Archives For Life

Box Cutter

June 11, 2015 — Leave a comment

Last week we had a little project here on Blue Bird Lane. Nothing big or too involved but something I chose to do instead of calling to have Maintance do.  Simple and among the tools needed was my box cutter. I know where it’s at. It’s in the tool bucket. Not! I looked everywhere in my neatly organized garage but to no avail. The box cutter was not to be found! So to the displeasure of the boss I used a paring knife to do the project at hand and managed not to cut off a finger.

Box cutters are really neat tools. I suppose every tool box has one. A handy tool that is safe to use and always in need. At our former house I had three sets of tools. One set in the garage for projects in the house. One set in the barn to take care of the mowers and any other project outside. One set in the basement of the motor home so when we travelled I could fix or jury-rig anything that broke.

I had started a project at the house once and needed the box cutter and when I checked the garage I could not find it. I went to the barn in case I had carried it out there and forgot to bring it back to the house. No box cutter. I couldn’t remember ever having a box cutter in the motor home but I checked there also. No box cutter. Back to the garage and re-searched every nook and cranny and possible place the box cutter could be. No box cutter. Now the boss has always embarrassed me by being able to find things I could not find and as a last desperate attempt to find the damn thing I ask her to look. No box cutter to be found. For my pride I was glad she didn’t find it but I still needed the box cutter. Being a resourceful handy man I did the only sensible thing, I went to Dunn’s Hardware at Trafalgar and bought a box cutter came home and finished the project I had started.

The box cutter was put in my tool box in the garage where I would always know where it was. Sound good doesn’t it? A month or two later another project was started. Tools were gathered and the project began. About half way through the project I needed the box cutter. I know where it is. It’s in the second drawer of the tool box. Not! I put it there! I know I put it there! Where is the damn box cutter? I went to the barn. No box cutter! I checked the motor home. No box cutter! I returned to the garage and literally tore it apart. It is an understatement to say the air turned very dark blue! No box cutter! Not one no box cutter but two no box cutters! Being a resourceful person of some level of intelligence I solved my immediate problem of needing a box cutter by going to Dunn’s Hardware in Trafalgar, again, and buying a box cutter. It’s only five miles and won’t take too long I hope. Box cutters don’t cost much. When the project was completed the next day I gave the cutter to the boss and told her to put it somewhere where she would always know where it was.

When we decided to move here on the reservation, which was a major downsizing effort, lo and behold I found all three box cutters. The little bastards came crawling out of their hiding places and now I had them. Three in a row on the floor of the garage, I don’t need three box cutters. I probably don’t need any box cutter but I decided to keep one. It came in very handy when we were unpacking and getting the new house organized. So I decided that the box cutter would forever have its home in one of the pockets of the tool bucket. Everyone has a tool bucket. They are a very handy invention. It has resided in its little pocket for almost two years, I guess, until last week. It is gone! I needed it and it is gone!  I cannot find it. I have no idea where it might be. But, you know what? I am 71 years old and I don’t I need to buy another box cutter. So if I need one I sure hope the Maintance department has a bunch!

Thanks for listening.

Richard Isley


May 28, 2015 — Leave a comment

My last post I talked about Foxy and her condition that appears to be on the decline. She has been in declining health for over a year but this week she took a direct hit with a seizure and an almost refusal to eat.  This morning the boss and I talked about Foxy’s quality of life and maybe it was time to say goodbye.  Foxy was in the room during that conversation and from that moment on she followed the boss thru the house never leaving her presence.

When we arrived at the vets Foxy didn’t seem too interested in walking. In fact I picked her up and carried her into the vets waiting room. All the time in the waiting room Foxy could not get close enough to Linda (the boss). Even when moved to the exam room she remained clingy. Dr. Brichler came in and did a through exam and lots of question about Foxy’s behavior.  We talked about causes and effects and what ifs. Finally we talked about end of life and quality of life and the Dr. said “I can’t find anything wrong with her and I think we should try a couple more things before we give up on her.” He prescribed a pain med and said” Let’s see how she is doing in a week or two.”

We paid the bill and left the building. Going to the car Foxy had a spring in her step and a wagging tail. She, I am sure, had heard the word. Reprieve!

