Autumn

Autumn

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Stuff

Sorry for this long absence. Currently my life is filled with some minor and a few major problems. My elderly father is sick and in hospital - heart stuff. Sweet Wife is in flux. The weather sucks...its hot, which isn't a problem but I hate it none the less.

I'm tired.

Also, I've broken one of my simple promises as I haven't responded to your comments...I beg forbearance. Over the last few days I've barely glanced at this computer. Perhaps it's the holidays, not sure, but my mind is cluttered and my patience short.

I sincerely hope all of you are well, warm and well fed.

Please, take care.

Stephen

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dark Musings

Our morning is dark with hard rain and the lights of the shop glow intensely and the traffic gives that wet tire zing as it flows on the street. My office window has a tin overhang and the rain pounds it like lead shot which is very soothing, and I'm darn near ready for a nap before the clock strikes nine.

I guess I haven't a need to state the obvious, but I will - I've been in a grave deep funk, depression if you will, these last few weeks. The reason, or reasons, are not important, they're mine alone and I shall deal with them.

 I've lost myself in books. Long hours here at the shop. On a bright note, Sweet Wife has joined her church choir. She sings like a Nightingale. I've attended the last two Sunday services as support. I like to see her, standing among the group, her cute little shy smile like a ray of sun on a cloudy day. She's happy. And now, she wants to return to school for a nursing degree. She's had it with the financial world. I told her she has my full support. I'll live on beans and rice to make her goals come true.

I truly appreciate your support as I've taken this wee bit of time away from the internet and my blog. I will make every effort to continue to write, weak as my limited talent allows.

Change of pace....a fella, kinda of a city slicker, walks into the shop and removes an object from his man-purse. Hands it to me. Said, "Wanna buy this?"

I take it, give it a glance and return it to him, "No."

"Why not?"

So I explained that first of all it was a ticket to ten years in federal prison. It was once a twenty-two rifle, old and I thought perhaps once upon a time a military training rifle. The barrel had be shortened to just shy of ten inches by hacksaw. It's stock removed by same to form a hand grip. Black tape applied - ugly. The bolt and magazine were both missing. Useless.

Him, "Oh. Well, okay, here you can have it." He walks out.

I gave it to a friend. My friend likes ugly stuff.

Until then,

Stephen
  
 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bits and Pieces

Yes, I know, I've been busy - so there. This is supposed to be my busy season. Not so much. This economy has kicked my butt. At least the weather is nice.

Spent most of yesterday in my garage sorting through my Coleman stoves and lanterns. I own a bunch...many wait for restoration. I have three stoves completely restored, two in stages and another torn down. I enjoy the work but I'd never be able to sell them and recoup my investment in parts and time. As they say it's a labor of love.

Anyway, a fella recently asked if I had one for sale. We settled on a price so this morning I lugged the beautiful old girl into the shop and it now sits in my office. Thing is - well, now I'm not so sure I want to let her slip away. The price I quoted wouldn't cover a tank of gas for my truck.

But a deal is a deal.

*****

Our group gathered at the farm this past weekend and I missed it. Here I am the founder of this bunch of like minded individuals, and I let them down. Talk about an awful feeling....but, sometimes life just gets in the way.

Me, the guy that has always pounded the mantra, group first, screwed the pooch. Sorry guys. My friend and fellow group member, Senior, posted a nice note and described the day's activities. Bet they didn't miss me for a moment.

Bunch of slackers...

*****

I will make extreme effort to make the blog rounds today...if work allows. Kinda miss you guys.

Later,

Stephen

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Just So You Know

If you walk in off the street and you're wearing baggy pants and have your hat draped to the side with two AR's wrapped in blankets and you're about fifteen years old...

Why in the name of all that's holy would you appear surprised when I ask where you stole the firearms.



Stephen

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Drip, drip

Broken water line into the shop goes, whoosh. Plumber, all smiles. Gives me a lolly-pop. I want to punch his lights out.

What the heck...it's only money.

Stephen

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Piece of My Heart

It had been stored in our attic, the red tricycle - Little Bit's ride when she was still ours to love. It was, in those days, parked in our garage in wait of her visits, and I can still see her tiny legs pump the red Flyer down our driveway and her screams of joy linger still.

Yesterday Sweet Wife came to me and said, "Get it down so I can clean it."

"Why?"

"I want it posted on Craigslist and sold."

Again, I asked, "Why?"

Her eyes were set to determination. I knew it best to drop the subject. I complied.

She took it from my arms and wiped away the dust, gave it a coat of wax. It shines. A pretty little red Radio Flyer - a tiny piece of Little Bit. I still remember her third birthday when it was presented to her. It had a big pink bow tied to the seat. Now, sadly, all that remains are the memories and three light scratches.

How does one price a piece of your heart.

Stephen

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Come to Papa

These, will happen.

