Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Acoustic Guitars....What Great Friends!

My Three Guitars Are Each Different and Unique
When I was in college, I started to teach myself to play the guitar.   My room mate had a couple of Martins---one was a 6-string dreadnought and the other was a 4-string tenor guitar.  To make it easy on myself, I began learning on the 4-string.
Strumming My Old Friend, My 1973 Ovation Legend
Later, after I graduated, I scrounged up some money for a used Guild 6-string and I continued trying to learn to play on that.  In 1973, I traded in the Guild model for a new Ovation 6-string.  I still have that guitar today, and I love playing it.
The Distinctive Head of The Ovation Guitar
In fact, the Ovation has been with me on my travels as I worked my job in sales for 40 years or so.  There were a number of years when I would invite customers to wine and cheese get-togethers after working hours.  I would furnish the wines and the cheese and we would get to know each other.  I would also play my guitar and sing for them.  It was a wonderful way for us to become familiar with each other---and it always resulted in increased sales, too.
This Eastern Airlines "Fragile" Sticker Has Been On The Ovation Guitar Case For At Least 30 Years
I bought my Ovation in This Original Case in 1973
About 5 years ago I decided I needed another guitar.  I was being asked to perform for various audiences, and I required a pickup for my amp.  So, I decided on a Takamine 6-string with built-in electronics.  This guitar is a wonderful all-purpose instrument that can be enjoyed in front of a large group with amplification as well as just playing by myself.
My Takamine 6-String

The Head of My 6-String Takamine

The 12-String Guitar Produces a Rich, Full Tone
It Takes A While To String Up And Tune The 12-String Guitar
Then, three years ago I bought a 12-string Takamine.  This instrument has a beautiful, full sound.  It also has electronics on board, and I use it when I want to project a full, vibrant tone to the audience.
You Can Find Me In My "Studio" Most Afternoons Around 5:00

I keep my guitars in my "studio"---a converted bedroom of our home.  Every afternoon around 5:00, I sit down and play and sing.  My mood dictates which instrument I use on a day-to-day basis.
My Humble Studio
Each guitar has a different personality, different sound, different feel, different nuances.  I can almost hear the three guitars yelling at me when I enter the room to play--- "PICK ME!!!  PICK ME!!!
Three of My Best Friends.  Which Shall I Play Today?
I sit down with my chosen instrument and begin playing and singing---either gospel, folk, country or light rock.  I become lost in the therapy that music provides.  I love my guitars, and they love me.  With the exception of Jesus and my wife, there are no better friends.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ten Memorable Books

Cindy and I awoke around 3:00 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep.  Frustrating.  We somehow started talking about the most memorable books we each had read.  After thinking about this subject for a few minutes, I realized this might make a great blog topic.

Of course, it is impossible to come up with ten books that are the best, especially after one has lived a few years and read quite a bit.  Nonetheless, I put together this list of ten that have been very memorable for me.  What books are most memorable in your life?

Timeless Wisdom Through the Ages
---The Bible.  Nothing comes close to this timeless wisdom.  Here is our definitive guide to this life....and the next.

Originally Copyrighted in 1929, This Wonderful Little Book Opened My Eyes to The World of Verse
---101 Famous Poems.  My mother read to me from this book when I was just a boy, and it instilled in me a love for poetry.

Bruce Catton's 1963 History of the Civil War Was the First Time I Ever Read History That Was Written as A Story in A Most Interesting Style
---Terrible Swift Sword.  Bruce Catton's second book of his masterful trilogy of the Civil War.  I read this when I was in my teens, and I never knew history could be so interesting.  This book started me on my fascination with American history.

If You Want to Know How to Live Your Life By Faith in God, Read This 2003 True Story By Mary Dunham Faulkner
---Gentle Wisdom for Tough Times.  I read this little book almost by accident, and it made an enormous impact.  Mary Dunham Faulkner describes a real-life family that lived their lives together through faith in God.  This is an example of how we should all live.

There is No Better Way to Start Your Day Than With The Daily Readings From Mrs. Charles E. Cowman's 1928 Devotional Masterpiece
---Streams in the Desert.  Mrs. Charles E. Cowman's classic daily scripture readings that always uplift.

Phenomenal Writing From a Storytelling Master, Cormac McCarthy, 1979
---Suttree.  Cormac McCarthy's semi autobiographical novel that is perhaps the best writing I have ever read. What a storyteller!

A Treasure Trove of Americana in Diane Ravitch's 1990 Classic Compilation
---The American Reader.  Diane Ravitch's compilation of the most significant speeches, songs, discertations and poems in American history.

Has There Ever Been A Better Storyteller Than Jack London?...1903
---The Call of the Wild.  Jack London's classic story.

You Will Laugh.  You Will Cry.  You Will THINK in Mitch Albom's 2003 Classic.  On the New York Times Best Seller List For 95 Consecutive Weeks
---The Five People You Meet in Heaven.  Mitch Albom's story that makes you think and cry with joy.

