Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Oldest Phillips Gas Station

 Whenever I visit my parents in Texas, I swing by the little town of McLean. Oddly enough, even though it's located right on I-40, it hasn't seemed to profit from the traffic that rushes headlong across the USA--madly to the fast-paced cities of the East and even more madly to the frenetic metropoli of the West. Nope. This little Texas town is s-l-o-w. Although main street is a divided four lane highway, there is no need for traffic lights or even stop signs.  Nothing moves.
Under the blazing summer sun, sits this: the first Phillips petroleum filling station. which opened around 1929 and operated for 50 years. It's like a doll house for size; only teeny model A's or T's (or P's and Q's...however far they got with the alphabet) could have fit here. I had to stop, walk around a bit and take pictures.  Not a soul in sight.
I love the high plains of Texas.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Some Days the Clouds are Everywhere I Look

 Hot, Puffy Clouds
 Fresh-popped and sizzly

So close
I could juggle them
If I were only a little taller
Or perhaps just closer
to that hazy horizon

Monday, August 15, 2016

Olympic Extremes

                   Usain Bolt

His name should be lightning or thunder,
This dashing Jamaican wonder.
He exhilarates the crowd
Into cheering aloud
As he plows his competitors under.

Fiji Rugby Team in Prayer

Though rugby causes many to stumble
The Fijian team did not crumble
At their moment of glory
Their song told  the story
And even in honor they were humble

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Olympic Shotput...

Women’s Shot Put Final—America’s Michelle Carter vs. New Zealand’s Valerie Adams

Her hair was a little too curly,
And her figure an out-sized too girly
But with one glorious swing
She landed the thing
And left her competitor surly!

They say that anything can happen at the Olympics. It looks like that’s about right. The New Zealand champion had won gold at the last two Olympics and held a strong lead in the event here until the final swing, when the American threw better than she had ever done before and won the gold.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

More Limericks 2016


In fencing one aims to provoke
With a sudden advance and a poke
If a foil makes a slash
There's a green or red flash
To enlighten the spectator folk.

            The Final Five
Five gymnasts who staked a gold claim
struck pay dirt with Olympic fame
With smiles on their faces
As they all took their places
They finally gave us their name.

Beach volleyball just can't decide
How much they should show or should hide
Why can't they wear shorts
Like other team sports
So there won't be so much to deride?

Here's a little limerick just for those announcers who feel they must fill every second with conversation no matter how inane:

 Those experts for every attraction
Must detail each minor infraction
They constantly chatter 
Of things that don't matter
While I want to be watching the action.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Olympic Limericks. Oh no. Not again.

 I can't believe it has been four years since I wrote the last Olympic limericks, but amazingly enough, it has. So it's time for more. Can you bear it?

The fans of the world rush pel-mel
"olympics", they boisterously yell.
For these games are the sportiest
These athletes the fortius
The altius and the citius as well.

They've all gravitated to Rio
 In search of a medallic trio
They crave just a chance
To survive and advance
"The gold? Oh will it be mio? "

The fasta', the higha', the stronga'
whoever can stay in the longa'
She'll read her own story
He'll shine in his glory
Like the flag-bearing man from the Tonga

Disclaimer...These pictures may not all be from the 2016 games.
I'll add more when I have time.

And limericks. I'll add some more limericks too.
If you aren't patient enough to wait for them, here's a link to some from four years ago.  It's surprising how many of the limericks still apply, actually.  Oh well. Here's the link

Mount Capulin National Monument

 Whenever Turtle and I go driving far away, we like to break up the hours spent in the car with a brief hiking jaunt. Recently, on our way to attend a convention in Denver, and even during our off time there, we discovered and re-visited some our favorite places to hike.
 Mount Capulin, located conveniently on a long dreary stretch of North-Eastern New Mexico about thirty miles east of Raton provides a perfect break. It is only three miles off the main road, and takes just a few minutes to visit. There's a narrow road that circles up the volcano and a parking lot near the rim.
 From there, we climbed up a path that was about the width of a sidewalk, paved and well studded with gravel bits to prevent slipping. It was a moderate hike, due to lots of climbing sections, but, had we been acclimated to the altitude, we would have called it "easy".
 Whatever, we called it, the views were worth every bit of the laborious plodding up the slopes. From the rim you can see the interesting shapes of ancient lava flows, and parts of four states: New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

 The wind blows strongly across the top and it doesn't take long to figure out what direction it usually takes.

There are plenty of benches too. Just perfect for those of us who are not used to 8000 ft. altitude and 95 degree heat at the same time.
This picture is the only one I didn't take. It's an areal view and I don't fly. The road curls around the mountain. That spot at the end is the parking lot. From there you can hike down into the volcano or take the trail around the rim.

It's magnificent!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Raymond Chandler...and wonderful similes

I have about a dozen favorite mystery writers. None are modern. Many are British. There is one, however, whose novellas make it into the anthologies with regularity. I probably wouldn't make a collection of all his books, but I do like reading some. His detective is American-- a cross  between Stout's Archie Godwin and Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade. Philip Marlowe is what they call in detective fiction "hard-boiled". He may bounce or crack, but he doesn't break easily.  This summer, while reading a couple of Chandler's books I've been amused by his similes; he sprinkles them like salt, especially when he is introducing a new character. If I were still an English teacher, I think I'd assign a little chunk of his writing and have students find them...just for fun.

Here are a few of my favorites:

From The Big Sleep

"A few locks of dry, white hair clung to his scalp, like wild flowers fighting for life on a bare rock."