 

Just as soon as I make a run for the ingredients.

Give 'em a try.

Stephen  

Just Stuff

When I walked outside for the paper, this morning, I found a thick fog and the river was flat and I felt wrapped in silence. Smoke twisted from my neighbor's chimney and gave the slightly chilled air a brambly oak scented undertone. Acorns splatted the roof of our travel trailer as the squirrels fed.

I need to splat a few of them for the pot.

Fall, is the best.

Fifty years ago I'd of been out the door and deep into the oak groves well before sunrise. Back then I humped an old single shot four-ten purchased Lord knows where. It suited my purposes. It along with my worn hand me down tan hunting vest, and a lunch, and about ten shotshells, and my trusty nine shot .22 revolver comprised my gear.

Tree selection wasn't important as long as it was situated deep in the woods. I'd settle my young backside at the base of the tree and wait. The squirrels moved early and I took any target offered. Seems like I'd sit their for hours but in reality when the sun reached the peaks of the tree tops I'd ease out.  With my gathered game I'd move quietly towards the dark creek and field dress my furry friends. I dressed the squirrels with a half rusty old Barlow I'd found at my school bus stop. Even though it held a good edge it had seen better days. I just liked the name, Barlow. I remember this tidbit because I'm sure it's still snuggled deeply in the mud on the bottom of the creek where I lost it that day.

I still remember the stark white banks of the creek, the sand polished by eons of rain and yearly floods, tiny bleached bones of ancient rock, and how it squeaked underfoot. The creek sat beneath high banks where palmettos and cabbage palms formed walls of green and brown. Afterwards I'd fill my canteen with the tepid tannin water and then retreat to a dry place in the brush for my lunch.

I always had a small fire for company. Lunch was simple. Do you remember those logs of red paper wrapped bologna. That was lunch. I'd cut my slices thick and unceremoniously slap the slices between two slabs of bread sans condiments and then wrap my sandwiches in wax paper. I liked my lunches simple. Creek water and bare meat and bread - a ten year old kids fantasy of mountain men.

I'd often kick out the fire and walk the creek towards the railroad tracks  - the long way home. While on the trail I'd pretend to be Jim Bridger, the famous mountain man. As a child any mountain man was my hero but Jim held the honor as I had just finished his biography. Even kept a flint and steel in my gear bag which amounted to nothing more than dead weight.

It was a long walk back to our little house. I had to travel the tracks, cross a huge field of cattle and its six barbed wire fences, but I enjoyed the time. Then, back to the world of farm work and family and school, and my books. The boots stomped free of dirt and cleaned and placed near the back door of our little house. Inside my mother would smile and praise me as the great hunter of the family.

Another day in the silence of the woods lost forever. Then she'd always ask, "Did you leave a little piece of yourself among the oaks for memories?"

I'd answer, "Always." 

"Good. Then your dreams will be filled with happiness."

Perhaps.

Stephen









 


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bumps

I try, I really do try to write everyday. It's just these silly bumps in my life get in the way and hamper forward progress. Like this morning.

Walked outside to drive to work and my morning paper wasn't in its usual spot on my driveway. Thought, oh well. I'll call at the office and have another delivered. Went online and my account had a red flag, the 'ole red flag said my account was delinquent. Called the suckers. It wasn't. Lady explained they'd received my check the fifth of the month and would immediately have a replacement delivered.

Fine, but for some reason a little worm in the back of my memory flipped and I began to check all my accounts. Back around the first of the month I thought I'd lost a bundle of mail, checks, but convinced myself I had indeed placed the stack of mail in our outbox. All was well, of course, but my investigation only took two hours.

Then, the lock set and knob of the front door to my shop broke, again, this morning. Flipped the switch for the lights and four bulbs over the shop's front porch went sizzle. Now I face a trip to the local hardware store and several hours of repairs after I close today.

And, my medication awaits at the local pharmacy which only took two days to renew...and, well you get the picture.

I should be back to normal, soon. That is if nothing else breaks or disappears or doesn't find its way to the lost and found.

Bumps in life are a pain in the butt. Literally.

Stephen 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dammit

I feel like I've lost a member of my family, a brother. This is what happens when I take a blog break.

I wish my friend, Paladin, all the best.

Stephen



Bits and Pieces

Our recent Nor'easter has diminished. I'll miss it as I like the cloudy rainy days and wind. Temperatures have leveled to the mid-seventies with low humidity. The dryness gives me drive.

I've purged my office. It's clean, less cluttered and the dust has all but been eliminated. Yesterday I humped six huge garbage bags of junk to the trash container and with each trip I dumped years of memories. I'm sure I made some bum very happy as he dumpster dived last night.

Anyone want a 1951 model Burroughs cash register? It works.

