Poor Man’s Eclipse

My little astronomer at work in Harbert during the Great American Eclipse.

(Harbert, Michigan) No crowds, no 150-mile traffic jams, no fender benders, no running out of water, no hassles, and, alas—no totality on Monday, August 21, 2017 during what was being hyped as The Great American Eclipse (as if we invented the eclipse, right?).  We simply stayed home on Dune Road with the shadow box Natalie made from an empty five-pound box for blueberries and went out during the dimming of the day to watch the moon cover some 85 percent of the sun, using, of course, Natalie’s shadow box.  Also known as a camera obscura, the homemade device enabled us to watch an image of the eclipse that appeared on a piece of white paper inside the box.  Natalie, clever girl that she is, had cut out a pin hole for the sun and a viewing hole for us, and then we turned our backs on the eclipse and looked into the shadow box, its wonders to behold.  Oh, and our friends and neighbors Jeanne and Mike appeared at the height of our partiality, and let us look through their NASA-approved eclipse glasses.  They then headed down to the beach for a better look.  But we had shopping to do, so we stayed with Natalie’s shadow box for the remainder of the partiality. I tell ya, we know how to party here in Harbert. And when it was over, we were able to head on up Dune Road with absolutely no traffic jams.

This is about as dark as it got in Harbert during the Great American Eclipse.

Jacqui was careful not to look at the eclipse, but then she wasn’t all that worked up about the whole thing, either.

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I always visit my old friend Billy Pierce when I go to a White Sox game. Rest in peace, Billy.

Shadowing my old friend Billy Pierce.

When I was a boy growing up in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago, I had two friends named Billy: the boy across the street from our apartment who lived in an actual house, and White Sox lefty Walter William “Billy” Pierce.  The former broke my heart by moving away to the Quad Cities when his minister father took a new post there, and the latter only appeared to me when he took the mound at old Comiskey Park on 35th Street.  I did, however, meet Billy Pierce’s wife and children at the doctor’s office in South Shore.  I remember the nurse pointing and saying: “Those are Billy Pierce’s kids.”  I was in too much awe to say a word to them, and I think they were used to being pointed out. So we didn’t speak.  If we had, I would have told them that I idolized their dad.  Anyway, I loved the name Billy so much that when we moved to Beverly in 1956, I was given a Springer Spaniel and told to name him.  “Billy,” I said, without hesitation.  And Billy he was, and what a dog he was, because he reminded me with his steadfastness of my two friends with the exact same name.  Oh, so you know, Billy Pierce pitched for the White Sox from 1949 to 1961, during the formative years of my youth.  Even though I’m a righty, I still aspire to pitch like him.

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Fair Flowers

Looking back on last week’s Berrien County Youth Fair, I simply must mention these amazing dahlias.

A closer sniff with thee.

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“Local Trains” heart of Mumbai 

Armchair travel at its best.

Monika Sharma


Do you know why Mumbai is famous…??? Well, there are many reasons but I think it’s famous for three reasons

1. It’s a Film City of India

2. Famous Street food Vada pav

3. Local trains

Yes, local trains…. The Mumbai suburban railways is one of the busiest commuter train system in the world and the oldest railway system in the Asia which is built by British Government, every day 7.593 million people ride by 2,342 trains (so crowded). On 16th April, 1853 at 15:35, the first 14 coach train ran between Bori Bandar to Thane which took 1hour 25minute to complete 35 kilometer long journey with a one halt at Bhandup to refill the train’ water tank. Since 1991, it has been expended rapidly.

Why local is a heart of Mumbai..?? (Many reasons)

Mumbai railway station

Mumbai local trains still run on electric transmitted through overhead wires…

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Worth Repeating

Pope Frank’s at the Berrien County Youth Fair?!? Who knew?

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Flash Fiction

Leavin’ on the night train.

The Last Train to Slipsville

Flash Fiction

By Charles McKelvy

George settled in the aisle seat and couldn’t help but notice that the young man in the window seat was watching the ballgame on his device.

“Mind if I look over your shoulder?” George said. “I’m a big Sox fan, and—“

“I’m a big Cubs fan, and they’re tied at one a piece, and—here, let me put it on the drop-down so we can both watch and cheer for the Cubs.”

