Harvesting....

.... Epic Failure regarding this year's peach harvest...... all THREE peaches that made it to maturity on my tiny little peach tree were munched by roving deer two nights ago..... the upside?.... well, I don't have to meander across the tropic wasteland of my back yard to pick'em.... the downside?.... man, I sure was looking forward to eating those dammed things after watching them intently since April.......

.... can you even call picking three peaches a "harvest"?.......

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Geography.....

.... today was the first day of Geography Class and they asked us to draw a picture of the planet - freehand - and not look at a map.......... here is my submission......... and I am sorry, in retrospect, that I forgot Hispanola.......

world_map_small.jpg

..... pretty horrible, I know...... but you should have seen what the 18 year olds submitted........ it'd curl your hair........

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Miss.....

.... so, last Christmas a strange thing happened to me..... I was asked by a local woman if I'd mind putting the top down on Blanche and driving Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus through town in the local Christmas parade...... I didn't mind, of course, and I spent a happy few hours idling across McMinn county with two plump, costumed old folks sitting in the back seat......

.... the backstory of how the lady actually tracked me down is a tale for another day.... suffice it to say that she didn't know me, and she had only seen my car a few times as I was driving around...... so she started making phonecalls and eventually figured out "who owned that beautiful car"...... indeed..... bizarre stuff, actually.... I live in a small enough town that people actually recognize my car.......

...fast forward to a few days ago...... I'm minding my own business making a sandwich when the telephone rings......

Me: .... Hello...
Her: Yes, hello. Is this Eric?
Me: ..... yes, ma'am..
Her: Great! You may not remember me, but I called you last year about using your car for Santa in the parade!
Me: ..... of course... yes, I remember you....
Her: I was just calling to see if you would be so kind and generous as to drive Santa again this year.
Me: ..... sure, ma'am...... but I have to tell you that, sadly, Blanche is no longer with us.....
Her:
Me: ..... ma'am?....
Her: I thought your wife's name was The Missus?
Me: ..... oh!.... of course it is!..... I named my CAR Blanche!....... I just meant that I have traded cars since last year!
Her: OH! Whew! HAHAHHA! So, you named your car Blanche? Is your new car a convertible as well?
Me: .... um, yeah...... I always name my cars..... so, to answer your question, yes... I still own a convertible.....
Her: And what is the dear's name, if I may ask?
Me: ...... my new ride is called Vivienne..... and it is safe to say that she is a wee bit different than Blanche.......
Her: She is? I loved your other car. She was so beautiful and elegant. Santa looked GREAT in her backseat.
Me: ..... thank you, ma'am.... but I need to warn you, Santa may not look that good in my new car....
Her: How so?
Me: .... well, she isn't white.... she's black..... and she isn't elegant..... she's naughty......
Her:
Me: .... see, I'm not so sure that I should be the guy to be hauling Santa around this year.... I don't mind, of course, but you need to know that he's not going to be in some "beautiful and elegant" car..... he's going to be riding in a sleek, sexy, BEAST of a vehicle.......
Her: Hmmmmm. Just a second, let me think.
Me: ...... I'm just saying, ma'am..... my new car is curvy and agressive..... she's a beauty.... Santa might look a little saucy, and I am not sure that's the effect you might be wanting for the parade.....
Her: Sexy, eh? Curvy, agressive, sleek? Hmmmm. Ok, then, how would you like to drive Miss Tennessee in the parade instead?
Me:..... Miss Tennessee is coming to our parade?...
Her: Yes, she is. And she is riding with you in your convertible. I'll put Santa on the hay wagon with the elves.
Me: ..... ummm.... ok...... I'd be happy to help......
Her: Right, that's off the checklist. Thank you, and we will see you on Friday! 5:30 sharp behind the swimming pool. Bye!

...... and just like that?..... Santa is on the hay wagon, and I am spending Friday evening driving Miss Tennessee in the annual Christmas parade....... I'm sure Vivienne is up for the task.....

.... I swear, you can't make this shit up....

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Stripppers........

....... there is just something about keeping the beat that bass players and drummers understand.......... and while I am am off to do other things, this song inspired me tonight.......

..... God Bless those intrepids who strode the stage and made "The Full Monty"......... I re-watched it again tonight, and they never cease to inspire.....

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Rude.....

.... here's the in-class essay that I wrote just before leaving for Scotland........

Rudeness
By Eric SWG

Definitions of what constitutes rude behavior in human beings are as varied and complicated as human beings themselves. Indeed, cultural and societal differences have morphed so much over time that it is practically impossible to find a rude behavior that someone, somewhere would probably find acceptable. Belching, for instance, is considered rude by most standards. But to many ancient Norwegians it was actually considered a compliment to the chef and a sign of satiated satisfaction. Personally, I find think the ancient Norwegians were wrong regarding their views of belching. I am a tolerant man, and I am capable of looking over most behavior that people consider rude. I have, however, found that farting, skinny-dipping, and picking ones nose in public are actions with which I cannot abide.

Breaking wind was once considered a spectator sport during my childhood, and through the course of my life I have met individuals who had raised it practically to an art form. I now consider such behavior absolutely abhorrent, and I tend to pick and choose my friends primarily on their ability to respect my nostrils and personal space. In Scotland I once met a man who dined almost exclusively on Indian cuisine, and one could both smell and hear his flatulent approach from twenty yards away. Needless to say, he was not a fellow with which I cavorted willingly. Farting is rude. I have known men who left me feeling physically assaulted after they had broken wind.

Skinny-dipping is on a lot of peoples bucket lists. These people are mostly city dwellers who have no real grasp of what creatures lurk in countryside watering holes. Skinny-dipping is a prime of how different people consider different human activities wholesome, while other people find them rude. On the surface, skinny-dipping can seem quite innocuous, but it is not. I once happened upon a group of middle-aged suburbanites taking a dip in a local creek. I was hunting and well camouflaged, so I spied on them for the better part of an hour. It wasnt until exited the water that I realized that they were in flagrante. The trauma of witnessing their sagging, mud-flecked, soggy, naked bodies has haunted me far into my adulthood.

Every human being has a nose, and every human being has fingers. The problem arises when these two anatomical entities begin exploration. There is nothing more disturbing and rude than watching some yahoo go elbow-deep while sitting at a traffic light. I have seen it on more occasions that I would hazard to recall. Picking ones nose should be a secretive, solitary, intimate endeavor. Picking ones nose also has the added rudeness of what to do when one actually found what one was looking for. The product of excavating nasal cavities is boogers, and what exactly is one to do with a booger while waiting for the traffic light to change? The idea is just disgusting.

Rudeness is a highly subjective idea. Our cultures and societies have created hypothetical lists of things one should and shouldnt do. I can tolerate most people and their individual idiosyncrasies. There are certain things that do make me cringe though. People who pass gas are not only rude, they are disgusting as well. Gentlemen and women who imagine that their vehicle is somehow hiding the fact that they are busily fingering their nostrils are also disgusting and rude. Skinny-dippers should post adequate signage before beginning their frolic lest innocent wanderers be blinded. Skinny-dipping is perhaps the most rude of my list, actually. There is a reason that Playboy bunnies were all born in 1992. No one wants to see naked octogenarians.

.... ended up with a 1st semester gpa of 3.66...... not to bad for a first-timer, I guess.....


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Nawab....

.... you know, I once spent an afternoon touring the Ashan Manzil..... and I didn't even have my pith helmet with me......... what an amazingly missed opportunity.....

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Hola!.....

..... we might just have to start this little thing from the beginning again........

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Fuzzy.....

.... yo, Jimbo...... check it out......

beard.jpg

.... my little brother's grows in like a beaver pelt, but mine?..... well, there must have been a conquistador tucked away somewhere in my genealogy, because MINE is CURVY.... sweeping cheekbones, outward curling 'tash, and natural soul patch..... good grief, if I weren't a redhead, I'd look like Sir Francis Drake.......

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M.B.

.... yesterday I attended the Last Viewing of one of my Great Uncles..... he had lived a long life, I suppose - in the great scheme of things...... he was the husband of my maternal Grandmother's sister, Sue...... my Grandmother was her older sister, and her name was Geneva........

.... I always secretly found myself fascinated that a young, Tennessee lady born in the early 1930s would somehow end up being named "Geneva"...... Geneva, my Grandmother.... isn't that the most beautiful name?....... well, I think that it is......

.... anyway, her sister - Sue? ....well, her husband died a few days ago from a fall whilst walking in his back garden...... can you imagine?.... 85 years old, taking a stroll with your wife in the back yard, accidentally tripping, knocking your noggin, and then just never regaining consciousness......... he hit his early in the week, they unplugged him on a Wednesday, and he was dead on the following Friday...... and I attended his viewing late that Saturday evening......

.... I swear, it boggles the mind..... life truly is a fragile, delicate, immaculate little thing.... so precious, so fleeting, so absolutely enjoyable, amazing, and lovable........ but really, I'd rather go the way of my Great Uncle at 85 than waste away for ten years in some damnable nursing home......... but still, I feel for his family....... I know what it is like to lose the linchpin of a generation, and it is never easy to watch that link slip away....... even if they are 85 years old.....

... my memories of my Great Uncle are fractured and piecemeal..... he was a quiet, shy man, and I was never really that close to him...... but he was also a pious man, and I respected that very much.... hell, when compared to the rest of my Great Uncles, he was practically a Saint..... he never drank.... he never smoked..... he was a church every single Sunday........ and my other Great Uncles?...... good god, every one of them was a combat veteran of WWII..... and every bar and cop in a three county radius knew not to mess with them when they'd had a slash or two........ and if the DID have to, then they'd better bring backup.... because someone was going to lose a tooth......

... then again, I suppose that is one the things that combat gives you, is it not?..... a desire to forget where you've been, what you have done, what you have seen...... a desire to have a beer, and a beer, and a beer, until you cease to be in pain anymore?........ but THIS Great Uncle, well, he was the only one out of 9 who never served in World War II...... so, perhaps that explains why he lived a much more even-keeled life throughout..... it is just a thought......

..... one thing, though, that I do find remarkable about my memories of him is that he raised three children - two early, and one much later in life, and they are ALL the most gentle creatures that I have ever witnessed in all my born days........ his boy became a minister.... his eldest daughter became an accountant... and his youngest is a registered nurse...... and when I hugged each of them yesterday evening, all I could think of was how he was reflected - in different ways - in each of their lives....... it almost reminded me of one of those lines from a Robert Service poem..... "It is the slow, steady, plodding ones who win the life-long race."...... he was truly one of the steadiest ones that I have ever known..... and when you look at the current lives of his children, you realize that he really DID win the life-long race...... they are well, adjusted, and happy..... and he was proud of them...... and what else could a man ask for, really?......

... but good grief.... can you imagine that poor man marrying into my family like he did?......marrying into MY family of genes?.... of everyone else his age - all of his brother's in law - having been hardcore combat veterans?.... my Grandpa, Great Uncle George, Great Uncle Robert, Great Uncle J.R., Great Uncle M.C..... and each of them with PTSD after the fact like you could not believe..... hell, he was the only normal one in the bunch!....... and he must have been intimidated as hell...... but still, he held keel and made a go of it with my Great Aunt Sue..... and they were married for over 50 years......

..... I will not write more about what happened yesterday because it is special only to me, and I want to keep that for me........ but really, he was a steady man, and I respect him for that........ and it was good to see all of my many, many relatives again - even if it were under other than favorable circumstances..... he was well loved.... and his funeral was well attended....... he was the most curious of my Great Uncles, and I suspect that I understood him the least...... but he was always cheerful, and he made me feel loved......

.... and as I sit here tonight, I wish that I had spent more time trying to get to know him......

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Boudin......

..... and I wasn't off by that much, really.....

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Sliding......

...... I remember the first time that I ever took a base away from an opponent.... it was second base, and I was 11 years old.....

..... my Mother was in the stands and my Uncle was my coach.......and on one hot little summer night in Englewood, Tennessee - with a million insects circling the lights that illuminated the small ball-field - I hit my first double....... I remember how my left knee stung as I straightened myself on second base........ and how, as I dusted myself off after my slide, I gazed off towards centerfield and up at the lights...... cicadas chirping wildly and the gigantic luna moths circling the lights...... the heat of a steamy southern evening choking the air around me........

.... I heard my Mother clapping and I turned myself towards her... and there she sat sitting straight-legged on the concrete slabs that made up the stands........ I was in heaven......

..... but, good lord.... what must it take to spur a middle-aged woman to sit in sweltering heat after a long day of work to waste her evening on a set of concrete bleachers whilst her son spent an evening under the spotlights?........

..... Dixie Lee Youth, folks.... it is what us youngsters once did in the evenings before video games and cheap internet porn were invented.......

... actually, that is a bit of a lie, I guess..... since Space Invaders and the Atari were already on the go by then...... it's just that my folks couldnt afford an Atari..... and the old baseball catcher's mitt was a hand-me-down.... and actually, baseball didn't cost my folks a dime - other than their time...... which, even though I am childless myself - is catching me as a more and more precious resource as the days tick by.......

..... my eighth grade year ended with me hitting 36 homeruns..... big stuff for a little guy like me, and especially when our centerfield fence was sitting at 300 feet (and was really the border for the local football field and never meant for gauging baseball whacks.).........

..... the very next year?..... I traded my cleats in for working boots as my Mother underwent surgery on her back........ and although I lettered my freshman year, I never played a single game.......

.... and now I bounce a ball sometimes with The Missus...... not a baseball, but a Hi-Bounce Pinky instead......... and it is fun.......

..... and she is a pretty good catch, if the truth be told.........

..... we all miss opportunities, I guess.......... and perhaps that is the gist of this post tonight........ then again, perhaps I didn't miss all that much, really......... perhaps I just miss the feeling of The Slide........ standing up on second base, dusting yourself off, looking at the gigantic lights illuminating center field, and wondering if your Momma had just seen you make a double......... after all, there is nothing like knowing she is watching you when you succeed.......

.... I awoke this morning from a dream...... and after calming myself, all I could think of was how proud I was when I finished catching my first double-header........ I didn't hit a homerun that set...... and I didn't even make a double........ but I did block home plate for an out on a guy stealing home from third......... and we won the All Star game for McMinn county that year against those cretins from Riceville..........

..... we try, we do....... we all try..... .and some of us succeed.......... but as for me, I will never forget that first time that I tagged ass to earth and slid for a double......... if we never try, then we never do........ and we have always, always, ALWAYS have to try........ we have to take that chance.......

.... slide, rubberneckers......... we all need to do it more often..........

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Moons....

.....I saw the moon tonight for the first time in ages....... just a sliver of a thing, really........ how is it that such small things can inspire us so?.......

.... anyway, time for another song......... I am cracking, and so is The Missus' arm, and I really don't want to deal, so....... here it is....... a feel good song......

.... feel the in and out....... feel the breathing of the song....

... I have listened to this song since high school, and it has always struck me the same way......

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Shoes.....

.... I know that I have been out of the proverbial bloggy loop for a while, but I did need to drop in to say that this is possibly the greatest music video in the history of music videos.......

.... feet and ears have always seemed unearthly to me, actually.... but shoes?....... I do love some shoes when they are being worn properly.....

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Shellfish....

... why is it that people think clams are so fucking happy?........

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Argus.....

...... so I boarded Blanche yesterday morning and headed west from Athens....... and after climbing up onto the Cumberland Plateau at Rockwood, I proceeded to pilot her past Smyrna, Alexandria, Lebanon, and Sparta..... ending with Carthage..... all at 85 and 90mph........

..... perhaps I need to name her Argo instead of Blanche.......

..... I will say this, though...... the visit to Vanderbilt was well worth the effort........ and there was much rejoicing.....

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Bananas....

...... warm, breezy day here, and The Missus is busily holding down the hammock in the back yard..... as for me, I'm baking......

... here's the recipe that I threw together off the top of my head.....

SWG's Banana Walnut Bread

2 cups of self-rising flour
1/2 cup of melted butter
1/2 cup of crushed walnuts
2 eggs - severely beaten
1 cup of brown sugar
3 large, mushy over-ripe bananas
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon....

.... I melted the butter and brown sugar in a measuring cup in the microwave to begin with...... I then - in a large bowl - mashed the ever lovin' Hades out of the bananas..... don't be shy if you try this.... trust me, it sometimes feels quite good to mash something easily squashable into a messy pulp....

.... I then beat the eggs and stirred them into the smashed bananas..... added the walnuts, cinnamon, and brown sugar/melted butter...... I stirred this mess and then added in the two cups of self-rising flour......

.... I then poured the whole mixture into a greased baking pan (I used a bit of butter to coat the pan, but you could just as well use some kind of baking spray if you're a wuss.)

.... anyway, it is currently baking away at 350 degrees in the oven..... and I plan on baking it for about an hour....

.... not sure if it will actually be edible - since this is a recipe that I just winged - but it certainly is making the kitchen smell pretty damned amazing......

UPDATE:

.... well, here it is, rubberneckers...... and I ended up only needing to bake it for 50 minutes......

bread_small.jpg

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Italian......

....... it was a beautiful day here today, although very warm, and the occasion transpired where I found myself sitting outside on my front stoop enjoying a cigarette.........

.... the Sun was absolutely belting it down, and I halfway wondered if I should make my way towards some sort of shade while the nicotine worked its magic.........

.... and just as the first bead of sweat rolled down my balding forehead, I remembered that line from the Wizard of Oz...... remarkably, "you clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk!"......

.... hard words from The Wizard to the Tin Man, fo sho..... but, True Words, nonetheless.........

...... it was odd how it struck me, actually - that line....... I suddenly pressed out my cigarette against the stone paving, gazed down at my bare, red arms..... admired the freckles and inch-long hair that adorn them....... and mouthed the words to myself..... "you, sir, are the Tin Man....... apart from the English, Scots, Irish, Creek, French, German, Cherokee, and Catawba that all lent their genes to you?...... you are still sitting here - in Tennessee - with 95 degree weather, fair skin, red hair, and freckles that'd confuse a master puzzlesmith....... you, sir, are a clinking, clanking, clattering collection of Recessive Genes......."....

.... how else could someone who has had ancestors in the United States since 1750 be so damned unsuited for the clime in which he was born?.........

.... I am sure that my ancestors were much, much hardier than I........ hell, the fact that I am here at all begs the question of "how the hell did they survive this heat, topography, and humidity?".......

.... and yet, here I sit.......

..... and I still don't understand it........

... if I had my way, I would be swarthy-skinned, muscular, and immune to humidity........ Italian, perhaps...... but then, that wouldn't be me........

...... a bullshit post, yes..... but, in truth?...... I just like typing "clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk."......

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Ummmm....

... another new song that I just found...... so, how y'all doing?....

.... Mexican night here at The Compound......

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Inhalage....

... you know, I spent the better half of the evening eating exotic food prepared by people from far away, watching television programs about the horrific angst of high school proms, and drinking various adult beverages brought to my household from across many continents....... and it was good......

..... just five minutes ago I ventured out to my garage to imbibe in some Turkish tobacco inhalage, and I noticed my ceiling fan whirring about me courtesy of the local nuclear power plant at Watts Bar........

..... there must have been 50 bugs - beetles mostly - circling the fan as I gazed upwards....... and every five seconds one of them would get batted down towards Earth with a wild thump of a fan-blade........ and they'd pick themselves up, double-check their wings, and set off towards "the Sun" once again...... only to be crunched asunder by the spinning blades in less than thirty seconds.......

.... I swear, it was an almighty sight just watching those idiot bugs get battered......

...... and here's the rub, folks....... THEY evolved long before we supposedly did, right?...... why is it that I can sip scotch and smoke oriental tobacco after having watched actors get murdered in a B-slasher flick, and those bugs are still dumb enough to think that the light bulbs in my garage are somehow representing the Sun at 9pm at night?.......

... Jesus Christ, you'd think that after all these years of evolution I would at least be able to walk outside and ask one of them casually for a light...... or directions to the local mini-mart?.... or perhaps which political party is going to do the least damage in the next election?.......

..... good god.... after 300,000,000 years of evolution, you'd think that an insect would at least have an opinion......

.... but, no..... they don't....... they just keep whirring, whirring, and whirring........ and making me want another gin and tonic.......

.... perhaps evolution isn't all it's cracked up to be.....

... and yes, you just witnessed the creation of a new word.... "inhalage" is all mine....... how's that for evolution?....

.... watching those bugs reminds me of watching the bloody news lately...... how come we keep electing insects?........

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Moonshine....

.... plans for tomorrow evening, rubberneckers?... hmmmm?....

... well, you might want to break out the binos and take a look at this.....

... I certainly will be....

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Coaches....

..... I read this article with great interest...... and if you are a fan of SEC football, I suggest that you do the same, for it is, after all, quite enlightening in regards to historic SEC coaches......

.... back in the summer of 1982, my Father arrived home from work a bit early on a Friday, and proclaimed that we - as a family - would spend the weekend camping at Indian Boundary Lake - a beautiful campsite just north of Tellico Plains, Tennessee....

.... I remember the summer of 1982 as being exceedingly hot and humid...... the previous winter had produced icicles the size of tree trunks, and the summer didn't disappoint in the humidity department either....

... that was, of course, the summer between Mr. Majors coaching The Volunteers to a win in the 1981 Garden State Bowl vs. Wisconsin, and the 1982 Peach Bowl where Iowa beat us 28-22.....

... anyway, my Father was not much of a football fan back in the day and neither was I..... but on that clear, sweltering Sunday evening as we drove down the mountain from our weekend campsite at Indian Boundary, he was in an unusually festive mood..... (perhaps Momma had scratched an itch or two in the tent while my little brother and I fell asleep on the ground near the campfire..) .... hey, stranger things have happened, right?....

.... but in reality, I don't recall most of that long ago weekend trip....... it was hot, sure..... and mosquitoes dive-bombed us like Messersmitts over Dunkirk...... oh, and the lake was full of nibbling fish and alga-blooms.... but other than that, I remember blue skies, laughing children, and roasted marshmallows.... and I also remember Johnny Majors.....

.... the drive down the mountain to Tellico was only about 15 miles or so, but in The World Before Cell Phones, a broken-down vehicle meant either hitching or hoofing.... well, that's where we found Mr. Majors..... I remember my Mom and Dad rubbernecking an abandoned car - pushed to the side of the mountain road as we slowed to peek for foul play..... hood up, driver's side door ajar, there was no one to be seen...... but after zipping by a few more curves, a lone, disheveled, staggering fellow was seen in the distance...... and figuring that it was the owner of the car (and figuring rightly, of course.), my Father stopped and offered the hard-luck gentleman a lift into town.....

.... he was a sight to behold.... smelling of day-old bourbon and sporting a few flecks of leaflitter in his wild hair, he said nary a word as he climbed into the back seat with my little brother and I.... I remember my Mother saying, "Hello.".... and my Father inquiring as to where he was headed.... but for the most part, conversation would best be described as scant..... bordering on non-existent.....

..... anyhoo, once we arrived in downtown Tellico Plains we docked our 1972 Impala land-yacht at a Mom & Pop gas station and Dad popped the front seat forward so that Johnny could exit..... I remember him creaking a bit and moaning as the bright sunlight hit is eyes - the big back seat of an old Impala had obviously protected him from the Sunshine's angry glare....

.... my Dad walked him over to a payphone and asked him if he'd be alright..... I couldn't hear exactly what was said, but I remember seeing my Father suddenly dip into his front pockets for some change... he handed over what he found, and made his way back to the car....

... things were quiet for the rest of the ride home.... country roads curved by as we passed farms, fields, and hillsides...... it wasn't until a few weeks had passed and we had my Uncle & his family over for dinner that I was finally clued in on the identity of my fellow back-seat traveler...

.... Uncle Bob was greedily gnawing on a freshly grilled ribeye when my Pa started in..... "You are a football fan, arentcha?..... Well, you'll never guess who I picked up heading for Coker Creek drunker than Cooter Brown a couple weeks ago...... it was Johnny Majors...... sumbitch still owes me sixty cents for the payphone, too...".....

.... hey, we all knew that he was one helluva football coach.... but I also know that - once up on a time - he could pull an all-nighter with the best of 'em.....

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Baying.....

... you know, I am continually amazed by the Great Lengths that my fellow McMinn County residents go to to find The Spice of Life..... for instance, here we have Katie from Texas using a spear to dispatch a few wild boar - just a couple of miles, as the crow flies - from my back door..... check it out....

.... the dog with the "G" marker deserves an extra bowl of puppy chow, iffen you ask me......

.... those of you bloggers who have enjoyed breakfast with me in October might recognize the term "Tellico Junction"..... back before Englewood was "Englewood", it was simply a railhead where the tracks split off towards Tellico Plains...... thus, Englewood was once known simply as "Tellico Junction".....

.... personally?..... I think Katie was a bit on the timid side...... Hell, with the dogs having bayed that poor hog as well as they had?..... she should have manned up and just cut its throat with a K-Bar and left the spear alone..... of course, I'd never pay money to engage in such a sport... but if I were to, I'd make sure that I looked it in the eye when I took its life.......

