Thursday, July 24, 2014

Charlie Brown & Lucy

He met her at a church picnic.  He was the other half of a duo who sang for $5 bucks and a free picnic lunch.  As he sang of life and love his eyes kept drifting over to the auburn haired lass who thought he was singing intimacies that she had kept to herself.

So they spent a Sunday afternoon getting to know one another under a canopy of summer shade trees.     They took a walk along the river and skipped stones across the water and exchanged Reader's Digest Condensed versions of their lives and hopes and fears.

The following week she would be ferried off to Apple Valley, to the grandparents house, thus forfeiting a summer month to share...time that could never be recaptured.  And he felt a loneliness as vast as a canyon.  Then, in his mailbox came Charlie Brown cards, with personal messages about old folks and golf carts and early evening dispatches to bed.  She had decided that he was Charlie Brown and she was Lucy.

Indeed she was.  Given three hours on one golden Sunday and then she was gone from his life, from his could such a brief encounter bring on such lust just to gaze into her blue eyes for a single moment.  She had shown him the football and then jerked it away so swiftly!

While she was away the military came calling.  He raised his hand and swore an oath and promised to show up in September to join the million man ranks destined to fight a war in Asia.

Then Lucy came home and filled his summer evening with delights.  They rode merry go rounds like children, took long evening walks in the park, went to movies and concerts and spent hours exploring lips and lash and the far country that dwelled behind the eyes.

And Charlie Brown and Lucy fell in love.  They exchanged gifts across the table, over pizza and root beer...a "Happiness Is A Warm Puppy Book" to Charlie from Lucy and a heart pendant necklace for Lucy from Charlie.

Then Charlie Brown was off to Texas for basic training.  Nearly every day came a love letter on blue stationary, little blue lovebirds flitting around the top of the page, a whiff of Chanel to remind him what he was missing.

A ten day leave gave them acres of time to love, hours to embrace, kisses to last a season.  Then he was off again to his first military assignment...three thousand miles from her arms, from her lips, from her sweet endearments.

At Christmas he sent her a bracelet, she sent him a warm sweater and an engraved bracelet, ownership of him claimed in three words engraved in the bottom.

At Valentines Day a sweet card arrived, with a timeless pledge that she would be waiting no matter how long it took.  But two months later the letters from her dwindled from daily to weekly...and then to tortuous monthlies.

He wrote and begged for clarity, for an explanation and, when none came, demanded one.

Then came the letter that was the one he feared the most.  The "dear john"...the "dear Charlie Brown" that said waiting was too hard, that it hurt too much too need and not get, that Lucy had jerked the football away just when he needed it the most.

So Charlie Brown found Ten High and Southern Comfort and cheap gin and nearby fraternity girls could make the pain go away for a little while.  But he could not drive the love for Lucy and that football away for long.

When Charlie finally sobered up, he volunteered for Vietnam, hoping that time and distance would ease the pain in his heart.  

And the pain did ease, and he did find other joys in life and he managed his life as best he could.  And others took their place in his heart.  And Charlie Brown finally went away and he stopped yearning for that football.  But deep in his heart, hidden away in a shoe box, far up on the top shelf, Charlie still lives...and so does Lucy.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Codicil To My Will; Doggie Care


Dear Future Rosie Pack Leader,

By mutual agreement you will assume pack leadership for Rosie should I pre-decease her.  To make the transition easier for both she and you I want to tell you a little about my Rosie.

She's five years old, healthy, and weighs about 7 pounds.  As with all of my dogs, Rosie was allowed to develop her own unique personality.  You should no know that she does not do "tricks".  Were you to ask her to sit, or lay down, or roll over she would look at you as if you were crazy.  And, I'm sorry to say she will not come to you on command....she comes to you when she wants to, and the more you are respectful of her, the more she will come to you and beg for lap time.

Rosie is very, very housebroken.  She will go to the back patio door and stir around to let you know she wants to go outside.  If you are otherwise occupied, busy on your computer, or wrapped up in a TV program, she will stare at you and bark aggressively to let you know she needs to go.  

Rose is nearly persnickety neat; she does not lick her privates and she likes having a regular bath, as long as you are gentle with her.  She will almost always show reluctance to get in the pool but once there she delights in a cool swim.  When she gets tired she climbs up on a pool float and veggies out until her pack leader is ready to leave the pool.