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

Spring is almost half over and it has been a different one from what one might call normal. It has been cold, cool, wet, breezy, and sunny sometimes all in the same day. It was a tough winter and now it seems Mother Nature is trying to make amends. Lots of pollen for those who suffer from allergies, cool, almost cold breezes to make your walks or jogs or runs uncomfortable, but, the sky is blue and the sun shines with warmth trying to not only warm our skin but our spirit that sometime got very depressed during the long winter. It’s funny how Mother Nature tries to make up for her indiscretions.  The grass seems to be a greener green and the dandelions have been the most vivid yellow and so thick that they appear as a carpet on top of the green thick mat. Yet, here on the reservation she seems to be having a difficult time keeping this spring normal if there is such a thing.

The grounds crew has several new members and they are being trained as they go, OJT. But, it is a huge task to keep these 120+ acres and 200+ houses and the Big house grounds looking superb. They are still cutting the grass and I suppose it will be awhile before they really learn how to mow grass. There is a difference you know.  It has been difficult for them because of the rains and cold. It is funny to see folks driving lawn mowers with coats and hats and gloves. Cutting grass envisions shorts and tank tops but despite the cold and damp the grass grows profusely.

The oddity I have noticed this spring is Mother Nature’s seemingly desire to help control the population of geese and ducks. We have enjoyed seeing 3, maybe 4, clutches of ducklings that the mother duck has brought to the pond for their first swim but being sadly disappointed when they were gone the next morning.  None have survived. Fox, coyote, raccoon or perhaps snapping turtles have had their fill much to our disappointment.  Ducklings’ swimming behind their mother is a wonder to watch and another way of counting on spring’s renewal of the earth. It has been disappointing in watching and keeping tabs on the hen setting on a nest of 14 eggs in our shrubbery bed and the discovery that something had destroyed them all. Sometimes Mother Nature can be cruel it seems.

The geese are not faring any better than the ducks. The grounds folks said they had found goose nests with a total of 40 eggs and now they are all gone. We have no goslings to date and it doesn’t look too promising to have any this year, sad but not too sad. Geese live 18- 20 years and we have plenty. You are welcome to take all you can carry. I’ll even help if you need it! Whatever Mother Nature is using to control the population it seems to be working very well.

Summer will be here before too long and we will complain about the heat as usual and say how much we miss the spring, human nature at its best. We never seem to be satisfied with what we have always wishing for something different or better.  That’s just the way we are and I guess that’s OK. Life here in the reservation is good. No, not good wonderful.

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

My step-son Chris says he likes the stories of my past. Interesting history he says. So this post is for Chris J. of the Washington Post.

Chicken Leg

When I was 12 we moved to small farm just outside Greenwood. Both my parents grew up on farms and thus began my farming life. I joined 4-H and that began my “career as a sheep farmer.”  But, also a great experience as a chicken farmer.

My dad was the manager of a feed and livestock mineral company in Indianapolis across from the Indianapolis stock yards. He was a real chicken man. Each spring his company sold thousands of baby chickens to farmers in central Indiana as well as all the “colored chicks sold in the various stores at Easter time. About 1965 keeping layers in cages was beginning to become the industry we now know as the predominate method of producing most of the eggs we enjoy today. Dad decided that we should have a chicken/egg business. So, we built a pole building and assembled and installed cages for 500 chicken. Layers if you will.

We had quite an operation. I fed the chicken and hauled the manure and gathered the eggs and washed the eggs and candled and sorted the eggs by size and packaged them. Somewhat later even my brother helped with this. We sold eggs from the house to friends and neighbors as well as to a few restaurants in the area. For my work I received I think $20.00 a week which made me pretty well off.

Laying hens will produce eggs very well for two years and then their production falls off and they must be replaced with young layers called pullets.  These older chicken were usually sold to the Thompson poultry processing plant in Indianapolis. This was a major project to remove the hens form the cages and put them into chicken crate to transport to the processing plant. I was very glad we didn’t do this often because it was serious work.

One year My Uncle Ralph, mother’s oldest brother, wanted to buy some of the older hens and so one evening dad brought some crates home and we loaded, I think, 50 hens to take to Uncle Ralph and have dinner there. We were in a hurry and I broke one of the chickens leg. I showed it to dad and he said put it back and we will mess with it tomorrow.  I said no! Hold the chicken and I will be right back. I ran to the house and found two Popsicle sticks and some adhesive tape and went back to the chicken house and promptly splinted the chicken’s leg and put it in the crate swearing everyone to secrecy. I did however add another chicken because I didn’t think the hen would survive.