*****

Our group met here at the shop last evening. We've agreed to cancel our table at the monthly gun show, for reasons we'll not discuss. We have though agreed to attend and sell at a later date, perhaps early next year. Shucks.

The group will have its monthly work day in a couple of weeks and should be fun. After our planned projects are completed we'll hit the firing range and blast vast quantities of small caliber lead down range. We'll restrict ourselves to small lead as hunting season is underway and its a real pain in the rear to explain dozens of bullet riddled bodies hanging from deer stands. Laws kinda funny about such stuff.

What tics me off is these Fudd's are well aware their hunting grounds back our firing range. It's a shame they can't be sports about it and wear bright orange targets on their backs.

But what 'da heck, .22's are cheap.

*****

Now, a chapter from the daily news without commentary....

I've had at least a half dozen customers come in and complain they've lost their medical insurance. All are self-employed. One man explained if he chose the plan offered by his agent/insurance company, his monthly premiums would double and his deductible jumps from three thousand to seven per year.

Silence.

*****

Under a box in my office I've just found a stash of long lost military brass.  In total, about a thousand pieces. I'll not count. Seems to be a mixture of (in civilian terms) '06 and .308.

It's time to hit the bench.

Later, and hey, be careful out there.

Stephen
  





    

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday

I made another winter season prep early this morning. I emptied my rain gauge, and set our timepieces back...then our water heater timer. She hates cold showers. There, done.

Last Sunday I decided it was well past time to trim our hedges and in the process disturbed about sixteen paper wasp nests. Those little yellow boogers took offense at the loss of their homes. Anyway, this morning when I removed the rain gauge from its mount I found a bundle of tiny paper wasp between the mount and the plastic tube. They barely moved in our high forty degree coolness. I felt awful. I really like the little spider killers since I hate spiders. Me and spiders have history.

So, I stepped back into the garage and took an old wooden matchbox, emptied it and returned and scooped the little yellow demons inside and placed them on a window ledge. I left a slip of a crack  for their escape. Hey, it's the least I can do after destroying their home and offspring. I know. I'm weird.

*****

About the Corn and Shrimp Chowder.  This is a rough recipe since I cook by feel and taste and consistency. Here goes nothing....

4 to 6 ears of fresh corn.

Several slices of bacon, rendered, or four or five tablespoons of pork fat.

1 very large onion. I use sweet onions.

Kosher salt to taste.

Paprika, to taste. I seldom measure.

Ditto, cayenne pepper and/or a good Cajun spice blend.

2 or 3 tablespoons of flour.

2 large baked potatoes. Leftovers are fine. I normally purchase baking potatoes and nuke about eight minutes.

5 to 6 cups milk/cream. I use a combination of low-fat milk and half and half cream. For five cups I use three of milk and two of cream. Try and use the five cups for a richer chowder.

1 to 2 pounds fresh shrimp depending on availability. It's fine to use fresh frozen. Although fresh shrimp requires increased prep time it will make a huge difference in taste.

2 cups chopped baby arugula, or to taste.


Take the corn and very carefully cut the kernels from the cob. Scrap the corn milk from the cob and set aside. Please, don't hack off your fingers...

Scrub the baked potatoes and slap 'em in the nuke machine. Then, clean and peel the shrimp. Do not allow the shrimp to warm, keep cold. Meanwhile render the bacon...I know, but it is possible to prep several items at once. I do.

When the bacon fat is hot, chop and caramelize the onion. Take your time and really get a good brown on those onions as you'll want the smoky sweet flavor. Add seasoning and butter as they brown. Stir often. Adjust flame as needed. Now, grab the potatoes and rough chop, set aside.

When the onion has reached nirvana, dump in the corn and stir and cook for about ten to fifteen minutes...you be the judge but I like to see a little brown on the kernels.

A word on spices - lean heavy on the cayenne pepper and paprika. If you can't taste the seasoning, well, you've failed. I also include a few good dashes of Cajun seasoning...but, it's your chowder so cook to taste.

Before I forget (Sorry 'bout this.) You may either include the bacon or set aside and crumble over the individual dishes when served. I cook my bacon in the chowder.

After the corn/onion mixture has reached perfection add two tablespoons of flour and stir and thicken. Now, add the potatoes and milk/cream mixture and stir. Drop in additional butter if desired. Lower the heat and simmer for at least thirty minutes. Stir often, please don't burn. I use a hotplate over my gas flame and will sometimes allow to simmer as long as an hour. She, hovers and will ask ever so often, "Is it ready?" Drives me nuts.

You want the chowder to be chunky and thick. If, its too thick for your taste it's fine to add just a bit more milk but be conservative.

About fifteen minutes prior to serving stir in the shrimp, and continue to stir until the shrimp turn pink...DO NOT OVERCOOK. When the shrimp turn pink they're finished. Overcooked shrimp turn to rubber. You'll want to taste the sea, not gum it to death.