Rosie is not well socialized.  She has lived with an old person and she has not been around crowds of people except at family holidays.  She is slow to warm up to you but will more than compensate with loads of love once she has gotten to know you.  She is not a yapper, though she can be a barker under certain conditions.  When she goes into the back yard, that is her territory and she will always emit one bark to let the neighbors, and the birds know that she's out and this is her domain.  One bark.  When she is let out in the front, if someone walks by on the sidewalk she will bark at them...seeming to warn them not to intrude on her territory.  If someone does approach she will retreat to the garage for she is, at heart, a coward.  She will never bite, no matter the provocation.  She's just not a biter.

Unlike my other Chi, Rosie is not a big eater.  She extracts one small nugget from her food bowl, then walks nearly the length of the room to a rug near the door to eat it...then goes back for another nugget.  I give her one egg once a week and also give her half a small tin of sardines for her Omega 3 heart health.

Rosie knows that she's my baby and she loves playing the role.  She loves me to sweep her up in my arms, cradle her like a baby and say "you're my little stuffed toy, no batteries required...she always flicks out her tongue for a kiss at this.

Rosie loves to take naps with me but she will never voluntarily leave Ginger to share a nap.  When I bid her to come take a nap she just sits there.  However, as soon as I pick her up and carry her to the bed she is clearly happy about it.  She will sit on the corner of the foot of the bed until I have laid down on my side, then she will run up and give me a kiss, then plop on her back, legs straight up, to see if I want to play the game of rubbing her belly.  When she does this she looks exactly like a very small teddy bear.  I will then rub her belly and stage mock fights with her by running by fingers over her mouth and she will play "ferocious dog" for a minute or two.  Once I'm ready to nap she will turn and place her rump against my chest or stomach, nudge her nose under the covers, and sleep quietly beside me.  When I awaken she immediately sits up, anticipating leaving the bed.  If I just turn over in the opposite direction she will reposition her rump against my back and go back to sleep.  She will not leave the bed until I do, and when I do she will leap from the bed herself; she does not like being picked up and put down on the floor.

Like all dogs, if you allow Rosie her dignity, if your respect her and show you care for her, she will return that respect and love in far greater amounts than you could ever give her.  

So, future pack leader Brenda or Jennifer; I thank you for having such a great heart to offer to take Rosie into your family if Dam and I are not around to care for her.  I wish I could say Rosie is the lucky one but I know in my heart that YOU are the lucky one if Rosie should ever join your pack.

Friday, July 18, 2014

So Ashamed


I am so very ashamed.  I'm normally what one would call a cautious consumer.  I'm a very skeptical fellow.  So when I bought my Honda Minivan in 2005 I checked out a number of dealers for the best deal.  I went on line and consulted Edmond's car guide and a number of other buying sites that told me what I should be paying.  Then I armed myself with steel resolve and went in and shucked off all the typical dealer bullshit and bought the van at the price I planned.

And so, in 2011 I did the same thing in planning the purchase of my wife's Honda CRV.  Checked out multiple sites on line and had a firm price in mind when I walked in the door.  I already had financing lined up and approved and all systems were go.

So after finding the CRV my wife wanted we went in and began that long suffering bargaining process...the one where you know you're going to get the price you want but must keep saying no to all the necessary dealer bullshit...the salesman wearing out a path between the customer desk and the sales manager's office, ad infinitum.  

Note;  both of these purchases were with Earnhardt Honda in Avondale, Arizona.

So we finally came to my already agreed upon price.  Then we weeded out all the extra stuff offered (at a fancy price), then we were ushered into the finance office.  Now, the finance guy looked like a church reverend; he had one of those good guy faces that you trust immediately....even old curmudgeonly and cynical and skeptical "me".  

So Mr. Finance offered us a finance rate that was something like 4.99 percent.  We declined, already having a 2.99% approved offer from my bank.  So Mr. Finance then begins offering mud flaps and sealant and all manner of extras that could be rolled right into the contract...and we spent a good half hour saying "no."  Then Mr. Finance offered us an oil change service for as long as we owned the car for $1,338.00.  We said no.  Then he said, how about I drop the finance rate to 1.99 percent if you take the service offer.  Well I mentally calculated the costs of ten years (our normal Honda ownership) of four times a year synthetic oil and filter changes and decided that the offer was reasonable, considering a one percent drop in the finance rate partly pays for ten years of oil and filter service.  So, I signed the contract.

