Powered By Blogger

Monday, April 30, 2012

30 APR 12

Spring is sprung ...
Outside, the fellow who does my yard work is mulching and weeding the plant beds. I was looking out at my back yard earlier and trying to decide what to do with it. Finally decided that there was nothing to be done. I gave it my best shot a couple of years ago. Grass just will not grow back there. What green there is, is moss. There are too many tall trees surrounding the property. Not enough sunlight can penetrate down to the level of grass. A couple of years ago, I had the entire back yard dug up and a new layer of topsoil put down. Then, I had the yard re-seeded. I watered it, twice daily. Green grass grew that summer but then went away ... replaced by moss.
At least it's green.


AND ... I can do this with it:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

26 APR 12

Artsongjazz ...
Have created a facebook page for the band.
Spent the past evening trying to come up
with a photo montage to display there ...
I thought something like this:

Not bad ... but it's still a work in progress.

Here's something a bit more dynamic:

What I finally decided on using:

But, not quite ...

The facebook page is here:


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

25 APR 12

Fleeting ...
memories flash,
unbidden, unexpected,
often poignant.

'twas of my mother,
mere days before she died.

She was in a nursing home.
She had cancer.

This one evening,
as I was making ready to leave,
she patted her mattress,
bid me sit a minute
and look at her.
When I asked her why,
she stroked my cheek and replied,
"So I can see your beautiful face."

Nine years on ...
that memory
still chokes me up,
bring tears to my eyes.

The last good photo of my mother ... both of us, ready to attend the wedding of a friend's daughter - ca. 1990.


Monday, April 23, 2012

23 APR 12

The art of prediction ...
Years ago, while stationed in Japan, a group of us was out for an evening of bar-hopping through Fukuoka's Nakasu District. At some point we were walking along the canal, smokin' and jokin'. There were vendors' carts and tables set up, under the lights, all along the canal bank.

We came to one table where an old woman was reading palms. She enticed me to sit for a reading. She took my hand in hers, turned it over and proceeded to study the various lines and crevasses in my palm. After a minute, she began to speak. We could have used a translator ... between her Pidgin English and my broken Japanese I don't know just how accurate her predictions may have been. One thing she did make clear to me was that later in life I'd have problems with my lungs and feet.

I'm 40-some years older now and having trouble with both my lungs and my feet. Whether she was truly precient or just a keen observer of human behavior, I don't know. I smoked back then and it could be that she predicted my current physical condition based on the effects of prolonged cigarette smoking on one's health.

Another time, another place ...
Millinocket, Maine. New Year's Day, 1989.
There was a dog-sledding competition... this was not a formal race, merely a 30 mile informal warm-up run. We probably should not have been running teams. Though it was bitter cold, there had been little snow that winter. The trails were ice covered... not the best conditions for handling a team and sled.

I was driving an eight-dog team for the first time (we were going 30 miles, after all.) When it was my turn, the dogs took off like a shot from the start-line. Came to the split, a Y-junction, where outbound teams were to bear right, inbound teams would be coming from the left. My leads took the left! I braked, yelling, "Whoa, Whoa... Whoa!" It didn't faze the dogs at all. They were primed and wanting to
Go! Go! Go! I finally stopped them on the edge of a field, near a small stand of trees. The ground was snow over ice and I could not emplace the snow hook to anchor the sled. Each time I eased off the foot-brake the dogs continued pulling, in the wrong direction. I managed to inch the sled close enough to the trees to snag a small one with the snow hook. Using the tree as an anchor, I turned the team around, walked them back to the outbound trail and was on my way again ... with miles of hill-'n-dale woodland to traverse by late afternoon.

Half an hour later, we came upon a series of moguls in the center of the trail. The sled bounced... bounced again, harder... bounced yet again and my right foot came off the runner and into a shallow depression, hit the bottom straight-legged, popping my knee joint. My knee-cap (patella) ended up on the outside portion of my leg. I was stuck there, balanced on my left leg, not able to use the brake with my right. The dogs plodded on. I wondered just how in hell to stop them. Shouting, "Whoa," didn't seem to work without them feeling the brake being applied. Finally, I just threw myself over onto my left side, flipping the sled with me. That got their attention... suddenly, all that drag on the line. They stopped. After a short wait, Kaptain, the senior lead, pulled the team around while he came back to inspect me. After much sniffing, he lay down next to me, with the rest of the team gathered too. Finally, they all lay down as if trying to keep me warm. Harnesses and lines became a tangled mess.

