MUSHY'S MOOCHINGS: February 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

THE DAYS OF BONDING – PART TWO

Corey was fourteen, so the act of killing his first deer might be considered his “rite of passage” or his “coming of age” event, but, in all honesty, he did not transition, or enter his liminal phase, a period between withdrawing and re-entering his social position with new insight, until about midway into his fifteenth year.

It was in the summer of 1989 that Corey stepped over into adulthood. You can almost see this move on the VHS tapes I made of him that year. He went from a chubby little uncoordinated kid nicknamed “Chunk”, to a confident baseball player, secure within himself of his capabilities and social interactions. Of course, there was some resemblance to Lawrence "Chunk" Cohen in the 1985 teen-flick, Goonies, but Corey never seemed to mind, much like me with Mushy!

After his fifteenth year he lost the glasses and the nerdy look of his youth and began to mature into the good man, husband, and father he is today. I doubt that killing his first deer had much to do with the transition, but it did not hurt! I could argue that from that fourteenth year forward he was a much changed human being.

At fourteen, Corey was still not confident enough to want to use my Ruger .270 on the youth hunt at Cumberland Springs Wildlife Preserve (formerly a state park), near Tullahoma, Tennessee. He feared the recoil, which I must admit has tagged several hunters, including myself. However, for me, with a trickle of blood running down from between my eyes, that was what made me want the .270! I remember telling my friend, whose gun I was zeroing in, “Man, I got to have one of these,” I said, licking the blood from the corner of my mouth!

He replied, as many have commented since, “You’re crazy!”

To me the recoil was something I wanted to own and control. I never again “half-mooned” myself between the eyebrows and would never consider deer hunting with anything else.

For that reason I began letting Corey practice with my 12 gauge slug-gun. I placed a paper plate on a fence post about 20 yards away and told him that if he could hit that plate, he could kill a deer. So, with that instruction, Corey set his sights on hitting that plate, and with the second shot he was well on his way to being consistent.

Corey and I took several overnight trips to Cumberland Springs, sometimes sleeping in the back of my S-10 Blazer, and other times we enjoyed pillow fights at a little motel in Manchester, Tennessee. However, this particular morning we decided to drive down the morning of the hunt, which was about a 2 ½ hour drive. It had been raining much of the week, so we decided to hold off and see if the weather changed, and it did. The morning was still drizzly with some fog as we left three hours before sunrise.

We arrived at our pre-scouted location before sunup, but waited in the truck for the rain to slack. Around 10 a.m. the sky began to clear and we moved on into the woods, thinking to ourselves that it was a waste of time. Entering the woods after daylight is usually a no-no in the hunting world, but the idea was to give Corey his time in the woods.

The first hour passed slowly with Corey fidgeting, twisting, and pulling up little twigs, and me fussing at him to “Be still! I had long become accustom to sitting motionless for long periods and moving slowly and deliberately when necessary, but he was a kid! I could expect nothing less, and actually did not really mind. I just wanted him to learn the rules that he could reference in later years.

Nonetheless, he would squirm and I would fuss. Often times, on other hunts, we would end up wrestling in the leaves behind the camouflaged netting, and laughing and teasing each other. Once we were even surprised by two does that stood just feet from us trying to figure out what all the commotion was about! It just proves that deer are very inquisitive animals, and times like those make all the rules about stealth being a requirement seem like myths!

While I was lecturing, and he was ignoring me watching a chipmunk play nearby, I suddenly diverted my eyes to movement over his shoulder and said very softly, “Son, there’s a deer!”

Yeah, right,” he said not believing me.

However, as he turned to look my way, he realized that it was true. Not 15 yards from us walked a very gray doe, and our hearts began to pound! She ambled along, head down browsing, and at about 20 yards I knew that Corey needed to make his shot or lose the opportunity for the season. I kept whispering instructions to him about target alignment and his breathing.

I watched him flip off the safety on the Mossberg, steady his aim, and re-feel his grip. Suddenly the shotgun BOOMED to life and spit out the huge rifled-slug of lead toward the still unaware doe.

