Omens...

.... the Wife and I drove up towards Knoxville today and lunched at Aubrey's... excellent food and Newcastle Brown on tap.... just about as good as it gets here in eastern Tennessee... so I highly recommend their lunch..

... on the way back we hit every backroad I could think of through three counties... dusty roads where tarmac often turned to gravel.... and fields or woodlands ran right up to the ditchline... you sure can tell it is Summertime in the countryside, though... terrapins were crossing the road at every curve..

... and now I am back home safe and sound... The Guy in the Witness Protection Plan just called and said he's on his way over to shoot some pool.. I haven't seen him in ages, so I'm stoked... well, and I do plan on wiping the table with him... we'll see how it goes... it sounds like a storm may be coming in... the Sun is shining but there is thunder in the distance... I'll take that as a good omen....

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Curls...

.... earlier today I picked up a few boxes of photos from my Mother.... stuff that she has been keeping for years and years finally became too much for her, and she purged.... and I'm the lucky beneficiary....

... so I have spent the last few hours going through about 75,000 photos of family, friends, and people that I have never seen before in my life....

.... random bits of photographic evidence are emerging though... proof of things that I long ago buried deep in my childhood psyche.... crazy stuff, people.... shocking stuff.... scarring images of little toddler Eric that should have never been seen again are now lying scattered across my living room carpet...

... the horror... the horror... Colonel Kurtz didn't know the half of it, gentle reader...

.... and just for the record to all Mommas out there, it is NOT OKAY for a Mother to test out perms on HER MALE CHILDREN before deciding that they are of good enough quality to recommend to the Lady's Circle the next week.... and it is DOUBLE not okay to test them on a REDHEADED KID!...

... yes, yes... I was eight... and I had managed to forget about it until just a few minutes ago... bloody hell, just imagine Opie Taylor in Technicolor with an afro.... Jesus Christ, and people wonder why I turned out the way I have.... well now I have proof that it wasn't my fault.... I am the VICTIM here!....

UPDATE!: .... lookit... even before I got perm'd against my will, I was STILL being ABUSED!... check this out... I don't care who you are, this is just wrong... sure, I know that my Momma and Daddy lurved me, but WTF?... I look like I'm John Travolta's lovechild...

wrong_small.jpg

... and THAT just ain't right...

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Cooler...

.... the bears around these parts are getting uppity evidently....

... while filling my glass with iced tea yesterday, my Uncle pointed to the cooler he had brought... "see all those teeth marks, Eric?... a bear did that...I was camping up at Santeelee last week and while I was out fishing, a big sow-bear came in and tore up camp... she finally chewed the cooler open and ate two dozen eggs, three pounds of bacon, two venison tenderloins, two pounds of sausage, and all of my pickled okra.. "

... "damn," says I sipping my tea and wiping the sweat from my brow... "what did you do, Uncle Mick?"...

... "well, I came back just as she was finishing up and I ran her off... the next night I put all the food in the back of a van and it was alright... but the bears sure are getting uppity these days.. "

... mercy... uppity bears, indeed...

... a few minutes later, I listened as my Cousin's wife told of sitting in traffic at a roadblock near downtown Madisonville... a few weeks ago, she watched on as the county police tried to capture a big bear that was running up and down highway...

... oh, and don't forget that we had a mauling-death last month about ten miles from my house...

... perhaps I need to rethink which firearm I keep in my car... and maybe switch out the Beretta .380 for the S&W .357...

... see?... like I keep telling you people, it's a jungle out there.. and you guys wonder why I carry a .45 everywhere I go.... around here, it's not just bad people you have to worry about.... there is plenty of wildlife that'll mess you up too...

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Asleep...

... this afternoon I will be having dinner with my Mother and various other relatives... sitting around the swimming pool with hotdogs and iced tea... watching an uncle man the grill and an aunt or two attempting to herd their grandneices and nephews from pool to towel to picnic table... it shoud be a nice time...

... I was talking to a great friend of mine yesterday about Memorial Day... and how important it is to recognize the sacrifices laid down on our behalf... I come from a family of Veterans, and as I was rolling their names off during the conversation, it ocurred to me that only two of us who served never saw combat... myself and Greatuncle Art... I served during time of war, but was not in theatre... and he served between Korea and Vietnam... but the rest of my family - every one of them - saw combat....

... most of them have passed on now, including my Father... and while none were killed in battles, I am sure they bore the scars of war in their own ways.... and today while we cook our hotdogs and watch the kids splash around in the pool, we'll be remembering them all...

... and as I did last year, I give you a poem from Wilfred Owen....

Asleep

Under his helmet, up against his pack,
After the many days of work and waking,
Sleep took him by the brow and laid him back.
And in the happy no-time of his sleeping,
Death took him by the heart. There was a quaking
Of the aborted life within him leaping...
Then chest and sleepy arms once again fell slack.
And soon the slow, stray blood came creeping
From the intrusive lead, like ants on track.

Whether his deeper sleep lie shaded by the shaking
Of great wings, and the thoughts that hung the stars,
High pillowed on calm pillows of God's making,
Above these clouds, these rains, these sheets of lead,
And these wind's scimitars;
- Or whether yet his thin and sodden head
Confuses more and more with the low mould,
His hair being one with the grey grass
And finished fields of Autumn that are old...
Who knows? Who hopes? Who troubles? Let it pass!
He sleeps. He sleeps less tremulous, less cold
Than he who must awake, and waking, say Alas!

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Plague...

.... I was just out back enjoying a wee siesta when a cloud of tiny, red beasties descended upon me like a screaming horde of chipmunks on a coke-addled biker... yes, yes, it was that bad...

... I ripped off my shirt and swatted about six hundred of them to death with it before I retreated to my medicine cabinet via my liquor cabinet...

... now I am inside the house sporting a fresh sheen of Skin So Soft and an icy gin and tonic... I will not be denied, campers... if I am attacked again, I will attempt to capture one and discern his phylum... why?... well, because I just know you rubberneckers are interested in whatever critter that's brave enough to harsh my mellow....

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Mailcall....

... I've just spent two hours of my beloved Saturday afternoon going through three weeks of unopened mail... 90% of it was either credit card applications or charities begging for donations... but buried deep in the massive pile were a few real gems...

.. for instance, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement still want to make me Catholic... which is pretty cool, I guess.... and now I have strange sort of necklace to go with the rosary they sent me on Easter... I think it has St. Anthony on it... hey, at least they want me on their team... and they are persistent too.... if they keep this up, I am going to send them a cheque for ten bucks...

... next up, the Indians in Montana that I have been helping out sent me an invitation to their high school graduation... complete with a photo of their senior class... look, like I said before, if you are going to ask me for money, follow their example... SASE and personal messages about how wonderful I am will definitely result in me sending you at least five bucks per month... and sending me a photo of young Indian lasses smiling sweetly is always acceptable...

... and lastly, well, y'all are really not going to believe this... I found a letter from the Department of the Army addressed to the Missus.... I looked up from the cheque book and remarked about it... she came through and opened it up...

.... evidently the Army wants her to join.... they need people in her occupation... for the occupation.. heh heh... sorry...

... I told her she should consider it... I mean, I've already taught her how to fieldstrip my AR-15... and she's a pretty good marksman.... she certainly knows how to give orders, too.... we'll see, I guess... I told her that they'd let her eat as much bacon as she wanted in the chowhall for breakfast, and I think that might have swayed her... she does like her some bacon...

... I'll be sure to keep y'all informed...

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Reflections...

.... because I have no content lately, here is a shot from yesterday... see, I was sitting in the garage with a steak on the grill and a icy Newcastle Brown in my content little paws when I happened to look up towards the ceiling.... you know, as you do... and THERE I was!... neatly reflected in glorious repose on the glass of my raised garage door.... goodness... the world is just full of small bits of wonder...

shoes.jpg

... and you know, I'm certainly no artiste... but I do feel that I captured the complete essence of my existence with that shot... sitting cross-legged in the sunshine quietly surveying my domain... and watching the young mother across the street mow her lawn while her baby daughter played with a puppy... sipping my beer and listening to the steak sizzle over the melodic finger-picking of some John Prine...

... I'm telling you, you really have to have nerves of steel to wear my shoes... it's a wonder I can get out of bed in the mornings...

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Rabbits....

