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The Crown Jewels stay in Buckingham Palace in England, but the Irish have the Emerald Isle. Forgotten by modern convenience, this diamond in the rough answers to no one’s price but stands apart as a land unto its truth. That truth grows from three million year old Cliffs of Moher to the west, a well seasoned Guinness to the east, the snows of the north and the continual blow of the south.  Within it all, Ireland remains on jealous guard of its secret, one you will come to know should you go.

3 million years old, the Cliffs of Moher are larger than you can imagine, but picturing the Grand Canyon, if you’ve seen that, helps.

Two views of part of the cliffs-one side wind swept clean for millions of years, the other grown over in moss.

There’s a stone tower on top of a high peak at the cliffs,,,,Dale and I got to go up.

Up to the top; wind or crowds of summer sometimes makes this impossible.

But we made it for this shot…. America lies 4 thousand miles away.

Ireland’s earth-bound honesty whispers as the morning dew drops sparkle upon the long bladed grass, races between the hedgerows and stony rock walls, up the hillsides and down into the valley of your heart. The truth cannot be denied: by taking on less, Ireland is so much more.

Of course, the matter is Ireland and there is so much to consider. But, diddly diddly this or diddleydee that, Ireland is waiting to collect your spirit, to open your heart so your eyes can see the beauty of Life once more. It’s up to you whether or not you answer the call, and it’s why I think those who can should visit Ireland while young enough to still have stars in their eyes, no matter how old.

Dublin is bubbling until late at night.

While traversing this Emerald we saw two hundred miles of land all dotted by small farms, no large factories, or conglomerate farming enterprises, no GMO fields and, btw, nary a stop light. In fact, the major crop of Ireland is grass-not the kind smoked- but green, flowing grass, field after field, and all raised to feed the sheep, cattle and pigs through the winter months. It’s a wonder to know that through Ireland, the country, the winter months dip about ten degrees below the summer temperatures which are mild.

Picture this: in most restaurants in Ireland the distance the food you order was grown, raised or harvested is listed next to the menu item. Imagine. Most often the food I ordered had come from less than fifty miles from my very seat! The greatest distance I remember food coming from the restaurant I was sitting in is one hundred and fifty miles. See? Ireland gives a whole new meaning to, ‘Fresh Market.’

Fresh food and space to dream

Yes, the men seem to drink a tad much very often but the women we spoke to mostly said, “I don’t drink at all.” It makes sense: someone in the household has to know what day it is right? Nah, really, there seemed no regret on either of the part of the Irish men or women when it came to drinking—the Isle is too beautiful for regrets. There’s too little space between the sunshine and the shadows of the hardworking people to waste time on fantasy.

One Barmaid, so kind to give me a free Guinness since she had the best in all of Ireland, told us, ” No, if you get drunk in our village there’s no taxi so a friend has to drive you home or I will. Oh, we have a taxi stand down the road, but good luck ever finding one there-it never happens.” Curious, my wife asked her what there was for us to see or do in the quaint little town. She thought in earnest and then answered with a broad smile, “Honest, I can’t think of a thing.”

If ever it’s been a struggle to live the salty life here you’d never know. The green fields, abundant sky and whipping wind weave together a different tune, the diddly diddly of Life. No wonder people have fought to preserve this land; it holds the touch that kisses back privately to any heart that will listen.

Go hear the music.

Franque23

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My friend and first reader, Barbara, sent me this a few days ago. This week with so many extremely bad things happening around the globe I think it’s best to step back and see who’s on second, or what might have come next if Abbott and Costello were alive today!

You have to be old enough to remember Abbott and Costello, and too old to REALLY understand computers, to fully appreciate this. For those of us who sometimes get flustered by our computers, please read on…

If Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were alive today, their infamous sketch, ‘Who’s on First?’ might have turned out something like this:

COSTELLO CALLS TO BUY A COMPUTER FROM ABBOTT
ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks I’m setting up an office in my den and I’m thinking about buying a computer.

ABBOTT: Mac?

COSTELLO: No, the name’s Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don’t own a computer. I want to buy one.

ABBOTT: Mac?

COSTELLO: I told you, my name’s Lou.

ABBOTT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don’t know.. What will I see when I look at the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOTT: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?

ABBOTT: Yes.

COSTELLO: For my office?

ABBOTT: Yes.

COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let’s just say I’m sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?

ABBOTT: Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue ‘W’.

COSTELLO: I’m going to click your blue ‘w’ if you don’t start with some straight answers. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That’s right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What’s bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT: One copy.

COSTELLO: Isn’t it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?

ABBOTT: Why not? THEY OWN IT!

(A few days later)

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT: Click on ‘START’….. ……..

Thanks again to Barbara for this. laughter can help.

Here’s to all of us.

Franque23


This Town’s Walmart Was ABANDONED. What They Did Inside? Oh My Gosh!!!

(This article and the pictures written by another are from 2012. Maybe you’ve seen this, but if not I thought it too great to not pass along.)

This will be my last post for weeks, and it’s fitting that it’s about a huge Library of unusual circumstance. I’ve worked at our Library for the past 22 years and always have admired how we strive to keep the community informed through open access to information. This library in the story, like ours,  is a real  community effort, a great undertaking with surprising results. I hope you enjoy this feel good story.

