Oh Brother…

Today my brother sent me a birthday card.  Now… before you all start wishing me a Happy Birthday… plain and simple… it is not my birthday.

Which brings me to this.  I love my brother.  Actually, I love both my brothers.  Each of them are such incredibly great men.  One may be reading this today … he pops in from time to time.  The other brother will never see it.  He never drops in for a read.

But here is the deal.  My two brothers are wonderful guys.  I could make a list a mile long about their qualities.  They are infinitely kind, caring, loving.  Both are smart, creative, innovative, imaginative, sharp-witted, and determined.  They are altruistic and compassionate.  Strong.

Yet, each of them possesses these characteristics in very unique and different ways.  Those two display the same qualities in life…in completely contrasting manners.    So much alike, and at the same time… they are like night and day.

But… tonight I started to mention what Ed did…. that crazy guy.

He is the oldest boy in our family. Dashing. A winning smile. Elegant. Funny.

And today he sent me a birthday card.

Simply put… it is just how he is.  He was probably out at a store… saw this… and it reminded him of me.  So he bought it, and sent it to me… just to say he was sending thoughts my way.  And to say….. Happy Birthday.. even though it isn’t.

I love this.  It brightened my day to no end.

(Tonight… for Project 188… I literally was going to post a photo and just write underneath… “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,”  Seriously.  That was it.  That was all I really felt like doing.)

Then I checked the mail… and there was the card from Eddie.  I smiled from the inside out.

So that brings me to the next idea.

I think the age of the Greeting Card is coming to an end.  It will fall to the wayside.  Just as all written word… which is printed in paper form (books, newspapers, programs, pamphlets) … will drift away.

Call me sentimental.  But.  I don’t want those things to go away.  I just don’t.

So I am starting a Campaign.  Now… I don’t think we can save all the printed word.  But I think we should try to keep the Greeting Card around.  I have been inspire-ED by my brother.

And what better way to do this… then send people random Greeting Cards… on their un-birthdays, their un-anniversaries, their un-graduations…. and un-such.

Not On-line Greeting Cards.  Those are one of my biggest pet peeves.  Blue Mountain.. all the Flash-Generated Online Greeting Cards.   Those sites are just ways to Phish for your email addresses.  Then the junk email begins. So please… leave me off your electronic greeting card list.

No.  I am talking about REAL CARDS.  The kind in an envelope.. with a stamp.  Those which are delivered by a the Postman.

If someone is not expecting a baby… send them a Congratulations on your new edition card.  Send an I’m sorry card for no reason (there is probably a reason you don’t even know about).  Yep… buy a Good Luck with your Promotion card… for the un-promoted.

However… I think Sympathy and Get Well cards should be saved for the real occasions.  No foreshadowing in those areas.  I don’t think it is a good idea.

I think we should call them Edgy Greets.  You know.  Edgy… like….  cutting-edge, on the fringe, avant-garde, innovative, original… and Greets…. the noun-ish form of greeting… haaaalllllooooo… that sort of thing.  Edgy Greets.

So. C’mon people now.  Smile on your brother.  Everybody get together.  Try and love on another.  Right now.

Right now.


There is no friend like an old friend who has shared our morning days, no greeting like his welcome, no homage like his praise. – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

I squirrel away sealed greeting cards that people give me so I can open them later when I’m having a bad day. – Emily Proctor


Keep your eye on the pie.

Pi is….    the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.  It is the relationship to the “way all around the circle”  to the “way straight across.”  Yep.  A lot of times in this universe… in this life… there are two distinct and individual paths.

Which made me think about this.  When you are out in public, you notice A LOT of different paths.

You see.   Being by yourself, in your own little place in your own little time… there is you, and you.  Or in my case… me and me.

But, when you are out in public… you see SO many differnt you and  you’s… and me and me’s.  And this, my friends, is where it can get interesting.

Yep.  When events like the Fair roll around, I get out in the general population a bit more.  I begin to notice things. Intrigue and mystery.  I experience more notions, ideas, and observations than I normally would.

Today I volunteered at the Historical Society’s Booth.  It is located in the same building where people bring their homegrown vegetables, hay, baked goods, and such… for competition and judging.

So what do I see?  Okay.   The big thing I noticed is that no one steals the cookies.


Or the brownies.  Not even the pies.

