….. ever have one of those days where – no matter what you do – you just can't win?.... a day where your heroic straining against epic forces is all to no avail?..... no?.... well, let me just tell you now, friends, they suck…..

… the other night my friend (The Guy That Is In The Witness Protection Program) soundly beat me at five games of 8-ball in a row…. And by the end of the night, he was getting pretty damn cocky about it, too…. so for your evening’s enjoyment, here’s a clip of the final time he stuck the allegorical knife in…

Me: …. You want to film this last little bit?
Cameraman: … urgle… *nodding head*
Me: …. Well, let me turn the soundtrack up…..
… *crack*….. *plop*…..
TGTIITWPP: …. Awww…. I really hate’n that fuckin’ happens…..

….. as for the camera going out of focus, I have no excuse…. Much like me not having any excuse for getting my tail thrashed on my own table all evening….. but in my defense, I was not the cameraman that day…. for those of you who don’t know, that’s me standing by the window in the white shirt….

…. Oh, and extra bonus points for identifying the song that I turned up…. Mark?... hey, I know you’re good at this stuff…..

… and with that, I’m off, children… y’all have a good night….

Read the Bullshit »


…. I was amazed today as the Discovery Channel blazed away…..

… there was a scene during a program about Great Whites where they were lopping off 30lb chunks of whale blubber with their mighty choppers while the cameras whirred….. and half-way through, a guy got out of the boat and climbed over on top of the bobbing slickness of the decaying whale WHILE the sharks fed inches from his quivering, idiotic body….

…. One false move and he’d have slid right into the gaping maw of a hungry shark……. It was pure insanity……

…. But more to the point, the program noted how the sharks appeared to become “drunken” after gorging themselves on hundreds of pounds of whale blubber…. Bumping into things – including each other – and generally just lolling around in the foosty waters of the northern Pacific after a rather large lunch…….

… the presenter said, “you know, I have often believed that old whale carcasses have triggered Great White Shark orgies, and these sharks certainly seem ready to mate!”…..

…. I could hardly believe it…… how fucking Californian is that?... or American, maybe......

…. my goodness..... Drunken sharks gorging on huge masses of fat and then sporting erections and randomly bumping into something and trying to mate with it?.....

… but you know, it does bear noting, however briefly, that such sights have played out in our OWN species from time to time as well….. I mean, drunken lolling has often been induced in a few of my relatives after generous portions of pork fat has been grilled…. And hey, in more sober moments, many of them would bite with the ferocity of a Great White on the trail of a juvenile seal… but after ribs, steak, or brisket, they definitely morphed into much more loquacious and randy beasts……

…. Kinda makes you wonder when you next see Aunt Betty, eh?.....

Read the Bullshit »


…. Yesterday was a busy day…. morning errands, lunchtime cookout, and an evening of Shark Week……

…. I ended up manning the grill at a cookout that my little brother hosted – he being uneducated in the mystic art of searing flesh to savory, tender, juicy, and warmly surrendered perfection….. but, to his credit, he did pay close attention as I ministered to the ribeyes…… next time it is HIS turn to work the grill....

…. a good time was had by all….. pasta salad, baked beans, steak, macaroni and cheese… all eaten poolside and chased down with glasses of pink lemonade (the beer came later)……

…. In reality, it was probably a bit too hot to be standing post steakside, but I soldiered through all 12lbs of goodness…. And the guests seemed to enjoy the product of my sweaty efforts afterwards….. Worcestershire sauce is an amazing balm for a sunny Sunday afternoon…..

… anyhoo, I’m scheduled to pump some iron and then nibble a tuna sandwich this afternoon…. penance for yesterday’s hedonism, dontcha know……

…. but, hey, it’s all cool…. And besides, that’s the way it all works out, you know?.... you play, you pay….

…. Oh, and for the record, getting eaten by sharks ranks right up there with being torn limb from limb by ravenous Zombies in my book of “Give Eric A Screaming Case Of The Diarrhea Inducing Heebie Jeebies”…..

Read the Bullshit »


….. it is raining here now….. no thunder - just rain…… no wind…. and the rain is falling straight down in large, fat drops…. ahhh, but it was not always thus….

…. Indeed, earlier today I nipped into town to score some groceries and took my trusty camera along…..

…. And as content is sorely lacking here on account of an incredibly insidious bout of Pure Laziness, I figured that I should probably let y’all see a bit of my neck of the proverbial woods…..so, here you go….. a little snippet of the road home….. my road, that is….

….. y’all probably live somewhere else…..

… not a bad stretch of road, really, when there isn’t any rain…..

Read the Bullshit »


….. well, since I know that you gentle readers are absolutely riveted to hear about my battle with the pastry, I guess that I should fill y’all in….

…. First, I loaded up a big pot with some olive oil, chopped garlic, and a whole diced onion… once that was simmering nicely in the pot, I diced up two sirloins and rolled them in flour, salt, and pepper…. Once coated, I tossed them in the pot and seared the livin’ Hades out of them until they were nice and brown…. Next, I added two cups of cheap red wine & two cups of beef broth and simmered the concoction for two hours…..

… after two hours, I added a cup of water (as the gravy was getting a bit too thick)…. I also added a packet of Lipton’s “Beef Stew” mix…..

…. Simmered it for two more hours….

…. It was a’smelling pretty awesome, but I gotten a bit bored with all of the stirring, smelling, and watching, so I tossed in about two cups of chopped mushrooms and a few handfuls of diced carrots just to break the monotony….. and then simmered it for two more hours (until the poor carrots were tender)…

…. So, six hours into the fun & games, and the diced sirloin finally gave up and was beautifully tender…. the gravy was thick, brown, and damned tasty, too…..