As it turned out, the doe had nearly turned its tail toward Corey, lessening his target area, when he fired. The slug entered the doe’s right rear hip and exited its left shoulder, bisecting almost the full length of the doe’s body! The doe dropped in her tracks and was dead instantly.

Corey stood for a long time, surveying the area and reliving the experience. After the photo of him at the scene, I introduced him to the dreaded “field dressing” part of the hunt.

I actually helped him little, watching him step back as a roll of steam wafted up, bringing the “innards smell” that usually brings on either the dry heaves, or worse to the new hunter! However, he did well and followed my instructions to the letter, even reaching in up to his elbows and rolling the cavity contents out on the ground.

I kept teasing him about having to, by tradition and rite of passage, eat a piece of the heart! That almost brought on what the smell had not!

Back home, he retold the story over and over. I even made a video tape of him telling the story, and while he spoke I noticed that he kept touching and running his finger between the split in deer’s hoof. Was it out of respect, which most hunters hold for their quarry, a way of reassuring himself it was real, or was it nervous guilt over what had happened?

Either way, it is times like these that are called “bonding days”. I miss them so.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

THE DAYS OF BONDING – PART ONE

Corey and I used to spend the fall and early winter months in the woods of Tennessee, hunting, exploring, building hide-outs, and playing hide-and-go-seek – Rambo style! I have always loved being in the woods and I did my best to pass that fondness along.

We spent a lot of time together up until he turned fourteen, and then girls and friends, like they always do, pulled him in another direction. However, up through that period in his life we did enjoy the smell of the forest, the crunch of the leaves, and the silence of a snow falling through bare limbs.

Dressed in our camouflage, we took turns running ahead down a trail and hiding from each other. I had a little more experience, of course, so I often scared the little fellow of ten or twelve by falling on him from a tree limb, or jumping up in front of him out of leaves I had used to cover myself. I think he learned a lot about tracking, scouting, and concealment, but regardless it was loads of fun for us both.

Corey started accompanying me on deer hunts when he was about ten years old. He had performed well in his “hunter’s safety permit” class, even downing more clays with a shotgun than I did! So, he was ready to go hunting!

I was a bit concerned about how he would react to killing such a large and beautiful animal. That concern originated from a squirrel I killed once while we were in the woods when Corey was about seven. As I struggled to pull the fur-suit off the still warm body of the squirrel, Corey asked what I was doing. I tried to explain it so he could understand, so I said, “I’m pulling off his pajamas.”

Corey watched closely with a concerned look on his face. I could tell he was trying to deal with the scene as his eyes recorded every move. He finally reconciled the experience and said, “Jesus will put his pajamas back on someday, right?

That almost broke my heart and I questioned whether or not I had let him watch at too young an age. Yeah, Jesus will put’em back together one day.”

That seemed to satisfy him and he never again questioned the act of killing and skinning game, but I was still apprehensive about how he would handle a deer in the same situation.

We spent a great deal of time in the woods scouting for deer, and just sitting under a tree listening to the forest sounds. Corey was a quick study and soon learned to find “signs” of deer – droppings, a rub on a small sapling, a leaf that was half eaten hanging from a limb, the browse of greenbrier nibbled down from the tender ends, tracks in the dirt or snow, the oval leaf bed of a buck on the east side of a hill, and even the exciting scarp find along well used trails. He, like me, loved scouting better than the actual hunt.

To enhance his experience I took him along on early fall bow hunts. I dressed him in the same camo and painted his face just like me. We would arrive before dawn and pick our way through a thicket and set up a camo netting ring around two stools just on the edge of the thicket near a well traveled path.

It was great to be there with him, whispering things about deer hunting or little jokes to keep him entertained. I often had to call him down from talking too much or too loud, and for moving around too much, but he never seemed to tire of just being there.

