Thursday, November 29, 2012

Posts from the Road - Spam-tastic

SPAM - like leading a horse to water.  Or not.

I've seen it all. Tam gets the best ones, but I do get them, even without accepting anonymous comments. There's the one guy who leaves common sense comments on all the popular blogs - completely generic comments that indicated he never read your post.  We may not all write Shakespeare in a comment but putting "loved your post! or great idea! - link exchange?" on a post about a death in someone's family or a soldier being killed  while serving is beyond tactless.  When it goes back to a blog that's pretty much nothing but ads, other people's writing you copied and other people's videos, it's just wrong.

But there is always the obvious SPAM that IS funny. There are the ones that seem to be written by someone whose first language is NOT English. (Hot,  like a cow on fire!)

And the SPAM that comes via "thank you gmail!" Letting me know there's a source  for everything I could ever want to know on the "craps workbench (verb or noun?), ascent tampon, gopher debilitator, or products from the Spiderman Pharmacy.  Then of course there are the letters from folks with long legal titles in mangled English that begin with a narrative informing me of the giant foreign lottery I won that I don't remember entering, or the arrangement to cash a big check for someone overseas in exchange for a fee so big I could buy my own island  -

"I humbly request your ass. . ."


Then there are the ones that just make you tilt your head like the RCA dog. Huh?

"Observe up the monumental hunk of process, I show handful points on this internet site also I deem that your net scene is rattling stimulating furthermore has places of splendid news.”

"Monumental hunk of process?" Apparently a Six Sigma guy on crack selling the "Western Wedding Dress"  (and there is no way in@#*&  I'm clicking on anything with the word wedding dress in it.)

Of course,  there are the  the more mundane ones, simply a sensible sounding comment  that makes sense but is so generic that it might not have any bearing on the actual post, but then again, it could.  "I wonder who sent it ? There's no link, just a blogger name, this must be someone I know" (click on the blogger name) -  "Act Now, get The Ronco Weasel Encabulator!"

The HOTR Crown Roast of SPAM

But this latest one, from a country where the currency exchange is likely  based on the current value of a camel, did make me laugh after a VERY long and stressful week.  Maybe because he called me "dude" before trying to sell me dental equipment likely leftover from the last Soviet invasion, (the last three words being a direct link which I did NOT click on.)

"thanx dude i am really ur post tooth extracting forceps"

So, what were YOUR worst SPAM comments?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Posts from the Road - Christmas Lists


A Christmas List was always a tradition in our household growing up.  We did not get everything on it and never expected to, perhaps just one or two things on there.  But it gave "Santa" an idea of what we wanted.  Sometimes "Santa" branched out.  There was one Christmas where our entire Socking was full of bubble gum.  Mom seriously learned to regret that one.  And then there were the Whamo Air Blasters for all (which was almost as much as fun as when we swapped out the "dual heat controls" on Mom and Dad's waterbed.)

But for those of you, not used to the tradition, it can continue on  in your own home.  I've supplied an updated, easy to use template so you can make your own Christmas List for your own "Santa".

Dear Santa,

I've been very _______ this year, despite the mishap involving bacon _______  and that ____ that resulted in an emergency trip to the ______.  As for that __________ incident at the conservation club, I can explain (it WAS Russian ammo).

I have prepared ______ and a bottle of _______ as a snack for your arrival and have ensured my Christmas Stocking is free of pet hair, lint and razor wire shards of candy cane. So I hope you will remember me when you are in your workshop ramping up the North Pole Elfinator™ Five Stage Press in .223 or .45.


Remember, when you arrive, there will be _______ and deer heads on the walls, but I see by the non-faux fur on your Santa Suit you're not afraid of _______, ________ OR PETA.

It's not that I didn't appreciate the Attack Spider Pecker Repellent or the Marie Antoinette Action Figure with eject-able head but I was hoping for something along the lines of __________ and _________ this year, or something in full auto.

I promise Barkley won't ______ your sled this year, and we'll move the skeet shoot to earlier in the evening.

Thank you for visiting. Please be aware that there will be a prominant Nativity Scene to navigate around, as, no offense, it's not all about you.

Best regards,
Brigid

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Walking in Freedom

If there is any advantage of getting up sometimes at 4 a.m.,  it's occasionally getting done in time to enjoy a little bit of last light, a short trek around the fields and trees that surround my little town. With a couple hours free before darkness drew a cape across the face of the moon, I had time for a long walk around the area, on some property of a friends. Time to gather my thoughts, ricocheting around inside my head with all that's going on in the world. Time, after travel and busy days, for stillness and quiet, out among the cold and a few trees.

At the base of one tree was the trunk of another felled during the recent wind storm and for a moment I could stop and sit and think, just taking in the winter landscape. Had it been warmer I could have taken a nap there, leaning against the tree. I've done that while pheasant hunting, where I would set my gun down and exhausted from miles of walking, simply lean against a tree with a patch of sun tattooing my skin and sleep. My black lab would drop to his haunches at my side, sniff the air for trouble, then doze himself, twitching to rabbity dreams.
 

