Many....

. I am going to bed. It has been a long day and it has been filled to the brim with laughter, sighs, doubts, surprises, unexpected smiles, terror, renewal of faith, sadness, loss, charmed conversations, stresses, worries, laughter, hopes expressed, betrayals thwarted, lives changed, fears realized, questions asked, love invoked, orgasm, hunger, toasted bread with melted butter and pate, sunshine, clouds, thunder, stroked cats, mosquitoes, simmered vegetable soup, fretting, books read, oaths muttered, old friends remembered, veterans toasted, cans opened, phone calls answered, pains met with mute understatement, phone calls made, cheques written, envelopes licked, stamps affixed television programs enjoyed, Casablanca re-watched, and many, many, many other things. ..

. a fairly normal day, no?..... well, pretty much.. and if your day was in any way less as rich, perhaps we need to host another blogmeet......

life, folks it is like that every day if you pay attention. If you log it down if you take notice and breathe deep breaths........

.. a rollercoaster or an out-of-control dive-bomber?. sometimes a walk in the park with a gentle breeze and sometimes a complete train wreck but still, it was a day spent breathing........

.... and what a lovely morning it was around these parts.......

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Flair.....

.... roasting a butterflied leg of lamb tonight in a marinade of garlic, honey, soy, white wine, and cinnamon...... should turn out quite nice with a hint of Mediterranean flair..... of course, I am also lowbrowing the dinner just a bit by serving it alongside my parmesan & onion roasted potatoes.... still, though, it should be an interesting meal....

... other than that, it's pretty much business as usual around The Compound here..... all pigs are currently fed, watered, and ready to begin flying operations at a moment's notice....

... in other news, the grackles are back.... I suppose they are visiting here from more northerly climes, but wow, there certainly are a lot of them...... I took a short video earlier today of just a small section of their flock as they fidgeted through my back yard..... Mother Nature, folks, she's one psycho chick.... behold....

.... well, since YouTube rejected my video file after two different uploads, let's try something completely different..... if you care to watch the vid, just click here, folks.......

...... if I were to hazard a guess, I'd say that there were at least 10,000 in this flock..... notice the "huff" of their wings when I stomp the deck near the end of the clip.... good god.... when they took off, you could actually feel the air move from 60 feet away...... talk about a butterfly effect?..... the "grackle effect" was pretty damned impressive.....

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Tom...

...... one of my many interesting talents is that I can sing Tom Waits' "Step Right Up" without cue cards OR music....... it's a bit of a curse.......... if you have no idea what I am talking about, feel free to play this little video to enjoy "Step Right Up"....... my goodness, talk about an ear worm......

..... and this is, of course, why I am not allowed to listen to Tom Waits when driving around with people in the car with me..... well, that and my love for "Tango Till They're Sore".....

...... happy Thanksgiving, folks........ I'm deep into the music tonight..... "just get me to New Orleans and paint shadows on the pews"...... what a great lyricist he is......

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Pie...

..... today's adventure - in lieu of raking the fallen leaves in the back yard - is to bake an apple pie..... and really?... so far, so good..... the crust has been finished and the filling is cooling.... I am a bit worried about the "upper" crust though as it is simply a mixture of flour, sugar, and butter that is meant to be spread thinly across the top before baking.....

..... I'm no Martha Stewart, but I reckon that if I don't wait until the filling is properly cooled I may end up melting the buttery portion of the mixture....... and that, rubberneckers, would be a bad thing.....

.... anyhoo, desserts really aren't my bag, but I felt like giving it a try.... besides, the apples were about to go off anyway..... what better way to finally coax The Missus and I into actually eating a fresh slice of fruit than by making a pie, eh?..... apple pie is healthy, right?.....

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Berries....

.... homemade beef Stroganoff for dinner, folks.......... should fit quite nicely after enduring the cool, wet, cloudy, dreary-assed day that today has been..... other than that?... I got nothing....... been indoors most of the day watching poor, shivering titmice tussle each other furiously in the vain attempt to harvest the very LAST of the dogwood berries......

.... I guess I should fill the birdfeeder, eh?....... I mean, if they're getting that violent over a dilapidated dogwood berry, I bet they'd positively go Colombian on each other for a handful of almonds......

..... hmmmmm..... entertainment is cheap and low around here sometimes, folks...... and today, I'll take what I can get......