It was almost dark when we arrived at Uncle Ralph’s and we unloaded the chickens in his chicken lot and went to house and had supper and visited awhile.  Everyone kept the secret and when we left we laughed the whole way home.

A couple of weeks later mom answered the phone one evening and started laughing and finally said to me that she thought the call was for me. When I picked up the phone my Uncle started ripping me for selling him a chicken with a broken leg.  It didn’t matter when I told him it was an extra chicken. I had sold him damaged goods. A chicken with a broken leg! I remember telling him that I could not believe it took him two weeks to find it, but that didn’t cut any ice.

To end the story you must remember that my Uncle Ralph was a really neat guy. I loved him and have wished many times I had been able to spend more time with him as I grew up. He was unique and was a great horse man and kept work horses almost till the end of his life. I guess that’s why I really miss not have the experience of working/farming with horses.  So to conclude, until his dying days every time I was in his presence he had to raze me about selling him a chicken with a broken leg even though the chicken lived.

Thanks for listening,


A follower asked me the other day if I was always in a bad mood. The answer is, only when I see people do what I call stupid things. That being said I have observed that this has been a weird spring. This week it has been cool with an almost cold wind which most day made being outside uncomfortable.Even the Dandelions are having a tough time this week.

I was reading a new book, for me anyway, today, The last novel written by Charles Major published 7 years after he died. I am always on the look out for the last book I need to complete my collection of  his 11 novels. However, while resting my eyes I watched a goose take a running “swan” dive into the pond and do a flip under water and come up appearing to be totally refreshed. As the goose preened his feathers I remembered a story I’d written last winter on a cold and sunny day, about 40 degrees colder than today, inspired by the geese and ducks bathing and preening in the cold water. I hope you enjoy.

Billy and the Bath

Billy is a sad 5 years old today. He has a cold and had to stay home from school (kindergarten). Colds are boring. Mom says it is too cold to play outside especially with a cold. He knew it was cold because there was ice on the pond behind the house and mom also said that with the wind blowing it was almost zero!

He could tell just by looking at the surface of the half frozen over pond. He shivered. But, the sun was shining and the glimmer of the pond gave hope that it might warm up enough to go out. As he looked out the window with despair he noticed the geese, at least 200 of them, on the other bank of the pond sunning themselves and some even swimming on the unfrozen part of the pond.  He remembers seeing them earlier when they flew in and some even tried to skate on the frozen part of the pond.

He watched in amazement as some of the geese were diving in the cold water. Some even going completely under and staying for a while it seemed. Billy could not understand how they could be getting wet when it was so very cold. It was almost like they were bathing.

Billy did not like baths. Billy really did not like baths. Billy did not like baths so much that he sometimes tried to hide from his Mom and Dad when they said, “Bath time”.

Billy ran to his mother and asked how could the geese be getting wet on such a cold day and seemed to enjoy it? She was busy cleaning the kitchen after her world famous pancake breakfast that Billy had enjoyed so much. But, she said, “Let’s go Google it”. And off they went to the computer. What did Google say?

Geese along with many other birds need/must preen their feathers every day to stay healthy, warm, and dry, especially if they spend a lot of time on the water. The bathing helps to remove the dirt and parasites and the preening resets the feather barbs.  Most birds, especially water birds like geese coat their feathers with protective oil, as a water proofing, they get from their Uropygial gland. Besides the need for cleaning and preening to stay healthy the geese seemed to really enjoy taking a bath.

Imagine that!

Wow thought Billy, so many new words. What do they mean he ask his Mom. “Well”, she said,” maybe you should learn about the dictionary”. Dictionary! Another new word to learn. So Billy’s Mom got the large red book from the book case and sat down with him and she started to show him how the “book of words” Dictionary works.  Billy was amazed at all the words in the book, words and words that he had never heard or seen. His Mom showed him how to read the definitions (another new word) of the new words.  She told him that as her grew older the dictionary would become a real friend as he learned to read harder and harder books. They looked up the words they had read about the geese on Google and this is what they learned.

“Barb” a sharp point sticking out backwards like a fish hook.

“Parasites” an animal that lives on another animal, usually with harmful effects.

“Preening”   to clean and trim (the feathers) with the beak.

“Protective”  to cover or shield from danger or harm.

