Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dixie left us yesterday. Our house is not the same.

Dixie left us yesterday. Our house is not the same. For seven years we were blessed with the company of one of the worlds most loving creatures, and now we are left with memories, photos and a hole in our lives where she used to live.

She left us four puppies, four wonderful new lives that we will love, cherish and nurture as we did here other pups. My wife is bottle-feeding them, and they are doing well. Dixie's friend Natalie has decided to adopt the four, and nurtures them as if they were her own litter. Between my wife's efforts, and Natalies motherly instincts we have every reason to believe the four will grow to be as healthy and loving as their mother.

The photo is of Dixie, as she sat in our doorway soaking up the warm sun, and watching my wife as she worked at her desk. My wife is suffering the loss of her close friend even more than I.

Have you ever lost a friend, and wished you had the chance to say goodbye? I was at work when I got the sad news, I so wish I had been there, just to hold Dixie, and tell her I loved her...and goodbye.

"Goodbye Dixie...I'll be looking for you...".....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mumbai on Twitter

The ongoing crisis in India has twitter going as fast as I've seen it in the few weeks I've been on Twitter.

Friday, November 21, 2008

On the Job Accident

An accident has happened at the factory where I work.

It's Saturday morning, and as usual I'm up a few hours early to read the many news-papers that I subscribe to in my Google Reader. Most news is bad news, and most news is from distant and unfamiliar places about events that affect us indirectly. Not so this morning.

I'm reading this news-feed from the local newspaper about how a young man was severely injured. I had heard nothing of this when I left yesterday at 3pm, so I'm assuming it happened on either the second, or third shift. Being Saturday, most of my friends won't have heard this news when they arrive for work because the local Television news at this early hour is mostly farm and weather related.

This is not the first accident at hour plant, in fact there have been several severe accidents in the last few months. There have been explosions, and other events that should have drawn the attention of the media and Government. I read very little of these events in the news media. The equipment and the environment we work in is dangerous, and heavily regulated by State and Federal Agencies ( OSHA, etc ), and we have seen several inspections lately by these agencies.

On a normal Saturday schedule, we don't usually see much of Management at the Pasta Plant. I expect to see a lot of suits and ties today. This will be interesting to watch, as my shift supervisor is out for vacation and his assistant has been in charge for the last week.

I am debating whether to tell my wife about this news before I go to work. I don't want her to worry, but I don't want her to hear about from the local gossip mill while I'm gone either. For many years I drove a taxi, and she worried all that time. When I took this job, she seemed more secure. I hope this doesn't change things.

It changes things, a lot of things for a lot of people around here...

Here's what I read a few minutes ago. I hesitate to include the full article that I quote below, as it does include the name of my employer. If you click on the link, you will be directed to the full article as it appears in our local paper.
"...employee said he was suffering physical and emotional pain Friday after losing his right arm in a work accident at one of the company's Steeleville plants.

Speaking by telephone from Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Jeremy Stanley, 29, said he was surrounded by family members and friends in his hospital room. According to preliminary medical reports from Sparta Community Hospital, Stanley's arm was caught in a mixing bowl and got amputated at the elbow. He also suffered numerous cuts on his upper right arm..."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Washington Times - Whistleblower asked to reveal illegal FBI acts

This could get interesting! Now that the election is over, and the Bail-out is in full swing and yesterday's news, bloggers and pundits are in search of scandle. This jus might be the main topic for the next few months in the blog-o-sphere.
The FBI has engaged in unlawful acts while carrying out a Bush administration intelligence-gathering program that allows surveillance of U.S. citizens without warrants, says an a well-known FBI whistleblower who has been asked to air his allegations to the Justice Department.


Obama Resigns!: Pics, Videos, Links, News


Monday, November 3, 2008

Speak Now, or Forever Hold Your Peace

Vote. It's your voice in Government. 

If you don't vote, you have abdicated your proper power of speech in Government. You may feel disenfranchised, marginalized or side-lined and that your vote doesn't count. You may be right, but vote anyway.