We remained like that until one of the trail guards came by on a snow-mobile. He radioed for the EMTs to come out... and I was hauled back on a towed wagon. Then on to the hospital. The trail boss took care of the dog team. I was released later the same day with a brace and some crutches. The doctor said that I'd likely heal just fine but "You're gonna have trouble with that knee later on."

Well, that "later on" has arrived...  and I'm beginning to experience real pain in that knee when I use the steps. It's tolerable. I'm just hoping that it doesn't become any worse over time.

                                              ( twice-told tale )


Sunday, April 22, 2012

22 APR 12

It's near 3 A.M.
Had a reflux attack so am sitting up, playing
with the computer. Both dogs are asleep at
my feet. Their family is due back home
later today but I truly don't think anybody
will be here to get the dogs until some time

After they disembark they have to
pack the car, drive from the port in
Baltimore, 5 hours north, to Connecticut. . .
then unpack the car. If they're coming,
it's a 1 hour trip to this house, in NY. . .
and all the while, there's to be a classic
Nor'easter blowing through here.
So. . . No, I don't think that anybody's gonna be
picking up these dogs 'til Monday.

I was wrong. . . they came straight here on the way to
their house. The storm was not yet severe and they
wanted the dogs home.

It's quiet here.
Sorta miss the critters.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

21 APR 12

Yesterday's gone. . .
Something I find to be strangely interesting. . .
I was in the Regular Army, specifically ASA,
for nearly 12 years. I had three postings to
Fort Devens, two to VHFS, served at three
overseas field stations, held three MOS's.
I must have worked closely with a couple
hundred different people. . .
and yet I have found only a few people, on line,
whose name I recognize. Perusing the hundreds
of people in the various ASA veteran's groups,
I find none that I know.

                  Shoulder insignia of US Army & CTARNG units I've been assigned to:


Friday, April 20, 2012

20 APR 12

Time. . .
Ever notice how time seems to move ever so much faster the older you get? To my younger grandson, "tomorrow" takes forever to arrive. While, to me. . . his appendectomy seems to have happened some time ago, back in a distant period of family history. Perhaps, this relative difference is because I count the days ahead, while he hasn't begun to reckon the toll levied by the passage of time. . . yet.

A history bit. . .
Just read a piece about Robert E. Lee. Seems that today is the anniversary of his decision to resign his commission as an officer in the United States Army, so that he might take up arms in the defense of his homeland, Virginia. 

This is a case of one man making a difference. Imagine how history might have been written had Lee remained in service of the U.S. Army? There probably would be no "Grant" in our history books.
(Except, maybe, as a footnote.) Lincoln might have served his entire second term. Quite possibly, there could have been a "Lee" administration in Washington, (vice Grant). The war would have been much shorter in duration. A great many more would have survived . . . our entire post-war history would read differently. One man. . . never thought about him in this vein before.

One man.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

19 APR 12 (2)

One man's trash. . .
I had purchased a set of cheap, beginner-level, Yamaha drums
to give to my granddaughter, Grace.
They were a bit rough looking in the photographs.
I thought that all they'd need would be a good cleaning and polishing.
Turns out that they were constructed from very cheap materials.
Upon removing the heads, I could see that the shells were made from
a molded particleboard.
I decided to not give them to her.
I gave her a vintage Rogers set instead.
That was two years ago.
Been trying to rid myself of the Yamahas ever since.
Put them up for sale, to no avail.
Tried giving them away but nobody wanted them.
(One fellow might have taken them but he wanted
them delivered to his house.)
They were tying up storage room, so I finally decided
to just toss them.
Tomorrow is Bulk pickup day.
I put the whole set, plus some other cheap drums I'd
acquired, out at curbside around 5:00 P.M. today.
By 6:30, when I walked one of the dogs,
the drums were gone.
Fancy that!

