'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

30 November 2012

Where Great Britain Used To Be

Death Pathways. For babies. Little, helpless newborns. Starved and dehydrated TO DEATH. Read the whole thing if you can stomach a story about horribly painful death carried out by doctors and families so devoid of humanity as to be synonymous with the Nazis. 10 days to die in agony. It is beyond disgusting and makes me think we should declare War on England immediately just to stop this madness. But you know the worst part? The tidbit that makes me see red and reach for something sharp and harmful?

Parents must agree to their child going on the Death Pathway. This is the result of eugenics. This is the result of too close a relationship with the Death Cults of Islam and Abortion. This is narcissism liberal style. This is where we're headed. I simply cannot fathom a culture, any culture, where such is not only practiced but encouraged. We are so close to enforced eugenics and euthanasia.

God help them. God help us all.


ht to Glenn Beck.

Cop Tales. Naked Dude

In comments on my "What I really did" post I have been reminded of this story and decided it needed telling.

It's about 1988 or so. I am a green as grass rookie with just a few years in uniform. Working the midnight shift because hey, that's where the rookies go.

Now Monterey is an old city. Among other things it was California's first capitol from 1777 to 1846 and was then conquered by Commodore Sloat and claimed as part of the United States. Lots of old buildings and streets first laid out by the Mexican and Spanish governments a long time ago. One of those streets is Lighthouse Avenue. If you look just below that red line along the coast (where it says Fisherman's Wharf #1) you can see Lighthouse Avenue.

So. One dark and cold morning, about 3 AM,  I was doing routine patrolling in my old and rattle trap of a cop car Dodge Diplomat (remember those?). When I turned from Pacific Avenue onto Lighthouse I espied a person jogging down the sidewalk next to the street. He was far enough away and the street lights were spaced far enough apart that I couldn't see much of him except that he seemed to be dressed kinda sparsely. As I got closer it became apparent that he was very sparsely dressed. Like naked to be exact.

Now I was no jaded and experienced veteran officer but even I was pretty sure that there was something peculiar about the situation. It's no more than 40 degrees out, it's 3 in the morning, it's a very public street and he ain't wearing a stitch. Hmm. Might be I should talk to this guy. I flip a U-Turn and approach. It's my first "naked guy in public" call. It will not be my last.

Aside here. Like all contacts I called this one in to dispatch but I made a rookie mistake. I mentioned a nude man. Usually on all calls and contacts at that time of day another car will roll automatically as backup unless called off which I most emphatically did not do. Except when it's a naked dude. Then you couldn't find another police car in the city available for follow up no matter how hard you tried. Naked chicks are another matter altogether. Then you'll get responses from 5 cities away. Cops.

The Naked Dude (Let's just refer to him as ND for brevity's sake shall we?) sees me approaching, lights rotating on my roof, but he's not making eye contact. He just keeps his head down and continues jogging down the road. Perhaps desperately hoping I'll chalk it up to the full moon and leave him alone. But, alas for him, my curiosity has been piqued and you know, naked guy on public streets and all that. Finally he gives up and stops. He stands there in the harsh glare of a thousand watt street light and surrenders to his fate.

Now anyone who has ever met me knows that I am what is colloquially known as a Smart Ass. But on that morning I was at a temporary loss for words. Here was a man totally starkers casually jogging down a main boulevard. Whatever could be the reason?

"Hi. How you doing tonight? Out for a jog I guess?" Hardly words that will go down in the annals of snarkish history but hey, I was a bit put off at the time. I took immediate pity on the man, not to mention any motorists passing by at 3 in the morning, and grabbed my emergency blanket from the trunk and threw it around his shoulders. As I did so I noticed a fine oily sheen on his skin. All his skin if you catch my drift. Everywhere is the idea I'm trying to get across here. He was grateful for the wrap and covered himself as best he could.

"Anything you want to tell me? Like what you're doing, where you're going and why you're doing any of that sans suitable body covering materials?"

He indicated his home was nearby and that he was just trying to get there. I offered him a ride as it was apparent by that time that he was neither under the influence of dangerous and intoxicating substances at that moment nor absent his saner wits. During the ride he volunteered the story of how he came to be running down the streets of my fair city is a state is disrobedness. This was a story I was dying to hear.

Seems our intrepid ND was hitchhiking south down Highway 1 toward the Big Sur area,. Why was unclear but as he was being forthcoming I declined to interrupt to the extent I could stand the suspense. Along the way he was picked up by two men....in a van. At this point my every cop sense was tingling and I was starting to get the idea that this story was going to go downhill in a hurry. I was correct.

They spent some time together, the three of them imbibing intoxicating beverages of the Hops and Malt variety. At some point in the (allegedly moderate) party in the van he lost consciousness. Nd claimed that the next thing he knew he was waking up behind a bush in a park in downtown Carmel (for reference about 4 or 5 miles from where I picked him up). He was also quite naked and covered with the aforementioned oily substance. ND decided his best bet was just to try and get home as best he could.

Now I want you to envision yourself in my place. Rookie police officer confronted with an oil covered man with that story. The questions boggle the mind. Who? Why? What? What kind. How much? How many times? Etc.etc. etc.

"You jogged from Carmel to here!? Naked!?"

But I knew my duty and asked him two things. First, Do you want to go to the hospital because I'm pretty sure stuff may have been done to you and perhaps a medical checkup is in order? ND quickly and flatly declined stating he was fine and just wanted to go home. Second, is there anything you'd like to report because see question the First? Again ND stated he was certain nothing untoward had happened to him, oily skin and state of nakedness notwithstanding. Ok then.