Now if I ate sweets, and I was meandering through a barn at the Fair.. such as the one I was in…. I’d be VERY tempted to sample a cookie or two.  There are SO many.  And they smell SO good.  Who would ever notice?

But the deal is…. I wouldn’t go for just any…. I’d have to sneak a bit of the Grand Champion delectable.   Or at least a few Blue Ribbon Winners.   Heck yeah.  But that’s me.

During the entire time I was there, I did not see ONE person take a cookie.  Not even a crumb.

The Honor System.  It was alive and well… and living in the Brownie Barn.  Truly amazing.  I think….  in the core of most people …. exists a good and honest vein.  A stratum of merit and integrity in each of us.  The you’s and you’s.  And probably….  the me’s and me’s.

And that’s what I like about us.  The side of folks that do the right thing.  The next right thing.  The part of people who make their way along the good path.

Okay.  So I hope I wouldn’t really take the cookie.  I should expect that I’m better than that.  I hope I possess that ethical strand, that moral fiber.  I am pretty sure it is sewn into the cloth of my character.

But….  then again…. there is that Homemade Apple Pie……

“If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.” – Dr. Carl Sagan


When I was but a Wee-One…. I was terribly afraid of the certain rides at amusement parks.  Oh, there were the usual suspects.  Any roller coaster, or log ride… or anything that was high up in the air, and dropped quickly to the ground.  These things scared the holy-smacker-oly right out of me.

But nothing, I’ll tell you….. NOTHING…. scared me more than the dreaded, and horrifying…. Merry-Go-Round.

Creepy through and through.  I would not get on one.  For ANY amount of Salt-Water-Taffy-Bribery.

Those horse characters were creepy.  Their little horsey faces seemed frozen in horror.   The music was creepy.  And the fact that it just went around and around… in endless counter-clockwise circles… I think there is something terribly wrong with that.

The Merry-Go-Round…or rather… Carousel… got its start rather early in history.  The first known instance of one… is in a Byzantine painting… dating back to about 500 A.D.  It shows riders… in a bunch of baskets…. suspended from a center pole.  The visual I get of this…..  is…. creepy.

The word carousel originates from the Italian and the
Spanish.  Both languages have words which describe a game.  It was sort of a battle preparation game.  Played on horseback, it helped with combat training…  with swords and such.   Off with their heads.

And… it was also a training device for something called the ring-tilt.  They used these wooden horses suspended from “arms” and these arms branched out from a central pole. They aimed spears at rings as they went round and round.  This disturbs me too.

As things evolved in history… the old Carousel shifted away from being about swords and spears… to more of an entertainment venue.  They became… well… if you can picture it….  “Horse Ballets.”  Quite popular at court festivities for special occasions…. such as royal weddings.   They adding music to the deal.  And fake horsey characters.
For some reason… all of this still gives me the heebie-jeebies. Even as I write.

So. By the early 18th century carousels were being built and operated at various fairs and gatherings in central Europe and England.   And there you have it.

Now we have them at amusement parks, and city parks, and festivals and fairs.  When I shot this photo… I got all queasy inside.

I rode one.  Once.  In Montana.  As an adult.  I tried not to let on to anyone that I was scared witless on the inside.  Yeah.  I didn’t sleep that night.  I kept hearing the music.  And seeing the screaming horse faces.

Nothing “merry” about these things.  No way.

A lot of people like a Carousel Ride.  But it is just not for me.  And I’m not horsing around about this one.

But is it fair?

Most counties hold an Annual Fair, I think.  The County Fair.

They are all over the place in the summer time.  And yes, we have one here in Preble County.  It opened today.

The County Fair can be quite the deal, I’ll tell you.

Looking at the history of the whole shebang… is an interesting thing.  They Fayre, as it used to be called from the 15th to the 17th century… was associated with food and drink.  Hence, fare.  To Fair.

In that dictionary book, the word means “a gathering of stalls and amusements for public entertainment.”  Hmm.

But back then… in Roman times…. fairs were typically considered holidays.  And on those days.. there was a break from every day activities.  Big Markets were held.  They were temporary venues… and they were highly important for international trade.

Sometimes.. .    wholesale traders travelled for days on end to get to a Fair. The dates and places would be pre-arranged.  And then, the traveling Snake Oil Guys could be sure to meet those they needed to buy from or sell to.

A lot of times… back then… they were tied to a a special Christian occasion.  Saints’ Feast Days… and such.   Tradesmen would bring and sell their wares, even in the churchyards.

