On the Road Again – Day 5

A Bunny and a Goat and a Dog, Oh My! Plus a Butterfly!!

The day we arrived in Branson, Mo. the forecast for the week was bleak.  Unless you are a duck.  There was an 80% chance of rain every day.  Up until Day 5, if it rained it rained at night when we were asleep except for one time.  It came a pretty good shower when I was sitting in the hot tub with a couple from Pennsylvania.

We ignored it.  If you are in a hot tub you can only get so wet and we had already reached the saturation point.  So we solved the world’s problems as a steady rain fell.

Day 5 was the exception.  It was raining when we got up and show no signs of stopping.  That was the day my wife’s motto kicked in:  “When the going gets tough the tough go shopping.”  I tagged along.

I had been looking for some cargo pants.  I found three pair I liked and purchased them.  That was before a lady in our neighborhood posted this meme on Facebook:

Good thing my self-esteem is strong.  I will wear my “purse pants” proudly.  A few years ago we visited Silver Dollar City and I rode the Outlaw Run roller coaster.  It features an 18 story drop almost straight down to get started. Then after multiple vertebrae rattling turns it does not one, but TWO consecutive 360 loops. A while later I reached in my pocket and my key fob was gone.  Luckily, my wife had hers.  I filed a report with the Silver Dollar City lost and found.  We had barely arrived home when they called to report it had been found.  They mailed it to me for five bucks.  Since then I require pockets that button, even if ridicule is a part of the equation.

After we hit a large strip mall, the rain stopped.  At my wife’s behest, we then headed towards the mecca of Branson shoppers, the Branson Landing.  In addition to a lot of nice stores & restaurants, it also has a nice boardwalk that parallels Lake Taneycomo for bored husbands that want to get a little exercise.  But not before I hit Bass Pro and took some pictures of people walking their pets.

Branson Landing is pretty upscale, but it is still in the Ozarks. 

Here is the first pet I saw.

Yep. That’s a Goat.

The second pet I encountered was a very photogenic, good-natured dog who happily posed for me.

Now THAT is a cute dog!

Finally, on my walk, I encountered some Branson wildlife

A Bunny that thought it was invisible.
And a Butterfly that Patienly waited for me to Snap a Pic

So . . .it wasn’t a total rainout! I don’t recall who once observed that “weather forecasters are wrong often enough that you can’t count on them, but right often enough that you can’t ignore them.”

If no one else claims that observation maybe I said it. As my wife will attest, It wouldn’t be the first time I totally forgot something I once said.

On the Road Again – Day 3

Revisiting Famous Inlaws Who May Have Been Outlaws

Though my wife and I and our son and his family now live west of Jefferson City, Mo., we grew up in and around Springfield. Most of our relatives are buried in southwest Missouri – including a couple who achieved great notoriety during their lives.

On Day 3 of our trip we decided to visit the graves of our best known kinfolk.

A distant relative by marriage of my wife’s family was recently portrayed in a new movie produced by Branson resident Michael Johnson. It was released in 2019 and titled Baldknobber. Nathaniel Kinney, known as “Captain Kinney” by his fellow Baldknobbers, was featured prominently.

After the Civil War ended, southwest Missouri was a dangerous, lawless place.  Forsyth, Mo., not far from Branson, was one of the most dangerous.  According to the Missouri State Historical Society, The Chariton Courier reported in 1892 that “the town of Forsyth is 50 years old, but does not contain a single church and never did.”  According to Google, there are 18 churches in Forsyth today so there has been progress.

After the formation of the Baldknobbers, which were predominantly in favor of the Union, another group was formed known as the “Anti-Baldknobbers”. They were predominantly Confederate supporters according to a Doctoral dissertation by Matthew James Hernando titled “The Baldknobbers of Southwest Missouri, 1885-1889: A Study of Vigilante Justice in the Ozarks.”

 At the height of the vigilante justice, Nate Kinney was gunned down in his own store in Forysth, Mo. He is buried in the Forsyth Cemetery, which was our first stop of the day.

Captain Nathaniel Kinney’s (1843-1888) Final Resting Place

We had only minor difficulty finding Mr. Kinney’s grave.  His wife Maggie is buried beside him in a small, peaceful cemetery on the outskirts of Forsyth.  My wife’s family used to vacation in nearby Rockaway Beach with distant relatives of Capt. Kinney when my wife was a kid.  That was in the days when the water in Lake Taneycomo was still warm enough to swim in before the Table Rock dam was constructed. 