We reached his home and I let him out. He politely offered the emergency blanket back to me but I took another look at that oil on his skin and hastily declined. " No, no, That's Ok. You keep that." I gave him my card and asked again if there was anything I could do for him but he refused.

In those days and in that small town we had a lot more discretion than is the norm now. It wasn't unusual for any officer to decide that an arrest in a situation like that was probably not the best solution. SoI tipped my cap to ND, wished him a good evening and left.

In looking back on that contact both in the short term and again years later, I am absolutely positive ND was lying or at least not telling all he knew or remembered. My attitude toward weird police contacts like this has always been to appraise the situation and if it's not clear police action is warranted leave it with "Do you need help? You Ok? Need to report something, a crime maybe? No? Well, call if you do and have a nice day." Clearly something untoward happened that resulted in the state I found him in but I'm pretty sure he was more of a willing participant that he wanted me to guess. Perhaps not to the extent it ended up but if you're gonna play those kind of games the night may end with a naked moonlit stroll down a city street. Intoxicants stronger than beer were unquestionably involved but again, I got the clear impression of chagrin as opposed to horror so I was pretty sure the imbibing was consensual even if the end result was somewhat unexpected. All in all it seemed to be a case of  "Oh shit, he passed out. Now what?" as opposed to something felonious.

So. Word to the wise there kids, drugs/alcohol, sex games and strangers in vans are a bad mix. Don't be Naked Dude.


29 November 2012

Where Do You Find Joy?

As we walked Angus around the neighborhood last night I was struck by one Christmas display in particular. It had the word JOY surrounded by bright colored lights. It's not an unusual word and is one found in many displays at this time of year. But it really hit me at that moment.


We choose our state of mind. Whether that be of the positive or negative variety it is ultimately up to each of us to decide how we're going to face the world. With pessimism, fear and anger or optimism, courage and a smile on our lips.


Such a small word and simple idea. To live facing each new day with hope and determination or surrender to despair and decline. There are forces at work in this country and the world today that want us in discord and disarray. Who hate Joy and Love and Happiness and Light with every fiber of their beings. Who are working hard to stamp out those things and have us living empty, joyless lives, devoid of faith and honor and devotion.


I say yes to Joy. I say yes to Compassion and Fidelity and Passion. I will find my Joy in the love of family and friends. In my Faith in God. In my Wife. My Daughter. My Grandchildren. In Sarge and MIL who are the best family and neighbors anyone could have. In a black dog who always has a wagging tail and who greets me each day with a Joy in his heart I can only aspire to.


I am free to choose how I will live my life. How I will treat those I love. How I will view each day and the challenges that come with just being alive. Yes, I will decide. Joy or Despair. Happy or Sad. Love or Hate. Life or Death.


Such a small word but one with so much meaning and potential. The ramifications of choice fraught with both frightful peril and wonderful opportunities. 

I know my choice. I choose to Love and Live. I choose to embrace the unknown with an open heart and a ready mind. I choose family and friends. I choose Faith with all that entails. I choose to accept the depredations that life throws at me with all the humor I possess and gratitude for the opportunity to test and show my mettle.

I choose Joy. What will you choose?


28 November 2012

Installing A Dishwasher

Thanks to everyone who commented and gave me good advice on posting pictures. The DO set us up with a Photobucket account so that should last us a bit. This is my first try at posting like this so we'll see how it goes.

I don't need a dishwasher, I married one. Badda Bump!!

Just kidding. When we bought this house it was with the knowledge that it was short a few things, a dishwasher being among them. Other more critical stuff has been taking up my time but I swore that I'd get Lu's new dishwasher installed before Christmas. I have kept that promise.

On Saturday Lu and I went down to the local appliance store to purchase a new machine. The one we both liked was almost half off so we said screw it and plunked down the cash. Delivery was supposed to be Wednesday but we got the call that it was in Monday night. My prep wasn't quite finished but I figured I could just get it all done in one huge orgy of installation effort. So I picked it up today and she's a real beaut. Of course the kitchen was going to need some major surgery.

The cabinets are L shaped with this being the little end, next to the stove. Here it is with drawers removed, just prior to the destruction. Let's see. Got all my tools? Hammer? Check. Knife? Check. Yep, we're ready to rock now.

I wanted to take the cabinet out in one piece but these are custom built and share bottoms and some sides so it was hammer and pry bar time. I even tried to get the laminate off just to make my life easier but no joy.

Powertools. Imagine that said in a low voice with a little drool leaking from the side of my mouth. Mmmm, Sawzall.

Top gone. The bottom required a pilot hole before I could hack it out.

And presto, just like that I've done a cabinetectomy. With no anesthetic even.

Installation was pretty straightforward. I set the washer up with water line, power cord and drain line. I decided that until I totally rip out the kitchen I'd just run the power up behind the washer to an outlet on the counter top behind the microwave. Then I drilled a couple of one inch holes through the cabinet wall next to the washer location. The white plastic pipe is drain and the steel braided line is cold water.

A couple more in the cabinet wall next to the under sink area. The lines run under a Lazy Susan and through another cabinet in positions that will keep them out of the way and less liable to damage. My advice is to use braided steel water lines in these applications. A holed drain line is one thing, a damaged high pressure water line is something else.

