Sunday, October 6, 2013

Long time no see!
I've been tied up with illness for a long time. Had bladder and prostate removed, cancer treatments, and heart troubles. I've been through two crashed computers and finally have a good one again but lost most everything on the others. So I lost my blog too. Thanks to our beloved Joy, I  found it again. I gave up my farm and except for the friends I had on there don't mind missing that daily chore at all. Life is sweet again but a lot slower and a lot more painful.
 Have followed Red Sox all summer and now the Patriots. As usual I am inundated with movie opportunities through Netflex, HBO, and Cinemax. I read constantly and am currently immersed in biographies of Medieval ages starting with Eleanor of Aquitaine who started the whole concept of good manners from men to women. Of course she was much more than that but when I ran across her on Amazon I couldn't resist. Mel Brooks surely had his tongue in his cheeks when he said " It's good to be King."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bush's side of the story-

's review
Dec 27, 11  ·  edit

4 of 5 stars

He tells a great complicated story, but like all Presidents gets his chance through this media to tell the story his way, with his slant, his take on history. While I was reading I watched documentaries and read extensively the take others had on the events of his presidency and I often stopped to reflect on opposing viewpoints- such as he economic theories advanced by Millard Friedman of Chicago University ( Shock Doctrine) and the marriage of big gov't and business interests.
In many sections I was very moved and convinced of his sincerety of the interests of all Americans, but after reading so much supplementary material I am left fundamentally skepical. I am following up now with Cheney's " In my Time"
Nonetheless, this is a good read.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Trying to be what I'm not

I am probably the only member of my family who never cooked professionally ( or served in the military). However cooking seems to obssess me as I sure do like to eat the fancy stuff as well as the home cooking restaurant stuff. I have been fortunate that so many friends in my life could cook, yet I keep working away at attempts.

 Nowadays it is harder and harder to do because standing brings a lot of pain to this old back and legs. Got a chair in the kitchen that was not designed for anything in it but the counters and appliances and also serves as the main entrance to the house ( pretty modest but not an apartment and I can still live alone).

My best friend and his wife invited me to their annual summer bash ( pot luck style). I had to come up with something. So I got this recipe from a CA friend and tried it out. 5 hours later I managed to come up with these miniature whoopee pies that are scrumdiddlyumptious. I think my friend came up with the same in an hour with her pre school grandchildren, but I am proud of the product anyway.

After a few failures I came up with this basic cake/ cooky. I split them in two carefully and filled them with butter cream frosting. Wow 3 cups of powdered sugar?  I was looking for consistency of size and shape which the recipe I got didn't provide.  It told me to drop a spoonful of the cake batter on a flat pan.  It all spread and was too thin, and burned too easily. A little trip to helped that. I used paper baking cups and made half cupcakes. I tried oto touch up the photo without much success. Just trust me they are beautiful and tasty as all get out.

Like little whoopee pies and only a two bite treat. At least I can show my face tomorrow.

