Question of Stephen King: When Did You Know You Were A Writer?

The question was asked by an interviewer. Stephen's answer: "When I wrote a story, someone wanted to buy it, they paid me with a check, I cashed the check and it didn't bounce. Then I knew I was a writer."

Happy Halloween 2009


I Saw The Batmobile!

Hey, every kid has his “thing’. For me, it was the building-walking, Joker chasing 1960s TV series Batman. Zoink! Pow! Bam! And his car, a Lincoln, was featured on every episode. At the car auction in St. Charles, I got to stand by the Batmobile. There were three cars made for the TV show, and one well-documented duplicate made by a private collector. I believe this to be that one.

All rise for the Batmobile. The special great one.


Kitchen Art

A giant palette of color, waxy and smeared across a canvas, makes for a bright spot, even on a sunless day. Bold is better. A frameless canvas can splash any room with a new feel, without even picking up a paint can. Huge canvas--glassless and borderless--is lightweight to hang, easy on the wall and has a stunning visual impact. I adore big, bawdy art, like this splotch of sunflowers in my kitchen. Have a seat and take a gander.


Happiness Is Never Having To Say You're Happy

My overseas kayaking online buddy Wenley has a very fun and informative blog that is an absolute hoot. He manages to combine kayaking information with a quick wit and prose for an online seaspray cocktail that is second to none. It is one of the most read kayaking blogs worldwide. Wenley and I, despite the distance from IL to Spain, have bantered about paddling many times. One of his trademarks is the O Muses ladies that he places on his site, infrequently, but just enough to keep readers happy. This one stands out to me because it's so damned fun. And because the front one has really nice teeth.

Wenley, you do, in fact, rock.

On The Water, Farmer City, IL

Sometimes you meet people who are an important part of your life, even if you don't see them often. LittleRed and Trailmom are special in my life. We paddle, we share closeness beyond description--it's like our everyday lives, including jobs and spouses and kids and stress, fade behind us, and we have the privilege of thinking about our bodies, our breathing, the air and birds around us. And for a few short hours, we sense why we enjoy life. We sense the air on our faces. The sunshine through the clouds. It's this special bond that I feel with those that I paddled with today. LRed and Trailmom and I had breakfast, and then sauntered over to Parnell Access to paddle north toward Farmer City, making it all the way to the first bridge by the meadow. And to make the day even more special, we ran into TimS, a spirited paddler with whom we will all paddle with again soon. Thank you all for a blessed Sunday on the water. My soul sparkles like the watery peaks off the bow of my blue Nordkapp.

The Most Beautiful Boat

I have seen a ton of kayaks over the years. But today, my new paddling friend Tim S. brought his work of art creation... a hand made, inlayed flame wooden kayak that is spectacular in every way. He made it with some instructions from a book; no kit, no pre-cut pieces. Tim made the entire boat on his own from hardwoods, and hard work. No veneers or plywood in this boat. He even inlayed the hull! A gorgeous and memorable vessel. Tim, you are an artist. A sculptor in wood. It's a stunning boat.

Cloudy Skies For Past Few Days

There has been plenty of rain over the last several days, or so the weathergirl said on the late Saturday news last night, but I have been working and really haven't witnessed any of it to speak of. I spend an hour round trip driving to work, and work indoors for 8-9 hours straight; there's not much time on a weekday to stick my toe out the window and check if it's drizzling. But my sump pump's switching on about every minute, so I know it's raining. I've been invited to paddle with a couple friends today, and will load my boat and head out soon. I've set dual crock pots with balsamic vinegar chicken and macaroni & cheese for later. Wishing you a relaxing October Sunday.


