Wonderful trees
Especially in summer.
Green leaves
Comforting shade.

Each with a personality:
Tall and skinny,
Squat and stout and grumpy,
Evergreen joy.

Bent by the wind –
An awesome sight.
Protecting things,
Such as houses.

Providing wildlife homes –
Squirrels scampering between the limbs,
Forever in quest of food,
Climbing and descending without fear of
Birds between the branches –
Nursery for their children,
Sleeping at night,
Protection from predators.

An ancient oak, regal in the front yard,
Over 100 years old.
Generational stories!
Soldiers going off to war,
A mother cradling her baby,
Grandfather’s passing,
The blizzard.

Can trees talk? People debate.
A twilight summer evening
Beneath a limb
Book in lap.
Today’s cares bearing down,
Trees whisper alluringly,
Beckoning to calm and peace.
Life’s storms dissolve with dusk.

Winners this week, October 11 through 16 – Volleyball and Football

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The usual disclaimer. There is no science involved in this. These are just my picks, subject to being incorrect. This week looks like there are plenty of opportunities for me to be wrong.

Last week was not bad as far as picking was concerned. I picked every local football game correctly, and 4 of 6 soccer champions.

This week is going to be more challenging. There are a lot of different volleyball sectional champion variables, and a couple of sectionals where 3 or 4 different outcomes would not surprise me.

Here they are.
Football – last week I picked 4 to win, which they did. This week I have 6, and the 2 that lose are facing another local team.

Providence over North Harrison
New Albany over Floyd Central
Jeffersonville over Jennings County
Silver Creek over Corydon
Charlestown over Eastern (Pekin)
Clarksville over Rock Creek


1A at Rock Creek.
It is difficult to pick against Rock Creek, which has won the last 4 sectional titles, so I will not.
Thursday – Rock Creek over Borden; New Washington over South Central
Saturday morning – Rock Creek over Shawe Memorial; Lanesville over New Washington
Saturday championship – Rock Creek over Lanesville

2A at Christian Academy of Indiana
Tuesday – Paoli over CAI
Thursday – Henryville over Eastern (Pekin); Mitchell over Crawford County
Saturday morning – Paoli over Clarksville; Mitchell over Henryville
Saturday championship – Mitchell over Paoli

3A at Scottsburg
This one was very difficult to pick. Many teams had good seasons. I changed my mind numerous time, and by the time this sectional is finished, I likely will have wished I had stuck with some earlier picks.
Tuesday – Silver Creek over North Harrison
Thursday – Scottsburg over Salem; Corydon over Charlestown
Saturday morning – Silver Creek over Madison; Corydon over Scottsburg
Saturday championship – Silver Creek over Corydon

4A at Providence
Thursday – Floyd Central over Jeffersonville; Providence over Seymour
Saturday morning – Floyd Central over Jennings County; Providence over New Albany
Saturday championship – Providence over Floyd Central

Winners This Week – Wednesday through Saturday

Many of our Clark & Floyd teams have not had the best of seasons, but I have four of the eight as winners this week. Here are this week’s predictions. Nothing scientific here. Just my personal predictions.

Charlestown over Salem
Providence over Corydon
New Albany over Seymour
Floyd Central over Jennings County
Brownstown over Silver Creek
Edinburgh over Rock Creek
Columbus East over Jeffersonville
South Central (Union Mills) over Clarksville

Soccer Boys’ Sectional Predictions

1A at TrinityLutheran
Tonight: Providence over Henryville; Rock Creek over Trinity Lutheran
Championship: Providence over Rock Creek. It is difficult to go against the defending state champs, but this may be the best opportunity for anyone local.

2A at Scottsburg
Tonight: Silver Creek over Charlestown; North Harrison over Madison
Championship: Silver Creek over North Harrison

3A at New Albany
Tonight: Columbus East over New Albany; Columbus North over Floyd Central
Championship: Columbus East over Columbus North

SoccerGirls’ Sectional Predictions

1A at Christian Academy
Thursday: Southwestern over Austin; Providence over Trinity Lutheran
Championship: Providence over Southwestern

2A at Madison
Tonight: Scottsburg over Salem; Madison over North Harrison
Thursday: Silver Creek over Corydon; Madison over Scottsburg
Championship: Silver Creek over Madison

3A at Jennings County
Thursday: Jeffersonville over New Albany; Floyd Central over Bedford North Lawrence
Championship: Jeffersonville over Floyd Central

Televised sports does not cater to senior citizens.

