Thursday, November 30, 2006
The title of the song was really Three Dog Night as named by the Eskimos. On very cold nights it took three dogs on top of a bed to keep everyone warm.
We have two dogs. Both put together are not nearly enough to keep anyone warm on a cold winter's night.
The two Poms travel in style. Theirs is the back seat of the Dodge truck settled into in their own little seats, suitable for snoozing.
Jilli takes the middle seat. She cuddles down, nose over the front edge of the chair. From her position Jilli takes in the sights from her somewhat front row advantage while the truck rumbles down the highway.
Last year the dogs traveled 6,000 miles in these seats. This year they only racked up two thousand. In the world of frequent flyer miles, Jilli and Zoe running a bit behind the pack.
It's easy to know when to stop the truck and let the dogs do their business. One or both of them start panting, panting and panting, looking like they're very distressed. That's the signal to pull over mucho pronto and let one or both head for the woods. We don't usually let them get to that point and stop fairly frequently to let them out to at least stretch their legs.
They're good travelers, usually sleeping all or most of every trip.
I wish that I could do the same.
Here's Candace with Carol Ann, one of our very best friends. Carol and I have been friends for at least 30 years. You don't often find friends that last a lifetime.
Carol and I used to teach in adjoing classrooms. We had a lot of fun. Check out the Junior Mint story in an earlier Blog if you want the real story on what teaching was like back in the day.
In those days teaching was fun unlike today where teachers are lock-stepped into No Child Left Behind teaching standards. No Child Left Behind really should be called All the Fun in Teaching is Left Behind.
When our kids lock us up in the old folks home, Carol and I will be there together. We have it all mapped out. We've got to have fun in the old folks home. Isn't life about having fun?
Here's what we'll be doing - Carol and I love to organize "stuff"
There will be wheel chair races, there will be diaper filling contests, there will be weird noise contests (and I will win every one of them hands down), there will be finger whistling contests (Carol Ann will win that one every time - no one can finger whistle like Carol Ann), we'll put on our verion of the Gong Show (I'll be the guy with the paper bag on his head telling jokes), there will be nurse stare down contests, there will be mush eating contests, there will be break out of the rest home - truck on down to the bar in your wheel chair and get shit faced on Tequila contests, there will be contests to see who barfs the much (measured in lapfulls) on the wheel chair trek back to the old folks home, there will be whistle while you eat your mush and saltine crackers contest, there will be throw your teeth in the glass contests - and there will be a lot more contests that we'll think up later.
Heck, it will be one fun time in the old folks home, right Carol Ann?
It will be lots of fun being in the old folks home with Carol Ann. Right Carol Ann? Is there an echo in here?
Several weeks ago we were invited to a birthday party for another dear friend who lives in the wine country and where we used to live. It was a big birthday for her. Lots of people were invited to bring in the big year with her.
We decided to spend time with Carol Ann before the party. What better way to spend time but to spend it out to dinner.
Living in Cow Town the idea of haute cuisine is dinner at Olive Garden or Pizza Hut. When you're used to the fine dining, the five star restaurants in wine country, Cow Town haute cuisine does not cut it. Both of us miss the dining experiences that we became accustomed to during the time that we lived in the wine country.
On this night I chose a special restaurant in a little town close to where we used to live. Because I have been deprived of food items not found in Cow Town, I was going to have it all and eat it all.
We arrived at the restaurant, had a drink at the bar with the what is hip wine country crowd and was seated for dinner a half an hour later.
There were tough decisions to make. What to eat? What to eat? It all looked good.
My choices were: First the oysters, then the French onion soup topped with sourdough bread and cheese. Then I think that I had a salad but I'm not sure. About that time the large martini glass of Blue Saphire was starting to take ahold of my consciousness. Or was it about the time that the fine bottle of wine was uncorked?
For an entree Carol had scallops, Candace the fish stew and I the coq au vin. I took pictures of what they had . . . don't they look scrumptious?
I had to have the chocolate cake for desert.
As Candace and Carol rolled me out the door of the restaurant I think I went oink, oink, oink all the way to the car. I think I sinned that night.
Holy macaroni and cheese! Carol, please be the designated driver? HELP! I've eaten too much and I can't get behind the steering wheel!
Isn't gluttony one of the 7 sins? Or have they upped the number of sins to 10? I forget. Maybe I should check into gluttony rehab . . .
We were 90 minutes late to the party. After being scolded for our tardiness, we mingled with the 60 plus guest, many of whom have been our friends over the years. What a great time it was, well worth the 5 hour drive from Cow Town.
We frequently talk about moving back to wine country. Most of our friends are there. We love the climate, the restaurants, the festivals, the wine tasting and the politics.
But we've been priced out of the housing market. A 1,600 square foot tract home on a 60x100 lot we bought new for $120,000 in the mid 1980's now sells for $675,000. Ouch! Our 1985 home is not worth that kind of money.
I guess we could park our trailer at a trailer park and venture back and forth between Cow Town and Wine Country. Then we'd be trailer trash. Nuts. I can't do that.
I hate to think of spending the rest of my days in Cow Town and not being able to enjoy the food and wine that I love so much. If we were to return to Wine Country I'd sin most every day of the week - that glutton thing.
Geeze, what a way to go.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I learned to sail on a Hobie Cat identical to the one seen here. It was my first sailboat.
Sensible people take a series of sailing lessons before soloing. It was enough for me to have one lesson or so I thought. I soon learned that anyone sailing a boat like this would have to be able to Hobie Up during any outing on a lake or ocean.
If you ask any sailor who has owned a Hobie Cat it is likely the first words out of their mouth would be, "A Hobie is the hotrod of the sailing world" or "A Hobie is very unforgiving".
My first solo outing was with another family on an inland lake. It was not long before I had capsized the boat during an attempt to fly along the water on one hull.