 

“A lot of people, including myself, are fascinated with abandoned locations. We’ve been lucky enough to actually write about a few of them here at LittleThings: we’ve seen abandoned resorts, stadiums, psychiatric hospitals, and even train cars.

Many times, these buildings will just sit there untouched and slowly fall into ruin. They are often covered in graffiti, decked in spider webs, and they look like something out of a horror film.

McAllen is a town in the southern section of Texas that saw one of its Walmart locations go out of business and sit idle for many years. After the store shuttered, it eventually fell into the property of the city, and the decision was made to turn the building into a public library.

At the size of nearly two-and-a-half football fields, it is now the largest single location public library in the United States.

Learn more about the building by reading below, and please SHARE if you think libraries are a vital part of every city!

Photo Credit: ThinkStock/tupungato

The city had 124,500 empty square feet to utilize.

The firm of Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle, Ltd. of Minneapolis was brought in to design the interior. The redesign was a smashing success among designers. It won the 2012 Library Interior Design Competition held by the International Interior Design Association.

The remodel was also a success for the library’s business. Membership increased by 23 percent the year it opened. It has large children’s sections, and even has its own sound proof room for teenagers.

 

It also features 14 study rooms, 64 computer labs, 10 computer labs for kids, two genealogy labs, and 15 public meetings spaces. It’s hard to imagine the library being one of the coolest buildings in town, but that’s what happened.

There’s even a cafe, art gallery, and used book store.

An auditorium hosts screenings, classes, and lectures on a variety of subjects.

I’ve always loved the iconic New York Public Library, but this one might be even more impressive.

How many libraries actually have people lining up to get in?

It also hosts an immensely popular farmer’s market on weekends. McAllen Farmers Market –     The library has become a major part of the community.

Don’t you wish more abandoned spaces could be turned into wonderful things for the community. We definitely need more libraries!

 

McAllen Public Library!!! 

 

Community efforts bring such great joy. See you next time-

Franque23.

And oh, please enjoy some of the other 570 posts I’ve written since 2009 while I go ‘Dark’ for a few weeks. Byeeeeee


Subtitled: Weird for Good Reason.)

It’s true, I’ve forgotten the one thing I’m certain of. Still, it’s time to run along.

So here it is, a real toy soldier that’s sold. It depicts a soldier of the Von Franquemont regiment, my ancient relatives.(1760ish)..The best I get it, five Von Franquemont sons of Karl Eugen, once ruler of most of Germany, were all the heads of fighting Regiments who fought throughout Indonesia, throughout Europe—most notably against Napoleon around Paris—Germany and as far away as Cape Town , South Africa.

We have a reproduction of the Regiment’s flag. What fun and, of course, the ruler had the largest castle in Stuttgart. The second largest in Germany today.

It’s a bit large…160 rooms, and kept up by Germany as a come look-see attraction.

Home sweet home.

Anyway, finally, my wife and I along with my sister will be going to the castle this September. I intend to claim the castle and grounds as mine as long as my sister promises to post bail.

It’s a small place with its own theater and library for the public to use…,

Thing is, this same  pauper of a guy built this castle in Stuttgart….

Every man needed a hunting camp-

And, sadly , there stands in another nearby location the rubble the Von Franquemont Castle, over run in 1660, but it turns out Karl Eugen is one of us.  All Franquemont’s today are the last lines of this man.

But of it all, the trip, the stays and the transfers and planning for our European trip,  how to care for our doggie, Shadow, who’d be left home loomed most predominately…After thinking of neighbors, friends, maybe dog stay places we found a woman and daughter my wife has known for a while. They are perfect and love dogs. They met us and Shadow yesterday for hours and hours at our home but here’s the deal— it turns out the woman was born in Stuttgart!!?!?! Is that a kick?

There’s a lot to plan with a 22 day trip to London, Dublin—cliffs of Moher—then a stay at an inland castle at, RosCommon, where my sister-in-law’s relatives made their home. The castle is a modernized spa where we plan to rough it out on horseback and in spas…( I hope they don’t make me sit in a castle and gorge on delicious food). Then, we have time in Paris before the Germany stop.  That’s when I’ll  see the castle.

So yeah, maybe I could’ve been a king but I’m not, so I fish Lake Bonaparte instead. Sob…..

Bonaparte was rocking several years ago. Bass dying to get caught–err, sorry. Them’s large planks, honest.

I went out with relatives almost every night during this family reunion and we came back with keepers each time.

Keepers of what is the question…

We all gathered to fish—or drink stuff, anyway…. BTW.. the Morgan store in Natural Bridge ( owned by my relatives) had a stand up walk in cooler stuffed full of beer…I never tried any more than a thousand, but I heard it was very good super cold. I mean, really, you could walk around in this cooler, as I hear it.

We caught all of this one night in mud lake fishing, just before sundown….I know, it’s a bit odd—artificial worms were working best…*

Do you realize how hard it is to catch green peppers on plastic worms in Mud Lake? About as hard as getting Mexico to pay for the wall…anyway…..

we all fished that year–it was a sight to see, people diving off the boat to catch em’ bare handed.

