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Mark Twain, Pythagoras, poetry, death . . .

I sometimes imagine that I have the soul of a poet, and I would like to believe that my soul is that of a poet, but I do not have a shred of a poet’s talent. My love for poetry began when I first read the lines placed by Mark Twain on the headstone of the grave of his daughter, Olivia Susan Clemens, dead in 1896 at the age of twenty-four. I first read the epitaph as a Junior High School student—now known as Middle School. I was moved to tears, just as I am now while researching and writing this post.

Those words have for many years been attributed to Mark Twain, but they were borrowed from a poem written by Robert Richardson, Annette, published in 1893, three years before Twain’s daughter died. This is the verse Mark Twain placed on his daughter’s tombstone:

Warm summer sun, shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind, blow softly here,
Green sod above, lie light, lie light,
Good night, dear heart, good night, good night.

While writing his autobiography, Mark Twain said that he could not remember the author’s name, and apparently he was uncertain of the exact wording of the poem.
When Twain learned of the author and his work, he added the author’s name to the tombstone without changing the verse. Richardson’s original words are as follows:

Warm summer sun, shine friendly here
Warm western wind, blow kindly here;
Green sod above, rest light, rest light,
Good-night, Annette! Sweetheart, good-night!

The poem, Annette, also included this beautiful verse:

If that ancient ethic view
Of Pythagoras be true,
Your light soul is surely now
In that bird upon the bough,
Singing, with soft-swelling throat,
To the wind that heeds it not;
Or in that blue butterfly,

Flashing golden to the sun.

The ancient ethic view of Pythagoras, mentioned in the above excerpt from Annette, is explained as follows:

The ancient Pythagoreans believed that souls transmigrated into the bodies of other animals, and because of that belief they practiced vegetarianism, hence the poet’s references to the bird upon the bough and that blue butterfly. However, in Richardson’s ode to his daughter he passionately expresses his love for her, his belief in heaven and his hopes for her in the afterlife, saying that:

Somewhere there beyond the blue,
In the mansions that so many are,
They say, is there not
Any one of all, Annette, for you?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2011 in Childhood, death, Family, funeral

 

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A father and daughter story . . .

A special introduction to this posting:

I have multiple reasons for making this posting. As with almost every posting that I make, my intention is to record significant moments in my life for the benefit of my daughters. Many of those moments occurred before my girls were born, and I consider this the ideal vehicle in which to store those moments to make them available at the touch of a computer key. In this instance it is also an effort to educate others. The human female’s reproductive system with its various apparatuses is literally the source of life—it is mankind’s future, and its various components are probably some of the most complex and most misunderstood areas that exist in our society. I can state unequivocally and unashamedly that I learned from researching the remarkable subject of this posting, and I trust that what I have learned will benefit others that are as uneducated in this area as I was—in many respects I remain uneducated—but I’m learning!

I introduced Betty, a fellow teenager friend from long ago, on my blog in my last posting. Click here to read about that introduction, our first and only date to see a movie, and about me being slapped off her porch and into the yard—it’s worth the visit.

Betty’s father was a commander in the United States Navy, stationed in Washington, D.C. He was almost bald, of short stature and in retrospect he reminds me of Lt. Commander Queeg, the part played by Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny. The commander’s wife and my sister-in-law spent a lot of time in my sister-in-law’s kitchen drinking coffee, smoking and talking about the various things women talk about while drinking coffee and smoking.

Our duplex was small, with no closed dividers between the living room and the kitchen, and people in one area could clearly hear conversations in the other area if normal volumes were used. Low whispers would not be detected, however. Betty’s mother was not whispering when she told my sister-in-law about the monthly physical exam her husband made of their daughter, then twelve years old. She either had forgotten that I was in the living room reading, or else did not care that I might be listening to the two women conversing over coffee and cigarettes. There is a slight possibility that she may have wanted me to hear her, feeling that I would thus refrain from any thoughts I might have in mind that, if converted into action, would affect the findings of the next monthly exam—you’ll understand that comment in a moment.

What I heard the mother tell is this: She told my sister-in-law that her husband gave their daughter a tub bath at least once a month, and as part of that action determined whether she was still a virgin. I know, I know—the only proof of virginity is an intact hymen, but the hymen can be breached and destroyed without intercourse having taken place. An intact hymen may indicate that vaginal intercourse has not taken place, but its absence does not prove that such intercourse has in fact taken place.

Now for the sensitive part of this discussion of a father playing doctor with his twelve year old daughter—how does one determine the presence of, or the absence of, a girl’s hymen? If not through questioning, it would have to be through one or more of the five physical senses, and through a process of elimination we should be able to determine the manner in which this remarkable father followed his daughter’s progress towards adulthood.

If one were inclined to do so, as was Betty’s father, the intact hymen can be easily examined through a combination of our physical senses. Betty was probably treated to a warm bath shortly after we returned home from the movies, and I hasten to add that had the examination produced unsatisfactory results I might have been suspect, but I was in no way involved in the above mentioned area, nowhere even close. It could well be, of course, that I lusted in my heart, just as former president Jimmy Carter, in his interview with Playboy magazine, said that he was inclined to do. Incidentally, Jimmy and Rosalyn have been married for 64 years—I congratulate and salute them!

In our search for the hymen we can eliminate the auditory sense, that of hearing—contrary to The Vagina Monologues, history holds no record of a talking vagina. We can also eliminate the gustatory and olfactory senses—neither would in any way confirm the presence, absence or condition of the hymen.

Through our scientific elimination of three of our five physical senses, we are left with the visual and tactile sense, our senses of sight and touch. The only sensible way to confirm the presence or the absence of the hymen is by combining the human senses of seeing and touching. If the hymen is there it can be seen and touched, and that combination will detect and confirm its existence and its condition, or its absence.

The story told in this posting is true. If Betty’s mother and father are still alive, both are well past the century mark in age and if still living, Betty would be in her seventh decade of life, far beyond any fear of her father failing to find an intact hymen. I wish them all well, whatever their condition or location.

Postscript: I posted this story in an effort to educate and perhaps, with a smattering of humor to entertain, and I make no apology to anyone that may be troubled by this posting in regards to their standards of decency. If you are offended by the subject matter, I offer the world of WordPress for your consideration. Use the search feature—Search WordPress.com—you’ll find every sexual act known to mankind, discussed in street language, not once, not twice but thousands of times. Wade through that compendium of filth, then compare my work to those entries—in comparison my efforts should earn, at the very least, honorable mention in the annual quest for a Nobel prize.

That’s my story, and in the words of Steve McQueen in his masterful performance in the movie Tom Horn, I’ll have nothing further to say about that.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
 

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An ode to newlyweds . . .

The comment that follows is one that I posted concerning a photograph of newlyweds my daughter placed on her blog. The middle one of three daughters, she is the one that lives, loves, laughs, labors and lingers with her husband in Northern Virginia (my favorite  daughter and my favorite son-in-law, but don’t tell the others). Click here to see her original post entitled,  After the rain . . .

Before making the comment I e-mailed her for permission to use the photograph and to provide an advance reading of the comment. This is the comment as I posted it:

I have labored long and strong to produce this comment. Brilliant poetry does not come easy for semi-literate persons—it takes a lot of erasing and changing, and I’m submitting it for your consideration. Depending on your decision—to keep or delete—that is the question.

I will either post it verbatim or I will return it to the bowels of my brain and save it for some other use, but mark my words: It will be published, somewhere for some reason, without photos, of course. I may submit it for competition in the search for the world’s best poem.

A beautiful bubbly bride in a gorgeous gown, a handsome, albeit hairless, groom with the Garden of Eden beckoning in the background—one cannot resist speculating on whether at the end of the ceremony the couple will go hence, as did Adam and Eve, into the Garden—into the bushes, so to speak—and if such be the case that gown, already precariously balanced and threatening to succumb to the effects of gravity, will quickly be weighted down with beggar lice and cockle burrs, and that weight added to the pull of the earth’s center and the predictable possibility of the groom stepping on the gown’s train, accidentally of course, will produce predictable results, and from that spurious speculation springs a poetical predilection:

An ode to newlyweds

Hark! What is that I see?
Is that an apple on yon tree?

And does a serpent nearby lurk,
Upon its lips an evil smirk?

And will that tale of Bible lore,
As in the long gone days of yore,

Perhaps repeat itself once more?

Hark! Not from that apple on the tree,
Nor from the serpent hanging ‘round,

Did life began for thee and me,
‘Twas from that pear on the ground.

Anonymous? Not really. I’m guilty. I wrote it. All by myself.

The poem includes one homonym—betcha  can’t find it!

Just a tiny hint: It’s one of a pair of words that sound alike, but are spelled differently and have different meanings—note the word pair in this sentence and the word pear in the poem.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 

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A Texas wedding—bucolic & beautiful . . .

