Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The New Furor

What the heck is Donald Trump screeching about now? Mike says The Donald's current hissy fit is over not being selected as Time magazine's Person of the Year, even though his poll numbers are, by his own estimate, "Yooge! Just blowing everyone out of the water!"

Hello-o, am I missing something? Of course he's Person of the Year. I could swear I saw his cover photo only this morning.

Ah, yes--here it is:


Donald, why don't you do us all a favor for once and just shut the front door?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Another Candle on the Chicken Pot Pie

Mike turns . . . a whole bunch today. Seventy-three, I think. But as he says, he's in pretty good shape for the shape he's in. He can still make it down to the footbridge and back, as we did this morning. And his mind is still as sharp as a doorknob.

Case in point: On our walk a couple of days ago, we spied this red-shouldered hawk perched on top of a basketball backboard in someone's driveway. M took out his camera and got a nice close-up of him. Then he made a joke that was so subtle I had to do some online research before I understood it. What he said was, "Do you suppose he's one of those Atlanta Hawks?" (Google as necessary.)

Here's the bird:


As for birthday festivities, I believe relaxation is high on the list. In fact, if I know M, it is the list! And I'm sure he'll be forgoing the traditional cake in favor of chicken pot pie:



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Upward-Facing Dog

I've taken up yoga! I wish I'd discovered it earlier in my life. It enhances my serenity like you wouldn't believe.

My favorite yoga position is called "upward-facing dog." Sometimes I do it on my bed in the living room.



 But other times I prefer just the rug.


When I practice yoga outside in the grass, it helps me stay grounded. (hee hee)


Whew! A little of that grounding goes a long way, so I have to take frequent breaks.


One nice thing about a yoga workout is that it always makes me smile.


Have you smiled today?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Where are they now? Chapter 23 . . .

What happened to Dennis the Menace when he grew up?


He changed his name and became an immigrant-bashing carnival barker.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Listen up, jarheads!

Happy 240th birthday.

Semper Fi . . . and a great big Ooh-rah!

From everyone's favorite Devil Dog,
Corporal Buddy, USMC


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Someone in this old family picture has a birthday today.

Could it be . . . Auntie Julia?

If you guessed the little girl standing in front of her mom (my Grandma Grace) and granny (Grandma Grace's mom), you're right. The other person in the photo is Mike, and they're all enjoying an outing at Jacksonville Beach. (It looks like going to the beach in 1948 was a dress-up occasion. I'm glad, since that makes it less likely they'd try to go into the water. Don't get me started about that kind of foolishness.)

Anyhoo, I thought I'd stick this on the blog to help me give a shout-out to a very special lady on her special day: Happy birthday, Auntie Julia!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Someone's channeling me and my guy.

I love this TV ad--not for the car, but for the dog and his human. I think the folks that made it up have been watching me and Mike. (Well--except for the swimming pool and beach scenes, which my longtime readers know I can do without!)

Pretty nice sentiments, huh?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hitler's Hiding Place

Happy Throwback Thursday! We've got something really throwback-y for ya today:

Mike says that when he was a little jug-eared kid in the mid-1940s, there was a statue just like this one on the mantle above his family's living room fireplace:

He naturally wondered who the man in the statue was and why anyone would want to stick pins in his butt. Somebody, M thinks it might have been his Grandma Boyd, told him it was a very bad man named Hitler, and that he deserved every one of those pins.

M decided to err on the side of caution: Where, he asked, was the real version of this very bad man? The answer was that nobody knew, since he hadn't been seen in a long time. He was hiding somewhere. M has since realized that this conversation must have taken place in the spring of 1945, when Hitler was, in fact, holed up in his bunker in Berlin, Germany.

But two-and-a-half-year-old minds do not think globally. They think in terms of what they can see. M rushed upstairs to his Uncle Benny and Aunt Mimi's bedroom and looked out the window. There in the distance, across the side yard, stood a large outdoor billboard. I'll bet he's behind that sign, thought Mike. If I wanted to hide, that's where I'd go.

The idea of a very bad man, regardless of his name, hiding at the edge of his own side yard haunted young M for some time, but eventually he stopped worrying about it. He does not, however, recall ever going over to look behind that billboard.

