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  #51  
Old 04-24-2013, 08:19 AM
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Default Re: New studio

The wheel of fortune
I have been betting my life for many years, at times the wheel came up in my favor other times it drew a blank and I lost. Fourteen years ago Mexico was a 35 thousand peso bet that everyone but Franca said would lead to my ruin. “It could not be done and I would lose it all.” Today, the property has sold, that wheel has stopped in my favor giving us a winner to the sum of some 4.5 million pesos. I think this is my last bet, except at a friendly game of cards at the poker tables. I am cashing out with enough money to spend the rest of my remaining years in comfortable retirement.
There was a time when the only thing I had to wager was my life and my credit card of desire to become an engraver.
Life has been a great adventure with many unexpected events.
Thank you God for giving me this beautiful day.
Thank you God tor all these gifts you have given me, they have exceeded my wildest dreams
Thank you God for my beautiful wife. Thank you for this extra bit of life.
Keep me a motivated, honest man.
He who was once destitute with no roof over his head
Your servant,
Joseph engraver, Man of Leisure
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  #52  
Old 04-24-2013, 04:11 PM
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Default Re: New studio

Joseph,

Forget the poker tables. Take the money and run for your life!!! Get out of Mexico on the next plane and never look back.

Sincerely,

Roger
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  #53  
Old 05-14-2013, 08:11 AM
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Default safe and sound in Sarzana Italy

Looking for a new studio and home.Exciting times ahead.
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  #54  
Old 05-15-2013, 05:24 AM
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Default Re: New studio

Joseph & Franca, Great news ! You have arrived safe! We will be looking forward to your new chapter of activity and adventure. Good luck in finding a studio and home base . Make sure Franca has what she needs in her kitchen and entertainment space ! Best Regards Steve Cook
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  #55  
Old 05-15-2013, 06:26 PM
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Default Re: New studio

Joseph,

The sound you can hear all the way to Italy is me breathing a sigh of relief at your safe departure from Mexico and arrival in Sarzana. Keep us posted on your new phase of life.

Kind regards,
Roger
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  #56  
Old 05-16-2013, 08:03 AM
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Default Re: New studio

Welcome in Italy..
All the best for your new life!
Stefano
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  #57  
Old 05-26-2013, 07:43 AM
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Default Re: New studio

ZIhuatanejo to Mexico city
At Zihuatanejo airport we presented our documents and were asked for Jacks health certificates. I presented seven pages of veterinarian signed stamped documents along with his up to date vaccination book
I had done a lot of research over the web on what would be required to transport the dog on an airline to Europe and was confident that all was in order. I knew that he could not go if the temperature was too cold; we had waited until May to book our return trip. His shipping crate had to be a certain size, he had to have containers for food and water, be fed and watered before departure, medicated for parasites not more than five days prior to shipping. We were boarded without a problem. It was at Mexico City check in counter that we ran into a problem. The crate and dog put us over the weight limit and the cost of shipping would be an extra three hundred dollars. This was not a problem, after all we had signed the sales contract on our property the day before and had picked up enough money from the sale to let us live in comfort for the rest of our lives. Then came the big shock. According to the ticket clerk Boxer dogs were on a no fly list and he would not be allowed into Europe. I had also checked into this and knew that this was not so, although there are some breeds that were prohibited such as Pit Bulls and Bulldogs. Boxers were not on the list. I pointed to his registration papers and showed the clerk his breed. Many phone calls and two hours later I was told to take the dog and his documents down to the official animal exportation veterinarian’s office for examination. So, back onto the baggage cart, then down the elevator, across the lower level of Mexico International airport and into a small office staffed by a young girl that spoke English. I showed her the seven pages of documents that were filled out by a vet in Zihuatanejo. She looked them over then sent me to a shop to have them photo copied. The shop sold cigarettes and aspirin ,which I badly needed by then.
I paid for the copies and headed back to the elevator to the exportation office with Jack. On arrival the girl handed me more forms to fill out and sign. Then the vet showed up looked at the papers and at Jack, then nodded his head and said that Jack was indeed a Boxer. He signed the forms, stamped them with an official seal and left. Boarding time was getting close my patience was getting short, still more copies with the vets seal were needed. The girl went to her copy machine and started to print them out. Then the damned machine jammed. She would print one, the machine would jam. She would open it up pull out a torn piece of paper and print one more. All the time I am praying God please help. Eventually I had all the paperwork copied and took Jack back to the elevator then up ´to the second floor and found Franca nervously waiting at check in, handed over all the papers and watched Jack disappear on the baggage belt. On our arrival in Paris we found Jack waiting for us at baggage claim. He was badly in need of a tree.
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File Type: jpg My friend Bob at the Zihuatanejo airport.jpg (175.2 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg waiting for the plane MX city.jpg (166.5 KB, 0 views)
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  #58  
Old 05-29-2013, 12:29 AM
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Default Re: New studio

Close call ,but seems God answered that one.

michael
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  #59  
Old 06-03-2013, 06:52 AM
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Default Re: New studio

May 12)
Well, here we are still looking for the prefect home .I have been trying to convince Franca that perfect is not to be found anywhere in the world: not even in the finest engraving. We (she) have looked at about 15 places and she is still undecided. I am about ready to make the decision for her. There Is one home (The first one we looked at the day after our arrival here)) that has everything needed to make us a great place, except that it has but one bathroom which in her opinion should be two. This bathroom is large has a fine shower, bidet, bathtub with a Jacuzzi and sculpted pink marble wash basin. The house has white Carrara marble floors in the bath, kitchen, and living room. There is a nice laundry room and (Gasp)a dishwasher. There are hard wood floors in the two bedrooms so my feet won’t be cold on those winter nights, the living room also has a nice fire place for those chilly night when one would like to snuggle up and watch a movie with a good glass of brandy. There is a fine view, parking ,fenced and gated yard, lilac bushes, an olive, and a magnolia tree and a great space to for me to grow a small garden. I have been patient in her search for perfection ,¨But¨¨¨¨ after staying in a Very small apartment with no place for the dog to do what a dog needs to do for the last three wks it is time to move on and she will have to live with one bathroom.
Negotiations are now underway with the landlord, things are looking up. (June 6)Today we signed a contract to rent the house for the next four years. Renting a home in Italy is a complex and costly process, now we need to get setup with a telephone line and computer connection, then get the gas and electricity in Franca´s name as it is much easier than explaining the fact that I have only one name. I will post photos after we move in. The property deal in Mexico has fallen apart but I expect it to sell before we run out of money in the next five years
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  #60  
Old 06-17-2013, 04:13 AM
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Default Re: New studio

There is always a fly that lands in the soup.
The home that we have rented, which I thought was Ideal as a place to spend the rest of my life in peace, enjoying growing a garden ,planting flowers ,painting and writing Has a madman living in the basement under us. He is the landlord’s father, I don’t think he is much older than me.
He sleeps most of the day then starting around sunset begins yelling and cursing. I don’t know if is because he gets drunk or he is just mad or both. The police have been here once since we moved in a week ago. They came to see if he was in need of assistance, he sent them away. The son came to visit him and there was a loud argument between them that lasted an hour or so. He curses me and my dog Jack, who seems to be unaffected by the whole thing.
Very early in the morning around three he starts banging on the wall next to where we are sleeping. Then he starts cursing and yelling until he finally goes to sleep about dawn. My wife is about to have a breakdown from lack of sleep and I am at my wits end. The consequence is that we have given the required six months notice that we will be vacating this very beautiful home. I have already started buying flowers and set out tomato plants and was going to organize my new studio this week, now everything is on hold. Our bedroom furniture that we ordered a week ago arrives in the next day or so. Tomorrow Internet and phone gets connected and kitchen furniture arrives.>Does anyone know a magical spell that can silence a crazy man, or a potion that I can take to keep my sanity? We continue the search for the perfect home and tranquil studio here in Ital.Meanwhile the amount of wine I drink at dinner time increases.
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  #61  
Old 06-17-2013, 06:02 AM
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Default Re: New studio

Joseph,
Sorry to hear you are in this dilema. Before Central State Mental Hospital was closed in Indiana , there was an art program that was benificial to the patients . Not all could participate but it was found that many who thought to be hopeless found an out let and relief of thier mental suffering thru painting . As an outside chance maybe this fellow can lighten up a bit if this were to happen . Too bad he has his gaurd up . He has such good neighbors . Even Jack is ready to cut him some slack . This is wishfull thinking of course , I am not there to experience it as you and Franca. In reality your neighbor may not be in control of his mental state . You ask about a majic spell , how about " Bipity Bopity Boo ! " And a potion to keep your sanity . My advice is to enjoy a glass or 2 of you favorite wine in the presents of those who you love and remember that this problem can change or will change . In the mean time, get the tomatoes in the ground , Franca will have need of them . I hope I have not trivialized your situation, It is my intent to encourge you to look for a a creative way to encounter this person . If he is sane he has no idea what he is missing by not welcoming you and Franca into his life . I hope you get some rest and relief from this situation . Best Regards Steve Cook
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  #62  
Old 06-17-2013, 06:31 AM
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Default Re: New studio

Thanks for the sympathy Steve.I have long ago discovered that things have a way of working out for the better with patience and good humor.
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  #63  
Old 06-17-2013, 12:56 PM
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Default The direct approach

THE DIRECT APPROACH
This evening the old man in the basement apartment started yelling, at first I ignored it as I lay in my hammock(imported from Mexico) but as the volume grew louder it became too much. I thought about what to do for quite a while. I decided that there was no way that a “Please stop “ would have the desired effect. I considered my situation and the fact that this man was going to drive me away from a place that I felt would be a nice home that I could enjoy with my wife in my last years. Also I have no desire to pack up and move another time. It occurred to me that the best approach would be to confront him directly. What was there to lose in telling him to shut up and stop acting like a spoiled child.Yelling was now out of control."Hey" I yelled louder than he. Who is that He yelled back, “It is me and I am telling you to shut your mouth”. He came out of his house and looked around. There is a high fence between us and I was looking over the top. That gave me the advantage of the high ground and he had to look up to see me, Who are you he yelled? I put my fingers to my lips and in sign language indicated silence while looking him directly in the eyes. He turned around and was still yelling as he went inside, closed his door and went silent. He has not made a peep since then. I am not sure that confronting him once will stop the racket but it has been two hours and silence remains. I am in hopes that a couple more times will help make life here much more enjoyable and I can grow my garden in peace.
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  #64  
Old 06-19-2013, 02:57 PM
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Default Re: New studio

Interesting story Joseph. Have you heard anything from "Ol' Yeller" since your earlier encounter? When you get the opportunity give us a picture of your new home.

Cheers,
Roger
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  #65  
Old 06-24-2013, 06:15 AM
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Default Peace in my new home

Rodger it took me a moment to grasp Old Yeller.
All is quiet on the Eastern Front “Old Yeller” has retired to his cave and rarely shouts even in the daytime and never at night .There is finally peace in my new home, at last I have a good bed, even though it took 8 days for it to be delivered. The house is now wired for telephone and internet the water, electricity, and gas are on Franca is making fresh bread and tonight Chicken with garlic and rosemary ,peas and roasted potatoes
I now have a address to add to my name after 14 years of living out of a P.O. Box, it is 21 Via Radetta, Sarzana, Italy 19038 .The neighborhood is mostly old homes that have been remodeled. The street I live on is narrow and ends about one hundred yards beyond my gate so there is not much traffic and what there is passes by slowly. No more Mexican boom box stereo at three and four AM and cars with loud speakers selling news papers all day. I can walk to a large modern super store in five minutes, there is a bar and coffee shop with great pastries and cappuccino close by. The center of the town is a pleasant twenty minute walk. I have not been bitten by a fire ant sand fly or mosquito since arriving, here are some photos. It is amazing how time and age changes one´s perspective
Attached Images
File Type: jpg kitchen.jpg (44.9 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg livingroom.JPG (136.5 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg a plce to rest my weary body.jpg (40.5 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg garden.jpg (90.0 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg my street.JPG (159.6 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg center of Sarzana.JPG (157.2 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg closed to autos.jpg (60.7 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg 0bamamobile.JPG (117.3 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg 8bucks a gallon.JPG (102.9 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg studio2.JPG (137.3 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg 2 cyl.2 stroke 87hp.60mpg..JPG (169.0 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg Fiat Panda.jpg (90.7 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg 240kmph.JPG (191.7 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg madmans domain.JPG (144.1 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg neighbourhood store.jpg (68.3 KB, 0 views)
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  #66  
Old 07-07-2013, 02:30 AM
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Default Re: New studio