On one particular cold morning a large doe came out of the thicket just about twenty yards from our stand. Corey sat directly behind me and had a clear view over my right shoulder and down my arrow. We watched, hardly breathing, as the doe walked cautiously down the path and directly ahead of us. My arms were beginning to shake from holding full-draw so long, but finally the doe stopped and I took the opportunity to release the arrow at a full-broadside shot.

The arrow left the bow’s felt rest and was sailing true when the doe suddenly squatted to pee – just like a female dog! I had never witnessed that before and I was shocked!

The arrow narrowly missed the doe, sailing just over its drooped back and into the ground beyond.

Corey thought that was hilarious and fell off his stool and rolled on the ground in uncontrollable laughter, which frightened the poor deer far into the woods.

The humor of the shot hit me and we both rolled for several minutes in the leaves, retelling the story over and over.

Corey even made up a little ditty on the way home to rub it in, “Dad sees deer, dad aims, dad shoots, deer squats, dad misses!” He retold the story many times that day.

It is times like these that are called “bonding days”. I miss them.

Friday, February 22, 2008

.25 CALIBER NIGHTMARES

When Judy and I married she had a little chrome-plated .25 automatic pistol that I often carried back in the days before permits. I suppose it gave me some comfort in knowing it was discreetly stuffed down in my right hip pocket with my handkerchief pushed down around it.

The truth is, I rarely thought about it even if a situation got “hairy”. I was always a fair hand at fisticuffs, at least the school yard discipline, and could also talk my way out of most situations. This story is about two of those situations and the nightmares that little weapon caused me.

When Judy and I first married we were both pretty strapped for cash, so we spent the first couple of years working our way out of the debt I created by maxing out a credit card on fuel for my ’78 Trans Am and other bad habits. The little .25 was one of my few luxuries and I spent a lot of time plinking cans and punching cardboard targets in the field next to the house.

I learned right away that the little caliber was not very effective at a distance of more than 10 to 15 yards. I learned to hold high on the target in order to punch the 10-ring! Basically, a .25 automatic is a “belly gun!” In other words, you use the gun as a last resort during a struggle and you stick the gun into the opponent’s gut and squeeze off a couple of rounds.

Even at that, you may just make him very mad!

I once had a friend who played drums in a rock band in local bars. He had gone out with a little gal he met there a time or two, but knew very little about her. One night on a “pause for a cause” for the band, he went out back for a smoke. That’s when the girl’s husband walked up to him and asked his name.

After telling the stranger his name, the man pulled a .25 and shot my friend in the groin area. My friend was 5’ 7” and only weighed 150 pounds soaking wet, but his upper body strength was tremendous for his size. I used to spot him on the bench while he pushed up 350 pounds!

The shock of the gunshot filled him with adrenaline and immediate rage. My friend beat his attacker so badly that even with a gunshot he got out of the hospital first!

It was along about this time that I began having a recurring dream where some “bad guy” was approaching me with a knife and I would start shooting at him, but the rounds kept hitting the ground in front of him. The best I could do was to put a round in the ground between his feet! I would wake up sweating and thinking about the little pea shooter of a gun I had.

I once went to the Tennessee Valley Fair in Knoxville with a friend one day instead of going to work, so we were among just a few people who were on the grounds. We ate hotdogs, cotton candy, and rode just about everything they had there except for Dumbo the Flying Elephant!

The last ride of the day was on the “Bullet” which was a contraption that had two rocket-like cones mounted on the ends of two long arms that went around very fast while the rocket-like tubes rotated in the opposite direction. It was a “sick puppy” of a ride and if you stayed on too long you would soon lose your hotdogs!

Since we were among the few at the fair, the operator closed us in, turned on the rig, popped open his morning paper, and kicked back. It was not long before we wanted off but the guy was not paying us any attention.

I soon began yelling as we would fly by, only reaching him with about two words a pass. H e y y o u!”

T u r n t h is …d a m n t hi….h ey!