... three rabbits were grazing in the back yard this morning as I got ready for my shower... I stood there at the window for a minute and watched the two males chase each other in wide, arcing circles as the female nibbled nonchalantly.... and I couldn't help but think to myself... "how bloody typical.."... men fussing and fighting over a woman who doesn't even give a toss one way or the other... and who probably thinks that BOTH of them are unworthy of sharing her warreny boudoir...

... and I had a similar experience a few weeks ago while sitting on the bridge at the Linn of Dee... the birds were going absolutely nuts and the tops of the Douglas Firs were filled with a cacophony of tweets and squawks.... the Mother-in-Law remarked about how pleasant it was to hear such glorious birdsong, and I replied that if we could really understand what the birdies were saying, well, we would be pretty shocked...

... she seemed curious, so I expanded upon the theme.... "see," said I calmly, "while the noises the birds are making might seem pleasing to our ears, what they are REALLY saying is not very nice... their calls mean a variety of things.... Such as stay away from MY NEST!'... LOOK at ME! I'm hot and ready for sex!'... don't even THINK about grubbing for worms on MY PATCH of forest!'... HEY, Miss Birdie!... just look at the size of MY plumage!'... HOT STUD BIRD over HERE!!'... know what I mean?"... yeah, she didn't enjoy the conversation, but she got my point...

.... life, people, it is amazing... sure, it's fun to sit back and listen to the sweetly singing birds.... and it's a heartwarming sight to watch fluffy bunnies bouncing around the lawn.... and it is easy to get lost in the blooms of the garden flowers... but when you look a little closer, it's really pretty rough out there... and quite often - well, MOST of the time actually - that peaceful, serene scene you are enjoying is ALL about the poontang...

... anyway, I'm off to town to buy some lunch..

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Shovels...

... trust me, people... if Jim ever asks you to house-sit, just be careful.... New Jersey is a scary and confusing place....

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Trees...

.... the potatoes are in the oven and the fillets are marinating in some Worcester sauce in the fridge... a quick-moving storm came through as I was washing the potatoes, but it is gone now... but the rumblings of a second one are off on the horizon... with any luck, it will hit about the time I put the steaks on the grill.... 2pm, hopefully... that's a nice, civilized time to have a Thursday lunch...

... I sat out on the deck a few minutes ago and listened to the birds.. they seemed none too happy... I suppose they were a bit miffed at their impromptu bath... either way, they were making quite a racket... the leaves of the trees surrounding the patio were shiny from the rain and the whole backyard echoed with the drops dripping from the branches... good stuff, the rain.... even if the birds thought it unpleasant, the trees and my newly planted grass enjoyed it.. of that, I am certain...

... one of the trees is looking a bit worn-down though... the top half appears to be dead and the rest doesn't look much better... he stands out markedly beside his vigorously sprouting neighbors.... a victim of a fumbling bulldozer operator, I guess... the contractors who built my house four years ago tried their best to leave as many adult trees as possible... and in a few instances, it is evident on their trunks that the operator missed the mark a few times... bark has been skinned or roots uncovered... and around here, once the bark is peeled, an army of insects attacks with a vengeance...

... I have mulled over cutting it down, but I always end up just giving it another chance... I mean, just because it is half-dead doesn't mean it should be culled... who knows, it might recover... besides, getting hit by a bulldozer's blade wasn't the tree's fault...

.... maybe the rain today will help it... maybe the ringing of the thunder will wake it up.. I hope so... because I don't think I'll cut it just yet....

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(8) | TrackBack (1) | Thinking
» basil's blog links with: Morning Walk Of Shame

Rain...

... it's overcast here with thunder in the distance.... the wind is stirring the tops of the trees in the back yard with warm, heavy air.... there is a rain coming... you can smell it...

.... I'm off to the shops before it hits... steaks are to be grilled and potatoes baked for lunch today...

... standing in the garage grilling in the rain... my afternoon is planned....

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Decisions....

... in two months, it'll be decision time... that's right, kiddies, it's almost time to turn in the old Audi and pick a replacement.. a few options are laid out before me too, but I am finding myself in a bit of a quandary.... according to the astrologists, Libras are notorious for being indecisive... who knows, maybe they are right... then again, maybe I'm just too full of "relax, it'll be all right" to worry about it...

... but time is ticking and I have to choose... there is just no getting around it.... as they say in England, this is promising to be a sticky wicket....

... anyway, as I see it my options are as follows:

1. Buy the car that I've been driving for the past three years.. (it's not even broken-in, really... and it has been a good ride)...

2. Pick up a new A4 exactly like the one I'm turning in... (but that sounds a bit boring)... but here's what she'll look like if I pick her....

audi.jpg

3. Go with a Jaguar instead... (the prices are about the same... but I just don't know if I could wear a Jaguar properly... I mean, it takes some fairly serious pimpin' skillz to properly drive a Jag, doesn't it?)... anyway, here's the baby-Jag I would go for....

jaguar.jpg

... nice, no?... now you can see why I am having a hard time deciding...

4. Or I could always do like the Wife keeps saying and just buy a bicycle... (.. this option would severely hamper my ability to roam about the countryside while you rubberneckers are at work... which I think is her point... )

... but damn, I'm torn.... I really hate making decisions... so point me in the right direction, people... show me the way.. lead me home....

... ahhh, screw it... I'm off to sit on the deck and watch the grass grow... it's an incredible day here and I should be outside.... and the last thing I need is sitting in here wondering about things that are two months away....

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Thyme....

... halfway across the Atlantic a few weeks ago, the upcoming visit to Scotland was weighing on my mind... weeks spent away from my Eagle Glen compound didn't sit too well... and I was more than a wee bit nervous... I mean, c'mon.... who's going to pet my guns when I'm not here?....

.... and on top of all that, I had been trying to remember an earworm from ages back, and it just wouldn't come... and I hate it when that happens... trying to remember an earworm and failing is almost as bad as having an earworm you can't get rid of....

... but the tune remained elusive until the final song of the Folk Night was played.... the fiddler and guitarist started singing and I knew exactly what I had been trying to remember.... "Wild Mountain Thyme"... the version here is by The Silencers, and it kicks ass.... I've been humming it for two weeks now... I just can't get enough of it...

... sitting outside this afternoon in the shade of the poplar trees, the Wife finally yelled at me to cut it out - the humming.... so now it is my turn to torture you people instead.... heh... enjoy....

... here are the lyrics... just in case you want to sing along.... I sure do...

"Wild Mountain Thyme", words and music by Francis McPeake

Oh, the summer time is coming,
And the trees are blooming,
And the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather.

Will you go, lassie, will you go?
And we'll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather,
Will you go, lassie, go?

I will build my love a tower
By yon clear and crystal fountain,
Aye, and on it I will pile
I'll pile flowers from the mountain.

If my true love, she won't have me,
I will surely find another
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather.

Oh, the summertime is coming
And thre trees are blooming
And the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather.

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Units...

... the pile of laundry that three weeks of traveling created is slowly melting down... today should see the end of it.... then the cases can be stowed away for a few more months until the next trip... it seems strange to go through them piece by piece and unpack... finding the random souvenir that you had forgotten you'd purchased... it's true though, the vacation is finally over.... the suitcases are empty to prove it...

... I decided over the holiday that I'm should join the local gun club... so today I'll be making a few phone calls to get that organized... funny, really... I could have sworn that my "joining" days were over... well, evidently not...

... anyway, I have a question for all you military-types out there... I need some help identifying a unit insignia... the photo is circa 1945 and the trooper in question was visiting relatives in Scotland at the time.... any help would be greatly appreciated....

unit_small.jpg

... so, what unit is that?... John?... any guesses?....

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Mud...

... well, the thunderstorm last night didn't do too much damage to the ranch as it flickered though... a few twigs down on the deck - no big deal... surveying the rolling countryside this morning with a cup of coffee in hand, I noted that the lawn pixies have been busy while I was away... the grass was freshly cut and the flowerbeds were notably weedless... damn, I do so love it when a plan comes together...

... the jungle on either side of the house continues to encroach, though, and I could sense the eyes of the local fauna upon me as I stood commandingly on the deck a few minutes ago... eyeing me as I paced unwashed, unshaven, and unashamed... but that is the nature of my patch, I suppose.. it is bursting with wildlife.... and the furry forest animals can home in on a deserted homestead like a shark to a menstruating surfer... and their little tracks have made a muddy path across the deckboards right up to the back door...little bastards...

.. get ye away from here, vile varmints... I'm home...

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Home....