I have been packing suitcases, groceries, furniture and household appliances up stairs, down corridors from one place to another across airports and different countries for the last two months. It is a good thing that this move to Italy took place now. I cannot imagine doing this in another year; I am getting too old. My back finally said “enough” and proceeded to make its point with sharp and sleepless pain. Today I could not gather the energy to take Jack for our morning walk to look at the flowers and fruit trees. The best I could do was to let him out in the yard and then lay down on the sofa that I have moved from one room to another and repositioned several time until it has met Franca´s approval. I crashed there the entire morning and still my back complained. Pain medication was what I craved and there was none in our new home. I sent my dear wife to the store for Advil. When she returned I took three tablets chased by a glass of white wine then went back to the sofa for the rest of the day. There is a Jacuzzi in our new home which I have never used. After reading the manual and getting the thing to work, I climbed in. It was in this marvelous and luxurious invention with its water jets that I discovered the soothing relief that I needed. As I write this my hair is still wet but the pain has gone and I am sure that with another dose of Advil and wine before bedtime I will be ready to start tomorrow with a fresh step and enthusiasm.
Day two has been better. At least I slept and took Jack for a walk. In our exploration I have found a house that has been abandoned and discovered that there are fig and plum trees soon ready to be plucked and eaten. I also have found a grape vine with fruit that will be ready for me this fall and a peach tree that is in someone’s garden but many branches hang over into a narrow path and are within easy reach. I will keep an eye on them until they are ripe. I sooth my conscience by assuming that if they are not picked they will go to waste. Franca and I are planning to return to the abandoned home and save a beautiful jasmine bush that is suffering from lack of water and care. It is in a large terracotta pot that somehow I will have to convince my back that it can be picked up then put in the back of the Panda and brought home. The Jacuzzi is now filling so I will post this and sink once more into bliss.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg barn.jpg (89.6 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg that old house.jpg (162.8 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg old home 1.jpg (97.3 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg grape to be picked.JPG (190.0 KB, 0 views)
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  #67  
Old 07-15-2013, 09:54 AM
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Default Saint antonio´s fire

It has been a week since I climbed out of the Jacuzzi, a refreshed man with an aching back. Boy did that make my life brighter. That is until two days later when I felt worn out with a bit of a fever and I noticed these strange red bumps had appeared on my upper left leg and buttock.”Hey Franca, Take a look at this: what do you think has caused all these spots to show up? Together we stared at the mass of ugly blotches that were not there the day before.
She asked the usual wifely question.”Joseph what have you done?”
I gave her my standard husbandly answer. “I haven’t a clue. I took the dog for his walk, climbed up a hill to explore for abandoned grape vines, stopped to say my morning prayer under a big tree and then came home, took a shower saw these bumps, fixed coffee and then woke you up. It is just a rash and will go away in a day or so.
Four days later, the rash has turned into dark burning sores. As a good and caring wife Franca insists we go to the Hospital and have it looked at, I concurred.
By now I know that I have a something going on that is out of my control. I have looked up “Skin Rashes’” on the internet and found something that looked sort of like my newly acquired malady called Swimmers Itch. It is “A waterborne parasite infection from contaminated water, such as swimming pools, hot tubs and of course the JACUZZI.”Damn. At the hospital the English speaking Doctor who is a large but jolly woman looks at my leg and butt without admiration then sends me to an epidemiologist. At the Epidemiologist’s office the Doctor who speaks no English tells my wife I have a viral infection brought on by excessive stress. I knew it was something that I have recently mentioned to her when I last moved the sofa. The Italians call it Fuoco de San Antonio which has a nice poetic sound, the Americans call it Shingles. The exams and curative medications were no charge, unless you include the high cost of rent, food , heating gas, electricity and gasoline in Italy.
Tonight I get to sleep late, the dog can find a corner in the yard and tomorrow I get breakfast served in bed and with two weeks of medicating I will be ready for another dip in the sanitized Jacuzzi.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg flowers make my day.jpg (108.7 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg one flower.jpg (100.4 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg the color white.jpg (69.9 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg young dog, old dog.jpg (95.3 KB, 0 views)
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  #68  
Old 07-16-2013, 06:56 PM
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Default Re: New studio

Wow, Joseph, your life is one adventure after another. When I started reading , I suspected the shingles. After our bishop, who is the same age as me, got shingles, my wife and I both got vaccinated against it.

Hope you feel better soon. I love to see your pictures of Italy.

Cheers,
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  #69  
Old 07-17-2013, 10:00 AM
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Default Re: New studio

Joseph,
Shingles are chicken pox of the nerves and you can only get shingles if you have previously had the pox. The virus remains dormant until something triggers it to activate. There is an after effect that can come as a result and cause lasting pain. It's called PHN (post-herpetic neuralgia)

I had shingles when I was stationed in Viet Nam umpteen years ago. They followed a major nerve network from the middle of my spine around the left side of my body to a point in the center of my stomach. Six years ago, I developed PHN and have been in constant pain ever since and it has limited many things which I can't do anymore.

Read up on it more at this link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postherpetic_neuralgia

I have taken many of the drugs they recommend with little success and the side effects can be worse than the cure. Now I just live with the pain.
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  #70  
Old 07-27-2013, 09:34 AM
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Wink The Good Dr.Borsi

Feeling better and I love my new Doctor
It is amazing how much energy was drained from me by a chicken pox virus. This is the first time that my brain is functioning with any clarity in three weeks and I owe it all to my new Italian doctor. As you might know medical practice is socialized here. This means that all the treatments I have received are free of charges. This is so much different than the services I received in the U.S.
My first visit with Dr.Borsi was to say at least unique.His office is one small room. There is no nurse, receptionist, billing clerk and no doctor in a white coat. The waiting room has a few mixed chairs, plain walls with no medical certificates in gilded frames. For my first visit I was taken there by Franca.”You are going to love this doctor she said.”With skepticism I mumbled humm. “Joseph, you should ask who was the last person in line to see the good doctor? And then wait until that person had their visit and left his office. Then leave the door open for the next patient when the doctor is done with you.”It seemed to me that the procession of patient’s went in and out at the rate of one every ten minutes. It was not long before I got to see the doctor. For a moment I thought he was one of my pals from my hippy days. We shook hands, I then explained my symptoms in a combination of Italian and Spanish with hand gestures and English thrown in for emphasis. He asked me to drop my pants and then looked at the rash that had turned into burning sores on my upper leg and thigh. He patted me on my shoulder saying “This is a classic, it should be photographed and put in a text book.”Then went to a cabinet and came back with a syringe, filled it with something, turned me around, rubbed me with some antiseptic and jabbed the needle into my thigh muscle, rubbed it, then patted me on the butt, went to his desk and wrote a prescription while I fastened my pants, handed it to me saying “Come tomorrow for your next shot.”He never asked my age, medical history or took my blood pressure. What do I owe you ? I asked my good doctor. His reply, “ Nothing I can tell you are a good guy” It has been ten days and I am feeling much better, the sores are healing and I have found out that my Doctor loves to play poker. If I ever set down to a gaming table with him I shall try and be kind.
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File Type: jpg The good Dr.Borsi.jpg (58.8 KB, 0 views)
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  #71  
Old 07-27-2013, 07:22 PM
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Default Re: New studio

Dr. Borsi looks more like an artist than a physician but you can' tell a book by its cover.
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Old 08-07-2013, 09:07 AM
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Default A permanent resident of Italy

I have to say that getting the documents needed in order for me to take residence here in Italy has been interesting and I am most impressed with the way I have been treated. It has taken less time and with less hassles and expenses than the USA or Mexico .The only problem I had was when I presented my passport and the question of my one name came up. The question of what to do so that the computer would accept my application caused quite a bit of puzzlement at the Questura (police station.)
After everyone had given their opinion it was decided that I had to have a second name and as my passport reads “Joseph” and nothing else. That in order to comply with regulations I would take the last name of “Senza Nome” So, if you should ever want to send me money, or a fine Rolex. Please add my new last name to any correspondence
.For the next three weeks there is an International Antique Show here. This is the 49th year it is held in Sarzana, I have been looking forward to finding interesting engraved objects to photograph and post on Steve´s Watercooler. It was disappointing to see so much common goods, duplicated jewelry ,and what I consider to be yard sale items on display, although there is some nice antique furniture .I did find a nice dragon sculpture and ash tray along with a design that I though kind of interesting. So here they are, I hope they can be of use to you.
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Old 08-28-2013, 09:05 AM
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Default Reflecting back on a few pages of my life