I recently attempted to clean up my Word files. They were filled, and still are, replete to the point of obesity with quick thoughts and URLs and lots of pitiful starts for postings that never matured enough to become part of my official archives, a record that is maintained by my daughter in Virginia, and by Word Press, of course. My daughter is just naive enough to believe that my musings could—and should—be published in book form—an anthology perhaps. I’m not sure that anyone would spend real money for such a tome, but of course I would.

I would probably follow the path of Henry David Thoreau. One thousand copies of his first publication—A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers—were published in 1849, and five years later 706 copies remained unsold. Needing the storage space, the printer shipped them to Thoreau and he stored them in the attic of his parents’ house. He then boasted in his private Journal that, “I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself.” Having published my tome I would probably make a similar boast.

In the attempt to clean up my attic—my Word files—I found an item that expresses my thanks to a commercial blogger for “showcasing my daughter’s wedding.” I blush with shame when I profess that the item is beautifully written, but I’m not ashamed enough to keep it hidden among comments that I have posted. Click here for the blog that showcased my daughter’s wedding.

This is the comment I posted to the wedding blog:

A beautiful posting and a nice tribute to the bride. Her wedding in 2009 was a memorable event in a small Texas city, especially memorable for me as the father of the bride. I am also the King of Texas, and Cindy is one of my three princesses, the one that lives, loves and works in Virginia. I can truthfully say, with all seriousness aside, that my family is endowed with a tremendous amount of talent. However, there is a slight hitch—Cindy has it all!

Her wedding was unusual, perhaps unique in some respects—the theme-decorated tables and the bowered setting, a pleasant grassy shaded area amid towering pecan trees with goats bleating in the background—yes, there was a small island in the backwaters of the Guadalupe River behind the wedding site. The island is occupied by a family of goats, and the goats refuse to leave, not even to forage among nearby resort homes. To vacate the island they would necessarily have to swim—that they refuse to do, and must be fed by property owners in the area. They seem to thrive there and are very vocal when people are around. Predictably they reproduce in order to maintain the strain. The population is consistent because kids born on the island are usually adopted by homeowners or visitors, whether for pets or ingestion is unknown.

As the father of the bride my contribution to the wedding was monetary and fiscal, and I am now operating under a budget deficit caused by that contribution. However, my major contribution to its success was the moment I took to the dance floor in response to the strains of music from Hollywood’s Saturday Night Fever, an unforgettable moment in my life and in the lives of those present—yep, I did it, and I have the photos to prove it—shades of John Travolta!

Thanks for showcasing my daughter’s wedding. You have made my day and brightened hers.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2010 in Family, friends, Humor, marriage, weddings

 

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Letter to Lorene, dated January 25, 1994 . . .

This posting is a letter I wrote to one of my sisters, the prettiest one and a lady that has always been at the top of my list of best loved, but don’t tell the other sisters or their children—they might not understand! This lovely lady left us behind almost seven years ago. I’m sharing the letter on Word Press because many people that knew and loved her are visitors to my blog, and this letter includes a lot of history from 1994. The image on the right shows the beautiful teenager that Elmer met and married after a brief engagementa very brief angagement! We miss her.

San Antonio Int’l Airport

January 25, 1994

Dear Rene,

I’m certain you are aware that just because B follows A does not mean that B was caused by A, or in fact is in any way associated with A except, of course, by virtue of B’s position immediately following A’s position in the alphabet or to put it another way, by virtue of A’s position immediately preceding B’s position in the alphabet. So the fact that you called and talked for a long time the other day does not necessarily mean that this letter was caused by that phone call, or in fact is in any way associated with it.

However, we can put the matter to a scientific test. You keep calling and see if a letter follows each phone call. After a few years of that, we will be able to determine if there is any correlation between the two events. Betcha there is, betcha there is, huh, huh, whatcha wanna bet, huh, huh?

Correlation or not, it sure was pleasant talking with you. I know you’re glad to be back home. Seems like every time we leave, the urge to get back becomes stronger and stronger. I’m like Papa John Weathers—I guess I hate to have my routine messed up! That’s good news about Jessie recovering from her accident so well. I know that brace is a bummer but as you said, she’ll just have to adjust to it.

Got time for a couple of jokes? Stop me if you’ve heard these, okay?

The Lone Ranger and Tonto rode into town and stopped at the saloon. The Lone Ranger said, Tonto, my horse is really hot from all that galloping. Run around him a few times to stir up the air and help him cool off. The Lone Ranger went into the saloon and a few minutes later a guy came in, tapped him on the shoulder and said, Hey, man, you left your Injun running.

The doctor examined a guy and told him he only had six months to live. The guy said Doc, there’s no way I’ll be able to pay what I owe you in just two months. The doctor said, Okay, in that case I’ll give you a year.

One more doctor joke: A guy’s doctor called him and said, I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that your tests showed you have only two days to live. The guy said, That’s the good news? What’s the bad news? Nothing could be worse than that. The doctor said, Wanna bet? The bad news is that I’ve been trying to contact you for the last two days.

Well, I’ll shut up. Don’t blame me for the jokes. They came from Kelley. If the subject matter doesn’t depress you the subject matter will—oops, that’s another joke. Kelley heard the jokes from Gordon, and he made her promise not to repeat them, and she made me promise not to repeat them, so I want you to promise not to repeat them. They are so bad that they must be stopped!

Speaking of depressed, I have a program called Quicken which tracks all kinds of good stuff, including one’s finances. I spent several hours loading all my “finances” into it, then called up a report showing the totals. I was really happy with them until I divided what I have now by the number of years I’ve been working. Boy, am I depressed!. The program is a lot of fun, though. Gives you all sorts of charts and graphs, all in beautiful color. I just wish I had more to put into them.

I’m not really depressed. I have a wife that loves me, three daughters that love me, two grandchildren that love me, two big sisters that love me, a whole passel of nieces and grandnieces and nephews and grandnephews and even a couple, perhaps, of great grandnieces or maybe great grandnephews—don’t know whether they love me but all would if they knew me. I also have two cats and a dog that love me (I don’t care much for the dog), a good paying job with no heavy lifting, a nice place to live and a nice house to live in, way too much to eat, and good health. No, I’m not depressed, I’m blessed—hey, I made a rhyme!. See there, I’m even talented to go with all the above.

I said the job required no heavy lifting, but I just remembered something. Did I tell you about pulling a back muscle while lifting a heavy suitcase for an elderly lady last year? Well, I did, and suffered severe lower back pains. Went to the doctor and he said I had muscle trauma. I was sure it was kidney stones, and asked the doctor why it was taking me so long to get recover if it was only muscle trauma. And he said it was because I was a fat old man. Well, he didn’t actually say I was a fat old man. He said it’s because You’re 60 years old and overweight. So I left the doctor’s office and stopped at MacDonald’s for breakfast. I have lost some weight since then, though, and I’m working on the rest of it.

It’s 7 p.m. now, and I’m halfway through this 3-11 shift. The first 4 hours seem to pass fast, probably because we have several flights. The last 4 hours drag on and on. Seems like 11 o’clock will never come, but it always does, of course. Boring as the shift may be, you’ll never hear me griping to go on day shift. I’ve been doing this now for two and a half years, and I wouldn’t take the day shift on a dare. In fact, I live in fear that the other supervisor will decide he wants to evenings for awhile. Not too much danger of that, though. He is a politician, loves to make Chamber of Commerce meetings and other activities, and there’s not much of that on the evening shift.

Time has really flashed by since we returned to San Antonio. March will be seven years since I left Houston, one of the happiest days of my life, leaving Houston. Not because I was coming back to San Antonio, but because I was leaving Houston. I never really planned on staying in Customs this long, but as I’ve said before—at least I think I’ve said it before)—it’s hard to quit just when the money is good and the living is easy. It’s been so long since I really had to expend any significant effort on the job that I’m not sure just what kind of product I would come up with if I were asked to produce. So I’ll go on hoping I won’t be asked!

I see by the old computer screen that I’m near the end of the page, so I’ll close, or else I’ll have to subject you to another full page. I have lots more, but I’ll save it for the next letter.

Lots of love, from me and all of mine to you and all of yours.

SUPRISE! I’m back. Just called Alta and she said she had just finished talking to you, so I cranked up the word processor again. Alta said she asked what size unmentionables you wore so she could fill up the box she is sending. If it’s the one I’m thinking of, you won’t have to worry about bloomers for a long while, because the best I remember there is quite a bit of room there—in the box, I mean, not in your bloomers. Did she tell you about packing the outfit in a small box, then checking it later and finding that some of the stuff she put on it had been squashed—is that spelled right, or is squashed even a word? Anyway, she had to do it over. The more I look at squashed the worse it looks.

Our weather is still wet. It’s beginning to remind me of Viet Nam where we had to wrap our billfolds in plastic to keep the leather from getting moldy. And if we left a pair of shoes for several days without wearing them, they grew beards and moustaches. That sure seems like a long time ago. Well, shucks, it was a long time ago. I got back to the states in June of 1970. Would you believe more than 23 years ago?