I ran the drain line through the wall. That wall is the common wall between the kitchen and the new laundry room. It was easy to then plug it into the existing drain for the washing machine. If you noticed that the drain line suddenly went from white to clear your eyes are not betraying you. I had to lengthen the drain line to reach. I then added a T fitting to the cold water line to the faucet on the right there and plugged the dish washer line into that. Remember your Teflon tape when doing copper or steel high pressure water lines.

And here is the finished product. Well kinda finished. Because these cabinets are shorter that normal the dish washer top is even with the existing counter. I bought a small slab of granite to cover it while we wait for the kitchen remodel in a year or two. I still have some fitting to do and a shell to build but I'll post an updated picture of it in a few days.

Lu likes black appliances so sometime in the near future she'll get a black stove to match. All the rest of the appliances are or will be black.

Remember, this is a totally new installation. This house has never had a dishwasher before. Everything had to be done from scratch. Still, I am not completely dissatisfied and since Lu is ecstatic I'd call it a it a successful job.  It works and everything. You're never supposed to buy your wife an appliance as a special gift but I think I can be forgiven in this circumstance.

Hey, we're now back in at least the late 20th century. Give me another year and maybe we can join you all here in the 21st.

Merry Christmas Lu!


I've Reached My Photo Limit On Blogger (Updated)

I've hit my 1 GB limit and now Blogger won't let me post any more photos without paying for more storage space. Absent moving to Wordpress does anyone out there have any advice? I can't continue this blog without posting pictures.


My IT person and wonderful  daughter, The DO, has set us up with a Photobucket account. Thank you all for your tips and advice. I'm guessing that sooner or later I'll have to pony up to someone for unlimited storage but I'll put that day of reckoning off for as long as I can.

27 November 2012

What I Really Did

Offered for my old comrades and everyone who has worn the suit.

If I had a nickel for every naked dude call I ever responded to.....


26 November 2012

I Think I'm A Hippie

As one born in the (late) 50s I am a child of the 60s. I remember the hippies. At one point I even considered myself among their ranks. I wore tie dye and elephant bells and my hair all the way down. I hated Nixon because all my friends did. I repeated 'Tricky Nicky' and 'Phase 4, Phase Out Nixon' and all the rest. I have since reconsidered my opinions about President Nixon but that is for another day.

Since the election the question for conservatives keeps being asked. What now? My answer? Bring back the hippie movement.

Consider where we as conservatives are right now. In the 60s the counter culture movement was pretty unpopular. Republicans and conservatism, while feeling heat, were still ascendant. Nixon won in 68, defeating the Democrat Humphrey who was nominated because Johnson surely saw the writing on the wall and declined to be crushed in a bid for re-election. In later decades Nixon's disgrace still only resulted in one term for Carter. Then Reagan twice and Bush senior. In the 60s and 70's and well into the 80s Republicans and conservatives were 'The Man'. Hippies protested and sat in and generally fought against the Establishment. They preached Free Love and Turn On, Tune In and Drop Out. They burned their draft cards and bras and sometimes whole city blocks. The rioted and planted bombs and killed people.

Well, now they got what they always wanted. Now they're 'The Man' with all that entails. Now we're in the same position they were in the 60s. On the outside looking in. At least to an extent. Lest anyone forget, the election was very close and the GOP still maintains control of the House and with it the nation's checkbook. Now is the time to do to them what they once did to us.

The Tea Party movement was a nice start but we need to take things to the next level. The Tea Party has allowed itself to be controlled and manipulated by the GOP old guard. Their fire and passion squelched by a slate of RINO candidates and the age old choice of either staying home or holding our noses and voting for the least objectionable ticket. It's time for the Tea Party to morph into Tea Party Hippies.

The hippie movement was true grassroots. Oh, we can discuss and argue on who the movements organizers, financiers and provocateurs were but the sandals on the ground were disaffected people who were agitating for political and social change. Obama himself used that very idea to propel him into office the first time. Hope and Change, a true hippie sentiment. It was enough to overcome a disastrous economy, failed foreign policy and a weak GOP candidate for a second term. The 1960s hippies are alive and well and they and their ideological offspring are voting in large numbers.

But politics are cyclical as Roosevelt through Bush II has showed us. At one time the accepted understanding of the American political electorate was a preference for a Democrat House and a Republican President. That has now changed and the potential for the election of a King every 4 years is very real. Whether that president has a D or an R beside their name it's a frightening thought. Hippies may be the answer.

Oh, I don't mean dirty, stinking flag burning hippies singing bad folk songs and smoking dope in the back of a crapped out van. That's the liberal hippie but there's no reason why they get to define what a hippie is and isn't. It's part and parcel of refusing to let the liberals and the media (but I repeat myself) define things. The Tea Party are just as much hippies, in the truest sense of the word, as any bead wearing, patchouli smelling counter culture protestor in 1968. They just dress better, pick up after themselves and have to go to work on Monday morning. Those with limited political power protesting for greater freedom and more limited government influence in and power over their lives. That's all a hippie really is.

What they did was make themselves heard in every home in the country. Media conservatives (and there still were a few even then) talked about them in much the same way the modern liberal media talks about the Tea Party. Un American, violent and out of touch with the mainstream. But the hippie movement nonetheless touched something in the American psyche. They may have been dupes in the larger communist/statist move to change America fundamentally (sound familiar?) but they were also viewed as underdogs and as everyone knows Americans love an underdog. And they spoke some truths that we as conservatives would do well to understand. Less government intrusion and greater freedom. Yes, even now those who participated in the Love Ins may not realize that was what they were chafing for but it was. Conservative values.

