Saturday, July 30, 2005

... can you imagine us years from today ...

August 1, 1969. A time of turmoil in the country. Two generations were bitterly divided by an unpopular war and a 'popular' Administration. The Beatles were in the studio recording the album Abbey Road. Hurricane Camille was aborning somewhere in the East Atlantic. Mariner 7 was ready to attempt its closest flyby of Mars. In a week and a day, the first murderous rampage of the family Manson would shock and horrify the nation. In two weeks, an unprepossessing farm in the small community of Bethel, New York would host a historic music festival that would spawn the Woodstock Nation and forever change the lives of millions of young people who would collectively come to be known as the Baby Boomers.

And on that day, a young man and a young woman, barely out of their teens, would take the first and most momentous step of their lives onto that long road stretching into the distant future, the road of matrimony.

We were supposed to be married August 2nd. That date is, in fact, engraved on our wedding rings. But circumstances (for which read parents) beyond the control of the engaged couple intervened, leading me to utter the stunning words "the wedding is off" two weeks before the ceremony was to occur. (Shades of Jennifer Wilbanks, the "Runaway Bride." For a while I could almost understand her presumed dilemma, at least until she decided to turn her 'story' into cash.) I had to hasten to explain to all involved that, for me at least, things had gotten way out of hand, that the guest list was way too long, that our parents, while they may have been the ones paying for the wedding, were not the ones getting married, and that they needed to give us back some control. This daring proclamation was not received well. So we made our own plans, invited our parents to attend our wedding if they wished, and tied the knot a day earlier than planned, because the church was unavailable to us on the originally planned date.

With that rather unorthodox beginning, just this side of elopement, we were on our way, and we never looked back.

Here we are, 36 years later. Three-and-a-half decades. Nowadays, that's a long time to remain married to one person. There were times we weren't absolutely sure we'd make it this far, but perseverance, tolerance and a bit of hard work paid off. We have learned a few 'secrets' along the way (well, they're not exactly secrets - everyone has heard these, they're more like precepts; here are the ones we've found to be most useful.)

One of the most crucial is 'Refrain from lying to each other.' Lies, sooner or later, are bound, by their very nature, to be discovered, and when discovered, they typically lead to anger and lasting resentment. And it takes a long time to restore or regain trust. There are few things more corrosive to marital bliss.

A corollary to this is 'Refrain from attempting to manipulate one another.'

Another is 'Two-way communication and openness are key.' When Bonnie used to ask me what was wrong, I would often say "nothing" in a stupid and misguided attempt to spare her feelings, while continuing to nurse my grudge. This would only exacerbate the situation; it solved nothing, and it made her feel worse, because she knew that I thought she had done something wrong. You must tell your partner when something is bothering you, because your partner cannot read your mind.

'Don't sweat the small stuff.' This axiom is very important. If you can laugh about, say, a parking ticket or a broken plate, you will give your partner peace of mind, and he or she will be more liable to share with you more important matters, knowing that you will not get angry. And you should always face the big stuff as a team.

Make the effort to 'Express your love for each other daily.' It need not be verbal; it can be as simple as a kiss or a small favor done.

'Accept each other for what you are.' Idiosyncracies should, at the least, be tolerated, and may eventually become part of what you love most about your partner.

Lastly, 'Always be there for each other.' There will be times when each partner will have to carry the other through the danger zones of life. Newt Gingrich is an excellent example of how not to behave toward one's partner.

I'm sure there are others, but these are the precepts that have worked for us, and allowed us to attain our 36th year of marriage. We look forward to many more.

Happy Anniversary, Bonnie, my love.



Friday, July 29, 2005

...O ... C ... H ... E ... S ... T ... E ... R ... WHAT'S THAT SPELL?

First, a mea culpa. I am sometimes too lazy to do the research necessary to be accurate. So ...


This is the descriptive material for the Jack Rabbit 'coaster from the Sea Breeze website.

"Built in 1920, the Rabbit is the fourth oldest operating coaster in the country. It's a Miller & Baker wood coaster with an out & back layout. The 2,180 feet of track features a spectacular 75-foot drop, awesome dips, a wild last curve and a fantastic finale through a dark tunnel."

That "wild last curve" is in the tunnel. That's what makes the 'coaster a classic.

The Jack Rabbit is at the far right on the map, and the tunnel portion is the U-turn that swings through the trees. Once experienced, it is unforgettable. (The ride just above the starred 'new attraction' used to be named "The Wild Mouse", a more conventional 'coaster but still a thrill. The word "mouse" seems to have followed me for most of my life.)

Fun fact #25:

"No one really knows the true story behind the little Mercury-looking dude on top of that building downtown.

 < Mercury - L, Wings of Freedom - R

And no one can look up at those big steel wing-type things atop the Times Square building next door without getting inexplicably creeped out. But: Both serve as perfect compass points because of their height. Lost? Look for Mercury and the wings."

If I were feeling industrious, I could do some research ...... naaaah.

Fun fact #26:

"Brazenly staring at the mansions along East Avenue, especially at night when a stunning number of their inhabitants leave the lights on so you can see inside, is perfectly OK. Start at the George Eastman House at 900 East and head out of the city. It's popculture fantasy-land."



 < George Eastman House

If you want to see some very detailed illustrations of some of Rochester's more famous landmarks, check out this site.

Fun fact #27:

"You may or may not be told this, but Jimmy Breslin's hit novel The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight was loosely based on the bumbling mobsters who erupted into a messy war back in the '70s. Bring this up, and invariably someone will say they know someone who knows a guy who was whacked then."

The story of Rochester's mob wars could constitute at least two separate entries, but I'll just include a couple of personal notes. Back in '69 or '70, somewhere thereabouts, either just before or shortly after we got married (more about this in the next entry), my parents, who collected dining experiences like I collect seashells, took us to the Blue Gardenia Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge (twice, if I remember correctly) for some forgotten occasion. The experience was notable for a couple of reasons. First, it was invariably dim in the restaurant; the lighting was deliberately kept ... um ... intimate. The two times that we ate there, it seemed as if the restaurant had a very small clientele. Both times we visited, only two or three tables were occupied, and the diners were widely separated. The other notable thing was that from the time you entered, to the moment you were seated, right up to the minute that you rose, paid the bill, and moved to the door, you could feel the eerie pressure of eyes studying your every move. There was a sinister aura permeating that restaurant that I have never felt anywhere else. We did not know, and I'm guessing my parents did not know, that the Blue Gardenia was a major mob hangout. It was eventually gutted by a bomb. (For some brief mob history, this is a good site.)

The other personal note is short. I once worked at Bausch & Lomb with a man my age named "Leo". I did him a favor once and, in return, he asked me, in all seriousness, if there was anyone I wanted 'whacked', because he could see to it. At the time, I laughed. I shouldn't have. (Bonnie and I were later invited to "Leo's" wedding. It was an impressive ceremony, as elaborate as only Italians can make it.)

Fun fact #28:

"Also, this is the town where, in 1986, seven women protested not being able to legally remove their shirts in public by doing just that, getting nekkid (from the waist up) at a local park. Bring this up, and someone will say they know someone who knows one of those broads and how come women don't do that anymore?"

If, for some reason, you would like to find out more about this, this is a good site. Ramona Santorelli was the spokeswoman for the group and went on Brother Wease's radio show once to explain the group's motives, a visit that resulted in the memorable phrase (delivered by Ramona to Wease) "How would you feel if I called you 'dickhead'?"