Here's a snapshot of M taken in April 1945 while he was in front of his house, waiting for his ride to nursery school. (Today I think they call that pre-K). If you look behind his right shoulder, you can see Hitler's hiding place:


About a half-century later, when Mike recounted this no-longer-scary event to some of the older folks in that household, no one could even recall having the pincushion statue of Hitler, let alone what became of it. By then it was the age of the internet. M went online and found one of the gee-gaws for sale for about $165. When he showed them a printout, his relatives began to feel that if they'd ever had one, maybe they should have hung onto it.

Today we found a more recent webpage with an interesting story about those little statues. Over the years they've sold for upwards of $430, though today the prices seem to have softened. One was listed last year on ebay at $200, but ended up going for $150. Still, when you realize they originally cost as little as 69 cents, it's enough to make you think twice about throwing out junk.

Just saying . . .

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Beaches? I don't need no stinkin' beaches!

Regular readers of this blog may recall that I do not like beaches. They are dangerous.

See what I mean?


But don't just take my word for it. I'll bet these people would rather be someplace else, too:


I rest my case.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Teach a boy to fish . . .

. . . and presto! You have a picture that's perfect for posting years later on a Throwback Thursday.

Because that's just what little Mike Taylor, M and J's grandson, did with his very first catch--he threw it back!


Me--I'da scarfed that sucker down in a big hurry. But I wasn't there. (M was. In fact, he got to record the event for posterity.)

That adventure took place long ago in the historical period known as "Yore." Today little Mike Taylor is an Air Force second lieutenant pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy through Baylor University at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas. And he ain't so little anymore. For proof, here's how he spends his free time these days (but without the beard):


Yes, that's 578.7 pounds he's picking up. Ouch! Physical therapist, heal thyself!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I love the flower girl . . .

. . . who turned 20 just today.

Isn't it amazing how time slips away?



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mike and I will see you in the funny papers.

This morning's comics brought something of Mike to the table and also a glimmer of yours truly.

While I like to write blog posts because they're mostly short (which matches my attention span), M goes for a longer form called the unfinished novel. Today's "Dilbert" gives us a peek at how his mind works:

Dilbert - 08-11-2015

And in "The Family Circus," I could play this kid in the movie:

The Family Circus - 08-11-2015

Don't just run your mouth, boy. Jump on up there!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Who's the mysterious stranger? - TBT

Happy Throwback Thursday! It's pop quiz time!

Twenty-five years ago last January, Mike was introduced to a young American soldier in Germany. Later that month they decided to go on a weekend skiing trip to Andermatt, Switzerland. (M would like to interject a cautionary note: If it's been years since you were on the slopes, do not try to re-learn to ski in the Swiss Alps. You will find it very humbling--but that's another story.) On the way back up to Freiburg, they stopped in the city of Luzern, Switzerland, where M took this picture of the young man on a famous footbridge called the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge). Mike calls the picture "The Mysterious Stranger," and it's one of his favorites. Can you guess who the "stranger" is?

Fred Taylor,  Kapellbrücke, Luzern

You'll probably do better with this if you are a member of our tribe. That's because five months later, back in the U. S. of A., the young man joined our family when he married the gal who would someday become my adoptive sister Bonnie. If you're still in the dark, he's my adoptive brother-in-law, Fred! Here's a pic of Bonnie and Fred on that occasion:

Bonnie & Fred Taylor, Stetson University, June 1990

Oops--that reminds me: I think I forgot to wish B & F a Happy Silver Anniversary last month, so I will correct that right now! BTW, do people often take medieval weapons to weddings? I've heard of the occasional shotgun, but swords?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Save the trees--please!

Mike is always going on about the terrible things that will happen if people don't stop wasting the earth's precious resources. Right now the destruction of forests is high on his hitlist. He fusses about the cutting down of trees to make paper that mostly ends up as junk mail, giftwrap, grocery store coupons, and political posters. He says it's better to plant trees than to destroy them, as their leaves take in huge amounts of a harmful greenhouse gas called carbon dioxide, while giving off life-sustaining oxygen for us to breath.

I'm with him a hundred percent on this. In fact, here is an even worse consequence of a tree shortage that he seems to have overlooked:


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Our Lost Cousin Leonore - TBT

Mike's mom--my Grandma Grace--had a first cousin she never knew. Her name was Leonore Miller. M says "first cousin" means they each had a parent who were siblings. ("Siblings" are sort of like litter mates, only usually not with the same birthday.) He also says that since Grandma and Leonore are first cousins, he and Leonore are "first cousins once removed." The reason Grandma never knew her is that Leonore died in 1919, five years before Grandma was born.