Since that time… the Fair has transformed into a wide array of things… all over the world.  There are County Fairs, Art Fairs, Food Fairs, Fitness Fairs, Music Fairs, and on and on and on.

But in the small town… all across the U.S…. there is the plain and simple County Fair.  Sometimes… the town shuts down for it.  Other times… the town barely blinks an eye.

But be sure of this.  There are people who truly care about “Things of the Fair.”  They show their Farm Animals.  They bake pies, and grow vegetables.  They wash their tractors.  They make art.  They sew.  They sing and they dance.

All out in the great wide open.  With the grand stands, and the make-to fences, the dust of the fairway…..  where the wind comes whipping down the plains.

Yes.  The County Fair is in the hearts of those people.  And that part of it… is fun… and lovely… to see.

“The heart has reasons that reason does not understand.” – Jacques Benigne Bossuel

Training Day…

I feel a little guilty tonight.  A little.

Perhaps even a bit remiss in my duties as an American.  The opening games of the Olympics started tonight.  Yes.  Those Grand Christening Ceremonies of the Summer Games… in London, England.

The media has been pitching it in the news, and on TV.  So… I guess I should have watched it.  I tuned in for a little minute.  The “Big Show” seemed somewhat non-sensical to me.  Maybe even a little “forced” or grandiose without good cause.  So, I grew weary of it… pretty quickly.

You see…. other things were calling me.

Chiefly, the Corn Dog Stands at the Preble County Fair.

Oh, I know. I know.  I’ve heard all the angles, from my friends….  “Corn Dogs.  Yuk. Gross.  Do you know what is in THOSE things?  I can’t believe you like Corn Dogs!”

Well.  The low and behold of it.  I don’t like them.  I LOVE them.  I love them with both ketchup and mustard mixed… and slathered on them.  That is my go-to way to snarf a Corn Dog.

Yessirrreeee Bobby.  The Preble County Fair opens tomorrow.  So… before all the crowds got there, I had to swing by the Fairgrounds, and ferret-out all the prime locations for all the Corn Dog Stands.  I checked their set-ups… their warmers… the whole nine yards.  This is important business I’ll tell you.

I made a diagram, and a map.  I’ve got them geo-located on my iPhone.  I’ve texted myself notes.  I think I am good to go.  This was Training Day.

How does it go?  “Always Be Prepared.”  They say that in Boy Scouts I think.  Or it could be the slogan at the Olympics… maybe that’s where I heard it.

Nonetheless.  I’m ready.  It is Corn Dog Week.  I’m going for the Gold.  Gulden’s Mustard… that is.  And if I fall behind… I will try my best to Ketchup.

Oh… for crying out loud.  I guess maybe I shouldn’t eat any Corn Dogs.   It appears that… quite possibly…. I am corny enough.

“Chance favors the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur


What’s the Buzz?

I can be a bit of a Homebody.  Sometimes, I am a little introverted and need solitude.

I’ve been a Homebody since I was a little kid.  Whenever I had to be away from “the familiar” as a child… I would get pretty dang upset.

One summer, I spent my days with my good pal Sharon at the Boys’ Club Center.  It was a place for city kids to go play, and do arts and crafts, and those sorts of things.  Smack-dab in the middle of downtown Dayton, Ohio.

Funny little runt, I was.  They had a sleepover camp for those who wanted to go.  It was probably like a 3 night deal.  Well… I got pretty “sick” on the very first night and they had to call my parents to come pick me up. No Hand-Print-Ashtrays for Mom & Dad that summer! Or woven potholders.

So to this day, I would rather be at home than anywhere.  And sometimes… I enjoy a little sequestered alone time.

Yet.  Yet. Yet.  When I am with people, I love people.  I have fun, and enjoy the experience (most of the time).  I like the way it all works… when people interact and share their people-ness.  I like Community.

Yeppers.  Community is such a good thing.  I have been reminded of this the past two evenings.  I’ve had separate Board Meetings each night.

As I sat in both of those meetings… it struck me how important community can be. Like a colony of bees.  There is a feeling of fellowship with others.  And, it is a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.  Commonality.  Necessity.  Cooperation.

It can be a Swirling Dervish sometimes.  Yet the whole thing has the ability to be a well orchestrated dance.  I like it when Community has the adeptness to dance together.  Nicely.
I am always amazed too, how such a mixture of “individuals” can come together, and share resources, deftness, and intelligence.  Ideas.