... I imagine that poor beast's head is now adorning a wall somewhere near Dallas.....

.... man, People are just plain weird........

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Kisses.....

.... it is St. Valentine's Day, folks....... and as such, I cannot think of a better song than this to pique the ole imagination.........

..... enjoy, please.......and gently........ for it is a gentle song.....

....... I love me some Townes....... happy Valentine's Day, rubberneckers!.....

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Warning.....

.... now, you guys be careful out there today, ok?....... I awoke from wonderful dreams this morning craving the local Mexican joint's chili-cheese Nachos of Delight..... and after watching the clock tick closer and closer to opening hour, something inside my noggin popped, spun, and whirred..... and as opening hour came and went, I found myself sitting on the couch watching ghost stories and eating Heart Healthy oatmeal and drinking iced water.....

... seriously, folks, y'all be careful.... if the Powers That Be - due to some unknown astral alignment - are capable of convincing ME to eat oatmeal instead of nachos, there is no telling WHAT they are capable of today.....

... you have all been warned....

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Porsche.....

...... so, as you do, I wandered out to check the mail today, and just take a guess at what I found tucked away in the Compound's mailbox??....

..... The Missus' car's BIRTH CERTIFICATE....... no shit....... a big, reinforced envelope emblazoned with "DO NOT BEND" stamped all over it.... and when I opened it, there it was....... a birth certificate, a certificate of authenticity, and a letter signed by Porsche USA's chairman down in Atlanta.......

.... I swear, who knew that owning a Porsche was such an Event?.....

... and in worse news?..... she named the damned thing Tyrone....... as in Tyrone Powers?...... I tried to dissuade her, but I failed......... so now Blanche has to sit all night alongside a pintsized grey thing named Tyrone........ I worry for her virtue, I surely, surely do.........

.... still, she is strong of heart, and high on the moral scale....... so I sleep every night with a dream of hope.........

..... Porsche is taking this Elite stuff a bridge too far, methinks...... then again, perhaps I am just jealous that Audi doesn't play up their hand like their fellow Germans........

.... anyway, I'm off....... sleep well, rubberneckers........

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Dresses.....

.....greetings, gentle creatures, I hope that you are all well and getting exactly what you deserve.... as for me, I've been busy today scanning antique photos onto the hard drive for backup purposes......

.... here's a hand-painted snapshot of my Sainted Mother circa 1949.... evidently it was Quite The Thing back in the day to take a black & white portrait and then have someone increase the visual appeal by giving it a little dash of color..... hey, who knew?..... a poorman's portrait, I guess..... and besides, portrait painters don't exactly grow on trees..... and I can imagine that they were a bit thin on the ground in Madisionville, Tennessee on the eve of 1950.....

.... still though, she is pretty cute...... although I am a bit worried about her hemline...... it seems that I came by my kilt-flashing proclivity honestly, at least..... ahhh, see?.... there's some of my mamma in me after all!.....

Mother_painted_small.jpg

..... we actually took this to a digital artist and had them clean it up, frame it, and it was part of her Christmas giftage....

..... I was definitely not that cute as a baby.....

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Dessert.....

.... Mother Nature seems to have deemed me a bit too warm as of late, and as is her want has generously gifted me and my fellow Tennesseans with nearly ten inches of frosty, virginal, gin-chilling snow.... indeed, and I do just happen to have a bottle of Hendricks tucked away in a snowdrift on the far corner of the deck out back..... and the general idea is to have an absolutely frighteningly fresh gin and tonic as The Game airs tonight.....

... in other news, I've just spent the past hour or so shoveling seventeen tons of god-awful snow from the sidewalk so that The Missus shant sully her Vasques after docking the Audi in the dark tonight.......

.... oh, and before I forget (for those of you who happen to be sharing The Bounty of Snow), here you go....

SWG's Old Southern Snow Cream

1 gallon of fresh, clean snow collected off the hood of your car
1 cup of white sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of milk

.... just mix all those ingredients together and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy......

.... just trust me, folks..... just like Grandma used to make... because, well, it is her recipe!....

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Gravy!.....

.... as I wander down this Path of Breathing, I am often flummoxed by the various vaugeries, situations, and opportunities of Life..... and when I find myself faced with such mindboggling things, I often quote Roscoe Brown from Lonesome Dove - the scene where he's just been told Ellie has skipped town whislt knocked-up...... here's an example....

The Missus: What's for breakfast?
Me: ..... would you like eggs?....
The Missus: We're out of eggs, I just checked.
Me: .... what??!!... out of EGGS!?.... that's impossible.... what?? "On a whiskey boat?!"....

... yeah, I know..... but the truth is often much, much more strange than fiction......

... however, Christmastime provides my vocabulary with a stay from the mundanity of the rest of the year.... behold "The Holiday Quote" via A Christmas Carol..... this is the immortal line that Scrooge says to The Ghost of Marley when he can't believe his eyes......

"You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"


.... good god, I love that line...... absolutely marvelous, isn't it?..... so, in keeping with The Season, the next time you are presented with a situation of incredulity, I suggest you quote ole Scrooge...

.... c'mon, admit it..... isn't it the thought of calling someone a 'fragment of underdone potato' or an 'undigested bit of beef' toe-curlingly appealing?.....

... or, for that matter, you could just point at them and yell "GRAVY!!".....

... just trying to make sure y'all have a festive holiday season, folks.......

... you're welcome....

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Buttocks....

..... so yesterday evening the Missus and I re-watched the survival movie "Alive".... you know, where those Uruguayan rugby players cannibalize each other?...... it struck me as absolutely unthinkable when I watched the wavering hands of the first would-be cannibal carve at the buttocks of the dead pilot in search of meat.... I mean, c'mon..... really?.....

.... I couldn't help but think that if I were killed in an airplane crash, the very LAST place you'd want to carve a piece off of me to nibble at would be my ass..... I've never had the shit scared out of me before - and I hope that I never do, actually - but I have the distinct feeling that being in an airplane crash might just do the proverbial trick......

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Goats.....

...... happy birthday Alexander Solzhenitsyn, wherever you are..... your tale of Ivan Denisovich damaged me when I read it as a pimply 13 year old......

... in other news, I've spent hours in the kitchen today working tomato sauce, garlic, onions, and and mulched bits of cow into a repast that shall delight and confound later this evening..... indeed, I plan on spooning it over eight or ten giant pasta shells that have been stuffed with Ricotta, Romano, and Parmesan cheese...... hey, throw in a side salad, a few hunks of garlic bread, and a nice red wine and it'll be downright civilized..... and these days, hey, I'm all about The Civilization....

.... and with that, I'm off to watch the Army/Navy game..... Go Goats!....

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Nasty.....

.... the foul weather that has played here today has not taken a break since well before daybreak - and it still shows no sign of abating now that darkness is approaching..... rain, sleet, wind, and gloom....... actually, it probably isn't even safe to use the term "darkness is approaching" since it has not brightened in the least since dawn.... it's almost like Today just really didn't want to show up for work.... so he slithered in quietly - hung over and rubbing his unshaven chin- and promptly fell asleep at his desk.... and now that it is quittin' time, the guy in the next cubicle over roused him, told him he stank, and pushed his sorry ass out the door towards home, a shower, and his bed........

... good god.... the past ten hours of precipitation, mist, and heavy cloud have dulled the Heart and Soul of My Day..... in fact, I haven't seen a wind-driven, plodding, incessant rain like this since I left Scotland ten years ago..... and that, gentle rubberneckers, is saying something.....

....however, all things being equal, my fortitudinous soul has persevered over these adverse weather conditions with the assistance of homemade chili-cheese nachos and a few cups of cherry yoghurt..... and soon?..... the subtle, warming relaxation of a sapphire Gin and Tonic (lightly stirred & served with a slice of lime, of course...).... after all, just because Mother Nature is in a beastly mood there is no need for US to act uncivilized, is there?...... indeed, no.....

.... so, how's it been where y'all have been?.....

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Carnivores.....

.... according to a txt message that I just received from The Missus, police in the small town where she works have broadcasted for all downtown Athenians to stay indoors for the next few hours......... evidently there is a 250lb black bear roaming the abandoned evening streets.......

.... hey, Welcome to Tennessee.........

.... I sent a message back asking her if she'd like me to put the top down on Blanche, load up my bear rifle, and tool through town a few times, but she said that probably wasn't a good idea.........

..... never a dull moment around these parts, that's for sure....

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Auguste.....

.... good afternoon, Fellow Travelers, I hope that you are all well on this fine November day.... as for me, I'm tolerable..... and it appears that the Volunteers have successfully manhandled those Ole Miss knuckledraggers, so all is well....

.... oh, and I was negligent yesterday in wishing a very happy birthday to Auguste Rodin - who, had he still been with us - would have celebrated his 170th birthday..... and so, since I'm off to peel some potatoes for my pot roast, I shall leave you with The Kiss..... out of all of his work, it is my personal favorite...... with The Gates of Hell running a very close second.....

the_kiss_small.jpg

.... nice, eh?..... nothing like a SEC win and a fine piece of art.... and a plate of my pot roast, of course.....

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Windy....

... uh oh.... here comes the tornado, folks..... 25 miles south and heading up the valley...... battend down the hatches, McMinn County......

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Mountains....

.... as seen on my drive into town this afternoon....

countryside_small.jpg

.... right on the edge of the mountains.....

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Brute.....

..... I spent the majority of the afternoon piloting The Missus' vehicle around the hinterlands of the surrounding counties, and all I can say is 'wow'......

.... lookit.... my Blanche is a sexy beast - for sure - but she is refined, delicate, and sensitive..... she's responsive, pert, lively, and powerful - but above all, she is sophisticated..... that's just Audi's nature....... and a topless Cabriolet with a 2 liter turbo is more than a handful....

.... I've been inside her when she has tamed Mustangs, passed Corvettes, and whipped around mountain curves that would make a Charger cringe...... she is what she is, and I love driving her...... she is GOOD at what she does......

.... but the car The Missus drives?...... good god...... 5 liter V-8, straight-shift Cadillac..... 400 horsepower of muscle.....

... she named him Cary - after Cary Grant - but he definitely isn't a Cary Grant type, if you ask me...... Grant equals Style in my mind, and her car?..... no.... he's angular, low-slung, muscular, and deeply, deeply angry.... kinda like Mickey Rourke after he'd slung off his 'Wild Orchid' aura and opted for the bloated, scarred, muscleman character in 'The Wrestler'......

... her car - a V Series Caddy - is visceral....

... it screams.... it moans.... it roars.... and it flings you from seat to shifter at every high-speed turn..... it bends you, twists you, and pins you to the seat like a amorous rhinoceros who has A Thing for a gazelle.... with cheap leather seats, plastic dashboard, rubberized buttons, it is almost as if it were designed to have its passengers puke from the g-forces it exerts...... it sits in the parking lot and idles with the menace of a growling linebacker.... just waiting for the cheerleader driver to assume the position behind the wheel........

... so, yeah...... I spent today behind the wheel of WAY too much car...... and I missed my poor Blanche horribly the entire time......

.... still, it was interesting to watch hammerheads snap cell phone pics of me while I waited at Cleveland traffic lights..... only to hear me double-clutch, grind, and jam Gary from 1st to 3rd to 5th in the most haphazard of ways....

.... six gears in a Cadillac are just too many........ at least for me.....

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Dancing.....

..... woke up this beautiful autumn morning with Ray Charles on loopback inside my noggin..... the sad, sad truth of the matter is that on days like this when I am filled with inner-groovieness, it'd sure be nice if I knew how to dance....

.... birthday cake tonight - my favorite..... pineapple upside down cake.....

.... so, how y'all been?....

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Ooze....

... off to York.... home of the river Ouse.... leaving a cloudy & misty Scottish seaside behind, and heading inland for a bit..... south by southwest, as it were.....

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England....

..... well, Boys & Girls, the time has come to wander off towards The Olde Country once again..... if anyone needs me, I'll be in the lounge of Lady Anne Middleton's Hotel in York.....

... y'all play nice now....

.... I'm off....

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YouTube.....

.... you know, I am a man who is quite naturally just 'aware' of things.... but having said that, I have to wonder just what software The Powers That Be are using to try to figure us all out.....

.... after logging onto my YouTube page earlier today, I was presented with the following videos as "recommended for you"...... behold, gentle rubberneckers..... and decide for yourselves.....

... first up, does anyone speak Italian?... I mean, WTF??....

... and then, next in line?... sure, my first car was a 1951 Mercury, but wow.......

... and then, YouTube offers up this.......

..... now, Waits?.... I'm down with him... all day long........ "don't you know there ain't no Devil, that's just God when he's drunk.."......... now THAT is the true heart of a philosopher........

... YouTube, eh?..... what the HELL must I have been searching for them to think those videos should be recommended for ME?.. except for the Waits tune, of course......

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Mules....

... since the burning of my Aunt's home a few days ago, I have been prowling the family archives in search of old photographs to replenish her collection.... it's been an interesting trip down memory lane, to say the very least.....

.... while it has been heartbreaking to think of her loss, the time spent with my own stash of old family heirlooms has helped soften the blow a bit.....

... I'm off to meet her for lunch this afternoon, and I plan on presenting her with about two hundred assorted copies that I have made.....

.. here's one of my favorites....

... meet my maternal Grandfather... circa 1935.....

grandpa_small.jpg

... my Aunt's ole Dad... and his mule, of course...... surveying the edge of his tobacco patch near Madisonville, Tennessee.......

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Begging.....

..... damn, but I am depressed..... anyone know any good jokes?...... preferably about Eskimos?.......

.... I wonder if grilling up three or four nice lamb chops might break the Saharan monotony that nature has been baking me with as of late.... then again, one normally would frown upon such foolish endeavors as manning a grill when the heat index is a hundred and nine.....

.... anyway, I'm off in search of a way to sear this lamb-flesh that doesn't involve me breaking a sweat...

... oh, and as for Leviathan, Athos, and Curly?.... they're still alive... and appear to be doing quite well in their tiny little tank..... after a week of feeding, they are no longer skittish when I approach their watery enclosure... in fact, they've actually learned to "beg" for food when I approach..... I stick my giant head down near their tank, and they instantly start nibbling at the surface, swimming down to plead with me with fishy little eyes, and then break for the surface again.... it is kinda cute in a surreal sort of way.....

.... anyway, I'm off...... I just heard the Missus clinking ice in a glass - and that can only mean one thing...... the Gin & tonic hour has arrived.....

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90.....

.... I had the opportunity today to attend my Great Aunt Louise's 90th birthday party, and I enjoyed myself entirely too much.....

... the event was held just a stone's throw from The Ancient Family Plot where most of my ancestors from the past two centuries are buried, and I thought on that a lot when I wasn't eating birthday cake, wandering the grounds smoking cigarettes, or swilling unusual punch.....

..... at one point an aging cousin labored up the hill to where I and another cousin were chatting..... she paused at the crest of the hill and addressed me, "young man, what is your name?"...... "I'm called Eric, ma'am..... and you must be Delores, yes?"......... "Oh!.... why yes I am!..... I thought you were overseas!?.... and the conversation continued down that road for a while....... it is always thus when such large families meet up, I guess....... everyone goes their own way once they reach a certain age, and it is only seldom that we all get together again.... and yet we somehow always remember each other slightly - if not always correctly..... but that is the way with memories, isn't it?.....

..... but as she started to leave I said, "so, you never moved back to Florida, eh... you and your family stuck it out and stayed here in Tennessee all these years?"....... she smiled a white-haired smile and said, "no..... my next move will to right over there, Eric...... ".... and she pointed towards the tiny cemetery where her AND my ancestors are all hanging out....... it was odd, sobering, and somewhat comforting at the same time........ so I nodded at her and smiled...... "It's not such a bad place to be, you know?...... the trees are lovely..... there are always fresh flowers..... and I bet Uncle J.R. is an absolute hoot when Halloween rolls around every year...."...... she laughed, gave me a hug, and told me to quit smoking...... that's family, no?...... even if you haven't spoken in 15 years, any woman older than you considers herself a surrogate mother to you when yours isn't within earshot....... and hey, that's OK....... it is As It Should Be...... after all, this IS the South.....

.... Aunt Louise's birthday bash was held in the basement of the New Church, and we all filled it to near capacity.......... but across the tiny 1 & 1/2 lane road that runs between the two building sits the True Church..... a small, stone, plain structure that holds more memories of my family than many can even remember..... births, funerals, weddings...... my own parents were wed there back in 1969 (and I still have the Kowloon-bought suit in my closet that my Dad wore that day.)........ ... my Mother's parents were married there....

.... I took a few photos, but they didn't turn out that great, so I will leave you all wondering........

..... but all that I can say is, after a great many conversations with a lovely group of people, well, may we all live to be 90 years old..... and be half as loved as Louise was today.......

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Dumas.....

.... I now have three koi living in my living room encased in a tiny aquarium........ they are called Leviathan, Athos, and Curly..... descending in size, of course......

..... when first asked what I should call them, I said, "Leviathan, Titan, and Olympian"..... when asked again later, I simply replied, "Moe, Larry, and Curly"...... and again - later along after the second trip to WalMart to buy the final parts of the aquarium - I was asked again....... "Athos, Porthos, and Aramis"......

..... as you can tell, the decision making process in my household is somewhat a'shimmy.......

.... I have become these creatures' caretaker.........

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Missing.....

..... living in the wilds of East Tennessee is always a bit of an adventure, and since I have now received inquiries about the fate of our skunk from two separate directions, I'll spill it...

.... firstly, I will preface this story by saying that a skunk is a fearless beast.... and every other animal in its right mind offers them an extremely wide berth - and for good reason as we all know.... however, having said that, I DID attempt to introduce my skunk to the hereafter - and I would have accomplished the mission had the little bastard showed up just thirty minutes sooner than he did.....

... as skunks go, I suppose that he was luckier than most.... I'd say he was clever, but I haven't enabled my psyche to admit that I was outwitted by a rodent yet, so I'll stick with the "luck" angle..

... anyway, I laid my trusty .22 rifle out and began waiting for the skunk to arrive for breakfast, lunch, or supper.... as it turned out, he must have had a hard day in the woods because he didn't show up at my house until just after 9pm.... this completely messed up my plan for his demise, though, since I had envisioned dispatching him with a highly-accurate, scoped .22 rifle shot to the noggin once he'd exited my garage....

.... well, I positioned myself down my driveway and to the right of the house so that I would enjoy a clean lane of fire between the edge of my house and the woods to the back and side.... standing there in the dark holding my rifle, I realized the folly of my picking a weapon that sported a scope, but by then it was too late...... the skunk was on the move and I didn't have time to run back inside to collect my .12 gauge....

.... I ended up finding the black animal through my scope in the dark for only a fraction of a second, and I fired off three quick rounds..... the skunk fled into the steamy night, and I ambled back inside feeling absolutely crestfallen that I had missed him/her.... I was particularly unchuffed because, up until that night I was 8 for 8 with that rifle..... I'd only fired it eight times since I'd owned it, and each shot had brought down a furry woodland creature of one sort or the other....

... I checked the ground for a blood trail the next day and found naught, so I suspect I only frightened it...... but, I am happy to report that it has not been seen nibbling cat treats since...

.... so, now y'all know what happened to (or didn't happen to ) the skunk...... you guys have Bou and Zonker to thank for the update....

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Responsibility.....

..... about two months ago, the fellows who lived across the street from me left their home in a rush and moved to Belize..... missionary duty, I've been told since, but it was literally a case of one day they are watering their lawn, and the next they are having a garage sale and selling their bedroom set........ and two days later they were GONE........ hey, I respect anyone who would sally forth to do missionary work, but something about their whole "exit" just seemed a bit irresponsible......

.... the area surrounding their home - and the covered breezeway that connected the garage to the house - is an absolute jungle...... ivy runs rampant..... shrubs, hanging baskets, and ferns surround their house to the point that if you saw a Japanese soldier peep his face out after dark, you'd swear that you were in New Guinea ALA 1942.....

.... anyhow, after my annual 4th of July fireworks display this past year showered their vacant lawn with the left-over sticks from my 50 or so rockets, I wandered over to retrieve them one afternoon.... and that was when I discovered that - buried among the dense, tropical undergrowth, they also had two small koi ponds that were absolutely filled to the brim with 8-inch long koi carp..... I must admit that I was shocked and awed at the same time...... I mean, I just wasn't expecting to find such a bowl full so close to my own home..... it's odd, I know, but I stood there for the longest time just watching the fish..... eventually the mosquitoes ran me off, and I wandered back to my own house...... but that night I couldn't wait to tell The Missus of what I had discovered.....

..... fast forward to today...... a light thunderstorm had just passed and the Sun had broken through after lunch..... so I walked through to the living room where The Missus was curled on the couch.....

... "C'mon.... let's go.... put your shoes on.... I told you about those fish a month ago..... let me show them to you!"......

...... I'd told her about them the day that I first discovered them, but she'd never taken the time to go and look for herself...... so I took the lead, and we set off down the driveway.......

.... after arriving at the edge of the neighbor's jungle, it dawned on me that I should have asked her to wear more than the flimsy flip-flops that she had chosen as footwear...... the honeysuckle and morning glory vines were so dense that it was quite difficult for ME to walk, much less for a person only wearing shoes that were connected to feet with only a thin strap.... but still, she soldiered on while I followed behind.....

.... and what a sad, sad sight we found when we finally arrived at the pools...... two dead adults were floating - half decayed..... and the water itself was a deep forest-green..... the pumps and filters had stopped weeks ago once the county had turned off the power, and the water was hot, thick, smelly, and stagnant......

.... she was disgusted and trod off around the corner to peek into the windows of the abandoned house....... I, with ever the attention to detail, stood stone-still and examined the details of the pool.... the lilies, the ivy, the flat stones...... I was searching for life among the death...... and after five minutes or so, I saw the faintest flick of a white tail swish just below the surface, and I knew that there were fish still alive in the pool......

.... I looked around and found a fishnet that had been discarded in the vines, and I started scooping....... my third swipe reaped a minnow - twisting and flipping itself into the air as I examined the bottom of the dip-net......

.... there was an empty and unused garbage bag on the breezeway that I used to collect water in...... and into that water I deposited my baby koi...... five more minutes of netting resulted in two more minnows........

..... and so now, I have three baby koi carp living in an old glass salad bowl in my kitchen...... if they survive until morning, I will go into town and buy them a proper bowl and some food..... and if they are alive in the morning?...... I may even go back to the neighbor's house and see if I can find any more survivors......

..... if we humans create something that contains life for our pleasure, we should maintain it...... and it really, really pisses me off that a family of humans could traipse off halfway around the world to be missionaries for God, and leave those creatures to die.... slowly.... hopelessly.......

.... life is life, rubberneckers...... and every speck of life is to be respected.... sometimes things need to be killed, of course... but hunt what you need, eat what you kill, and leave the rest to enjoy itself as best it can..... and if you put something in a cage for your pleasure, then you should damn sure take CARE of it...... making any creature suffer is just beastly on the part of the human.....

.... so, anyone who has any knowledge of keeping fish, I'm all ears...... I've never owned a fish before - until now..... and they are much too small to fry up with some chips, so I'm kinda stuck....... pointers are definitely welcome.......

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Gall.....

.... so.... last night The Missus walks in from work and says to me, "... the strangest thing happened to me today..... an elderly woman strode in and said, 'Ma Husband had been galled'ed....... whut can you do to halp?'"

...... she looked at me, and I looked back at her quizzically.........

.... "Galleded", she says..... "what the fuck is that supposed to mean?"....

...... and I must admit, it took me a moment or two, but then I began......... "ummmmm..... it is an Old word...... it is only used by old country folk, and good god, it has been years since I have heard anyone say it....... but........ I'm pretty sure that it has something to do with a man's nutsack....".......

.... "what?!?".....

..... "yeah..... back when I played baseball and we all wore a jockstrap and cup, I remember hearing folks talk about their sons being galled'd....... it was something to do with irritation around the nether regions caused by being sweaty, being active, and being chaffed around the nutsack region due to wearing a cup..."........

.... "good god....... I had a woman come in today to tell me that her husband needed medication because he had been 'galleded' while working in the fields...... I had no idea what to say to her..... I'd never even heard of the word before.... I mean, gall?..... galled?....... and then galled'ed?...... what the hell?........

....... so, being just as curious (and confused) as she was, I wandered off to find my giant copy of the Oxford American English Dictionary...... and what I found shocked us both....... check this out, hammerheads........ the multiple definitions of the world "gall"......

gall

"sore spot on a horse," O.E. gealla "painful swelling," from L. galla "gall, lump on plant," originally "oak apple," of uncertain origin. Perhaps from or influenced by gall (1) on notion of "poison-sore." The verb meaning "to make sore by chafing" is from mid-15c.; figurative sense of "harass, irritate" is from 1570s. Related: Galled ; galling .

