Dead......

... I watched the 1950 version of 'D.O.A' today for the very first time, and I have been absolutely consumed with searching for information on Neville Brand ever since....... in short?.... that man was so maniacal that it truly beggars belief.......... sure, Edmond O'Brien bested him in the end, but that isn't really the point....... the point is, Edmond's character was a classic.......... but Brand's?...... he was mesmerizing........ he was nuts........ and he was certainly enjoying his job.....

..... I even did a bit of an imitation of his acting today after dinner...... (... the bit during his car scene in 'D.O.A' where he is telling O'Brien just how much he is going to LOVE torturing and killing him once they arrive at wherever they're going).... good lord, the man was just plain scary.........

..... looking back now?...... well, I think that I scared my Mother at little bit, truth be known......... I hadn't meant to, of course, but hey, I can cackle with the BEST of them........ and after all of these years, the upbringing, the growth, the nurturing, the caring, the spankings, the church outings, and all that worry?...... I think that came as a bit of a surprise for her after I'd grilled cheeseburgers and whipped up an incredibly bland salad for us all for dinner......... I mean, who expects an expertly articulated cackle after a comfortable meal amongst family?...... even if the salad WAS bland.......

....... but hey, life is like that, isn't it?.......... those little sparks are what keep us interested, yes?....... or frightened, maybe......... or, wait...... maybe "interested" is a better analogy......

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Providence.....

..... 130 years ago - almost to the day, the 24th Regiment of Foot & a few Royal Engineers pulled off one of the greatest defenses in the history of warfare.... I speak, of course, of the defense of Rorke's Drift during the Anglo-Zulu War...... curious about what I'm talking about?.... well then, here's a link for you...... better yet, just kick back on your sofa and watch the 1964 epic 'Zulu'...... I highly recommend it, actually - the movie, I mean...... it never fails to cheer my wee soul on the days when life's a bit slippery.....

..... but anyway, I digress....

..... see, part of yesterday's cleaning of the closet was in a vain attempt to find my old olive-drab peaked cap so that I could cannibalize the giant Eagle, Globe, & Anchor, drill a hole in my new pith helmet, and secure the EGA on its new home on the aforementioned pith helmet...... but alas, it was not meant to be.....

.... but, gentle rubbernecker...... BUT...... just guess what I found instead?...... here's what she looks like after a bit of a polish & buff......

pith_small.jpg

..... yep, whist digging around in an old Famous Dane butter cookie tin, I stumbled upon an authentic Victorian era cap badge of the Royal Engineers...... and boys and girls, my pith helmet is now replete...... kinda makes me wonder what else is hidden away in that closet though........ Jimmy Hoffa?.... the Romanian Crown Jewels?..... how I managed to collect all this crap is beyond me.....

..... anyway, I think I'll wear it the next time 'Zulu' is on and try to pretend that I'm Mr. Chard without biting my nails.....

... damn, just looking at it makes me want to break into 'Men of Harlech'.....

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Closet.....

.... much of this morning and afternoon has been spent attempting to clean out the closet here in the manroom/blogroom..... and so far, I sadly report, the operation has been a complete and utter failure... the resulting piles of junk have overwhelmed me..... and I now have to climb over a mountain of climbing, hunting, camping, and military stuff just to reach the safety of the blogroom chair........

..... it's absolutely amazing how much I managed to cram into that poor little closet..... and now all the crap that was heaped in the closet is scattered all over the couch, desk, and floor.... I have no idea what tangent that Tsunami of Optimism swung in on this morning, but it picked a poor target in little ole me.....

.... I mean, honestly, why do I even OWN a three-piece, sniper's ghillie suit?....

.... so..... apart from the old uniforms, hangers full of hunting clothes, boxes of cigars, baseball gloves, an old lava lamp, boxes of ammunition, a tree stand, backpacks, sleeping bags, headlamps & flashlights, thermarests, stoves, cooking utensils, a compass, ropes, first aid kits, boots, boxes of photographs, and my old collection of Playboys, I found three CASES of MREs & two cases of bottled water....

