Paddled.....

... I was given the pleasure yesterday of hosting Bou & her Boys for lunch, a few hours of rafting down the Hiwassee, a dinner of ribs, beans, and garlic biscuits.... and an evening of Zombie carnage (courtesy of her boy's PS3) until nearly dark.... and a good time was had by all..... well, except for the Zombie carnage...... somehow her little men think it quite funny that I harbor an unnatural fear of The Walking Dead.... as a matter of fact, this is the second year in a row that they've insisted on playing the game right in the middle of the living room..... and, of course, squirming all over my couch making high pitched squeaking noises with the destruction of each Zombie noggin......

.... I watched them for a while, but then retired to the safety of the kitchen where "The Adults" could converse..... but it was too late, unfortunately, as the damage had already been done.........I woke up at 4am and lumbered through to the kitchen for a glass of water and suddenly heard a floorboard creak in the living room.... I immediately was wide awake and cursing that damnable PS3..... but after a thorough going over of all the locks, I felt it safe enough to wander back to bed believing the house to be safe, secure, and Zombie free.....

... we rendezvoused again this morning for breakfast at the Tellico Junction Cafe (those of you who have breakfasted with me after the October blogmeet will know that locale pretty well.), and then they went on their well-fed way towards the rest of their vacation obligations....

.... it is always such a pleasure to entertain Bou and her three little men.... and if you are ever given a chance to do so, please take it.... trust me, you have my word..... you'll have a lot of fun, and I know from six years of experience that you will certainly NOT get bored.... each of her boys are a slice off the ole Bou-block.... so just imagine spending a day and a morning with three slices of Bou and a WHOLE Bou, and well, how on Earth could you NOT have fun?....

.... I will say, though, having read her post on the whole "rafting" adventure that we were completely doomed from before we ever even dipped a toe in the river..... sure, it was very, VERY fun, but it was also very tiring and very, very hot..... that said, I will point out to those who might be thinking of rafting in the near future that when they say a raft needs a "minimum of four", what they mean is that you need a minimum of four paddlers..... two adults just ain't gonna cut it, folks... no matter how hard you paddle your little tail feathers off, all you really can do is make sure that your raft is drifting with its nose in the right direction.......

.... but, be that as it may, we still had a good time..... Life is, after all, all about the new experiences...... and who doesn't enjoy leaping from a stuck raft into chest-deep water, bashing their knees, and heaving a raft around while trying not to drown?!..... not me, rubberneckers!..... I'm all about that kind of gig..... heh..... but Bou, though?..... well, she's hardly bigger than a minute, so while she did jump out and tug, push, and heave for a while, her heart was certainly in the right place..... and we all pulled our share of the weight.....

.... oh, and I nearly forgot the two "floaters" that we had drifting along behind us...... good god, were I Superman and she Supergirl, we STILL could not have moved that raft faster than the river's current with SpongeBob and Squidward (Mr T and Ringo) lashed to our forecastle like they were......

..... but, yeah..... there you go..... sometimes it's better to be floating down a river on an inner tube eating beef jerky than to be paddling like Hell and getting no where fast, but still, we survived...... and actually, it WAS a lot of fun... in a soggy, sunburnny, aching shoulder, lots of laughing kind of way.....

..... so next year?..... I wholeheartedly agree with Bou..... we'll give the rapids a miss and spend a day in the shade skipping stones on the Tellico river......

... you need much less chiropractic time after skipping stones......

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Places...

.... did you know that Japanese beetles absolutely LOVE crape myrtle bushes?.... and did you know that I happen to have a 16-foot crape myrtle specimen currently flowering in my front lawn?..... and did you also know that late June/early July is Japanese beetle mating season?..... well, consider yourself informed.....

... indeed, and I've relishing with glee my daily trips out to the lawn to lay waste upon the copulating insects.....

.... my Sainted Mother told me a few years ago that if I filled an old Windex bottle with water and a dash of dishwashing liquid I'd then be in possession of the perfect anti-Japanese beetle weapon...... and brother, was she ever right........

.... I tell you, it's incredibly satisfying to watch the little guys & gals writhe in their death-spasm whilst still connected to their bug-eyed lovers.... not that I'm really pro or anti Japanese beetle whoopee, oh no, on the contrary...... but, dammit, they're eating my crape myrtle while they DO it.....

