Breeze.....

..... I am tired.... deep, deep, deeply bone-tired...... and I worked like a proverbial Army Mule this evening..... well, for most of it..........

...... sweat, mosquito bites, wasp stings, poison ivy, drought, famine, various pestilence, hey, you name it.......... the whole nine yards, my friends......... good god, I need a nap......... although there was something very, very satisfying about man-handling a shovel while the sweat rolled around from off of my neck and slaked my lips as I toiled......blisters are good for the soul, are they not?..... and sweat can spark a thirst towards its goal, yes?........

.... it's funny....... I can remember how my own Father used to tell me the stories of how his Bosses would hand out salt tablets when he first started working for the railroad in the late 60s......... and how, after a 16 hour day on the line, they'd say, "hey!..... we don't want a perfectly good White Man to white-eye on the job, now do we?"....... 100 degrees and they were handing out salt tablets.......... to this day, it still amazes me......

...... ahhhh..... how the times have changed.....

...anyway, I'm off to the kitchen.... chili has been requested, and who am I to deny such a tasty request?....... speaking of chewing, y'all chew on this one for a while....... personally, I found it quite entertaining.....

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Sir......

..... good evening...... I present you tonight with an excerpt from page 117 of Signet Classic's paperback edition of Sir Walter Scott's "Rob Roy"....... behold.... take your time, throw your best British accent at it.... and read it OUT LOUD........

My uncle, that the events of the preceding day might not pass out of memory without a practiced moral lesson, took occasion to give Rashleigh and me his serious advice to correct our milksop habits, as he termed them, and gradually to inure our brains to bear a gentleman-like quantity of liquor, without brawls or breaking of heads. He recommended that we should begin piddling with a regular quart of claret per day, which, with the aid of March beer and brandy, made a handsome competence for a beginner in the art of toping. And for our encouragement, he assured us that he had known many a man who had lived to our years without having drunk a pint of wine at a sitting, who yet, by falling into honest company, and following hearty example, had afterward been numbered among the best good fellows of the time, and could carry off their six bottles under their belt quietly and comfortably, without brawling or babbling, and be neither sick nor sorry the next morning.

Sage as this advice was, and comfortable as was the prospect it held out to me, I profited but little by the exhortation; partly, perhaps, because, as often as I raised my eyes from the table, I observed Miss Vernon's looks fixed on me, in which I thought I could read grave compassion blended with regret and displeasure. I began to consider how I should seek a scene of explanation and apology with her also, when she gave me to understand she was determined to save me the trouble of soliciting an interview. "Cousin Francis," she said, addressing me by the same title she used to give to the other Osbaldistones, although I had, properly speaking, no title to be called her kinsman, "I have encountered this morning a difficult passage in the Divina Commedia of Dante; will you have the goodness to step to the library and give me your assistance? and when you have unearthed for me the meaning of the obscure Florentine, we will join the rest at Birkenwood-bank, and see their luck at unearthing the badger."

...... well, boys and girls, there you have it....... so...... the next time that you read a horribly constructed run-on sentence here..... or the incredible abuse of a punctuation mark (ellipses withstanding), consider that I am merely attempting to mimic my dear Sir Scott.......

.... oh, and while I'm at it, I can promise you that I will never use the term "unearthing the badger" while writing about a half-drunken male character who is being flirted with by a coy female character.......

.... and this sentence?...... "Sage as this advice was, and comfortable as was the prospect it held out to me, I profited but little by the exhortation; partly, perhaps, because, as often as I raised my eyes from the table, I observed Miss Vernon's looks fixed on me, in regret and displeasure."...... good god.....my ancient English teacher would have tied me to a wooden horse in the middle of class and jerked out her bullwhip if I'd ever written anything like that........ even if Miss Vernon's look HAD caused me to write "partly, perhaps, because, as..."

...... still, though, I hope that y'all enjoyed that little snapshot of a Master's Work....... he was, after all, astonishingly enough, a Sir........