.... if I included the contents of the gunsafe in the garage?..... the AR-15, 30-30, .280, .44 magnum rifle, .22 magnum rifle, .22 rifle, the combat .12 ga, the pump .12 ga, and the two single-shot .12 ga?..... and that's not counting the handguns........ I'm figuring that I could easily outfit a full squad of rubberneckers - armed, ammo'd, camouflaged, fed, watered, and fairly well-equipped for a five day combat mission.....

... good god.... it is insane that I have this much stuff.... next October during the blogmeet here, I think I'll ceremonially hand out a set of cammies to everyone who shows up...... that'd make an interesting photo-op, I think.....

.... now I just have to start trying to organize all this crap and get it put back away...... I'm thinking a gin & tonic is in order.....

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Signs.....

..... I'm sorry, but this just isn't funny....... sure, pranks are cool... but that?...... that's not a prank..... that's just mean......

... hat tip to Zonker....

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Soggy....

..... I awoke this morning at 4am.... light-switch style wide awake... that odd kind of wake-up that you know has been caused by something.... I lay in bed and listened.....

.... the bedroom is at the corner of the house, and the wind was absolutely roaring past the edge...... small limbs clattered against the guttering.... sheets of rain popped against the windows on either side of the bed.... but above everything else - the wind...

... I eased out of bed and made my way to the kitchen for coffee while the house groaned.... I sat on the couch for half an hour just listening to the wind..... it was an odd feeling - one that I haven't had in a while, actually...... and it didn't really hit me until later today what it was.....

.... during my visit with my Sainted Mother this morning, I was asked to retrieve some items from my Dad's old barn...... the weather was awesome - huge, fat raindrops slanting in from the northwest, gusty air that moved the droplets sideways perfectly, 40 degrees and dropping...... I arrived at the barn after a short jog of about 50yds soaking wet..... and as I stepped into the barn and searched for the light switch, I realized what had been in the back of my mind this morning in the noisy darkness......

.... this is camping weather......

..... I've camped in weather like this a thousand times.... from the Grampians in Scotland where I did my solo 5-day hiking/camping trips, to Mountain Training in the Highlands with 45 Commando, to the far-off wilds of a tiny island in the Bering Sea...... snow, rain, ice, wind, tundra, heather, and glens..... there is nothing like slogging through weather like that all day long, pitching a tiny tent, peeling yourself out of your drenched Gortex, firing up the propane stove, and listening to the weather throw itself against the sides of your little shelter....

.... you understand the Meaning of Comfort after a few days of that....... to be dry when the world is wet..... to be warm when the air is cold.... to cook your noodles, warm your coffee, and hear the wind - angry that it can no longer whip around you - whistle through the anchor-lines of your rain fly...... the comfort of knowing that you are protected.... the knowledge that you have spent the day in weather not fit for man nor beast - and at the end of it you have squeezed out a comfortable niche.... a moveable home that shelters you.....

.... I didn't realize it until this afternoon...... but I had that feeling this morning at 4 O'clock.... and it was such an odd feeling.....

..... it's a good thing that my cousin still hasn't returned my little 2-man tent.....

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Firsts!.....

.... I happily read last night of the arrival of Morrigan's lovely daughter, Gianna.... and I wish the best for Bou, Morrigan, and the rest of their family!... she sure is one cute little girl.... and much like Erica, I was given the privilege this past October of feeling her kick through Morrigan's tummy..... and having never been around that many pregnant women before, that is something that I will always remember..... it was a first for me!..... so congratulations, Morrigan..... your baby is a beauty....

.... and speaking of firsts, I have been asked to visit my Sainted Mother first thing in the morning.... it seems that she decided to switch out her cell phone package and found herself "bundled" before she knew what hit her..... DSL, boys and girls.... my goodness..... her very first experience with The Internet begins tomorrow morning.... just as soon as I get everything unboxed, loaded, plugged in, and secured, that is....

... it's weird..... I just can't see my Momma surfing the web, reading blogs, paying her bills online, sending emails, and responding excitedly to Nigerian Spam Scams.... but, oh my, she's definitely gonna be....

.... heaven help us all....

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Flip-side.....

...... I took a photograph of my television this afternoon.....

... I don't completely understand why, really, but I did.....

..... I was happily clicking my way towards The History Channel when it happened...... I'd heard that they were airing a marathon of 'Battlefield 360', so I was stoked..... I had coffee, cigarettes, and a 25lb dumb bell (for working off the excess testosterone during commercial breaks) all laid by in preparation.....