Sometimes I have to work very hard to make myself believe I was even over there. I saw a movie the other night about the war, and relatives visiting the Viet Nam memorial in Washington, D.C. and placing different articles at the base of the wall. I went there several times while we were in Washington. It’s quite an experience, watching the grief displayed by so many of the people there. Some people call it the “Wall of Shame.” It seems to bring about a release of the emotions that people have kept bottled up inside themselves. I’ve seen hardened veterans fall to their knees and weep unashamedly, oblivious of everything else and everyone around them. It’s not an easy thing to watch, and it’s impossible to see such an outpouring of grief without being affected. And how in the hell I ever got into this subject is beyond me, but I’ll get out of it now.

Well, what can we talk about now? Did I tell you I have almost all the Louis Lamour books, the paperbacks? I think I have 105, and he wrote 110 or so. I even built a special bookcase for them—well, for them and for some other paperbacks. I also collected novels by John D. Hamilton, Ed McBain, Lawrence Sanders and a couple of others, along with a lot of the old western, the ones that were printed in the forties and fifties and sixties. And some day I’ll get around to re-reading them!

Compact discs are the big thing now. Grolier’s Encyclopedia has been put on a single disc, the same size as a music disc. And another disc has almost 2000 books on it, 2000 of the world’s great literary works, every word, complete and unabridged. I have a compact disc reader/player, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time at the San Diego Zoo, and in the Gallapagos Islands and South America’s rain forests and Australian deserts, at the Grand Canyon and all the national parks, all without leaving home. It’s a marvelous invention, especially for the world’s shut-ins, and it’s a shame that right now the cost is prohibitive for many of the people who could most benefit from such programs. The cost is coming down, but will still be out of reach for many people. And then again, maybe they don’t want it. What do I know? Maybe they all would rather watch Fresh Prince of BelAire, or some of the other zillion or so TV programs that pretend to be entertainment.

Boy, am I up on my soapbox, or what! Oh, drats! I’ve just come to the end of another page, and that means I’ll have to think of something to talk about to fill up that page, too. How about that drats? How long since you’ve heard that? I think it may be the first time I’ve used it, but it won’tbe the last. Has a nice sound to it. Try it. Drats! Drats! DRATS!

Speaking of jive, how do you like rap music? I hate it, I hate it, I HATE IT! And I hate it regardless of what color the rapper is whether black, white, brown, yellow or purple. I hate it, so I use the only weapon I have—I don’t buy it, and I don’t listen to it any longer than it takes to turn it off.

San Antonio had a murder here a few nights ago. Murder is common here, far too common. This one, however, was different. No jealous lover or husband or drug deal involved. The dead man was a husband and father of three, active church member, finished choir practice, called his wife and told her he would be home soon, just had to stop at an automated teller machine and make a night deposit. A 17 year old boy and 13 year old girl waylaid him and made him give them his personal identification number for the money machine. His body was found on the side of the freeway, shot through the head, and several cash withdrawals had been made at various locations in the area with his card. Both the teenagers are in custody. The girl said in her statement that she was holding the gun on the man and her boy friend didn’t like the way she was doing it, so he took the gun from her and shot the guy.

I’ve changed my mind about a lot of things in the last few years, and capital punishment is one of them. I never believed in it before, but now I do. I feel nothing whatsoever for the two people involved, regardless of their ages. They took something away from another person, and they should pay for the crime by giving up the same thing. And the sooner the better. They better hope I don’t get on the jury. When the judge asks me if I can render a fair and impartial verdict, I’ll say, Yes sir, Your Honor, boy, oh, boy can I ever render a fair and impartial verdict, just put me on that jury and see how fast I can render a fair and impartial verdict, and as soon as I render that fair and impartial verdict, I’ll help you hang ’em or shoot ’em or fry ’em or draw and quarter ’em, however you want it done, just so long as it’s done soon and I get to help do it. I’m dreaming, of course. They would never let me serve on a jury.

Well, I really have to shut up now. If I keep on I’ll have to send this thing in two envelopes. Once again, lots of love from me and all of mine to you and all of yours.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2010 in death, law enforcement, Military, politics

 

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Letter to the editor, San Antonio Express-News: Listen up, San Antonio drivers!

Letter to the editor

San Antonio Express-News

P.O. Box 2171

San Antonio, TX 78297

Listen up, San Antonio drivers!

What you are about to read may prevent a collision that may seriously damage your automobile, including the possibility of it being totaled, and it could save you from incurring serious injuries sustained in a collision, and may even in some instances save your life—but only if you read and heed this message.

This is a tale of driver frustration and road rage, emotions that are daily demonstrated in every metropolitan city in the nation, but particularly in the Alamo city with its population second only to Houston in the state of Texas and seventh in the United States. There are numerous recordings of road rage in San Antonio, some that have caused major damage to vehicles and introduced death to some drivers.

A few years ago an elderly driver exited Loop 410 West, turned left under the expressway then left into HEB’s Market Place parking lot and parked. When he stepped out of his car he was shot dead by a driver that had followed him from the expressway. There were witnesses that noted an auto being closely followed into the parking lot by another auto, but none could positively identify the shooter or his car—to this day the murder is unsolved and probably will never be solved.

The consensus among investigating officials was that the elderly driver was an unknowing victim of road rage, having done something to infuriate the shooter. The elderly driver had perhaps failed to signal a turn or was following too closely or was proceeding at a leisurely pace on the city’s speedway known as Loop 410. Whatever the reason for the murder, one man is dead and the killer is free to kill again should the occasion arise in the future.

My daughter—a lovely lady, the youngest of my three equally lovely daughters—had the right rear window of her car shot out while traveling from work to home on Loop 410. She had no warning and could not tell the origin of the shot, but speculated it came from a car traveling beside her on the Loop or from someone off the side of the freeway. The window was still in place when she arrived home, albeit with a small hole in the center and cracks radiating in every direction. When we opened the door the window shattered into small pieces.

We called the police and a search was made of the rear seat area, but nothing was found that may have caused the damage. The police officer speculated that a lead pellet fired from a pellet gun had shattered the window, a pellet fired deliberately at the car or an errant pellet fired at some other target. Pellet guns don’t fire BBs—such guns are powerful and are used by hunters to kill small animals including rabbits, squirrels, birds and snakes. The pellets are heavy and are propelled at high speed with enough weight and power to penetrate a human skull—they can kill.

That pellet could just as easily have struck the right front window and hit my daughter or her friend that was by the right front window. This could have been an act by a juvenile following an I dare you taunt, or the act of someone my daughter or her friend had rebuffed at some time in the past, or perhaps someone that she or her friend had flipped a bird at on the freeway because of another driver’s action.

Please trust me, San Antonio—do not flip birds or make other obscene gestures at another driver. If you take such actions you are subject to having a window shattered or a bumper hooked, or be forced off the road, and you may die as a direct result of having angered someone that—please forgive the expression—you pissed off in some way.

Now to the gist of this posting:

I am an elderly driver—I freely admit that, and I endeavor to remember my status in all my actions, particularly in operating motor vehicles and guns. I don’t add guns as a threat—I just thought that I should mention that I am an accomplished shooter, including expertise with military weapons as well as those available to home owners, including shotguns and pistols, some with magnum capabilities. Oh, and I also have a pellet gun, an estate sale find I couldn’t resist.

No, I have never shot out the rear window or any window of an auto driven by a cute blond, or a cute brunette for that matter—and both are legion in this great city—nor have I ever been inclined to do so—I sometimes gawk at or wave at or—gasp—even wink at, but I do not shoot at such persons. And no, that’s not my photo—that’s one of the cute blonds I mentioned. I said I was an elderly driver, remember?

This morning I drove two miles or so to the Whataburger outlet nearest my home, the one located at the intersection of US Highway 281 North and Brook Hollow Drive. I stopped for a red light at the intersection of Brook Hollow and Heimer and stayed in the left lane. An SUV driven by a woman pulled up beside me in the right lane and stopped. I knew from experience gleaned over some twenty years of traversing that intersection that she would continue straight ahead when the light changed to green.

The street ahead had four lanes for a short half-block, but the right lane was provided to allow a driver crossing the intersection to turn right on a side street—-from that point the street narrowed to one lane in each direction. While the light was still red a second SUV pulled up behind the woman.

In anticipation of her accelerating to cross over to my lane, I moved out at a pace calculated to give her the space she needed—not sedately or at a crawl, but just enough to let her get ahead of me, and after she was in front of me I accelerated to the 35 MPH allowed in that area.

It wasn’t fast enough for the driver of the second SUV—he blew his horn repeatedly and then fell in behind me and stayed on my bumper until Brook Hollow Drive became a two lane in both directions and I signaled a left turn into Whataburger’s parking lot.

He immediately floored the SUV, passed me and turned sharply in front of me into my lane. I anticipated that action, the action of an idiot, and I braked enough to avoid our bumpers—my front and his rear—making contact. I was successful, and I turned into the parking lot while the SOB in the SUV continued under the 281 overpass and turned south on the access road toward downtown.