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Ham.......

.... as soon as I return from my vacation in The Olde County, I'm definitely going to do my very best to emulate The Maximum Leader......

.... good god..... nothing says "The South" like a salt-cured country ham... and after a jaunt overseas, I figure that a day spent cooking a ham would be the perfect "welcome home"..... besides, I reckon all that delicious saltiness will be just about perfect for cutting the grease from my veins after feasting on haggis, smoked sausage suppers, and deep-fried Mars bars for 11 days.....

... in other news, I spent the better part of today washing the gravel from the path that leads from the deck to the patio..... damn, that was weird to type, but it is 100% true...... and no, I don't mean that I was washing the gravel FROM the path like something you'd imagine Thoreau would pen .... I mean that I was physically removing the gravel from the path with the help of a shovel, dumping them into a wheelbarrow, and then using the hose to wash the gravel free of a winter's worth of soil accumulation..... trust me, today would have killed a bird-watching, lake-walking, quill-penned transcendentalist....

.... it's odd, I guess...... a day of honest labor has left me tired, sunburned, a bit sore, fairly dirty, and smelling more than just a little bit like a well-ridden horse..... yeah, think lather, sweat, and extremely bad breath..... I imagine that my smell alone would have caused most members of Emerson's entourage to have run for the hills at first whiff......... but the good news is that the next two days are predicted to be equally as beautiful as today has been..... and two more days of hard labor should just about finish the repairs to the path.....

..... I think I should write a poem tomorrow about washing gravel....... hell, I'm pretty sure that such an endeavor has never been attempted before in the history of mankind (for a very good reason, no doubt.).......

..... I just don't know....... but as of right now?..... I leaning towards a limerick.....

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Head....

.... this is just genius......

..... I'm off to water the lawn.....

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Sunshine....

..... today was a scorcher here with temperatures nearing 90.... so, as you do, I dropped the top on Sylvia and slid on into town for my tri-weekly 3-dollar haircut...... and a mighty fine job Miss Eva did, as well....... hell, as short as my hair is, it's more of a sculpting job than it is a haircut, but still, she was up to the task......

... afterwards I treated myself to a large plate of beef & cheese nachos from the local illegal immigrant's establishment, and then zipped on back home with the Sun beating down on my freshly buzzed napper.....

.... all in all, not a bad way to spend an afternoon.... sure, there was fertilizer to scatter, weeds to be pulled, and potted plants to be re-potted after wintering-over in the garage..... but really, I mean, c'mon..... in just over a week I will be freezing my tail feathers off deep in a nook of Scotland's Grampian mountains!.... indeed, friends, it is that time of year once again.....

.... this year promises to be a bit different, though...... while the first week will be spent at the World's Smallest Hilton, and the second week at the coastal town of Montrose as usual..... but the second week will also include an adventurous trip southwards to visit Melrose Abbey and pay homage to the resting place of Robert the Bruce's heart..... yes, indeedy...... we'll be hitting the Highlands, Lowlands, AND the Scottish Borders this trip.......

..... so, see what I mean?...... how can anyone begrudge a fellow for dereliction of his duties and wallowing in the first 90-degree day of the year?.... especially since I have such a hellaciously foul-weathered 11 day trip on the horizon?

.... I mean, what would you have done if you'd been in my shoes?.....

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Luckies......

...... I have no idea what the Global Tobacco Giants are up to, but three times over the past year my small, innocent, God-fearing, chain-smoking hometown has undergone an unfiltered Camel shortage....

... there's only about six of us in the county who smoke those little Camels, I reckon..... but damn if we don't stick to our Brand Loyalty as only a bunch of hillbillies can.... a bit like those Pennsylvanians clinging to their bibles, I guess.....

... anyhoo, I sit here before you smoking from a freshly opened pack of Luckies.... they're not too bad, but they're not a patch on a Camel..... they're a bit like switching to a blended Scotch after having downed a few single malts.... sure, they're good cigarettes, but they just aren't quite as rich, interesting, and tasty.....

