Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The School Bus Doesn't Stop Here Any More

I attended a one-room school for my first six grades.  For my remaining six I rode a big yellow bus to school each morning, and returned on it to my home each afternoon.  When I was 24, in 1962, a son was born to my wife and I.  He began his studies in a Baptist Church school in Mississippi.  It was located right across the street from our home in Marion so he walked back and forth each day.  The church minister, whose wife was the school teacher, raised, kept, and hunted bird dogs, so I figured this church thing couldn’t be all that bad.
In January 1970 I moved to California, along with my wife, two sons, and a daughter.  The older son and the daughter, both being of school age, learned to ride a big yellow bus back and forth to school on a daily basis.
In May of that year our family once more moved, this time to New York State.  The son and daughter were each passed on to their next grade in California, and did not return to school until that September as New York State children do.  On the first day of school the big yellow bus stopped out front of our home, picked up the two of them, and off to school they went, not to return home until mid-afternoon.
As the years passed the second son joined the first two children, and still later our newest child, our baby girl, also joined them for the daily to and fro on the big yellow bus.
It was now approaching the early fall of 1979.  I was now 41, while the eldest son was 16, and the baby-girl was now 8 years of age.  With nothing better to do one morning, I awoke in the midst of a heart attack, or a myocardial infarction, as the good MDs like to put it.  For about a year I wondered about my mortality.  In the fall of 1980 I had a little arterial bypass surgery, and back to work I returned, good as new.  All that year the old yellow bus kept up its daily trip, never lagging, nearly always on perfect time, as regular as clockwork.
The elder son graduated high school and stopped riding the bus as he joined the Marine Corp, but the big yellow bus kept up its daily stop to pick up the other three.  The eldest daughter graduated high school a couple of years later, and then the second son three years after that.  Still the big yellow bus stopped on a twice daily basis for baby girl.  Then it came the summer of ’87 and baby girl turned 16 years of age.  I bought her, of all things, a pickup truck.  She loved her Toyota and drove it back and forth to school each day.  All of a sudden one day the big yellow bus stopped stopping.  How could it do that after all of these years?
Several years passed.  I had some more arterial bypass surgery in ’91.  Baby girl married, and lo and behold, a beautiful girl child was born in 1992, and later, in ’94, a boy sprung from this union.  It was only a few years until the big yellow bus began stopping at our driveway again as baby girl and her family built a modest home next door to her mother and me.  This continued until the fall of 2011 at which time grandbaby girl had graduated from high school, and her younger brother had finished also.  Once more the big yellow bus stopped no more.  Now it is a year later and on a daily basis I watch the big yellow bus pass my home with nary a hesitation.  It has come to a time in my life I realize I must be getting on in years ‘cause the school bus doesn’t stop here any more.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fall Field Trip

I like to wander about the woods and fields merely to see what I can see.  I don’t much care what people have named things though so this is not science, merely sightseeing.  Today I saw this brave little mushroom sprouting from the undergrowth.  It looks like a mouse or something, may have been nibbling at its stem.  Mice have got to eat too.
Nearby was another, but probably in a slightly later stage of growth.  It seems to have split open, and flattened somewhat.
Further along my path was yet another in what I would guess to be yet a later stage of development.  All of the brown surface has gone wherever brown surfaces go, leaving a white remnant, turning yellowish, and apparently dying.
Along my day’s path were these little blue flowers with the delicate thin petals.  I thought them rather pretty with their more violet tint than plain blue.  Some of them have a darker center button indicating they are past their prime I suspect.

This is a closer view of the above, showing some of the different shades of color all on the same blossom.  This is one of the darker centers that seem to have lost the yellow parts.
As I moseyed on my way I discovered these white flowers.  They are very close in looks to the preceding blue ones, and are possibly the same thing.  I don’t know.
Here are more white flowers, but these are much daintier.  You can see by the size of the clover leaves in the background that they are tiny.
As I went on my way again I noted this slender birch dancing in the slight breeze of the beautiful afternoon.  Note that in this photo it is more or less straight up.
This is quite obviously the same sapling, but now gracefully nodding to the unseen audience over to our right somewhere, as it continues on its ever so graceful ballet.
We’ve seen some blues, and whites, now how about a splash of yellow?  These small flowers were trying to do things in their own way, like Frank Sinatra.  They’re almost more spring like, but here among the fall flowers is where they are.  They seem delicate, but are a nice present.
After looking those over, what should I spot, but another group of yellow blooms.  These also are a warm spot for a fall day’s viewing.
Only a minute later I spied yet some different yellow things.  These longer petals reminded me of tiny bananas.  Okay, so I have a vivid imagination.
As my day’s journey was wrapping up I spotted these clover blossoms that are refusing to die this early.  It seems they may linger on awaiting their final demise in the first snowfall of winter.  Winter, that’s a whole different season, and possibly I’ll find something worthy of photography then.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lawton Coat Of Arms