So let's all become the hippies of the new millennium. 21st century counter culture protestors. The business suit and work clothes will become our tie dyed uniforms. The Town Hall our protest venue. Patriotic music our protest anthem. The media will cover our protests reflexively in the hope that we'll seem desperate and objectionable to society. But they will cover us and our message will resonate, especially as the economy tanks and the American Dream dims.

In 50 years the hippie movement went from Woodstock to the Whitehouse and political control of the country's future. Or maybe I should say potential control because nothing is forever. And the 'Liberal Man' had better remember that because now we're the hippies and we're just as angry and just as motivated as those who braved the water cannons and dogs way back then. And our contempt for 'The Man' is every bit as bitter and encompassing as any counter culture warrior of the 60s. We also understand what the stakes are and what the cost of failure is.

Using the opponents tactics against them is deliciously ironic and fills me with a soft, warm glow. I even saw a really cool VW van on E-Bay just the other day....

We're all hippies now.


25 November 2012

Sunday Kipling

It's beautiful here in southern Utah. Bright, sunny and warm. We put up the Christmas lights last night and today Lu is working on the tree and interior decorations. She loves her holiday decorationing.

Angus is happy and healthy. He's such a good dog. We are considering, considering mind you nothing has been decided, adding another member to the family. I'm perusing the shelters for a rescue. We'll see but I think a companion would be good for the boy.

The turkey is holding out. I did buy a 20 pounder after all. Love me some turkey sandwiches.

We bought a dish washer yesterday. We haven't had one since we moved into this house and it's high time we moved back into the late 20th century. It's a cold installation, this house has never had one before so I have to do everything from wiring to plumbing. Pics next week. On that note why is it that salesmen will risk pissing off a customer who declines the extended warranty by trying to browbeat them into submission? I don't want it, thank you very much, and if you insist on irritating me I'll just go somewhere else.

I'm going in to the freezer in a bit to see what goodies are buried within it's arctic depths. Mmmmmm, frozen meat. I hope this day finds you all hale and ready for the Christmas holiday. Please remember what this season is all about and don't stress yourselves out shopping. Buy ammunition. Have a great Sunday my friends.


The Benefactors

Ah! What avails the classic bent
     And what the cultured word,
Against the undoctored incident
  That actually occurred?

And what is Art whereto we press
  Through paint and prose and rhyme--
When Nature in her nakedness
  Defeats us every time?

It is not learning, grace nor gear,
  Nor easy meat and drink,
But bitter pinch of pain and fear
  That makes creation think.

When in this world's unpleasing youth
  Our godlike race began,
The longest arm, the sharpest tooth,
  Gave man control of man;

Till, bruised and bitten to the bone
  And taught by pain and fear,
He learned to deal the far-off stone,
  And poke the long, safe spear.

So tooth and nail were obsolete
  As means against a foe,
Till, bored by uniform defeat,
  Some genius built the bow.

Then stone and javelin proved as vain
  As old-time tooth and nail;
Till, spurred anew by fear and pain,
  Man fashioned coats of mail.

Then was there safety for the rich
  And danger for the poor,
Till someone mixed a powder which
  Redressed the scale once more.

Helmet and armour disappeared
  With sword and bow and pike,
And, when the smoke of battle cleared,
  All men were armed alike.   .   .   .

And when ten million such were slain
  To please one crazy king,
Man, schooled in bulk by fear and pain,
  Grew weary of the thing;

And, at the very hour designed,
  To enslave him past recall,
His tooth-stone-arrow-gun-shy mind
  Turned and abolished all.

All Power, each Tyrant, every Mob
   Whose head has grown too large,
Ends by destroying its own job
  And works its own discharge;

And Man, whose mere necessities
  Move all things from his path,
Trembles meanwhile at their decrees,
  And deprecates their wrath!

23 November 2012

Corruption Kills Nations

David Petraeus. Benghazi Libya. The Media. Lies and coverups and corruption. Petraeus has now earned the sobriquet hung on him by the left so long ago; Betraeus. He has one last chance to restore a modicum of his honor when he testifies to the house tomorrow. Why do I think he'll lie again? Because he's a liar.

Anyone who cheats on their spouse is a lying liar who is without a shred of dignity or honor. Why is anyone surprised at anything vile such do? And here's the kicker. Those involved with cheaters are always shocked when they themselves are cheated on by that self same pile of execrable scum.  Cheaters cheat. If they'll do it with you they'll do against you.

I have always marveled at the naivete, ignorance and hypocrisy of so much of this country. They see cheating from people and institutions they support as acceptable and from those they oppose as scandalous. It's part and parcel of why we're in the mess we're in.

Corruption kills. Corruption is evil.

We see it every day. Politicians, military leaders, police officials, church leaders, etc. ad infinitum. All caught in sex and/or money scandals and then the coverups which invariable follow. It's almost like power corrupts or something. Except that's not true in all cases. We know leadership that's as true blue as that field behind the stars on out flag. But they seem more and more to be the exception and no longer the rule.

Maybe the system is flawed and corruption will always be the end result of a free election society and the appointments and promotions they make. Maybe you must become corrupt yourself in order to rise to positions of authority. Perhaps all those who end up in these scandals started off not intending to become that which we all profess to hate but accepted it as the price of success. Promising themselves in the dark of the night that they'll change if they can just reach the next level. Or the one after that.

Petraeus' betrayal is not only that he slept with a woman other than his wife. It's not just that he gave no thought to the disastrous results of placing himself in a position where he could so easily be blackmailed, manipulated and compromised. It's that this is a betrayal of all it means to be a soldier, a husband, a father, a man. He sold us out. All of us. We who placed him in that position and trusted him to put the country's welfare above his base desires.A good soldier disgraced.