So, blame it on the previous two hours of scouring the fine print on the car buying process, or blame it on the Norman Rockwell face of the finance guy, or blame it on a rare moment of extreme stupidity...but my wife went in this week for an oil change.  The service tech said no more free oil changes...that the goodies were only good for three years or 45,000 miles..which we had now exceeded.

So I take out the contract and, sure as hell, it says 3 years or 45,000 miles, not "Life time of ownership".  So go ahead and call me stupid.  Because I am.  $1,338.00 would have bought us 6 years of oil changes, not three years as we had with this.  

Not taking another ten minutes to scour that finance contract cost me dearly.  Taken in by a Norman Rockwell face cost me dearly.  

Yes, I posted my complaint on Yelp, perhaps helping someone else about this scam.  And no, I will never go back and buy another Honda from these people.  But my confidence is now severely shaken....the surety that I can always ferret out a scam has disappeared.   I'm likely to be kicking helpless dogs and cursing Mother Theresa for a time.  But, I'll bet you I'll read every one of those tiny lines in any contract I sign in the future.

Right now I am just ashamed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Obama Not Answering My Mail


Not having anything better to do, and with both foreign and domestic affairs in disarray, Obama has been busy with what he's best qualified to do; fundraise and campaign...and pass out our tax dollars.

Last week Obama travelled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to have dinner with a woman who wrote to thank him for her free taxpayer paid Obamacare.  Obama was so touched he had to fire up Air Force One and fly up to Milwaukee to receive the praise first hand.

This week Obama is going to Colorado and Austin, Texas (but not to the border, no..not that.  He's got a lackey in Denver who got a pay raise when Obama proclaimed women should be paid more, regardless of experience, time in position, or nature of the job.  

So Obama is traveling to Denver and he's going to spring for dinner at, quite appropriately, a Mexican restaurant.  After having his boots licked Obama will then find the nearest teleprompter and urge Congress to fork over another $4 billion dollars to feed, educate and medicate another army of Central and South American invaders.

But, before Denver, he's headed to Austin.  Someone at the University of Texas, Austin wrote the Anointed One and thanked him for forgiving some $750 million dollars of student loan debt, with the most important one being his.  Obama will hang out on the student quad and mix with naive college students who don't understand that, if they ever do get a job, they'll be paying taxes to cover that three quarters of a billion write-off.

Well, I don't need to tell you I'm a bit miffed.  I have written Obama no less than a dozen letters over the last year.  I included FBI stats that showed over fifty percent of all Phoenix murders were by illegal Mexicans.  I clipped newspaper articles about the runaway "hit and run" accidents and the ensuring mayhem created by illegals.  In one letter I offered to drive him down to the border at Nogales.  I promised to pack a picnic lunch and we could travel out to the open desert and witness the parade of Mexican drug and human smugglers as they work their way north to Phoenix, where they will either stay, or head out to the East coast where the perils of illegals has not yet been fully felt.

Obama hasn't answered a single letter, much less offered to buy me dinner.  Even after I promised to have Governor Jan Brewer greet him at the airport...  

Maybe I'm not writing the right kind of letter.  Perhaps my gripe about the Phoenix VA hospital threw him off.  Maybe I shouldn't have griped about my annual 1 percent military pension increase that doesn't begin to keep up with inflation.  Maybe my offer of hosting him overnight, and offering the use of a futon was unacceptable.

Or maybe my admonishment about no food testers allowed when I offered him a bowl of my home made chili made him a bit suspicious.  No matter, I'll keep writing him about my gripes.  Maybe he'll come and see me in a couple of years when all he has to do is make $200,000 dollar speeches.

Monday, July 7, 2014

"Stress Test"


I must have read a hundred science fiction stories about aliens who come to earth and appear to have very large heads to accommodate their massive intelligence, but are handicapped with spindly little bodies so weak it barely supports the big head.

This morning I was driving around early, running some errands before the heat and humidity come up, and while driving I was listening to NPR.  They were running their Monday morning health segment.  Today's topic was middle class stress.  Well, I was a bit dumbfounded to find what causes our middle class to stress out these days.  Like those spindly legged aliens, Americans these days appear to be so weak-kneed that they can no longer tolerate the most minimums of stress.

One person complained that she was due to go to a birthday party, had, until two hours before the event, forgotten to bake the cake.  After quickly baking and icing the cake, that person entered their apartment elevator and broke down with the shakes, having to rush like that.

A soccer mom lamented that she was extremely stressed about ferrying the kids to soccer practice, youth yoga, little league baseball and ballet lessons.  Another poor soul was near tears about the demands placed on her by social media.  Having to answer phone calls and respond to texts and post what she's doing on Face book and Twittering her opinion about overly sexy prom dresses for her daughter was making her a nervous wreck.  

I don't know.  I can remember what use to stress my family out; it was when you opened the kitchen cupboard and there was nothing left there to eat.  Or having both the gas and electric bill fifteen days over due and threatening letters that the utilities were going to cut off your power and heat.

I spent three years in Vietnam and didn't realize I was wound tighter than a drum until I finally came home.  The stress was so constant that I had learned to suppress it.  When I started hitting the floor when the safe and secure stateside  noon base siren went off I knew some adjustments were in order.
Fatal illness will do the same thing to you.

And today, all over America, tens of thousands of people will begin lining up outside a homeless shelter and hope they got in line early enough to secure one hot and a cot.  I would think that's pretty damn stressful.  How about care giving for a loved one who can no longer care for themselves?  That's stress 24 hours a day.

So I guess I got to apologize for having so little sympathy for middle class folks crippled by their daily stress.  I'm sorry but I just can't relate to last minute birthday cakes and soccer mom syndrome or the woes of having to stay relevant with your social media friends.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Gallus gallus Domesticus


Happy National Fried Chicken Day!

How much do you know about chickens?  Did you know they originated in South Asia and were used  as cock fighting entertainment while both their meat and eggs were totaling ignored as a food source?

Apparently it was in India when someone got smart enough to figure out you could eat these birds!  This food trend worked its way westward and by the 5th century B.C. the Greeks were making omelets and eating chicken.

Today there are more than 24 billion chickens world wide; the most populous species on earth! Chickens are deemed highly social animals and thrive in flocks.  When the rooster wants to attract a mate he will do a fancy little jig around his potential mate and dip his wing that is nearest to the female....this apparently makes the female very horny and the two love birds go at least for ten seconds or so.

I guess ten seconds of bliss is not so bad when your life span is from five to ten years max.  However, the Guinness Book of World Records document one old cock who lived to the age of 16 and died of heart failure (hopefully not during that "ten seconds of bliss".

Chicken "language" is not much to admire.  Hens will cluck to call their chicks and are known to cluck the loudest while laying an egg...but then wouldn't you if you had to eject something five times the size of the applicable orifice?  A Rooster crows at dawn, not because he wants to be your alarm clock, but because he wants to let everyone know that he's announcing this is his territory.

Chickens are not that smart and will lay their eggs pretty much anywhere.  Farmers often place plastic eggs  or golf balls in a nesting area to show the hen where he wants those eggs deposited.  And he would appreciate her not being so damned loud about it.

While chickens in North America primarily lay white or brown eggs, depending on their feather coloration, in South America chickens have blue plumage and lay blue-green eggs.

World wide chickens lay over 50 million tons of eggs per year so you can imagine the fowl squawking that those hens put out.  

Most chickens provide eight pieces per meal, two legs, two thighs, two breasts and two wings...unless your KFC....they'll give you half of half a breast and sell it to you at full price.  And McDonald's can mix enough mystery meat to produce enough chicken nuggets to feed an entire army airborne division.

Happy Yardbird Day, folks!

Friday, July 4, 2014



Monsoon season in Arizona starts around the 4th of July and ends around the middle of September.  Last night we had our first one.  Don't confuse desert monsoons with those out in Southeast Asia.  Those monsoons can leave 20 inches of water in a single day.  By contrast our monsoons in Arizona normally last for two or three hours, then go away as quickly as it came.

Each year our first monsoon is such a drama queen.  It occurs after several weeks of intense plus 110 degree heat.  Then that heat hovering over the desert begins to meet moisture moving in from the West and the Gulf of Mexico and begins to stir things up.  The first thing we usually see is a huge, mile-high wall of dust and winds that come scooting across the desert floor.  Depending on where you live in the Valley of The Sun you may have to endure that dust storm before the coming gully washers of rain begins to knock the dust down.    We also have some of the most violent and spectacular thunder and lightning storms one is likely to see.  

Last night's first monsoon was no different.  In the late afternoon we could already see a wall of storm clouds encircling the valley.  Distant rumbles could be heard from outlying areas.  Then, about 8PM last night those things that go bump in the night began to appear.  Anything not secured begins swirling around the back yard, the ground shakes and the rumble of thunder makes its presence known.  

My two doggies noticed it first.  They began to bark at the noisy intrusion of the gathering winds.  I put them to bed early and opened up the front door watched bits of flotsam sailing down the street that runs past my house.  Then the skies opened up and poured a million buckets of rain onto parched desert.  Because the monsoon always overpowers a drainage system build for 10 inch annual rainfall, our streets become rivers within a couple of minutes or so.

The weather folks, (who were 24 hours late in projecting any kind of rain, and projected the chance of showers at less than ten percent) reported the winds topped out at 56 miles per hour.  Trees were uprooted and power lines fell and left some 25,000 folks without power.  

I always, unwisely in lightning storms,  grab a bar of soap and go out, stark, into the backyard and take my first monsoon shower of the year.  Those rains that pound the dust down are pure and wondrous and leaves your hair squeakily clean and shiny and tingling.  Then, once the most powerful winds have died down a bit, I open up my doors and windows and allow the cool breezes, sweetened by the desert creosote waft throughout the house.  After a time I button up the doors and windows and go to bed, refreshed and ready for sleep.

Our first monsoon of the year is always something of a miracle.  Those hundred plus degree temperatures drop by 20 degrees or so, humidity goes from 20 percent to 75 percent within minutes and, for a time, we are tropical.  I have driven into desert monsoons.  I inevitably have to pull off the road and wait for the storm to subside.  As hard as it is to believe, I have actually seen fields of desert flowers pop up within an hour after a desert storm.  They seem to have been hovering, immeasurably thirsty, just millimeters beneath the ground, only to burst forth with the first drink of rain.

The weather folks say we must expect rains throughout the day this 4th of July.  That's okay, we had our fireworks last night and life is good.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I Hate Jerry Carlin


Okay, I was not going to post anything on either of my blogs this week.  But having gotten stuck on a short story about a drunken Santa Claus, I hit a Google Plus thing and saw Jerry's name, along with an attractive picture.  So I begin to be drawn into more nice pics, then find out the bastard has his own blog.

So I click on his blog link and learn a lot more about Jerry than I cared to know.  First of all, the guy's a master gardener, knows his way around a hammer and saw, and creates some of the loveliest metal works you've ever seen.  Then, to make matters worse, the bastard is an excellent writer as well....and that really pisses me off.

Yeah, he's still a bit liberal in some ways...I blame that on his years of teaching in the public school system.  Just as my ideology was formed around a life in the military, surely Jerry was influenced a bit by some of those unionized pin-heads running our school system.  Still, he presents well founded arguments, even if they are sometimes wrong.  And I don't like it a bit that he's so multiply talented.

Jerry is that rare fella who just happens to be a renaissance man, capable in so many different venues.  He can pick up a pen, or pound a keyboard and create an intelligent sentence, then go out nourish his 50 year old mulch pile, create nearly pornographically attractive pictures of tomatoes, build his own house and put a roof on it every ten years or so, then wander out to his shop and create artistic metalwork.  Sickening!

I am so jealous right now I'm about to boil!  Feel like I have to go out to my quarter acre now and create a nature oasis comparable to his...a hard thing to do with my limited gardening skills and a yard blanketed with landscape rock.  Hell, I have more trees than anyone in my neighborhood and still I couldn't create that garden of Eden Jerry's got in his back yard.

Well,  being the masochist I am, I signed up as one of his blog followers and now will be forced to see what Mr. Renaissance man has come up with this week!  

I gotta get back to that drunken Santa Claus...just now I find him a hell of a lot more agreeable than reading any more of Jerry's next project.  

Mad!  Damned Mad!