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More Bryson!

I am still somewhat wound up over my recent renewed interest in reading.  I reported in my last blog, of the circumstances that led up to this.  Because I enjoyed the book by Bill Bryson, and some of you also, were reading that book, and others of you had enjoyed other books by Bryson, I recently went to our public library to find more that I might read.  Of course I have already mentioned the problem I have with reading books, that I just can’t stay awake.  Never a fast reader, except perhaps during those periods during my education, by assignment or while seeking a degree.  I did enjoy History and Political Science as a student and teacher and the substantial reading that was involved.  However, for the past 30 years, there has been little accomplishment in book reading, even as I was occasionally urged by family and friends to read this or that.  Thanks again, Tim and or Merry for introducing me to the Bryson offerings, and to Julie for her suggested Internet pieces.

I do not want to exclude the fact that there are thousands of other good authors and interesting subjects out there to explore.  However, I may not get to them.  You shouldn’t press your luck with new book gifts or suggested reading.  For now, I am having too much fun with Bill.  The library revealed so many Bryson books that surely they will last me until my demise.  At 79, any extension of that event could be chancy at best.  The 250-300 pagers will be the favored selections, but I have already brought home a 900 plus pager which was mentioned as an enjoyable read by Grandson, Joel.  You all, no doubt, will be waiting with baited breath, to see if I am able to return it to the library in the specified lending time.

Bryson is primarily a travel author with travels and books from throughout the world.  However, it is his humor that I enjoy, but if one is not careful, they might broaden their knowledge about the designated subject.  His science endeavor, A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING, surely will not be filled with the humor that I have found in LIFE AND TIMES OF THE THUNDERBOLT KID, and A SUNBURNED COUNTRY, but who knows.  What little progress I have made in the 900 page History of nearly everything has been quite cleverly written and actually has enlightened me on subjects of interest in such a way as never before.  I have enjoyed the Science Channel’s studies of the origins of the universe and the two compliment each other.

Provided you are not put off by a modest amount of profanity and crude graphic description,  and I don’t think anyone I know is likely to be offended, I do believe one can gather a great deal of enjoyment from the Bill Bryson books.  I’ll try not to bring up the subject again.

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Happy Birthday, dear daughter Julie.  What a month February is for our family.  So many birthdays.  It is not very nice of me to remind you that you are now half-a-hundred.   Does it feel like you have now lived 21 percent of the period from our nations founding in 1776 until now?  I think I did the math correctly.  Of course that makes me well over 3/4 of a hundred and having  lived over 1/3 of the time from 1776 if I did.   I just thought some of these facts surely could in some way be linked to your diligent genealogy studies.

Anyway, I can’t produce the outstanding tributes to ones birthday that you have been so successful in offering, but I do wish you a Happy Birthday and we love you very much.   I’m not too clever with the photo’s and such.  All I have, are  probably ones you have supplied me.  I especially like this one.


Happy Birthday and thanks for all you do for us

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I recently was privileged to celebrate my 79th birthday.  Goodness, that in itself is privilege enough, but I was honored to have my daughter and son-in-law spend a few most enjoyable days with us.  My son and his wife were not able to be here but did send a gift of a book which I have found to be thoroughly enjoyable.

Now, I am not illiterate, but just don’t read many books.  Newspapers I read, magazines I try to read, and I search and read lots of things on the computer except when dozing off to sleep.  Books, no matter how interested I am, never get beyond three to a few more pages before I begin to nod.

My wife insists that I have no sense of humor, and I agree that we seldom find the same things that we think are humorous.  However, I have been fully captivated and have found this book of which I speak to be absolutely hilarious.  This is a must read.  At least for anyone born in the 50’s or before.  Now, it may have more comical effect for males rather than females, for those who have lived in Des Moines (or at least the state of Iowa) rather than elsewhere, but I think anyone and everyone would enjoy the book, even my sophisticated grandchildren who were neither born in the 50’s nor lived in Iowa.  I would concede however, that not having lived during that era, would diminish the appreciation of “THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE THUNDERBOLT KID.”

I began reading on Friday, and continued the brief periods of reading interlaced with nodding, dozing, and napping until completing the book early Sunday evening.  Also, to relax the developing eye strain, I would watch TV sports or news and then work soduko puzzles for awhile.  After all, we are talking 268 pages of paperback here.  Don’t ask me how I could be laughing so hard until my eyes watered, and then fall asleep, but that’s how it works. 

Bill Bryson is the author.  His father was Bill Bryson Sr. who was a very long time sports writer for the Des Moines Register and Tribune whom I read for many years before his death.  His mother also worked long time, for the R&T as well, as the home furnishings editor.  Thus, young Bill, with an older brother and sister,  was left to his own devices for much of his pre-adult years.  This is not unlike my own childhood, and the fact that nearly all of his recollection of the city of Des Moines and the state of Iowa are known to me, may make the details special to me.

There are sentences after sentences of hilarity in which I could barely contain myself.  Of the 14 chapters, probably 10 will keep one heartily laughing.  Then there are a few chapters, on more of a serious nature to describe disconcerting politics of the period.  Of course there is always other unpleasantness as well, and the final chapter is almost a bit sad.  One should be aware that the book contains some rather raucus description and that there is irreverance as well.  One may observe the love and respect he has for his parents, while also offering ridicule and disrespect as well.  Haven’t we all been there?