Friday, August 5, 2011

No such thing as unskilled labor

I answered the door and recognized the young man as the one who works at the bottle redemption station I go to. He said he goes home via where I live and by chance had followed me home one day when he got off work, quite by accident. Today he decided to stop and say hello. I mentioned that he looked familiar, more so than our chance meeting at the center, and he addressed me by name. Seems many years ago he was one of the most effectively terrorizing students I ever had in 8 th grade. Totally resistant student,  passive aggressive with studies, and that year picked me as his victim. Specialists brought in to mediate between us shared with me and my team that he worshipped his father who did not deserve the adoration- far less of a role model than the kid really wanted. He did everything to please his father who was anti- everything, society, school, etc. but his father continued to belittle him or ignore him completely. The specialists figured he was transferring his disappointment and terrorizing male teachers on his way through the system, taking out his disappointment in his dad on teachers whom he discovered he had considerable clout with legally.  He never did a stitch of work, constantly undermined the class, and clinically looked for any mistakes a teacher would make, politically incorrect statements, turning responses to him into meanings that weren't intended, taking words out of context to report to administrators, and skillfully building cases for the teacher abusing him in some way. It was an absolute year of hell- with of course the mother calling the school constantly to complain in his behalf and calling meetings involving slews of specialists with me fundamentally on the hot seat- not the kid. ( I'll tell ya, team teaching is great for that-  we have a whole team of teachers - about five at least- who teach the same group of kids, each in heir subject area- and plan small community activities with the team- I loved it. Unlike the old Junior High system, the teacher is not isolated. We've all been attacked by somebody and usually people with big guns and an administration that is lawsuit paranoid as our town budget never includes much insurance money.
   So there is this young man standing at my door. I had just seen him a couple days before bringing two big bags of returnables. I had been there a couple times before and always marvelled that he kept a running count of various sizes of bottles and cans, threw them all into their proper receptacles, bagged them at the same time in big bags for the trucks that come and collect from them( which meant he had to have a memory for partially filled bags he was always finishing off, etc. Smooth as hell with no paper and pen, and an enormous amount of returnables running by him all the time, I had to tell him that I really admired him for everything he had to keep track of and how skilled he was at his job. I told him of the Disney quote " Whatever you do, do it so well that people will come to see you do it." and added that I could watch him all day and threw a couple bucks into his nearly empty tip jar.
   He was here to thank me for the compliment. He had recognized me as his 8th grade teacher and made no apologies for those days. He just stopped to thank me for the compliment and remind me who he was as I hadn't seemed to recognize who he was. The compliment he said wasn't something the job attracts very often but he was glad someone had recognized what it took to do it and with no apology just dropped  " I always thought back then you were an all right guy." ( Jesus, I almost quit teaching over him)
  In conclusion, no matter how hard I searched to help him find an interest he could buy into, or uncover a skill he had - damn, he flunked everything- just goes t'show, we all have our own timing for awareness. I don't believe there is such a thing as unskilled labor because I have had to bus tables and wash dishes myself. What a great day this was with him and a great reward for that terrible year.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Between waking and sleep...

...a name came to me. George Sinclair. "Yes, that was his name", I thought incredulously as once again I dragged myself out of bed and to my recliner to relieve the constant, unyielding back pain. Funny he didn't come to mind during these painful months after all these years. Here I am feeling sorry for myself once again, and George comes to mind.
    He was an old friend of my family for many many years as I grew up. A World War II veteran buddy of my dad's. George was distinctive in or out of a crowd as he had a bizarre curvature of the spine that forced him to walk bent over at a 90ยบ angle from the waist. To even us kids, he had to lift his craggy, wrinkled face with the sharp bony Dickensish chin from it's constant view of the ground to look us children in the eye as he spoke. There was such a sparkle in his eyes through all that pain he must have suffered alone and always a twisted smile that was both frightening while kind and welcoming at the same time.  Medical practice hadn't come very far in the 1950s and there were no solutions for this old veteran. Everyone wondered, everyone envied him his beautiful well endowed wife who remained constant to him and clung to him with such love and devotion. Somehow he sired 9-10 kids who all adored him, and his word was law though he never raised a hand to them. We kids always thought it a freakish disgusting picture in our minds, of him having relations with his wife. We didn't even joke about it.
      He must have known our fear and repulsion at the sight of him coming toward us in his strange gait that made his long arms swing ape-like behind his buttocks as he walked, for he always had wrapped hard candies in his pocket for us all. George was a hard worker  and though we ever knew what he did, it was enough that he never borrowed money from any of us, who were hardly any better off than he was. He always kept his family fed, well clothed, and in a nice house which his wife kept immaculate while he himself wore grease and oil stained clothes and always smelled to high heaven.  In fact during our hard times, he always brought food to the house or hand me down clothes from his kids. And he always had an extra pack of Pall Mall's for my folks. And though  a chain smoker, we never saw him take a drink that somehow my father always had to offer.
     I last remember him in my late teens, just before my high school graduation. He was terribly bent over and his hands shook involuntarily. He was dressed up with a sort of old 40s suit coat but still with old work khaki's, baggy and wrinkly, and one of those extra wide ties that hung perpendicularly straight down from his bent body. He could hardly hold the old flip top lighter to the end of his cigarette as the cigarette shook and wobbled up and down in his mouth.
   I don't blog much, but it just seemed important to write him up honor him, and be sure I didn't forget him. As freakish as he was then, in my memory he is  one of my heroes.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Y'never know...a bum on the street could be Christ"