                     ( another man's treasure )

                    The Yamahas, as pictured on e-Bay, when I purchased them.



19 APR 12

Levon Helm has died today.
The cancer, that he once beat,
came back to claim him.

R.I.P, Brother Levon. . .
you'll be missed.



18 APR 12

Dick Clark died today.
A heart attack took him at age 82.
Another piece of my youth forever gone.

R.I.P. Mr. Clark.
                     ( So Long. )


PS: Never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Clark.
I did meet his side-kick, Charlie O'Donnell, several
times when I worked at the Bellmawr Custard Stand
on the Black Horse Pike. He was usually driving back
to Philly after meeting with local radio people down
in Hammonton, NJ. I knew him enough to say hi to.
(I think the popular show, originating from Hammonton,
was the "Grady and Hurst Show.")
O'Donnell produced the biggest radio DJ in the area, Hy Lit.

Running a close third was Camden station,WKDN's Jerry Blavat,
the "Geater with the Heater" (Just what that meant, I never knew.)
Ol' Jerry was still going strong 20 years ago. My wife and I had
stopped at Schillig's Restaurant, a local bar/grill in Mt. Ephraim, NJ
for dinner and in the banquet room was ol' Jerry, hosting an Oldies Nite party. His patter was pretty much as I remembered it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

17 APR 12

Memory. . .
It's passing strange
what one's memory will retain,
Found in my own. . .
A bit o' Cockney Rhyming Slang:
"Plate o' meat ... That's my feet."
A snippet of an Olde English song once heard:
"Oh, me feet, me poor poor feet. . ."

This all comes to mind because my feet hurt.
At first, they used to trouble me due to lack of an
adequate fat-pad covering the metatarsal joints.
I have a very high arch on my feet, which causes
the metatarsals to meet the ground at an acute angle.
Over time, this wore the fat-pads down.
There is no longer a cushion there.

What bothers me most now, however, is edema. . .
an excess of fluid that causes my feet to swell
until they can seem much like water balloons.
It's not all that uncomfortable while I'm sitting
but walking causes me problems.
If I try to walk bare-footed, I'm apt to lose
my balance. However, I find that if I wear
my Okabashi (Milan) sandals, I can walk
with relative ease.
Something about the design in the sole
of this footwear makes walking, for me,
a near-painless experience.
I own shoes that cost hundreds of
dollars per pair that I bought, specifically,
to help with this problem.
They don't do the job!
A pair of these Okabashi sandals costs
about $14.00 at the local CVS.
To me, they are worth a great deal more.
               ( "Plate o' meat" . . .  Really? )


Monday, April 16, 2012

16 APR 12

Monday morning. . .
This is NOT a "Mamas and Papas" song lyric. . .
it's Monday in the A.M., here, in my world. . .
a morning after another night spent dozing
in my recliner.
Fluid in the lungs again.
Don't know what I may have eaten to provoke
this condition once more.
I suspect that this is to be a chronic ailment for me.

Random thoughts:
After taking in all of the EXTENSIVE TV programming
about the sinking of RMS Titanic this week-end
(and watching a goodly portion of it),
I become uneasy thinking of my daughter and her family,
now on a cruise ship somewhere off of the east coast
heading south, towards the Caribbean.
Silly, I know. . . but. . . 

The dogs are no trouble. . . at least so far.
I can tell that the elder one is starting to
feel her age. She isn't so very eager to play
anymore. Although I managed to get her to
engage in a tug-of-war with me yesterday.

Today is "Emancipation Day."
It's a holiday only in D.C..
The IRS is closed for business.
Why it's not a federal holiday is beyond me.
(The Mexican holiday, "Cinque De Mayo," gets
better publicity.)
One would think that a holiday that commemorates
the official manumission of America's slave population
would be joyfully celebrated on a prominent stage,
with song and dance and marching bands galore.
(But, what do I know? I'm just a citizen here.
It is us. . . our history. . . and it should be marked.)