If you would like to see a movie that shows the good side and the bad side of the Baldknobbers,  the movie Baldknobber is available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime at the following link:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2919200/

As I often do, I wandered among the other graves to see what else I could find.  Off by itself, I found the large, moss covered crypt of Ernest Crist.  Ernest died January 8, 1923 at the age of 14. I did some research but was unable to find a cause of death or any other information about Ernest, but his crypt was unique so I suspect his family was well-to-do.

Ernest Crist’s (1908-1923) Moss-covered Crypt

Near the entrance to the cemetery I found the headstone for James C. Johnson, MD, who died in 1906 at the age of 66.  Buried next to him was his wife, Sarah E. Johnson, Nurse, who died in 1934 at the age of 93.  It is very possible that James and Sarah treated many of the Baldknobbers and their victims, possibly even Nate Kinney himself.

Remember Stranger as You Pass By, As You are now so once was I

What I found most interesting about the Johnson’s headstone was the inscription below the names and dates on the headstone.  It read:

Remember Stranger As You Pass by,

As You Are Now So Once Was I

As I Am Now Soon You Will Be

Prepare For Death And Follow Me

This is not the first time I have heard of this epitaph, but it is the first time I have actually witnessed it.  When I first heard about it, it was because someone had taped a note below it which read:

To Follow You I’m Not Content

Until I Know Which Way You Went

That is one of my favorite epitaphs, rivaled only by one I found in the Cemetery in Anutt, Mo.  It was on the grave of a girl who died young.  It read:

Here Lies Debbie

Who Didn’t Give a Doo-Dah

All Decked Out in Her Purple Baracuda

I would love to know the story behind that.

Our Day 3 cemetery tour ended at Bonniebrook, the home of one of my distant relatives by marriage, Rose O’Neill. Rose is best known as the creator of the kewpie doll, though she had many other achievements in her life, including some that were quite controversial for her day.  Bonniebrook is 10 miles north of Branson in the woods on Bear Creek.  When Rose O’Neill first moved there around the turn of the 20th century, it was a two-day wagon ride to get from Bonniebrook to Springfield.

I’ve read Rose’s autobiography.  At one time she was one of the richest women in America.  She got some of her artistic ideas from gazing into the forest around Bonniebrook where she used her imagination to conjure up the images of “sweet monsters” in the foilage of the densely wooded property.

Bonniebrook was closed when we visited, but the gate was open so we strolled the beautiful trail from the home and museum down to the small family cemetery in the woods just across a small bridge over Bear Creek.  Rose died of pneumonia on April 6, 1944 in the Springfield home of my grandfather’s sister and her husband, Rose O’Neill’s nephew.  She was 69.

Though there is no epitaph on her grave, in her autobiography Rose said her personal philosophy was “Do good deeds in a funny way.  The world needs to laugh or at least smile more than it does.”

On our way back to the car, we noticed a relatively large dog eyeing us suspiciously at the gated entrance we had breached. 

“Maybe that’s the guard  dog” I told my wife.

While I am not scared of dogs, I did get a little nervous when it came running toward us.  When it reached us, it laid down, rolled over, and put its feet up in the air. It wasn’t playing dead, though that would have been appropriate based on our days activity.

Turns out with the museum closed it was just looking for someone to rub it’s stomach.

On the Road Again – Day 2

What Would Jesus Do?

In December of 2019, I purchased season tickets for Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., for my wife and me for 2020.  After the coronavirus hit in early 2020, Silver Dollar City announced policy changes which included mask wearing indoors and out, social distancing, and attendance control measures which mandated reservations to visit the Park.

When I balked at these restrictions, Silver Dollar City personnel were very accommodating.  If I did not visit the Park in 2020, my season tickets would automatically roll over to 2021.  I chose to do that in the hope that the restrictions would be unnecessary by 2021.  The good news is that the restrictions were lifted on May 15, 2021.  The bad news is that we visited the Park on May 14, 2021 when social distancing mandates required long waits to get into theaters. 

By 2 pm, we were discouraged at our inability to see any shows that in most years we might have been able to see multiple times in the same day.

Though we didn’t get to see Bluegrass headliners Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver like we planned, after leaving Silver Dollar City early, we did get to see JESUS.  No, He did not come to Branson in the flesh, but the amazing story of Jesus’ 33 years on earth told in the New Testament comes to life twice a day at the palatial Sight & Sound Theater in Branson.

While schedule flexibility has its benefits, getting good last minute show tickets is not one of them.  We ended up with seats near where the angel later began its descent from heaven to roll the stone away from the tomb of Jesus.

The theater has 2000 seats, but even from where we sat the view was excellent, perhaps better than those closer to the stage because of the massive dimensions of the theater.

