Sunday, January 31, 2016

Weekend with Betsy...Oregon Standoff...Politics...Book Review and Bringing back the DeLorean


Great weekend of basically chatting until the wee hours about everything...learned a bit more about Bonsai from her...plundering Avon...upsetting Tucker's entire world/routine...and stuffing our faces.

It was perfect.

We will have to do it again in Summer...because just like Ohio...Indiana is  NOT a beautiful state in WINTER. We did manage a trek to my FAVORITE Greek restaurant, as well.

Becky, who has been fighting cancer for a while now, and is kicking its ass! Next week it is back to chemo....but this weekend...we ate, laughed and created chaos!

Oh...and just after you left, Betsy...Tucker reclaimed his throne (the rocking chair). Spoiled damn cat.

So, catching up on the news. Yes...they threw a debate and Donald didn't come. And politics as we know them didn't screech to a halt.
So perhaps there is hope.

And there have been a multitude of arrests in Oregon, and The Bundy Gang's numbers are slowly dwindling. Only four hold-outs remain last count and none of them were part of the original bunch. The FBI released the raw footage of the shooting death of one of the members (LaVoy Finicum) to prove he wasn't killed with his hands in the air surrendering...but instead after he had reached for his weapon. Finicum tried to run in his truck...ploughed into a snowdrift when he realized the road was blocked by FBI...did exit the vehicle with his hands up, but then made the fatal mistake of reaching for his weapon.

This isn't the movies, folks, and you don't reach for a gun in a situation like this- and live.

Anyway...sad for his family who has to suffer because of his bad choices, and I hope they can end this mess soon.

The book at the end of the week was Rick Bragg's Collection of Short Stories from Southern Living: My Southern Journey

Bragg is a favorite writer of mine...and reading him conjures up trips through the Southern States, kudzu, sweet tea and long porches/lazy afternoons. If you have ever loved The will love this book.

Chapter Two:  For the Vegetable I'll Have the White Gravy is exactly like that!

Automotive news this week as well. A car manufacture in Texas who has bought up new/old stock is quietly bringing back the DeLorean!

Hard to believe...and Lennon (...who always thought this was a boss car...) will be so pleased.  Already, there is a waiting list and they say they will only be producing 50 or so per year. With a six-figure price tag, I might add.

And news from the Art World and you just can't make shit like this up...

When this photo from Kevin Bosch

(Yes is a potato...well a photograph of one anyway)

Sold for over 1 MILLION Euros.

Back when I had my kitchen garden at The Cottage I was sitting on millions of dollars worth of photography, and apparently never knew it.  The were pretty tasty fried and baked and mashed, though.

Still poking around Spain (virtually) next week.
Will see you then!

Sneezing and sneezing...the (forced) bulbs are beginning to bloom in the house. Smells like the Flower and Patio Show...pre-season pollen allergies and completely self-inflicted!  

Totally worth it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Iowa Democratic Town Hall

Staying up LATE, so you don't have to.   

You're Welcome.

They don't make enough Coffee on mornings like these...and the screaming of the damned finally woke me up. Okay...the Tucker-Cat...because dawn had already broken and breakfast was dismally late...again.

I think he is planning to let me go if service doesn't improve.

Which is completely how I feel about Congress right now, by the way. 

With 469 seats up for is time to do a bit of tidying, I think. Remove some long accumulated clutter.

I am just sayin'

So...last night in Iowa...

You isn't a Conspiracy if they really ARE out to get you.  Right? I guess even at 55, before this Primary Run, I was a bit naive. If anyone had told me that the media is so totally manipulated/skewed I would have handed them a roll of tinfoil and gave them a tutorial on hat-making, okay? So the past few months has been this enormously sad eye opener for me. I miss the Fairness Doctrine and I miss Walter, okay. I miss when news was news...and not semi-factoids and out and out lies...and the truth being whatever we can get away with.
Really, I do.

"You kids get off my damned lawn."

