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Archive for April, 2011

If I could do for the AeroKnow Museum as part of a team of volunteers, instead of the solo enterprise it has become (much to my surprise), I could continue to enjoy a part of the local community that I have enjoyed immensely since interviewing Bobbie Pierro at the original location of Prairie Art Alliance on north Fifth Street almost 10 years ago.  Between then and now, I wrote a column called Art Seen for Illinois Times, took pictures at every major gallery reception in Springfield, posted hunerds (THIS is central Illinois) of pictures at my visual arts web sites and Faccbook galleries, and even played guitar and sung my own and traditional folk songs at several gallery receptions. I’ve had a ball!

Then something happened on May 27, 2011 that changed my life forever: I was offered space at the local airport to develop AeroKnow Museum.  Almost a year has transpired in which I’ve tried to enjoy the visual arts, my poetry and songwriting, and the Museum and made myself slightly KRAY-ZEEE due to obligations today to the Museum . . . . to the future, really.  So, I’ve not attended any receptions or visual arts events for the past month or so. It’s not because of anything anyone has said to me, nothing anyone has done; haven’t been personally insulted ONE TIME by a visual artist. Can’t say that about aviation people and poets who are about the only other people I know in this shettered (THIS is central Illinois) life of mine.

What does this mean to you, the casual Honey & Quinine reader? It means that if you’re a visual artist who doesn’t encounter me or my camera at future visual arts events for the forseeable future, a Facebook friend become so through visual arts entirely whose posts there are not responded to by me with some pithy observation, it’s because my focus is on aviation history now. I will be deleting some Facebook friends in the visual arts roster not because you’re not my friends, but because my life focus demands more focus toward making AeroKnow Museum what it needs to be. And anyone deleted and every one not deleted are welcome to visit the Museum any time.

I will always be a poet and will read, write, recite and support poetry.

It’s  a drag to be stretched to this break. When the help needed becomes part of the regular day-to-day at the AeroKnow Museum, my camera and I will return to your scene, ladies and gents.

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

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I returned home last night, half-way hoping that Judy next door might have cut the grass after I called her in the early afternoon. If I had been home and her lawn had been in the condition mine’s in (and it almost is) and she’d have called me, I’d have cut hers. But she hadn’t been home.  The truck was gone and her house was dark.

And my front lawn appeared to have grown another five inches.

I’ll look into renting a lawnmower the first day I can get to it — next Tuesday — and if my neighbors and friends continue to be this way . . . I’ll count my blessings. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, during a challenging time of life, I don’t want to be friends with anyone capable lf lowering their nose to the degree requisite to see me as a friend. I am a friend of the good fence.

And in the meantime . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

May I borrow your goat?

Live long . . . . . . . . and perspire.

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Yesterday I didn’t attend the Springfield Poets and Writers Group meeting I had vowed to resume attending for two reasons: ONE — The reminder of the meeting did not reach me until four hours before it was slated to begin, and not even I can write a poem in four hours from a standing start! TWO: I had vowed to mow my front lawn for the first time this year, knowing, truly,  that when I finished at about 6:15, it wouldn’t be a minute too soon. I’ve wanted to mow it all month! The grass was tall enough to mow at the end of March, but I was too rushed with maintaining AeroKnow Museum sans a single (or married) volunteer, the rotten weather and my generally “grumpy old fart” disposition lately to give it its due. But last Monday, the good friend across the street who has promised by shelter it from weather and keep plenty of fuel in the gallon-size plastic storage tank in trade for using it himself told me he had topped off the tank, and it was ready for action.

Last night at 5:40, so was —  fripping —  I!

Walked over to his backyard, unlocked the shed, filled the lawnmower’s fuel tank and started starting the lawn mower. . . . . .  and pulled . . . . and pulled . . . . and pulled . . . . . pushed it off the lawn and onto gravel in his driveway and pulled . . . . . and pulled . . . . . and pulled . . . . . . a few times, 10 pulls without stopping to catch a breath I mean I wanted that brother to START! . . . . . . . . and pushed it across the street to the sidewalk by my front yard and pulled . . . . . and pulled . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(WHEW!) . . . . . and pulled . . . . . . and pulled the starting cord clean out of the fripping lawnmower!

Long story short, I  returned to friend’s back yard with the moken brower and knocked on his back porch door, explained what had happened and promised I’d take it to the repair shop Monday and pay to have it fixed and tuned up. I should have done this before I tried to start it last night, but I was desperate to get the cutting done.