..... speaking of tasty, I produced pot of meatballs and my Italian tomato sauce last night that were out of this world..... and today?.... I'm attempting to create my very first Beef Wellington from scratch..... the beef tenderloin is marinating in the fridge in a large puddle of Worcestershire sauce as I sip my coffee this morning.......

.... that said, all is not right this morning here at The Compound..... blessings have been counted - as always - but I foresee bad things a'coming...... and as much as I am a true romantic at heart, I've also been blessed with a liberal dunking of realism to gilt the remainder of my psyche...... which means that while I am pretty good at smiling each time the Sun comes up and the birds start chirping, I am equally prepared to read the writing on the wall, gird my proverbial loins, and begin planning a preemptive strike.......

.... but still, it is taxing on the soul...... so very, very, very taxing...... and I don't like the whole "girding" process as much as I once did...... I've evidently mellowed quite a bit since my old Marine Corps days......

... so today is promising to be warm and mild...... the back yard is full of blooms, sprouts, and new leaves..... and the whole of the patio smells of honeysuckle & Earth......a beautiful springtime day - at least according to The Weather Channel's prediction..... and The Missus will spend the afternoon lazing in the hammock with a book while I minister lovingly on my Beef Wellington.....

.... and we'll both be wondering what news the next phone call brings........

..... I remember telling a good friend of mine once that the worst feeling in the world - the most soul-crushing feeling - is that of true helplessness...... and I stand by that statement........ but here's to hoping that I'm wrong......

..... damn if this post didn't turn out depressing!...... someone tell me a joke!.....

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Conan!....

..... "Conan The Destroyer" is on Cimemax, boys & girls...... you have been informed....

..... I'm off to watch for Dramatic Renewal of Purpose.......

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Convincing.....

..... in the wildly weird world That Is, I found myself relaxing in the living room yesterday discussing the virtues of Diogenes with my little Brother..... sure, he's lived a much different life than myself - my little Brother - but he was still chipped from the same blocks from which I came myself.......

.... did it work, my philosophical counseling?...... yes, and no..... and while he left the dinner party with plenty to chew on, I did catch a slight head waggle as he descended the front steps...... I imagine he was thinking along the lines of, "WTF just went on.... Diogenes?..... My Brother definitely reads too much.".....

... but in any case, hey, I tried.....

.... I guess that when someone is broke, unemployed, and a bit down-on-their-luck it may not be such a great pick-me-up to sit and listen to me ramble on about the simple, immaterial, honest musings of an old, dead Greek while I sip a gin & tonic......

.... anyway, as springtime is here, I took the time to re-pack my pack for a possible hiking trip in the future..... and from the looks of things, I must have a terrible subconscious fear of freezing to death..... I bet I have at least six difference devices/contraptions/methods of making fire in that pack...... fire starting blocks, matches, propane lighters, magnesium bars, candles, and even a box of military Trioxane compressed fuel bars...... good grief.... can you tell that all of my previous camping trips were in arctic or sub-arctic locales?.......

..... oh, and I mention the back pack thing only because of last night's conversation..... it struck me this afternoon that I could live quite happily on everything packed into that bag... not for ever, of course..... but definitely for a good few weeks...... sure, it's not like living in poverty or sleeping in a tub under the stars like ole Diogenes, but it'd be "roughing it".....

.... ahhhhh.... I guess it's just hard to convince some people that having a roof over your head, loving family around, and a belly full of hot chow is sometimes all you need.....

.... anyway, that's it for me, folks...... I'm off to the kitchen to perform culinary magic with a couple cans of tuna, some noodles, and a whoooooole lot of cheese...... y'all play nice now.......

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Art....

.... my friend Elisson gets Zappa....... and my dear friend Dax gets Captain Beefheart........ I, on the other hand, get Waits.......

