The Homemade Newspaper Project

I for the last two years I have been making authentic looking front pages for a fictional daily newspaper, The Flagston Times, in a fictional town in Washington state, Flagston, both of which I created in 1964 when I was 12. I had become fascinated with newspaper printing the year before. I sometimes stood in the back of the pressroom of the Tri-City Herald and watched the afternoon paper being printed.

Because I have software for making my own pages, I started creating modern front pages using real national and world news stories and photos found online, and making up my own local stories, using personal photos for "local" pictures. (So, for example, the U-District Street Fair in Seattle becomes the SpringFest street fair in Flagston.

Lately I've been doing old-timey front pages for major news events, such as President Kennedy's assassination, funeral and burial; also the end of World War II. I also pick a random date, usually because I have a local paper (or papers from Seattle or Portland) in my collection that I saved from childhood or found at an antique store.

Below is the latest random page, from January 18, 1951; the big photo is of me on my second birthday, but I gave myself a fictional name; the mug shot of "Sparkston Richards" is actually of the principal of my real hometown high school, taken from the school's 1951 annual.

1951_January18_Front Page.jpg


These projects are lots of fun, and I find the old-timey pages are nice history projects because I have to research to find original wire stories and photos online or in my personal collection of historical newspapers to make my pages authentic. It also give me a sense of what it was to live in those times before I was born (the WWII pages) and to be in the newsroom when these big stories were breaking news.

I also lay out the old-timey pages exactly as newspapers were designed back then.

I am now working on the April 28, 1952, front page of The Flagston Daily Times, what the morning papers were reporting on the day I was born.

First New Entry In Awhile

This is my first post in 17 days. Doing well, relaxing and chilling and enjoying my favorite month and the fall season, my favorite season.

I finally saw the first bare trees of the season on Sunday, where I expected them: along highway 240 between Richland and the Richland "Y". There are a bunch of trees there, Cottonwoods I think, that start changing colors right around Labor Day. Autumn in Desert country in south-central Washington. They're all in the Yakima River Delta, where the Yakima flows into the Columbia River.

In other news:

I had a heart "ablation" on September 27 to zap a microscopic "nodule" inside my heart that regulates the rhythm between the top and bottom halves. My cardiomyopathy begat atrial fibrillation, which has sent my heart rhythms out of whack and out of sync, like sudden accelerations to 200-300 beats per minute and then right back down. Medication wasn't controlling it so one of my heart doctors (electrophysiologist) recommended the surgery: go in through an artery in my groin up into my heart and zap the nodule. Only drawback is I have to wear a pacemaker until I check out from Earthplane existence. I've been wearing one since February 10, 2016, and expected pacemaker use to be permanent anyway, so no biggie.

I feel like I feel better. I still get short of breath too soon when I take walks, but I consider this a sign of being too sedentary, which I've become too much of the last four years, for many reasons I won't try to remember here. I used to walk all over after I moved a back home at the end of 2012, but got out of the habit.

I was awake for the entire ablation procedure, which took about a half hour; there was approximately one hour of prep time before it, then I had to lie flat for 4 to 6 hours afterward so the arterial incision could close up and start healing. I checked into the hospital at noon and was on my way home just after 9 p.m.

I have a follow-up appointment with the heart doctor (electrophysiologist) on November 2.


I will resume more regular postings after this. I've been kind of lazy. I sent out bulk email message the day before my ablation for my five siblings and also to 13 friends, current and old, near and far away. Six people sent replies; I've responded to only two so far: one is a younger brother who also has some heart problems and like me is taking medications.

Stay mellow, fellows and fellowettes.

Monkey Meditations -- Snow Monkeys in a Hot Spring, Japan

Or click here to see it larger:

Snow monkeys have such human faces. The opening scene in "Baraka" (this video is not from it) shows snow monkeys in Japanese hot springs, and one of them looks almost exactly like a friend of mine whom I've known for 51 years — wears the same contemplative pondering expression I've often seen on my friend's face. 

A rainy night walk bonding with nature; sheltered from the rain listening to 28-year-old nature

After a short walk at Howard Amon Park in the dark at night in the drought-soaking rain, I sat in my car listening to "Echoes of Nature American Wilds" CD (1993) as heavy rain bounced off my car roof. I opened two windows slightly to hear the rain falling too. Ah, autumn.

Tracks heard to finish the CD, which had been in my car for several weeks:
Frog Chorus
Crickets & Wolves
Midnight Serenade

"Crickets & Wolves" included the mournful howls of Jedadiah and Bausha from the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota.
"Frog Chorus" -- dozens of frogs croaking at once sounded at times like a battle scene from a futuristic space alien movie. So maybe this is where laser weapon sound effects come from: nature.

Speaking of nature . . .
(Offered by Center For Spiritual Living In Seattle; it's a 4-week class via Zoom starting in early November)

If I can figure out Zoom (which I've never used) and the schedule would work out, I'd like to take it. As long as I don't need a web cam to be participate.

"Imagine" and other significant half-century anniversaries

John Lennon's "Imagine" album was released 50 years ago this month, possibly today, September 21. I just listened to it, twice in a row to commemorate. As I listened, it felt very much like it was the fall of 1971 again.

The first week of December will mark the 50th anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Happy Xmas/War Is Over". I bought the record, pressed on green vinyl, as soon as it landed in stores. It isn't the "holiday season" until I hear this song on the radio.

It's a great song because it cuts through the commercialism and the forced goody-good feelings of the season that you're not allowed to not have. "And so this is Christmas / And what have you done?"