Now I’m even more desperate. I have to work at my employer all day Friday and Monday. It will be Tuesday before I can even get it to the repair shop. I called another neighbor and asked if she would loan me her mower, but knowing her as I do, I am not the optimist.

That brings me to YOU! If you have a lawnmower I can borrow Sunday, weather permitting, please e-mail me — writer@eosinc.com — or call me (I’m in the phone book: the only Conger on Vine St.) with your number so I can drive over in my pickup truck and borrow it for less than an hour. I will be sure the fuel tank is fully topped off when I return it to you.

OR drive to the home of the only Conger on Vine Street (in this case OVERGROWN Vine Street) and mow the lawn yourself and leave a note in my mailbox that tells me where to send $10 for your courtesy.

I’m concerned about keeping property values up as the rest of the world goes to hades in a  golf cart. I don’t try to be the distractedlazyfolksinger on the block. It all just seems to come naturally.

Live long . . . . . . . . and well-trimmed.

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AeroKnow Museum’s location at the best FBO n Springfield (Fixed Base Operations repair and refuel airplanes) has channeled dozens  of pilots,  about 40 friends and localpeople and more than 100 passengers into the ground floor Operations Central since  I first began setting things up  May 29, 2010. None has been more welcome than the 20 who visited  from Colorado Springs, Colorado while their Fairchild-Swearingen C-26 was being refueled on the ramp about 300 feet from the door.

I was processing some airplane pictures when a trim, middle-aged woman stepped in with some kind words about the models. I rose to explain things when a gentleman about her age in a dress blue United States  Air Force Jacket with three stars on each shoulder joined her and our conversation. He was her husband and the Superintendent, United States Air Force Academy.  As we chatted, some more men, a woman in blue and an officer in desert camouflage uniform wandered by outside and were waved in by the superintendent.

They explained they were en route to a dinner engagement in Washington, DC and they were hungry for some lunch. Someone had told them about the Subway Shop restaurant in the airport terminal. I explained I understood that the business was closed on weekends, but we should be sure by walking over and seeing  for ourselves.  I would be happy to lead the way. If they were closed, Plan B would be to engage the vending machines in the “tastefully furnished” break room in the back of the FBO.

A group about seven of us led the way at a brisk stride across the lot and into the terminal until the dim lights and cage curtain drawn down over the  counter revealed  a locked Subway. So we trekked back, through the rest of the group that had been following some yards behind and advising them to follow the reciprocal to the FBO vending machines where the parade stopped but not for long. Some wanted to get back to AeroKnow until the C-26 was ready, and back we went.

This time there was time for introductions, lots of names and job descriptions, that included the athletic director, the Commandant of Cadets, Dean of Faculty, wives, the pilot wearing the desert camo and a few more. I asked if I could take a few pictures — NOT to imply any endorsement for the Museum but to record their visit and share  it. 

I presented the superintendent with a copy of my book Springfield Aviation inscribed ” To the United States Air Force  Academy with best wishes, Job”  I also handed out the four-page color booklet shared only with Museum visitors which explains the story I frequently do not have time to share to everyone I could reach. There must have been 10 in the office at the moment.  The Commandant of the Cadets expressed appreciation for the 1/72 B-1B, another liked the B-2. One asked if I had a T-38 model and I confessed I do not. I offered to display a manufacturer’s desk model if he could generate one to the Museum, but I would build the Hasegawa 1/72 model as soon as  I could, regardless. The superintendent asked me if I knew about military “coins” — given to respected acquaintances, a MAJOR HONOR — and I explained I had (the Museum had)  been given a few. He then gave me HIS coin, and I almost swallowed my tongue! It was time for them to return to to airplane. The Commandant of Cadets and Dean of Faculty also gave me their coins. I was stunned, almost knocked over! Then the Dean of Faculty asked me for something requested by no previous visitor: my autograph! I signed the inside of the booklet I had given her earlier, but my hand was shaking so much I had a hard time with the autograph, apologized, and she said it was fine.

Can you say WOW! ?

The superintendent had given me permission to take pictures of the C-26, and as we arrived at the airplane, he called his associates to gather for a picture by the entry door.



As they settled into their seats I took a few more picture of the airplane,  As it began to taxi, I raised a right hand in salute to ANYONE who might have been looking in my direction from inside.