.... long flight... long lay-overs... 36 hours without sleep... and now a thunderstorm... 1:30am and the lightning is everywhere.... the rain will be here any minute.....

... God, I missed Tennessee.... I'm going to sleep like the dead tonight....

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Moving again....

... tomorrow we head off before the break of dawn... and in a bit we are heading up the street for some grilled lamb chops and a few drinks on our last evening here.... double-matured 16-year old Lagavulin will be involved as well... it should be excellent...

... much has happened over the past few days... I had lunch with two fine old friends in Brechin yesterday... and the day before we trekked up Glen Clova and had a fine meal at the Climbers Inn at the Clova Hotel.... last night, of course, was the Jazz Night at the Links Hotel.... Niki King and Marcus Ford played some soulful and romantic tunes for us after our meal...

... I had the pleasure of sitting directly in front of Ms. King - about eight feet away - as she sang... and she's a total babe, too.... goodness... beautiful AND talented... and Mr. Ford played one helluva mean guitar... the guy is a magician.... I bought their CD and they signed it for me... and will try to post a sample once I get back stateside...

... what a pleasant few weeks I've had...

... still, the time has come.... and I'll be going offline for the next few days as I will be making my long, slow way back to Tennessee via Amsterdam and New Jersey.... I will be posting more photos once I am settled...

... people, everyone should visit Scotland at least once in their lives.. I had the pleasure of living here for many years... and even with saying that, I am still awed by some of the sights you see around every corner.... do yourselves a favor... visit Scotland..

... anyway, I'm off.. y'all take care... I'll leave you with a photo of Glen Clova that I took two days ago....

glen_clova_small.jpg

... nice view, eh?... they don't call Scotland the "Big Country" for nothing....

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The Gang....

.... I walked home from the pub last night with a huge smile on my face... the wind had died down and the rain from earlier in the evening had stopped, so the mile or so back home went easily... there was hardly any traffic at half-past twelve, and the sidewalk glistened under the streetlamps... hell, Simon and Garfunkel would have probably been moved to write a song about it if they'd been staggering along beside me...

... but meeting up with that old crew of workmates is always a great pleasure... every year we get older and older.. but with them, it never shows... not really... the girls still have the same lovely smiles and the men still sport the mischievous, darting eyes of consummately good-natured scoundrels... one really couldn't ask for a better group to spend an evening with... plus they always end up buying me more drinks that I do for them... which, of course, is always nice....

... off-color jokes, and long, rambling stories were the theme for the night.... adding in lashings of Indian food and free-flowing booze... and the mixture just worked.... the only problem being that it was only one night... only a few hours for us to re-connect, rekindle old friendships, reminisce, and download the data of their lives over the past 18 months.... and as enjoyable as it was, you are always hard-pressed to do that in just a few hours...

.... what really needs to happen, actually, is a giant vacation - en mass - to the wild hinterlands of Tennessee where I live... I really, really need that crew from last night hanging out on my deck for a week or so...

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Pianos...

... the World is full of great truths... and a crystalline example of that hit me today... and it is mainly that one should never, ever underestimate the power of Scotch whisky...

... the sound of the morning papers being dropped through the slot in the front door woke me.... so I pulled on my jeans and wandered through to check the state of the planet according to the local rag.... and what I found emblazoned across the cover of today's Dundee Courier immediately made me want to go back to bed...

... see, it seems that two hikers - members of the local John Muir group - were doing their part for the beautification of the highlands recently... traipsing up trails and wandering across bogs disassembling giant piles of stones known as "cairns"... noble work, I say... good on them...

... but while removing the stones from a particularly large cairn near the summit of Ben Nevis, they discovered an ancient upright piano long-buried.... truly, the mind just boggles...

... ok... firstly, I have climbed Ben Nevis three or four times... and it is quite a slog depending on how much equipment you are carrying... as the highest mountain in Great Britain, it is a fairly challenging walk...

.. but that still begs the question... a piano buried under a pile of rocks just meters from the summit?.... no one has any clue how long ago it was placed there... and no one has even the vaguest idea of why it was placed there...and even more mysterious, no one has the tiniest of inklings WHO might have had cause to drag a piano up there and hide it under tons of boulders.....

.... but you know what?... one thing is certain... I can guaran-DAMN-tee that Scotch whisky was involved...

Update: ... according to The Scotsman, the piano is most likely the remnants of an 226lb organ which Kenny Campbell carried up Ben Nevis in 1971... evidently he played "Scotland the Brave" once he made the hike.... no word on the state of his sobriety during his 1971 sojourn though... but personally, I still think strong drink was heavily involved...

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Breakfast...

.... a hard rain came though last night and the sound of the drops humming on the slate roof saw me to sleep... this morning, with coffee in hand, I wandered through to the conservatory to survey the damage... Duncan was out back in his Wellingtons potting a new rhododendron....

... behind him, many of the spring flowers were a bit worse for wear... their slender stems having been unable to support their blooms as the wind and the water worked them over during the night.. I stood there and watched him for a while.... he's quite a gardener... the garden is fairly small - maybe thirty feet by forty... but the entire border is bursting with healthy, vibrant plants... geraniums, bluebells, tulips, etc... even some ferns and a magnolia....

... the sunlight in the conservatory was actually very warm this morning and I had my breakfast there.... two pieces of wheat toast with butter and pheasant pate... and a huge mug of hot, black coffee... not a bad way to start a morning, really... enjoying a warm morning while watching someone else tend to their plants....

.. the Wife arrived just as I finished the last of my toast, and I followed her outside... there was a nook between the glass-clad conservatory and the privet hedge where the wind couldn't reach... and in such protected places, the warmth of the Sun can be downright boiling...

.... tonight we're scheduled to have dinner at a small hotel out in the countryside of Angus.... The Sauchieburn, it is called... and I haven't been there in ten years or so... once upon a time, they cooked-up an incredible sirloin... I plan to find out tonight if they've lost their touch or not...

.. time is starting to run short now for this vacation.. lunchtimes and evenings are getting booked at a furious pace... and it won't be long before I'm back in Tennessee having nothing more exotic for breakfast than a bowl of Cheerios....

... anyway, the weather is still nice just now... so I'm off to enjoy it... the forecaster is predicting rain again for tonight... and around here you don't waste a chance to enjoy some pretty weather..

.... but I will leave you with a photo I took a few days ago... the Firth of Clyde in a slow drizzle.. enjoy!...

boats_in_rain_small.jpg

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(10) | TrackBack (1) | Scotland 2006
» basil's blog links with: Picnic 2006-05-17

Poundage...

.... I finally found a warm spot.... so if anyone needs me, well, I'll be here....

... don't wait up, I may be some time...

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A Day of Rest....

... today is a down-day... a day where naps are not only allowed, but compulsory... and after the past three weeks of constant movement I plan on grabbing every opportunity with both hands and hanging on as long as possible....

... the road-trip out to the River Clyde was eye-opening yesterday... we hit all of the ancient piles and wandered down some mossy paths in the rain... the mood was quiet and happy... retracing a family's steps is often that way, I guess... the mind fills with memories of how things once were while the eyes are met with the realization of how things are right now... small changes... big changes... no changes at all... that strange kind of "accepting" does a lot of things to a person... in a flash, they are faced with the misty happiness of childhood and the starkness of getting older.... and it is only the strongest and most content who walk away with a lighter spring in their step.. had it been me, I would have been nostalgic and a bit depressed... but for my two companions, everything was soaked-up just as it should have been... even in the gentle rain of the West Coast....

... anyway, since today I will be doing nothing but reading, eating, sleeping, and drinking, I guess I should keep you rubberneckers entertained with some photos... hmmm.... where to start?.... how about a nice Scottish castle?....

... ok... here is a snapshot I took of Stirling Castle... the William Wallace monument is off to the left just out of frame... not a bad photo, really... especially since it was taken from the window of a moving car (doing 80 miles per hour)...

stirling_small.jpg

... here's one of me and the Man of the House manning the grill a few days ago.... exciting stuff, no?... can't you just see the look of sheer happiness radiating from my cold, damp, frostbitten countenance??... sure, the ribs I cooked kicked... but boys and girls, it was COLD out there....

grilling_small.jpg

... and now I will leave you for a while to gaze upon one of my Scottish Soul Brothers... quite a charming fellow, in his own way.... and one that I feel I share a life-view with.. yep, he and I got along famously.... his name is Ewan and he hangs out in Glenesk...

ewan_small.jpg

.... wow... writing this post has worn me out.... I think I'll go take a nap...

