, flying home to Davenport, Iowa from a vacation jaunt to the east coast.

Cessna 170B of Dave and Amy Camp

Taking pictures of airplanes at the airport is not as easy as it used to be. One must ask permission of the aircraft owner. Happily, Dave and Amy Camp gave permission when I introduced myself, and when I showed them a picture my father had taken of me sitting under a family friend’s Cessna 170 when I was about three years old, Dave offered to try to replicate the same pose photographing me at the same spot.

Dave Camp

First, I wanted to photog him while Amy relaxed inside.

Dave and Amy Camp

The Cessna was one of the last 170s built by the Wichita, Kansas legendary manufacturer. It was purchased new in 1955 by a fellow who quickly installed sheep skin seat covers in front of the four-seat lightplane and a few years later, had the aircraft painted because he got tired of polishing the original natural aluminum with green trim finish. Dave and Amy purchased the airplane from the original owner and with the exception of modern navigation aids, have not changed a thing.

The couple had been touring destinations out east and were homebound when then “dropped in” at Capital Airport. They also own a Piper Cub, based on their grass strip near Davenport, Iowa and are contemplating acquisition of a Cessna 182 for better cross-country performance than provided by the 170: about 140 mph versus about 100 for the older bird.

view from the lobby

This picture has been slightly retouched.

Warming up the engine before taxi to takeoff.

Homeward bound. Notice the terrific skyline unique to Springfield, Illinois.

Dave said he draws curious visitors wherever they fly in their pretty bird, and they enjoy talking about it. With full tanks of fuel, they departed SPI about 5:30, expecting to be home by dark after a fine vacation.

I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for the Cessna 170, not unlike a condor who “imprints” on the first nurturing entity it encounters after he opens his eyes, even if it’s a zoologist with an imitation bird mask who feeds it through first days of life. Many years ago, the Cessna 170 owned by Bill and Polly van Meter was probably the first airplane I saw close-up. I’ll share the result of Dave’s photo shoot of me compared with the picture my dad took in 1954 in a future Honey & Quinine.

Thanks to Dave and Amy Camp for a terrific visit!

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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Biscuits ‘n’ Gravy

I’d rather have two eggs over easy, a few sausage links and hash browns any day, but today, I was more interested in avoiding an “eggish” and a “meatish” in a “biscuitish” and wrapped in “paperish.” I had no time for formal dining. I had spent half an hour packing my truck with files of aviation lore in milk crates and storage boxes destined for the new AeroKnow Museum at the airport and had promised The Granite Guy owner George, I’d “man” the store today and Monday while he vacations in Kentucky with his family. I had been rearranging things in the house and processing pictures from last night’s First Friday Gallery Hop since 6:15, and it was a mad rush to pack the truck. I had decided to eschew Hardee’s which I drive by every day and take my chances at Casey’s General (or if you’re an immediate past president, “Generl” Store which offered a greater sense of impending gastronomic “AdVENchwa” (as a Springfield poet likes to say).

The clear plastic cartons in the glass-fronted heated holding cabinet were hand labeled “Biscuits & Gravy,” and for the first time in life, I decided to eat me a mess of biscuits and gravy. The container had two biscuits covered in what appeared “sausagey” white gravy, which I have seen others eat before. It’s not like I was considering Japanese blow fish  or an unfamiliar vegetable, so there was no trepidation; just resignation: confident resignation and warm expectation for a new taste sensation. It wasn’t going to last me the entire day so I grabbed an open 12 oz. drinking cup with what appeared almost “tater tots:” breaded and obviously fried shapes, “golden brown.” A man has a chance for success if what he puts into his mouth is golden brown, I decided, so I took one of them also and carried my succulent (one could also say “suckyoulint,” I suppose) repast to the counter.

“What are these things?” I asked cheerfully to the smiling Mama Cass across the formica.
“They’re cheezy potatoes like hashbrowns,” she convivially replied. She could have said “They’re pickled lease-breakers’ entrails” and that would have been okay too. They were mine. They would help fill the hole.

I arrived at work, turned on the lights, fans, computer, checked voice mail and email, made a cup of Folger’s Instant and sat down to breakfast. It was excellent. I enjoyed every bite of the biscuits and gravy and sopped up the leftover gravy with the potatocheesies until I ran out of gravy. Set the rest of them aside for lunch.

Which as also okay. Cold? Yes. No matter. Tastes the same. No worries. Fills a hole.

The experience gave me one fewer concern. With something in me during the morning, I”m set for the day. It’s been a quiet one on the edge of the world out here on Dirksen Parkway, and a bit of a pain since I was in too much of a rush to bring some aviation history work to process. I’ll have plenty Monday for sure.

I’m going to relax on July 4. Only one moving run out to the airport museum. Except for filing cabinets and a few tons of files, there’s almost nothing left to take out there.

Y’all have a nice Fourth!

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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