Speaking of emancipation. . .
the Trayvon Martin case makes clear one thing. . .
we are not yet over this "race" business.
One hundred and forty-nine years since the signing
of said Emancipation Proclamation. . .
one hundred and forty-seven years since the
Civil War was ended at Appomattox Court House. . .
and here we are in the 21st century,
still arguing "race" matters.
How long before we grow up?

        ( I gets weary and so sick of tryin' - Kern )


Saturday, April 14, 2012

14 APR 12

Small windmills. . .
It's Saturday morning.
Been watching Jack Hannah's nature program,
on channel 7, while having my morning tea.
Today, the featured animal is the manatee.
These benign creatures like to sleep while
floating just below the water's surface.
This puts them in danger of being hit by
passing boats. Indeed, many of these animals
bear the scars from being cut by a boat's propeller.

I can, somewhat, identify with them. . .
back in the late '70s, my wife and I vacationed in Spain.
We'd driven down from Berlin and stayed at a campground
just outside of Barcelona. We had direct access to a beach
on the shore of the Balearic Sea (The Mediterranean).
It was a pebbly beach with a sharp drop-off just a few
feet into the water. Went from 1 foot deep to 15 feet
right quickly. I enjoyed snorkeling there. . . the water
was clear and there were many nooks and crannies to

Different societies, different sensibilities. . .
the local Spanish residents launched inflatables
and other outboard-driven boats right off the
beach where everyone swam. They'd then weave
their way through all the bobbing heads on their
way to fish in the open waters.
As I snorkeled, I could hear the buzz of boat
engines as they passed through the swim zone.
Could never tell their exact location or their
direction of travel while underwater. . .
just knew they were there.
This one dive, I'd been down a bit too long.
Was about 10 feet under and beginning to feel
the oxygen deprivation.
Kicked for the surface, exhaling all the way.
I could hear a loud propeller noise, not very far
from me. As my head broke the surface it was
bumped by a boat hull. Realizing that this was
the source of that loud propeller noise,
I immediately pushed off the hull, straight down,
forcefully exhaling what remained as I went.
Knowing only that I had to get deep, fast!
I felt the spinning prop ruffle my hair as the
boat passed over me.
I touched bottom. . . with no air in my lungs
to help buoy me. Pushed up, hard, with my legs
and managed to get my head above water.
Caught a quick breath. . . immediately began kicking
towards shore and finally crawled out, coughing
and gagging. . . barely made it. . . had nearly drowned.

This was as close to being killed as I'd come since
Vietnam and Tet '68.

                ( "Dying is such a waste of good health" - Sancho Panza )


My wife at the time, Liz, witnessed all this.
When she saw me hit by the boat and disappear
under the water, she thought me dead.
She couldn't swim. She was stuck on shore,
screaming in English, which no one understood.
Barcelona was not a high point of her European

Friday, April 13, 2012

13 APR 12

Friday the 13th. . . again!
A daughter and her family are leaving tomorrow,
going on a cruise. It's to be a week-long trip
with visits to some of the Caribbean islands.
We are to sit her dogs.
They arrive today.
They're not any real problem for us. . .
as long as they are content to do their
business in the back yard. Neither my wife
nor I am up to walking a dog any distance
from the house. Both of them have stayed
with us before. The one thing about having
them here, the one thing that takes getting
used to, is the elder one barking at anything
that moves (or breathes, or sneezes, or
passes by, or thinks loud thoughts ) anywhere
in view of the house.

Just received word. . . the elder dog is ailing again.
It'll be the same drill as the last time they were
here. . . a once-a-day pill, wrapped in bologna
for her.

What age has wrought. . . a most important
commodity in this household has become Kleenex tissues.
I buy them by the four-pack. Age and surgery have
afflicted me with a condition described as "non-specific
rhinitis," wherein my nose runs unexpectedly and
uncontrollably. Without the tissues available, I end
up looking like the Village Idiot.
Hooray for Kleenex. . . the second best invention
of the modern era.
(The first being indoor plumbing.)         