If you don't express yourself at the polls, then whatever you say from now in is rendered mute, and irrelevant. This opportunity is like the moment just before a preacher pronounces two people man and wife;
"...Speak now, or forever hold your peace..."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Note With My Pay-check

I opened my the envelope, and found a rather long note included with my check. From the owner and CEO of the company that I work for, to all the employees, letting us all know how he felt about the up-coming elections. It was a long letter that promoted John McCain. I wasn't surprised that my boss was a Republican.

He made some good points, and I had to agree with most of what he wrote. I did notice that Obama's name wasn't mentioned at all. Not once.

Nor was any mention made of the Employee Free Choice Act ( EFCA ) made. For those that aren't aware, EFCA is making it's way across Capital Hill, and will most likely be on the new Presidents desk when he assumes office next year. This piece of Legislation would have a major impact on American Business, as well as Labor and for my boss not to even mention it seems rather odd. Unless he doesn't want to broadcast the news that he's about to lose a lot of control over his work-force.

I watched as about a hundred co-workers opened their envelopes, read the note and walked silently away. That's odd, I thought to myself. Not a word. I could see at least a dozen Obama t-shirts in the crowd, and no McCain shirts. You'd think there'd be some remark made about the note, and the owners political stand.

Several years ago I asked a coworker if there had ever been a union at the plant. He said there'd been a vote, but it had been voted down because unions would raise wages, kill the company and we'd all be out of a job. That sounded a little odd to me because I knew that it wasn't unions that shut all the mines down in this area, it was the EPA and a Republican President ( Ronald Reagan ). Odd, unless the guy asked was afraid to say anything else.

Many folks think that a secret ballot is one way to give a voice to those who are afraid of speaking out on things that seem 'a little odd'. And I agree that when the curtain is drawn on the booth your employer won't know how you vote, so you can vote in your interest instead of his. But is the path to the booth supposed to be a secret trail, hidden so that employees don't lose their jobs when the whisper about organizing or establishing a union?

EFCA will allow union organizers to move freely in the community, collecting signatures on applications for membership in a union. If the organizers get signatures of more than half the number of employees in a company, then the union is established without the permission, or even the involvement of the company.

There's more written into EFCA that will have even greater effects on our lives, and I find it very odd that nobody in the mainstream press, and very few pundits on the internet even mention it. Odd, unless they are afraid to speak... 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I've read that good fences make for good neighbors. Nonsense. I put up a fence around my backyard several weeks ago, and I have had nothing but problems from my neighbors.

First, the guy said I had to move it back three feet, due to a village regulation or something like that. Nonsense, that rule only applies to privacy fences. Besides all that, he was there when I planned it, and we eye-balled the property line and compensated for the three feet rule. He was there when they built the fence ( I was at work ), and never said a word.

The ass waited for two hours after the fence was up, to tell us we had to move it. It told him to kiss my butt, and I'd pee on any papers he served me. He thought I was stupid I guess. I hope he has fun paying for a survey ( that's just the beginning of the legal process ). 

So how does this apply to Nations? Do fences make for good International Neighbors? I doubt it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The "bailout" of the US financial sector - a knol by Knol Debates

There is a not too well known site provided by Google; Knol. It's been around for a while, and I've published a few, short 'knols' ( short for knowledge ). It hasn't had much success, as it is little advertised and not very flashy.

Knol is trying something new that may help boost the ratings of this little known project that I believe has a lot of potential. Knol is hosting the first in a series of debates.

Economists from the Cato Institute and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) have offered opening arguments on what should come next now that the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act is law. If you'd like to get involved in the solution, rather than languish in the problem, I'd strongly suggest you read these opposing viewpoints presented by credible think-tanks that actually crave your comments and suggestions.

The Issue

" There's been a good deal of news lately. Major financial institutions are struggling to stay solvent. The stock market is a roller coaster, and the government has already intervened a number of times to try to stabilize the economy.  