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Childhood...

... during the War Years, my Father-in-Law was evacuated - along with most of the children - from the city of Glasgow... occasional bombings had forced the parents working in the city to shuttle their little ones out into the countryside for safety's sake.. and his family was lucky enough to have a retreat out to the west of Glasgow, and he spent most of the War there... Kilcreggan, it was called...

.... so today we're off in the rain to visit Kilcreggan and bond - on some deep level - with the schoolboy version of The Man of The House...

... the Wife is stoked... as is her Father.. and I must admit that I am kinda curious myself.. and I am still trying to get my mind around the fact that Mothers and Fathers sent their children away to live with relatives while they themselves stayed in the bomb-zone to continue working and producing....

... it is just one of those little things that you never read about in history books... sure, you read of shipyards being bombed.. flats and churches being levelled... but you seldom hear of the thousands of displaced children... or the pain their parents must have felt when sending them off...

.... walking down the street in Montrose the other day, I noticed a beautiful Victorian home... exquisite garden in the front... blazing with colors from blooming tulips and pansies... and the wall surrounding the garden had evenly spaced rusty squares imbedded in it.... when I asked what they were, I was shocked and humbled by the answer...

... there had once been a wrought iron fence that bordered the garden... and when the War came, it was cut down, melted, and used to make Spitfires...

... how absolutely amazing... a true testament, people, right there on that ancient stone wall... a Demonstration of Will, perhaps.... or maybe a window into the desperation and doggedness of a People at War....

... maybe I'm jaded... but I have a feeling we'll never see that kind of dedication again.... ever...

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Falkirk...

... when I was at the Folk Club a few days ago, I had the pleasure of watching Rachel Fox recite a few poems... it was a welcome break from the skirl of the pipes, her voice.... and we all kicked back with our pints and let her do her thing... at the end of her performance, she mentioned that a lot of her original work was up on her website..

... as you can imagine, I immediately tracked down the site once I came home, and I was very happy to discover some great stuff... like this one, for instance....


Diving, by Rachel Fox

Enjoy love
You are worth it
Fall down deep
Don't try to surf it
Swim in the happiness
It's all for you
Soak long and leisurely
Get drenched, wet through

... good stuff... I do so love me some poetry...

...but today is Mother's Day back in the States... and I'd like to toss out my best wishes to all of you Mothers out there... you ladies are the backbone of the family.... married or single, you infuse your children with the marrow of life, love, and home...

... I called mine yesterday and had a nice long chat... and I thanked her for helping to shape me into the man I am today.... one that she sometimes isn't too pleased with, but one who is her own regardless... and that's the way it is with all of us.. we've all disappointed our parents on one level or another... especially our Mommas... but they love us anyway... and that is a good Mother....

... the hardest thing I've ever done so far in my short life is to try to convince my Mother that the bad-parts of me are not her fault.... these gnarled Vines of Iniquity that I cultivated myself - and quite enjoyably, I might add - are all my own.... but all of the strengths that I possess, well, they came from her... all the failings are mine alone... see, Mothers have a tendency to look at their kids and wonder what they did wrong and what they did right... mine did nothing wrong... I'm a better person for having her...

... anyway, I called her yesterday because I'll be gone all day today... the Wife is meeting up with ten or twenty of her old University mates down in Falkirk and I'm being dragged along...

... actually, I'm looking forward to seeing them all again... it's time to strengthen some old ties anew.... and it is a nice day for driving...

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Quotes...

.... hark!... the beauteous Bou of Boudicca's Voice is asking for sidebar quotes... so now's your chance, people.... get over there and lay one on her.... it's not often that you get an opportunity to scribble flattering platitudes on someone's site, so hop to it....

...I've got a few rolling around in my noggin, but I'm having a hard time picking just one... after all, where do you start?..... still, she's first class and writes from the heart... and it is as much fun to meet her in person as it is to read her blog...

... in other news, the Wife and Father-in-Law have taken the day to explore up Glen Esk... I took a nap instead of accompanying them... hey, it's all about the priorities...

... anyway, they were already away by the time I awoke from my afternoon snooze.. and I can't wait to tell them about my dream of trudging up the Shank of Inchgrundle during a mighty snowstorm....

.... see, someone had snuck into the bedroom after I dozed and opened the window... and I woke up with cold lips, jittery hands, and the certainty that I was in the first stages of hypothermia...

... next time, well, I'm locking the bedroom door...

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The Party....

....the party was a resounding success... and as with most get-togethers, it was dotted with the occasional gem... the full moon witnessed enough salient moments last night that the sky's stars felt embarrassed to be in the presence of such sparkling times... yes, gentle reader, we had that much fun...

.... some of the high points were that my friend James arrived with his daughter in tow... a stunning lass who, with the help of a few pints of Tennents, actually played "Blackbird" for us.. you missed it, Denny.... it's one thing to watch a man's manly hands pick that song... but when you see the delicate fingers of an 18-year old lassie blithely picking it, it makes it all that much better...

... James, too, stayed well into the night and the Wife and I laughed and talked with him until almost 2am... the boy is a real piece of work.... my old camping/hiking companion.... good times, good times...

.. also worthy of mention were the sausages... they had been impregnated with apricots and leeks prior to finding their way to the grill..... good God, they were awesome... and I cooked those puppies to back-yard perfection.....

...in summation?.... the ribs, the companionship, the shrimp cocktail, the wine, the bajiis, the champagne, the salad, the tales, the singing, the scotch, the laughing, the memories, the cold, the wind, the full moon.... everything was right...

... of course, I missed you guys, that goes without saying... but other than that, the whole evening was stellar...

... really and truly, it's evenings like last night that make hoofing 5,000 miles worthwhile...

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Grilling...

.... well, the honeymoon is over.... the unseasonable weather we've been having has broken, and the skies are overcast and gloomy.... typical Scottish weather is finally here... 45 degrees with a steady fifteen mph wind swirling in from Norway..... and tonight I am slated to be work as short-order cook on the grill outside... pity me and my soon-to-be frostbitten stindeens, people... (thanks, Jimbo... that's an excellent word..) ...

... last night while the Wife was frolicking down in Edinburgh with one of her mates, I grilled a few pork chops to get a feel for the grill... and they were most excellent.. marinated in a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, and crushed black pepper, the In-Laws cleaned their plates with carnivorous abandon....

... tonight'll be different, though.... fifteen Scots will be treated to pork ribs, cheese burgers, smoked sausages, and my home-style baked beans...it should be very interesting.... but someone should probably alert Scottish Parliament, I suppose... just to let them know that a new natural gas deposit is about to be discovered slightly inland from the Montrose basin.. heh heh....

... I don't know what time the missus got home last night from "Mamma Mia!", but she was wiped out this morning when I woke... I guess listening to Abba music all evening just sucks the life right out of you... God knows it would suck the life right out of ME..

... anyway, I'm off to the butcher's shop in a bit... I called yesterday and ordered the ribs and burgers, and all is well.... it's nice to be able to order your meat direct from a real butcher instead of just grazing across row after row of pre-packaged cellophane-covered crap.... it just seems so much more civilized to have your order hand-wrapped and waiting for you as you pull to the curb....

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The Acidbrother..

.... in all the excitement of pulling weeds, baking myself in the Sun, curry-eating, and wine drinking, I almost forgot to talk about an extremely interesting fellow I met a few days ago...

... see, during my recent visit to the Folk Club, I has the pleasure of meeting Acidman's long lost Scottish brother.... and I have to admit, I was surprised that Rob's Kentucky Daddy had made it across the pond so long ago... but the proof is undeniable...

... anyway, here he is in all his glory... in the first one he is finger-picking and singing a wonderful Irish tune.... in the second snapshot, he is squeezing the bellows of the pipes along to a soulful rendition of "Wild Mountain Thyme"...

acidman_guitar_small.jpg

.... and here is the "pipe-squeezing" shot...

acidman_pipes_small.jpg

... I tried to ask him about his parentage after the concert but he got all burly...so I let it drop.... tis always better to err on the side of caution when travelling in a foreign land, people.... trust me..

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(9) | TrackBack (1) | Scotland 2006
» Gut Rumbles links with: long lost brother

Gardener at rest...

... behold today's exertion, rubberneckers....

in_the_garden_small.jpg

... I'm telling you, it ain't for the faint of heart... it's a jungle out there, people... and although I do look quite relaxed, I can assure you that my heart is absolutely pounding from all the physical activity I'd just endured....