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Sneaky.....

.... you know?....... until just recently I always imagined that I had a wholesome, drug-free, good ole Southern Biblethumper upbringing......... being born in 1972 near the buckle of the "bible belt", I grew up on left-over Elvis smattered with the occasional indiscretion of listening to Hank Williams Jr........ but after tonight's youtubing?........ I am flummoxed........

.... I mean, what in the hell had Tom T. Hall been smoking when he had a hit with "Sneaky Snake"?...... don't believe me?.... well, here is the evidence, rubberneckers........ behold....

.... and really, just how stoned must my parents must have been to have flicked on the car stereo back then and grooved to this as we made our way to the local summertime lake for a swim?.........

....... actually, I'm quite horrified now about my childhood......... youtube, much like facebook, is absolutely evil.......

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Long......

..... it has been a long, long day here today, folks...... and I have hummed an old Townes song the entire day....... I first heard it up on Adak Island....... and I later found a more tuneful version by the Cowboy Junkies as I strolled the streets of Scotland........ and nowadays?........ I search for the original versions....... those done by Townes.........

...... there is just something about searching out the truest versions of songs that move you that make me feel alive....... and this one does....... I hope you all enjoy!.....

....... Townes was a true original...... good god, what a voice.... and what a song!..... I still get lost in his music from time to time.......

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Chatham......

..... you know, we really need to get this guy to a blogmeet where the Artillery Punch is flowing....... personally?.... I think he'd lose his ever-lovin' mind.....

..... besides, everyone knows that us bloggers - when WE get together?.... well, we really ARE the most interesting people in the world......

... right?...

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Snippers....

......... I am sore, sore ashamed as this evening begins to ready itself for bed, friends....... for the index, birdie, ring finger, and pinkie of my right hand all sport at least two burst blisters this warm autumn night.......

..... the offending implement?..... a pair of pruning shears..... the venue?....... the vine-tangled woods behind The Compound here...... and the task?...... to find Elisson's 28-year old rocket that he and the rest of those hellions launched (and lost) a few weeks ago at the 4th Annual Hysterics at Eric's......

.... why the pruning shears?.... well, the undergrowth in the adjoining woods is damn near impenetrable....... so, I decided that I would arm myself with a set of shears and take my time....... snipping at the branches as I made my way slowly - methodically - through the forest......... clearing a path, so to speak........

.... good god........ after just over two hours of constant snipping, peering into the underbrush, and holding my arm forth to block the sun as I scoured the treetops, I have failed........ no bloody rocket, folks....

.... the REAL kicker?..... if my Father were alive to know that a little pair of snippers done such a number on my keyboard-bound hands?..... after all those years of him having me help him build split-rail fence all over McMinn county with a twenty pound tamping rod, a pole axe, and a set of post hole diggers?....... well, I think I'd be doing a fair set of push-ups tonight to make up for a LOT of lost time....

.... I mean, c'mon..... blisters from two hours of manning a set of pruning shears whilst strolling around a forest looking for lost rockets?......... Jesus Christ, I need to bust some firewood or something before I lose ALL of my hillbilly credibility........ lest the ghost of my wood-busting Daddy conjure up itself and kick my ass into next Tuesday......

..... once upon a time I could work a double-bitted axe for an entire day straight..... then?..... I was sixteen years old...... and now that I am 37, a pair of damnable hedge clippers kick my ass.......... my ancestors must be weeping......... good god.......

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Barbarian.....

.... a few nights ago The Missus had an old Katherine Hepburn vehicle blasting away on the television as I walked through the living room to charge my glass...... stopping to watch for a minute or so, I noticed that the three adults in the scene were terribly upset by the fact that their cook had just ran off and left THEM to behead the chicken for dinner.... in a nutshell, they all baulked at the idea of dispatching the poor bird for the cook pot...... I laughed at the absurdity of it, and walked on into the kitchen.... but as I made my way back through the living room, she questioned me....

The Missus: "So, you laughed at them? Could you have wrung that poor chicken's neck?"

Me: ..... "... of course..... why not?..... that's what it was there for.." .....

The Missus: "Oh, you could not have! You could have taken that knife and cut that cute chicken's head off?"

Me: ..... "uh, yeah....... I like chicken just fine!"....