Hope you like this story
Once I had a boat in Mexico
She was a 27 foot long fishing boat set up for big game but she started out as a dream that took many dollars and persistence to turn into a real fish catcher .I first saw her sitting next to a tienda in the village of Barra De Potosi. She was only a hull, covered in dust and filled with old nets and empty beer bottles. I bought her for nine hundred dollars .The owner gave me a hand written receipt. Which I at the time assumed was all it was necessary to take possession. I found out later that many more documents would be needed before she would be registered with the Port of Zihuatanejo Mexico Captain.
For power I had purchased a Yamaha fifty-five horse power motor with hydraulic lift in the States and had brought it down in the back of my old Chevy truck along with outriggers, rods, reels, hooks, lines, sinkers and a fish finder..Most of which I later found to be worthless when catching large game fish. I was a complete novice when it came to fishing for big game and I am sure that the locals had many a laugh over my lack of knowledge.-My experience was two charter trips with local captains for sailfish which caught nothing and had cost a sack of money. It was on these trips that I decided to learn to fish for big game in the Pacific. I set my goal to catch a fish weighing more than me and I wanted to do so with my own boat. Little did I know that this decision would take me on a seven year wonderful an exciting learning adventure such as I had not imagined
In the bay of Zihuatanejo there are many fishing Panga´s along with an assortment of larger sports boats. Early in the morning I stood on the pier looking at all these boats trying to imagine how I would turn the hull I had purchased into my own Panga. There was one boat named Marfil that stood out amongst the clutter of boats in the bay, It had a clean profile and was painted the color of Ivory .She was built of fiberglass with skill, it´s lines were sharp and crisp. I asked the locals who owned a boat named Marfil and was told to talk to Ramon Garcia. I would find him at the boat yard located next to a lagoon named Las Salinas. The lagoon has been so polluted by sewerage, solvents and toxic wastes that it is a wonder that the water there does not spontaneously¨ burst into flame-
Ramon Garcia and his brother Diego have built the majority of the Panga fishing fleet working out of Zihuatanejo bay. They had designed, and constructed fiberglass molds for every part of the boat that I eventually commissioned. It was with skill and knowledge that they turned my neglected Yamaha hull into a comfortable seaworthy dream come true. Twelve thousand dollars and three months later the motor was bolted to the stern, outrigger´s, five rod - holders, benches , rod gimbals, fighting chairs, storage bins,, two one hundred liters internal fuel tanks and live bait tank were in place. I selected ivory paint for the hull and dark blue zinc based paint below the waterline. The last touch was giving my new boat a name.
LILLIAN
I considered all sorts on names related to fishing or luck, having won a good part of the money to build her gambling at poker. I discussed possible names with my wife.”Why not give your boat your mother’s name?”The suggestion by my wife of naming my boat after my mother was a bit of a surprise as our relationship had always been troubled and we had not been close for many years. I did love her and I was sure that in her own way she had loved me. We did not understand one another and many contentious words had created a divide that was not reconcilable. Franca, I said.”You know how I feel about my mother, the farm for unwanted children and all the rest of that. Why would I name my boat after her?” Franca said “But that was a long time ago and she is old and will not live many more years Joseph. Besides I think that you have made her proud to have had you. You are a respected Artist and have made a good life for us. I know that your childhood was painful and you suffered physical and sexual abuse on your Aunts farm. But that was over and done with years ago. Look at how well you have overcome all those terrible things you experienced.”
I thought about it for a few days. My mother was a practical , resilient and determined woman and I thought that to be appropriate for a boat that I would one day take out into the unpredictable Pacific ocean. Then one morning as I was readying to go to the boat yard and see how the painting was progressing it occurred to me that the woman who had cared for me, educated, protected, and believed in me as a child, and who I love dearly was also named Lillian. I went to the Salinas, found the painter and then with a pencil drew the name of Lillian in my best script and told the painter to do the letters in black with red accents.
LILLIAN SETS OUT
It was late afternoon when my beautiful new boat was slid down the bank of the lagoon and into that stinking toxic mud where she immediately grounded. The Garcia brother enlisted the help of a couple of other boat builders to push her into enough water to set her afloat. As much as I dreaded the idea of getting into that polluted water I waded out up to my knees, immediately lost my sandals in the muck. I retrieved them, then helped push her out and climbed aboard .I had from the start decided to have an experienced motorman with me at all times .It was the only thing that I had done right and even that was to become a mistake.
I had met Antolin in the village of Barra di Potosi and enlisted his help to take the hull over to the Zihuatanejo boat yard. He was the secretary for the Corprativa di Pesca and was well know to the Port Captain . I found this to be a great help in navigating the red tape that I had to go through in legalizing Lillian. He was a very large native Indio with a huge pot belly who had fished all of his life. What I did not know about him was he was a liar, drank excessive amounts of beer, never fished for big game, did not know how to rig bait and neither did I and was lazy..As you most likely have figured out I am already up toxic creek without oar or compass.
So there I was afloat in my shiny new boat, the deck covered with toxic waste. Antolin complaining that the motor was not good, the steering mechanism was all wrong and I should have bought a pull start motor with a tiller and manual controls just like all the other Panga’s. Instead of the 55 horsepower short shaft, with hydraulic tilt, key start, remote throttle and cable steering. It was not long before the cables began to corrode, the battery disappeared one night and the lower unit needed work. Two years after her launching Lillian was refitted with a pull start ,long shaft manual tiller 75HP Yamaha two stroke motor and Antolin was replaced
LIVE AND LEARN
I had put enough fuel in the tank to take Lillian out for her maiden voyage .Ignoring Antolin’s complaints I told him to “start her up”. He looked at me as if I were loco and said “We have no anchor, no rope, no oar, no beer and no place to tie her up.” Oh what fools we are when we think that we know it all.
I did not dare to be alone in the boat as I had no clue how to steer or even start the motor .I jumped into the waist deep water and waded back to shore to find beer, rope, oar and anchor. Meanwhile the onlookers to this disaster that the Gringo had gotten into, pointed, talked and laughed to themselves. I bought beer, the rope, a rusted anchor made from bent rebar, an oar made from a pine board which I got from one of the Garcia brothers. Then waded out to my where Antolin was sitting in comfort.. I handed him the beer and over- priced equipment then dragged myself back onboard carrying mud and slime onto my new deck.
A SMALL MAN WITH A SMALL BOAT
The sun was rapidly dropping into the horizon when we at last made way to Ixtapa Marina. Once we cleared Zihuatanejo bay and were on open water I naturally wanted to see how fast Lillian would go. Following the breaking in Instruction Manual I told Antolin to open up the throttle to half speed .Then sat down in my fighting chair and was enjoying the rush of adrenaline, pride and fresh air.
Lillian came up on plane and her hull sliced through the water with a sweet hiss.. I fell in love. It was then I saw that the transom was flooding. Water was pouring out of the live bait tank and cascading into the stern. Antolin who was looking forward did not notice. I yelled “stop, stop” and pointed to the transom .He slowed my floundering dream and the flooding slowed. .Dead in the water we both stared down into the bait tank. It took a while for me to understand what was happening. The bait tank had no valve to control the flow at a higher speed and the support for the hydraulic cylinder was blocking the transom drain hole. As I stood there with water now flooding the deck wondering what to do, Antolin took a sponge stuffed it into the hole in the tank and then bent down and pulled the drain plug in the stern. More water came rushing into the already flooded boat. I stared at him not having a clue what he was doing .He put the boat in gear and pushed the throttle forward. Gave me “El Capitan” a rag to clean up the mud and slime as the water drained out of my new boat .As I cleaned the deck I watched in amazement as the water was quickly sucked out of the hull.
I guess that you could call this my first lesson in boat ownership.”The hole in the hull called the drain is for draining the boat.”
MY SECOND LESSON. A Boat Is Costly.
I now had a boat but no place to moor it. We motored into the marina, passing all those pristine yachts with their crews cleaning, suntanned girls gleaming, flag´s from different countries waving. As we motored by I suddenly realized just how small Lillian was. We found a space at the dock and tied up. In very few minutes a guard showed up and wanted to know what we were doing there. In my stumbling Spanish I explained that I wanted to keep my boat there for the night, which was rapidly approaching.
His English was understandable but I was not sure that I understood him when he said.”You have to get permission and until you have it you cannot tie your boat to this dock.”I asked what I thought was the logical question.”OK how do I go and get permission if I can´t tie my boat up?” “You can leave your man on it and he can wait over there.” he said pointing to open water nearby. I abandoned Lillian and jumped onto the dock. The guard then directed me to the office of the marina. It was a large and elegant building that had the look of money, lots of money. I wandered around the outside looking for the office until I realized that the whole building was the office. Once inside I found a very trim and attractive woman dressed in a smart white and blue uniform standing behind a polished granite counter. You did not think she would be fat and ugly, did you? As there were several people waiting for her to give them attention. I sat down on a white leather sofa and watched the spectacular sun set with dread .It was dark when she gave me her attention. Relieved that she spoke fluent English I explained my situation to her “May I see your boats documents and receipts please”, she said with a nice smile. To shorten this story for you I told her that I had no documents and explained most of what you already know. Her charming smile turned to ice and her face at once took on a look of utter amazement. “ It is impossible for you to keep an undocumented and not registered boat in this marina.”
What to do. What to do?
I decided to beg. My Great Aunt had taught me to always be polite so I answered her in my most humble tone of voice. “Madam, I am a small man and I have a small boat. It is dark now and I have no place to keep her for the night, Please can you find a way for her to stay here for just tonight and tomorrow I promise you that I will have all the documents you require.”
I do not know whether it was my politeness or the tears that were forming in the corners of my eyes but she wavered a moment then her smile returned and she gave me a dock pass, a map of the marina and told me where I could find my slip. Not wanting this wonderful chance to evaporate I pulled out my wallet dug out my bank card and asked how much the charge is. I maintained my composure when she said, “four dollars per foot per day”. My Aunt Lillian would have turned in her grave, but I smiled and said.”That is fine, thank you so very much.”. Out into the night I went looking for Antolin and Lillian. I found him on the bunk and the empty six pack on my fighting chair.
The spot I had paid for was at the far end of the marina. It was dark and out of sight, it looked like the perfect spot for someone to make off with my boat in the night. We tied Lillian up, walked back to a port office then caught a cab back to the Barra de Potosi..
THE NEXT LESSON OF BOAT OWNERSHIP, You must have the right documents.
Before the sun was up I was wide awake. Actually I was awake most of the night worrying. After a pot of espresso coffee I drove my old truck down to Antolin´s house. He on the other hand was still sleeping. It took time to get him up and moving but we were at the port captain’s office in Zihuatanejo before nine AM. The captain was a friend of Antolin and welcomed us into his office with a generous smile. He was a large man and I am sure had had many experiences with foreigners who spoke little Spanish and had a boat in Mexico as his English was perfect. I explained my circumstances. He asked me “Do you have official receipts for your boat?”I had no clue what an official receipt was but I did have a hand written receipt in Spanish from the man I had bought the hull from and a warrantee card for the motor I had brought down from the States. I dug them out of my now thin wallet and handed them to him. The captain looked at them, handed them back to me and said that I would need to have a notary make me bill of sale for the hull. And this could only be done if I had four people who knew the seller and would testify under oath that he was the true owner. I thanked him for his time spent with me explaining how I could resolve my dilemma, found my boat mate on the pier and headed back to the Barra in search of four good and true Mexican fishermen who would swear that the sale was in good faith for a couple of six packs of Corona beer .It did not take long before I had the owner, Antolin and four thirsty fishermen loaded in my truck and was on my way back to the office of Notary number two. The notary s office showed the results of his living the fine life of graft, bribery and corruption. It was furnished in leather, marble, stainless steel and decorated with several nice pieces of sculpture. Ten minutes and two hundred fifty dollars later I had my witnessed and officially stamped and notarized bill of sale. As I paid and picked up my papers I noticed that the seller and the witnesses had disappeared out the door leaving me and Antolin in their dust. The morning was gone and the Captains office was closed till three.
MY OH MY HOW TIME FLIES, IF IT IS COSTING YOU MONEY
Having nothing to do for the next two hours I decided to drive back to Ixtapa and see how Lillian had survived the night..When we walked up to the boat I noticed a large white scar on Lillian’s beautiful prow. At first I was disappointed then I became angry and I demanded an explanation from Antolin who shrugged his shoulders and said. “no lo say” Then I became resigned to the fact that there was no use in discussing the subject as I would never get a straight answer. Later I saw the strip of blue paint on the rock….
Back to the Port Captain and my next lesson in Mexican boat owner ship.
Never assume that there will be smooth sailing
When I arrived at the Captain’s office he was waiting with a smile. I noticed that Mexicans have nice smiles even when they are picking your pocket or giving you the run around. I shook hands and gave him my new authorized and notarized bill of sale.
With hope running high I waited for my authorization to navigate Lillian on Mexican waters. Then I found my expectations dashed on the rocks of regulations. The port captain told me that he would need photographs of Lillian, two taken from the bow, stern and sideways. And, the photos had to have no other boats in them, no one on board and in color. “.Like this,” he said as he shows me a photo of a yacht on the open sea, with what must have been an invisible crew and the photographs taken from a helicopter. He continued,” also there is the matter of safety equipment. Did I have six life jackets, one flare gun, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, a mirror, a whistle, running lights compass, a life ring with twenty meters of rope attached to it, anchor, oar and last but not least a marine band radio?” I was surprised there was no mention of a beer cooler. I had never been out with a local fisherman who had a whistle, mirror or fire extinguisher. But, they all had beer coolers.
If, I have to take credit for all my faults, I can take also credit for my stubbornness. At this point the sensible person would have thrown in the towel and quit. Not me. I was determined that Lillian would roam the same waters that Zane Grey once fished and I would one day catch a fish bigger than me. Even if it took all my savings and possibly my sanity and marriage .What pig headed fools we can be.
I have realized that this tale is going to be too long so I will just add that eventually Lillian was approved for safety, received her fishing permit and officially licensed by the good port Captain. In part this was accomplished by giving a new marine radio to the village of Barra di Potosi and inviting the Capitan to my home for an Italian dinner, wine and tequila. Soon afterward I went to Ixtapa to pay off the dockage fees with my not too happy wife´s bank card on the promise that I would bring her breakfast in bed for the rest of our wedded life..
Fifteen years have passed since Lillian was christened and I started to learn how to fish for big game. I never thought that when I started this voyage into unknown waters that there were so many things to learn. It is a list too long to begin to itemize, but it includes reading a compass, GPS, ocean currents, water temps, setting a course, spotting bait, sharpening hooks, tying hooks, using the right hook, the correct amount of reel drag, successfully setting the hook when the right moment comes .selecting lines, leaders, lures, baits, trolling speeds, bait placement, reading the dolphin and bird activities and all the other small detail. As those years drifted by I learned all I could by reading books and magazines.
The Salt Water Sportsman and Marlin provided me with a vast amount of invaluable information needed to become a successful fisherman. In 2006 after six years of sun, sweat and a bit of blood I entered Lillian into the three day International Sailfish, Marlin and Dorado tournament being held in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. She was competing against one hundred and thirty other boats of all types .When the tournament closed she had taken the pool money on the first day and won second and third place and two cars for the largest Sailfish when the contest was done .It was a week later when that fish, the fish weighing more than me struck about thirty mile out. When it was in the boat and I headed for home I told my mate that I was selling my boat and had no reason to fish any longer
.Lillian no longer exists. Her name has been changed and she fishes as La leyenda (Legend)
My last and most valuable lesson of owning a boat in Mexico.
Always maintain a sense of humor and never lose your patience when dealing with people who have been placed in a position of power over you.
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  #74  
Old 09-05-2013, 04:16 PM
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Roger Bleile Roger Bleile is offline
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Default Re: New studio

Joseph,

Another interesting story. If anyone else had told it, I would question it but given your life story, I have no doubt.

Cheers,
Roger
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  #75  
Old 09-16-2013, 01:35 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Default Re: New studio