What a day!  🙂

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

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Monday morning I deposited a paycheck from mon emploiyeur but kept enough cash to visit J.C. Penney Saturday afternoon to obtain at least two of three things I havent purchased since 2005: a shirt,  business trousers, and a pair of shoes. Don’t tell me about Wal-Mart and Goodwill. I’ll eat crunchy peanut butter and grapes three times a week to avoid Wal-Mart and Goodwill. I have.  With the prospect of continued writing for Springfield Business Journal and Illinois Times as promising they’ve been since Lisa Rigoni and Pete Sherman, I knew I was due for a wardrobe “spree,” and with the weather improving, looked forward to a sunny Saturday go of it . . . . . . last Monday.

Not even the minor trauma of shelling out $54.95 at Lauterback Tire and Auto Wednesday, to have them diagnose a CHECK ENGINE light and tell me the catalytic converter is becoming a DOGalytic converter dampened my anticipation.  I had resolved to get it checked because though I had hitched a ride with friends to Jacksonville for a poetry presentation Monday, I H double-A D to drive myself back to “Elm City” for a Springfield Business Journal article I was writing.  If the guys told me the truck was safe, I’d go. If they didn’t, I’d interview over the phone. Luck was with me.

Friday afternoon at 1:05 I departed AeroKnow Museum for Jacksonville. The fuel gauge indicated I had less than a quarter tank, but it was hard to see how much lees. To save time and fuel and avoid heavy traffic on Wabash, I opted to drive Old Jacksonville Road, two-lane asphalt, almost no traffic, a breeze with a great view of the countryside.  There were fuel stations a plenty on Wabash, but I didn’t want the aggravation of probably 15 stoplights between the airport and Interstate 72 or the old Illinois Route 36, which I prefer when I’m approaching from home.

About a minute after driving past the Cantrall water tower, less than  10 miles west of Springfield, the LOW FUEL  warning light came on. This was not a big deal. Anyone who’s driven old Route 36 knows there are probably five small towns with fuel stations (If I want “gas” I eat onions and cauliflower.) and I was confident that if memory served, “Old Jack'” was about the same.

Memory did not serve. The road began to remind me of Kansas westbound to Denver.  My patience was rewarded when I saw the city limit sign for Berlin, but as I breezed through I saw mo station or any other business. NERTS! 

Just a few hundred yards west of Berlin was a road sign pointing due south, indicating New Berlin.  As I drove by the junction, I could clearly see a larger tuft of civilization probably three miles away — it IS the home of the Sangamon County Fair, you know — but  I didn’t want to divert from STRAIGHT AHEAD.

The voyage into the pucker zone intensified.  My hands were gripping the steering wheel like it was a life boat and I was in deep . . . . distress, which of course I was.  What had seemed like driving through Kansas was beginning to feel like driving through Wyoming, only flatter.  The beige SUV I had been a respectable quarter mile behind since the water tower disappeared into the distance as I reluctantly reduced my cruise from about 60 to 50 mph to save fuel.  I began thinking about stopping at a farm and trying to buy five gallons or even one to carry me to the next station. I could not spare the time. I had an appointment to meet with a news source. 

The helplessness was akin, I imagine, to being bound to a chair and gagged. My cell phone was back at the airport. My transgressions from the recent past passed through my braain like a parade in reverie of “would haves,” “should haves,” and “could haves,” resolutions to walk away from so-and-so and spend more time with such-and-such  IF . . . . . . . I . . . . could . . . . . only . . . . . . make it . . . . . . to the . . . . . . 2:00 . . . . . . INTERVIEWS!  No action I could take would get me through this any faster than the action I was taking at that moment.  THIS is my course to deliverance and I would  be TRUE to it!

Where the beJEEBERS were all the small fuel oases? Or if you live in central Illinois, OASISES? My pucker capacity could have crushed a loaf of French bread! and I was at least 15 miles from Jacksonville! Turned off the radio! CHEESESwhoneeds that JABber?

Down to 45 miles per hour and I’m shifting into neutral and taking my foot off the clutch when going down hills. Maybe I SHOULD stop and knock on a farmhouse! Wait! What if they’ve heard me singing at a library or coffeehouse? Better play it safe and keep moving! Pucker factor would allow me to crush any walnut that happened to be caught in the  pucker zone!