The Missus: "NO! I mean, you would have killed it with no remorse or hesitation? I don't believe that at all!"

Me: ..... "..... actually, I'd guess you wouldn't really even need that knife.... I've never killed a chicken before, but I've pulled the heads off of plenty of wounded doves and pigeons that I'd just winged when I was out dove hunting..."

The Missus: "You just pulled their heads off?"

Me: .... "yeah.... they're pretty delicate creatures, really..... if they hit the ground alive, I'd just pull their heads off..... don't you remember me cleaning doves a few years back in the driveway?"...

The Missus: "I remember seeing you squatted down out there, yes."

Me: .... "well, I was cleaning the ones that I'd harvested..... you just hold their little legs in one hand and take the thumb of your other hand and push it up into their body cavity between their legs.... once you thumb penetrates into them, you just bring the other hand up and rip their breast away from their backbone..... the little ribs just snap like toothpicks.... you keep the breast for cooking and discard the rest of the carcass."....

The Missus: "Jesus Christ. I think I am going to be sick."

Me:.... "... what??.... you ate them the next morning for breakfast and thought they were GREAT!".....

The Missus: "........you barbarian!.... you made me eat those poor, cute doves!..."

Me: .... "they're not cute, ma'am..... they're tasty.... "

... much rolling of eyes and laughter ensued........

...... but, lookit..... folks, I have killed, cleaned, cooked, and eaten a wide variety of critters in my short time on this planet...... but do y'all think I'm right about being able to pull the head off of a chicken, or are their necks too strong?......

.... anyhoo, I only bring this up because of the interesting duality of this evening's television perusing...... see, I may be a barbarian....... but I still get teary-eyed and sniffly at the end of "The Fisher King" every.single.time....... watched it again today for probably the 50th time?.... .and yep, the magic is still there...... last five minutes of "The Fisher King" and I am sitting there smiling with tears in my eyes and snot dripping from each nostril...... now, honestly, would a barbarian do that?......

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Driving......

..... The Missus and I spent most of the afternoon exploring new roads in an odd county.... t'was truly strange, really, I guess........ but it WAS enjoyable...... I took lots of photographs as I eased Blanche around the curves and over the hills........... see, we're sandwiched between the Appalachians and the Cumberland Plateau, so it is impossible to get lost.......... thirty miles wide, our little stretch pretty much keeps us "channeled"....... you know where north and south are.... and you easily know which way east and west are......... we're in our Own Little Fishbowl, so to speak.......

...... I stopped today to take a photograph of a beautiful bay colt as it ate grass along a fence line....... and just as I snapped the shutter, it moved, turned it's head, and stared straight at me.......... it struck me that there was a possibility that it didn't really WANT its photo taken at that moment of pastoral solitude.......... was I, for being a voyeur, transgressing somehow?.......... in any case, it felt more than slightly awkward.......

..... and they say that when folks own goldfish, the goldfish "Forget Themselves" every three seconds........ how amazing.......

..... and that a goldfish will never tire of swimming around his 7 1/2 inch globe enclosure because he simply forgets with every revolution that he has "been there before"...... and as such, he is perpetually content...... good god, folks..... "perpetually content"?......... what an idea?......... does one envy the goldfish, or pity it?.......... not to say that there is anything necessarily bad about living in a fishbowl..... OR, come to think of it, having a memory capacity of three seconds....... hell, both have their positives and negatives, but still.........

.... to be perpetually content is to laze, no?......... aren't we supposed to be slightly pissed off most of the time?.... disillusioned, let-down, angry?........ IS there such a thing as "perpetual contentment"?....... and if there is, is that Nirvana, or is it a sign of a complete lack of The Commitment to SEEK?.......

.... so, question........ do we ever really arrive?........ IS there a place to arrive to?..... a destination?.. or is it best to always be hungry, lean, and to continue to strive until, well, there is nothing left to work for?........

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re-read......

..... you know, it has been two days?........ and I still think that you should ignore this and go forth to re-read the words that I quoted two days ago........

..... god knows that I keep re-reading them......... over and over again....... and every time that I do, I see or feel something different.............

...... we should all be so lucky as those fine folks.........

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234....