.... or even better, from websters.com....

gall definition Function: vt : to rub and wear away by friction : CHAFE loose saddle gall ed the horse's back>

...... the interesting thing is that this really IS an OLD word being used in modern times here in Appalachia........ our ancestors really were speakers of Old English, and Galled is just one of those words that has survived among the hillfolk here and died out in usage in England, Scotland, and Wales..........

.... that poor woman's husband had been working out in the heat and his nuts got galled'ed....... and that, is absolutely what happened to them...... and what is more?..... it is pretty close to being grammatically correct after 3-4 hundred years.........

....... fuck, that makes me proud to be from the East Tennessee hill country......... even if we DO spell things a bit differently than most folks..........

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Fireteams......

.... I'm up...... they see me..... I'm down...... fire three rounds and wait for squad members to advance beyond me....... I'm up..... they see me..... I'm down....... rinse & repeat....

... mercy.....

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Descriptions....

..... more on watching television when you are blessed to have DirecTV....... behold The Descriptions, fellow travelers....... I found these while strolling through the living room over the past few days....

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... and a few days later?....... this?!...

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.... methinks they be smoking some weed at DirecTV Central....... either that, or there are a LOT of weird-assed movies that I have never seen before....

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Sardines.....

.... well, the whittling continues apace around here... and so far it is appearing that it'll likely be some kind of penguinesque statuette that emerges..... imagine that, eh?........

....... but in other news, I cannot describe just how crestfallen I am to report that I haven't seen hide nor hair of my skunk visitor since de-mothballing the .22 magnum, sighting in the scope at 50 meters, and procuring a tin of sardines at the local Save-a-Lot yesterday afternoon....

..... you know, I've never killed a skunk before..... and I've never really held a grudge against any skunk in particular.... I've smelled lots of them, sure, but I've never been sprayed...... never had a doggie slink home bearing the evil funk of having tangled with one the night before..... hell, I've never even been a party to a vehicular homicide of a wayward skunk..... and yet...... and yet...... something deep inside me is more than just a little bit disappointed at the disappearance of that cat-food stealing skunk.....

.... perhaps it was the challenge of seeing if I could cap him without him finding a chance to spray...... then again, maybe my bloodlust has just gone too long without being slaked by the sacrificial life force of a cute, forest dwelling critter..... good lord, God knows I haven't drawn a deadly bead on anything larger than a squirrel in over 10 months.... something's gotta give, rubberneckers........

..... who ever knew that Pepe LePew could cause such a skew in my perspective of view......

.... mercy, that was bad......

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Pepe.....

..... strange things are afoot in the wind, rubberneckers.......

.... and indeed, this very late-morning I spied this particular sight through the window of the door that leads out to the garage......

.... Fred and Bob were asleep on the pool table while this little fellow chow'd down on their kitty nibbles from less than fifteen feet away.....

... check it out....

skunk.jpg

... and THAT, my dazzling urbanites, is certainly not a kitty cat....

.... the most horrible thing about this situation, actually, is that when I made an attempt to scare it away from breakfast it disappeared in a flash..... straight under my upright gun safe...... ten seconds later I saw a pink nose flash out, give a few whiffs, and then it was right back to breakfast.......

..... but, wow, my gun safe?....... is nothing sacred in this world any longer?......

.... how big do they make mouse traps anyway?.....

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Tales....

.... it is no secret around my neck of the woods that my family's bullshitting lying story telling skillz border on the epic..... mostly on my Mother's side of the family, of course..... my Father wasn't much of a storyteller unless it was a bedtime story.... and then?.... good god, he'd get so engrossed in a story that my Mother would end up wandering through near midnight to drag him off to bed...... Eric the Red and his sidekick, Toothless the Alligator were always the ones that enjoyed making up best.... Eric owned a grape vine, you see..... and Toothless could only eat grapes due to his teeth all having fallen out..... anyway, you get the point...... Eric and Toothless were the bestest of pals and got into all kinds of adventures...

... but on my Mother's side of the family, I grew up listening to the Uncles on that side spin some real, out-of-this-world doozies..... my Father would just squat down by the fire or swing, smoke his cigarette, and grin as he listened..... knowing good and well that what was going on around him was pure Entertainment and definitely NOT meant to be taken as The Truth...... and I like to think that I learned more from him than I did my Uncles when it came to telling tales....

... there is a time and a place for everything, I suppose..... and just trust me, no one on this earth can tell a story like a Southerner when he has a rapt audience and the correct props - a covered swing, a few shade trees, and a pint of moonshine (or a gallon of sweet tea - depending on the time of day and if there happen to be children present.).....

... this past Independence Day found most of my Mother's siblings gathered with their various broods at HER house for hotdogs, pulled pork sandwiches, swimming in the pool, etc... and while the wives lazed by the pool reading their magazines and the children splashed in and out of the pool, the menfolk, as usual, gravitated towards the old covered swing that my Father had made.... and it was there that the bullshit began to be spread thick and fast....

.... I did learn one thing this year, though..... and honestly, it had never really crossed my mind before (and it should have), but telling yarns is a Generational thing.... see, one can only tell a lie so many times before the audience can clue in, butt in, and then re-tell it better than The Teller was doing.... for some reason, that had never been truly shined out to me until this past 4th of July......

.... my Uncle Jim and Uncle Tony (fully ensconced in the swing with legs crossed) represented the "already been bullshitted" generation, and my young Cousin Calvin was telling a tale (as we'd all been basically taught to do.).....

Calvin: I was reading in the Vonore Democrat the other day that some fella had rented out a parcel of land around Loudon to do some deer huntin' on this fall..... the way I heard it, he'd strapped his chainsaw to his 4-wheeler and was clearing out the path up into the woods where he was going to put his stand.... anyway, he ran over this log and continued on his way...... a few hours later he headed back home came upon that log across the path again.... this time he decided to clear it away with his chainsaw...... and just as he cranked his saw, it MOVED!.... he sawed it in half and killed it.... evidently the guys at the University of Tennessee identified the remains as a 22-foot long anaconda!.....

Uncle Jim: ..... is that right?....

Calvin: Evidently...seems that after the folks identified it they gave it back to him and he disposed of it in the river...

Uncle Jim: .... I guess he didn't figure that anyone would be wanting to see the remains of a Volkswagen-eating snake from South America living right here in East Tennessee, eh?.....

Calvin: Guess not..... the paper didn't have any photos or anything... but they offered a thousand dollar reward for anyone who would bring in another specimen and let them photograph it....

... it was at this point that Uncle Jim stretched his back, spit, took a sip of sweet tea (it wasn't dark enough for the moonshine yet), and lit a cigarette......

Uncle Jim: ..... see, first off, I've heard variations of that story my whole damned life, Calvin..... it's interesting, sure.... it's mildly amusing, sure..... and it's completely un-provable - which is the most important part...... but, Goddamn, boy, if you're going to tell a good lie, then you have to sell it properly!...... for instance, you say he ran over it on the way UP the road?.... and it lay there waiting for him to come back?... to be run over again??..... c'mon, boy, use your noggin....... and just how do you think YOU would react if some redneck sidled up to you while you were lazing along a roadbed and decided to cut you in half with his chainsaw?..... wouldn't you wiggle just a bit, hmmm?.... or perhaps fucking FLEE?..... or maybe even try to bite the leg of that which was chainsawing you?...... I call bullshit on this one....Complete and Utter..... and damn, I wish it was dark enough to have a drink right about now......

Calvin: Well, maybe so, but that's what I heard read...

Uncle Jim: ..... well, if you're going to tell that story from now on, you need a bunch of better damned twists... and I mean a BUNCH.....

Uncle Tony: ... yeah, I'd ditch the whole chainsaw thing and say that he tripped over while walking up the path and ended up stabbing it to death with his car keys while he fought for his life...... hell, Calvin, ain't NOBODY going to believe that it lay there and let him cut it up with a chainsaw.....

Me: ...... that car keys idea is hardcore, Uncle Tony..... I'd have believed that....

Calvin: .... *leaning back on his rock and sipping more sweet tea looking a bit disgruntled*......

... and thus ended that vein of conversation for the evening..... I ended up taking the floor and yammering on about pachinko machines, but I believe that their listening abilities had gone off the boil by then..... but that was ok, really...... my stories seldom involve errant anacondas or chainsaws.....

... it's not that I can't make up a good lie when I want to, you know.... it's just that I find it too tiresome..... I'd much rather do like my Dad and just sit back and listen to them rather than make them up myself.........

..... I've never been much of a liar, I guess...... but I certainly appreciate an entertaining one when I find him... hell, I grew up in a whole NEST of them....... and it was a great way to grow up.....

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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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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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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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Average.....

... in just about every single respect that my mind can imagine, I am an average guy.... I'm of a roughly average height and weight for an American of my generation.....I am 6'2" tall and 195lbs, but that is nothing compared to the giants that the United States is currently spewing out......... hell, I have an average education...... I drive an average car, although I do love her deeply..... I'm a freckled red-head as well who happens to be from The South...... and I've actually been told (on more than one occasion) that I look like I just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting...... jeans, tee-shirt, sneakers or saddle-shoes, crewcut hair and usually sporting a sunburn...... that's me.......

...... I even have an average genealogy, I suspect...... 1/8th American Indian and the rest a mishmash of Scots, Irish, English, and German......maybe some French and Dutch thrown in for good measure?........

.... and all in all, among other things, I am probably the most average human being that you will ever meet in your life........ and really, I am quite ok with that...... I am a blue jean wearing, freckled, redhead with a crewcut and a slight Southern drawl........

.... but, anyway, I bring this up, mainly, because of a conversation that The Missus instigated two nights ago....... and it has been rattling around in my noggin for the better part of that time to a greater or lesser extent......

...... we'd been watching "The Two Jakes" after having a few cocktails, when she turned unexpectedly to me on the couch and said, "Tell me who you think is sexy!"....

.... I was, of course, rattled slightly..... especially since I had just witnessed the scene where Jake told his "client" to "turn around, get down on your knees, put your ass in the air, and don't move until I tell you to."........ I mean, can you imagine?..... good god, Mr. Nicholson's character saying that and unzipping his fly at the same time?..... are you fucking kidding?...... who on earth was more fucking sexy than that poor, horny, confused lass kneeling there with her skirt pulled up, her garters unclipped, and her gazing back at Nicholson while he chewed his cigarette and fumbled with his belt?..... Jesus Christ......

..... so, as you would in a situation like that, I queried further..... "what do you mean, dear?.... sexy?...... as in who is attractive?...... who is pretty?..... who I would want to fuck?...... what do you mean by sexy?.... you can't just ask a question like that and expect someone to start blurting out names, babe..... 'sexy' doesn't work that way...... you must clarify before I can even being to answer a question like that honestly.".....

.... she flopped back in the seat, crossed her arms, and then harrumphed rather loudly while I let my eyes drift back to the film on the television......

.... "Ok, then....tell me who you think is beautiful."

..... "There is a big, big difference between beautiful and being sexy, woman.... do you understand that?.... surely you must understand that....... do women not feel the same as men in this regard?".....

.... she stared at me for a moment, and then she answered...... "I think Pierce Brosnan is sexy..".....

...... I nodded, of course..... what else was I to do?..... he is a pretty man, sure....... and I know that many women must think of him as being quite the fella....... but, really?.... well, I have known grilled squid who appealed to me more on a "fundamental" level than that Nancy boy ever did......... so, I cleared my throat.....

.... "yes," I said, "I can see how you would think that he is a sexy man..... he looks good in a tuxedo, he is (or was) James Bond, and he does have a lovely accent...... sure, Pierce Brosnan..... cool...... "....

.... I left the conversation exactly at that..... I was finished and had nothing further to add.... .but then she asked me again....... "so, who do YOU think is sexy?".......

..... I was beginning to feel a bit out of sorts by the questioning, I guess...... and then I finally just said, "look, sexy is not a thing..... sexy is not A Body...... sexy is not a piece of meat to be used however you see fit...... Sexy is a State Of Mind, woman.... sure, there are people that I can see and admire..... and there are women that I can look at and enjoy viewing...... BUT, do I consider them sexy?.... no...... I do not....... for me to consider anyone "sexy" means that I not only enjoy what I see, BUT that I also know them.... I know what is on their mind... I know how they think.... I know what they want...... sure, in some cases we transpose our own ideas onto how someone might be if we ever met them, but in all of those cases the MIND is involved......... Sexy does not - and never will - simply equate to someone being a perfectly proportioned piece of meat...."....

... and then, yet again, she pushed me...... "so, using your definition, who do you find attractive?.... who do you think is the perfect woman?.... Angelina Jolie?..... Michele Pfeiffer?...... who?..... "

...... and to be honest, it took me a very, very long time to answer her that last time..... and the whole time that I was thinking, I knew that she had missed the point entirely.....

.... finally I said, "well, if you were to ask me who the most attractive woman in the world is, I would have to say Liz Taylor at 18 years of age..... when she played opposite Paul Newman in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"..... good god, she was perfect.... "

... "Ok.... I agree that Liz Taylor was gorgeous when she was young..... but who else?".....

... and thus began the litany of attractive females that I was forced to list........ some of which might amuse you, and some of which might horrify you as much as they did The Missus.... but, either way, here they are.......

... Donna Reed in "It's a Wonderful Life"...... can you not just imagine Jimmy Stewart making her toes curl once they'd put the kids to bed and the fire was lit, and the Angel had paid all the bank's bills?..... good god, I bet he nailed the living shit out of Donna after Kapra yelled 'cut'......can you imagine?.... I bet she was an absolute tiger when the lights went down..... did I just ruin your next Christmas evening's family entertainment?..... I certainly hope not, because, well, what I said is most likely the complete and honest truth.......

.... Liz Taylor in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"... hey, statement of fact, people..... NO ONE wears a neck-length haircut like she does in that movie.... and no one wears a little white slip like she does either, if my mind recollects correctly......... and her neck is a thing of absolute beauty... good god, a well turned neck is something to behold...... too bad Brick was gay, eh?.... otherwise he would have noticed the gentle swell of her hips and how that fabric clung to her at each movement instead of haranguing Big Daddy during his final hours...... but, well, that's Tennessee Williams for you....... in retrospect, it is a Grand Wonder that they cast Liz Taylor in that role to begin with.......

.... if Williams had has his way, I suspect Liz would have been a lot more butch......... but, I digress.....

.... Marilyn Monroe when she was stuck half-way in and half-way out of that porthole in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"...... (I have never been much of a blonde fan myself, but having those ends of Marilyn hanging in mid-air and helpless?... immobilized, even?.... well, good god..... the possibilities are absolutely endless...) ..... that scene, in itself, is the Singular moment in most men's young lives when they truly wish that they could bend time, space, and physical boundaries and REALLY be in two places at one time........ and those two times would be on either side of that bulkhead where she was dangling, dear friends.......... BOTH sides......

... next up, Nancy Travis in "Three Men and a Little Lady"........ hey, who doesn't like a cute, well-groomed MILF?...... and she had a sweetness about her that just made you want to bring her buttered toast in bed every morning after she had put up with your snoring all night long....... there is just something about her that makes her seem like Mom, you know?....... well, not YOUR Mom..... but that cute, sexy Mom of your best friend who always patted your head and gave you an extra cheese sandwich before she secured your floaties and pushed you off into the swimming pool......... the swimming pool of life, as it turns out, but still, you are both there in recent memory...... AND she put up living with Three Men..... so, that also insinuates a bit of a kinky side to ole Nancy......

..... and we cannot forget a very recent addition either.... on Miss Katherine Heigl in "The Ugly Truth"....... god, when she is wearing the remote control vibrating kickers at the business dinner party?....... and the toddler finds - and starts pushing the buttons on the remote control?....... well, that particular scenario is just beyond words........ losing control - or giving up control - has got to be one of the sexiest things EVER........ right?........ sexy is all about the Trust and the Giving.... and the Letting Go......... trust me..... I've owned many of Milo Manara's original artworks for years - and I have thoroughly enjoyed them, but that scene from "The Ugly Truth" and the first of his graphic novels in the "Click" series?...... well, let me just say that whomever wrote "The Ugly Truth" must also be a huge closet Milo Manara fan......... because, really, he certainly deserves the credit for the whole "Click" scene.....

....and Penelope what's-her-name from "Kindergarten Kop"...... you know, the school teacher with the flower-patterned skirt and the curly reddish-blonde hair?......... she looked so adorably innocent even though she was a bad girl underneath........ good god...... what kind of a school teacher marries a gangster, flees for her life, and then falls in love with Arnold Schwarzenegger?...... still, she did look a bit like a librarian..... and, well, I have always had a thing for them.......

.... see?..... what is pretty?...... what is beautiful?...... and what is sexy?....... to be honest, I think the last of my references fucked The Missus up the most, but really, in what way should I really care about this whole circumstance to begin with?......... who we want, what we want, and WHY we want it is all in the eye of the beholder, yes?....

.... I could name a million people (men and women) that I think are handsome or beautiful..... and I could probably name ten women off the top of my head that I think are sexy..... and believe it or not, most of the ten women that I would name as being sexy would never appear on the "beautiful" list....... these two thing may be the same from time to time, but they are NOT always exclusive........

.... for each of us there is A One who we cling to, crave, want, and long for...... and as the tides of things come and go, we see handsome men and women - and we recognize them...... and we see sexy women and men....... and we notice them as well......... but really, for me at least, no matter what comes and does as the scene of my life rolls by, there will always be only one........

..... some women are sexually attracted to men that most would see as average...... but in spite of their overall looks, they might have a smell, a manner of dress, a way of talking, a sense of humor, a look, a way of carrying themselves, or another kind of trigger that makes them look a bit sideway at them and say, 'hmm'...... so how can one quantify that?.... I think Mr. Normal over there is quite the sexy beast."..... the powers of attraction are still a curious thing to both man AND woman, folks, but yet, there they are.......

.... I know that I am rambling, but really, this is something that I have been thinking about for a very long time.......

.... look, you can be the prettiest girl in the world, or the most handsome man in the world, but that doesn't mean that you are worth the time for a good, hard fuck..... beauty is something that is transitory with time, folks......... but sexy?...... sexy is something that you will have with you for the rest of your life......

.... sexy is not a look, friends....... Sexy is an attitude...... and those of us who have seen it will never, ever forget it........ good god, those of us who have seen it first hand will never, EVER forget it.....

.... True Love is life-changing.......

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Dead.....

...... tomorrow would have been John Wayne's 103rd birthday - had he still been alive today..... and tomorrow as well, I guess, since I chose that particular way to compose the odd sentence above.......

..... but anyway, you get the point...... had his Great Personage not been whisked away from us all so long ago - and in such an untimely manner (as I am sure he would agree readily himself if his tongue hadn't already liquefied decades ago), he'd have been 103 tomorrow.....

..... but, sadly, he IS dead, after all....

..... however, that does not necessarily mean that we cannot still celebrate his birthday tomorrow with happy festivities, fireworks, picnics, and such..... god knows that I certainly will......

... I remember a time when one of my old Marine Corps buddies came to visit me in Scotland after we'd both de-mobbed from the Corps...... he'd just suffered through a heavy dose of jetlag, and when he finally emerged from the spare bedroom I greeted him with breakfast, a pint of McEwan's, and a promise of an old John Wayne movie to wake him up and put him in the right frame of mind for exploring Scotland...... well, he ate the breakfast, downed the pint, and then baulked at the idea of watching a Duke flick....... I did my best to assure him that he'd enjoy it, but he was a dyed-in-the-wool Clint Eastwood fan and didn't agree.....

.... I chose "Cahill, U.S. Marshall" that morning, and after the opening credits he was a born again fan of John Wayne.......

.... he actually sat in my living room - after the opening credit scene finished playing - and said, "I always thought Wayne was just a washed up old fat man....... but that scene?...... that's possibly the best opening scene for a Western that I have ever seen....." ....

.... and frankly, I could not agree with him more....... so, here it is....

..... Happy Birthday, John Wayne....... wherever you are, I hope that there are giant barrels of tequila and lots of dusky maidens to pour it for you.........

.... and for what it's worth, I wish you'd made it to one hundred and three......

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Vacating.....

... the time has arrived - once again - for me to jet off for a few days in Royal Deeside... the in-law's Hilton-run timeshare is calling..... we're then heading back to The Missus' hometown - Montrose - for a few days.... and then we're off for two nights in Glasgow before heading back to Tennessee....

.... so, y'all play nice, keep your powder dry, have fun, and remember not to feed the animals..... it's a jungle out there...

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Jays.....

.... every spring for the past ten years we have had the hummingbirds here..... emerald and ruby-throated, they have always formed two camps - with our hummingbird feeder providing the focus of both of their nests.......

.... the one who usually nests in the back yard has always chosen the lowest boughs of a tulip poplar not far from my patio, and he is usually the most aggressive...... and in the front - closest to the feeder - his sister and son-in-law have always chosen the leafy folds of an aging dogwood to build their home for the summer.....

.... it has been a great treat to watch them tangle as they joust for the first tastes of sugar-water that our little 1.5 acres affords them as they travel north-to-south...... in truth, the feeder is actually just three feet from the living room window, so I can easily see them as they feed......

..... this year, however, something new has happened........

..... the backyard usual has arrived and pitched camp..... but the family who normally sets up in the dogwood out front is not present.......... dead, most likely...... victims of any number of scary things that might have happened to them as they made their way from Tennessee to Mexico last autumn........

..... but instead?..... a brand new family of birds that I have never seen before have taken up residence..... and while not hummingbirds (they actually fly like normal birds, but are just about the size of hummingbirds) they have built a bowl-like nest near the top of the same dogwood that the hummingbirds used.......

.... the difference is, I suppose, that the hummingbirds only created a nest the size of half of a chicken egg...... and these little fellows are guarding a nest the size of half a baseball........

.... two weeks ago I had been working on a piece of cedar in the front yard when I first noticed the commotion above me...... and as I glanced up from my carving, I saw the two tiny birds.... they were chirping at each other..... and at first I imagined that they were arguing......... spring it was, after all...... but after an hour of watching, I realized that they were talking...... and that they were each arriving on their branch with stuff to build a nest......

.... over the last two weeks, I have watched them through my binoculars attempt, work, and complete the nest that they were aiming for..... and I have been very impressed with what they have done....... good god, can you imagine what a chore it must be to be driven by nature to work, work, work, stress, and toil in such a way?...... and hell, these are just Beasts of The Field........ I cannot imagine how much I would toil if it were my OWN children that I were building and working for......... but, that is another mater.......

..... in any case, as I sat watching zombie movies today, I noticed that a blue jay had zoned in on the tiny birds nest........ and he/she was sitting on a branch not five feet from where their freshly laid eggs were being cuddled by that little nest of theirs......

..... I immediately got up and fetched the shotgun that I use for turkey hunting, slipped a round from the stock- holder into the magazine, and stepped out onto my front lawn..... I looked up at the blue jay, and it gazed down at me......... and while I knew that it was at such an angle as to not be safely fireable (due to my neighbors), I pressed the release and racked a round into the chamber....... as soon as I did that, the evil, predatory, cantankerous bird took flight.......

..... I stood there for another ten minutes - watching it wander from branch to branch just of out range - while the little parents of the eggs/birds that I was defending flitted too and fro between me and my blue jay.......

.... the blue jay eventually left, and the parents came home to their child/children, albeit unborn.......

....... two things stuck me most, I guess, as the day passed as I described above........ number one?...... the looks on the faces of the drivers of the two cars that passed through my cul-de-sac as I stood in the middle of my lawn with a loaded 12 gauge - peering up at the oak tree that borders my property to the north......... god, they must have thought that I was nuts.......... and it must have made them give a second thought about who it IS that lives with them in their little community.....

.... and secondly, well, just how much I hate blue jays......... they are bullies, thieves, and murderers....... I do believe that I wrote about how many I killed one year when I was just little...... but, wow, how I do so hate blue jays and all that they represent.......

..... predators are not allowed on my property....... around here, I am the only predator..... and I get to choose........

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Focus.....

...... for those of you who think that I can't shoot, I offer you this little clip from a few years ago........

..... the balloon was about the size of a grapefruit.... and it was stapled to a cross tie at thirty paces....... there were three balloons stapled to the cross tie...... I was aiming at the one in the middle...... watch closely.... and hey, the "maximum effective range" of the weapon I was firing is only listed at 50 meters...... I call that bullshit....... I can ding a torso (or scare the living hell out of it) at nearly 100 meters with that little gun......

..... anyway, I was sporting a Taurus AFD-92 at the time..... the "click" that you hear before the round goes off is me dropping the slide and chambering a round....... I reckon that the whole video only lasts about two seconds........

.... check this out.... a 9mm in action.....

.... god, it makes me want to go out to the range again........ it truly does.....

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Shallow......

..... every day that you turn on the television, what do you see?..... crime, corruption, devilishness, sin, evil, lust...... and after a while, you get the feeling that you are incapable of escaping the Trundling Machine of Evil..... where is God when you need the fellow?.......