When you break "Life" down to it's nut-n-bolt
basics, all that's really required for happiness is
an adequate supply of those same basics. . .
clothing, a dry bed, decent food, clean drinking water. . .
toss in a few creature-comforts, such as Kleenex
and flush-toilets, then you've got the world on a string.
If one is being truthful, every other possession fades
in importance.


A humerous headline from Yahoo! news today:
"French police seize 13 tons of tiny Eiffel Towers."


Thursday, April 12, 2012

12 APR 12

Ghosts of. . .
Yesterday, as I was leaving the local CVS, I noticed a man striding
towards the market. Thought I recognized his gait. . . then I took in
his peculiar hair style. . . the name "Steve," came to mind.
It was, indeed, Steve, my old crew chief from the 192d Field Artillery.
I've neither seen, nor heard of him, since sometime in 1993.
Funny how I recognized him immediately.
That he still maintained that "Punk-Rock" Mohawk as his hair style
helped, I'm sure. We chatted some, exchanged wheres and whys. . . then he was on his way. He was on a lunch break. He works for the railroad now. He's retired from the Guard.

               July 1991, 192nd FA convoy, lunch break VHFS - Steve circled in red.

The other ghosts. . .
Ferda Tanyeri - My friend and former boss from the TCA computer section, Berlin, Germany.
Manfred Ziegenhagen - Another colleague from TCA. . . he worked in the Base Supply Section.
Tom Farr - photographer for the 7350th ABG at TCA. . . ca. 1985.

I hadn't thought of them in 25 years. Found them all on facebook. Strange how that happens.


If I could only remember Steve's last name. . . somewhere downstairs, in a box, there's a battery roster from the 192nd.
I'll have to dig it out and look up names. 

PPS: It's "Nelson!" His name is Steve Nelson. It just popped into my head.


Monday, April 9, 2012

09 APR 12

I'm a fan of The Beatles. . . the early Beatles. . .
their later work (?). . . not so much.
Neither do I care for the songs written by either
Lennon or McCartney after the break-up of the group.
Whatever magic that was at work when they were a
song-writing duo disappeared when they went solo.

I've always, especially, disliked Lennon's song, "Imagine."
I've finally found somebody who agrees with me and
isn't afraid of offending the "Saint John" fan base.

From music critic, Ben Shapiro (Writing for Breitbart's Big Hollywood):
"Imagine,"  by John Lennon. There are no words for how. . . terrible this song is; Kurt Schlichter has done a masterful job of epically fisking this small shard of utter and complete rubbish. First, the aesthetics.  It begins with some pretentious piano chords to set the mood: this will be a deep song. Lennon sings it in cloyingly whiny fashion, like a schoolgirl who has discovered that there are starving people in Africa for the first time. It's vomit-inducing bad.
And the music itself is not just unspectacular, it's blase. 
It commits the worst musical sin:
it is completely boring. 

Amen, Brother.

                                    The Beatles, as I choose to remember them.
The first Beatle's song that my, then, band ever played:



Sunday, April 8, 2012

08 APR 12

Easter Sunday
Was supposed to join the rest of the family at a swank
restaurant for an Easter brunch. . . didn't work out that way.
A 3 PM reservation, made two months ago, was lost.
My daughter raised all kinds of hell with management.
The restaurant was willing to squeeze us in at 10 in the AM.
No way Barbara and I were gonna make that time.
It was decided that we'd stay at home while the family went
to the 10 AM sitting, then they'd stop here for coffee and cake.
It worked out well in the end.

                         The 5 grandchildren who were here this Easter:
       From left- Jason Keane, Gabi Mei, Dominic Mei, Grace Mei, Thomas Keane


Saturday, April 7, 2012

07 APR 12

. . . and consequence
Announced today. . .
the drug, Metformin, may stop cancer in it's tracks!
I took Metformin for about 10 years. . . for diabetes.
Was taken off this drug last year because of kidney damage.
Gonna have to discuss this with my doctor.

Just found out. . .
My brother's first-born child, Christopher, is about to
become a father. Time does surely fly.
Gonna have to call Tom tomorrow and let him know.
(They're estranged. . . as are I and my own children.)
This means that I'll become a great-uncle.


