Cunning....

.... well, tomorrow is the day of the coyote hunt.... it'll kick off around 8:30 in the morning..... I have a sneaking suspicion that my "hunting partners" will get bored fairly easily and I'll end up hiding in the bushes make wounded rabbit noises all by myself..... oh, and there is an 80% chance for rain..... I called them earlier (since they own the 3,000 acre property) to make sure that we were still a 'go' for tomorrow, and they mentioned the rain.... followed by something about, "we might just stay in the truck and shoot from there".....

..... that's cool with me, actually..... I volunteered to do the calling and let my cousin be the trigger-man.... he's been ill and this is mainly just a reason to get him out of the house and into the woods.... so hanging in the truck in a late-March drizzle will probably be good for him..... as for me, I'll be camo'd to the max and sopping wet by lunchtime...... oh, and I'm toting an old Winchester 12 gauge pump loaded with 00 Buck...... the "truck brigade" will have long, mean, scoped 7mm magnums.... ahhh, truth be told, I don't mind doing the grunt work.... a little rain, a little fog, and sneaking through the underbrush is good for the soul, I suppose.....

.... pictures to follow if I bag anything....... and depending on how soggy I am (even if I don't take a shot), I might provide photos tomorrow anyway..... just so y'all can see that I really DO get out of the house once in a while.......

... all in all, though, I am hopeful....... with rain, our scents will be covered a bit better than if it were dry and windy..... and we're approaching the end of their mating season...... so daylight activity is at a high right now...... every coyote in eastern Tennessee is looking for a hot meal and a hot date..... and if I can't pretend to be one, I might have luck at pretending to be the other.....

.... but what a way to go, eh?...... to come charging in like Patrick Swayze at the end of 'Dirty Dancing" because you think some redheaded hillbilly hiding in the underbrush is actually a sexed-up female that's ready for love?...... it's a purely evil thought, I know, but I do so love it....... yip! bounce! yip! yip! BLAM!..... no nookie for you, bird-dog..... you've just been well and truly had......

... more likely than not, though, I'll just end up sitting in a pile of leaves in the cool rain and catching a cold.... so, there is that.....

.... but the good news is, if I am successful, I plan to have whatever beast that ventures near enough to blast sent immediately to the nearest taxidermist...... y'all can pet it when you come for the barbecue in October......

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Eating....

.... this evening I will be entertaining the Sainted Mother and my lil' Bro.... the menu will be simple and hearty..... boneless country-cut pork ribs dripping in Carolina mustard sauce, baked bbq beans, deviled eggs, and salad.... nutritious and delicious...

..... the rain from yesterday has subsided and today is cool and cloudy.... not exactly a jump-up-and-down Snoopy dance kinda weather, but it'll make manning a grill a more enjoyable experience....

... in other news, I read this earlier today and I am completely jealous..... I've wanted to visit that area of the World ever since I learned how to read..... so, safe trip to your Elder Daughter, Elisson.... I'm green with envy.....

... speaking of feeding, the ravenous birds are continuing at their usual pace... 5lbs of seeds and nuts spread across two feeders per week.... thus far, 16 species have been cataloged... although I did catch a squirrel robbing some of the food as well.... but that's ok.... he'll be dealt with at my earliest opportunity..... if the plan works out right, his gnarly little corpse will provide Fred and Bob a welcome break from those dry, crunchy kitty treats.... damn, I hate squirrels.....

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Cool......

...... good evening, rubberneckers..... I hope that this day found you all well & happily hammering away at whatever it is that you hammerheads get up to on a Saturday.... as for myself, well, it is a cool and rainy day here..... 50 degrees and 100% humidity.... camping weather if there ever was any......

... but alas, there is no camping to be had today or tomorrow.... fainter hearts in the household have poo-poo'ed the idea and have chosen instead to crank the heat up to 75 degrees, flip on The History Channel's program about the colonization of Mars, and munch on potato chips while I prepare chicken parmesan for dinner..... not a bad trade, really.... besides, I'm getting soft and tender in my old age.... and I have found that I much prefer to dig into a nice meal as the evening ends vice a Styrofoam cup of Ramen noodles & a Rice Krispie treat.......

.... don't get me wrong, though.... the fire is still there, folks..... that immortal, simmering nugget of adventure..... I just don't feel the need to actively fan it lately.... besides, my chicken parmesan kicks ass.....

.... anyway, despite the rain and gloom of today, we did actually venture into town to browse through four or five of the local antique shops..... now, I'm not a very good browser, per se..... I'm much more of a seek-find-pay-and-move-on-to-the-next-task kinda guy.... but when the weather is foul, I've found that the welcoming warmth of a antique shop can magically transform me into a fairly good 'browser'.... hey, it beats diddy-bopping down the sidewalk in a chilling drizzle, no?...

.... come to think of it, I'm not that good of a diddy-bopper either..... perhaps I should have said "ambling" instead..... hell, I can amble with the best of 'em.......

.... but be that as it may, I'm off to start cooking dinner....

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Coyotes.....

..... I finally sat through "Letters From Iwo Jima" today....... and I read each subtitle as quickly as I could and then glanced up to watch the faces of the actors..... it was an excellent and thought provoking film, and I recommend it..... it isn't your usual 'war movie'.... if anything, it is a 'people' movie...... Clint should be proud..... honestly, it is the first film that I have ever watched that was done from such a unique perspective.....

..... as an amateur historian, I've read lots and lots about the 4th Marines taking Iwo Jima.... and as a former Marine, I've known and heard all of the quotes, deeds, and sacrifices that were done there....... as a young Tennessean I listened to my Great Uncle JR talk about landing there with Mike Battery, 3/14th Marines.... and how he was only a few hundred yards away when the flag was raised on Suribachi....... his brother, Rob, was on Peleliu as a Seabee attached to the 1st Marine Division five months before..... thinking back as I write this, there is even an old musty photograph somewhere of Great Uncle JR, Cousin Tommy (who was with 2/26 Marines at Khe Sahn), my Dad (attached to 1/5 via 1st Shore Party at Hue), and me in my dress uniform standing in my parents back yard...... but I digress.......