Things come up in community… thoughts, and plans, and postulations… that we may not have visualized on our own.

The good thing, is finding balance between the two.  Being comfortable in your own skin… and having the competence to join in collaborative community.

Every once in a while though… you will encounter a bee in the swarm with a really big stinger.  Or perhaps…. one that is WAY too busy.  But none-the-less…. you’ll never find your honey unless you join in the hive.

“A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living”  – Rudolph Steiner

“A community is democratic only when the humblest and weakest person can enjoy the highest civil, economic, and social rights that the biggest and most powerful possess.” – A. Phillip Randoph

Too hot to handle.

Motivation is an important part of life, I think.  If we had no motivation… for anything… we’d be between a rock and a couch potato.   A hard place, no doubt.   Motivation is… after all….  the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.  Anything.

Now with that comes those people who are willing to spend good money to get motivated.  There are things called “Life Coaches” now.  Personal Trainers.  Diet Consultants.  You name it… they are out there.  One genre that has been around for a while are those “Motivational Speakers.”   There are lots of those guys that get up and talk the big talk.

Some are good, and forthright.  It just depends.  A few of the big names are Zig Ziglar, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Stephen Covey, and of course… Tony Robbins.

Most of the time, I am a self motivator. So… I have never attended a talk from any of these individuals.  But… I don’t  think I’d get pulled into it, so much.

Here is the latest deal that makes me think that way.  Fire officials said 21 people at an event hosted by motivational speaker Tony Robbins suffered burns while walking across hot coals…..  and three of the injured were treated at hospitals.  That’s right.  Walking across a bed of hot… white hot… coals.

This happened a couple of days ago… in San Jose.  Robbins hosted a deal called “Unleash the Power Within.” Most of the people who were hurt had second and third degree burns.  I bet they released a lot more than the power within.

Robbins convinces these people… who go to hear his talks… that walking across hot coals provides an opportunity to “understand that there is absolutely nothing you can’t overcome.”

I’d like to think.. that if I DID attend such a roust-about … that I would be able to say to Mr. Robbins:  “My mind is SO focused and in tune right now… after your marvelous speech… that I can overcome ANYTHING.  And that would include overcoming your ridiculous suggestion that I walk across hot coals which are probably in the vicinity of 1500 to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Yep. It is just a matter of “Mind Over Matter”… and Mr. Robbins… this little seminar doesn’t matter that much to me.  And then I would walk out on my nice healthy little feet.

Oh.  That is what I say I would do.  I’d like to think so.  But the truth of the matter is… in life…  we never really know for sure… how we will react in ANY situation.

It is the old “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” axiom.  We just don’t know… until we are actually in the reality of it.  We try to imagine our reactions in certain situations.  But truthfully, until we are “actually in it”….. well… we just don’t know.

But with the Robbins’ thing….  I’m just saying.    I’d like to think I’d have enough common sense, conviction, and courage… to simply say ……  “Uhhhhh…  Robbins old buddy …. You got any Marshmallows?   These coals are just perfect for S’mores.”

“Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where you backbone ought to be.”
– Clementine Paddleford

Watch the birdie.

Dear Polly,

I know you’ve mentioned that you like birds. What is your favorite kind, and why.  Are they any birds you don’t like?

Marge P., East Berlin, Pennsylvania


Dear Feathered-Friend,

I am pretty fond of most birds.  I absolutely love to watch them fly.  Sometimes, I wish I could fly like the birds.  Simply to hop from where I am standing, spread my wings,  and fall into the breezes above.

But back to the matter at hand.  It is worth two in the bush.  I DO like some birds more than others.  At this moment in time, I would most certainly have to select the Pelican.  What is not to like about a Pelican?

Now… before I met them, I had a lot of favorite Ohio birds.  Flickers are stylish.  I love a little dapper Wren.  The Nuthatch, Titmouse, and any Woodpecker, all rank pretty high with me.

My long term favorite.. the old standby… is the Crow.  (Okay.  Before I get a bunch of flaming emails about Crows, let me say this.)  They are smart.  Smart as a whip.  Jimminy-Cricket-Cracking-Smart.

Crows are considered to be among the most adaptable and intelligent birds in the world.  They have a varied and evolved language. They can mimic the sounds made by other animals.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better than this…. Crows have been shown to use tools in multiple ways, and not just to get food.