As kids, my brother and I would sleep in the yard on many a starry night, dragging out the little pup tent, and setting it up under the canopy of the apple trees. We'd lie on our backs in our sleeping bags out on the grass, tracking satellites through the air and speculating on the nature of the heavens and why the plain Hershey bar was just better than the one with nuts in it. We were kids, and there were no worries, about death or taxes or bears or hydrophobic porcupines. We'd wake, ground cold and soggy with dew, and hike back those 10 yards to the house, bleary eyed from lack of sleep yet energized with the joy of believing that we would live forever.

The woods still fascinate me.To be alone under a shelter of trees is divine. I know many that would not be so comfortable, not truly happy unless they are the center of attention, with lights and music and action. Not I. To drift alone in thought in the presence of the trees and the proximity of the earth is much of what I feel when I'm flying. In it I get a sense of the truly spiritual. Not in the traditional sense, but in the ablution that comes from placing ones self at the alter of the planet, and for just a moment picking out a little infinity from the perpetually crushing teeth of time.
 
As I pause for a moment, among the trees, I'm reinforced in the smallness of my form next to their trunks, smiling as the branches separate me from the chatter of the world that echoes outside the woods. There is comfort in these trees, old and strong, even if scarred, for I am stricken by the thought of tremendous roots threading their way under the ground beneath me, weaving themselves into the soil, becoming one with it, taking nourishment from it, in a way we poor ground dwellers rarely will. Such gravity of purpose.

The weather is changing and a small sting against my face tells me it's time to head back towards home.  The chill of the rain wakes me from my thoughts, a pinprick of cold, each lance full of the promise of its remission, here one moment, then gone, like the tears of a child.  One moment, there is the rumble of thunder, water released from above, then it's gone, fleeing southward on the wind, leaving behind only spent confetti of moisture on pale limbs that gather and drip into puddles that reflect the sky that only moments before had prisoned them. 

Leaning against the trees, sun glinting off of those small drips of water that cling to ancient wood, the secret whisper of wind invisible to me and silent, asks of me - would we find the beauty in anything if we lived forever? Would the gems of thoughts and feelings and desire be so precious if we knew they would always be upon our shelf? Or would they fall to the earth, trickling through our hands like water, evaporating on the cold ground, because we thought our hold on them was eternal.


Life is fleeting and beautiful, yet I will fight strong to hold onto it until the last dwindling dawn. I will quietly fight against others that would disparage me and my life. I will fight for those that wish to take the freedoms and liberty that those around me have worked so hard for. As these thoughts unbidden flit through my mind like the scattering of sun against a few remaining leaves, I pat the gun on my hip and am thankful that I am free to carry it on land that I own as a free citizen.

Perhaps why that is why I believe so strongly in the Second Amendment, a part of the U.S. Constitution that did not give us that right, but AFFIRMED it. Was it not the rights of those that planted these lands, and their fathers before them, to carry arms to protect and preserve these plots of ground? Ground that they labored until death to maintain and preserve for the next generation. The land is precious, as is the fruits of our hard work. As I walk through the woods, I rest my hand on the wood that makes up the grip of my weapon, feeling the cold power of its strength, that in turn flows through my arm, emboldening my step. I walk boldly, a woman alone in a vacant field, knowing well that my gun may not be needed but for the day a politician tries to take it from me.

As I turn to head back to home  the words of Benjamin Franklin come to me.

God Grant that not only the Love of Liberty, but a thorough Knowledge of the Rights of Man, may pervade all the Nations of the Earth, so that a Philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its Surface, and say, "This is my Country.".

This IS my country, and THIS is my land. I believe that as strongly as I believe that I have the right to protect it, to protect myself from those that would wish to take it from me to share the wealth with those whose days have not known such labors as I. Selfish? No. I am part of this land, and it is part of me. I have earned the right to be here, and I will rest my ashes in its ancient depths when I am gone, when all the light of freedom gathers in one fierce expiring inhalation, time to go home to glory.

We're almost home, Barkley looking up at me from his enigmatic gaze as I move towards the door. Clouds move across the sun, water drips like blood but with no warmth, the lifeless chill which bears no kinship with the healing wet of holy waters.   I quietly walk across the leaves that blanket the earth's secret, carrying with me hope, history and the steel of eternal vigilence. I look up to the sky, thirsty roots sunk deep.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Safety at Work and at Home - Know your Raptors



Do you know the difference between the Velociraptor and his more modern 2nd cousin through marriage?

The Velociraptor -

The Velociraptor, being carnivorous, is an incessant meat eater.

The Velocoraptor's  large 'manus' (hand) with three strongly curved claws is his best weapon.
 