..... if they'd wished to frolic, then a better venue should have been selected, that's all...... I mean, there's a time and a place for everything.... and while it may be time, they definitely picked the wrong place.......

... you know, it's hard to keep one's self entertained in these hard economic times, but we surely do try....

.... and hey, who knew how much fun you could have with an old Windex bottle?.....

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Humidity.....

..... summer is quietly sizzling here on Hell's half acre, rubberneckers..... and the gentleness of the steady breeze only serves push the heat around.... there is no cooling, no relief..... only the sensation of being brushed by a molten silk sheet as the wind passes you by... The Movement of Air......

... freshly mown grass, the blossoms of the tiger lilies, a tangling vine of blooming honeysuckle, and the smell of The Heat..... that's what you smell when you walk through my garage and out onto the drive way.... heavy, heady, and sweet....

... good god, I need a cold drink.....

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Singapore.....

..... you know, I do love Tom Waits' music..... especially his early stuff from the 70s.... however, as with every addiction, there are always drawbacks....... today, for instance, when I could not get this song out of my head all morning while I was trying to write......

..... the whole 'Raindogs' album teeters between genius and insanity, actually.... and this song in particular?.... I have no clue what many of the poetic lines mean....... but hey, that's what happens when you pitch in with Mr. Waits..... if you dig poetry and riddles, Tom's your man, folks.... trust me.....

... and don't even get me started on Cemetery Polka..... good god....

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Giraffes.....

..... I tried to find the whole scene today, but I failed.... and all that I did manage to find was this short clip, so it'll have to do..... check this out.......

.... you know, that right there is some funny, funny stuff..... and in my humble view, it is the funniest part of 'Madigascar 2', hands down..... on lots and lots of levels, and for lots and lots of reasons....... mercy.... I re-watched bits of the movie today when I managed to pry The Missus away from her epic sessions of Wimbledon-watching......

.... anyway, I'd just like to wish Isner the very best of luck for tomorrow in London...... after his record-breaking 5th set today, he's definitely going to need it.......

.... and every time that I watch that scene with Melman, it just cheers my wee heart....... ole King Julien is just the icing on the cake....

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Amateurs.....

.... I staggered in from the African heat today to find the end of "The Amatuers" rolling away on HBO...... and you know, I just love that little movie....... there's something about a whole community banding together to make a porno that just warms every little corner of my heart just a little bit..... and Jeff Bridges is perfectly cast as the bumbler....... and hey, it truly is a pretty good flick if you find yourself with a couple of hours to kill......

.... anyway, as the credits rolled, I sat myself down on the couch and listened to the lyrics of this song... and I enjoyed them very much.....so, since it is always nice to share when you find a little nugget of goodness somewhere, here you go....... I do hope that you enjoy.....

..... if you haven't seen "The Amateurs", well, then you're missing out....... it's like a modern day version of "Old Yeller".... except with a happier ending...... and nearly naked Tasty Freeze attendants........

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Father's....

..... Originally posted on July 23rd, 2004.... damnation, folks..... I've been at this blog-thinggie for way, way too damned long.....

... yesterday was my Mother's birthday... a few of us pitched in, and bought her a set of patio furniture.... she spends a lot of time outside, so I know she'll enjoy it while she's sitting around the pool....

... so, I'm headed over there this afternoon to put the table together for her... you know, I love my Mother, but I don't visit as much as I should... going over to her house always bothers me just a little.. I know it sounds crazy, but the house where I spent my happy childhood is now a place I find hard to visit... everywhere I look, I see reflections of my Father... the swing he built... the three-rail fence that he and I labored on for years... the great, arching trellis, and the Muscatine vine that covers it.... he is everywhere... and going over there really makes me miss him....

.... his monster of a barn always strikes me hardest, I suppose.... he built it when I was just 5, but I remember it vividly... that building will be here when I'm dead and gone, people... he built it to last.... the beams under the floor are "bridge timbers" that he lifted from the railroad.... 16"X8", my friends... indestructible... hell, even the flooring itself is made from 4"X10" boards.... absolutely incredible... that building was much more than just a barn... it was his bastion... his hideaway.... his workshop... his solitude....