Thanks Rodger, always I appreciate your comments. I want to thank all who have been reading this thread. It gives me a lift each morning to know someone is finding the stories interesting. Here is another page from my checkered past that I hope you will like.
MY FIRST CAR
On a sunny Texas afternoon in San Antonio in 1972, I stopped at the A&W drive-in for a Root Beer Float. It was there that I met a cute brazen brunette Carhop whose name was Mary Lu. We started flirting and I asked her if she wanted to go out for a ride in my newly purchased 1946 Ford when she finished work. I was eighteen and dressed in my Air Force blues, full of myself and very proud of my first car even though it was thirteen years old. She agreed and we made a date. Later I picked her up from the drive-in and we headed off to the lake.
It wasn’t long before we were kissing and holding onto each other like familiar lovers. Then iIt wasn’t much longer before we were in the backseat becoming familiar lovers. I don’t know who wanted sex the most. I’m sure we needed each other at that moment.
I was with her every free moment I had and she was willing to have it that way.
Then she took me home to meet her mother, a divorcee living in a small house in the Barrio district of Abilene. The lady greeted me with great approval and even supplied us with contraceptives.
It was a few days later that I had the brilliant idea of teaching Betty Lou how to drive. We drove out into the countryside. Found a dirt road which wasn’t hard to do in West Texas, and urged her to start driving. With my woman behind the wheel of my first car I felt like a real big shot. I showed her to use the clutch and the brake and to start my car moving slowly down the road. While she guided the Ford down the road and back to the edge of town I showed he how to shift gears. A few blocks from where she lived, she pulled over to the side saying she was afraid to drive any closer to the town.
“Aw, c’mon baby, you can do it. Don’t be chicken.” I urged. She put the car back into first and got it rolling again. As we approached the corner of the street that led to her house I said, “See there is nothing to it baby. All you have to do is turn the wheel to the left and go slowly around the corner.” She made a half of turn and then froze.
My beautiful Ford was headed straight for the iron post that had the name of the street on top of it. I reached over and tried to push the steering wheel to the left to correct the angle we were heading in. But, Mary Lu held the wheel in a death grip.
“Step on the brake!” I yelled in panic. Her foot missed the brake pedal and she drove the accelerator pedal to the floor. The tires squealed as the Ford’s V8 came to life, down went the street sign, and about twenty feet of white picket fence belonging to the house adjacent to it.
I managed to get the car into neutral. With the engine roaring we came to a stop in the ditch. I got hold of the keys and shut off the motor. Mean while Betty Lou has jumped out of the car crying and has run across the street into her mother’s house, disappearing behind the closing front door.
From out of the smoke and dust appears the owner of the destroyed fence. He is yelling at me in Spanish but I can’t understand a word. By then I was out of my car and am staring at the white washed two by four protruding from my broken grill. The same white two by four that had one end embedded deeply into my gushing radiator. I am standing there naked except for a white g-string bathing suit. The Mexican is still yelling while I was about to wet myself.
Help arrived in the person of Betty Lou’s mother. She calmed the Mexican down and then we all surveyed the damage. Her mother decides that we can use her car to push me out of the ditch.
With the Mexican providing guidance, the huge bumper of her Buick “Road Master” is aligned with that of my beloved Ford. I get in, put the car in neutral and signal I’m ready.
Mrs. McCallum then steps on the gas, her bumper slides over mine and my fender crumples. We all stop I get out to survey and the new damage.
The Mexican has a better idea. We can hook a chain around the rear bumper to pull me out the way I entered. He brings a long chain from somewhere and like a good helping neighbor hooks it around the rear bumper of my smoking Ford.
After a bit of maneuvering and with hand signals from the Mexican, Betty Lu’s mom´s rear bumper is lined up and the chain attached. I climb once again into my poor Ford, grab the steering wheel and signal I’m ready. The chain tightens , my car starts to roll backwards. Suddenly there is a metallic ripping sound. I looked over the backseat and at the floorboards. Coming up through them is post of the mangled street sign. I stomp on the brake as hard as I can, yelling, ‘Stop! Stop!’ Betty Lou’s mom feels the resistance and decides that more power is needed. She presses the gas pedal to the metal. Tires smoke and scream, the chain snaps under the strain and comes whipping up at my beautiful white, waxed and polished wreck with the accuracy of a guided missile, taking out the back window. After much crying on my part, the piece of chain is hooked onto the front bumper and with more ripping sounds, the car is pulled out of the ditch and onto Betty Lou’s mother’s driveway.
Accompanied by Betty Lou’s crying, we all stood there surveying the wreckage. I promised to fix the Mexican’s fence as soon as possible. Then leaving the car as it is, I retrieved my uniform from the back seat, slipped my pants over my bathing suit, finish dressing in the yard and got Betty Lou’s mother to drive me to the main gate of the Air Force base then caught a ride to my barracks, finally showing up for my tour of duty, two hours late.
I was reprimanded and had to appear before the commanding officer the next morning. I show up expecting to be imprisoned for the next twenty years. I was allowed to give a brief statement explaining my reasons. Hoping for sympathy I explained in great detail the misfortunes that had just landed on my shoulders. The Captain has heard worse tales of woes than this, and I am restricted to the base for thirty days.
Having been given thirty days restriction caused other problems larger than my wrecked car. Betty Lou was frantic. Her lover had disappeared and had not been heard from in over a week. He couldn’t call her of course because she had no phone. She was sure that his departure from her life was due to the destroyed Ford. In hopes of finding a way to contact him, she went searching through the Ford’s glove box, encountering several letters written to me from my mother. Taking the name and address off those letters she decided to write my mother a glowing letter introducing herself and professing her love for me, and! Informing my mother that we would be wed. My mom, with her usual direct no-nonsense approach called the base commander who then in turn called the base chaplain. Who then in turn called my commanding officer, who contacted me by way of my 1st Sergeant.
I had just finished my first shift of guard duty and was headed to the mess hall when the 1st Sergeant caught up to me. Hey you !” he growled. I stopped dead in my tracks. I could sense that something was definitely amiss and I was about to find myself in more hot water. “Get your ass over to the chaplain’s office on the double.”
“Yes sir,” I said and I took off at a lope, heading to the chapel which was two blocks away. A short while later I’m standing in front of the chapel, heart pounding with anxious worry. I could not imagine why I was being summoned by the Chaplain. After I caught my breath, I entered the chapel and located the office. The door was open and I could see the Chaplain sitting at his desk. I knocked on the door frame and he looked up at me. I’m sure he was thinking, ‘You sure are a dumb kid, as he read my nametag.
“Come in Airman”. he said. I entered the room, approached the desk and putting on my bravest face, saluted him sharply.
“Airman, 2nd class, J.R. Lavenois, reporting as ordered.”
“I have been informed that your mother is very concerned about your activities with a girl named Betty Lou McCallum. Do you know such a girl?”
“Yes sir” I replied standing at full attention. The captain looked at me directly in the face.
“Are you in love and are you going to marry?”
“Sir,” I explained. “I just met her about three weeks ago at a drive-in. I am not thinking about marriage, besides she wrecked my car and is responsible for my restriction to the base. I don’t think I want to see her again, ever .Sir”
“That’s good to know, son,” said the Chaplain. “ Because in five days you are being transferred to Europe.”
“What about my car?” I asked.
“That’s a problem you’ll have to resolve on your own, but I discourage you from any further contact with the girl.” Shit, Damn, and all the rest of it.
The next day I went around the barracks looking for someone to buy the car. Finally the day before I shipped off to France, I signed the title over to my dorm mate and gave it to him. I sure loved that white Ford and had kept it washed and waxed, chrome and hub caps shined.
It was a great car until that fatal day when Betty Lou McCallum took the steering wheel.
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  #76  
Old 09-16-2013, 11:06 AM
DKanger DKanger is offline
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Default Re: New studio

Quote:
I was eighteen and dressed in my Air Force blues
Joseph,
Just curious.......how did having only one name work out for you in the military.

My son is named J. Scott Kanger, but it was a constant source of problems for him since all the forms said Name...Middle Initial....Last Name. They forced him to be James S. Kanger and renamed him Jim instead of Scott.
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:49 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Default Re: New studio

Dave
Having one name was not an issue as that came about when I turned 40 years old.My book explains the whole story.
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Old 09-19-2013, 09:02 AM
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Roger Bleile Roger Bleile is offline
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Default Re: New studio

Quote:
Originally Posted by DKanger View Post
Joseph,
Just curious.......how did having only one name work out for you in the military.

My son is named J. Scott Kanger, but it was a constant source of problems for him since all the forms said Name...Middle Initial....Last Name. They forced him to be James S. Kanger and renamed him Jim instead of Scott.
I went through the same thing. In the Air Force and Army, I was Charles R. Bleile. I always wondered how H. Norman Schwarzkopf managed to be known that way in the Army.
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  #79  
Old 09-22-2013, 04:50 AM
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Default The fortress of Sarzanello

Italy has very strict leash laws with fines of 200 Euro. Franca and I have found the ideal place to go for a walk with Jack away from the crowd and the law. It is around the watch keep of a fortress constructed in 1300.The only inhabitants are two goats and a couple of cats that live in the now empty moat. Here are some pix
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File Type: jpg cannon strike.jpg (68.3 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg great place to walk the dog.jpg (83.6 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg Jack and the goats.jpg (63.3 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg view of Sarzana.jpg (71.4 KB, 0 views)
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  #80  
Old 09-24-2013, 03:57 PM
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Default Re: New studio

I'm surprised about the strict leash laws in Italy. When I was in Florence, I often had to walk around dog doo on the sidewalks. Maybe it's OK to let your dog defecate on the sidewalk as long as it's on a leash.
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  #81  
Old 09-26-2013, 12:24 PM
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Default Re Dog Doodo

Rodger, I have found the changes here much different from thirty years ago and suspect that it has to do with the European Union and in particular the influences of Germany.
Dogs are treated very well in Italy; you can take them on buses and trains out to restaurants and into shops. At the restaurant we go to the waitress will bring Jack a bowl of water before taking our order and people will stop me and ask if they can pet Jack ..They are allowed in the parks and plazas but must be leashed; if they poop you are supposed to clean up the mess and can be fined for not doing so. Of course many owners are looking the other way when this occurs, especially little old ladies with ill tempered house mops on a leash. However in general the streets of this town are clean and free of dog doo
Italy needs money and they levy heavy fines on speeding, parking, and motor vehicle registration infractions. Driving without a license, Intoxication and drugs will put you in jail. Trash is divided to plastic, glass and organic depositories. This is a huge change from Mexico where dogs are abandoned, stoned and starved frequently and trash is tossed to the wind. Autos are driven with no insurance no registration and no regard to laws.
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Old 10-02-2013, 10:50 AM
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Default Short stories from my past that I hope you will find interesting.

Steve once again I thank you for your kind generosity in letting me post here on the Watercooler.
Rodger I know that you must have been the exemplary military man that I was not.
My new studio is small and no longer produces engraving. Still I must create something.

Germany 1958
