Thursday, May 27, 2010

Meanwhile, Out In The County.......

I had planned to cut the grass yesterday. One of the sure fire signs that Summer is nigh upon us is that the lawn needs cutting weekly.

However, the temperature and humidity rose steadily through the morning.

By noon there was little chance I would get to it.

I decided to head out into the County and do some photo work instead. My destination, The Hancock House on Alloways Creek. The Hancock House dates back to 1734 and was the site of a massacre during the Revolutionary War. It is also one of the few "patterned brick" houses remaining in the area.

So how could a quiet Quaker home in bucolic South Jersey become a bloody mass murder site?

The British, it seemed, were quite upset that General "Mad" Anthony Wayne's troops had successfully conducted a foraging mission in South Jersey, especially in Salem County. The foraging mission prevented General Washington's troops at Valley Forge from starving during the harsh Winter of 1778. Determined to teach the local militias a lesson, the British set out in the early Spring. On the night of March 21, 1778 a British force, lead by then Major John Simcoe, entered into the Hancock House with orders to spare no one. Twenty people were killed, including the Quaker owner William Hancock. Twelve more were injured. The retaliation did nothing to change the course of the war. Valley Forge would be the turning point of the American Revolution.

By the time I'd gathered up my stuff, Splitty the Maul had already buckled himself into the truck.

Splitty is a big fan of all things historical.

We started out. I explained the history of the house to Splitty on the way. Splitty was upset to think that our now British allies could do such a thing. I reminded him the Americans were in the process of leaving the British Empire and that King George III was not amused.

We arrived at the house in about 25 minutes.

A quartering front view of the Hancock House.

The commemorative marker abeam the flagpole.

A front view.

Before I could stop him, Splitty the Maul ran up to knock on the front door.

He wanted to offer condolences to the Hancock family.

I told him the Hancock family had long since left the property, having sold it to the State of New Jersey in 1931.

Splitty knocked again just in case I was wrong.

Mauls dig playing the "Devil's Advocate".

Splitty and I walked around to the side of the house. Splitty wanted to see exactly what a "patterned brick" house was.

The patterned brick. The initials stand for the home's original owners William and Sarah Hancock. William Jr. was the home's owner at the time of the massacre.

A small Swedish cabin sits on the grounds. These were common structures built by farmers who settled the area originally.

The hearth inside the cabin. Not a "show home", but it allowed the settlers to survive the harsh winters.

Splitty was visibly shaken by the history he'd just learned. He returned to the truck. I wandered out to take a few more pictures.

A historical marker near Alloways Creek.

Two shots of Alloways Creek. Note the grassy marshland. That's quite common in the areas of Salem County near the Delaware River.

I got back into the truck. We headed off to our next location.

That would be lunch.

On the way to lunch I spotted a farm field laid out for the season. These flowers were planted to prevent erosion.

Soon enough, we arrived at our lunch destination.

The "Little Brown Derby" has been a South Jersey institution since the 1930's.

Taken down the carved bar inside the "Derby".

This picture speaks for itself.

Sadly, Splitty the Maul couldn't come in.

The "Little Brown Derby" has a "No shoes, no shirt, no service" policy.

Splitty, still upset over the Hancock House Massacre, was happy to stay in the truck.

After lunch, there was one more stop I wanted to make.

I'd read in the local newspaper some time ago that the Salem Country Club had gone under.

My late brother always called it "the playground of my youth". I can attest to that. Once he discovered the game of golf, he took to it like a duck to water.

The friendships he forged with the other youngsters playing golf here would last a lifetime.

Unfortunately, the country club would not.

The entrance, now overgrown.

Where once an inground pool was, now just a patch of scraggly weeds.

The former tee box for the first hole.

I always dreaded that first hole. It was a 535 yard, "dog leg" left hole, with a water hazard about halfway up. The water hazard was conveniently out of view due to a small ridge.

Many a great shot got wet on the approach.

A view of the course across some of the old fairways.

I really hated seeing the course in this condition.

It is sad that the members allowed this to happen.

Having opened in 1898, it was once one of the state's oldest courses.

Today it's just a memory.

Maybe it's best Bruce didn't live to see this. It would have broken his heart.

My agenda completed, I returned home.

The dogs were there to greet Splitty and I.