.... my Father and I were very similar in that aspect.... we have a basic need for a safe place... a place that is our own and not to be shared... a place to display our trophies.. antlered heads... turkey beards.... military unit photographs... diplomas... autographed photo of a topless Halle Berry.... whatever it is that reminds us of the road we've traveled.... needful things, I think.... things that we've collected over time... signposts to our past... mementos of battles won, or lost...

... each of us needs a sanctuary... be it a barn... a blogroom... a bar... under the shade tree in the front lawn... or just inside a good book... we all need a place that is ours alone... at least I do...

... I haven't been inside my Father's barn in two years.... I don't know why... I just haven't... but, I still have the key to the padlock.... and today, I'm going in there to get the tools I'll need to put the lawn furniture together...

... happy Father's Day, sir..... you are definitely missed..... 56 years old is way too young to die..... by the way, The Missus and I were talking about you last night before bed and she mentioned what a hottie she always thought you were..... so, wherever you're at, I hope that makes you grin and laugh...... you were a one of a kind........

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You....

.... this song has been buzzing around my head all day long...... and now, it's your turn.....

...... what a song, eh?....... good god, bring back the 1950s, please.... I wasn't born yet, but I still want'em back..........

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Mimosa.....

..... yesterday I had the exceptional pleasure of playing host to Elisson and SWMBO for an evening and the following morning....... we cooked and grilled various hunks of meat (including a whole chicken - which was a first to my grill, most definitely!) and a variety of vegetables.... and in short, both he AND his missus are looking GREAT due to their new diet...... and no, the grilling that we did had nothing to do with the diet they are on..... but hey, they have both lost oodles of weight and look as if (well, Elisson anyway) they need to go out and purchase a whole new wardrobe!....... trust me, they are both just that damn skinny.........

..... I was kind of horrified when I began listing all of the things I'd planned on cooking for them...... for just about everything in my pantry, fridge, or freezer was strictly off limits for them due to their new diets..... but, we all made do in the end....... Elisson spatch-cocked a chicken, rubbed it down in his special mortar and pestled'd sauce, and I threw a few steaks on the grill,..... and along with the salad, roasted asparagus, and grilled yellow squash, we created quite the feast out of slightly more than just a lungful of proverbial thin air.......

...... and a good time was had by all, as usual....... but, I do have a bit of bad news to report.......

....... after breakfast and conversation thit morning, Elisson and his bride took a break to wander around the back yard and gaze upon the honeysuckle, grape vine, dogwoods, and general summertime jungleness, etc, to assist in the digestion of their morning meal...... the Missus and I followed them, of course, pointing out things of various grades of interestingness, when we suddenly found ourselves at the base of our only flowering tree...... a common mimosa..... a weed-tree as far as most are concerned, but to us, a tree like no other....... The Missus loves her trees, and since this one is squat, jaunty, and actually promised to bloom in the near future, she has forbidden me from hacking it down to make room for more grass to grow.....

.... but there we were....... standing in the humid shade, as one is wont to do in the hot summertime after coffee, and I took it upon myself to clip a flower from the tree with my trusty pockeknife for both SWMBO and my Missus...... the flowers of the mimosa are among the most delicate that I have ever encountered........ pink and frondy, they are remarkably fragile when you realize that they came from a tree instead of an actual flower-plant........

........ I mention all of this nonsense about harvesting the first of our mimosa's flowers simply because our mimosa is no longer in existence.... indeed, just after Elisson and his Bride set off for Atlanta a huge windstorm arrived........ and by nightfall, a stalk was all, that was left of said mimosa... (sincere apologies to R.W. Service for even attempting that line of rhyme.)......

..... but, really, the whole thing has made me spend a lot of time thinking today as I collected all the broken branches and poplar limbs........

...... that poor plant lived in our back yard for ten years...... it was never really all that pretty considering it had branches pointing all akimbo....... it was a weed-tree, and even so, we mowed around it, staked it, and tried to ensure that it was watered right alongside the rest of the greenery in the back yard....... it was a lucky tree, no?.........