Spangdalum Air Force base was a recon outfit for the U.S Air Force in central Germany. The majority of the aircraft based there were F101 fighters resembling huge, aluminum skinned pterodactyls. Gleaming in the moonlight and casting dark shadows upon the tarmac as I made my nightly rounds in supposed vigilance. An M1 rifle, weighing nine pounds, six ounces over my shoulder, loaded 45 Colt automatic pistol strapped around my waist, both to become burdensome. For me Germany was the same as France with the off-duty hours spent in the bars. Like I did in France, I continued on my merry way towards hell. Between black marketing, the drinking, gambling and girls I was pooped out when it came time for me to guard a 3.6 million dollar fighter jet.
I eliminated the burden of the rifle by turning it into my alarm clock. Dressed warmly in parker and flight pants, I would lie on the tarmac underneath the aircraft, rifle balanced on its butt plate , close my eyes and try to learn Deutsch When I dozed off, the rifle would fall with a clatter, waking me from my nap. I’m sure my personnel file read like my school report card: Airman second Class Joseph Robert Lavernois, time in grade: three years, could do much better if he would only apply himself.
By the time I learned to say “Ein klein bier bitte,” I found myself involved with Anna Lisa a blue-eyed housemaid for a captain and his wife who lived in the married officer’s quarters... Her bedroom was located in what would have been the attic had it not been partitioned off for the foreign nationals. The captain and his wife lived on the lower level of one of four buildings. Each officer’s family had its own housemaid; meaning nine buxom Frauleins spent their restless lonely nights there. Because of its obvious attraction, it was strictly off limits to enlisted personnel. Rumors were that any Airman caught in those attic apartments was subject to losing his stripes and being sent to Saudi Arabia, Viet Nam or some other God forsaken place. This I understood clearly and had no doubts that these rumors were true.
One summer’s night Ana Lisa and I were in the midst of making love on the lawn. We were naked, our discarded clothing we had placed as a mattress over the dew covered grass. Suddenly I found myself in the spotlight’s glare of two laughing base patrol air police. After an embarrassing length of time, the spotlight finally extinguished and with a spray of gravel the Jeep sped away, leaving floating in the early morning air the profane laughter of my squad mates.
All passion destroyed, we began to dress. Ana Lisa said suddenly, “From now on, we make love in my room.” There you have it folks, the entire scenario.
“We can’t do that, I’ll go to prison. I’ll be court-martialed. I’ll lose my stripes. They’ll send me to Hell.”
“No, no, no,” assured Ana Lisa. “All you have to do is come up to my room while everyone’s asleep and leave before they awaken.”
Simple plans for simple minds. What defense could I present to this idea?
The following night we sat at the local bar drinking beer until 11 or so then went to the apartment complex, Ana Lisa scouted the way while I waited in the garden shrubs. Not seeing anything unusual she waved me forward. Across the lawn I flew, into the doorway and out of sight. Taking me by the hand, she led me up the stairwell to her room. It was furnished with a cot, wall locker, washbasin, and a small window that overlooked the airbase. This small space with angled ceiling and drab walls became my palace of pleasure every time I was free. Each night off found me on that cot, tasting life’s pleasures. If I had a three-day pass I spent it there in the attic room. Ana Lisa would bring me food to eat and we would make love.
The room next door was occupied by another buxom, blue-eyed blond by the name of Karina. Karina also had her lover encamped in her room. One morning about three o’clock all hell broke loose as Karina’s lover had found a letter written to her from a previous love. This brought on a tirade of jealousy that was enough to wake up half the air base. Being a dumb lad but nevertheless possessing the capacity to reason I realized my situation was not good. I got out of bed, One Eyed Willy quickly becoming wilting will. Nervous and naked, still my mind was not ready to forget about sex.
Quickly I dressed and went out into the corridor. The noise in buxom blue-eyed blonds’ room had ended. As I stepped in the hallway I recognized the profile of Sergeant McDowell headed out the door. The tall, dumb, blond, blue-eyed, broad shouldered idiot slammed blue eye’s door then he took the steps down and out of the building three at a time. I was sure I had been trapped.
The Battle of my Body Parts
Common sense said, “Get the hell out of here right now.”
One-Eyed-Willy had finally recovered his voice and was arguing for waiting it out.
“Maybe no one heard,” he whispered.
“Do you really think so?” Brain responded.
“Well, what have we got to lose?” Willy argued. “Why not just wait here in this corridor?”
It was so quiet now that I could hear my poor confused heart banging away inside my rib cage. “What we’ll do is just stay cool. If someone comes up the end stairwell, we’ll go down this one right here,” said Willy.
We all turned to look at the stairwell. Feet had now decided to enter the conversation as they were totally committed to the cause, no matter who won the argument that was now raging in my body parts? Feet said after a minute or two of silence, “I can get us out of here in three, maybe four seconds.”
Brain declared, “I’m in, we’ll wait it out.”
“How long should we wait?” asked Reason?
“Four minutes more,” suggested One-Eyed-Willy.
“I’d say eight,” suggested Feet.
Reason suggested fifteen, but was outvoted by Willy and Feet. A compromise was made by Brain for ten minutes of complete silence. Once more united, my twenty-year-old body parts turned to more carnal thoughts.
“I really liked it when she kissed each and every one of me,” sighed Feet.
“Me, I like it best, the wet warmth of her inside,” said Willy perking up a bit.
“Me I just like being held next to one of those sweet nipples,” confessed Reason.
“How long have we been out here now?” Asked Willy
“I guess it’s been about five minutes,” Answered Brain.
“I think that’s long enough,” Reason decided.
“Shall we go back in?” Suddenly Willy was standing up, staring straight at the door.
“I’m hot to trot,” injected Feet.
“United we stand,” Willy declared.
My hand twisted down the knob to Ana Lisa’s quarters.
Ana Lisa and I had finally calmed down enough to start hugging and kissing again. I was soon naked again, my civvies strewn all over the room, naked down to my wiggling toes. Back in bed we went, all suddenly well with Willy, Brain, Feet, and Me for we had found our peace.
Willy had hardly started what he very much wanted to do when the silence shattering knocking began on the locked door to Ana Lisa’s room. (You see, I did learn something from past experiences.)
“Ana Lisa, open the door. This is your mistress.” More knocking.
“Open your door this minute. This is your captain speaking.” At the sound of the Captain’s voice, One-Eyed-Willy completely withdrew, leaving Feet and Reason to deal with the consequences. As quickly and quietly as possible I gathered up my clothing, put pants and shirt on and stuffed shorts, socks and tee shirt into the pants pockets. With jacket in my hand I started searching desperately for my shoes. Reason was screaming, “Get your shoes and get the hell out of this place.” The knocking was louder and coming at more frequent intervals. I could not delay my departure from sweet Ana Lisa’s charms any longer. Shoes or no shoes I crawled out the window and up onto the dormer. I was now perched like a plucked eagle on the dark, wet, slippery tile roof of the three story building.
The view from my perch was breathtaking. I could see everything by the light of the three quarter moon shining opaquely upon the German landscape. Directly across from me were the darkened windows of married officer’s quarter’s number two and three. To the right I had a great view of the entire airfield. It was all very exciting.
Ana Lisa’s blond head suddenly poked through the window below my perch.
“I can’t find your shoes,” she said practically in tears.
“Look once more and if you don’t find them, open the door and let them in,” I groaned. The lock was unbolted and the door to her room opened. Light flashed on, and then I heard “There’s a man in here. There are his shoes under the bed.”
At this point I positively knew I have a very serious situation to contend with.
Once again the condemning woman repeated herself. “There’s a man in here. See those shoes are under that bed.”
“You go down and call the Air Police, I’ll watch the room,” the captain’s voice came loud and clear through the window. Again silence settled down over the building. Very few minutes later I saw two sets of flashing blue lights leave the Air Police Central Command .They went up the perimeter road headed in my direction. I watched in fascination those whirling blue lights until they finally disappearing from my sight as they pulled up in front.
Well, There I was perched on top of this dormer somewhere in Germany, a twenty-year-old idiot, completely trapped with no place to go but the stockade. I finally calmed down once again and Hope spoke up.
“Maybe there is another way. Perhaps you could find another attic window open or just smash a glass pane, enter into another room and escape.” Reason scoffed. “We will never make it to the stairwell.” Brain then commented. “Joseph the Fool, two air police patrols equal at least four men, most likely six. Two will be checking out the rooms, the other four watching hallways and the stairwells. You are definitely screwed.”
Suddenly, the crown of a white top helmet appeared directly below me and looked right; studying the roofline for the dark shaded form of this dummy. After a careful search of that side of the roof, the helmeted head snapped left and continued with its inspection of the dew-covered tiles. All of this activity taking place in slow motion. My mind was racing; the ideas were flowing, matching the pace of the adrenaline entering my body.
“Well I don’t see anyone out there,” floated the helmeted voice outside the window and into my ear. Had Helmet Head taken the time to look upward during his search, he would have found himself in direct eye contact with Airman Second Class and soon to prisoner J.R. Lavernois, currently on temporary duty from Vouziers, France.
When young, one has accurate hearing, eagle’s eyesight and the agility of a cat.
Brain comes up with this misguided idea... The front of this building has a small terrace for each apartment. They were only ten feet above one another. I could go up to the peak of the roof, down the other side, hang by the gutter, drop the remaining meter or so to a terrace, climb over that railing, hang down, drop to the second terrace, jump over the railing into the soft soil and beat feet out of the area.
As all of this was whirling around in my head, I heard Ana Lisa’s frightened voice asking to go to the toilet. The captain gives her permission to go. Ana Lisa capitalizing on the moment, dashes down the stairs, out the backdoor, across the backyard and disappears into the adjacent building. What to my wondering eyes should appear but Ana Lisa leaning out of her girlfriend’s apartment crying and yelling, “Don’t fall!" Don’t fall!” Me across the courtyard waving my arms back and forth whispering, “Shut up! Please, shut up!” She realizes what she’s been doing and suddenly goes silent, but she and her friends continue to watch as me and my disaster continues.
By now I have been perched on the pointy and uncomfortable piece of the roof for forty minutes. Suddenly a very bright flashlight begins its probing search along the entire roof’s incline. It stops to examine the windows of the other maid’s quarters. Finding nothing, it sweeps ward and continues its scrutiny of the cold wet tiles. Now the dull red glow of sunrise has come to the horizon. Daylight is not far away. I must hurry. I must escape. Now the beam of light is but one window away. I pull my black jacket over my head, make myself into the tiniest ball possible and try to hide myself. I close my eyes and wish to disappear. The light finds me, recognizes me, stares at me for a second, then moves on.
From below whispers reach my ears, indistinct and low. Suddenly a voice, loud and clear, crows, “We may as well go. There’s no one up there.” More whispers in the dark. The sun is rising. I must flee from you charms. I have no hope but to go over the roof to the front side.
I make my dash for the ridge top. I’m halfway there when my feet slip out from under me. I start sliding backwards, down toward the eave. I dig in with my fingernails, I break my toenails trying to stop the slide, yet I just keep gathering speed. Suddenly my feet dropped down into the rain gutter. I am face down, spread eagled on that roof, my racing heart trying to break through my ribcage. I could not breathe but in short hoarse gasps. My entire body is unable to move. Soon a handcuff was wrapped around one of my wrists and I am hauled up through the window where other hands grabbed my arms, wrapped them behind my back and slip the shackles around my wrist. This incident definitely put my chances at promotion in jeopardy.
Barefoot, I was hustled from the room, down the staircase I should have taken earlier,
I am dragged across the lawn and shoved into the back of a squad car. As we drive away,my fellow squad mates started roaring with laughter. “Boy you are a dumb son of a B,.
I was taken to the guardhouse, released from the handcuffs and placed in a cell.
After the bolts are thrown and I am alone and shoeless, I sit on the cot and let my head drop to
my chest, close my eyes and think. “You surely are a dumb s of a B.”
The End
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  #83  
Old 10-12-2013, 02:11 AM
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Default Second Childhood?