... it seems to be everywhere... in the streets, in the towns, covering the countryside... and what do you do?...... you either arm yourself and prepare for the worst, or you retreat into your inner sanctum and pray that it will all just go away....... perhaps some superhero will arrive, Mr. Smith will be dug up by a musty old Frank Capra, or The Politicians and Criminals will suddenly grow a conscience and Make Things Right....... but, whatever happens, you know that you will always have your own little slice of normality behind your own closed doors.......... your haven........

.... but just then?..... just when you feel safe in your soft, warm, comfy inner sanctum, you stroll through the living room to find scenes such as this, and your heart just drops.......

robbery_small.jpg

.... indeed, folks, after the new floor install a few days ago, I caught Bobafett robbing E. A. Poe at plasma-rifle point in the sanctity of my own living room.......

...... what IS this world coming to, folks?........

.... I love Boba, of course, and his fanatic loyalty to The Empire, but damn.... hell, I've been there........ but one cannot help - in these economic climes - to wonder just how far The Empire will go to silence such voices as Poe and others..... our world does need free-thinkers, after all....... without poets, writers, and artists, would we not be dead?....... figuratively, if not literally.......

.... it's hard to believe that this scene actually took place in MY house, of all places....... and yet, it is in store for all of us if we aren't very, very careful......... VERY careful........

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Turns.....

.... invited The Sainted Mother over for dinner this evening, and everyone ate their fill happily...... slow roasted ham, Amish green beans canned from last year, mashed potatoes, and a fresh salad with crumbled bacon, olives, and sliced grapes........

...... God only knows the bowel movements we'll all have tomorrow, but the grub was certainly good here tonight........

..... I have to admit in being slightly evil today, though....... for as the hour of Sainted Momma's arrival neared, I muted the television and guided the channel setting to SyFy.... you should have seen the look on her face as we parlayed our pre-dinner talk in the silence of the newly re-floored living room - our voices echoing slightly as we spoke..... and all the while "deranged West Virginian cannibals" slashed throats, wrists, and just generally gnawed upon a diverse group of Waspish urbanites who had taken a "wrong turn"......

...... of course, she still ate a hearty portion of the baked ham though....... even in spite of me filling our salad-preparing time with silenced images of freakish ghouls......

.... ole Mom, she is a trooper...... how she has put up with me all these years is a Mystery for The Ages.........

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Wooden......

..... it has been a busy slip of a day around The Compound today, and my living room is now sporting a brand spanking new door, side light, and frame..... and I must say that I do like it so far...... hey, it's nice to have a few sheets of stained glass to gaze upon while one lounges on the couch with cocktails in the evening.....

... and tomorrow the hardwood pixies show up to install my new oaken floor..... and they should be finished by Friday afternoon..... the late evening light coming through the cut glass of the door and side panel was beautiful today......

.... I'm tired though..... weary, even...... I'm finding it increasingly difficult to write offline or on, and time keeps ticking...... I fear that my muse is curling, drying up, and wishing the wind would catch her up and take her farther away from me and my keyboard than she already is....... and I honestly don't understand what I did to run her off........ oh, and I keep catching myself whistling that Vedder song that I posted a few days ago.... whistling the lyrics, not the tune..... I want, I want, I want......... damn....

... I think I need to throw a party.....

... or blow something up.......

.... or maybe both?.....

.... before I know it, I will be back in Scotland driving across the Cairngorms in search of ham & cheese paninis, a warm corner of a pub, and baguettes filled with Candy's Cajun turkey, cheese, and diced onions......

... man, I really need one of those Candy's sandwiches tonight....

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Easter....

.... today I ate my Easter lunch out of a communal wheelbarrow while the kiddies hunted frantically for Easter eggs............ fuck, I so love Tennessee........ I can't believe that I stayed away for as long as I did........

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Cellophane....

...... have you ever wondered what you'd do if you suddenly found yourself in possession of some sandwich ham, Dijon mustard, a filet steak, a bit of black pepper, half a stick of butter, a large handful of mushrooms, a clove of garlic, some frozen puff pastry dough, an egg, and a piece of cellophane?.....

..... me?.... hey, I often find myself pondering just such eventualities whilst going about my day..... and since I do enjoy being a helpful fellow from time to time, I'll go ahead and share......

... now, if you ever do find yourself in a room with all of those items mentioned above, here is a small suggestion of what you should probably do to keep from being bored.....

... take the garlic, butter, and black pepper and throw it all in a hot skillet for a while..... then mince up your mushrooms until you get tired of chopping..... (my right arm is quite strong, actually, so I spent a considerable time chopping the Hades out of my mushrooms.).... once they are chopped to your satisfaction, toss them in the skillet with the garlic and cook'em.....

... take the piece of cellophane and lay it down nice and straight on your kitchen counter/table/etc... (unless you are preparing this in another room of the house, of course, then you'll just need to find yourself a flat, hard, clean surface.) .... anyway, once it is down, layer your sandwich ham like so.....

wellington1_small.jpg

.... allow your garlic'd mushrooms to cool... once cooled, spread them over the ham like so.....

wellington2_small.jpg

.... pepper down your filet steak and then coat it liberally with your Dijon mustard.... and then position like so.....

wellington3_small.jpg

.... now, ever-so-carefully roll (using the cellophane to help) roll your ham around your steak.... transfer your naked Wellington to a baking tray and drape it with your puff pastry - making sure to wrap it around your naked Wellington entirely..... take the egg and whip it lustily until you are satisfied that it is properly punished..... then coat your Wellington with it...... if you are fairly good at following directions now, it should look something like this......

wellington4_small.jpg

... now, bake that baby at 425 for about 30 minutes......

..... and with any luck, it should look quite similar to this.......

wellington5_small.jpg

.... and the inside?..... mmmm......

wellington6_small.jpg

... nice, eh?..... endless variations on a theme, gentle rubberneckers, endless.......

.... and now you know how to make a Poor Man's Beef Wellington.....

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Ham....

... well, The Missus just finished her weekly phonecon with The In-laws..... and it appears that we'll be whipping through Scotland again for a fortnight this May, and Italy for a fortnight in September..... mercy.... I've never been to Italy before.... but I imagine that it is quite beautiful.... I wonder how many of the locals will habla the old ingles parlare degli inglesi?......

..... personally, I can't wait for science to start in on the really important things in life and create us a babblefish that doesn't make your ear feel too weird.....

.... then again, I've managed to point and grunt my way across most of Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, France, and a little bit of Germany without speaking their languages, starving to death, OR failing to find a beer when one was necessitated..... I can't imagine that Italy will be much different, but hey, I have been wrong before.....

... in other news, don't forget that episode 3 of "The Pacific" is on HBO tonight at 9 EST.... if you enjoyed "Band of Brothers" or "Saving Private Ryan", I highly suggest you not miss tonight's showing..... it is - quite literally - a show that everyone should watch before they die..... we all need to know just exactly what those Marines did on those islands for us, for them, and for the rest of the world....

.... and so with that, I'm off to cook dinner..... salt-cured country ham, biscuits, butter, and sharp cheddar cheese....... yummy, folks, trust me...... and hey, who says you can't have ham biscuits for dinner anyway?

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Losing....

..... here's a short clip of my buddy Gary - mentioned in the post below - kicking my ass back in July of 2007....... anyone want to play "name that tune"?........

.... youtube is in high def now, so feel free to crank the volume and expand to see everything just that little bit larger......

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Audi.....

..... I tooled up to Knoxville yesterday to drop Blanche off for her 5,000 mile spa treatment at Harper Audi, and ended up chatting with one of their salesmen for a few minutes...... I'd been over checking out the new A5 two-door coupe (along with a few of the new Porsche models that they had on display), and I happened to tell the guy how much I was looking forward to going inside the showroom and gazing upon their Audi R-8....

... yo, Denny?.... Yabu?.... have you two nuts seen this on TV yet?...

... anyway, the salesman went on to tell me that I was out of luck in regards to the R-8 viewing..... it seems that they had a fellow order one pre-production two years ago, and after driving it for a month or two he realized just how "in demand" they were... so he took the 145K Audi back to the dealership and had them try to sell it for him..... and they did....... with him making a cook 40K over what he had paid for the car in comfy profit......

.... evidently Audi doesn't produce that many of the R-8s... and only 250 of them were imported into the US last year.......

.... but wow, can you imagine buying a car, and then turning around immediately and selling it for forty grand more than you paid for it?.... evidently the waiting list for the R-8 was so long back then, that people were more willing to pay an extra 40K over dealer markup rather than sit around for 18 months waiting for theirs to be delivered....

.... amazing......

.... as for me, I think I'll stick with my little A4 Cabriolet, Blanche, thank you very much...... at least for the meantime, I mean...... that A5 looked pretty nifty yesterday...... we shall see...

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Arms.....

..... so, The Sainted Mother is off to the local sawbones tomorrow morning to endure a day-surgery that is to be performed on her left arm.... and she is a hardcore southpaw, so this could be interesting for the next few days........

.... I called her this afternoon to ask her the particulars, and she queried thusly:

SM: "My sister is picking me up tomorrow morning, driving me down, and waiting for the surgery to finish... and then I will be staying with her for a few days."

Me:..... "...that's excellent, Mom!... I will give you a call tomorrow evening to see how you're feeling, ok?".....

SM: "Ok. Are you coming down to sit tomorrow?"....

Me: .... "ummm.... no, I hadn't planned on it..... why?..... Kathy will be there, right?"...

SM: "Well, yeah. But I thought you might like to come along for moral support for me."

Me: .... "Mom, you're going to be unconscious."

SM: "Heh! Just you wait until something happens and you need to go to the doctor!.. I'm going to say, 'What? Hey, you are in GREAT hands with the Doctor there! You don't need me there!'"

Me: ....".... and that'd be just fine, Mom..... hey, good luck tomorrow!"....

SM: "Harrumph."

..... I suspect that plans are afoot to write my narrow ass out of the will as I type this.......

.... in completely unrelated news though, I read today that today - March 9th - is the 65th anniversary of the firebombing of Tokyo during WWII..... check this out - it's from one of those little "This Day in History" calendars that I got for Christmas this year...

On this day in 1945, U.S. warplanes began a new and deadly bombing mission against Japan, dropping two thousand incendiary bombs on Tokyo within forty-eight hours. The firebombing of the Japanese capital incinerated 16 square miles, killing between 80,000 and 100,000 Japanese civilians. Earlier that morning U.S. General Curtis LeMay told his men that they were going to "deliver the biggest firecracker the Japanese had ever seen." Before the raid, crews had stripped each of the B-29 Superfortress bombers of all their guns - except the turret gun - to increase each plane's bomb load capacity by 65 percent. The raid lasted more than three hours. The air crews could smell the sickening stench of burning flesh as they completed their mission.

.... payback for Pearl Harbor was done in spades, spades, and double spades......

..... and for those of you who thought 'Band of Brothers' was amazing, 'The Pacific' begins this Sunday at 9pm...... and it promises to be one of the most amazing real-life dramas ever done regarding warfare....... personally, having read Sledge's book AND "Helmet for my Pillow" ages ago, I cannot wait to see them put on film..... the combat in the Pacific was completely different than the march across Europe...... if you've never read Sledge's book - and you want to know what history is all about - I suggest you do yourself a favor and read it.... slowly.... and more than once.....

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Tongues......

..... a week ago I discovered that I had a happy family of black carpenter ants making their way into my spare bedroom for late-nite drinks of water..... and while I do consider myself a most gracious host who truly enjoys entertaining visitors of all kinds, I just couldn't abide with them munching away on my flooring joists & bunking in my insulation uninvitedly....... and so, as you do, I rang up the local exterminator-type folks........

...... and upon their arrival at The Compound here, I was sheepishly told that I am also harboring a healthy family of termites as well..... Marvon's verdict?....... a cool 700 bones to rid myself of every manner of creepy-crawly that one can imagine might one day in the future harsh my proverbial mellow....

...... who knew that a couple thousand million insects could create such a havoc?..... and I'm not 100% sure, but I bet that I could probably have myself drop-shipped an anteater from Darkest Africa for less than 700 bucks.....

.... or maybe get one of you Texican readers to mail me an armadillo.... don't those things eat ants and termites?.... hell, I could just lock it in the crawlspace and let it nibble itself all the ants and termites it could locate.....

.... I wonder what kind of license one would need to own an African anteater anyway.......

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Time....

.... I've spent the last couple days of My Great Sickness going through some old family albums, reading, writing, and thinking......

... and at the end of the day?.... well, not much has come out of it except that I now realize that I was a complete redhead from day number one....... hey, I'm a 1972 model - and my little brother is a 77 model....... so, that makes me 6 years old in this winter picture..... and that makes my little brother about 1 and a half.....

brothers_small.jpg

.... oh, my how the times have changed....... it's quite sad at times, I guess........ but it is still nice to look back on gentler times, and see me holding his hand and smiling..........

..... photos, folks....... snapshots of life can make you happy, and blow your mind at the same time......... in a snapshot, we are forever frozen as We Were.......

.... but the Lens of Time shows us many different things........

....... I love old photographs, really....... they are full of What Might Have Been...... and I love to look at that Idea and wonder........

... and tonight?...... well, I wonder what the hell he was looking at while I smiled at the camera......

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Local...

..... I spent most of yesterday sitting on the couch exercising my sneezing muscles and watching the Olympics on NBC while surrounded by huge piles of damp tissues.... it was not a pretty sight, I assure you.......... but I swear, I watched the women's 30K cross country and was absolutely amazed.... it was a honest to goodness "photo finish"....

.... and I even found myself - albeit in a Sudafed clouded haze - completely digging the women's pursuit skating team finals.... all dolled up in those crazy, skin-tight body suits with bulging thighs and mirrored sunglasses.... and then to watch them glide around the rink in unison?... it was surreal.... all I could think of was the sensation of watching geese in flight..... at one point between body-rocking sneezes I even caught myself gently swaying from left to right.... sorta like a charmed King Cobra in one of those 50's Stewart Granger flicks where he's marching through some African jungle in search of treasure... Sudafed and team skating should not be mixed, folks.... and when that German lady fell and "swam" across the finish line?.... good lord, I could hardly believe my eyes..... hey, it's no wonder that they make crystal meth out of Sudafed.....

.... anyway, I do seem to be feeling a bit better today..... which is good since today seems to be fully booked.....

... one of the interesting side effects of watching the Olympics has been that we've tuned to our "local" NBC station to catch the programming.... and as such, we've been bombarded by thousands of advertisements that we normally never catch - local advertisements - ranging from Billy Bob's Contracting Company, to new restaurants that we'd never even heard of....

.... so today we're off to lunch at a new French restaurant in Cleveland, TN called "Le Place".... and then off to the movies to catch a matinee of "The Werewolf".......

..... I plan on leaving a trail of soggy tissues to and from both establishments.... hey, having a cold can be the perfect example of Mind over Matter, you know?..... if you don't mind?..... then it doesn't matter......

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Repost.....

.... no words tonight, folks...... I have been too sick over the past two days to sit at the keyboard for any length of time without coating it with a thick sheen of mucus from my hyper-frequent sneezes to do anyone any good....... but still, I have been reading.... and I stumbled upon this missive from September 2007 tucked away in the archives, and I thought it fitting.......

..... and so, since I am sick, please humor me........ and so, I give you "Shelled" from 2007......

. during the course of my latest travels, I visited many beautiful and intriguing places. but really & truthfully I only had one true mission for this trip. and that was to visit a tiny German village that sits just across the border from Luxemburg where my Grandfather was captured on December 16th, 1944. Actually, it was the whole reason that we visited the Ardennes & Low Countries instead of doing like we usually do and just hitting Scotland.

. So after a restful day and night in Bastogne, the whole family, sans the Mother-in-Law, daytripped out in Duncans Mercedes to try and find Winterspelt. with me navigating in the front passenger seat..

the Michelin map that I had was a bit old, and it wasnt long before I realized that the easiest way to the dot on the map was by taking B-roads instead of the looping, interchanging, dull-as-hell motorways.

. And it did make for a more interesting journey taking those roads less traveled.. and we spent the better part of two hours speeding through the rolling countryside of Luxemburg dodging cows, tractors, and logging trucks.. at one point, we took a right instead of a left and ended up winding down a steep gravel road through thick forest and crossing a wooden bridge at the bottom of the hill that spanned a small stream. which, as luck would have it, that little creek represented the border.

. and as we slowly climbed out of the creek-bed & rattled across the rickety bridge, we were then in Germany.. and Winterspelt sat half a mile away on the top of the nearest ridge..

there wasnt much there, really. a row of farm houses, a catholic church, a hotel, a pub & restaurant, a pre-school not even a gas station there was a roadsign though pointing the way towards St. Vith I took a photo.

. My Grandpas name was Carl Hull and he was 20 years old when he was captured he died in 1988 and I only remember a few of the stories that he told me when I was a kid.but I always remembered the name of the towns where hed been when he was overseas.. I guess that I was just curious about the war and tried to pry the history out of him. But either way, I always remembered what hed told me. each little story stuck in its own little way..

. He told me that he was captured at daybreak on the 16th of December by a group from the Volksgrenadiers. All between the ages of 16 & 17. He claimed that their ages were the only thing that saved him and the rest of his mortar team.. that if theyd not been children, theyd have killed them instead of taking them prisoner. Looking at the facts now, it seems hard to imagine that a 20-year old is much more or less of a child than someone of 16, but those were the words he said and he was there.. I have a much longer lens to see things from, I guess and truly, I cant even imagine what it must have been like to be there.

. He said that hed been wounded in the foot by shrapnel just before the daylight of his capture no blood, just a smashing wound that broke the arch of his right foot. And that they were marched 90km eastward to the small town of Limburg, Germany and held at Stalag 12. And there they remained until the Russians liberated them in April of 45he said that hed used an M-1 rifle with the bolt taken out as a crutch while he marched through the snow. he said that when he landed in France he weighed 196lbs and when he made it back to Great Britain he weighed 98lbs

it was strange to visit there

. We parked and headed our separate ways once wed arrived I made a bee-line straight to the church and snapped a few more photographs..

.. hed said that theyd been hit first during the initial push and had fallen back into the village from their pickets.. and later they were forced to evacuate from there as well and were captured after running out of ammo and mortar rounds in a ditch on the outskirts of the village..

. The church intrigued me more than any other building, actually. It was built from the huge stone blocks that are typical of the mid 1880s style, and it was pockmarked high and low by shrapnel-scars.. even though every other building was newly-spackled, newly-painted, or newly-built, it was obvious from the tears and abrasions on the church that this little village had seen serious shelling once upon a time. there were few people on the streets as I walked around, but I found the churchs door to be unlocked. A catholic thing, evidently, leaving the church doors unlocked at all hours so that wandering people could meander in and pray.. so I walked in and sat down at a pew.

everything everywhere was calm, serene, clean, and quiet.from the pews to the Saints. to the flowers at the lectern.. it was a typical country-church that one might find in a thousand villages throughout Europe. And yet it mesmerized me more than any of the grand cathedrals that I had visited before a simple place where no doubt my young Grandpa had been long, long ago. scared, angry, and resolute. more scared than anything, I suspect.....

. my goodness I could write more, I guess, but I dont feel like it my inspiration has been silenced for the night but itll be back in the morning..

. But I will post the photos of Winterspelt tomorrow.. with no words there is no need for words, really.. it is just a place. A church with a few buildings surrounding it. but I was there.. and I will show you guys what I saw

...... I guess that I've just had Patton, Hodge, and The Battle of The Bulge on the brain today.......... and, of course, the cold............

.... I feel another sneeze coming on!.......

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Scents.....

..... so I walk into the mall today, make my way to the second floor, and find an absolutely empty perfume store......... the shelves are lined with hundreds of bottles.... there are displays scattered around the one-room shop, but no proprietor is to be seen..... I take a step inside and I'm instantly bombarded by a hundred different scents........

.. it was eerie......

.... I stood quietly in one place and surveyed the goods decked out on the stacks and stacks of shelves...... Dolce Gabana - 129.00........ Paris Hilton's Funk - 29.99........ Obsession, Mlange, Twist, Kiss, Ewwww....... they had them all........ but there seemed to be no one to sell them to me!....

.... I even turned at one point to make sure that there were other mall denizens wandering about outside lest I had accidentally found myself in one of those abandoned mall Zombie scenes that you see so often, and sure enough, there were plenty of folks waltzing by the door of the perfume shop without a care in the world...... and that did make me feel a bit better.........

..... so I wander a bit deeper into the shop - feeling quite concerned and anxious - only to finally have an attendant jump up out of hiding just as I reached the deepest part of the shop to scare the hell out of me.....

"Oh, my!", says she.... "I had no idea you were in the shop!".....

..... "well, ma'am, I had no idea that YOU were in the shop either!".....

"Well, what can I do for you, young man?"...

... "Ummm, well, that is a good question."....

"Do you know what you want?"...

..... "well, kinda..... then again, I am a bit open to suggestion.... look, here's the situation, ok?.... you tell me what you think that I should do..." ......

"Okay."

... "I need some perfume.".....

"Well, that is absolutely wonderful, sir, since this is a perfume shop! What can I do for you?"

.... "No, you don't understand...... see, I asked my Missus what perfume she wore just prior to Valentine's Day, and she said 'none'..... and when I asked her why, she said that it was The Man's duty to buy perfume for The Woman..... just as it was the Woman's job to buy cologne for the Man....... and that the last time I had bought her perfume was on our honeymoon in Nice, France fifteen years ago........ so, what perfume did she wear?....... None... .because she had been out of perfume for 13 years....... evidently the bottle that I had bought her back in 1994 was a pretty big bottle...".....

"Wait. Your wife hasn't worn perfume in 13 years?"

..... "evidently....... hey, who knew!?!".......

"And she was, what, waiting for you to buy it for her?"

.... "well, that's the skew I was getting from her reaction, how about you?"....

"And she never took it upon herself to buy her OWN perfume?"

...... "evidently not, ma'am...... so, that's why I'm here..... it's February 19th, and trust me, I have JUST become aware of The Problem.... "....

"Wow. But, hey, how sweet that you are buying your wife perfume for no reason, ummm, other than she doesn't actually have any perfume....that's kinda romantic.."

..... "well, hey, I do what I can, you know?........ and when I see a problem, I always try to fix it as soon as possible..." ......

"Indeed, sir. 13 years, huh? Wow. So! What shall we choose today?"

...... it was at this point that I remembered distinctly buying that vial of perfume in Nice back in 1994......

.... "De Issey for Women, please!..... " ...

"An excellent choice, sir, it is always quite popular. Here, here it is! That'll be 97.50."

.... I handed her my credit card and she began processing the transaction....

"you know, David - (looking at the name on my credit card), it really is quite nice that you are buying your wife perfume for no particular occasion.... really, that IS quite sweet...... she should be so lucky to have 'romance' back in her life after fifteen years!"...

..... "Well, I don't know about romance, ma'am...... I'm just trying to give her something that she wants.... and honestly?...... well, I thought that the smell of fabric softener and shampoo smelled just fine..... if I'd known that she wanted perfume before, I would certainly have bought it long before now!..." .....

"Well, David, this calls for a celebration! Let me gift wrap it for you so that she'll know how special the occasion is! After all, today is just Friday the 19th of February..... and there is nothing special about today except that you are thinking of her!".....

.... "ok.... and hey, no one calls me David....... my Grandfather was David..... I go by Eric...."

"Ahhh, ok. Here, we're almost finished, just let me wrap this up."

.... I stood there not knowing what to do while she gift wrapped the hundred buck bottle of fragrance....... and then, in a blink, she was finished....

"You know, David, I was just reading about you when you walked up.".....

..... "Excuse me?........ what did you just say?"....

"I said that I was just reading about you, David.... in the Bible.... I was sitting over there in the corner reading the Bible when you walked in. I guess I was so engrossed in reading that I didn't hear you walk into the shop. But, yeah, I was reading about David. See?"....

.... at this point she whips out a Bible from just below the little scanner where she swipes the credit cards and points to a passage: "See! Saul has just killed himself and David is just about to become King of Judea!"...

... "Wow, ma'am..... that is just too cool....... but, hey, I go by 'Eric'.... as I said, my Grandpa was David......... "....

"Oh! That's ok!. I just thought it was a weird coincidence!"....

..... I left as soon as possible, and made my way back to the car with my loot.......

...... so, tonight when we get home I present the bag to The Missus......

.... she opens it up and sees the little bottle of Issey Miyake's finest and then looks straight back up at me - who, I might add is smiling widely.......

"Wow", says she....

..... "I know!!!!..... you said that you were out - that you didn't have any more! - and I bought you some!... don't you like it!!??!!".....

"IT IS ISSEY MIYAKE, dude."

.... "yes!!... just like I bought you in Nice 15 years ago!".....

"Did it never cross your mind that I might want something different after all these years?"......

..... "ummm...... no, not really........ oh, fuck....... I'm sorry... ".....

"No, no.... it smells nice.... Thank You.".....