October 5, 2021

The baseball playoffs begin this evening with a pitiful concoction called the wild card game. This is a profit-generating device that serves no useful purpose.

In a one-game playoff, the worse team can easily take the place of the more-deserving one. This year’s National League game, set for tomorrow, is a prime example. A season that encompasses 162 games will not determine who moves on to the real playoffs and who packs up until next spring. No, a one-game winner-takes-all will settle that matter.

The Dodgers have the second-best record in all of baseball at 105-56, yet they might have to start making plans for next year after tomorrow evening because a team with 90 wins can beat them one time to get the chance to play in the divisional series.

I have long ties with baseball and my love for the game. However, major league baseball has done a great deal to drive me – and a great number of long-time fans – away for a number of years. The starting place for my grievances begins with starting times for evening games. I am usually in bed by the time the second inning rolls around. It is simply easier not to watch at all, and that is usually my game plan.

The prolonged games because of incessant and tiresome commercial breaks rank high on my list of reasons not to watch as well. However, this does not just apply to baseball, but nearly all televised sports. Years ago, when I was a newspaper writer, I attended numerous college football games. One particular season I had games two weeks in a row. The first one was nationally televised, and it took four hours and fifteen minutes to play, and there were prolonged periods of dead time on the field while everyone waited for an official to get word from the booth that the network was ready to resume the telecast. The second one was not televised in any form because one of the teams was banned from all television that season. That game took two hours and forty-five minutes to conclude.

Of course, we are all familiar with the “those last two minutes on the clock took 25 minutes in real time” complaint. It is real and will remain with us. Why not? Huge commercial profit margins during that time.

I will likely look at scores the next morning throughout the baseball playoffs, and once again not watch the World Series, let alone much if any of the playoffs, in baseball, the NBA, or the NCAA basketball tournament.

Of all the major sports, I thought major league baseball playoffs and Word Series would be the last thing I would stop watching. I was wrong.

I have loved sports throughout my entire life. Most of them have quit reciprocating that love for me, though. I am not longingly looking for a return to the past when things were simpler for the viewer. I understand why things are the way they are and that they will not change just for me or long-time (older) sports fans. Televised sports in our time does not cater to senior citizens.

Photo Blog

July 5, 2021

I just recently purchased a good camera for the first time in my life. With the help of a couple of friends, I have also started to learn to process them. Here are some early results.

Various flowers surrounding lavender
Ground cover in a raised bed
A day lily absorbing the evening sun

The Legend of Six-Toe Jones

The Legend of Six-Toe Jones

You have undoubtedly never heard of Shadrach Duvalle Jones. His memory is long forgotten, or it would be if there were anyone who had been with him when he passed. For that matter, it is unknown exactly when he left this life. Shadrach Duvalle Jones became a vapor. He simply vanished.

            There can be no doubt whatsoever that he departed from this world. He provided much evidence of his existence while alive. That evidence—rather the lack of it—testifies of his death.

            Shadrach Duvalle Jones entered life on June 23, 1903. Sufficient documentation verifies this account.

            He came to manhood during the Roaring Twenties, and he absorbed every ounce of pleasure from it. He also became quite wealthy, at least on paper. In the process, he became the antithesis of his favorite literary character from childhood, Robin Hood. Indeed, he had no scruples of ignoring or even dispossessing the poor, the down-on-his-luck man or woman. He looked down on them and showed no patience or extended no charity.

            Shadrach Duvalle Jones was a self-made man, in his eyes only successful because of his own financial prowess, his own skills, his own mental acuity. To him, he was an example for all men for all time. “Anyone who can’t make money is unworthy of help,” he thought often. He had nothing but disdain for the poor. There was no greater sin in his eyes than poverty.

            Two life-altering events changed his thinking and changed the direction of his life. The stock market crash of 1929 turned him overnight into a penniless soul. Initially, he assumed he would make it all back in a short time. That proved fruitless, of course. His fall back plan was to return to the family homestead in Oklahoma and temporarily return to farming, a vocation he loathed, yet found necessary.