The Velociraptor has a stiff tail that helps him turn around quickly

The Velociraptor stalked his prey in the arid regions of China and Mongolia
.
The Velociraptor has excellent eyesight, able to spot defenseless prey.

The Velociraptor can kill prey with both teeth and claws.

Yelling "Treat!" at the Velociraptor is not going to get his attention (unless YOU are the treat).
 
The Velocilabtor:

The Velocilabtor, is an incessant meat eater, though he likes apple slices and frozen peas
 
The Velcocilabtor's best weapon is his big brown eyes (I guess I really didn't want that last piece of bacon).
 
The Velocilabtor has a thick tail that can knock a Yuengling right off the coffee table.

The Velocilabtor prefers to stalk his prey near the water.

The Velocilabtor has excellent eyesight, able to spot defenseless slippers.

The Velocilabtor can  kill rawhides and your brand new Bon Appetit magazine with both teeth and claws.

Yelling "Treat!" at the Velocilabtor will get his attention (until the treat is gone).

Make sure you know the difference.  It may save your bacon one day.
 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Secret Squirrel Mission - Operation Tamalanche

This morning started with the smell of French pastry baking and ended with a trek into the city as part of Operation Tamalanche.  There were some baked and other goodies in the front seat  (including a message from Barkley) and a mission to be accomplished. For those of you who have been away this last month, Tam, everyone's favorite Mistress of Snark, my friend and Barkley's official "other Mom", is dealing with cancer and many out there are helping to raise funds for her expenses.. Some of the drawings for the raffles for medical care are still going on with the one for the Dragon Leatherworks holster on my sidebar being drawn as late as the 2nd.

But raffles aside, there were a number of people that expressed interest in sending Tam something via mail and our friend Erin Palette really took the horse by the reins and organized a care package round up. (There's more info and pictures on Erin's blog, so check it out).  Ind blog meet regular The Jack lent a secure mailing address for the items and offered his help as needed.  

Some of the package contents were discussed with great amounts of laughter, especially Erin's idea for some My Little Pony fun. There is something about geeks and My Little Pony. (Hey,there is even a pony that pays homage to Doctor Who.)  So Erin's idea was awesome, even more so with the addition of some G.I. Joe sized weaponry and gear that The Jack was able to procure for the plan. In addition to that fun, several of the bloggers donated books, including a Girl and her Gun and someone who will remain anonymous that sent this one. Viking meet Navy Seals - what more does a girl want?

Tam, now don't read that all at once, in your flu weakened state I don't want to have to get out the smelling salts or anything.

But I regress.

The first part of the mission was the integral "drop off" of the package of goodies. It was agreed I could make the drop off .  Instructions were sent back and forth and instantly deleted, code words were exchanged, R and P calculators were synchronized. With my little contribution, as well as a book for Roberta X, also under the weather,  the secret package was delivered by the "Bark Park" (secret code name for the "Bark Park") by The Jack with the appropriate super secret codewords. We are both in dark trucks, he has a dark hat pulled low over his brow, I have fuzzy mittens. We look around to
make sure a dog doesn't pee on our tirescheck for suspicious characters. (Remember the codewords, remember the codewords.)

Me:  *@(# it's cold

The Jack : ah yup.  here's the box. 

We've got this squirrel stuff down, I tell you.

With the flu running rampant at Roseholme Cottage, Tam was not feeling her best, nor was Roberta X. So I stayed just long enough to see her open the box and get some pictures for those of you who put so much time into this and especially you Erin, for without whom it wouldn't have come off without a hitch.



So much cool stuff, from a number of folks.  A number asked to remain anonymous but thank you everyone.

Elvis mug and Elvis Chocolates and Hot Chocolate. .

A bulletproof clip board

Game meat!  mmmmm.  Meat!

Plus all kinds of cool books and food and seasoning things

Plus there were cards, personally written notes and a couple of checks to add to the fund.

And lasso, but definitely not least, Erin's (fully armed) My Little Ponies, including the special edition Tam version, (with  black ball cap).


Thanks again Erin for all the Tamalanche thought, creativity and coordination and to you, The Jack, for his assistance with everything.

As I said goodbye to all, including  Roseholme Cottage mascot, the Fed Ex frog, her smile, even feeling as punky as she was, said it all. Thank you out there for helping brighten someone's day who is much deserving of it.  This is a great blog group and the way you continue to care for one of our own has been something to see.

Brigid and Barkley

I Aim To Misbehave - A Night Off in the HOTR Kitchen



Espresso Brownies with Cinnamon - NEW!  on the sidebar, or click on the link if you can't wait.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A View From a Closet - From the 70's to Tactical Fashion.

Clothes make the man. Naked people
have little or no influence on society. 
― Mark Twain

Going into my first year of junior high, girls were not allowed to wear pants. Being the 70's, my classmates and I were allowed to wear an assortment of incredibly ugly clothing, including disco shirts, male jumpsuits (not just for prison anymore!) and the "let's dress alike in a creepy sort of way", his and hers outfits from the Sears catalog. But in our little town, our schools dictated that all young ladies wear dresses, even as most of the country had already relaxed the school dress code for girls to include pants.

Of course, being the era of the mini skirt, some of those dresses were pretty short and once even I had to kneel and have a female teacher measure the distance from floor to hem. It barely squeaked by but at least I wasn't sent home to explain to my Dad, how in Home Ec, I'd learned to change a hemline.

Finally, one Fall, as school started, the rules changed. The much anticipated day had come, where girls could wear pants (no jeans, that would be a few months off).

Except my Father said NO. There would be occasions where my wardrobe choice and my Dad collided (Daisy Duke shorts) but I never imagined that on that day, he would not allow me to dress like everyone else.   

So off I went, humiliated to be the only girl in the entire school wearing a dress.  No one actually said anything directly to my face as I was generally well liked. But I was not unaware of the many whispers and looks of pity from my friends as well as the looks of  contempt from the "popular girls".

We all know about "popular girls", for they don't change as they age, not content to merely overshadow others with their sex appeal and possessions, that brings with it popularity not earned, but to extinguish them with their scorn so that they are as inconsequential as they themselves, feel inside. Now I just pity them; back then it simply hurt.   At that age, no one really wants to be "different" and on that long day, I felt about as accepted as a Wolverine at a bunny convention.

I got through the day, waiting long after the last class was dismissed, everyone gone, so I could walk with my calm face into the empty halls, down into the schools entrance where I leaned against this big cooled vending machine that sold apples for 10 cents, leaning my face against the glass until the heat diminished. Then I walked home, head held high, but alone, under a sky the color of iron.

We all remember well the angst of such years, out of proportion, most certainly, to the actual severity of the events that took place, honed by hormones and need into something that stays with us for years until one day we just look back and say "was it really that big of a deal?"

On that day though, it was all you can think of.

I still recall that walk home, down a rural road at the edge of town,  past a sentient cow in a field, postulating life, not in the fact that it was breathing, but because it took the form of something that was breathing, even as it seemed to hurt to take breath in myself. I wanted nothing more than the day to be over, for that time when morning, afternoon and evening flowed back and drained the sky of light, leaving me in shadows where I could be invisible.

I  can smile now, thinking back.  But at the time, it was the end of the world; that simple social faux pas.

Dad didn't  understand the outcome of his actions, but apparently a brother did, one who attended the same school, and he had a frank talk with my father that night. Dad didn't apologize, he did what he thought was right, in the way that he was raised, but he knew it had caused me unintended hurt and the next day without much fanfare, I wore pants.

Soon, the dress code was even more relaxed and for the remainder of my school years I lived in Levi's, button down shirts, and shoes we knew as "waffle stompers". Other than church, volunteering at the local nursing home and this orchestra I played in well into college, I rarely wore anything else.

Then, after college and flight training, life was the "uniform thing".  I liked that. I didn't have to "coordinate an outfit". Nothing was figure flattering which leveled the playing field in the whole female "I look better than you do" nonsense, which unfortunately has existed among certain individuals since someone donned the first Saber Tooth Tiger Skin Bustier. I liked uniforms. No "what to wear" decisions at 5 a.m., no wasted money on something you'll not wear twice. However I did find out that to a black lab named Clyde, a uniform hat with "scrambled eggs" on it makes it no less edible. "Sir, about my cap."

I could  never understand the female obsession for fashion, for owning more clothing than you can wear in a matter of weeks, for having a closet full of things that some magazine tells you is what you have to wear to be liked, to be loved, to be desirable. I look at a designer handbag  and think "Wow, I could get a .380 for that".  Besides I already have TWO purses, one for the range and one that is powder residue/errant bullet casing free, so not to annoy TSA any more than I already do.

Then there is the whole Brides Magazine thing, where women fawn over dresses that have enough fabric to clothe most of Burma, and the engagement ring ads. You know the ones I speak of, that tell some poor guy that if he doesn't spend three months salary on a ring she is pretty much going to go to work and hold up her little 1/2 carat ring, point at his picture on her desk, laugh derisively and say "It's so SMALL".

That's simply marketing and has as little to do with love as integrity has to do with politics.

I look at my parent's wedding picture. Dad is in uniform, my mother is wearing a dark blue suit, tailored to compliment what he is wearing, yet feminine and something that could well be worn with other garments long after the wedding vows were past. The Depression was at hand, and both of them knew that what was important about this day was not what they wore, it was what they were. It was a quality that each recognized in each other, a single life's capacity for devotion  that abrogated the exchange value of any material thing given in an attempt to secure it.