… I then decanted the whole mess into a casserole dish and began draping slices of filo pastry – buttering them as I went….. all in all, fifteen layers looked about right, so I stopped and placed the experiment in the oven @ 350 for twenty minutes (until the top of the pastry was browning)….

… behold, gentle rubberneckers!.... my homemade Scottish Steak Pie!....


… it was a definite hit with The Missus….. sure, it was a bit of a pain to have to spend so much time, but it was worth it in the end….

… I served it with freshly baked steak-fries & a refreshing glass of milk (it does a body good)……


… so now, if you will excuse me, I’m off to go sweat with the oldies & the college students at the YMCA……

Read the Bullshit »


…. The Missus was up unusually early today on her day off, and we managed to fit in lunch & a trip to the YMCA well before noon.... we finished the Pilgrimage to Altar of Healthiness by stopping by the local foodmart afterwards and loading up for tonight’s din din…

… and as of right now (4pm EST), I am happy to report that I am very, very pleased with the progress of my aforementioned Scottish Steak Pie…. And for you doubters out there, hey, by 7pm, I am going to be totally kicking some filo pastry-ass….. trust me….

… and no, I am not using a recipe…. As a matter of fact, I just walked by, tasted the meat & gravy, and then tossed in a shitload of mushrooms simply because it was required…. that is the way that cooking is meant to be done, friends….. by using the tongue and not a scrap of paper….. now, hey, I know that is a pretty broad statement – and I will concede that there are times when a meticulous attention to detail needs to be used – but when cooking for the sheer FUN of it, it is always better to play off the cuff…… after all, I have Domino’s pizza on speed-dial… and if the meal is disgusting, I can always have a three-cheese large in my happy little hands in twenty minutes or less… and I’ve been known to chuck a day’s work into the garbage disposal before, and I definitely have not problems doing it again in the future…..

… but yes, back to the beef….. thus far?... I am quite happy…. And the pastry is nearly thawed…… and yes, photographic evidence will be produced tomorrow…. Either of one kick-ass steak pie…. Or of one freshly-delivered pizza……

Read the Bullshit »


….I’m off to town soon to procure the ingredients for an authentic Scottish Steak Pie…..the kind with the flaky filo-style pastry on top…. rich, dark gravy… hunks of seared steak…..

… never having attempted to make one before, I suppose I need a recipe…. then again, I might just wing it….

… it’s funny now, you know?…. me seeking adventure in a crock pot… hell, once upon a time I wanted to be Dwight Yoakam….

… quit laughing….

.. see?... check this out…

…. I don’t think I’d have the nerve to sport those leather pants though……. but I can do that knee thingy pretty well…..

…. I suspect that it is a very good thing that I stuck to sauces…..

Read the Bullshit »


…. It is true, you know, what they say….. everything eventually wears out…. and the victim of today’s swinging of Time’s scythe was my poor little Motorola cell phone…..

… purchased three years ago right before the Helen Blogtoberfest, it’s truly been a pint-sized workhorse for me….. and I’m gonna miss the little guy…. Sure, his replacement is going to work just fine, but that’s not the point….. I am a hugely sentimental guy and I hate saying goodbye to something that has been by my side – literally – every day for over three years…..

…. Actually, the whole thing has left me more than just a little depressed…

… never again will my fingers gently tap those silvery buttons…. Never again will I press my ear to the polished screen and strain to hear the sounds of the caller on the line….. never again, and that makes me sad…..

… for, lo!... I have been ‘upgraded’!!.....

…. And my silver & black work of art is no more……

Update!.... I watched the video at the end of this post and managed to feel slightly better......

Read the Bullshit »


…. Well, THAT was a civilized way to spend an afternoon, gentle reader…. I have to hand it to the fine folks at Hunter’s Bakery and Café…. They certainly know how to cook up an enjoyable meal… we were never rushed, attended to very well, and treated to some of the sweetest iced-tea that I’ve ever tasted that wasn’t homemade…

… the drive out to Sweetwater was excellent as well… I turned off the beaten path in Englewood and spent the next twenty minutes gliding through the farming country…. Rolling fields of sweet corn – half of which were freshly mown for silage… and the rain that we’ve gotten over the past three weeks even allowed for a second cutting of hay in quite a few fields…. and still other fields were overrunning with soybeans……

… large fields, many over 100 acres….. some much, much larger than that… bordered by the curvy, 1 ½ lane of slick, black tarmac…. weedy ditches that needed trimming, rusting barbed-wire attached to fragile, graying fence posts, or treelines of young cedar trees where ancient fences had once stood – these were their other borders….

…. Even with the top up on a ragtop, smells can still seep through…. so we were all treated to the syrupy, sticky smell of the ground silage during the ride… where the sap, flesh, and fruits had all been chipped & chopped…. the sweet smell of life..

…. just a ride through the country on a sunny afternoon…. the promise of fine food at the end of the trail making the whole ride just that bit more full of excited anticipation……

…. and we were not disappointed once we arrived…..

…. Coming back, I took a different route…. no less rural than the other road, just a different trail leading away to the southeast…. winding its way from town to farm, from farm to farm, from one county to the next… and it was just as pleasant..

…. I should go back on Monday with the top down and take some video……

…. But as for me now?.... it is time to retire for the evening…… it is just after 7pm and my patio is purring to me of dreams that she promises I will dream if I nap on her….. and honestly?.... how could a man turn down an offer like that?....

Read the Bullshit »


… as this Sunday is my Sainted Mother’s birthday, I’m off to chauffer she, me, and The Missus to Sweetwater for dinner….. the kind wait staff at Hunter’s Bakery & Café are awaiting our arrival with feedbags held at the ready…

… y’all enjoy your weekend…..

Read the Bullshit »


... goodnight, boys and girls..... not posts tonight..... I've spent the better half of the last three hours knee-deep in youtube...... and so, I leave you with a wonderful rendition of a Townes' classic ala The Cowboy Junkies......