An Evening With Ace Frehley

Well, not live yet, but hope to see him live shortly. Tonight, I managed evening shopping at Lowes for items I needed around the house, dropped my son at the movies with about 6 of his pals (he watched Paranormal Activity and said it's excellent--scary fun). My wife went to dinner with her sister Shelia and Shelia's kids for b-day celebration. I got home, put on my jammies, loaded Ace Frehley into my iPod dock (kicks butt compared to the new Kiss LP), plopped some steel cut oatmeal in the crock pot for tomorrow morning when everyone gets up, now settling in for computer face time. I'm writing a short story for a contest, reading McCarthy and Thrasher. It crossed my mind that my friend EC from Texas likely knows Andy Timmons, from Fort Worth. I still love rock N roll; Andy Timmons playing 20 feet in front of me last night, an incredible thing.

Addendum: Ace in Urbana, Il live Nov 9! New tour dates, small clubs. Yessss! His new CD, Anomaly, is really a wonderful piece of classic guitar work. His best in 20 years.



An Evening With Andy Timmons

At CV Lloyde Guitar Store on this rainy autumn evening, my son and I had the distinct pleasure to watch the single best guitarist we have ever seen live, Mr. Andy Timmons. A thirty year veteran of the studio circuit, recording artist Andy is an Evansville, IN native, now in Dallas, TX, who can really rock and roll. The one man performance and Q&A session lasted two hours, and Andy was always the consumate gentleman. He is a top electric guitarist in the world, and yet has the personality of your favorite college professor--in this case, a rock guitar professor--rather than that of a prima dona music god. Andy Timmons. Watch for him. An absolutely enchanting evening, made even better as I sat next to my favorite budding guitarist, my son.


Billy Goat Gruff

I snapped this perky little goat at the petting zoo in Bloomington, Illinois one sunny day, and he opitimizes my week: one harried, discombobulated mess. I hope I don't resort to eating grass. A workweek not for the faint of heart. I dream of basking on a sandy beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, wiped out from drinking agave blue twisters at Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo bar the night before. A billy goat coming up to my ear and waking me up. Scaring me.

Apple: Could Ya Hurry Up With That Tablet Please!

I'm very much anticiptaing--like the rest of the civilized world--the Apple tablet. Latest news says that Foxxcom, who makes the outstanding iPod Touch, is in production of a thin, touch screen tablet. Apple anticipates higher than average freight shipping changes in their latest quarterly conference call--an upcoming tablet? They sold something like 7 million iPhones this year..yikes! And they have partnered with Marvel Comics for content (yawn). I'm really wanting this Apple to play my iPod Touch Apps, and be like a big, bold always-on eReader with excellent battery life and more computer capability, such as

I hear a rumbling ain't my hungry tummy no more.


Rule of Thumb: Always Count The Fingers

A New World Record (Or At Least It Should Be)

Burning Bushes In Full Burn

What lovely trees, lining the highways and yards across the country. Right now, mid-October, here in Illinois, the burning bush is in full and absolutely spectacular bloom. As the mums fade to brown, the burning bush comes alive. All summer, sitting like a plain green bush of limited character, it now shows its real character. These photos were taken at Geneva Commons parking lot, which is rife with these red gems. Check them out next time you're shopping. They should last until this weekend, permitted that the rain holds off. The beautiful harbinger of winter, the burning bush.

Burning Bush
(aka Winged Euonymus or Spindle Tree)
Euonymus alata "Compactus"

Mature Height: 6-10 ft. for 'Compactus' (other varieties can get much larger)
Growth Rate: Moderate
Soil: Average, well-drained
Light Requirements: Sun/partial shade
Foliage: Medium green 1" to 3" in. long leaves, turning to vibrant red in the fall
Flower/Fruit: Small orange-red seeds in the fall
Pruning: No pruning is necessary! The most attractive shrubs are those that have not been pruned or sheared. except for cutting out older branches immediately following blooms. It can be cut to the ground following bloom time if you feel that it needs renewal.
Hardy to Zone 4

This shrub is one of the great beauties of the autumn season.


Sunday Road Travel after the Egg

Enjoyed the always funny and kind company of Michael and Victoria at Dodson Place's Egg Harbor this morning. Man, you both are fun. Please be safe on your upcoming extended travels, and Mike, send me one of those quirky, funny emails when you return. Plus let me know about Turkey Day when you know. Ciao!