In fact, the entire thing was a sight to report, you know, to the police..

There was a rogue ship launched,, and who could stop her?

Delirious people thought they’d might have the way with our Von Franquemont Kingdom….NOTish.

Never gonna happen…

But still, there was more, or something…

We gathered aboard the vessel and stood in line while out to sea,, not knowing what we’d catch…

We had the best line’s women and guard doggie,,,sounding the bottom as we neared the shore.

No, it’s not too shallow yet, mate.

Still, the fishing went on into the night…

Or maybe it was the next day, not sure….. but we bellied up.

Life was good once again in the Kingdom I never owned…and I could rest, relax, tomorrow was another day….

Maybe a big one would come along

Or not, and none of that mattered….we were at the Lake….Lake Bonaparte. Three cheers to Kingdoms of a kind; three cheers to the Lake.

Fun times as the summer ends.

Then again, for the times they are a-changin’.. to what? Gotta ask with our nutty political scene. Is it all ,’Fake news?’

Our doggie , Shadow, water skiing-he’s the best at it. Bigly, huge.

My brother and me in the Caribbean….We used lot’s of sun tan lotion

Actually, anything goes now…..get the drift…Cheers.

Franque23

melons for sale-somewhere.

*thinking this might be part of last year’s crop…..not sure. I think they’re keepers.

 


(Click the pic for a larger view…)

There’s nothing like untangling fishing line between twelve wrapped together poles. Snaggin’ a finger with treble hooks while organizing the tackle box or sitting on a lure as you get into the boat all make the top ten of fishin’ moments as well. Basically, these memorable times mean one thing: you’re going fishing so what’s not to like?! Maybe, that thunder in the distance isn’t perfect, but it could be Fort Drum?—anything’s possible.

Where, when, how and what to use to catch fish is the question few sane people ask on a daily basis. Me? Yeah, I think about this about non-stop while up at Lake Bonaparte, that and where is the bottle opener. Of course the wind, cloud cover, angle of the sun, water temp and where I put the bottle opener plays big in the exact answers, but that’s all too much for now.

Where to fish: I have to vibe it out.

Anyway, before you go skinny dipping thinking a Northern can bite your butt cause you didn’t catch one that day, it might be better to switch to bass when it comes to this retort. Thing is, kid you not, years ago a fellow* was actually bit on the leg by a bass so large that he had to go to the hospital!??!?! Where? The fishermen ask?…..near the Sherman’s dock in Porter’s bay…daylight hours with the lake temps good for swimming.( That’s the drop on that Bass attack.)

It’s August and maybe the dog days of fishing at Lake Bonaparte.

With nothin’ to do, it’s time to fish.

The water temps go high for bass so most big fish go low. BTW, when I was a kid a century ago, my Dad and Uncle Moe Morgan used to fish high Rocks with three colored lead line to troll deep for Walleye and Northern. I thought, back then, the line ran fifty feet per color but it must have been about 25 feet…Anyway, the color would help them know how much line was out and how deep they were running those ten inch long, wooden lures-much like an un-jointed Rapala.

There’s so much to say about them days……sigh.

Dave Morgan with his parents; me with mine-only one left, now.

Okay, back to task. While it does matter if you’re fishing for numbers, size or with children who need to catch one when it comes to where and when to fish, I’ve a few basic tips to share some may not know.

I’ve fished the Lake for more than 60 years that I can remember.

The early morning is a sight to see; a miraculous glorious sun rise while mist rises above the water as a cloak of rainbows that usher forth the call of the loon.

We got close to beating the light.

It’s super quiet, but for your motor noise most are cursing as they turn in their sleep. A heavy mist veils the sky and might give one the opportunity of nailing a bass near shore—I’d be using a white Texas rigged worm through the grass in the shallow Hotel Weed bed or in the stumps in mud lake. But, tellin’ ya, once the mist lifts(which is always too soon) the deals about done til nine through noon that AM. The first light shoots the fish for cover as birds take flight over head.

This light won’t do you much good; time to go kayaking.

Wanna fish the early morning so you have bass for breakfast? Go the night before.

The night before.

There might be a way to have a good time…

There’s a curious thing about the lake that doesn’t entail the fact that you can drop a spinner bait in the middle of Bull Rush bay for a 14 to 17 inch Northern whenever you like.

You can skip dinner if steaks aren’t on the grill and head out. You might try elephant Island, Hammond’s point, the shoal off Beer Island or cast the bays west of Round Island if you need practice casting. But, catching fish at 6ish to 7:30 PM? Drag those lures through the stumps on the south side of Hotel Weed bed. And, I’m sorry about the big foot print fancy boats that ride high on the water with the convenient foot pedal troller–you might as well be marching a band into the area announcing your arrival.

They call it, “Old School.” But for now, something like this will catch the bigger fish. Cane pole in with your oar. Bring drinking water.

Nope, the noise, boat size and motor all matter. Can and will you catch fish using big boats? Absolutely…but, mostly, not the one you’re after; not on Lake Bonaparte.

not a bad night

424281_10151140672799254_1284292637_n

Caught em large

9-21-2009 Bonaparte and fish-1

Larger…..!