.... Margo's voice is incredible..... sleep well, rubberneckers...... tomorrow holds another bright day..... fly, people.... fly every day....

TO LIVE IS TO FLY by Townes Van Zandt

I won't say I love you, babe
I won't say I need you, babe
But I'm gonna' get you, babe
And I will not do you wrong
Living's mostly wasting time
And I waste my share of mine
But it never feels too good
So let's don't take too long
Well, you're soft as glass and I'm a gentle man
We got the sky to talk about
And the world to lie upon

Days up and down they come
Like rain on a conga drum
Forget most, remember some
But don't turn none away
Everything is not enough,
And nothing is too much to bear
Where you've been is good and gone
All you keep is the getting there
Well, to live's to fly, both low and high
So shake the dust off of your wings
And the sleep out of your eyes

It's goodbye to all my friends
It's time to leave again
Here's to all the poetry
And the pickin' down the line
I'll miss the system here
The bottom's low and the treble's clear
But it don't pay to think too much
On things you leave behind
Well, I may be gone, but it won't be long
I'll be bringing back the melody
And the rhythm that I find

We all got holes to fill.
Those holes are all that's real
Some fall on you like a storm
Sometimes you dig your own
The choice is yours to make
The time is yours to take
Some dive into the sea
Some toil upon the stone
Well, to live's to fly, both low and high
So shake the dust off of your wings
And the sleep out of your eye
Shake the dust off of your wings
And the tears out of your eye

.... seriously good stuff, if you ask me.....

Read the Bullshit »


…. a year ago tomorrow, I was introduced to little angel, Sylvia….. and for the preceding 364 days, she has performed her many tasks with a truly elegant poise & grace……

… so it is was a heavy heart that I called the dealership today to schedule her for some minor repairs….

… but that is the way with loving relationships, isn’t it?... no matter how much we dote, pet, cuddle & caress, we sometimes – however inadvertently and accidentally – hurt those that we truly love….

…. With some, it is a harsh word…. With others, a lack of words…. But with Sylvia?.... it was that fateful turn leaving the Sonic on highway 411 North where – distracted by my cookies’n’cream Sonicblast shake – that I cut too close to the curb and burst her right-rear tire….

I was sad…. She was sad….. and in the week that has passed since my thoughtless act of clumsiness, she has mostly forgiven me….. mostly…. For as I limped along on the flattened tire and screeching rim, the cable that connected to the emergency brake was dragged along the road, scuffing it…. and as it scraped, the nearest clip which held it to the chassis snapped…..

…. But tomorrow, all will be well…. a cable will be replaced – and a bracket, too…. and then she’ll be 100% once again….she’ll get vacuumed, bathed, and polished…. And repaired….

….and once that is all done, I will tell her that I was sorry…. and ever so slowly, ever so gently, I will ease her top off for the slow, hot, evening ride home….

... here's a shot of her from a few weeks ago during happier times....


… I can hardly wait to make-up….

Read the Bullshit »


…. preparing to settle into an evening of shooting pool in the garage, folks…. Today’s been an absolutely wonderful day and it is time to reflect…… …..

… all of this is by the way of saying that I aint actually posting tonight….. but if you’re truly jonesin’ and simply must have something excellent to gnaw on, then I suggest you check this out….

little brothers, rubberneckers….. there simply isn’t anything else like’em…..

….. so, with that, I am off…. the sound of the break, the gentle fizzing of my tonic & gin, and arguing of the mockingbirds are to briefly replace the clicking of keyboard keys and the dings of incoming mail….

.... enjoy y'all's evening....

Read the Bullshit »


…. apart from a trip to the local YMCA to sweat with the oldies and the college coeds, I’ve spent the biggest part of the morning and afternoon watching a legion of overweight, leather-skinned, chain-smoking, hardhatted men re-asphalt my little neighborhood’s tiny loop-road…..

… and as a man who is uneducated in the ways of Road Building, it has been a huge eye-opener for me…. from the truck that squirts the tar onto the road’s surface, to the dump trucks that spend most of their day in reverse gear while their driver lights Marlboros…

… in all honestly, I never would have dreamed that a bigass Kenworth dump truck could go that fast in reverse… it was quite a sight to see… cherry-red with smoke rolling out of the exhausts and both cab windows….. cuttin’ a strip, it certainly was…..

… I seriously doubt that working with asphalt is a very romantic job though… I mean, it’s not like being a pirate or bi-plane pilot or anything…. and by ½ past twelve today, even the very largest of the specimens appeared to be not having any fun whatsoever….

… indeed, the more that I think about it, the more I realize that there must be a huge, huge, absolutely enormous disparity in the whole job satisfaction arena when it comes to pirates and road workers……

Read the Bullshit »


…. well, September’s vacation to Belgium and Germany seems to be shaping up nicely…..ten days, all in all….. Antwerp, Koblenz, Bastogne , and then Brussels…

… it should be just the ticket for digging deep into my regressed psyche and squeezing my Wild Gaul groove back on….

… mercy, I sure hope that after all these years, they've learned to speak a little English…. My ancient Proto-Celtic is more than just a bit rusty these days…. and hey, while I'm as adventurous as the next guy, I'd rather not spend a whole vacation communicating with the locals via grunts, clicks, and finger pointing.....

… I wonder what shade of blue is in this year for bodypainting?…..

… then again, perhaps they don’t do that anymore….. I probably need to do some research on that..... it would be a tragedy, of course, if they didnt, as I am pretty damn excited about the whole red-haired, blue-spotted, braided-hair, camping out in the Ardennes thing…..

… more Americans should make a concerted effort to get back to their roots, I think…… I mean, I don’t know, really, but it simply MUST be good for the soul….. right?..