Franca has told me many times that I am still a child, to prove her wrong I decided to do a complicated painting, It is still a work in process and she has not seen it yet, but I am sure that this will prove to her that I am a mature adult. Your opinions on this work will help to prove her wrong.
Thank you for your support
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Old 10-20-2013, 12:37 PM
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Default My imaginary acquarium

MY IMAGINARY AQUARIUM
Showed the final painting to my wife today, she looked it and said with a smile. “You see I am right you are still a child in an old man’s body.”
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Old 11-05-2013, 01:18 AM
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Default Chapter 5

The Seeds Were Planted
Summer vacation came to an end and I entered the seventh grade .It was at school that the teacher explained to me how to I could take salt and clean the green film that covered my teeth away. I started brushing my teeth regularly and washing my ears, neck and hands. I bought some Old Spice cologne which masked the smell of my bed wetting urine and began to smell better. Even though I was one of the shortest kids I got on the basketball team. Took part in the school plays, and learned to play the flute from music lessons. My report cards even started to look better. I was an A student in Math and History but received a straight D in deportment. When I turned thirteen I got my social security number and soon had it committed to memory.
I found a job pushing a lawn mower and trimming hedges for a man who lived on Pingree Hill. It provided me with several hours of work a week. The man had cut a long stretch of field and watered it regularly, and then I mowed the grass very short.
In the mornings he would stand behind his house and hit golf balls all over the place while I mowed and cleaned the front yard. It was the first time I had seen anyone doing this and I thought it was silly. He would dress in black and white shoes, long plaid stockings, knickerbockers pants, a nice sweater and a short billed hat. He looked like he was readying himself for church. He would take a tin bucket of little white balls, put them on a small peg and start whacking away.
I asked him about it and he said one day we would go to the country club and I could be his caddy. I had no idea what caddying was all about but when he said he would pay me $2 to carry his bag of clubs around and watch where the ball he hit would go. This sounded better than mowing, raking and trimming hedges so I agreed to go. We drove to Manchester which was about 20 miles away and I got my first look at a country club.
People were walking around in twos and threes, all dressed up, and all hitting golf balls. Mr. Goldstein would tell me to give him a certain club; I would dig it out of his bag, hand it to him, stand to one side and watch where the ball landed. After a while I got bored with it and the bag got heavy as the morning turned into noon. At one point he had to hit the ball over a small pond. When I asked what would happen if he missed and the ball went into the pond, he yelled I should be quiet and just carry his bag. So I shut my mouth and carried his bag. By the time we returned to his house it was late afternoon. I was tired and hungry. He paid me my two dollars and I went home to eat. I decided then and there that I did not like being a caddy or playing golf.
One day while mowing the lawn, Mr. Goldstein started quizzing me about his next door neighbors who had just moved into a new house. I said I didn’t know anything about them, but my mother told me they were tight as Jews. He looked at me for a minute and then he told me to go home, that I no longer was to set foot on his property, that my job was terminated. I went home and told my mother I had lost my job. I never figured out why for many years.
Between my house and the woods and the Goldstein’s on the hill, there was a bog. It had several beaver dams and a brook that ran through it. It was my best friend Donald and my favorite places for fishing. We spent many hours there following the brook, catching small spotted brook trout. We also discovered where the ducks nested and a big patch of wild cranberries, we would eat the bright red tart berries we found there.
Alone, one day I decided to follow the brook downstream to see what kind of fishing holes there might be. I came to a gated dirt driveway where the brook crossed the dirt road that lead to my home. Ignoring the “keep out” sign I slipped between the posts and continued to, follow the brook.
I had not gone far when I came upon a large cabin clad in brown cedar shingles with a neat fenced lawn that nestled up to the edge of the brook. There I found a small log dam and a good swimming hole with a white sandy bottom. I stopped and sat, watching the water to see if any trout were feeding on the insects that floated by. I had not been sitting a few minutes when a very fat man walked up to me and asked me what I was doing there. “Fishing” I said... He asked me where I lived and how old I was and what my name was. I answered all of his queries. He said that this was private property and he liked his peace and quiet. “I am an artist and need my peace and you are disturbing it.” I had never met an artist so I asked the man what he did.”Think, draw and paint son.”He answered.
Mr. Cary, Don’s dad, had been giving me his old Field & Stream magazines, which I read with great enthusiasm. Robert Bourke’s stories of the Old Man and The Boy were my favorites. I had taken to drawing the paintings that decorated the magazine covers. Mostly I liked to draw the fishes, the Muskie splashing through the water with a big red and white lure embedded in his jaw, the rainbow trout catching mayflies in mid-air. I told this man that I liked to draw and wanted to be an artist. He suddenly smiled at me and asked me if I would bring some of my sketches the next time I came down to his swimming hole. I decided to quit fishing and told him that I would be right back. I left my pole and my Prince Albert can full of night crawlers next to the rock and set out jogging for home.
If you cut across the woods and under the high-tension wires that hung buzzing high up in the air, went across the corner of Mr. Bisbee’s hay field, one could get to Ernest’s house in ten minutes. Thirty minutes later I was back beside my fishing pole with my drawing book...I went to the house and found the fat man “Here sir,” I said. “Here’s my stuff,” holding up the dirty dog-eared notebook with all my drawings.
“My name is not ‘Sir,’” he replied as he took the book from me. “It’s George Goodwin, and if I were to become friends with you, I should expect that you call me George.”
“Yes, sir,” I replied. Mr. Goodwin sat down on the porch step and began looking at my pictures. I stood not knowing what to do because I had never shown them to anyone but Donald and he didn’t think my fish looked right. Mr. Goodwin finished looking at them and handed me back my book. He asked if I would like to see his house, meet his wife Mary and look at his art. “Yes, sir,” I replied.
“It’s George,” he said. “C’mon.”
“Mary!” He yelled to the log cabin and a pretty blonde lady dressed in the same coveralls that I always hated so much came out on the porch and walked towards us. George said, “Joe, this is my wife, Mary. She’s an artist also. Mary this is my new artist friend Joe.”
“So nice to meet you,” she said and patted me on the top of my head. I had never been patted on the head before and didn’t know what to make of it, but I liked it. “Come in, I was just making tea and would like you to have some.”
They led me into the home and my eyes could hardly swallow all the things inside that neat cabin. There were more books than I had ever seen. The only other person I knew who had a lot of books was the hermit Chet who lived by the farm I grew up on. But his were all piled all over the place. Here in George and Mary Goodwin’s home they were neatly placed in shelves that lined the walls around the stone fireplace. Above the fireplace was a big painted picture of a cougar fighting with two black and tan hound dogs. There were many other paintings on the wall and stacked on the floor and one with a flock of half painted ducks on a frame next to a big window that overlooked the lawn and the pool. I felt as if I had gotten lost and found myself in a different country. Maybe even a different world.
Mrs. Goodwin said, “Tea’s ready.” And we sat down on the little sofa together and drank our tea with milk and honey and blueberry muffins... After tea was over, George took my drawings and showed them to Mrs. Goodwin and then asked me more questions mostly about school. What grade was I in? I said that I had just started the seventh grade and that I mostly liked school and that my favorite subjects were Mathematics and History. My least favorite was English language. I had never taken drawing lessons I just copied the covers of Outdoor Life and sometimes from Field & Stream.
We then talked for a little while about fishing. Did I know how to fly fish? I said that I had read about it, and had made some flies with chicken’s feathers and squirrel’s tail hair and that I had caught a big trout by dangling it on the top of the water off the Beaver Lake bridge. Then we started talking about drawing. “Would I like some lessons? Could I come over once a week for an hour or two?” I said “yes sir” to both questions then Mr. Goodwin got a box of pencils from a shelf and a sheet of clean white paper from a drawer and then had me sit at his drawing table.
It looked like a very tall school desk with a top that tilted. Instead of a seat it had a high stool in front of it. He arranged the paper on the table and taped it in place, asked me to climb up on the stool to see how I felt. Sitting on that stool with that sheet of pure white paper on the table I felt very grown up and pleased with myself. He said that my first lesson would be to learn about pencils and paper. I thought pencils were pencils and paper was paper. He began to explain pencils to me. He explained the “B’s” and “H’s” of pencils and that paper for artwork was different than notebook paper. It was much thicker and had a texture that allowed pencils to leave better marks. Some paper was made by hand. There were papers for watercolors, for pen and ink and papers for print work. We talked about paper and pencils for the better part of the afternoon. Then he said I should go home before my parents worried about me.
I never put a mark on the paper. I just sat there on the stool and learned about pencils and paper. I asked when he would give me a lesson in drawing and he replied that if I came next Saturday, at about ten o’clock he would get me started. With that, I got off his stool and went to fetch my fishing pole and can of worms. I never mentioned the visit to the Goodwin’s, to either my mother or my stepfather Ernest that day.
The only thing I could think about was pencils and paper the next day of school. All I did was spouting off to everyone in the class what I knew about pencils and paper.
Finally Saturday morning came. I gathered my drawing book and my new pencil the teacher had given me. I told my mother where I was going and before she could say a word I was out the door and heading across Bisbee’s hay field. Taking the shortcut, I arrived a little before 10:00. I went up to the porch and knocked on the door and waited until Mrs. Goodwin opened it.
She smiled and invited me in. She again patted me on the head and said “George and I were wondering if you would show up today.”
“Yes ma’am,” I replied. “I’ve been thinking about pencils and paper all week .and the teacher gave me this” I pulled my new 2B pencil out from my pocket. George had gotten up from the sofa and put down the book that he had been reading.
“Well now that you’ve got yourself a good pencil, let´s get started with it and see what you can do.”
The same piece of paper was taken out of the drawer and set on the drawing table. “Get up on the stool and tape it to where it feels comfortable to you, Joe.”
Soon I was again sitting high in the air. I had no sooner got up on the stool when George told me to get down. I thought he was going to send me home so I just sat and looked at him no longer feeling like a grown-up. I must’ve looked pretty disappointed because he laughed and said, “The very first lesson today is that you must treat paper with great respect. You must keep it clean and white and you can’t do that with hands as dirty as yours. So before we start a drawing lesson, you have to wash up.”
As I stood in front of the kitchen sink washing up with the cold spring water that flowed from the tap, I saw my hands for the first time. Fingernails chewed to the point of bleeding. My hands were calloused, rough and I had a bright red scar across the top of my left thumb where I had cut myself with a bucksaw. I had broken my left arm twice, once at school and once under a log. I had a large scar on the top of my head caused by a sledding accident. I had smashed my kneecap while cutting firewood in the back of the woods. It was so painful that I had left the axe and saw where they lay and crawled home. I had two broken toes, one disjointed finger, and a scar under my ear where I had gotten hit in a fight, and lastly a broken nose. I had never given these injuries much thought except for the pain of the moment. My teeth were starting to decay from lack of dental care. This was my physical condition when I entered my teenage years.
I washed and dried my hands and went back to the drawing table, got up on the stool and sat. “Mr. Goodwin,” I said. “I would like to draw a gray squirrel with an acorn in his front paws. I’ve been thinking about it all week and that’s what I would like to draw.” He looked to the bookshelf and withdrew three books, returned to the table and placed them beside me to look at. “Here, look through these and see if you can find something you like,” he said.
The first book I looked at had two gray squirrel drawings. The second one hand none. The last one was exactly what I wanted. It was drawn by a man named Bishop. After I had chosen my squirrel I showed it to George and he told me “Another thing an artist must respect is the work of another artist.” That it was not fair to copy another artist’s work line for line, but it was fine for ideas and references. Then after saying that, he got a sheet of tracing paper from the drawer, placed it over the top of Mr. Bishop’s squirrel and told me to trace the drawing as carefully as I could, line by line.
“Isn’t that cheating?” I asked.
“Oh, no,” he explained. “You aren’t going to use the tracing for your drawing. It´s just practice. To become an artist takes great dedication and much practice. Right now you see a squirrel with an acorn but you don’t see the lines that shape its body. Nor the forms that compose it. You know nothing about the masses that support the forms and you don’t see the way the hair on it grows nor the shape of its eyelids or how the drawing is shaded to give the squirrel life. That is why you want to trace. Now you must start,” he said as he put the other books back into the slots on the shelf. “You’re on your own now. I’ll check back on what you’ve done after a while.” And with that he left me to my own devises.
I started copying the drawing. After a few minutes I found myself being absorbed into the paper. It was as if time had stopped. I was in a different world from the one I knew. I was at peace. I felt fulfilled with a new type of happiness. Time passed so quickly at that drawing table surrounded by books neatly tucked into their places. Mrs. Goodwin sewing on her quilts that she would sell at the Rockingham county fair. George painting on a canvas bursting with wood ducks landing in the marsh that was across the road. No noise was to be heard but the sounds of the brook outside their window.
“We all affect someone by our deeds and words even though we may not realize it.” That day, that beautiful Indian summer day, in the last quarter of my thirteenth year on this planet was to be the most changing moment of my life. The seeds were planted, the desire instilled. They were ready to help me when the time was at hand.
I went to George and Mary’s home two more times. I never finished the drawing of the squirrel. I did two more tracings. Mr. Goodwin explained that we were going to draw the eye in complete detail. He said, “Every artist he knew, worried more about making the eye alive than the rest of the work, because the light of the eye is the light to the soul, and we would get the worst out of the way first and then the rest would be easy.”
He explained to me the iris and pupil and how dilates in low light and showed me how to leave a small patches of light within the pupils so that the eye would have a hint of life. With his help I finished the eye that last Saturday morning.
At noon I took my leave and said I would see him the following Saturday
However, my future had been decided that morning by Ernest and my mother. As I entered the kitchen prepared to have lunch, I was met by (The Look).
The look cannot be described. It is not a glower, nor a sympathetic stare, nor is it a fierce and angry glance. It’s a look that wordlessly transfers the thought: ‘We know what’s best for you and we’re not going to let you go on with your hare-brained artist idea.’
“What?” I asked in defense. “I haven’t done anything.”
“Your father and I have been talking about you.” My mother always insisted that I call Ernest my father, which I did if I could see no other option. “We think that it is for your own good, that you not visit them any longer.”
“Why?” I asked. The Goodwin´s were unknowns to the locals that lived along the road to Pingree hill. It was said they came from Boston. And anyone who came from Massachusetts was not to be welcomed or trusted. They were causing me to get on my high horse around home and therefore for my own sake, I was not to go there again and to forget all of this artist nonsense. And as winter was not far away, I had to start working on the woodpile.
As much as I liked the Goodwin´s, I had not made a bond with them and my parents were my parents, without wood for cooking and heat, it would be a very miserably cold New England winter. So I put the Squirrel and the Goodwin´s in a box in my mind. Put away but not forgotten.
Fall came and went. By November, the woodpile was split and stacked. The tomatoes and beans and carrots were canned and the walnuts sacked and drying in the basement. The sides of the well house filled with fresh sawdust to insulate it from the freezing cold, damp winter air. And, I had my first real job washing dishes and cutting up chickens at a road house called The Chanticleer.
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Old 11-05-2013, 10:56 AM
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Default Re: New studio

Chanticleer ???

I am studding english with your essay,
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Old 11-06-2013, 06:57 AM
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Default Re: New studio

LVVP
Thank you for your comment, it made me smile.
I must warn you that reading my stories to learn English is like sitting behind a farmer plowing a field with his tractor expecting to learn how to drive a formula one race car.
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Old 11-13-2013, 01:19 AM
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Since our arrival in Italy many things have been accomplished to make retirement here a wonderful adventure. I now have bank accounts, a social security card, and a permit to take residence. None of these would have happened without my persistent wife. The house we rented has been a problem since we moved in to it. The old man who yells at all hours day or night is below us and during our time here we have found out that he has twice tried to burn the place down, that there is a family feud over the property. His son, our landlord hates him and wishes him dead. The police have been here several times and the old man has been carried off in an ambulance twice in the middle of the night. He is a resilient old bugger as the next day he returns to his home underneath us .Franca my determined blessing has been looking at other homes to rent practically every day since we moved in. As time went by and the situation here grew worse I pushed her to find a place where we could settle, drop anchor and enjoy living in peace. Her search has paid off in a small town named Santo Stephano Di Magra .We will be moving once more in January into a villa and paying less rent than we do here. To say that I am pleased is an understatement; here are photos of new home, studio, and garden and there is even a small room in the attic where a guest could spend a night or two.
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Old 11-17-2013, 05:28 AM
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Wonderful Joseph! The new house is great and i hope the right one!
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Old 11-18-2013, 10:08 AM
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Ciao Stephano
Yes it is a very nice home and I hope it is the last move.
When we are settled this spring you will be most welcome to visit us.I can use the help with the Italian language.
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Old 11-20-2013, 10:38 AM
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Thanks Joseph! I'll be glad to help you with italian...
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Old 11-27-2013, 06:19 AM
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Joseph,
It is good that you have a solution to the dilemma presented by your difficult neighbor . I hope you and Franca will be able to endure until you have the opportunity to move to Stephano. I have enjoyed your previous posts . My friend Chuck was In The USAF about the same time as you . He was an MP and had many story's to tell of his experiences . One of his favorite places was, Tripoli, not sure why , but you have probably been there ? Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving , here, in the US. I have been at the jewelers bench 7 years , and have to offer my thanks to many folks who have assisted me on this journey . I am especially fond of The Engraving Forum, thank-you Steve Lindsey!
Also I wish to thank all who have posted work and shared their thoughts here. It is truly a wide array of artistic expression that supplies instruction, knowledge, and maybe the most important, " Artistic Inspiration" . Best Regards Steve Cook
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Old 12-01-2013, 06:45 AM
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Default Autumn Winds

This is the first time I have been in cold weather since fourteen years of living on a beach in Mexico. The change is nice, I find it invigorating. Early each morning I take my dog for a walk. As we do so I study the color of the skies, flowers and nature in general. Gone are the bright sunrises and sunsets of Mexico. They have changed to subtle pinks and grays. The winds are no longer moist and warm. They have become mountain air sharp. All of these changes have got me to thinking of a new painting; I thought I would post along with this short story. My best wishes for the upcoming holidays I hope you enjoy both
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Old 12-01-2013, 06:48 AM
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Default Chapter 6