But he's hardly alone is he? How many have there been? How many are out there right now, undiscovered? How many times have we shaken our heads and tsked and asked "How could he/she do that?" Sex, drugs, money, power. Over and over again. And we can ask ourselves how we could possibly be sold out at the highest levels of government? One who would cheat and steal and lie and betray those he knows and allegedly loves has no compunctions about selling the lives and futures of folks they will never know down the river at the drop of a hat. The long term takes a back seat to the immediate. Self gratification takes precedence over the welfare of others. Personal aggrandizement over the good of the nation.

In my profession there were two hard rules we were expected to live by. Not that all did or do but they were the standards. Still are.
First. Liars cannot be tolerated. If you lie you're done. Period.
Second. We are held to a higher standard and expected to behave accordingly.
Both have crash and burn penalties for violations and are career and even freedom enders. Or should be anyway. Spare me the anecdotal stories. We all know there have been and are all too frequent breakdowns of the system but they're almost always tied into even more and worse corruption at higher levels of the police department. At good agencies those are truths and they hold.
If we expect our cops to hold true to those two principals, and we do/should/must, then why do we not demand the same from our national leaders?

As a nation we pay lip service to the idea of accountability but we don't really mean it. We have exceptions, exemptions and extenuating circumstances where we will overlook, forgive or outright ignore corruption. Depends on whose ox is being gored and who stands to win or lose. We have encouraged this behavior by not punishing it whenever and wherever we find it and whoever commits it. Lying, cheating, stealing.

I've often said that we don't necessarily get the government we deserve, we get the government we allow. But in the case of abject corruption we do get that which we deserve if we fail to correct such immediately and forcefully. Our leaders have gotten that message loud and clear. There are limited liabilities for doing as they please for there will always be those who will excuse and cover. Why not? What are we gonna do, fire 'em?

Corruption goes way beyond the individual. It is the slow poison that kills governments and nations.There must be penalties for moral violations else there is simply no further conversation to be had. Basic principals. A man who cannot be trusted is a man who cannot be trusted.


21 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Lu and I are having a quiet dinner at home, just the two of us and a certain lunch gut of a Black Lab. I hope you all have a wonderful day and remember just how fortunate we are. I am grateful for all my many blessings, wife, child and grandchildren. Family both close and far. Health, comfort and a roof over our heads. A dog who came into our lives at the perfect time and has brought us joy and happiness when we feared such may be gone forever. And you my friends. Thank you for visiting, encouraging and befriending me and Lu. I hope we all have many more years of fellowship yet to enjoy.

And now a little nonsense to hopefully brighten your day.

Happy Thanksgiving!!


A Song of Bananas

(From the "Brazilian Verse")
HAVE you no Bananas, simple townsmen all? 
   "Nay, but we have them certainly.
"We buy them off the barrows, with the vegetable-marrows 
   "And the cabbage of our own country,
   "(From the costers of our own country.)" 

Those are not Bananas, simple townsmen all. 
   (Plantains from Canaryward maybe!)
For the true are red and gold, and they fill no steamer's hold, 
   But flourish in a rare country,
   (That men go far to see.)

Their stiff fronds point the nooning down, simple townsmen all, 
   Or rear against the breezes off the sea;
Or duck and loom again, through the curtains of the rain 
   That the loaded hills let free-
   (Bellying 'twixt the uplands and the sea.) 

Little birds inhabit there, simple townsmen all-
   Jewelled things no bigger than a bee;
And the opal butterflies plane and settle, flare and rise, 
   Through the low-arched greenery,
   (That is malachite and jade of the sea.)

The red earth works and whispers there, simple townsmen all, 
   Day and night in rank fecundity,
That the Blossom and the Snake lie open and awake, 
   As it was by Eden Tree,
   (When the First Moon silvered through the Tree)... 

But you must go to business, simple townsmen all,
   By 'bus and train and tram and tube must flee!
For your Pharpars and Abanas do not include Bananas
   (And Jordan is a distant stream to drink of, simple townsmen), 
   Which leaves the more for me!

20 November 2012

Final Concrete

Four and a half yards delivered this morning. Lu and I poured and finally finished the driveway extension. Ignore the slop at the edge. I'll clean that up after it dries and the main pour sets.

You can see the new section in relation to the overall driveway and fence. We added right at 600 square feet of surface area between the last two pours. That's seven and one half cubic yards of concrete. I can now drive right up to my garage without having to go off road.

I even had enough to put in a small pad between the garage and fence for the garbage cans. No more trying to tug them over gravel and mud.

The driveway extension is now done and with it much of the front of the house. How much have we done?

We went from this

To this

To this

And finally this. The garage is in, the driveway poured, the fence is up and lots of decorative gravel because I'm lazy and low maintenance yards make me smile. It's clean, weed free and simple. Plus we now have enough parking for even one of Lu's family gatherings. Lu and I did every bit of the work ourselves with the occasional assist from family.

I'm happy and more importantly Lu is happy. The big outside stuff is done for the Winter. I'm moving operations inside until Spring.

Next up? I believe I'll be starting on the grandkids' room. I want to divide the space into two rooms, take out a window and two doors, add in three windows and three doors and generally make it ready for Summer visits. It's going to be a busy year. Those people who say they were never so busy until after they retired? Yeah, they're optimists.