.... so, yes..... I watched that movie today..... and I guess all that I can really say is this; it is good to remember sometimes that we are all just human..... with our frailties, fears, worries, loves, desires, and experiences, we are much more similar than we are unalike...... duty calls at times, and we diverge, but really, the vast majority of us all are vastly The Same...... sure, there are nuts in every bunch, but we're speaking in sweeping generalizations here........

.... but on a totally unrelated note, I have been invited to go hunting on Tuesday for coyote....... not that shooting a coyote has anything to do with this post, but I thought it important to mention it anyway..... just so y'all knew.......

..... and hey, just in passing I would like to point out that I LOVE that Microsoft spell-check freaks out and doesn't recognize Khe Sahn, Iwo Jima, Suribachi, or Pelelui......... Bill Gates should be ashamed of himself.....

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Pounds....

...... so as you do, I spent the evening yesterday asking The Missus just exactly what she desired - above all else - to take place today (our 14th Anniversary).... her reply was that she wished to dine upon a Scottish Shepherd's Pie, watch a DVD or two, have some wine, and pet the kitties....... and I am happy to report that all was accomplished as requested....

.... in fact, she ran into the blogroom last night after dinner waving her arms and jumping around like a whirling dervish..... it seems that she had put the old Sinatra/Brando version of "Guys And Dolls" in the DVD player...... and come to find out, Nathan and Adelaide (in the film) were celebrating their "14th Anniversary" of becoming engaged........ hey, who knew??.... but regardless, that little nugget of information excited her....... she was fit to be tied......

.... and hey, as much as I admire the monumental achievement that is a 14-year engagement, I have to admit that watching Marlon Brando slip those rum-drinks to Jean Simmons was not only a magnificent achievement, but an evil, evil, deeply EVIL moment as well........ I mean, where would you rather be?... hanging in Havana while coaxing the inner 'dirty dancer" out of an inebriated Jean Simmons, or squatting in a sewer shooting dice with a bunch of singing & dancing thugs?..... indeed, I rest my case......

... as for me, I'd be safely tucked in bed awaiting the morning's prayer meeting, of course...... I am as pure as the driven snow..... give or take an errant snowflake or two....

.... in other news, I know that I promised "lots of pictures" in my last post, but that got shot down by The Powers That Be...... it seems that The Missus is much more shy than I reckoned, I guess...... and as it turns out, there are relatively few photos that she approves of from The Night In Question....... which is understandable, really..... Brides are seldom completely settled with how they look/looked/wanted-to-look...... and in truth, that amazes me.....

.... what guy didn't look at his bride and think that she was a vision of perfection on their wedding day?.....

..... anyway, the photo that follows is of the "first dance" at our reception..... Gene Kelly, I most certainly ain't..... I think I spent the whole dance watching my feet and trying not to trample her wedding gown..... oh, and notice the lovable scowl on the new bride's face?.... someone had rushed out onto the floor and gathered up her gown and placed the hem in her hand so that she would keep from stepping on it..... needless to say, The New Missus was not amused......

dancing.jpg

..... we were both so nervous and so young, my goodness...... but wow, what a ride..... these past 14 years have flown by..... I'm 50lbs heavier now than I was then... but to me, she hasn't changed a bit......

.... Happy Anniversary, my dear.....

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Writing.....

.... no content tonight, hammerheads (or for the past week/month, actually)....... and I am terribly sorry....... been working on some other stuff instead....... but I will leave you guys & gals with the song that has been on repeat here at The Compound while I've worked...... I've found that Prine in the background allows me to be quite productive.......

..... and there is just something about fingerpicking that soothes the soul....... I posted it about a year ago, I think, but it still calms me...... so, enjoy..... or not.....

.... either way, tomorrow is the 14th anniversary of my being wed to The Missus...... so just prepare yourselves for photographs.... lots and lots of photographs........ 14 years, my goodness...... I was seven months away from turning 22 at the time we got hitched......... now I'm closing in on 36 with a vengeance........ how the time does fly......

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Joining....

.... long, long ago I was broken from the urge to "join" just about anything...... but having said that, this right here sounds like a pretty damn good idea.....

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Time....

.... planning is currently afoot via telephone in the living room..... that yearly, traditional international call, ladies and gentlemen..... and if my tender ears do not deceive me, the current wind is blowing towards departing Tennessee on the 6th of May and arriving at our snug Grampian chalet after lunchtime (local) on the 7th of May.... tis a Wednesday, I do believe...... which means that we'll only have four days at The World's Smallest Hilton before heading back down the mountain to the seaside for the remaining six days....

... during those six days, I've requested only two things from the "vacation planners".... number 1 - the highest priority - is that I be allowed to lunch at least two consecutive days at 'Candy's" in Montrose.... a tiny, friendly, and extremely generous little hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop located just near where the highstreet narrows..... they do a Cajun chicken baguette that will curl your hair..... and their bacon baguettes are legendary.... my taste buds literally dream of those bacon (British bacon, not American bacon), cheddar, onion, and mayo works of art at LEAST twice a month.....

... secondly, I wish to visit Melrose Abbey - down in the Scottish Borders region..... I recently read about how the Black Douglas died while locked in battle with the Saracens as he attempted to take Robert the Bruce's heart to Jerusalem for burial..... and how the Bruce's heart was carried back from southern Spain and buried under the altar at Melrose Abbey..... that's just plain old-school hardcore, people, I don't care who you are...... and I want to walk the same grounds as those guys in the 1300s...... maybe even while munching on a luxurious treat from Candy's sandwich Shoppe......

..... perhaps I can persuade the Powers That Be that we should visit the location in Switzerland this autumn where an Irishman busted a cap in one of my GGGGGGGGGGrandpas back in 1664..... that'd be kinda interesting......

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Easter....

..... today's Easter festivities were held at my wonderful Aunt Frances' place near Tellico Plains, Tennessee..... and it was quite a party..... we were all well-fed, the children ran rampant, and great conversations were enjoyed...... it seems sometimes that we only truly connect with our extended relatives during the holidays..... and while that is a beautiful thing, it is a sign of our lack of communication in a much more broad way...... and I wish that weren't so.....

.. in truth, I must admit that the Easter celebrations with my family have changed quite a bit since I myself was a pink & blue be-decked nipper running around in a strange set of khakis and filling my Easter basket........

.... see, back in my day, we'd dress in our Sunday finest, don crazy Easter hats, and search among the hidden Easter eggs for the old plastic 'super-egg' that contained the cash prize...... now, it is more about communing and watching the kids play........ I suspect that is just the nature of things.....