Our local news channels and our lone daily newspaper, the San Antonio Express-News, routinely report similar instances. Many, perhaps most of such actions are those of gang members, but not all—some are simply a matter of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time or doing something—no matter whether deliberately or inadvertently—by voice or gesture or motioning or by vehicle operation, driving another person into such a rage that they wound and maim and even kill to get revenge for such actions.

In closing, remember that the life you save may be your own. Don’t respond to the actions of some SOB in an SUV, and be content by wishing that should that person be involved in a serious accident he—or she—will arrive at the hospital DOA.

No, I’ll take back the part of someone arriving at the hospital DOA. When I am faced with such churlish actions on the part of another driver, I say aloud to myself and to any others that may be riding with me that, Perhaps we will find that vehicle wrapped around a utility pole farther down the road, with the driver surviving with a few broken bones and a serious concussion, but no injuries to other occupants. No, I do not wish anyone to die, but I admit that I will not mourn for any appreciable amount of time if such occurs.

A final note: In the interests of full disclosure, I confess that I did not submit this letter to the editor. Over the years I have accumulated numerous rejections from that worthy, some of which—but not all—may have included a thought, or thoughts, that could possibly be considered criticisms of the paper. I don’t handle rejections well so I decided to appeal to a different audience—the highly erudite and always perceptive readers of my postings on Word Press.com. As of this posting I have never been rejected—not once—by Word Press.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 

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How to build a fire in the wilderness . . .

This posting is prompted by a comment made by my daughter, a lovely young woman that comprises one-third of my three princesses, the one that lives, loves and has a full-time job tending to and pacifying one husband, one son, one daughter and one Miniature Australian Shepherd, aptly named Wrigley.

A special note: That Miniature Australian Shepherd—the one aptly named Wrigley and tended to and pacified by my daughter—is a dog, a sweet, friendly, intelligent and talented canine—sweeter, friendlier, more intelligent and more talented than some homo sapiens I have known. Wrigley is a dog—he is not a person of diminutive size, of Australian heritage and a tender of sheep—I just felt that I should set the record straight on that! And one more thought concerning Wrigley: He is indeed wriggly—wriggly to a fault—he wriggles incessantly, but it is neither his fault nor mine that my daughter misspells his name. I have pointed out the misspelling, but she rambles on and on about some field called Wrigley—that shouldn’t happen to a dog!

The image above shows Wrigley and friends—these three constitute three-fourths of those my daughter loves, tends to and pacifies. Brennan is on the left, Macie is on the right and Wrigley is in the center.

The image on the right shows Brennan and Macie with last year’s Santa Claus—that’s Santa in the center. Santa in the center sounds kinda like hip-hop, doesn’t it? It could be a starter for a bit of Christmas wrapping—get it? Wrapping versus rapping, get it? Oh, alright, forget it!

Apparently Brennan has figured out the Santa Claus thing—this is the first Christmas that he has questioned his mother as to why Santa is wearing sneakers instead of shiny black boots.

My daughter’s comment was on my posting of some of my boyhood activities—click here for an exciting tour of the Big Ditch, a story of dining out on frog legs, building a fire without two Boy Scouts to rub together and other fascinating renditions of my life as a youngster living in a house on the south side in Columbus, Mississippi.

This is my daughter’s comment on the Big Ditch blog:

Ok, I didn’t know about this. Who knew how to start a fire?  How did you cook the frogs?  This is very Grapes of Wrathish, Dad.  And to think we didn’t even go camping when we were growing up…look what we missed out on.  Great story.

This is my response to her questions:

We started a fire in those days by using something known as matches. They were small pieces of wood about the length of wooden toothpicks with a bulbous red and white ball at one end, a ball that would burst into flames when scratched on a rough surface, and that flame was applied to a pile of dry leaves and/or dry grass, and various bits of bark and dry sticks were added as the fire progressed.

The matches came in a colorful box similar to the boxes that banks use to mail a new supply of checks to their customers. I was frequently dispatched to the store to purchase a nickel box of matches—and can anyone guess the cost of a nickel box of matches?

Hey, you guessed it! A nickel box of matches cost just five cents and no tax, only one twentieth of a dollar, a nickel. I never counted the number of matches in a nickel box of matches, but I know that they numbered in the hundreds, and perhaps a thousand or more—that box held a lot of matches!

We did not cook the entire frog—we used only the legs, amputating and skinning them, then into the pan for frying in pure lard, an item always available in any kitchen in the land. And I know that none will believe me when I say that the frogs were still hopping around for hours following the surgery—looking back on it I would like to think that bullfrogs grew new legs, much as the salamander, or geco or whatever that little fellow is called, grows a new tail when a predator relives him of the old one—that isn’t likely, of course—it was probably nothing more than reflex.

Okay, I’ll admit it—that’s a joke, a bit grim and gross but still a joke—they had no back legs and could not possibly be hopping around. And if anyone finds the joke offensive and complains in the comment section, possibly someone connected with PETA, I will consider removing it—consider, mind you—the actual removal would depend on the number of comments, their sources and their content—that’s fair enough, don’t you think?

Click here to learn everything you ever wanted to know about matches.
Below is a brief definition of a match,  plagiarized from Wikipidea and provided here in order to stimulate your appetite for more information.

A match is a small stick of wood or strip of cardboard with a solidified mixture of flammable chemicals deposited on one end. When that end is struck on a rough surface, the friction generates enough heat to ignite the chemicals and produce a small flame. Some matches, called strike-anywhere matches, may be ignited by striking them on any rough surface. Other matches, called safety matches, will ignite only when they are struck on a special rough surface containing certain chemicals.

The matches were used—and still are used—by smokers to light their cigarettes in underdeveloped nations and in certain remote areas of the United States, primarily in mountainous and swampy areas in southern states. There were three smokers in my family—my mother and two older sisters, and a nickel box of matches was emptied in a short time. And just as an aside, a few years later when my mother—yes, your grandmother Hester—taught me to play poker we used those giant matches as poker chips, and as dollar chips when she taught me to play dice—to shoot craps, if you will. So much for the parental warning for kids never to play with matches, right?

Nowadays folks light their cigarettes with items known as lighters. One of those items is a slender cylindrical pistol-grip rod equipped with a trigger—one needs only pull the trigger and a blue flame of some unknown composition leaps out and is applied to whatever  combustible material that one wishes to light, whether gas logs in the fireplace, an outdoor gas grill or a non-filter-tipped Camel cigarette or a filter-tipped Kool cigarette, the smokes of choice for the smokers in my family.

Just a word of caution here: Should one choose to use the pistol-grip lighter to light a cigarette, the cigarette should be of considerable length and the flame applied carefully, otherwise the user’s mustache, eyebrows, lips, nose and other facial features may suffer horribly.

Cigar and cigarette smokers have their choice of an infinite variety of other devices also known as lighters, items normally carried by males in a pocket and by ladies in a purse. Extraction of the lighter and a flick of one’s thumb produces the wherewithal to cause the end of a cigarette or cigar to begin the burning process through which one is enabled to inhale smoke containing scadjillions of cancer-causing elements, most of which are left behind in the smoker’s lungs after exhaling.

Ain’t progress wonderful?!

That’s it—that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

A special note for my daughter: I apologize for the absence of camping trips while you were in the process of growing up, but after you achieved the status of grown-up—long after—well, not that long—you and I and your mother and your Aunt Winnie spend a week camping in Nevada and Utah, albeit in various hotels and motels, but it was a hoot, right?

Right?

Right!

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Ode to a cheesecake . . .

In the winter of 2009 during the heavy snowstorms in and around Washington, D.C., an incident occurred in Alexandria that generated several postings on Word Press. Pending their annual Chocolate Party my son-in-law, the one that’s married to my daughter that lives, loves and works in Virginia, buried a huge cheesecake in their backyard flower garden under two feet of snow, an interment necessitated by the lack of storage space in their refridgeraterrefrigereter—refrigeretar. Oh, damn it, in their icebox!

Click here to read my daughter’s explanation of the unprecedented backyard burial.

I composed a rather brilliant poem—well, somewhat brilliant—well, at least it rhymes—and used it to comment on the incident. That comment, unlike the cheesecake arisen from the grave, remains buried under an avalanche of postings by my daughter. I am resurrecting it, bringing it up from and out of the Stygian darkness of the nether world of comments and into the bright light of day for others to enjoy.

Because I took the liberty of borrowing a few words and phrases from several prominent writers and using them in my poem—horribly fractured, of course—I humbly offer my abject apologies to the preacher John Donne, to the poet Joyce Kilmer, to my favorite author Henry David Thoreau and to my daughter in Virginia, the author of An apology to the wood anemone.