"Flying a hull" is a balancing act. A slight of hand, a sail left too tight will tip the balance. Once the balance is disturbed you find yourself going over the bow of the boat, sometimes getting caught in the rigging and then spending a fair amount of time righting the sailboat.
The day of my first solo I capsized the boat once and "turtled" it the second. Turtling is a sailing term for the boat being completely upside down with the mast pointed at the bottom of the lake. It took the help of sympathetic ski boat owners to right my Hobie both times.
These first lessons were good ones in the school of sailing hard knocks. Lessons? Lessons?! I don't need no stinking sailing lessons!
My favorite time of year was anytime of the year when I could uncover my boat and sail it. Once I became an experienced sailor it was not unusual for me to sail alone and not get into trouble.
Those were great times. The warmth of the sun, the sound of the wind in the sails and the hum of the rudders cutting through the water. It was relaxing.
There is nothing with a sail on the water that can beat a catamaran sailboat. Nothing. The term "A Hobie is the hotrod of the sailing world" was always the rule and not the exception.
Since I was learning each time I sailed the boat it took a while but in a fashion it became easy to skim along the lake on one hull without crashing and burning. I could connect myself in a harness, hang over the side of the Hobie and hit it! It's Hobie Up time! Passengers had the same opportunity to hook up with the harness although many opted to remain seated and hang on.
When it was time to head back to the beach it became a habit to sail full force onto the beach on one hull. Showboating? Sure it was but what fun!
The Hobie, Candace and I sailed Lake Tahoe, San Francisco Bay, Tomales Bay, Clear Lake, Lake Sonoma, Diamond Lake, Lake Don Pedro, Pillsbury Lake, Lake Mendocino and Whiskeytown Lake. We rented Hobies to sail during vacations in Mexico and Hawaii.
Sailing in those places looked pretty much like this.
Our kids loved sailing on the Hobie and fondly recall upright times on it as well as times they were dunked because I was hotdogging.
I remember capsizing our sailboat one July afternoon on Lake Mendocino with Candace. Actually, the boat pitch-poled meaning a bow dug into the water causing it to pitch forward.
It had been a great sailing day on the lake. Strong, consistent winds from one direction made for long sailing runs. We were both hooked into harnesses sailing on a single hull.
It was during a long run going very fast toward the end of the lake on one hull. This was a time where balance was everything. A sudden gust of wind would capasize the boat. A shift in weight on it would do the same. Pulling the sheets in tighter would definitely upset the balance and cause it to go over.
For reasons I could not explain, when balance was everything, Candace unhooked her harness and jumped off of the boat. The boat immediately dug one hull into the water. Since I was hooked into the harness I was captive to anything the boat did. I was reduced to swinging around the mast of the boat and into the headstay and then into the water I kept thinking, "Why did Candace jump off of the boat?"
"I thought we were going over so I wanted to get off of it before the Hobie capzised.", was her reply.
"But we weren't going over!"
My legs and arms were cut by the wires holding the mast up. The two of us didn't take long to right the boat. Soon we were on our way back to the beach where Candace felt more secure leaving me to lick my wounds and finish off the day's sailing alone.
We sold the Hobie in favor of purchasing a larger, single hulled craft that wouldn't tip over. It was a sad day to see our friend of 15 years be pulled out of the driveway by its new owner. But we have lots of pictures and memories that will never fade of our summers with our Hobie 16..
Monday, November 27, 2006
Back in the day I took photographs, pictures of good technical quality taken by an expensive camera. To go along with my hobby, there was a darkroom and all of the necessary tools to support it. I was into photography.
Back in the day I used to chide dad about his snapshots. It was about the composition his pictures had, poor exposure, wrong type of film for the situation, etc. etc. etc. In my opinion, back in the day, dad couldn't take a good picture to save his fanny.
Dad didn't care, he just took pictures to be taking pictures. From slide photos taken with an old viewfinder 35mm Kodak camera during our stay in Alaska to Instamatic photos in California, Dad just took pictures as snapshots, for his enjoyment without the goal of takingphotographs that had distinct quality. I could never understand that.
Then came the day when dad quit taking pictures. He said, "Why take them, we're not going to be around to enjoy any more pictures." I could never understand that, either.
They say what comes around goes around.
Today my photographic goal is not to take photographs. I like taking snapshots with no regard to whether the f-stop is right or if the composition is perfect. Don't care, doesn't matter. I like taking snapshots. Lots of them.
In this new century it's youngest son Max who has taken on the role of photographer who truly takes quality photographs. They're wonderful, worthy of hanging most anywhere. He's picky. Being picky shows up in what Max produces. Makes an old dad proud.
It has come around. It has gone around.
The picture on this entry is one taken last week over Brookings. Not bad for a snapshot, don't you think? Old dad is going to keep on snapping.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
On the road to camping dad would sing, "Campin' tonight, campin' tonight, campin' on the old camp ground.
This past July I camped a half a mile away from where this picture was taken this morning. The picture is off of ODOT's web camera for Highway 138 at the Diamond Lake turnoff.
Makes me cold just looking at it. There's no camping at Diamond Lake tonight. You can bet your sweet fanny on that one.
Have you ever wondered why women feel comfortable with a tattoo on the small of their back and why you never see a male with a tattoo in the same area?
Why is that? I wonder about these things.
If I were tattooed there, would the tattoo have a special meaning? I wonder about that, too.
I've often thought about being tattooed. It's a stupid thought for me. What would the tattoo look like? Where would it placed? I wonder about these things.
Will it ever be too late to get a tattoo? What if I wait a while longer to make up my mind on whether to get a tattoo? Will it take a lot longer to decide what to have tattooed on my body?
How about "Slippery When Wet"? Or, "This side up"? How about, "Return to sender"? I wonder about these things.