..... or perhaps that's simply because I'm 35 now and not 12..... but still, it is noticeable in its absence - that feeling....... most days I wake up thinking I'm still 12, actually........ but by noon, most of that has faded away....... Easter will always remain the most carefree of holidays for me, as strange as that sounds.......

..... religion has very little to do with my old memories....

.... but hey, that reminds me, what was the name of that pantyhose manufacturer who put their hose in over-sized plastic eggs?.... I can't recall off the top of my head, but those big eggs always had a ten dollar bill inside them when Easter came to my neck of the woods......... looking back now, the resourcefulness of a group of hormonal Hillbillies has never ceased to amaze me....... and hey, there is nothing like cracking open a giant plastic egg and finding folding money tucked away inside it!..........

.... but I digress, as I usually do..... but anyway, today was a beautiful day..... and I enjoyed being with my family very, very much...... not all were there, of course, but those that were there were complete pleasures....... four generations collected - all eating a hillbilly version of a low-country boil out of the bed of a wheelbarrow...... what's not to love?........

..... honestly, you can't make this stuff up....... t'was the first time that I'd ever eaten boiled shrimp, potatoes, onions, carrots, and kielbasa sausage out of a wheelbarrow before, friends...... but somehow, well, I don't suspect that it'll be the last time....... and that, as strange as it sounds, will not be a bad thing...... it will be a very, very good thing......

..... Happy Easter.....

.... here is a small portion of my drive out to visit the family....... I hope you enjoy it....

... y'all be good.....

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Here....

..... I'm not sure if y'all recognized it or not - in between all the hubbub surrounding March Madness, and all - but today was a day where TCM showed the "7th Voyage of Sinbad", "It Came From Beneath The Sea", AND "Jason And The Argonauts"....... all within an 8 hour period........

.... I don't know about you guys, but watching those three films slaked my hunger for cheesy melodramas for easily the next quarter-century..... and hey, that is saying a lot...... trust me...

..... but today was a beautiful day here...... I truly wish that I could convey just how gorgeous it was, but I can't - not with words...... but I will say this; It was the first short-sleeved day...... the first day where you could walk out without a coat and feel the sun rising on your skin - begging towards the upcoming need for sunscreen....... blustery winds, blue skies, and newly sprouted grass freshly mown for the first time....... it was the smell, I think, that triggered it all....... spring is here, finally...... and while we may have a few cold days scattered here and there, today was The First Day Of Spring....... and I could not have been more happy...... it has been a long time coming, and it is welcome..... very, very, very welcome.....

...... not because of the particularly bad weather this season, no..... but simply because I've missed the sunshine....... I have missed it so very much........ and it is good to see the Sunshine here again......

.... people never truly miss something until it is gone, I guess....... and today I was given a taste of what I have yearned for over the past four months..... Prison is out, ladies and gentlemen....... Winter is gone....... finally..... but Spring is here.....

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Roads....

..... as I sit here reclining in my comfortable leather chair with a well-deserved cigarette dangling from my curled lips, the Coroner of Munchkin City is singing to Dorothy that the wicked witch is dead....

.... did y'all ever notice what a strange little voice that tiny guy had?...... how odd..... his trousers hung a bit funny too..... at three feet tall and with a voice like that, he must have been hung like a rutting rhinoceros....... as a matter of fact, I suspect that the members of the "Lollipop Guild" had smiling, happily-knitting, dinner-on-the-stove type of wives as well..... it certainly makes one view Munchkinland in a whole new way - if you let your mind wander.....

.... anyway, earlier today we drove down to Cleveland for a gourmet hotdog and a glass of iced tea at the "Gardener's Market" in the historic downtown area..... and the meal was well worth the half-hour drive that it took me to pilot Sylvia lovingly along the winding back-roads........ the sun was shining, the roads were clear and dry, and the Audi took to the curves perfectly..... and there is this one two-mile stretch of road that is bordered by a creek on each side...... and the trees have grown in such a way as to create a tunnel effect..... the leaves weren't out just yet, of course, but the buds on the branches gave the illusion of things to come...... it was beautiful..... and by May, it will be a sight to behold.... I can hardly wait to drive it again when the leaves have made the road dark and shaded.....

... after lunch we hit a bookstore..... and while The Missus ransacked the fiction section, I scored a few portfolios to place my coin collection in..... it has been overdue, really..... and in truth, it seems somehow so un-Christian to have your valuable coins stored in a bag... especially when Easter is so close...... right?..... silver coinage in a bag as Easter approaches is just asking for trouble, if you ask me....... but hey, I might be wrong......

..... in other news, a local 'fresh market' has opened a few miles south of The Compound here (in the vicinity of Cleveland), and an expedition was organized over lunch to raid it this afternoon .... we spent the luncheon envisioning lobster tails, trout fillets, fresh salmon, halibut steaks........ but we foundered.....

.... I wish that I could tell you that we scored oodles of fine grub, but actually we ended up with only two .75lb slices of "Mile-high Meatloaf" and some twice-baked potatoes....... meager fare, sure, but it was damned tasty for tonight's dinner, let me tell you.... and since I have not yet mastered the Great Mystery that is homemade meatloaf, I'll jump at every opportunity to eat someone else's awesome meatloaf every chance that I get...... and the EXTRA bonus was that I didn't have to do the cooking........

..... but, wow...... it just hit me about an hour ago that a slice of meatloaf that weighs 3/4 of a pound is one mighty slice of meatloaf..... sure, it didn't seem so at the time, but I am definitely feeling the effects now......

..... I do believe that I need a nap.... the meatloaf combining with 'The Wizard of Oz" beaming away in the background is forcing my eyes to close......

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Cats....

.... yesterday's storms passed by in the night and left The World dampened and clean, and this morning dawned clear and cool and quickly made short work of the standing puddles.... but by midday, it was warm enough to sit on the deck out back and soak up the sun......Spring is here....

...... the dogwoods haven't yet begun to blossom, but the tiny peach tree that I planted last year is covered in pink, tender flowers.... you can already smell the nectar that lies within them if you get close enough....

.... I sat out on the patio near it today and fed left-over bacon to the two cats - Fred and Bob - while I drank my coffee......Ginger is missed, I'm afraid....... he's (she's?) been absent since we returned from our vacation last September...... vanished without a trace......