" The old man licked his lips watching me, over and over again, drawing one lip slowly across the other with a funereal absorption, like an undertaker dry-washing his hands."

"The General spoke again, slowly, using his strength as carefully as an out-of-work showgirl uses her last good pair of stockings." 

"He looked a lot more like a dead man than most dead men look."

From: The Lady in the Lake

 "The little blonde at the PBX cocked a shell-like ear and smiled a small fluffy smile.  She looked playful and eager, but not quite sure of herself, like a new kitten in a house where they don't care much about kittens."

"Grayson put his bony hand out and I shook it. It felt like shaking hands with a towel rack."

"A wizened waiter with evil eyes and a face like a gnawed bone ..."

"She put a firm brown hand out and I shook it. Clamping bobbie pins into fat blondes had given her a grip like a pair of iceman's tongs."

"We shook hands. He had a hand like a wood rasp."

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Smithsonian---All of Them!

 There are actually 19 museums/centers/zoos/gardens connected with the Smithsonian now. The original building is a visitor center with a concession stand and directions to all the other attractions.

My advice: schedule two days for the Smithsonian. One cannot do justice to that many free exhibits in one day. More advice: don't try to stay with someone and look at everything together--nobody in the world has that many similar interests. We did well to stay in the same museum, and even though we started exploring with a senior, we soon all went our separate ways, texting each other to meet at the fountain, main arch, gift shop or taxidermied whale, whatever the case might have been. That way we were free to meander to our hearts content.

Spirit of Saint Louis

It was raining, so we didn't brave the outside gardens. Instead we opted for the Air and Space Museum--Turtle wanted to see the "Spirit of St. Louis". Of course there are many more exhibits--both World Wars and the importance of the airplane in them are featured; the Wright Brothers have an entire room. There is a large jet cockpit for children to clamber into, and space stuff all over. Two floors full of stuff to look at and letters to read.

 We visited the American History Museum where we saw the flag that flew over Ft McHenry and inspired the Star Spangled Banner; (It was huge (30x34 feet) and would have been even bigger (30x42) if its owners hadn't spent the best part of one hundred years handing out little snippets of stripes and chunks of a star for souvenirs. Yes. Really. Ah well)

South-American Aqua-marine

the Natural History Museum which has a lovely collection of gems, including the Hope diamond;

Hope Diamond
Marie Antoinette's Earrings

and the Natural Gallery of Art, where I could have stayed all day.  It seemed like every room I walked into contained at least one painting I've seen many times before in a book--a literature book--or in a slide show about great art.  There were paintings by El Greco, Copley, Monet, Manet, Vermeer, Hals, Van Gogh, Renoir--Amazing. Of course I took pictures...and they are not good at all, due to lighting issues inside, so I went to the web site and found them all.  National Gallery of Art

Pierre Auguste Renoir

Self Portrait-Rembrandt van Rijn

Georges Seurat

Frans Hals

Mary Cassatt

El Greco
Vincent van Gogh

Jan Vermeer

Vista from a Grotto-1630's-David Teniers

John Singleton Copley

What's missing, of course, is the background decor and the proper understanding of the size of the sculptures and  photos. Many of the old paintings were large enough to take up an entire wall. So here's the most valuable  lesson I've learned: go to the web sites ahead of time and study about the museums. There is information on every museum including which metro stop is closest. That's what I call a good source of information. Smithsonian Link and one I should have used before my trip to DC. This picture sums up my chagrin over it.

Edouard Manet

Monday, May 30, 2016


On Memorial day, it's only fitting that I talk about Arlington National Cemetery. I had always envisioned it in the suburbs, but there it was in Downtown DC. just across the Potomac River. From atop the hill at Arlington, I could see the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial.Well, that's stretching it a bit, because the day was drizzling rain and a mist lay over the mall, but I could see parts of them. I also saw a building that looked uncommonly like the Pentagon. It was all so close--certainly within walking range, and if you are going to properly see Arlington, you are going to have to walk. The land is hilly and the paths curve, following the natural contours of the land. After entering the magnificent gated entrance, as you climb up the street within, you are immediately overwhelmed by the rows of white tombstones carved and decorated very simply with crosses, or an occasional star of David.

 More than 300,000 veterans are buried in this quiet place and the sidewalks and streets were crowded with people, yet even with all the visitors it seemed quiet.  We attended the "changing of the guard" at the tomb of the unknown soldier and watched as a family--a young mother and her children-- placed a wreath in another solemn ceremony. There were about two hundred people watching. Nobody made a noise. The silence felt like sympathy and solidarity.

 On our way to the top of the hill, we passed old tombstones, graves from those who were buried shortly after the land was acquired--bought from the son of Robert E. Lee, whose wife was a grandchild to George Washington. (The famous names in the history of these places!)

 At the top of the hill was a lovely, old home, not marble or granite, but lovely nonetheless. Behind it was a flower garden and an ancient tree. Both had seen times of joy under cool, misty skies like this one, and times of fear and panic. Just before the civil war, Robert E. Lee sent word from Virginia and his family fled to join him there before the Union soldiers could take over the hill--the vantage point overlooking the city, and a very likely target.

When I visited Arlington, in early May, white peonies were blooming in the garden, and irises--yellow as sunshine, purple as the night. It seemed very much like a garden for children, and for long-skirted ladies with baskets hooked over their arms. A place of tranquility, of rest. No panic today, as if the soldiers sleeping all over the green lawns had bought this safety for the house on the hill.