We were not communicating and I was getting sicker by the revolution! I…have…a…gun…stop…this thing!” I yelled “gun” a few more revolutions and he finally looked up and stopped us just before I lost everything I had previously enjoyed.

I don’t know if the word “gun” did the trick or not, but I was too drunk and dizzy to have hit the broad side of a barn anyway!

Then there was a time I managed a country-rock band called “Chaparral!” I booked the band at “Rick’s” which was located near the Bayside Boat Dock in Roane County, Tennessee. We had never played at Rick’s before and knew nothing about the place or the area, except that it is in an area respectfully called “South the River”. Typically, there were, and still are, some tough nuts living in that area, and apparently Rick’s was their headquarters!

There had also been a “Bass” sponsored fishing tournament that day and as we soon found out, our dates (wives) were the only women coming to Rick’s that night!

Since I don’t play anything except a mean class-ring against a table top, it was my job to “protect” the women folk!

Not long into the first set a very large man, probably about the size of Jeff (FHB), approached the table where I sat with the women belonging to the band and asked my sister-in-law Linda, one of the Dragons, to dance. She shook her head no, and I noticed Noel, one of the Knights, look directly at me, still singing “Amanda,” and telling me with his eyes not to let that happen.

The big dude continued to insist Linda or someone dance with him. Obviously he was very drunk, and wanted to “cut a rug!”

I finally stood up and walked up to him and shouted over the band, “These ladies are with the band, and they don’t dance!

Well then,” he slurred, “By God, you’ll dance with me,” and immediately palmed my whole head with one hand! I noticed Noel out of the corner of my eye and he was getting very antsy and almost forgot a couple of words, but he stood his ground and waited to see what I would do.

A very calm, purely brilliant, thought came to me from somewhere. Hey, did’ya catch any fish today?”

Aw man, you should have seen it,” the man said, dropping his hand down to help the other one illustrate the length of the bass he had caught that day. It was that long and weighed in at 8.7 pounds!

No kiddin’? Wha’ja use to catch it?”

Aw man, you know, a big ol’ jelly worm, a big red’en!”

That’s cool man, congratulations,” and we shook hands.

Thank God he forgot all about dancing as he stood and talked a little longer about “bass fishing,” then he just walked away and sat down at his table.

As I sat down, I felt the .25 in my pocket and that was the first time I had even thought about it. However, there is no doubt that as we danced into a struggle, I would have protected myself.

That night I had the .25 caliber nightmare again. The next Saturday I sold the gun at a gun show in Knoxville. I have never had that dream again!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

ANGELOS’ THE BRICK OVEN PIZZERIA

I wasn’t going to post this, but I was sitting here looking back through photos and I came across these shots I took at Angelos’ The Brick Oven Pizzeria about a week ago, and now I’m so hungry I could eat a horse…if it was cooked and put on a pizza!

The Brick Oven is located in Lenoir City, Tennessee, Hwy 321, in the former location of Altrudas, directly in front of Home Depot!

Judy and I just happened upon this place after one for her brace tightening appointments. She was as hungry as I was, but needed something she could chew off easily with the pink and red braces she had just had refitted. The first thing I saw was their sign and the word “pizzeria,” which to me meant beer!

The place was cozy, with a cheerful staff of young ladies, one of which you can see trying to keep a low profile behind the bar! My kind of people and bar!

Judy ordered the lasagna and I anxiously awaited the personal pan “meat madness” pizza! A tall cold Killian’s helped pass the time!

Turns out the portions are more than enough – we both took half our orders home and enjoyed them a second time the next day for lunch. It has to be a good sized “personal pan pizza” for me to take some home!

The other pleasing thing was the price…the total tab for everything was $20! That must have been the reason for all the families coming and going. It is a must place to eat!

I have a special section of photos in Flickr called “Bars I’ve Visited” and so I had to take a shot of the little bar before leaving. Just as I snapped the photo one of the lively young waitresses jumped into the photo. I love it when people act alive and friendly, so I regret not getting her name.

