Saturday, August 31, 2013

Robert Earl Keen...




We saw Robert Earl Keen last night at the Pineywoods Fine Arts Series Concert in Crockett, Texas. REK always has a good show, a good band and this might be about the second or third time he's been a blog character on these pages. 

This series has some good acts and upcoming in October is a Polka Fest with Brave Combo playing. Sadly we are working that weekend. In this photo the good citizens of Crockett honored REK with a coonskin hat. It's like the 175th anniversary of the city which is the 4th oldest town in Texas. I kind of like that. While some argue over who is the oldest town Crockett lays uncontested claim to fourth which is by far better than none at all. Here's the band. 

Here's bass player Bill. He's playing what looks like an old Danoelectric longhorn bass for some authentic 1950s thump.I bet it's not a real Dano since they are some what a cheapo of an instrument but a reissue by Jerry Jones, a Nashville guitar maker. 

One thing about REK is there is plenty of merchandise for sale at his shows. There were of course CDs, shirts, a guitar, a bunch of used books on cowboys from REK's personal collection and the usual stickers and couzees as well as the drummers drum heads and CDs by the band members. I bought this bass players cd. I was cheaper than the rest and that's kind of how I do, sell myself a little cheaper. 

The band closed with a nice acoustic version of a Billy Joe Shaver song.    Posted by Picasa

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Boats on the Coast...

Seems like I could have made a little better photos
 from this vacation. Don't know what I was thinking but I did get a few boat shots. 

Here's the shrimper "Captain Victory" dragging a net just offshore. Captain Victory is a comic book character. 

Tugs push a big tanker of some sort into the Freeport ship channel. 





They got her up in there. At work I usually have a patient or two that worked on tug boats as a young man. I also have a college student summer worker.He overheard our discussion of tug boats. He asked what it was tug boats did. At least he did ask a question. That's a good thing. 

Here's a shot from the beach house front yard. Tugs take a barge down the inter-coastal waterway. 



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Foot Progress...

Here's a photo of my foot 10 days after a sting ray sting. This is much better. It will get better than this because I have finished my work shift and can take it a bit easy. I usually work 9 and 10 hour days and while the foot felt pretty good walking and pumping all day it felt pretty bad and stiff each evening leaving me propped up on the couch. 

Probably a good thing for you guys. Means I haven't shown up at your house lately with a tuba or something like that. 

Seriously,  thanks for your prayers, calls and thoughts.  Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 26, 2013

And Now for my Birthday...

Every year for his birthday Miguel reads a long poem. It's an annual event. I mean I know the birthday is but the poem, as all good gonzo theater should operate has  overshadowed the original meaning and purpose of the day. Listen. He is about to begin:

"And Now For My Birthday"
by Miguel

They gathered from near and far
Sounds of celebration cruised the festive affair like a powerful car.
Such sights I have never seen.
Could all these people have come from my dream?
In my sleep I had this thought
That to stand and read a long poem was a gift that could not be bought. 
Here I stand and read
All the crazy thoughts since last year that have come to my head.
And as I draw back my lips and shake my tongue
Some of the things you do just before you have begun.
And the people shift in the seats
They know hearing a long poem is really a treat
I suddenly realize I have begun too soon
Because before reading a long poem one should go to the restroom. 
Miguel, Birthday 2013



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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Songs to Calm the Baby...

Warren is pretty calm for a baby so I don't think that's what is going on here. It's just not needed. Warren is pretty advanced for a baby so I think what is happening here is that he is stealing Grandma's finger picking licks. He is just going to have to store them away till the time to use it comes.

I think that kind of thing happens to us all the time through life. When a person is young or at least when I was young there was a lot of searching, traveling around and general screwing around and up that seemed to add up to some vast invincible store of knowledge that at least I seemed to possess. I say at least when I was young because today you look at a phone, a TV, a computer, or pay a fee to do some of these kind of things. I guess this counts and is not a totally altogether different thing but as with the baby in the photo we as humans have a brain that is generally very powerful in terms of recording observed things, interactions, parallels and allegories of life. It is possible to do these things and still be unable to solve math problems.