..... we three have met many times...... and while they are both nuts, they are my kind of nuts....... and yet, they both get Tom Waits, Frank Zappa, AND Captain Beefheart..... and I - no matter how hard I try - cannot fathom Beefheart OR Zappa.......

..... what the hell am I missing?.... was it that whole late 70s early 80s PCP/LSD thing that I missed out on because I was a mere toddler at the time?..... or is it something much more poetically deeper?.....

.... trust me, folks, I want to see the art... hear the art........ but for the life of me, it just fails me......... and honestly, I just don't understand...... so, what gives?.... where is it that I fail?......

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Beasts.....

.... the Powers That Be decided that since today dawned with such wonderful weather, the best advantage of the day would taken by wandering up into the mountains and partaking of some fresh, pollen-laden, mountain air....

... and so, after a light breakfast of scrambled eggs (heavily laced with Jarlsberg cheese), off we set....

.... the mountains, I am sad to say, were absolutely beautiful..... I'm truly, truly sorry that you guys missed it, but you'll just have to take my word for it.... I have pictures, of course.... but I don't want to twist the proverbial knife.... but really, I wish y'all could have been with me......

.... that said, I will however post a photo of a very interesting beast which I passed while cruising the back roads of McMinn county today on my way to the mountains...... check this baby out.....

horns_small.jpg

.... as best I can gather, it's an Ankole-Watusi...... how it managed to find its way from Darkest Africa to my neck of the woods, God only knows...... I don't think the Holsteins were nearly as impressed as I was....

..... anyway, that's about all I've got today...... I hope you guys are all well & fine....... as for me?.... I'm off to order a pizza.... hey, it's what's for dinner.....

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Times......

...... I took a break from the daily duties today, lit a cigarette, scratched my noggin, and watched as a life - one lived entirely too briefly - was cut short before my eyes.....

..... let me backtrack a bit........ see, a while back I noticed that a wasp had emerged a bit early from her usual hibernation as I reclined on the deck......... and those first, haphazard staggers of hers intrigued me........

...... wasps are not at all like bees, it seems...... at least in the Breeding Sense, that is..... unlike the bees that we are familiar with, wasps create a Queen at the end of the autumn season who then hibernates all winter and emerges in the springtime with a belly full of eggs and a pouch full of sperm from the previous year........ and she make short work of fortifying a nest and scattering her seed....... drones, of course......... but can you imagine?........

...... imagine being the Only One of Your Kind to survive the winter..... and it being your sole responsibility to create, feed, house, and protect The Next Generation of Your Kind until they were strong enough that their hormones could collectively create a replacement for you that would suffice their genes into the next generation......

.... ahhh..... I don't know....... but years ago?....... I enacted a chemical warfare attack on the local wasp population that would have made Saddam Hussein proud (had he not been hiding in that spider-hole of his at the time)........ I laid them low, those wasps......... sprays, baits, traps, stompings........ I smashed, sprayed, and poisoned every single one that I could find......

..... but I have fortunately been rehabilitated since........ slightly...

.... I once thought of wasps as simply being things that would sting me accidentally when I got too close, or bothered them while I was picking grapes (and they were prowling the grapevine blooms)........ but in the mean time, I have found myself re-informed and reformed, on a certain level.......

..... and as it stands, wasps were not put on this earth to sting me........ and they are not meant to keep me from my backyard peaches or grapes......... and when they wind up on the inside of one of my tee-shirts that was hung out back to dry?...... well, they were not ambushing me........ they were just lost, confused, and misdirected.........

..... in the end, folks, wasps are here because they are predators.......

.... and our world needs predators...... more than most of us recognize.....

.... lookit.... wasps eat 1/2 of their body-weight in insects every day....... mosquitoes, flies, aphids, spiders, and beetles......... wasps eat'em all........

.... but today, as I mentioned when I began this post, I watched a life fade away this afternoon....... and yes, it was a wasp's life........

