Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cape Hatteras Lighthosue

Painted this years ago.

B-Day Greetings


...was this past week.


"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Romeo who?"
"What? You have another Romeo on the side?! I thought I was you 'good boy'! I thought...."
"Oh, hush up! It's just a joke! Get in here you silly boy!"

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Week ~ February 1st to February 7th

And Such A Dessert!

Homemade Ginger Cookies from my North Carolina sister, Adele!

Meatballs Florentine on Fini Luigini

My birthday dinner.

Pork Roast with Broiled Zicchini

 I start this by flouring the pork and browning it with the onions and mushrooms in a large skillet.  Then I mix and transfer the contents with the peeled and cut potatoes, carrots and celery before cover and roasting for 90 minutes or so at 325˚.  I season with fresh ground black pepper, oregano, sage and rosemary.  And I add a little water to the juices to ensure proper steaming--cooked covered.
I served it on a bed of noodles to catch all the good juices.  And the Zucchini is halved, blanched, coated with pesto and slices of whole milk Mozzarella cheese then place under the broiler long enough to bubble and brown the cheese.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Today's Sermon


Nests in the eaves stir at dawn
Ephemeral as our peace
Morning prayer
Grace before food
I understand
The endless sky the small earth
The shadow cone
Your shining
Lips and eyes
Your thighs drenched with the sea
A telescope full of fireflies
Innumerable nebulae all departing
Ten billion years before we ever met

~ Kenneth Rexroth, 1905 - 1982

Saturday, January 24, 2015

2016 a Crystal Ball

2016 is a long way off....but the prognosis looks good.

And Self-proclaimed wannabees Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Rick Perry and Ben Carson didn't even make the grade--no seat in the Clown Car for them so far.

Great Quote + 2 cents

As you all know I am a teacher--a lifelong vocation, to be certain. I believe in the fundamental ideals of the American education system. I recognize that there is room for improvement. I am baffled that we spend umpteen times as much to build bombs and fuel the War Machine than we do to provide EVERY child in our nation with a 100% world class education. That we think paying Brain Surgeons 6 or 7 figures is logical while decrying the greedy teachers (who will never see a 6 figure salary even after 30-40 years of 10 hour days and many weekends spent planning and assessing off the "clock," and....) who educate the Brain Surgeons for wanting to earn a respectable salary and live a comfortable life.

And frankly, I think Ms. Ravitch would do a better job as our Secretary of Education than the feckless and pathetic Arnie Duncan.

Of all the cabinet appointments of this President whom I love, Secretary Duncan is the most nepotistic and worthless.

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Week ~ January 25th to January 31st

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Drawers

I have fallen in love with the idea of folding all of my collarless shirts in the Army Roll fashion.  It's Brilliant.

Random Quote #172

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Earth Stamp Honors Dawn

The second in my series honoring the satellites that are exploring our Solar System and beyond. The first honored Voyager I and was issued in 2012 as it approached the known edge of our solar system. This one honors Dawn whose mission is to explore Asteroids and Dwarf planets in the inner system. These are probable sites for human exploration in this century. The image on the left depicts the probe approaching the dwarf planet Ceres which it will do in March of this year. The image on the right is of the large asteroid Vesta which it explored for over a year on its way to Ceres.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lego Mini Figures Unite!

First a pair of photos with captions!  Happy to entertain other possibilities...
 We are the Lego Mini Figure Continuum.  Species 20120214, you will be assimilated.  Resistance is futile!

All Hail, Dog!  In Dog we trust.

Sorry, I couldn't resist a little fun with those.  And as anyone who has been more than once probably knows, I am a Lego Maniac.  And Lego is a crafty critter.  About 8 years ago now they began a series called the Mini Figures.  They are just unique little mini figures that you buy separately in little opaque plastic bags.  There are 16 different members to the each series and they appear at 6 month intervals--the arrival of the new series bringing about the retirement of the former series.  We are currently at series #16.  And here's the thing: the bags are indistinguishable from one another so when you buy them you are buying them blind; which is not unlike a baseball card sort of proposition.  On top of being unique conceptually, many also come with unique attribute brick parts as well.  Over the various series certain themes have also emerged.  What follows are a few of those themes as I have come to define them with various members from the different series.  And while I have most of the mini figures thus created, I do not have them all.  
Figures from Ancient Civilizations: Rome, Greece and Egypt 
 Figures from 19th Century Western United States
The Largest category--Figures from Athletics and Sports 
Figures from the Circus 
 Figures going to a Costume Party
Figures representing Cultural Stereotypes 
More Historical Figures: Vikings, 17th Century France and MesoAmerica/Spanish Explorers 
Figures from Classic Horror Films/Literature 
Another Large category--Figures from Outer Space 
And yet another large category--Figures that represent careers  This is a category with a lot of coveted specialty pieces like t-bone steaks, meat clever, tool box, hand saw, x-ray film, serving trays, and toilet plunger!

A Good Breakfast

Once a week (on the weekend) I try to have a good breakfast.

Revisionist History

You all know how much I love quotes.  But it amazes how few people ever stop to question them.

Today I was listening to a radio program, one of those wonderful NPR shows that explores ideas on a theme and lets experts or people with salient experiences on the theme tell their stories.  At one point the man who was telling his story gave this quote in regard to the wonder of being open to all kinds of ideas and possibilities--"Let a thousand flower bloom!"  He attributed it to Chairman Mao.   How intriguing I thought.  I love a good quote from an improbable source so I wanted to explore it a little more.  This is what I discovered.
First, it was based on something attributed to Mao Zedong, but it's misquoted.  The actual quote is found in speech that he gave in February of 1957 in Peking and in context it goes like this; 
"Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land."    