I also apologize to visitors to my blog—I apologize in advance for wishing a pox on those that do not visit, and a double pox on those that visit and fail to comment on my postings. Finally, I apologize for making so many apologies—I cannot help myself—it’s something I cannot control. I apologize often in an effort to dodge or divert or at least minimize criticism—it’s in my nature—mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa maxima.

Please note that I freely admit that I apologize far too often, but I am thankful to report that it’s one of only two faults. In addition to the fault of copiously apologizing, I am also modest to a fault. Sans apologies and modesty, I would be perfect!

Ode to a cheesecake

Breathes there one with soul so dead
That never to one’s self hath said
Methinks that I shall never see
A word so lovely as anemone.

Offed from my tongue it rolls
Sadly as the bell that tolls
Not for thee and not for me
Nor for the lovely anemone.

But for the cheesecake in its bower
Not ‘neath trees nor plants nor showers
Nay, ‘neath snowstorms full of power
Lying beneath the snow for hours

In wait for the chocolate party
To be eaten by goers hearty.

But wait, what’s that I see
Beside the cheesecake ‘neath the snow
The anemone arises ready to go
With the cheesecake to the table

Petals eight to be divided
‘Mongst the diners so excited
A ‘nemone to see.

They smell the petals
They hear the bell
They’ll come to know
As time will tell

If snow and cheesecake
Sounds their knell
Or leaves them alive
And well.

— H.M. Dyer (1932-     )


I neglected to give credit to Sir Walter Scott for his poem The lay of the last minstrel in my Ode to a cheesecake—credit is now given. I also neglected to say that I loved your poem An apology to the wood anemone—well done! Your cheesecake arising from the snow is reminiscent of Thoreau’s Walden in which he tells of a golden bug that in the spring gnawed its way out of a table after being entombed in the wood for many years.


 
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Posted by on May 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Admiration, apparition, celebration—Mother’s Day, 2010

Late in the evening on Friday before Mother’s Day, 2010, while standing in our backyard squeezing out a mop after cleaning up an unknown kitchen floor stain, I heard the patio door open behind me and a ghostly voice saying somberly, I brought you word. I guarantee that anyone in a similar situation would wonder as I did, if only for a brief instant, who the speaker was, from whence the speaker came, and what specifically is the word that the speaker brought—that sentence definitely got my attention!

I should state at this point that Word is a computer software program. The source of the voice was an unrecognizable backlighted figure, but I soon deduced that, in spite of the odds against it, the voice was that of my daughter, the one that lives, loves and works in Virginia. I also knew that I talked to her around noon on Friday and she was then at home in Virginia, 1,600 miles distant from San Antonio and busily working at her graphic designing profession on a project that was, in her words, due today and must be submitted today. I will respect the sensibilities of any reader that might be offended by not repeating my first response to her statement that, I brought you word.

Yep, she made a surprise visit for Mother’s Day through a highly successful and purely diabolical scheme hatched weeks earlier, a well-planned and executed plot that featured Fred, a family friend, and Debbie, one of her two sisters that lives nearby in San Antonio. She brightened up our lives for three days before returning to Virginia.

My original posting follows—click here to read the original:

This posting was prompted (inspired) by a comment my daughter made on her blog at Cindydyer.wordpress.com in her posting of “Apparently you can get here from there.”

Before I continue I must post this disclaimer—I realize that “my daughter and me” is incorrect English usage. It should be “my daughter and I,” but me rhymes with Society, and I does not rhyme—doesn’t even come close. I believe this is referred to as “poetic license.” Therefore if there is a fault to be found, it must be charged to the song writer.

On her blog my daughter stated unequivocally that her father is “Undeniably, hands-down, no contest—the best father this girl could have.”

I labored long and strenuously on how best to return the sentiments expressed by my daughter. I despaired of ever finding a suitable response, so I have asked Ethel Merman to speak for me. She said it best in the song below, found on the Netflix web site and reproduced in its entirety (thanks, Netflix).

Some necessary word changes:

The term daughter should replace baby and certain other modifications should be made, depending on the locale and the audience, to emphasize that ours is in every respect a natural father/daughter relationship. I briefly considered singing and recording the song and dedicating it to her, but I was afraid the shower would drown out the words, or at least muffle and distort them.

From Netflix:

MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY
From the Broadway show “Happy Hunting” (1956)
(Matt Dubey / Harold Karr)

Ethel Merman & Virginia Gibson (Broadway Production) – 1956
Jaye P. Morgan & Eddy Arnold – 1956
Teresa Brewer – 1956
Rita Hayworth & Carol Burnett – 1971

Also recorded by: Louis Prima & Keely Smith;
Ann-Margret & Al Hirt; Everette Harp; Bud Shank.

We belong to a Mutual Admiration Society
My baby and me
We belong to a Mutual Admiration Society

I think he’s handsome and he’s smart
I think that she’s a work of art
I say that he’s the greatest man
And likewise I’m her biggest fan
I say her kisses are like wine
His kiss is just is good as mine
And that’s the way we pass the time of day
My baby and me
We belong to a Mutual Admiration Society

I say now you’re the sweetest one
I say, no you’re the sweetest one
She claims that I’m a natural wit
He says it’s just the opposite
The only fighting that we do is
Just who loves who more than who
And we go on like that from night til dawn
My baby and me
Oh, we belong to a Mutual Admiration Society

Now I do not exaggerate
I think she’s nothing short of great
I say that kind of flattery
Will get you any place with me
The way we carry on it tends
To just embarrass all our friends
And that is how we’ll still be years from now
My baby and me
We belong to a Mutual Admiration Society
My baby and me
We belong to a Mutual Admiration Society
My baby and me

A closing message to my daughter: My subscription to the Mutual Admiration Society and its publications will never expire—I have it paid-up for life, with a guarantee that there will never be any late or missing editions. To qualify for that guarantee I signed a document (with my real name) saying that I would never apply for a refund.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Re: October wedding, 2009 . . .

In October of 2009 there was a happening in Seguin, Texas involving the wedding of my middle daughter, the one that lives, loves and works in Alexandria, Virginia. She planned the event from start to finish, from A to Z—if there was anything connected to the event that she did not create or set up, I am not aware of it. It was a smashing success, a three-day event that took place on Lake Placid just south of the city of Seguin, an event that followed some 20 years of unwedded bliss—namely cohabitation—already enjoyed by the couple living, loving and working together, and they recently celebrated the first six months of their wedded bliss—as opposed to the twenty years of so of their unwedded bliss.

Prominent among the relatives and friends that attended the wedding was our niece Deanna, a comely young lady that came with her father Charles, my wife’s younger brother. They live in the small town of Pridgen in south Georgia—the state, not the European nation. Pridgen has a metropolitan population that fluctuates around twenty or so souls, all church-going hard-working folks that spend a lot of time praying for rain.

On their return home our niece sent us a very nice letter, an e-mail thanking us for everything. The purpose of this posting is to share her e-mail and \my response with all the friends, guests and relatives that found their way to the wedding, and also to share it with any visitors to my blog.

Her e-mail and my response follow. Her e-mail is in bold text and the italicized text is my response.

Hey, y’all,

Here’s  our “Hey, y’all” right back at you.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving from a rainy South Georgia. Hoping for sunshine tomorrow.

And everyone here wishes the same Happy Thanksgiving to you and all of yours.

Daddy’s shirt made it safely home.

And Deb’s hoodie—hoody?—also made it back safely—she says thanks for sending it—our nights are dropping down to the forties and even the high thirties now, so she’ll probably be using it.

I can hardly believe a month has passed since we were in Texas.

Neither can we.

I really enjoyed my time there.

And we really enjoyed your being here—let’s do it again soon—not the marriage, just the visit.

Hope to visit again next year.

Next year, next month, next week or tomorrow, you’ll always be welcome—we’ll even leave the light on for you.

Thanks for making us truly feel at home.

You’re welcome—we felt the same way while you and your dad were here, and we felt the same way when we were with you and your dad at that impromptu reunion we had in metropolitan Pridgen.

The wedding was great and so glad I could be a part of it.

We agree—it was great, and we were glad you were here for it.

But for me it is these big moments in life that make the little moments even more special, like sitting around the table in your kitchen. Just talking about anything or really nothing at all.

And you thought I wasn’t listening while I was doing my kitchen chores—I heard everything—everything! Well, almost everything, except when I was watching TV and napping.

Uncle Mike, when I was little I respected you out of fear, but as an adult I respect you out of love.

And that’s probably the nicest and sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me—it stands at the very top of the list of other nice and sweet things that have been said to me—an extremely short list—in fact it stands alone. I printed out your e-mail for Alta to read and she came up with the phrase “nicest and sweetest,” and she agrees with me on the length of that list. Many times over my working years I heard this from those I had the misfortune to supervise: “That Dyer has a really sweet wife, but he’s a real p – – – k !

Oh, well —it may be lonely at the top, but the food’s better!

Tell Aunt Alta and everyone else Happy Thanksgiving and I love them.