And small(that’s me on the right with Joe Morgan.)

44970015

Me catching a first fish with big Joe Morgan

Give up the zillion dollar boats and get a flat-bottomed John Boat or V-hulled 10  to 14 footer, two sturdy oars and cut the engine at least twenty yards out. Use your oars to get closer and cane pole with one of them as you get inside the stumps. I usually stay seated unless one is on. If you make a wake you’re moving too fast. The key is watch the water, the drift, the pads and for the movement of fins. Good luck. Use a Texas rig for everything big that hits, they inhale the lure, but for plenty of action use a double hook, most like a Herring set-up, on your single worm.

This best pictures the idea-but I use a plastic worm not live bait. Pre-tie on several sets so if you get snagged you have another double-hook set to use.

This way you catch the tail nibblers, but unhooking small fish or snags can be a pain.

Used to be after 7:30 PM you could back out of the weed bed and head to Hammond’s shoal between Porter’s Bay and Bull Rush Bay to plug around the southeastern shoreline until night fall and catch the limit-not anymore.

44960017

Hammond’s Point east side of Potter’s Bay

Thing is, David Morgan’s friend from the west shore line dumped years(like 20 of them) of bass off at these locations in a catch and release as a favor for David. Dave’s been dead for thirteen years now, and the fish drop off ended years ago. Small mouth still frequent the shoal, but mostly the large ones are gone.**

58070010

“A friend’s been dropping fish off at the point for years.” Dave Morgan 2000.

Nope, if it’s near eight PM you might head out to Mud Lake and know you’ll have the best luck in the last rays of daylight, up tight by the shore.***  The split Rapala can’t rake the lily pads but you won’t miss seven out of ten hits, either. It’s a choice: action or a high percentage of catches per strike. I like the plastic worms unless I know their hitting and the light-of-day is about gone.

There’s more to write from experience and from the histories I’ve heard. Can’t wait to share that, and Lake Bonaparte Fishin’-3 is coming soon.  See ya on the water, at the counters while snagged by those lure sales or at the docs getting hooks removed!

Cheers

Franque23

*Ask Joey Heukrath about this…..or, Mary Sherman may know.

**If you slide around Hammond’s point and cast the shore on down to the huge rock by a camp, you might get action. Lately, I mostly caught the over-hanging cedars here. Paul Doherty and a friend got a big one off the point a few years back, but I swear it was the same fish I’d released from my dock a few months earlier.

***They say a dark worm in light and a light worm for the dark. Mostly, I don’t think so unless you’re fishin’ that nifty shoal off Birch Island.

OH, one more thing,,,, the newer heavy-headed plastic worms imitate the Carolina rigged plastic worms and work best over the open shoals…..


Isn’t that the question? Are those who have gone before us still here? Or, are those departed here some of the time, for a second, hour, day or week and then gone for a while? Could it be the dead are never, ever here at all, gone for good, silent, an empty place in our heart and mind only?

Sometimes I can hear my dad’s voice. “That a boy!”; “Keep your nose clean!”; ” Up an’ at em'”; “Mow today.” Wait, what???*

Really, sometimes I can hear Dad asking me to mow, and I mean asking. Dad was a sweet guy so he’d always asked, never demand, and added a “Hon.” to it. “How about mowing today, hon.” And when Dad did ask me to do something it was a done deal-that’s the way our family rolled.

I’d say dad’s patience and understanding could move mountains.

I’m thinkin’ Dad was successful at about everything he tried to do. The oldest of five siblings, we got it that Dad helped his brothers and sister go through college while he was in school as well. We have accounting books he kept during his younger days and every penny mattered and was tracked. He was on the Queen Elizabeth as it sailed to England loaded with troops during World War II and he was in charge of some of the troops on board. As a chief engineer, he helped in the restoration of Europe after the war, and here at home my family actually drove over a bridge out west that he had designed.

In the end, Dad became a Full Colonel, and upon his death Fort Drum sent an honor guard to play taps and present mom with an American flag on Dad’s behalf. An officer on the base researched Dad’s history of service and told me, “He deserves this.” Later that same day, Fort Drum  flew a missing man formation for him over Lake Bonaparte.  There, low, just above High Rocks, a line of helicopters flew but one was missing in the line formation. My eyes stared at the empty spot and saw my dad’s spirit there. It was quite a send off for a man I’ll never forget.

Thing is, just how, ‘off’, is Dad? Of course, he lives through me since I still hear his voice, remember things he said, still follow his advice when I can and think of him often. I imagine most who knew him remember his kind and gentle way. But, is Dad here, here, as in here.(This my most descriptive sentence ever:-)).

Dad is 72; Kelly one. He gave me so much. I was so happy to be able to give something back.(Thanks to my wife!) He loved his grand children.

If a person lives long enough, they learn that life’s a long road-the long and winding road. Life twists and turns at the drop of a hat, a gift, an accident, a brilliant idea or mistaken one, it tumbles along but always with effort. Perhaps, the best thing I ever read about life is that one lived full of good intention will become a beautiful memory.

The red single Hibiscus… Dad loved flowers and grew all kinds around our home.