Snapping pictures of my food always gets the attention of the staff, if not the patrons near my table, and always embarrasses whoever is dinning with me. Invariably someone will ask me about the photos and if everything is alright, and I’ll tell them that I’m a food critic for the News Sentinel in Knoxville, followed by a “just kiddin’”, but somehow they never seem to believe that I’m not! I do seem to get good service once I’ve gotten their attention with the flash!

Often times I will give the waiter/waitress a “Mushy’s Moochings” “blogness card” and tell them to look it up on line! It’s loads of fun even if they snicker at me behind my back!

Next time you go out, take a few snaps and make a few notes, and see if you don’t get better service!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO OUCH! - UPDATE!

It has been a day of “ouches”!

Today was another day we cleaned the house for the “Maids 4U” gals to come tomorrow. I changed my bed and washed the sheets, remade the bed, took off all the garbage, got cleaned up, and went to visit “my boy” Ron at Park West Hospital.

It appears Ron may actually get out tomorrow, but by Thursday for sure. He still has a couple of tubes sticking in him, but nothing serious, just those that feed him, keep him pain free, and the one that allows him to stay in bed (if you know what I mean). I asked how that was going in, but luckily he does not remember. Unfortunately, he will remember it coming out! Ouch!

RON IS HOME AND DOING WELL!

He also described the pain he has been in up until today. Besides an epidural drip, he asked for ol’ “sister morphine” every few hours. However, today, after the removal of the drainage tube in his side, he is relatively pain free, and is able to blow up the respirator gadget (you know, the one with the little hose and the ball that jumps up and down) to 1000 cc without much pain. The pain had cut that capacity in half!

I then came home and found the last 1099R Form I needed in order to finish filing my taxes. Ouch, I owe $833!

I do my taxes each year online, so I have e-filed the sucker and set the payment NOT to be made until April the 10th! I had to pay, so they can wait!

I told Ron you guys have been pulling for him and he sends his thanks!

And finally this OUCH:

#1 Memphis vs #2 Tennessee tickets, lowest level, lowest row - $4000!


Reply to: see below
Date: 2008-02-15, 6:36PM CST


Incredible seats!!!!! So close you can hear what the players are saying!!!!!! First row just behind the 2 rows of fold-up seats on floor. Hostess service available. Parking pass offered as well!




Yep, Tennessee (23-2) is at Memphis (25-0) on Saturday night!

Monday, February 18, 2008

ANOTHER DAY I ALMOST DIED

Lin reminded me recently of the times I crawled under our “house trailer” and helped my dad level up after arriving at a new destination. Underneath I was save and secure working along side my dad, even though he constantly yelled at me to push here, pull there, and go get me this or that, or how I couldn’t “drive a nail up your ass with both hands! But, at least under there, I was still in our world and did not yet have to face all the new kids in a strange new world.

However, when the time came, there was no doubt in my mind that I could “set up” a trailer in short order!

Connie (wife #1) and Betty Anne were hairdressers and had operated a shop together that I christened “Two Hairdressers!” I think the name and the logo were one of the few things I ever got back from my college degree in “advertising!” (The photo is of the old location before the events below took place.)

Anyway, they paid high rent where they were and one day it was decided that they would buy their own lot and build their own shop. The whole idea sprang from an ad in the local paper about the Scottish Inns, a local manufacturing company that made modular motel and business units, was going out of business and having to sell their existing inventory.

The two beauticians decided that one of the little 12’X25’ yellow units would be perfect for a four-station beauty shop. So, bright and early on “auction day” I was elected to go and bring one home - alone.

The best I can remember, I paid about $3,000 for the unit, but I could have gotten it for around $2,500 had I not bid against myself twice! Hell, I’d never been to an auction before and I had no clue what was going on. However, I was determined to bring one home!

After winning the bid, probably because I frightened the other bidders by screaming out bids, even when it wasn’t my turn, I went forward to sign on the dotted line. You have a week to have the building hauled away and bring back the trailer frame it is resting on. Otherwise, the sale is revoked and the sale goes to the next highest bidder. Do you understand,” the auctioneer asked.