DWS who has worked diligently to all but assure her buddy Hillary Clinton the Primary Nomination by scheduling only 6 debates. SIX. And then...when Hill falls behind in the polls she helps throw together a just-before-the-Iowa-Caucus surprise showcase for her favorite candidate (oh...and those other guys, too) but basically a Hillary Show.

And it could have been devastating.

And it WAS. 
But not in the way she had planned...I don't think.

Bernie was the first Candidate interviewed. They were all brought out individually, which was very nice.

The very FIRST thing that they do is show a Hillary Clinton Ad to Bernie. I couldn't make this up!  Seriously? A Clinton Ad during the first 5 minutes of Bernie Sander's Time??????????????????????????

And he was asked to comment on it.

While watching the Town Hall in Iowa, I separate screened and engaged in Real-Time chat with a group of other Sanders supporters. Some of the comments from fellow Berniacs at this point were literally unfit to print here.

But Bernie is better than all of us. He complimented Hillary and her ad. Then he set about letting Iowa know who he was and just what he stands for...and no matter how many times Chris Cuomo ask horribly misleading questions along the lines of the infamous "So how long have you STOPPED beating you wife"   variety. Bernie just parried and thrust and handled himself wonderfully.  Better than all of that he got his message across resoundingly. He even managed to drop the grumpy old man "You kids get off my lawn" persona and let a softer funny grandfatherly Bernie out to play a bit.

His message wasn't I am doing this thing. It was WE are doing this thing.

He couldn't have had a better night. This may be the best form he has shown since he announced his candidacy. He resounded with the audience and I expect to see him get a nice bump from this.

Come see the Softer Side of Bern!
The Second to take the stage was Gov. O'Malley.

Thankfully, he did NOT have to watch the Clinton Ad. Most of his questions were directly about Sanders...a bit odd.

I am sure that Martin O'Malley is a wonderful guy. Unfortunately, he makes Al Gore seem animate by comparison. Al...who Will Durst used to refer to as "The Human Dial-Tone", okay? I am sure that  he is enthused about what he believes...but by the time it comes out of his mouth it sounds a lot like Mr. Rogers on Quaaludes.  True Story.


To keep ourselves amused our chat turned to

Every time O'Malley says

"In MY State I....(followed by an  anecdotal story delivered in Mr. Rogers on 'ludes voice)"

 Everyone has to do a shot. 

It is amazing we all didn't wind up with acute alcohol poisoning. 

Mercifully, it was over very soon...and I believe his applause was 80% because he was leaving the stage.

Enter Hillary bright RED. least it was some form of truth-in advertising. You can't look at her Super Pac Owners or her Flip-Flop on almost all the issues and still think she is part of the Blue Party..okay?  She should have sewn Monsanto and Goldman Sachs patches on like Race Car drivers do with their sponsors.


After a chummy Coumo/Clinton lovefest (I'm surprised there wasn't tongue involved) they settled into the Question and Answer portion of the Hillary Showcase.

One of the first questions from the audience came from a young man who asked her why she was doing so poorly with his age group.

To which part of her reply went like this

"You may be too young to remember this..."

And it continued with condescending, rude drivel.

You know...I think the most likely reason that she doesn't stir the younger voters is because she talks down to them like they are children. And, well..we all know how well that works. When you are just coming into your certainly don't want anyone to remind you that you

"...may be too young..."

or lecture to you.

You could feel the shift in the Iowa crowd at that moment...and she never regained the house.

I believe the term is

"flop sweat"

At least one of her random questioners was an oh-so-obvious plant...and we were throwing popcorn at the screen as he asked a detailed 5 minute long question that gave her a lead in to discuss practically every foreign policy she has ever detail...for the next 25 minutes...

And the poor Iowans eyes were glazing over.

Kinda like Livestock.

Most of these people are good hearted, hard working, God-Fearing, simple farm folk.  When she, multiple times,  launched into how she BUILT the watch (after firing the steel and hammering it herself)...instead of a direct answer about what time it could see them drift away.

She also was quite clear about her hawkish views on war...and sending other people's kids to war. 