CHAPTER 6:
In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia,

On December ninth my birthday was noted and it was decided that now that I was fourteen and had a social security number I should find a job and start earning money to help pay for my upkeep and maintenance. School was costly and there were gym clothes and shoes needed. Spring would mean graduation from junior high school, and I would have to be dressed for the graduation dance. Mother knew someone who owned a roadhouse restaurant called the Chanticleer who was in need of kitchen help. The hours were Wednesday through Sunday 4 p.m. to 8 p.m... It paid well, including whatever I wanted to eat. It was arranged for me to start work the following Wednesday.
When school got out that next Wednesday I watched the other kids load into the school bus, then turned and walked through the spitting snow towards my first real job.
I was now in full adolescence and excited to start a real job, thinking of the freedom that a manila pay envelope waiting for me at the end of each week would bring. As I walked a storm of ideas were rushing through my mind. There would be dollars, green dollars, of my very own which I would spend on new clothes.
First, I would buy that pink and black-checkered shirt in the front window of the Uptown Men’s Clothing store on Derry’s Main Street. Then the dark blue peg pants with the leopard stripes down the sides. Next would be a pair of fine ox-blood colored penny loafers with loud-heeled taps, no pennies for me in those little slots. There’d be three dimes in each one. That way I’d never be without cash. Then there would be the thin white leather belt for the pants and last, a black waterproof nylon jacket with crimson red V-shaped patches on the shoulders. And maybe, if there was money left over, I’d buy a knitted yellow tie. Yes sir, once I got rid of these farmers’ overalls and brogans and when the girls got a look at this cool cat, they would be falling at my feet.
These were my thoughts as I walked through snow and slush and entered the restaurants backdoor.
My mind storm immediately evaporated into a cloud of steam that was rushing up from underneath the huge dishwashing machine, even the penny loafers disappeared into a pile of unwashed glasses, plates and silverware. There on a chopping table were stacked a couple of dozen naked chickens, head and feet sticking out of the pile, like poorly stacked cord wood. As I stood there with my mouth agape, a small pair of wooden doors flew open, followed by a pair of long shapely legs, a tight short black skirt and a white blouse. Virginia had entered my life
She was a beautiful blond; .her bare arm was extended upward balancing a tray that sat on top of her graceful shoulder. From where I was standing I could see part of her bra and boobs. I was smitten. I was in heaven. I was impassioned. I was ready to cut up chickens, wash dishes; anything was possible at that moment.
“Oh,” she said. “You must be the new kid. Hi, I’m Virginia.” She set the tray down and with a tilt of her hip and a shove, slid everything off onto the wash table. “I’ll go get the boss and tell him you’re here.” With a smile and two words she departed, “Good Luck!”
‘Good luck? How could a kid be luckier than me,’ I thought, as my mind started to hum the tune, ‘Oh in the blue ridge mountains of Virginia, that’s where I want to be…’ I had just discovered the allures of a mature, provocative woman and my hormones were starting to boil.
The moment was lost as soon as the man walked into the kitchen. “Hi kid, my name is Phil but you can call me ‘sir.’. Why don’t you take off that coat and hang it over there on that that hooks.”
I did as directed and then Phil said.
“The rules for this job are very easy. All I want to hear from you is either silence or ‘yes sir.’ ‘No sir’ doesn’t exist in this kitchen. Got that?”
“Yes sir,” I said as my hormones dropped to freezing level.
“Good,” he said. “Ok, first thing you got do here is you cut up these chickens. Then put them in that pan. When the pan is full, stick ‘um in the cooler over there,” pointing at the huge white enamel cooler. Its walk- in door shining with chrome hinges and handles, reminding me of my step father Ernest’s 1951 Nash Ambassador.
“Here’s how you cut up a chicken,” Phil growled. “Come here and pay attention. I don’t got time to screw around back here,” he said. “I’m going to show you how to do this once and I repeat myself, Pay Attention! Got it?”
“Yes sir,” I stammered.
“Ok,” he said. “Here’s your knife. You know how to sharpen a knife?”
“Yes sir.”
“Good, keep it sharp,” he growled again. “I don’t want any bone splinters in these here birds.”
“Yes sir.”
“Ok first we gut it.” And he plunged the fourteen-inch knife into the abdomen until there was a hole big enough to stick his hand in. “Now while we got the knife in our hands and to save a bit of time. I usually cut off the head, wingtips and the feet’s. Like this Whack, whack, whack.”In one minute the chicken lay on the cutting board ready for step two.
“Now we clean it like this” then sticking his hand into the cavity he pulled forth the innards and cut them free, saying to me as he dumped the guts into a garbage can “Chickens cost money and I’m not working my ass off in this place to lose money, so we use the liver and, heart for giblets gravy.” I nodded and said, “Yes sir.”
“Be very careful not to cut into the intestines. I don’t want any chicken shit on the meat. Are you hearing me kid?” He looked up from the gutted bird and smiled.
“Yes sir.”
“Ok now we put the giblets in that pan,” pointing the knife in the general direction of several.
He scooped up the giblets and threw them in one of them. “Now watch this carefully kid..” He then shoved the blade into the stump of the neck until the point protruded out the rear.
With one swift pull Phil lifted the knife up and cut away one side of the backbone.” Now we do the other side the same way.” Neck bones, backbones, and the piece that went over the fence last were flipped into another bowl for stock.
“Now take your hands and spread the bird flat,” he said as he squashed the chicken’s carcass out upon the table exposing the breastbone, severed ribs and lungs. “Pull the lungs out like this.” Collecting them up in his fingers he flipped them down into the hole along with the innards. “Now see here,” he said pointing at the sides. “Pay attention, this is important,” he growled once more.
“Yes sir.” I imagined my eyes were the size of teacups. Crunch went the bones as he smashed down. “Now you can pull the ribs out with your fingers.” Rip, and out they came and into the hole they went.
“Now pull the breastbone out like this,” and with that he grasped the protruding bone, yanked it out much like a dentist pulling a tooth. The white triangle bone, once extracted, went into the hole with the rest of it. “Now you have to separate the wings from the carcass. See here.” He pointed to the flattened carcass. “Right here is the joint of the shoulder.” And as he slipped a knife through this bone, the wings fell right off. Slick as that. Slice went the knife and the wings fell away.
“There,” he said patting the carcass with his bloody hands with about the same affection my friend Mary Goodwin had patted me on my head one day. He put the bloody bird in the aluminum pan, wiped his hands on his apron, he said, “Ok, kid now you’re on your own. I got other things to do now. Take your time, try to do it right. You’ll probably screw up a couple times, but don’t worry you’ll get the hang of it. I’ll get back and I’ll help you after a while.” Heading out the door he stopped, turned around and said, “And for Christ sake, don’t cut yourself.”
“Yes sir.”
“I can do a bird every t minutes. It shouldn’t take you more than an hour to do the whole pile.” He walked through the swinging doors and vanishing from sight.
I stood there looking at the pile of chickens, the hole in the cutting board, the blood on the apron, the gloves hanging on the hook next to the cooler, piles of potatoes, piles of dishes both clean and dirty, the whole confusing scene and I was no longer a cocky teenager. I was not Hercules, I was suddenly just a little kid up to my neck in chickens and I wished my Aunt were there to help me.
Great Aunt Lillian cooked, fed and cleaned in her kitchen; she did the laundry, tended garden and all the other things that kept a minimum of ten people healthy, fed, clean and educated. She loved every day of her life and she did it with care and devotion. She maintained not only a household but took in unwanted children; summer borders and was secretary for the grange. All of these thoughts were flowing through my mind. I could hear her voice saying to me, ‘You can do it Joey. And if at first you fail, then try, try, try again.”
Feeling a bit better I put on the apron, took a chicken out of the pile, looked to see if the knife was still sharp and started whacking away. Half an hour later, the door flew open and Phil was back.
“Hi kid, how’s it going?” He asked.
I didn’t answer. He stepped over to the board and picked up one of the three pulverized poultry.
“Well, at least you got all the bones out.”
And with that he tossed it in the pan. He looked at the other two, picked out the wishbone and a piece of rib and then tossed them into the pan. “Ok,” he said. “Let’s get to work. We ain’t got all night.”
For the next half hour, we stood side by side at the cutting board, slicing and whacking until the whole pile was done and the pan was full of dressed chicken. “Put those birds in the cooler,” he said to me.
“Yes sir,” I replied. We washed and cleaned up. All this time he never said a word to me. Everything was put away; Phil lit a cigarette and offered me one which I gratefully accepted. . Then after a moment said to me, “Ok kid, let me show you how this thing works,” leading me over to the steaming dishwasher. “This is easy,” he said as we stood in front of its gaping mouth that was ready to swallow a rack of dishes that sat on the conveyer. He pointed to some switches and dials.
“This here dial will tell you the water temperature. Make sure it stays at 185 degrees. This here switch shuts it off. This one turns it on.” He flipped the red switch and the conveyer started to move, carrying the dishes in the rack inside to be washed. Water and steam came misting out and in minutes the rack rattled to a stop at the other end.
“Make sure you wear gloves when you handle these dishes,” he cautioned. “They’re real hot when they come out.”
By the end of the night, the can under the bench would be so full chicken offal and discarded parts I could barely carry it to the refuse container out back. “Hey kid, pay attention,” he said again. “When the clean plates come out, stack them over there where they belong. Same thing goes for the glasses, cups, and the silverware. I’ll be back. Think you understand how it works?”
“Yes sir.” And he was gone. He was right, it was easy and before I knew it, time to clean up and take out the trash and shut down the dishwasher had arrived. Phil came back in, looked around, showed me the clean-up routine and left me to mop the floor. When he returned he had two plates of deep fried chicken, French fries and corn, and we sat down at the table to eat. I was very hungry and cleaned the plate in no time. We finished eating, and then Phil asked me if I drank coffee and would I like another cigarette...
“Yes sir.” “How long have you been smoking Kid?” he asked as I took a long drag and inhaled. I thought about it a minute and answered him. “A couple of years now, I started when I was in the sixth grade.”
“Do you like dessert?”
“Yes sir.”
“Apple pie and ice cream ok?”
“Yes sir.” We ate and he never spoke until the pie and coffee were gone .Then he said to me, “You’re all right kid. For the first time you did a pretty good job. I think in a few days you’ll get the hang of it all. You know I’ll bet I’ve had 25 kids your age start working here. Most don’t make it past the chickens. At the end of the week we’ll see how you’re doing. And if you get faster with the chickens, I’ll give you a five-cent per hour raise. Now you better get home.”
I dressed, stepped out of the steaming kitchen and into the cold winter air. I felt good. I had my first real job and I was already going to get a raise. I trotted toward home whistling in the dark. The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, that’s where I belonged,
I worked at the Chanticleer roadhouse and bar until Easter when it closed. I gave half of my earnings to my mother and the other half I got to keep. I had saved $60 for school clothes and went shopping at The Uptown Men´s Clothing Store.
Phil taught me quite a few things about life.
How to save time by being efficient. He also brought my ability to curse to the point of perfection. He made crude jokes about sex and masturbation. He saw everything that went on at the roadhouse. One time I was getting ready to empty some plates and glasses. He stopped me.
Wait, I want to show you something. See that plate with nothing left on it but leg bones and parsley?”
“Yes sir.”“Now look at the other plate.”
It was almost full of food. The chicken had been nibbled on as if by a mouse, same for the corn and the bread. “What do you make of that?” He asked.
“I don’t know Phil. Maybe the person wasn’t hungry.”
“No kid, that’s a woman’s plate. She’s a real good looker in her twenties or early thirties. She’s most likely here on a date. See that glass with lipstick on it? She left half of the beer, probably worried about getting laid later on. You can usually tell what kind of a person is out there by the kind of food that comes back. Families take the leftovers home. Old people always take everything. And usually eat the parsley. But good lookers on dates eat like birds. I’ve seen it time and time again. Remember that kid, its important information I’m giving you. Another important bit of wisdom I’m going to give you is never pass up an erection. If your dick gets stiff, visit Rosy Palm of the five sisters. I see you eyeballing that blond waitress and you ain’t got a chance. Best you gonna do is think about her and jack off.”
“Yes sir,” I replied.
At home in the night I’d think about Virginia and then take Phil’s advise. I think my mother knew what I was doing because one April afternoon when we were planting our garden she said, “Joe, you know that thing you got in your pants?”
“Yes?” I said somewhat embarrassed for it was a subject that had never come up in any conversation with my mother.
“Keep it there.”
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Old 12-01-2013, 09:09 AM
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Hi Joseph,

Congratulations on the new home.We wish you and family all the best.
At least no bandits here .
SE
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Old 12-15-2013, 01:29 AM
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SE Engraver
Thank you for the good wishes.We move out of here on Jan.15 I am looking forward to planning a flower and vegetable garden and my new studio.
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Old 12-15-2013, 01:32 AM
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Default Another story