...... folks, men need to be TOLD things, ok?........ if you want something, tell them.... if you don't want something, then say that as well...... hints are good and fine..... JUST as long as you remember that hints are just that.... they are "hints"...... if you want not to be disappointed, then do more than just hint...... even after 15 years, we can't read your mind.......

..... not even with the help of a bible-reading perfume saleswoman.......

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Buffalo......

..... I love me a good Western movie.... and having said that, I must have watched Lonesome Dove at LEAST fifty times over the past ten or so years.... and in my mind, it is THE best Western movie ever made....... the cast, the dialogue, the locations, the story?...... well, it just doesn't get any better than Lonesome Dove.......

.... for those of you who haven't yet had the pleasure, here's one of my favorite scenes from the movie....... Augustus and Pea surveying a herd of buffalo........ I love the conversation.....

Gus: Pretty, aint they?

Pea: I reckon

Gus: Let's chase'em, you want to?

Pea: To shoot us one for our supper?

Gus: No, I mean chase'em just for the sport of it...

Pea: Wha?.. To, to run'em off?

Gus: No, you don't get the point do you, Pea... I mean chase'em because before long there wont be any buffalo left to chase!..

Pea: Well, them bulls'll hook you.

Gus: yeah

Pea: You remember ole man Barlow?... that buffalo hooked him bad.

Gus: Ole man Barlow was a slow thinker... kinda like, uh, somebody else I could name...

Pea: Well, he was a slow walker too when that buffalo got through with him.... I wonder whatever happened to him?.....

Gus: He married a fat widow over on the Blanco River and had a passel of kids...now you might as well have done the same thing yourself since you don't want to chase buffalo!...

Pea: Well, I don't believe I'd want to chase buffalo even if I was married...

Gus: Forget I even mentioned it.

Pea: Well, I like being a bachelor, Gus.

Gus: Well, that's good, Pea...... and I'm sure it's all part of God's plan that you ARE one!....


..... that was just lovely....

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Ireland....

..... originally we had planned to make our way up the mall in Knoxville today, just to refresh our closet's inventory, but that plan failed........ snow, icy roads, and the fact that Ireland was playing France in the Six Nations Championship nixed just about everything this afternoon......

.... but alas, Ireland lost..... soundly beaten by France....... a familiar outcome for the past ten years, actually, but still, there you go......... but hey, can you believe that the mascot of France's Rugby Union national team is really a giant male chicken?...... a cock of gigantic proportions?...... a rose-crested male Chicken with his comb ablaze and his breasts looking juicier than anything you would EVER find in your locally sourced greengrocer?.....

.... I tell you, seeing that logo emblazoned across those men's chests just makes you want to swear off Hooter's hotwings, Domino's chicken-kickers, AND Uncle Tom's BBQ'd chicken breasts for the better part of the next fifteen years......

...but, God, I can't believe that France beat Ireland...... maybe those clover leaf embroideries on Ireland's Lucky Charm jerseys this year aren't all they're cracked up to be.......

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Quiche.....

.... folks, I made a quiche today..... and while I am only a little bit ashamed that I made one, I am telling you guys anyway..... and you know what?..... it was quite damned tasty...... even if I DO say so myself...... and, it was very, very easy....... and no, I am not posting the recipe.... for if I DID, then all of you out there would be making wonderfully tasty (and easy) quiches, and then where would I be?.......

.... exactly......

.... but, I suppose that I can divulge the flavours of the quiche, yes?....... or does "Flavours of The Quiche" sound a bit too "Naughty European"... hmm... perhaps a different phrasing would work much better....

...... here, let us try........ For She Was an onion, bacon, and Swiss cheese quiche!...... and quite, quite tasty - but a little boring for her lack of garlic - but still, there She Was...... baked perfectly with no discernable "pie crust", she still managed to form herself into manageable slices when the occasion arose....... just as all good quiches do, I am told.......

..... and lest you all begin to think that I am suddenly gone soft and squidgy around the edges from baking a quiche, it will hearten you to know that I plan to begin Spring Cleaning tomorrow by cracking open the armory and giving all of the long-arms a nice clean after having endured such a snowy winter in the garage........

.... Man, ladies and gentlemen..... The Duality of Man is a thing pondered, pondered, and pondered......... but hey, why fight it?....... let us be ALL things when we are given the opportunity.......

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Dallas......

.... back when I was a little boy, I remember being given a Roger Staubach action figure as a Christmas present... I remember it for two reasons...... number one, he had just been the quarterback who had won the Super Bowl...... and number two, because it had elbows....... and up until that time, all of the toy figures that I had been given (Chewbacca, Hans Solo, Luke Skywaler) had only shoulders and hips..... but Roger?..... he had shoulders, hips, elbows, AND knees......

..... of course, I immediately broke off his forearms and shins, but hey, kids are kids....... (I was a Philly Eagles fan then.)......

.... but next came the fully articulated GI Joes'......remember those?....... and hell, even their necks swiveled....... all the more easy to rip their goggled heads off, eh?....... Cobra, GI Joe?... it didn't matter as they were equally as easy to rip apart........

.... and now?..... now we have first-person PC based shoot'em up's, WII maulers, and PS2 bloodbaths....... and groups and Mom's cry foul....... and I certainly see where they are coming from.......

..... it's odd, I suppose..... but violence is a necessary part of our existence, isn't it?.... what little boy didn't own a bb-gun when they were growing up?...... what child did not watch Gregory Peck, John Wayne, or Steve McQueen and think, "that is US....... we're not the ones getting shot!...... we're the hero!"........ but violence is a part of us.... it is in our veins, our genes....... we were BORN to mix it up...... BORN to it, I say........

.... but that's right, folks.. bb-guns started all that!........ and our parents should be so ashamed!........

...... heh..... calm yourselves.... I was just kidding....... our parents have nothing to be ashamed of........ good god, we were all just being normal little kids and playing with our bb guns and watching John Wayne on the TV....... what's the harm in that?.........

...... absolutely nothing....... but, what is it about our youngest that causes such a rise?..... what is it about our own little mini-me's acting just as WE did that causes us to catch our breath so in these days?....... why are video games suddenly the Great Evil of Childhood?.......

... especially when everyone knows that it is The Great Evil That Is Facebook that is coaxing up the Anti-Christ.......

... right?....

.... but for the record, I never actually ripped the head off of Roger Stauback's action figure....... although Mean Joe Green's met an untimely end on more than one occasion........hell, he was just plain scary....

..... fuck a bunch of Pittsburgh Steelers......even if you're twelve.......

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Aromas.....

.... cold, grey, damp day here...... and I'm rockin' the kitchen...... today has been deemed a "comfort food" day by the Powers That Be, and I've picked homemade chili-cheese burritos to try my hand at..... and so far?.... good god..... after taste testing the chili-cheese mixture while it has been cooking four or five times once or twice, I think we're in with a winner.....

.... I plan to spoon that gloop out into a warmed up tortilla, slather it with sharp cheddar cheese, diced onions, and Taco Bell taco sauce, and have one hell of a meal..... I may even add a side order of refried beans.....

... besides, it is supposed to be dank like this tomorrow as well..... and nothing takes your mind off of a dull, cloudy day like randomly walking into a noxious cloud of chili-cheese burrito after effects...... it's hard to look longingly out the window and into the gloom when you are too busy rolling around on the carpet frantically clutching your neck and making gagging noises...... right?......

... right....

.... hey, I DO try to keep this place entertaining.....

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hiking.......

...... oww, oww, oww......... I am sore, boys and girls....... and my thighs are jelly, folks...... for lo, I climbed a mountain yesterday with fellow blogger, Elisson, and he kicked my ass......... the man is a mountain climbing, REI-clad machine........ and we had a wonderful time.....

.... snow, stars, a great dinner, one helluva view, whiskey, firewood and the a camp fire that followed...... all in all, it was one hell of a way to spend one's February 3rd........

.... as he said last night as the fire was beginning to dwindle down, "hell, anyone can camp in the summertime!........ it takes it up a notch to camp in the backwoods, build a fire, and have a GREAT time in the wintertime!"....... and not freeze to death, of course......

...... and you know, he was right..........

..... I am a bit sore today, but hey, I enjoyed every second of the good company, good conversation, and good booze............

...... sleeping outside when it's 26 degrees is a small challenge, sure, but it is a challenge that makes you feel very, very capable afterwards..........

....... and we had a GREAT time......

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Petzl.....

..... I just found out today - as I was unpacking my hiking ruck and checking all of the equipment for wear, tear, and functionality - that my trusty old Petzl is broken......

... now, honestly?.... how's a fella supposed to survive life's ups and downs when he has a broken Petzl?...... all this, and we're camping in the snow on Starr Mountain this Wednesday, folks......

..... damn, it's like the lyrics from that old Bee Gee's song........ "oh, how can you mend a broken Peyeyetzl"?

.... oh, wait....... that's not quite right........ nevermind......

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Snowmen....

..... well, thanks to the latest bit of snowfall, my front lawn is now decorated with two of the most hideous, lopsided, walking-dead looking snowmen that The World has ever seen..... evidently there is an artistic side to building snowmen that is lost once a snowman builder reaches a certain age...... anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it......

.... maybe it's like seeing ghosts?.... I was watching one of those crackpot paranormal thingies on TV last night, and they said that kiddies could see ghosts because of their "closeness" to "the other side"...... and that they'll continue to see ghosts until "societal cues" poo poo the idea of ghosties, and force the kid to act normal and stop being afraid of the monster in the closet... (mine was always under the bed, incidentally, but I digress..) .....

... then again, maybe I always just sucked at building snowmen but it never registered properly when I was sculpting them in my childhood front yard because I was six.......

..... anyway, I can now say that - at 37 years of age - I DID create two snowmen yesterday...... and while they both look as if they have recently downed a pint of vodka, they DO exist.....

.... hey, at least I donned my boots, gloves, fleece, and jacket and TRIED!.....

..... thankfully my camera is on the fritz...

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Slippery....

.... well, boys & girls, it looks like we're in for our biggest snowfall around here since "The Blizzard of '93".... indeed, we're set to get 5-6 inches today followed by ice after midnight.....

... back in 1993, Chattanooga received nearly four feet of snow....

.... anyhoo, the bad thing is that The Missus is working a long shift today and will be driving home around 10:30..... I'm thinking that rear-wheel drive Cadillac may not be completely agreeable under these conditions, but she said there was no way that she could leave earlier..... hmmm..... I guess I'd better dust off the Danners and hunt up my tow rope, just in case....... then again, I'm not so sure Blanche would fare much better.........

.... if anything, it should be one helluva interesting night......

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Noah...

..... well, I'd like to officially declare the Eagle Glen section of the Ocoee River now open to navigation up to and including cargo barges...... good grief, I have streams six inches deep & four feet wide flowing around either side of my house from all of this rain..... I'm half-expecting to see a group of helmeted kayakers paddling by any minute.....

.... sure, I'm as big a fan of rainy days as the next guy, but all in moderation.... if it keeps this up for much longer I'm going to be forced to don the old Gore-Tex and begin building some kind of ark.......

.... and we all know how bad and frightful of a carpenter I am...... so I'd certainly hate to see the ark I'd end up building.....

... anyway, I'm off to consult my giant reference book on World Mythology to see which god I need to start schmoozing to get a little sunshine around here......

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Polyticks.......

..... I heard today about a fellow in Massachusetts, a Republican, who was overwhelmingly elected to fill Ted Kennedy's old, musty seat in Congress.....

.... and while many find that a glorious, earth-shattering event, I consistently find that shit happening in my own back yard mimics the News that I see everyday - if even metaphorically......

..... and as a case in point, I humbly offer the following story......

..... my lawn, my yard, my deck, my woods, they all find themselves being Nostrodamus' blotting pad in retrospect......

..... so anyway, Scott is elected as The Senator from Massachusetts........ well, fair enough........ this Tuesday before last was garbage day here in Eagle Glen, and the bastard garbage men stole my fine, beige, plastic garbage can......

.... that's right, rubberneckers....... I put out the garbage as I do every Tuesday evening, and the next morning all that was left was the poor, lonely, beige garbage can lid - and the can - filled with two neatly tied black garbage bags - was gone......

...... I searched and searched for a week for my missing garbage can - cursing under my breath as I did so - but to no avail...... it was GONE..... missing...... incommunicado, even........

...... and so, as yesterday was Tuesday, I gave up on the ole garbage can and trundled my two bags of garbage down to the curb for pick-up...... and as a final insult, I placed the lonely, discarded garbage can lid on top of one of the black bags.......

..... can you believe that those thieving assholes actually lifted up the lid from atop a bag, tossed the bag into the truck, and then laid the lid back down on the ground in front of my mailbox?......

.... good god, I was standing at the living room window shouting while I watched them do it!..........

... I mean, what kind of a deviant would steal a garbage can and leave the lid in the first place....... and the next week fail to take the lid when it had obviously been left as refuse?...........

...... which, of course, brings me to Scott..... lookit, folks...... how exactly is it that the citizens of Massachusetts could elect, elect, and re-elect Ted Kennedy for 42 years without batting an eyelash, and then suddenly jump ship towards a REAL candidate once Ted was dead and buried?........ why didn't they do this ten years earlier?...... were they just voting "Kennedy" because that is what good MA folks do?......... and here's the kicker..... if Teddy were still alive would this miraculous "breath of fresh air" have been elected this year?........ I don't think so, and that is the truly tragic thing about worrying about politics......

... and you know, that is what pisses me off most about politics - and why I never write about politics here on this stupid blog........ because most folks aren't any smarter than the bastards who stole my garbage can and then refused to take the lid the next week......... but then again, most folks will lift the lid off of a bag of garbage day after day - just to get the black bag underneath - because that is what they have been conditioned to do........... even though the bag AND the lid need to both be tossed together.........

...... Teddy should have been tossed a long time ago, folks...... let us hope that Scott is that great breath of fresh air that we've all be hoping for........ and not just another lid that needs to be tossed with "the usuals".....

.... but I DO live in hope.....

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Asshole......

.... after today?...... well, I dedicate this song to Mr. Kiffin........ what a piece of fucking work.........

.... may your new college realize what a false, un-affiliated, useless fucking douchebag you are way, WAY before we did here........ hell, we thought you would be a breath of fresh air......... but instead?...... well, you were just a lot of hot air with a truck-load of priorities that were fairly immoral......

... in short?.... fuck you...... you aren't fit to suck my cock, Lane........ and as a matter of fact, what the fuck is up with your Daddy naming you "Lane" in the first place?..... what, was he a DUI offender of long-standing with the TBI?...... was that some promise that he made to keep you from being aborted early because of a driving infraction of his?....... if so, then your daddy chose poorly....... he is as much of a whore as you are..... and you deserve each other.......

..... listen closely, folks...... this is important......

... Lane Kiffin is an asshole of the first water....... and he should so fucking rot......

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Snow...

..... the past few days have seen tiny accumulations of snow settling again, again, and again....... an inch here, half an inch there, a freeze, a slight thaw, and then a dusting the next day..... but really, for the better part of a week, we have maintained below-zero temperatures and the steady presence of snow.......

.... the snow started late on the first night, and I put a small tray of leftovers out on the deck for Fred & Bob to nibble on at their leisure.... and like clockwork, they arrived at 6:15 sharp and buried their whiskered faces heartily into the small plate of cool chicken korma...... you know, I read somewhere that cats only have sixteen taste buds per square inch as opposed to the millions that we humans have..... I always laugh quietly when I feed the cats chicken korma....... I can't help but wonder how the ratio of nerves on their backsides relates to their taste buds..... and just how much appreciation they receive from that leftover korma the next day as they waddle towards the litter box........

..... but hey, that's just me......

... anyway, I bring this all up because of the snow, mainly...... see, the morning after the snow The Missus wandered out onto the back deck to wallow in the glory of it all....... I, of course, stayed inside and drank coffee whilst she pummeled the dining room door with snowballs.... but after about ten minutes of that, she was done.....

..... she then proceeded to tell me of all the various "prints" on the deck that she had seen as she patted snowballs together for throwing......

... after a quick analysis (and once-over from the Audubon Field Guide for the Southeastern United States), we determined that our humble little deck had been visited by at least five species of mammals, eight species of birds, and one wine drinking Scotswoman with bare feet.......

...... hey, who knew that a fresh snowfall could be so damned interesting forensically the next morning?.....

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BCS....

... it's 22 degrees here and snowing....... a gentle 10mph breeze is piling the white stuff against the southwestern side of the house, and the titmice have been raiding the bird feeder like they have radar - knowing that tonight is going to test their wee hearts......... we've about two inches of snow on the ground now with more scheduled to arrive during the night....... and tomorrow?...... perhaps a hunting trip out to see if I can find those coyotes that were yipping around a few nights ago......

... as for tonight?........ just two words, rubberneckers... "GO BAMA!".......

.... I'm off for a cocktail and to await the kickoff.....

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Married......

.... I was afforded the pleasure of attending the wedding of one of my 1st cousins this afternoon, and I had a wonderful time.... and I wish them both all the best for the future...

.... it was an uncommon service, I guess..... quiet, quaint, and full of Love and Devotion....... of course, I say that having not attended that many weddings to be an expert by any stretch, but I always find it striking when couples choose to make up their own vows.....

.... my young male cousin is only 21 - and his bride is a youngster as well, herself only 21...... when the minister asked everyone to pray, all I could think of was "Just let them make each other happy, God." ...... and that in itself is a pretty high bar to shoot for..... simple of me, yes, but I've always been a simple sort of man when it comes to most things.....

..... young Matthew read his vows from a folded sheet of paper that he pulled from his tuxedo pocket with trembling hands, and he read well........ the bride though?...... as he read and glanced up at her from time to time, she was nearly in tears....... I do believe that everyone in the audience was more than a little bit worried that she'd start openly weeping when it came her turn to read...... but, the little lass pulled it off....... The Women are definitely the Stronger Sex, and don't let anyone tell you anything any different.......

.... with a quivering lip and heavily wet eyes, her voice never quavered as she read her response to him........ I do hope that they will go very, very far together.....

..... she began her little speech by saying, "I was sixteen years old on February 25th, 2005 when you first told me that you loved me.... I remember hanging up on you and being completely terrified...... well, here we are nearly five years later and I am still completely terrified....... but I look forward to the years ahead with my best friend, and the love of my life..".....

..... I remember thinking, "wow..... 16 years old...... five years together.... and getting hitched at the tender age of 21.... both of them sophomores in college and both holding down part-time jobs... I sure hope that he is her 'best friend'.... DAMN, that was mean of me, of COURSE he is!....... BAD Eric...."...... but really, it melted my heart.......

..... and there was no denying the atmosphere in the church though - or throughout the marriage ceremony for that matter....... they were truly, deeply, and innocently in love with each other..... and the sentiment dripped from every word, glance, and touch that they shared together as we all looked on.....

.... it was a heartening afternoon, folks..... even for an old softie like me....... it's not often that you find yourself faced with young loves - first loves - now One in the eyes of The Church, God, and the Great State of Tennessee.....

..... the morning started off here with snow flurries and a crisp, blue sky.... and it's trailing off now with the temperature in the mid-teens, Kubrick's "Lolita" on the television, and hopes of a wedding night that will ring in the heart of my little cousin for years and years to come.....

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Elvis....

.... I've always thought of my Dad as a quiet, confident, gentle man..... capable of just about any feat, strong, fit, and smiling...... his presence is definitely missed when the family gathers for their annual holidays.... even now - nearly ten years on - the old men of the family still grouse at the lack of freshly brewed coffee at my Mother's house after the meals..... "no coffee?," they grunt, "if Marion were here we'd have fresh COFFEE after dinner!"..... and thus it goes as they sip their sweet tea and fumble with their toothpicks........

.... I think that after he died my Mother stowed away his old coffee maker..... and now her house is as barren of coffee as the Mongolian steppes are of Tennesseans......

.... in any case, over this past Christmas the family gathered at my Mother's house for dinner, and I was given two grainy photographs of my Dad from back in the day......

.... good god, folks..... one of the photos is from just before he left to join the Marine Corps around 1965.... and the other is from theatre near Phu Loc with 1st Shore Party Battalion circa 1966-67......

...... you know, sometimes I think my Father thought he was Elvis....... I mean, just check these out....

dad_elvis_small.jpg

dad_elvis_small1.jpg"

.... give them a click if you wish to have a closer look........

.... my goodness, it seems so strange to think that I am cut from that same bolt flamboyant cloth......

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Mountains.....

.... good god, folks, it was on again tonight........... where's my pack?....... I need a camping trip.....

.... and this guy's voice is just great... and the recording is pristine....... enjoy...

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Basil.....

..... well, I've spent the better part of the evening being schooled on the nuances of Basil Rathbone's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes courtesy of TCM..... and I swear, Conan Doyle must have been the greatest bore to have gone to dinner with......I mean, can you imagine?.....

.... "I see that you ordered the broiled scrod this evening, Mr. SWG"...

... "why, yes, I've always found it quite tasty!"....

.... "Watson, THIS is our man... alert Scotland Yard immediately...... he obviously walks with a heavy limp after 10pm most evenings, and his short, manicured red hair indicates a heavy diet of coppery root vegetables, AND his lack of melanin means that he definitely comes from a suspect gene pool from which most arch criminals have sprung.. and besides, freckles are always insidious by nature..."

.... " bugger me, I just wanted some fish for dinner...."....

..."Ah Ha!.... a cunning plan, I am sure, but your shifty dining habits have undone you, sir!"..

.... "ummm, Watson, what was I supposed to have done?"....

...."the stealing of the Crown Jewels, of course!"

... "no, I mean, what was I supposed to have ordered?"....

.... "try the veal once you get out of jail, sir...... bad guys NEVER eat veal..."......

...... "thanks, Watson...... I'll try to remember that the next time I am wrongfully accused by some egomaniac who can solve a crime while I'm still in the process of ordering dinner at Chez Hole-in-the-Wall..."....

..... sure, they really WERE entertaining flicks....... but after 12 in a row, you began to stow freshly sharpened pencils in nooks and crannies around the house for self-defense just in case an impromptu knock at the door found you face to face with Mr. Rathbone in his Sherlock deerstalker......

.... then again, maybe I'm just getting a little paranoid these days........ which, actually, wouldn't surprise me all that much...

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Merry..

... Merry Christmas everyone..... may you each be given a gift that you truly deserve by someone that you dearly love.........

... more in the morning...... tip a glass of egg nog for me!......

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Weather....

..... whipped up a marvelous steak pie for dinner this evening... thick, salty, garlicy gravy, and meat so tender that it burst into terrified strands at the mere mention of a fork.... (I suppose that's what cooking steak tips for five hours will get you, eh?).....

..... all in all, a quiet night though...... the tree and decorations go up tomorrow..... 3/4 of the Christmas cards have been mailed...... and today was so warm that I retrieved the bin from the mailbox in just my short-sleeves and wasn't the slightest bit cold......

.... 68 degrees on December the 16th, 2009..... 68 degrees?...... we're supposed to be sitting around singing "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas", no?.... and bundling ourselves up head to foot and wandering off before daybreak in search of tasty forest bucks to blast with our frosted-over rifles?.....

.... good god, I swear......... and I bet February is going to be one bitch of a month weather-wise..... that seems to be the norm around here anyway..... October is frigid, November is wet, December is 1/2 cold, and 1/2 mild...... and February freezes our asses off........

... but hey, this morning was amazing........ let us hope that tomorrow will be just as grand.....

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Blankets....

.... off to Knoxville for some Christmas shopping and a "Broadway" show this evening.... the Tennessee Theatre is hosting "The Wizard of Oz" tonight at 8pm, and we've acquired balcony tickets..... it should be quite interesting.....

... in other news, I woke up damn near frozen to death this morning.... the central heating was running wide open but the thermometer on the thermostat read 62 degrees!..... Jeebus!... something is definitely amiss, methinks..... if this little cold snap holds up, I'm thinking that some sort of extra blanketage is in order....

.... truth be told, having central heating has fairly well spoiled me.... all those years that I lived in Scotland will be reenacted tonight, I reckon.... overseas my bed was piled high with three or four blankets, and the sheer weight of so much fabric above you would press you down into the mattress..... in Tennessee a sheet and a bed spread normally does the trick all year round.....

.... but you know, I kinda miss waking up and feeling the warm weight of all those blankets... although, I can't say that I miss the shock of moving an inch or so right or left and feeling the icy sheets just outside "the warm spot".....

... so, what do you think?..... should I pile on the blankets tonight?..... or just find myself a central heating repairman?......

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Maryland.....

.... yesterday afternoon before The Missus left for work I must have had a jaunty look about me because when I had the audacity to ask her what she would like prepared for dinner this evening, she coolly replied "Chicken Maryland"... and having never been to Maryland, I was at a bit of a loss.......

.... but as we all know, The Internet Is Your Friend in such matters....... so, since I am about as "wired" as anyone on the planet, all went well tonight..... and I am here to say that my "Chicken Maryland" cherry is now thoroughly busted........