During these lectures, which got increasingly more fast paced and strident, it was never about WE or it was a constant barrage of

"I, I, I, ME, ME, Me,me, me, (with a sprinkling of) WOMEN, TERRORISTS, and (God as my Witness)  9-11 "

You know why people don't LIKE you, Hillary?  Because you are GENUINELY unlikeable.  

I actually find myself agreeing with the Republicans for a moment. 

I may need a shower.

I was pretty amazed that she was shown (at the very end...and that was the best part) Bernie Sanders: Simon and Garfunkel "America" Ad.

(and if you haven't seen it...go immediately and google it on will be glad you did...and you'll be humming it for days...brilliant use of an ear-worm...)  

When they asked her what she thought her response was

"It is okay. You campaign in poetry, but you govern in prose."

And I am so glad that President Obama pretty effectively gave her the kiss of death by endorsing her yesterday. Funny part was...I think he knew exactly what he was doing.

If we all VOTE and are very lucky...we will never have to test that poetry/prose theory. 

Off to find more coffee...

The Room Service Sucks!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Seville...Picasso...Politics...Recipes...Snow and More...

Winding down the long week of Virtual Seville...and the whole house smells like

Whether is it Seville Orange Roasted Chicken with Basil. (delicious)
Candied Orange Rinds. (still drying)
Or Homemade Orange Marmalade, (to eat with toast this morning)
it was an incredible adventure in cuisine.

(recipes to follow)

Also nearly finished with Cela's The Hive and enjoying it, even if there are 100 different characters of which to keep track.

Spent a bit of time learning about Pablo Picasso's Blue Period in Spain 1902-1904 before he left for Paris.

Although I was familiar with this

I had never seen La Vie...considered one of his most important works from this period

La Vie

Or knew the story behind his Blue Period...which began after a suicide by one of his close artist friends. The friend is immortalized in the painting  (portrait) at the bottom of La Vie.

In 1904 Picasso left Spain and went to Paris.

And, of course, my favorite bit of Andalusia. The Beautiful Horses.

Andalusians are known as PKE (Pura Raza Espanola)  Pure Spanish Horse.
And represent the oldest bloodline in Spain.

Equally important to the Seville area is  Traditional Flamenco Dancing.

and last but not least...the area is known for its fine sherry making.

Where the veneciadora elevates serving Sherry to an art form.

Is it any surprise, then, that every April they combine the three   (Andalusian Horsemanship, Flamenco Dancing and Sherry Tasting) to have a huge Street Fair known as Le Feria de Abril?

I also learned more about Queen Isabella and Ferdinand...who not only financed Columbus' journey to discover The New World (us) but also was instrumental in financing The Spanish Inquisition.  Who knew, right? They certainly didn't stress this tid-bit in school.

Back here in real-time the 2016 US Presidential Primaries have taken several ugly twists and turns.

Bernie Crowds Nationwide

As Bernie Sanders is ahead both in Iowa and New Hampshire...and Hillary has completely imploded over the entire thing.

Since the polls showed his rise she has started throwing more and more attacks. Uglier and uglier. She has pulled a couple of pages directly from The Karl Rove Handbook and it is transparently pathetic, desperate...and sad.

But it is MY TURN!
And so, I ask her, much as she asked us in the first Democratic Debate

"Are you going to vote for the most ELECTABLE candidate, Hill? Because it would appear that that would be Bernie."

Sanders has stayed classy, on message, and perhaps even a bit bemused at his rival's temper tantrum. We've GOT this!

And then there is THIS GUY

And seriously...I think I understand what he is doing, now.  It is some form of psychological study to see just how out there...just how outrageous....just how offensive...just how stupid he can present himself and STILL be the GOP front-runner. If I wasn't sure of this, when he announced bringing Sarah Palin into his camp...I know I was when he tweeted agreement with a White Supremacy
Group..then proceeded to have his likeness used outside an Auschwitz-type  gas chamber with Bernie Sanders image on the inside.

Since Bernie Sanders grandparents were KILLED as JEWS in a Concentration Camp...this goes beyond tasteless and into the surrealistic.