Fun fact #29:

"You are less than a day's drive from the Sterling Renaissance Festival, where you can live in medieval times, watch a joust and eat an entire roasted hen with your hands. Let's see Christo top that with some flapping orange shower curtains."

It's a truly marvelous place to spend a weekend (a whole week is better if you can manage.) Here's where you'll find the info.

And, finally, Fun fact #30:

"Almost more than anything, we take the biggest pleasure in this: We're not Syracuse."

'Nuff said.

This wraps up my full-out, shameless promotion of Rochester, New York, pearl of the East and land of the snowbird (pat. pend.) Well, at least for now. I plan to devote some future entries to our ferry, but this should suffice for the present.






Thursday, July 28, 2005

Gimme an 'R' ...

Wow! It's been over two months since I last did 'fun facts.' Where does the time go?

Once again I must credit Rochester Democrat and Chronicle staff writer Lauri Githens Hatch for these informative nuggets of knowledge (after all, there's a remote chance that she may be doing Internet searches for Rochester columns).

Fun fact #21:

"You will hear Rochestarians publicly proclaim Buffalo as inferior. However, if you ask them to tag along on a road trip to Walden Galleria mall, a Bills game, a Sabres game or any of Buffalo's roughly 562 bars open till 4 a.m., they'll hop in your car before you can say "Thruway.""

The two premier cities of Western NY have quite the rivalry going, and it must irk Buffalonians no end that the Bills moved their training camp to our fair city (well, to the suburbs of our fair city, anyway.) Be that as it may, Rochesterians are major consumers of "Buffalo Style Chicken Wings", so ha-ha on us.

Fun fact #22:

"If you disdain megacentrifuge rides in favor of creaky wooden coasters that make you scream like a girl and then hurl, the Jack Rabbit at Seabreeze amusement park exists for your enjoyment/embarrassment."

The Jack Rabbit at Seabreeze (between Irondequoit Bay and Lake Ontario, a truly beautiful spot) is, and has been for years (stretching back to fin de siecle Rochester or shortly thereafter) an institution. When Bonnie and I were both just out of toddlerhood, we braved this monster 'coaster. Even now, as old and seemingly tame (compared to new 'coasters) as it is, it's still one helluva good ride. The last quarter of the ride goes through a tunnel that is, except for stray rays of light, almost pitch black.

Fun fact #23:

"Regardless of what stores tell you, these work best for scraping your windshield in winter: The spatula you use to flip your white-hots on the grill, a Kodak ID, a Wegmans Shoppers Club card or a Chuck Mangione CD."


Fun fact #24:

"It's considered rude to go to the Rochester Public Market and leave with manageable packages. The proper form is to weave toward the exit, arms so laden with fresh baked goods, produce, meats and ethnic delicacies that you cannot pick out your own car."

We can't testify to this one, not having been for decades, but it sounds plausible.

Six facts to go. One more blaze-of-glory entry on the wonderfulness of Rochester.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

... pass before my eyes, a curiosity ...


I hold in my hands Vol. 1 - No. 1 of a newspaper entitled "East Rochester POST News." It was newly issued this week (although it is an antecursor of a previous incarnation that they expected people to subscribe to. It is now free.) It has 2 sections, ER news and the classifieds, plus 2 pages of articles and puzzles for the kids. East Rochester, you'll remember, is the optimistically named town near which we live. It bears the same relation to Rochester as a speed bump bears to Mt. St. Helens.

The thing that we find astonishing about this first issue is that on virtually every one of the first ten pages, there is a strip of coupons put out by 'Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits' (2 on the last page!) Yet nowhere in the whole publication is there an ad for 'Village Fair' ("Our meats are freshly cut!"), sometime home of dubious and unheard-of cuts of meat. We guess they're too good to advertise in their own hometown paper. Shame.

Digressions into ad-land. We have recently seen a commercial for a product called 'UrineGone.' Leaving aside the name, there is included in the commercial this tagline: "It has an appetite for urine." We could have happily lived our lives without ever having heard that particular sentence.

Another commercial that we find vaguely disturbing is the one shown (appropriately enough) mainly on Comedy Central.The first time that we ever saw one of these commercials, we felt sure that it had to be a brilliant but tasteless parody. Alas, it is not. You've probably encountered it; it's for a "natural male enhancement" product called Enzyte, and the commercial begins, "This is Bob." The ad designers must have struggled mightily with their inner demons to resist the urge to name him "Dick."

Arm & Hammer has finally gone and stolen my sarcastic idea. The last time they ran a promotion for their product, they had 'consumers' putting baking soda into refrigerators and freezers, sprinkling it on rugs and even pouring it into toilets. I said to Bonnie at the time, "I'm surprised they don't have the nerve to suggest that we should dump a box into the garbage can in order to 'freshen it up.' Just think how clever that would be, convincing people to buy baking soda, take it home, and throw it right into the trash." Well, guess what, folks? We saw a new Arm & Hammer commercial last night that suggested that people should do exactly that. I hereby declare myself a visionary. Ain't hucksterism grand?

Lastly. When we were much younger, one of our favorite songs was 'Dust in the Wind,' by the group Kansas. We still love that song. And we are suckers for any video product that has neat special effects. There is a commercial currently running which has a few neat special effects and the song 'Dust in the Wind', put out by Subaru. You would think we would love it, given our propensities. But dammit, Kansas, YOU SOLD OUT! HOW COULD YOU?


Anatomy of a Journal (Part 3)

There are some journalistes who devote their entries to negativity, belligerence and even anger, particularly those who promote political agendas. Since I have recently acquired a more positive outlook on life, I find these journals painful and bothersome to read. Much mental energy is wasted arguing back and forth across the political divide, and no tangible resolutions can be discerned. In this journal, we will attempt to emphasize the positive and will seldom take part in criticism and vitriol. At one point, early on, I wrote this paragraph, which I had planned to use at an appropriate time, but it became unnecessary. I include it now just to indicate how I once felt:

"In my unending crusade to offend any righteous Fundamentalists or radical conservatives who may travel down the wrong webstrand and happen upon this site, and to steadfastly oppose all that for which they stand, I will, from time to time, elucidate my core beliefs. I announce this upfront so that they will not waste time attempting to discover if I am their adversary; I am. My Creator is not theirs; mine is a God of love, life and peace ... not hate, death and war. If any who read this take exception to my beliefs, feel free to vent your vituperation - know that I am vastly entertained by those who voluntarily foam at the mouth. All I ask is that you refrain from engaging in a misguided and futile attempt to sway me. My beliefs have been incubated and nurtured over a considerable span of time; they are bedrock and will not be moved."

The last four sentences still express my outlook on life and journaling.

You may have observed, despite an early statement, that my wife, "Bonnie", has begun to feature more regularly in the entries. She has gradually become comfortable with the notion of a journal, and has, from time to time, contributed greatly. She has neither the inclination nor the patience to maintain a personal journal, but she gladly shares in mine. She enjoys meeting new friends as much as I, and looks forward to hearing the alert tone and the statement "You have mail." It is a pleasant component of this brave new Internet world, one of far-reaching and instantaneous communication. You may have noticed that we now share a signature tag, because this journal is now largely a cooperative effort.

Along with the story and the Diatoms, longtime visitors have seen random graphics, puzzles, bad jokes, a few poems, and have followed (in photos!) the progression of Kodak's falcons from eggs to tentative fledglings (all five are doing just fine, btw; they have taken up residence, for now, in the Genesee River gorge.) You have also seen me engage in shameless civic boosterism (Brother Wease is well on the way to remission) and it occurs to me I still haven't finished off the '30 things about Rochester' list. Soon. 