19 November 2012

Quilts By Lu. Expressions Of Love

Anyone who spends time with me eventually gets an ear full of my praise for Lu's quilting skills. This is a woman who makes amazing quits. She's even gotten blue ribbons at the county fair and in her opinion she's grown as a quilter by leaps and bounds since then. To say I'm proud of her skills is a massive understatement. She even made one for a local wounded warrior many years ago. I'm not a braggart by nature though I do make an exception for her.

The very best part is that she's handed down both the skills and interest to her daughter (The DO) and her granddaughter (Babygirl). The DO is already a very talented quilter in her own right and Babygirl gets that look in her eyes whenever they sew together. You should hear them when they gather to discuss techniques and fabric.

So, what does her work look like? I'm posting some here but as you peruse keep in mind this is only a very small sampling of her works. Just what was immediately handy. She's done many for others including baby quilts for many of the family's newborns. And bear in mind that these are pieced together quilts, made by hand from cut out pieces and sewn together by a woman who gives attention to detail an entirely new definition. Hundreds of small cuts and seams. Over and over again. I lack the knowledge to sufficiently explain it all but for those who do this work no explanation is necessary. For the rest of us the beauty speaks for itself.

Lu does no small wall hangers. Her creations are meant to be used as what they are.

The details you have to look close to see but that are so important to her.

Patterns and colors. The palette of the quilter.

Quilters are adapters, their skills showing up in other places. Like the curtain rod that doubles as a place to hang in process quilts for perusal and work.

Small pieces that make up the whole. 

Sewn together with sure fingers and a nimble mind.

Tying versus quilting. Lu does both and understands the differences. I do not but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the time, skill and love that goes into each.

My favorite is still being made but with her permission I'll give you a small taste. My military quilt, detailing my service.

Completely hand done mind you. Nothing beyond a sewing machine plus her vision, love and skill. She wants it to be perfect and is determined it will be so. She's using all her considerable abilities on this one including hand stitching. She made the crossed cannons from a pattern she spent months getting exactly the way she wanted it. Tracing and re-tracing. Stitching and re-stitching. She's put it together and taken it apart more than once simply because it's for me and it has to be exactly according to her vision. It's beautiful but not just because of how it looks. It's because the person making it for me is beautiful.

Every time I see one of her quilts I can see the love writ large across it's surface. In every stitch, every seam, every pattern. Lu doesn't just quilt, she creates reflections of her heart. Expressions of who she is and how she views the world and all those she loves. An angelic soul. She can so easily bring me to tears of joy and happiness.

I am simply the luckiest man alive.


17 November 2012

Sunday Kipling

The last of the new driveway is almost ready for concrete. Tuesday if the stars stay aligned. Four and a half yards. One last large pour and we'll be done with that stuff. For a while at least. I hope.

We'll be BBQing today as we do most Sundays. We've got some lovely Tri Tip that's just begging to be turned into Sunday dinner. Hey Sarge. What are you and MIL doing tomorrow 5ish?

It seems I've lost my enthusiasm for sports. Just can't seem to get into them right now. Perhaps there's something else intruding on my thoughts and time. Can't imagine what that would be.

This day promises to be warm and sunny. A good day to be alive and an American. Hug your loved ones and give all your doggies and kitties a nice treat. It's good for the soul.


The Wage-Slaves
Oh, glorious are the guarded heights
  Where guardian souls abide--
Self-exiled from our gross delights--
  Above, beyond, outside:
An ampler arc their spirit swings--
  Commands a juster view--
We have their word for all these things,
   No doubt their words are true.

Yet we, the bond slaves of our day,
  Whom dirt and danger press--
Co-heirs of insolence,  delay,
  And leagued unfaithfulness--
Such is our need must seek indeed
  And, having found, engage
The men who merely do the work
  For which they draw the wage.

From forge and farm and mine and bench,
  Deck, altar, outpost lone--
Mill, school, battalion, counter, trench,
  Rail, senate, sheepfold, throne--
Creation's cry goes up on high
  From age to cheated age:
"Send us the men who do the work
   "For which they draw the wage!"

Words cannot help nor wit achieve,
   Nor e'en the all-gifted fool,
Too weak to enter, bide, or leave
  The lists he cannot rule.
Beneath the sun we count on none
  Our evil to assuage,
Except the men that do the work
  For which they draw the wage.

When through the Gates of Stress and Strain
  Comes forth the vast Event--
The simple, sheer, sufficing, sane
  Result of labour spent--
They that have wrought the end unthought
  Be neither saint nor sage,
But only men who did the work
  For which they drew the wage.

Wherefore to these the Fates shall bend
  (And all old idle things )
Werefore on these shall Power attend
  Beyond the grip of kings:
Each in his place, by right, not grace,
  Shall rule his heritage--
The men who simply do the work
  For which they draw the wage.

Not such as scorn the loitering street,
  Or waste, to earth its praise,
Their noontide's unreturning heat
  About their morning ways;
But such as dower each mortgaged hour
  Alike with clean courage--
Even the men who do the work
  For which they draw the wage--
Men, like to Gods, that do the work
  For which they draw the wage--
Begin-continue-close that work
  For which they draw the wage!

16 November 2012

I Support Israel

The conflict over Israel's right to exist is heating up. Those who want nothing less than the destruction of the Jewish state are hurling rockets into civilian populated areas and crying foul when the IDF lights them up.

Of course the antisemitism has been ratcheted up to eleven. I was perusing the Twitterverse and was repulsed by the murderous rhetoric and complaints that Hitler should have done a better job. And not just by Alqassam Brigade either. Sickening. Someone want to remind me again who the tolerant and peaceful are again?