How can anyone seriously want this man as the face of our Nation?

( though proving my theory, Trump just issued a statement...I shit you not...proclaiming "I Could SHOOT Someone on the Crowded Street...on 5th Avenue and Still Win"...that is a direct quote, people.)

Trump/ is like Dumb and Dumber, and I am seriously not sure which one of them deserves top billing. 

One of the best thing about having friends all over this country (besides the outstanding political conversations) is when a snow event happens like we are seeing in Washington, Pennsylvania and New York.

Minnesota Cold!

I think I want to do this with an old pair of blue jeans.In Indiana, the Rapture-philes might have a damned stroke.

In Virginia

Mike and Gail in Pennsylvania

New York

New York Makes Snow Removal Not Quite As! Thank's Ann. Not sure I'm believing this.

 Mike P. (Virginia) who just reports Near Zero Visibility and no sign of letting up.

Hoping everyone stays safe and warm.

"Idgy" reports that they have CLOSED both Kentucky and! Yeah...the whole damned states.

We have been working up our October Fall Adventure dates and after a drive-by Girl Scout Cookie Ordering yesterday we have decided to hang on to a box of Thin Mints for the sole purpose of making Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream together while she is up, and using them broken as a mix in!!!!


I must add that the Mix In was solely her idea, and that I am easily led into temptation. 

So yeah...this year three of my four grand-daughters are selling them...that is why I have 6 boxes! Lennon....Chris...Tagalongs are on the way!

So Tucker and I are settling in for a Zen Weekend!

Every Day is Zen for Tucker

Here are those recipes I promised:

Seville Roasted Orange Chicken

2-4 pieces of raw chicken.

1 cup of orange juice.

1/2 cup of olive oil.

1 large sliced orange

fresh or dried basil.

Salt and Coarse ground pepper (optional)

Mix olive oil and orange juice together. Place chicken in deep roasting pan and pour mixture over to coat. Sprinkle with spices and/or add fresh basil.  Top with sliced oranges and bake at 350 degrees until chicken is done.

Serve with tablespoon of sauce from the pan. 


 Candied Orange Peel

Quarter  and then peel whole orange.

Reserve orange meat for another dish. (I used the juice for my Seville chicken)

Slice peeling into 1/4 inch strips.

Boil strips in water for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and rinse several times. Discard water.

Add 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to pan. Bring to a boil. Add peelings and let simmer for 45 minutes. Peelings will get very soft and translucent. Remove peelings and save this liquid mixture to add to marmalade.

Toss candied peel in granulated sugar and spread in single layer on drying rack.

Candied Peel will be completely dry in about 2 days. 

Can be used in confections.
 Eated as is.
 Dipped in Dark Chocolate
 or shredded to add to Orange Marmalade recipe below.

Orange Marmalade

(This only makes one jelly jar full for home use. This was a test...and it worked well.)

The Reserved sugar liquid from Candied Peel.

Add one full cup sugar and another 1/4 cup orange juice.

Bring to a vigorous boil until mixture foams. Then simmer.

Test for jelling with a cold spoon. Mixture will coat spoon and a drop will hold its form when it is ready.

Shred a couple of the Candied Peels to add zest to the Marmalade.

(optional: I added a pinch of cinnamon for flavor)

Pour into jelly jar and invert to seal.

Will be ready to use in 24 hours. 

Have a wonderful (and warm) Weekend!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Seville, Andalucia...

And my Virtual Adventure (based on Frances Mayes: A Year in the World) Continues...

A fast train from Madrid to Seville (pronounced See-vee-ya locally)...the Capital of Andalusia.

And who could have ever imagined that many orange groves even existed.

And Rick Steve's Andalusia (an hour journey you won't want to miss)

Beginning with a quick tour of what once was The Royal (Carmen) Tobacco Factory until 1950. It is now used as the Seat for the University of Seville.

Mosaic tiles belie a time when young seƱoritas hand rolled cigars from wide tobacco leaves over generous thighs...adding to the mystic.