..... which reminds me, actually..... James Old Guy from Old and Evil left a comment a few days ago about Bob being evil and taking out his evilness on the local fauna simply because I named him Bob....... and while that may be true, I feel that I should shed a bit of light on just exactly how our three (now two) cats ended up named the way that they were (are).....

.... see, in the beginning (pre-9/11), The Missus' favorite tipple was a French wine called Parallel 45... and it was imported through New York City by Fredrick Wildman & Sons.... I paid a visit to my Uncle Jim's house early in 2001 to fetch something or the other, and he gifted me with a beautiful slate-gray, chicken-killing cat for my trouble..... I trucked it home and hid it away in the garage with a tin of tuna to snack on..... and it wasn't long until The Missus came home from work and I introduced them...... and it was love at first sight......

.... when I asked her what his name was, she scanned the garage and happened upon an empty cardboard box awaiting the garbage collection gentleman...... and without a second though, she dubbed The Gray, Frederick Wildcat in honor of Frederick Wildman.....

.... two years later a friend of hers let it be known that her cat had just hatched out a huge litter of kittens...... and after a brief conversation, I agreed to a new addition to the household...... so The Missus arrived home the next night with a jet-black female that she had already dubbed "Ginger"..... Fred and Ginger, get it?....... her love of classic cinema knows very few bounds, it seems...... but we found out months later when we took "Ginger" to get neutered that he actually wasn't a "she" and needed a firm castration instead of a good neutering...... trust me, the shock was quite traumatic for all involved...... especially Ginger.... but hey, who can tell with kittens?.... at least I didn't name the poor guy....

..... so fast forward to this past summer.......

.... a kitten shows up at the front door who is scared to death of everything, wont let a human get within thirty feet, starved, scarred, infested with fleas, and quite obviously in Dire Straits..... I ended up trying to make friends as best that I could...... and yes, tuna was involved.......

...... the poor little critter was in such bad shape that he was truly pitiful....... so when time came the next day for naming him, the Classic Movie God was invoked and The Missus and I bandied about for a bit..... but with Fred & Ginger already so-named, well, I recommended Bob..... as in Bob Hope..... 'hope' being the operative word, of course, since we never figured that Bob would make it very long at our house considering the shape he was in....... and now, here we are..... Ginger has long since flown the coop..... and we are left with Fred and Bob......

.... so now you know..... (in case you were curious)...... and the 'hope' thing must have paid off because he consistently kicks the crap out of Fred on a daily basis now.......

...... and while we've all learned a lot from this little experience, the greatest of the lessons is, I suppose, never underestimate the power of a intact pair of nuts..... if even on a cat..... they seem to make all the difference......

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Safe....

.... I spent a large part of my after-dinner time yesterday watching Jimmy Stewart drink martinis...... and as I mentioned back in January of 2007, nothing really has changed..... I still want a pooka.... desperately..... and now more than ever..... funny how re-watching 'Harvey' rekindles that unusual desire....

.... today an invisible Irish fairy would definitely come in handy.... for after waiting for the coffee pot to cease its groaning this morning, my Outlook informed me that Spring Cleaning Day has arrived for the contents of the gun safe.... thus, I will be spending six hours today disassembling, cleaning, oiling, and re-stowing my various firearms..... I wonder if invisible Irish fairies have any weapons knowledge?.....

..... probably not, now that I think on it.... and I bet that gun oil would be a bitch to get off of their fur afterwards.... so it is probably all for the best....

... anyway, that's my day..... if anyone needs me, I'll be sitting in the garage griping quietly to myself about why I own so many guns that I never shoot.....

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Visits...

.... I was graced with a visit from The Blogson yesterday evening, and an enjoyable visit it was.... ole RSM stopped by for some pizza & drinks before continuing his northeasterly amble.... we dined on a Domino's Hawaiian Feast pizza with extra provolone.... and then sat on the couch, sipped a beautiful 28-year old Dalmore, and swapped a few hours worth of military tales.... all in all, not a bad way to spend a few hours..... excellent conversation and an extraordinary scotch...

..... as for today, well, I have a cauldron of my bolognaise sauce simmering away on the stove..... so this cool, gray day will be splashed with a giant dollop of yummy color this evening....

.... trust me, folks, gray days seem much less gray once you apply a proper spaghetti sauce to them.....

.... no, really.... you should try it some time and see.... then again, some sort of pie might work as well.....

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Somerset....

..... when I was in high school, I was unfortunate enough to be on the "Quiz Bowl" team......it was an interesting gig, really, for a farmboy like myself...... I mean, there I was completely embedded among the ubergeeks, bookworms, and savants....... and it was quite scary in some ways...... hell, were it not for my Hank Williams Jr. tee-shirt (If You Don't Like Hank Williams, You Can Kiss My Ass) that I wore every Friday when we got together to practice, I suspect that I'd have melded with them all much more fully than I actually did...... then again, after having just re-read the first part of this paragraph again, I was probably more in-tune with those folks than my mind cared to imagine back then......... funny how 'retrospect' can sneak up on a soul like that, eh?..... those sudden realizations?........ my goodness......

... the bonus, of course, was that being on the team gave me a chance to appear on television three or four times a year...... it was only a local PBS station, but hey, we thought we were on The Nightly News....... not that anyone watched our little PBS station, but still...... we had dreams - big dreams...... geeks always dream big.....

.... anyway, none of that is really important now....... and I mention all of this only to state that I personally - as a 1972 model Human Being - think that driving a 1951 Mercury to school in 1988 was pretty cool..... sure, it broke down during dates, trips to football games, etc, but that was part of its charm!..... at least I thought so at the time........ not too sure about what my dates thought, though......... but hey, that thought brings it all full circle, really..... oh, and I also want to mention that I watched Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage" yesterday afternoon (which got this whole 'Quiz Bowl" thought process rolling in the first place)...

.... what a vile, horrible, and incomprehensible movie that was..... both the version with Bette Davis from 1934 AND the version with Kim Novak.... although, I do have to say that when Bette plays Mildred she is the epitome of evilness....... shockingly so, even.... and her cheesy English accent cuts like razorblades....... Kim just can't quite hang when it comes to pure spite like Bette can........