I speak for no one but myself here but I'm solidly pro Israel. They have a right to exist and defend themselves. If you're stupid enough to poke the bear you can't be surprised when you also get the claws.

I'm fairly sure this post will draw some hatred from the left for that position. Good. I'm a big believer in lines and taking positions on the important things in life. The continued existence and freedom of Israel, not to mention the lives of her citizens and Jews worldwide, is important. Religious hatred is bad. Ethnic cleansing is bad. Mass murder for hate's sake is bad. Rocketing Israel? That's just suicide.

Palestine isn't a country and never has been an autonomous entity. So please spare me the "Jews stole our land" nonsense.

I love Israel and her courageous defenders. Steady kicking ass since 1948. Willing to go it alone if they have to and Lord knows with the One in office that's pretty much their lot. For now.

So I'm going to set aside my comment policy just this once and ask The DO to indulge me on this. If you're a hater of all things Israel/Jewish and want to spew your venom on me please feel free to do so. I don't exactly get thousands of visitors but for those few who stumble across this post, please share your view of the Jewish Homeland and my position as one of their defenders with the rest of us. Threaten if you're feeling particularly brave behind your anonymous mask.

I can hardly wait. I wonder what they'll say?


15 November 2012

LauraB On Canning Emergency Food For Our Canine Friends

A while back Laura B. made a comment about canning emergency rations for our doggy buddies. I asked her to consider posting about it for those of us ignorant of the process (like yours truly). She has done so and bless her because it's priceless information. Go here, read it and then make a reference copy (I hope that's Ok Laura) for later use. It's chock full of informationy goodness with photos for those of us who are visual learners, including dos and don'ts (the tip on can openers being a great example). For anyone with beloved dogs (and there's no reason it won't work for cats or any other pets you might have) this is how you ensure that if things go from bad to worse you'll be able to keep them fed and healthy.

Love you Laura. Lu and I are in the process of following your advice and prepping for Angus. I can't thank you enough for posting on this. Helping each other in times of distress is what this community is all about. Well done!


14 November 2012

Frisbee Dog

I'm not exactly a tofu eating, hackey sacking, Prius driving hippie so it comes as no small surprise to me that I have a Frisbee dog. I bought one in a narcoleptic trip to the big pet store to buy him some new toys. He having already eaten most of his others in various orgies of puppy chewing. He saw one and turned those big brown eyes on me with his best "Pleaseohpleaseohplease!" look. Now look at us. He's got me playing suburban yuppie dog owner to satisfy his Border Collie fantasies. I feel so cheap.

"Hey pal, it took some doing to get this off the driveway. How about you just throw it for me and no one finds something special in his boot tomorrow morning"

Look at that tail. That is a happy dog. The stinker.

But can he actually catch it? Let's see.

Ooh. Missed it by that much!

"Stupid, ham handed non Frisbee thrower. I bet I'd have caught it if Momma was throwing."

Ok, one more time.

Success!! "Hey Momma, look at me. Look at me Momma. Momma? Stop talking to Grandma and watch meeeee!"

"Aw, she missed the whole thing. I bet she really wanted a sheepdog."

So, he's a Frisbee dog. But I'm not worried. He still barks at hippies and refuses to let any touch him so I'm pretty sure he won't start listening to Dead albums and burning incense any time soon. Plus, he's as liable to eat them as play catch with 'em so there's that. Still, a father worries.

Hey Angus, wanna play hackey sack? No? Good Boy!


Tales Of The Weird

You know how sometimes you see something that just makes you scratch your head?

Lu and I were walking Angus the other night. Just a nice little walkie around the block. I'm paying attention to him because he's still in puppy mode and requires frequent input. Lu and I are just chatting and enjoying the evening. Suddenly Angus goes on alert and growls. You dog people know what I'm talking about here. You know the difference between a "What's that?" growl and a fight or flight posture and that deep in his chest "There may be something there that needs killin" growl. Yeah, it was the second. I looked up and saw, jogging right down the middle of the street.....

A 6 foot chicken. Seriously.

Angus freaked. I mean, that's just a bit outside his experience. Heck, it's kinda outside my experience and after 24 years as a cop I've seen pretty much everything. Except a 6 foot jogging chicken apparently.

With a jaunty little wave he passed us and went on trotting up the road. Probably to do battle with the forces of evil. I kept looking around for a 6 foot lion with a giant F on his red sweater.

Super Chicken in my little town. I never knew our evil genius/mad scientist population was that high. Maybe this means that Angus is really Underdog and was just pissed at this clear violation of his crime fighting territory.

Who knew? Next time I'll get his autograph.


13 November 2012

Three Authors And A Doctor Speaking Out.

In light of the election it's now clear that obamacare is the law of the land and will be so until single payer finally gets enacted. Clearly that is the anticipated end game. To that end we must be as informed as possible and start taking steps to both understand the coming health care nightmare and deal with the consequences. A good place for that information, and a reminder for anyone who has not yet read it, is DrRich's book, Open Wide And Say Moo at his Covert Rationing blog. You can either get it as an e-book or read it right on his site. Two things. First. I have no motivations beyond education for promoting this book. DrRich, while a heck of a guy, isn't paying me a thing. Second. DrRich is most emphatically not a quack or a crank. He's just one very smart doctor who has a clear view of what's coming and has some workable solutions and suggestions. We've become friends (at least of the e-mail variety) and my take is he's scary smart.