To this day I think of Dad as I garden, check the flowers, pick the oranges and smile at the sky. Maybe the question is, How much more could my dad be here?

I was cleaning a spot off the bottom of our pool with a long brush when I noticed that I couldn’t see the spot once the water rippled. Then, as the water return to calm, I could see the spot once more. Is this it? Are the departed still within our medium but the substance is somehow rippled so we can’t see the other side of life? Wouldn’t we all like to know.

Dad shared our joys in life, and gave us so many…

Heck, Dad gave us the camp at Lake Bonaparte! How completely cool is that? The next time I gear up and climb in the boat, hear the engine kick up and head out to fish, Dad will be in the boat, but he won’t need a life jacket.

Bye Dad , for now.

Max Franquemont, July 18th, 1911- October 31st, 2001.

Franque23.

  • Pictures: Dad,  David Morgan, Aunt Virginia(Dad’s sister)  and Uncle Moe Morgan. On the 1/2 way dock at our camp.

 


 

(Some of the pics enlarge with a click.)

Two hundred feet. That’s all that separated my dad’s life from death…

Never were three children so happy over two hundred feet!My brother, Ed, sister, Sharon and my thirteen year-old self owe the distance our lives, too.

Thing is, as miraculous as this story from 1928 truly is, I may have never told my Morgan cousins and extended family the tale?!?!

 come gather around  the Indian and listen up!**

It was long before mom and dad were living on base.

. 

Long before dad was stationed and posed with friends in uniform.

This is the tale I first heard in my house on Pinetree Lane, South Park, as the snow fell and mounted outside. (Yikes! Did I help shovel that?)

 

*****

The Tailspin Story
A True Story by Max R. Franquemont*

Background: ( As my sister, Sharon Franquemont writes:)

One year after Charles Lindberg’s first flight across the Atlantic, my 17 year-old Dad, Colonel Max R. Franquemont, took flying lessons from Sept. 11, 1928 to Oct. 19, 1928. He still had the receipts when he died the fall of 2001 at a little over 90 years old. His 1928 lessons cost $8.75 per 30 minutes. Later, he flew for the US Post Office between Des Moines, IA and Moline, IL. We discovered this story and other young man philosophical and romantic musings in a bottom drawer the night he died. It felt to all of us as if his spirit was reaching back to us as if to say, “Take a risk. Life is an adventure.”

Story: (As my dad recorded it…circa 1928)

We were spiraling in wide curves already above the first layer of clouds with the nose of our speedy scout pointed every upward. The powerful Wasp was running smoothly and evenly, and outwardly everything seemed just the same as it did on any of my many flights the last three months. Inwardly though, my mind was a seething maelstrom. Stunts! Today I was to stunt. At last the day had come that I was longing for and yet feared most. I was to maneuver the plane into the deadly tailspin and out again…if possible! Wing-overs and Immelmans (a flying term) I had mastered before, but now…

I came back to reality with a shock. The motor was laboring and I felt my instructor, fearless fellow, wobble the “Stick.: We were almost in a stalled position, so I edged the stick forward and instantly the motor resumed the reverberating motion which brings victory to an intrepid airplane. My instructor’s voice came through the tube calm, encouraging, “Take it easy! This won’t be so bad.”

Dad’s plane-of any color- would have looked like this one.

I leveled the ship off, gave her a little right rudder, and decided to look about a bit. My eyes sought the distant horizon where etched against the sky I could pick out the spires and water tower of a distant town. I relaxed and watched the ground. Twelve towns were within my vision as my eyes moved from the horizon. I could see a train moving like a caterpillar slowly across the ground; a white ribbon stretching endlessly, crowded with hundreds of black dots, automobiles; and a silver streak, winding between the green and black checkerboard farm land, which I knew to be a mighty river. At last, ten thousand feet below me, appeared the airport dotted with planes looking like dragonflies at rest with smaller mite-like specks—men. Then I spoke into the tube, “Are we high enough yet?”

“No,” said Rip, “better go up to fifteen thousand. About 10,000 now, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I said, “just ten thousand,” and marveled at this judgment of height. He had on instruments in the forward cockpit.

I eased the stick back and held a gentle climb. The ship did not climb so fast now because of the rarer atmosphere, but we gained gradually. Try as I would, I could think of nothing, but the coming spin. Why, of why, had I not insisted on a parachute? On the ground my fears seemed silly and I had not the courage to ask for one. No one in the field ever wore one unless testing a plane so there was only one chute available and it would have seemed funny had I asked for one and left my instructor without. I had my first doubts as to my ability to fly through any situation. Heretofore, I had been unafraid, in fact over-daring, but suddenly I found myself afraid. Only last week a man had been killed before my eyes. Would I be the next? I glanced at the altimeter and my heart jumped. Fourteen thousand! Only a few minutes more and…but what had I to fear? A veteran of a thousand tailspins and crises sat in front of me. I wondered what he was thinking about. What if I should freeze on the controls? What could he do? Well, I just wouldn’t freeze on the controls. I certainly wouldn’t get rattled! I’d let go at the slightest touch on the stick or rudder bar. My instructor’s voice brought me back from my reverie. “This’ll do now” I glanced at the meter—14,500 feet!