So I guess I am saying that you  is that something learned maybe 35 years ago (and if you are under 35 you may still be out there in the woods) might just be a piece of a puzzle that you have left unsolved until just today. Of course like any puzzle you must have kept that first piece to be able to match it with the last piece.  If you are on your toes there are may pieces to gather in our theoretical time span of 35 years and that's the easy part because the hard part is knowing when to put your piece out there so it makes sense.

The songs Cathy is working on are from the new Jason Isbell CD. We highly recommend it. Warren does also especially if his Grandma is playing the songs.  

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

More on the Ancestors...

Today we visit my 3rd great Grandfather Robert Wiley. I use this photo of the Mississippi River Bridge I snapped a couple of months ago as we passed from Missouri into Illinois. Seems like a good way to set the story because a lot of family history lies along the Mighty Mississippi even if it is in places farther south.

Robert was born in 1755 in North Carolina He was the only child of William and Mary. In 1760 he was still in North Carolina where he married Sara B who was born in 1757. They had 15 children from 1780 to 1808 sometimes at the inspiring pace of two a year. One of those in 1790 was my third great Grandfather Alexander. 

In the 1790 census Robert is in Guilford County North Carolina. According to Wikipedia that's now a huge mega-population industrial corridor but back then it was the site of early use of steam power to gin cotton. This southern county opposed slavery and was an important stop on the underground railroad. This is an interesting note because by the 1820 census the Robert household lists 8 "free white people" and 5 slaves. 

It's not clear at this point but it seems that in that same year, 1820, Robert found himself in Maury County Tenn. Maury County was the site of a race riot in 1946 spawned by a black returning Navy Vet and a white shopkeeper. Thurgood Marshall, future supreme court justice defended the vet in court. Now days it;s pretty quiet in Maury County which calls itself the Antebellum Home Capital of Tennessee and looks to be a rural retirement area with fishing, golf and community college events. 

It was here that back 1820 Robert woke up one day not feeling too well and either wrote of dictated this will. I say dictated because it seems to indicate he signed it with an "X":
Will of Robert Wiley, Maury County, 1820 
State of Tennessee, Maury County: In the name of God, Amen.
Robert Wiley    
  Will – Record Book C, page 221 – Columbia, Tennessee 
I, Robert Wiley, being weak in body but of sound and perfect mind and memory blessed be God for the same. I do make and publish this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following (that is to say) 
First I give and bequeath unto my beloved Wife Sarah Wiley all my personal Estate after my funeral expenses and just debts is paid, to have and to hold during her natural life as widowhood, Also my will is after the death or marriage of my wife that the negro boys Abram and Milford be sold to the highest bidder and the money arriving  from the sale to be equally divided among my children hereinafter named: John Wiley, Thomas Wiley, Robert S.Wiley, William Wiley,  Moses Wiley,  Andrew Wiley,  Polly Wiley, Margaret Wiley. 
Item 2nd I give and bequeath unto my son Alexander Wiley the track of land whereon I now live whereon his mother is to be supported during her life as widowhood by the care of said land.  Item 3rd I give and bequeath unto my 
daughter Sarah Thompson one negro woman named Flora after the death or marriage of my wife to her and her heirs forever, but provided the said negro woman Flora should have any increase before the death or marriage of my wife, my will is that it be sold and divided among the whole of my remaining heirs. 
And lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my beloved wife and my son Alexander Wiley my Executive and Executor of this my last will and testament hereby working all other or former wills or testaments by me heretofore made in witness whereof I have hereonto set my hand and seal the thirty first day of August 1820.                   
                    his
Robert    X   Wiley                
                mark 
Witness: Francis S. Perry              
              John Barns 
This Will of Robert Wiley was written 31 Aug, 1820 and recorded 1824.  The original handwritten copy as it written in Record Book C, page 221 (near the end of microfilm roll A—Prior to and Through 1824 Wills and Court Records) was found in  the microfilm files at Maury County Archives, East 6th Street, Columbia, Tennessee 38401.

Looks like old Robert held on 4 more years after this was written. My 3rd great grandfather executed the will and got the land. It's not easy for me to think about my family as slave owners. After all the Wileys are nice and mellow people these days but there will be more slave owner ship on both sides of the family documented as I continue to write this. I think about the descendants of old Abram, Milford and Flora. Other than this mention of their names in my family history I would think it impossible to construct a family tree for them. I do think it's ironic that of the places Robert lived the one that least favored slaves stayed kind of the same while the other grew into a huge industrial area full of opportunity for all. 