I have, on occasion, whined about medical woes, but I try to keep mention of such to a minimum.Current events have sometimes been brought up; when we think such worthy of note, we will weigh in with our opinions. You may or may not encounter future political ramblings; we are so disgusted with all politicians just now that we don't enjoy discussing the subject.

We have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy meeting new friends online. We are thrilled with everyone who drops by and says "hi", and pleased to have the chance to peruse journals, old and new. The journaling community is most marvelous and one that we hope to remain a part of for a long, long time.


Bonnie & Malcolm Mott


Monday, July 25, 2005

Anatomy of a Journal (Part 2)

In the course of reviewing my early entries (I would love to know how many others have done this from time to time - perhaps this might be a basis for an essay) I have noticed that, even in my first 'official' entry, I included the word "create." I have gradually come to believe that this was a deliberate, if unconscious, insertion inspired by the Spirit. As I started to reveal more pieces of myself, references to the Creator crept in more often, and incrementally began to account for a larger number of the entries. I feel now that the Spirit was the true impetus for, first, the origin of my story and also the Diatoms, and second, the creation and continuation of this journal. In the journal I have undergone a gradual transition from casual unbeliever to devotee, as my early readers know.

There are two themes that lately form an undercurrent to many of my entries, themes that are close to my heart and that I believe to be intertwined so closely as to be almost indistinguishable.

True love is one. The peace, the contentment, the warmth that come from knowing true love are marvelous emotions to experience. The communion of partners who have the security of true love is incomparable. Those who are able to attain this state are recipients of a wondrous blessing. And the experience encompasses one's whole being, emotional, spiritual and physical.

Can there be any doubt from whence this blessing springs? When we are granted the gift of true love, can we deny that there exists a Creator Who has made it possible?

(This seems a felicitous place to insert a small paragraph which I recently wrote, with the intention of making of it an essay, but I couldn't expand upon it, try as I might; I still think it is worthy of consideration. Perhaps someone will pick up the thread and weave a marvelous tapestry from it) -

"Would you give someone a gift without knowing what it was or if it could harm the recipient? If not, how can one give oneself in love to another without first knowing oneself? And yet it seems to happen all too frequently. I myself did not know to ask this question when I was young. It is only now, in hindsight, that I realize what a crucial question it is."

I will continue, occasionally, to praise the Creator (God, God/dess, Spirit, Allah, call the Divine what you wish, they are all the same Being) in the journal; after all, my life has become, as I have previously mentioned, so much better since the Spirit entered in and demonstrated to me that I possess an immortal soul. In the beginning, the visitations were tangential and unrecognized, but as I began to reveal my beliefs here, they have become more direct, in a fashion that I cannot easily explicate, except to say that, since I have recognized the existence and presence of the Creator, the periodic depressions that I recently underwent (yes, you will find them in the journal, too) have disappeared, and each morning, upon awakening, when I thank the Creator for a new day, I am filled with a feeling of peace and contentment that I never imagined to be possible. For this, I shall be ever grateful.

I wish to quickly add anew that I am not attempting to proselytize, unlike a certain brainless and excitable actor, famous mainly for his fortunate genes and his bizarre views on psychiatry. (I don't generally advocate violence, but he deserves a solid fist to the genitals, followed by a double fist to the back of the head when he doubles over.) I believe that all souls must come to the Creator in their own way, at their own time. I am simply compelled to witness my beliefs from time to time, and I hope that it doesn't bore the hell out of you.

(To be continued)




Sunday, July 24, 2005

... people run, come ride with me ...


     I have recently branded myself megalocephalic (a chronic fathead.) I have known this about myself for a long time; I have tried to change, to no discernible avail. Now, I accept it, and inflict my incurable condition upon you.

     This entry is an outgrowth of Judith Heartsong's "Why I Keep a Journal." It is a retrospective and examination of my extended, curious journey from 'then' to 'now', simply because I feel the need to record it in a more concise format.

     We journalistes all have good reasons for beginning our journals, for opening our lives to others; I would like (at the risk of boring you) to explain mine.

     Sometime last September, as I was sitting at the laptop, enjoying a cup of coffee, and watching our mice perform amusing antics, a detailed 'movie' began unspooling inside my brain. I know not what inspired it (although I harbor a suspicion) but it was such a complete, fully imagined scene that I had no recourse other than to preserve it, as rapidly as possible, in concrete form. I accessed the WordPerfect program and began to write. That scene (with minor edits) became Chapter One of "The Persistence of Mind" (if you haven't read it and wish to, it can be found here.)

     That chapter was easy to write. Chapters 2 - 5 also came with a minimum of effort; I waited for the scenes to appear, and they eventually did, because I had a lively curiosity about what had happened next (I was not so much writing the story, you see, as waiting for the next episode.) Creation of the 'Perils of Lona' section (Chapters 6 - 12) was achieved with a modicum of effort. Then ... it became difficult. What began as a light fantasy about a mouse became entwined with personal beliefs that I had gradually begun to work out. I finally reached a point at which it became impossible to write further without disentangling the myriad plotlines which had presented themselves in the course of the tale. Even now I have trouble with this knot. Maybe one day ...

     My first journal entry, on Nov. 9th of last year, was a simple bit of doggerel about, naturally, a mouse (I deleted that first entry because I deemed it unworthy.) I naively waited for someone to discover that my journal existed. I hesitated to enter chapters into the journal until some imagined reader left a comment. In the interim I turned to the Microsoft Paint program to alleviate my frustration and release the creative energy that was still coursing through me (the full story of the results can be found in my early entries, if you're interested.) For a time, it was enough. But eventually, I felt within myself a growing need to expose my creations to a wider audience (hence the admission that I am a fathead.) I returned to the journal and made a second entry explaining my detour into the realm of graphic craftsmanship.

     I waited, in total, almost 4 months. I had not yet gained the understanding that, in J-land, to be discovered, one first had to explore and make oneself known.

     One day in February, while browsing, I happened upon the Editors' Journal Picks, and, since at the time I was creating Diatoms, I checked out a journal on the list, "Albert's World of Artsy Fun." I remember thinking, "Ah, a fellow artist. Maybe we can connect." In Albert, as you are probably aware, I discovered so much more than just a "fellow artist." Scrolling through his entries, thoroughly intrigued, I happened upon the entry that featured a cycling pig. I left a comment asking if I could borrow it. I did not at that time know about alerts, but Albert had his own journal on alert, and responded to my comment, thus becoming my first visitor (and, I hope, a good friend and comrade.) A few others, via Albert's journal, dropped by and left a comment, decided that I was really lame (as a matter of fact, I am) and never returned. But a few stayed to watch me perform tricks, and eventually revealed themselves, to my utter surprise. Thanx to all of you who have stuck around, waiting to see what further idiocies I can conceive of and perpetrate.

     One more note: in my (now our) journal, I (we) have tried to be as honest as possible; if a topic is too personal or uncomfortable to discuss, we will simply refrain from writing about it, and of course some facets of our lives will remain forever secret.

     There may be occasional small embellishments, otherwise each serious entry is as truthful as we can make it; we learned long ago that lies are inimical to emotional equanimity, and require more than a little effort to maintain and, when necessary, expand upon. Lies do not nourish the soul, and the guilt, when they are almost inevitably discovered, can be destructive.

     (To be continued)






Saturday, July 23, 2005

Prop ... inquity

Another new comet has blazed into this tiny corner of the Universe, so once again, please stop by and say hi to LibraGem007 of the journal Journally Yours.