James Agee's 1958 Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel, Set in Knoxville, Tennessee, Explores Family and Societal Dynamics in Death. 
---A Death in The Family.  James Agee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel that cuts to the heart of family and societal dynamics when a loved one passes away.

What are some of your most memorable books?

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Round of Golf...At Home

Yesterday was a wonderful Thanksgiving at our home.  We spent the day thanking God for all He has given us---for our health, our friends and our lives and each other.  We ate too much, but that is one's duty on Thanksgiving.
My Golf Clubs Have Not Been Used All Year---Until Today

Anyway, I was in the need of exercise this morning after all that eating, but it is 32 degrees outside with a stiff breeze, so I had to think of some way to get that exercise and stay inside where it is warm.....Hmmmmmm..........................
I Prepare to Tee Off in the Den---Nice Legs, Eh?

Aha!  Yes!---I'll play a couple of rounds of golf!  I decided to use the entire house as my golf course.  I would play with only my putter.  I would "tee off" in the den.  Then thru the kitchen to the dining room.  Then thru the living room to the foyer.  Finally, to the "hole" (a drinking glass) in the den where I originally teed off. 
Those Are My Wife's Feet as She Watches My Second Shot Roll Thru the Kitchen

I determined ahead of time that "par" would be six strokes. 
My Third Shot Traverses the Dining Room.  So Far, So Good.

My first round was a seven, which wasn't too bad when you consider I missed an easy "tap-in" at the end. 
On the Rug in the Foyer

My wife was laughing hysterically when I told her this was going to be my blog for the day.  Different, no?
In the Hole!  I Shot a One-Over Par

Wednesday, November 24, 2010



I Am Thankful.......

I Am Thankful.......

---When someone thinks enough of me to read my blog
---When someone cares enough to comment on my blog
---For my wife and her cooking
---For my wife's patience
---For blood pressure medication that is effective and inexpensive
---For my Emmaus reunion prayer group
---For God's grace
---For the beauty and timelessness of the bible
---For dogs
---For my family
---For people who are courteous to other drivers behind the wheel
---For the joy of a well-made martini
---For an honest politician
---For Cindy's and my health
---For people who are humble
---For true friends
---For the beauty of the games of baseball and football
---For vintage country, folk and gospel music
---For what is left of freedom of speech
---For the deep, rich, incomparable sound of a good acoustic guitar
---For our heroic veterans

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cindy Then and Now....

Cindy (Number 8) Competing in the Anderson County Beauty Pageant---Double click to enlarge
The year was 1968, and Cindy was sweet 16.  She was chosen to compete in the Anderson County Fair in Anderson County, Tennessee in the "Fairest of the Fair" beauty contest.

Cindy Said She Tried Hard to Smile the Entire Time
 When Cindy showed me these pictures from 42 years ago, I had a very hard time identifying her!  She complained that she was "skinny".  Her brother called her "Bones".  She was self-conscious about her thinness, and would cry when he called her names.  She said she would eat cheeseburgers and drink milkshakes to try to gain weight, but to no avail.

Cindy, Age 14---Getting Her Feet Wet
 Of course, time has a way of putting pounds on us.  Nowadays, we both want to lose a few pounds!

My Beautiful Cindy Today---Not Too Skinny, Not Too Heavy---JUST RIGHT!!!
 But in 1968, my Cindy competed in the county beauty pageant.  She didn't win, but the real honor is just being picked to compete.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Iced Tea Tales......

My Simple, Refreshing, Healthful Glass of Iced Green Tea
 I don't know about you, but iced tea is a way of life around here.  In fact, ever since I was a kid, iced tea has been the potion of choice for meals and just sippin' between meals.
Two Green Tea Bags Are the Perfect Amount.  Just Tear Them Open and Empty Into Filter
Today, and for the past few years, I have settled on green tea as my standard drink.  My current taste in tea has been a part of a lifelong evolution.  When I was a youngster, I drank black tea that was heavily sugared.  Then, I started to add lemon to that.  After a few years, I got hooked on flavored tea---stuff like strawberry or raspberry.
Two Tea Bags in the Filter.  Perfect!
Then, older now and wiser, I got into a comfortable rut drinking unsugared black tea.  Now, I drink iced green tea with or without lemon---but never sweetened.
The Carafe Cools on the Patio Table
For one thing, green tea is supposed to be loaded with antioxidants, much more so than black tea.  Plus, to be honest with you, there is only a subtle taste difference between the two.  So, at our house today, I drink green tea exclusively out of my own container from the fridge, and Cindy drinks either black or white or some Godforsaken artificially flavored concoction, whatever her taste happens to be that day (she obviously has not matured in her tea taste as I have, but some day I am hopeful she will see the light and "go green").  She has her container and I have mine.
Cindy Currently is Drinking White Tea.  But Sometimes it is Black Tea.  Sometimes it is Flavored.  Who Can Say On Any Given Day?  She Adds Sugar, Splenda, Lemon, etc...
We make our tea as needed in an old coffee maker.  Put in a filter just as we would for coffee, then we take two tea bags of our tea of choice and tear them open and empty into the filter.  After brewing, the tea must be cooled down (cooling down is fast in the winter---we simply put the carafe outside in the cool air for an hour or so).