This knol presents a debate on what actions should be taken to improve economic conditions now that the emergency economic stabilization act is law...more "
And while you're at knol, feel free to comment on my small contribution to the 'how-to-do-it' region of the blogo-sphere. I'm not sure if you have to register to comment, but what the heck, it's free....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Round Tuit

I got this from my wife, along with a honey-do list. I'll be busy for a few hours today, but I'll be back later in the evening.

Thanks for being great friends and buddies, and thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day-shift, again

Arrggghhh....I hate waking in the early AM....

Coffee...two cups. Now I can think....maybe....

I have an hour to get ready for work, and half an hour to read my mail. Then I'm off to the Pasta Plant to put little tiny noodles in little boxes. Today is different though, I'll be riding in our new ( pre-owned ) mini-van.

Jose' came through with the title yesterday, we've been waiting for several weeks. Jose' is from Mexico, and has to return for a period of time to reapply for his visa. So...he sold us his mini-van! He's a great kid ( about 22 years old ), and a good worker ( actually he's had several promotions and is in line for a supervisors job ).

When Jose' and his wife and child showed up with the van ( his wife and child were in their other vehicle, a nice new Ford truck ), I began to wonder how he could afford two nice vehicles on the wages he and his wife make. It turns out that he doesn't pay taxes, if he only stays for five years ( that's why he's leaving, to re-establish his tax-exempt visitors status ).

Now he's off to Mexico, were he'll have at least several thousand dollars to live on for half a year before he comes back to resume his job at the Pasta Plant.

Mexican nationals make up about one third of our work force. From what I've seen and heard in the last five years, nearly all are legal. We did have a small raid by INS about four years ago, it would seem that three Mexicans had the same Social Security Card. ( how does that work? )

My wife and I are going for a 'drive' this afternoon, and I'm taking the camera. It will be nice to ride around with Air Conditioning for once ( of course our old Mercury had the standard four-by-fifty-five AC unit; roll down four windows and drive fifty-five mph ).

I'll post some pictures....

See ya....

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Before and After

This is me, as I looked for a barber. There are many in Sparta IL, but I'm really picky when it comes to letting someone close to my neck with a sharp object in their hand!

In this picture, I'm standing in front of a modern, uni-sex shop who's prices start at $14. That's why I'm laughing!

I did go in, and tried to talk to the lady at the front desk, but she was really pushy, and the first thing she wanted to know was my phone number ( ? ). What the....

I don't give out phone numbers, SSAN numbers and such to every merchant I meet, so I laughed, and asked if I could get my beard cut off, and maybe a shave too. No such luck, so it was off to the next shop, laughing....

I found the shop I was looking for in the old part of town. If you look close, you can see the prices on the wall ( hair-cut includes beard ! )

I talked with the two barbers for about half an hour while one cut my hair and beard. We spoke of good times, and bad. We found we had a lot in common.

And during the entire visit, no one asked for my phone number, SSAN number, proof of residency or any thing like that. I'll be going back for trims and such, and maybe just to talk a bit.

So, what do you think? Before or After, Better or Worse? $14 or $7.50 ( + tip )?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Going to an Auction

My wife and I had planned to buy a mini-van today, but that didn't work out well. The young man called and said his girl-friend couldn't find the Title! Oh well...maybe she didn't want him to sell it.

We did go to an auction, to look for a riding lawn mower. We got there early, and found several that would work for us, but we had other errands so we left, hoping to come back in time to bid on the red one in the picture to the right.

On the way, I got some photos of a lot of great stuff! Old toys, Shot-guns and magazine collections. I really wanted the National Geographic collection, but I have no idea where I'd put them in our small home.

Somebody spent a lot of time reading, and dreaming of distant places. I will always wonder who bought these magazines, and how much they sold for.

I really loved this wagon load of toys, and I especially liked the black truck in the middle of the table.

Some guns, nothing special. Just a few hunting rifles and shot-guns. I imagine anything rare or valuable went to the children or heirs.