... hey, I almost broke a sweat!... over here in the Olde Country, you really have to earn those gin and tonics... they tell me that us "Colonials" have it way too easy...

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Photos...

.... whoa... it seems that Livey has some pictures up of Austin.... goodness.... she's damn sneaky lass when she has a camera in her hands..

... and in my defense, I have no idea what I am holding up in the backseat with TJ... no, really.... I have no recollection of that at all.... see that look on my face?... reminiscent of a recently clubbed baby seal?.. yeah, that's me....

... of course, I had that look on my face for most of the weekend....

... and that photo of me and Kelley was taken right before I screwed up our traditional blogmeet song... I really need to practice that more..

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May 9th...

... yesterday started strangely and warbled around for hours, and then ended with me in a twisted pile of tiredness.... but it was still good...

.... we're slated to have friends over on Friday for a grill-fest, and I have been drafted as head chef... so I kicked around the lawn in the afternoon keeping myself occupied with getting it in shape for the arrival of our company... Duncan mowed and I edged all the sidewalks and swept the drive.... the Sun was shining beautifully all day and I did most of the work in my short sleeves.... not at all what I was expecting before leaving, I tell you... the weather here at this time of year is normally quite cold.... so this week has been a very pleasant surprise...

.... taking a break from my lawnboy duties, I wandered up Northesk Road and into town around noon... filled baguettes from "Candy's Sandwich Shop" were on the menu for lunch and I drifted back home with three big ones... funnily enough, those sandwiches are always one of the high points of our visit... they do some Cajun chicken that is out of this world...

... the afternoon was spent in the sun-filled back lawn sipping wine and reading... an ancient tome of Rudyard Kipling's poems had been given to me in St. Andrews the other by my father in law, and I leafed through it while the wine soaked in...

... for dinner we ordered a carryout from the local Chinese eatery...

... music filled the evening and night as we watched a traditional Scottish band do their thing... reels, waltzes, old Rabbie Burns tunes, you name it... a piper, a fiddler, a guitarist, and a pianist... Back Of The Moon, they were called.... the Wife bought a CD and the band happily autographed it for her...

... but today is a down-day.... nothing planned... no place to be... I think I'm going to enjoy it....

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More on Food...

... Scotland is a wily and mysterious land... full of surprise and enigma... like a few days ago when I happened to spy a new menu item at the local chippie...

... right there on the board, snugly tucked between deep-fried haggis and macaroni pies, lay a tempting curiosity... a chilli-cheese hotdog...

.. well, I could not resist...

... but looking back, I probably should have...

... it arrived looking harmless enough... eight inches of non-descript wiener.. chilli beans and ground beef.. shredded cheddar.... it actually looked like a real hotdog...

... but upon tasting it, my buds sparked a mini-rebellion.. quelling them with lashings of cider, I forced them onwards towards the next bite... and the next.. and the next... until finally my Scottish hotdog odyssey was complete...

... I always find it amazing how something can look normal and yet be totally whacked once tasted... it is the ultimate switch and bait routine, and it leaves your tongue in a lurch... like that green ketchup that Burger King tried a while back...

.... anyway, I have spent considerable time mulling over the specifics of texture, taste, and temperature.... and most recently - the after effects - and I am at a total loss for words....

... and try as I might, I can't do the chippie's hotdog justice... it wasn't bad, per se... it was just unlike any other hotdog ever conceived..

.... but it has made me realize one thing... while chilli seems like a simple thing, never underestimate the millions of ways it can be screwed up... it's not just beans, tomato, beef, and chilli powder... no, no... it is much more than that... and the Scots just can't hang....

... see, the Scots are an incredible bunch... resilient, strong, and cunning... inventive, persistent, and adventurous.. and they have had a hand in creating everything from tarmac to radar.... but take it from me, as your humble host, they can't cook chilli for shit...

... in other news, my pasty face is sunburned to a crisp.... sitting in the garden sipping wine does not suit me at all.... I am a deck guy... shade trees, humidity, and gin... that's my bag... hanging in a windswept patch of grass that is protected from the chilly wind by a tall stone wall....well, it provides one an incorrect sense of being protected.... and getting fried by the Sun while wearing a sweater is just plain wrong....

... anyway, I'm off to listen to some folk music.... y'all have a good night....

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Pink Wine..

... the trip down to Dundee yesterday ended with us crossing the Tay Bridge into Fife.... from there we followed the coast road through Leuchars and on down to St. Andrews.. the wind was up but it was still a mild day....

... I took quite a few photos of the various foreign golfers puttering around before finding a nice warm nook for a pint or two.. so after the familial unit finished wandering the ancient town, we all met up at The Seafood Restaurant for a incredible meal...

.... I happily supped upon chicken liver parfait with apple jelly, foie gras and parma ham boudin, pan-seared fillet of halibut seafood and pancetta chowder, braised pak choi Grilled, and a nice pink wine to wash it all down... domaine de Montrose something-or-other, I think... they all thought it quite funny that I was drinking pink wine... they even took a photo as proof... but in my defense, it was not I who chose the wine from the list..

... anyway, this evening I am off to the Links Hotel in Montrose to partake of their monthly Folk Music night... as usual, I'll keep you hammerheads informed as to my whereabouts just in case I don't return.... I never know when I'll need one of you guys to come to my rescue...

... so far though, well, I'm managing alright...

.. here's a shot of the North Sea... I was standing on the lawn of the St. Andrews Club House looking vaguely northwards towards RAF Leuchars...

north_sea_small.jpg

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Discovery...

... today I am off to Dundee to prowl... after all, Dundee is sometimes called the"City of Discovery"... so I guess we'll see about that... oh, and if I discover anything important, I'll sure to fill y'all in...

... anyway, here are twa' photos I took a few days ago...

deeside_small.jpg

... the River Dee having a quiet moment just above Braemar....

cairngorm_small.jpg

... the River Dee again with the mighty Cairngorms rising up behind....

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Lost....

... this afternoon I was greeted by a smiling French chef named Frank... he was carving the flesh off of the slowly cooked haunches of three different species of beast when I approached him.... pork, beef, and lamb... and having cooked the flesh himself, his smile was well-grounded in the knowledge of how delicious the cutlets would be once I had arrived back at my table...

... and he was right, you know... the meat simply fell from the bone at a touch of my fork.. it was cooked in such a way that even an aged Grandmother who had accidentally left her dentures on the bathroom sink at home in the excitement of being told she was going out on the town for dinner would be able to gnaw joyously without ever damaging her gums....it was just that damn tender...

... indeed, any meat-loving human - from a babe-in-arms to a wizened senior citizen - would have thoroughly enjoyed the product of his hours in the kitchen... but I digress...

... as I was dipping my fragrant slice of lamb into a small pool of mint sauce, it suddenly came to me... the memory of the wild boar pate I had eaten a few days ago... and as I sat there with folded linen napkin draped gracefully in my lap, fork poised, and a pint of ale at the ready, I was hit by a deep and desperate sadness...

... where have lost ourselves, children?... at what point on the Great Trail of Life did we take the wrong turn at the crossroads and find ourselves suddenly faced with a chilled plate of wild boar pate?... the mind truly boggles...

... lookit.... once upon a time, the boar was the mightiest beast in the forest.. gruff and dangerous... mean and powerful... and only hunted by the bravest of the brave... men who, in days long ago, would gird themselves about the loins with leather plates and arm themselves with a pike... with the sole intent of going mano e porcino with a thousand-pounds of pissed-off hog... maybe to prove their courage... maybe to win the heart of a Lady... or maybe just because they were hungry.... but either way, they dove into the deep-end of reality....

... it's enough to crush one's soul, I tell you.... there I sat in a glorious valley between the Grampians and the Cairngorms eating pureed wild boar that had been delicately spread across a peppercorn cracker...I should have been ashamed of myself, actually... but I wasn't... well, not really...ok, maybe just a little bit.... I mean, c'mon.. wild boar is not meant to be ground into a paste... it's meant to be grilled in hand-sized hunks over an open campfire while the hunters compare tusk-wounds....


... and today as I dug into the lamb and the beef, and the roasted potatoes and steamed vegetables, I did feel a twinge of guilt.. but, fearless intrepid that I am, I persevered.... I sat back in my chair and took a long draught out of my 80 shilling beer... and laughed at the absurdity of it all... and then, of course, I finished my meal...