....... a spider got him, of course......... right up there in the corner of the windowsill..........at 3pm this afternoon he was twitching wildly in the web.... and by 7pm - just as the Sun set - his noggin had two fangs set deep, and the spider was sucking out the remainder of his bodily fluids.....

....... I am torn after all of this..... but I am usually torn when it comes to such things....... after all, I know what it is like to consider oneself a predator...... hell, I was a Marine for five years........

..... I guess that my question is, do we need more spiders in this world....... or more wasps..... after all, we live in a world of terrorists, pirates, hostages, and warriors...... and as long as we live, these castes will be among us....... so, what say you?........ who is the one that we should root for?......

..... in the face of all the evidence, I'm definitely leaning towards spiders..........

.... somehow they seem more trustworthy and reliable.......

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Cartoons.....

.... you know, it's been a long, long day here at The Compound...... the flowers are blooming, the birds have been chirping....... but some weird shit has been going down.........

.... but, with all else that could or should be said tonight?...... I am - after having spent the past two hours watching re-runs of "Family Guy", left with this as an example of just why everything is so very, very wrong these days.....

..... for those of you out there in the audience who may be lactating at this time, I sincerely apologize.......

..... and as for the other scenes that panned out tonight?........ let me just say that I never want to see ANY of the Griffins naked EVER again.......... EVER.......

.... not even Lois........

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Work....

.... yesterday's Easter celebration turned out to be quite enjoyable.... the weather cooperated nicely after the previous evening's gale.... and the tables were absolutely groaning with delectable goodies of all kinds..... AND, I might add, the kiddies seemed to get a kick out of Cousin Eric's Peep-covered chocolate cake.... evidently anything with a Peep on it, near it, or in it will cause broad, toothy smiles to appear on kid's face between the ages of 2 & 15..... hey, who knew?....

.... anyway, as promised earlier, behold my creation, ye mighty......

cake_small.jpg

.... I didn't bother to tell them that I'd forgoten that I don't own an electric mixer...... and that I had to use one of those rotary, hand-held egg beaters to whip up the mix.....

..... but rest assured, folks.... there was plenty of sweat & love in that bowl of Betty Crocker's finest when I was finally finished....

.... and in case you're wondering?.... well, it takes a looooooong time to knock the clots out of a cake mix when you're using a 1940's egg beater..... just trust me on that....

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Cake....

.... no blogging tonight, boys & girls..... I'm busy making a cake......

... yes, a cake.....

...... and since I've never spread icing before in my entire life, I'm a bit anxious....

..... if it turns out to actually be edible, I'll take its photograph and make it famous in the internetwebs.....

... because, hey?..... that's what we bloggers do, isn't it?.....

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Uh Oh.....

..... looks like it's going to be a bumpy night here at The Compound, folks.....

Issued by The National Weather Service Knoxville/Tri-Cities, TN 4:26 pm EDT, Fri., Apr. 10, 2009

... A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 500 PM EDT/400 PM CDT/ FOR EXTREME EASTERN MARION... BRADLEY... HAMILTON... EXTREME EASTERN SEQUATCHIE... MCMINN... MEIGS... EXTREME SOUTHERN BLEDSOE AND EXTREME SOUTHERN RHEA COUNTIES...

AT 424 PM EDT... NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUED TO INDICATE TWO STORMS WITH POSSIBLE TORNADOES NEAR SALE CREEK TO MIDDLE VALLEY... OR ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM 10 MILES SOUTHWEST OF DAYTON TO 8 MILES NORTH OF CHATTANOOGA... MOVING EAST AT 45 MPH.