Read the Bullshit »


…. tonight, the warm, dark air will find me hunched over my gas grill slowly flipping exquisitely sauce-slathered pork ribs….and the sweet, vinegary smell of my special-mix Carolina mustard sauce will waft gently across the countryside triggering involuntary spasms from every man, woman, & beast’s salivary glands….

…. Indeed, I reckon that if a wandering coyote caught a whiff from a mile away, he’d be dead from dehydration before he could make the jog to my grill…. Yes, he’d just be slobbering THAT much in anticipation….

…. It is as my dear Cousin Brad once proclaimed about my rib’s sauce…. “they’re so good that if you placed one on top of your head, your tongue would beat your brains out trying to get to it..” ….

….his words, not mine, gentle reader…… of course, he might have just been trying to make me feel better… build me up, you know?.... but still, I do grill a mean rib…..

… my Sainted Mother and my Brother will be arriving for the grubfest, and I’m stoked…. She’s bringing devilled eggs and corn on the cob….

… by the way, in the course of stowing 6lbs of boneless pork ribs in the refrigerator yesterday, I had to do some quick cleaning to make enough space….and as I was fumbling around in the fridge, I noticed a bottle of “Marie Sharp’s Habanero Pepper Sauce”…. And the bottle says that it was made in Belize…. a mystery, indeed….. but knowing me, I would never have bought such a hot sauce…. so that means that someone actually brought it to my house… so, give it up, hammerheads…. Confess!....

… I didn’t throw it away since it obviously isn’t mine….. but hey, who felt the burning desire to bring condiments to my house?... and a condiment that I’ll never use in a million years on top of that!?

Read the Bullshit »


…. Well, I survived…. I’m posting this since I know that you guys were probably worried sick and totally ruining your manicures by nibbling your fingernails in worried silence....

… oh, and for any of you who doubt my uber-keen hunting skills, here’s a video of my absolutely incredible stalking prowess….. I mean, just look at how easily I sneak up on my unsuspecting quarry....

… that’s right, ladies and gentlemen…. That there be a mature female Latrodectus mactans, children…. and hey, I can say “mature” now as she’s definitely out of earshot…. But rest assured, folks, I didn’t call her “mature” to her face…..

... it's a helluva way to spend a Saturday afternoon, I tell ya....

Read the Bullshit »


…. The Missus siesta’d most of yesterday evening in the embracing arms of the hammock… I, of course, was hard at work cooking and cleaning and just generally making sure that her hammocktime was as enjoyable as possible…. it is a task which I quite enjoy, actually…. walking out to ask her if she needs anything, freshening her wine glass, etc….. I do draw the line at standing beside the hammock in a loincloth and fanning her with a palm frond though…. hey, every man has got to have his rules, you know?…..

…. Anyway, so as I wandered back towards the deck after one such visit, I noticed something shimmering in the evening sunlight just a few feet from, well, my feet…. I bent down to check it out, and sure enough, it was a large, shiny, plump Black Widow spider….

… cool, no?....

…. Yeah, well, seeing as The Missus is away at work and I’m bored as hell, I think I’m going to go out back and poke it with a stick… or maybe I’ll catch a grasshopper and feed it to her…. I haven’t decided yet….

… I may take pictures…. If she cooperates…

… so if I’m not back here posting in the next week or so, just figure that I chose the stick-poking route and was then mauled by an angry Black Widow….

.. y’all be careful out there… it’s a jungle

Read the Bullshit »


… a humble dinner tonight…. smoked turkey sausages fried up with diced garlic and crushed peppercorns…. creamed sweet-corn…. and scalloped sour cream potatoes….. and perhaps a gin afterwards…. or maybe a Scotch.....

…. speaking of food, I am happy to report that I was given the great joy of taking Boudicca and her boys out to one of my favorite hillbilly eateries yesterday….. good, cheap, honest, excellent, homemade junkfood…. eaten at picnic tables on the banks of the Tellico River…. It was a wonderful day and I enjoyed the time with her and her family…..

…. It is worth remarking though, only casually, that she and I both ordered hotdogs…. Both of which somehow ended up at the very bottom of the paper-sack-o-food…. It was pretty funny… and actually resulted in us both having the tastiest AND flattest chilidogs that I have ever been known to man (or woman)….

…. so come back any time, Bou…. You are always more than welcome…. Always….

… I’m off to finish dinner….

… I hope you guys and gals are having at least HALF as much fun as I am right now….. although, you know, I sincerely doubt it.....

Read the Bullshit »


…. I’ve awakened a bit congested the past few mornings… not really congested as in “I have a cold” kind of congested, just merely a subtle, hinting acknowledgment that I have a bit more nasal mucus than is usual…. It has been odd….

…. Anyway, as I usually shower soon after rising, I have taken those occasions to evacuate – as best I could – the extra mucus with the help of the shower’s hot water….

… this has caused some problems…..

… and honestly, it has totally caught me off-guard…. I never would have guessed in a million years how difficult it would be to free those little nostril hairs that lie just in on the outboard side of my septum from their shower-slicked cementing…

… it’s damned difficult, let me tell you….

… so, a friendly word of advice to any of you who wish to cleanse your nostrils in the shower….. go for it all you want, people… stick your head there, splash water, get those puppies as clean as you possibly can…. But under no circumstances are you to insert a pinky finger and “give it a swirl”…. While this temptation will be gargantuan, take it from me, you must resist it at all costs….

… swirling will feel good at the time, but once you’ve dried off?.... you’ll be left with a nose full of hairs that are either glued together, glued to the inside of your nose, or both….

…. And trust me, no amount of pickage after the fact will help….

… you guys have been warned….