I've decided on this tattoo.
I will still wonder about these things.
I will continue to wonder about myself.
Anyone need change for a dollar?
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
In 1621 the Pilgrims feasted for 3 days with 90 Indians to celebrate their first harvest. Three days! They were partying like it was 1999!! If John Wayne could have been at the feast he would have definitely said, "Whoa, take'er easy there, Pilgrim!
We would have looked like this back then. Last time I visited San Francisco I saw a few dudes dressed like this, complete with garters.
Canned cranberry sauce, don't even go there! Hours are spent preparing a wonderful meal for Thansksgiving and one of the most important items of the feast is taken from a can. Yuck.
Look at this. Is that tempting to eat? A loaf of cranberry sauce is tempting to eat? Give me a break, Pilgrim. You need my grandmother's Cranberry Relish Salad.
If you like cranberry sauce, you'll love this dish. Cook it up for Thanksgiving. It will become part of your Thanksgiving meal every year.
GRANDMA'S CRANBERRY RELISH SALAD
Both my mother and grandmother used to grind each ingredient in a meat grinder set on coarse. We use a food processor.
1 apple with skin and cored
1 orange with skin
1 package fresh cranberries
1 cup of miniature marshmallows
1 cup of sugar (or 1/2 a cup or more to taste)
3/4 cup of walnuts
Place everything in the food processor except the sugar. Process and then mix in the sugar. Best made the day of the dinner.
Okay, the turkey. How did the Pilgrims know when the turkey was ready to eat? There were no thermometers. Emeril was not born yet and hadn't learned to say, "BAM, your turkey is hot and ready to eat!"
It was pretty simple for the Pilgrims. Somehow they learned that turkey is completely cooked at 180 degrees and that popcorn popped at 175 degrees.
VIOLA! Stuff the turkey with unpopped popcorn. How totally 1621! The Pilgrims found that when the rearend blows off of the turkey and there's popcorn from hell to breakfast you know that it's fully cooked and ready to eat. They also yelled, "FIRE IN THE HOLE!" when the corn started a popping. BAM! BAM!!
Here's a turkey stuffed with popcorn cooking the old fashioned way. Notice the rearend of the turkey is pointed out and not in so as to get the full effect of when the turkey is fully cooked.
Bon Appetite, Pilgrims!
My Thanksgiving glass? It was half full. I poured the water out and filled it with eggnog. Now my glass is full, thank you very much. How about your glass? Half full or half empty come Thanksgiving?
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
It was during one of those times when working in the field of education disgusted me. I wanted out. For me there had to be more to my life than runny nosed kids, head lice, helicopter parents, minimum wage pay and being confined to a 960 square foot room for 6 hours a day.
There were two or three periods in my professional life where I felt like leaving it. During one of these periods Candace had left for a vacation with her parents in Hawaii. I was left behind to wallow in my displeasure with public education. Enough was enough.
While Candace was away I created a Plan B for my next life which would be far, far away from education: I'd sell the house and use the proceeds to buy a supermarket somewhere along the California coastline.
I did just that. During her absence in Hawaii the house was placed on the market and sold. It was a surprise to Candace when she returned home all rested and relaxed to learn that the house had been sold and that I was planning to quit my job. This went over like a lead balloon.
I won't bore you with what happened after that. My unrest was calmed, I remained in education, Candace and I are still married.
Then there was the time when I was really fed up with public education. Flying jumbo jets for an airline was appealing. I dreamt of flying to farway places, enjoying haute airline cuisine (coffee, tea or me?), sitting and being cool in the pilot's seat of a 747. That was for me.
Pilot's lessons were the first order of the day toward reaching commericial pilot's status. The lessons began on a Cessna 150 very much like the one you see in the picture, even its condition matches that of the aircraft I flew.
My instructor was a former student who was also headed toward being a commercial airline pilot. Eric had his instrument rating, multi-engine certificate, and jet aircraft rating. He was good to go. And one day he did.
Lessons were expensive. One or two flights a month were all we could afford to pull from the family budget. Because the lessons were infrequent it took a while to reach the point of where Eric felt comfortable with my soloing.
It was a blustery, overcast day. The flight that day was a rocky one with the little Cessna being tossed about by winds coming from different directions. I pointed the aircraft back to the airport, did a downwind leg and then turned to head into the runway. The tower had just given me, "Cessna November 2 Zulu clear to land. Watch for the Piper ahead of you ".
On landing Eric had planned on hopping out of his seat and allow me to have my first solo flight. Winds continued to buffet the Cessna around as I guided it down onto the runway.
On touch down a gust of wind from the right side of the pushed the wing of the Cessna sharply into the air. We were about to flip over. Eric yelled, "Left aileron, left aileron!" I froze. I couldn't connect my brain to my foot to step on the aileron that would right the aircraft. Had Eric not taken control and stepped on the left aileron Cessna November 2 Zulu would have wound up on the scrapheap.
My confidence was blown. I was thoroughly shaken. What if Eric had not been there? I was so close to soloing I wondered that if another control issue came up would I be able to manage it? Or would I crash?
There were no more flying lessons after that. The dreams of flying to far away places went away. Thoughts of coffee, tea or me were replaced by , "Dad, please pass the ketsup".
Work on a masters degree started soon after that windy day at the airport. I was headed in another direction but not in the direction of the wild, blue yonder.
In the end, it always works out, doesn't it?
Now, if I would have only thought to mount a Plastic Jesus Action Figure on the dash of the Cessna . . .
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Has anyone ever told you that you didn't know your left foot from your right or that you didn't know your fanny from a hole in the ground?
Growing up I often heard those words from my dad in his feeble effort to squash my independence or maybe to kill off the bad case of OCR I've possessed since a young lad that drove him absolutely nuts.