TORNADO PRODUCING STORMS WILL BE NEAR... GRAYSVILLE... SODDY-DAISY... SALE CREEK AND MIDDLE VALLEY BY 430 PM EDT... SHADY GROVE AND BIRCHWOOD BY 435 PM EDT... MCDONALD AND BIG SPRING BY 445 PM EDT... WATERVILLE AND HOPEWELL BY 450 PM EDT...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

DO NOT USE YOUR CAR TO TRY TO OUTRUN A TORNADO. CARS ARE EASILY TOSSED AROUND BY TORNADO WINDS. IF YOU ARE CAUGHT IN THE PATH OF A TORNADO... LEAVE THE CAR AND GO TO A STRONG BUILDING. IF NO SAFE STRUCTURE IS NEARBY... SEEK SHELTER IN A DITCH OR LOW SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD.

... Good Friday, indeed..... hail started a few minutes ago, and I pulled Sylvia inside the garage next to the pool table.....

.... Update..... I managed to weather the proverbial storm...... but I DID run for cover as I ended this video.....

..... t'was a wee bit windy......

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Service.......

..... The Missus and I took a fieldtrip into town today to have her vehicle (Cary) serviced.... her service rate for Cary is about every 8,000 miles - which seems a bit whacky to me, but hey, I'm no mechanic.... anyhoo, Cary happens to be a 2004 Cadillac CTS-V with roughly 16K miles on him..... not that that really matters, well, except for the Cadillac part, but anyway....

.... so, we drive up to the Cadillac dealership where we bought Cary back in 2004 and the baldheaded guy behind the counter is animatedly chatting away on his cell phone about some luncheon engagement he's organizing with someone named Ted, another guy named Roger, and "Ed can't come because he's golfing in Niota"...... so after he finishes organizing his lunch, a sudden tsunami of deep-brooding glumness overwhelms him, and he turns to us......

.... needless to say, I was rather unimpressed with his attitude towards us as customers, his choice of hairstyles, and the fact that we had to wait even one nano-second while he laughed and giggled to some cretin about how Ed should have been at work today instead of sneaking off to golf while The Boss was in Daytona Beach for the week.....

.... anyway, I let the whole thing slide, tossed him the keys, and got out of there as painlessly as possible.....

.... so we lunched ourselves, wandered around Lowes, meandered around the grocery store, hit the folks at H&R Block for out yearly taxes, and basically killed time in town while waiting for Mr. Chromedome to call to say that Cary is ready....... after four hours, The Missus gave up hope and asked me to just drop her off at the dealership to wait so that I could run the groceries home before they spoiled in my trunk....

... but as I pulled into the parking lot, there sat Cary..... his platinum-colored paint hazed with the green East Tennessee pollen of early springtime, his V-series alloy wheels caked with a wintertime's worth of brake dust..... I was not amused that the fellow had not bothered to call us to let us know Cary was ready.........

..... folks, Cary is an American car..... serviced by an American dealership.... the very dealership where he WAS PURCHASED...... and to the best of my knowledge, isn't Cadillac supposed to be a "luxury" car?.... where's The Treatment that one would expect to get when you pull a 65K dollar car into a service center?.....a service center that you have visited LOYALLY for four years since purchasing the vehicle?.....

.... hey, I know that it isn't MY car.... it's hers.... and thus it is her responsibility to deal with the folks at the Cadillac dealership..... truly, it isn't my business - unless she asks me to intervene.....

.... but me?.... I drive a little convertible Audi A4 Cabriolet named Sylvia..... nothing fancy..... but she's cute, and I love driving her..... a beautiful little piece of 2006 German engineering..... I have her serviced regularly at the Audi dealership in Knoxville where they not only sell Audis, but also Porsche and Jaguars....

.... when I arrive there, I am treated very well.... I'm offered a rental car to use while they tend to Sylvia.... I'm offered free coffee, tea, water, or sodas if I choose to wait in the comfortable waiting room....... and if I choose not to risk driving a rental car, they'll have one of their mechanics drive me to the mall and then come to fetch me when they've finished with my car....... and not only that, but when I am finally reunited with my beloved Sylvia?..... she's still dripping from the washman's ministrations..... vacuumed, pressure-washed, and truly serviced... inside & out.... and she rolls off that dealership lot and into the Kingston Pike traffic looking like a million bucks...... and she only cost just over 45,000....... THAT is a service, ladies & gentlemen.........