Well, I understood, but I had no idea who to call to pull the trailer, with the building on it, to our lot, or even how to get it off the trailer. Who do I get to pull it?

The auctioneer pointed over my shoulder to a shady looking fellow wearing a frayed and dirty yellow CAT hat, a sleeveless shirt, and very dirty jeans. Basically, he looked like “Larry the Cable Guy!” As I approached him he spit out a long brown line of tobacco juice and wiped his mouth on the back of his hand, the same hand he held out for me to shake!

Long story short, he was hired to do the hauling and then pull the trailer back to the Scottish Inn warehouse. The next thing for me and Squeaky (Betty Anne’s better half) to do was to coordinate the operation so that we could be ready to jack up and block up the building so “Larry” could pull the trailer out from under it. We picked a Saturday so we would have all day to figure it out!

On that faithful day, the day that almost became my last, the building arrived and Larry was anxious to "git’er unloaded" and be on his way. He worked under our command, though showing much frustration at our directions, but he finally squared up the trailer along the intended lines the building was to sit.

Squeaky and I sized up the situation and we deployed on the project while “Larry” watched us carry and stack blocks along the perimeter of the trailer, set up our two jacks on two opposite corners in the front, and distribute the wooden wedges used in leveling atop the cinder blocks. This alone took an hour of hard work and the sweat was pouring off us both.

The plan was to jack up the two front corners, build up a single stack of blocks, let the trailer back down on the stack, then move down about 10 feet and jack it up again, and continue down the length of the building until it was all about 2 or 3 inches clear of the trailer. We then planned to have “Larry” pull the trailer out slowly, and he could be on his way.

Following the removal of the trailer, we would then replace the corner stacks with double stack blocks all the way up…shim it, get the level bubbles close, and move on down the line. This plan worked well, at least for the trailer removal. The trailer was clear of the building and “Larry” honked his horn, waved his CAT hat, and was gone. We breathed a sigh of relief to be free of the trailer and the contractual obligation to have the trailer back in short order.

But now the long hard task of leveling and setting up the building permanently was ahead of us.

It was decided that we needed to get some support under the center of the structure before moving on to the permanent plan. So, I slid in under the building with no thought of danger, and began stacking block. Neither of us had noticed that the weight of the building was pushing the block stacks on one side slowing into the soft earth. Suddenly, and about the same instant, we noticed that the building was leaning hard to one side and was just moments from toppling off the blocks. Squeaky instinctively pushed hard against the side of the building, and at the same time I rolled to where I would at least be between two floor joists if it fell. Truth is, that would have meant I would have only been half crushed!

Strangely enough, Squeaky’s strength seemed enough to stop the slow tilt, or maybe he had some help from some angels, I don’t know! I took the pause in collapse to roll out from under the structure and jumped up to help him hold the building. The building seemed steady enough, so I also began to double stack blocks up about an inch higher than the bottom of the building. I then sat up one of the jacks on another stack of blocks, topped off with a cap block, and jacked until the building rested on the first double stack.

Soon we had one side, the sinking side, resting on four separate block pillars. We shifted to the other side and soon had everything resting comfortably and stably on double stacked blocks in permanent positions. The building, our pride, and my life were finally safe!

The building is still functioning today and rest beautifully on a complete block underpinning foundation. Every time I see it I’m reminded of what could have been.

Thanks Lin for reminding me, and thanks Squeaky for saving my life!

Friday, February 15, 2008

SURGERY TRAFFIC CONTROL

Judy and I met Neena and Ron at Park West Hospital this morning just before 8 A.M. and watched while he hugged and kissed his two grandchildren. The children left with their father leaving their mother, Ron’s daughter, to stand (sit) watch with us in the Surgery Waiting Room. About 8:30 they called for Ron and he and Neena disappeared behind the waiting room doors and moved into the inter-sanctum and the hustle and bustle of mysterious places like “pre-op”, “post-op”, “holding”, “recovery”, and, of course, the operating rooms themselves.