Lilly, the matriarch, was looking to be fed.

Ever see a bigger set of, "Feed Me" eyes?

Butter, the playful one, was in the backyard cleaning off the previous night's bath by rolling in the grass and dirt.

Gotta like that in a dog.

Rhondo the Wonder Idiot was still serving time for crimes against flooring.

Maybe someone will start a "Free Rhondo" movement soon.

Maybe not.

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.

Monday, May 24, 2010

"Baby, How Long, Will You Keep Me In The Penalty Box?"

The title line comes from a song.

That song MAY just become "Rhondo The Wonder Idiot's" theme song.

Rhondo The Wonder Idiot

For those not familiar with the song, it was a novelty song crooned by a man named David William Schultz.

Those of us familiar with NHL ice hockey know him as Dave "The Hammer" Schultz. He made the number "8" a cuss word to the rest of the NHL.

A typical day at the office for "The Hammer".

"The Hammer" earned his nickname as one of the hardest hitting and fightingest players in his day.

He was a key cog in the Philadelphia Flyers "Broad Street Bullies" years.

To this day he still holds the NHL record for the most penalty minutes in a single season at 472.

The song, "Penalty Box", was a tongue in cheek nod to his penchant for fighting.

Click on this link, scroll down halfway, and you can hear it.

So then, what's Rhondo The Wonder Idiot's connection to this song?

He's on the fast track to break the 472 minute mark this week alone.

A while back Rhondo was having behavioral issues.

To save time, let's just say he was quick on the draw with a hiked leg. His last day of unrestricted freedom came when he hiked a leg on a freshly washed sofa slipcover in plain sight of the sofa's/home's owner.

Gutsy move for a dog on it's fourth home.

Because of that behavior his freedom was immediately limited to being out of the penalty box only when supervised by a resident human.

If all the resident humans had to be somewhere other than home, Rhondo had to be in his doggie crate.

That worked very well for quite some time.

Unfortunately, not long enough.

Two days ago, Rhondo was behaving rather oddly. He started off the day perky.

He was perky when we came back from the grocery store.

A little later on he seemed sad. He wasn't wagging his tail. He was lethargic.

We both wondered what got into him.

It was what got out of him that made trouble.

We wouldn't discover for another day.

Chris reached down to get a roll of paper towels out the 12 pack in the corner. Something looked amiss.

The package was a bit shiny. Shiny on the side and shiny on the floor.

Some days it doesn't pay to be the only male dog in the house.

A trial was held. The evidence was overwhelming. He was convicted by a jury of his curs.

For his crime against paper towels, Rhondo was sentenced to the crate with the possibility of early release for good behavior.

Meanwhile, stir fry vegetables are at the standby.

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Long Overdue Photo Post......

It seems that this Summer could rival last Summer in miles travelled.

Such is retired life I suppose.

Splitty the Maul is aboard once again. Look for a Splitty update coming soon.

In the meantime, here's a nice selection of photos taken last week at the Memphis Zoo.

I think we walked in on a scientific experiment in Cat Country.

Apparently male lions don't subscribe to the theory, "Cats always land on their feet.".

The female lion sharing the pen him didn't seem impressed.

The pumas seemed content just to leave "theory" with the lions and hang out in the shade.

One of the tigers agreed with the pumas' approach to the day.

Meanwhile one of the leopards was ticked off to have been left out of the "land on their feet" experiment.

The bobcat nervously paced in his enclosure thinking he was going to be the next cat in the air.

A group of meerkats quietly awaited reports on the condition of the lion.

One bold meerkat volunteered to go next much to the relief of the puma.

The warmth of the Spring day was starting to show on us. The coolness of the Reptile House called us.

It was a good move.

Now here's a face only a mother (or our own Floaty) could love. I'm sure this little fella was glad to be in Memphis instead of the south Louisiana marshes.

Gators aren't the only thing that'll bite you in the swamps. Alligator snapping turtles will be more than happy to take a toe or two off you.

The Chinese crocodile seemed a bit stand offish. Must be "Panda Envy".

Most of the snakes were hiding in their cages. The boa constrictor felt obligated to entertain us adults by frightening the children around us.

With the screaming of frightened school children still ringing in our ears, we headed back out into the sunshine.