Friday, July 22, 2005

... I came as gold, I came as crap ...

Spiritually, it's another fine day. I'm still getting used to feeling so good even when physical conditions suggest that I shouldn't ( it's nastily hot and humid, but I'm gradually acclimating, so hey.)

Herewith a few items that may (or may not) be related. Part of my delight with the Internet is the journey of discovery that I undertake and the surprises that I find. If you enjoy discovery too, check out these links -

This refers to my subject title today. This is something we discovered by accident and got us to wondering whether the two are related. If you love animals, as we do, this is something you may want to take a peek at when you have some time. And this will be my subject matter for today.

Mice are curious creatures. At times they want nothing to do with you, at other times they will seek affection. They are much like cats, we have discovered; when they have security, they feel free to do whatever takes their fancy. They tend not to quickly embrace the unfamiliar; if we introduce an unknown element into their habitat, such as a cotton ball, they will often inspect it from a distance, waiting to see if it will move or in some other fashion present a possible threat. When it does not, they will dart forward, sniff quickly, and just as rapidly dart away again, looking back to see what, if anything, has changed. It takes a while for them to approach the object in a more leisurely fashion and give it a thorough inspection. Eventually it will become accepted as part of their environment, and the more adventurous mice will conceive a use for it, if there is one, and claim it as their own.Then, of course, all the mice will want it. Just like children.

They enjoy being petted and scratched, but only when it is their idea. Again like cats, the places where they like being scratched the most is in front of the ears and on their foreheads, where their little toes can't quite reach. A favorite place for being stroked is above the base of the tail, but it has to be gentle, as it seems to be quite sensitive. We maintain carefully manicured index fingernails for scratching purposes.

Their eating habits differ. Some mice prefer to take food to a private corner to eat in solitary; others are communal, sitting right at the bowl to eat. Inevitably, a few scuffles will ensue when more than one desires the same morsel. They hold nuts in their paws and gnaw at them in the manner of squirrels, although they don't sit quite as erect; they are slightly hunched. Seeds are rapidly hulled and devoured. We give them tuna, dried or fresh egg yolk, bone meal and oats, which they seem to enjoy; less appealing are the wretched vegetable pellets, which are almost universally scorned. Occasionally, we treat them with cheese and snack foods (we actually ran across a website that claimed that mice do not like cheese. This is a bald-faced lie. We can personally attest that mice love cheese.) Once we gave them some Ritz Bits; they liked the peanut butter flavor but scorned the 'cheese'-flavored crackers. Their palates can apparently discern the difference between real cheese and whatever processed matter Ritz uses to produce the crackers.

Something that never fails to amuse us is the perusal of exterminators' advertisements. Invariably they depict mice as scruffy, almost mangy creatures, and their ears appear to be notched or torn, as if Mike Tyson had attempted to snack upon them. In reality, mice are among the most fastidious of creatures, spending long minutes grooming and preening their beautiful fur. To watch them wash their faces is a rare joy, an action from which we always derive much pleasure.

Their eyes can be most expressive, almost paradoxically so, since we rarely, if ever, see the whites. By observing the light reflected from their pupils, we can tell in which direction they are looking (we have found this to be true of parakeets also.) There are all sorts of opinions to be found regarding whether mice have good eyesight; it has been our experience that they can see keenly up to a distance of approximately 6 yards; beyond that they can certainly detect movement, but we are unsure of how much detail they can make out.

Their noses, of course, are the most important sense organ that they possess. When confronted with the unknown or unfamiliar, the first action that they take is to raise their heads fractionally and twitch their noses. Their heads bob slightly up and down and turn from side to side, whiskers quivering, seeking the source of whatever has claimed their attention.

The ancestors of mice, shrew- or vole-like creatures, were among the first of the true mammals, and mice are likely to be one of the surviving species of a major natural (or human-created) disaster. (This is a cute site if you want to learn more.)

We have watched our mice evince watchfulness, curiosity and confusion, animosity and affection. We have seen them engage in love and war (how human of  them!) It never fails to amaze us that entities with such seemingly small brains are capable of so much more than basic instinctual behavior. We have learned much from these tiny but fascinating companions, not the least of which is that all the Creator's creatures have souls.


Prop ... riety

One of these days I'll gather all the URLs into one huge entry, just so I have a list to refer to ... but that day is not yet come, so here's another link for those who wander the garden paths to see what exotic blooms might be discovered:

Oceanmrc, whose journal is Midlife Matters, deserves a visit. Drop on by.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

... does anybody wonder? Anybody care?

This is a heartfelt plea. Go visit Brandie at Brandie's World, read her entry, and then spend some time thinking about it. She has written about what I have not yet been able to bring myself to write about. It is time that people begin to understand that those with mental diseases are often unable to help themselves and can become their own worst enemies. When your own brain betrays you, it is a terrible thing, for you and for those who love you.


A few more entries into the CORPORATE COMPASSION HALL OF SHAME:

Honeywell International Inc. - 2000 jobs gone

General Motors Corp. - 25,000 jobs gone

Ford Motor Co. - 20,000 jobs gone

IBM - 10,000 - 13,000 jobs gone

SBC Communications - 13,000 jobs gone

Kimberly-Clark - 6000 jobs gone

Xerox Corp. - 2600 jobs gone

Sun Microsystems Inc. - 1000 jobs gone

Morgan Stanley - 1000 jobs gone

Valeo - 500 jobs gone


I've got a word or two ...

It never ceases to be a source of amazement to me that since I have begun to walk in the way of my beliefs, my life has changed, and for the better. Simply thanking the Creator at the beginning of each new day makes that day a happier one.

Others have discovered this secret. I haven't read Norman Vincent Peale's work, but I think maybe I will some day, to see how my ideas and his fit together.

My basic personal philosophy is an old and simple one: Live and let live. Here are a couple of tenets that I believe in:

Positivity and contentment breed positivity and contentment. Negativity and anger breed more of the same. One can make the choice to walk in the light or wallow in the darkness.

Thanx to Marti of Midlife Musings for emailing me a concise and quite funny joke yesterday. It inspired me to dust off a joke that was making the rounds in the mid-'60s. Perhaps after 40 years, it will seem new again.

There once lived a woman whose husband worked long hours and enjoyed stopping in at the bar after work, frequently arriving home very late and quite drunk, and often in a bad mood. This made life increasingly lonely and unhappy for the woman, so one day she decided to purchase a pet to provide a pleasant antidote to her grumpy and remote husband.

Entering the pet shop, she spent some time looking around at the variety of animals, unsure what sort of companionship she craved, and finally, in frustration, she turned to the proprietor and inquired of him what he thought might make a suitable pet.

"I have a lively and affable bird here that you might like," he said, leading her over to a creature that resembled nothing so much as an enormous toucan, with black and white feathers and a gaily colored beak.

"What type of bird is this?" the woman asked. The proprietor, who was setting up a terrarium, said, "It's called a 'crunch bird'." "Why is it called that?" she asked. He explained, "It's the literal translation of what the inhabitants of its native region call this bird. Watch."

He plucked a decorative branch from the terrarium and placed it upon the countertop. "Crunch bird, branch," he said. The bird speedily flew to the branch and, with its exceedingly sharp, serrated beak, reduced the branch to a small pile of chips within the space of a minute.

"It will consume anything that you order it to, if you preface the name of the item with the words 'crunch bird', so you must exercise some care," the proprietor said. The woman carefully approached the bird, which gazed soulfully up at her, nuzzled her hand with its beak, and made a low warbling sound. "I'll take it," she said.