... and yes, yes, yes, I know that "Of Human Bondage" is supposed to be Maugham's 'masterpiece'..... but I still call bullshit..... his character Philip was an idiot..... any character - fiction or non-fiction - that can be so devoted to such a female as Mildred is beyond pitiful......... but BE THAT AS IT MAY - trust me folks, a point is coming along shortly - I watched that damnable movie the other day.....

.... see, there was this girl named Ms. Patel on that quiz bowl team with me...... a tiny little lass of Indian extraction, she was a complete brainiac...... and whenever we were asked some sort of literary trivia question that absolutely NO ONE had a clue about, she would shrug her shoulders, put her finger knowingly to her little brown lips, cock her head, and then blurt out, "Somerset Maugham?!?"..... and I'll be damned if she wasn't nearly always right...... she did a similar thing when asked about questions regarding Africa except she exchanged Somerset Maugham for Nairobi.... but her success ratio with African questions wasn't so good as when asked about authors...... but either way, those were her rules... when unsure, you should shout "Somerset Maugham" or "Nairobi!"......

..... at the time, I had no idea who or what a "Somerset Maugham" was...... but now that I've seen a few movies based on his plays & novels...... I'm thinking that I was one helluva square teenager back then...... either that, or Ms. Patel was a complete freak......

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Titmouse....

..... the thunder is rolling here on my damp little patch of Tennessee and a gentle rain is currently falling..... earlier this morning there was wind, stinging rain, and clouds that seemed to swing in low and touch the tops of the trees.... but now there is just a slow, cleansing rain and a faraway thunder as the clouds climb the mountains to the east...

.... most storms arrive from the southwest, cross over us here in the valley, and then are crushed against the cold mountains to the east..... today's showers were no different... more may follow later tonight, of course, but for now, there is a dripping, trickling peacefulness...... that infamous calm between the storms that we've all heard so much about in fable and lore, I guess...... but here - right now - it is real.....

..... pan-seared Caesar shrimp, Thai garlic & ginger rice, and a salad will soon be prepared in the kitchen..... I'm stoked.....

..... other than that, there isn't much going on this lazy afternoon...... although, I did experience a strange kind of angst today whilst seated during a heated game of Scrabble with The Missus.... and it disturbed me a bit......

..... it is odd, actually, the realization of angst.... see, a few weeks back, I put up a birdfeeder on the front porch.... and after seeing what a wonderful success it was, I quickly purchased another for the back yard.... and since placing them both, I have been very vigilant at ensuring that there is always fresh food, they are always well-stocked, and that they are clean..... and I have taken an even greater pleasure in whipping out my 'Audubon's Field Guide to The Southeast' every time a new species arrives on one of the feeders for a snack..... to date, well, I've personally witnessed 14 different species......

..... but here is the problem...... I am overrun with titmice.... those little bastards are everywhere..... and while I do have the occasional cardinal, nuthatch, red-winged blackbird, chickadee, vireo, woodpecker, sparrow, finch, and dark-eyed junco, the damnable titmice are a continuous swirl of feathers and pointy-heads......

.... today, a woodpecker nearly missed meeting His Maker as he munched on sunflower seeds..... it was Bob's fault, actually.... evil cat that he is...... that poor woodpecker was spared by less than an inch as Bob crept around the base of a poplar tree and attacked...... I was horrified..... I saw what was going on and stood up from the Scrabble table to warn the lucky woodpecker just as the action intensified...... luckily, all of my wildlife was still alive as I walked out onto the porch to chastise Bob.....

..... and that's when it happened..... and I'm still kind of disappointed in myself.....

.... I looked down at Bob, wagged my finger at him, and said, "Bob!.... Dammit!..... do NOT eat the woodpeckers, vireos, juncos, cardinals, chickadees, blackbirds, sparrows, finches, or nuthatches!!.... we value our diversity here, hammerhead!.... eat a fucking titmouse, boy, there are millions of them..... eat all you want, thin'em out, gorge yourself.... but leave the odd ones, boy, they are for looking at, not eating.... "

.... all I got was a feeble, meek "meow" in return..... you really can't reason logically with a cat anyway, but I just had to say my peace.....

..... and once I returned to the Scrabble table, what I had just done hit me hard right between the eyes..... and I was shocked with myself........ for somewhere, deep, deep in my soul, I had made a moral decision that it was alright for Bob to eat titmice simply because there were more of them around....... I couldn't believe that I had actually said what I had...... in essence, "dine on the plentiful, Bob, not the exotic.." ..... and instead of insisting that he not eat ANY bird, I forsook the innocent, ever-flitting titmouse..... casting their species into the Pit of Free-Range Cat Food for my own selfish reasons......

.... I suspect that I am just an evil person..... that somehow my innate Human Nature has joined up with The Understanding Of Cats, and that I just cut my proverbial losses and bowed to the inevitable urge that a cat has to hunt....... but I am still quite shocked by how my mind immediately leapt..... should not my love of nature also reach out to the titmouse community?..... should I be an equal protector, defender, and nature-lover?...... or am I just a realist......

.... I figure I should just shoot Bob and be done with it, quite frankly..... this kind of internal angst over a damn titmouse is just uncalled for.....

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Movies.....

.... Hell hath frozen over, I'm afraid.... since I am about to do a dreaded meme.....

.... Elisson has tagged me - and since I am absolutely and completely without creative juices this afternoon, I'll play along..... here goes... according to Big E, here's the "drill"....

Heres the drill: Look up 15 of your favorite movies on IMDB.

Take a quote from each and post them for your readership to properly identify.

As your movie-savvy readers correctly identify the quotes cinematic origins in the comments, strike out the quotes and name the commenter who answered correctly.

If the commenter also identifies the name of the speaker (the character or the actor), he or she gets bonus points in the form of a link to his or her site.
Simple, huh?

OK, lets see what kind of Movie Buff you are. Oh, and no fair using IMDB or other Internet-related sources. Its more fun if you try to figure these out from memory:

..... here you go, rubberneckers...... guess away.....

1. "Trouble? Eh, what trouble" Robert Redford - "Jeremiah Johnson" ... reader Leelu

2. "I'm trying to be a gentleman here. Now, get on your knees, put your ass in the air, and don't move until I say to." "The Two Jakes" - Bou from Boudicca's Voice...