The komodo dragon seemed to be enjoying his nice warm rock.

In turn, the hippos seemed to be enjoying their nice cool pools.

We reached a pen/tank combo where some primates were in the process of being fed by one of the handlers.

The blonde haired one was very shy, preferring to hide under a bush. It immediately joined the others as the the bananas started to land near the waters edge.

The water portion was the domain of these guys.

Fresh fish for the otters.

The otters didn't seem to mind that the fishes' swimming days were over...

the otters' swimming day had just begun.

Suddenly, pandamonium broke loose.

Le Le showed surprising manners as his lunch was served.

Ya Ya showed she's no "Southern Belle" as her grub hit the tub.

As it turned out, Ya Ya would come in second place in the "Manners In May" competition.

This fellow was busy entertaining the crowd with his climbing and hanging out abilities.

One of his display mates didn't appreciate all the attention and did what scorned monkeys do......

....or "do-do" in this case.

After that performance we were ready for something a bit happier.

These reindeer seemed happy enough.

These folks seemed even happier boarding the carousel.

I was just happy the "Flying Dung Festival" was well behind us.

Good thing, too as the elephant and rhinoceros exhibits were next.

The Northwest Passage exhibit was next up.

We arrived just in time to see the polar bears get fed.

This one was in the process of hamming it up when we arrived.

I could see why a famous cola company would use these creatures in advertising. This one was cute, charming, seemingly affable, and would undoubtedly shred your to bite sized pieces given the chance.

Maybe they should feed them "Ad men" as a diet.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the exhibit, the sea lion opted for a tanning session.

He was content to stay put. We opted to continue on.

The brown and black bear exhibit was just around the corner.

Now I'm not sure if bears have purple plastic balls to play with in the woods, but this one seemed rather intrigued by this one.

In the meantime, another one was climbing all over a pile of tree trunks.

The plastic ball/pool combo was still much more enticing to the first bear.

Meanwhile, another bear was content to nibble at the landscaping.

Personally, I always thought they ate from picnic baskets.

Moving along smartly, our jaunt continued.

On any Summer day in Memphis this exhibit would probably qualify as an Indian "sweat lodge".

One of the two American Bald Eagles.

A nice bronze statue of Chief Seattle.

I believe he was the leader of the Caffeine Tribe.

I'll call my local Starbucks and check.

Another newer exhibit waas next up. It's called "Teton Trek".

We were met by this replica of "Old Faithful". Fortunately, it was much smaller, had much cooler water, and went off much more often. The kids playing in it were delighted, too.

Playing in a fountain is still one of Summer's great pleasures. Especially when it is designed for that very use.

Kudos to the Memphis Zoo for having so many for the little ones to play in.

Behind the fountain stands this immense lodge. I thought it might be a food court, but it is in fact a rest area. It had clean bathrooms, icy cold air conditioning, and a fantastic view of the exhibit behind it.

It also has this huge gas log fireplace.

Two more shots of the lodge's interior.

The lady from the "sweat lodge" and I took advantage of the air conditioning for a bit.

The view from the lodge across the exhibit.

In what seemed to be a banner day for bears, the grizzly bears were enjoying a nice swim.

In a fortunate stroke of good luck, the swans were kept well away from the grizzly bears.

This one in particular seemed grateful.

At the far side of the exhibit, a small waterfall helped cool off the deck.

The lodge as viewed from the deck.

The wolves, doing their best impersonations of "Southern porch dogs", were laying low in the heat of the day.

Our trip was nearing an end.

We trekked over to the primate exhibit to see what we could see.

The lowland gorillas seemed to be the most active of the bunch.

In case anyone wondered, nature invented and perfected "four wheel drive".

This one was just hanging around.

One of the baboons spent a few moments picking over scraps froma recent feeding.

This silverback gorilla was kind enough to strike a pose.

I must say he did look fantastic in that fur coat.

While there was still more zoo to see, we had run out of steam. With the temperatures climbing and the animals starting to rest from the heat, we took leave of the premises.

For those of you visiting Memphis or in/around the Memphis area I highly recommend the Zoo.

Here's a link to their website.

Memphis In May BBQ contest pictures on the next blog, then it's back to current events.

Until the next time, all y'all trake care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.