That night her husband spent a particularly lengthy time at the bar, and upon arriving home, began to berate his wife for some imagined wrong. His loud and indignant voice elicited a raucous squawk from the bird. Rolling his bloodshot eyes in the direction of the creature, he snarled, "What the hell is that?" "It's a crunch bird," his wife said. He roared, "CRUNCH BIRD, MY ASS!"



Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Prop .... erty

We keep meeting new people who drop by our journal because they saw the entry in Judith's contest. We give them respect by listing their journals, not because we think they'll return, but because we believe that what goes around, comes around ... eventually. So here is our latest prop to our newest visitor - ckays1967. Her journal is called My Journey With MS. Go visit.


The Ongoing Crisis

I meant to start writing these squibs down a while ago, but as one gets older, one forgets ...

The inauguration of ...


JP Morgan Chase lays off 300 employees in Rochester (and others elsewhere; if I discover the total, I'll edit this.)

Hewlett-Packard will lay off 14,500 employees (and overhaul its retirement plan.)

PNC Financial Services Group Inc. will lay off 3000 employees.

Eastman Kodak Co. will lay off another 10,000 employees on top of the 15,000 that they cut last year.

And GM is asking the Canadian Auto Workers Union to accept cuts in benefits.

The articles refer to them as "job cuts", but these are not numbers, not statistics; they are real people like you and me, and they are about to suffer the agonies of uncertainty that I remember so well. Say a prayer for them, please.

On the brighter side, the inauguration of the ...


Paychex Inc. will add 480 employees in the Rochester area.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

If I Didn't Have Props ... I'd Fall Over!

Here's a new link for those who haven't yet discovered it -

Realitycheckmco of the journal All Things Just Keep Getting .. Stranger.

Nice to meet you, M.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

I'm in Pieces

Occasionally I become mildly frustrated because I have so much that I want to write about, I can never seem to choose among the topics that I will write about. And, like any human, I am a puzzle of many pieces. So, here are 2 of my pieces:

Someday ...

 Photo courtesy of Jamie Germano, staff photographer of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

This is a shot of Ciara at the Rochester MusicFest yesterday (yes, I'm plugging Rochester again; I like Rochester). Ciara, Beyonce Knowles, Mariah Carey, Tiger Woods ... all are children of interracial marriage. At one time, interracial relations were against the law. People even had an ugly word for it - miscegenation. Nowadays, more people are tolerant of mixed couples, although there still exist pockets of hatred, gatherings of folks who find the arrangement unacceptable.

I believe that as more and more children are born who are products of interracial marriage, people will gradually come to accept that the color of one's skin is no determinant of one's character. I fearlessly predict that the day will come in this country when all peoples' skin color will be varying shades of brown, negating the need for prejudice.

I also predict that there will come a day when people accept that sexual orientation is a matter of genetics and not choice. They will become tolerant of marriage between men and marriage between women, because they will realize that love should be encouraged, no matter in what form love may manifest itself.

I believe that no matter what names the various factions of Organized Religion give to the Creator of us all, we do all worship the same Supreme Being. I very much doubt that there are, as the ancients believed, pantheons of gods all contending with each other for worshippers. Thus it greatly disappoints me when I see something like this. It indicates to me that Organized Religion is still more about exclusion than inclusion. Until people come to their senses and recognize that religion is a creation of men and not the Creator, the fighting and killing will continue, and negative actions will continue to be perpetrated by humans who use religion as a convenient excuse and a tool with which to subjugate and control others, because their true motivations are power and greed.

That's my preachment for today.




Saturday, July 16, 2005


Well, I finished chapter 8 of the new Harry Potter book just before lightning took out power to 4 towns (why does this always happen at the height of summer or the depth of winter? In spring or fall we could handle it much more easily). As you can see, the power's back now. Someone who lives not far from us took a direct hit to the house's electric systems and all the electronic devices were, in his word, "fried", including the computer, tvs, dvd players, etc. The poor man had scorch marks on the baseboard near the computer.

J.K. Rowling has done it again. A very good story. It's a damned shame that certain hate-afflicted people in this country can't just enjoy a good read without making it out to be something that it is not (and I'm afraid I must include Pope Benedict XVI among the afflicted.)

Lose the hate, people! The Creator is no lover of hate.

One more prop before I lose myself in magic again. Welcome to louie0768 of the journal Befuddled. Thanx for stopping by.

For those few who actually mentioned how much they enjoyed my story, I have finished a couple of chapters and I do have an outline, but lately I have been reading so much that I have little time to write. At the moment the discipline is just not there. I guess it just goes to show that I can't read and write.



Before we forget, we'd like to say hi to someone we hope to learn more about - her sn is mutualaide and her journal is called Life on Flamingo Row. Stop by and say "hi."

Here's another new friend - reasons to continue journaling just keep coming - her sn is easuess and her journal is called A Survivor's Guide. Drop in and say "hello."


Pottering Around, Part 2

Bonnie has told me a great story -

As mentioned, Bonnie went to Barnes and Noble to pick up Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince this morning (I guess my time was off; she must have left around 7:45) and when she arrived in the parking lot, there were approximately 15 people patiently waiting for B&N to open (they were supposed to open at 8:00 am.) Bonnie prudently sat in the car until they opened the door (life is wonderful when you feel no pressure) and she witnessed the following scenario:

Between 7:50 and 7:55, a young man (one of the B&N associates) entered the vestibule from inside the store. Naturally, the patient waiters, who had until then been placid, began to perk up, expecting the doors to be opened. However, the man produced a cloth and some window cleaner and proceeded to leisurely wipe each and every pane of glass in both sets of double doors (there must be about 80 panes.) Apparently the hordes from last night all had filthy fingers and pushed upon the glass rather than use the bar.

You may imagine the effect this had upon the waiting shoppers. They became increasingly restless and gradually began to exhibit signs of disgruntlement. A few (all of whom were over the age of 20) scowled and muttered seditiously. Luckily, the young man finally finished his task and at about 8:10, a woman emerged from the inner regions, displayed a key, and unlocked the doors. Crisis averted.



Pottering Around

The title is Bonnie's joke, so I used it.

This short entry is just for us, to remind us. We got H.P. and the Half-Blood Prince; Bonnie went over to Barnes & Noble at about 8:05 and just returned (8:22); she got the book for 40% off and a free poster too(!) There were only 15 people in line, as opposed to the ravening hordes that the local news channels never tired of showing us last night. Patience can be bliss.

Thanks, hon.


Friday, July 15, 2005

... all the world astounds me ...

     At first I told myself that I couldn't do this. Then I told myself that I didn't want to do this. Then, unaccountably, I sat down and did this.


     The short answer, I guess, is megalocephalism. I am an inordinate and inveterate fathead, and I labor under the delusion that I have something of interest to say to the world. There have been times when I had second thoughts - as in this excerpt from March 21st (how distant that time seems now.) This excerpt also explains the impetus for setting out upon this extended, somewhat unnatural (for me) journey:

     "I began this journal with the idea of committing a novel to print, but the novel was uncooperative. I have continued on mainly to provide a showcase for my little critters (Diatoms), of which I am perhaps overfond ... Unlike many J-landers, I have never before kept a diary or journal. I question the wisdom of continuing this effort ..." 

     For better or for worse, I got over it.

