Friday, August 31, 2007

How hot and dry is it in East Tennessee? Today, I had the unfortunate privilege of driving downtown to the courthouse. While waiting for a traffic light to change, I noticed sparrows darting in-and-out from underneath cars in front of me. It took a few seconds to discern the purpose for such activity, and to my astonishment, they were getting a drink of water from puddles that dripped from auto air conditioners.


I will be leaving on a little jaunt to Fort Oglethorp, Georgia come early morning. It is a suburb of Chattanooga, Tennessee, but sales taxes are less there. I have kin nearby—an aunt and her family—but I won't be dropping in to say hello.

I have to finish getting things in order and preparing my last photo for Flickr until I return. Goodbye, for now.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I'll be taking off this weekend, so if I don't post and you need a fix, feel free to go over some of my old material. If you've read one, you've read them all, pretty well sums it up

We are going south to where our next home will be, possibly in a year or so. At least I hope it is such. Maybe after I get there, it won't exist anything like I remember it. If so, I've a plan "B". Plan "B" calls for heading north to West Virginia. a place I've alway considered my second home. I'm reasonably sure it hasn't changed a whole lot, at least the rural area where I wish to go.

If I go south to live, I will be getting closer to a bigger city than I'm used to. I don't much care for large towns. If I go north, though, the nearest towns aren't much different than what I'm used to here.

I've worked in several parts of WV, such as Charleston (twice), Parkersburg (thrice), Clarksburg, Weirton and Wheeling. Wheeling, had snobby, indifferent people. Weirton was a good—but dirty—mill town, Its biggest grace was the mighty Ohio River. Clarksburg was a dirty little town located between hell and perdition. The people were nice enough, though. Parkersburg was ok, but for some reason, some of the people thought it was the best place on earth to live. Charleston was a party town and the state capitol where much fun was had by all. I'll get to that part of my education on a later date.

Why did I work in these places? I was a tramp electrician and those areas are where the money was. Always some kind of heavy construction going on in those days, and overtime quickly made a man's pockets green. Building power plants and working shutdowns in steel mills and chemical plants was my way of life. Seedy hotels, barracks, and run down trailers were my abodes. Greasy spoons, canned food, and an occasional deli kept me alive. Would I want to do it again? No. Did it make me a better man? Yes. What did I learn? Humility and self reliance.


Women aren't as mere as they used to be.--Walt Kelly

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Today has been a pretty good one. Felt darn good, and was able to do some serious photo editing. I dread the next couple of days, though; anticipation always makes me edgy.

I hope to get some things done that I've put off for too long a time. Alas, there will always be something else pop up. But, I don't back down from a challenge, and I've never allowed anything in my control to whip me. That is my definition of freedom. Of course, I'm not as young as I want to be, so I don't have as many things in my control.

I've never been one to heed the signs society places in my path, unless it is convenient for me to do so and I benefit from them in some direct way. Even at that, I'm not much of a law breaker or even a law bender. I'm a modifier of rules. Your rules don't apply to me and I hope you have sense enough not to let my rules affect you. My rules are very easy for me to follow; so easy in fact that I've pared them all down to just one simple set; Be Nice, Be Loyal, and Be Respectful. These simple tenets are easily modifiable to a more or less degree, according to person I am dealing with.

Enough of my self-righteous bullshit; how are you all doing?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Today! Not much so far. Bought brakes and new tires for the Escape. Commented on some Flickr photos. Read and answered the comments made on mine.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Today would have been your fifty-ninth birthday, Brenda. Your's was the second birthday of our "birthday season" that lasted into early October. We didn't waste those days by worrying about the future.

Your smile made everyone feel so special, and in your eyes, we were. But, it was you that was the special one.

I remember the time you and I were on a mountain top, a quiet place for close friends to share, and ...; I'll keep it our little secret.

We love you and miss you very much.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Mentor--Happy Birthday, Walt Kelly and Pogo

On August 25, 1913, Walt Kelly, a clear-eyed youth of honest Scotch-Irish-English-French-Austrian blood found himself in Philadelphia, Pa. He was one day old, and although his ancestors had been rooted along the shores of the Delaware for 150 years, he immediately hatched a plan. Two years later, he was in Bridgeport, Connecticut, complete with father, mother, sister and sixteen teeth, all his own.