There’s one more thing… they collect bright shiny objects.  Bobbles.  I too, like shiny objects.  And…. yep.  For that reason, I like a good crow.

But back to Pelicans.  They are awkwardly graceful.  Trendy, you might say.  Stylish.

The first time I took notice of them is in flight.  They skim stealthily along the surface of the water.  They fly fast.  They have to do it exactly right… because Pelicans have this monstrosity of a beak at the end of their crooky-rooky necks.

But then, when you least expect it… kasploooosh!  They flop recklessly into the water.  When they bob up to the surface, they take a brief second to right themselves… and then…

And then….  they knock back their heads like somebody sitting at a bar doing jello shots.  Or even someone at a Raw Bar… kicking back Oysters on the half-shell.  It is so much fun to watch.

Pelicans are friendly, social birds.  But they are so nice… other birds try to steal their just-caught fish right out of their big-pocket-beaks.

There is something terribly wrong about that.

So yes.  I like the Pelican.  I could go on and on.  But enough.

Let’s see.  Birds I don’t like…… Maybe……   Lame Ducks and Bird Brains.

“If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing.” – James Mathew Barrie

Step right up….

This is a little known story.   It happened not so long ago… July 23, 1957…. as a matter of fact.

The place was Plineyville, West Virginia…. and a circus came to town.  It was a big dang deal for Plineyville.  Not a great deal happened in those parts.  I’ll tell you that much right now.

Most of the shops locked their doors at 5 p.m. sharp.  The only thing to do in the evenings was to stroll down to Paget’s Ice Cream Parlor… and have a double-dip of Millie’s Fudge Ripple.

So when the Mantegna Brothers’ Traveling Circus and Grand Menagerie came to town… it was one big whack-a-doodle-do.

They had everything… elephants, jugglers, knife throwers, trapeze artists, magicians, lions, and tigers, and bears… oh my.

Everyone in Plineyville was elated.  I mean.  They were going to shoot a guy out of a cannon!


The night before the circus was to open, the lock on the lion’s cage door was unlatched.  To this day… no one is quite sure how it happened.  A mystery.

But the lions escaped.  And… they were angry lions.  The kind that had spent too much time in cages… and the kind that didn’t like standing on pylons and getting hit with whips.

So when they got loose, it spelled trouble.  They went on a rampage at the circus.  They ate the lion tamers, the mind-readers, the trapeze artists… just about everybody.  They even ate the guy that worked at the corn dog stand.

The only ones the lions spared were the circus clowns.  Yep.  As it turns out…. the lions said they tasted funny.

“Meddle not in the affairs of the dragon; for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.” – E.P. Lenwood

Small or Large?

A lot happened today.  It seems that is the way of the town… where I am right now.  Lots of things happen here.

Yep.  The way of the town.

It is sometimes stimulus overload.  Sights. Sounds.  Ideas.  A windfall of boons.

By 9:00 a.m…… by the time I took my last bite of amazing grits at breakfast… I felt like there had already been more swirling goodness than one day ought to have.

Around every corner… in all the nooks and crannies… there things.  The Way of the Town Things.

Police and Cheerleaders.  A Razorback Sock Monkey from Arkansas… a flying sock monkey… at that.  Great friends.  Good stories.  A visit to Calhoun’s Grave.  A crazy seagull.  Kids in strollers.  Ocean breeze.  A dog named Bentley.

As the morning progressed, I walked the city.  I found a lot more treasures here and there.  I met a fly named Wade.  He likes carcasses.  He showed me how much.

I talked with my ex-cat.  She flipped me off.  She hates me.    I did not let this spoil my mood.  I focused my positive energy on other things.  The flying sock monkey… in a cape.

There was so much more to see.  Like the nails on the wrought iron fence.  The ones the Basket Ladies use to hang their wares.

It was all just something.  Truly phenomenal… each little thing in its own right.  But then…. they were all mixed together in one single day.  Kapowza….  These are the things that make me happy. These are the things I am grateful for.  They many not be much to someone else.  But to me… they are very fine and splendid.   Dazzling.  Yes.  They may be small.. but I think they are remarkable.  These….  things of the town.

“In the year of 1657 I discovered very small living creatures in rain water.”  -Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

“Whenever I found out anything remarkable, I have thought it my duty to put down my discovery on paper, so that all ingenious people might be informed thereof.”  -Antonie van Leeuwenhoek