     There are many reasons why I continue to journal, chief among them the fact that it is gratifying to discover new neighbors and friends online. In no other place (except for chat rooms, but that's a different story for another time) can you meet and converse with so many people from all over the country (and perhaps the world.) Journals are unique in that complete strangers offer to share their lives with whomever cares to stop by and stay awhile. Sharing and caring are hallmarks of the journal experience.

     Journals offer the best (and, sadly, sometimes the worst) of what everyday people experience. Many journals are chronicles of the day-to-day struggles of ordinary people leading extraordinary lives. People are willing to share their stories of tragedies and triumph, hoping in return to receive empathy, sympathy, validation, solace, or understanding. People want to know that they are not alone in having to suffer the tribulations of existence. Journals offer the opportunity to become a member of a vast and exquisite support group.

     The explorer in J-land can discover a wide variety of topics. Every aspect of the human condition can be found, if one is patient and devotes the time to seek them out. Political and religious views are aired, details of unfamiliar illnesses are revealed, humor and whimsy are rampant, and flashes of both brilliance and darkness can sometimes be discerned, all proffered by people who feel no impulse to be celebrities, but wish only to say, "I exist. Here I am."

     ("See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.")

     Many journals become outlets for people who exercise their creative impulses, and one can discover wondrous examples of artwork, photographs, poetry and prose galore. A few journals even become multimedia presentations, if the individuals are knowledgeable and talented enough to manage such. The only price of admission to this astounding world of creativity is an online connection.

     In short, the world is literally at our fingertips.

     In a way, we J-landers are making history. Historians of the future will discover in the archives that we create a vast wealth of material with which to interpret how we lived, how it was for us. This may be our best shot at immortality.

     We who journal are privileged to meet people from all over the country and the world, from all walks of life. We become inhabitants of an enormous community that seems sometimes to shrink to the size of a village, and frequently we are welcomed as members of an extended and possibly surrogate family. I believe that we all share in common the thirst for the intimate connections that can be obtained only in this fashion. To touch and to be touched by the emotions and aspirations of others - ultimately, perhaps, this is why I keep a journal.






Thursday, July 14, 2005

Tip of the Day #4

I should have known. But it was early yet; I was just easing into my first cup of coffee, not really conscious of much other than the unrelenting heat ...

Bonnie is not normally a kitty (euphemism); she is, more generally, a tiger. So when a short conversation like this occurs, I should know ...

"Honey ... ? ............... There's a spider ..............."

"Oh? .................... Do you want me to kill it?"


For years, I have been the primary pest exterminator in our house, but familiarity does often breed contempt, and Bonnie has gradually reached the point where she has no compunction about swatting, often with her bare hand, a run-of-the-mill penny-sized spider, ant, or whatever insectoid creature may manage to offend her sense of propriety. So when she indicates a definite and emphatic preference for my intervention, I should know ...

I have no idea of the provenance or species of this particular spider - it was relatively slender and inky black, but the abdomen and cephalothorax combined were the size of my upper thumb joint (take a second to glance at your own) and the legspan was such that it would completely cover a home printer toner cartridge. I have seen spiders this size before; we have a species that is golden brown with glittering emerald eyes; I have had to remove three or four of these from the house over the years. But I had never before seen one that affected me so viscerally, simply because it had the look of something that could move extremely fast if provoked. One thing that really bugs me (oh, that was cheap, wasn't it?) is a spider that can move much faster than me. I don't know if it was poisonous, but I certainly wouldn't want to be bitten by it, and if somehow it managed to get in among our mice ...

So I determined that, in this case, it had to die. Now for the tip of the day (useful for once) -

Deodorant. We don't like to spray commercial insecticides inside the house; we don't trust them and are unsure of how they may affect our mice. However, while deodorant is not generally considered to be poisonous, it is exceedingly sticky, and it is excellent for obstructing an insect's spiracles. It has the added benefit of causing insects to partially adhere to any surface which is coated with a blot of deodorant.

We were lucky that this spider chose to park its carcass inside of a paper bag in which we store old newspapers, so after liberally applying deodorant to the spider, it was relatively easy to rapidly fold over the corner of the bag and slam it back against the wall (the underside of a dustpan made a nice large, flat surface with which to apply extra force and solidity.)

Problem solved.

Okay, this is not exactly a marvel of frisson-producing suspense, but, until Billy Joel decides to aim his vehicle at our house, this is what presently passes for excitement in the Mott household.

(If you feel compelled to read the lyrics and hear the tune of "Itsy Bitsy Spider", they can be found here.)


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

... I ain't workin' here no more ...

It's my guess that a few of my correspondents might have had a day that went something like this.

WARNING: This is gross and pretty sick, so you might want to avoid it, or at least send the kids outside.


... another one bites the dust ...

Added to the identity theft Hall of Shame:

Arizona Biodyne


...I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello ...

Okay ........ let's try this again. I'll do this geographically, from Left Coast to north, to east, to south ... Albert gets pride of place because he was my first visitor. 

Hi, Albert. Will you leave your heart in San Francisco?

Hi, Brandie. Hope all's well in the land o' the lakes.

Hi, cneinhorn (may we call you Nettie?). We like seeing New Jersey through your lens.

Hi, Judith and Virginia. Thank you both for sharing your special talents.

Hi, Jennifer. I fear that much is not well with you now. My wish is that everything resolves itself and you return to us.

Hi, Sam. As with the others, thanks for the photos and welcome to my world.

Hi, Queen Big O. Say hi to the King too. Potter forever!

Hi, Marti. Your pictures, also, never fail to please us.

Hi, Cynthia, there in the wilds of TN. May happiness never fail to come your way.

And hello to shellys555 in NYC. Thank you for helping to disseminate those most marvelous objects, books.

And if there are lurkers out there, I'm a ho' for comments, and I'll pimp you if you let me know who you are. (Geez, pimps & ho's, this is getting bad.)

Now I have to check and make sure that all the links work.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

... a pocket full of mumbles ...

Let's see. What shall I write about today? War? Dammit, Cynthia already supplied a perfect entry upon that topic. Harry Potter? Oh, wait, Queen Big O has covered that very nicely. What else?

I know! I'll post all 184 photos of our peregrine falcons! Everyone loves bird photos!

(No, I'd better not.)

Ah, Bonnie to the rescue! It's the latest ad from the infamous Village Fair. Oh, my. The steak royale is apparently gone for the season. A moment of silence, please.

But wait! A new cut of meat of which we have never heard has made its appearance. How does Village Fair do it?

FANCY JUICY LEAN                 $299

FAMILY STEAKS                  lb.

Ever ready with the macabre quip, Bonnie is wondering just which family might have supplied the 'raw materials'. (Gosh, Bonnie can be 'tasteless', too.) It looks like it's time to closely study the obituaries.

I had begun to pimp journals in this entry, but AOL ate the whole thing and I have had to painstakingly and laboriously recreate this whole entry (no small matter on a hot, humid day) so I'll do a separate entry for the pimps so I don't lose this again.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

... the sound of a gentle word ...

Those who do not like to contemplate people over 50 remembering what it was like to be young adults should perhaps turn their heads or skip the next paragraph.

There are few things more hedonistic than lying in bed, naked, on a hot night, with your partner, carving juicy slices from a chilled pluot (a fruit new to us, and quite tasty, too. It is possibly the 'fruit' of the union of plum and apricot. Okay, that was bad, I know.) The firm flesh of the fruit and the slightly less (alas) firm flesh of the partners makes for an experience that is almost sinfully, shamefully sybaritic, filled with sensuality and (ahem) sexuality.

