January 25, 2009

Completed wizard Carving



I like the way the carving turned out... Cedar, stained and varnished, approximately nine inches

Wizard Carving

In the last post I mentioned and put up a photo of a carving I had started, the wizard... I started it earlier in the afternoon, and finished it later that night. Well... I finished the carving portion of the process. Now I have to sand it, then stain it, then varnish it. The cedar wood makes for interesting grain patterns. I'm curious to see how they will come out when it's stained...

January 24, 2009

Romance, chocolate, beads, carving and buckshot

Every now and again Julie and I toss all caution to the wind and leave Patrick to keep an eye on James. We take off for town, enjoy a meal, and do a bit of running around without the kids.

Today was such a day.

We started off by going to olive garden for lunch, which was pretty good. Then it was on to fuzziwigs for some dark chocolate almond bark. A trip to Michaels was on tap to grab some beading supplies for Julie, then a few stores later.. coffee.

Patrick only called us once, and that was to ask if he could go over to a friends house tonight to play video games... all was well at home and they were still alive, so we took our time and enjoyed the good weather and each others company.

I decided that I was going to take the opportunity to finish a walking stick I have been working on, after we got home. So I finished it off and noticed an "extra" piece of cedar I had cut off a previous walking stick, and decided to do a little carving on it. I know the wizard's hat looks like an ice cream cone, but hey.. I'm not finished with it yet.

With the weather better than it has been for a while, 60 degrees and sunny for the past couple of days, we had the door open and were listening to some random music from the satellite channels.

Now living out in the woods as we do, it isn't uncommon to hear the occasional volley of gunfire. There are people all around us that shoot for fun, which is no problem.. unless..... You seem to forget that way back off the road in the woods there is a little tiny trailer where a group of hermit like hippies live in solitude with their kids and dogs... It seems that today someone forgot about that... I was out on the porch working on the wizard's head when the unmistakable report of a twelve gauge shotgun blasted off to my left, a bit closer than normal.

The proximity of the blast made me look up in the direction it came from. I judged the distant and direction of the sound and knew who it was..... then.... there was a rain of buckshot falling on me, the cars, and the trailer... "Now that's not a good thing" was the thought that went through my mind. I walked over to the edge of the porch and listened. I heard people talking and carrying on and hoped that it was just a fluke.. Then a few seconds later... BLAM... the second blast erupted... a couple of seconds later... plinkplinkplinkplink... plink... for the love of....

I shouted, "Careful where you are aiming guys!" and was met with silence... Buckshot from that distance isn't a threat, but what if there was a high powered rifle waiting in line to be fired... there is a two hundred and fifty gallon propane tank out back that would just love to be smacked by a speeding bullet from a nice 308 or something... not to mention that trailer walls aren't very bullet proof... I know it's demanding and all, asking neighbors to watch their gunfire, but getting shot twice in one day can tend to make one slightly edgy...

So all in all it has been a well rounded day of family fun..

Where else can you make the claim that you went on a date, did some serious kissing, ate some Italian food, drooled over chocolate bark, bought beads, picked through Vera Bradley purses and bags, had a damn fine cup of coffee, played with the kids and dogs, listened to the grateful dead, carved a face on a walking stick, and got shot twice...

Welcome to winter in Georgia!

January 22, 2009

Hey... I know that guy!




While watching the inaugural parade and working on a carving I happened to glance at the screen as they announced the NASA group approaching the President.... Imagine my surprise when I saw a high school friend walking across my screen... (he's the tall one) Jim's a good guy and I bet he had a great time.. even though I'm sure he was quite cold.... Go check his family blog out for more details...

January 20, 2009

I cant believe he said that....




"when white will embrace what is right..."


Way to set the tone good reverend.. way to set the tone...

January 19, 2009

Change


I was watching some of the festivities yesterday associated with obama's inauguration and landed on a talking head show on msnbc. Chris Mathews was talking to spike lee and a group of black pundits... Somehow the conversation got around to predominantly black colleges. There seemed to be an agreement among the panelists as to why people would choose to attend a school that enrolls mainly one race.

The first person to speak up on the subject said, "They enjoy and want to spend time with people that are like them. People that think and look the way they do." Everyone on the panel agreed, and then they launched into a bit of Bush bashing to round out the discussion.

My question is a simple one... Why is that ok? I asked myself the same question a few months ago when I was watching a local newscast doing a story about a neighborhood in Atlanta that was being slowly transformed by the gay community. They had been buying up older houses and renovating them, it seemed to be a popular spot for such activity. A local Pastor from a black church in the area was interviewed for the piece and was upset about the developments in his community. I wasn't surprised when he was introduced as having an opposing view of the situation, and expected him, being a baptist minister, to begin wailing and gnashing his teeth because of the growing gay population. Yet, I was a bit surprised when he looked right into the camera and said, "We don't want all these crackers coming into our community." I waited for some sort of comment from the news ferrets about his quote causing a racially tense situation, but nothing came.... Why is that?