.... and then I saw this fellow...... and his pigtails have short-circuited something in my noggin all afternoon...... I think that as the straight, white guy, I have found my perfect cosmic opposite........ and that's just plain awesome........

.... so behold, gentle rubberneckers, a man who accidentally entered my quiet compound, pointed his manicured fingers at me, pursed his lips, gave his head a little weird wiggle, and cooed, "now, you listen to ME girlfriend!.... you are NOT allowed to wear eye shadow that color unless it's Easter - or you have a severe liver condition!"..... I'm still reeling from the shock of it all........

channel_surfing_small.jpg

..... good God, people..... there are some things that you just cannot unsee..... or unhear, now that I think about it....... but you just have to hear and see anyway....... I think I'm going to whip up a gin & tonic and start supper....

.... then again, perhaps that is not such a good idea...... The Missus asked for cauliflower & cheese sauce as a side dish for dinner...... and watching a big bunch of cauliflower steam might just be a Bridge Too Far, if you know what I mean....

..... damn, I wonder what his boyfriend looks like......

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Burns.....

... tomorrow is The Day, boys and girls......... and there will be more than a little celebration here...........

.... once upon a time - four years ago - I left a bit of a statement here........

..... but tonight?...... well, this version just stirs my soul........ and I hope that you enjoy....

...... Happy Birthday, Big Guy, wherever you are.......... you were - and continue to be - an inspiration..........

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Clint.....

.... too tired to post tonight, rubberneckers........ it has been a very, very long day........ but I did manage to wander down to Cleveland, TN and have lunch, catch the latest Clint Eastwood flick, and then buy a fancy dinner......... and once home?...... 'Conan The Destroyer' was on television........

.....I ask you, gentle rubbernecker, what better tool is there for combating your woes than watching Wilt Chamberlain, Arnold, and Olivia D'Abo on a chilly January evening with a full tummy and a Clint Eastwood movie under your belt?.......

..... but I swear, the folks who made that movie had no idea of its true potential....... (the Conan movie, not the Eastwood vehicle)....... I mean, Olivia's wardrobe alone is enough to make the movie very nearly criminal in its' portrayal.....

....... and that horn that Conan ripped out once The God was awakened?...... the one that Olivia had dutifully retrieved?...... bloody hell...... I am sure that a generation of young Americans were traumatized AND quite fortified at the same time by the actions of the headlining cast during those final few scenes.........

...... hey, it is no secret that I love all of the Conan movies....... no secret at all....... and also, I have written some pretty raunchy stuff about 'Conan The Destroyer' in the past.... (three years ago, in fact...)....... but tonight, that is pretty far from my mind.......

..... because tonight I just want to go to sleep and dream....... I am TIRED......

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Presidents.....

.... earlier today The History Channel was airing a show about The Presidents through history.... just basic information, highlights, and a few quirks of each, really - nothing too heavy..... Taft was fat & hated being The President.... Teddy Roosevelt built the Panama canal after assisting the Panamanians to create Panama through revolution (Colombia wasn't down with the idea of The Canal, evidently, so Roosevelt gave a few "revolutionaries" some "assistance"..... and hey, voila!.... a brand new country that just could not WAIT to sign a treaty with the USA and start digging a canal.... etc, etc.)... that type of information.....

.... anyway, as a bit of an amateur historian myself, I couldn't help but interject my own pieces of random knowledge about certain Presidents when each commercial rolled...... I'd just dove into the Milwaukee assassination attempt on TR when my mind suddenly failed me...... sure, I knew that he got capped and then finished his speech, but I couldn't recollect the exact "shooting a bull moose" quote...... and forgetting a bit of once-known trivia like that just drives me bananas.....

... so off to the bookshelf I flew to retrieve an old almanac..... and indeed, there was a handy section just on US assassinations, of course.... (I do so love almanacs..)

.... the problem is that it didn't mention the exact "bull moose" quote..... but I did happen to find an odd bit of information that has had me scratching my noggin ever since.....