Grace has a tendency of not knowing the difference between left and right when it comes to putting her shoes on. She's only four and this is understandable. It's a laugh when I see her stumble around the house, not knowing quite what's wrong and wondering why her left foot keeps going in the right direction and vice versa.
When I was her age it was never a problem with right or left. The real problem was in tying my shoes. Even at age 6 it was an art I just could not master. There was no way I could even come close to tying my shoes on my own. Mom tried and tried to help me to master the art of this string over that string but to no avail. I just couldn't get it. All the other kids could tie their own shoes, or so mom said that they could. Boy, did I ever feel stupid.
It wasn't unusual for mom to go over the top over some little thing. In this case it was about her alwaying tying my shoes. Mom had had it. One day she said "No more!" and never again would mom help me with what I thought a very complicated chore.
Maybe mom thought that if she didn't draw the line for me at age six that she would be forced into living with me for the rest of her life for the sole purpose of tying my shoes before I rambled off to work everyday. That would have been interesting.
I remember the day well when mom would no long tie my shoes, heading out the door to attend first grade, crying about the shoelaces that were dragging behind me in the dirt. Gads, I thought, what am I going to do? Was I destined to lead a life of untied shoes? Would I have to ask strangers on the street to tie my shoes for me?
Across the street lived a nice little girl named Jeanne. We were the same age. Apparently Jeanne heard my squalling as she was soon on our doorstep where I was sitting, elephant tears running down my face. At age 6 Jeanne and I had already decided that one day we were going to marry and have 12 kids, all gifted and very talented, blond headed, one of which would be President of the United States in the year 1998. We had it all figured out.
Jeanne soon found out what the matter was and quickly said, "Here, I can show you how to tie your shoes". One lace here, the other there, Jeanne made it look like a snap. "Let me try", I said and in an instant I had tied both shoes. What mother had failed to accomplish in many lessons Jeanne did in less than 60 seconds: I could tie my own shoes!
Into adulthood Jeanne prides herself, as she introduces me to her family or friends as being the person who taught me to tie my shoes. I still turn red when she reveals my little secret.
Had we stayed in Fresno Jeanne and I might have married, had those 12 kids and lived happily ever after. As destiny would have it, this was not in the cards.
They say that as we age routine tasks become a little more difficult. For example my dad who was well groomed in younger years but in his 60's and 70's let nose and ear hairs grow to lengths I had never seen. Those babies got really long! "Dad?", I say, "It's time for a harvest." And with my reminder he would reluctantly trim those pesty hairs.
As I age I wonder if I'll have a problem with tying my shoes again. Will there be a day and like Grace will I not be able to distinguish left from right? Maybe I should have left and right tattoed on the tops of my feet. That would be the ticket. Where ever I would go there they would be - left and right feet labeled so there would never be any mix them up. There would be no right foot headed in the left direction.
I've always wanted a tattoo. This is the perfect excuse to do just that.
All things to consider as time marches on.
Oh yes, my shoes are tied this morning and on the correct feet. Do I ever feel good about myself.
Monday, November 13, 2006
We're starting to travel a lot. Travels carries with it certain risks . . flat tires, credit card max-out, road maps that are wrong (and I'm always right, damn it! and I'm not stopping to ask for directions!!), car sick dogs, deer that come out of no where, and horrible road food.
Those aren't risks. They're part of the joys of traveling: These things will always happen regardless if you're Doctor Phil, Martha Stewart, or OJ who has no gloves.
There are other risks associated with traveling. Stranger danger. People who would take your life, your wallet, your dog, truck and wife in a heartbeat without thinking twice. They're out there. Because I'm out there I always look over my shoulder. It's a good thing to be wary.
I travel with several handguns and sometimes a rifle. One of the handguns and the rifle are for "plinking". Target shooting is fun. In the military a Sharp Shooter medal was pinned on my chest three times - and not for always hitting the urinal. I'm not a good shot, I'm a damned great shot.
The second handgun is just there for "just in case". It's a nice sidearm, a .380 semi-auto coming under the heading of big things sometimes come in small packages.
While the .380 is relatively small, during our travels Candace is delighted with an opportunity to off handedly say, "Is that a gun you're carrying or are you just glad to see me?" Mae West's famous line still plays even in the year 2006.
Being reckless, hotheaded, impulsive, stupid, Bush-headed, out of control -does not go with carrying a handgun. One of the two have to stay home. Attitude and handguns do not travel together in harmony.
That said, once in a while it would be fun to pull out that long barreled 357 mag and holler at some yea-hoo who has really peed me off, "Are you feeling lucky, punk?" just to catch the deer in the headlights, holy shit look on his face. I know better. It ain't worth it. No way. Here's why.
First lesson in carrying a weapon for self defense: Do not, do not draw your weapon unless you fully intend to fire it. Do not.
If you draw your weapon in any situation one guess as to where your next stop will be. . . If you said jail you're right. Regardless of the circumstance, you're busted. No questions asked, you're wrong, everyone else is right.
Pull the trigger a Monopoly Go Straight to Jail/Do Not Pass Go card is pasted on your forehead. Regardless of the circumstance, firing a rife or handgun at anyone even if you don't hit them will land you in a 4x6 concrete room.
What's a happy compromise to problems that come up? I've found it.
The movie, Cool Hand Luke? We've all seen it. Remember Paul Newman strumming a banjo and singing Plastic Jesus when his mother died? It helped Paul Newman, all of his problems went away (but then he created more on his own), a Plastic Jesus can help Old Bob.
Instead of pulling out that 357 magnum attitude when the going gets tough, I'll wave my Plastic Jesus, sing the song. Whatever or whoever is bothering me will go away, just like it happened to Paul Newman. Now there's real fire power.