Kayakfest 2009

What a fun-filled day! After a hearty breakfast with super friends Bruce and Zena, and a quick tour through the Saturday rush at The Little Traveler, the ladies hit Stamper's Cottage to make some Halloween cards while Bruce and I hit Kayakfest. Ran into David a.k.a central Illinoisian Yanoer taking classes all day long out on the Fox (he promises to show trailmom and I how to do a bow rudder, a crossed bow rudder and a hanging draw in one week). We checked out the vessels, shot the breeze a bit with Geneva Kayak owner Ryan, and then hopped on the bikes for a sojourn to St. Charles' Town House Books. Brisk ride knocked out my fender screw, replaced by Sammy at St. Charles Bikes near Mount St. Mary's Park. After relaxing to funny conversation with the scrapbooking ladies, Yanoer made it over for a shower and a beer and we all did some sloppy, bluesy sing-alongs to Bruce's acoustic guitar renditions (my fav, San Francisco bay Blues) in my livingroom. Then the group walked to and imbibed and stuffed ourselves at Sanfratello's, compliments of Bruce and Zena. What a glorious day of serious companionship and fun. An event packed day. Thanks to all our wonderful friends.


Weak Smoke Detector: Apologies to D&A

There's no fire!

Sorry for the beeping, Dave and Alexia. Thanks for the texts, and now that I've teetered on my footstool and changed the 9V, the beeping is over. I didn't realize it was the detector closest to the wall. Super sorry. Have a wonderful, sunny time at Cabo! I want photos. Oh, and thanks for Francesca invitation last night, hope the wine was flowing. I'm going to reply to your email, A.

Excellent Friday Meeting Travis @ B&N

After an uneventful ride to Geneva with Cathy (complete with a hot slice of lasagna at Maria's Ristorante in Morris, IL), I got to meet Travis Thrasher at B&N, Geneva Commons. Geneva Commons itself is the location of at least one scene in Ghostwriter. Excellent to speak with you Travis. You really are a prolific writer, and you sure know how to keep that butt glued to the seat and the fingers tapping on the keys. I wish you all the success in the world.

I was trying to download it onto my IPod in B&N when Martell was speaking to you, but wi-fi didn't work--but here at home, I return to a sleeping Cathy and strong wi-fi; boom, less than a minute later I have Sky Blue paid and downloaded and ready to read. I'll let you know my thoughts, T. Thanks for being a real and good person.


Soccer Season Winding Down

These are the final few days of my son's freshman 2009 soccer season. And what a growing and learning season it was. Although his team really didn't hit stride until the past three games, they are developing into young champions by exhibiting a strong work ethic, wonderful team spirit and comraderie. My son, in particular, transformed into a powerhouse of energy, stamina and skill. He can run like the wind now, and the four mile workout runs don't bother him a bit. Great strides from the huffing and puffing this summer.

What he and I will do this winter to maintain his level of fitness, and to develop mine from scratch, is unclear. We have an old treadmill, a Concept II rowing trainer, and tennis racquets with indoor rental tennis courts. These are all under consideration now.

The local boy's JV soccer team has given me many leap-out-of-my-seat moments this year. I truly enjoyed the season, which wraps up this weekend.


Ever Have One Of Those Days? You Know The Kind.

RiverGuide App for IPhone/IPod Touch

This application is simply sublime. It's $4.99 and is pure and straightforward. You select region of country--in my case Midwest--and you look by state and you will find every river gauge in the state, up-to-date for flows, with historic highs and lows and other pertinent data. In IL there are 213 gauges. Instantaneous reading, plus daily stream chart and weekly stream charts are up-to-date.

No more logging into archaic website every time you wish todetermine if a river is paddleable. Above is the Macworld review. Excellent use for the five dollars that's burning a hole in your pocket.

Sometimes, you just gotta know how high that river really is....


Megadeth--Suicide Silence--Machinehead

I'm very lucky. Scored tickets. In November, with my son, I'm headed to Peoria to see rock titans, Megadeth, singing their new chart-burning single, "Headcrusher". Opening for them are headliners unto themselves, Machinehead and Suicide Silence. Should be fun.

