Is Winter Over?

Jonathan Creek 04-01-2014_6676I rolled into Cape Girardeau not long after dark-thirty, got the van unloaded and the computer gear set up.

On the way up, I stopped for a 17-minute nap in the first Kentucky rest area on I-24. When I got out to stretch my legs, I noticed that the trees were blooming and some flowers were popping out. Birds were chirping and some bees were making their rounds. Does that mean I dodged winter?

Kentucky photo gallery

Boaters and fisherfolks were taking advantage of the super weather in the Land Between the Lakes area. All of us who hold our breath going over this bridge will be happy to see this construction projection finished. And, finally, I just had to pull off the road near Wickliffe to capture the sun setting over the Mississippi River bridge near Cairo. Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery.


Grandfather’s Tackle Box

Ken Steinhoff tackle box 03-14-2014I was on hold with Comcast when I heard a shriek in the other room. Not a happy, “Look, Publisher’s Clearing House just pulled up the driveway!” shriek. It was a “You’d better get in here right now!” shriek.

Wife Lila was supporting a shelf end with one hand and attempting to lighten the load on the shelf with the other. Paper products – paper towels and toilet paper – were flying everywhere. It seems that one of the plastic supports that held up the shelf since the middle 80s got tired and decided to take a nap while she was putting supplies away.

Of course, THAT would be the time the Comcast rep I was waiting for would come on the line.

After the shelf was repaired and Comcast dealt with (a pleasant experience, surprisingly), it was time to reload the errant shelf. Of course, that involved looking up at the shelf above it. “What’s all that stuff? Can we get rid of it?”

One of the items was an old, old blue tackle box with, as you can see, a whole forest of dust bunnies living on top of it. [Editor’s Note: I didn’t know what a group of rabbits was called. For future reference they are, “a colony, warren, nest, herd (domestic only), litter (young); specific to hares…A down, husk. Since I have learned a new factoid, that means I qualify for a nap.]

I think it was my grandfather’s

Ken Steinhoff tackle box 03-14-2014When I was a kid, I lived to fish. Every chance I could get, I’d head down to 3-Mile Creek with this tackle box hooked though one handlebar and my fishing rod and reel cradled across it. My name is written in red plastic label tape, but I think Dad and I both used it at various times. It has to be at least 75 years old, and I’m pretty sure it originally belonged to Mother’s Dad – my grandfather – Roy E. Welch.

I recognize some of the lures as mine, but I also see some of Dad’s stuff in there.

I really liked fly fishing. There was something about dropping a fly exactly where you wanted it to go that satisfied me. Plus, there was never any danger of me catching anything big, so a fly rod made even small fish fun.

Truth be told, my interest in fishing ended when the object of my quest got within hand-holding distance. I’d have been perfectly happy if the slimy thing made a spectacular jump and threw the hook back at me at the last second. I just went back to look at an earlier story I did about fishing. Nope, my views haven’t changed much.

You might notice that all my lures and flies are small. That’s because even they were larger than most of the fish I’d catch. Still, I liked artificial bait rather than live bait: you didn’t have to dig it, catch it, dissect it or listen to rubber worms scream when you threaded them on the hook. Besides, I thought it was an act of positive Darwinism to weed out the fish dumb enough to fall for fake food.

Panatomic-X film can

Ken Steinhoff tackle box 03-14-2014I bought film in 100-foot rolls and cut it into 30-exposure rolls in my basement darkroom. Those empty film cans like this one that contained Panatomic-X were put to a multitude of uses around the house. This one found a home in my tackle box.

When I first moved to Florida, I’d sneak out west of town on a slow day and fish some of the pounds and lakes in the wilderness near the city. I could turn up the scanner and the company two-way radio and pretend to be working while casting, mostly fruitlessly. The few times I caught anything, I’d toss it back. The last thing I wanted to happen was have to roll on spot news and forget I had a fish under the seat.

Sons Matt and Adam haven’t shown any real interest in fishing. I’ll offer my tackle box to them, and if they don’t want it, I’ll carry it back to Cape to let Brothers Mark and David divvy it up. Mark likes collecting old objects that he turns into art, and David is an avid fishermen. Maybe David can catch stuff with lures that are half a century or more old. I certainly didn’t use up all the luck in them.

You can click on the photos to make them larger if you want to see what I fished with.

Another Valentine’s Day

Ken and Lila Steinhoff picnic somewhere in Southern Ohio c 1970When I was living in Cape, I was a sucker for whatever new toy Nowell’s Camera would get in. I thought this half-frame camera was kind of neat. It was called a half-frame because it took two photos on a normal 35-mm frame of film.

The good news is that you got twice as many photos per roll as a normal 35mm camera; the bad news is that you also got half the quality. Because of that, I hardly ever used it. If I was going to shoot something I cared about, I’d just as soon use a “real” camera.