“You mean the Sox.”


“I’m Phil by the way.”

“And I’m George by the way. Seems we both have the same last name.”


“You know: by the way. Get it?”

“Now I do. Good one. Well, Mr. Cubs, enjoy watching my the Sox shellac your team.”

“In your dreams.”

The train rolled into motion, and, in no time flat, Phil and George were speeding through the inky Michigan darkness.

The Cubs scored.

The Sox failed to answer.

“Sorry, George,” Phil said.

“Yeah, well, they’ll come back. You just watch.”

“Hey, why don’t we watch in the club car over some cold beers? You can’t ride the train and watch baseball without some cold beers.”

George thought about it for a second or two and said: “No, you go, Phil. I’ll—“

“What?!? You don’t drink beer? Are you un-American?”

“No, it’s just—well, I’m taking the day off is all. Giving my liver a break.”

“What your liver really needs right now is a cold beer while you watch my Cubs trash your Sox. We’ve got a designated driver—Amtrak. Come on, George, live a little.”

George thought about it for a second or two and said: “All right, Phil. Why not?”

“Why not, indeed.”

And with that George followed Phil to the club car and ordered a bottle of one of the craft beers they had available, and, despite years of being told that it is the locomotive, not the caboose, that kills you, George drank that first beer, decided it tasted just fine after all those years, and ordered and second and then a third and then a fourth.

George, in fact, was just draining that fourth beer when the train slowed for his stop.

“Isn’t this where you get off?” George’s new best friend Phil asked.

“Yeah, but I’m having too much fun. I’ll ride all the way to Chicago and take the train back tomorrow. I’m retired, so it’s not like I have to punch the clock anymore.”

“But where will you stay? What about your wife? I thought you said she was going to meet you at the station.”

“I’ll deal with her later,” George said. “Right now it’s time to put a serious wager on this game. The loser buys a round for everybody in the club car.”

That sounded just swell to everybody in the club car, and the game rolled on as the train stopped in George’s hometown.

His faithful wife Judy was waiting on the platform, and when George failed to appear and the train resumed its journey to Chicago, Judy trained her eyes on the club car and spotted her once-sober husband having the time of his life with his new best friend. Judy had told George years ago that she would leave him if George picked up another drink, and now that she could clearly see that he had chosen the bottle over her, Judy was out of there.

Once and for all.

But what George even faintly aware of that?

On one level, maybe.

But on the only level that mattered to him at that moment, he was having the time of his life with his new best friend, Phil and his old best friend, John Barleycorn.



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Fair Folk

(Berrien Springs, Michigan) As the 2017 Berrien County Youth Fair winds down today, it is time to take a look at some of the fine folk who inhabited this year’s Fair.  Yes, some were furrier than others. The point being, that we absolutely love to look at all creatures great and small when we go to the fairest Fair of them all.  And next year’s Fair begins on our 41st wedding anniversary, August 13, 2018, so look for us on the fairgrounds on the first day of the Fair.  Until then, enjoy these fine Fair folk:

We caught the fiery end of the Hula Performance on the Mall Stage on Friday. Wow!

We try to catch Lake Effect Jazz Big Band on Wednesdays at the Fair, and they didn’t disappoint us this year. And, best yet, they will be headliners at the first annual South Haven Jazz Festival on September 16.

Fairgoers doing what fairgoers do best.

Pope Frank’s at the Fair?!? Who knew?

The Blue Shoes Jazz ensemble performed Friday afternoon on the Mall Stage. They were smokin’.

Sun on the goat.

Remember that Chicken Whisperer guy? Turns out he’s also pretty good at rabbit whispering.

These two gave me a great idea for a Halloween costume.

The Easter Bunny’s kid brother was at the Fair.

Portrait by a young artist in the Crafts Building.

Self portrait by the Equine Complex by an old artist.

Wonder where the owner went.

Goodnight, fairgoers.

A wise little Fair owl watched over the fairgrounds.

’til the 2018 Berrien County Youth Fair comes ’round, may all your Korn Dogs be cooked to perfection.


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