I told Alta and I’ll tell everyone else as they gather today—I can assure you that everybody—they and I and all of us, love you right back. We will be thinking of you folks and wishing you the very best life has to offer as we tear into that 22-pound turkey now roosting in the oven—no, not roosting—I meant roasting.

And speaking of our neighbors—they are treating our family to three days at a posh resort just a few miles from home during spring break next year, just as they did this year—we had a great time. If you can time your next visit to that, you can join us—there’s always room for one more. You’ll need to bring your bikini, sunscreen and an appetite.

Signed:

Alta and Mike, Debbie and Bill and their devil cat, Lauren and Landen, Kelley and Brantley, Macie and Brennan and their new puppy, Cindy and Michael and both their cats, and Kathy and Kevin, our next door neighbors to the west of us, and their cat Ralph.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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How I met Henry David Thoreau . . .

At some point during the decade of the 1970s I read an article in the San Antonio Light, one of San Antonio’s daily newspapers, a report of an interview conducted by a Light reporter with a nationally-known San Antonio attorney that specialized in criminal cases. His work took him across the nation and to many foreign destinations, and he talked about the extensive travel his duties required.

He told the reporter and readers of the San Antonio Light that he always carried a copy of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden on his travels. Whether on a plane or train or bus, whether in a hotel amid the hustle and bustle of big cities or in a motel room in a rural area, Thoreau’s journal provided the peace and quiet he needed for rest and relaxation. He said that over the years, his original copy became so worn that it needed to be replaced.

Fascinated by the effect of the writing as voiced by the attorney, I hastened to the library in search of Thoreau—I found him, and in the years since I have held Thoreau and his writings  close at hand—they give me the same peace and quiet enjoyed by the criminal lawyer. The well-thumbed copy I now use, one that I heartily recommend, is entitled Henry David Thoreau—Walden and “Civil Disobedience,” a Signet Classic paperback printed in 1980 by The New American Library, Inc., New York, NY. I treasure the copy for several reasons, not the least of which is the former owner’s signature inside the front cover, that of my youngest daughter, penned while studying Thoreau during her first year of college.

The runner-up to “Why I value my copy of Walden” is the afterword written by Perry Miller (1905—1963), an American intellectual historian and Harvard University professor. Miller’s brilliant analysis of Walden and “Civil Disobedience” should be read before reading the book—such pre-reading will give the reader a head start on understanding Thoreau’s life and his writings.

I believe that many, perhaps most, of those that read this posting will rush out to look for the book. There’s no need to rush, and no need to leave home—at the time of this posting, twenty-three copies of the book may be found online at http://www.abebooks.com/, the same site that the folks at http://www.halfpricebooks.com/ use to determine their selling price for books. At Abebooks, prices for Walden begin at one dollar and top out at twenty dollars. Try the site—you’ll like it! (In the interests of full disclosure, I must say, regretfully, that I have no stock in either company).

If any readers of this posting have not been formally introduced to Henry David Thoreau, I will proudly make the introduction by referring such persons to the following biographical study—plato.stanford.edu/entries/thoreau/. I trust that they will find a new friend in Hank—yep, I take the liberty of calling him Hank based on our long friendship.

Enjoy!

 

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Why they call it Garcia’s Cave . . .

In the spring of 1979, a father-and-daughter team (a college student of 18 tender years and a military-retiree father of 47 not-so-tender years) embarked on a memorable sojourn, an excursion into the wilds of Mexico. The start of our trip was discussed in detail in this posting here.

At the conclusion of that posting I promised to return and give more details of the excursion, and here I am, making good on my promise. Check out the other posting—in my completely unbiased opinion, it’s well worth the read.

And here I must digress in order to discuss the word excursion:

The ex in that word comes from the Latin and means out of. I therefore rationalized that since our trip was in to Mexico rather than out of Mexico, it was an incursion rather that an outcursion, but alas—although that seems rational, we are stuck with excursion simply because the words cursion and incursion do not exist in our English lexicon.

Bummer!

My daughter recently sent this message suggesting some details to include in the promised posting:

Hey, don’t forget to talk about the actual ride up, going into the cave, lights being turned off while we were climbing treacherous ladders, you talking in Spanish to the “tour guide” (VERY loosely defined; he was probably the short order cook in the cafe, too) and asking him why they named it Garcia’s Cave, then you trying to cajole me into walking back down to our teeny tiny Volkswagen Rabbit in the desert—seemingly miles away—a bright orange (um, sorry, Panama Brown) speck in the dirt below—then your silence on the tram ride back down—then you finally telling me how the cave got its name.

Following our guided tour of Garcia’s Cave, my daughter took an interminable length of time to photograph the world that was visible from our location near the mountain peak. While I waited (impatiently) I struck up a conversation with the mule operator, a likable fellow that spoke excellent Spanish.

Although my ability and agility with Spanish was, and still is, far south of excellent, we managed to have a useful discourse by using combinations of our two languages. Mule was the term used in reference to the engine (not the operator) that huffed and puffed and wheezed and snorted and brayed while moving the tram cars up and down the mountain.

Our English term mule is translated as mula in Spanish, pronounced moola with the accent on moo. I once spent an eternity in a small theater in Reynosa, Mexico watching the movie Dos mulas para la hermana Sara, starring Shirley MacLaine and Clint Eastwood—the English title of the movie was Two Mules for Sister Sara.

Yes, I had a lot of time on my hands!

In response to my question concerning the origin of the cave’s name, the mule operator told me that it derived from the death of the cave’s discoverer, a death that occurred when a tram cable broke and Senor Garcia was killed at the conclusion of the car’s accelerated trip to the bottom.

Bummer!

I found a site online that tells us that the appellation Garcia’s Cave is derived from the name of a nearby town called Villa de Garcia—Garcia’s town. I suppose the name is similar to the argument of whether the chicken or the egg came first—in this case, Garcia’s death or the town of Garcia. I submit that the point is moot, especially in view of the fact that our solar system, the one that includes our planet, is hurtling through space at warp speed toward some unknown and unknowable finish—so who cares which came first?

I rest my case.

Okay, where was I? Oh, now I remember—I was visiting with the mule operator while my daughter was taking some outstanding photos of our surroundings. When she had finished, I suggested that it would be ever so exciting to walk down the mountainside, along with the cows and goats that roamed the mountain at our altitude—I reasoned that if they could do it, we could do it.

My daughter was adamant—she refused to take the walk, and I eventually was reduced to begging rather than suggesting (I knew better than to attempt ordering!). We both rode down—I simply held my breath and kept my eyes squinched shut, silently repeating to myself (an always avid listener), Never again, never again—never, never, never!, until the car came to a bumpy stop at the bottom.

There are several web sites that go onto considerable detail concerning Garcia’s Cave, and I suggest that everyone visit the cave through that venue—you’ll find the excursion interesting and educational. Should you choose to make the incursion to the mountain, you’ll find that the railway has been replaced by a modern system of airborne cable cars, a system undoubtedly safer, but not nearly as exciting (and scary) as the old system.

I will therefore conclude this rambling recitation by telling the viewer that, at one point in our guided tour, while deep in the bowels of the cave our guide, without warning, shut off all the lighting, leaving us stranded in an infernal, hellish state of stygian darkness—frozen, afraid to move in fear of sinking farther into said bowels. I wanted to express my feelings in Spanish, but I knew very few Spanish cuss words. I did, however, mutter a few English cuss words, heard only by my daughter—I hope.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

To learn more about Grutas de Garcia, click here.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2010 in Family, foreign travel, Humor, Writing

 

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Re: Congress, illegal immigration & missing fingers . . .

This posting consists of an e-mail (and my response) that I received from a friend of my daughter, one that I’ve never met, but I feel that I know the writer well through the e-mail.

This is the friend’s e-mail:

“I know you have enjoyed my rants in the past. Your daughter always asks if I sent something to you that I had sent her. This time I can say, “Yes.”

This runs long. You may need coffee or an intermission so you can go get popcorn and some jujubees. If you make it all the way through you get a prize at the end—high blood pressure.

My rant is as follows:

Mexican illegal alien invaders represent the US State Department’s elephant in the room. They all know he’s here but nobody wants to talk about what it means.

As home to the unwanted illegal alien invader, the United States of America is Mexico’s only real economic and political relief-valve. By allowing the 20 to 30 million illegal alien invaders into the United States, Mexico gains in a multitude of ways. As the illegal alien invader progresses through life in Estados Unidos, the benefits multiply.

Firstly, by breaching our borders and crossing from citizen of Mexico to criminal of the United States, each illegal alien invader voluntarily removes himself or herself from the unemployed Mexican work force.  The levels of unemployment, illiteracy (they are unable to read and write English, nor can they read and write Spanish) and home-grown crime in Mexico are at crisis proportions.

The lack of a middle class and the absence of protections for private property (the Mexican government will rob everyone of their property if it is shown to have value), and the collection of real economic power in the hands of the political elite have assured a national poverty rate that must be an embarrassment to anyone who defends the criminal government in Mexico City.