3. "Why, by God, girl, that's a Colt's Dragoon! You're no bigger than a corn nubbin, what're you doing with all this pistol?" True Grit - John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn - Snuggharbor

4. "My darling girl, when Ramses destroyed Syria, that was an accident. You are a catastrophe!" "The Mummy" - Sandy

5. "My dad wanted me to be a baseball player" "The Natural" - reader TBird....

6. "Jesus Palomino, a Nazi. I knew it, you're all in cahoots. Well let me tell you something, Mr. Heinie Kraut, I fought your kind in the great war, and we kicked the living shit out of you!" "1941" - Captain SQL!...

7. "I can't stand these things... it's like drinking coffee through a veil." "Charade" - Teresa of Technicalities...

8. "You don't like it, do you Rocco, the storm? Show it your gun, why don't you? If it doesn't stop, shoot it." "Key Largo" Jean from Beauvoir Glass....

9. "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges." "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" - Primordial Slack

10. "Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me." "Harvey"..... Beauvoir Glass....

11. "What the hell do you mean "cowardly blacks?" They died on your side, didn't they? And who the hell do you think is coming to wipe out your little command? The Grenadier Guards?" "Zulu" - Hoosierboy

12. "Then he showed those men of will what will really was." "The Usual Suspects" - Reader Tommy

13. "All your life you live so close to truth it becomes a permanent blur in the corner of your eye. And when something nudges it into outline, it's like being ambushed by a grotesque." "Rosencrantz And Gildenstern Are Dead" - The Bitterman from The Smoking Toaster...

14. "With a bit of a mind flip." "Rocky Horror Picture Show" - Eric from YouBitch!...

15. "Well, he should have armed himself if he's going to decorate his saloon with my friend." "The Unforgiven".... Joe, Mr. Beerbrains....

.... good luck, hammerheads!....

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Hammock-avula!....

.... the day is winding down here at a slow and easy pace.... sliding sneakily towards dusk with the same subtle nonchalance of dress socks down tired shins after a day at the office..... yeah, yeah, I did that on purpose..... sorry..... hey, what can I say?.... I'm knee-deep into a few beautiful Tom Waits songs courtesy of Thunderman and T1G..... so feel free to blame them for my bad analogies...

.... actually, today has been anxiously awaited for months by The Missus..... the regal occasion?.... Hammock Day!..... that's right, gentle reader, today I reassembled the hammock near the tree line back behind the house.... and as I type this and begin to prepare dinner, The Missus is celebrating her third consecutive hour of blissful hammock-laying.... to say that she's missed her hammock would be the understatement of the century...... she's positively blissful..... did I mention that before, that blissful part?..... yeah, I thought I did.... but hey, you guys get the picture......

.... so while I peel potatoes at the kitchen sink in a few minutes, I will be greeted with a vision of splendor - languidly reclining with sunglasses, wine, book, 75 degree weather, and pillow way, way back near the end of our property line.......

.... we're having potato & cheddar encrusted cod, incidentally..... with scalloped potatoes & sour cream, and a fresh garden salad..... a simple meal for extremely simple folks......

.... wow... you know, the more that I listen to this music, the more amazed by Tom Waits I am...... I adore improvisation..... me, I am definitely not wired that way..... I memorize things in a linear fashion - and I am pretty good at it....... the more complicated the lyrics, the more my mind craves to find every word and line it up so that it can spit it out perfectly when the song arrives on the CD player...... but right now, I am checking out a live version of "Step Right Up" that is just amazing..... I KNOW that song inside out and sideways (from the studio version.)..... but how Mr. Waits' mind plays with the song and rhythm on the fly just blows me away..... my mind just doesn't work that way..... good god..... I wish that it did.....

.... "just remember, batteries not included..." ..... what a song.....

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John.....

..... I mentioned earlier that "Spider John" was one of my favorite songs from the Early Buffett Era........ but thanks to this absolutely wonderful rendition, I have found that it was just a Jimmy Buffett cover of another man's beautiful song........

...... this gentleman's version definitely does the sober song justice....... I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do...... (although, I seriously doubt that any of you have heard Buffett's version of this song, and hey, that is ok.)

..... "If you see my Lily, won't you give her my regards...."....... word, ladies and gentlemen......... what an amazing song......

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Monday....

..... this song has been on my mind all afternoon........ no idea why, really....... but hey, here it is...... y'all have a good night and give it a listen......

..... I love singing this song when no one is around...... it and "Spider John" are two of my closet-favorites........ and sure, Jimmy is a bit flat at times during the performance, but that doesn't mean we have to hold it against him!..... hell, it's all good if you're a parrothead...... shhhh, just a second.... "we can go hiking on Tuesday..... with you, I'd walk anywhere....."

...... I tell ya, Jimmy may be a hammerhead, but he is a poet regardless.....

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Magnetism.....

.... you know, as much as I groused and groaned prior to last night's concert, it actually was a wonderful, wonderful show..... The Mystique that is Tom Jones is a treasure to behold & it is a piece of history- whether you are a fan or not.... and at 67 years old, he jumped, slid, wiggled, winked, sang, and sniffed panties like I can only wish to be able to do once I hit 67.... in short, the man is a Force....

.... he crooned to us all with equal abandon.... elderly, middle-aged, and the few younger folks who were there..... and by the time he came on for his encore, every seat in The Tennessee Theatre was empty as each of us stood, clapped, and screamed like rabid, lust-laden cheerleaders for a well-hung quarterback... (with the exception of myself and a few other husbands, of course.... we merely stood politely - grinning at the sheer magnetism of The Man - and clapped our hands)..... I saw one 60-ish man mouth the words, "you magnificent, cheesy, wild-dancin' Welsh bastard... thank you!.... I am SO getting laid tonight.." ....

... hey, I'll be the first to admit that I was completely blown away by watching how the crowd reacted as Mr. Jones performed.... it was like nothing I have ever seen, folks... you had grown women nearly fainting when he sang "She's A Lady".... you had 3,000 people screaming "WHY, WHY, WHY, DELILAH?" because those were the only lyrics they knew.... you had women with a walking stick in one hand & their panties in their other teetering slowly towards the stage and attempting to do dance like Tom..... and yes, yes.... there were lots and lots of panties.... black thongs, little white cotton bikini ones, and even a pair of granny-panties that you could have built a tent out of..... to him though, it really didn't matter all that much.....

