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Guest Blogger Cousin Gene Edition #7 … “The Day of the Grasshopper.”

Several years ago, in the last century, I took a road trip to the plains of our country. While planning this trip, I was looking over a map and discovered a town in Kansas with the very same name as my home town in Kentucky. So Russell Springs became one of the scheduled stops of this trip.

While driving through Kansas, I made my way to State Route 25 and headed south into Logan County. It seemed to me that most of the back roads in Kansas were straight, two lane, and either paved or gravel. This one was paved. I drove for several miles, before I came into the town of Russell Springs. There wasn’t a lot there, because it was a very small place. At one time in its history, Russell Springs was the Logan County seat of government. A cattle drive trail, The Butterfield Trail, came straight through Russell Springs. But, alas, progress moved the government to another town, closer to the big highway, and cattle drives stopped. The local school closed and kids were bused to other towns. Residents would leave and seldom return, except to visit. A lot of small towns in America end up like this one. What a shame!

There were a few houses, a former school building, and a large two-story former courthouse that was now a museum, open only Memorial Day to Labor Day. (I was here in late September.) Most of the residents seemed to be cows. I had been here a little while and was planning to take a back road to another town, but I was wondering if a particular route was a good idea. So I decided to knock on a door and ask.

I pulled into a driveway near the museum, exited my pickum-up truck, walked up to the house, map in hand, and knocked on the door. It soon opened and I was greeted by an older lady. I asked her my questions, which she pleasantly answered, and then she asked me about my trip. I told her briefly about my home town of Russell Springs, KY., and about my trip. Another older lady came to the door and listened to the conversation. (Unfortunately, I do not remember either of their names.) The first lady asked me if I wanted to tour the museum. As it happened, these ladies were “keepers of the museum” and offered to open it up for me.

"The Grasshopper"

“The Grasshopper”

So we got into our respective vehicles and drove about a hundred yards to the building. They opened the doors and we entered. The ladies gave me permission to go anywhere in the building. The museum was, at one time, the Logan County Courthouse, and held other county offices. It now held relics from a time long ago, as any historical museum does. Clothing, tools, photos, documents, and other museum-worthy items. No elevator, so the ladies did not go upstairs with me. The courtroom was upstairs and still looked like an old courtroom. After a little while, I returned to the lobby where the ladies waited for me.  We left the building and the ladies locked the doors and we went back to their house. I gave them some money as a donation for the museum and they gave me a grasshopper. What you say, a grasshopper?

Cousin Gene ... A Unique Fashion Statement

Cousin Gene … A Unique Fashion Statement

Yes, a large dark brown colored metal grasshopper. Almost 5 ½ inches from the tip of its antenna to its back-end. A little over 2 inches wide from foot to foot. And 2 ½ inches from bottom of its feet to the top of its hind legs.  A whopper for sure! Grasshoppers (sometimes known as locusts) did do a lot of damage to crops in several states in the Great Plains in the late 1800’s. (And around the world at various times in history.) They even grew much larger than mine and invaded Chicago. (See “Beginning of the End”).

Well, I thanked the ladies for their kindness and generosity and off I went to continue my adventure, with pet grasshopper “Hoppy” at my side and Mountain Dew in my cooler.

Grasshopper Exploration

Grasshopper Exploration

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The Old Guy … Yesterday … The Last Photograph Of The Day #4

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Last Photograph Of The Day …

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Portable Free Range Space …

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Life Saving …

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Vintage Tin

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Morning Coffee …

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Refill Required …

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Retired … Goodbye Old Friend …

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Contemplation …

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Pork Supper …

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Bottom Of The Cup …

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UK Hospital …Roof Topping From The Parking Garage …

Last Photograph Of The Day … 

 

 

Next Week Or So … Something Interesting or something current … or #5

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The Old Guy … Malcomb The Rat …

A while back, not really so long ago to be somewhat more accurate, I stood looking out the kitchen window and noticed to my amusement a movement in the yard. It was a rat that came to rest under one of my bird feeders. It quickly filled its mouth and cheeks with Black Oil Sunflower seeds that a host of feeding birds had either dropped or flung out of the feeder. When full, the rat scampered across the yard, across the driveway, and into my neighbors yard where it disappeared into a small opening between a trash can and discarded flower pot.

In a very short while, the rat returned to its horde of Sunflower seeds under the feeder. Once again, the cycle was repeated but this time I timed the sequence … ninety-six seconds or abouts for a round trip. A conformation timing peaked my interest and I retrieved my camera.

Generally … critters that hang around the place get named. Malcomb The Rat seemed appropriate for this energetic and industrious creature …

I set up on the back porch with a comfortable chair, tripod, and camera sporting a 300mm lens. To my left was an additional chair serving as a coffee and sandwich stand. Sighting through the lens, I decided to capture Malcomb coming out through his opportunistic opening. In the first thirty minutes, my confidence level was high because there was food, drink and I had seen the captured frame in my mind. Into the latter half of the first hour, I was seriously wondering to where the little beggar had disappeared.

