Morse Key as a Talisman

According to the dictionary, a Talisman is an object, typically an inscribed ring or stone, that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck. I believe in neither magic or luck, however, I’ve come to believe that some sort of energy can be passed from humans to inanimate objects.

Before you dismiss that as hokum, consider if you will, my father’s hammer.

After returning from World War Two, my Dad worked most of his life as a carpenter. He built and remodeled homes. Even after retirement he continued to take calls from people wanting him to hang a new door, replace a window, enclose a porch, things like that. When I was a kid, I used to work with him sometimes, earning a little money in the process but more importantly, getting to spend time with my Dad.

Even if it was on a hot roof pounding roofing nails.

As you might imagine, our garage was full of the tools of his trade. But he had this one particular hammer that never left his side. There’s simply no way to imagine how many nails that claw hammer had hit, removed, or how many boards it had pryed over fifty years. It just seemed to always be in my Dad’s hand.

When he turned 80, my Dad declared that he was done with that sort of work, and told me to take any of his tools out of the garage that I wanted. My only interest was that hammer. Whenever I hold it, I can still see my Dad using it during one or another of dozens of small jobs when we worked together.

It feels as though some of my Dad’s life energy has been forever embedded in that tool, and that makes it special to me. I could go to any hardware store and buy a hundred brand new claw hammers, and none of them would be as special as this one. They have no energy.

I don’t believe in ghosts, spirits, demons, or deities. But somehow, this I believe…

I’ve been taking life a little slower these last few weeks, I suppose that’s given me more time to think on things such as this — and other mysteries of life.

Like, why do I have such a large collection of Morse keys?

I seem to acquire them and then never use them. And that’s because I have a favorite straight key and a favorite paddle — and no interest in ever replacing them.

Since I don’t need an unused cache of telegraph keys, I’ve decided to liquidate my collection. I’m going to pare down to just the two instruments that are in use almost daily, and exclusively.

But that just leaves me to wonder if after using a key for decades, am I pounding some of my own “life energy” into the brass?

Perhaps at the end of it all, my key will become like my Dad’s hammer. Something of a Talisman for my progeny to have and hold, and consider the wonder of such inanimate things that are charged with the energy of life and the power to bring back old memories with just a touch.

The Peony

Somewhere back in my long ago, my Dad was driving past an abandoned house when he noticed a pretty row of blooming peonies in front of the place.

My Mom had always spoken fondly about the peonies that grew around her Mom’s house when she was young. So one day, my Dad stopped at that abandoned house, dug a few of the plants up, and replanted them in his own yard.

It takes several years for transplanted peonies to bloom but eventually they did, and every year after, bringing much joy to my Mom and Dad for many years. Long after Mom died, Dad decided he wasn’t going to continue mowing around or caring for any of the plants in his yard, so he set about trying to eradicate the peonies.

Despite his best efforts to get rid of them, they kept coming back.

My wife finally decided to dig them up and plant them in our yard. For the next four years the plants looked healthy enough, but they never did bloom. We knew it would take some years — but it is said that once they begin blooming, they can live for up to a hundred years.

Yesterday, those flowers burst into full glory. Let the next century begin…

Our Peonies

Hashtag HamRadio Tee-Shirts

A few years ago I had a couple batches of these shirts made, sold them, and figured that was that. Turns out, one group wanted more of them (it’s hamfest weather!) so I recently put together another batch.


Buying in larger quantity made them more affordable so I bought a few more than needed and have some extras leftover.

Perhaps you’d like one?

I have a limited supply of these genuine Hanes Beefy-T’s. Soft, strong and comfortable. These black tees have been professionally screen printed with #hamradio in a stylish, lower-case font. Machine washable. Like any other printed t-shirt, turn it inside out and wash in cold water for longest life.

It’s a classy and unique way to promote the hobby. Social media users will instantly recognize the “hashtag” and what it conveys while those who don’t understand the hashtag will still recognize and appreciate the “ham radio” reference.

Only XXL left – and only in the US (sorry).

$17 includes Priority Mail shipping. PayPal or personal check okay.

Contact me and let me know what size you’re looking for and I’ll confirm it’s available and send you the payment details. I’ll get it to you immediately as I need to clear these out of the shack!

The Unseen Bean

The Unseen Bean

It was great to see Gerry Leary, WB6IVF offering up his roasted coffee beans at Hamvention once again. A quick “hello” and a couple of bags of his Kilowatt blend have become something of a routine for me. I’ve tried the Contesters blend but I just can’t get an honest signal report from it. :-)

Gerry founded The Unseen Bean in early 2003 with the intention of making the freshest, best-tasting coffee available anywhere. Leary, who is blind from birth, refused to let his sightlessness keep him from becoming a Master Coffee Roaster. He trained in San Francisco at the West Coast Specialty Coffee Company.

Coffee bean roasters typically depend on seeing changes in bean color during the roasting process to achieve best results. Gerry depends on his honed sense of smell, and hearing to know precisely when the batch roast has reached perfection.

Taste the Passion in Blind Roasted Coffee

Being a coffee roaster, and a radio amateur, it only made sense that WB6IVF would combine two passions and wind up on the road to Dayton, Ohio.

If you missed his booth this year, he’ll likely be back next. In the meantime, you could wander into his coffee shop in Boulder, Colorado — or visit his online store and order a few bags of coffee beans that he has perfectly roasted, but never seen.