Now, throw in the chopped arugula. I'm of two minds on this..she likes the arugula cooked in the dish, I like it sprinkled. Either works for me. You do it your way.

There...enjoy. If you have questions, ask. There are two or three, or maybe four things I love in life. God, Guns, and fine food. Well, books too. Then there's my wife and grandchildren...and campfires, and....

*****

When she returns from church this morning she will return with an afternoon guest, a six year old tiny bundle of a wispy girl.

Halloween night I was invited to attend her church's trunk and treat block party. They used the excuse the church needed security and would I be able to attend with my wife and stand guard as the pack of children panhandled for sweets. I was also to bring two folding chairs and sit with my wife, and also if I pleased, bring along two hula-hoops. Sniff....and, ah, please bring several bags of individually wrapped candy pieces and containers. If I pleased, they'd love it if I were to also kindly hand out this welfare candy to the little critters and judge their hula-hoop contest, and oh, if possible please purchase gifts, like boxes of crayons for the hula-hoop champs.

Oh, and please if you will to arrive early...yes, we'd like it if you close your business early as we need help. After all, it's for the Lord and our church and since your wife is a paid in full member we're sure you will not mind at all....

The voluntary service to her church only cost me one hundred and sixty-five dollars. But, I got a date out of it.

Six times that night the little booger ran over and give me a hug and asked if she could please spend the night. We agreed on today. Should be interesting.

That evening, after the festivities, I was given a big hug and kiss and a pat on the bottom for my troubles.

Now, please excuse me as I need to ready myself for my afternoon date. Where did I store those old Barbie dolls.

Stephen


 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Heh

She said, "It's time for you to blog. You're lazy and it isn't fair to your followers." 

I said, "Heh," or something similar.

I stood in the kitchen and continued my corn and shrimp chowder, and let me tell 'ya, it smells so friggin good. She stood nearby and repeated herself. Then, "Post about your chowder."

So much for my book vacation.

My plans were to take a few days off, which I've done, and try and make a dent in my 'to read list.' At present I'm knee deep into The Lost Years by Barry Broadfoot. Highly recommended.

So there, my current state of affairs is loaded to the side of peace filled with easy music, books, and a nice pot of fresh corn and shrimp chowder. If the mood strikes I may move my watch back an hour tonight....or not.

Kinda blue, isn't it....the shrimp is added about fifteen minutes prior to serving. Chop about a cup of fresh arugula and sprinkle when served. If enough interest is generated I will take the time and write out the recipe....its locked away somewhere way back in the dark dank interior of my mind.

Take care.

Stephen



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

An Itch

Please forgive my absence. My soul still has an itch that needs to be scratched. All is well, my mind is on an extended vacation.

Stephen

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Quick One

I'm so behind in so many places it isn't funny...so this will be quick. I will try and get around to many (not all) on my blog list today. One of my first visits will be to my friend, Russell's blog, reflexiones finales. If you haven't read his work please do. His book and current world affairs reviews are beyond peer. His intelligence shines.

Finally our weather has turned cool. On the drive to the shop this morning I couldn't help but notice the democritters dressed in their fur parkas with hoods, wool scarves and boots. Me in a light cover shirt with a smile plastered on my face. Love it.

I sincerely hope all of you have a wonderful and safe day. Until then...

Stephen

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Boo!

Spooked 'ya, didn't I...

The house smells of baked oatmeal cookies and the Hallmark channel plays in the background and I'm content in my chair, feet propped high. I whipped that infections butt...read about six fairly good books, and I hate to admit this, but my friend, Pioneer Preppy, has me hooked on Supernatural. During my brief recovery I streamed the first two seasons off Netflix. I owe him one.

So, how y'all doing? To tell 'ya the truth it was kinda nice to take a break from blogging and the internet in general. Try it sometime...it's peaceful.

Pulling a blank here...see, my mind has turned to jelly.

Sweet Wife was involved in a fender bender. Happened last week. Her foot slipped off the brake and she tapped another vehicle at a traffic light. Barely dented the other car but its rear spare tire gizmo left over eleven hundred dollars damage to our car. Of course with our one thousand dollar deductible the insurance company is smiling. She dropped a wad of cash today and drove her car home this evening. Such is life.

Then, two days later the driver of the other car called our insurance company and said her neck hurt....trust me, buy good coverage. Sweet Wife said the lady was all smiles after the accident...I said, "Sure she was, she smelled money."

I'm buying Sweet Wife a horse cart, and afterwards throw away her cell phone.

*****

She's switched over to Duck Dynasty and Mr. Phil is fishing for turtles....

Rambling, aren't I.

*****

Oh, my John Deere lawnmower took a nose dive. Another item to be added to my list of 'to be repaired.' When my mower's drive went out I decided to convert it to a push mower. Ever tried to cut three weeks growth of thick grass with a mower designed as a walk behind....I'm fairly certain I'm herniated.