Read the Bullshit »


…. I don’t know about you guys, but I think that we definitely need to get Anthony Bourdain drunk on Chatham Artillery Punch down by the Chattahoochee at this October’s Jawja Blogfest…..

… sure, we might not end up on the Discovery channel, but it’d make for one incredible adventure…..

… so go ahead y’all… someone make The Call…..

... who knows, they might even send in Bear Grylls to see if he can handle hanging with us for three days without gnawing one of his legs off to escape......

... I hear that Chatham Artillery Punch has medicinal qualities, though... so if he does gnaw himself a'loose, he can at least cleanse the wound by dipping it in the punch for a few seconds.... it might be brutal, but it would sure beat the hell out of wrapping a piss-stained tee-shirt around your head in the middle of the Utah desert..... I'm just sayin'....

... hey, stranger things have happened......

Read the Bullshit »


… good evening, rubberneckers….. I hope that you are all well… as for me, I’ve been doing what normal people call “cleaning house”…. but hey, around here, most everything is decidedly not normal….. indeed, times are hard out here on the edge of the county…. And I have busied myself with various scrubbings in lieu of actually getting anything important done….

… but I did happen upon a box of old photographs as I was tidying…. And being as way often leads on to way, I laid my vacuum aside and dove in……

… folks, meet my Great Grandma Martha….


… originally a Lunsford before she married my Great Grandpa, she was a distant descendant of Sir Thomas Lunsford…. he being of mild Royalist celebrity due to his activities during the English Civil War….which is funny, really…. Hell, I had ancestors on both sides of that fracas…. One was a judge, even….. one of the Not-So-Glorious Revolutionaries who signed his name on ole King Charlie’s death warrant…..

… anyhooo, the photo itself is circa 1940 and was likely taken by a traveling photographer somewhere near the Hiwassee College area around Madisonville….. my maternal ancestors sprung from that area back as far as the old census records record – 1790ish, I believe…..

… but she’s a charmer, no?.... I mean, just look at those beady little eyes…. the thinning widow's peak?... those delicate spectacles sitting deftly along the ridge of her nose….. those wrinkly cheeks…. those lips that never were touched by lipstick…..

… mercy, I bet she could deliver a spanking or a switching that’d made ANY child leap tall buildings just to find its way back to the ‘straight and narrow’…..

… but, alas, I never met the woman…… she was long gone & dusty by the time I was hatched out….

…… come to think of it, - and speaking of dusty - I doubt that she’d be too impressed with my housecleaning abilities if she were here now….

Read the Bullshit »


…. Yesterday was a “hammock day” here…. one of those rare days where the temperature in the shade hovered between slow-bake and “comfortable”….

…. The area where the hammock sits is umbrellaed by a double layer of forest canopy…. dogwoods down low – from the 15-30 foot range…. and three mighty poplars – straight and limbless for probably 60 feet, they branch out high and stretch upwards to nearly 100 feet….

… the sunlight that eventually falls is diluted just enough to completely civilize the act of hammock-laying – even on the warmest of summer days.. allowing the hammocker to swing with just the faintest hint of perspiration….

…. a slight breeze helps, as well, of course…. and add in a tall, iced glass filled with a little gin and a splash of tonic, and even the occasional adventurous mosquito becomes that little-bit less irritating….

word, rubberneckers...... sloth is a sin which must be approached with an open heart, a contented mind, and at least one alcoholic beverage…..

Read the Bullshit »


…. a million families, their grandmother, and their grandmother’s little yappy dog were in Chattanooga yesterday milling around in various queues waiting to see the penguins…. at least it seemed that way….

…. Stalwarts that we are, however, we managed to bump up our perseverance to a record-breaking level and stiff-upper-lip-it through…. And hey, the penguins were kinda cute…. In a smelly, fishy kinda way…

…. The high point in watching them - as they dipped and glided through the water – was when one of the blonde-haired youngsters up in front witnessed one of the penguins do a #2 whilst submerged inches from the glass…

… the black and white bird hesitated for only a moment… and then sprayed a sandy, milky substance from its backside…. The underwater current immediately caught it and began distributing it towards the floor…. A attentive Momma who was holding her 2-year old daughter gasped audibly…. I laughed… and the little blonde-haired boy clapped his hands excitedly and screeched, “look Mommy!... that penguin made SNOW!”…

… ahhhh, blissful innocence…. that amazing world where Mother is never more than two steps away, she always has treats & wet-wipes in her purse, and penguins fart snow……

… after spending some time with the flightless birds, we explored a few pubs down by the riverfront… it was misting with a slow, warm rain, so we sought shelter in a tiny pub on Broad Street…..there, with The Missus still glowing from memories of frolicking penguins, we settled in with a few pints of Newcastle and watched South Africa blow a 14-0 early lead to Australia’s Wallabies…. Eventually losing 25-17….

… all in all, it was an enjoyable day…. oh, and I mentioned that a Springbok rugby jersey would be the perfect birthday present for me…. I don’t think that she was listening though….. I suspect I’ll get undershirts from Banana Republic again….. but hey, that'll be cool too....

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…. Growing up in The South, you just do things with a bit more flair…. The Bitterman demonstrates….

… back when my Papa was alive and in his prime, 4th of July evenings saw our front yard turned into an epic bottle rocket battlefield… old enough to successfully withstand the assaulting sparks of a launching rocket on your clenched fist?.... then you’re old enough to join the fray….

… it’s a wonder us younguns survived to adulthood….

… anyhoo, we’re off to visit the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga…. They evidently have a new penguin exhibit that is very, very penguinny…. And around here, folks, all things penguin are embraced, kissed, cuddled, embraced again, and then patted on the head….. along with lots and lots of weird babyish noises….

.. pity me, friends… in my next life, I am coming back as a leopard seal……

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... were I able to play guitar however I wished, this is how I would like to be able to play.....