Let me try to give you the executive summary on this: M's mother's mom was Gladys Neeld McElvy, who was born in August of 1899. She is the baby in this 1901 Neeld Family portrait:


Leonore's mom was Katie Neeld Miller, the family's second-oldest child, who was born in March of 1880--over 19 years before Gladys. She's in the top-right of the picture. Katie's only child, Leonore was born in March of 1902, so she was less than three years younger than her Aunt Gladys. The two girls grew up to be best friends and didn't really think of each other as aunt and niece.

On October 27, 1919, when she was a 17-year-old high school senior, Leonore died after a short illness. Gladys was devastated. When her first baby (Grandma Grace's sister) was born in 1921, she named her Evelyn Leonore McElvy. For a few decades there were many family members who loved and remembered Leonore, but by now they, too, have all died. None of the Neelds born after 1919 ever knew her, and sadder still, most of the ones living today have never even heard of her. The purpose of today's "Throwback Thursday" post is to try to remedy that situation a little bit.

When M's mom died, one of the treasures he found among her belongings was Aunt Kate's old photograph album. Grandma Grace had gotten it from her mom, Gladys, who had gotten it from her sister, Leonore's mother. The album is very beat up and falling apart, and many of the people in the pictures are not identified. But some of the ones of Leonore are identified--including one of her and her BFF, Gladys, lying in the grass beside the Millers' house at 802 West Henry Avenue, in Tampa (see below).

Mike also found Leonore's obituary online. It was published in a St. Petersburg newspaper, The Evening Independent, on October 29, 1919. We present that obituary here, along with several of the album photos, as a tribute to our "lost Leonore."

Note: Click on the picture to enlarge it. Then to make it even bigger (assuming you're using a PC): (1) right-click on the preview enlargement, (2) select "View Image," and (3) left-click the resulting picture. (Or you can just put on your glasses.)


Two minor points: First, the obituary refers to Leonore as a student at "the Tampa high school." Technically that school--the only high school in Hillsborough County in 1919--was called Hillsborough County High School until 1927, when H. B. Plant High School opened. The north Tampa school was then renamed Hillsborough High School. Second, the obit says the cause of Leonore's death was typhoid fever. But Grandma Grace told Mike she thought it could instead have been part of the Spanish flu pandemic, which ran from early 1918 to the end of 1920.

On Tuesday, October 28th, Leonore was buried in Royal Palm Cemetery South, St. Petersburg. Here is her grave:


When I learned all these details about Leonore, it made me think back to the big Neeld Family portrait we featured twice last month (April 23rd and April 30th ). Something about it struck me as odd at the time, and now I know what it was. Dogs can tell a great deal about people by watching their "body language" and paying special attention to their eyes. Here is that picture again:


As you might recall, it was taken by Burgert Brothers, the well-known Tampa archivists, on Saturday, May 24, 1924. The mother and baby in the very center are Gladys Neeld McElvy and 11-week-old Elsie Grace McElvy (M's mom). Notice that all of the grown-ups and most of the kids are looking at or toward the camera. A few are even trying to smile. (M says that smiling in family portraits wasn't too popular until about the middle of the century.) Next, focus on the man and woman standing just behind Gladys and baby Grace. They are Leonore's parents, Max and Katie Neeld Miller. The house in the background is their home on West Henry. It is the same house where their beloved only child died five years before. Now look closely at Uncle Max:


Any dog will back me up on this: Uncle Max's crossed arms and bowed head speak volumes. They say that despite the joy of being in the company of 37 family members, all gathered to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary, he's still grieving for the one who isn't there.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Didn't we just have a Memorial Day?

Well, let's have another!


Happy birthday, Grandpa!
I still miss you, Grandma!


Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

I borrowed this from my Memorial Day post of 2010. What the heck--it was a good idea then, and it's just as good in 2015:

I think we should take a few minutes today to honor our brave service men and women who throughout the years have died defending our freedoms. What awesome sacrifice! While we're at it we should also appreciate the millions more who fought for us but were lucky enough not to die. Mike found this video of the United States Army Field Band and Soldiers' Chorus performing their famous "Armed Forces Salute" at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand several years ago. In it they play and sing the official songs of each service branch: "Anchors Aweigh" for the Navy, "Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder" for the Air Force, "The Marines' Hymn" for the Marine Corps, "Semper Paratus" for the Coast Guard, and "The Army Goes Rolling Along" for the Army. During each song, audience members with a personal connection to that branch stand up and receive a salute from the band's commander. It's a pretty moving piece. I hope you enjoy it and that it brings to mind loved ones of yours who have served in the United States armed forces--and especially those who laid down their lives. (For the full-format version at YouTube, go here.)

PS - Mike says that video has special significance for him because he grew up being a "Field Band groupie," attending many of their concerts over the years. M's dad--my Grandpa George--fought in World War II with the 3rd Infantry Division and in the late 1940s was a member of the Army Field Band (then known as the Army Ground Forces Band) at Ft. Meade, MD. He played clarinet and was also the band's first drum major. Here is a poster advertising one of the band's 1947 concerts. The picture in it was made from a photograph of Grandpa George.


Makes a pup proud!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Miscellaneous confessions . . .

I keep my cat in a box for you.

M says if I had an Indian name, it would be Sleeps With Cats.

Honestly, what is it with me and cats?

May a lizard never poop on your stone frog.

Seen around the neighborhood:

Just follow the concrete road.

May all your lions be dandy.

Bodaceous Oak!

Mmmm . . . 'shrooms!

And suddenly, back home . . .

M trained this dragonfly to sit on his hand.

And on this pretty flower.

And even on the handle of a watering can!

How do you suppose he did that? He can't even get me to sit on the ground unless I was gonna do it anyway.

Oh, well, that's all I've got today.

Laters . . .

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Everybody into the TARDIS, quick!


It's Throwback Thursday again, and we have another appointment on Memory Lane.

First we're going back to 1900(-ish). Mike's unclear about the exact year, but the baby in this picture, seated on her mama's lap, is Gladys Neeld, who was Grandma Grace's mother (M's grandmother). Gladys was born August 24, 1899, and in the picture she looks about two years old. So maybe we're talking around 1901. The lady holding Gladys is Mary Emma Neeld, who went by Emma. Seated to her left is Gladys's youngest older brother, Paul Sawrie Neeld. (Mike's "Granny" was the youngest of the seven Neeld siblings. Originally there was an eighth child, Robert Jackson Neeld, who was born in 1890, but who died in 1892.) And to Paul's left is the family's daddy, William Pingree Neeld.


Standing behind them are Hattie Neeld Wilson (the eldest), Ben Edward Neeld, Ernest Downey Neeld, Botsford Chandler Neeld, and Katie Neeld Miller. Many years after this photograph was taken, Mike would have the pleasure of knowing all of these Neeld children except Ernest, who died in 1928. M doesn't know where this picture was taken, but judging from the backdrop it seems to be a studio portrait.

Now--here's where it's nice when families stick together for a while. Take a look at this next picture:


These are the very same people that were in the first photo, and arranged in the very same order. (Plus that ghosty apparition holding what looks like a push-broom, growing out of Uncle Ben's head!) This one was almost certainly taken May 24, 1924, and definitely at 802 West Henry Avenue, in Tampa. If there's something familiar looking about it, let's have another peek at a bigger family portrait we featured last Throwback Thursday:


Notice that the people in the (now) middle photo are wearing the exact same clothes as in this mega-portrait by Burgert Brothers (except that William P. Neeld has found his old straw "boater" hat to re-create the first picture.)

Since our post of April 23rd, M has discovered some interesting things about the "big" picture: First, it was, in fact, taken on May 24, 1924. Second, that date was a Saturday, which may help account for all 38 of those people being able to meet at that address at the same time. And third, five days before that--on Monday, May 19, 1924--William and Emma Neeld celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. We're thinking that most of the celebration was postponed until the following weekend.

Another thing we were pleased to learn (and this helped us know the actual date of the big portrait) is that while the one we posted came from our family archives, the original, complete with description, can be found in the Burgert Brothers Photographic Collection held by the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

Finally, to see what the house at 802 West Henry Avenue looks like today, just hop back in the TARDIS and follow this link.