Is the fear of even speaking about such things and being labeled a racist that strong? Is this true equality? Equality means just that... A level playing field. Everyone is treated the same, without looking at the physical appearance of said individual. You want a job, or a spot at a college? Then meet the qualifications for that position, if you make it, then you're in, if not, go to the next one. If you meet the qualifications and there is room, yet you get turned down, fight to the death for that spot if you desire it, bring attention to it, write about the unfair treatment, scream from every available soapbox, but make sure you meet the qualifications first. There should be no differing sets of qualifiers depending on race, gender, or sexual appetite... In other words.. completely level.. open to all and everyone...

I didn't vote for obama, not because he's black, but because I don't want taxes to be raised... I fail to see how the economy is going to be better by making sure the federal government is taking in more money in the form of taxes... His plan is just backward... it's woefully simple economics, nothing to do with race, political ideology, or religious theology. You want the economy to be stronger? Then let people that earn money keep more of it to invest and spend, that simple. It has been shown time and again that when you cut income tax rates, the government takes in more money, because people have more to spend... It's not about the money, it's about keeping the power.... How about having a plan in place to grant funds to people who want to build solar panels for private housing? So that the average joe can add them to their home for a few hundred dollars instead of several thousand? How about letting the individual states handle these sorts of things?

He has spent the entire campaign speaking of change. He has done a one eighty on most of his proposals since winning the election. This isn't new, it's politics as usual. He's talking of keeping the income tax cuts a bit longer and raising taxes in other areas, he is talking now of "looking again" at the iraq withdrawals instead of pulling everybody out, he has taken the small business tax hikes "off the table"... Nothing new... just politics... get elected and start working on your reelection...

I watched the concert at the lincoln memorial on hbo last night and was struck by the fervor of the crowd. I've said before that you won't hear me complaining about the man's experience level regarding being president, as I am a firm believer in getting rid of career politicians and having a true citizen government. I just couldn't get caught up in the excitement. He is a good public speaker, but what else can he do? He certainly has a tough road ahead of him... Whether the mess he's stepping into was created by Bush or not doesn't matter at this point. Obama is about to own it and he knows it. We Americans are a fickle group and can and will turn on a dime... I have said that we should look for a real change of appearance in the man after he gets his first real intel briefing the morning after he takes office.. I'm sure he is going to begin the "rapid aging" process that afflicts all presidents... It's a nasty world that we live in and there is a multitude of people that want us all dead for no other reason than our physical location at time of birth, they care little for race, religious affiliation, or what we do with our reproductive organs... they just want us dead.

So far I've seen just business as usual.. and little actual change... I can only hope he enjoys the high approval ratings he has now...

January 18, 2009

Looking back


Picking up some old pictures from my mother resulted, of course, in a retrospective meandering of time and paths traveled. We've all had the daydream that starts with "If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now..." It started out that way, but quickly morphed into a simple walk around in memories. That led to the inevitable slide show, the quick flash sequence of snapshots of things that I have done, said, and seen...

I seem to remember getting hurt a lot when I was a young kid, as pictured here... There were fights and wrestling sessions... that will happen when you have two older brothers ten years your senior... It's hard to notice in the picture, with all the dirt, scratches and spots... but I'm sporting a bright scratch right on the end of my nose. When I looked at the picture It all seemed so clear. "As if it were yesterday" so to speak... We were living in town, and my brothers had a group of friends over playing basketball on the patio just out the back door. We were ordered to remain on the back porch and entertain ourselves with fisher price people, we had the boat and the barn that made the mooing noise of the cow when you opened or shut the door... the plane was always at hand as well...


We were naturally not paying any attention to the toys and were hanging on the rail of the of porch watching the basketball game proceed in a rush of sweat, cussing and barbs thrown from person to person. Finally, not being able to take the sidelines any more, I ran right out into the middle of the game and was rewarded by running into one the guys as he was in mid air, falling back to the ground after making a shot. The decent little cut on the nose was my reward for breaking the rules set down by my brothers.

Memories are funny things. They lead you in directions and you have no choice but to follow. My childhood was a pleasant farce of bee stings, sweat, sunburn, hide and seek, honeysuckle, cookouts, woods, Christmas, BB guns, Gilligan's island, starwars, licoln logs, and fireworks. There were Sunday diners at my Grandfather's place. The entire family showed up every Sunday... Aunts, Uncles, cousins.. the complete family. There were fourth of July barbecues, week long events, again surrounded by the entire family. Stories by fireside of my dad's adventures with his brothers.. One of my favorites being when they were made to get out of the front yard by a nervous grandmother who had "visions", only to have a train derail across the street a little while later and a huge boxcar slide right into the spot they were playing... it was loaded with Ovaltine and they, along with everybody else in the area, were fully stocked for some time to come...