...... and then, after all of that, when it finally had reached the age in which it could reproduce...... it flowered...... it's time had come.... it had arrived at full maturity..... and then, after being shown off to visitors and having a few frondy flowers picked to adorn handsome ladies' hair, it fell to Mother Nature that very same night.... crushed, crumbled. torn, and finished..... reaped by the wind as soon as it reached adulthood....... literally........

...... so now, I am left with two split memories to ponder upon....... should I choose the memory of the luscious, pregnant mimosa covered with blooms that gave my guests souvenirs to take home with them?..... or should I dwell upon the waste of a life spent comforting something to adulthood - only to see it crushed as it approached maturity?...... or...... should I simply be thankful that it flowered.... and that it's flowers were loved by those who saw them for such a very, very short time?..........

...... or is there ever really a point in trying to argue or understand the way that Mother Nature deals with all the things that she touches..... maybe there is no tragedy, no rejoicing, no mourning...... maybe there is just The Way That It Is........ and it is all a roll of the dice...... we live, we die, we are beautiful, we are ugly........

..... but hopefully..... hopefully...... we'll at least end up in someone's yard who will give us the first half of a chance to bloom........

..... even if we are crushed into little bits later, at least we had the chance..... no?.....

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Pie....

.... well, after much wringing of hands & mopping of brows, my darling Internet has once again been jolted back to life by the loving hands of a visiting technician...... and we be upgraded, rubberneckers.......

... anyhoo, everything is back up and humming right along like a Singer sewing machine.... however, even though the technology is up to snuff, I remain unavailingly inspired to tell even the tiniest of stories here........

..... but, I CAN say that I am incredibly proud to have finally (after 10 delicious attempts) created the perfect crust of puff pastry for my infamous Steak Pie!.... and yes, photographic proof shall be offered up after the recipe... it's actually quite easy!.....

... first off, you will need the following mundane ingredients in or around your kitchen before attempting my Steak Pie....

Worcestershire sauce
Onions
Garlic
1lb of chopped steak or Sirloin tips
Red wine (I used a cheap Merlot)
Olive oil
Black pepper
Beef stock
Flour
Eggs
Frozen puff pastry sheets
Water
Bowls
an Oven
various Whisks and Spoons, and a couple of bowls
and five hours of your time

.... in a large pot over medium heat combine the olive oil, 3 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 diced white onion, three tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, and the 1lb of beef..... cook until the meat is browned well on all sides - stirring it frequently.....

... once the meat is browned, add 1 cup of red wine and one cup of beef stock..... bring this to the boil and then turn down to a simmer for roughly four hours - stirring as you remember that you are actually cooking whilst going about your normal day (of reading, writing, watering flowers, doing laundry, watching television, downloading porn, etc.).....

.... the pot should be covered, by the way, as you don't want any of the mixture to boil away just yet.....

.... once the chunks of beef are tender enough to crumble when mashed against the side of the pot with your wooden spoon, you are ready to proceed to phase two of the operation......

.... sprinkle in two tablespoons of four and stir until all lumps are gone and the broth surrounding the meat has thickened to a nice "gravy" consistency...... and then remove from heat and decant into a casserole dish to cool..... (mine is a 1930s era Hull deep-dish that my mother bought me recently whilst out rummaging through an antique fair, but really, any old smallish casserole dish will do)...... the main thing is to make sure that there is enough room between your "filling" and your "crust" to allow that they'll not touch while cooking....

... after the meat mixture has cooled in the the dish, drape the dish with your pre-defrosted frozen sheet of puff pastry, ensuring that the pastry is drawn taught enough over the dish that it does not sag more than 1/2 an inch in the middle..... fold the edges of the pastry over, and then crimp the dough all the way around the side of the dish to ensure that it holds fast during baking.....

.... crack and egg into a small bowl, add a tablespoon of water, and then whisk it as harshly as you can while still enjoying the process....... once properly abused, coat the dough mixture entirely with your freshly beaten egg/water mixture......

..... now, here is where conventional thought has always gotten me in to trouble...... see, normally I would then punch a hole in the center of the dough to allow for steam to escape during baking.... DO NOT DO THIS...... just trust me on that....... if you DO punch a hole, your dough will sag further and end up a lot more mushy than it should.... so, do NOT punch a hole in the pastry..... keep it taught, keep it crimped, and make sure that you glazed the whole pastry as I mentioned earlier......