Headlines: "Old Bob Goes Whack-O on Main Street. Following a traffic accident where Mr Bob was rear ended, he exited his car, got on the roof of the vehicle who hit his car and started waving something plastic in the air all the while singing something about a Plastic Jesus. After being Maced and restrained by four meter maids Old Bob was taken to the mental ward for observation."
Hopefully it wouldn't go like that, but it would be fun to whack out like that now and then . . . if I didn't get put in the nut house.
Rest of the today? I've ordered my Action Figure on E-Bay. Isn't it cool? I'm also memorizing the song. I can use all of the protection I can while we're traveling.
As Jesus once said, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do". This is and I am probably what and who Jesus was talking about.
I don't care if it rains of freezes'
Long as I got my Plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car.
Through my trials and tribulations
And my travels through the nations
With my Plastic Jesus I'll go far.
Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus,
Riding on the dashboard of my car
I'm afraid He'll have to go.
His magnets ruin my radio
And if I have a wreck He'll leave a scar.
Riding down a thoroughfare
With His nose up in the air,
A wreck may be ahead, but He don't mind.
Trouble coming He don't see,
He just keeps His eye on me
And any other thing that lies behind.
Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus,
Riding on the dashboard of my car ...
Though the sunshine on His back
Make Him peel, chip and crack,
A little patching keeps Him up to par.
When I'm in a traffic jam
He don't care if I say "damn"
I can let all my curses roll
Plastic Jesus doesn't hear'
Cause he has a plastic ear
The man who invented plastic saved my soul.
Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus,
Riding on the dashboard of my car ...
Once His robe was snowy white,
Now it isn't quite so bright -
Stained by the smoke of my cigar.
If I weave around at night,
And policemen think I'm tight,
They never find my bottle - though they ask.
Plastic Jesus shelters me,
For His head comes off, you see
He's hollow, and I use Him for a flask.
Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus,
Riding on the dashboard of my car ...
Ride with me and have a dram
Of the blood of the Lamb -
Plastic Jesus is a holy bar.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
The way the cookie crumbles at my house is usually down the inside of my Lazy Boy and onto the floor. Jilli has learned, in her neverending quest for stray crumbs, that when Dad has cookies, there are crumbs for the taking if you look in the right places.
Here's Jilli looking in the right place because that's the way the cookie crumbled that night.
Two hours were spent with a professional photographer yesterday taking Grace's fourth birthday photographs. The Sun Dial Bridge, pictured here, was one of the backdrops for the photos.
We finished about 2. Before we left Grace had ice cream at the park cafe across from the bridge, Candace and our photographer had coffee, I just enjoyed the sights.
We'll be heading for Brookings in about a week. This picture was taken on our last trip to Brookings in July. It was interesting to watch the elderly couple next to where we were parked. They camped in a converted van spending much of their time sitting and enjoying the ocean just as they are in this picture.
I'd find that arrangement more than confining. A little bit of togetherness like that goes a long way in this family. Each of us likes our space. A 30 foot fifth wheel even though about 240 square feet, is just enough space for the two of us.
Today is officially Veteran's Day. This shot of Mt. Rushmore is a reminder for each of us to do all we can to let freedom ring in American each and every day of the year. If you voted last Tuesday that's certainly a great step in that direction.
It's raining here today and it's Saturday pizza night. Great day for a fire, skip the book by the hearth in favor of war movies on the telly topping this day off with homemade pizza pie.
While I flip the dough for the pizza in the air and pretend that I'm Dean Martin by singing in my off key way:
When the moon hits your eye like a big-a pizza pie
When the world seems to shine like you've had too much wine
Bells'll ring ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling
And you'll sing "Vita bella"
Hearts'll play tippi-tippi-tay, tippi-tippi-tay
Like a gay tarantella
When the stars make you drool joost-a like pasta fazool
When you dance down the street with a cloud at your feet, you're in love
When you walk in a dream but you know you're not dreamin',
signore'scusa me, but you see, back in old Napoli, that's amore
(When the moon hits your eye like a big-a pizza pie, that's amore)
That's amore(When the world seems to shine like you've had too much wine, that's amore)
That's amoreBells will ringting-a-ling-a-lingting-a-ling-a-lingAnd you'll sing
"Vita bella"Vita bell-vita bellaHearts will playtippi-tippi-tay, tippi-tippi-tay
Like a gay tarantellaLucky fellaWhen the stars make you drool just like pasta fazool
That's amore (that's amore)
When you dance down the street with a cloud at your feet, you're in love
When you walk in a dream but you know you're not dreaming, signore'scusa me, but you see,
back in old Napoli, that's amoreAmore
Friday, November 10, 2006
Okay, I've cheated and left the television that's playing umteen war movies for the next two days. I need to make an entry on my Blog while it was on my mind. Veteran's Day brings up all sorts of memories of the 3 years, 10 months and 20 days spent on active duty. Memories of my military service alone could fill three or four chapters in Bob's Stupid Book of Things No One Wants to Know About.
One chapter would be devoted to Lyndon Johnson making a strong point, over and over, that the United States had no military presence in Cambodia. Knowing that a handful of B-52's from our outfit were temporary based in Cambodia and bombing the hell of out of North Vietnam, I questioned the integrity of our president. This serves up a point, just wait until George Bush is out of office. Then and only then will America learn about how really incompetent he was during his two terms of office, how he lied to the American people, that there really were horrible things that went on in Iraq and that secret torture was plied on innocent people.
One of the highlights of my military service was a flight to Southeast Asia on a KC-135 tanker. The tanker refueled several aircraft during our journey across the ocean including a B-52 which is pictured here.
Wow, 50 or 60,000 feet above the Pacific ocean, what a sight it was. I was able to sit in the tail of the tanker alongside the boom operator. It was his job to who manipulate the boom into the fuel hatch on the B-52. What skill.