... I mean, did y'all know that there were two assassination attempts on President Ford?...... hell, I certainly didn't.... but the again, I was just a mere slip of a lad at the time, so I can be forgiven....... but those older rubberneckers who read this crap?.... did you know?!?....... well, if you are willing to trust the three-inch thick Time 2001 Almanac, then there certainly were...... and I quote:

.... from the section entitled "Assassinations and Attempts in the U.S. since 1865"... did I mention that I love almanacs?......

Ford, Gerald R. (President of the U.S.): Escaped assassination attempt Sept. 5, 1975 in Sacramento, Calif., by Lynette Alice (Squeaky) Fromme, who pointed and did not fire a .45-caliber pistol. Escaped assassination attempt in San Francisco, Calif., Sept. 22nd, 1975, by Sara Jane Moore, who fired one shot from a .38-caliber pistol that was deflected.

..... for the love of all that was holy, why would someone want to shoot Gerald Ford?.... and what's more, BOTH of his assassins were women!..... and only two weeks apart!...... and BOTH in California!......

... sure, I was only nearly three years old at the time, but what's up with a bunch of women in California wanting to perforate President Ford?.... what is it exactly that I have not gleaned from the hundreds and hundreds of history books that I have read in my short lifetime?.......

.... wait...... after a bit of research, I see Charles Manson coming up... an FBI Informant.... and the Symbionese Liberation Army..... and the former Marine who tackled & wrestled the handgun away from Sara Jane Moore?..... outed for being homosexual and later fell into a life of drug and alcohol addictions...... and now they're making a movie with Sean Penn about the life of Harvey Milk?..... he's the gentleman who outed Mr. Sipple - the guy who tackled Sara and saved The President.....

... Jesus Christ, folks..... perhaps I shouldn't go digging around in things that I know nothing about!....

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Lost.....

... two years ago this morning, I made a long trip over to middle Tennessee to pick up my brother....... I remember taking a video of a herd of cows wandering over to my car as I waited, talked on the cell phone, and ate a McDonald's biscuit..... I was so very, very excited that morning...... it had been such a long time a'coming....... and I will remember it for as long as I live..... it was a new beginning.....

.... two years ago today this evening, my house was filled with nearly twenty familiar faces from my childhood..... old football, baseball, and basketball players that I had given wedgies to in my senior year........ good men..... good "boys".... and as I just re-met them after ten years away, they were good Fathers and Husbands....... and I respected them.....

..... hell, they weren't MY friends, per se, but still guys (and their new wives) that I had known when I was growing up...... and in truth?.... they were not even of my generation, really..... but of my Brother's generation.....

.... they were HIS friends...... and I was happy to be host to their party...... but that was two years ago........

.... it is amazing, now, looking back...... two years ago they swarmed around him like butterflies or moths on this day - right here in my house..... drawn to him in a manner that I still do not understand....... but they arrived, and everyone was so very happy.....

..... we shot pool in the garage..... we ordered pizzas, sipped beers, and smiled at a future that we imagined was going to be so very, very bright..... he was introduced to wives, girlfriends, & children..... and wholeheartedly accepted by each and every one of them.......

..... he had genuinely been missed by his local friends...... and I remember sitting back afterwards and letting that idea rock my world...... I was so happy........

..... I remember watching the entire thing unfold..... games being played, laughter being shared, and how he was still just as charming to them as he always had been........and I remember thinking about how incredibly fortunate he was to have so many people - from such a vast array of humanity - that loved him, missed him, and wanted him in their lives after such a long absence..... genuinely, truthfully, and unreservedly or ungrudgingly....... they were glad to see him......

....... but it is less than two years now, and he is gone again.......

..... I have never felt so betrayed in all of my life....... not even when President Clinton kept us from doing the right thing in Kosovo when I was in uniform...........

...... but life is like that, isn't it?........sometimes you just have to move on........

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AYEEE!!!....

... holy crap!..... I snowed in the Tennessee Valley!...... we're all gonna die!!!!......

.... I'm off to mix a drink, folks....... The Lord has, after all, provided me with an ample supply of ice for the scotch!!.......

.... some days you just have to count your blessings!...

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Travel.....

..... well, it appears that my Brother-in-Law's Scottish Christmas & Hogmonay Trip is now officially over.....

... he'd taken three weeks off from building bungalows on the outskirts of The Sundarbans to visit his folks this year, and they certainly enjoyed having him home for The Holidays..... but as of tonight (and a quick phone call home for The Missus to verify), he's jetting his way back to Bangladesh......