I am glad things are different now and I think it pays to be in a different place in mind, attitude and if necessary, location. Still some ghost out there to shake but it's being worked on. I think I'll close by paraphrasing old Honest Abe who said something like "freedom is not just about not owning a person, it's also about not wanting to be owned." 
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Returned to Work Today...


I returned to work today after missing the last couple of days of my vacation and the first day I should have been back to work. Things went pretty good  and it certainly does not seem anymore swollen. It's still pretty ugly and I won't post picture because to the untrained eye it looks sick.

I did have to practice all those things I teach my patients. Things such as good foot steps up, bad foot steps down. Put your bad foot a little out in front of your good foot sitting or standing to take off the pressure. Keep doing your ankle pumps and elevate your feet, it does help with edema. Rest if you need to and drink plenty of water. These things work. 

Speaking of water after swigging down a bottle on our vacation I teach grandson Warren what fun can be had from found objects. After you drink the water, let me hit you on the head with the bottle. Warren thought it was hilarious. 

I don't want you off my lawn and I know that a certain number of patients are going to be non compliant with any education but can you imagine doing this with an ipad? 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Photo Album for Mary and Miguel's Wedding...

So I am all laid up with my foot today. I sit and keep it elevated and follow doc's orders so I can make it back to work tomorrow. Trying to use my time as best I can I finely got around to making an online photo album for Mary and Miguel's wedding. It has taken most of the day, deciding and uploading. It's on a Pbase web site that makes it easy for non facebook users to look at my photos. There are also wedding albums for Rose and Juan, PK and next year there will be one for Morgan and Ali. 

These are a few of the official photos and photos I and others made. I seem to be lacking photos of the groom's parents and the couple so if anyone can email me some I'll post. Click here for the photos.


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Here's Good News...


Saturday evening as I sat on the beach house deck with family gathered around we watched a U.S. Coast Guard search unfold. I snapped a photo right before dusk of this Coast Guard boat from the porch. Zoomed up and cropped a little I think it looks a bit like a painting. I did not have such artistic thoughts at the time as the currents were strong that day and I figured it was a search for a body. 

As the boat headed up the Texas coast from the Freeport ship channel a big helicopter swept from San Luis Pass to the jetty and back several times. As dark fell the search stopped. The boat turned back and headed to the channel. I  think people have been drowning at the pass it the treacherous currents there for centuries. Reportedly Samuel Williams, a financier of the Texas Revolution spotted a floundering ship at the pass bringing a piano he had ordered to the island. He rushed down and the valuable  instrument was saved.  History does not recall if there was a human cost involved in floating it to shore through swift currents. Juan, who is a local state trooper has told me most drownings in this area involve parents drinking alcohol and forgetting to watch the kids. On Memorial Day there were 6 drownings in this area. 

This story ends happy. A  51 year old man falls off a small sail boat. He has on a life jacket. He swims to shore. He has big story to tell at work on Monday. Read the Coast Guard report here.  

Wearing a life jacket was a smart thing. In addition the above mentioned reasons for drowning people do dumb stuff while boating or fishing. Like not wearing sting ray guards while wade fishing. My stung foot is better today and I'll have a story to tell on my return to work tomorrow. I will be smarter like this guy and wear my equipment when on the water as accidents on the Texas coast don't always have happy endings.       Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Surf Fishing...







Ok, thanks for prayers, well wishes and many volunteers who offered free sharp debriedment services. My foot is better. It's also uglier and my doc wants me to take tomorrow off work as a precaution. Barring a down turn which is not likely I should be hobbling around the nursing home on Thursday. My doc said the urgent care doc did all the right stuff and that I will be awarded his patient of the month award. So in the meantime here are my award winning fishing photos. 

Cathy's cousin Michael fishes the surf as a shrimper passes. 


Juan does not wade deep when he fishes. He stays at the first gut. The beach is made up of several guts or ditch type structures separated by sand bars with the second gut being where you want to fish although I have caught bull red in the first gut. I was hit by the sting ray shallower than Juan stands here. 