.... so can you see a difference in the service that my Audi dealer gives me, and how the Cadillac Man treats The Missus??...... I certainly can......

..... sure, the Cadillac place is local - and it is definitely a pain in the ass for me to drive all the way to Knoxville for a service on the Audi - but you know what?..... I think it's worth it.....

.... and The President wants to bail out the auto industry..... well, I don't know if any attitude adjustments will ever filter down from The Manufacturer to The Dealer, but if that's the way they treat a Cadillac customer?..... I can't help but wonder how they'd treat the overworked salesman who shows up to get his Ford Taurus serviced.....

..... I just don't know... and yes, I'm in a bit of a bitchy mood..... but as of right now?.... well, Cary is slated to be paid off by the end of the year...... and if I had MY way, his ass is getting sold off and she's getting a Porsche..... it'd only be an extra 15-20K more than what she paid for Cary..... at least I know that they'll be treating her like a Queen every time she rolls it in for a check-up.......

.... if you're going to drop some serious cash on a car, the very LEAST that the manufacturer and dealer can do is seem THANKFUL that you bought their product.....

.... I have a feeling that any problems that the auto industry has aren't going to be solved by throwing wheelbarrows full of cash at them......

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Failure......

...... for those of you who read the previous entry about the explorers and the trout, allow me to extrapolate a wee bit.......

..... while we all had a GREAT time, we were, in all actuality, a complete failure in our venture to catch/lure a fish into Glad container subjugation......

..... however, all was not a total loss......... we (the Royal We) DID manage to catch five healthy naiads.....

.... and if you have to Google "naiad" to figure out what they are, then consider yourself very, very lucky........ for they are nasty looking creatures.....

.... who knew that they lived up here in Tennessee in crawfish country??..... but hey, they definitely do..... and nary a crawfish OR trout fry was seen anywhere while on our fieldtrip.....

.... The Explorers didn't seem to mind much, though, and had a whale of a time throwing rocks into the river and/or bashing them against boulders to "see what was inside" once they fractured.... my goodness, what would I give to have so much boisterous energy!.... thanks for a wonderful visit, Bou!...

.... anyway, today has dawned bright and warm, and The Missus and I are off to visit the tally-man to get our annual tax refund..... and if the weather holds, I suspect the backyard hammock will get a bit of exercise this afternoon!.....

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Mountains.....

.... I'm off to the mountains tomorrow with a few intrepid explorers in tow..... and we have high hopes of panning up a baby trout with nothing more than a Glad container and some crumbled peanut butter crackers....... it should be quite interesting, to say the least.....

..... more later as it all unfolds...... pray for hungry fish, people........ and fair weather...... pray....

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Careers........

..... over coffee, eggs, and sausage links this morning, I happened to catch an Audrey Hepburn flick on TCM......

.... and honestly?.... what in the GREAT LIVING HELL was Audrey thinking when she signed up to star in "Green Mansions" opposite Anthony Perkins??...... Anthony Perkins was Psycho, for crying out loud!........

.... good god...... I've always imagined (with few exceptions) little Audrey being as pure as the driven snow....... but now?...... well, she MUST have been doing some serious drugs to have been stoned enough to agree to THAT script...... and picturing that frail, delicate little flower drugged out of her mind & limp as a dishrag just shatters so very, very many images I've had in my head......

.... and that red leotard scene was just plain creepy.......

..... and her making out with Mr. Perkins?...... well, we'll not even go there....

..... what a morning, ladies and gentlemen.......

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Encrusted....

..... after a day of sunshine, I can spy with my little eye (from right out the blogroom window) the beginnings of two silken caterpillar nests high up in one of my wild cherry trees.... every year it's the same thing... throughout April the nests grow and grow...... and by mid-May ten billion caterpillars are covering nearly every leaf in the lawn...... but this year I do believe that they may be out of luck.....