... I love it.....

.... "Nine Pound Hammer', folks..... they do get heavy.....

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…. The Missus and I enjoyed a wonderful evening down in Atlanta yesterday courtesy of Holder & Richard… two down-to-earth, straight-up, genuine Good People…. trust me, they’re a lot of fun to talk with…. make it to the next blogmeet and meet them, it is worth it….

… we ended up sitting outside of an expensive bar/restaurant and watching the Buckhead’ers buzz by in their BMWs…. I can certainly think of a lot worse ways to spend a hot Atlanta afternoon….

…. Sorry for boring you guys with so many bootcamp stories… I suppose I just got a bit carried away….. and I guess that part of me just wishes I was the age of your son again…. you two are going to have one proud, proud young man on your hands in a few weeks…..

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…. I took a left turn at the second red-light as I headed into Athens yesterday, and slipped through a few residential neighborhoods as I made my way to the Old Riceville Road.. it was still fairly early in the day and the temperatures hadn’t yet reached the day’s high, so I had the top down as I piloted Sylvia through the shady, deserted streets…..

… every other house had a small American flag on their front porch… and what struck me – and this is only something that I would ever have noticed after having dropped the top – is the amazing diversity of smells that wafted out into the street from each home’s backyard….

…. smoked hickory, applewood, and mesquite… the faint hint of propane…. sweet, tomato-based barbeque sauce…. vinegar & mustard…. that strange, unique smell that you experience when charcoal first catches light and hasn’t burned off all of the lighter fluid yet….

.. just as I passed the hospital, I paralleled a Norfolk Southern coal train…. The tracks that it was riding are neatly sandwiched between Old Riceville Road and Highway 11, so I was given the chance to hear it trumpet at every crossing as it shadowed me…..as American as apple pie & hotdogs, so is a coal-laden train to my mind and heart…. the whistle of a slow-moving train approaching a crossing is a sound that has been with me from my earliest memories…. It is a delicious sound, full of childhood…..

…. I sped up as I left the city limits – and as the road beckons you to do – and beat the coal train to the trestle in Riceville by a good three minutes……three minutes is just a guess though, as I was nearly to my Cousin’s cookout before the memories of train whistles finally had time to percolate and settle into my brain….

… Cousin Tommy had cooked 85lbs of pork and two dozen chickens by the time all of his guests arrived….

…. I ate, talked, and sipped iced-water for a while and then made my exit down the mountain back towards my Mother’s house….

… when I arrived, the swimming pool was filled to the brim with second cousins…. twenty five children were splashing and giggling while my aunts were tending to the hotdogs….. the men, of course, were scattered in a make-shift semicircle near the covered swing telling lies and attempting to swap un-seen farm equipment……I joined them and waited for the hotdogs…. No one was biting on the farm equipment front, but it was entertaining to listen to…..

… good humor abounded…. the storytellers were allowed to lie for pure amusement, and the children – all as brown as berries from the sunshine – kept all of their parents on their toes…..

… just moments in time, I suppose….

…. I sit here now, and I wonder what memories the rest of them will tuck away from yesterday… that thought truly sparks my imagination…… it really, really does..

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….. happy Independence Day, fellow Americans…… I trust that you all have slaked your appetites as you have seen fit by divine guidance…. Just as it should be, of course…. be it lamb, goat, cow, sheep, chicken, pork, spicy kimchee, or seafood, I hope that you all have indulged…… and indulged mightily

… for, while today is a day of indulgence, today is also a day of acknowledgement……

…. Rest easy, friends and neighbors…. and glory in these things which have been given to us by those who have picked up rifles, steadied pens, and let loose their fiery tongues to keep, incite, and ensure that our liberties remain intact……

…. It is a hard world that we live in, children….. but it is made all that much less hard by those who sacrifice their time, selves, family, and pain so that we can eat roasted hoglegs with cole slaw by a river, mountain peak, or in the cozy anonymity of our mid-town flat …… or superiorly munch vegetable quiche whilst whistling towards the wayward whale and tossing Fritos to the seagulls….

…. As for me, well, I’ll hand my half-eaten bag of Fritos to the next homeless person that I meet…… and the next whale that I see?.... I’ll give him a cheer and say “good on, ye!”…… keep on keepin' on, my friend!.....

….. it is all a matter of degrees, I suspect…… degrees of caring…. Degrees of realizing…. Degrees of feeling entitled…..

…. As for me?... happy Independence Day, fellow Americans…… this day means much more than most of us can possibly fathom….

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… I got up and about quite early this morning and settled on the patio with coffee, my cigarettes and a book I’ve been meaning to re-read… and my, oh my, I rediscovered a true wonder…

…. I’d been given the book as a Christmas present back in 1992… and as I thumbed through the pages, I noted one poem with numerous lines of dialogue underlined – a bad habit that I once had that helped me to refocus on lines that I loved…..

…. anyway, I give you – for your morning’s reflection – The Generations of Men, by Robert Frost….