At around 9:30 A.M. Neena was asked to leave Ron’s side and so she came back to where we had set housekeeping for about 8 or 9 in one section of the waiting room.

On two of the walls hung 32” wide-screens displaying the doctor and patient lineup for today. It took me a few minutes to figure out the coded information, but I soon learned that the reason I could not find Ron’s name anywhere on the screen was that the abbreviated names with in the gray ovals were the doctor’s names! If you look for BUFKBRAD89, you will see Doctor Bufkin was Ron’s surgeon and Ron himself was given an abbreviated code based on his last name, day of birth, etc (red arrow).

When this shot of the screen was taken, the “Surgery Traffic Controller” had already shown Ron through PREOP, PHA (holding), and finally into the OR. He actually went into surgery at 1 P.M. and came out to PACU (post anesthesia care unit) around 3:30! What a day for Ron, but he at least got some good drugs for most of the time.

Me, and the rest, sat on our duffs for about 10 to 11 hours, killing time by listening to MP3s (Gary and I), or talking about all the other characters in the waiting room (Dragons)!

Charlotte said I looked retarded - bobbing my head, tapping my feet, and playing air-guitar and drums in time to the music no one else could hear! So, there I was, a 61 year old retard with a big happy grin on my face!

Anyway, the news was great! Ron came through just fine, even though they did have to surgically cut a rib, but the surgeon has no doubt that he got all the cancer, he described as being about the size of a quarter, removing the lower lobe of his right lung. Prognosis is: Ron will not have to have chemo or radiation treatments. Apparently if the spot is less than a certain size, no follow up treatments are warranted.

I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers from the bottom of my heart.

…and thank you God!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

BEER AND FELLOWSHIP

A couple of weeks ago, Ron and I took the Dragons to the Smoky Mountain Brewery for lunch, and it turned into a beer fest for the two of us. Judy and Neena wanted to do some girly shopping, so Ron and I grabbed the opportunity to keep on keeping on!

Friday (2/15) is the day Ron has his lung surgery, please remember him. So, this was our last time at knocking back a few together for awhile. I enjoyed seeing him relax and enjoy himself.

Anyway, after the girls left in one vehicle, we walked across the parking lot to the Irish Times Pub and ordered black & tans for dessert! I immediately, being the boozer I am, noticed that the glasses were not normal size. Finally, I could not stand it and had to ask the bar-lady…”Whazup with these small glasses?”

Oh, we ran out of the larger Guinness glasses.”

Well, are these the same price,” I asked?

Uh, well, uh, I’m not sure,” she said with eyes looking toward the top of the bar.

Well, we were thinking about a second one, so we’d like to know.”

Pretty soon the manager was standing by my stool and began explaining, in his heavy Irish brogue, that customers were in the habit of stealing the larger Guinness glasses and they were left with very few. Further,” he continued, “My shipment of large glasses has not arrived.” He then said he was sorry and walked away.

Ron asked me if he ever answered my question and before I could answer him, the nice lady behind the bar sat two new B&Ts in front of us in the larger glasses. On the house,” she said!

From that point on it did not matter!

After slowly enjoying the second one, we decided to go back across the parking lot to the Brewery. Why? Just for the change of scenery I suppose!

There we ordered the sampler and two pale ales. That’s when I noticed the “Free Beer Tomorrow” sign on the wall. I turned to tell Ron just as the joke of it hit me. We had a good laugh over my slowness and continued to mix our own black and tans using the 3-beer sampler of Tuckaleechee! Porter!

All too soon the ladies arrived to drive us home!

Remember…good thoughts for Ron Friday!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

ARE WE STUCK IN THE ‘60s?

Newsweek published an article title “1968 – the year that changed everything” back in November that proposed that we all are stuck in that year. I suppose they meant mostly us boomers, but in a way I suppose all of America is too.