In two months, or a couple of weeks sooner, it will be 50 years since I met Teresa, the future First Official Girlfriend. It was a deeply life-altering relationship. We became a couple in December 1971 and broke up the following June. A lot of it turned out negative for me, which she had nothing to do with. Just bad decisions on my part that messed me up for years. I won't go into details here.

I'd say fall of 1971 was a watershed time for me, but that would obligate me to look up the word "watershed." From what I've inferred from other people's "watershed" moments over the years, it seems to mean significant events happen that change a person's life direction, often unexpectedly.

Another reality check milepost on the graying road to Eternity

Another reality check as I approach 70 in seven months: I saw this headline in an ad for something called Healthy George: "Raquel Welch At 80 Upsizes Her Bikini."

80 years old! I remember Raquel Welch as a 20-something glamour girl on "The Hollywood Palace" in 1964 (when I was 12 and going through puberty). "The Hollywood Palace"  was a musical variety show on ABC and she would walk out in a bikini for a brief appearance to announce the acts who booked for the next week's show. Three years later she was one of the acts, making her singing and dancing debut in September 1967. She performed "Bang Bang", one of Cher's 1960s solo hits. Welch was also beginning a movie career.

I'll be 70 next year in April, Paul McCartney will be 80 in June and Ringo Starr will turn 82 three weeks after Paul.

Charlie Watts just died at 80.

Bob Dylan turned 80 last May. (I am listening to him sing (when he was 21) "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall".)

I used to (kind of) freak out at the prospect of becoming an Official Old Person, and now it's on the distant horizon moving closer. I just waved Hello.


This is me on my 3rd birthday, April 28, 1955. The girl is Ruthie Tolley.

I have no conscious memory of Ruthie Tolley,who was probably a neighbor girl. Honestly, I have little conscious memory of much before I was 4 — except for seeing a distant white light in the darkness from my bed / crib (probably a nightlight across the room) and dreams of watching fat plastic pastel-colored clothespins that hung from the wires between power poles as I rode in the car under a perfect blue sky.

And now Bob Dylan sings "Visons Of Johanna" (originally titled, I read decades ago, "Seems Like a Freeze Out").

"Inside the museums infinity goes up on trial.
Voices echo 'this is what salvation must be like after a while.
Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues, you can tell that by the way she smiles'."

It is time to take my evening round of heart pills and my blood thinner.

"You're as young as you feel," the mysterious "They" said. Iron Range Bob is making me feel like 21 again (48 years ago) when I discovered the amazing depth of his songs.


First fall colors, A-fib and Aging

On Sunday I noticed leaves on a tree near the Bypass Highway here in Richland had already turned yellow. It looked like the trees (cottonwoods, I think) along a stretch of Highway 240 where the Yakima River merges with the Columbia. They tend to be the first to show their fall colors starting usually by Labor Day weekend, two weeks before summer ends. Such is the cycle of nature in this pocket of southeastern Washington state.

My pacemaker/defibrillator device check today revealed I have severe a-fib in my heart. My heartbeat, the technician found, is in a-fib (I think it stands for atrial fibrillation) 86 percent of the time. That's not good. I don't feel bad or wacky, but when I take walks I get short of breath sooner than I did four years ago. On the other hand, that makes me less motivated to take decent walks, which makes me out of shape so my heart muscles and leg muscles and lung power get flabby. It becomes a dumb cycle. So, I shall push forward, treating my body gently and working back into it. Until 2017 I used to walk long distances in town and at the nature preserve.

My first goal (forgive me if I sound morbid): make it through to April 28th, 2023, to complete age 70. (I will be an Official Old Person!) Then, make it through age 80 still moving physically and still fully possessing my faculties. Then through January 2049 — ninety-six-and-three-quarters, thereby outliving my mom; Then through April 28, 2054, my 102nd birthday, which was a goal I set in my early 50s. Still in good physical and mental health at 102. From then on, who knows?

Now, nap time. I didn't get enough sleep before going to the clinic today.

Skeptical Mr. Birch

This Mr. Birch. He is skeptical about what he sees on the television news and hears on talk radio. He's generally open-minded, but when something doesn't feel right to him he tries to follow the words of The Fifth Agreement: "Be skeptical but willing to listen." 


(Click on photo to see it at full size in aseparate window.)


I see faces everywhere in random shapes. For years I've seen dozens of eyes staring back at me from the trunks of birch trees. Sometimes a full face, one time a profile of the Wicked Witch of the West, complete with pointy hat. Looks like the "eyes" arewhere branches once broke off and the "wound" turned into eye shapes as the tree grew.


I need to take another walk around the neighborhood. It's been awhlle. Last weekend I did some "forest bathing" -- even said the words out loud to me to acknowledge I was doing it -- at one of the city parks. Good exercise, especially after I stretched a little bit. Fresh air and sunshine does wonders staying healthy, in both body and mind. Fresh air peps up the blood and makes the thinky parts of the body work better. 

Ana Gram


I guess my mind and my typing fingers are wandering here instead of my mind and my eyeballs wanering infront of the TV set like I usually do.

My first entry in a week. Can't you tell how uninspired I am?

How refreshing: writing, not channel surfing

Well, I've been in front of this computer writing for four hours. How refreshing to accomplish something instead of sitting in front of the television for hours watching classic Disney Channel shows and Canadian pro football.

(I'm not much of a sports fan, especially football, but I will make a point of watching the CFL when I see it pop up in the TV schedule. It's much more exciting and fast paced than American football, and there are more ways to score because of additional rules that I wish the NFL would adopt.)