***** 

Enough. See you guys later, and hey - be careful out there.

Stephen



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Rumor Is

I'm still alive. Forgive me for my absence but I've not felt well for the last few days. My old nemesis, an infection, has returned. Thank goodness we caught it early.

I should return to normal duties very soon.

Please, take care out there.

Stephen

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Post Script

I just spent the first hour of my morning sitting in a banks waiting room. Their hired protection wore a very fine Smith & Wesson model 29 with aftermarket grips, nickled. His belt held two speed loaders. Didn't want to deal. I offered six hundred.

He said, "Sir, please, just take a seat."

Some people, I tell 'ya.

Bet I could take him.


I now pack a beautiful temporary debit card. Life is well.

Isn't it a fine day.

Later, it's time for me to get to work.

Stephen

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Click, Went My Mind

It's found, but only after hours on the friggin telephone with a few imbeciles and one or two really nice people.

Okay, follow along....we did a fine wash job on our travel trailer Sunday afternoon. Prior to that I grabbed my wallet and stuck it deep into an old pair of  BDU's.  If you're a civilian, an old worn set of pants. Anyhow, after an afternoon of water work my pants were soaked...changed 'em. Had a shower and switched to a dry set....wet pants went into the laundry room. Still with me, okay.

This morning I dressed back into a set of 5.11's and went to work. Discovered my wallet was missing and had a moment of, duh...it's in my BDU's at home. Didn't worry. Later, walked into the bedroom and wallet is not where I thought I'd left it. Freaked out.

Searched high and low. Drove back to my shop and searched the office. Walked the parking lot. Kicked a dog and a stray socialist, just because. Back home I grabbed my flashlight and scanned the ground between where I normally park and the house. Did a hands and knees hunt around the trailer...nothing.

In the meantime I'd called Sweet Wife at her office and had her on the phone with our bank with instructions to place a hold on our debit card. We don't use credit. It was the other items in my wallet which worried me...you know, things like my driver's and concealed weapons license, insurance cards, health insurance card, and my gas credit cards.

I surrendered. Walked inside the house and punched a pretend hole in the wall (Too expensive to repair a real void.) and climbed on the phone to help my wife cancel my life, when out of the blue a click when off in the back of my mind. That click hurt. I remembered the laundry room and those wet camo pants.

Jerked 'em out of the pile and guess what was inside....ah, go ahead, I don't mind, laugh. Fact is, I wanted to cry.

She's sweet...said she'd allow me to use her debit card. I'll reactivate mine tomorrow.

I owe that kicked dog an apology.

Sigh.

Stephen

Grab Hair, Pull

Sorry, I'll be back as soon as I find my lost wallet.....

Kinda busy at the moment.

Stephen

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Proof Positive

Of a liberal's lack of intelligence.

H/T, Joe

Stephen

Maybe Tomorrow

My old Italian friend dropped by the shop this week and left me several nice persimmons. I brought them home and thought I'd like to use them for more than a snack. Think I'll dig around and find a good persimmon bread recipe. Maybe tomorrow, because tonight I'm whupped.

Today, the both of  us scrubbed our travel trailer. For our trouble the labor asked payment in the form of sore muscles. Went to fire the pressure washer, and as is my luck, the pump failed to function. Said the heck with it and grabbed the buckets and sponges. The ole girl shines.

After I post this drivel I will make an earnest effort to answer all your kind comments. Thank you for your patience.

Don't forget...tonight The Walking Dead premieres at 2100 eastern.

Take care, my friends.

Stephen
 

 

Rambling

I've followed the CBS program Sunday Morning since the early 1970's, even though I detest left wing celebrity worship media, I like the show.

I read my Sunday paper as the program streams in the background. Once in while I'll drop the paper and give my attention to bits and pieces of the show. My point, heck I don't know. I'm conflicted. I watch a hour and a half program for the last ten seconds of nature.

Hear the elk...

*****

As she dressed for church I slapped on a skillet of hash browns and cracked eggs and tossed bread in for toast. After the coffee maker began its dance I flipped the kitchen towel over my shoulder and went outside for my morning paper.

Our weather has turned towards nice. The river is flat this morning. The scent of marsh is thick and pleasant - and I found a squirrel turd. Large oaks overhang our driveway and the little tree rats love to splat the concert with their droppings. As I examined my new found treasure I felt a presence. It was the poodle walker. He's a retired doctor. Lives across the street. The doc is about four foot nothing and prances around the neighborhood with a mangy poodle tied to his hand.

He seldom if ever glances my way as we have personal issues. His poodle likes to dump own my lawn. I know this because I clean its mess. I know the doc knows and he knows I know his mutt poops on my grass. Get it...