My Container (right) Holds Two Carafes of Tea and lasts Me About 4 Days.  It Holds Twice as Much as Cindy's Container, Which, as You Can See, is Empty Again.  Ha.
My tea container holds two full carafes of tea.  This means I only have to make tea for myself about once every 4---5 days.  Cindy's container is half the size of mine. 

You can drink tea hot or cold, with or without sugar or splenda or lemon, but tea is a drink that has been around for centuries, and is consumed all around the world.  Excuse me---gotta go now......it's tea time.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Our Most Excellent Adventure....Part II

Front Enrance to "The Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks"
The Grounds of the Crescent Hotel Are Beautiful, With a Lovely Chapel Just Down the Mountain 
After a whirlwind visit to Branson, Missouri on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning, Cindy and I turned our attention to the charming little burg of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  Eureka Springs is about an hour south of Branson over winding, country roads.  The trip was relaxing and scenic.
The Massive Lobby Fireplace
We arrived in Eureka Springs about 1:00 and slowly drove the main streets of town...up, up, up the mountain past the edge of town, winding slowly up the mountain to the top, where we were greeted by the "Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks"---the Crescent Hotel, our accommodations for the evening.
Door to Our Room---201
The Crescent Hotel has a wonderful history.  It was built in 1886, and was originally a destination for the wealthy, who flocked to the area to bask in the healing waters of the area's natural springs.
Inside Our Room

Over the years, the hotel has been renovated several times, most recently in the period encompassing the past 13 years, after it was purchased by the current owner in 1997.

Balcony of Our Room Taken From the Back Grounds of the Hotel

View of The Crescent Hotel From the Backside
Without a doubt, the most infamous period of the hotel's existence was the 1937---1940 time frame.  Those were the years that the hotel was run by Dr Norman Baker, who turned the hotel into a hospital for cancer patients.

Dr Baker Claimed to Have Invented a Serum, which, Combined with X--Rays, Nutrition and the Area's Mineral Spring Water, Could Cure Cancer.  Apparently, Not Much Has Changed in the Past 70 Years.

That may sound like a noble pursuit, but unfortunately, in Dr Baker's case, it was anything but.  Touting a serum he had concocted as a "cure" for cancer, this quack lured thousands of patients from all over America.  Once he had their money, the patients were put in an asylum where they eventually died a horribly slow and painful death.  Often, the doctor would write to the loved ones of the patient and inform them that "Your aunt Maude is making wonderful progress, but we need more money to continue treatment".  Of course, when this type of letter was written, aunt Maude had already passed away.

The good doctor had an incinerator on the premises, and it was put to use in the middle of the night to dispose of the bodies.  There are many, many stories about the doctor---I would advise that the reader Google for more detailed information.
Mugshots of Dr Norman Baker After His Arrest.  He was Sentenced to Only Four Years in Prison and a Paltry $4,000 Fine
At any rate, it is no wonder, with the history of the place being so colorful, that ghosts are said to inhabit the premises.  In fact, the Crescent Hotel is one of the top ghost haunts in America.  This is part of the appeal, I suppose.

Cindy is afraid of three things---snakes, dentists and ghosts.  And this is a major reason for our visit.  She went on a ghost tour of the hotel the night we were there.  The guide was quite skilled at explaining all the ghosts that had been seen, and the events at the hotel over the years that had given rise to hundreds of sightings.
Dr Baker's Autopsy Lab
The tour visited Dr Baker's morgue---in the basement of the hotel.  Then the tour moved to the autopsy room.  Then to various rooms of the hotel that are said to be the most haunted. 
Picture of the "Ghost Maid" at the Crescent
The tour took two hours, and when Cindy got back to our room at 10:00, I have never seen her so wired.  When the door to our bathroom suddenly swung open without warning, she was ready to jump out the window.
The Hotel Dining Room is Spacious and Beautiful
Our visit was wonderful.  There was a little chapel just down the mountain from the hotel, and it would play Christian hymns that would echo across the forest every few hours.  There was a spring next to the hotel that was scenic and offered a place to reflect on its history.  The dining room and lobby of the hotel were magnificent.

Our Favorite Art Shop---The 83 Spring Street Gallery in Downtown Eureka Springs
 After a huge Thursday breakfast in the dining room, we visited our favorite art shop downtown, 83 Spring Street Gallery, before departing for home.  We had a wonderful trip, and a most excellent adventure.

Check out Cindy's more detailed version of events at the Crescent on her blog