... it does just seem so very wrong though... moleskin trousers, tab-collared button-up shirts, and completely emasculated Wild Beasts... on lots and lots of levels...

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May 3rd...

... where to start.. where to start... on the first leg of the trip, the Wife and I sidled into Gallagher's Steak House at the Newark Airport for lunch before jumping the pond... 14$ for a sandwich and worth every dime... so one club sandwich and 3 double Macallans later, I boarded the jet...

... saw an interesting fellow at the airport, though... a plain looking guy in a floppy hat and designer jeans.. you know, middle-aged bald guys should not wear hip-huggers... just a thought... but that is another story all together... what I really want to bring up is the blonde trophy-wife who was hanging on his every word... heh... who says money can't buy happiness?!... the guy resembled Gilligan almost completely... and here was this tanned chick dripping in gold jewelry (giving everyone a nice shot of her pink thong) gazing doe-eyed alternately between Gilligan's smiling face and his oyster shell Rolex...

... the Wife did laugh...

... landing in Amsterdam saw our flight late... and we nearly missed our connection to Aberdeen... the peeps at the gate decided that we were going to miss the departure and called for our luggage to be disembarked... but of course we did actually make the connection.... so this resulted in us arriving in Aberdeen sans luggage... other than that, the trip over went very well..

... I would like to point out that the sight of Amsterdam falling away in the distance as we departed Schipol was amazing... the fields surrounding the metropolis resembled a patchwork quilt.... reds, blues, purples, yellows, oranges, and whites.. dotted everywhere were acre after acre of blooming flowers.... the Sun was just coming up and the whole scene was incredibly beautiful... of course, I hadn't gotten a wink of sleep all the way across the Atlantic, so my mind was grasping for anything to focus on... so take that with a grain of salt.. I might have been a bit biased....

... the In-laws picked us up and the drive out to Craigendarroch was filled with laughter and homecoming... the Wife was definitely in her element as the Mercedes sped along the curves of the River Dee... me?.. I could hardly keep my eyes open...

... after arriving, we were given a tray of cheese, crackers, and wild boar pate to nibble on until we had regained our strength from travelling... oh, and Merlot...lots and lots of Merlot..

.... anyway, that is enough for now... I'll give you the next installment shortly... but until then, I will leave you with a photo of yours truly preparing to storm Crathes Castle the next morning... fearsome, no?... it was the jetlag, I promise.... you can tell by the bags under my eyes... I'm not usually a violent person..

crathies_small.jpg

... heh....

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Mabel.

This morning I was feeling more than a little hungry (all this East Tennessee clean air gives one an appetite), and I didn't feel like messing up and then having to clean the Straight White Kitchen. So, I decided to make my way into town for some breakfast. I saw a place on the highway called, "Big George's Grits Emporium". How could I not pull in?

I found myself a seat in the corner of the restaurant. Just about everyone in the place was wearing overalls and well-worn baseball caps, most of which bore the logo of one farm equipment manufacturer or another. They all seemed to know one another too. It was a real comfortable place.

I was seated less than a minute, when a waitress walked smartly to my table to take my order, and this is how it went:

Mabel: Good mornin' sir. My name's Mabel what can I get for you today?

Me: Haya dooin', Mabel. I'd like bacon and a couple eggs, scrambled, please.

Mabel: (smiling) I can tell that you're not from around here.

Me: (smiling back) No, I'm not. How'd ya guess?

Mabel: Your accent. They say I have a real good ear for accents, but it would be hard for anyone around here to miss yours.

Me: Well, you're right. I'm not from here; I'm from New Jersey. I figured that as long as I didn't ask for Taylor ham on a hard roll you might not notice.

Mabel: Taylor ham? Hard roll?

Me: Never mind. It's a Jersey thing.

Mabel: So what brings a New Jersey guy to Possum Breath, Tennessee?

Me: I'm house sitting for a friend of mine named Eric. Maybe you know him?

Mabel: Opie!! You're a friend of Opie's? I just love his red hair and freckles.

Me: So, you know Opie - I mean, Eric?

Mabel: I've known him just about all my life. We went to school together. Is he on vacation or something?

Me: Yeah, he went to Scotland. His wife is Scottish, you know.

Mabel: I know. She's a sweetheart. But, lately I have been worried about Opie - I mean, Eric.

Me: Really? Why is that?

Mabel: For the past couple years, he's taken to talkin' real funny.

Me: I don't understand. He sounds sorta like you.

Mabel: I'm not talking about his accent. What is crazy is how many times he says "dot-dot-dot". It's downright strange. He'll come in here and say, "Hi Mabel dot-dot-dot. You're lookin' really chipper today dot-dot-dot. How about some biscuits and gravy dot-dot-dot. I could also go for some of your world class grits dot-dot-dot. And dot-dot-dot I'd like to top that off with a cup of hot, steamin' coffee dot-dot-dot. Breakfast, rubberneckers dot-dot-dot It's a thing of beauty dot-dot-dot."

Me: He actually speaks with ellipses?

Mabel: Speaks with what?

Me: Ellipses - the dots. He really talks like that around here?

Mabel: Oh, yes indeed he does. Especially after he's spent a couple hours on his computer writing on his Nog,, or is it Bog?

Me: His blog?

Mabel: Yeah. That's right - his blog. And sometimes it's even worse. He's not just talking funny, but he describes doing strange things too.

Me: How so? What kind of things?

Mabel: Well a couple weeks ago, came in and I said, "Hi Eric. How's your day goin'?" Instead of just saying something like "fine, thanks, Mabel," he said, "I was sitting on my deck this morning watching a spicebush swallowtail butterfly flit back and forth in a brisk breeze dot-dot-dot It kept turning in on its own flight path dot-dot-dot Turning in left dot-dot-dot Turning in right dot-dot-dot We all turn in on our own flight paths, children dot-dot-dot Most often we get to where we are going dot-dot-dot but sometimes not. Then I thought I would see how much of my pubic hair I could pull out in fifteen seconds dot-dot-dot I was already naked, so there was no need to drop trou dot-dot-dot Economy of movement, children dot-dot-dot I watched the sweep hand on my watch, and when it hit the 12, I began pulling at clumps of bush dot-dot-dot it was pretty rough going for that 15 seconds dot-dot-dot But I got most of it out dot-dot-dot Hey, it's all good dot-dot-dot That's what I always tell my rubberneckers dot-dot-dot."

Me: May I have that bacon crispy?

Mabel: Sure. Comin' right up.

I may retire in Possum Breath.

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Howdy...

... greetings from Scotland, gentle readers.... I trust you all are well and fine and getting exactly what each of you deserve....

... oh, and many thanks to Brother Jimbo of the Rest Stop for holding down the fort while I was away... the man is a talented man among talented men... but that Playskool Razor joke was just a bridge too far...

... by the by, I will attempt to post everyday from now on out.... after all, I wouldn't want Jim to get TOO comfortable with my Tennessee neighbors while I'm gone... I fear the poor man doesn't really know how they get after a few stiff drinks (once they get to know you)... and I worry about him losing his heart to the wily ways of a handsome backwoodsman... hey, it has happened before...

... so anyway, here I is... pecking away at the keyboard from the lovely city of Montrose... smelling the salt air of the North Sea... etc.. y'all get the point...

... this is going to be a new project for me, though... a blow by blow travelogue of sorts... exciting stuff... riveting stuff.... you know, like what I had to eat for lunch and such... besides, I know what a short attention span you retards have... so I'll try to keep everything short and sweet..

... but right now I'm running out of time... see, I'm off to a black-tie choral concert tonight and I need to polish my cowboy boots before mingling with the locals... so I'll fill everyone in with the gory details of the past week tomorrow some time...

... for four days Royal Deeside never knew what hit it, people... just trust me...

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Neighbor.

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich I had for lunch on the Straight White Deck made me sleepy, so I got myself comfortable on the Straight White Couch. Soon I was nestled in the arms of Morpheus. I couldn't have been asleep for very long, when ...

DING, DING, DING, DING, DING, DING, DING ... DING-DONG
DING, DING, DING, DING, DONG, DONG, DONG

WTF???

It took me a moment to realize that I had just heard the Marine Corps Song (You know ... "From the Halls of Montezuma; to the shores of Tripoli") played on chimes!!

It was the farookin' Straight White Doorbell. I'm thinking, Goddamn, that Eric is one serious nutbar..