Ten years later to the day, he was twelve years and one day old. He had survived fire (fell into the coal scuttle with a jack-o-lantern in 1919), flood (homemade boat struck a swimming duck and splintered, 1923), starvation (lost the lunch on a fishing expedition with father, 1924), savage beasts (rabid rabbit shot to death on other side of town, 1924), disease and pestilence (chicken pox and mumps, 1918), and education (6 years grammar school).

Sometime in the next four years he studied French and the French teacher at Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport. Thus fully prepared for life, he arrived at a factory that made ladies' underwear around 1930 and got a job sweeping floors. Three weeks of this and he decided money did not count. He abandoned his lucrative position and took a job with a newspaper as a reporter.

His preparation for this full-time job was a little radical for Kelly. He had worked part-time for the same newspaper as a high school reporter and a political cartoonist since the age of 13, and had also been one of the editors of the school paper. Six years later, he was in Hollywood drawing mice (which is not the same thing as attracting mice, though there is some truth in that thought also.)

He worked (a jest, really) for Walt Disney while that worthy and 1,500 other worthies turned out Snow White, Fantasia, Pinocchio, Dumbo, The Reluctant Dragon and Baby Weems. At a showing of the last, he quietly disappeared and next turned up on the Mojave Desert trudging east.

Back in the USA once more, Kelly went straight. He got a job doing comic books, fooled around with the Foreign Language Unit of the Army during the war, illustrating grunts and groans and made friends in the newspaper and publishing business. Printers ink was in the boy's blood, a condition that so affected his veins that friends called him Zebra Kelly. They called him so loudly in 1948 that he was forced to pay off some debts and took a job with a new newspaper. This paper, The New York Star, declared that it was a paper with a purpose (as opposed to the other papers on God's Earth, all of which were apparently purposeless).

Kelly drew political cartoons for the 1948 campaign, dressing Mr. Dewey up like an adding machine; he was art director, became a senior editor and decided to resurrect a comic character he had invented back in the palmy or "comic book" days. Loaded with Kelly art, the Star rocketed to earth after streaking its purpose across the heavens for six months. In the ensuing crash and confusion Kelly grabbed his comic character, Pogo Possum, and headed for high ground.

Pogo had already had a strange career. He had started out as a spear carrier in a comic book feature about 1943. One trouble then was that he looked just like a possum.

As time went on, this condition was remedied and Pogo took on a lead role. Just when the feature was going great the comic book folded. It had been called Animal Comics and a survey was made to find why it collapsed. Cornering children when their parents were looking the other way, Kelly asked questions. The answers all added up to the same thing: "That comic book didn't have no action in it. Nobody shot nobody. It was full of mice in red and blue pants. It stunk."

At any rate, Pogo was a dead possum for two years, until the Star tried him out as a comic strip actor. The mail for the two months of Pogo's life in the Star encouraged Kelly to try and make a good feature out of the Possum.

After the fold, Kelly took the strip to three or four syndicate offices. One lady editor insisted that she did not want to buy a duck. Kelly pointed out that it was a possum he had by the tail. The lady said you can't even tell one animal from another, let alone draw one. Another editor offered Kelly a job taking care of his comic book division. A third editor laughed, which only encouraged Kelly. Then he said nobody would understand the strip. "Try it out on ordinary people," he roared. "You'll see."

Kelly, who thought of himself as about as ordinary as they come, still had faith in the strip. He borrowed every nickel he could lay his hands on and took a cross-town bus to The Hall Syndicate. He had already had a call from Bob Hall, president of the syndicate, which was lucky because Kelly couldn't afford to call Hall.

Bob said, much to Kelly's surprise, "Fellow, I read your Pogo strip and it's funny. When do you want to start?"

It was as simple as that. Twenty three years after he had started drawing for the Bridgeport Post and dreaming of a comic strip, Kelly had signed with a big-time syndicate. In May 1949 the strip ran, somewhat on a trial basis, in about four newspapers. Within five years, it was in about four hundred papers and sales are still being made.

