Keep up…

I am just now trying to catch up on all the New Year’s Day postings by all the bloggers I follow. I spent yesterday, New Year’s Day, outside most of the day, so I spent very little time with either the computer or the iPad… It was a sunny and brisk day (in the 40’s), with little wind blowing, so no wind chill to notice.

So a theme from a number of people is Resolutions. I seem to remember making my last NY resolution sometime in the last century. I resolved to never make another resolution ever again. Have pretty much stuck with that one too. Too laid-back otherwise, I guess. Instead, I have mentally made a list of Goals for this year.

Travel and camp and hike more. The Mrs is already planning this for us, so I guess I am cheating… But she is such a great travel planner/organizer! I only get in the way. So, she mentioned Florida, I added, “what about Gulf Shores and then New Orleans?” Goal being objectified and progressing towards execution…. And this also includes planning an overseas trip to explore more of the UK, maybe EU. We already have our train reservations to/from New York, so the framework of the trip is established. Next is our transatlantic ship bookings (I hate flying commercially! HATE it!!!). And then we just have to fill in the little tiny eensy-weensy details from there. You know, who, what, where, when, how. And HOW MUCH??? My one demand for the trip is to visit Charles and Anne at Veddw…the rest, I defer to The Mrs.

Writing. A great number of the bloggers I follow participate in unique Challenges online. I find them interesting, but have not felt compelled to join in (except for Norm’s Thursday Doors – but this is about photos of doors, not a writing challenge). I am setting my own challenge in response therefore. My writing goal is to edit my own historical writings from the past and publish them on line, specifically my senior thesis (about Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli, OP), and my Master’s Thesis (about the Origins of the Illinois State Police.) I also have some of my (non-history themed) creative writings I kept from my writing classes that I would like to revisit and post…

PostScript. “Keep up…”, the title of this posting comes from (drum roll)… The Mrs! The very first time I EVER saw The (future) Mrs, was at one of her one-woman comedy shows back in 2004. She was talking about how she’ll start talking about one thing, then zoom off in another direction with another thought and so on, and it is important to KEEP UP and not get that glazed and confused look on your face that (some) men get when she is talking to them (Not ME, right dear?).

Tying the loose ends….

Okay, one last thing today…

When I was searching for door pics for Thursday Doors this week, I searched through my hundreds of pictures from our trip to Wales & Ireland from last year. I found the doors I wanted in the series from our visit to Wyndcliffe Gardens. There were so many cool pictures (and wonderful memories), so I included a few non-door pics. Loose end #1 is all the other pictures I didn’t include from Wyndcliffe. Earlier this morning I read and replied to a comment from Gordon about my Thursday Door posting, and that spring-boarded me into making another posting about about Wyndcliffe including pictures of a non-door although-another-sort-of-portal. Loose end #2 is one MORE picture from Wyndcliffe I really really want to post. So to make this last photo posting flow in with these recent postings, I defer back to my posting about the 27th letter of the English alphabet dated Dec. 28th… All tied up now….

and per se and

The Crapper

In my previous post (Thursday Doors edition), I posted a picture of what I suggested could be a Hobbit Door, and in the comment section, that concept got a lot of traction. It is kinda neat to have a thread of commentary take off on its own. So this morning when I got up and started clearing my email Inbox out, I had a notice of a new comment from Gordon at undiscoverdimagesamongstus . Gordon asked if we had found the Hobbit since we had the door. I said no, but we had found the Crapper… a fair dinkum CRAPPER!! WooHoo!!!

and on that note, Fare thee Well, 2016… Hello 2017!!

Thursday Door – Wyndcliffe, Chepstow

First order of business – Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Visit Norm 2.0 for more doors and details.

Second on the docket – My door this week is from our trip to Wales last year. We had a plan to visit the Gardens at Veddw one afternoon, and have tea with the owners, Charles Hawes and Anne Wareham. The Mrs had discovered a nearby Sculpture Garden during her research phase, so we planned to visit there in the morning. We arrived at Wyndcliffe Court Gardens, near Chepstow, in Monmouthshire, Wales late morning. Clouds were building, and it started to rain so we stayed inside for just a bit waiting for the rain to ease up before we began our tour of the gardens. There is a wonderful little summerhouse, and photo one is of the doorway on the upper level…


On the lower level on the back side of the house is what I surmise to be some sort of Hobbit Door. (The Mrs insists it is a window, but since this is my Thurs DOORS posting, it is a door for today…)


Following our tour of the gardens, we sat on a very comfy sofa next to the fireplace and enjoyed tea and scones while the rain tapped on the windows…


Note #1 – The china pattern of that little teapot is the same pattern as my mother’s china set!!

Note #2 – I just found out today that Wyndcliffe Court Gardens permanently closed their doors on 25 September, 2016…

Note #3 – After enjoying our tea, we went and spent a wonderful afternoon at Veddw!!


Thursday Doors – Linz

This door was a serendipitous find during a 2007 bicycle trip The Mrs & I took from Passau, Germany to Vienna, Austria. We were on a side street in Linz, Austria and rode past this door. I took this photo because it was just so danged interesting, both architecturally, and artistically.


The sign above the door reads “Heinrich Gleissner Haus”. I tried to research Heinrich Gleissner, but every mention about him was written in German, and my last German class was in college back in 1977… But what I was able to translate is that Dr. Heinrich Gleissner was Governor (Landeshauptmann) of Upper Austria province.

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Visit Norm 2.0 for more doors and details!!!

Thursday Doors – Beatrix Potter

For this week’s Thursday Doors I decided to post a picture from our bicycle trip in Scotland from a few years back. This picture was taken in the Beatrix Potter Garden in the village of Birnam in Perthshire. We were riding through Birnam and stopped for a delightful lunch at the Birnam Arts Center next to the Garden and across the street from the Birnam House Hotel.


I believe this is the front doorway to the home of Mr. Tod, the fox. I would guess foxes don’t have doors because they do not have opposable thumbs…

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Visit Norm 2.0 for more doors and details!!!

Driving My Life Away…

The Chart-Topping song, “Driving My Life Away” by Eddie Rabbitt (Nov. 27, 1944 – May 7, 1998) popped into my head this past Friday morning as I drove through Nashville, Tennessee headed home – for 2 good reasons. First, Eddie died in Nashville of lung cancer after a successful music career as a songwriter and singer reaching the top of the charts in both country and pop genres. Second, for the second week in a row, I was driving home after being away for a few days, and my homeward bound drive was another daylong event…

This trip was to attend an Advanced Maintenance Class (AMC) at the Civilian Marksmanship Program Custom Shop in Anniston, Alabama. A good overview of the origins of the CMP is found here.  The CMP started offering the AMC three years ago. The focus of the class is to instruct and guide participants in the successful building of a functional M1 Garand rifle from component parts. The majority of the parts are surplussed parts from unserviceable rifles.I left for this class last Monday morning, one day after finally getting over my cold from my previous trip to Virginia the week before!


As an historian, I have included advances in technology in my studying/writing of historical events or periods, and the M1 Garand was a truly significant advancement! When the United States finally entered World War II, most of the US military services were employing the M1 as the standard battle rifle.


A couple significant qualities of the M1 that made it superior to other battle rifles of the era were:

+ It was semi-automatic, while most of the Axis troops were armed with bolt action rifles;

+8-round capacity (en bloc clip fed), vs. 5-round stripper clip fed rifles (Mauser, Mosin-Nagant, Arisaka) or 6-round en bloc (Carcano).

Let me just say, it is one thing to be able to load, fire, and field strip/clean an M1 (I have a lot of respect and admiration for the system of this firearm), but another thing altogether to assemble one of these from scratch and see and understand how it all functions! WOW! Below is the pictorial progress of my M1…

Final stage of the process was taking it to the NEW STATE OF THE ART CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park! WooHoo!

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I went to Virginia, and all I got…

WAS A COLD!  and three medals, and some cool trinkets, and a half bushel of apples.

I left for Ft. Shenandoah, Virginia last Tuesday morning (Oct. 3rd) for the North-South Skirmish Association ( N-SSA )*  134th National Competition Shoot.

*N-SSA promotes the competitive shooting of Civil War firearms and artillery while encouraging the preservation of battlefields, artifacts, clothing and education of the period. (from the N-SSA website).

My plan was to compete in the individual matches with 4 firearms: 1842 Springfield smoothbore (reproduction); 1841 Mississippi rifled musket (original); 1863 Model (Second Model) Maynard breechloading carbine (repro); and 1861 Colt Navy revolver (repro). I planned to shoot 3 team longarm events.

I had intended to shoot the revolver match on Wednesday afternoon after I got to the Fort and setup the pop-up camper, but it was such a warm, sunny, lovely day that I wandered around the grounds of the Fort (there are several hundred acres of land which comprise the Fort today). I also spent some time chatting with the few Sutlers who were already setup and open for business.


Early bird setup, lotsa room to get comfortable… Below is what it was like by Thursday morning!!


When everyone finally showed up, we had 14 members of the 114th Illinois Volunteer Infantry team on the grounds. I shot my individual matches on Thursday in the longarms, but ran out of steam and time to shoot revolver, so never turned in an entry for that.  Results were fair this year, but we did not medal in any team events, even though we fielded 2 teams (A & B teams) for the three longarms events. Smoothbore on Friday, carbine on Saturday, rifled musket on Sunday. Smoothbore, I carried my weight+… Shot all my allotted targets +1. Carbine and musket I sucked.  Individually I got 3 medals.   4th Place – 100 yard musket; 4th place – musket aggregate; 9th place – 50 yard carbine. I should have just gone home after the Individual matches!!


It rained most of Friday night and Saturday day, so the ground at the range got a little, tiny, eensie-weensie damp….

We shot the majority of the carbine match in the rain, and despite wearing rain gear, I was pretty drenched by the end of the day. Except for my feet! My rubber boots did great so I had happy feet!


I opted to stay over Sunday night again, rather than break camp and head home early Sunday afternoon like everyone else. Overnight the temperature got down into 40’s Fahrenheit. And my nose started to run like an old faucet with bad gaskets. And my throat started to hurt. And my head to ache… Whaaaa! I broke camp at daylight Monday morning and headed out of the Fort feeling TERRIBLE! But it was promising to be a clear day! YaaY!


On my way out of the Fort, I passed by a small retail shop where the owners sell all the stuff a black powder shooter could ever imagine needing, and at fair prices. I did not expect they would be open at 6:34 am as I passed by them, but to my happy wonderment, they were! So I was able to check off my shopping list for the year, and as I was about to leave, a young guy working there asked me if I needed any fresh apples for the road. The young man had picked them fresh the day before in the orchard that bordered on the Fort, so of course I bought 1/2 bushel!! They are delicious BTW! (And the pie The Mrs made from some of them yesterday is fantastic!!!!)

The remainder of the day was spent driving and blowing my nose and taking pain killers…I pulled into the driveway at home at 7:16 pm…

Thursday Doors – Shenandoah Valley, VA

Two doors today, taken this past week while I was at Fort Shenandoah, just outside of Winchester, Virginia. This first door is the front door to a fairly large 2-story house, and is located on the grounds of the Fort…


This second door I happened across after leaving the Fort and beginning my journey home. I drove through the little village of Gainsboro, Virginia  , the northernmost community in Virginia, then turned west.


12 1/2 hours later, I was pulling into my driveway back home in Illinois…

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Visit Norm 2.0 for more doors and details!!!