Having experienced a smaller version of a flavored cigar compliments of a lover who took them up for a while...I can safely say a "cigar dinner" or trying one again is something that will not be in my future. Not even the Cuban version...and no matter how many tanned thighs they have been rolled across. The things we try for love, eh?

But I digress...

Onward to the Orange Groves.

Seville Oranges do grow in bunches. Like grapes...only bigger.

 And in Seville the orange is KING.  Used from oils and perfumes, to being squeezed in a pitcher of cold water with a bit of sugar for a refreshing cold drink in the heat. Winter in Andalusia (now) is nearly a perfect 70 degrees. The nights only drop to 55 or 60.

Over the next couple of days (being a foodie) I am going to try some of the recipes the oranges are used for...including the orange water to sip.

I also want to try

Seville Citrus Chicken.

Seville Orange Marmalade

And Candied Orange Peel...maybe even dipped in Dark Chocolate!

But for now...I'm enjoying the mash-up of architecture that is Spain.  Influences include a bit of France

Traces of Arabic...

And even a remaining Aquaduct from Roman times...

Residing side by side comfortably with the cities most modern structure, The Parasol.

The architecture alone- a photographer's wet dream.

I will be sharing recipes soon.

More Anon...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sleepy Snowy Sunday and Reflecting with Laura

Sunday has come to be my FAVORITE day of the week.

No alarms.  No have-to-rush-off plans. Just me and the cat, a mug of coffee or cocoa and the Sunday Edition.

Followed closely by Sunday Biscuits and Gravy.  When the kids were little this was a family ritual. Now my oldest still does it every Sunday for my grands...and I've kind of got back in the habit as well.

The house is usually cleaned from Saturday so it is warm, clean and inviting. Burrowing beneath the quilts for an extra hour or so is luxurious.  Even Tucker seems to enjoy the slower pace...better treats...and sprawling in the midst of the Sunday paper after it has been read  (although more often than not he attempts this while it is being read, as well).

Now that Laura and I are back in touch, Sunday tends to be our catch up day with one another, too.

We were reflecting on how different people we are...maybe how different we always were...even all those years back.

Her parents from New York and New Jersey and moved to Indiana when her Dad's job relocated.

Mine were from Missouri and Kentucky.

Her Mom made finger sandwiches and introduced me to Perrier.

My Mom made Fried Chicken and Cat's Head Biscuits and wouldn't have paid for a bottle of water (sparkling or not) if she was in the middle of the Mojave.

Our styles were vastly different back then, too.

She was chic...exotic...fabulous.  I was a hippie. Tie Dye, halter tops and low midriff baring jeans.  She was confidence personified. I travelled in a wide circle of outcasts.

We were both around a size five.

She is three years older than me so it is a bit satisfying to know she will make it to 60 first.

" I'll STILL be SEXY, Dah-ling. Sexy at 60! "  She says in her exaggerated Ab/Fab imitation.

And I believe her.

She is back in New York, these days. Smack dab at the Center of the Universe as she likes to call it.

She does get a good laugh when I tell her I no longer live in-the-sticks...and actually have transportation and delivery services.

"'s not The Tube." I admit.

So, Sundays are our catch up day.  

Today during coffee and chat we came around to discussing human behaviorism.

And the elections...and I was happy to see we have finally reached common ground in politics. This was not always the case. 

Her dad was one of the most obnoxious Republicans I have ever known.

But this time we are both firmly rooting together for Bernie. 

And about reactions. Optimism/Pessimism.  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed our conversations which seemed more at home in a near-college-coffee house than at the kitchen table, or on Skype.

People have a real tendency to unhappy...complain...we come to the joint conclusion.

To summarize:

"In the winter they bitch about the cold and snow. Then in the summer they bitch about the heat. In Spring they bitch about the rain...and in Fall they complain about having to rake and bag leaves and that it will soon be Winter. of course."

Ergo...they are never really happy. Ever.

Each season is approached with the same shock at the cold...heat...rain...or falling leaves as though it is the very FIRST time it has ever happened!!!!