Anyway, if you want to hear what an auction sounds like, check the video out. It's a short ( one minute ) clip. I just love the cadence of the auctioneer's voice!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"The Stone-Age Did Not End For The Lack Of Stones"

Sometimes someone says something so tightly wrapped, so direct, but yet somehow sticks in your mind.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mirrors, Reflections and Introspections

( through the looking glass, darkly )

I have an old friend, who has often given me a different perspectives on life, my life, and me. Jiban was raised in India, and moved to the U.S. as a young man. He spent several years in our Air Force, and has become quite American ( except for his accent, he'll never shake that ). He also drinks a lot.

His mannerisms, and the way he phrases his thoughts have always intrigued me and serve to illustrate my perceptions and how we all construct a 'reality' that is quite unique. A few of his common phrases that I noticed;

  • "Wally, I'm standing beside myself with puzzlement..."
  • "The words...they fuck in my mouth..."

Though we had vastly different backgrounds, we had much in common. We both drove taxi, and spent the majority of our after-shift hours drinking, and rapping ( mostly about our job, the purpose of the universe, and the differing merits of king-crab and dungeness crab ), and we agreed that the world is not as it seems. An illusion, yes, but not one perpetrated by global conspiritors, evil spirits or the illuminati. The illusion is a necessary function of our individual minds.

There are of course masters of illusion, that dominate the world we experience. The Main-stream News Media comes to mind easily. And then there's Hollywood, and the star making machinery. Politics? Do you actually believe what our leaders say/promise? Religion? Education/indoctrination? I can go on for hours about the illusions that we accept in the external world, but are you ready to accept the internal illusions that you hold so dear?

We have blind spots, and the mind is the machine that fills those voids in our perception. I'm speaking of a very real function of our minds, but it is explained better in L-6 THE EYE, 'Fig. 3. Test for the blind spot'. It's an easy, painless test that can be done in a few seconds, but be warned, you might not want to learn how to doubt your eyes. If you've made life changing decisions on the axiom, 'seeing is believing' you probably should not read the article...I digress...

How does one 'stand beside' oneself? And can you do it with someone, or thing called 'puzzlement'? I suspect the poetry of language polishes the mirror of reality in our minds, and the words we use to describe our perceptions can trip all over themselves ( they fuck in my mouth ) trying to make sense of the natural fiction we describe as reality, self, history, politics and religion.

Look into a glass mirror. Is that you? I don't believe so. You are witnessing an animation, a creation that put's Disney Studios to shame. Jiban and I saw that distortion of truth, and decided it would be easier to get drunk than to share our thoughts on the matter with the world. Some cats are like Jiban and I because we are intrigued by the image we see in mirrors, some cats are like you and most of the world and see the image as 'reality'. Some cats go ape-shit over cat-nip...

me, under a tree, painting me under a tree

Years ago, someone hid a mirror in plain sight by removing the frame and any other clue that it was in the room. As I idled in the area, I politely ignored the only other person in the room ( my reflection ), and for several minutes casually observed, and innocently judged the other by his appearance. I was 'standing beside myself' at an epic moment in my personal history. My idyllic world was soon to beshattered, as I fell from the grace of a lesser god.

I noticed that his socks were miss-matched, as mine usually were, and as my eyes raised to meet his I saw in my dopple-ganger's face a reflection of my own puzzled thoughts...and then my mental animation programming kicked in to gear and I watched that face, that man, that 'other' transform before my eyes! It was a fully automatic transformation, and totally out of my conscious control. The transformation seemed to be an animation process at that moment, but now i recognize that process as the 'reality', and the end result as the illusion.

Had I not noticed the mis-matched socks, my unconscious mind would have accepted him at 'face value'. I would have remained like you, and most of the world ( including the cat that ignores mirrors ) confident in my share of the collective hunch. You are the fortunate ones, Jiban, myself, and a few cats share the dubious honor of enlightenment.