During the twelfth century what is known as a coat of arms was first used.  At first they were used as a family symbol only by royalty, but later the practice expanded to the point where nearly every English family had developed their own.
Due to their considerable investment in fisheries the first known coat of arms of the Lawton family was a golden shield crossed by a red chevron with three red dolphins on its surface.  There was a closed helmet indicating this was a gentleman, rather than a knight.
Later a female Lawton wed a male Davenport.  As was the custom of the time Davenport assumed the name Lawton, as that was the location of the estate Agnes brought to the marriage.  With the marriage of the two names the coat of arms was changed reflecting the Davenport connection.  The newer coat of arms had a straight bar, known as a fess replacing the chevron.  Above this were two crosslets while below yet was a dolphin, but now blue.
Still later as times changed and the fisheries became history the coat of arms was yet changed again.  This time it became what it is yet today.  It became a silver shield versus its original gold.  The fess, or straight bar, was retained across the middle.  The bottom dolphin was omitted in favor of a third crosslet.  It also now sprouted mantling on its perimeter.  Much more could be written about this coat of arms, but not within the space of this article.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Deer Stands

It’s getting closer to that time of year when a lot of sportsmen are beginning to think of deer hunting with more than a passing interest.  With that in mind I made a circuit around snapping photos of some deer stands for the benefit of those who may be interested in building one or more for themselves with no idea of where to begin.  These are all somewhat near my home although I own none of them.  I have used some of them in the past though with the owner’s permission.  They are left in place year round, so they do not spook the deer near opening day.
This first one is on my own property, built and placed there by one of my nephews.  Note that it is on a cleared trail of some 6’ in width.  This tends to bring the deer right past it on their way to a corn field which is about 100’ or so directly behind it.  I do not recommend bringing the lab along while using the stand, but it’s okay while photographing.
This next one, a cold weather model, is obviously also placed right next to a corn field across the road from my home.  The deer do not generally walk right near it, but do appear within easy gunshot range.  The idea of placing it where it is, is to use the fence line to sort of blend it into the surroundings.
This is the back side of a stand placed in the woods at the other end of that same corn field.  It also commands a view of a woods trail similar to the one on my property.

This is a side view of the same stand showing the placement of plywood sides to shield the wind some.  The sides are cut low enough to allow shooting in all directions.
This one is a stand up stand.  Note that it is only about a foot in depth.  The owner likes to stand while he bow hunts.  He stands on the platform with a safety strap tied around the tree.  The tree somewhat breaks his silhouette while he patiently awaits his future dinner.
This is a purchased stand that will soon grace the tree it is near.  It is alongside of another cleared trail of some six feet in width leading to a corn field.
This last one has a view of a hay meadow with clover.  It is not as good as alfalfa, but deer do regularly come within gun range of this stand.  I can actually see this one from a window in my home.  The woods is more of a background than a hunting area.  It would be difficult to spot a deer within, even if one was there, which is unlikely.  The food is this side of it.
Happy hunting!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Trout Fishing