Kid, I ain’t got all day


My mother was a child of the Depression and her childhood was hard. She was only seventeen when I was born. To have an illegitimate child in 1938 New England must have been as big a curse for her. Her father was part Indian and lived primarily from hunting, fishing and raising a garden on the land they owned. There was fifteen acres or so in the backwoods about four miles from where I grew up on my Great Aunt Lillian and Andrew´s farm. He also did carpentry and built the home where my grandmother, mother, her sister and brother worked in a rock strewn garden and took care of two milk cows and a few chickens They had no well so water had to be carried year round in jugs from a stream about a quarter of a mile away. As there was no electrical service, clothes were washed in the same stream. Water was scarce for the garden and the household. Lillian was the oldest and she carried water and cut and split more than her share of wood.
My grandfather Waldo was not a man of patience. His razor strap hung by the kitchen door and any offending or disobedient child whether it was his or someone else’s found themselves behind the outhouse, the wide smooth leather leaving its mark on the buttocks or in the cases of girls, on the legs. Age and reason have tempered my outlook on my childhood and the anger and resentment for many years I felt are long since vanished.
With the end of school I was to look for a summer job. My friend Donald had gotten work on a dairy farm in upstate New Hampshire near Lake Winnipesaukee and asked my mother if I could work there also. The job paid ten dollars a week plus room and board; she agreed that I could go. What excitement I felt at the thought of being on my own, for the first time in my life I was going to have freedom to be with my friend every day and not need permission.
I was to take the bus that left Derry, travel to Manchester, then Concord, our state capital, and then into the White Mountains. The trip was going to be my great adventure and a learning experience. I did not know then that the job was seven days a week, but I do not think it would have made a difference.
I had never been but a few miles from home and had never been on a bus like the one that was waiting for me in front of the Derry diner. It was all chrome with great stripes of green down the sides. The motor was in the back. Waiting passengers were drinking morning coffee and eating donuts in the diner when Ernest dropped me off early that morning. He told me to buy the ticket from my driver and then make sure I wrote my mother when I got there. With that he gave me five one dollar bills, a green plaid suitcase that belonged to my mother, a brown paper bag with sandwiches and apples. He then pulled away from the bus stop and continued on to work. I climbed up the chrome steps and into the bus.
It was huge. There must have been room for fifty or sixty people. The seats were covered with green leather and chrome. The driver’s seat sat by itself on a pedestal looking like a king’s throne. There were chrome shifters, levers, dials, and gauges galore---it made me think of Buck Roger’s space ship and it sat there empty, waiting. I went into the diner, which looked very much like the bus with its round shape and chrome stripes. As soon as I saw him, I knew he had to be the driver. He wore a grey suit with green stripes down the pants leg, gray black billed hat, white shirt and tie that matched the leather of the seats. He sat on one of the stools drinking coffee from a mug and eating a honey glazed donut.
“I want a ticket to Laconia, sir.”
Wait till I get on the bus,” he replied. “I issue tickets at the door.”
“How much does a ticket cost?” I asked.
“Three dollars and eighty-five cents to Laconia and I leave in 25 minutes, 7:15 sharp,” he said returning to his donut. I started to walk away and he said, “Hey kid, make sure you use the John before you get on. There’s no toilet on the bus and I don’t want to stop until Manchester.”
Pie a la mode was 25 cents at the Derry diner. I climbed on a stool, spun around a couple of times and ordered my apple pie and strawberry ice cream. I finished the pie and was cleaning up the remaining ice-cream with my finger when the driver got up and said in a voice of authority, “All aboard the New England Interstate, with stops in Manchester, Concord and Laconia.”
I ran to the men’s room, found the door locked. I waited a bit as people began to leave the diner. Finally after what seemed forever, the toilet door opened and I got my turn. I peed as fast as I could and I ran out to get on the bus.
“Hey kid,” the counterman called as I ran past him. “Don’t forget your stuff,” pointing at my lunch and mother’s suitcase. By the time I got to the bus I was the last one on. The driver took my money, pulled my ticket, and said, “Move it, kid. I don’t have all day.” It seemed to me that everyone said the same thing. “Hurry, Move it, let’s go. I ain’t got all day.” I found a seat in the back near the window, put my things on the seat with me so I wouldn’t forget them again and watched the driver climb up onto this throne and adjust his mirror, insert the key. The motor roared to life. He looked in the mirror and it seemed like he was looking straight at me, as if saying with his eyes, “Don’t give me any problems kid. I see you back there, and I ain’t got all day.” The great bus pulled away from the curb and I was off on my first adventure.
The name of the farmer I was going to work for was Viktor Maschek. He was waiting for me when the bus pulled up in front of the Lake’s General Store and Dry Goods. I was the last one off. I emerged from my imaginary spaceship and returned to earth. He said, “Are you the kid from Derry?”
“Yes sir.”
“Well, let’s go. I’ve got chores to do and I’ve got no time to waste.”
And with these welcoming words we made our way over to his old pick-up. With a few stomps on the accelerator pedal and a turn of the key, we were off.
“You ever work on a farm?” he asked.
“Yes sir, I grew up on one.”
“Good, then you know everything there is to be done.” We drove for ten miles to his farm in silence. Unlike my Aunt’s farm where everything was in order, Mr. Maschek place was the exact opposite. Fences were hanging askew; barbed wire was missing here and there. The gate onto the property sat rotting away. The road was full of holes big enough to swallow a wheel. The house itself showed the color of brown cedar wood underneath the fades whitewash. The farm equipment scattered all around with piles of junk along the lane. Everything I saw looked sad and uncared for.
Mr. Maschek even looked sad and uncared for. His bib overalls were torn at the cuffs, boots worn through at the toes. The truck was a lackluster black with bailing twine and frayed rope piled in one corner of the bed. It was a dairy farm all right, the smell told you that. But even I could see it was a place without a soul. Mrs. Maschek came out of the house to greet our arrival. She reminded me of my grandmother Agnes; short gray hair cut page style, faded blue housedress with a flowered apron that hung from her frame like a flag in mourning.
“Hello,” she said as I got out of the Ford. I stood there with my mother’s suitcase and uneaten lunch and looked at the farmyard. No chickens or dogs, no children, no fruit orchard, only a clothesline with tired linens and coveralls rising above the neglected farm equipment that lay scattered about like so many pieces of a lost jigsaw puzzle. I had arrived there at the peak of the haying season. The New England summer heat was oppressive and the hay was ready to be harvested. Mrs. Maschek greeted me warmly and with a genuine smile.
“Come in, boy,” she said putting her hand on my shoulder, then leading the way to the still open kitchen door.
“Where’s Donald? Is he here?”
‘”No dear, He’s still down at the barn finishing the chores for the evening. He would be along any minute.” Then without taking a breath she continued. “Was it a long trip up? I bet it was. Are you tired? I bet you are. Must be hungry also. Well don’t you fret, Donald will be along soon and we’ll all have a nice dinner together. Joe is your name?”
“Yes ma’am,” I quickly replied cutting off the river of words that were flowing out of Mrs. Maschek. “My name is Joe and I live in Derry.”
“So you’re Donald’s friend.”
“Yes ma’am.”
“Well come on in.” She said. Pointing to the kitchen sink. “You go wash your face and hands and we’ll have a nice supper. Do you like cornbread and baked beans?”
“Yes ma’am,” I replied and my stomach began to grumble. I went to the familiar water pump, filled the basin with cold well water and washed up. Donald came in as I was finishing up. He didn’t look very happy. We barely had time to say ‘Hi’ before we were seated for supper. Mr. Maschek said grace and then we ate in silence. The only sounds coming from the kitchen were the ticking of the regulator clock on the wall and the clacking of spoons against the bowls filled with salt pork and kidney beans. One thing for sure, I was going to be well fed.
After we had eaten our fill, Donald and I asked if we could be excused from the table. Once we were outside I asked “What’s the matter with you Don? You don’t look very happy.”
“Mr. Maschek is mean and he works you hard,” he replied. Soon it was dark so we returned to the house. Mrs. Maschek led me upstairs to the small room on the second floor where I unpacked my suitcase and went to sleep. The next morning I awoke early feeling the pangs of homesickness. I felt the nightmares of Andrew’s farm reassert themselves. All the haunting thoughts that I kept secreted came forward to declare themselves
With the morning sunrise I sat at the kitchen table eating oatmeal and prunes. The first few days had passed quickly what with all the farm chores that deeded doing. Don and I were working early in the morning from when we started milking, until late in the day when the cows were brought back from pasture for their second milking. The Maschek’s followed the “Early to bed early to rise makes a farmer healthy, wealthy and wise.”But this philosophy had left them looking as if the rocks and poor soil had siphoned away the energy from their bodies taking away any dreams of happiness and love they once may have had.
Mr. Maschek said. ”Donald you take the herd into the pasture and when you get back, clean up the calf pens and the stanchions. Me and your friend here are going to start cutting hay on the lower meadow. When you finish up in the barn, you come down and work with us.”
Early morning found me waist-deep in the dew soaked grass. In my hands I held an oak handled, three-foot scythe. Mr. Maschek showed me the way to swing it and pull at the same time. Swish, slice, swish, slice. Extend the arms and pull and the hay fell to the earth in two by three foot swaths. The lower meadow was two acres in size and too soft to drive the tractor over. It had to be harvested by hand. I was just the kid to do it.
Left on my own I soon had the rhythm of the scythe down and we set to work. By noon the meadow had been cut and was ready to be raked. After lunch we returned to the field and began to place the cut hay in windrows to dry. By now the sun was up full and brilliant and the dew had completely evaporated into the sky. I was hot. I was tired. I hadn’t time to visit my friend Donald since my arrival. Just a short distance away from where I was working was a cool clear brook with swimming holes, and spotted brook trout, and sparkling water. I could hear its waters whispering my name.
‘Joe, come on in and join me. Get out of the heat, sit in my cold flow.’ The more I thought of the brook, the less I could resist. I decided to fake heat stroke. Making sure that farmer Maschek was watching I chose a comfortable pile of hay to pass out on top of. I crumpled to the ground trying my best to look as if I only had a minute or so left to live. That my only hope of survival was to be able to retreat to the shade and cooling waters. I lay on the pile of mown hay, exposed to God and the whole of mankind as a faker, a shirker who wanted at that moment to go swimming more than anything else. I lay there listening to the thud of the approaching footsteps of Mr. Maschek,
“What’s wrong with you?” The dry terse voice asked. I opened my eyes and looked up.
“I’m sick,” I gasped into the afternoon sun. Wham! The boot hit my buttocks with all the force he could muster, and I have to tell you that kick really hurt
“There,” he said as I rocketed to my feet. “Feel better? Now get to work.” I’m positive that that kick made me a better person. If I had gotten away with my fraud, I most likely would have ended up writing this from a prison cell.
The second incident is the hurricane that arrived in Laconia, New Hampshire that summer. I was out in the barn doing chores, (‘chores’--- meaning shoveling cow manure) when the storm hit. I had finished cleaning the stanchions and had replaced the covers over the holes where the manure was piled onto a spreader waiting below. There were about ten oak covers, each quite heavy. The morning sky had been threatening rain, which was fine with me. Rain meant there was no hay to be pitched or cut. I knew if I went back to the farmhouse, more chores would be found that had to be done.
So, I just relaxed on the pile of hay, taking my time, singing ‘In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, that’s where I want to be.’ I had just decided to follow Phil’s words of wisdom, when the wind began to gust.
The barn was not a masterpiece of post and beam construction. As the wind increased, the joints started giving way with groans and creaks. It concerned me so that I lost my train of thought when the first blast of wind hit. The air was suddenly full of dust and hay. The timbers of the barn cracked under the force of the torrential rain and wind. Now that I was no longer enjoying my quiet moment I was very concerned. The tempest continued to increase in velocity and rain, windows came flying inward. The barn door was lifted off its track and came crashing down. I ran to a corner near the door and squatted down not knowing whether to stay or run. The wind was now screaming so loudly that I could hear nothing else. I covered my ears and waited to be blown away like Dorothy.
Suddenly in unison, all the wooden covers lifted up from the floor and hovered up in the air like spaceships. They remained floating up and down for perhaps a minute. Then all of them crashed into the stall floor at the same time. The wind slackened. The rain continued to fall. Gathering my courage, I ran back with all the speed my legs could muster to the farmhouse. Everything there was a mess, shingles gone, the porch roof ripped loose, trees yanked up and broken off by the howling winds of the storm which had lasted for two hours. Winds were over 100 miles an hour.
“It is an ill wind that brings no good” and so it was for me. We had just gotten the farmhouse picked up and dried out when a rather fat man wearing a gray suit came walking into the yard.
“Hello,” he greeted the house.
We all went outside to see what he wanted. “My name is Mr. Lowell,” he said. “I have a summer house down the road a couple miles.”
Of course we had all heard of Mr. Lowell. It was one of the main topics at the dinner table between the Maschek´s.
“He’s up at his house; I saw his big Packard car. I understand he has all copper plumbing. Copper is very expensive. He’s rich you know. They say he owns all the movie theaters in New England and New York. House is all built of brick. First brick house in these here parts.”
“Yes sir, Mr. Lowell. What can we do for you?”Mr. Maschek asked
“My driveway is blocked by fallen trees and I need to get back to Boston right away.”
“Well, we’re pretty busy right now, Mr. Lowell. The storm left us with a good mess to clean up,” replied Mr. Maschek.
“It is very important that I get out. I’ve had a lot of damage at the boardwalk in Boston and I need to get there as soon as possible. I’ll pay you to cut a path clear for me.”
“I really don’t have time to go, but I’ll send the kid. How big are the trees?” He asked.
“Pretty big,” replied Mr. Lowell.
“I’m not very good at cutting wood with an axe,” said Don. “But Joe is, so it’s best if he goes.” That decided, I got an axe and whet stone and set off with Mr. Lowell. The first tree required a couple of good licks before it was parted and swung out of the way and off the side of the drive. There were three or four more other about five or six inches in diameter. In twenty minutes the path was cleared to the front of the neat brick house. Mr. Lowell got in his big black Packard, rolled down the window and handed me a twenty-dollar bill. I didn’t know what to do when I saw it. So I said, “That’s a twenty!”
“That’s right, son. And it’s all yours. Now you take it. I’m in a big hurry and I haven’t got all day.”
He roared off leaving me standing there with my mouth open. As I walked back towards the farmhouse I was trying to decide what to do with all that money. Twenty minutes of work was a dollar a minute. And I was being paid one dollar thirty cents a day. I decided not to tell Mr. Maschek about my windfall. He most likely would take it away from me. I decided the best way out was to lie. Practice makes perfect so I had practiced my lie all the way back.
“No sir, he didn’t pay me anything,” I said as I walked in. “He said he was in a hurry and would give me some money the next time he was up.”
“Just as I thought,” Mr. Maschek grumbled. “I should have known those rich folks from Boston can’t be trusted.” A couple of days later there was a message for me at the Lake’s General Store and Dry Goods. I was to return home as soon as possible. Mr. Maschek was not happy that I would not be staying for the season and would only give me eight dollars for my two weeks work, saying that he was going to send my folks the rest of the money by mail later on. So I said goodbye to my friend Don and an adios to the Maschek’s, climbed back into the motor coach holding my green cardboard suitcase that now had my twenty dollar bill hidden inside.
I waited for the driver to say, “All Aboard, New England Interstate with stops in Concord, Manchester, Derry and Boston.” Sitting in the front seat I watched the driver adjust his mirrors, check his gauges, put the bus in gear. There I was, an experienced rider, sitting in the front seat watching the trees and the houses roll by. I was homeward bound, a wiser, richer and more experienced man.
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Old 12-15-2013, 01:38 AM
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Default Space Ship X

This story got me thinking about another painting, one involving a space station; I have laid out my idea on the plastic that covers a new canvas. I do not want an ordinary space station but one made up of colored patches floating in the atmosphere with lights, planets and stars .I think it will be an exciting project and hope to have it completed in the next month.
Thank you, and have a great Christmas and New Year
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Old 01-13-2014, 10:30 AM
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Default Re: New studio

Settled at last
When we left Mexico I knew that the trip would be long and tiring and that it would take time to establish our residence here .I never expected that finding the right home would involve renting a house with a crazy man living below me.
Breaking the rental agreement and needing the help of a lawyer to get back half of our security deposit, and losing twenty five hundred dollars just to move out, but it did. It was worth the cost.
Franca searched for five months to find the right home to settle into .Once more I packed pots pans, furniture, dog, computer, art work, paints, and my easel. Now everything is in place and I can get back to painting, writing, tending to flowers and a garden.
I am done looking for now toward new adventures.
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Old 01-29-2014, 11:12 AM
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Default Space station X now in orbit

It my be hard for some to believe that this painting was inspired by my first ride on a bus. Would I ever lie to my fellow engravers? Never!
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