As the lights dimmed and on stage the story started with the future disciples of Jesus bemoaning the poor results from a long day fishing, the two people with tickets for the empty seats directly behind my wife and I arrived. In the darkness behind us was jostling & seat-bumping as our new neighbors settled into their seats and tried to get comfortable. Shortly thereafter the crackling of cellophane food wrappers from the seats behind us began to compete with the dialogue on the stage.  I began to struggle with the words of Jesus to “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”. 

Eventually, after Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount and fed the 5000 with a few loaves & fishes, the people behind us also got full.  The only noise I heard from that point to intermission was their applause mingling with my applause at inspiring times throughout the performance.

As the lights came on for intermission, the man behind us leaned over tapped my wife on the shoulder.

“I would like to apologize to you”, he said.  “I accidentally kicked your chair when I sat down.  I have not been able to straighten my right knee since I was 18 years old”, which I estimated had been sometime in the latter years of the Eisenhower Administration.  My wife’s mobility is also somewhat limited due to two titanium hips, two titanium knees, and a couple of bunion surgeries thrown in for good measure.  My wife and the guy began to commiserate on the challenges of living with bad joints.

The earlier wrapper crackling incident was soon forgotten amidst the camaraderie engendered by shared surgical experiences. 

When the elderly couple learned where we lived, mutual acquaintances were discovered.  While we didn’t make dinner arrangements together, a respect and bond began to form which supplanted my earlier irritation.

Ok, just as a refresher course, here are the lessons I was given on the first two days of our vacation:

Day one – It is more blessed to give than receive (even if the recipient has expensive taste in coffee).

Day two – Love your neighbor as you love yourself, even if they cracklecellophane food wrappers behind you in a darkened theater.

Branson already has a reputation for wholesome, family entertainment.  Sight & Sound Theater, bringing stories from the Old Testament and the New Testament to life with amazing depictions of JESUS, MOSES, SAMSON, NOAH, and QUEEN ESTHER can only help bolster that reputation.

A couple of nights after we attended JESUS, I met a military couple from Pa. who had been to see JESUS the same night my wife and I attended.  Their seats were 6 rows from the stage (but they had to sit through a time-share presentation to get them).  Even from the upper reaches of the balcony we experienced the same amazing sights and sounds as they.  But If you order early (or sit through a time-share presentation) and get seats on the floor like the Pennsylvanian’s did, instead of 40% of your five senses (sight and sound) being stimulated, you get one additional sense stimulated (smell) at no additional cost.  The profusion of well-trained camels, Roman soldiers on horseback, sheep, & pigs roaming the stage and aisles also stimulates your sense of smell according to my new friends who live not far from the other Sight & Sound Theater in Lancaster, Pa.

Adult Ticket prices were $62.50 with a 10% discount for veterans. 

Steep, but after I saw the performance, I thought it was worth it. 

And as everyone knows who read yesterday’s account of the first day of our trip, I’m not one to hand out money like it grows on trees.

The Mouse That Will Change Your Life

As I continue my self-declared war on clutter in the areas of our home under my control (the garage, attic and my office), I am re-evaluating the necessity of each item I find.  Today, for example, I sorted through some magazines.

Let’s see . . . hummm.  Here is the July issue of Mechanix Illustrated.  Not July of last year.

July of 1956 – the same month Tom Hanks was born.  I was seven years old.

As I scanned the Table of Contents, I discovered one article that was exceptionally prescient.   It was titled “The Mouse That Will Change Your Life”.  It was written by O . O. Binder.

Mr. Binder wasn’t referring to the warm-blooded variety of  mouse, or even the computer mouse.  The mouse referred to in this article was an acronym for “Minimum Orbital Unmanned Satellite Earth”.

Mr. Binder made the correct prediction that “orbiting around the earth at the fantastic speed of 18,000 mph, the first space satellite will herald the beginning of a new era in 1957”.

IMG_2921

Mr Binder’s prediction was right on the money!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the United States that accomplished it.  On October 4, 1957, the Russians got the attention of the United States and the world  in a big way with the launch of Sputnik 1.  And, just like Mr. Binder predicted, it circled the globe at the fantastic speed of 18,000 mph.

I remember reclining under the stars on a Cub Scout campout and watching Sputnik streak across the night sky.  It could travel from horizon to horizon in only 7 minutes.

The U.S. wasn’t too far behind.  On January 31, 1958, we successfully launched Explorer 1.

Today there are 1,980 active satellites in orbit.

I think we can all agree that there is no way I can justify getting rid of this magazine.  I’ll leave that for my wife or son to do when I kick the bucket.

Simplifying is an ongoing struggle.  I am taking baby steps.

On Saturday afternoon, I dropped off a couple of bags of clothing at Goodwill.

It was my wife’s clothing.

But I drove.

I’d say we made some headway.