....now, you are ready to go, boys and girls...... bake that baby at about 400 degrees for twenty minutes or so (keeping watch as not to overcook the pastry) and you are on the home stretch........

... if you followed the directions properly, it should come out looking a little bit like this....... with 1 1/2 inches of beautiful puff pastry sitting atop 2 inches of hot, tender Steak Pie & rich gravy...... check this out....

steak_pie_small1.jpg

.... here's a different angle.....

steak_pie_small2.jpg

... I served mine up with a nice side-order of thick-cut fries and a dollop of cole slaw...... the pastry and the fries are perfect for mopping up all that beefy gravy........

... and with that, I'm off to think of something to actually write tomorrow....

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Down.....

... internet access issues, folks....... pray to the gods of cyberspace for me, please......

.... y'all play nice until I get this shit fixed......

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Five...

..... I spent the largess of yesterday dodging sporadic rainstorms, sweatily grooming a decrepit rosebush, and pouring over the latest reconnaissance photos that my Father in Law has been sending me.....

.... evidently this September's vacation shall be spent in the Tuscany region of Italy, and he is busily searching for a villa that is suitable enough for us to sip gins and tonics in... fine work if you can score it, I suspect....... but me?..... well, I am contenting myself in the arms of amateur horticulture and slowly perfecting my ability to swat errant horseflies whist dressed as a Sandanista gardener...... actually, I am probably the only gentleman in my neighborhood who dons combat boots and olive drab to battle Nature's Horde....... but then, well, I've never really been much of a flip-flop kind of guy.......

..... anyway, since today promises more of the same that the last few days has offered - and since there truly IS no rest for the proverbial wicked - I'm off to sweat in the lawn once again....... but I shall leave you with a poem that has been on my mind while I toiled with hand-trowel and sweaty brow........

...... enjoy, gentle rubberneckers....... and may your day be filled with iced drinks and foot massages.......

Thus sang the uncouth swain to th'oaks and rills,
While the still morn went out with sandals gray;
He touch'd the tender stops of various quills,
With eager thought warbling his Doric lay;
And now the sun had stretch'd out all the hills,
And now was dropp'd into the western bay;
At last he rose, and twitch'd his mantle blue:
To-morrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.

.... anyone care to guess the author of the above?........

.... I'm off...... for the wages of a lawn-slave await.....

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Four....

.... tonight, well, poetry is music, and vice versa..........

...... if you don't enjoy YouTube clips, then please walk on...... however, I would invite you to listen to each of my choices before comment......... and then, try to see the vein that I am tryin to tap...... they are all beautiful on their own, but as with poetry, there is always a theme........

...... firstly, a Paul Simon favorite.....

.... and next?..... well, give me a munite......

... yes, here we go........ 'Thrasher'.... one I love to sing to myself as I play guitar........ I love the poetry in it....

..... and now, let me see what I can find........ perhaps I will "burn my credit cards for fuel.."......

.... ahhh, yes...... a Buffett tune..... and my absolute favorite.......

...... listen closely to the lyrics, rubberneckers........ they are ALL important......... trust me on that.......

...... poetry is something that touches our souls....... not just words, but ideas and feelings.......... and whether it is with music or lines printed on a page, it is still poetry.........

.... part five will be arriving tomorrow........

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Three

.... quiet night around The Compound here, folks..... I managed to break the lever that engages the blades on my lawnmower yesterday, so that afforded me the perfect opportunity to hire, once again, a lawn fairy to miraculously cut my grass whilst I sipped an evening gin.....

.... even with all that, I still managed to fit in the grilling of a few gigantic slabs of baby back ribs for dinner tonight, and it seemed to please my dinner guests palate just fine...... ribs, a sweet sauce, cole slaw, and deviled eggs....... hey, it's hard to have fun in a place like this, but I do so sorely try......

.... anyway, since I am still tingling on this latest poetry jag (and since Marcus mentioned limericks), I shall acquiesce...... so, here are a few of my favorite limericks in honor of Oom Keesie's request.......

..... and of course, where best to start than with Ogden Nash's famous contribution to The Limerick...... I love how he bends words to his comic will....... check this out.....

There once was a man from Calcutta
Who coated his tonsils with butta,
Thus converting his snore
From a thunderous roar
To a soft, oleaginous mutta.