Toward the end of my enlistment I was asked to become a helicopter pilot. Believe it or not, the only reason I declined this request was the extension of my service for an additional six years. My goal at that time was to leave the Air Force, attend college, earn a degree and enter law school. Training to fly helicopters for eventual duty in View Nam (the risk didn't bother me at the time) and remaining in the Air Force for another six years was not in the plans.
I regret not being trained to fly choppers in Viet Nam. Taking on chopper training would have delayed my education by another six years. At the time I was not willing to delay it any more that it already had been. What an experience it would have been. I wonder how my life would have changed if I had. Would I be here today?
What happened to a career in law? As they say, those that can - do. Those that can't teach. Long story short, it was a law school requirement glitch that I was not willing to hassle.
There are a lot of things to consider on the day that we appreciate those who served and especially those who lost their lives in battle. It could have easily been me.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Like Christmas, Veteran's Day comes once a year. Hoo ahhh! It's one of my favorite holidays. Since I'm a veteran there are lots of things I could do.
I can march in a parade, wave a flag and wear my old size 37 regular uniform that once fit a 156 pound 18 year old bod. The hat I once wore is too small. Old Bob, in all of his wisdom, has grown a fat head. The old service cap won't fit.
I can go to the Elks Lodge. At 11:00 a.m. every Veteran's Day a toast is lifted to honor our men and women who served our country. Everyone is given a shot of cognac. A shot of cognac hardly seems like an American drink to serve on that day. A shot of Bud would be right up there with the stars and stripes. Hooo ahh!
Our county has a newly dedicated Veteran's cemetary. There's a ceremony there on Saturday. I'll skip that one. There will be lots of time in the future for me to attend these gatherings, albeit below the surface.
On Veteran's Day I'm not going anywhere. In fact, I'm in my lazy boy chair for two days. Two. Why?
Veteran's Day is like Christmas . . . once a year. And once a year and every year around Veteran's Day American Move Classics (AMC) plays non-stop war films for two whole days.
I have my TV viewing area all arranged. Lazy boy oiled and ready for action. Fully stocked ice chest. Portable microwave on a table at arms reach. Napkins, plates, cups: check. I'm not moving and I'm not missing one bit of action.
It's war and I'm ready for battle. So what if they show a film more than once. After all, war is hell, isn't it?
Anchors aweigh my boys, here comes television at its Veteran's Day finest.
In case you're interested:
Friday, November 10
Empire of the Sun
The Night Riders
Marines, Let's Go
The Desert Fox
Sink the Bismarck!
Halls of Montezuma
To Hell and Back
The Green Berets
The Green Berets
Saturday, November 11
The Desert Fox
The Desert Rats
The Glory Brigade
To Hell and Back
Twelve O'clock High
A Bridge Too Far
Tora! Tora! Tora!
The Enemy Below
Sunday, November 12
Tora! Tora! Tora!
The Enemy Below
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
The Republican party must have spent umpteen thousands of dollars on pestering voters with "personal" messages from Arnold, Georgie and any other celebrity.
Yesterday afternoon the last call came from a Republican volunteer calling from area code 949.
Hello Mr. Watson?
Yes, this is Mr. Watson.
I am John, a volunteer with the Republican party. I just wanted to make sure you had taken time today to vote.
Yes, I voted by absentee ballot a few days ago.
Great. Did you vote Republican?
I know what you're thinking: "Did he fire six shots, or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. But, being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya punk?
I wanted to use the Dirty Harry line that is so famous but bit my tongue instead. The guy would have really thought that I was bonkers if I used those lines. So I replied:
Are you kidding? Do you honestly think anyone in their right mind would vote Republican today based on the performance of its officials in office? Do I need to throw George Bush's name out there along with the war in Iraq as to why I am ashamed to be a Republican?
Well Mr. Watson, thanks for voting anyway. Goodbye now.
The birthday party that would never end somewhat culiminated with Grace seeing Disney on Ice this last Sunday with her mom and Candace.
The top picture is just before Capt. Hook gets eaten. Mickey is shown here campaigning for Arnold for Govenator.
Sure sign my mind knows that it's retired came this morning.
I wanted a soft drink so I went to the garage refrigerator where we keep them. Pulled out a drink, took it back in the house, sat down at the computer, popped the top and sipped. What I thought was a soft drink was really a can of Budweiser. There are two distinct sections in the refrigerator for soft drinks and beer. My subconscious said, I need a Beer! And I took one not looking once at the label.
I thought to myself that somewhere in the world it is 5 o'clock and paused for a moment before emptying the contents of the can down the sink drain. 10 a.m. is just too early on a Wednesday morning for that first can of Bud.
Geeze, I guess I really am retired now. Even my subconscious is getting with life on easy street.
Last thought? 4 more years of Arnold in Sacramento is one more reason to leave the Golden State. Brookings here I come!!
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Well, what did you expect in Oregon this time of year? Fog, rain, wind. This was taken by the Port of Brookings web camera a little after 11:00 a.m. this morning.
Regardless of the Brookings weather, I am looking forward to spending a week in the RV where this very picture was taken. RV spots are to the left of the camera and out of view.
Do you know what I get tired of hearing? It's this question when I meet someone that I haven't seen for a while. "So whatcha doing these days? Bet you're having a good time being retired."
I think a lot of people thought that in this stage of my life there would be the purchase of a business or some other venture. That could have happened. We have the resources to buy or go into any business. I'm young enough to be successful in another line of work. Look at Col. Sanders. He began the frying chicken in clog-'em-up-artery oil well into his 60's.
We had several lines on franchises like Fuddruckers. They were interested in our pursuit of a franchise in this town. There was another franchise interest that came up. Pencil to paper both would have been highly profitable. We could do either of those projects - or both - and make a lot of money.