“Uropygial Gland” or also called the preen gland or oil gland that produces an oily substance that the birds , using their beaks, coat their feathers to protect them from water and parasites.

They also learned from Google that some birds do not have “oil glands” and the clean their feathers by taking dust baths.

How lucky could you get!

But, Billy learned that taking baths was important for birds to stay not only clean but healthy.  Maybe he thought that is why Mom and Dan want him to take so many baths. So the rest of the day was spent what any other 5 year old would do. Play and explore and the dreaded nap. It was soon time for Dad to come home. He is a police man and he work very hard protecting us from the bad guys.

They sat down for supper and after Dad said the blessing for all the wonderful thing in our lives they began to eat Billy’s favorite, Mac and cheese. While they ate Mom and Dad talked about their day and what they had done and who they had seen and talked to. Finally it was time for the question that all Dads ask their kids every day. “Billy what did you learn today?” he ask with a smile.

Well, I learned lots today! Did you know that geese take baths and they clean and preen each of their feathers and oil them to get rid of parasites and water proof them.  And you know what else they really seem to enjoy taking a bath! I also learned about a special book. It’s a book of words call a dic- dict- dictionary. Mom showed me how it tell all about words I’ve never heard of. Dad was greatly impressed as Billy continued to tell of the day’s events.

Soon supper was over and they family settled down for the evening. Before long the dreaded announcement came. Bath time! Billy sat there watching TV and reluctantly stood up to start the dreaded march to the bathroom. Mom was running the water and Billy thought as he undressed that he was sure glad he was not a goose. Imagine getting into that cold pond! Gee, I sure am luck to be a boy!

Into the warm water he went and started to soap up and wash his face and body. He was sure lucky he did not have to preen his feathers and look for parasites. How much fun would that be? Maybe taking a bath was not so bad after all. It sure does make you feel better!

Pajamas on and kisses goodnight he said his prayers and crawled into the nice warm bed. As he nodded to sleep he thought, it is really nice not to be a goose!


April 14, 2015 — Leave a comment

The other day someone posted a photo of the Stop & Shop grocery store in Whiteland. There were two of these stores – the second on Madison Avenue north of the Manual High School in Indianapolis. My folks shopped there a couple of times, but they were Standard Grocery patrons. Standard what? Standard Grocery and A&P Grocery stores have been gone for a really long time.

The thing that caught my eye and started the old brain churning was the phone number. Ke-5-7577. Ke what did that stand for? Ah I remember Kellogg. All the phone numbers started with two letters. Do you remember?

60+ years ago I remember my great-grandparent’s hand-crank phone on the wall by the side door. I think that was the FlatRock or maybe it was the Cave exchange in Shelby County. When I was a kid in Greenwood we had a  party line and our number was 78. It was really neat. It was a 5 party line. You picked up the phone and listened to see if anyone was talking and if there was no one on the line the Operator would ask, “Number please”.

It was about 1956 or 7 when Greenwood got dial phones. Our number was TU 1-4004 and it was a private line.  We had come of age. Tucker 1-4004. These prefixes stayed around for a long time until area codes arrived. It must have been too difficult or not enough names to go around because the phone companies went to strictly numbers.

It has been a long time and my memory of trivial things is not as sharp as it once was, thank goodness for Google. So below, based on my memory and Google searches, is a list of some of the old exchange names. I hope they bring back fond memories and a few smiles.

My dad worked at the Midwest Feed Store on South Harding St. in Indianapolis and the number there was Me2-3284 and with that I start the list.

Me=Melrose     Indianapolis

ST=State  Indianapolis

Li=Liberty Indianapolis

At=Atwater        Indianapolis

Wa=Walnut        Indianapolis

Cl=Clifford           Indianapolis

Fl=Fleetwood    Indianapolis

Ch=Cherry          Indianapolis

Be=Belmont       Speedway

Ul=Ulrich             Camby

DI=Dixon             Martinsville

Ve=Vernon        Mooresville

Ke=Kellogg         Whiteland

Tu=Tucker           Greenwood

Re=Redfield       Franklin

Ex=Express         Shelbyville

Te=Terrace         Plainfield

Dr=Drexel           Columbus

Ox=Oxford         Monrovia

Ly=Lyceum         Trafalgar

If I have made any mistakes we can blame it on Google. Maybe we have a  few new Jeopardy answers?

Thanks for listening.

Richard Isley