We don't like each the other and one of these days, as I once told him, I'll catch the critter in its act. Not exactly sure what I'll do, I mean, I'm an easy enough fella to get along with and I reserve violence only for those that intend harm to me or mine. I believe everyone deserves a second chance, but him and his poodle just might push my unfriendly button.

I'm fairly certain the doc doesn't like me, after all, he walks poodles and I shoot squirrels and paper images of democritters. So, there I am, with my rare piece of squirrel poop in hand, dish towel over my right shoulder, newspaper tucked under my arm on a beautiful Sunday morning wrapped in the peace of the moment when along comes the poodle walker. The poodle tugs at its leash, its beady eyes locked on my grass with a full load in wait of a download.

"No, Sabrina, no."

For Pete's sake, he called it, Sabrina. See what I mean...hey, if you're gonna walk a poodle at least give it a badass name. Something like, Killer or Deathray or Doom.

The poodle walker flicks me a quick glance and strains to control his two pound bundle of fury. Then, "Oh, good morning. Whatcha got there?"

"Squirrel poop."

"Sabrina, no. Come back here. Get away."

"Want it?"

I mean, after all, how often does one find a piece of squirrel poop. I extended my find.

"My, God, no. Are you cooking breakfast? Shouldn't you wash your hands...I mean, well, that's filthy and those things carry germs."

I'd forgotten the dish towel. "Yep, as a matter of fact if that rat on a leash dumps in my yard I'll have fried poodle for breakfast." Fast on my feet, I am...

He jerks the poodle into his arms and soon his tiny little legs carry him across the street. I yelled and once again offered him the squirrel poop but he never glanced back.

Weird little fella...

*****

I need to climb from this chair and run finance five gallons of premium gasoline. After my lovely wife arrives home from church we have plans to wash our travel trailer. It's way past time. I'll use my pressure washer and of course I'm slap out of premium gas. I only use the 'ole high test for all my small engined equipment.

After a years neglect the trailer is dirty and its roof holds at least a ton of leaves. Well, maybe not a ton but it is a mess. We've given thought of placing it on the market. Not sure yet. It's a pain to use and to tell you the truth, a waste of space. She's suggested a big tent. I'm thinking, depending on our budget, maybe down the road we'll look at a small class 'c' motorhome. Not sure yet. If we can't pay cash its just a pipe dream.

Either way our afternoon will be spent wet. We should take this time and also unload all the gear. Its full of stuff...canned goods, kitchen gear, two short wave radios, spare clothing, flashlights, medical kits and reference books and novels, three nice gas masks with spare filters, dutch ovens, rope and buckets and a cast net. Fishing gear with tackle boxes, Coleman lanterns and stoves and fuel for same. Like I said, lots of stuff. Then, where do I store all this gear.

Lord only knows.

You know, now that I think about it....a tent might just fit the bill.

 (No, the classic canned ham trailer pictured is not ours. It's a stock photo off Google. Nice, isn't it.)

Stephen



Saturday, October 12, 2013

Grub

What's for dinner. Well, this dish. I haven't eaten macaroni and tomatoes with Audouille sausage since, well, the last time my mother whipped it out for me, and let me tell 'ya, that was a long time back.

Give it a try. Its quick and simple and very tasty. And hey, don't forget the butter....





You can thank me later.

Stephen

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thanks and Welcome

To two new friends and followers, M. E. Masterson, author of the blog, 'Adventures of Life.' and Moe. My new friends I promise to always reply to your comments. Ever so often life binds my hands, so please be patient, but rest assured I shall answer.

I ask my other friends, please, take a moment and click and visit M. E.'s blog. I'm sure she'd appreciate it. And, Moe, if you have a blog, let me know and I'll try and send some traffic in your direction.

Again, thank you and welcome. Pull up a chair and I'll pour the coffee. You are now among friends.

Stephen

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Take Control

A few months back a young man approached me for financial advice. Not that I'm some great guru of all things money, but because, I think, I'm older. He's a candidate for auxiliary membership in our 'group.' One of the requirements, other than marriage and prior/current military service, is a sound financial base; little or zero debt.

It's hard to prepare for eventual survival (or prepping) when you can't afford a bag of rice or bankruptcy is just over the horizon. 

So, I made it easy on myself and pointed him in the direction of Dave Ramsey. The young man is married, has three young children, and has just made a purchase of a large piece of property in a fifty-fifty partnership (I might add against my advice.) with another family friend. He and his wife are now deeply in debt. His prospects for membership are grim indeed.

Yesterday he emailed and asked if I had a book recommendation. I suggested The Total Money Makeover.

Perhaps you too could use a nudge. It works.

If so find a used copy, and please, pay cash. Throw those credit cards in the trash.

By the way, I've embedded a mortgage calculator on my sidebar. Hopefully it'll help you take that first baby step. 