As I worked through the decision making process I asked myself, 'How much is enough?' Indeed, how much is enough work in this lifetime. Been working pretty steady since age 14.
How much is enough money? There's only so much money to spend in a lifetime. Yes, enough is enough.
I don't need to do anything except relax except for one thing: Come up with a response to the question:
"Hey Bob, whatcha doing these days . . . playing any golf?"
I hate golf.
Oh, what am I doing these days? The wife and I bought a few sweatshops in the Phillipines. Boy, can they work. Wanna buy a t-shirt?
Sudden thought: I don't support Prez Bush ringing America with 12 foot hight barbed wire fencing. I might want to leave in 5 years.
As I completed my absentee ballot last night I asked myself, why is Jerry Brown on it? Haven't we had enough of Jerry Brown? He's not even qualified to be our attorney general.
It took a bit of studying to understand all of the propositions on the ballot. I wondered if most took the time to read the pro and con of each initiative before voting. Or, did they, like a 14 year old male student when presented with a multiple choice test simply fill in the blanks without reading? That explains how Bush Man got into office 6 years ago. He was a multiple choice on the right space on the ballot and at the right time. Bingo.
George looks like a school boy these days who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Look at this face. If there was ever a defensive look on a person old George is the poster boy for that one. Reminds me of days as a principal questioning kids to find out who done it. "Not me! It was him!" Or, "I dunno."
The thought of another trip have been running through my head: Where next? We're thinking Amtrak to Seattle. Board Amtrak for Seattle at 3:30 a.m. (or 8:30 a.m. if they've run over a cow and had to stop to cut up the steaks). Book a compartment, complete with shower and potty. Read. Eat. Enjoy the passing scenery. Arrive in Seattle at 9 p.m. unless we hit a cow.
We'd stay for 3 or 4 days. A hotel in downtown Seattle would be booked, close to Jazz Alley. I love listening to all types of jazz. I grew up listening to jazz music and enjoying fine wine.
As a lad I dated the daughter of a San Francisco State College professor of English. The professor was an expert on Faulker and lectured extensively on his writings. During this relationship I learned a lot about life in a very short period of time.
Live jazz where we live is non existent. If you like hippie drumming you can find it on any Sunday in our local park. The hippies drum to keep the crystals in order. If they don't drum the crystals get all screwed up. If that happens we're in big trouble.
That's why I'll enjoy Seattle. The trip will be booked to coincide with the appearance of one of my jazz favorites like David Benoit, Hiroshima or Pat Metheny. We'll walk the streets of Seattle, eat the food, love the sights and try not to get mugged.
I wrote a while back in relationship to airline travel that half the fun is not getting there. Those TSA bastards take all the fun out of traveling. 10 years ago who would have thunked that you'd have to take your shoes off to get on an airplane?
Amtrak trains are big and shiny. Don't you just love to watch them head down the tracks?
Next life? Amtrak engineer.
That would really toot my horn.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
I've always loved the holidays. Food. Drink. Time off of work. Always having to come up with something in the food group to bring to the next party always created a problem. Then I found these two food jewels. Believe it or not, once they try them your friends will ask for the recipes.
1 can anchovy fillets, minced (You don't have to like anchovies - they blend in. You'll never know they're there unless the thought of eating those little puppies gets into your mind. Lesson numerno one in learning how to eat strange food or dating members of the opposite sex : Mind over matter).
1 (12 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2-5 cloves garlic, minced - or more if you love garlic...if that's the case scratch the women part of wine, women and song. It will be just song.
Dash of wine vinegar.
Combine anchovy fillets, parsley and garlic in bow and mash well. Add softened cream cheese, blend well. Moisten with the wine vinegar. Serve as a spread with stoned wheat crackers. Note: Northern Italians omitted the cream cheese and dipped raw vegetables or bread into the mixture or used the mixture to stuff raw potatoes.
This is killer. One bite and you'll eat the whole dish. If you don't believe me you need to Cowboy Up and just do it!
This is the real deal, no kidding around on this one. Guys, this is so easy you can cook this baby up on the tailgate of your truck just before you walk into the party.
1 jar Pepperoncini
1 jar smooth peanut butter (crunchy will do)
Slice the peppers on length wise
Using a butter knife (or your standard 16" double edge knive you take with you to parties), stuff each pepper with peanut butter.
Put those babies on a plate and put a bunch of parsley around the edges of the plate. People will think you're Martha Stewart's husband.
As strange as it may seem, this dish is tasty. I guarantee it.
Viola!!! . . . all set for the holiday parties.
I live and die by the morning newspaper. The condition it's delivered in (wet, torn, incomplete), whether it is delivered early or late all determines the mood of my day. Newspaper first, everything else comes second.
Sunday morning papers are interesting. I should weigh one to see how many pounds of news there are each Sunday and what the weight of the remaining advertising is. My guess would be out of 3 pounds of newspaper there is no more than a pound of news. Newspapers used to be the other way around: Lots of news, not a lot of crap.
I suppose some people subscribe to the newspaper for the crap so when you hear people say their newspaper is crap you will know why: They only read the crap side of the paper and not the news itself.
This morning I ventured out in the Sunday morning mist to pick up my two Sunday papers. Normally I unwrap the papers in the garage, dispose of the rubber bands and plastic wrap around them. This morning I brought both into the kitchen, placed them on the counter and commenced to unwrap them.
Interestingly, the first paper, the Sacramento Bee, had been doubled wrapped. The carrier does this when it's raining. Double wrapping makes her doubly certain that rain water does not penetrate to the paper. I wondered why, on misting morning, that she had taken such care.
I cut the first layer of plastic off of the Bee and pulled out the paper. A whiff of mustard and a look at the second layer of plastic all covered in yellow told me that we had a problem. Closer inspection revealed a plastic serving cup that still had some mustard in it since the rest had covered the plastic wrap.