Pogo books have sold more than a million copies, and over 1,500,000 comic books were sold each year. Mail from enthusiastic readers is a major problem, albeit a flattering one. Two stenographers work at answering mail and clipping drawings and sending off books. Kelly, besides writing and drawing the strip, travels and speaks before fifty or more civic and college groups each year. His theme: The American Press is the last free voice of the world. It offers a rare opportunity to students despite its acknowledged frailties.

Comment in the mail and through the press and other reviews has been less flattering. Carl Sandburg said that many comics were too sad, but, "I GO POGO." Francis Taylor, Director of the Metropolitan Museum, said before the Herald Tribune Forum: "Pogo has not yet supplanted Shakespeare or the King James version of the Bible in our schools."

Feeling that Shakespeare and the Bible will long hold their place, Kelly is of course thankful that such notables see fit to mention his work. But his greatest reward comes from letters from children and mothers, from simple working people, some of them nearly illiterate. Numbers of these end with thanks for the joy Pogo gives them and conclude, "God bless you."

Kelly, a father himself, and still a working man, has one eye on the news of the day and the other on a child's head lighted by the sunlight as he says, "God keep us all."

-- Written by Walt Kelly for the Hall Syndicate, 1954

Friday, August 24, 2007

Shot Day

Hail to thee, O' glorious day
Ere Saturday doest thou sashay
Without thee I canst allay
The ails of age that doest prey
On jaded bones erst were gay
Hail to thee, O' glorious day
Hail to thee, O' glorious day

Crappyright© Whenever

I've posted a couple more stories this week in the story blog, of all places...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Continued from August 22

I received an email asking me if this stuff is true or just another of my wild tales. The person went on to say it is hard to believe that I could remember it all this well after more than 40 years.
This was a real and important part of my life, and the only thing that may be incorrect are some minor details.


A week of school for three hours in the mornings and then eight hours of work from 4:00 pm until midnight. I hated second shift, but they were paying me an additional nickel on the hour for working it, which came to an extra four bucks each payday, and would buy well over a half tank of gasoline. I figured to stick with it until I graduated and then find more suitable employment.

Saturday night again. I picked up Larry a little earlier this time, and we hit the streets of bright lights and cruisers listening to rock-and roll. The weather started out fine, but within an hour it was doing a steady drizzle against squeaking wipers. We cruised from the Dutch Maid Drive-In and the Biff Burger on the west side of town to McKee's Barbecue King and The Dairy King Drive-In on the north side. On Saturday nights, a local AM station was spinning platters and taking requests from McKee's "tower in the sky," which was nothing more than a wooden structure looking much like a fire tower, and reaching a dizzying height of about 20 feet. Later on that summer, some of my Jonesboro High classmates became quite intoxicated, and overturned the tower, injuring and scaring hell out of the DJ.

At that time and particularly in that place, girls with cars was quite rare. About all we could hope for was some guy having a car load of chicks and maybe borrowing a couple of them for a while. The guys and gals did the best they could under the circumstances.

Finally, Larry said he knew where a couple of girls might be located, if they weren't on dates that night, and the best way to find out was go knock on their doors. They were first cousins and lived across an alley from each other. In the meantime, the rain stopped, but it was getting very cold.

We drove to a part of the east side of town known as the Carnegie Section, an area I was familiar with due to working with my dad there several years before, selling bagged coal. It was about nine o'clock, and the girls were just coming home from a downtown restaurant accompanied by one's parents.

We got out and Larry did the intros, and asked if they wanted to go for a ride. One of them sized me up, then sized up my late-model ride, finally announcing that I was kinda cute. Words I came to detest. Damn it, little pigs are kind of cute. There I was, sacred to death because I had to suck up my courage and meet a girl, with her exclaiming I looked like a pig. I was ready to pack it in and go home.

Fortunately, their parents wouldn't allow them to go out so late and I was never so relieved in my life. Larry did make a date with the pig hater for the next Saturday night, though.