Cathy's brother Matt lands a small hammer head shark. 






Cathy's dad wades out with a surf rod. He gets the longest surf rod award. 













My best fish of the trip a 24" Spanish Mackrel. I would not pick the mackrel as table fare at restaurant but I do like them fried fresh at the beach. 


My go to saltwater lure. It was given to me by Peter and comes from British Columbia. In the one fair day of fishing we had I caught speckled trout, sand trout, skipjack ladyfish and spanish mackrel on it. Near by were some waders with live bait and I think I was doing as well as them on the throw back undersize trout. I guess you could call this the tiki pattern and as you can see the toothy fishof the surf are knocking the paint off of it. 




A keeper mack caught by Morgan. Cathy's brother John also fished but at about the time I was being eaten by a sting ray so sorry I was too busy to get a photo of him.    Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 19, 2013

I Got Bit...



I have been on a beach vacation with no internet. I know you have been missing the hour by hour reports. But now I have something new to report on hour by hour. On Saturday morning wading in from the surf in less than knee deep water I suffered  a puncture wound caused by a sting ray or a gafftop catfish.

At this point we think sting ray although I always expected a sting ray to bring you to your knees with pain. That really did not happen till the next day when I could bear less than 20% weight on my left foot. Here is a photo after a Sunday morning trip to the urgent doc. I was laid up all day Sunday. By the way I got antibiotics and a couple of shots at the urgent doc. One shot was in the butt. They said my skin was thick back there but I think you knew that.






Here is the foot a few minutes ago. Mary, the nurse made the first picture. I made this photo. I know from my old hospital job where I made plenty of wound photos that a PTA can make a wound look a lot worse than a nurse can in a documentation photo.

I have a follow Up with my doc tomorrow.


Here are my nurses in a makeshift nurse station. They did a good job as did Matt and Miguel Sr. who loaded all my fishing gear for me. Thanks to Miguel Jr. for hugs and to Rose for the trip to get take out sushi. That's not the doc's orders the nurses are looking at. It's the sushi menu so it's kind of like doc's orders.

I did find out something. When everyone at the beach house sees you can't walk good they first grab the iphone and post to facebook BIG MAN DOWN!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Made a Little Rock Garden...

I was not real busy after work today so I laid out a little rock garden in the back yard. Had, a good message in mind, had plenty of room and most of the front yard was left over for parking.

The international space station waved as they saw it when they passed over. Maybe even the flying saucer guys will take me up. Again.   Posted by Picasa

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Friday, August 09, 2013

A Most Perfect Rainbow...

Took this photo from my back yard after the last rain. That's been a few weeks ago so it's getting pretty dry as the summer heat sets in. Let's all spend more time at the lake, drinking a frosty beverage or making cool pictures. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Turn on the Fans...



It has about got hot around here this past week so I guess I'll turn on the fans. Seriously folks no matter how large an image I create for myself in the online swath I cut through the internet with this blog these fans are not in my back yard. I spotted them from the window of an Amtrak train on a recent ride from Springfield, Ill. to Chicago. 

It's a pretty common sight to see one of these big blades in transport, loaded on the trailer of a big truck and speeding down the highway. I have seen small installations of these energy producing wind turbines but this is the first time I have see hundreds of them stretching into the distance across the flat green American heartland.  A local company, Lufkin Industries produces some of the gear box components for these units so this is a sight that demonstrates the growth of a company built on pumping units into a new field that promises jobs for our community. It takes money to build new energy sources and it looks like someone has put their money on the fact that oil is not forever, global warming is real and renewable energy is possible.  


Here's a photo of the train we caught as it pulled into the Springfield station. That dome in the back ground is the courthouse where Lincoln practiced law before he was President. We decided not to drive into Chicago because of the good public transport, the hassle of parking in a big, crowded city and we wanted to have fun riding the train. For the three hour trip a round trip ticket cost $40. I met a guy on the train who was riding into town to see the Astros play the Cubs. We had struck up a conversation because I had tickets for the next day's game. As I thought about it, this guy rides into town and back for $40, buys his baseball ticket, couple of bucks here and there for a train or bus around the city and a world of bars and restaurants available around Wrigley Field in walking distance.  I don't think I could do an Astros or Rangers game for that cheap driving my own car. Too bad we don't have this in Texas. When I see Rick Perry I'll thank him for the nice toll roads. 