Wet papers make me mad. I fight over wet newspapers. Papers that are late drive me crazy - I could go postal over a late newspaper or one that is not delivered. But a plastic newspaper wrap covered in mustard? I can understand that. That's something I'd do . .. early morning paper route at 4:00 a.m., hungry, hit the 711 for a corndog, a cup of mustard and a Budweiser from my cooler to jump start my day. I'd eat, drive, drink and wrap papers all at the same time. I have a talent for no handed driving using only my knees to steer. It's part of being gifted, don't you think?
Then I'd say, "Damn! Where's the mustard?!" That's probably what happened, minus the Bud. Somewhere in the process of eating, driving, bagging papers for delivery, the mustard got stuffed in one of the wrappers. I know our carrier. She could do that. But drinking beer at 4 in the morning is not her cup of tea.
Next time I see our carrier I'll have to ask, "Please hold the mustard on my Sunday paper. I'll take mine without condiments, thank you very much."
Monday is Grace's birthday. She invited her preschool friends to celebrate at a party yesterday at the gymnastics school. Parties where you jump around, climb ropes and roll around on the floor? I thought that was for older kids.
It is hard to believe that Grace is four. In twenty years she will be 24 and I'll be 86. Somehow I know that I'll be around to celebrate with her. Hopefully she'll still want to jump around, climb ropes and roll around on the floor. At 86, what the hell, I'll be partying right along with Grace and her friends. "Just prop me up Grace and please put my teeth back in my mouth for me if they pop out. Oh yes, can I have another Bud to go with my chicken wings?"
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Before I begin, thanks Russell. I appreciate your kind words. You were always my favorite kid.
As the saying goes, timing is everything. Our home has so much stuff in it, 2,500 square feet of stuff including the garage and a storage shed out back . . . all full of stuff. There can be no move from this house to another with all of this stuff. It would either break my back or empty my wallet to pay movers to haul it just across town.
We inherited a lot of stuff from our parents. For example, my mom and dad never threw anything away. I have every letter my mom ever received stored in boxes. Every letter. This would include every Christmas, birthday, Thanksgiving, and Save the Whales Hallmark card ever dropped in the family mailbox. This is not to mention every cancelled check they ever wrote and everything else that is or is not worth saving in this life.
While in the military I wrote my parents at least once a week unless I needed money. Then it was two or three times aweek until I got the money I was asking for. Multiply four years of miltary service by 52 and this stack of letters alone is huge. Then there's all the letters I wrote to mom and dad during the time they were away working for the Diamond Lake Company in Diamond Lake Oregon. What we have here is another box filled with six years worth of frequently written letters.
Today I figured that something had to be done. I want all of this stuff to be a done deal. Done with stuff deal. Who wants to read all of those letters? Not the kids, not the relatives. And I'll be damned if I'm packing them up when we decide to move.
Shredder to the right of me, garbage can to the left, I embarked this morning on the task of shredding years and years of history. I know the history so it doesn't matter if I shredded it. Besides, without the history in writing, I can exaggerate about the past all I want and get away from it. Who will know?
As luck had it, I opened one letter when I had not been opening any letters. This letter kind of jumped out at me. When I opened it I found that Mom had wrote this letter in the 1980's following our Thanksgiving visit to Diamond Lake. I couldn't have started Chapter 2 any better, mom. Here's what you wrote:
Really hated to see you leave and head down the road. I know my mother (and grandmother) used to say 'love to see you come but hate to see you leaving.' Guess that is true no matter what generation.
Sometimes there are so many things I'd like to say but never do. You are a very good son and we really appreciate your thoughtfulness and consideration. As we get older these things become more and more important.
When you were little and Don and I were first married, things were kind of different. We never had anywhere to live, housing was scarce right after WWII and we had very little money. First we lived with Don's mother which wasn't easy for any of us. You were a normal 2 1/2 yr. old and she was 67 yr. old. Then she became ill so we moved into Don's sister's home with her family. They had a 2 bedroom on Arthur Street.
That was really difficult. We were in 1 bedroom and they were in the other with Steve and Larry (. . . their kids). Steve had asthma real bad and Larry and you fought and hit each other. I used to take the bus to the park a lot with you and we'd spend the day or stay in the bedroom and play the record player and read. You and I were great companions for those 6 months we lived with Don's sister and her family.
Don't imagine you remember any of those days (. . . Oh yes I do) but don't know whether I've ever talked about them or not.
It was during that time that my sister and her husband came to visit and you and I drove back to Louisiana with them and stayed a month. Then we took our first plane trip back to Fresno and I was sick most of the time. You were such a good little traveler - it was a long trip in 1947 on a prop plane.
Well enough remembering . .. but I do want you to know how much we love you and I worry about you and your health.
These pressure jobs take their toll and you've got to fine some way to relax more. Otherwise, you are going to find yourself a prime candidate for an ulcer or a heart attack. Even if it's just going for a walk around the block and noticing the flowers and trees - it is a form of relaxation.
No job is worth our health - they just find someone else to do it.
The snowmobiles are starting to buzz (. . . Diamond Lake Resort is prime for winter snowmobiling) - it is 10:35 and I'd better get to work (. . . mom was the book keeper for the resort) - temperature is up to 20 degrees and it is getting cloudy.
I'll be thinking of you all day and worrying about road conditions.
This is one letter that's not hitting the shredder - it's a keeper.
Friday, November 03, 2006
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- MEMORIES OF MILITARY SERVICE Okay, I've cheated a...
- ANCHORS AWEIGH MY BOYS, IT'S VETERAN'S DAY! Like...
- SO ARE YA FEELING LUCKY, PUNK? The Republican pa...
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- ▼ November (24)