I swear ya gotta pay for everything. The waiting time was about half an hour, and there was a little waiting room with plenty of chairs. I was joined by a man about my age, in filthy clothes, unshaven, toothless,  and in the mood for company. He was very loud and as luck would have it,  and unfortunately for them,well known by everyone trapped in that line. "You look like like a Hathaway. I'm sure you're a Hathaway. By Gawd, I bet I knew your father," he would shout across the floor.  No one could escape this man as he yelled out family names, listed all the relatives and relatives of relatives, whom he went to school with in the 50s, what businesses they ran and he worked in, etc. People were gracious but in the time I was there, no fewer than 5-6 different small towns were represented there by customers in line and he knew the families of almost everyone in that line. He was so loud, and brazen, everyone had to acknowledge him. Quite frankly it was amazing.   He knew husbands, lovers wives, children and grandchildren of all these people. He was loud, embarrassing, unkempt, and absolutely transparent, open, and guileless.

I recalled to myself a Sunday School lesson as a kid when the teacher read a story that Christ might be a bum on the never know.  And though everything about this guy annoyed me, his working memory of everyone in five towns impressed me about what kind of man he must have been in his time.  He obviously just loved people and he was a walking geneaology of the whole area. Thinking I might have been forgotten, I got in line again if only to be out of reach of this man who turned to me on every contact and continued his folklore and mention again that had turned cold enough outside today to freeze your rice balls. I was told politely they were working on my order and it would be just a couple more minutes. I took one look behind me and said "perhaps I'll wander a bit then." the clerk smiled and said gently..." sorry about that". The girl knew what it meant...I would lose my place in line and being new, no one would be likely to recognize me and call me to the front if my order was ready. I wandered a bit, but it paid off. I found Over the Moon fat Free chocolate milk someone had told me helps peole with leg problems, and got a gallon of it. Yay! Another argument for synchronicity. But as I got back, sure enough over a dozen people were in line ahead of me. Woe is me. By now my back and legs are ready to totally give out and the old man was still there. I went through the whole dozen people, got to the front, and my order was ready and in fact had been ready almost as soon as I had opted to wander a little. ( and I'm thinking, yet you saw me wait through this whole dozen people when I came back knowing that. I'm sure you could hear my teeth gritting across the store as I smiled and thanked them for the extra special treatment to a customer coming from another pharmacy.
  As I finally eased with great relief into my car seat  and drove away, I thought that I had indeed met the Christ and wasn't sharp enough at the time to know it. I smiled hinking I was glad i stopped n the way out and said some stupid thing like..." Take care of yourself, and the next time we meet we will both know enough to wear our longjohns."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

"Amish Grace" and Forgiveness

"Amish Grace" premiered tonight (2010) about the shooting of the girls in the Amish school in Penns. fairly recently. Very touching movie...I'm blubbering before we're hardly even into it. Last fall when Lin took her trip through the area she stopped by as her camping ground was nearby. She met a number of Amish people, among them the school teacher now in the new school that they built so as to spare the children going back to that memory ever again. She saw the site of the old school but the old school was razed, understandably. Because Lin is especially sensitive and respectful in many ways ( though a fierce fighter in school and annoying as hell), they allowed her to visit the new school ( not in session) and to take some pictures which Lin has not published in any way of any of the Amish people or their village..not even the bakery where the lady kept bringing pies to her camper because she was a lone traveler.
  Keep your eye out for it...I'm sure it will be repeated many times. It also happens to be pretty sensitive to the lifestyle and thinking of the Amish people, and the struggles they had individually and as a community over forgiving the killer and offering help to his wife and family in her grief. I'm sitting here blubbering over a whole community of people being able to do this when I have never been on a committee in my life that ever came to a concensus about anything.
  People do strange things. For years we have had a flower fund to send ailing or grieving colleagues in hard times. I understand that this year people withheld their contribution as usual because they feel they always acknowledge everyone individually anyway. Toward the end of the year a rather aggressive teacher went round pressuring everybody who hadn't contributed this year to hand in their contributions. Many people were angry because the money was diverted to pay for a farewell party for an unpopular principal and not for someone sick, in the hospital, or grieving over a loss.
  Whatever people thought of her, it was a loss for her. This school was the biggest project of her life and whether or not she was good at it, she threw herself into it with gusto. Had I been on the staff, I wouldn't have resented my contribution being used for such an occasion.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