By the time our mutual rant is over we are both rolling...and the first person to cross either of our paths on Monday and complain about the cold is going to have their mouth duct-taped, okay.
After we finish laughing hysterically.  

 (...this is probably a bad time to mention that my patio door is completely frozen solid shut...isn't it?)


Life hasn't been the same since my Reclaim Sundays that I experimented with last year. Sunday has became that extra my week. A day to Reset. Rejuvenate. Cook. Read. Write. Paint. Create. Center.

A Day of (if not silence) at least Zen.

More anon...

Saturday, January 16, 2016

This Week...Politics...The Bundy Bunch...Novel: The Plan (Jerry)

Where to begin...

Let's start with President Obama's very last State of the Union Address. Personally, I cannot WAIT to read the book that follows after this guy leaves office. I guarantee it is going to be worth the read. 

So basically after saving us from the deepest Recession since The Great Depression, bringing back jobs, saving the auto industry, boosting our renewable energy, implementing the ACA so that many people who would otherwise not qualify for health insurance through pre-existing qualify and a bunch of other "good for the average American" stuff...the Republicans are just  soooooooooooo angry that America is better off.  Speaker Paul Ryan was so pissed he super glued both his ass to the chair and his hands together to prevent any type of clapping. His facial expressions vacillated between angry scowl and that bemused grin that makes you just want to slap it right off him. The guy couldn't even applaud or rise for "Let's find a cure for CANCER" for fuck's sake...what an oxygen-thief!

And because I must certainly be a glutton for punishment I also managed to watch the first of the GOP Debates on the 14th.

Jesus Wept.

How ANYONE can listen to the words that come out of their mouths and still vote for any of them is beyond me.  And it explains a LOT about how Donald Trump could be leading their pack.  Seriously, people.

And Hillary is just as bad...

What a lying, phony, bitch.  Morphing into and saying anything she thinks will get her the election because

"By God, it's MY turn, damn it"

So yeah.  I am definitely voting for Bernie in the Primary...and in the General.

You have to love how the media has ignored him for months and suddenly (once he passed Hillary in both the New Hampshire and Iowa Polls) they spring to life as though they have been napping.

Dear al....Bernie's supporters have known this since last year in Portland and LA...thanks for finally noticing. 

He will be speaking in Birmingham on Monday (MLK DAY). How brilliant is that.

And we've started something amazing, this week.  Every time that Hillary attacks Bernie...Berniacs everywhere (myself included)  DONATE to his campaign.  So her negativity becomes his windfall. 

Love the amazing amount of momentum his campaign is generating and feel fairly confident he will be our 45th President.

Meanwhile....back in Oregon...

So what you're sayin' is that the snacks will be late?
The Bundy Bunch has learned a valuable lesson.  You might get away with occupying a remote Bird Sanctuary for a while...but if you joyride to the local Safeway for snacks in a couple of their Federal Vehicles. Well...that is a different story, and you will be immediately arrested...handcuffed. 

Finally, arrests have been made in the stand-off.  At the grocery store. I have to think that stealing Federal Vehicles is a felony all on its own level.

So yeah, guys...I'm thinking the snacks may be delayed.

The Internet world has been attempting to help with their plight though.

Apparently upsetting one guy so much he actually made a video about it and posted it to Facebook.  Care packages have included dildos, gummy-bear type penis shaped candy and, the latest, a $1,200...55 gallon drum of personal lubricant.

And they are angry.

That is gratitude for you, buddy.

Since the recent arrests Ya'll Qaeda has been making mouth noises about stepping up their game and rhetoric about launching an attack on nearby FBI.


Maybe it is just me...but I can see that ending very bady.

For ya'll. Virtual Adventure in Madrid took me to The Prado. Spain's National Museum.

This site has a link where you can virtually enjoy the works of  Goya, Dali, Reuben, Boush and many others.

The Persistence of Memory- S. Dali

and beginning the next week in Seville.

Busy week at home, as well.

Caught up with monthly periodical's in my local library ( office...) and found a "Rick Gregg" Short Story Compilation to bring home.  He is a contributor to Southern Living Magazine...and I love his "voice" and background. Like sitting out on a Verandah with a glass of Sweet Tea!