            The Dust Bowl sealed the fate of the family farm, so for the first time in his life, Shadrach Duvalle Jones found himself homeless, unemployed, destitute, and growing increasingly hopeless.

            He took to the rail, living in Hooverville shacks, moving frequently in search of employment and a steady income. Over time, he began to understand the mindset of those like him. Introspection informed him he had been wrong in judging the poor. He felt ashamed for his own want, but more so for the cruel ways he had treated and thought about the poor. He vowed somehow to make amends.

            Shadrach Duvalle Jones grew increasingly bitter. His despair grew along with compassion for others. He gradually learned to hate those with whom he had previously associated, especially those who retained their wealth after the Crash. They simply had been lucky. And they still, as far as he could discern, showed no compassion for the poor.

            Shadrach put together a tentative plan to start to set things right. The wealthy would be his target. The downtrodden would be his beneficiaries.

            He commenced b jumping on a train—as a non-paying passenger in a boxcar—to New York City. This provided him with a huge field to harvest. Two nights after he arrived, he broke into the opulent home of an investor with whom he had done business. His purpose was simply to burglarize the place. Something fractured in his psyche once inside the residence. The owner and his wife were present and asleep, and after bagging up the stolen booty, Shadrach stealthily crept into the master bedroom, pulled the covers from of the sleepers’ feet, and calmly cut of the man’s pinky toe with a bolt cutter he had brought. He fled without being recognized.

            To demonstrate the condition of his tortured mind, Shadrach, upon returning to a shack where he had taken temporary residence, struck the detached toe on a chain he always wore around his neck. It had great sentimental value, having belonged to his mother’s mother.

            He took the proceeds from the burglary and gave them to other homeless dwellers nearby. Having received an abundance of gratefulness from the recipients of his generosity, and also getting ample mental and emotional satisfaction from the execution of his crime, Shadrach embarked on an ambitious plan to produce greater results. He duplicated his first feat, and then he left another larger city, where he performed the same act. He never stayed in a location for more than one burglary, endeavoring to spread the bounty around as much as possible. Each time for the first six episodes, he extracted a toe from the victims and strung the toe around his neck on the chain.

            Because of incessant moving about the country, authorities were never able to catch up with him or predict his next action. The poor always knew when he was in town, however. He never disappointed them, either. “Six Toe’s here,” was the whisper in the community of the lowest rank. He wore the chain always, but never visibly when not around his own kind.

            Some in the poorest sectors say he died in Kansas City. Others tell it as New Orleans. In most large cities, the poorest believe he died there. No one knows for sure. The only certainty is that at some definite point, Six-Toe Jones quit contributing to their needs. Most people believe it was just after the end of World War II.

            The chain with the toes was never located. Neither was his grave if there was one. Some people have hypothesized that Six-Toe Jones, the legend, never existed, just a man named Shadrach Duvalle Jones, who disappeared after the start of the Great Depression.

Safari – The Elusive Napkindebeest

While visiting a state park recently, I deposited myself on a bench while my wife went inside a small “mercantile” to purchase some dish towels. After a short while, another man approached the bench, requested permission to sit on the other end, which I granted, and together we watched his wife join mine.

Living in the Midwest, small talk comes easily, and in less than two minutes we had commenced on a conversation that encompassed the weather, our children, our grandchildren, the latest hot-button topic on the news, and of course, our wives. Towards the end of our discussions, a very upright, impeccably-dressed man walked past us.

“See that man?” inquired my new friend.

“Sure. What about him?” I asked.

“I think he’s counting rocks on the sidewalk, or blades of grass. At any rate, he’s calculating something in his head. Know what I mean?”

I chuckled. “Yep, I believe I do. Accountant?”

“Darn right. No doubt. Reminds me of an accountant I had at work years ago. Anthony Backus was his name. We called him Abacus. Dry as the desert at noon. No personality whatsoever. Unable to cultivate relationships. And talk about strange.”

He paused and I pondered.

“Strange?” I finally asked. “How so?”

“Well,” my new acquaintance resumed, “you know how most people have habits and routines they follow? At least many people do.”

I shook my head in the affirmative.

“Oh, you know what I mean,” he continued. “For instance, I have a routine I faithfully employ as soon as I walk in the door. First, I go directly to my office, where I get out my wallet, my keys, and my cell phone, and I put them in the exact same location on the corner of my desk. Then, I take off my shoes and put them in the same spot I always keep them. So on and so on. I’m not officially at home until I perform all my routines. I do that for a purpose, so I will never lose anything, like my keys or my wallet.”