Stephen
  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

If You Say So

The woman entered the market just steps ahead of me. She was short had close cropped hair, and as it turned out, an attitude. Wasn't a doubt in my mind she lived on bean sprouts and owned six cats and her means of transportation was a recumbent bicycle with an Obama sticker affixed to its rear fender. She sported low cut Chuck Conner's, pink. The type that probably cruised dark allies in her spare time to fed crusty filth encrusted rats because the poor little things didn't have health care or medicaid.

You know how it works...when strangers hit the market about the same time as you and then you continuously bump carts on the same isles. With each pass she'd give me a look of total disgust. Finally, in the meat department I'd had enough. I looked her straight in the face and said, "Do I know you?"

"I hope the hell not. You're the most fearsome creature I've seen in weeks." Fearsome, she said...

Caught me by surprise that did, but I held my composure and came back with a sharp off the cuff, "Excuse me," then glanced around, kinda embarrassed.

"You look like one of those ultra-conservative militant militia types that want to destroy our government."

Now, here I am in my standard attire, a simple black t-shirt, 5.11 pants, dark blue cover shirt and boots, and my hat. Nothing, I believe, scary. What was it about me that gave her the impression I wanted to destroy the government. I was certain my carry piece didn't print. I haven't fired a weapon all day so it couldn't be the odor of powder residue. My knife was secure and in its place. I was certain I'd left my militia 'assault style' rifle in the truck...so what gives here.

I recovered, bent at the waste so I could hover over her little patchouli butt, and whispered, "I am."

The look on her face was priceless.

She gathered her bean sprout chubby muffin munching butt and fled.

I walked out with a smile. Felt like a kid with his first peppermint stick.

Stephen



So I Asked The Good Lord

Saturday afternoon it was very apparent the shop's HIVAC system wasn't up to snuff. I placed hand in front of one of vents, warm air. Made the call. Keep in mind it's the weekend. They said we'll be there soon.

Meanwhile customers have rain dripping from their brows. My shirt is soon wet. I'm ticked.

By closing time the air guys haven't arrived nor bothered to call. When I finally reach them they give the excuse they're busy. Said, leave the system on and we'll get to you Monday.

Monday arrives. They grace me with their presence. Bad capacitor, the fat man said. He replaced it and flipped the switch and warm air gushed forth. I said, "Doesn't seem to have solved the problem." He smiled then said, "Just wait. It takes time," and drove away.

This morning after I keyed the door and walk inside I immediately know I've a problem. My little thermometer registers eighty-five degrees. I'd left the system to cycle all night. Made the call. He arrived two hours later. "Uh-oh, he said."

I see federal reserve notes fluttering in the wind.

Busted shaft and bad compressor. The system is fifteen years old.

So, I asked the Good Lord what I'd done to tick him off. All I received in reply was a headache. Then, a tiny voice in the back of my mind said, "You know."

Stephen

  

Thank you & Welcome

To my new friend and follower, Vikki, of Mom's Scribbles. Vikki I promise to always reply to your comments. It sometimes takes me a few hours, and when life throws me a curve, days, but be assured I shall respond.

To my other friends, please, hit her link and run over and say hello. I know you will be pleasantly surprised.


Again, thank you and welcome, Vikki. You are now among friends.

Stephen

Monday, October 7, 2013

Changes

Not sure in which direction I'd like to take this post. Time reflected is 0340 and here I sit tired but unable to sleep. I need to make changes to my life.

We had a chat last evening. She believes I should sell and retire. Take life one day at a time, relax. Maybe, she said, do a monthly gunshow. Read, write, restore my stoves and lanterns. Reload and shoot. Return to my first editions. Dig into my collection of cook books and actually build a complicated two day recipe.

She flicked those big green peepers at me and reminded me how difficult it is for me to rise every morning; the moans after only three hours of rest. The six day work weeks. Tired, sore feet.

I sat and listened as she reasoned and explained how I'd earned the right to retire. She's concerned with the fact I seldom, if ever, sleep. (Even now my mind is a jumbled mess.) I argued, in soft tones, I'm not old. How I'd like to work at least another ten years. My shop is a great base of operations. It is my sanctuary.

Finance is her strong suit. She gently shoved this mini-depression up my nose. Asked, "How's business?"  Okay, fine. She jerked my chain with that one. Business isn't as strong as before the crash. Actually revenue is off. But, isn't it for every small business in the country. She snickered...changed direction.

"Honey, it isn't necessary we (Did you catch that, we.) make a decision tonight. Let's set a few goals, it'll give you time to adjust to the idea of retirement."

Somewhere in my garage I'm sure there's a suitable piece of lumber ready to be fashioned into a fine old man's cane.

Nope, sorry, it's not for me.