But many people put great value into what one wears. I once interviewed a group of men for a position, civilian sector, the perfect job for a new grad school graduate. I looked out into a room full of blue suits, white shirts, red ties and a pink tuxedo. Not just ANY pink tuxedo but one with ruffles that looked like it came from South Beach Formal and Live Bait. Everyone was trying not to stare and failing miserably. When the young man came in, he handed us his curriculum vitae and said, with a soft southern drawl.  "I bet you're wondering about the suit."

Apparently, we bought him a ticket to fly in for the interview, The last leg was on a tiny, hot and cramped little puddle jumper, so he wore khaki shorts and a t shirt, his good clothing going into a carry on that ended up in the the cargo hold as it wouldn't fit in the tiny overhead. From there it disappeared. He landed at 9 something at night, with no bag in trail and literally sprinted to a taxi to go to the nearest mall, where the only thing still open was apparently the  South Beach Formal and Live Bait Shop. In the month of June, the only tux they had available in his size was this one, Sonny Bono apparently forgetting to pick it up.

He told me this tale while sitting tall and looking me straight in the eye. I hired him on the spot, without any further talk. That man had a pair and I wanted them on my team.

But many, like Mr. Twain, say clothes make the man, and I am certainly a sucker for a crisp dress shirt, the cut of a pair of dress trousers and a dapper hat, just as I am the smell of shop in the collar of a  faded, much mended shirt that bears on it the marks of taming a piece of shop machinery with sword or wrench.

I have my suits, mostly black and dark blue, the white button down shirts, the "uniform" for when I have to actually put on a couple of titles and play grown up.  For I can dress up to draw respect if I have to. Sometimes there are places where you don't want to stand out (street corners in certain neighborhoods in LA , tree stands or San Salvador, for example).  Sometimes you do.

There was one formal reception, held in some capital somewhere,  I wore a green velvet gown.  The dress was quite low cut.  A colleague I was good pals with said - "Wow. . you have . . (best  to shut up now)"  and I grinned  at him and said "don't worry, there will be plenty of other boobs in the room, no one will notice mine", with a sly grin.  I did feel somewhat like the fairy princess there, but it's not a look, or an outing,  I'll probably willingly repeat..


My closet  at home or in a hotel, is mostly cotton and wool, sweaters and coats and things meant for tramping around the outdoors or places where the temps are low and controlled. The closet at home has its share of camo as well. There are a couple pair of work dress shoes, a pair of tennis shoes and one pair of boots.  I don't really need any more footware except there are these boots that Mrs. Borepatch wore to the range one time that are just kick a**.

But what I have is functional, timeless, things I could have worn 10 years ago, and can wear 10 years from now.  I hate shopping for anything but tools or toys or things made with wood, so if I find something I like, I buy five of them in slightly different colors.   If it is is damaged through long wear, I'll repair it. I may not wear it to work but with a needle and thread I can make it useful to wear in the shop.

But I still have a little black dress and an old fashioned sweater and camisole set I  went out and bought to wear with black silk and pearls at a wedding where Partner was playing Bach on violin as people entered the church as his college friends wed.  What I wore would have fit in the 40's, though it was new.  When I entered the sanctuary, everyone looked  up and the young usher stammered and said "bride or groom?" I gave him the full wattage teeth and green eyes, with a "I'm with the band" and a nod towards my smiling friend.  For that moment, it was worth braving a "girl store" and  a dressing room to buy something  timeless and elegant, not for this crowd, but simply for that smile.

But  "Fashion", with everything else in the world that affects us, those things that threaten our rights and our way of life, means little to me ."Designers" now are often just talentless  Hollywood bimbos who lend little more than their overexposed bodies to the whole creative process, eager only to make a buck.  It's nothing more to me than clothes as status, fake padding and spandexed flesh, little more than thrust and parry, rendering what we put on more about proving something than keeping warm and comfortable.   Perhaps I'm just odd, but fashion for the most part is just not something I want to spend a lot of money on.   That's what Midway and Brownells is for.
 
Dad, bless his kind heart, it still somewhat clueless on my wardrobe needs.  After a day in the field after a promotion, where I was working out how to get the team in to someplace very rugged and remote with a helicopter, and who would have sidearms for the bears, Dad called and asked "so, did you wear a nice dress?". But I do love my Dad, especially for that day long ago, where he put his own feelings and wishes aside to ensure I was happy.

So many years ago, I was humiliated at school by being different.  I wanted nothing more at that age to fit in, to be a part of the crowd, to not walk home alone from school. Now, my crowd is simply a small tribe of people who accept me as I am, with no expectations or demands.  If I am not in their company, I am perfectly fine being alone with my thoughts and my button downs.

As I went for a walk this evening, the park is empty, everyone off having Thanksgiving dinner somewhere. I walk down the path, waffle stompers on my feet, in jeans and a sweater and a .45 on my hip under my vest. I walk alone, as the shadow of the days retrograde washes over me, splashing down down deep into the darkened bowl of evening, the placid well that is twilight. Now, years later, being different is simply who I am. What is in me, what you see in my eyes, see in my stride, has nothing to do with what adorns my body, but what drives it.

But there are those boots. . . . .

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Driving Mr. Barkley


READING WITH MR. BARKLEY
(Yawn) I am SO bored. (but at least I get to lay on Mom)

 DRIVING WITH MR. BARKLEY
I am SO bored and Mom's up there.

Barkley has a  "dog seat belt" that hooks into his harness, attaching on top of his shoulders.  It is supposed to keep him from flying forward in the event of a sudden stop and if we do stop hard, it won't hurt his neck.  (and no the rope in the picture was not for him but to secure some cargo on a previous trip).

I know he'd rather be up front, but even if secured away from the windshield (and my lap) air bags can be dangerous for children and pets. But he's found that if he sits on the sit with his front legs on the floor,  he can rest his head on the console. Mostly so he can sigh and give me that look that says"I am SO bored", even if we stop at friends on the way sometimes and he gets a break to play with them. With the cheapy point and shoot camera  kept in the console in the case of fender bender, I recorded his ecstatic reaction to recent car trips.

 If I sit on the seat and put my legs on the floor 
and put my legs behind the big dog bedthat cushions the console, I can lay my head on Mom's raincoat. 

I'm STILL bored.

(sigh) I STILL  can't reach the Cheez It's. If I had opposable thumbs I'd call the SPCA.
 
Sorry Barkley,

I do have a fairly long commute at the start and end of the week ( I keep a crash pad in the city near a freeway that gets me to work quickly)  But on the weekly drive, even with water and snacks for both of us, Barkley wasn't the only one who was bored.  I struggled with getting reliable, strong signals on the  radio, knowing I was getting close either way only when I heard Polka Music going North and Bad Bad Leroy Brown going South as I hauled my essentials (including Mr. Barkley) back and forth. So for my birthday a couple of summers ago, Midwest Chick  and Mr. B. got me an Ipod Nano which they programmed with all kinds of(7.1 GB worth) my favorite music and leaving plenty of room for me to add other favorites.

Yes, I was probably the only person on the planet who didn't  have an Ipod. It's not about being intimidated by technology,  it's just "it works so why change it".  I don't have a blackberry. My phone is the size of a boat anchor.  I have a collection of Victrola records.

Friend:  "Wow that's a big phone, what kind of apps does it have?"
Me:  "It has the RINGING app."

So when I got the IPod, I was pretty excited.  I opened it, started playing with it while Mr. B chuckles and says "quick, call Tam and tell her we dragged Brigid into the 21st Century!"

What's on there now?

AC/DC, Adele, Aerosmith, Alberto Luzzio, Alison Krauss, Alison Moyet, Allman Brothers, Aretha Franklin, The B-52's (Love Shack!), Bachman-Turner Overdrive,  Bad Company, Benny Goodman, Billy Joel, Blackmore's Night, Blues Brothers, Bob Seger, Bonnie Raitt, Bonnie Tyler, Burkhard Glaetzner, Charlie Daniels, Cher (just so Midwest Chick and I could sing "Gypsies Tramps and Thieves" really loud while baking something, Chris Wood, CCR, David Bowie, Dire Straights, Don McLean, Donald Fagan, Dobie Brothers, Don Henley, The Doors, Dubravka Tomsic, Duke Ellington, The Eagles, Earth Wind and Fire, Eddi Rabbit, ELO, Emerald Rose, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Enya, Eric Brockington, Eric Clapton, Estelle Parsons, Etta James, Eva Cassidy, Evanescence, Finger Eleven, Foghat, Foreigner, Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Garth Brooks, George Thorogood, Godsmack, Golden Earring, Gordon Lightfoot, Grand Funk Railroad, Guns N' Roses, Heart, Herbert Von Karajan, I Solisti Di Zagreb, Jackson Brown, James Brown, Janis Joplin, Jeff Beck, Jethro Tull, Jim Croce, Joe Cocker, Johann S. Bach, John Lee Hooker, Johnny Cash, Josef Bulva, Led Zeppelin, Los Lobos, Lyle Lovett, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Meat Loaf, Metallica, Michele Campanella, The Moody Blues, Motley Crue, Nicolaus Esterhazy, Patsy Cline, Pink Floyd, Poison, Queen, Ray Charles, REO Speedwagon, Roberta Flack, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Roger Miller, The Rolling Stones, Santana, Sarah McLachlan, Smokey Robinson, Stan Getz, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, Supertramp, The Temptations, Thin Lizzy, Three Dog Night, Vivaldi, The Who, Willie Nelson, Yo Yo Ma, Yuri A. Rozum, Z.Z. Top. 

There's a couple of artists I wouldn't have expected. Luther Vandross? OK. Barry White? Mr. B. laughed from the other room and said (in this very deep voice)  "Come on it's Barry White, everyone needs some seduction music". I guess that explained things. I was using Zamfir and the Magic Pan Flute. Which started Midwest Chick and I in on "Music NOT to Get Lucky By" which also included William Shatner singing Greensleeves and The Chipmunks Rock the House.

I had to get a little dual instruction on it but soon I was playing the Ipod set up the Ipod through the stereo and Midwest Chick and I were dancing around the living room  to the Gopher Dance from Caddy Shack. Woot! (at this point Mr.  B. smiled and retreated to the safety of the barbecue grill)

I can't tell you two how much this has made a long drive bearable. Thank you both  for one of the best gifts ever!

No Barkley, everything is unloaded and it's time to go inside.  Besides, we've already listened to "Givin the Dog a Bone" five times!"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hostess and Home - Memories of Childhood

 
As I first sat here with my coffee on a cold morning, all I could think of was  - "a Hostess Snoball would taste good right now." You see, they are a weakness of mine, but like many comfort foods of childhood, one to be savored just once every couple of months, as a treat, to recall something from long ago. I can go several months and not eat one, but now that they are gone, the shelves empty of pretty much all the Hostess products, it's hard to not think of one.

Memories of childhood are so different for many people. I am lucky in that my memories of childhood are good. Laughter and exploration wrapped in an warm blanket of sight and sound and tastes that are still on my tongue. Memories of the past are like that, often having that impossible quality of perfection we often give to materials things, a favorite book, a favorite tool or firearm, sometimes to a whole relationship we can never get back to.

If we could only get there again, have that again, hold that again, our life would be somehow better, as if some cold case crime was finally solved, the reminders of things that hurt us behind  bars in our mind, never to be freed again.

We've all talked about it. I have often written about it, some small trivial thing of the past that appear to contain the sublime and there's no explaining it to everyone as much as you try. Still in your minds eye it's there, and will always be. Clear and as sure as if it were yesterday and for me one such memory was opening up the lunch box and finding my Hostess treat, next to my peanut butter and honey sandwich, apple and carrot sticks.

My Mom was diagnosed with colon cancer in the Sixties.  The long term survival rate back then was only 1 in 7.  She was only in her forties.  I was four.  It was about this time of the year. She came home after Christmas,  chemo shunt in place, and did everything in her power to make our life normal.

I don't recall her leaving for the hospital, only the worried look in my Dad's eyes. But the photos bring it back, one of my oldest brother at her hospital bed with a little aluminum tree on the nightstand, as she holds up a flannel nightgown Dad picked out and bought "from us" that she opened from her hospital bed.

The Doctor's treatment did not cure her, but it gave her several more Christmas mornings, including the one where my young siblings and I pooled our allowances and bought her a nightgown we picked out all by ourselves. It was red, see through and very short, trimmed with fake fur that was shedding like a polecat with mange even as we wrapped the gift ourselves.  I'm not sure WHAT discount place on Main Street we got it from, but as young as we were, we thought it was quite spiffy, and oh, won't our quiet, cookie baking Mom love this!  I still remember the fits of laughter she had to try and suppress when she opened the package and held it up (Dad seemed to like it though).

I remember her making our school lunch's with cookies from home if she was up to it, and our Hostess treats when she wasn't.  It was Ding Dongs for the boys, Snoballs for me. I'd eat one at lunch and take the remaining one to the playground after school, eating it perched on top of the biggest, tallest piece of playground equipment I could find, defying gravity, feet dangling into the air, Mom watching carefully from a distance.  Then, we'd go home to start supper, eager to tell Mom about our day and we'd listen to her laugh, that sound, the stored honey of her spirit, carried on wings whose load was heavy, delivered to us, her children, to make us whole.

 
I remember the snow days, when school was cancelled.  Mom would hand us our snow gear and off we'd go. Another day of adventure. We'd grab our inner tubes and and go barreling down the snow laden slopes of the neighborhood park, with no admonishments to "be careful" or "did you brush your teeth", or "you're tracking snow into the house!" On such days, we were just allowed to be kids and, if for just for that unique time, to be completely carefree. When we were so cold and tired we could barely stand, with scrapes and giggles and bruises, we'd tromp back to the house for hot chocolate and a sweet baked treat.

Before cancer, our list of "should do's was really quite long. And like other families that cope with disappointment or disease, we quit using the work "should" quite so much. The house may have been be a bit messier, but given the choice of cleaning or building a snowman with her kids, doing that ironing now or joining us in a snowball fight, the choice went towards those small joys

Still, she maintained her discipline as a Mother and for every sweet snack we got there were still those family dinners where you had better eat your vegetables.  She and I had a doctrine of mutually assured destruction involving acorn squash.  She refused to not make it, and I refused to eat it, sitting at the table long after everyone else was excused, the squash growing as chilly as that Veggie Cold War, until finally, she gave up and sent me to my room without dessert, something that was not easy on either of us.