If you share any of these sentiments, I suggest art as a therapy ( or better yet, art as a religion ). Art and artists are accepted in most western societies, and introspection is expected. If you don't have time to sit in front of a mirror, or get tired of self-portraits then I suggest poetry. Better that the words fuck in your mouth, than in your mind...

Friday, June 20, 2008

U.S. May Free Up More Land for Corn Crops

New York Times
By David Streitfeld
Published: June 21, 2008

CHICAGO — Signs are growing that the government may allow farmers to plant crops on millions of acres of conservation land, while a chorus of voices is also pleading with Washington to cut requirements for ethanol production.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and one of Capitol Hill’s main voices on farm policy, on Friday urged the Agriculture Department to release tens of thousands of farmers from contracts under which they had promised to set aside huge tracts as natural habitat...more

Wallace's opinion;

This is extraordinary news, but I'm not really surprised. I've been following the crisis in the global food supply since I read Peter Casier's article 'The Global Food Crisis: A Perfect Storm'. Peter works for the UN, out of Rome and was one of the first bloggers to bring the issue to the world, preceding the World Food Summit recently convened in Rome. I made a list of related articles from around the blogo-sphere as they were published, and as the story developed I began to notice an obvious politicalization of the issue. I refer to that development as Political Hay ( As in; make hay, while the sun shines. By the way, these links are informative but I put them here primarily for corroboration ).

I knew hysteria had reached it's peak, when I read 'Obese blamed for the worlds ills' on the BBC Health page. Everybody and there brother was capitalizing on the tragic situation. From Africa to Iran, from Brazil to Burma, everybody except President Bush that is.

But now I see what a Lame Duck can do with a little patience. He can hand every corporate farm in the nation a fat bonus at the expense of land management, wet-land habitats, game reserves and the governments largest conservation program. These corporations have already been paid to leave the land fallow, and now those contracts may be waved. Do people understand that much of the corporate land that's been flooded is insured? That's two payoffs.

Now these corporations have a chance to plant a crop for a third payout from a highly ( and artificially ) inflated market.

Does anyone remember James Watt? He was Reagan's Secretary of the Interior that was forced to resign, after he did so much for so few. He made hay for Reagan's cronies, and it looks like Senator Charles E. Grassley, is trying to do the same for our current Republican President.

As for removing the requirement to plant a percentage dedicated to ethanol, what a crock. Do we really think that these corporate farms are going to pass up fourth payout at today's fuel prices?

p.s. I focused on corporate farms, because family farms receive only a fraction of the benefits, and have the least political clout. But just watch the news in the next few weeks, it will be mom and pop interviews that give a friendly face to the political hay making. What a crock

Sunday, June 15, 2008

French Police Arrest Serial Garden Gnome Thief

Few people are aware of the GGLF ( Garden Gnome Liberation Front ), and most of them speak French so fewer yet pay attention. But mark my words, justice will catch up to this shadowy threat to civilization! When I first read these headlines, I was sure the authorities were about to close in on these lawn terrorists. However, as I read on, I found that these heineous acts were most likely committed by one person ( no doubt a copy-cat ).

Not to fear, I'll keep the world posted on any progress in the battle against the GGLF.

Spiegel - Online - International

Police in Bretagne have arrested a 53-year-old man suspected of the thefts of 170 garden gnomes. However, it is proving difficult to return the gnomes to their real owners -- the thief painted them different colors, making identification tricky.

When garden gnomes go missing in France, most are tempted to blame the shadowy Garden Gnome Liberation Front. The group has been linked to the disappearance of dozens of miniature garden residents over the years.

Not this time, however. Some 170 gnomes and other ornaments have been stolen in the north-western region of Bretagne recently. And it appears to be the work of a serial garden gnome thief acting on his own...more

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Bridge to Hawaii - Biker Folk Story

A man riding his Harley was riding along a California beach when suddenly the sky clouded above his head and in a booming voice, the Lord said, 'Because you have tried to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish.'

The biker pulled over and said, 'Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can ride over anytime I want.'