“Better do a Immelman or so to get the feel of the ship, “ said Rip.

I put the nose down and gathered speed and then pulled the stick back. Up we went in a zoom and just before the stall I kicked over the rudder as she fell over the wing into a steep dive. I quickly revered rudder and shoved the stick forward. The plane leveled off traveling in the opposite direction.

“Fine,” said Rip. “All right, you keep your hand on the stick and your feet lightly on the rudder bar and I’ll take you through a spin. Safety belt fastened?”

“Yes, let’s go!” I replied affecting bravery I was far from feeling.

Forward went the throttle and back came the stick. The nose went almost straight up and then as he kicked over the rudder and closed the throttle, the ground changed places with the sky, and we were falling. I felt a jerk and knew we were spinning. I closed my eyes because looking at the ground made me dizzy. Suddenly, the controls reversed and the mad whirling ceased. The stick went forward and came gradually back as we flattened out. Then Rip gave her the gun and zoomed within a hundred feet of our altitude.

“Now, you try it,” he said, “and let her spin longer than I did.”

“All right!” I shouted.

The ease with which we came out of the spin had bolstered my courage considerably. I gave her the gun and zoomed. As we approached a stall, I cut the throttle and kicked over full right rudder. The ship fell over on the right wing like a crippled bird and plunged downward. Again I felt that huge jerk and knew we were spinning. I tried to keep my eyes open and watch the ground, but I could not see much from there. I looked at the altimeter and watched the needle swing back 13,500—13,400—13,300—13,200—13,200—13,100—13,00 feet. A thousand feet in less than a minute!

“Well, I guess that’s enough,” came through the ear phones.

I was more than ready to pull her out, so I kicked over the rudder and pushed the stick forward. Almost instantly the spinning stopped, but I was anxious to level off so I pulled the stick back too quickly. For an instant everything went black! I had pulled up so sharply that gravity had drained the blood from our heads.

When I regained my senses, the ship seemed to be hanging in the air, and before I could move it whipped madly over on the left-wing and we were plunging downward in a reverse spin! I kicked over the rudder. No result! The whirling continued. I shouted through the tube.

“Hey! You take her.” No answer.

I looked into the cockpit! I could see nothing! Down we went whirling faster and faster! I fought the controls wildly. Why, oh why did I ever do this! What happened to Rip? How could I stop this d… thing anyway I half sobbed to myself. The wind in the wings and struts rose to a weird scream. Going down. Ten thousand feet read the meter and the needle was racing backward. What should I do? I grabbed the stick savagely and jerked it around. I tried the rudder at all angles, but it seemed to be spinning faster.

I glanced down through the wing and saw the airport directly below me. I could almost imagine the spot where we going to hit. Again I looked at the needle. Nine thousand feet! Only seconds to live. I looked back to see if the rudder or elevator was broken. They were working smoothly, but nothing touched that mad spinning. I tore savagely at the stick. It broke!! It was snapped off at the socket. I threw it furiously over the side and then leaned forward, sobbing hysterically. I threw the goggles off and prayed for a tree. What had I done to deserve this? Why hadn’t I known better than to pull the stick back so soon? Here I’d killed us both!! I could see tomorrow’s paper. Student pilot freezes at the controls, but I hadn’t frozen on the controls. No one would know that though. What would mother think? If we crashed at this speed there would nothing left of me to bury. I looked at the instrument board—only three thousand feet to live. Was I to die this way so soon? Would I never see my folks again? I leaned forward against the dashboard and sobbed, heartbroken.

Suddenly the rudder bar moved magically beneath my feet. Was I dreaming? No! There was Rip’s head! Suddenly the motor broke into a deep roar. We hurtled down fast and faster, but gradually the spinning ceased. The ground came up. Would we make it? Now the plane was in a screaming nose dive, but gradually it flattened out, and at least we leveled off with a scant two hundred feet to spare. I collapsed weakly in the seat and, while I was still trying to comprehend the miracle, Rip spoke weakly into the tube, “You take her now!”

“I can’t!” I gasped. “My stick is broken.”

“All right, “ he replied, “I’ll do the best I can. I bumped my head against the cockpit and it knocked me out. I’m still dizzy.”

We were in a long glide now heading into the field and, as I watched the ground gradually come up to meet us, I wondered if anyone on the field knew that anything was amiss. I thanked God that Rip had not allowed me to stop at ten thousand feet as I had wanted to do. Now we were over the field in a shallow glide. The wheels hit, we bounced, and then settled gently to the earth and rolled roughly over the field until we stopped. Rip climbed out and smiled at me. He face was white and there was a bump the size of an egg over his left temple.

He said, “Why all the tears on your cheeks?”

I hastily wiped my cheeks, and said, “Nothing, only the wind in my eyes since I threw away my goggles.”

Rip shook his head wisely, and turned to the excited crowd coming across the field.

Now, with my dad long gone and me an older man, I still recall dad telling me how he followed the road ways below as he flew from town to town delivering mail as a young man of seventeen. One time, as he told it, he hit a storm that left him back where he’d started from an hour earlier that day! His cockpit was open-we’ve all seen those pictures-and his guts were on display!