.... my goodness..... hearing of his wanderings is seriously twigging my Traveling Shoes jones..... just hearing second-hand that he'd been "forced" to endure a 24-hour layover in Dubai has my right foot tapping and my left knee doing the old "sewing machine" thing that I used to get when I was rock-climbing....

.... alas, though, that is not yet to be....... even though I DO have a beautiful pith helmet to sport on my next trip to the subcontinent...... (thank you, Zonker).....

... wait?...... what is that I hear?...... Barcelona, Seville, and Toledo?...... September?....... hmmmm..... something is afoot in the wind in the other room via International Channels........ holy crap, Iceland?.... Norway?!?...... "or even somewhere like Poland?"..... it is impossible to wear a pith helmet and remain free of ridicule in Poland, folks.....

..... hey, maybe I can get them to traipse off to Warsaw and leave me to explore Rabat or Marrakech for two or three weeks?...... sure, I wouldn't need the pith helmet there, but a nice suit would certainly fit the bill...... or maybe Johannesburg?.....

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Baskets.....

.... damnation, folks.... it be cooooold outside....... Signs of the Times are present, though.... and indeed, I've caught sight of two male cardinals chasing each other around the front yard most of the morning..... and that, gentle rubberneckers, can mean only one thing - that their little avian hearts are a'thumpin' for love & the promise of springtime companionship....

.... anyhoo, I'm attempting a cure for the chilliness of the day by preparing a colorful menu for tonight's digestion...... garlic & parmesan shrimp.... pasta alfredo.... Caesar salad.... lobster tail on the side.... melted butter...... an absolute Festival of Cheesiness...... and the dinner guest arrives at five.....

.... I reckon that if you throw enough cheese, seafood, and garlic at any given bugaboo, you might just be able to forget about it for a while..... in this case, this cold, dreary-assed weather.....

... if it works, I will definitely let y'all know about it.... and care baskets full of cheese shall be dispatched forthwith.....

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Tango.....

...... for the record, I'm a huge Tom Waits fan...... and I truly do enjoy his music..... sure, his voice is an acquired taste - but getting past that facade to sink your teeth into the amazing lyrics is worth it in my view....... besides, his voice isn't all THAT scary once you've waded through a few of his albums......

... having said that, though, I did find this today..... a Tom Waits cover that I am still reeling from.....

.... beautiful, no?..... hell, I have always loved "Tango Till They're Sore" as Tom sang it....... but those Israelis?.... that was just too damn pretty....... here's Mr. Waits' version....... which do you prefer?.... and why?......

.... as for me, I like'em both....... but I'm leaning towards Tom..... hey, I'm a purist.......

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Frying....

.... under very, very, very few circumstances should one ever pan-fry a sirloin steak..... and by "very, very, very few", I mean, like, you're barricaded in your home, surrounded by flesh-eating zombies, and only have one round left for your .12 gauge..... in fact, I am sure that there is some sort of Man Law that is broken by even typing the words pan, fry, and sirloin in the same sentence.....

.... and yet, I must admit that I actually fried a sirloin last night for dinner..... but in my defense, it was cold & I didn't realize that the grill's propane tank was empty until I was standing there with a 1.5lb hunk of Angus trying to get it lit..... so instead of nipping out to the local shop to purchase some propane, I opted for the frying pan.....

.... and yes, I know that letting a grill run out of propane is grounds enough to have my Man License pulled, but hey, these things do happen.... hell, in retrospect, I'd have been better off building a fire in the kitchen sink, skewering the steak, and pretending I was Daniel Boone out on a camping trip..... but hindsight is often like that.....

.... I will tell you this, though.... if ever the same (or similar) circumstances unfold again, I shall put the steak back in the fridge, make a note to not forget to pick up propane the next day, and nuke a frozen corndog before I abuse a nine-dollar sirloin with a frying pan again...

..... my thoughts go out to that poor cow, they really do...... noble, proud, majestic beast..... given the finest food, the best growth hormones, antibiotics so that it never suffered a sickness.... herded, cared for, and ethically slaughtered.... butchered by a professional.... packaged & wrapped to the highest government standards.... only to end in the sorry way that it did....

.... such a horrible, horrible, horrible waste....... and yes, I am quite ashamed....