As we drove away, Larry started on me to take him to the bootlegger, and without much argument, I complied. He bought a pint of vodka, saying that no one could smell it on the breath. I didn't believe him, but I had no intention of partaking for myself anyway. Other than a small bit of very bad homemade wine, I had never touched alcohol. My family had thrown the fear of eternal retribution into my life.

We went back to the cruising routine, with Larry getting quite the buzz going, which in turn led to some clumsiness. He dropped the opened bottle of spirits onto the floorboard, and it all leaked out before he could get it under control. I wasn't a Catholic, and didn't know anything about saying Hail Marys, but some choice words did come off my tongue. One breath I was cursing my friend, and the next I was praying to God. It wouldn't make any difference to my mom; I would be found guilty of being a sot in the first degree and the sentence would be quickly handed down. "Son, you will walk until you can buy your own car, and if you keep up the ungodly ways, you'll have to find another place to live." Throughout all this, Larry was apologizing his drunken head off, but I wasn't buying it.

We did have a paltry few things in our favor. We didn't have to be home for another two hours; alcohol evaporates fairly quickly under the influence of a car heater; Larry sacrificed his tee shirt as a sponge to help sop up the evidence.

Thankfully, it didn't rain anymore and we were able to drive around with the windows down. Stares we got plenty of, but it did help save our souls from eternal damnation and excommunication by our parents.

Larry was right about one thing, Vodka left no smell. As it evaporated, so did its scent. Just in case, I left the windows partially open, and got up early the next morning and checked the car before my mom drove to church. There was no unusual smell of any kind present, and I was clear. Almost. When my mom got back from church, she berated me royally. She found a tiny bit of cigarette ash under the edge of the seat. I wasn't to take off in the car the next Saturday, and not until she decided I had learned my lesson. A small price to pay for what could have been a disaster. I may have been eighteen years of age, but under her roof, I was as subservient as a ten year old.


I forgot to ask; is everyone well and happy?

Continued from August 13

In February 1963, a chum with whom I'd been attending school since first grade went to work at Klopman. He was suffering the same fate as I, by having to attend classes few hours each day for an extra year. We conspired, and it was obvious that two young and handsome (horny) men needed a ride on weekends so we could allow the young ladies an opportunity to go out with us.

I began working on my mom, and she soon succumbed and allowed me use of the car to drive myself back and forth to work. If that went ok, she would grant me some weekend miles. Glorious!

We were making minimum wage at Klopman—$1.25/hr.—and were paid bi-weekly. This was a big $100 before taxes, and we still had more than $90 net to do with as we pleased. Fortunately, our respective parents didn't make us pay room and board, so we felt like we could buy the world. I had to purchase gasoline for the car, but at twenty-five cents/gal., a fill-up was only four-to-six dollars.

Late in March, my mom turned me loose in the car for a Saturday night of what I imagined would be some satisfying debauchery. I had to be in by midnight, and no drinking and no smoking cigarettes and no drag racing. It was obvious she was keeping a closer eye on my reading materials that I thought. I was able to conceal my Playboy magazines, though, I think.

First stop was a gas station for a fill-up and a pack of smokes, then on to Larry's house, and then to town for some cruising. I left home as a virginal boy, and intended to return home as a man of the world. As it came to be, the only thing I got that night that I hadn't had before was a pizza.

It was a cold and often rainy evening, not conducive to successful hunting and gathering of babes. Larry kept wanting me to take him to a bootlegger friend of ours so he could buy a bottle of whiskey. I kept seeing my sorry ass walking for the rest of my life, or until I was able to afford my own vehicle. I declined his pleadings, and finally drove him to his house and then took myself home, all before 11:00 pm.

The next weekend would be a little different.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I drove Carolyn to the doctor today for her quarterly checkup. Damned if she doesn't have to take more pills than do I. She now has strep throat to go along with her high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, pinched nerve in her back, and me. But of course, she went on to work.

Something unusual happened here today; it actually rained for about two minutes. Not enough to much more than wet the grass, but the temperature fell about ten degrees, which is a very good thing.