We had planned a day trip in search of the elusive trout for several days.  Today started with a nice sunny morning, so Ron and I executed our plan.  I think we made the right choice.  After an uneventful ride of about 55 miles filled with wise dispensations of otherwise unobtainable knowledge we arrived in the wee hamlet of Santa Clara in Franklin County, New York.  No a hamlet is not part of a pig, it is a small group of homes near each other.  This first photo is of the tranquil St. Regis River as it meanders northwest toward the village of St. Regis Falls.  It is taken from the bridge where route 458 crosses the river.  Notice the leaves beginning to change into their fall wardrobes.
Although our stated quest was for trout of one sort or another Ron’s first visitor to the succulent worm he attached to his hook, in turn tied to his rod and reel with some monofilament, was a bullhead, of all things.  It’s a cousin to a catfish, or at least looks as if it is.  It was maybe a foot long, but we didn’t want to take time to measure it before tossing it back in the water.  It shall live on for a while until possibly it makes the same mistake again.
We moved on by driving into the campgrounds located within the Village of St. Regis Falls.  Here there is a lovely campground alongside the St. Regis River some five miles from where we started in Santa Clara.  On his first cast off this scenic little wooden bridge to nowhere, used as a fishing pier by most visitors, Ron caught a monster after a vicious fight.  I think his practiced eye identified it as an Orca, which I believe I heard once was short for “little shrimpy fish,” but I’m not sure.  Maybe I am confused.
A few casts later Ron actually caught one of the trout things for which we were searching.  It was about 8” – 9” in length, but again we took no extra time out of the water for measuring this rainbow before tossing it back to grow some more.  Aren’t they pretty though?
You may have noticed that Ron has caught all of the fish up until now, but was I skunked for the day?  Not by a darn sight.  This chub jumped out of the water some ten feet to attack me while I stood on the bridge.  As I stuck out my hand to ward it off, it bit my thumb and held on.
After catching all of the fish presently in the river at that time we moved on.  We drove through the village of Dickinson Center on our way for a rendezvous with the Deer River.  On the lawn of a home within the village Ron spotted a flock of turkeys.  This seemed unusual enough to warrant a photo.  There are approximately 30 birds in this flock consisting of about four hens and their poults.
Soon we were on the banks of the Deer River.  This view is looking up stream past an island with the largest rock on it.  Water is cascading down over a small water fall on the right, and also entering from the left between the rocks.  Today it was not to be, but Ron and I have caught several nice trout at this exact spot in the past.  I think the total count today was four rainbows for Ron as well as several chubs and the bullhead.  The only thing I caught was the one that caught me.
A few miles from the last place we fished on the Deer River I spotted these white furry things on a farm.  There appeared to be about 200 of them, more or less.  There are not a lot of sheep in these parts so I snapped a quick shot of them.  From there it was fifty miles of bumpy road back home with nothing to show for our day except these photos for memories.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Guantanamo Bay

Guantanamo Bay.  Go ahead and say it out loud if you want to.  I’ll bet you think of it as a deep, secretive, prison somewhere in the middle of the ocean where the American Government keeps war prisoners locked away forever and ever with no access to any sort of aid whether it be humanitarian or legal.  How true that may be is very difficult for most people in the world to determine.  It is difficult to get there, and only a limited amount of information is allowed to be disseminated, and that being only a government version.
However, there is, or was, a totally different side of Gitmo that lots of folks know nothing about.  Once upon a time, in 1963, when I was a First Class Petty Officer in the United States Navy, I received a set of orders sending me and my family (if they wanted to go) to this duty station.  I flew there for a Permanent Change of Station in August of that year, followed by my pregnant wife and year-old-son that December.  In the meantime in November I had been advanced in rating to Chief Petty Officer.
This was about a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis when the world stood still while the USSR and the USA stood nose to nose over Communist nuclear missiles being placed in Cuba on a permanent basis.  After the dust from that whirlwind settled my family and I settled in Gitmo.  I was attached to Utility Squadron Ten (VU-10) on the part of the base named Leeward Point.  A part of this squadron maintained ten F8U Crusader aircraft.  (Later they would be re-designated as F8 A-E when the Navy began using the Air Force designations.)
For the next three years our family continued to live there in the most desirable duty conditions I spent in my career in the Navy.  This was small town life with a few exceptions.  There were no older people.  Everyone was of a prime military age.  As Cuba and the United States were at odds there was no leaving the base to visit Cuban interests.  In our more than three years there we left the island but once.  That was on a vacation to visit our parents which fortunately lived near each other in northern New York.
The weather was beautiful there with the temperature ranging between 70 and 80 degrees at all times.  Most of the time there was a very light breeze blowing.  It rained a lot of days, but only a short shower to freshen things up a bit.
We bought our groceries at a store much like a Stateside supermarket.  We bought most everything else we needed at the Navy Exchange, much like a department store.  What we could not purchase in this manner we kept an account with good old Sears who were more than glad to ship goods to us from The United States.