“Yeah, I do something like that,” I replied. “Pretty routine. And you know what drives me crazy sometimes? When somebody takes it upon themselves to clean up for me. Then, I can’t find what I’m looking for.”

“That’s right,” he said. “Woe to those who mess with our stuff.”

“There’s one thing that absolutely drives me crazy,” I resumed, “and that’s something that happens in our kitchen table.”

He looked at me quizzically.

“Napkins,” I replied.


“Yes. It seems like there’s a place for every little item on our table. The salt, pepper, seasoned salt, hot sauces, and everything like that is always in the exact same spot, no matter when I go in the kitchen. However, if I venture in there during an off time, when we’re not sitting down to eat, and I’m getting a snack, I always have to face the task of tracking down the mobile napkin basket. One time it’s right in the middle of the table, the next time it’s down at the far end where nobody sits. Still another time it may be simply sitting in a chair. Later the same day, it may not even be at the table, but on a counter or sitting on top of our ice maker. Sometimes I give up searching and just grab a paper towel – they’re always hanging in the same place underneath a cabinet. I tell you, there’s no rhyme or reason.”

“I know what you mean,” he said. “I used to have t-shirts that grew legs. Sometimes I would wear them once, and then it’s like they entered the witness protection program. Never saw them or heard from them again.”

“Underwear,” I said. “Same thing. Almost got to the point where I thought I was going to have to purchase new underwear weekly.”

“Now that’s tough,” he replied.

“Fortunately, I discovered the problem. My wife loves to hang things out on the clothesline. She likes the smell of clothes dried in the fresh air. That works until someone in the neighborhood decides to burn leaves or start a small bon fire. That’s not often, though.

“When the children were young, my wife would frequently have them retrieve things from the line, a task which a couple of my children disapproved of. One day, I had to go on the roof to take care of some things – loose shingle and clean out the gutter. When I got up there, what do I find? You guessed it – underwear. Seems one child in particular so disliked bringing in the laundry that he would just toss items up on the roof, and he loved my underwear the best.”

“I’m really curious about the napkins,” my friend said. “Have you ever had any resolution of this? Why did your wife move them around all the time?”

I shook my head back and forth.

“I’d like to say she was just in the habit of cleaning the table, and when she came to the basket of napkins, simply moved it to clean. But that doesn’t make a lot of sense, for why wouldn’t other things be mobile as well? But it’s just the napkins. Sadly, the only conclusion I come to is, she just does it to aggravate me. I haven’t said anything about it for a long time. It’s not worth the effort or potential argument. But I think she senses my frustration and just keeps on doing it. When I go into the kitchen to get a snack, sometimes I want to take a toy gun and pretend that I’m on an African safari in search of the elusive Napkindebeest. It does amuse me, though, because it appears as if they move not just every day, but multiple times per day.”

“Maybe…” he began. “No, that’s too stupid.”

“What?” I said.

He laughed at himself. “I was thinking maybe they’re doing it on their own.”

“I’ve had that thought,” I replied. “More than once.”

At this moment, each of our wives came out the door, chatting. They commented on our being involved in a discussion as well. Each family was staying at the inn, and we made plans to enjoy dinner together that night.

“Hopefully we won’t have to search for napkins,” I said so that he could hear, but my wife couldn’t. We both chuckled.

“One more thing,” I said. “What about the accountant?”

“Oh, yes,” he replied. “About the most obsessive-compulsive person I have ever encountered. He was not like you or me or any ordinary person. We deal with things. He couldn’t. Finally married, but it wasn’t a good match. She was rather messy, and he couldn’t take having many things being out of place. He eventually tried to poison her. Divorce wasn’t enough for him. He had to eliminate this gene pool pollutant – his wife—from all living creatures. He believed he was in the right and was doing a service to humanity. He’s been in prison for eight years.”

They Don’t Want Me, But I’ll Stay

She had turned her head away,
Now she turned it slowly back again.
It was crimson
And there were tears in her eyes.