I talked earlier about the need for conservatives to speak out and be brave. Especially for those who have an audience but also have something to lose. DrRich is one of them and I've added another to the blogroll. SF/Fantasy author Sarah Hoyt. She's a Portuguese immigrant and a solid conservative and American. She's also decided she wants to be a voice in the wilderness and is getting the usual "I hate you now that I know what you believe and I'll/we'll never buy your books again" messages. She's now on my reading list and I recommend her to all of you who enjoy her offerings. if not check out her blog and read her musings on where we are, where we're going and what we do now. As someone who lived through the nightmare of 1978 Portugal, she's amply qualified to comment. Also a heck of an author.

Add in Larry Correia (who also knows and supports Sarah) and we've got three shining examples from the publishing, professional  and medical worlds who are unafraid to speak truth to the growing power in the east.

Allies are where we find them but once declared they must be supported lest the forces of division and chaos destroy them and still their voices.


12 November 2012

Concrete Day

No matter what the future brings life goes on. Including chores and projects. Besides, it may be very important to be able to do your own construction in the coming years. Shared skills and how to information are always worthwhile.

With the weather being bad on Friday and Saturday the concrete delivery got pushed back to Monday morning. 8 AM sharp. Only he didn't actually arrive until 8:15. Hey, what you gonna do?

Here's the main pour, formed up and ready to go. I decided to go with steel mesh instead of rebar. It's way easier to work with and adds sufficient reinforcement. And it's cheaper. 8 bucks for a 3x6 sheet. You also get great ground coverage. You can see my screed board across the forms. That is what we use to scrape the concrete even and level across the pour. Use a 2x6 for anything larger than a sidewalk otherwise it'll flex too much and your concrete will come out rounded and uneven.

The other two areas I wanted to get poured if there was enough concrete left over. Remember, I ordered a heavier load that I calculated as my minimum need. Turned out I had plenty.

 Tools of the trade. Shovels, rakes, hoe, steel and wood trowels, a spade trowel, screeds, a float (that thing with the long blue handle), edger and a good wheelbarrow.

We were kinda busy so I didn't get any shots of the pour but it's pretty boring anyway. He pulled in, deployed his chute and gave me a sample. This is important because it's your last chance to get the mixture the way you want it. Too dry and it's a bear to work with. Too thin and you run the risk of it running out under your forms and taking way too long to cure completely. My first batch was too thick so I had him add some water and we were off to the races. I had Lu and Sarge as my helpers and they were great laborers. I paid them later with some yummy breakfast burritos.

Screeding consists of simply dragging the 2x6 screed across the top of the forms, filling in voids and dragging off excess as you go until your form is full and even. Don't worry about the finish at this point as floating, hand troweling and final finishing (in my case brooming) will take care of imperfections in the surface.

Ok, pour done and screeded, time to float the concrete. This consists of running a float back and forth across the surface many, many times. It settles the aggregate, brings the water to the top and gives you a smooth finish. It's critical because the aggregate needs to be settled properly for a strong final product. Don't skimp on this step. Keep at it and don't worry about creases. You'll get them but we'll take them out later with trowels and in the end with a broom finish. A word on floating. The float needs to glide and not dig in.  You do that by raising and lowering the float handle so the leading edge of the float itself is up. In that first shot you can see the handle raised above my head. That's pulling the float toward me, closest edge leading and up. The second shot shows the handle low. That's pushing the float away from me, furthest edge leading and up. Make sense?

The other two pours done. On these smaller ones I float with first steel and then wood trowels. They're too small for the big float. Lu handled both of these with a little help from Sarge. That woman is a keeper.

A little clean up. When working with concrete it's important to take care of your tools sooner rather than later. It's much easier to wash and hose it off when the concrete is still wet. Chipping it off when it's set is a major pain. We use the wheel barrow like a giant wash pot.

The finished product after I broomed the surface. All that consists of is putting a soft broom head on a very long pole and lightly dragging it over the surface until the top is uniform. It leaves a rough surface that is easy to do, gives good traction in wet and snow and looks great. I like it and use it whenever I can. It's perfect for the DIYer because you don't have to have professional finishing skills.
I had to put up a barrier because this is in the back yard and I didn't want a bunch of  paw prints in it. Not that I know anyone who'd do that.

We had just a bit more left so Lu filled a couple of spots along the fence, near the carport. This is part of the old irrigation ditch. A pass through to divert the water from one ditch to another.

The clean out. Remember when I said to have a place for the driver to do a wash of his chute? This is ours. Not too bad. Overall a very small overage we couldn't use. Not enough to worry about.

2.75 yards of concrete, poured and finished in about 3 1/2 hours. Well within the ability of most any DIYer. When I first started doing concrete I started with small projects I poured with hand mixed. The first large project I did was the garage slab, 14x31 feet and almost 7 yards. I was sleepless with anxiety the night before but it went well. Plan out your pour, do your homework, get the prep correct and the rest is pretty straight forward. Screed it level, float it well, hand trowel the edges and any voids you find and do a simple finish. A couple of friends and a few hours of labor later and you can have concrete anywhere you want or need it. Don't let it intimidate you. If I can do it anyone can.

Total bill for the concrete was $292.00. I got a bid for this work in a moment of weakness. It came in at $1,000.00. I saved more than enough to do the rest of the driveway just by doing the work myself. Well, with a little help from Lu and Sarge. Thanks guys!

I'll start the prep on the rest of the driveway this week and probably do the remaining pour next week. I figure another 4 yards and I'll be done with concrete for a while.