.... five years ago tomorrow, I posted this in honor of Veteran's Day..... today, I am reposting it in honor of all my fellow Marines - past & present....... Semper Fi, brothers & sisters...... here's to 234 more years of the United States Marine Corps....

... "In the big war companies, 250 strong, you could find every sort of man.. from every sort of calling... There were Northwesterners with straw-colored hair that looked white against their tanned skins.... and delicately spoken chaps with the stamp of eastern universities on them.... There were large-boned fellows from Pacific-coast lumber camps... and tall, lean Southerners who swore amazingly in gentle drawling voices....

.... There were husky farmers from the corn-belt... and youngsters who had sprung, as it were, to arms from the necktie counter... And there were also a number of diverse people who ran curiously to type, with drilled shoulders, and bone-deep sunburn... and a tolerant scorn for everything on earth....

... Their speech was flavored with navy words... and the words culled from all the folk who live on the seas and the ports where our warships go.... In easy hours, their talk ran from the Tatar Wall beyond Peking to the Southern Islands, down under Manila; from Portsmouth Navy Yard - New Hampshire and very cold - to obscure bushwhackings in the West Indies, where Cacao Chiefs, whimsically sanguinary... barefoot generals with names like Charlemagne and Christophe, waged war according to the precepts of the French Revolution and the Cult of the Snake... They drank their eau de vie of Haute-Marne... reminisced on sake, and vino, and Bacardi Rum - Strange drinks in strange cantinas at the far ends of the earth; and they spoke fondly of Milwaukee beer.

... Rifles were high and holy things to them, and they knew five-inch broadside guns.... They talked patronizingly of the war, and were concerned about rations.... They were the Leathernecks, the Old Timers: collected from the ship's guard and shore stations all over the earth to form the 4th Brigade of Marines... the two rifle regiments, detached from the Navy by order of the President for service with the American regulars... regarding the service as home and war as an occupation; and they transmitted their temper and character and view-point to the high-hearted volunteer mass which filled the ranks of the Marine Brigade.."

... quoted from "Fix Bayonets"... by Col. John W. Thompson , Jr. 1926

... Happy Birthday, Marines!... oh, and check out Mike's latest creation!..... most excellent....

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Birthdays......

.... when dawn sparks the morning tomorrow, I will turn 234 years old....... can you believe that?......... and honestly, I don't look a day over 50.......... no, really....

..... come the blessed dawn, folks......... good god......... had I stayed in my beloved Corps, I would be retiring next month.........

....still, though....... we each choose our own paths..........

.... and for tomorrow?....... cheers to my brothers!........ 234 years is a helluva milestone, guys.........

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Bombs.....

...... helluva day today, folks........ but here is an example of what I had to put up with for most of this past week!......

.... pardon the shaky camera, folks........ I had one ear in the air and the other glued to the news in the living room!.........

..... and the news from the living room was infinitely more scary than the sounds of a decrepit old bomber circling overhead...........

....... someone needs a serious spanking over this latest massacre at Ft. Hood....... political correctness?........ someone did not train this "soldier" properly........ I am so fucking pissed that I can barely see straight..........

.... with every sneak attack that the fanatic Muslims perpetrate, the moderates must realize that they are next on the list if they don't speak up or take action....... "right and wrong" have no refuge in a specific religion...... right and wrong are the basis for ALL religions........ "right and wrong" are something that we are BORN with an understanding of....... and murder is murder...... doing it for "god" is just the ultimate bullshit cop-out......... if I were going to go that route?..... I'd rather just get paid well before......... because if you believe that killing for "god" is going to get you into heaven?..... then you are definitely going to get ripped off when you pick up your karmic burgers in the drive-thru, buddy......... and you know what?....... that serves you perfectly fucking right........

...... people should live for god, not die for god........ and everyone should be as well-armed as possible.....

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Bombed.....

...... took a great video from my front yard this afternoon of a B-24 "Liberator" performing a mock bombing run on my poor little white Audi, Blanche...... unfortunately YouTube isn't letting me upload it......... so I shall endeavor to persevere and try again tomorrow!...... at about 4,000 feet the roar of the engines was still pretty loud...... one would think that a plane that had flown so many missions over Germany bombing their factories, bridges, armories, and railways would have found a much better target of opportunity than my poor Blanche!....

..... I guess some habits just die harder than others, eh?....... and I guess that I do have the only German-made car in Eagle Glen......... and we ARE only two miles from the McMinn County Airport......