IMG_2920
Table of Contents from the July, 1956 issue of Mechanix Illustrated

 

 

 

 

The Simple Life

Baby Boomer’s parents & grandparents who lived through the Great Depression developed a simple lifestyle devoid of waste.  By necessity, they lived by 4 simple rules:

  1. Use it up.
  2. Wear it out.
  3. Make it do, or
  4. Do without.

I once met a guy who lived through the Great Depression who claimed he never threw anything away.  He swore he even had a box that was labeled “STRING TOO SHORT TO USE”.  I’m pretty sure he was exaggerating.

Pretty sure . . .

Since World War II ended and Baby Boomer started arriving, the race has been on to see who could accumulate the most “stuff”.  Now garages and basements are full of stuff and storage units proliferate so people can accumulate MORE stuff.

Which brings to mind the question, “what are we going do with all this stuff?”

I have been making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of stuff in our home.  I have been only moderately successful because, as I am sorting through all my “stuff”, I am invariably delayed reminiscing about the old stuff I uncover.

And then there is the dilemma  of choosing what to keep and what to discard.   My track record in this area is spotty.   It can be summarized in four categories:

  1.  Things I hadn’t used in years but needed the day after I discarded them.
  2. Things I mistakenly kept because I thought they would some day be valuable (think 8-track tapes).
  3. Things I discarded because I thought they weren’t worth keeping (think “baseball cards”)
  4. Things I discarded because I saw no value in retaining them and was correct (think “my wife’s stuff”).

Nevertheless, I remain committed to reducing clutter around our house by following the sage advice of experts who recommend “Do it in small chunks”.

Right now I believe I’ll go make a small chunk of ice cream disappear from our freezer.

some day all this will be yours

Things That Go Bump in the Night

On January 1, 1972, I began keeping a journal.  That was the year I planned to graduate from college,  get married, start a career and finish my six year obligation in the Army National Guard.  On the cover of my journal I inscribed my favorite Scottish prayer.

Ghoulies & Ghosties
Front cover of my Journal from New Years Day, 1972

I accomplished all of my goals for 1972.  AND – I’ve been really fortunate in the ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties area since then.

But at 4:30 am on March 5, 2019, I took a hit in the “things that go bump in the night” category.  That was when my wife woke me from a sound sleep with the words “The chandelier fell off the ceiling!”

To which I alertly responded “HUH?”

She had been awakened by a rather large “bump in the night”.  When she went to investigate, she discovered the large chandelier that had been suspended from the 21-foot ceiling in our great room for the past 25 years was now residing on the floor of our great room.

Scaffold on ground
A Pretty Big Thing That Went Bump in the Night

The chandelier in question had been hanging from the ceiling of our home for approximately 219,000 hours (3,140,000 minutes)  when it succumbed to the law of gravity.   That’s a long time.  Maybe I’m overly demanding, but I still expected better.

It’s not the first time this large lighting fixture has been a source of trouble.  When we bought our home in 1998, the original owners (who had designed and built the home) were in the midst of a divorce.

“My wife spent our entire lighting allowance on that chandelier” lamented the husband.

As often happens in life, our calamity was caused when something little went awry  resulting in a chain reaction with disastrous results.

In this case, an apparently “too small” or “too weak” piece of metal that had been supporting the weight all these years suddenly snapped in half.  That left only a hanging electrical cord with frayed ends and a large void where once had hung a 50 lb chandelier sporting 24 twinkling lights.

Pictured above are the hanger that broke and the frayed cord where our chandelier once hung

Though I don’t recommend this as a way to start your day, looking on the bright side there are two things I’m  thankful for in the aftermath of the chandelier that waited for spring to fall:

  1.  No one was injured (or worse).  Our grandkids often use the coffee table beneath that light to color and do crafts; and
  2. When something like this happens at 4:30 am, you are almost guaranteed that your day has to get better from there.

Now for the challenging part – reattaching the chandelier to the ceiling.   I have put together a crack construction team of three:  two guys who know what they are doing and me.  The combined age of my team is just shy of 210 years.

What could possibly go wrong?

IMG_2822
First Step:  Assemble the scaffold.                                                                   Second Step:  Assemble the courage to climb the scaffold

Though I get little nervous standing on top of a 16-foot-tall platform that sways under my feet, I am a proponent of the philosophy “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain!”

Tomorrow I will put that philosophy to the test.

Worst case scenario, I won’t have to be concerned about “ghosties” any more.

I’ll be one.

If there is a next blog, I intend to title it “That Great Gettin’ Up Morning”.

If no more blogs are forthcoming, contact my wife if you are interested in buying a used chandelier.  CHEAP!

 

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