... in retrospect, I have seen that I am more than a little indebted to the butcher that I chose for the purchase of the chicken..... his chicken breasts were sliced so thin that they cooked perfectly....... and had I chosen to buy a full-sized breast from my usual supermarket, the result would not have been nearly as succulent......

.... sure, I suppose that I could have bought a normal chicken breast, beaten it flat, and then cut it into 1/3 sized filets, but hey, who wants to spend all night pounding a hunk of dead chicken?........ not I, fellow campers..... not I....... so, instead I ended up buying a packed breast that had already been sliced into three beautifully proportioned, well, portions........ and it worked out just swimmingly......

... anyway, here's the recipe in case you guys feel like whipping up a Maryland Chicken......

.... I put 2 cups of flour, 1tbsp of ground black pepper, 1/2 tbsp of paprika, 1/2 tbsp of oregano, 1 tbsp of sea salt, and 1/2 tbsp of thyme in a bowl and mixed it all up..... I then began marinating my chicken breasts in a bowl of milk in the fridge for a few hours....... when dinnertime arrived, I heated a frying-skillet (the kind with those groovy little raised bars all across its' base) with two tbsp of unsalted butter and got that sucker up to nuclear meltdown hot........

..... and after dousing each breast in the flour mixture, I tossed them into the frying pan to sear hard on each side until golden brown........ then I downed the heat and covered the frying pan to allow the thinly-sliced breasts to steam themselves until done through and through.......

... meanwhile I had four crushed cloves of garlic, a smatter of butter, and a whole diced onion sweating down in a separate pot....... once the chicken began its' steaming stage, I added a cup of double cream and stirred that stuff until it bubbled into a nice oniony, garlicky white gravy...... this, of course, was spooned gently onto the resting breasts once they were transported to plate for eating........

...... basically?...... "Chicken Maryland" is nothing but a southern fried chicken with white gravy that is pan-fried instead of deep-fried........ and with a slightly lighter gravy.......... all in all, it was very, very good......... but I am not sure if I will make it again...... thyme is an odd tasting thing, isn't it?......

...... the really weird thing is that I had never heard of it until today...... and I had absolutely ZERO idea of what it was going to taste like prior to taking my first bite once it was finished......

....... but cooking should be like most things in life, I guess........ mix, switch, stir, add heat....... think about it for while..... adjust, stir again........ give it a good smell....... coddle it, pet it, watch it....... and then, if you played your cards right?..... enjoy the hell out of eating it.......

....... Chicken Maryland, folks...... it just goes to prove that you should never be afraid of something until you have spent all day preparing it to be eaten........

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Llamas.....

...... I visited a bookshop today during the course of my ramblings around Chattanooga...... I was searching for Christmas presents to send overseas, and I ended up quite successful in the end......

..... however, upon reaching the checkout counter I was greeted by a tiny children's book perched there for "charity" purchase....... the title of the book was "Is Your Mama a Llama?"

...... I handed my three purchases to the bespectacled 17 year old brunette behind the counter and said audibly, "huh?".....

..... she scanned my copy of "1001 Movies To See Before You Die", popped her bubblegum, and glanced at me..... "huh?", she replied.....

...... I pointed at the book and said, "Is Your Mama a Llama?".....

..... "Oh! Yes!", she chirped..... "it's a book we're selling for charity!".......

..... she adjusted her glasses and scanned my copy of "The Collectible Depression-Era Glass Pocket Guide"

.... "What an unusual title for a book", I said.......

.... she smiled broadly and said, "ooooh, yeah"........

..... her machine beeped again as she scanned my copy of "The Onion's World Atlas".....

...... "Do you know the llama poem by Ogden Nash?".....

.... "ummm, no, I don't..... who is Ogden Nash?"......

.... "oh, a poet, I guess.... that book title just reminded me of one of his poems..... it goes like this.." .... and so, I began.....

The one-l lama,
He's a priest;
The two-l llama,
He's a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn't any
Three-l lllama

.... and then added, "of course, he later recounts the lack of a three-l lllama when his wife asks him about a 'three alarm fire' and calls it a 'three alamah'".......

*crickets chirping*

....... people, you have never seen a more slack-jawed Chattanoogan in your lives...... hell, when I finished talking, signed my receipt, and headed for the door, I felt a wave of embarrassment wash over me from head to foot.........

...... who knew that a knowledge of Nash could cause such awkwardness?........... perhaps I should have kept my poetry to myself and just forked over the cash for the children's book......

..... then again, you'd think that someone who works in a BOOK STORE would have read a few, right?.......

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Blankets.....

..... today was an interesting day.... it dawned cold and windy with a hint of rain, and tailed off more gently until around dusk..... at dusk we were hit with a huge dose of wind and driving rain that knocked limbs off of many of the trees and showered them all around in broken, soggy chunks.....

... I had errands to run in town, but the drive wasn't so bad......... as I said, it was one of those strange days where the cloud cover held itself at 2000 feet or so, and the mountains spewed their steam up from their slopes..... creating a weird sort of envelopment, I guess....... the low clouds boxed everything in from above..... and with the steam rising up?..... you were left with a sandwiched scene of cloud, mountain top, and misty valley everywhere you looked........ in between rainstorms, it was truly striking to watch it all unfold.... and to enjoy the feeling that the whole scene evoked...........

..... claustrophobic for some, I am sure..... but for others - like me - ensconced in their warm cars and viewing it from afar, it wasn't scary at all..... it was more evocative of being "held" by the earth instead..... embraced, perhaps......... like being pressed into a box of comfort....... great, bulbous, fluffy clouds above were your blanket..... and the fine smokiness rising up was your soft, flannel sheet......

...... but knowing that the sky was above you - and close - and that the ground below you was there as well?........ as if The World were closing in on you and it was a Good Thing...... good to be held in the arms of your world..... comforted between the valley and the mountains.......

....... but that was only the time between the rains....... for once the rain began to fall again, everything became muddled and mixed....... the sky and mist mingled....... and then, of course, it was all gone........ there was no more box...... no more holding...... no more closeness...... no more comfort..... it was all gone.......

...... rain blended the top AND bottom to create only grey.......

.... good god, I want my blanket back.........

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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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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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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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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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Naptime.....

..... no posting tonight, children, I is tired...... it appears that one helluva morning has worn me out completely...... and mercy, I need a nap!......... but I will leave you with a blast from the past to gnaw on until further content arises....... here's one from way back in March of 2006......

... Pensacola......

... nearly six-foot-two, and all of 165lbs...... I was one scrawny little pup.......

..... here's to the sunny slopes of long ago!.....

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SEC....

... you know, trust me to invite a bunch of bloggers around to my house on the weekend when the Volunteers play the Number 1 Number 2 ranked college team, Alabama.......

.... Saturday should be a festival of tears and cordite....... oh, and ribs & beans........

.... good lord, Bama is gonna eat UT for breakfast......... but still, Go Vols! Beat Bama!.........

.... every little bit helps, right?....

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Hours....

.... in just over four hours, I will no longer be in my "mid-30's"....... I will, as I was told today, be in my "late-30's".......

..... but how do I feel?........ mmmmm...... ready for more of the same, I guess........... ready, ready, ready for much more of the same.......

....... good god, tomorrow is my birthday....... and I cannot wait.....

.... tomorrow I will be 37......

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Time....

.... just got a quick phonecall from The Missus telling me that a tornado was on the way towards our house......... she's busy at work in Athens, and evidently the tornado is set to move through Englewood in the next half hour....

..... no place to run to, is there?.... besides, after a day of toiling around here on Hell's Half-acre?....... good god, I'm in the mood to greet it......

........ hang on, folks..... it looks like it's going to be a bumpy night!........

... if a tornado wants me, then let it have me....... I am not moving....

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70th....

.... morning by the lake with a cool mist clouding in.... jackdaws and crows fighting over acorns in the tops of Irish oaks.... sausages and bacon frying in the kitchen..... steaks marinating for tonight's birthday celebration....

.... it has been an amazing trip..... but Tennessee is calling me back......

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Time......

... up early tomorrow, folks......out of the house by 9:20 for a sunlit drive through the Monroe County wilderness after having donned the first suit that I've had on in a coon's age.......

.....it seems that these days I only get to wear suits to funerals........ pity, really, because I have a closet full of them just hanging there......... good god, let us all pray for weddings.....

..... any more funerals around this place and I'll likely join the crowd.......

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.... Bedtime.....

...... wow.....

...... dialogue, folks..... that's where the art is...... all day long and twice on Sunday.......

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J.R.

..... my Great Uncle J.R. died this evening at 7pm after a long illness and a great life.......

..... My Mother was sitting at my kitchen table when she heard the news - me having just fed her dinner and entertained her for a while.......

....she broke into memories of his life that had nothing to do with WWII, Iwo Jima, or Life at The Motor Works and taking care of his children...... and as we sat eating old Girl Scout cookies for dessert, she simply said, "you know...... in this life there are those who love us....... and there are those who know us........ and there are those who want to know us, and those who want to love us...... but I will forever wonder exactly which combination of all of those factors is to be most sought after........."......

..... and so, he is gone..... and he was a hero to many, a nemesis to many, and he was far, far from being a perfect man........ but hey, who is?........ every man has his foibles....... every human being has his moments of weakness......... EVERY man or woman has their doubtful, soulful, depression-slaked moments, right?........ yes, right....... we ALL have those moments.....

..... no one is perfect in life........ at least certainly not those that I have grown to know......... if anything, I have grown to love them because they were not perfect..........

.... but, having said that?....... hindsight is indeed 20/20.........and it most certainly, certainly is......... and good god, what a gift hindsight is by the time we make the age of 85?.......

...... my darling Mother told me of her earliest memory of my ancestor tonight and it frightened me beyond belief....... and yet, there was within her story a kernel of acceptance........

......but acceptance, good god....... is that what I really said?........ yes, I guess that it was....

....... so, what should I say?....... hey, every man is flawed on one level or another...... we all carry around the baggage of a lifetime of existence.....and our duffle bags are filled with the bones of all those things that just wouldn't fit in the normal state of packing...... but, yet, we ARE........ we ARE......

...... we are here, we are alive, and we ARE........... we LIVE..... we are like the fucking DUDE in "The Big Lebowski", we fucking ABIDE.......

...... fuck..... I am so very, very sad right now............. so very sad........ perhaps the more so because my Mom was here when we got the word of his death........

..... she was torn up but rallied strong as I served the stale Girl Scout Cookies for dessert.........

....good god, he was a a good man...... he was a Marine......... he may have not been the best man, but he WAS a man.......... and was he a good father?...... the verdict is still out....... he WAS a guy who was strict.... too strict?..... probably........ is that excusable?....... and back then?.... yeah, it was the norm........ and now?.......

... he'd probably have served time....... but can you say "every father on the block had PTSD for breakfast every morning?".......

..... I am angry, folks....... and I am also very sad...... and I know that people can change.... but really?......... after having spent the past three hours wondering about the what's and why's?...... I just want to try to forget it all....... and let things fall where they may...

..... goodnight, Great Uncle J.R....... you were just like all of us........ and yet you were set apart........

..... I wish you all the best.....

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... Gifts....

.... yesterday around noontime my buddy Gary dropped by for a visit..... for those of you who have read here for a while and remember when the Eagle Glen Social Club was in full swing, he was the guy that I referred to as "The Guy in the Witness Protection Program"....

... he's they type of guy who can do anything, has done just about everything, but yet still has the soul of an artist.....

...... and yesterday he came through again with flying colors......

.... in a few weeks The Missus and I will be jetting off for a fortnight at the Mt. Cashel stables in County Clare, Ireland to attend 70th birthday celebrations in honor of my Father in Law..... and yesterday Gary delivered his birthday present......

..... two months ago I asked Gary if he would create a handmade sgian dubh for me...... the Father in Law - being both Scottish and fairly well-heeled - he finds occasion to wear traditional Highland dress four or five times each year...... and in two weeks time he'll likely be sporting the only sgian dubh that can also act as a razor sharp tactical weapon AND work of American folk art at the same time.......

..... it truly is a beauty...... and the coffin'd handles are made of exhibition quality American bison horn...... the pins holding the handle are silver..... and the blade has undergone an expensive hardening, tempering, and quenching process........ so in short?.... this little sucker is bad, bad, bad to the proverbial bone........

.... and if he ever loses his razor he can shave with it.........

... pictures to follow tomorrow of Gary's beautiful workmanship..... as well as the odd gifts that I received from El Capitan the other day!.....

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M-14s.......

.... three weeks ago at the local YMCA I found myself chatting to a gentleman in his late 70s about chin-ups....... he was a pleasant enough fellow to talk to, and I continued my chin-ups as he sweated to the sound of a room full of people whizzing ellipticals.......

...... but as things happen in these days and times, my cell phone rang mid pull-up......... I answered and said, "yes", "no", and "ok, I will"...... and then marched over to where Fiona was whizzing her own elliptical........ and upon my return to the chin-up bar, the old codger said, "hey!..... is that your wife over yonder?!"......

...... I replied in the affirmative and mounted the bar...... "well", said he, "she is a wonderful pharmacist...... "....... I chinned a few more times and then caught my breath...... "yeah?..... well, thank you..... I will be sure to tell her that you said so when we're back home....... "

.... about then another fellow codger chimed in and said, "well, yes she is!...... I hear that she is from Scotland!....... how on earth did she end up here?!?"

...... I eyed the pot-bellied pensioner for a minute or so before answering...... and finally, I began.... "I was in The Corps, sir..... she was a souvenir from my stay at a RAF base there.."........

... yes, I know that I was being an asshole...... but hey, who is in the best of moods when they are trying to punish their machine whilst constantly being asked odd and mystical questions?........

..... so, fast forward to today....... I am strapped into the Triceps Crushing Machine when the pot-bellied guy from three weeks ago sidles up to me.....

..... "so", he says.... "good to see you again....... you said that you were in the Marines, yes?....... so, tell me..... do you happen to know how to field strip an M-14?"......

.... "ummmmm, no....... they went out of service in 1968, if I recall from my history books correctly........ do I look like a Vietnam Veteran?....".....

... "oh no!..... I didn't mean that!...... I was just wondering if you knew how to take one a part!..... hell, you don't look a day over 40...... ".......

....... I'm 36, I think.......

..... anyway, I ended up giving him the name and phone number of my gunsmith...... along with a slow, long, evil stare as he wandered off to find an elliptical that he hoped wouldn't give him a coronary...........

..... but really?...... I mean, good god, folks..... I'm an amenable fellow..... but it's so damn hard to be a nice guy these days........ perhaps I am just a bit jumpy?........

...... should I have asked him if he had just recently traded his musket for that M-14?...... or would that just have been mean?......

..... I know that I'm an ass...... and I also know that there is a pull-up bar in hell waiting patiently for me to arrive...........

.... but isn't there one out there somewhere for us all?.....

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Redneck........

.... no posts tonight, boys & girls..... I just finished an enormous spaghetti meal followed by a viewing of the latest "Rambo" flick....... good god........ that boy could rock a Ma Deuce, I tell ya......

..... so, I am off to crawl around in my dewy late August lawn with my Gerber MK II clenched firmly between my teeth.......

... call it "dramatic renewal of purpose"......

.... in other news (before I head off to darker climes), I purchased 5,000 rounds of .223 ammo a few days ago and the local gun shop gave me a bumper sticker as a present........ not being very original characters, it simply says "Got GUNS?"........

.... when I arrived home, I mentioned to The Missus that I had put a new decoration up in the garage....... and after five minutes of scanning she finally found it....... "Good god!", she said.... "you redneck!... it's a wonder that you didn't attach it to Blanche's bumper!".....

..... a little bit shocked and quite a bit appalled, I said, "Redneck?.... Moi?"......

..... I thought she was going to pee herself from laughing so hard......

...... I fetched her a glass of water - as I was quite worried about her sudden growth of a sense of humor - and as I handed it to her, she wiped the tears away and said.....

.... "now THAT is a bumper sticker..."

..... still confused, I inquired as to just what the hell she was talking about.......

..... well, evidently?.... she thinks that "Redneck?.... Moi?" would be a crackerjack of a bumper sticker............ especially in the community/area where we live.....

...... as for me?....... well, maybe....... but then again, most people are absolutely bonkers......

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Description......

.... ceramic, homemade, and approximately two inches tall, he is gazing at me with largish eyes that protrude slightly from his faintly lopsided noggin.....

... each leg consists of a sphere with the final 1/4 flattened removed so that he can balance properly..... and his torso - as rotund as it is - is merely another sphere of greenish ceramic roughly four times larger than each leg......

... there is a thoraxish area between his head and tummy which acts as a sort of "neck", I suppose.......an afterthought by whomever crafted him, no doubt..... although to use the term "him" is purely random, as he/she has no visible genitalia of any sorts.....

.... which, actually, is a very, very good thing....... (but I shall continue to use the term "he" hereafter for two main reasons...... firstly, when I was given him, I was told that he was the "Pea God"..... and since God's are usually male, there you go..... and secondly, he vaguely resembles a very tiny penis if viewed from the correct angle..... so, "he", it is..)

.... his head was once a sphere as well - roughly the same size as his torso.... but unknown hands that sported opposing thumbs and forefingers did a number on that sphere and created a "head"...... I would guess from evidence provided by my own proddings that his "eye sockets" were likely the result of two thumbs being pressed into a soft ball of clay once upon a time........ and, indeed, there appear to be forefinger imprints on the backside of his head..... hey, how better to create a "head" than to take a ball and press it between two fingers and two thumbs?.....

..... as an afterthought, though, The Creator was kind enough to give Mr. Pea God a pair of tiny ears by taking those same two sets of fingers and pinching the outer orbits of the aforementioned eye sockets......

.... the only other details that really are sharable are the eyes themselves, and the arms.....

..... the eyes are simply little flattened balls of clay that have been delicately placed inside the sockets and then jabbed with what appears to be a tooth pick (to create the pupil).......

.... the arms, though, they really do set the scene....... little spaghetti-like things that drape themselves delicately around the "torso" they draw the eye both upwards to the face - and downwards towards the chubby legs at the same time..... creating a weird sort of nodding motion if you look at the sculpture for too long at any given time....

...... funnily enough, the left hand seems to have three fingers while the right has four....... I can only assume that this is a feature of the Pea God - and not a design flaw.......

... ahhhh, and lest I forget the rest of the "face"!...... I must admit that it is so very, very serene...... so much so that it almost reminds you of those lemurs off of "Madagascar"..... and the eyes!.... those large, soulful, peering eyes!........ and those two flaring nostrils and that wisp of a mouth!.......

..... did I mention that the entire thing diarrhea green?.......

.... anyhoo..... any artists out there?..... feel free to send me a sketch and I will gladly post it........ my digital camera is on the fritz...... then again, perhaps the Great Internet is not ready to be introduced to The Pea God just yet........ goodness knows that I certainly wasn't when he was given to ME....

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Bikes.....

..... visited the gym again today after a trek out to the chiropractor for a good tweaking.... and I swear, she seemed absolutely horrified by my lifestyle....... she took one look at me and said, "many chili-cheese dogs over the past two weeks?"....

.... just recently she "promoted" me from once a week to twice a month...... so when I arrived today, she scanned me over - all slump-shouldered as I am - and said, "so, what have you been up to?"..... I straightened slightly, and then dove straight in to the various labors and adventures that I'd been dragged into over the past two weeks..... she laughed and told me to "assume the position."......

.... after various twists, cracks, creakings, and thumpings, she asked me to sit up straight and produce an arm outstretched so that she could work her mumbo jumbo voodoo crap on me and tell me how badly I needed to be buying stock in acai berries.........

..... I left her with three recipes after she'd finished....... hell, what is a man to talk about when having the voodoo hands laid upon him other than recipes?........

...... in other news, yes, I am still in quite a foul mood........ my day-laborers are all currently incarcerated - and I have chores that need done, dammit.........

.... still, though..... tomorrow is another day.......

...... and so, I will leave you with this to chew on as you bed down for the night.....

.... exercise bikes are evil, folks....... they were in the 80s..... they were in the 90s....... and they certainly are now.......

..... good god....

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Plays.....

..... watched this the other night........ and good god, I think that I was born to forever be an Ophelia..........

....... still, though, Brannagh will always creep me out a little bit.......... I much prefer his Henry VI.......

..... St Crispian is, after all, one helluva rousing speech.........

.... oh, and my pecs hurt........ too much exercise, I suspect......... but hey, I hope that you are all well!......

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Sweat....

.... after the past three days of rain, fog, and humidity, today has dawned bright and clear...... and by high noon the grass will finally be dry.....

.... I plan for today to be a day of sweat.... and I am looking forward to it....

.... sometimes a good, hard sweat is just what the doctor ordered..... and today I am getting dirty....

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Rain...

..... the world is wet here today.... the earth is brown and moist...... and every leaf is green and slick...... the air is warm and smothering....

.... the rainstorms last night stayed out late.... and from the appearance of my back yard, they popped the cork on a bottle of Patron, and partied out there until daybreak.... finally wandering off to the east as I stumbled around the kitchen looking for coffee this morning.......

.... thank Mother Nature for small gifts, I guess..... at least I can't mow the lawn today....

... in other news, I procured two pounds of sirloin tips yesterday.... and the intention is to create a steak pie for dinner that'll be so good that if you were put a dollop of it on top of your head, your tongue would knock your brains out trying to get to it.....

.... mmmm.... puff pastry, rich brown gravy, mushrooms..... chips..... and tender hunks of dead cow...... certainly not the best cure for a rainy, rainy day.... but it'll work in a pinch....

.... the Weatherman predicts thunderstorms for the next five days, actually..... which might put a dampener on our plans to catch Hamlet this Saturday night in Knoxville.... Shakespeare in The Park might just get rained out..... and while watching a bunch of soggy actors does sound appealing in its own right, I certainly don't fancy it enough to stand around holding an umbrella all evening....

.... then again, a peal of thunder might be just the thing to crank a production of Hamlet up a notch or two.....

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Unsettling.....

..... I threw the mower into high gear this afternoon and circled the lawn as dark, ominous clouds hustled in from the west..... you could smell the ionization in the air as I finished up....... the leaves on the dogwood trees had surrendered to the humid, 90-degree wind.... and had upturned themselves..... showing their silver bellies as the air rushed past....... sometimes you can just smell the rain long before it ever arrives......

.... I stowed the mower in the garage and closed a few of the windows that I had left open in the house to try to catch the breezes that the storm was stirring up...... a rain was coming..... you could practically taste it in the air...... that odd internal feeling you sometimes get when the pressure around you is changing.....

..... I made my self a drink and watched the angry clouds approach from the air conditioning of the living room.....

...... and then they were on top of the house..... the wind picked up heavier...... and then, nothing....... I walked through to the kitchen and the black clouds were already nearing the crest of Starr's Mountain off to the east of me........ no rain..... only wind and a promise.... a promise unfulfilled, as it seems.......

...... fast forward to about an hour ago....... I was watching the 1935 version of "Tarzan, The Ape Man" on TCM - absolutely amazed at how bawdy the censors let Jane be in the presence of all those monkeys and men in gorilla suits - when I noticed a mud dauber wasp caught in a spider's web on the front porch.... it was stark against the lighter tones of the siding, and you could clearly see it struggling in the web........ and just as clearly, you could see the common house spider attached firmly to its head........

.... I walked over to the window for a better look..... the stanchion that held the web was only four feet from the window, and I called for The Missus to come and watch......... it's not often that you see a wasp get eaten by a spider..... not even around here......

...... but as we watched the wasp squirm, wiggle, and beat its wings, all was not right...... and within a minute or two, the wasp was free from the spider's web....... and then it was that we realized what was going on.....

..... the spider was still firmly attached to the wasp's head (which we had assumed he was either eating - or injecting with venom)...... but the happily-free wasp seemed to be sitting there chewing........

.... and after a few minutes more, the wasp dropped what was left of the spider, and flew away...... having had a hearty dinner with us as voyeurs........

.... that said, I hope that y'all do well tonight........ if my observations around my OWN compound are anything to go by, everyone should be on the lookout this evening......

...... and take it from a fellow who normally keeps his fingers firmly pressed on the pulse of nature, rubberneckers......... all is not as it seems..... a storm that wont rain?.... and a spider whose web fails her?....... hell, in a world like that?..... absolutely anything is possible.......

..... have a drink and make it an early night....... or load both barrels before you head off to bed....... but whatever you do, remember that I told you so here first......

... heh heh.... goodnight, all....

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Watching....

..... I don't know when it happened..... or really even why it happened.... but my trip to Chattanooga yesterday seemed to drive home the fact that the art of being An Escort is definitely a dying thing...