Still only half awake, I stumbled to the front door and opened it to be greeted by a huge guy in overalls who looked like Haystacks Calhoun.

Me: "Hi. What can I do for you?"

Neighbor: "Where the hell is Eric?"

Me: "He's on vacation. I'm keeping an eye on the place."

Neighbor: "You smell like you've been eatin' his peanut butter."

Me: "You're right, but Eric said I could help myself to stuff in the Kitchen. You do have some sense of smell though."

Neighbor: "Yeah, especially when it comes to peanut butter and Yankees. I smell that on ya too."

Me: "Right again. I'm from New Jersey."

Neighbor: "New Jersey? That's on the Canadian border, right?"

Me: "Not exactly. It's one of the Middle Atlantic ..."

Neighbor: "Don't mean shit to me. A Yankee is a Yankee. You a friend of Eric's?"

Me: "Sure. He asked me to keep an eye on his house didn't he?"

Neighbor: "Damn, you're right about that. OK. Any friend of Eric's is a friend of mine. (Extends his hand). Put er there. My name is Scoots Peapatch."

Me: (shaking hands) "Nice to meet you Scoots. My name is Jim. What can I do for you?"

Neighbor: "Well, I stopped by to see if Eric wanted to come with me down the road to my place. Me and some of the boys plan to have us some real fun. Hell, you interested in joinin' us?"

Me: "What is it that you have planned?"

Neighbor: "It's gonna be great. We're gonna slice the nuts off some bulls, drink a shitload of corn squeezins' and then head over to the sheep pasture, if ya know what I mean."

Me: "Jeez, that sounds swell, but I'm afraid I can't make it."

Neighbor: "You got something better to do?"

Me: "Yeah, I planned on conditioning my hair."

Neighbor: "What?"

Me: "Never mind. Listen Scoots, it was nice meeting you. I'll tell Eric you stopped by."

Neighbor: "Hey, maybe I'll stop by tomorrow. You interested in shoveling cow shit? We make a fun day of it."

Me: "I don't think so, Scoots, but thanks for the visit."

"Scoots Peapatch"? ... I love this farookin' place.

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Beep!

I was poking around the Straight White Mansion looking for suitable reading material when I noticed that the light on Eric's answering machine was blinking. People must have called when I was out on the deck or busy shooting pool.

Should I listen to Eric's messages, or not? That would be sorta like snooping, wouldn't it? I don't think I should.

"Yo, Jimbo, suppose it is Eric and he left you an important message? You'd feel really shitty if you ignored a really important message from Eric, no? What if he is stuck somewhere in the Highlands and is waiting for your call?"

Of course, I decided to listen to the messages, as it is the only decent thing to do. Here is a sample:

BEEEEEP

"Hello Mr. SWG, this is sergeant Dave Desmond of the Possum Breath Police Force. Sir, we have received complaints from your neighbors about a naked man sitting on your deck, drinking what is reported to look like an alcoholic beverage and reciting poetry to no one. We asked the complaining parties to describe the man, and they all described a pasty-complexioned and freckled man of your approximate height, weight and age. Oh, and they also noted that, aside from the short red hair on the man's head and eyebrows, he was completely hairless. Please return my call to let me know when I might stop by to ask you a few questions. If you prefer, you can stop by the police station any time."

BEEEEEP

"Good afternoon, Mr. SWG. My name is Morton Dixon, and I am the President of PWRRWSPAWMTWSL, which, as I am sure you already know, stands for People Who Recite Robert W. Service Poetry AND Who Memorize Tom Waits Song Lyrics'. We would like you to become a member of our organization, and we want to invite you to attend our annual convention next month. This year, we will be holding it in my brother-in-law's SUV. Please let me know if you can make it. We'd love to have you."

BEEEEEP

"Mr. SWG, this is John Kitman. I'm the manager of the Holiday Inn in Austin, Texas. It seems that we have quite the situation here, Mr. SWG. Following your check-out on Sunday, a member of our housekeeping staff entered your room and was immediately surrounded by a hoard of streaming chipmunks. The little bastards got into her hair and scared her half to death. Before she arrived, they had torn up all the furniture and drapes, not to mention having shit all over everything. We had to pay an exterminator and now the room must be repainted and refurnished. Our employee is currently hospitalized with intractable heart palpitations. You can expect to hear from our lawyer."

Man, I just love this place.

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The Social Club.

Well, I spent the day out on the Straight White Deck sipping Eric's expensive scotch, listening to Tom Waits CDs and trying to figure out how Eric can squeeze so much blog fodder from doing just that. Sure, it's right purty here, but I'll be damned if I can write a whole paragraph, much less a complete post, about farookin' boids. I stared at those bastards for hours waiting for them to "speak" to me, but it never happened. Maybe they sensed that I'm not from here, and I don't know the lingo.

As the afternoon drifted by and began the process of becoming evening, it dawned on me that today is Wednesday, which is the day that the almost defunct Wednesday Glen Eagle Social Club would come by to shoot pool, shoot shit, and drink copious amounts of adult beverages.

With the help of the Straight White Phonebook (a piece of old baloney paper stuck to the refrigerator door with a magnet that looks like a Davy Crockett hat), I called each of the Social Club Members and they all appeared within the hour.

And, man were they thirsty. After we drank every drop of beer in the house, one of the guys went out to pick up a couple more cases. Ol' Helge was covered with empty beer bottles. I think she appreciated the attention.

These guys told me that they couldn't shoot pool worth a damn, and that the five bucks per game of nine-ball was "just to keep it interestin'." Fifty bucks later I realized that these Tennessee shitheels really can shoot pool - like Willie Goddamned Mosconi, fer Chrissake.

I was pissed, but these guys were really snockered, and they carried guns. I felt better when they told me that they always let Eric win, because once when he lost he put beans in his ears and wouldn't talk to anyone for days.

Anyway, that's how I spent the evening in the Possum Breath Mansion.

Oh, I'll be leaving the bill for the beer and the fifty bucks stuck to the refrigerator with a magnet on which appear the words "New Jersey - Only the Strong Survive". Eric must have picked that up on the boardwalk last summer.

It seemed downright fitting to me.

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Checking Things Out.

Yes, Rubberneckers, it's true. Eric gave me the keys to the Tennessee Mansion and asked that I keep an eye on things while he is busy eating meat pies and tossing cabers about while wearing a fetching plaid skirt.

I thought I would take a wee look around his place - just to make sure everything is in order. I wouldn't think of snooping in Eric's abode - most definitely not. I'm not that kinda feller.

Let's start in the kitchen, shall we?

Hmmmmm, let's see what's in this cabinet here above the stove. HOLY CRAP!! I was just hit in the head with about three-dozen boxes of Kraft's Mac & Cheese. He seems partial to the ones that look like corkscrews. Next to the Mac & Cheese are about a half dozen containers of curry. I'm sure the crazy bastard, culinary swashbuckler that he thinks he is, must be eating curried Mac & Cheese. The man does eat some weird shit.

Memo to Self: Suggest to Eric that he may wish to consider the joy of having a colonoscopy.

I think I'll mosey over to the Straight White Bedroom.

Ooooh, look how cute. He's got his jimmies folded up real nice on his dresser. I think I'll unfold them to have a look. Awwww..... They're GI Joe Jammies, with the feet in them and a trap door in the rear. I cannot help but wonder if Mrs. Straight White Guy has the Scottish-Nurse-Tending-to-the-Wounded-Yanks Jammies. After all, there's not much to do in Possum Breath Tennessee on those cold winter nights. I'll just have to continue to wonder about that, because Mrs. Straight White Guys stuff is off limits.

Holy Cannoli! Eric forgot his Captain Video Sleep Breathing Contraption. Scotland will never be the same. I can hear it now:

"Angus, who the hell is playing the pipes? It sounds positively like shite!"

"Aye, Duncan, shite it is, but it ain't the pipes you're hearin'. That red-headed Yank is snorin' again. He snores even funnier than he talks. Would you believe it? The bloody fool sat down in the restaurant last night and ordered something called "REE-yubs".

What say we head into the garage?

I feel I should check on Helge, the Nordic Bitch. I know she has worked Eric over pretty good in the past, which had him posing in front of his bathroom mirror, obviously going for the Iggy Pop look.

Yep, just as I figured. Looks like Helge has been serving as a hat rack for quite some time. I guess Ol' Iggy's got nothing to worry about.

I've finally mustered up enough courage to take a peek into the Straight White Bathroom.