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Sirens.....

.... not in The Zone tonight, fellow travelers..... my goodness, it's been a long, hard week.... (and yes, I know that it is only Wednesday..).....

ADT house alarms, to be more precise...... and it has shaken me to my core.......

..... and indeed, thrice today I have been contacted by a eloquent black man in Columbus who has informed me that my Mother's house alarms have been going off and that police have been dispatched.....

... it's down right disconcerting, I tell ya......

.... she heads out to the local State Farm automotive insurance establishment?.... I get the call from Ivan that her back door has been breached........ she wanders off to lunch at the cheesy Chinese joint?..... I get a call that the world has collapsed and her house is a smoldering ruin....... she hops off to our local evangelical, Pentecostal, charismatic Holiness church to worship with her tongue-speaking brothers and sisters a few hours later?...... I get a call from Ivan saying that the window in the living room is ajar and that he has dispatched the county's best Cletus and Jethro to investigate..........

..... it is enough to drive a man to drink, me thinks........ but still - even after a day of Alarms - all is well....... all that have been Put To Bed, remain in bed....... and all is well, despite the sirens........

..... I swear, I will never understand Jason and his Argonauts.... them there, standing against the gale?...lashed to the masts, railing against the wind, the sea, and All That They Love to beg to go TOWARDS the sirens?.... no fucking way............ and Odysseus?...... forget about it...... that man was warped beyond belief...... just trust me on that...... "tie me up and let me listen to the Sirens?"..... what an idiot.....

... there is a reason that those soundy-things atop cop cars are called "sirens", folks....... and they are NOT things to be reached, yearned, or longed for.........

.... sometimes The English Language is a real bitch about things like that.....

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Voices.....

..... my Mother came over for a chat last night and ended up staying quite late.... spurred on by a bit of a family emergency, I did my very best to distract her from her woes & put on my usual brave face..... and it worked, too - to an extent.....

... good lord, never underestimate the curative powers of poetry, reading to one another, old photographs, and a few waltzes down Memory Lane courtesy of YouTube, ladies and gentlemen......

.... it's odd, I suppose, but reading out loud to someone seems to be a dying art these days.... and that is a monumental tragedy, if you ask me...

.... you gather so much more when you listen to someone read....... there is a tangible feel that vibrates through your soul when someone who can read well actually takes the time to read to you.... you see the writer's world through not only their words, but through the voice, tone, timbre, and inflection of the reader..... you don't paint your own picture - you let their interpretation paint it for you.... you give yourself over to them.... you surrender yourself to their view.....it is a beautiful and intimate glimpse for the reader AND the listener, I think..... and it struck me last night as I read to my Mother just how rarely it is that we take the time to read to one another......

.... words are often cold and static.... phrases - no matter how cleverly written - are crippled by being kept in the silence of your imagination.... in the end, that's why we enjoy music so readily..... for what is music if not poetry expressed by a voice?.....

...... then again, maybe I'm just frustrated, tired, depressed, and a being a bit melodramatic this morning..... but I do know that there IS a core of truth to what I've been mulling over this morning..... there is nothing like sitting back, closing your eyes, and focusing on a pleasant voice while it reads to you - for you.....

... for me?..... well, it's one of the most amazing kinds of 'sharing' that one can perform.....

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Calico.....

..... I woke up early this morning and instantly began humming a tune.... hours passed, and the tune remained.... after four hours, I finally remembered a snippet of the lyrics...... the problem was, I couldn't remember the rest of the song..... so I was left with "I worked ten hours on a John Deere tractor...." rattling around in my head all day long... finally, my Sainted Mother called to inquire about dinner tonight and I ran that line by her.....

.... she knew it immediately..... and now?.... ahhhh.... peace, at last......

... here is the culprit of my near-insanity today...... behold, fear & tremble....

.... I'm off to grill some pork chops and mix up a tonic & gin...... mercy....

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Cheese!.....

... in honor of Boudica's Epic Marathon Adventure tomorrow, I have prepared a "Ham & Cheese" sandwich for dinner tonight that is well and truly epic as well... sure, not quite as "epic" as her marathon (which is AMAZING), but definitely epic enough to make one's gallbladder cry for Momma..... and since you are no longer in possession of a gallbladder, Bou, this recipe is for you......