... if the weatherman's predictions are right, then I suspect this years foliage will get a bit of a reprieve from their annual Spring munching....... yes, sir.... a three-day freeze should thin those fuzzy critters down quite a bit.....

... in other news, though, the weather was so nice this afternoon that I dropped the top on Sylvia as I ran errands in town.... 78 degrees, and absolutely beautiful... a perfect day to be out and about in a convertible....... hell, it was so warm this afternoon that I actually toiled at bit and gave her a bath.....

.... I'm off to cook dinner.... anyone know how to encrust potato on a piece of fresh cod, by chance?...... personally, I haven't the faintest idea.... but, "potato encrusted cod" was requested for dinner tonight....... damn, I mean, what do you do to the potatoes?......

..... I think it'll be the first time that I have ever "encrusted" anything before, now that I think about it...... hmmm..... I suspect that I should get googling....

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Snow.....

..... well, regardless of what everyone has heard, felt, smelled, and read, springtime IS really here......

... how do I know?...... well, a one-man whirlwind descended upon my lawn today.... raked it, burned old leaves, patted flower beds, and just generally attacked it with a variety of motorized pieces of lawn equipment.....

...... and so, gone are the sweet gum balls, the scattering of torn poplar twigs that fell victim to the ravages of Winter, and that pile of late-November leaves that I heaped onto the firepit out back during a pique of post-blogmeet boredom........ Spring Cleaning?....... good god, folks....... while the closets still need a hardy going-over, the lawn was definitely whipped into shape during today's sunny spells.......

.... but the truly funny thing?...... hell, folks, it's supposed to SNOW on Tuesday!......

..... had I a fife & drum, I'd set in to "The World Turned Upside Down" on mere principle.......

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Friday.....

.... tonight's dinner will consist of enough cheese to cause arteries to begin clogging at ten paces.... I'd take a photo to show you, but every time I get near enough to the casserole dish to take a decent picture, mild vibrations of pre-strokes cause my flexed forearms to quiver too uncontrollably to perform a motionless shot......

.... but still, it should be quite yummy.....

... it's a good thing that alcohol cleanses the palate, I suppose..... I'd hate to know that all that fat was sitting in my stomach this evening without some assistance in the break-down process.... and it's definitely a good thing that I'll be a bachelor for most of the day tomorrow...... God only knows what kind of vapors my poor, freckled frame will be producing come Sun-up.....

..... in other news, Dogwood Winter is here with a vengeance..... and, perfectly on cue, the woods around the house (and the back yard) are showing the first hints of white..... in a few days they'll be in full, majestic bloom.... and then?... Easter, and the steady warming of everything until mid-October.....

..... and with that, boys & girls.... I'm off to make war upon my dinner......

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Camera.....

..... The Powers That Be assigned me with two tasks today, and I am happy to report that BOTH tasks are 50% completed..... 50% of the weeds have been surgically removed from the front, side, and back flower beds..... and 50% of the photographs from last September's visit to France have been downloaded from the camera.....

.... and since I'm not about to bring a handful of weeds inside to write about, I figure that it's better if I just share some photos from in and around the village of Riquewihr, France circa Autumn 2008......

..... here's what I usually had for breakfast during most of the trip....

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.... here's an Alsatian duck hanging out in the moat that bordered some of Riquewihr..... notice the thieving Alsatian rat stealing his breakfast?..... wasn't the least bit camera-shy either.....

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.... here's where I had lunch most days...... nice little cafe.... the waiter didn't speak very good English - and I, no French.... but luckily I am fluent in pointing at menu items in most European languages...... so I remained consistently well-fed....

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..... Quiche Lorraine, folks..... The Real Deal......

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.... whew..... that's enough for now, I reckon....... but rest assured, there are plenty more where those came from.....

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