The Lord said, 'Your request is materialistic. Think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking; the supports required reaching the bottom of the Pacific and the concrete and steel it would take! It will nearly exhaust several natural resources. I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of something that could possibly help mankind.'

The biker thought about it for a long time.

Finally, he said, 'Lord, I wish that I and all men could understand women; I want to know how she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says nothing's wrong, and how I can make a woman truly happy.'

The Lord replied...

'You want two lanes or four on that bridge?'

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Turd in Your Pocket

Note; this is an imported entry from July, '07. Origanally posted on

The shit hit the fan today at work, and you could smell it all over the county. Prejudice, and pride are like that ( like a turd in your pocket, after a while you get used to the smell, but folks you meet notice it right off ). I'm speaking of the police, escorting a few of our fellow workers out of the building, and down the road. I didn't follow, but I'm assuming that they were met at the county line by an escort from the next county, just to make sure they 'got home safe'.

A little background; I work in a large factory, that makes pasta ( and stove-top stuffing ). The work, at any level is not hard, or challenging. There are four basic job descriptions. Bulk Pasta; mixing flour and water in a big bucket. Production; putting noodles in a bag, or box. Material Handling; stacking boxes. Shipping; putting stacks on trucks. With this in mind, realize that any large problem, is most likely the result of conflicts, or nonsense brought to work by the people

Last year, a woman ( white, I'll call her Dae ) had a baby, fathered by another employee ( black, call him Dee ), but not her husband ( Supervisor, and Joe ). Dae, and Joe are my neighbors, so I have been a little too close to the obvious conflict. Between the couples home, and mine, lives the Dae's mother, Sue, who is the matriarch of an extended family ( let's call it a clan ). And from my window, I watch the constant coming and goings of nearly half the factory that I work at. One frequent visitor is Dae's father Don ( a fork lift driver ), who is still married to Sue, but lives with Mae, who also works at the factory, and supervises Dee on line #18.

Several weeks ago, Dae and her new-born moved away with Dee, where they enjoy their self-induced chemical euphoria, much to the dismay of Dae's father Don ( he had a heart-attack last year, and everyone's worried if the stress will be the end of him ). His anger was on display several times over the last two weeks, twice he was held at bay by several senior supervisors that were succesful at stopping him from whooping the young black man's ass. This didn't please his significant other ( Mae ), who told Dee ( he works on Mae's production line ) that he was a 'nigger', and then she told Dae ( who operates another line nearby ) that she was a whore. That's when the turd came out of the pocket.

What I don't see out my window at home, I get to watch from my loft at work. I work above the general production area, and can see nearly all that goes on. And frankly, I'm glad to see it all come to head today. As much as I like good drama, watching Dae act out her 'mandingo' fantasies for the last year or two has really begun to affect my life, my workplace, and the health and welfare of many friends and neighbors. You see, Dee aint the father of Dae's mullato baby, he's just another bit actor in her passion play. I don't think he realized that, until the cops showed up...

I've been talking to my friend Dee a lot over the last two weeks, and he's been sure that he's the victim of racism and bigotry. As he screws his boss's wife, he no doubt is planning his discrimination suit. The last thing he told me was, 'If I get transfered to another shift Wally, you'll know I'm right!" My response was, "If Dae get's transfered, and you don't, where's the discrimination?" His face was blank, as if he hadn't thought of that option. Don, most assuredly had thought of getting his daughter transfered, and today it all came down...

Did I forget to mention the Mexican that works with Mae and Dee on line #18? Rumor was, Dee and Diego were supposed to meet in front of the liquor store ( where we all cashed our pay-checks today ), and settle their own personal problems the old fashioned way. Sadly, I didn't get to see that drama. The police were waiting just outside the break-room, as Dee was being escorted to the Safety Supervisor's office. Piss test. He failed, gee...did daddy Don have anything to do with that? Diego ( the mexican ) strutted around all day, having presented himself with dignity befitting his machismo.