Of course I found out later the game my train friend attended had a several hour rain delay so depending on your comfort level with sudden changes to your travel plan you may or may not enjoy the possibility of the unknown during the trip into town. 

Cathy really was excited about riding the train. So excited she had to take a nap. It was that comfortable. Better and roomier than a plane and although I have not ridden a Greyhound bus in 40 years I assume quieter and more peaceful. Plenty of coffee and snacks in the dining car and note the handy plug ins for your appliance. If you need wifi though you will have to up grade to business class. I think a general upgrade, when practical  would be nice to the way we do somethings. 

       Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Box Guitars for Sale...

Finished another guitar this weekend. Ladies and gentlemen meet the "Preacher" model and it's for sale. I found this ceder Bible box at a local thrift store. It did not have a Bible in it just in case you are wondering. Neck is pine with an ebony stain. It has a pizeo disc pick up for the electronics. First song that seemed to leap out of this instrument was Robert Johnson's "If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day." 





As with my thrift store box finds there are some imperfections. This is second hand re purposed stuff. New things are available for purchase anywhere down town. 

The acoustic sound of this guitar is good, more guitar like than the cigar tin box which sounds banjo like and is not as loud acoustically.  The electric sound of this guitar is clean and a bit shrill with my home made amp. I did not try it through a tube amp which should improve things quite a bit with the possibility of adjustable bass and treble. The electric sound of the tin guitar is dirty slide guitar blues. You will need a small amp at a jam session playing these instruments.

I browsed at the pawn shop the other day and there was a whole rack of Asian made firewood priced from $39 to $99. Certainly some serviceable little guitars and I thought about buying one to part out and make a couple of box guitars from it. Not a lot of character to those guitars though. People bought them and did not play them from the looks of things. 


I am now offering some of my guitars for sale. If you want to sound like 10 miles North of West Memphis on a Sunday morning and you are in church with your Saturday night clothes on I have the guitars for you. A quick look at Ebay shows a standard cigar box lowest price buy it now $125 plus shipping. I'll sell this guitar and the Little Tom Cigar guitar $95 each including a slide and a finger pick to a local and throw in a free lesson. If I have to ship you pay and don't get the free lesson.  

Guitars are as is. They work well but have some imperfections due to re purposed materials. If you need better pictures I can email. 

Keep looking in here for other guitars for sale. 


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Friday, August 02, 2013

Build #10 and an Amp...




Here is box guitar build #10. Also pictured is my first amp build. 

The guitar body is a tin cigar box I picked up at a roadside storage building sale. I guess that's what it's called. There is a little row of storage units and people open them up and have little junk shops inside. I found this Little Tom cigar tin. It looks to date from the 1920s and it shows it's age a bit. Look around on the net and you can find some pretty clean tins like this for not much more than I paid and I got it cheap.

I got a little bold on this headstock design. I don't think I'll use poplar again at least not until the weather cools off. Seems like cutting and sanding was a sweaty job. Maybe I'll just use poplar for the simple stuff and pine and ceder for jobs that require more cutting as they are softer. 




Here's a closer look at the tin and the amp. More on the amp in a minute. On the tin there are no health warnings. This is from the days when stuff was not bad for you I am sure. I can imagine Little Tom sitting in a warehouse rolling, packing and smoking these things everyday. It does note on the side of the box that cigars contained herein are not to retail for more than 5 cents and $0 tax. 

This is my first amp build. It's a little three inch speaker and a 2.5 watt circuit board and runs on a 9 volt battery. Note the red LED light in the corner. The leads to the board I soldered the light, speaker and jack. I tried several guitars, cigar and non-cigar and this new build which has a disc peizo is the loudest one. The circuit board has a trim pot which can be turned up or down and with this guitar I had to turn it down as it was too nasty. 

So how does this sound? I recorded an old Lefty Frizzell tune, Long Black Veil as an example. Lefty recorded this tune in 1959. It was not his usual fare but he was trying to cash in on the great folk scare of the time. I don't expect to cash in on this but thanks for listening to my guitars.   Posted by Picasa

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