Monday, August 20, 2007

For the first time in the history of history, our a/c came on at 7:43 am; never has it come on before 9:30 am. It is miserably hot here, and worse, we are 14" below normal on precipitation for the year. We've had dry weather before, but never this bad, at least in my nearly 60-year memory. There is no rain in the forecast for this week, except for those that may get a pop-up thunderstorm. While people in Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are dying from flooding, some elderly folk here are succumbing to the heat. Officials in Washington DC, are drawing huge salaries. Laissez-faire.

The Appalachian District Fair begins today in Gray. When I was young, it was the place to be just before the school year started. We would make a quick visit to the exhibits, then it was down and dirty with side-shows, rides, and shooting at wooden (ora, plastic) ducks. My education in the wily ways of women began there at the sideshow. When things were slow, the huckster would take the money from us 12 year old boys and tell us to slide under the canvas in the back so we could see Chloe and Latina entertain. Very! One time, we went under the tent between shows, and the girls put on a private exhibition for the three of us. My life was never the same. I believe that is why I stammer when I'm being introduced to a woman. She may be the most beautiful, alluring, and charming female on earth, but I'm always glad to get away from her and catch my breath. Then I return to take in her beauty from afar, as that is all my shyness will permit. It is my life and burden.

I haven't been to the midway since my kids grew up, and I have no intentions of returning. I may try to get some evening or night photos from a safe distance, if my wretched bones will carry me one more time.


There are two theories to arguing with a woman... neither works.
--Will Rogers

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Thanks C. and Trudy for your notes. I'm much better today.

We went to the produce market and bought some green beans, a sack of potatoes, tomatoes and a cantaloupe. All fresh. The beans are now simmering in the slow cooker. We will go back for the next few weekends and get enough potatoes to last most of the winter. We took a mess of green beans to my aunt, and she gave us some yellow squash.

Finally felt well enough to get out and attempt a few photos yesterday. About a half hour in the sun and I was pooped. Didn't get all I wanted, but I'm happy with the ones I got. I was so tired that Carolyn had to drive back home. We did stop for a burger and strawberry shake at the Dairy Queen.

I'm looking forward to apple butter season. I like it with peanut butter, as icing on a yellow cake or molasses cake, instead of syrup on pancakes, on fresh, hot biscuits with butter, and straight up. Early apples are ripe, but they don't makes as good of butter as do semi-sweet apples. Apples and their products will be expensive this year, due to a late mini-ice age we had locally in April which nipped the buds and blooms.

It's almost time for ground cherries (pictured) to ripen. I like to pick and eat them fresh.

How y'all doin' today?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Got my shot. Getting where I can get up from a chair without grabbing something for assistance. Hope to be going strong by tomorrow. Allergies aren't quite as bad today. Gotta get out and get some photos!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Better today than yesterday. Thanks C., for caring. Hope I can see well enough by tomorrow to make a better post.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I can walk a little better, but I now have allergies. I'm a freaking wreck. Posted some photos on Flickr, but have no idea what they look like.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On crutches again today. Much pain. I'll be better tomorrow.
Be careful in the sun; it'll rip the hide off you. Wear sunscreen and a hat.

Monday, August 13, 2007

After my first senior year in high school, I managed to get a job with a fellow that lived not far from me. He was a pipe insulation contractor, a farmer, and a carpenter. His name was "Pappy" Ward, and he hired me at a dollar per hour, which was twice as much as I ever made working for the local farmers.

My first job was at Tusculum College, near Greenville, Tennessee. Our crew was insulating new underground steam pipes, it was August, and the black foam insulation smelled like brimstone when it was cut, and it wore down the skin like sandpaper. The next day we came back and caught up with the pipe fitters.

On Wednesday, I mowed Pappy's yard, which was on a hillside and full of large boulders and flower beds to maneuver around.

Didn't work on Thursday, but on Friday he took me back to Tusculum to get caught up again. This time, he left me on my own to do a couple of hours work. Of course, he forgot I was there, and didn't come back to get me until 4:30. Some of the guys on the job had already warned me that he would try to get out of paying me for the full day, and they were correct. I insisted, and he reluctantly complied.

On Monday following, we started work on a tobacco barn for another farmer. We completed it in a few days, and I spent the rest of the summer mowing and doing farm work for Pappy until school started.