.... but see, therein lies The Great Key Of Tom Jones, rubberneckers...... trust me, I watched it unfold all night long, and it truly was a thing of beauty.... AND it is why Tom Jones is still packing theatres after 40+ years in The Business..... his message is so wonderful in its simplicity that it is perfect beyond words....... in short, "love me and I will love you back..... want me and I will want you"...... those simple ideas are so seldom truly and wholeheartedly felt, but he gives that to his audience..... isn't that theme one of the greatest desires of everyone on the planet?.......

..... actually I digress a bit, that previous bit is only half-true.... his message isn't trying to convey 'love', really..... what he's really saying is a much more boiled-down version of that general concept..... basically, "if you want to have sex with me, I will make sure that you believe before this night is over that I want to have sex with you regardless of what you look like, smell like, how much you weigh, how old you are, or even if your husband wants to watch.." .... and hey, to pull something like that off?.... well, he's one helluva presence when he gets on stage.....

.... he closed his three-song encore with a Prince song called "Kiss"..... I've written here before about witnessing the magical effect that song had on people, but watching Jones sing it took it to a whole new level..... somewhere deeply embedded in the song are lyrics to this effect..... check it out....

You don't have to be beautiful to turn me on I just need your body, baby, from dusk till dawn You don't need experience to turn me out You just leave it all up to me, I'm gonna show you what it's all about

You don't have to be rich to be my girl
You don't have to be cool to rule my world
Ain't no particular sign I'm more compatible with
I just want your extra time and your kiss

You got to not talk dirty, baby, if you wanna impress me
You can't be too flirty, mama, I know how to undress me, yeah
I want to be your fantasy, maybe you could be mine
You just leave it all up to me, and we could have a good time

.... gentle people, that song may have been co-written by Prince, but it was MADE for Tom Jones.....

..... I don't know what else to say about the concert other than if he visits your town, you should go and watch him...... his brass section was incredible.... and the rest of the band too, for that matter...... and regardless of the size of the venue, you will spend most of the show imagining that you are in Las Vegas..... it was a great night...... and while I am still not a fan, per se, I have a completely newfound respect for Mr. Tom Jones..... and may he continue to have panties lobbed in his general direction for the next fifty years........

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Dancing.....

.... the day has dawned, gentle hammerheads..... and in a scant few hours I'll be safely tucked away somewhere near the back of the historic Tennessee Theatre while a jiggling mass of breathless 40 & 50-somethings worship at the feet of Tom Jones..... not sure if y'all recall, but I mentioned the trepidation I felt when I purchased the tickets a while back..... and tonight is the night......

..... with any luck, he'll boogie woogie like he does in this little clip..... I sure hope that he does..... hell, I've never seen a Welshman move like that in real life.....part of me thinks that it just plain can't happen..... but witnessing that dance with my own two beady eyes would be worth the 70 bucks for admission - even if he didn't sing a note....

..... besides, if he really does dance like that, it'll be pretty entertaining when the paramedics arrive to haul off all the heart attack victims..... Knoxville may be hip, but it isn't exactly known for its hipshaking..... I have a feeling that Tom Jones is gonna rock the house.....

.... anyway, I'm off to the Big City..... you guys enjoy what's left of your Sunday..... I'm outta here....

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Mummies.....

..... I re-watched "The Mummy" again today whilst doing various household chores & giving the semi-annual cleaning to the inhabitants of the gunsafe, and I have to admit that I am still impressed every single time that I watch that movie......

.... I suspect that if I could have picked and chosen before my birth just exactly how I would look as an adult, I would have chosen Mr. Fraser as the model..... sure, he's a bit clumsy from time to time..... and he is pretty damned goofy.......but in "The Mummy" he does the whole 'action hero' kinda thing right there with the best of 'em.....

..... not that I really want to view myself as any form of action hero, but still, I mean c'mon....... Brendan looks pretty capable in the flick....... (much more than capable, if you were to ask my Missus)..... and were I not redheaded and covered in freckles, I wouldn't mind being Mr. Fraser on occasion....... but only the random occasion, of course, not any specific one..... I'd still like to be me most of the time......

..... and his weaponry?...... good god....... from his old Colt and Smith revolvers to his Winchester shotgun?..... now those, gentle rubberneckers, are truly lustful things.......

.... Rachel Weiz, on the other hand, well, she is a beauty throughout the whole movie....... but the opening scene where she falls off the ladder and completely wrecks the museum just slays me...... something about those eyeglasses, the bun, and her dual-toned leather slip-ons....... the absolute epitome of a klutzy, bespectacled librarian..... (I like librarians)...... but her teetering on that ladder just before she wreaks havoc just makes me laugh..... albeit an evil, twisted, maniacal kind of laugh....... librarians are all about control, after all..... and watching one lose control just twigs my antennae.........

... the scarab beetles?...... they are a bit hit-or-miss for me...... while I like the 'idea' of them, they give the heebie-jeebies on quite a few levels later in the movie.... mainly, of course, when they are eating someone alive.........

...... but really, now that I have come to ponder upon it for a bit, any movie that has camels in it just does it for me..... one of my dream-vacations has always been to traverse the Sahara from Rabat (or Casablanca) - Taureg Tuareg-style - all the way to Alexandria............

...... not that I want to go all "Lawrence of Arabia" any time soon...... but the idea sure is appealing........ besides, I do look quite good in white silk (in spite of my freckles)......... and nowadays, well, they've put some shit-hot sunscreen on the market..... so, who knows?........

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Educational.....

.... a cold, slow drizzle is currently soaking my quiet little piece of Tennessee, and it is most welcome.... it may make the day seem a bit gloomy, but it is needed.... this whole area has gasped through the strangling fingers of drought for more than five years - so the rain is a well-needed relief..... I noticed yesterday that a few of the trees now have the first tiny kernels of buds forming... by the end of the month, there will be tiny leaves, I suspect.....

..... the powers that be are predicting an inch of snow tomorrow, though..... but moisture is moisture - liquid or solid - and those hardy survivors will make use of it regardless..... and even if it does snow a bit tomorrow, at least it is clear now that the End of Winter is sight...... and that is a very good thing...... sure, the winters are mild here and I certainly don't have anything to complain about, but it is still a wonderful feeling to know that The World is on the cusp of waking up from a nice nap.....