Spent the middle of the week mall-ratting with friends in Terre Haute at the Honey-Creek. Started the day like this:

 and coffee...

Found Sketchers (on sale) at Macy's, Checked out jewelry and found scarves at Sears. Discovered a wonderful new-to-me scent at Bath and Body  (Moonlight Path) and now have it in Spray, Candle and Pump Soap for my January Bathroom.

Shopped until we dropped, then stopped for Bourbon Chicken for lunch before returning to Greencastle.

I have GOT to learn how to make this at home!

A wonderful day out.

Friday- Sharon, Loretta, Judy and I re-convened for brunch and chat at our favorite Mexican Restaurant. We are the "Out-To-Brunch-Bunch" and plan a Monthly Brunch together. Sometimes at each other's homes...other times out.

I am doing the 4:3 until I have dropped the 10 holiday pounds...which is now down to 8.  I have designated Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays as my FAST DAYS...and it seems to be working.  After it is gone, I will adhere to the 6-1 from here on out.

Best Lifestyle Diet Ever. 

Eat what you love and lose weight anyway!

My (untitled) Fiction novel is coming along a page at a time. Here is the first interview with "his buddy"...
[Pleasantries are exchanged and the tall, thin,well-groomed, rather nervous man, sits across from me in my office. His eyes scan the room as though looking for an escape route. There isn't one. The only way out in life, I have found is through. Still I genuinely feel sorry for him and his situation.]

I married Trace just about a year after his last surgery. When they took the other leg. The divorce was final the year before. Look it was obvious by then Mark was never coming home again, and her and the kids needed more than just an uncle figure.

They deserve more than that.

Of course I feel guilty. Who wouldn't?  He and I and Trace were good friends for years. I tried as hard as I could to talk him out of enlisting the first time.  By his third tour, well...he left Trace a long time before he ended this. Mark wasn't Mark any more after that first tour.

If you think you are going to make me feel bad about her and the're not.  She loves me. Josh and Jade love me. I watched them grow up from babies. Jade was born while he was off playing soldier. Guess who ended up driving Trace to the hospital when her water broke? Who held her hand during contractions? Who drove Josh up to meet his new sister? Who made sure that they got home safe and that they have had everything they needed since? You're looking at him. Even when he was home, he wasn't home.  Barely spoke to Trace or Josh when he was back on leave. Barely spoke to me either. Jade was still too little to understand, but it really hurt Josh. He asked me all the time why his dad was "so mad at everyone" all the time. Why he never wanted to play ball or do anything with them any more. Does that sound like any way to grow up?

Would you like to grow up like that?

I'm not trying to get defensive or justify anything. I don't have to justify anything to you.

How long has it been since I went to see Mark?

I haven't seen Mark, not my buddy Mark, since he enlisted the first time, okay?  By the time he came home he was Zombie Mark. He drank all the time. Cursed like I had never heard him before. Just generally checked out of what he referred to as "Civie Life" The first time he took leave he seemed 50 years older than when he left. He actually tried to talk to me about some of the stuff he had seen over there.  Do you know they use kids Josh's age to mine-sweep?  Pay them a buck for every mine they find. Of course, some of them don't make it.  My Dad was in 'Nam. He told me about how the VC used little kids as human bombs. Makes me sick to think about it. He came home and his own people spit on him. Fought the Government over Agent Orange for years. He died of cancer long before they ever admitted any of it was their fault. They still sent Mom a check every month after he died. She died the next year. Dad was the reason I never enlisted. I don't care what the guys called me. I had seen the whole show first-hand.

The last time I was at the VA to see him?

You know, I can't even remember.


And speaking of Lifestyle Changes...

I am nothing if not adaptable.  Realized with some of the more pronounced FRED inconveniences it was time this year to hire a part-time personal assistant (in addition to my part-time house-keeper) who can help me with some of the things I am having more difficulty managing now.  Should be real improvement!
I am hopeful.

Have a great weekend!