In my second senior year of high school—1962-1963— (I managed to fail Algebra three times and had to do some make-up classes), I decided I needed to get a second shift-job and try to save some money to buy a car. My cousin Bob and I drove to Klopman Mills to put in applications. On the way, we had to stop twice and reinsert the drive shaft on his '49 Chevy. The rear universal joint needle bearings were missing and the joint itself kept falling out. We filled out the papers at the mill, were interviewed and hired on the spot. We started work 4:00 pm the same day, Monday, January 21 1963.

My mom drove me to work that afternoon, and about 6:00 I began feeling bad, and in another two hours, I had to call her to come retrieve me. My auspicious career in public works was off to a less than glorious beginning. My old childhood nemesis wasn't quite through with me; I had strep throat. In a week, I was back to work, but little did I know that my life adventures were about to begin.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Today is the last of the "official" Dog Days for this year. Weather is forecast to be extremely hot and humid.

This may be one of "our" baby Robins. They are beginning their migration, and the locals will all be gone before the end of the month.

The ending of summer is a difficult time for me. Autumn is nice, but I prefer the hot Dog Days. Most of my recollections from my youth are summer memories. Playing outdoors, roaming the fields and exploring the woods around my home were the highlights of my early life.

Being an only child and a shy "loner" was to have a profound effect on my future. The greatest classroom I attended was the one Nature provided outside my back door. I learned more about life and its meaning than I did in 18 years of formal schooling, and I still learn each time I step outside to take my photos.

My biggest regret is that I never learned about people. The backwardness kept me from making friends, and that alone drove me deeper into self reliance and an unwarranted distrust of humanity. When someone did befriend me, out of ignorance I always managed to say or do something that turned them against me.

I was the skinny, bashful kid in school and in church. The bullies had a good time with me, and the girls would whisper their silly giggles when I tried to be friends. This went on even into high school. It is the reason that I refused to attend my own graduation, much to my mom's distress. It isn't the reason I turned against organized religion.

After high school, I was able to pluck up enough courage to ask a girl to marry me. I met her on a blind date, because I was too shy to ask anyone to go out with me. She said yes and we are still married. She still chides me for shaking her hand after our first date, instead of trying to kiss her. What if I had tried to kiss her and she had put me down? I probably would have been traumatized to the point that I would never again go out with a girl, even if she asked me.

Anyway, and after a few more years and after getting over a bit of the shyness, I visited some of the boys that made my school years miserable. Becoming a construction worker gave me a different mindset, and I found that I was fairly handy with my fists and had hand speed they came to respect...! It's odd, but I've outlived several of those kids.

For anyone's information, the star Arcturus is a greenish delight and may be found by following the curve of the handle of the Big Dipper's handle. If you seek it tonight or tomorrow night, don't forget to look for an unusual number of shooting stars.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Chris is out of the hospital, but is still very sick.

One of my favorite songs by Elvis.

Just a few more days 'til the 30th anniversary of his death.

Don't Be Cruel

You know I can be found,
Sitting home all alone,
If you can't come around,
At least please telephone.
Don't be cruel to a heart thats true.

Baby, if I made you mad
For something I might have said,
Please, lets forget the past,
The future looks bright ahead,
Don't be cruel to a heart thats true.
I don't want no other love,
Baby its just you I'm thinking of.

Don't stop thinking of me,
Don't make me feel this way,
Come on over here and love me,
You know what I want you to say.
Don't be cruel to a heart thats true.
Why should we be apart?
I really love you baby, cross my heart.

Lets walk up to the preacher
And let us say I do,
Then you'll know you'll have me,
And Ill know that Ill have you,
Don't be cruel to a heart thats true.
I don't want no other love,
Baby it's just you I'm thinking of.

Don't be cruel to a heart thats true.
Don't be cruel to a heart thats true.
I don't want no other love,
Baby it's just you I'm thinking of.
6:15 am. Indecision. Get my shot today or wait 'til tomorrow? I'm completely perplexed.

9:55 am. I just don't know! What to do; what to do?