I was too young to appreciate the depth of what she did for us, instilling in us love for each other and appreciation for the blessings of our table. But I was old enough to see that courage is simply the power to see past misfortune or expectation, to hold on to the things that affirm inwardly that life, with all it's trials, is still good. Be it a warm hug or sweet treats handed to us with a smile and a touch on our head, a benediction of love that could only come from the wellspring of faith that stayed within her.

I can not, now matter how hard I try, remember her voice, but if I close my eyes I can remember that touch.  It was not a touch as heavy and uncaring as a slap, but one that simply said-  I love you, but you must  have courage and craft your life for yourself, just let me share it as long as I can.

 
Watching us spread our wings, knowing she would likely be gone before we were grown, had to be so hard. Like any Mother, she was concerned with our safety, but not to the point where we were ever wrapped in bubble wrap, spoiled and coddled, given everything we wanted, without effort. We worked hard for our allowance, doing chores, but when the chores were done we were encouraged to go explore the world around us.

Myself, I'd get on my bike and go ride the dusty gash of  a roadway near the railway tracks, where I could see and hear the trains go by, the engine passing in hissing thunder, sparks flying up like fireflies let loose from the rails, dust coiling behind it like a tornado in trail. Such began my adventures, my love of motion and machinery.

We had no timetable, yet we always seem to know when the train would come by, one moment the tracks empty, the next, filled with the rhythmic rumble of sound, of life, that materialized it seemed, out of nothing, with that air of the deliberately accidental that lingered like smoke, long after it disappeared from sight.  I simply stopped my bike and stood watching, compelled to pause, still in that infinite clutch of the temporary confederation of two elements, water and air, the frailest of integers and units of measure combing into a force that can not be bound, not even in death.

Such is memory, such is life,  those moments that perhaps were predestined, glimpsed only so briefly before they are gone, those memories that come with smell or sound that linger. Memories plucked from the infinitesimal, with infinitesimal longing.

 
We crammed a lot of life into those short childhood years, as did our Mom, more than we expected her to have, but not nearly enough. It's been a lifetime since she left us, and all that remains is the memories, that comes on the wings of a snowfall, that raises a smile every time I see an acorn squash at the grocery, that rumble into life with the roar of a locomotive or the soft crackle of a little cellophane package being gleefully opened by eager hands.

It's five a.m., it will only be a few hours before I have to head back to the city and work.  The alarm went off much too early, these hours often the only time I have to write. Outside, the moonlight filters through darkened trees, their branches raised up as if in prayer. From a distance comes the whistle of a train, the mournful sound carried on the windless cold that is memory's heat. Inside, Barkley still asleep on his dog  bed, there is only quiet and a photo on my desk of a tall young woman with dark auburn hair and ice blue eyes, in a simple wooden frame.

I know there is oatmeal and fruit in the kitchen. But at the store I found one last package of Snoballs. I think this one time, my Mom would not mind if I had one for breakfast. I'll put on my coat, and head out on the porch, eating it perhaps, perched on the wooden railing, feet dangling into the air, just for one more moment, ignoring the inherited, perpetual recognition of gravity, my Mom watching carefully from a distance.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What's In Your Satchel * - A Weekend Meme

* Ladies or "Tactical Man"
click to enlarge photo

I posted my squirrel bag a couple years ago, the violin tuner and Vick's Vap-o-Rub raising an eyebrow or two. Whatever bag I take, I usually  keep my truck keys, cell phone, a small flashlight and a little money clip in my coat or jacket pocket, just in case.
 
In the little handbag  -  a battered Jameson wallet from Ireland and some other ID, a knife and some tools,  flash drive, BAG and shooty things, sunscreen, Badger Balm and a tube of pink lipstick from Two Faced cosmetics called "Marcia Marcia Marcia", emergency Butterfinger bar and of course the Unapproved Stamp, useful for many things such as Speed Dating (hey, what's that on your forehead?)

What's in Your Satchel?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hounds of the Apocalypse - Prepping for the Pooch


Having good provisions, be it for a disaster or a holiday party is always essential.  We think about the basics, nutrition and water but we don't always think about the other things that make life good, coffee, perhaps a small tin or two of savory or sweet snacks. .  and how about DOG FOOD.  I always keep an extra 40 pound bag stored in a watertight tub plus a few weeks worth of doggie drinking water in gallon jugs that I can use in a pinch, or load in the truck fast if it's not safe to stay in my home. But that's not enough for more than short term for him. 

My dear gal friend Laura B. has a great post up about prepping food for Fido. Be it a natural disaster, or economic hardship, you want to make sure you have rations with a good shelf life to feed all of your family, just just the two legged ones.

Go read and remember, while you are prepping for the zombie apocalypse or just  the holidays, stay safe.

Because Blinky the Snowman Says -

It's all fun and games til someone pokes an eye out.