Cheers! I’m so glad dad’s plane leveled off and rose.

This camellia is for you, dad.

Dad singing, Sweet Ivory Soap, for about his last time, some 74 years after his fateful flight.

Dad, you are my co-pilot.

Franque23

*Max Franquemont, July 18th, 1911-October 31st, 2001.

**This is the old Morgan store in Natural Bridge, New York. My uncle Mo owned this and the Natural Bridge caverns that were located right next store. We all so loved that Indian!

 

 


(Click on the pic to get the drift)

Florida has its moods. Hot; yes. Hurricanes; of course. The rains come as do two tropical isle paradise weather months per year. It’s all here: a big sky, deep forests*, flying, grunting, clawing, watching wild life. Florida.

Another storm had passed and the ocean hadn’t failed to notice. Visiting our Barefoot Bay home north of Vero brought our two grand children and us to the shore once more. My Catahoula Leopard insisted.

Our place has the luxury of making us a member of a lock and key access to part of the Atlantic shore. It’s quite a perk. We headed out, though the weather wasn’t even good for ducks

 

.

The shore line as we knew it had a distinctive different look. The crashing waves after a storm had displace thousands of tons of sand, ripping the beach in half, and by no small margin.

What to do with a six-foot drop off a sandy cliff?Let the games begin!

 Everyone got excited. The jumping-fantastic. The sliding-perfect. The water-scary!Dale and I choose the high road; the kids, not so much.

Let’s hope the kids don’t follow Shadow.That was a funny thought to have for about a minute.Okay, thirty seconds.

Who can resist climbing cliffs on a beach?

 And we were the only people in sight. This is often the case, even on a great day.

This was a great day earlier that same year.

For me, there’s nothing like the beach. I love to body surf, catch a ride and tumble in the surf. Of course, nothing stays forever, and this year we find that sometimes as many as ten people can be seen on our beach-the crowds.

This day was super fun. Don’t miss the beauties of the Vero Beach to Cocoa Beach coast of Florida, and here in Northern Florida we have treasures as well-the springs are amazing.

See ya. We had to go home and eat ice cream.

Cheers….

Franque23

  • The Ocala National Forest is the Nation’s second largest  National forest.

(Click on pics for the big picture–oh and my bank refund for buying camp items this year after willy-nilly spending over ten days came to some dollars and 48 cents!-read on to get that… bye)

Certainly not. I didn’t wait all year to return to the Lake as Bonapartian people do via happenstance. No. The time off work, the camp openers, plumbers and inside clean up, plane fare, car rental, fishing license, boat storage release and delivery, mail, phone activation, countless checking of weather forecasts for the duration of our visit, packing, hoping, waiting…it all adds up to a muck load of anything but Happenstance…

Lake Bonaparte lovers keep the Lake’s image glistening in mind.

Bonaparte can be difficult to get to, pricey for those who don’t live nearby but every cloud has a silver lining at the lake: the purest air, the purest water and the Adirondacks for starters.

In the middle of a glorious, cool-Oh My, the water’s cold this year- afternoon I drifted into the happenstance of the bazillion times the number 48 has come up in my life as part of my address, phone, the lot number of two houses we’ve bought, my college dorm room number-heck, it’s enough times to sink the titanic. Anyway, as I thought my head skipped across the lake waves and floated here-

Some things are happenstance, but at other times we have experiences that seem a bit off the beaten track of reality—derailed from possibility, skewed so far beyond reason that our mind snaps like a rubber band wound too tight and then let go. You know the times: you’re visiting New York City and you drop a book while walking thru Grand Central Station and the person kind enough to pick it up for you is the first girl you ever kissed twenty-five long years ago and you haven’t seen her since. Maybe, you’re cleaning out a drawer in an attic dresser and you come across a childhood keepsake that you haven’t seen for thirty-five years, the one you dreamed about the night before.

Certainly, Life as we know it, the one we neatly wrap up with our birth, learning years, working years, parenting years ,old age and then the dying years has more layers to it than we choose to see.  It’s all too complicated- a bother to think about. And who ever finds the answer to the unseen but often felt other side of Life? There’s a veil between us and the ultimate state of being that keeps us from entirely understanding the why, wherefore and how of our existence.

There’s something vast about Lake Bonaparte that somehow ties into the place of forever.

It’s odd to think a universal ignorance or inability on our part to understand a reality beyond the mayhem we call living is a sublime gift-a gift that sets us free to tinker here while the big wheel keeps on turning.

I’ve a cousin, Tom Morgan, who lived most of his life in Upper State New York but also had the good fortune to live in New Zealand for a number of years.  One day while in New Zealand, Tom looked to catch a quick beer, a break from his day of running his large New Zealand  sheep farm, so he slipped into a nearby sit and set er’ up bar. An American tourist quickly sat beside him….

“Hi, you from around here?” The American was full of questions.

“No. I live here, but I’m from America.” Tom had time to talk.

“Really? I’m from America, too!” Tom thought the tourist a bit too over joyed by his answer-lots of people are from America. “Well, what part of America are you from?” See? The tourist guy had to know.