From this point on, the drama was set in the parking lot, and I didn't get to see much more, as my wife was determined to get us out of there before the three way race riot ensued. Tension was building as we left, but I'm assured I'll get the final episode from my wife in the morning ( Stephanie works with Sue, Don's wife, but not the woman he lives with, that's Mae ) who lives between us and Joe, the cuckold husband who is wondering if he can get the vascectomy reversed ( he had it done three years ago, so you see, for him it's not really a black/white/Mexican issue, it really has a lot to do with machismo ). Steph will fill me in, and I'll continue this saga of shame tommorow.

In the meantime, does anyone know anyone who works for the 'Jerry Springer Show'? This shit is real, and I can't do the story justice. I'd give anything to see this bunch on TV.NT>

Friday, March 14, 2008

There's Something About the Fog

There's something about the fog, something ominous, foreboding. It hangs gray, and lifeless between I and the world. A damp shroud. Hushed sounds with no echoes. Muted voices. And a steady, drip...drip...drip...

What nether world is home for that early morning shroud? Where does it flee to at first light? A dark cellar no doubt, under a cold stone fortress of Doom. Doom I say, and say again Doom! Why else would this harbinger of ill slip silently from the light, but to hide itself under those dark halls?

And who is the Master of those stone walls? Wicked I say, and say again, He's Wicked in all his gloom, and doom. And hungry...

What fruits has his lackey fog brought to that evil table? Will they feast on echoes of life, and the sharp edge of voices stolen from the early hours? It is wrong I say, and say again wrong to lurk in the shadows, and dine in the dim light stolen from the morning!

Misery and grief, are the diet of Doom...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cool Water, on Bare Feet

Last October, I notice an old pump, in a neighbor's backyard. The memories flowed from my memory well. Cool memories of water on the hot days of my youth on the farm. Hot years, no rain for months. Dust, and more dust, on and in and around everything.
But the well never went dry. The red pump, on a cool well that stood at the center of our lives in the dry years. The hard years. Years before water was sold in disposable plastic bottles that could make dust shine. Before vending machines, microwave ovens, and other means of instant gratification. I don't trust those little plastic bottles.
The well was true, the pump was dependable, and the water was always cool for those willing to take it's handle, and work it. I remember working that pump, and how I hated the burn in my arms as I worked the handle while my brother carried the water to the hogs. Hot, dusty hogs standing knee-deep in dust. And I remember the cool water that trickled across my bare feet while I pumped.
I left that farm as soon as I was able. I kept the pump in the back of my mind. And when I see an old pump, the memories flow cool like water from a deep well.
Cool water, on my bare feet. It don't get no cooler than that in a dust-bowl...

Looking down from my loft

Looking down from my loft, I watch the steady drop of bags on the belt. Pasta, moving from bulk, through packaging, and on to delivery.

I watch down as I often do, as the two 'triangles' chug out bag after bag of pasta. I'm normally trapped upstairs with my two machines, I supply the cases that pasta is shipped in.

I have one of very few jobs that allows me to stand idle, watching. My veiw from the loft is wide and far, I see much more of the plant than just my assaigned area. I have learned that most people don't look up often. Their world is flat.

The verticle nature of my job suits my ego just fine.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Friends Gather, to Support a Neighbor

In a small town, there is a small tavern. The Pine st Bar serves the residents of Steeleville IL, and the surrounding rural community.

Small towns enjoy intimacy that larger communities lack. Friends and neighbors are much more aware each other, and in this small community, they joined together to help a friend in need.

Franco was ill, and spent quite some time in a local hospital. The bills grew quite large, and he was unable to work. Franco's friends got together, and decided to raise some funds, to help the man with his overwhelming bills. That's not a rare event in small towns, that's the norm.

Franco's friends brought him to the Pine st Bar, where they had a raffle, and an auction. The price of drinks was adjusted, to suit the occasion, and the additional money generated was added to the fund.

My wife donated a basket of scented candles, and they were sold to the highest bidder for $25. I had bid $15, and was pleased to see someone out-bid me.