I hope I can do this justice. I am often inspired by what my fellow Netizens have written, and tonight I am inspired by a new and valued correspondent, Judith Heartsong. She and we share a liking for the TNT miniseries, "Into the West." Judith has expressed the valid criticism that the actors were not used to the best of their capabilities, and I agree with that point. I suppose that, given more resources such as time and money, they could have done a much better job. Looked at strictly as entertainment, it does leave somewhat to be desired.

 But I have a slightly different viewpoint. The depiction of intertwined families represents to me only a detail of a much larger picture. Upon the larger canvas is portrayed the grand sweep of history, and that, it seems to me, requires rather broader brush strokes than otherwise might be desirable. The intimate stories of individuals are but short chapters in a sprawling saga covering vast distances of time and space. Looked at in this respect, it may seem more understandable that some sacrifices of character development needed to be made.

Another thing, I think, is that we are better off for having the story told in as much detail as they were able to fit in. There are parts of this story of which I was aware in snippets, but this is the first time that it was forcefully brought home to me how every other race than Caucasians was brutalized and exploited. In this series that fact is thrust to the forefront. This story can also be used as a springboard for one to dive deeper into the pool of this country's sometimes sordid history. (If you haven't yet read it, there is an excellent book telling the story of the New Madrid earthquakes, but also fleshing out the tale of the Native American uprisings and the events leading to the War of 1812, and including the story of the first steamboat to sail the Mississippi and how it fared during the earthquakes. The book is named "When the Mississippi Ran Backwards" and the author's name is Jay Feldman. Look for it at your local library.)

Lastly, I got to thinking that the miniseries is a lot like life - it could be much better, but it's all we've been given, and we may as well make the best we can of it. I hope you don't take this the wrong way, Judith; it's just that when I get to thinking, it's sometimes hard to stop.

Cynthia, we hope most of the storm misses your area; you and yours are in our prayers. (sistercdr of "Sorting the Pieces")

And a tip o' the Malcolm toupee to Queen Big O for teaching me to link. (No, I don't wear a toupee. What few hairs I still have are my own.)


...the house of the water sign ...

It is just absolutely the most gorgeous kind of day here in the Pearl of the East and the land of the snowbird. The sun is shining, there is a gentle breeze, the temperature is perfect and the humidity, for the moment, is low. It is so seldom that this confluence occurs that I am enjoying every minute.

The birds are singing, my mice are gamboling, and there is a gigantic vomit-yellow fungus growing in the middle of my yard.

Can it get any better than this?

Best wishes to those of you who lie in the path of the hurricane.


Saturday, July 9, 2005


(Why do things like this bother me? Do I have this much time on my hands? Why should I be the only one bothered by inconsequentialities?)

Oh. Hi there. Here's something to think about:

The United States Postal Service was first instituted in 1775. The first official postage stamps were issued in 1847. The first stamp designs featured Ben Franklin and George Washington. In 1861 and 1862, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson were added to the pantheon of honored Americans. In 1866, Abraham Lincoln was added. In 1870-71, Stanton, Clay, Webster, Scott, Hamilton and Perry were added. Distinguished Americans to be sure, but none of them were elected President. In 1875, Taylor was added. In 1882, Garfield was added. Do you see where I'm going with this?

It wasn't until the 1938 Presidential Series that every single President up through Calvin Coolidge was honored by being featured on a stamp. The Adamses, father and son, were left off the roster for almost 100 years! Why?

It's thinking about things like this that keeps me up nights.




Friday, July 8, 2005

... the missing link ...

Utter silliness apropos of absolutely nothing ...

A while ago, back when we were both working, we conceived a curious notion - both of us, in our families, had an "Uncle Bob", and it seemed to us that perhaps in every family, maybe not immediate, but somewhere on the genealogical tree, there lurked an "Uncle Bob."

So we began, just for the fun of it, to ask around, and, sure enough, most people either had an "Uncle Bob", or knew of a Bob in the family who was an uncle to someone.

We ran into only one person who claimed not to know of anyone in his family who would fall within the parameters. The kicker was, his name was Bob and he was an uncle. Talk about the exception that proves the rule!


Thursday, July 7, 2005

Our hearts and good wishes go out to the people of London, to those who have been harmed and to those who have suffered the injury or loss of loved ones and friends. Know that the Creator cares for them.

To those who have intentionally authored such an atrocity: Know that you have committed the most momentous of sins. You have willfully neglected to tend to that which the Creator has given you, your soul. You have refused to nurture the Divine spark that the Creator has placed within you, and you have let it die. You have despised the One Who gave you life. You are the lowest form of life, lower than the unicellular organisms of the sea. The Creator will not welcome you into the afterlife, for you have much to learn and far to go.

Wishing for peace.

Those who burn books or deface artwork show contempt for the author or artist.

Those who take lives show contempt for the Creator.

Those who show contempt will one day be expected to account for it.


Tuesday, July 5, 2005

... there is a season ...

(This morning's theme was suggested by Bonnie)

There is a village not far from us optimistically named East Rochester, and in the village is a small village-style food market entitled, appropriately enough, Village Fair. We sometimes buy meat there because, as their legend proudly proclaims, "Our meats are freshly cut."

Since about the end of May, their ads have been featuring a cut of meat called 'steak royale', something of which neither of us had ever heard (if you have, please let us know; we're dying to find out exactly what it is. Not enough to actually buy it, mind you, but still ...) The meat is listed as $3.99 a pound, and there was included, in a few of the early ads, a small black- and-white photo of something vaguely resembling a T-bone. It was announced as being 'special.'

Two weeks after the original ad, a second appeared, slightly amended. It now advised, "get them while they last." Well, they had already lasted two weeks, so ...

The latest ad is the most bemusing, and possibly most disturbing, of all. The photo is gone, and the ad now looks like this:

Last of the season             $399             

Steak Royale                       lb.

I can do no better than to quote Bonnie:

"I didn't know meat had a season."

Now that I think about it, neither did I. So now we're both meandering around, in deep thought, humming "Turn! Turn! Turn!"

We're wondering why the steak royale doesn't "turn, turn, turn."


Monday, July 4, 2005

This American Century

The year was 1760. In England, King George III ascended the throne and became the ruler of the thirteen colonies, which were then suffering the throes of the French and Indian War. In 1763, all land east of the Mississippi, except for New Orleans, was ceded to the British. The Indians continued to resist the British, culminating in the Proclamation of 1763, which prohibited settlements west of the Appalachians and required settlers to vacate settlements already established, in an attempt to mollify the Indians.

The war was ruinously costly for the British, compelling them to establish a series of repressive taxes upon the colonies, and forbidding them to print their own legal tender. The colonists began to chafe under these imposts and restrictions, but the impetus for revolt came in March 1765, when the Stamp Act was passed by Parliament, representing the first direct tax imposed upon the colonists. In May of 1765 Patrick Henry proposed the Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions, and in July the Sons of Liberty organization was formed. On November 1st, the Stamp Act went into effect and mob violence broke out in New York City.

Relations between the Crown and the colonies continued to be strained, but only isolated instances of violence occurred until 1770. In January, violence between a mob and British soldiers broke out, followed by the Boston Massacre in March. The colonists grew increasingly restive, and on the night of December 16th, 1773, the Boston Tea Party occurred.In March 1774, Parliament enacted the first of the Coercive Acts, which led to the establishment of the First Continental Congress on September 5th. On October 14th, the Congress adopted a document entitled Declaration and Resolves, forerunner of the Declaration of Independence.

On April 18th, 1775, General Gage ordered 700 British soldiers to Concord.