..... winter isn't over yet, but it is definitely stretching, repositioning the pillow, and contemplating a nice cup of coffee......

..... anyhoo, now that today's thimble full of creativity is all used up, did anyone catch that program last night on "Earth's Black Hole"?..... what an unmitigated bunch of hammerheads..... according to some beaker-clutching quasi-scientists there is this teensy weensy black hole hidden somewhere inside The Bermuda Triangle that is causing all sorts of galactic craziness.... I tell you, rubberneckers, the whole program was an absolute riot..... at one point I actually shot a little bit of Gin & Tonic out of my nose..... I even clicked the little button on the remote to read the description of the show, and found that it was labeled "Educational".....

.... I am continually amazed at the lengths some people will travel to showcase their mental illnesses.... and how any guy with a lab coat and a set of Petri dishes in the screenshot with him is to be believed unconditionally.....

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Tucker....

.... I head this song today on my way back from the grocer........ and wow, I must not have heard it in years....... but what a great tune......

.... there is just something about the guitar that drives the whole thing...... the lyrics?..... nah....... they lack a bit........ but the music just sticks in my head........ as a guitarist, I think that I was born to play rhythm.......

..... enjoy.....

...... music is amazing....... all of it..... I wonder why more rock bands don't have wind instruments these days?.......

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Tests.....

..... a wild, violent storm blew through my county today.... tiny hail, lightning flashes, and booming, growling, minute-long thunder.... it was quite a sight........ I had an appointment in town that I had to tend to, and its timing managed to allow me to be caught out on the road when the deluge arrived..... rain-sheets and a boiling sky were my companions as I made my way back homewards......

...... funny, I know, but I could not help but think of that scene in 'Saving Private Ryan' where everyone is waiting to jump from their gliders and the AA rounds are exploding all around them - peppering their aircraft with shrapnel....... that hollow thump-twing that just makes you sound penetrated...... targeted...... exposed.......

..... that is exactly what the wind-driven hail sounded like as it dinged off my hood and windshield today.......

.... as I drove along the two lane road, I found myself amazed that I could actually see the individual waves of rain as they danced on the road in front of me...... and then to feel them hit the windscreen and witness my wipers straining to keep up?...... it so absolutely surreal........ I thought at two points that I might actually drown........

..... but in spite of my drowning reflex being tweaked, I still almost pulled over when I was halfway back to my little hometown...... I know that it is crazy, but a part of my mind thought, "hey!..... just pull off to the side of the road up there where that guy has that field of calves, relax, light a cigarette, and recline your seat...... just sit here in the car with Knoxville's Classic Rock radio station playing the undercurrents, your cell-phone jammed under your left thigh in case anyone calls, and let that beautiful, mean, angry rain just slam down on your soft-top..... Sylvia won't mind in the least..... hell, she'll probably enjoy it..... after all, you have no place else to be just now....... and hey, it isn't going to kill you..... so enjoy it!"......

..... but, well, I didn't do that........

..... I kept to the speed limit, turned my wipers up a bit higher than normal, turned off that fool radio, and tooled on back to the compound and made myself a homemade burrito......

.... but there are things that we just miss in life, really..... important things...... things that help to define us as Who We Are........ and then there are those niggling little voices in the backs of our heads which tell us to eat that last cheeseburger, packet of onion rings, or tiny pile of tater tots.....

..... which one is right?..... I have no idea..... which voice is to be listened to?........ you certainly can count me out on the voting......... honestly, I have no fucking clue......

..... but I will tell you this, and this is a ice-cold fact, rubberneckers, so listen closely........ sure, I didn't pull over today and let the rain pelt me while I attempted to find some sort of Zen Peace in The Moment, I still feel absolutely blown away by everything that I saw....

..... so, I guess the real question is?....... damn, you got me.... I have no idea........

.... then again, perhaps each road is just a different test........ and those tests arrive for each of us at different times......

..... either way, all I can really tell you is this: I would have enjoyed today regardless of having stopped by the side of the road or having continued my drive........

..... but I think I should have stopped and let the the rain hit me... pound me..... drench me..... chill me.......

.... I think that I missed an opportunity....

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Banging.....

.... a tall, spindly dogwood tree that stands just a few feet from the blogroom window died this past summer.... a poplar about thirty yards away fell victim to the same drought as well..... I hated losing either tree, truthfully, but last summer was brutal.... and well, those things just can't be helped..... with everything everywhere there is an ebb and flow.....

... I bring this up merely to report that I have been watching a woodpecker hammer that dilapidated dogwood with his noggin for the past fifteen minutes..... from where I sit, it doesn't appear that he's managed much headway.... but you can't fault him for lack of effort.....

.... which brings me to the point, I suppose..... if there is such a thing as reincarnation, I'd hate to peck through an eggshell (somewhere hugely distant in the future) and realize that I was looking up out of a nest with a big mother woodpecker gazing lovingly down at me.....

.... I wrote about woodpeckers two years ago, and I still haven't managed to use "woodpeckered" in a conversation yet... not that it really matters, of course, I just thought I'd mention it..... but while I still greatly admire their ability to fly at full speed directly at a tree and pull-up perfectly to avoid collision, I can't really say that actually being a woodpecker would be too much fun......

.... I mean, just imagine that every single time that you found yourself even the slightest bit hungry, you had to zip around looking for a refrigerator to head-butt until someone tossed you a sandwich...... what a life, eh?....

.... I reckon that in the great cosmic scheme of things, woodpeckers were probably pretty evil fellows in their former lives.... tax collectors or email spammers or people who kicked kittens.... something along those lines.... I mean, even dung beetles just eat crap.... at least they don't have to smash their heads incessantly into hard surfaces every time they want some sustenance.... crap-eaters or not, I suspect that they're a little higher on the karmic waiting list.... being a woodpecker must be a complete drag.....

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Simplicity....

..... today is going to be a very good day..... Conan the Barbarian is on Cinemax (DirecTV Channel 512) and my pot roast is simmering away on the stove-top.....

.... 'tis the simple pleasures that drive me, folks..... and the simpler the better.....

.... holy crap, he just punched that camel....

Update: .... you know, I think I'm going to start ending all of my internal dialogues towards stupid people with "Such a waste. Contemplate this on The Tree of Woe."

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