.... I must have laid eyes on ten thousand people whist strolling around downtown.... many were alone, of course.... single guys and gals jogging, riding bikes, or just generally making their way towards their hurried destinations....... and then there were the obligatory groups of soccer moms with their circuses of children in tow out to see the aquarium or the IMAX..... and even a few groups of UTC guys bopping around with youthful exuberance and oozing testosterone every time they whistled past a group of UTC girlies...... then there were the couples, too..... Moms and Dads out for a walk with their kiddies - shaved-ice & popcorn in their hands as they juggled toddlers......older couples, as well..... wandering up and down the bricked streets with crumpled street maps and flip-down sunglasses clad in their finest khakis with belts matching their shoes....... but of the couples, none of them were touching.....

.... at one point after exiting the museum, I nabbed myself a blueberry Slurpee and sat in the sunshine watching the river roll by......the temperature was mild enough yesterday that it wasn't a chore to sit in the sunlight.... I noticed one couple standing on the bridge, and they somehow stood out...

..... the young man stood by the railing with his left arm crooked horizontally.... his young woman pointed her left arm towards the water at a turtle bobbing in the waves just off shore... but her right arm?..... that spindly, adolescent arm that was so white against the blue of her sundress?.....the fingers of her tiny hand were laced delicately in the perfect angle of his elbow..... I sat there sipping my blueberry drink absolutely in awe of that young man.... almost to the point that I wanted to walk over and wish them a good day just so that I could get a better look at the two of them....

.... I didn't, of course, but I wanted to...... they walked on across the bridge after a while - strolling slowly.... and soon they disappeared off into the crowd..... her arm absentmindedly clinging to his......

.... The Missus found me after she finished in the gift shop, and we watched the world for a while.... she asked for a coconut-flavored shaved-ice, and I fetched one while she stood in the shade.... when we'd decided to head for the car, she walked to me and grasped my elbow..... without thinking at all, my forearm rose...... and with that, we walked down the hill from The Hunter Museum.....

... it was odd, I guess, but I felt more than a little self-conscious as we weaved our way through the crowd towards the car park..... and you know?..... I shouldn't have......

.... how is it that our world has ebbed from Escorting, to holding hands, to simply walking together when in public?....

.... I remember the very first time I went to the Marine Corps Ball..... my date showed up in her gown and my SSGT took one look at my 17-year old self, and said, "stand up straight, young man, put her hand here on your arm, snug up your white gloves, and walk proud. You are just a Marine. SHE is your lady tonight. Now, you be her gentleman."

.... and from that point onwards, that's just What You Do..... it's not a dominance thing.... it's a respect thing......

.... I couldn't help but wonder if most of the men and women that we passed by thought to themselves, "good god, will you look at that?..... what an utter chauvinist..... that poor woman!.... I bet he beats her when she burns his dinner!.... just imagine - in this day and time - a man dragging some poor woman around on his arm like he owns her!"......

..... whatever...... but I, for one, was proud of that young man on the bridge yesterday......

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Cowboys.....

... it appears that The Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga has dragged out one of their Remingtons..... well, the temptation is just too great..... I'm off to gaze in wonder & amazement for a while.....

.... hey, it beats the hell out of mowing the lawn....

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Currents.....

..... life is good.......

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Boom!....

.... in honor of Independence Day, I've been feverishly busy whipping up a big batch of taco meat, salsa, diced onions, grated cheese, and sour cream.....

... that's right.... no chillin' by the grill for ME!.... I'm off to mix up a gin & tonic, toast it towards Zambia, and wait on dinnertime to arrive.......

... in other news, during a grocery store run this morning The Missus asked - for the first time ever - for us to fire off a few fireworks this evening around dusk...... so a fairly large chest of suitable explosives was purchased for the occasion.... she, of course, bought sparklers.....

... kinda reminded a bit of that scene from 'Joe Dirt'....

..... after watching her in that fireworks stand this afternoon?.... I think she must be at least part Indian......

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Women....

.... I rewatched Bruce Willis kick ass again last night in "Unbreakable".... and, just like every time before, I was left with many more questions than answers....... down deep, though, I am a fairly committed Bruce Willis fan, so I can let most things slide when it comes to Bruce..... but I suppose the most intriguing thing is the whole Superhero/Antihero Yin-Yang thing that the story suggests is timeless......

.... it's a bit hard to swallow, really - the idea that comic books are somehow a window to the tales lost in the mists of time...... and that there are equal and opposite forces at work in our worlds, for that matter..... (I've always tended to think that people are innately good rather than bad, but then I have also been called a naf on a few occasions.)....

..... but tonight I enjoyed having my Sainted Mother over for dinner (I grilled shrimp and made a oil & vinegar pasta salad), and two things immediately popped into my head as she made her exit....

.... ever heard someone talk about the "unconditional love of a Mother for their child"?....... sure you have..... and hey, any Mother worth her salt is absolutely devoted - heart & soul - to her kids....... so, as one might figure, a proper Mother is Unconditional Love + Protector + Teacher + Disciplinarian + frigging Saint.......

..... but tonight another oft used quote came to mind regarding the fairer sex as my Mother ranted about my sibling's woes........ "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

...... things are afoot in the wind here that promise to be very interesting over the next week or so regarding Mothers & Their Offspring, folks.....

.... I guess my question - and how it relates to "Unbreakable" is this: if there is an equilibrium in this wonderful world we live in, what on earth is going to happen when a Mother is scorned by her child?...... which side will win?..... the Unconditional Love side, or the Hell Hath No Fury side?....... it's definitely one of those Unstoppable Forces meets Immovable Object kind of things, if you ask me........ but hey, I just don't know....

...... so, what do you think will happen?...... or should we all just sit around and read more comic books and grow our hair wild like Samuel L Jackson, or should we just allay ourselves to the fact that some old maxims are just plain bullshit?........

... for me?.... personally?..... well, I think the idea of me with an afro is absolutely hysterical......

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Doctors....

..... I woke up this morning humming this tune and couldn't put my finger on it until late tonight..........

..... so for Farrah, Jocko, Ed, Bou's friend, and Jerry's momma....... a little Tom Waits......... I'm feeling a little bit blue myself.........

...... music is sometimes a balm....... goodnight, y'all........

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Aiming.......

..... today was The Longest Day..... June 21st, 2009...... the Summer Solstice....... and it passed here while spaghetti sauce bubbled, tonic glasses were filled, the Sun baked a hammocking, book-reading Sci-Fi fan.......

... it's nearly 9pm now, and it is still light enough outside to drive to town without switching the headlights on...... heavenly bodies are fascinating like that, you know?...... turning, twisting, and spinning through the vacuum of space.... arcing, arching, coming together and moving apart..... dawn, sunset, and midnight.... midday..... bound together in a relationship that is so incredibly complex.... like life magnified ten thousand times......

..... I've never been much of an astronomer, but I do own a telescope..... bought it online and had it shipped a few years ago when everyone was going on about Mars being closer to earth than it'd been in the past 10,000 years or something....... hell, I even threw a Martian Party that year, fired up the grill, invited 20 or so folks around, and set up that telescope facing entirely the wrong direction........

..... it's all good, though..... you don't have to be an astronomer to appreciate the majesty of it all...... although, if you do wish to see Mars?...... I highly suggest pointing your telescope in the right direction......

.... trust me.... that always helps.....

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Alfredo.....

..... dropped the top on Blanche today and slinked into town for lunch.... then hit a charity bake sale for Lou Gering's Disease..... I tell you, people sure enjoy homemade Southern bake goods around here...... by the time we arrived, there was nothing left but a small stack of melted chocolate chip cookies and a few dilapidated slices of banana bread.....

..... still, it was a nice day for a drive through the country.... Blanche definitely has much more attitude than than Sylvia did.... the old style grille that the previous A4 sported was very Volkswagen-like..... and the headlights were sloped and smooth...... but on the new A4's?.... the grille is much meaner..... and when added to the curved, deep headlights?... it creates a positively devious look from the front...... but hey, devious can be extremely cool..... and pretty damn exciting as well.....

... not that we do devious here, per se...... but you get my point.....

.... anyhoo, I am off to get dinner started..... dinner guests arrive at five sharp, and I aim to please.....

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Water....

.... the storms that lumbered through last night didn't cause much damage....... merely leaving behind soggy, musty earth instead of downed limbs....... but, my.... they certainly were pretty to look at once darkness fell..... quite a light show, to be sure....

.... I turned in fairly early and slept like the dead...... and as I wandered into the bathroom to shower this morning, I noticed a pile of soaking clothes on the floor...... a quick investigation revealed an entire set of female clothing.... knickers, socks, bra, shirt, and trousers........ I was intrigued as to why exactly there were so soaked......

..... a few hours later when The Late Sleeper awoke, I asked why her clothes were wet in the bathroom......

.... well, my question was met with the oddest grin........ and then, slowly, she confessed...

.... evidently she had gone out to the patio after I had went to bed and "enjoyed the thunderstorm".... "enjoyed" being defined as sitting under a dogwood tree in the rain and watching the lightning.......

..... of course, this isn't the first time that she's "enjoyed" a storm or two..... but usually when it happens I am awake and can tell her to get her fool self indoors....... but, ahhh...... I've walked through storms before...... and I've certainly been rained on a million times...... and there is something wonderful about a good thunderstorm......

..... anyway, I'm off to scratch up something for dinner....... but I shall leave you with my latest earworm...... I've been humming this tune ever since I exited the shower this morning......

..... damn, I just love that song.......

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GM.....

.... I do so love me some creative writing....... I love how ideas can be manipulated, new words created, and meaning caressed into the shape of something beautiful...... and while blogs are a great source of that, you're usually pretty hard pressed to find an example hiding out in your street side mailbox......

.... but yesterday?....... yesterday I found an absolute gem courtesy of General Motors...... just check this out.....

First off, I'd like to thank you for being a GM customer. Your current and future business means a lot to us. Given all of the recent media coverage about GM, I am writing you today to address some questions you may have, and to assure you that we are here to stay and ready to serve you.

As you may know, GM is using an expedited, court-supported process to accelerate the reinvention of our company. At the core of that reinvention is a commitment that we will put the customer first in all that we do - starting with great cars, trucks and crossovers, and the best sales and service experience possible.

..... isn't that just gorgeous?....... "an expedited, court-supported process to accelerate the reinvention of our company..." .......

.... is it just me, or is that the most creative way EVER of saying "bankruptcy"?......

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Eyebrows....

...... In a perfect world, every man should have Lee Marvin's voice.......... it is caramelized honey dosed heavily with nicotine and bourbon.......... his voice?..... I could listen to him read books for hours.......... but equally, in a perfect world?..... no man on Earth should ever have his eyebrows.........

...... unless they have a job scrubbing pots at the local greasy spoon with their faces......

...... marvelous man, ole Lee...... and a fellow Marine as well.......

......and tomorrow?....... photographs of Blanche, my new ride........ I promise..... you have my word....

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Busy......

..... so, tell me..... if you bite your fingernails..... and then chew them up & eat them...... does that make you a cannibal?......

..... and what of those nervous times when you nibble the inside of your cheek and then let the nibblings slide down your throat?......

.... I mean, what exactly is the definition of a cannibal?.....

.... and before y'all ask, no..... I had chicken for dinner tonight....... and only a few finger nails......

..... oh, and by the way?....... people could (and should) write REAMS of notes about "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde"...... I've watched it twice over the past two days, and it is awesome.........

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Plastic.....

...... you know, in the great, sweeping, over-arching Circle of Life that we're all part of, I will be the first to happily admit that I don't know a whole lot when it comes to the 'Bouncy Castle" department......

..... and yet, as all Good Men are bound to continually quest, I do have quite a few unanswered questions.... particularly regarding the inflation/deflation of "bouncy castles'.... indeed, as I write this, two bouncy castles that my neighbor has had deployed in his back yard across the way for the past two days are in a weird, floppy, formless stage of early inflation...... odd, of course, to see such things so limp and decidedly un-bouncy, especially when they are both completely bouncy by lunchtime....

.... so, what gives?.... as a bouncy castle novice, I naturally assume that once your castle is made bouncy you would endeavor to keep it bouncy until you & your children were finished with all of your bouncing activities..... isn't it such a huge waste to deflate your castle every evening??..... perhaps his castles have leaks?..... is the deflation done on purpose for safety reasons?..... does he mean to make his bouncy castle unusable once the Sun goes down??..... lest some neighborhood miscreant steal silently through the night and then bounce gleefully unsupervised in the darkness?.....

.... I tell you, I just don't know..... but logic seems to dictate that once you achieve a certain level of turgidity in your bouncy castle, you would do your best to ensure that it remained so.......

..... then again, perhaps I err in my thinking.... maybe he is a fan of Dali and finds giant, distended heaps of multi-colored plastic aesthetically pleasing to view as he has his morning coffee?..... perhaps watching his bouncy castle slowly re-inflate every morning is a source of base, manly satisfaction?.....

..... I just don't know...... but the whole scene just seems strangely perplexing......

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News of the Weird...

Ever wonder what Donald Duck asks for at the tattoo parlor? Wonder no more.

Donald, of course, is the pre-eminent avatar of syndactyly - fused toes. Hes a duck, fercryinoutloud. But people turn up with webbed feet too... and not all of them live in Louisiana.

He cannot get a nipple ring. Hes a duck, fercryinoutloud, and nipples are a privilege extended only to us mammals. And earrings, or those loathsome tin cans that some folks jam into their earlobes, are also off-limits, because a duck (fercryinoutloud) has no earlobes.

A tattoo? Dont be stupid. You wouldnt be able to see it under all those feathers... and since feathers are constantly falling out and being replaced, it makes no sense to tattoo them anyway.

But Donald can get one of these.

Two thoughts: One, Acidman would be appalled, were he still here. Doesnt this girl know to apply some red toenail polish? Two, Im surprised Velociman didnt find this and write one of his patented diatribes about it. Maybe this post will inspire him.

[Cross-posted at Blog dElisson.]

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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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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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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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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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.... Pissed......

..... that egg-headed Fred Astaire is singing through from the front room as I type this here in the blogroom......."tell me you agree!", he says..... "tell me that it's true!", he warbles.......

...... oh, wait........ yes...... good grief, his song is finally over...... and the only consolation?..... well, at least he is singing to Rita Hayworth tonight instead of Ginger Rogers.... and hey, that is at least something.....

...but really?...... it all harks back to that scene (somehow) in "The Shawshank Redemption"...... and how that poster of Rita held his character through so many years before Marilyn and Racquel came along.......

.....and yet, as I sit here, what do I hear?...... "sure, she's pretty enough.... but she has a personality like the inside of a refrigerator!"..... Jesus Christ, what kind of dialogue is that??...... Fred should have taken one look at that script and said, "you know what, boys, I just can't say that..... I mean, look at her!....... men all over The World are going to call bullshit on this!"....... but, alas, he didnt....... and he actually uttered those words as poor Rita fumed.........

...... good god, what a maroon......... maybe if he'd haved stopped singing , dancing, and twirling about and asked her about those Irish tresses of hers, he'd see a different side of her?......... good lord, who knows..... one thing that it DID remind me of?... "Hard-hearted Hannah"......

.... here's the proof......... check it out..... from the "Temperance 7", no less......

.... what a night.....

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Cooking....

..... good afternoon, campers...... I'm off to whip up some some grub.....

.... but I'll leave you with the View From The Garage & a song as inspirational materials for your own evenings.....

spring_small.jpg

... dogwoods budding, and the Sun breaking through the clouds....... not a bad way to end a day, I suppose......

.... and for your listening enjoyment, a little Nina...... just, well, because.....

.... and with that, folks, I'm off..... the guests will be here in an hour.....

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Cars.....

.... sitting here with my Sekhemet & Horus votives staring me down tonight (not to mention the foot-long Gila Monster who lives atop my computer monitor), I've got nothing to write about..... and those three sets of little beady eyes are making me quite nervous about it all....

.... that said, however, I did find this a few minutes ago, and it definitely needs to be shared...... behold, rubberneckers...... a very interesting Work of Art....

.... notice that sticker on his guitar half way through?...... as best I could tell, it read - "This machine KILLS FASCISTS"

...... gee..... I wonder how?....... does it make them gouge their brains out through their nose with knitting needles?.....

... oh, and speaking of "taking you riding in my car", the lease on Sylvia is nearly up...... so, should I keep her, or trade her in for the 2009 model?..... August will be here before you know it, folks.... and God knows I suck at making up my mind on such things.......

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Socks.....

..... if today had been a sock, I'd not bother washing it..... or even remotely placing it near a hamper for a sometime-in-the-future washing.....

.... no, boys & girls.... if today were a sock?....... I'd soak it in Ronsonol lighter fluid, place it perfectly in the fire-pit out back, stand back, and toss lit matches at it until it flamed itself into nothingness........ and then wash, re-wash, and re-wash its mate until it natted itself into giant ball of unusable white lint.......

.... but alas, today may have been like a sock in need of a lighter fluid bath....... but it actually was not a sock....... just another day.....

... and one that is, thankfully, over now......

.... Forrest Gump was full of shit with that whole "box of chocolates" analogy.... although I know that his Momma did have her heart in the right place when she told him about it....

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Cosmetics......

... today dawned rainy and warm, and I wandered into town this afternoon for my tri-weekly three dollar haircut after half a gallon of coffee courtesy of the new Tassimo....... and I must say that I left her dilapidated shop completely satisfied with the result of her ministrations......

..... sure, it's not rocket science, I suppose, cutting my hair...... I guess it's pretty easy for someone to fade a graying redhead from zero to 1.5 after forty years in the hair-cutting business....... but still?..... if you look deeply enough into the right nooks and crannies these days, you can still get your money's worth for three bucks......

.... although, it does irk me a bit to know that I can get a satisfactory haircut more cheaply than I can a plate of biscuits, bacon, eggs, and sausage gravy for breakfast around here......

.... there's just something not right about that, if you ask me.....

.... on the up-side?..... I arrived at the allotted time for my appointment, but was kept at bay by my old third grade teacher..... she was ensconced in the chair having her curls straightened, so I sat and waited..... and it wasn't long before she struck a conversation about why I was so pale, why my hair was graying so early (hers was still jet-black), and why my Pharmacist Wife wasn't being more supportive to her daughter (a pharmacist rep)......

.... it all turned out well in the end, though, and she spent the entirety of MY haircut standing within clipper-shrapnel distance asking me about where I had been, what I had done, and who I had met since third grade....... I guess she was curious.... but you know, I have been a LOT of places since third grade........ anyway, she left smiling, shocked, flabbergasted, and anxious..... so I guess that I told my tale As Advertised......

..... oh!.... heard from the Brother-in-Law the other day...... he's fresh back to Dhaka from another extended stray out in the Bandarbans near Chittagong....... his hotel in the Sundarbans should be habitable in the next few weeks....... so if any of you hammerheads wish to travel to an off-the-beaten-path luxury bungalow in the middle of a tiger infested mangrove swamp, just drop me an email...... I'll give you his Twitter address, cell phone, and yahoo IM handle.... and y'all can hook up......

.... so, yeah...... I got a well-needed haircut today....... what were you guys up to?.....

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Sylph.....

.... a few days ago - over a fiercely competitive game of Scrabble - the Missus hit me with a whopper of a word.... and since I'm not in the mood for writing this evening, I'll just throw it out there for y'all to chew on tonight as you go about your business.....

.... the word she used?...... Sylph, ladies & gentlemen..... and I just thought that was simply marvelous..... the conversation went a bit like this, as best I can recall....

Me: ..... holyshit!.... sylph!...
Her: It means "thin".
Me: .... oh!... I know what it means!.... but holyshit!... SYLPH!...
Her: Just count the points, please.
Me: ..... damn, that is an outstanding word....
Her:
Me: .... so, I know the meaning of the word..... but look at it.... I wonder if it's root has anything to do with "nymph".... I wonder if sylphs used to frolic around in the woods with nymphs back in old Greeken times.....
Her: "Greeken" isn't a word.
Me: ..... yeah.... but it should be.... "Grecian" just sounds too...... hairy...!....
Her: Good grief. I need a cup of tea.

... so, anyway, GUESS WHAT?!??..... sylphs didn't actually frolic through the old Greeken woods with nymphs!!..... at least not according to ole Paracelsus..... but that's only because the Greeks hadn't thought them up yet!.... nymphs & sylphs are definitely cut from the same proverbial cloth......

.... so, yeah...... sylphs..... there you go, and hey, now you know!..... I'm off to mix a drink.....

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Dinner....

.... off soon to throw some sirloins on the grill & stand around in the garage listening to Townes Van Zandt and Billy Joel...... today has been absolutely amazing here.....

.... my Sainted Mother is arriving for dinner at 7, and it should be a nice bookend to a day spent well....

.... 11 months ago I put this little thing up on YouTube..... this evening promises to be much the same......

.... so, Brothers & Sisters, y'all have fun this evening..... I'm certainly going to give it one helluva attempt......

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Pests.....

.... mackerel, boys and girlies..... it's what's for dinner..... and as I mentioned a while back, it's not exactly one of my top-shelf favorites... however, it is good for my ticker AND my bacon laced arteries, so I shall soldier it down like a good boy.....

.... in other news, I see that Tennessee has dropped the ball in the NCAA b-ball tournament today..... ahhh, they did well to get so far.... probably from eating bucket loads of mackerel and exercising a lot....

..... anyway, I spent most of the morning at Lowes buying various pesticides, herbicides, brush-killers, turf-protectors, and most anything else "offensive undesirables" that I could lay my hands on..... so if tomorrow dawns as beautiful as today has been, I shall lay low many, many hapless creatures....

... and if all goes according to plan, I will stand astride my patio tomorrow evening like that mighty Colossus that you hear about from time to time on the History Channel..... then again, I might limp back in from Hell's Half-acre tomorrow covered in poison ivy welts, ant bite pustules, and throbbing yellow-jacket stings.....

... you just never know around here, folks.... every day is a Toss-up For Victory in varying degrees when battling Nature is involved...

... one thing is for sure, though..... at least it isn't hot enough yet for me to worry about sunburn.....

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Irish.....

... happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone....... I trust that each of you is celebrating this auspicious day in your own distinct fashion this evening....... and knowing this crowd, you're likely attempting to drown each other in puddles of stale Guinness that accidentally found their way to low spots in the faux tiles in the kitchen........ or is it Bushmills in the throw-rug outside the spare bathroom?.......... hey, it's a toss up, if I know you guys.....

.... as for me, the only green thing that I've "worn" today was while I was eating dinner..... it seems that a stray bit of thyme errantly took up residence in a small patch of stubble that adorned the left side of my cheek (as I was digging into a fabulous chicken casserole) due to a haphazard shave-job this morning because I was late for my weekly massage.........

..... I would like to add, though, that I am proud to know so many Irish fellows & ladies..... hell, it cheers my soul to know so many of you guys are roaming around tonight searching for fellow Irishmen and Irishwomen to bump flasks with...... and according to Facebook?..... zillions of you have actively sought out huge chunks of corned beef and trenchers of boiled cabbage to assist with your evening's celebration.......

..... and you know, that just makes me smile.......

.... mainly because, well, I know all of you guys and gals per se........ but really?.... it's because I can sit here and know that I will NOT have to work with, hear, or be anywhere's NEAR your stinky personages tomorrow morning.........

.... and besides, most of my ancestors were German anyway........

.... so with that, ladies and gentlemen....... Erin Go Bragh!!....

...... just as long as I don't have to smell it in the morning!....

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Mayo.....

..... a few days ago my Sainted Mother requested "hotdogs" for tonight's weekly family dinner.... and while cruising the Kroger yesterday, I happened upon a package of Hebrew National's all-beef kosher hotdogs..... the label read, "Quality Product - Kosher - We answer to a Higher Power".... I was most definitely intrigued...... and it was stamped right above the USDA Approved label, of course, just for chutzpa........ and so, I bought them......

..... and, I might add, we consumed them all with unabashed abandon this afternoon with lashings of chili, diced onions, brown mustard, and sweet relish.....

.... well, I use The Royal "we", for it was only my Mother and I who ate them as described above....... The Missus ate her kosher hotdog with two thick slices of a 24-month aged cheddar tucked in between the bun alongside big globs of Hellmann's mayonnaise...... sort of a cylindrical bologna and cheese sandwich of sorts, I guess.....

..... I mean, who tears a bun apart, lays slabs of cheddar cheese across it, wipes a 1/2 pint of mayo on each bun-half, and then eats their hotdog like a satyr chewing a pan-flute after having just finished a furious dance with Bacchus??..... you should all live my life for a week and see how YOU blog afterwards........

...... as god as my witness, I will never look at a hotdog the same way again......

....ever.....

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Sauce.....

.... good morning, gentle rubberneckers...... I hope that you are all well...... as for us here?..... well, we're preparing to sally forth towards Knoxville in a drizzling rain to search for corduroy trousers.....

.... style knows no boundaries around here, folks..... nor does haute fashion, for that matter......

.... latter - on the drive home - I plan to visit a nice little fishmonger just off Kingston Pike and grab a few choice pieces of fresh halibut.....

..... perhaps a few daubs of homemade tartar sauce will dampen the tinge of corduroy PTSD to livable levels by sundown?...... who knows?.... but I think it is definitely worth a shot....