3:25 pm. Chris is still very sick. She finally got to talk with her doctor. She has serious infection enveloping her right kidney. Her temp. is fluctuating between 100 and 103. Diastolic is 41.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

9:45 am. Chris is very sick and we are extremely worried. Her blood pressure has fallen too low, she is in considerable pain, and nauseous. One of her kidneys is extremely swollen and she has infection. I'll say more when I know more.


The economy is taking a definite downturn. I realize that these things are cyclical, but this one is being pushed by a debt load that has been encouraged by the Cheney administration for the past six and one-half years. People more and more are delinquent on major obligations, such as home mortgages and car payments. What's left of the economy is being bled into major corporations with foreign interests, particularly the mid-east oil Theocracies, Thiefdoms, and Kingdoms.

At one time, home ownership was reachable for most working Americans. The high interest rates that plagued us during the Ford and Carter administrations started us on a slide that has yet to stop. Regan's "trickle down" economy—which his own vice-president, George H. Bush, had previously called "voo-doo" economics—nailed the lid on the proverbial coffin. Just affording a mobile-home was impossible to the lowest paid workers. Another thing that came from the Regan years is the two-worker household. My mom never had to work until the mid-eighties, and neither did my wife. Children were abandoned for hours each day while moms and pops tried to keep them a home.

Things actually got better during the early Clinton years. Carolyn and I were able to sell our mobile home and buy a small house. Her business grew, and for a while we considered ourselves successful by American standards. But by the end of the decade, things were again in a downturn cycle. The only thing that kept America going economically into the new decade was the balanced national budget. It is now gone and no realistic hope of it ever being balanced again. With the power of the US government encouraging people to buy on credit, the thin ice is cracking, figuratively and de facto.

I see a major recession within the next four years—probably sooner than later—if some hard—and some not so hard—choices aren't made to curtail it. At best, I think times are going to be tough, especially for poor and lower-middle class Americans. If and when the US pulls out of Iraq, oil prices are going to soar and fingers will be pointed. The time has passed for action to lessen our dependence on petroleum based energy sources, and nothing will be done until a new administration infiltrates DC, and it will mostly talk the talk. As oil lubricates the mechanics of the world economy, money lubricates the greedy inner-workings of our elected government.

I know that economic understanding is out of reach for most of us, and that even the most knowledgeable depend on theory to make predictions. What I've written here is a simplified view of things as I see them. I may be one-hundred percent wrong, but, I have a long and still fairly accurate memory. They used to call it "photographic memory", I think. So I look at my mind's photos of my lifetime, and this is what they have led me to believe. But, every photograph has a negative.

Yes, if you've ever told me anything I thought was important or that I thought that you thought was important, I probably remember some—if not all—of it. I can remember things that happened and words that were said even when I was in a deep state of drunkenness twenty and more years ago. Yeah, it gets crowded in here.


But if you do not find an intelligent companion, a wise and well-behaved person going the same way as yourself, then go on your way alone, like a king abandoning a conquered kingdom, or like a great elephant in the deep forest. - Buddha


12:45 pm. I wonder why? If I get caught speeding in an automobile, I may have to pay a fine of $100 to $200 for something that isn't even classified as a misdemeanor. If I am an illegal alien in the US, I am a felon that receives nearly all the benefits of a citizen, yet I have to pay no taxes. If I'm caught, I'll be deported, and within a month, I'll be back in the US illegally and still not paying taxes. What are you going to do about it?

Why are we wasting our soldiers lives in the Mid-east and wrecking the lives of their families back home? Why are we spending billions of uncollected tax dollars on a "war" that can't be won? Hell, we don't even know whom the enemy is. What are you going to do about it?

Why are we ignoring the obvious about the rapidly changing world weather patterns? How long has it been since we've had a cold, snowy winter in East Tennessee? From the time I can remember—before 1950—we had such winters until the late 1980s. Since the end of winter in 1992, we've had two big snows. I don't like winter and a lot of snow, but it is better than what is happening. We've had two major droughts around here since the mid-eighties. What are you going to do about it?

Why am I asking you this, when you probably don't give a big enough damn to do something on your own. After all, Washington will fix it. If you did care, you would be screaming at our elected government, the one YOU put in place and that dwells in the money pits of hell, to get off its ass and do something positive for our country and our world. What are YOU going to do about it?