I like the message of that Suicide Silence song. Very positive message. All about waking up. You know, "wake up and smell the coffee", that sort of thing. Neat.


A Burst of Color on a Cloudy Day

Sometimes, an old photo--like this one that I took at The Bloomington Zoo--can stimulate the mind into thinking summery thoughts, even on a cloudy day with highs never above 49F. As I settle back with the book I'm reading, I think flowery thoughts.


Start Buying Your Candy

As this little display--part of the huge display at The Little Traveler on Third Street--reminds us all, it's time to get bags and bags of sweet treats, as three weeks from today is All Hallow's Eve. Boo!


The Prairie Grass at RiverPark, Geneva, Illinois

Black and white photography truly brings out the texture in the spiny prairie garden at RiverPark on N. River Lane in Geneva, Illinois. A fall stunner! Quiet days leading to cool nights. Enjoy, friends.


The Bridge, St. Charles, IL

With the gentrified shopfronts in the background, the Fox River runs lazily through the center of St. Charles, Illinois. (click to enlarge)


For the Rubiks' Cube Aficionado Pal of My Son

Thought of you when I saw this advertisement. Cube Lube. Now I've heard of it all! I gotta see you work that cube, J. Looking forward to it next time you're over.

The Trees Still Have Leaves

Winter creeps in, mercury falls week to week as soon will the leaves from the trees. Darkness will invade rapidly with time shifts and savings times, and by then, the leafless views from the window will open to permit sunlight on my face during the withering daylight hours. For now, I will inhale the dying green leaves, soon to be yellow, and red, and later all brown.


Butterflies in Bloomington, IL

Some time ago, I was at the butterfly house at the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington. A favorite small zoo of my son and I for years.

Fluttery butterflies everywhere. Great photo op, I've taken full advantage of these graceful creatures with my point-and-shoot. Fantastic photos to review as the weather grows cold, and the butterflies in real life, well, they head on down south. Fly butterflies, fly. Pretend you are in a Pontiac GTO "The Judge" model with 450 h.p., and ride on the wind. (click photos to enlarge)

Search Engine Optimization

Great to speak with you, EC. Really great! Hey, after we spoke I thought of: search engine optimization, Google Adwords, local newsprint, your own website, personal letters and mailing lists, and other means of "getting the word out". Plus no referral necessary, signage in office, EMGs with shared tech component, hand written thanks notes, carbon copy all others. Technical component at proc. center (need to get in place now). And on and on. I would like to share some of our mutual ideas on these subjects; jingle me this weekend.

Time To Put Away Play & Get To Work

Busy week at work, plus three soccer games, guitar lessons, writing contest coming up, yard work on weekend prepping for winter, and enjoying life. I wish a wonderful and safe and healthy Monday for all of you.



Here Come Da Judge~!

It's confirmed: a Pontiac GTO "The Judge" model 1969, one of only five convertibles with Ram IV engine ever made, sold at Mecum St. Charles today for $350,000~! I saw it there, and wondered about The Judge emblem on it, but I just walked past it toward the Corvettes with my nose in the air. I thought it was some plowboy's muscle car that he was trying to dump to earn a few sheckles for books at community college.

I'm an ignoramus.

All rise for the mighty Judge!

Mecum Auto Auction, St. Charles, Pheasant Run

Spent a day with my father at my first professional, televised automobile auction, and it was a real blast seeing all the old cars and trucks. Old Corvettes, Caddies—Fords to Chevrolets (’57 Chevys were all the rage). But the big ticket items weren’t these old gems. The big money went toward Dodges with hemi engines, and the prices soared to nearly $200k each! The real thrill though on this 60F cloudy day was seeing how the show was put together—the cameras, the lights, the emcees, and the entire nature of the live car auction atmosphere. I wish my brother was here; he enjoys and appreciates cars even more than I do.

Postscript: this little yellow cutie went for $130,000. Cheap enough.


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