A GOVERNOR it was proclaimed this time,
When all who would come seeking in New Hampshire
Ancestral memories might come together.
And those of the name Stark gathered in Bow,
A rock-strewn town where farming has fallen off,
And sprout-lands flourish where the axe has gone.
Someone had literally run to earth
In an old cellar hole in a by-road
The origin of all the family there.
Thence they were sprung, so numerous a tribe
That now not all the houses left in town
Made shift to shelter them without the help
Of here and there a tent in grove and orchard.
They were at Bow, but that was not enough:
Nothing would do but they must fix a day
To stand together on the crater's verge
That turned them on the world, and try to fathom
The past and get some strangeness out of it.
But rain spoiled all. The day began uncertain,
With clouds low trailing and moments of rain that misted.
The young folk held some hope out to each other
Till well toward noon when the storm settled down
With a swish in the grass. "What if the others
Are there," they said. "It isn't going to rain."
Only one from a farm not far away
Strolled thither, not expecting he would find
Anyone else, but out of idleness.
One, and one other, yes, for there were two.
The second round the curving hillside road
Was a girl; and she halted some way off
To reconnoitre, and then made up her mind
At least to pass by and see who he was,
And perhaps hear some word about the weather.
This was some Stark she didn't know. He nodded.
"No fête to-day," he said.
"It looks that way."
She swept the heavens, turning on her heel.
"I only idled down."
"I idled down."
Provision there had been for just such meeting
Of stranger cousins, in a family tree
Drawn on a sort of passport with the branch
Of the one bearing it done in detail--
Some zealous one's laborious device.
She made a sudden movement toward her bodice,
As one who clasps her heart. They laughed together.
"Stark?" he inquired. "No matter for the proof."
"Yes, Stark. And you?"
"I'm Stark." He drew his passport.
"You know we might not be and still be cousins:
The town is full of Chases, Lowes, and Baileys,
All claiming some priority in Starkness.
My mother was a Lane, yet might have married
Anyone upon earth and still her children
Would have been Starks, and doubtless here to-day."
"You riddle with your genealogy
Like a Viola. I don't follow you."
"I only mean my mother was a Stark
Several times over, and by marrying father
No more than brought us back into the name."
"One ought not to be thrown into confusion
By a plain statement of relationship,
But I own what you say makes my head spin.
You take my card--you seem so good at such things--
And see if you can reckon our cousinship.
Why not take seats here on the cellar wall
And dangle feet among the raspberry vines?"
"Under the shelter of the family tree."
"Just so--that ought to be enough protection."
"Not from the rain. I think it's going to rain."
"It's raining."
"No, it's misting; let's be fair.
Does the rain seem to you to cool the eyes?"
The situation was like this: the road
Bowed outward on the mountain half-way up,
And disappeared and ended not far off.
No one went home that way. The only house
Beyond where they were was a shattered seedpod.
And below roared a brook hidden in trees,
The sound of which was silence for the place.
This he sat listening to till she gave judgment.
"On father's side, it seems, we're--let me see----"
"Don't be too technical.--You have three cards."
"Four cards, one yours, three mine, one for each branch
Of the Stark family I'm a member of."
"D'you know a person so related to herself
Is supposed to be mad."
"I may be mad."
"You look so, sitting out here in the rain
Studying genealogy with me
You never saw before. What will we come to
With all this pride of ancestry, we Yankees?
I think we're all mad. Tell me why we're here
Drawn into town about this cellar hole
Like wild geese on a lake before a storm?
What do we see in such a hole, I wonder."
"The Indians had a myth of Chicamoztoc,
Which means The Seven Caves that We Came out of.
This is the pit from which we Starks were digged."
"You must be learned. That's what you see in it?"
"And what do you see?"
"Yes, what do I see?
First let me look. I see raspberry vines----"
"Oh, if you're going to use your eyes, just hear
What I see. It's a little, little boy,
As pale and dim as a match flame in the sun;
He's groping in the cellar after jam,
He thinks it's dark and it's flooded with daylight."
"He's nothing. Listen. When I lean like this
I can make out old Grandsir Stark distinctly,--
With his pipe in his mouth and his brown jug--
Bless you, it isn't Grandsir Stark, it's Granny,
But the pipe's there and smoking and the jug.
She's after cider, the old girl, she's thirsty;
Here's hoping she gets her drink and gets out safely."
"Tell me about her. Does she look like me?"
"She should, shouldn't she, you're so many times
Over descended from her. I believe
She does look like you. Stay the way you are.
The nose is just the same, and so's the chin--
Making allowance, making due allowance."
"You poor, dear, great, great, great, great Granny!"
"See that you get her greatness right. Don't stint her."
"Yes, it's important, though you think it isn't.
I won't be teased. But see how wet I am."
"Yes, you must go; we can't stay here for ever.
But wait until I give you a hand up.
A bead of silver water more or less
Strung on your hair won't hurt your summer looks.
I wanted to try something with the noise
That the brook raises in the empty valley.
We have seen visions--now consult the voices.
Something I must have learned riding in trains
When I was young. I used the roar
To set the voices speaking out of it,
Speaking or singing, and the band-music playing.
Perhaps you have the art of what I mean.
I've never listened in among the sounds
That a brook makes in such a wild descent.
It ought to give a purer oracle."
"It's as you throw a picture on a screen:
The meaning of it all is out of you;
The voices give you what you wish to hear."
"Strangely, it's anything they wish to give."
"Then I don't know. It must be strange enough.
I wonder if it's not your make-believe.
What do you think you're like to hear to-day?"
"From the sense of our having been together--
But why take time for what I'm like to hear?
I'll tell you what the voices really say.
You will do very well right where you are
A little longer. I mustn't feel too hurried,
Or I can't give myself to hear the voices."
"Is this some trance you are withdrawing into?"
"You must be very still; you mustn't talk."
"I'll hardly breathe."
"The voices seem to say----"
"I'm waiting."
"Don't! The voices seem to say:
Call her Nausicaa, the unafraid
Of an acquaintance made adventurously."
"I let you say that--on consideration."
"I don't see very well how you can help it.
You want the truth. I speak but by the voices.
You see they know I haven't had your name,
Though what a name should matter between us----"
"I shall suspect----"
"Be good. The voices say:
Call her Nausicaa, and take a timber
That you shall find lies in the cellar charred
Among the raspberries, and hew and shape it
For a door-sill or other corner piece
In a new cottage on the ancient spot.
The life is not yet all gone out of it.
And come and make your summer dwelling here,
And perhaps she will come, still unafraid,
And sit before you in the open door
With flowers in her lap until they fade,
But not come in across the sacred sill----"
"I wonder where your oracle is tending.
You can see that there's something wrong with it,
Or it would speak in dialect. Whose voice
Does it purport to speak in? Not old Grandsir's
Nor Granny's, surely. Call up one of them.
They have best right to be heard in this place."
"You seem so partial to our great-grandmother
(Nine times removed. Correct me if I err.)
You will be likely to regard as sacred
Anything she may say. But let me warn you,
Folks in her day were given to plain speaking.
You think you'd best tempt her at such a time?"
"It rests with us always to cut her off."
"Well then, it's Granny speaking: 'I dunnow!
Mebbe I'm wrong to take it as I do.
There ain't no names quite like the old ones though,
Nor never will be to my way of thinking.
One mustn't bear too hard on the new comers,
But there's a dite too many of them for comfort.
I should feel easier if I could see
More of the salt wherewith they're to be salted.
Son, you do as you're told! You take the timber--
It's as sound as the day when it was cut--
And begin over----' There, she'd better stop.
You can see what is troubling Granny, though.
But don't you think we sometimes make too much
Of the old stock? What counts is the ideals,
And those will bear some keeping still about."
"I can see we are going to be good friends."
"I like your 'going to be.' You said just now
It's going to rain."
"I know, and it was raining.
I let you say all that. But I must go now."
"You let me say it? on consideration?
How shall we say good-bye in such a case?"
"How shall we?"
"Will you leave the way to me?"
"No, I don't trust your eyes. You've said enough.
Now give me your hand up.--Pick me that flower."
"Where shall we meet again?"
"Nowhere but here
Once more before we meet elsewhere."
"In rain?"
"It ought to be in rain. Sometime in rain.
In rain to-morrow, shall we, if it rains?
But if we must, in sunshine." So she went.