Then . . . . . . . . . . the equivalent of a seagull appears on my left: Jacksonville’s radio station and tower, WJBC or something like that. I remember encountering that when I was commuting to MacMurray College in J’ville in ’68 or so.  Just a few more miles . . . . . . . ANOTHER harbinger of hope: SPEED LIMIT 45 M.P.H.  . . . . . I’m still coasting down every hill . . . . . . . then SPEED LIMIT 30 M.P.H.!

Houses next door to each other. Vaguely familiar turf!  I have not entered the town this way in at least a decade, and I can’t even remember where the closest fuel station was. With my luck it’s on the west side or a few miles south on Morton, and I am NOT going to deviate from westbound on what has become College Street!  Better the territory I semi-remember than the territory I don’t know at all . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SALVATION! A Casey’s convenience store! I’m almost shaking as I exit the truck and begin pumping fuel. Double-checking the right pocket finds the J.C. Penney cash. TERRIFIC! I fill the frikking tank to the frikking BRIM and explain to the counter people what I’ve just experienced coming over from Springfield! We have a great laugh. filling up is my GIFT to these people for being who and where they are.

For gallons transferred at pump one at Casey’s General Store on College Avenue in Jacksonville: $61.42. I am almost giddy. I have not had $60 in my pocket (until last Monday) since last summer at least! I laugh; tell them “This is more than I spent last Christmas, and I am happy to pay it! Thank you for being here!” And with a wave I bid them goodbye.

I drive past the old duplex where I lived during my last days as a Jacksonville resident. Still there. Bless that place. Bless the whole TOWN.

I know exactly where I’m going with a fresh tank of 87 Octane, and seven minutes after departing Casey’s, I walk through the door of The Three-Legged Dog restaurant to see four smiling faces standing by a booth who turn in my direction and know they are looking at a freelance writer from Springfield. Luck is with me. The time is 2:03.

 Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

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Oh Deer!

It’s April, and love is in the air.  I have been content to drive J. David Jones (prominent legislator in the Illinois General Assembly who worked for establishment of Capital Airport in 1947) Parkway for years without encountering “love in bloom” sometimes seven days a week for the past five years or so, but that changed as I was coming home last night about 7.

For five years, I’ve paid attention to oncoming traffic on the other side of a  raised median that separates the four lanes of J. David and glanced frequently at the rear-view mirror to be sure nobody was approaching in a mad rush from behind. I’ve always stayed in the right lane except when passing a slower vehicle.  And for five years, that’s been enough.

Things happened fast about 7:03. I had just accelerated from a stop at the intersection of J. David and Veterans Parkway and was doing the legal 45 when I glimpsed two female deer, heads appearing about shoulder height to me seated behind the wheel coming into view from my left. I jerked the wheel enough to get the truck to the asphalt strip beside the right lane for less than two seconds, instinctively not going off into the dirt to the side of the black top which might have de-stabilized the truck enough to flip it, and braced for a bang, the sound of the lead deer either entering my left cabin window or impacting wall of the truck bed. I returned to the right lane a second later, having heard no sound, not bothering to look into the rear view because I was concerned with maintaining a smooth course as I approached Oak Ridge Cemetery.

My guess is that the lead deer’s height had saved her because her head was probably just above the truck bed’s wall, and they had probably missed each other by an inch or two.  Had I been in the left lane and had I been going say 35 or 40 mph,  I am sure I would have reduced the local deer population by one doe.

I have some friends at Lake Petersburg I’ve visited  enough times to remember their cautionary “Keep your eyes open to the road sides for deer.” advisories as I prepared to wend my way home. But given the level of commerce on the drive to the airport and people presence near what must be a rather narrow band of meadow area between  the airport and North Grand, it never occurred to me there would be deer in this area.  Now I am the wiser.

The incident didn’t shake me up much; no shaking hands on the wheel the rest of the way home, but you can be sure I will increase the breadth of my scan driving the stretch of J. David Jones Parkway.

Live long . . . . . . . and beware of love in bloom.

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Oh Emily
by Job Conger

I’m nobody’s. Whose are you?
Are you a “nobody’s” also?
This is the outcome, I have learned,
of those who to themselves be falso.

whose independent ways proclaim
contentment as a hummin’ bean, com
plete, ungilded, stark, aware,
and warbling like a lark and then some.

Assuaging untold battered dreams,
wordless in gagged impunity,
without a tear, to wander on
entrapped in one’s own unity.

written 9:10 am, Thursday, April 14, 2010

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

 

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