2009 documentary...relevant and powerful today

"The Most Dangerous Man in America:Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers"( avail @ Netflix)
 We were blatantly lied to by 5 American Presidents about our involvement with Vietnam. Daniel Ellsberg who worked inside the Pentagon was tried as a traitor to U. S. security for giving top secret papers to the New York Times when he felt he was living and promoting a lie for the government that was needlessly costing million of lives.
  For many of us the question of his stealing the Top Secret McNamara history on the on going Vietnam War is still moot. Ellsberg was in on the planning of war strategies and heard in person the behind the scenes conclusions of top administrators and how they publicly stated the opposite in public statements. Going to Vietam himself and volunteering to go on a night patrol, he discovered that the master plan he was reading was bogus...there were no night patrols at the time. In fact the very attack on U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin was proven to be false and began the first U. S Aggression on Nam. That we were guilty of genocide and torture as we pretend to  condemn other nations for is evident. To think that we are behaving in defense of our country is false- it is so often not on behalf of the country but in behalf of the ambition of politicians is more evident.
   I was so young then and a peace marcher. I am stunned by how little I knew and how dangerous the battle was between the government and the news media. I still find it hard to decide what was right with that issue. The government ( then Nixon administration) had good arguments for protecting high priority documents for the good of the country, but so did the media have rights. The influence of both powers on the general public is astounding.
  And just as today, once again, apathy of the public is still a shocking reality that we are continually deceived and what's more, when we find out, still do nothing, and let the big guys duke it out while we complain about the ineffectiveness of Congress and the bias of the media.
  I tend to think the original motives of the alleged Tea Party was honest vigil and protest about the dishonesty in government and that the media didn't help much attaching influential figures to the party who don't represent the original intent of the grass roots group.
   Such a powerfu documentary that brings my youth back to haunt me and remind me of how little I actually knew when it was all going on. I wish, even if you think you know, that you will watch this film

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Turn in the Cycle: How did I get here?

 Earlier tonight I felt my mind and heart all scrambled yet in another sense I felt I had moved wisely over the latest batch of confusion. I had the task to get my car inspected. So much juggling and so much need for someone to help me with it all. Seems more and more of my life is dependent on asking for help. I am really appreciating the years I both loved and helped older people.For years I talked about the Hoopers whom I helped in their later years...and what social climbers they were and con artists. Boy, I am sure  in their shoes now. I knew and understood what they did then and why they had to do it. In the end they had almost no friends but me. They just didn't make it in the world they tried so hard to be a part of. Only in their obituaries did they have the credentials that were so important to them. A list of memberships that in life had done nothing for them and they had done nothing for.  

And I think of Clint, the old vaudevillian, living on social security in an SRO in NYC and how he shuffled down the hall to share a can of tomato soup and some crackers with me and Ed, young enough to be thriving but down on our luck.  I loved him so dearly. He had a front room in the hotel  with two big windows overlooking upper Broadway and watched the streets like an angel patron of the displaced. He would signal the street vendors and prostitutes when the police were coming. They would rush up to his room for sanctuary then hit the streets again for another night's hard work in a world of outcasts.

In common, those elders in old age had their own survival strategies  and dealt with pain every day of their lives from the infirmities of age. It was probably the pain I didn't fully appreciate as their young protege. Now I'm there. I look back on them with great respect and admiration for their courage, their ability to try and remain cheerful and vital to the lives of people around them when they probably wanted to withdraw to their beds and pray they would be granted the grace to die in their sleep when it just became unbearable. I think of how patiently they listened to me about all the petty complaints I had about my life and had words of love and sympathy for me instead of putting me in my place compared to their own sufferings.