On April 19th, 1775, at dawn, the American Revolution was born.

On July 4th, 1776, America officially declared its independence from the Crown of England, beginning its grand experiment.

On November 30th, 1782, a preliminary peace treaty was signed in Paris.

On February 4th, 1783, England officially declared an end to hostilities.

On September 3rd, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed and on January 14th, 1784, it was ratified by Congress. The Revolutionary War was ended.

On September 17th, 1787, the Constitution was signed.

On April 6th, 1789, George Washington was elected to be the first president of the United States.

Two hundred and twenty-nine years. Eleven score and nine. The United States, America, in the new millennium, stands as the preeminent military power in the world. If we so choose, no country can for long stand against our might. And yet. When we exercise our power preemptively, we commit an essentially unethical act. We lose the moral high ground, and we intimidate and forfeit the trust of much of the rest of the world. Largely unilateral war is the prerogative of an empire, not a democracy. We mouth the platitudes of a freedom-loving democracy, but when we act the bully, we cannot help but appear to the world to stand as subjugator and conqueror. Is this what we have become?

The unwarranted attack upon our citizens that occurred on September the 11th, 2001, cried out for just retaliation, and a start was made toward attaining that justice. But the wishes of the American people for revenge against those who attacked us were subverted by an administration bent upon demonstrating to the world that we could do what we wanted, where we wanted, and when we wanted, and the world be damned.

I love our country. I love what it stands for, and I am proud of the many accomplishments that it has realized. I am, however, deeply ashamed of politicians who seek to subvert and pervert this grand experiment.

Citizens, search within yourselves and ask yourselves if you really want the rest of the world to hate and fear this great country of ours. Is it worth it?


Sunday, July 3, 2005

... the moon rose over an open field ...

Heavenly Distraction

If you've been paying attention, you'll know what I'll be watching at 1:52 am (+ or - 3 min.). If you're interested, here's the link:


... just trying to keep my customers satisfied ...

I'm trying desperately to compose some sort of entry to properly memorialize Independence Day and, if I manage to scrape something off the floor of my brain, you might see it, but in the meantime, I couldn't let these two items pass:

1. TV Guide, July 3-9, 2005 contains an ad put out by the Danbury Mint. The ad is offering for sale "The First Annual Yorkie Christmas Ornament." There have been other ads from the same outfit offering other Christmas ornaments for sale even earlier in the year.

2. The Rite Aid circular in our Sunday paper for the week of July 3-9, 2005 has a banner that reads "Great Back-To-School Savings!"

Has someone altered the calendar without notifying me? Are children returning to school already? Will we celebrate Christmas in August? Have we passed through the Looking-Glass? Help!


Saturday, July 2, 2005

...tryin' to lose those awkward teenage blues ... (that's) the way we were ...

Bonnie is the musically aware half of our relationship, but somewhere in the corridors of my mind is a door which is identified by a picture of a reel of audiotape imprinted with a blue note, and that door has opened nearly every time I have sat down to compose a journal entry, as I'm certain you've noticed. The spindles of the ol' reel-to-reel begin to revolve, and a theme fills the air. Sometimes I hear more than one song at a time ...

Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy

Out in the backseat of my '60s Chevy

Workin' on mysteries without any clues

Workin' on our night moves

Tryin'to make some front page drive-in news

Workin' on our night moves

In the summertime

In the sweet summertime


Ain't it funny how the night moves

When you just don't seem to have as much to lose

Strange how the night moves

With autumn closing in


Scattered pictures,

Of the smiles we left behind

Smiles we gave to one another

For the way we were


My comrade Albert has prevailed upon me to tell the story of how Bonnie and I met; I will put aside my discomfort at resurrecting teenage anguish and relate the tale. If you find it boring, you know whom to blame; truck on over to ALBERT'S WORLD OF ARTSY FUN-HOUSE and voice your displeasure at his ill-considered audacity (joke, Albert, joke.)

We grew up in the same town, but it was a quite large town, and we lived miles from each other, so we didn't meet until we entered Junior High, where students from all over town were mingled together. As is probably the case in any town, we tended to hang with the crowd we grew up with, and only gradually became aware of the other, unknown, students. The first memory I have of Bonnie is quite prosaic in its way; I remember sitting in the school library studying something or other, and watching as a young woman entered, paused at the desk to speak to the librarian, then made her way to a table across the room. Completely forgetting whatever it was that I was supposed to be studying, I partially raised the book I was holding and used the cover to hide behind while surreptitiously studying the intriguing young lady whom I had never before seen (at least I was studying something.)

As young heterosexual men will, I paid particular attention to her attributes, such as how well she filled out the snug, short-sleeved, pale pink pullover she was wearing, and how prettily her sunshine-blonde hair cascaded over her shoulders. She was taller than many of the girls at school, and I liked that about her. Her best feature was her hazel eyes, which were of that fugitive nature such that their color was constantly changing, depending upon how the light struck them.

I was unattached to anyone at the time; my mother had managed to inculcate in me a wariness of women (a story for perhaps another time), and I was a shy and reserved young man by nature, so at that point, although I was interested, I made no advances, naturally assuming that she already had a boyfriend.

We saw each other in the halls nearly every day, and students that she grew up with were friends with students that I grew up with, so we did interact occasionally when the two groups would meet, but it went no further than that. I didn't know at the time that I was apparently quite as intriguing to her as she was to me (well, that's what she tells me, anyway), and neither of us made the moves necessary to bring us closer together.

We eventually graduated from school, never having attended a single class together, each involved with someone else, and it took a mutual acquaintance to get us together. Ironically, the mutual acquaintance was my girlfriend of the moment (and of her I will say no more, no matter how much you may beg.) Bonnie was having difficulty with her boyfriend, and for some reason my girlfriend thought that I would make a good advisor for Bonnie on the topic of men (I also suspect she was beginning to tire of me, and this may have been her way of sparking my interest in someone else.) So, not long after our graduation, on a hot summer night in 1967, with the moon hanging low in the sky and katydids and crickets churring desultorily away, we sat across from each other at a picnic table in my girlfriend's back yard and talked far into the morning, finally meeting and learning to know one another.

It wasn't quite that easy, of course. We each had to disentangle ourselves from our current relationships (I never inquired of Bonnie how it went for her, but my freedom was gained in a ridiculously easy fashion and, looking back, I am so glad.) For a while, I just enjoyed being unencumbered, acquiring my first real job and learning how to become an adult. Later, in the fall, out of the blue, Bonnie called me and invited me on a hayride (in those days, our town still retained its bucolic character, and, as a teenager, I had actually earned part of my money haying for local farmers. It was a most miserable job, but when you're young, it doesn't matter so much, and the farmers' wives could cook.) I was, to put it mildly, surprised; I truly had no idea that I could be considered possible dating material by anyone, especially after my first disastrous experience. I said yes, I'd like that, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now, Albert, you have heard the story of those two young people and their first true romance. I hope you have enjoyed it.

(If you would form a picture of those youngsters, Bonnie at that time bore more than a passing resemblance to Natalee Holloway, the teenager missing in Aruba, and I was told by relatives that I resembled Paul Petersen, a young actor appearing on the Donna Reed Show at the time. There may have been some slight scintilla of truth in what my relatives said, but bear in mind, they were relatives, and you know how they are. Nowadays, of course, Bonnie is still the ravishing beauty that she has always been, while I now resemble a cross between a drug-crazed biker, a thoroughly debauched Rob Reiner, and the Unabomber.)