Every time a Mexican crosses the border into the United States, Mexico City breathes a sigh of relief.  This represents one more mouth they do not have to feed, one more voice that will not shout its disapproval, and one more set of hands that will not fight against the police/drug-lord/federal corruption triumvirate of organized crime in Mexico. Everyone in Mexico is relieved as each illegal alien invader leaves Mexico.

Secondly, the majority of illegal alien invaders will find work in the United States and they will start the transfer of wealth from the United States to their meager homes in the Mexican interior. Like sticking a tube in our national economic artery, this economic “bleeding” parasitically consumes US Dollars that should be used internally and sends them into Mexico. These transfers are Mexico’s second largest economic benefit, directly behind PeMex, the nationalized (can you say, “Maxine Waters”) Mexican petroleum company.  Those transfers are estimated to be worth $20 billion annually.

It was, perhaps, Milton Friedman who showed how a dollar, earned in a community, would be cycled through that same community seven times, on average. Earning the dollar at the plant, a worker would spend it at the butcher, who would spend it at the grocer, who would spend it at the gas pump.  And on it goes until that dollar would be spent outside of the community and the cycle would continue. Whether it was Dr. Friedman or another economist, the principle is easy to understand.

It is just as easy to understand that a wire transfer of an estimated $20 billion would have an equivalent impact of the loss of over $140 billion to the communities where illegal alien invaders sucked the economic life-blood from one nation and transported it to another. In this way, the appearance of cheap illegal alien invader wages must be multiplied to account for the total loss of local currency. It is, therefore, possible that a $20/hour wage translates to a cost of $140/hour.

Thirdly, the unaccounted costs of welfare, give aways,  free services (especially for health care), and education have been estimated by border states for years.  Now, states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania are trying to accrue some tab on these costs as their expenses grow ever higher at the state capitol and the taxpayer burden is becoming painful.

These are costs duly attributable to the Mexico City government, not any local or state or federal government in the United States. Yet, each dollar expended on the welfare and benefit of an illegal alien invader is a dollar (10.325 pesos) that is not a necessary expenditure in Mexico City. Those 10.325 pesos go directly into the pockets of the ruling elite or into the graft and corruption machine that fuels the drug cartels that operate with impunity inside Mexico.

Fourthly, the self-protective imprisonment of the felonious criminal Mexican who walked across the United States border with his petty criminal amigo is like the icing on the Mexico City cake. It is estimated that almost 30 percent of those incarcerated in federal and many state prisons are illegal alien invaders who have come here to commit their crimes.

The Mexican government could not be given a better present. Imagine having the most disruptive and violent criminals removed from the Mexican streets, jailed and fed, and even protected somewhere else, and the government of Mexico doesn’t have to pay a dime. The estimated federal and local cost of incarceration for a year is about $1 billion. There is no way to estimate the loss of property through crime, and the loss of life because of murderous or drunken and irresponsible actions by these same illegal alien invaders for whom we pay an annual $1 billion to incarcerate, just to keep them away from our streets (because if we deport them, they’ll just come back).

With a porous border, what can be done? Almost nothing. Sheriffs across the United States and some local police forces have decided to aggressively pursue illegal alien invaders in their jurisdictions and deport them or get them out of town. This is the illegal alien invader shell game. The only real cure is a complete, forceful and physically closed border with Mexico.

What will we, the United States, promote by closing the border and aggressively campaigning to keep new invaders out?

Mexico is not led by a historically stable government. The political and economic infrastructure is brittle, and incapable of absorbing the additional insult now borne by the United States in our ineffectual remedies to the constant stream of illegal alien invasion.  Stability then, for the Mexican government, depends on the constant leak of their national woes northward. Plugging that leak means all Mexico’s problems remain inside Mexico.

We will be sealing the pressure lid on the simmering economic and political bean pot that is Mexico. The combination of an overnight increase in unemployment, increase in social services load (while Mexico City provides none, the community must), the loss of wire transfers, and the criminal costs will bring the nation to an explosive internal pressure. We would ensure, if not outright condemn, the government in Mexico City to an ugly and bloody civil war.

Unlike our own civil war where the Union had not succeeded in disarming the southern states prior to acts of aggression, the only segments of the Mexican population armed sufficiently to effect an civil war are the military (who would love more power) and the drug cartels (who are tired of sharing profits and benefits of the drug trade with their sycophantic governmental pet Chihuahuas).

Winners of a Mexican Civil War would either be the cruel and dangerous military or the cruel, dangerous and connected drug kingpins.

The United States’ only alternative would be to line these already-closed southern borders with thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of troops, ready to protect the southern states when the inevitable civil war erupts. Indeed, the best and most secure option is to wait for the first sign of conflict and invade Mexico with all our military forces, not stopping until we ride into Mexico City.

And unlike the previous failures after the Mexican-American wars, the United States Congress and its military will only find peace and a lasting solution to the problems created by Mexican governmental and military corruption if the United States accepts unconditional surrender and applies the same policies toward Mexico that we did after defeating Japan and Germany in the Second World War.

The war in Iraq was triggered by national security, but extended by an altruistic intention to deliver a democratic future to a people who have never known it. What makes Iraq such a precious ally and commodity that we would shed our blood in their favor when we would not do the same for ourselves and for our Mexican neighbor?

The third option, and one that strikes at the very heart of socialism in our own United States, is to create working opportunities for Mexicans while closing the spigot of social and welfare services to these immigrant workers. This is, in effect, the Bracero program for the 21st century.

Amnesty is a travesty. No immigrant worker program can offer or entice workers with amnesty. Rather, the workers want work and the United States has an appetite for laborers. Giving companies liberty to recruit and transport workers, while granting ICE and the State Department extraordinary latitude in rejecting and policing these laborers, could have a positive effect on both sides of the border.

The challenges of this approach includes the following:

There can be no public services or resources benefit to any temporary Mexican worker.

ICE, local authorities, and the sponsoring company must be able to return the Mexican worker without any process, except those that may involve criminal justice charges.

Direct family members could be allowed to join the worker, but multiple issues of education and health must be addressed before this is allowed.

Wire transfers of earnings must be limited, or outright denied as part of this program. The United States is not an economic donor for tyrannies.

The sponsor company must bear all financial and other burdens for taxes, health care, education, transportation, housing and Immigration process.

The community must have some input regarding the good stewardship of the companies participating in this program: are they working for the benefit of the community; are they fair and just toward both workers and the community; are they complying with all appropriate immigration requirements; etc?

Automatically granting citizenship to persons born within the borders of the United States, as specified in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, must be addressed.  Both those “anchor babies” already born to illegal alien invaders inside the United States and any future children born to Mexican workers participating in any work program must be denied United States citizenship.  This will require a Constitutional Convention and further defining this one section of the 14th amendment to affect those children born to citizens of countries other than the United States.

The first two immigration solutions available to the United States with regard to Mexico are both frightening. The first is invasion and slow poisoning by an illiterate, violent, consuming foreign force.  The second is to precipitate and then capitalize on a bloody civil war in Mexico.

The first choice relegates the United States to a state of subjugation under the invader. The second, while more immediately costly and painful, retains our national and individual sovereignty and creates a democratic ally to the south.

The third solution requires a federal and state government dedicated primarily to the security and sovereignty of the United States and its citizens. This has not been evidenced in the recent past. All indicators point to federal and state governments that seek political expediency, appeasement of Mexican tyrants, expansion of amnesty and the destruction of the southern border. For this reason, the third solution should only be attempted if there is a fundamental shift toward border security in the measurable goals of our government.

One clear and measurable goal would be to change the 14th Amendment. This would demonstrate the right attitude by our federal representatives.  Otherwise, any program will be nothing more than some flavor of capitulation to Mexico or treason to the Constitution and to the citizens of the United States.

To sum up: our choices with regard to Mexico are:

Slow Poison

War

Foxes in the hen  house.

It’s a tough choice. Can I have “none of the above?”

This is my response:

Hi—thanks for the e-mail. I don’t consider it a rant. It’s a well-researched paper, well thought out and forcefully presented. Keep ’em coming!

The border cannot be closed. The military could link hands from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California and the line would not slow the illegal entries. They will go under, over, through or around any barrier constructed, living or otherwise, by land, sea and air, and through tunnels.

Anyone who has lived or worked on the border for any significant length of time knows the border cannot be closed. I worked the Texas-Mexico border for 12 years as a Customs inspector trainee, journeyman and supervisor, and in a three-year stint at Customs Headquarters I covered every port on the Mexican border (also most airports, seaports and Canadian land border ports).

I know the border cannot be closed.

Bill O’Reilly at Fox News believes the border can be closed. He’s wrong—the border cannot be closed (he hasn’t asked me about this, but I would be glad to brief him on it).

The onus must be on the employers—if the illegals can’t work, they won’t come—period.