She spoke now with all the childishness
Back in her voice:

“Why should I go away?
And be made to go away?
They don’t want me,
But I’ll stay.
I’ll stay and make everyone sorry.
I’ll make them all sorry.
Hateful pigs!”

Found poem from The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

Jeff’s Leap from Cowardice to Bravery

Note: this story originates from a Creative Writing class I taught for middle school students. Its object was to identify conflicts. There are at least 4 conflicts able to be easily identified.

We told Jeff it was too far. There was no way he could make it. Jimmy Landers told him. Marc Coomer told him. I was at the point of tears, begging him not to try. Even Monte Sidebottom, the one boy who cared for no one, told him it was impossible.

“Please, Richard,” the tears were streaming down my face. If you miss…you’ll…you’ll…”

Jeff looked down at me from the tree limb at least 40 feet off the ground. He smiled slightly.

“You think if I miss, I’ll die?” he said. “That’s what it looks like from here. I suppose you’re right. What’s life, though, without chances? The people who do the most are the chance takers.”

There are certain moments that carve images and memories into our brains like a wood burning set. For the remainder of our lives, when we think of those moments, we replay the event. Whenever we go to the physical place where it happened, we replay the event. Smells, sights, sounds, the weather, and the various other parts of the moment make us replay the event. It is indelible.

For Jimmy, Marc, Monte, and me, this event became the fulcrum of our lives. Everything from this point revolved around it. No matter how much we have tried to remove ourselves from it, we just went in a circle and ended up at the same place.

Monte Sidebottom is more to blame than anyone else. His incessant taunting and teasing of Jeff over weeks or months drove Jeff to the top of that tree. When Monte had made fun of Jeff and told him he was nothing more than a momma’s boy earlier that day, and that he was even afraid of his own shadow and let his momma take care of everything for him, that’s what pushed Jeff to climb to the top. He wanted to prove he was not a coward, simply nothing else.

True, Jeff came up with the idea himself, not Monte, but Monte drove him to it. At heart, Monte was a bully, and he enjoyed watching people suffer.

There was a legend among the neighborhood boys that someone had climbed to the top of the same tree years previously and had leaped from one of the highest branches to the roof of what used to be Hodge’s Drugstore, but was now an “antiques” store filled with junk. None of the floors above the first floor were used anymore. The building was four stories high.

Although none of us had ever contemplated such a foolhardy thing, Jeff suddenly announced this particular day, after goading by Monte, that he was going to prove his bravery in a way no other boy had done in years. He was a small, cute little boy, usually shy around strangers, and soft-spoken, even around us. A small birth mark on his neck stood out. When he explained that he was going to make the leap from the tree to the roof, everyone told him not to do it.

It was no use. He began his ascent up the tree, slowly weaving his way through branches. Twice he looked down at us, and each time I believe he nearly talked himself out of continuing. Monte did not make fun of him now. I thought I saw traces of fear on Monte’s face. Certainly, he understood that if anything happened to Jeff, he would be the one people would blame.

Near the top he came. All of us were yelling at him, begging him to stop. Jeff perched on a limb. He was calculating the distance and how much effort he would have to give.

Now bawling, I frantically yelled one last time, something Jeff ignored, just as he had ignored all our pleas. I turned and ran. Not because I was fearful of watching, but because I wanted to get some adult help, someone to talk Jeff out of this leap to death. Monte called me. I did not hear all he said, but there was fear in his voice.

I ran down the street and around the corner to Mr. Stevenson’s house, where I pounded on the door. Mr. Stevenson answered—he was always home during the day—looked quizzically at me, deduced the gravity of the situation after I spouted some incoherent words, and he said, “Take me to him.”

When we got in view, Jimmy and Marc were standing next to the building, wailing great sobs. Monte was nowhere to be seen. As we got closer, we could also see Jeff’s broken body on the ground. Mr. Stevenson somehow summoned help. Police and an ambulance came, but it was no use.

Jimmy, Marc, and I rarely see each other anymore. We never quit being friends after that day, but we also never spent time together like we had in the past. I do not know what became of Monte. His family must have moved out of town. I have not seen him in more than 30 years.

Jeff had proven he was not a coward, but that act that provided the proof removed any reason for proving it. In finality, all it did was condemn Jimmy, Marc, and me—and I suppose Monte—to a lifetime of horror and regret. What a terrible thing for eleven-year-olds to have to witness.