On Cats, Guitars, Wood, Trains & Fruitcake!

A few days ago, a wonderful ‘net friend tagged me on Facebook and asked me to share five things about myself. You can find out more about me any time on my very appropriately named “About Me” page, if you like.  Just click on the link at the top of the right column.

Despite never wanting to be “the story” or make it about me personally here, she asked so nicely and is such a great friend that I figured– “why not?”  It’s all about getting acquainted, after all.  Our “neighborhood” seems to grow larger every day with modern technology.  So, here is a little more with some other things you won’t find on the About.Me page:

I am an Eagle Scout from years ago, was making fires without matches long before it became a survival craze on television, learned to tie my own flies and fishing lures as a kid, and love the outdoors, nature, plants and creatures big and small. But Cats are my Kryptonite.

Hyper allergic to them, I contracted pneumonia twice in six months picking up cat dander from co-workers’ clothing, and a lung infection attending a wedding reception at a home after three cats had been removed from the house ahead of time for the party. Don’t even have to see them. The latest incident almost put me in a hospital a few years ago with allergic asthma after being in a home for less than ten minutes, not knowing there was a cat in the basement. Trust me, breathing is not overrated.

I have nothing against cats, but apparently the feeling is not reciprocated. Perhaps they hold a grudge from a prior life. They do have nine after all. That’s a lot of memories.

Cat in a Plant

Cat in a Plant

I started taking guitar lessons at age 11 and then started teaching with my first job at 14.  I worked full time nights and weekends in a music store as teacher and then assistant manager all thru high school. I started as a guitar instructor, then taught bass guitar, mandolin and banjo as the need arose and the owner insisted, sometimes teaching myself two lessons ahead of my students.  I even filled in a few emergency piano lessons when our retired piano teacher had a medical emergency.  No pressure. My specialty became teaching very young children, adults (oddly enough), and children with learning disabilities. You know me, big on patience and encouragement. Especially those adults!

I put myself thru college with a combination of scholarships, working full time teaching music, delivering pianos and helping run the store, and playing music with various bands on weekend nights, burning the candle at both ends between homework and job work. Along with two hot summers working in a non-air-conditioned factory. Playing music was more enjoyable than the hot factory, but unfortunately paid a lot less.

And an interesting aside, despite what customers represent when ordering, from my experience no one ever has a piano delivered to the ground floor. Ever. “Yeah, no problems. Just the two of you can handle it. Easy. Just right off the truck and in the door.” Curiously, the “and three flights up” or “down in the basement with a turn” is never mentioned, so an extra helper or two could be brought along.  Flights of stairs.  Never mentioned.  Ever.

Piano Mover 1

With all the things I make and do, Wood Carving and Sculpture is my favorite activity, although not doing it right now following recent moves. I love the smells and aromas of different exotic woods, especially mahogany, walnut and cherry. I am not into entering award competitions or contests at all, but won Second Place in a juried art show several years ago with a “Modern Torso in American Black Walnut” sculpture when a friend entered my piece to support their arts group show. I think the piece is still around. Somewhere. Maybe.

Wood Sculpture- Spirit Bear and Woman Forest Wood Sculpture by ShapingSpirit

Wood Sculpture- Spirit Bear and Woman Forest Wood Sculpture by ShapingSpirit

I am a lover of all things “Trains”, especially the steam era, and an avid model railroader since early childhood, making my own buildings, scenery, and rolling stock (train cars for the lay person) by hand. I once built a layout with mountains, tunnels, and a real working waterfall by converting a garden fountain. Oddly enough, real water doesn’t look “real” in a display so won’t be doing that again, but the waterfall part was pretty cool. I started off at age 5 with Lionel and Marx trains which I still have, and moved on to my preferred gauge of HO because I could do more in less space.

Model Trains- Pete Smith Sn3 Layout

Model Trains- Pete Smith Sn3 Layout

I am not ashamed to admit it—I love Fruitcake. No fruitcake has ever been in danger of being used as a doorstop in my home. Pound for pound, the most valuable thing ever made by the hands of man. Or mothers. The fruitier and nuttier the better. My Mother made the best fruitcakes I have ever had and I was raised on bourbon and rum soaked fruitcakes all my life. My idea of the ideal Christmas present, for me, is a Fruitcake. Or two. They say we become what we eat. I am open to the possibility of becoming nutty as a fruitcake. A risk I am willing to take. I love Fruitcake. Deal with it.

Nutty as a Fruitcake!

Nutty as a Fruitcake!

So that’s five things. It’s a shame I was limited to five, because number six was really juicy, and a bit salacious. Perhaps for another list and time. However, here are a couple small bonus points if you like—

Long before Willie Nelson sang about it, my heroes have always been Cowboys,  my close friend Little Red Bear is a very talkative bear who lives and relates his adventures in my head, and I was attacked by a herd of chiggers on a walk yesterday afternoon and the itching is driving me crazy! And as you probably have guessed by now, most days it’s a pretty short drive over easy ground.

The Little Cowpoke-- The "Cisco Kid's Mini-Me"

The Little Cowpoke– The “Cisco Kid’s Mini-Me”

And yes, the little Cowpoke in the picture is yours truly, the “Cisco Kid’s Mini-Me” from another time and territory. Saddle up, Cowboy.

Thanks as always for the visit and reading.  See ya ‘round the campfire!    Watch out for the Giant Chipmunks!    We’ll bring the marshmallows. — Jim (and Red!)

Around the Campfire

Around the Campfire

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

 

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2 thoughts on “On Cats, Guitars, Wood, Trains & Fruitcake!

  1. Jim, I’m so happy to get to know you – a fellow fruitcake lover! I have been making my own at the holidays for over 40 years now and it’s my favourite holiday treat with coffee or tea. I only share it with people who love it as much as I do – and luckily for me, that’s not very many people at all!

    Wonderful blogs and looking forward to reading many more.

    Judith Plante

    Liked by 1 person

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