I began my 26-year career with the United States  Customs Service at the international border crossing in Progreso, a small town in the Rio Grande Valley a few miles south of Weslaco, Texas. The port director at Progreso had, in my opinion, a sure-fire way to dry up the flood of illegal immigrants (we called them wet-backs—this was before the current atmosphere of political correctness).

He proposed that one finger be removed from the illegal the first time he (or she) is intercepted, then return him (or her) to Mexico, and remove another finger if that person was again intercepted. If adopted, his suggestion would result in numerous nine-fingered Mexicans, significantly fewer eight-fingered, and virtually none with only seven fingers.

My only suggestion to his plan was to remove the middle finger of one hand for the first offense and the middle finger of the other hand for the second offense. My rationale for that sequence was, of course, intended to prevent the offender from flipping the bird at any US federal officer in any future encounter.

Thanks again for the e-mail—I thoroughly enjoyed it.

And this is the final response by my daughter’s friend:

I think your immigration penalty may be a tad cruel.

Could we, however, use it for membership in Congress?

And finally, these are my final thoughts (finally) on the title subject:

I assume the writer means to remove one finger on the initial election to Congress, whether to the Senate or to the House of Representatives, and the second on the first re-election, etc. And I also assume the same sequence (middle fingers first) would apply to the members of Congress.

I agree—if the OFREE concept (One Finger Removal Each Election) became law, it’s doubtful that we would have any seven-fingered senators or representatives—many with nine fingers, of course, and eventually all with at least one missing finger, but far fewer with only eight fingers and probably none with only seven fingers. It is also doubtful that the law could be made retroactive, principally because some of the current members, particularly in the House of Representatives, would be minus all fingers as well as both thumbs. And there is actually the possibility, albeit it very remote, that eventually the Senate and House would be extinct—one can only dream.

A special footnote for anyone who peruses (reads) this posting and believes it, or is repulsed by it, or considers it cruel and un-American:

Hey, lighten up!

It is satire and nothing more—no investigation by the AFRC (Anti-Finger-Removal Czar) is needed, nor do we need a BOLO for southern-border crossers with fingers missing from either hand, specifically middle fingers.

Our newspapers, novels, movies and television presentations are saturated with crime reports, either true or fictional, so everyone should know the meaning of BOLO. However, this explanation is provided for the edification (enlightenment) of the three persons (estimated) in our population of 330 million (estimated) that do not know:

BOLO is an acronym for Be On Look Out.

PeeEss:

Don’t you just abhor (hate) it when someone uses a word, whether verbal (spoken) or written, then immediately defines (explains) it in the belief that the reader isn’t erudite (having great knowledge) and won’t know the word’s meaning?

I completely understand, and I feel your pain.

I also hate it when someone does that, whether speaking or writing.

 

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Where did you get those big blue eyes . . .

One of my daughters, the one who lives, loves and works in Northern Virginia took some very professional and very nice photos of a Redskin player and his family. In her posting she referred to the player’s beautiful blue eyes—that description awakened a memory for me, and I responded to her comment with this e-mail:

“Your recent post to your blog on the blue-eyed Redskin player prompted the following story. It’s undoubtedly apocryphal, but it may be considered humorous by some.

Hey, I find it hilarious.

A long time ago, long before the present era of political correctness, a farmer working in his fields needed a respite from his labors. He lay down beside a small pond and fell asleep. While he was sleeping a large blacksnake crawled up inside a leg of his overalls (yes, the man was wearing overalls—he was a farmer, you know) and stuck his head out above the bib, facing the farmer.

blacksnake

For those unfamiliar with farm garb, overalls are one-piece garments, and the bib is on the front and at the top of the overalls, stretching across the chest at approximately arm-pit level. The bib is suspended at each corner (at each side of the wearer’s chest) by galluses—straps comparable to suspenders and performing the same function as suspenders—arising from the back of the garment and crossing over the shoulders and down to be fastened to the bib. The immediate and lasting effect of their action is to “suspend” the entire garment and prevent it from plummeting to the farmer’s ankles, an event that will occur if one fails to affix the galluses properly.

This has been known to happen—I mean the overalls falling down—in fact, it has happened to me. Again I refer to the overalls falling down—I haven’t worn overalls since I was a teenager, and certainly not since I have attained some semblance of adulthood. However, I have never fallen asleep while lying beside a small pond, whether for resting or for any other purpose. In fact, I have no recollection of ever having lain beside a small pond. I suppose the future could hold such a possibility but I can’t even imagine the circumstances, so I seriously doubt it.

I digress—here is the rest of the story:

The snake started hissing (they do that, you know). The farmer awoke, saw the snake and waxed poetic and exclaimed (I hope you’re ready for this), “You are the right color and you are the right size, but where did you get those big blue eyes?”

EPILOGUE:

Given the present political atmosphere in our country, in telling this story I prudently refrained from using any specific ethnicity, gender, religious or racial regional or dialectical expressions. A less prudent person than I would possibly substitute the following parts with these special terms:

Farmer could be changed to field hand, or indentured worker, maybe, or perhaps sharecropper—no other alternatives come to mind—well, hillbilly perhaps, but that term has regional derogatory connotations.

You are (used twice in the farmer’s question) could be changed to you is—this would indicate a farmer in the deep south.

Get those could be changed to git dem, also indicating the south.

In telling this story, there are many different terms available for use by other writers and story tellers, and some might choose words far more descriptive and more definitive than mine, possibly even more than the above suggested substitutes. They would perhaps do that in order to provide additional emphasis and promote understanding for the reader and listener—perhaps. However, some of the different terms available might be considered politically incorrect, a situation that must be avoided whenever possible.

WARNING—THIS POSTING WILL SELF-DESTRUCT FIFTEEN SECONDS AFTER YOU READ IT!

If for any reason it fails to destruct, or if you manage to overcome the 15-second restriction and forward it to others before it destructs, it will contaminate their hard drives with religious, sexual, racial, ethnic and gender epithets and expressions.  The contamination will be permanent—they’ll get no help from Norton—and the contamination will accompany any future computer output regardless of format, intent or content, and make the user’s life a living nightmare (fooled you, didn’t I? You thought I was going to say “a living hell”).

I know, I know—I have far too much time on my hands.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2009 in Humor

 

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A Mutual Admiration Society (my daughter and me)

This posting was prompted (inspired) by a comment my daughter made on her blog at Cindydyer.wordpress.com in her posting of “Apparently you can get here from there.”

Before I continue I must post this disclaimer—I realize that “my daughter and me” is incorrect English usage. It should be “my daughter and I,” but me rhymes with Society, and I does not rhyme—doesn’t even come close. I believe this is referred to as “poetic license.” Therefore if there is a fault to be found, it must be charged to the song writer.

On her blog my daughter stated unequivocally that her father is “Undeniably, hands-down, no contest—the best father this girl could have.”

I labored long and strenuously on how best to return the sentiments expressed by my daughter. I despaired of ever finding a suitable response, so I have asked Ethel Merman to speak for me. She said it best in the song below, found on the Netflix web site and reproduced in its entirety (thanks, Netflix).

Some necessary word changes:
The term daughter should replace baby and certain other modifications should be made, depending on the locale and the audience, to emphasize that ours is in every respect a natural
father/daughter relationship.

I briefly considered singing and recording the song and dedicating it to her, but I was afraid the shower would drown out the words, or at least muffle and distort them.

From Netflix:

MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY
From the Broadway show “Happy Hunting” (1956)
(Matt Dubey / Harold Karr)

Ethel Merman & Virginia Gibson (Broadway Production) – 1956
Jaye P. Morgan & Eddy Arnold – 1956
Teresa Brewer – 1956
Rita Hayworth & Carol Burnett – 1971

Also recorded by: Louis Prima & Keely Smith;
Ann-Margret & Al Hirt; Everette Harp; Bud Shank.

We belong to a Mutual Admiration Society
My baby and me
We belong to a Mutual Admiration Society

I think he’s handsome and he’s smart
I think that she’s a work of art
I say that he’s the greatest man
And likewise I’m her biggest fan
I say her kisses are like wine
His kiss is just is good as mine
And that’s the way we pass the time of day
My baby and me
We belong to a Mutual Admiration Society

I say now you’re the sweetest one
I say, no you’re the sweetest one
She claims that I’m a natural wit
He says it’s just the opposite
The only fighting that we do is
Just who loves who more than who
And we go on like that from night til dawn
My baby and me
Oh, we belong to a Mutual Admiration Society

Now I do not exaggerate
I think she’s nothing short of great
I say that kind of flattery
Will get you any place with me
The way we carry on it tends
To just embarrass all our friends
And that is how we’ll still be years from now
My baby and me
We belong to a Mutual Admiration Society
My baby and me
We belong to a Mutual Admiration Society
My baby and me

A closing message to my daughter:

My subscription to the Mutual Admiration Society and its publications will never expire—I have it paid-up for life, with a guarantee that there will never be any late or missing editions. To qualify for that guarantee I was required to sign a document (with my real name) that I would never apply for a refund.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2009 in Family, Humor

 

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