.... oh, and around here?.... well, we're all about punishing internal organs every chance that we get..... but then, y'all know that......

.... so, yes.... a friend of mine (and his beloved Wife) are gracing us for dinner tonight, and after having visited Richmond's site the other day - and with my well-known & overbearing fondness for All Things Puff Pastry - I knew I just had to give it a try...... I tweaked the recipe a bit, but it should still be quite yummy......

... here's how she describes it.....

The ham and gruyere thing is *totally* easy!

A box of puff pastry has two sheets - just take them out to thaw for about 40 minutes so they are pliable. I baked the dealie on parchment paper too, just to make it easier...

So on one sheet of puff pastry (leaving about 1/2 an inch around the edge plain) brush on a nice Dijon mustard of your choice. (This is optional.) Next layer deli ham over that same area (2 or 3 slices deep), thinly slice and layer on the gruyere (or really - any kind of cheese).

Make an egg wash - one yolk with one Tbs. water mixed well.

Brush the egg wash on the edge of the puff pastry you left naked - top with the other sheet of puff pastry and using a fork, press the edges firmly all the way around to seal. Brush the top layer of puff pastry with the remaining egg wash.

Using a sharp knife make three slits in the top so steam can vent - bake at 425 for about 25 - 30 minutes. Cut into squares.

Voila! Delish!

..... mine's going to be a wee bit thicker, I suspect....

.... I used 1lb of Black Forest ham - sliced paper thin...... and began with a thin layer of Gulden's Spicy Brown Mustard..... a layer of Swiss cheese...... then alternated ham & Gruyere until both the ham AND the Gruyere were used up..... then a final layer of Provolone on top before capping it with the other pastry......

..... I think I just felt my gallbladder twitch in nervous anticipation.......

.... good luck tomorrow, Bou!....

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Faster......

.... after World War II, a Great Change took place in my little family..... returning veterans - my Grandfather, Great Uncle J.R, Great Uncle M.C., and Great Uncle George - all headed north to search for work.... Great Uncle Rob - a SEABEE - was the only one who remained behind.....

... Tennessee boys, all, they found that running farms in the rural South just wasn't somehow right for them after the war.... they'd all grown up in the hills and valleys of Monroe County, but combat had changed them, I guess..... pastoral fields, plows, and harnesses gave way to the need to Live Life Quicker.... faster, I guess....

... George had been an Army artilleryman in the Pacific.... J.R as well, but with the Marines.... M.C. had been a tanker with Patton.... Grandpa, a mortarman with the 106th in Europe....

... they arrived back home, looked around, kissed their girlfriends, wives, and children, and then split immediately for Detroit to find work.....

..... I remember hearing my Mother tell tales about them all living in the same apartment up there - drinking, cooking, shooting pool after work, and spending their days at Chrysler and Ford toiling on the assembly lines.... and, of course, mailing checks back to Tennessee..... my imagination can hardly grasp what life must have been like with those characters all under the same roof....... they were fine, young men with a true lust for life.... and ready to get busy living.......

... but after a year or so, a few of them began getting homesick..... Grandpa moved back to Tennessee and found work at a foundry.... eventually retiring after thirty or so years..... George, too..... he moved back and found work with the TVA...... J.R. left Detroit and found work with Ford in Ohio and raised a huge family.... M.C. headed southeast, though..... and ended up retiring from a steel mill in West Virginia....

... The War had shotgunned my little family from a tiny kernel in Tennessee to a network spanning many, many States....

... of that crew, the only one that remains is my Great Uncle J.R..... he now lives up in Kentucky where the Tennessee River meets the Ohio..... of all of them - apart from my Grandpa - he is the one with whom I am closest......having been the only Marine out of that generation, I used to call him up from time to time when I was overseas in the Corps myself.... he was not only my Great Uncle, but my Brother.....

... Great Uncle M.C. was the smallest of the group when it came to stature.... feisty and wiry, it is no wonder that he was a tanker during the war..... good lord, he was a salty little sardine of a man who would have fit perfectly in a "tin can"..... he was also the "laugher" of the group..... always, always, always telling jokes..... and laughing harder at them than those who had listened..... along with my Grandpa, he was also the pool shooter of the crew..... both of them having made their living at one time or another by sharp'ing after The War.... he had a table in his garage up in West Virginia - and even at the age of 86 still gave me a run for MY money on the table in MY garage last year.....