... anyhoo, I tell you, you just never know what's going to happen around here next....... it WAS a good day for flying though....... a perfect blue sky, zero clouds, and not a wind to be felt anywhere....

.... pictures and video to follow tomorrow after we return from the matinee in Cleveland..... as a fellow who was once in the intelligence business, I can hardly wait to see "The Men Who Stare At Goats".....

..... after reporting to NSA for nearly five years?..... nothing on this great, green Earth would surprise me about "The Intelligence Community"..... and that's a fact, folks......

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Macallan....

..... spent the latter part of the afternoon searching the woods behind the house for those two missing rockets to no avail........ and then I finally took the time to retire indoors to a home-cooked meal and a gigantic tome of poetry accompanied by a rather large 15 year old Macallan with a tad of water for my efforts........

...... but anyway, since I don't want to bore you fine boys and girls, I will leave you all tonight with a test.........

..... no googling, of course....... any guesses as to the author of these words?.........


Oh dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing eyes
Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

.... as a hint, I will tell you that I bought their Victorian book in Limerick last month.....

.... and her brothers weren't exactly slouches either, if I recall.....

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Baby.....

...... well, I just finished watching a Clint Eastwood production celebrating the life of Mr. Johnny Mercer - who, had he been alive today, would have turned 100 years old this month........

...... and since I've always been a fan of Mr. Mercer (and since I can't think of anything else to post about tonight and am quite tired), I figure that this is as good a time as any to re-introduce you guys to one of my favorite Mercer songs as done by an interesting British fellow........

.... I do hope that you enjoy........ oh, and be sure to charge your glasses with your favorite tipple before clicking...... this one is worth the wait.......

...... here's Robbie Williams using Sinatra's old piano player to sing a Mercer classic........

..... god, how I love it.....

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Blogroll.....

... I'm cleaning off the old blogroll, boys & girls...... if you fall off and don't like it, just give me a yell...... and hey, if you think you should be on it and aren't?.... give a holler..... and I'll see what I can do..... I seem to have been de-linked by quite a few of those on the "Bloggers I'd Like to Drink With" blogroll......

.... anyway, it is time for some housekeeping...... and I guess I'm a bit grumpy from spending the last two days raking leaves and climbing ladders..... I need a scotch and water..... and a back massage.....

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Stealing.....

.... when I was a little boy, my friends and I used to spend the summertime exploring the acres of woodland that surrounded my Mom and Dad's house...... they were woods that seemed endless for such little fellows, and we'd take our rifles and shotguns and wander off to see what we could see.... we'd spend hours hiding under low-slung cedar trees calling in crows during the summer - just waiting for one to get close enough to blast....... and in the winter we'd set off in search of rabbits or squirrels....

... back then most of the land surrounding my folk's five acres was owned by the Blair family.... and what wasn't owned by the Blairs was owned by the Armstrongs....... the Armstrongs never minded my meanderings, but the Blairs were different....... they had strict, yellow-painted signs up on trees all along their property lines that read "No Trespassing"...... not that it really made much difference to us, though, as we were "Free Upon The World"....... but, we were all afraid of old Mr. Blair......

... he had an old beige 1962 Dodge truck that he patrolled the back roads in, and it was always the same....... him driving slowly around each curve of the gravel roads searching the underbrush for interlopers...... and, eagle-eyed as he was, he'd often catch me and one of my young friends as we made our way back home with a bag of squirrels or a pigeon or two tucked away in a pocket of our hunting jacket..... and he'd always be as mad as hell when he brought his old truck to a sliding halt......... and honestly?.... it scared the living shit out of me every single time..... he was such a bitter old cuss of a man.........

... he lived in a 1880s two-story clapboard down by the railroad tracks - about a mile from my front door - and every time I'd walk or drive past that house I would be filled with trepidation....... the house exuded that "I'm haunted" feeling absolutely equal to the amount that Mr. Blair oozed that "I'm a mean old bastard" feeling........ it always just gave me the creeps....... just as he did, actually.......

...... but I write this with a bit of a purpose, I suppose......... I believe (I have had this blog for over six years now, and I might be mistaken.) that I said once that I had only ever stolen one thing before in my life...... and after tonight's events and recollections, I think that I might have told you good people wrong.......... for, I did, after Mr. Blair's death, rob his home.......