 I loved my old people, but now I revere them for things I didn't know existed for them. I am one of them now. and I am so grateful for the young people who treat me with deference and respect.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My garden/my friends

Just a couple of picts to update from last time. The foxglove doesn't show up well, but daily the clusters of spires spread and blossom.Silver bells and cockle shells. The bridal veil, one of four, is becoming my opening of the season.The bare spots will be filled in with dahlias, tall ones who have already peeked through the soil. But so have a half dozen little circles-evidence of those pesky chipmunks that find so many of my favorite plants tasty.
 Of all the gardens over the years, I am most thankful for this one. With my back such a mess I couldn't do it this year...and good friends showed up with tools, gifts, compost, and mulch, strong backs, and put in hours weeding, hoeing ( that's usually more my thing, heh heh), raking, shoveling, planting and getting it all in shape for one more season. I'm a happy dude.

And here is my young friend Vinnie I've known since his high school days, through his college years, through his adventurous Appalachian trail hike,  his Peace Corps stint in Ecuador,and a five year relationship. Seems we have never finished a conversation.  He looks, sounds and feels a more mature, wise, mellowed, voice of reason. I am honored that he has given me a few nights of long conversations and delightful company before he resumes his journey. He is one of three brothers who never cease to intrigue and refresh me .

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Garden Season and Seasoned friends

Because of deteriorating back and leg problems,copd, etc- the afflictions of an aging man who had a good time in life,  I was very depressed this year about my gardens. I felt I would never be able to do them again and my property would be like a landscape version of Dorian Gray. The rider mower wouldn't work, the push mower wouldn't work, and Lord knows my legs and back wouldn't work.

So as we leapt into spring this year, the weeds and grass were tickling my testicles and I didn't find one bit of it funny. Fail not oh faith of my fathers. Mark, my robust healthy young neighbor showed up with the right tools and attacked my 300ft bank of dying sticks of roses, and later even raked them. He attacked the mower problem and we at least got the push mower going. He chopped out saplings blocking my porch view of the highway and all the young eye candy passing by on a hot afternoon. He has put countless hours into my yard, and visited with me to keep me company. ( I was always careful to honor my elders as a young man in hopes that I too would always have young, vital people around me), He is my wish come true.

As well, my good buddy Rick and his wife, whom I swear can do anything, began coming over. She can do in two hours what now takes me a week...and she went after my weeds and hopeless gardens once so promising. Rick got the rider mower going. Maureen provided invaluable weeding, planting, composting, mulching  with Rick and in one day, new life came to my yard. to be honest, when everybody left I went inside and had a good catharsis...what I call cry for happy. I am such a rich man. Here the photos don't do justice as the ground beds are really black as night, beautiful, well defined tho my camera doesn't capture the crispness. but because of generous friends, I will have a wonderful summer showcase again. I'll try to remember to show you again later in the season.

There is really just too much to get it all in, but here are a few plots. I wish my camera could get the true colors for you because it is just stunningly contrasted in colors and there is a whole lot I just didn't get more picts of.
Thanks to my beloved friends to whom I am just immeasurably grateful.Those afternoon cool ones on the lawn or the deck are going to be very rich this year. Gardeners among you will know how full of joy I feel I am truly blessed.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How tough can it be?

In the early 60s, I made the trip from South Jersey to Maine in a broken down lemon of a  used VW with no heat and with  blankets spread across my lap, nothing on the radio but static, and not sure I had enough money for gas and tolls ,no AAA, and no phone numbers to call in an emergency. Nobody knew I was coming and no one knew that I left. 

 Things are  apparently still tough:   
A friend called me in tears tonight.  Among her other problems, her son is driving home alone from College( one of those specially designed colleges for kids who don't want to go to college) in PA. She and the grandparents are worried and call him every few minutes on his cell phone ( while he's driving of course). He has a GPS they are hooked into with their computers to follow him every step of the way. He has  a CB going , has a dvd player and  his ipod, snacks and a pocketful of money and has his own car. He has made the trip at least 4 times before.  For three hours of a" life sucks testimony", including "nobody appreciates what I do for them- my son as well",  I heard  "hold on, it's him" every five minutes. I heard his side of the conversation then got a recap again from his Mom again. 
Now I ask myself, When does this tough life ever get better? Such a hard life. Suffer suffer suffer, and then you die.