*****

About midnight I eased from the bed and came out and slipped 'The Book of Eli' into the player. I rate it second only to 'The Road' in the post-apocalyptic genre. Its subtle. If you've seen the movie, and I'm sure many of you have indeed, I ask...his he or isn't he?


 If you understand the question, and give an answer, place yourself in the cool kid category.

*****

Yesterday I placed an order for two hundred business cards. Plain white cards printed with only my name and cell number in black script - just an old fashioned classic card. You'd have thought the task simple. Not so much.

"Really, only white? No address, business hours? Nothing else?"

Repeated my request.

"Well, then we'll need to add a surcharge." 

Perhaps I should retire.

Stephen


  




Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Coffee is Ready

Just in time for my very first, banana bread. Over the last few months an itch to learn how to bake has taken hold. I like and am a fairly good cook, but when it comes to breads, cakes, cookies, and pastries - not so much.

Behold.

My first banana bread. I know, for those of you out there this is very simple. You've probably flipped out hundreds. That lovely bundle of goodness, is for me, a major step.

I get it now....one cup means one cup...not a scoop as I'm want to do.

Stephen

Bits & Pieces

Few days ago after a long hard day I settled back into my chair to give a good long thought towards a nap when she came into the room and said, "Ah, Honey, I agreed for us to babysit this weekend." Notice she didn't ask, say please, may I dear - just, I agreed.

Flipped her a look. She flipped it right back. Then, "It's Ariana."  The little six year old girl I mentioned earlier this week. Case closed.

I awoke this morning to the sweet scent of pancakes. Then I felt a presence next to my face. I peeked. There was a cute little face peeking back. She'd sneaked into our bedroom and was standing next to my bed with a yard long smile on a face full of pearl white teeth.

She followed me into the bathroom, then waited. She followed as I left the bedroom. Tagged me when I walked out the door for my paper. Trailed me back. At one point she latched onto my pants leg and refused to release me as I took coffee and paper into the family room. When I sat she climbed, without hesitation, into my lap and snuggled.

I have a new friend.

To tell the truth, it felt kinda good. During the last two evenings, I again, experienced the joy of a grandfather. And, to continue with honesty, it also brought back a deep bone bruising sadness.

We'll see where this leads.

*****

She's walked the street in front of the shop for weeks. Her hair has been all but shaved which leaves her the appearance of an escaped mental patient. She wears baggy and old BDU pants, the older woodland camouflage pattern, and a dingy white t-shirt. She drags a small carry-on flight bag when out and about her rounds. She's jerky, hesitate in her movements. I'm reluctant to guess her age but if pushed I'd place her at forty or so.

She talks to herself. She's dirty and smells awful. I should know, last Friday she finally rang my bell. In a moment of stupidity, I released the lock. I have a weakness for the young and defenseless. This weakness of mine extends towards all women in need. I can't help myself....I know, I'm an easy touch. So sue me.

First words out of her mouth, "Hey, call me a ride."

She didn't ask or say please, or may I use your telephone, just - do it.

Without invitation she pranced into my office, and when inside, took a seat in my spare chair. I nearly came unglued at the overpowering smell of body odor, a very distinctive unpleasant experience. So, as any good Samaritan I reached into my cabinet and retrieved one of my wife's Urban Survival Kits and placed it in her hands and explained a restroom waited across the street. Then, "You mean in that park."

"Yes."

"Call me a ride."

"No."

I stood to speed her exit. She reached for my desk phone and held it aloft and in the blink of an eye began to dial. She eased back into the chair and spread her legs and waited. Then she puts on a fake smile, and I assume when her call is connected, said, very sugar sweetly, "Hello. Who's this. Yes, put him on the phone. Hello, who are you."

I've pulled my bandana out and have it over my nose. She continued, "Well, then just ****you too."

She extends the phone to me. "Here, tell them I want a ride." Before I can respond she slams the phone down. Tears follow. "I was thrown out of my home. He hates me. I haven't a place to sleep. Oh, my Lord what will I do. Hey, you have anything to eat? I need a drink of water. What's your name? You're cute. Can I use your bathroom, I gotta pee. I want a knife like yours. You gotta spare knife I'm afraid out there and I'll cut their gonads off. I once cut my husband when he wanted to rape me. I showed him, I cut him deep."

This had to end.

As gently as possible I took her arm and walked her into the main shop towards the door. I placed a granola bar and small bottle of water in her bag along with the Urban Survival Kit and reminded her of the shower at the park.

Her, "Hey, can I make a quick twenty?"

"No."

"You're a butthole."

I smiled, said, "So I've been told."

*****

Other than the soft music of the radio the house is very quiet now. I should set this laptop aside and get to work on the yard, but I wait in hopes of rain and the perfect excuse to relax and read.

She'll be home from church soon so perhaps I should make her a nice lunch.

Maybe, that.

The friggin yard can wait...after all, it's my one day off.

Take care.

Stephen