.... perhaps "rob" is the wrong word....... he lived alone, after all, and had no close family, so all I did was "break into" his home after he died and collect some interesting things that caught my fancy.......... does that sound like robbery?....... can you even call taking abandoned things from a dead man's home "robbery"?........ well, whatever you call it, I did it.......

..... my friend Mike and I found ourselves out wandering the woods one autumn day in search of small, furry, forest mammals, when we stumbled upon the house of Mr. Blair...... one thing led to another, and before either of us knew what we were doing, we were standing with our noses pressed to the window of the old house trying to see what was inside....... pressed noses led to the turning of door handles..... which led to the trying of window latches...... which, as way leads on to way, led to the kicking down of doors held fast by old, corrupted, unnegotiating locks...... and with that, we were inside the dilapidated two-story home of a gentleman that we'd always feared and hated.....

..... I remember that the house was dusty inside........ and that there was no indoor plumbing....... I remember looking at the pail that sat beside the sink and imagining him bringing in fresh water from the cistern every day to do the dishes....... it struck me then that maybe he was so cantankerous to us kids simply because he was so lonely and miserable........ odd, I guess, but I did think that for a few minutes as I stood in the kitchen......

.... but I was jerked out of my train of thought by Mike squealing with glee as he canvassed the living room........ when I ran in he was standing beside a crumbling sofa holding up a copy of Time magazine dated 1947........ he shoved a few magazines in his hunting jacket and we both headed up stairs...... the downstairs area was stacked wall to wall with old copies of magazines and newspapers........

..... when we arrived upstairs, I found an old footlocker and began to explore the contents......... I'd only recently been given a collection of letters that my Mom and Dad had exchanged while they were just getting to know each other (and he was in Vietnam), and I had been mesmerized by the old stationary and postage stamps........ and that is when I saw something that caught my attention..... 1 cent and 2 cent stamps on old envelopes...... Washington and Franklin....... I quickly checked the dates on a few of the envelopes and saw 1835, 1832, 1837, 1845......... and fearing that we'd both get caught breaking the law (and we were both Good Boys back then), I stuffed them into my backpack and we were off.........

.... it wasn't until much later that I actually sat down and read all of those letters... and, good god, I was amazed....... there were tales of buffalo hunting in Texas......... tales of being bribed to vote for Sam Houston when he was trying to become president of Texas..... tales of Indians, Cowboys, and card games..... tales of a long ago Tennessean who had left My Area and moved out west to search for his destiny...... two weeks later - while Mike and I stressed about people possibly finding out that we'd broken in and finding our fingerprints, the place caught fire during a lightning storm and burned to the ground...... leaving nothing but the old barn and the remains of a cistern that had been the house's water supply......

..... I always felt guilty knowing that I had those old letters in my closet...... even as I traveled the world, I knew that they were back there at home..... and that they didn't really belong to me.....

.... the last time that I came home on leave before leaving The Corps for good, I contacted a cousin of mine who was a teacher at McMinn Central - where I'd gone to high school........ my old chemistry teacher was a Blair there, and his sister was our high school librarian......... and even if I didn't know for sure - it was still a small county - so I suspected that they might have been related to MY old Mr. Blair....... the same Mr. Blair from whom I had liberated those family heirlooms once he had gone on to meet his maker.......

..... she divided the letters into two envelopes and placed one in Mr. Blair's puca and the other into the librarian's........ two weeks later the local paper had an editorial written by The Librarian thanking whomever had given her such wonderful pieces of her family's history....... evidently her Great Uncle - being such an evil bastard - had been disowned by most of the family........ and being the oldest surviving Blair around, he had claimed inheritance of the Family Home and all of its contents.........

....... my childhood curiosity........ and my first-and-only attempt at breaking and entering gave those two a chance to see parts of their family history that would have been lost in the fire had I not robbed the place.......

.... it's odd, I know, but I was never really a bad kid....... I always said "yes, ma'am"...... I was always polite....... I hardly ever got into fights....... I only lied when I positively HAD to........ and when I robbed someone?...... I ended up giving it all back to people who appreciated it much more than the folks that I stolen it from.......

...... how strange is that?...... maybe I should rob more people?......

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