“New York State.” Tom enjoyed his beer and found his new comrades’ inquisitive nature amusing.

“Really? I’m from New York State! What part of New York?” Tom smiled at the man’s enthusiasm.

“Up State.”  Tom Nodded.

“Oh, I’m from Long Island.” The tourist got a faraway look in his eye.

Tom decided he might as well join the man in his hunt to find more solidarity between the two of them. “I’ve got cousins on Long Island.”

The tourist’s eyes beamed as if bacon had just been served at breakfast time. “Where do they live on Long Island?”

Tom took another sip of beer noting that over ten million people live in the greater New York City metropolitan area, Long Island included…. “Roslyn Heights, Long Island.”

“What!?!?!” The tourist nearly leaped from his chair and shouted. “I live in Roslyn Heights! Where do they live in Roslyn Heights?”

Tom put down his beer, wondering if this new guy in town was making it all up. “South Park.”

“I live in South Park!” The tourist was livid, now standing by his bar stool in disbelief. “What’s your relative’s names?”

Tom was laughing so hard he could hardly answer. “Max and Claudia Franquemont.”

The jig was up; Tom knew by the man’s face: the coincidence was over, kaput, fini. But then, the man’s solemn face began to break into a joyous smile! “My God! I’m John Kemper, Max and Claudia’s next door neighbor! They live right next door to me!”

I don’t know how many more beers those two wayward Americans who meet half way around the world to discover they were bound by uncanny coincidence had. But for sure, they had a lot to talk about.

We all have a lot to talk about; I don’t even have to ask you to know this is true. Life is a web we can’t break through when it comes to how it’s threaded, wound, layered and kept. Still, each of us knows of countless experience we’ve had or ones others have had that escape our every day understanding.

We search for answers every day and get tested in countless class settings to see how many answers we know as we go to school. But, is half the fun of Life not knowing the answers? Maybe.

Sometimes, it’s good to chill on the facts and thrill to the wonder of it all. That’s so easy to do up here at Lake Bonaparte.

The Lake Bonaparte chill-out comes highly recommended.

Cheers….

Franque23

 

 


My wife and I will never have to worry about plane fair to China, our dog has dug a way there in our back yard.

I have the best dog. He’s smarter than your dog; he went to Harvard. Thing is, he pretends to not get it about snakes. Lately, we have one or twenty snakes, not sure, slithering around our house, front and back. They’re the black friendly kind that scare the bejesus out of me cause as much as I think they’re cool to see I never expect to.  Shadow is forever leaping in the air with his paws straight forward to land on a snake as if it were a tennis ball. All I see happening are vet bills so I scold Shadow, “No! Snake!” as I wiggle my arm in the air. Shadow gives me that concerned look every time: “Pleeease! Hey dumb butt, I’m having fun and you’re a coward.”

Shadow reminds me each morning to check the pool for snakes or unwanted stray cats.

Ever notice everyone was young back in the good ol’ days.

The Republican healthcare plan focus is that ‘Death Panel’ everyone was worried about…

Today, Hersey makes an astonishing announcement: starting this month, their products will have fewer calories! They note the change in calories is due to a change in product formula and, er, size. So I looked up what the change in formula is for their chocolate that might reduce calories and it is, oddly, the switch from using artificial vanilla to real vanilla extract . Turns out, artificial vanilla has no calories whatsoever! What’s left to reduce calories?!?!?! Oh, wait-the SIZE of their chocolate bars…. So Hersey’s big announcement really is that they are making smaller chocolate bars…..nice.

The weather world-wide is showing a troubling flair for heating up. Everyone’s watching the forecasts.

The cost to produce the one-cent coin increased to 1.5 cents during 2016. Why is the government losing money, again?

In 2017, America has an Attorney General—Sessions—who doesn’t understand State’s rights. Just ask Hawaii. ”

“Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences- including my own. Jeff Sessions’ comments are ignorant & dangerous”

If a person looses their mind, how would they know?

In a way, Trump getting schooled about the relationship between China and North Korea by China’s President, Xi Junping, is like asking a robber to help you install locks in your home.

I read yesterday that saying, “Hello,” extends life. What if we just text it? Does that work?

Mom say’s hello….

News CNN: “Trump has at least nine times claimed to have spoken to, met, or made contact with Putin.”( prior to his election.) But in 2016 Trump said, “I never met Putin.”

I liked the flapper Era look, when will that come back?

Showing your knees was huge back then.

Fun times,,, the guys wore stupid looking suits like we do today.

I actually went to college when there were no cell phones and no one had computers! It’s like even I can’t believe it!

Funny how everyone knows not to step on a snake but nuclear power is considered the greatest thing.

Crazy is as crazy does.

right twice a day…..

Word on the street, ocean and atmosphere is that we’d better duck and cover. The Fukushima nuclear disaster has been spewing radioactive particles for six years and now, in what is being herald as unprecedented, the core has melted through its containment wall and is burrowing through the earth. Great, huh? Meanwhile, there are currently 60 more new nuclear plants being built world-wide.

This isn’t a fraction of the nutty stuff going on in the world today, but it’s enough for now….See you next time. Got any more info to share-please do. Cheers.

Franque23

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