Wow!  Very interesting for the good Chairman, right?  Or is it?  You see, they took in all the flowers for a couple of months and then cleaned the "garden".  Those with flowers that they did not like were executed or sent to die while doing forced labor in the countryside.  Kind of takes the glow off of the quote, eh?

A Slice Of Life 101: Tropical Lagoon

There was a time when there were three independent tropical fish shops in my general vicinity...but now it's down to just one. And it's this really amazing place. It's squeezed in the middle of a little row of shops where parking is never easy. On the left side is a place called Bigg Wolf Video and trophy shop--a little dubious to say the least, and to the right is Hunan CIty Chinese take out and liquor store! The door is unmistakable with its big sign reading Tropical Lagoon on one side and painted clown fish on the other. And when you open the door, you are greeted by a set of narrow steep stairs leading down. Down into a shop in the basement nether regions of the row of stores and restaurants.

It is owned by a guy who looks like he spent his youth surfing in southern California. He is sometimes joined by a woman with the same slightly washed out appearance and demeanor. Two others occasionally appear, one could be their son and the other is a slight agile Asian boy-man covered in tattoos who is the only one who seems to have cash register privileges besides the owner himself. Also "living" there among the aquariums and aquarium paraphernalia is a large tropical parrot who greets everyone with a cheery "hello," but then stares at you with such a vacuous expression. Once acknowledged, it peppers you with additional "hello's" while never moving its beak. Also, there is a little shaggy dust mop of a dog with cold crystal white eyes--that seem to look right through you, but given any study at all and you can tell that she's just timid. And there are two cats. An old smoky Persian mix whose tail has been inexplicably coiffed to look like an antennae with a puff ball on the end, and a young coal black little short-haired miss who has taken on the role of unofficial curiosity queen. She wants to know EVERYTHING, and in that pursuit has no boundaries.

I stopped by today and found for the first time in all the years I've gone there that the owner was no en casa. Instead the place was in the hands of the young Asian man and the mini-me owner's "son". The later was only finding things for customers; the tattooed chap was clearly in charge. It was fairly crowded and both of the clerks were quenching their thirst from chilled glass bottles of Miller Light beer. It seemed both wrong and perfect within an instant of reflection. I waited my turn. It's easy in this place. There are so many things with which to keep one's mind occupied.

The customer just before me was after the same thing I was, fresh water live plants, and so I joined him and the Asian man from a polite distance in that area of the store. They where discussing the quality and price of the available Brazilian Sword plants when the black cat suddenly attached herself to the thigh of the other customer in a fashion similar to those alien creatures who jump out of nowhere and clamp on to the hapless spaceman in order to suck out his innards. While the cat's mission was far more benign than that, the man's reaction was classic horrified astronaut! The clerk apologized with a certain degree of excitement/embarrassment, which did not phase her highness in the slightest. So, I leaned in and gentle clasped the little girl around her midsection to extricate her from the predicament she had created. The man quickly recovered unharmed. The cat shot me a look that said, "What the hell's the matter with him?" I decided to walk her away from the commotion and wait my turn at a safe distance, and she decided that snuggling against my sweatered chest was even better than scaling the leg of the other fellow.

Today's Sermon


Spirits among us have departed—friends,
relatives, neighbors: we can’t find them.
If we search and call, the sky merely waits.
Then some day here come the cranes
planing in from cloud or mist—sharp,
lonely spears, awkwardly graceful.
They reach for the land; they stalk
the ploughed fields, not letting us near,
not quite our own, not quite the world’s.

People go by and pull over to watch. They
peer and point and wonder. It is because
these travelers, these far wanderers,
plane down and yearn in a reaching
flight. They extend our life,
piercing through space to reappear
quietly, undeniably, where we are.

~ William Stafford,  1914 - 1993

Friday, January 16, 2015

Remembering My Dad on His Birthday

Had he lived, my dad would have turned 95 today. When he was born, Calvin Coolidge was president and there were no radios, televisions, or computers. Phones were a luxury, electricity still a novelty, commercial air flight someone's dream. He was the older brother to his sibling, Robert Lee Ash. Together they went to Europe to fight in World War II, and only one of them returned. I never knew my uncle, Bobby.

He met my mom while at basic training in Hays, Kansas--she was from northern Oklahoma. They married when he returned home after his brother's death. She was a beautician. He sold insurance for a time in the panhandle of Maryland and then moved to Michigan where two of his mother's brothers had relocated. Briefly he worked with one of his uncles in a steel mill, but then found work in a new automobile engine manufacturing factor. There he worked for 30 years; first building the engines and then eventually supervising others with a secretary and all. He died less than three months after retiring at the age of 65. Massive heart attack, declining health prior to that--emphysema--the result of a lifetime of smoking.

My dad found his place in the heart of the 20th century. He was a funny guy, loved the joke. Kept way too many of his demons inside of himself--outside of laughter, not into the emotional stuff. Taught me to love and know the woods. He had a way with animals that I have seemed to inherit, too. I know he wasn't perfect, but given all the rest of what I know about life--I wouldn't trade him out for anybody else.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Establishments In Lego City

On the other side of the tracks--Highlander Pool Hall, Ace Brickman Private Eye's office and Al's Barbershop.  Fits into Lego City perfectly.