.... as a fellow who has been known to snore on occasion, perhaps I should give Nash's antidote a try, eh?......

... and you may be shocked to know that many famous writers have often looked to the limerick to express themselves fully..... like, say, for instance, H.G. Wells...... here's his....

Our novels get longa and longa,
Their language gets stronga and stronga,
Theres much to be said,
For a life that is led,
In illiterate places like Bonga,

... or even Dixon Merritt....

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill can hold more than his belican,
He can take in his beak,
Food enough for a week,
But Im damned if I see how the helican,

.... see, aren't these fun?..... and finally, I will leave you with one that always makes me smile...... it's from Mr. Updike.......

There was an old poop from Poughkeepsie, ,
Who tended, at night, to be tipsy. ,
Said he, ''My last steps ,
Aren't propelled by just Schweppes!''
That peppy old poop from Poughkeepsie!

..... and for the record, I have found myself in Limerick, County Claire...... and I did find a pub...... and I did make up a limerick which I quoted out loud to all that would listen to me at the time....... but, unfortunately, I cannot recall exactly what I said to the bemused Irishmen at the time.........

.... but hey, thus is Time Spent In Irish Pubs, no?.......

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Two

..... tonight's poetry theme is Love, rubberneckers....... have you a favorite?.. one that you know by heart?.... perhaps one that was sent to you or even written for you?.... then please do share, if you will....... me?.... never had a poem written for me as best I can recollect.... but I have written a few in my time......

... but tonight's post isn't on what I may have written..... tonight I want to introduce you to a few "love" poems that I have read and enjoyed well before the day that I ventured off to high school to become a large, freckled, red-headed wall flower....

..... Love, eh?... isn't that what most of us think of first when someone mentions poetry?...... anyway, for Keesie, here are a few of my favorites.....

Love Without Hope, by Robert Graves

Love without hope, as when the young bird-catcher
Swept off his tall hat to the Squire's own daughter,
So let the imprisoned larks escape and fly
Singing about her head, as she rode by.

.... marvelous, no?.... and for those males reading this who are 'challenged' when it comes to spending time reading poetry, that one was a SHORT one!...... read, recite, repeat, and tell it to your lady if you get the chance..... who knows, she might like it......

... and this one, too, by Pushkin?..... anyone who has ever had a relationship where it ended with a "ya know, you used to be pretty, but now you're just pretty fucked up" type of thing, well, you'll likely dig this poem big-time...... then again, perhaps I am just being a bit jaded.... the poem is, after all, quite sensitively phrased.....

I loved you even now I may confess, by Alexander Pushkin

I loved you; even now I may confess,
Some embers of my love their fire retain,
But do not let it cause you more distress,
I do not want to sadden you again.
Hopeless and tonguetied, yet I loved you dearly
With pangs the jealous and the timid know;
So tenderly I loved you, so sincerely,
I pray God grant another love you so.

.... and lastly for tonight, a true 'oldie'..... and I say 'oldie' as in it was most likely written between 400 and 600 AD by an Indian fella named Bhartrhari....... and this poem truly goes to show that this whole "love" thing has been a mess since we first wandered out of the jungle and began clubbing wimmens and dragging them off to our cave for a bit of the ole whoopee........ check it out....

She who is always in my thoughts prefers
Another man, and does not think of me.
Yet he seeks for another's love, not hers;
And some poor girl is grieving for my sake.
Why then, the Devil take both her and him; and love; and her;
And me.

Bhartrhari

.... damnation, Bhartrhari, I feel ya, brother.......

..... so, "love poetry", anyone?....... I'd be interesting in what type twangs your proverbial strings, so please share.........

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One.....

.... we live in tremulous times, boys and girls..... and tonight is more tremulous than most....... but, hey!........ poetry tomorrow, OK?....... directed straight towards Mr. Keesie...... deal?.......

... until then, I suggest you have a listen to this instead........ it should give you an idea of where I'm heading for tomorrow......

.... as poetry goes, I have a wide and varied taste..... so......... expect this theme to go on for at LEAST the next five days..........

.... for the man who does not enjoy poetry, does not truly enjoy Life......... and I stand by that..... and I will stand by that forever....

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