I always hated having to write book reviews, but here I am suggesting that you stop whatever you are doing and find this book.  Honest to God, you will laugh and enjoy.  http://www.randomhouse.com/features/billbryson/flat/home.php

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It turns out that there are still good people around.   Another ugly news story took a “good feelin’ ” turn in today’s local newspaper.   A  rural elderly lady could no longer afford an automobile and the costs that go with ownership.  She did however, still posses a horse and buggy which she has been using for transportation and the hauling of groceries and other needed farm and home supplies.  Our weather has been cold and icy and her trips of several miles have been a hardship.

A few days ago, after shopping for groceries, livestock feed, and other needed supplies, she and a friend  headed for home. Two young boys jumped out from hidden bushes and spooked the horse.  Horse, buggy, lady and friend all were upended in a snow filled ditch, with all the newly purchased items scattered and sliding all over the ice covered ground.   The boys naturally ran away.  Concerned motorists stopped to help care for the occupants of the buggy and calm the horse.  Fortunately, there were no serious injuries and the salvageable groceries and supplies were gathered.  The damaged buggy was placed in a nearby storage facility and arrangements made to transport the horse back to the farm.  Helpful neighbors provided a ride for the lady and her passenger to their respective farm homes.

The next day she arranged a ride back to town, only to find the buggy missing.  The police were notified and thus the story appeared in the local paper.   Good wife and I were perplexed.   Who. how, and why would anyone steal a damaged buggy? 

Today’s paper reported happily, that good Samaritans in the neighborhood of the accident,  had the buggy removed to a repair facility and had hoped to surprise the lady.  Thus the mystery was solved and a very happy and grateful lady exclaimed that the world was good after all.  Yes, the horse is fine too.

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While I have mostly given up blogging, and even pretty much reading them as frequently as I should, I have been captivated on this day along with others, by the inauguration.  This will be our best “feel good” day before business begins.  But what a great day to be an American.  The peaceful transition of power in a democracy is truly a miracle, and a special miracle in this land of ours.  Nothing like it anywhere else in the world.  And for this day, the really most disagreeable of our political figures from both parties are behaving quite well and what a joy to see old political rivals greet and converse congenially.  Yes I feel proud today inspite of the seemingly unsurmountable tasks ahead.

I just want to add an observation formed as I watch and listen to the proceedings.  Perhaps President Obama will be successful or not, but if ever there was a time when we needed a uniting force, we have indeed an individual who can be described as a UNIVERSAL MAN.  Our President will be the first born President from our newest State. 

Having lived in that island paradise many years ago, I have always been impressed with the harmony that many races were able to achieve.  This man with the unlikely name of Barack Hussein Obama, with a black Father born in Africa, a white Mother born in Kansas, growing up and living in Asia, and you know the rest.  Yes we have a Universal Man whom I see as truly attempting to be an American first.  Our best hope for all Americans, and hopefully for the world.

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Death by Freezing!

This morning, Oct 28, 2008 at 3:00 a.m justice was served.  The “Crimson Red Seven” were quietly put to death by freezing.  The notorious seven pots of Red Begonias after giving  months of blazing red beauty and fragrance had suddenly given notice demanding new inside quarters, treatment and care.  As their original contract failed to provide for such, the United States Supreme Weather Bureau began proceedings against them.  The Seven were warned that failure to perform anytime after October 15th would bring the harshest sentence known to plants.  After negotiations failed, the Bureau announced an impending possible temperature drop to below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and gave final warning.  With no response, the acting master gardener (no certificate) was instructed early on Oct. 26th to place the Seven on Death Row.  The seven pots were dutifully removed from their appointed places throughout the premises, and were placed on death row along the drive-way near the final execution chamber.  Appeals were filed to no avail and execution was to take place on Sunday evening October 26th.  A last minute stay of execution came with a change in the forecast and the Seven stood proudly without covers over their heads and indeed did bravely withstand violent winds up to 60 miles per hour throughout the 26th.  Again denying further last minute appeals a new order of execution came on the 27th.  Hopes for further exoneration began to be futile and the Bureau’s refusal to hear further appeals brought their demise early today.  The acting master gardener confirmed death at 7:00 a.m.  Although there were appearances that the Seven had withstood the hard freeze sentence of 22 degrees, the acting master gardener found that the stems, leaves, and blossoms were frozen and snapped completely off with just a touch.  As the temperature began to climb and the thawing process started, those in attendance would surely see the unfortunate end to the Crimson Red Seven.

In another case closely related, settlement was reached with a plea of guilty and resulted in a reduction of sentence.  A pair of intermittently blooming pots of so called Rain Lilies in the same locality were previously warned, that death could be a result of non-cooperation,  The pair turned states evidence concerning the coming trial of the Crimson Red Seven and were sentenced to six months in the darkest corner of the infamous “Basement” holding quarters.


The “Rain Lily Pair” have apparently withstood this sentence numerous times previously.  Not many go into the infamous “Basement” and re-emerge unscathed, but these two, seem not only to re-emerge, but almost relish the sentence knowing that there is warmth there in the silence throughout the winter in this harsh land.  One can only surmise how and why these two endure these seemingly annual circumstances. 

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Abolish and outlaw the Republican Party.  Then, let us all work together to help stamp out Democrats forever.  There must be a better way.  Did I just hear George Washington say, “I told you so.”?

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