... hey, if it works, I'll be sure to let y'all know...... I doubt anyone has ever scientifically judged the curative properties of tartar sauce before, so it should be quite interesting.....

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Weird.....

... whilst struggling to pull a fleece seat cover (in the shape of a giant smiling penguin) over the passenger seat of The Missus' Cadillac two days ago, I happened to notice that the 8-inch tall bobble-headed hula guy that normally stands on her dash had somehow fallen off and broken..... and was clashing horribly with her SpongeBob floor mats......

.... I inquired, of course, in between the grunts and strains that the seat cover was giving me, and she mumbled something about "pulling one too many G's" when diving into one of her favorite back-road curves coming home from work.... I just nodded knowingly and finished buckling the penguin down....

... taking pity on the little fellow, though, I brought him inside and Liquid Nail'd his broken feet back to his base and laid him on the ottoman to dry.....

... well, last night while trying to distract myself from a particularly scary scene showing on the television, I picked up the hula guy and began jostling him so that his head & little green grass skirt would bobble...... as I did so, I began to sing a little John Prine ditty that I'd discovered a few years ago.....

... it began thusly at a moderately brisk pace....

Me: ....*jiggling the hula man*.... Weeeeeell, let's talk dirty in Hawaiian.......
Her: SNORT
Me: ..... whisper in my eaaaaaar....
Her: bwhahahaHAHAHAA!!....
Me: .... kicka pooka mok a wa wahini......
Her: good lord
Me: .... are the words I long to heeeear....
Her: Are you making that up as you go?!?

.... at that point the frightening part had passed, and I laid the little man aside...... sadly, she had never experienced that particular John Prine song before, and was naturally assuming that I was making up as I went along.....

.... but that got me to thinking.... I'll bet that you guys haven't heard that song either...... and you know, out of many horrible injustices in this world we live in, this is one that I can actually correct for you guys.... and hell, I consider it a civic duty....... so here....... and oh, you're welcome.....

.... I swear, you honestly can't make up the weird shit that goes on around here sometimes.......

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Dazed.....

.... an airy breakfast..... a light lunch..... and a very heavy dinner...... rain on and off for most of the day..... cloudy.... coolish and in the mid 40s temperature wise..... train whistles carry so well in the thick, cool air..... they shook the walls here from a mile away, they did....

..... the hunt today only lasted fifteen minutes..... and by the time I made it through the bushes out back and to the edge of the field, the rain had started, so I begged off and headed home....... I did call a few times, but with no luck...... all in all, a day of unsuccessful business..... buoyed by a few good meals and a warm, dry place to curl up......

..... I did, however, remember a bit of my Ogden Nash as I sat for those few minutes in the drizzle...... and so with sincere apologies to Mr. Nash, I give you my poem.....

Unsuccessful, by Eric

I stalk the wily coy-a-tee
With electronic calls of rabbit deaths
But it really didn't matter though
Since today they had all got-up-and-left
(Including me)

... heh heh heh..... who says that you can't write poems about hunting?..........

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Soup.....

.... tonight's earworm, folks...... I hope that you enjoy...... and tomorrow?...... hunting furry woodland beasts with extreme prejudice if all goes to plan......

... until then?....best I chill tonight with some Mr. Waits, I guess.........

... in other news, I successfully created my very first pot of homemade "soup" this afternoon..... t'was Cream of Mushroom, it was, and it was an absolute crowd-pleaser..... I'd love to post a recipe, but alas, there wasn't one..... instead I read up on a few and then cherry-picked their good ideas and made a mish-mash all my own...... it wasn't quite as thick as I would have liked, but it was damn sure flavorful........

.... next think you know?..... hell, I'll probably be baking bread........ or at least making a six layer hazelnut tiramisu from scratch, if I keep this pace up....

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Courting.....

.... tis the season, I guess....... Springtime is here, and the beasties are prowling the night looking for mates...

.... last night as I prepared for bed, I wandered through the dark house and checked all the locks - my usual rounds before hitting the rack - and as I rattled the lock on the back door, I heard them.... two distinct set of coyote yips.... I suspect that the unfamiliar sound of me tweaking the deadbolt spooked them....

.... it's a definite sign that I need to get out into the woods in the near future and thin'em down a tad.... after all, they'd make short work of Fred & Bob if they had half a chance..... and while I am not overly enamored with either of those two kitties, I still owe them at LEAST a little protection.....

.... so..... coyote hunting next week, anyone?.....

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Mending.....

... good evening, gentle rubberneckers.... I hope that you are all well.... as for me, I'm coming down off of a two-day sniffles and feeling fine...... I do still have a bit of a drip, though.... and curiously itchy eyes..... probably a resurgence of The Plague - genetically engineered for our on-the-move generation - of course..... and with all likelihood, I'll bounce around here for a few days, enjoy the hell out of myself, and then turn completely black 72 hours from now and die in a heap of swollen lymph nodes, oozing sores, and bloody coughs.....

... then again, I'll probably be just fine...... I can trace three branches of my family back into time well beyond the arrival of The Plague in France and Great Britain... and a few of my other ancestors survived the small pox & influenza that Ponce de Leon traipsed through my neck of the woods back in the day..... so I suspect that I come from sturdy stock

.... but you know, I truly hate catching a cold..... all the incessant sneezing, nose-wiping, coughing?.... it's enough to drive a body absolutely mad...... BUT, this itchy eye thing is a new one for me...... and it is even more irritating than the sneezing, coughing, and dripping!......

..... I caught myself reaching up a few minutes ago to daub at my thin line of sore eyelashes, and I couldn't help but think of Linus from that old Peanuts cartoon...... wasn't he the guy who was always sucking his thumb, clinging to his blankie, and wiping his tired, myopic eyes?.......

.... ahhh.... perhaps I just need set of eye-glasses?.....

... anyway, I would like to throw a shout-out to my old buddy Jerry.... he having been in my garage whilst I chased black widow spiders around last October, has seen fit to dedicate a decidedly funky tune in my honor..... and since nothing cheers the soul like a little funk, I suggest you head over, loosen up your neck muscles, and give his tune a listen......

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Mutiny.....

..... hmmmm..... well, it appears that the latest funny business taking place in Bangladesh has upset The Brother-in-Law's best laid plans for the last few days..... he, of course, commuting from his home in Dhaka out to The Sundarbans every few days to supervise the bungalow construction..... but when the latest "mutiny" took place, he was traveling over on the Burma-side of Bangladesh with two of his buddies..... one of whom was affiliated with the "Bangladesh Rifles"..... so when the mutiny started going down, his friend got the phone call in the dark hours of the morning..... so, Brother-in-Law, being The Upstanding Man he is, phoned his wife back in Dhaka (she's an editor with their national newspaper) and she rushed into work to begin covering the story......

.... hearing from her later that tanks were patrolling the streets, and that it wasn't safe to re-enter Dhaka, he and his friends decided to tour the tribal area near the Chittagong Hill Tracks instead of rushing back to The Capital at their alotted time.....

.... I swear, that boy could find a silver lining in a sock filled with shit......

.... had it been me?.... rushing back to make it home when I was expected?..... I'd have attempted to re-enter Dhaka, found the city in a state of lockdown - and been refused entry..... thus left trying to find shelter for the last few days out on the fringes of the city.....

.... my goodness, talk about a slice of adventure bad luck!.... sure, chillin' with the wallahs on The South Side of Town would have been most interesting, but not nearly quite so sanitary as The Sheraton, if you catch my drift....

.... I can hear it all now..... "Pardon me, sir, but would you rather have a side order of Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, or Typhoid with your curry this evening?.... ahhh, dining alfresco?.... excellent choice, sir.... I highly recommend the Typhoid... as it just swept in fresh from Chittagong last week...".... him?... wandering around having a blast.... me?.... carried off by mosquitoes on the outskirts of town.......

.... anyway, according the The In-Laws he's safe and sound now.... and seemingly no worse for wear from his impromptu layover......

.... oh, and in other news it appears that we'll be vacationing this autumn in Sitges, Spain, a town just 30 minutes from Barcelona - and five walking-minutes from the Mediterranean Sea.... more info on that as it filters in from my shady overseas sources.....

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Species

.... whilst plowing through my usual morning reading today, I happened to read the following little tidbit in the March 2009 issue of Smithsonian.... check this out....

SPECIES HOT SPOT

Between 1997 and 2007, more than 1,000 species previously unknown to science were discovered in Southeast Asia's Greater Mekong region, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund. That's about two new species a week. The Greater Mekong has the highest concentration of different ecosystems in mainland Asia, and the Mekong River supports more wildlife per square mile than the Amazon. Newly documented flora and fauna include.....

.... blah, blah, blah.... the article then went on to list some snakes, a bat, a millipede, and a bunch of flowers and stuff.... but, hey, that's not the point!!....

.... what IS the point then, you ask?.... well, how about two new species a WEEK for ten years!??.... good god, people, that's just amazing..... damn, I hope they find a Bigfoot.....

.... anyway, I'm sitting here picturing an army of pith-helmeted Cornell University grad students wandering around in the jungle picking up every little creature they see, sticking it in a jar, and then laboriously pouring over giant tomes back at base camp to see if they've found something new...... another day, another two species!....

Brittney: "WOW, Chad!.... I found a new kind of slug that only eats the right-hand side of wild Mekong bananas!.... What'd YOU find?"

Chad Gumprecht: "uggghhhhh.... I found a new kind of snake.... it's a pit viper, I think.... uhhhhhhggg..... I'm gonna call it Gumprecht's Green Pit Viper..... urgle urgle.... pity no one has any Gumprecht's Green Pit Viper anti-venom, though....*thump*."

... I jest, of course.... but as a rule, aren't there some things in a jungle that you're just not meant to go poking with a stick?.....

.... ahhh..... but that's just me being jaded, of course.... they are, after all, scientists...... and they're doing good work....... and hell, if I'd taken a different path early on, who knows?.... I might be out there wading through the Mekong flipping over rocks with Brittney & Chad.....

... but, good god.... two new species every week for ten years?...... that just blows me away....

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Range.....

.... The Missus and I spent most of the morning exercising three of my handguns at a nearby indoor pistol range... and a good time was had by all.....

... she preferred my little Beretta Cheetah .380.... both because of its pop-up breech loading system, AND because it was the lightest & had the least recoil.... and at 20 feet, she was quite accurate..... I preferred my Beretta Cougar .45 ACP, but hell, I'm a foot taller than her and outweigh her by 80lbs, so that kinda makes sense...

.... I did my party-trick near the end of our day, and issued headshots to the target (firing from a rest position) at the maximum distance.... about 50 feet...... for that, though, I used my Taurus PT92-AFD 9mm - a pistol that I have owned since 1991.... all in all, not a bad way to spend a Thursday morning.....

..... I will say this, though..... cleaning that damnable Cougar is a complete pain in the ass...... that whole "floating barrel" assembly is an exercise in balance that having hands slicked with gun oil certainly doesn't help.... but anyway, it is a beautiful piece of engineering..... I just hate putting it back together......

..... so, yeah...... all weapons have been cleaned and placed back into their usual nooks and crannies around the house.... and the smell of gun oil is thick here in the blogroom........

... my fingers are sore from loading magazines for two hours..... but all in all, things are just as they should be..... a day spent on the range is a good, good day......

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Kings.....

..... what is it that you call those little grand birthright caveats that you sometimes see after a name?...... such as Eric, Esquire?........ or Eric, Gentleman?..... don't they seem just wonderful?...... I still get mail occasionally from The Bank of Scotland with regards to some overseas investments addressed to Eric, Esq.. ....

..... as for me, I just don't know what exactly they're called...... but whilst sipping my morning coffee just now, I happened to see one of my ancient ancestors in wikipedia - and he had the most remarkable little tail tacked on to his name according to a linked British Civil War's website.....

.... check this out, folks....... John Lisle, Regicide......

.... heh.... looks like at least one of my ancestors was a very, very naughty boy..... I mean, c'mon..... regicide??..... AND he administered The Oath of Office to Oliver Cromwell after Charles I's head had been separated from the rest of him......

..... I wonder if the title of "Regicide" can be passed down from generation to generation?..... I think it'd be kinda cool to start signing my official documents as Eric the SWG, Regicide.....

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Dinner.....

... mmmmm...... lamb.....

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Hair.....

.... I wandered into town to visit my friendly barberess, Eva, around lunchtime yesterday..... and she was, as usual, spry & entertaining..... herself getting on in age, she bounced around her elderly patrons snipping, combing, spraying, and massaging...... and in the end, each dusty old Southern Belle left satisfied (and quite buzzed from the cloud of hairspray fumes they'd just inhaled courtesy of Eva...)....

..... I arrived at my appointed time, of course.... but was still forced to wait for a bit while the thinning head of someone's Great Grandmother had the final touches performed upon it..... I picked up her purse for her as she struggled to manhandle her walker, and opened the door for her as she toddled out to her middle-aged daughter's Land Cruiser...... and then, as you do, I sat myself down in the old, faux-leather spinning chair for my three-dollar haircut......

..... I've written about a few of my trips to Eva's place in the past...... one here.... and one here...... and here, and here...... and it truly is a treat to sit and watch as Events Unfold at her business....... to be privy to the gossip and stories of those ancient Southern women, well, every single time is a gem......

.... today, though, there was little drama and even less gossip..... I'd planned on rushing back home anyway, so we were All Business......

..... instead, the drama today occurred once The Missus arrived home from work.....

..... I met her at the door, and she took one look at my 0-1.5" strawberry roan military fade and baulked noticeably...... I laughed.....

..... I took the rebuff in stride, of course, and went on through to make her a glass of wine...... but once we'd ensconced ourselves on the couch, she turned, looked at my bare noggin, reached up - almost as if to touch it - and said, "when, oh WHEN are you going to get a MODERN haircut!?".......

..... a modern haircut?!?....... good lord!...... what the hell is a Modern Haircut?....... I've had the same haircut for the past 18 years!!........ I'm thinking that a "modern" haircut is going to involve daubing some sort of "product" on my dwindling hair to create a "modern" man-scaped hair sculpture!....... and I'm just not sure that that'd be my style...... or lack of style, if you tend to lean that way........

..... sure, I can dress for an occasion when it arises.... I own lots of suits..... a tux...... hell, I even sport a silk Punjabi once in a while...... but day in and day out, I'm a boots, jeans, and tee-shirt guy....... the guy with short hair that doesn't even need combing....... so I can't help but wonder what wide, swinging tangent this "modern" haircut thing swung in on..........

... she must have been reading Cosmopolitan too much lately....... and become enamored of a meterosexual, or something...... I shall have to investigate and find out....... either way, the line "you look like you just stepped out of a Normal Rockwell painting" was uttered yet again..... as was, "you look like an extra for an old WWII film!".....

.... hey, who knew haircuts could be so unexpectedly controversial!?!......

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Animals...

..... 'The Golden Compass' is playing on HBO right now...... they're all quietly mumbling away about Demons daemons, and whatnot while I try to finish some work here in the blogroom..... it's an interesting distraction here on this windy, rain-flecked, overcast day...... demons daemons are not your usual daily fare..... well, at least not around here........

... evidently all of the characters have little animals that embody their souls.... and they follow them around wherever they go...... fireflies, puppies, kittens, monkeys, birds, etc..... Daniel Craig's "daemon" appears to be a snow leopard.....

.. I've always admired snow leopards..... majestic, mysterious beasts that they are..... almost sensuous in the way that they walk and stalk...... Daniel Craig?.... not so much....... besides, people keep telling me that I look like him, and that just freaks me out....... he's buff, sure.... but when I look in the mirror, I certainly don't want to see myself as quite that Craigy craggy..... then again, it ain't the age, right?..... it's the mileage...... so, yeah.... we have the same color of hair, I'll concede that......

.... while working here - with that movie on in the other room - I couldn't help but notice the life-size plastic Gila monster sitting atop my computer monitor gazing down at me........ I have a few, actually...... Jose, up there.... and Phil, over there on the shelf...... gifts all, funnily enough, from The Missus........

.... I made the mistake once of telling her - way, way back in the mists of time - about an Indian guy I was in The Corps with who once told me that he had went to a sweat out in Utah and saw my "spirit animals" in a vision....... he and I were good friends, and evidently he thought of me after having found his OWN "spirit animals", and felt the need to tell me all about it once he returned to our base in Alaska......

.... I thought it was interesting at the time, you know?...... wandering the mountains in winter, getting naked, throwing some sage on the fire, whacking yourself a few times with some eagle feathers, climbing inside a homemade sauna, a little chanting, and then letting yourself get dehydrated enough to start having hallucinations?.... hell, that's practically a blogmeet........ throw in some peyote, and I'd imagine it would be an absolutely GRAND time...... but anyway, yeah...... "spirit animals"......

..... I have two, evidently........

..... any guesses?..... apart from the Gila monster, obviously.....

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Reading.....

..... I heard yesterday that President Andrew Johnson never had a day of schooling in his life..... AND he taught himself to read.......

..... good god.....

.... how does a man begin to teach himself to read?!?......

.... I'm sorry, but that's just weird.....

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Dreary......

..... had to run to town a couple of days ago on a grocery run and decided to dip off the main road for some curves on the way back home..... here's the result.....

.... name that tune, anyone?......

..... goodnight, y'all..... I'm off to grill sausages and gaze approvingly at Sylvia's rear quarter panel.....

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Opera.....

.... we arrived home just after midnight last night after having thoroughly enjoyed a Night Out at the Opera...... and really?.... there is no finer venue to watch anything than The Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee....... the building is absolutely stunning inside..... and the theatre is truly, truly grand...... I can't even imagine what it must have been like to pay your nickel back in the day, walk into that magnificent foyer, climb the steps and sit back to watch "Gone With the Wind" or "Casablanca"....

... our modern movie theatres today are things of convenience & technology..... but a REAL theatre?.... the kind of theatre that folks visited in hushed whispers when Movies were King?....... well, they are Houses of Worship......

.... and from the brass front door to the gilded ceiling, they drip with an incredibly voluptuous grandeur..... not just for The Star, or The Film.... but for The Event........

.... and when you enter the Tennessee Theatre and take your seat, it doesn't matter if you are there for a concert by Buddy Guy, Tom Jones, Willie Nelson, or a production of antiquarian quilt-making techniques from southern Virginiana, you are in for one helluva show...... because you are THERE...... and that venue glows with a sense of pure, unadulterated entertainment..........

..... I've seen folk musicians, blues guys, rockers, and plays there...... and they all have been enhanced simply because of the wonderful building that held them.... but last night?...... well, it was opera...... and I loved it....

...... I did realize something, though..... something that I really hadn't imagined until I saw the first few numbers completed.......

..... see, when someone writes an opera, they don't just write the lyrics and the music to the songs that tell the tale of a story, they take it one step further........ I know that it shouldn't have, but it did - but the fact that the composers took the singing dialogue and scripted it to music as well - well, wow........ sure, there is wiggle room left for artistic interpretation by individual singers to do their thing, but to imagine that a composer took all of the dialogue from an entire story and set it all to His Musical Vision is just amazing......

.... anyway, I'm beginning to ramble....... but I will say this before I head off to the couch for a libation....... art exists in many, many forms..... from opera to quilting..... from gospel to heavy metal....... from sculpture to poetry....... from writing to public speaking........ art is the beauty that surrounds us every day - wherever we may be...... a photograph, a song, a thought that makes you smile....... a vibrato voice that makes your heart pound, or a sandwich On The Square that makes your mouth water in anticipation of every bite.......

...... embrace it all, folks..... gobble it...... chew it....... search for it........ and when you find it, swallow every morsel that you can get your grubby little paws on........... and then tilt your head back and smile........

.... .because, hey, that is what it is all about.........

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Battening....

.... it's been unseasonably warm here today.... and the sky has cast gloom since daybreak.... boiling with black, grey, and those tornado-ish yellow/green clouds, the roar of the wind through the trees moves from a low moan to a deep, unearthly growl.....

... sitting here now, the last hangers-on of the leaves that made it through the winter are now being violently snatched from the tree limbs.... they don't fall to the ground, though........ they're ripped off quickly and disappear horizontally deep into the woods....

.... Severe Thunderstorm Warning, Wind Advisory, and a Tornado Watch are all in effect at the moment....

....... so fasten your seatbelts, folks.... it's gonna be a bumpy night.....

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Fish.....

..... I've never been a huge fan of fish..... sure, I'll eat it from time to time, but I don't actively search it out on a menu very often..... and shrimp?.... tasteless little beasties that - were it not for them being a wonderful conveyance for cocktail sauce - would hardly ever be on my menu...... same goes for clams & oysters..... deep-fried with plenty of lemon juice & cocktail stuff?..... oh yeah.... otherwise?... not so much.....

... lobsters and crabs are a different story, though.... and I can eat roughly my weight in snow crab legs or lobster tails..... there's just something wonderful to be said for cracking a beast's joints, wrenching limbs from carcass, and digging out it's flesh that just makes me smile..... and the smell of melted dipping-butter has tweaked my inner Tasmanian Devil since early in my childhood....

.... my goodness..... sitting here thinking back, I reckon that - even though I don't like fish that much - I've still managed to do my fair share to thin out their global population over the years.... I've eaten mackerel, shark, tuna, trout, catfish, haddock, cod, tilapia, monkfish, eels, sardines, flounder, anchovies, halibut, swordfish, bass, sea bass, crappie, bluegill, pike, and grouper..... I've eaten them fried, sauted, boiled, baked, raw, smoked, pickled, steamed, and grilled..... hell, I even ate a sea cucumber once.....

..... anyway, I bring all this crap up only because it was announced tonight that we're having mackerel for dinner......

.... damnation, folks..... mackerel.....

..... I believe that I was scarred early in life when I caught a whiff of a can of sardines that my Grandpa was scarfing down one hot summer day long-ago....

..... but, damn..... mackerel....

.... mackerel is a fish's fish..... tiger striped, torpedo-shaped, oily, and as fishy as they come.... think of a halibut & its flesh - fresh, firm, sweet, clean & fragrant.... and then imagine the absolute opposite in every way, and you've got a mackerel.....

.... that said, I'll still eat it.... and I'll likely enjoy it..... for it did, after all, die for the benefit of my Omega 3's..... and I'll think of it as it swam happily with its friends in the warm, gentle waters off the coast of Spain.... I may even raise a glass in honor of the sacrifice that it made all those weeks ago as it was smoked, filleted, and vacuum-sealed....... I may even bow my head and mutter a little prayer as I lick my lips in anticipation of nibbling her smoky, salty, oily flesh.....

..... but I certainly don't look forward to smelling the bastard bake for fifteen minutes.......

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Sausages....

..... today has been a laid back day here... The Missus is feeling a bit under the weather & spent the entirety of the day on the couch (with the exception of moving to the kitchen table and whipping my ass at Scrabble) in her pajamas....... still, though, it was a beautiful day - but cold............

.... anyway, since I don't much feel like writing tonight - and Elisson & The Maximum Leader both seemed interested in last night's dinner here, I guess that I should pony-up and share my meager recipe......

Ingredients:
1 large onion - minced finely
1 green bell pepper - sliced, cored, and made generally edible
1 package of Pepperidge Farms "Hot" Italian sausage - skinned and halved
1 packet of sliced mushrooms
1 tblspn of Worcestershire sauce
1 tblspn of ground black pepper
1 packet of Colman's Sausage Casserole mix
1 can of beef broth
300ml (1/2 pint) of cold water

.... so basically, I just mixed the Colman's powder with the 1/2 pint of water and whisked it up nicely...... then, I skinned the sausages, halved them, and placed them in the bottom of a casserole dish...... I then minced the onion (using a little whirly-bladey thing that I got for Christmas) and scattered that on top of the resting sausages..... then I added the sliced green pepper and the mushrooms....... dusted the whole thing with a few good scrapes of black pepper and a lashing of Worcestershire sauce

... the little Colman's sachet called for 1/2 pint of water...... but upon adding the water to the mix, I found that it didn't quite cover all of the ingredients....... so I added another 1/2 pint of beef broth....... and then covered it & baked it at 350 for an hour and a half......... at that point, I backed off the heat and let it cook another 3 hours at 250.........

..... it looked like almighty hell when I dished it out onto the plate.... but, damn, it was tasty..........

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Sausages......

...... my morning visitors, ladies and gentlemen.......

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... mmmm...... backstrap.....

.... today has been an absolutely beautiful day here at The Compound...... clear, crisp, barely above freezing with a sky the color of a robin's egg.....

.... and tonight for dinner?.... my Scottish sausage casserole..... mercy.... it's hard to have fun in a place like this, but I sure try my bestest......

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Providence.....

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

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

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

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

pith_small.jpg

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

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

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

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Signs.....

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

... hat tip to Zonker....

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Firsts!.....

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

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

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

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

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Flip-side.....

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

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

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

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

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

channel_surfing_small.jpg

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

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

..... damn, I wonder what his boyfriend l