Friday, April 6, 2012

06 APR 12

Good Friday. . .
It's the start of the Easter Holiday week-end.
This is a holiday that's never been one I cared for. . .
iffy spring weather, prissy new clothes, giant
coconut eggs nestled in baskets of fake straw.
Chocolate this. Chocolate that.
Formal Mass. Formal dinner.
My brother and I. . .
two squirmy boys longing to just go home
and change into our jeans and sneakers,
then go about our important boy-business
with our friends.

. . . last night (Holy Thursday), I had dinner warming
in the oven and was sitting in the kitchen, waiting for it
to be done. I was chewing on some ciabatta
and sipping from a glass of red wine while reading.
It finally occurred to me to wonder,
"Was I taking Communion here?"
Holy Thursday. Bread and wine. The Last Supper.
       "This is my body. This is my blood."
I'm afraid that I don't know, exactly, what the prerequisites are for "Communion" to take place. Been a long time since I attended church services.
(I'm pretty sure it requires more than just the idle consumption of bread and wine.)


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

04 APR 12

A step away. . .
. . . from obscurity.
Singing group Wilson-Phillips is back in the public eye,
together again, and promoting a new album release.
Sorry to say, I never much cared for their music.
Their sound was always cotton candy to me. . .
spun sugar, sweet but mostly air. . .
not very satisfying.
From what I heard from them this morning. . .
seems they're continuing on in the same vein.

I had esophageal surgery, back in 2001.
The lower portion of my esophagus
was removed, to include the sphincter
valve that keeps the contents of the
stomach from escaping.
Today I occasionally suffer a form
of bile reflux at night.
Not near as often as I used to. . .
but often enough for it to be bothersome.

Somebody on an EC Club Board wrote a bit
about the recurring problem. . .
read it here:

"As a bonus, here's my patented post-surgery remedy for bile reflux and aspiration:

1. Sit bolt-upright, scattering cats in all directions.

2. Run to the bathroom, coughing.

3. Rinse mouth and throat with ample cool water.

4. Continue coughing up caustic, bile-tinged mucous from airway; spit
   and rinse. Repeat. Repeat. etc.

5. As nausea sets in, chew and swallow a few Tums.
(This coats the throat with a layer that neutralizes what I am coughing up, and neutralizes the bile in the stomach.)

6. Cough, spit, rinse. More Tums. Repeat.

7. When things settle down a little, suck a Cepacol. This will numb
   everything, including taste buds, from mouth to stomaphagus.

8. Back to bed within 25 minutes!

9. Plan on taking it easy and napping the next day.

(By the way, after I had been using this treatment protocol for some time, I encountered a nurse from the regional burn center, and ran it past her. She said that this is appropriate first aid for minor acid burns of the airway, and they use Cepacol in this way in the burn center.)"


Monday, April 2, 2012

02 APR 12

Trouble and woe. . .
A bad day for mine today.
A grandson has appendicitis and will
probably undergo surgery later today.
(That is, if they can get him to swallow
enough of the contrast-dye that will
enable them to get a decent picture
of his gut.)

All God's chillun. . .
and all that.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

Confirmed. . . it's appendicitis for the grandchild.
They, finally, convinced him to drink the contrast-dye.
He's being prepped for surgery as I write.

Surgery was a success. Dominic's resting. They're only going
to keep him a couple of days. Big difference from when
I had my appendix removed. I was in the hospital for a

                                    Dominic with his sister, Gabi - Vassar Hospital

G'night all.


He was released from the hospital late afternoon 03 APR 12.
Surgery nowadays. . . some things have become so routine.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

01 APR 12

April Fools' Day. . .
. . . and a granddaughter's birthday too.
There's to be a small gathering here, later this afternoon.
She's now 14.
Time flies.

'Twould appear that we're not going back to the Baird Tavern
any time soon. While those who showed up liked our music,
there just weren't enough of them for the Historical Society
to have made any money. After paying us, they were in the
red. I think that we'd have forgone any payment if we knew
all this on the day. Too bad. Building a following takes time. . .
and it was a good venue.

A bit of Photoshop art from my granddaughter's birthday: