Monday, April 28, 2008

Our Latest American Hero #116

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Only 116 to represent 4,052....

Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter, 19, of Sag Harbor, N.Y.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died April 22 of wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq. Also killed was Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale.

“Sag Harbor Community Mourns Marine Killed In Iraq”

Pierson High School binds the tiny Peconic Bay village of Sag Harbor. The fewer than 100 students the school graduates every year know each other from the first grade or from baseball practice or from the Conca D'Oro pizza restaurant on Sag Harbor's shop-lined Main Street.

Yesterday, teachers, students and parents whose lives were brought together by Pierson High joined the long lines outside a funeral home a few blocks from the school.

The people of Sag Harbor came together yesterday for the wake of Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter. Haerter became the village's first battlefield loss since World War II last week when he was killed near Ramadi, Iraq, while defending a checkpoint there

"It's such a small community that you do everything together," said Kate Evarts, whose son, Iain Gordon, had known Haerter since elementary school, played baseball with him, and graduated with Haerter in 2006.

"We went to Little League practices together," Evarts said of Haerter's mother, Joann Lyles, as she made her way from the funeral home after paying her respects. "Now we're going to a funeral together."

Since news of Haerter's death spread among many of the village's 2,359 residents, signs of grief have been everywhere.

On Saturday, members of the community gathered at the high school for a candlelight vigil. Haerter's mother, Joann Lyles, led in the singing of "Amazing Grace." On Main Street, Conca D'Oro had a sign in its window that had reminded people to line the streets for Saturday's motorcade that brought Haerter's body back home. At American Legion Post 388 across from the town dock, where the Sag Harbor Community Band plays Tuesdays in the summer, the flag flew at half-staff.

"It's a small village and everybody cares," said Tod Granger, a member of Sag Harbor Post 9082, Veterans of Foreign Wars, as he waited at the funeral home to pay his respects. "I've been all over the world and there's nothing like Sag Harbor. This community still has a heart."

Haerter's death has reached far beyond Sag Harbor.

Michael Williams, 45, rode more than 13 hours on a motorcycle from his home in Prospect, Ky., to pay respects.

Williams, himself a former Marine, met Haerter's father, Christian Haerter, two years ago through a motorcycle club. In the years since, the men had exchanged e-mails about Haerter's decision to join the Marines.

In yesterday's dank chill, Williams stood outside the funeral home with about two dozen flag-carrying members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcyclists that has appeared at funerals nationwide for soldiers killed in battle.

"My son is 19," said Williams. "To lose a son who is only 19, I can feel how that would feel."

Evarts said it did not surprise her that so many in the community would stand in the chill to say goodbye. "It could have been any of our kids," Evarts said, choking back a sob.

"We share the good stuff," she said, as she made her way from the funeral home. "And we share the hard stuff."

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Originally uploaded by Randuwa
My front garden is now complete!

I spent the weekend replacing the pathway, raising the circle garden, and planting it's first garden.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Democratic Party Primary Results #4

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The dust has settled. And the outcome is the WORST one possible.

"Hilary" won by the perfect storm margine -- the ultimate ambiguous outcome.

1) too much to concede anything to Obama
2) too little to honestly claim a mandate (especially given the erosion of her margine in Pennsylvania over the course of the campaign)
3) so we plod on.....

Even though the ultimate outcome seems a forgone conclusion short of an assasination of Obama.

Why can't she see this? And if she can....does she know something that the rest of us don't? Just asking.

What I'm Listening To #36

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Intense, impassioned, intimate music. Sometimes a guitar. Sometimes a piano.

It's all good!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mid-April Gardens #5

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
As "every dog has its day" so too, "every tulip has its story".... or, at least, this one does.

Blooming in a most obscure corner of my wild, woodsy backyard, this tulip has been blooming for me now for 18 years! It began its life in Holland; I purchased its bulb in an Amsterdam market in December of 1990. Its first 5 springs were spent basking in the sun and breezes of my central Kentucky home -- a home on the edge of a field that was very much the short-grass prairie.

Since the spring of 1995, it rises from the base of the stump of a once grand white oak. Ivy surrounds it, but to no avail that seems to hinder it's annual resurrection in its eastern woodlands home.

You may not know this, but tulips are native to the steppes of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). The word "tulip" is actually a corruption of the Turkish word for "turban." You can see the resemblance.

They were first imported to Europe, so legend says, by the ambassador of the Austrian Hapsburgs, a Mr. Ogier Ghislain de Busbecq, from the court of the S├╝leyman the Magnificent in Constantinople (i.e. Istanbul) around 1554. It's an auspicious introduction that resulted in a royal fetish for the flower. They were given from one royal court to another. They were planted in secluded gardens. They were guarded. They were coveted. They were stolen by thieves in the way works of art are absconded from the walls of museums today. And finally, they were grown and traded as a commodity by the Dutch to such an extent that their value literally made some men rich and led to the ruin of others in the 1630's. And among the most prized of all were the so-called black tulips.

And then there's this humble descendant of that actually deep purple strain whose longevity defies reason. I might not re-mortgage my home to have it, but I'd give a gilder or two all over again for such a faithful harbinger of April....

What I'm Listening To #35

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Bruce Springsteen's "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" is nothing short of brilliant! He is perfectly suited to take this body of music and interpret it in a refreshing, authentically American way.

Songs lost to my childhood are again filling my heart: "Mrs McGrath," "Erie Canal," "John Henry," " Froggie Went A Courtin'"! And the title version of "We Shall Overcome" brought me to tears.

The songs are fun, sing-a-long-able, and orchestrated to reflect a range of American musical traditions. There's the banjo led hoe-down version of "Old Dan Tucker," the sea shanty lylt of the violins in "Mrs. McGrath" with it's irrestible chorus "too-ri-aa, fol-did-dle-di-aa" repeated until you have to get up and dance a jig inspite of yourself!, and "O Mary Don't You Weep's" Acadian fiddle and Bourbon Street brass--combined with Springsteen's rough, grinding vocal interpretation and the African American chorus in the background, you walk away from this song knowning you've been to church.

Run, don't walk, and get this one!

Monday, April 21, 2008

It Was A Tornado!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
And so today the clean up begins even as the rain continues. Three huge oaks toppled into my neighbor's home two blocks over. The little circle is a workman examining the remains of the chimney. The big circle is what's left of the family room on the back--basically destroyed. Three houses further down the street another oak ripped the back off of another home.

The twister was relatively small. 50 ft in diameter with maximum wind gusts of 100 mph. It danced along for about 2 miles from Riggs Rd/Chillum Rd to University Blvd/New Hampshire Ave. Toward the beginning of the path it ripped an elementary school's roof off and at the end it damaged a dozen cars with large hunks of debris. In between were my neighbors' homes.

Gratefully no one was seriously injured.

It Was A Tornado!, part 2

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Here's the big crane removing a top portion of one of the three trees that hit the house. In speaking with Steve, the owner, it was a kindness that no one in the house was injured. He said it would take 6 to 9 months before his family would be back given the extent of the damage.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

. . . . As One

Djearworm is a genius. He crafts music with a diverse palate the way painters use pigment to present their ideas on a canvas.

"Together As One" mixes the works of U2, the Beatles, Diana Ross, and Mariah Carey. Splendidly, a mon avis.

A Strange Occurance

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
My neighbor, J., interrupted my work on my fountain on Saturday with a tale of intrigue and menace. It seems that while I ran out mid-afternoon to get some part for my project, a car (to be specific, a small black SUV) festooned with bumper stickers celebrating Colombia pulled up and parked across the street from the house next to mine. According to J. a man remained in the SUV while two women emerged and looked around suspiciously. One of them carried a menacing and large knife. They crossed the street and went to the house of our neighbor. He is an elderly man in failing health and hasn't actually been home for the better part of two weeks -- spending time in the hospital and then with his daughter convalescing.

At this point J. felt compelled to approach the duo and ask if he could help them. He reported that they didn't appear to speak English and that he felt threatened "scared shitless" by the way the one held the knife. They retreated to the SUV and all three drove off.

Well, what the hell was I to make of his tale? Honestly? J. is a reluctant racist. He sees non-whites as threats...and, even acts leery around whites who weren't born in New England!

I asked him why he didn't just call the police. I would have -- Nobody up to an honest endeavor carries a butcher's knife in a peaceable neighborhood in broad daylight on a Saturday afternoon. They are either crazy or criminal.

J. also has a tendency to present a world of his own creation that sort of says: "Hey, look at me! I'm a victim." It's a kind of white-centric-male-Munchausen's-Syndrom minus the child as victim. And still I can't completely discount the possibility that someone was up to no good....

So I guess I'm left with only one option: Take up Kickboxing! Wish me well!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sweet (Gross?) Irony!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Of all five fingers, to choose that one. And to keep it in the manner of a saintly medieval relic… Today it seems a loud gesture. Galileo Galilei’s middle finger is preserved in the History of Science Museum in Florence, Italy. From Curious Expeditions:

"It is a remarkable bit of irony, that finger. Venerated, kept in reliquary, subjected to the same treatment as a Saint. But this finger belonged to no Saint. It is the long bony finger of an enemy of the church, a heretic. A man so dangerous to the religious institution he was made a prisoner in his own home. It sits in a small glass egg atop an inscribed marble base in the Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, or the History of Science Museum in Florence, Italy. … As with a fine wine, it took some years for Galileo’s finger to age into something worth snapping off his skeletal hand. The finger was removed by one Anton Francesco Gori on March 12, 1737, 95 years after Galileo’s death. Passed around for a couple hundred years it finally came to rest in the Florence History of Science Museum. Today is sits among lodestones and telescopes, the only human fragment in a museum devoted entirely to scientific instruments. It is hard to know how Galileo would have felt about the final resting place of his finger. Whether the finger points upwards to the sky, where Galileo glimpsed the glory of the universe and saw God in mathematics, or if it sits eternally defiant to the church that condemned him, is for the viewer to decide."

Mid-April Gardens #1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Introducing their newest member: the swirl oak pedistal fountain. More work on this garden to come.

Mid-April Gardens #2

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
More of my Virginia Bluebells and pink and white bleeding hearts. They both last for weeks and are great spring perennials.

Mid-April Gardens #3

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The deer didn't get you this year!

Mid-April Gardens #4

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
I'll end this little visit with a photo of my new rock garden along the side of my sunroom. The rocks are courtesy of students at my school who dig them up during recess and then I arrive and clear the playground of the potential weapons. It beats the heck out of buying them at a nursery.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Elvis Rocks....UB40; too

The first time a girl tried to seduce me, it was to this song. I was in high school and she was a friend of my sister. She invited me over to her house to practice singing this song; and then she went all mega-slut over my ass. It was, honestly, very confusing. The intimate aspects of her attention were appealing; the physical expectations revolting. I pled the moral high ground and escaped, but I never hear this song without remembering that evening.....

Monday, April 14, 2008

Our Latest American Hero #115

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Anthony L. Capra, 31, of Hanford, Calif.; assigned to Detachment 63, 688th Armament Systems Squadron, Indian Head City, Md.; died April 9 in Golden Hills, Iraq, of wounds sustained when he encountered an improvised explosive device.

"Air Force Names EOD Airman Killed In Iraq"

An airman who had already earned a Bronze Star for an earlier deployment to Iraq died there Wednesday, Air Force officials said.

Tech. Sgt. Anthony L. Capra, 31, of Hanford, Calif., died Wednesday near an area called Golden Hills, about 6 miles west of Balad Air Base, of wounds sustained when he encountered an improvised explosive device. He was an explosive ordnance technician and assigned to Detachment 63 of the 688th Armament Systems Squadron in Indian Head, Md.

Before he was stationed at Indian Head, Capra was assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and the 96th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Flight.

“It’s a huge hit to the Eglin EOD flight because we knew Tony personally,” Capt Shane Frith, EOD flight commander, said in an Air Force statement. “We won’t be able to forget his character and the way he represented the EOD community. The impact is tremendous on the local troops here.”

In May 2006, Capra was among seven airmen from the flight presented Bronze Stars for their service in Iraq.

Capra was assigned to the 688th in the fall of 2007. The squadron oversees the acquisition of bomb disposal gear and other combat support equipment for the Air Force.

Capra’s other decorations include the Air Force Commendation Medal presented in 2006 and Air Force Achievement Medal presented in May 2002.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

15 Minutes

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Fame is fame: My post card to Post Secret was posted.....

I Did It!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Keeping with the theme of water (previous post), I bought a fountain for my garden. I bought it at my local all-purpose nursery, Behnke's in Greenbelt. I'd been scoping out the options for weeks, and playing with the notion for months. I did my homework:

It's a model 427-F cast stone fountain created in the Tennessee factory of Al's Garden Art. Al's has been crafting cast stone fountains since 1949. This one is described as the "ornate swirl fountain," stands at 40" tall, and weighs in at 230 lbs. I'm planning on setting it up in the middle of the circle garden in my front yard. A garden that will undergo a bit of a face-lift as part of the advent of this fountain.

I've really been enjoying my gardens this year.

Stupid Pet Tricks #1?

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Hey, I just bought a new shower head myself; however, I can't do this!

But seriously, you know how you get so used to something, that no matter how annoying it is; you just no longer even have the energy to be annoyed by it? That was my old shower head. Then, for next to nothing and even less real effort, I bought a new one and for the past couple of weeks my mornings have included a luxurious shower beneath the most titalating set of water pressure and flow settings.... I know, I'm not hard to please!

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Originally uploaded by Randuwa
I recently read a wonderful essay by Alexie Tsvetkov, a Russian poet who lives in D.C. It's a rambling stream of consciousness relfection on Prague and his departure from that city. He begins the piece with this: "The city is losing its sparrows. It has been weeks since I last saw one, and that was in New York."

He continues with a little of the history of the sparrow and then flits to pigeons and falcons and the more general role of birds in his life and within his creative consciousness. And he concludes that first section of the essay with: " without sparrows is eerie, as if there's a hole in it."

Well, I'm happy to report that there are presently no lack of sparrows in Mr. Tsvetkov's new home. At least the ubiquitous English version. And besides sparrows thus far this spring I have delighted in the songs and antics of American Robins, Cardinals, Chickadees, Nuthatch, Morning Doves, and Titmice (Titmouses?). And yesterday I was given a real treat. After planting some annuals around the side yard I approached the back door only to spy what I first hoped was a Baltimore Oriole, but which with further stealthy observation turned out to be, a American Redstart (m). I never saw a female, but he was in no hurry to leave the largess of my bird feeder, and gave me several minutes to watch him and memorize his details.

I've never seen one before. I hope to see more of this one.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

4 Views Of My Gardens, View #1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
From the Nation's "garden" last weekend to humbler venue this Sunday: my gardens.

I love the daffodils. They grab the light and reflect it like living flames.

View #2

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Glorious Bleeding Hearts!

View #3

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
More light magic with my Virginia Blue Bells.

View #4

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
A squirrel's eye view of my new sunroom.

Sunday Funnies #19

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Random Quote #88

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"The first time I knew I was gay -- I think, I was like, 7 -- I was watching this Valentine's Day "Popeye" cartoon episode that would play every year. There was this scene where Popeye was captured by Brutus, tied up with no shoes or socks on, and Brutus starts tickling his feet. I remember getting a boner, and I didn't know what it was about that scene that was creating THAT, but I knew that it was something naughty that I couldn't tell anybody, and I definitely knew it was something that made me different. But every year, I couldn't wait for that episode."

~ Cheyenne Jackson, 1975

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

YouTube Strikes, Again!

My dear friend J. from my Kentucky days turned me on to this series on YouTube. Tavin Dillard is a sort of slightly more lucid Boomhower from "King of the Hill" fame. He spins a little tale from time to time and they are archived on YouTube. Admittedly, some are funnier than others; and this tail of the love of butter is a wonderful example of Joel Berry's comic gifts.....