My wife won two shirts, and a $5 certificate from Domino's Pizza. Franco won the 50/50 drawing! That was an amazing display of good fortune, as the 50/50 drawing was designed to split the proceeds from the sale with Franco, and it turned out the he won it all! The 50/50 tickets were sold at $1 ( or 6 for $5 ), and Franco received $300!

Food was cooked outside on Bar B Q grills, and sold to Franco's friends. Braughts Hamburgers Hot Dogs, Potato Salad, several cakes, and many types of chips where offered. All you could eat $6 per plate.

My wife ate Hot Dogs, a Hamburger, and Potato Salad. I enjoyed at least 5 large Braughts! The food went well with the Budweiser, and shots of Jack Daniels that I was drinking.

It's a good thing my wife doesn't drink, and was able to drive us home safely because I got plowed! ( It was for a good cause, so my wife didn't complain. I haven't been drinking much lately, at her request, so a noble cause is served me well. )

This is Franco. He drives a truck, and hauls coal for a living ( when he's healthy ).

Although I didn't know Franco prior to the fund-raiser, my wife had got to know him well where she works ( Stephanie works at a small convenience store, that many truckers frequent for coffee, and sandwiches ). I was able to speak with him for quite a while, and found we had much in common. It would seem that his health went bad, due to overwork, and ignoring the symptoms of a serious illness.

I had done the same, years ago. My passion for my work wouldn't allow me to stop and rest. The work ethic is strong in this community, and sometimes it brings us grief.

Franco is a good, hard working man. It pleases me to see so many of his friends stepping in to help, when he needs to rest.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ice Storm in March

Ice clings to the hedge, green leaves captive to a crystal coat left by a the frigid fog of Early Spring. Beneath this mantle cold and clean, the hedge waits to dawn it's coat of green.
Tender twigs with unborn buds stand shocked, in their brittle blanket of ice. Their rigid posture reveals life's unwavering mission; endure, and bloom in good time! Ironicly, the crystal coat may actually protect the hedge from the even harsher weather predicted.
Looking up past the hedge, the fog shrouds the trees. The misty gray background forshadows the impending snow sure to follow the ice. It's March in Southern Illinois, and no predictions are reliable. Only the underlying feeling of a continuing winter, and the hope for the eventual explosion of green are for sure.

Do you feel the force of life within you, perhaps it too is shrouded by this artictic adversity of life? Let the chilly blanket wrap you, stand tall, be patient. The frigid fog of desolate feelings will lift, and you, like the hedge will meet the warm Sun of New Life, when the time is right. It is the seasons, it is the times.

Your are the life.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

There, and back again

One day last summer, my dogs began to bark. That is not unusual in itself, but the tone of the voices was full of an excitement that is reserved for special events. One look out the front door, a grab for the camera, and a moment in small-town America was captured! A boy, on a pony, with a dog. Three travelers, exploring their world! Three pilgrims, on a quest. Three reasons to love life, and the world we live in. Can there be anything so grand? In their minds, are they Ishmael, on their way to sea, or Don Quixote, searching for dragons? My dogs voices escorted them out of sight. As they disappered around the bend, I could hear the saddness in my dogs voices. The wanted the magic, they wanted the journey. Pepper and I have been there, and back again. Perhaps it's time for Shadow and I to take a road trip...

Friday, February 29, 2008

Cleaning Fish With Grandpa

Cleaning fish with Grandpa.

My sister watched with new emotions. Having spent the day at the pond with our Grandfather, she was totally engaged in this unexpected aspect of life. The timid, sensitive nature of the young girl was bolstered by his confidant strokes, as he scraped scale from flesh, and flesh from bone.

New images in her eyes, new smells in her nose. New respect in her heart for the man she loved and trusted. She admired the confidence of his knife as it transformed a flopping fish into a more familiar sight. Food.

She had spent much time on the farm, but mostly with our Grandmother in the kitchen. She had watched Grandma batter and fry the fish many times, but this was something new, exciting, dreadfully exciting!

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