Still, it was good for goofing around with. Based on other photos taken when my muttonchops were in that state of growth, I’d say this picnic was about 1970ish. It was chilly enough that I was wearing an old corduroy jacket I picked up at a charity sale held every year when the students left stuff behind in the dorms. It wasn’t all that warm, but I wore it everywhere.

Wife Lila is cute as bug

Ken and Lila Steinhoff picnic somewhere in Southern Ohio c 1970She’s warm enough in her sweater that she can leave her jacket open. Click on the photos to make them larger.

Fishing for fun, not food

Ken and Lila Steinhoff picnic somewhere in Southern Ohio c 1970

Buddy, boss and fellow Athens Messenger photographer Bob Rogers lived out in the country (you didn’t have to go very far out of Athens proper to be in the country) in a house with a pond in the back. I’d keep my fishing equipment on his porch and sneak off on a slow day to see if anything was biting. I’d park close enough to the pond to hear the police calls on my scanner so I could pretend to be working. If I got lucky, I’d leave the string in the water and a note telling Bob he was having fish for supper. This looks too big to have been Bob’s pond.

I’m wearing a pair of  “fur”-like lined boots that I probably bought for all of  about $12. I doubt that any sheep or other animals were harmed in the making of the footwear lining. They WERE warm and relatively waterproof. I wore them until the smell was so bad that flowers would wilt when I walked by. Plastic flowers.

How do you recycle something like that? Easy, I gave them to Brother David, who wore them for who knows how many years out in Oklahoma. If I ever read some scientific study that attributes Oklahomans’  lack of smell sensitivity to some kind of genetic anomaly, I’m going to have to speak up and tell ’em about David and my boots.

Beagle bait

Ken and Lila Steinhoff picnic somewhere in Southern Ohio c 1970If there’s a beagle anywhere within miles of Wife Lila, they’ll make a beeline for her.

Don’t know what we had

Ken and Lila Steinhoff picnic somewhere in Southern Ohio c 1970I tried to blow up the picture to see what we had on our picnic, but I couldn’t make out much. It looks like we had a glass bottle containing some kind of soft drink. I suspect that the beagle wound up with as much of our lunch as we did.

Best of cars, worst of cars

Ken and Lila Steinhoff picnic somewhere in Southern Ohio c 1970

I bought this 1969 Volkswagen Squareback before I even tried to drive a stick shift. Lila had the task of teaching me how to shift gears on Athens’ steep hills. It was a long time before I could get away from having to keep one hand on the wheel and one hand on the emergency brake when I got stopped at the top of a hill. I learned very quickly where Bill Cosby’s “Go Around, Idiot, Go Around” bit came from.

It was a lemon from the time I drove it brand-new off the dealer’s lot and had it run out of gas two blocks away. We took it on a trip to Mexico. Not far out of Athens, I started smelling gas. Stopped at a service station where I was told the gas line had come loose in the back of the car (where the engine lived). Got down the road a bit and smelled gas again. The gas line was pulled loose from the tank (which was in the front of the car). Somebody had skimped on the amount of hose they had installed.

Air-cooled engine wasn’t

One night coming back from Columbus, we stopped for one of the red lights in Logan. The tiny town might not have had much, but it had lots of traffic lights, all synched to make you stop for each one. Apparently the brakes had been adjusted too tightly and were dragging. So long as I was cranking at highway speeds, the wheels would turn. When I slowed down for the light, they locked up solid. We had to wait by the side of the road for about an hour until they cooled down enough to release.

The biggest and baddest defect was that the air louvers that were designed to blow air back through the air-cooled engine were installed backward, causing them to suck instead of blow. I ended up selling the car with the engine disassembled and dwelling in a cardboard box.

It was a fun car to drive, though, and it was a nice small stationwagon-type vehicle. Too bad it was mechanically unsound and poorly put together. I’ll never forget those VW heaters. They depending on engine revs to blow the hot air. If you were in fourth to make time, your engine was turning over too slowly to produce heat. If you dropped down to third for heat, then you were over-revving the engine. You had to accept the fact that your carpet would turn to ice in about November and stay frozen until after the spring thaw.

A Valentine’s Day apart

I’m in Missouri and she’s in Florida for this Valentine’s Day. That doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about her. In my mind, she’s still the pig-tailed girl on the picnic. Then I look in the mirror and think, “What’s that cute thing doing hanging out with an old coot?”



Hurricane Isaac Flows By

I went on a bike ride last night. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on two wheels, so my legs were mush. About two-thirds of the way home, my calves started talking to me. “If you don’t stop what you’re doing, we’re going to give you a hurtin.”(Click on any photo to make it larger.)

Water spotted with foam

I listened to my calves and strolled out to the boardwalk that runs along the C51 canal between Lake Worth and West Palm Beach. It drains a substantial portion of southeast Florida between Lake Okeechobee and the ocean, including the water that has had my kid’s house an island west of town.

Not catching much

I didn’t see much activity of a catching variety going on. This couple said a guy closer to the spillway hauled in a good-sized bass, but they hadn’t caught anything yet.