I know patience is supposed to be a virtue, but at the beginning of the second half of the second hour of perching precariously, it was very warm on the. back porch. I had already sweated through one shirt and was running out of nibblers, coffee, and warm and fuzzy feelings for the, not so popular anyway, rodent family of small creatures. I also had acquired a stiff neck from bending over and looking into the viewfinder. Anticipation unfulfilled is often a direct contributor to such a troubling phenomenon.

The start of the third hour of my Photo-shoot turned into an agonizingly tepid quest for the illusive. Then … I had a miss. I must have looked up, closed my eyes or had been distracted or enthralled by a mental gymnastic game of’ ‘How Blue Is That?’ … Malcomb was already across the yard and under the bird feeder.

I didn’t dare breathe … much less move …

I was still counting seconds when he suddenly turned and raced across the yard to his bastion of safety in or behind the trash can. If he remained true to his form … I had about six minutes before he appeared again. No matter what hurt or tried to distract me, I had to stay focused. Soon, the three hour marathon would be over.

Peering through the viewfinder, I fine-tuned the focus of the camera, fidgeted with this and that and double checked my settings a third and fourth time. Everything was in place except I was out of coffee, cheese sandwiches, and peanut butter and crackers. Malcomb the rat was late.

Moments passed at an agonizingly slow pace. Then there was a movement at the flowerpot opening. I pressed on the shutter release and caught air … Malcomb had looked out and then ducked back into his sanctuary. I was quick but not quick enough. Another near miss and a grimace crossed my face. The law of averages was working against me. Malcomb possibly could disappear.

It crossed my mind that the small rodent had seen me or heard the shutter cycle open, close.  Again he looked out and I just missed him. He was looking out, ducking back in, and back out of the small opening. … I thought our eyes met but dismissed it. Twenty waste shots and then I got the shot I had seen earlier. I got him and an insurance shot.

Malcomb ran across the yard, the driveway and stopped under the bird feeder. I didn’t pay that much attention. I was stretching my neck and trying to shake off three plus hours of tension. Ninety-six seconds or abouts … and he was gone.

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Malcomb The Rat …

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Next Week … Something Interesting or something current …

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The Old Guy . . . A Ways From Home . . .

There was a lot of conflicted thinking swirling around inside my head as I drove down the old two lane highway. It wasn’t as simple as driving my Sweetheart from the hospital in Lexington to a nursing facility in Columbia, Kentucky. The two and a half hour journey through rough city traffic giving way to quiet green fields and winding country roads afforded me far too much time to think. And I knew … everything seen, talked about or shared between us would not be remembered in a few short hours.

She sat quietly staring out her window …

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A Quiet Time . . .

My heart was breaking because she wasn’t coming home. The practical side of me argued hopeful logic for miles-on-end, but realized this ‘relocation’ as the best course of treatment. The selfish side of me urged the inner me to keep driving and not look back until safely home. Back and forth ideas, strategies and wishful thinking lived for yet a brief moment before being replaced by the next series of considerations.

I felt a failure for not being able to take care of her despite her physical condition. I should have done more, tried harder or made an extra effort to be a better man, but I also was at the frayed end of my rope and … the hospital confinements were coming one after another within a shorter time frame. I couldn’t keep up with the pace. I was falling short and at a loss for what to do next.

When not caring for my sweetheart, I would, and still, lay on the living room floor in an effort to ease the diabetic nerve pain in my feet and legs. It was a trying time for the both of us … physically and mentally. During the night or early morning hours, I would occasionally drift off to sleep. My Sweetheart, who had become nocturnal in nature, would on occasion try to get up and quickly fall. Despite the fact she could hurt herself badly, she would not ask for assistance or call out for help. Several times, I would awake suddenly and find her sprawled out on the bedroom rug or bathroom floor. In the hospital and nursing home, she was safer.

A strange and foreign place …

I think my Sweetheart’s dementia softened the shock of her situation. She was in a strange and foreign place without her chair, her bed, or her Gretchen dog to sleep on her legs like a soft but cushioned hot water bottle. Her questions were addressed with diplomacy and kindness. In her weakened condition she didn’t say much and seemed very accepting and accommodating. That would later disappear as she gained strength. For the moment, she was there for ‘rehab’ and the possibility of long-term care was not broached.

The days are now divided by being dialysis days and non-dialysis days. They are highlighted by exceptionally early morning travel times to the clinic and back, with nursing home lunches together. Or … there are long periods of quiet time where no words need be exchanged between us. For myself, a semi-regular routine has been established. With my Sweetheart’s dementia, any strict structure or time-table routine is difficult but not impossible. We have about times . . . and play it mostly by ear.

For right now, she is making remarkable progress and that is a grand accomplishment.

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Next Week … Something Interesting or something current …

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