.... as of yesterday, only Great Uncle J.R. remains from that group of warriors, fathers, husbands, lovers, and men.... Great Uncle M.C. died yesterday..... and my Mother made the 11 hour drive up yesterday.... the burial will be tomorrow.... I didn't really know him that well, but I knew the men who were his friends..... and in saying that - from the company you keep - you know the quality of a man..... and he was a good one......

.... how I would have loved to have been a roommate with those hammerheads back in 1947.....

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Soggy....

.... a slow, steady, drizzle settled in here yesterday, and it's slated to be here for the next two..... I'm not complaining, mind you, I'm merely pointing it out..... rain has been lacking for the past few years, so this wintertime messiness is actually needed.... not enjoyed, per se, but definitely needed.....

..... as I type this most of my lawn's topsoil is slowly heading towards Conasauaga Creek - and eventually - somewhere in Ohio via Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky......

... what?... you don't believe me?..... well, just check out the view from Ye Olde Blogroom Window then....

rain_small.jpg

.... hey, I'm all about the rain.... the life-giving moisture.... the gentle tap of droplets pinging the leaves & guttering..... hey, I love wetness..... but that right there is just plain soggy.....

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Handwriting.....

..... I'm absolutely and completely ready for springtime to come..... in fact, I remembered today a post that I quite literally "penned" nearly two years ago...... and since I plan on watching The Game tonight until time for bed - and there will not be any posting tonight - I thought a refresher might be in order.......

.... so here's one from late-March of 2007.....

posts_small.jpg

... as for the game, I don't have a dog IN this race..... but it'll be interesting to see how it all pans out.......

... oh, and the original scribbling that I nabbed that photo off of is here.......

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Body.....

.... damn, I'm tired...... a bit out-of-sorts, too, now that I think about it..... I need a roadtrip & a hotdog with chili, cheese, and diced onions...

.... then again, maybe I just need to get in some quality range-time..... make small holes and lots of noise..... God knows all of these push-ups I've been doing for the past three days havent helped much.....

.... this time of year just makes me a bit testy, I guess.....

..... but enough of all that......

... in a hopeful bid to ward off the lurking demons, I've spent a bit of time this morning combing through my Whitman - and I found a true beauty.....

.... check this out, boys & girls..... the last stanza of I Sing the Body Electric...... behold a thing of amazement......


"O my body! I dare not desert the likes of you in other men and women, nor the likes of the parts of you,
I believe the likes of you are to stand or fall with the likes of the soul, (and that they are the soul,)
I believe the likes of you shall stand or fall with my poems, and that they are my poems,
Mans, womans, childs, youths, wifes, husbands, mothers, fathers, young mans, young womans poems,
Head, neck, hair, ears, drop and tympan of the ears,
Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eyebrows, and the waking or sleeping of the lids,
Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth, jaws, and the jaw-hinges,
Nose, nostrils of the nose, and the partition,
Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of the neck, neck-slue,
Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind-shoulders, and the ample side-round of the chest,
Upper-arm, armpit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm-sinews, arm-bones,
Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles, thumb, forefinger, finger-joints, finger-nails,
Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast-bone, breast-side,
Ribs, belly, backbone, joints of the backbone,
Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and outward round, man-balls, man-root,
Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk above,
Leg fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under-leg,
Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel;
All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your body or of any ones body, male or female,
The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels sweet and clean,
The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame,
Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality, maternity,
Womanhood, and all that is a woman, and the man that comes from woman,
The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears, laughter, weeping, love-looks, love-perturbations and risings,
The voice, articulation, language, whispering, shouting aloud,
Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walking, swimming,
Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes,
The skin, the sunburnt shade, freckles, hair,
The curious sympathy one feels when feeling with the hand the naked meat of the body,
The circling rivers the breath, and breathing it in and out,
The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and thence downward toward the knees,
The thin red jellies within you or within me, the bones and the marrow in the bones,
The exquisite realization of health;
O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,
O I say now these are the soul!"

Walt Whitman

...... amazing....

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Hank....

..... I'm off to whip up some Mexican food.....

.... damn, but I do love that song......

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