Barack says he is “not of the ‘60s”, and Hillary tried to spend money on a “Woodstock Museum”, and McCain quipped that he was “tied up” most of that decade, but can anyone really escape them?

If you are near my age, you constantly got reminded that life is short and precious. Beginning with the “Cuban Missile Crisis”; the assassinations of “Robert (’68), Martin (’68), and John (’63)”; we have had too many reminders. If you add in the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald, we got to witness three of them televised “live!”

Later there were constant reminders that our world, even the American world, was unstable. Wallace was shot and paralyzed in ’72, then Ford was shot at in ’75, and then Reagan was shot in ’81. I hold my breath now when I see today’s candidates in crowds. I can just imagine, after seeing all the past history that some “sicko” might take a shot at a woman or black man with the “audacity enough to run for president of his country”!

How could we not be “held hostage” as Jonathan Darman phrased it in the article.

To some degree we boomers were somewhat less shocked by the Iranian hostage situation, the Lockerbie crash, the Columbia disintegration, and even 9-11 terror! We had already seen our mortality on the little screen many times and grew up knowing that life was short and sweet. Shocking as it all was, it was nothing compared to the shock of the ‘60s on children of the “safe” generation. A generation experiencing the end of WWII and Korea, to a “cold war era” that was frightening in itself, but at the same time a safe period of security, drummed into our heads by situational TV that depicted fairytale lives where problems only lasted 30 minutes.

I remember when I heard about President Kennedy back in ‘63, I was sitting in senior English class at Harriman High School. Later at home, sitting on the floor with my elbows on my knees, watching the news coverage of Lee Harvey being hustled out through the garage area of the police station, I saw and heard the gunshots and witnessed the look of pain on his face as he folded amid a throng of police protection. I remember being disappointed in the sound of the gunshots…sounded fake – not like Gunsmoke to me!

Over and over they played the bullet strikes on Connelly and Kennedy and we watched in horror as Jackie crawled onto the limousine rear deck, partly, I suspect, trying to summon help for her husband, and partly to escape the absolute horror of seeing her husband’s head open up like a watermelon in front of her! Just imagine what she heard, that awful crack and thump it must have made, and the blood and brain matter of the one she loved everywhere, but especially that which was on her and on her clothes.

We saw it, we witnessed it, but in black and white, she heard it in surround sound and saw it in HD color…up close and personal. There are countless soldiers that have gone crazy from witnessing the same thing of one of their buddies on the battle field. Inside she must have been a mess and the mess probably woke her many a night in screams.

We all screamed inside when we see that, even today, especially if you loved “Camelot”!

No wonder we went to loud metal music, drugs, and alcohol in ‘60s and ‘70s…we needed the escape to forget the things we had seen and to forget our own mortality.

But somewhere along the end of the ‘70s we started to forget…the music changed…the drugs changed, but alcohol remained the same. What changed was Vietnam. We began to doubt our government and the grand purpose we had thought America stood for, but it was gone. Governments seem to go to war for the money, the oil, and the power of it! Us, the Russians, the Brits, and the Chinese…just a giant pissing contest over the bodies of their young men, who innocently followed orders blindly. Blindly that is, until the end of Vietnam…then the questioning of government began, and continues today.

Darman ends his article by asking us if we are really out of the ‘60s. He, like me, sees that we still have segregated cities, governments, businesses, and women are still chained in corporate America, and most strikingly similar today is that we are bogged down in two war zones so very similar to Vietnam and Korea. Government never learns from past mistakes, and they never will because the lives they expend are other people’s kids and not their own.

It seems we’ll never realize Martin Luther King’s dream of children that “will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

We are still there in 1968, watching our television sets waiting for the news anchors to tell us what to do. They can’t! They can only tell us how very similar we are to what we were over 40 years ago.

We need a leader that can and will tell us how to get out of the revolving door of history and step into true change.

Who do you think he/she/it is?

I know one thing; we do not yet have leaders like we had in the ‘60s. There’s no one yet that is inspired or ordained by God.