I admit to being quite uneasy about peeking into Eric's bathroom, not only because it is one of the last bastions of privacy we all have, but also because it is the final stop for all that curried Mac & Cheese. But I'll take one for the team to provide a full service to you rubberneckers.

Ah, I see his razor there by the sink. How very cute. It's a Playskool Shave-Like-the-Big-Boys Razor. I wonder if he has decided to spend the next three weeks growing a beard, or whether he simply forgot his razor and bubble gum flavored shave cream. Either way, when he returns, he can shave off three weeks' growth with a wet towel.

Well, everything seems to be in order around here. I will be popping in from time to time this week to make sure the timers on the lights are working and to share a word or two with you rubberneckers.

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Jetting....

..... I took my dog-eared copy Robert Service poems with me to Austin this past weekend, but only opened it twice.... once in the airport as I was coming... and once in the airport as I was leaving... I had intended to torture everyone with a recitation, but I just couldn't find the time or the motivation... there was too much activity.. too many friendly faces to chat with... and it was not a time for poems....

... as I was leaving Austin, I flipped through the pages and found one of my favorites... I read it and re-read it quietly out at Gate 22 as the jets took off and landed....

... in a few hours I will be off to a resort near the slopes of Lochnagar... resting myself in a cozy cottage with the mountain framed in the bay window.... sipping hot tea and eating blood pudding.. trying my very damnedest to act civilized...

... you guys know I'm gonna miss you, right?...

... anyway, here is what I accidentally turned to this past Sunday at Gate 22...


... "The World's All Right", by R.W. Service.... from the 1912 publication of "Rhymes of a Rolling Stone" ......

Be honest, kindly, simple, true;
Seek good in all, scorn but pretence;
Whatever sorrow come to you,
Believe in Life's Beneficence!

The World's all right; serene I sit,
And cease to puzzle over it.
There's much that's mighty strange, no doubt;
But Nature knows what she's about;
And in a million years or so
We'll know more than to-day we know.
Old Evolution's under way --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

Could things be other than they are?
All's in its place, from mote to star.
The thistledown that flits and flies
Could drift no hair-breadth otherwise.
What is, must be; with rhythmic laws
All Nature chimes, Effect and Cause.
The sand-grain and the sun obey --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

Just try to get the Cosmic touch,
The sense that "you" don't matter much.
A million stars are in the sky;
A million planets plunge and die;
A million million men are sped;
A million million wait ahead.
Each plays his part and has his day --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

Just try to get the Chemic view:
A million million lives made "you".
In lives a million you will be
Immortal down Eternity;
Immortal on this earth to range,
With never death, but ever change.
You always were, and will be aye --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

Be glad! And do not blindly grope
For Truth that lies beyond our scope:
A sober plot informeth all
Of Life's uproarious carnival.
Your day is such a little one,
A gnat that lives from sun to sun;
Yet gnat and you have parts to play --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

And though it's written from the start,
Just act your best your little part.
Just be as happy as you can,
And serve your kind, and die -- a man.
Just live the good that in you lies,
And seek no guerdon of the skies;
Just make your Heaven here, to-day --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

Remember! in Creation's swing
The Race and not the man's the thing.
There's battle, murder, sudden death,
And pestilence, with poisoned breath.
Yet quick forgotten are such woes;
On, on the stream of Being flows.
Truth, Beauty, Love uphold their sway --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

The World's all right; serene I sit,
And joy that I am part of it;
And put my trust in Nature's plan,
And try to aid her all I can;
Content to pass, if in my place
I've served the uplift of the Race.
Truth! Beauty! Love! O Radiant Day --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

.... I'll yell at you guys next Sunday and let you know what I've been up to in the Motherland... until then, I'll let Jimbo keep you entertained...

... and speaking of poetry... if you're gonna write about a blogmeet, well, Elisson has set the standard... the man is incredible....

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Bullets...

.... my first visit to the Great State of Texas blew me away... 100%.... all day and in every way... hell, I'm getting goose bumps just trying to recall the details.. and since my mind is not the steel trap it used to be, let me just offer some random blogmeet fragments as I can best recollect them... old friends and new friends kinda get jumbled together....

.. Walrilla says he's part Indian.. but I don't believe him... he grows too good of a beard to have very much Indian in him... ...

... El Capitan OWNS his Cadillac... and he drives that bitch HARD... no wonder it catches on fire from time to time...

... oh, and speaking of beards... I forgot my razor... and by the end of the meet I had a three-day beard and no one noticed... that is just so very wrong... once I hit puberty, I'm gonna be dangerous...

... I went an entire blogmeet without punching Zonker in the arm... that's a first... even though I was sorely tempted after his Quaker Oatmeal remark...

... Denny sang "Blackbird" for me... and I loved it... the man has talent...

... Acidman sang "Please Come to Boston" and it was incredible... and it was a joy to see him looking so well..

... Misha's two boys can eat them some buttered bread, people... I'm serious... it was impressive...

... Delftsman is one cool customer.. even in the midst of a heart attack... and his daughter is destined for sainthood...

... Eric and Denita & Son welcomed me to their table.. Texas hospitality at work, people..

...Beth sat with me and Walrilla during dinner (she's one brave lass).. and it was a real pleasure to have what little time I had with her...

... if Christina ever offers you any of her home cooked food, do not say no... just trust me, her cooking is to die for...

.. the Confabulator is my homeboy.. an old 50's era jarhead who is a great guy to hang with...

... Marcus is a cad and a scoundrel... and I hope I'm just like him when I grow up... seriously...

... one of the things that the World needs is more Elissons..

... my baby, Shoe... what can I say?... if she doesn't have the best belly-laugh in Texas, it has to be at least in the top ten...

... soul-sister Kelley is the only girl I know who'd fly to Texas just to get a pedicure.... (sorry I always mess up "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain", Kelley...) ...

... if you ever find yourself being told a story by K-nine... help him out... his tales are twisty, but they are worth listening to... and he likes audience participation...

... Nancy, dear... I am sorry I didn't get more of a chance to speak with you... that means you'll just have to come to the NEXT meet-up!..

.... if you come to a blogmeet, Livey will hug you... repeatedly!... and sometimes she sneaks up behind you too... she's sneaky...

... I got to meet this guy whose blog I couldn't pronounce.. sorry, big guy... I'm glad you didn't punch me... I was just playing... honest...

... Dash Riprock is one smooth guy.... the guy is like James Bond in a flowery shirt..

... no matter when or where you have a blogmeet, T1G will have some mysterious ailment befall him... I think it is nerves or something... the guy is such a shy and retiring little flower...

... never ask Leslie to rub lotion on your face... she is an evil person and will use your trust against you to create embarrassing photo opportunities...

... if you ever have breakfast with Boudicca, you will be impressed... I've never seen anyone so tiny eat such a mound of food... I'm telling you, folks, she's teensy...

... Tammi is the kind of girl who will run and fetch you an umbrella and then suffer the sunburn herself... she's just that giving...

... Jimbo's daughter TJ has the voice of an angel... those two sang "Sentimental Journey" and I misted up... oh, and Jim's voice ain't too bad either....

... Oddybobo let me sit beside her... and wow, she has some really long hair.... and Richmond?... you got your hugs... a whole bunch of 'em.... by proxy, of course.. but she did you proud...

.... Redneck doesn't like guys holding umbrellas... some sort of phobia, I suppose... I think he must have just been having an allergic reaction to the beer...

... there is more, but I'm too busy packing to type it up... the weekend was a blur of activity... and well, other parts are just plain blurry... so if I missed you, send me some hatemail and I'll fix it right up.... but be warned that it might be a few weeks before I get to it...

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(11) | TrackBack (1) | Blogging
» Gut Rumbles links with: blown-star blodgers

OW...

... ow ow ow ow ow.....

... you know, it's fairly safe to say that I am a veteran when it comes to blogmeets... but this past one in Austin has left me aching all over... even my fillings hurt.. I think it was from laughing so hard, but I'm not sure... I could have actually been rolled out in the parking lot a few times and just don't remember it...

... anyway, it's time to decompress and heal...and try to catalog all the good memories I collected this weekend...

... tomorrow afternoon I'm zipping out of the country for three weeks... yep, I'm off to eat haggis, sip Scotch, and generally try to blend with the locals... but do not despair, rubberneckers.. I'll try to scrape together a post this afternoon from my scrambled brain.. and it will involve no photographs.. after all, this is a family friendly site...

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