….. “But if we must, in sunshine”…. how marvelous….

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… today has been a very strange day here….and while I consider myself a huge fan of haircuts, today has taught me things about myself that I never would have imagined…..

… see, I have never really considered myself a vain person…. and hair is just hair, right?..... Hell, being covered in freckles my entire life, I have often found myself secretly desiring the deep, bronzed suntans that so many of the cool folks sport….

…. may they all die slow deaths from skin cancer, the bastards….. (… wait, I didn’t really mean that, of course, it just kinda slipped out.. I hope that they live – and continue to live – blemish-free lives until the end of their days…. And may they be long, happy, and filled with lots of wonderful surprises….) ….

…. So, yeah…. anyway, today I had my haircut “finished”……

…. Yesterday, you see, my little brother offered to cut my hair….. he arrived at the correct time, of course, and began his task…..

…. But the problem that lay in wait for us didn't raise its sullied head until half-way through the ‘journey’…. That’s right, friends….. the set of clippers that I had purchased, well, they lost their charge halfway through my haircut……

…. What to do?... eh?... ahh, I just shrugged it off and told him to come back in the morning once my clippers had enjoyed a full night’s charge……

….. and yes, he arrived this morning to finish the job….

…and hey, it looks pretty good….. well, at least I think so……and THAT is all that matters, right?

… but here is the rub, rubberneckers…… and it is not a gentle rub at all……

….. how much do you value your flesh?..... how much does your mane or complexion really define you?...

…. .what about your weight?.... do those extra pounds drive you nuts?..... or, hey, take it a bit further.. how much does your self-image characterize how you truly fit into society?..... You are YOU regardless, yes?.......

… for me, really, I could honestly give a shit about having a bad haircut…. And I mean that…. I mean that deeply……

.. hell, I went to town today with half-a-haircut, bought breakfast for myself , and no one blinked an eye…….

…I suppose that if it is all boiled down, it really doesn’t matter if we have a stray nostril hair or an errant eyebrow…..

…. People are people… and if you get too caught up in all that other shit, then you might just slip past it all and not recognize that beauty, life, art, humanity, and Living that just passed you right on by…….

... the day that a haircut defines a man - or the day that a glossy make-up job defines a woman, well, that is the day when we are all doomed....

.... people are worth more than that.....

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… another Sunday evening idling down….. lamb chops and roasted potatoes are awaiting the grill and the oven…. It’s time for a gin, I do believe…… lots of ice and a good splash of tonic water sounds just about perfect….

…. I heard today that it is going to be 116F in Phoenix, Arizona today…. mercy…. were I to happen to find myself living there, I would most definitely move away to some point northwards as quickly as possible….. I mean, how many poor Arizonites accidentally burst into flames whilst going out to check their mailboxes each summer?....

… it’s too hot for me here anyway… 82 degrees with 56% humidity…. and severe weather alerts are slated for the entire afternoon….

….. that’s been the norm for the past few days – sunny mornings, overcast afternoons, and stormy evenings – and the nighttime lightshows have been pretty impressive….if a good, solid storm blows in tonight, I’ll break out the camera and shoot some video…. That’s what this blog needs, anyway – a good hard rain, streaks of feverish lightning, and a hard, humid wind to blow out a few metaphysical cobwebs….

… my spring is dry lately…. as cracked and parched as an Arizonite’s lawn, most likely….. perhaps a juicy hunk of freshly-grilled lamb flesh will help….

… then again, perhaps I need to dig a well….

…. either way, that’s just the nature of things, I expect….. ebb, flow, wane, bloom….. one thing is for sure, though…. I’m beginning to think that creativity is cyclic…. and that it’s governed more by tide, moon, and the occasional sunspot than it is by circumstance, perseverance, or The Actions Of Our Daily Lives….

… how weird is that?....

… ahhh, who am I kidding.... I just need to shut the hell up and try harder..... but I definitely do need a gin and tonic…. it's too damned hot to think....

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