America, ask yourself the same thing Neil Young asked in a song; Why do I keep fucking up?


The temp is now 88°, light wind, and extremely hazy. Relative humidity is 68%.
Plainly said: It is hot and muggy.

2:02 pm. Ashley just phoned to tell us that Chris is being admitted to the hospital. Kidney infection for one thing. Carolyn is on the way over there.

Monday, August 06, 2007

It is 5:30 am. The house is quiet except for the ticking of the clock and a occasional whir or click from some appliance or such thing on which we have come to depend.

Slept very little this night, which is becoming more common. Sleeping pills are cheap, but I consider the use of them as borrowing sleep. Somehow and some when, the debt must be paid.

Looking through the rest of the photos that I did yesterday. It was much fun to get out and about, but the photos were not so great. We picnicked at the Davy Crockett Birthplace Park, which interestingly was nearly free of people. Oh, the pool was busy, and campers were in campgrounds, but the rest was peaceful.

Met a couple from Virginia that came for a visit. The wife had previously been to the Alamo, so they figured they had ol' Davy pretty well covered. When I informed them that there were at least two more places they might want to see concerning the frontiersman, they agreed that it would be worth the effort.

11:18 am. Finished the time sheets, printed paychecks, paid some bills, took the Ford van for oil change and tire rotation.

3:10 pm. The thermometer says 93 degrees, and the mountains are lost in the ubiquitous haziness of summer. The nearest is only three miles from me, yet it isn't much more than visible. The range quickly disappears into a mist of natural and man made pollutants. They will probably be as such until a cold front slips in.

Some of the local school systems have begun classes, so be extra careful. The youngest students are small and difficult to see, especially if you are operating an SUV.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Went out to take pictures today. It rained.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

First, thanks Alice, for the e-card. YOU brightened my day. How long has it been since we met? I went to work at Texas Instruments on December 19, 1973. Fred was one of the first I got to know when y'all were living in the apartment. So, I guess we first met in January of '74. You two bought the house in the spring of that year, didn't you? Even with the tragedy of Fred's passing, there were hundreds of good times to remember. A lot of those good times for Fred, Ken, and me were more of an endurance thing for you. And for Brenda and Carolyn too, I guess. But, we were young and there was always tomorrow. Although we are not quite so young now, we still have some tomorrows left.


After Fred died, and for a big part of the eighties, I was stoned into a different world. Never did fool with heavy drugs very much, but I had my share of reefer. When I finally quit the herb and reduced my alcohol habit, the physical pain it covered for so many years caught up with me. Sometimes I wonder if the benefits of masking the pain were worth the other damages I was perpetrating on myself; physically, mentally, and emotionally. Even now, I find that a couple of fingers of strong whiskey will reduce the discomfort for a while. I prefer moonshine, but rum, tequila, or good old Black Jack will suffice if the dosage is increased. Why am I telling y'all this? Just in case you want to buy me a drink some day. If you do, I'm easy to be taken advantage of by the ladies, if you know what I mean. I reckon that giving up cigarettes in 1983 is the biggest favor I did for myself in that decade.


Thanks for the email and comments on my photos, Jeremy. You are a special grandson and a special man.

Friday, August 03, 2007

6:46 am--Being I'm the birthday boy, I'll say first thing this morning:
Thank you Robin.
I awoke with a terrible headache. Must of had a bad dream or something.

3:31 pm--Got my shot. My nurses and doctor told me happy birthday. We all lived happily ever after.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Went out to take photos last evening. It rained.
Stayed home today. Sunny weather.
Shot day is tomorrow.

Come to me on the high mountain my children, so that I may teach you the way of contentment. Better bring a rain coat.

Image of Clark's Creek fire access road.

Thanks Alice, for the early greeting and for rubbing it in. Like you said, a couple of months!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

More blood work today...; I feel like Dracula's blood bank. Was Bella Lugosi the best movie Dracula?

As today is yesterday's tomorrow, tomorrow is another today. I hope you all have many, many tomorrows and that you love to live and live to love.

The photo is from Pleasant View Church of the Brethren.

Breathe, my Children. Be Alive!

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