Those days I miss... youth... of course I miss being a child, yet, more than that - I miss the closeness of the family. I am as much to blame for this as anyone, yet when I step out onto my porch and think about the smells, sounds and family that once permeated this area. I feel a bit sad. There is something so "defeated" and forlorn about looking at the spot where the barbecue shed my grandfather built stood.... To look at the spot in their back yard and think of the people, laughter, food and simple joy that once surrounded that place.. to see it now will surely make those that recall it in its prime weep for a time long gone by.

Where have all the people gone that formulated these groups which comprised the backgrounds for these events in time? Many have passed away, little did I know that these were the people that really held us all together. That, it seems, is my biggest regret... not holding on to that spirit when I had the chance.

January 12, 2009

Moving down the counter


The South's answer to the local pub is the waffle house... The appropriate time to visit is, of course between midnight and four thirty a.m., usually after some sort of hectic event, be it drinking, working, or just spending a ridiculous amount of time in the car.

It is a place where harsh fluorescent lighting washes the cobwebs out of your head, or simply forces you into a stupor of glazed apathy.. I haven't figured out which...

On the first few trips you don't seem to pay much attention to the customers inside, as you are generally with a group of drunken people celebrating new found freedom from parental units. You make noise, give the waitresses a hard time, and find joy in doing things to the salt and sugar. There is the absolute amazement associated with discovering that there are actual "waffle house" theme songs on the jukebox... "we have one and eleven"... So you must play them each time you go in for at least half a dozen trips.

As you get older you begin to notice that the seating arrangement for these hours is very pronounced. The younger crowd fills the booths in drunken revelry, while the the older you get the farther around the place you move until you wind up alone at the end of the counter and know all the waitresses by name and number of children...

The only saving grace is that you get to have some interesting experiences and conversations along the way. Nights of dead silence with no other customers in the place except for you. Then there are times when you can't seem to get in the door. They may be over run with teen prom victims, tired bar victims, over the road truck drivers, or that obnoxiously loud family from somewhere's else...

We like waffle house for what it is.. unchanging... Regardless of staff turnovers, season, geopolitical standings, weather, state of sobriety, etc... the place is always the same.. You have to love that. In a lifetime of patronage you can witness everything from divorce, to fighting, to death, to marriage, to birth... all at a waffle house. You can do so while enjoying your pick of fine culinary experiences to keep you company, the ultimate voyeuristic station. Each time you walk through that door, you know that you will be met with, "Good morning", from the staff, and that grease - tinged with burnt powder sugar smell that permeates every fiber of cloth in the place.

The food is awful, the coffee bland, the cooking ridiculous, the waitresses.. well.. you just have to experience them... They seem to work their way into many places... I love the story of a cousin who had a husband that spent way too much time at a local waffle house and was subsequently followed... The evening ended up in a bloody ass beating, on the side of the road, when she pulled the girl out of his car and proceeded to teach her why you don't, "Mess with nobody's man"... what happened to him, I'm not sure, but where else can you go from that scene but upwards, right? "Yes sir officer, that's my wife... Yes sir, she beat up that woman... Yes sir, she's wearing a waffle house uniform"... at that point even the police are laughing at you...

I stopped in there a while back, it had been a long time since I had visited. I was on the way back from a one day trip to Savannah that didn't begin until late afternoon and included no time for stopping for food. Everything was exactly the same as the last time I was there. It was a Friday night/Saturday morning, about two thirty and I was hungry... Not the "hmmm, what do I feel like having" hungry, but the "I need to feed like a great white" hungry... Steak and eggs with hasbrowns all the way will get rid of that feeling in short order.

I just grinned when I heard the salutation and found my way to a seat after the perfunctory restroom visit.. same floors, same smell, same graffiti on the walls in the bathroom... I ordered my food and found myself in a discussion with the few other people sitting around about the prospects of our newly elected leader being in office, when the relative quiet of the place was interrupted by a group of twenty somethings newly introduced to alcohol. They came floundering in, laughing and jumping about the place as drunken youngsters do. The meal passed in personal solitude as the younger folk made a ruckus and kept the waitress busy with inane requests and attempts at humor, laced with sexual innuendo... She played right along.. Indeed, I noticed that none of the other people inside seemed to mind the noise they were subjected to, we had all slipped into some sort of dream sequence, reveling in days gone by. It was then that I noticed my place at the counter... only four or five seats from the last one, which was occupied by a rather tired or drunk looking guy who was positive that obama was the answer to all the evils that have befallen our great nation... I was frightened and paid the bill quickly, gulping my last few swallows of burnt coffee...

As I headed for the door in seeming fear for the end of my days, realizing that I had almost made my way completely around the building seating wise, I couldn't help but laugh at myself and snap back to reality when the waffle house theme song number one kicked up on the jukebox and the younger people inside began to dance about the place and laugh hysterically, there was just something comforting about it.

January 10, 2009

How could the guy....

January 07, 2009

Five years and counting...


Five years ago today Stuart James Perry was born at 3:11 A.M.

The day began in a nervous sort of way because Julie was having some problems with the pregnancy. We had made an appointment with the doctor, but were forced to wait until the late afternoon to see anyone. All morning we were quiet and nervous, I rearranged most of the stuff in the kitchen and cleaned until it was time to go. Once at the Doctor's office I paced around and said nothing to anyone. When Julie came out she informed me that her "problem" was that she had gone into labor early, a week or so...

We called a few people and headed to the hospital. With our first son, Patrick, ten years before, I made sure to wait in the waiting room. I started out in the delivery room with all intentions of being there for the entire experience. The room was dim and set for a relaxing mood, with home like decor comprised of lamps, rugs and a small sofa. We waited for something to happen and all was relaxed until it came time for the big event.. then it turned into a scene from cops, people began flying in and out, they dropped the bottom half of the comfy bed and stirrups appeared from nowhere, harsh fluorescent lighting quickly replaced the homey glow of the lamps, and all sorts of medical equipment was rushed in... yes.. I freaked out and hid in the waiting room until it was all over...

So... this go around I was determined to remain calm and stay the course... They were going to induce labor and began giving Julie drugs of all sorts. She became quite irritable so I slipped off from time to time to run to the smoking area at the rear of the hospital. With each return she quizzed me as to where I had been, with ever increasing vitriol... I replied, "getting some water" with my head bowed in humility. The room was dark and nurses were running to and fro checking things and turning dials as they do.Then one of them asked where the doctor was.. I began to listen to them at this point and discovered that no one really knew where the guy was at. She said, "Well this baby is coming right now with him or without him" I steeled myself and stood next to Julie at her side facing her grimacing expressions of pain and impatience, holding her hand and wincing with each vice like squeeze she gave me.

I made sure not to watch the business taking place just behind me, nope... blood of a loved one isn't something I want to see. Julie's mom was there on her other side and made sure to give me a blow by blow of all the goings on. When I first heard James cry out I was amazed... I asked if he was ok and they assured me he was as they took him over to the little table to lay him under the food warmer...

I stared at him for a few minutes and then took him to the nursery for all the tests, alien implants and tracking devices they put them through. It was a long, sweaty, harrowing event for all involved, especially Julie... I will never forget swaying back up the hallway in complete relief and exhaustion. It was all over and calming down just as the Doctor came through the doors, looked at me and said, "Where's the little mother?" I could've smacked him in the head for that remark, but just gave him the best "just don't speak to me" look I could muster as I turned and walked away...

James has proven to be the polar opposite of Patrick. If Patrick had been anymore laid back and quiet he would have oozed into the floor in complacency from his spot on the couch... not James... He is a high strung power whiner and constant ball of motion. Always on the look out for monsters, sharks and any reason to arm up for patrol. A fan of all things military and gun related from the get go, he is never far from his trusted weaponry. He has seen every shark movie and documentary ever made and demands to be read to at every opportunity. He thirsts for knowledge and attention at all times.

I was determined to create a fifty fifty scenario with him from the beginning and think I have done a pretty good job of it. We switched nights when he was a baby and I took all weekend duty. I've rocked, fed, changed, wrestled, read to, gone on patrol with, taken for shots, etc etc....

He's a good kid who is destined for jail time I'm sure... He's already wanted me to call and make sure that there is room for him at basic training on Parris Island...

Happy birthday James... You are a great kid and and have shown me a good time thus far.. just please stop tormenting the dogs....


video

January 03, 2009

I was only sixteen


James picked up my wallet a few minutes ago and started going through it. It's interesting to hear how the world appears to a four year old. We had a nice long discussion about my drivers license, he wanted to know if I remembered the day I got it. I told him that I did. Then he asked me if it was on a Monday, I told him that I didn't remember what day of the week it was so he decided it must have been a Friday.

That took me back to the first time I drove my car alone. It was a 1981 Chevrolet Malibu classic. That's not it in the picture, but it is the only picture I could find on the Internet that is closest to the one I had... It was a company car that had been my dad's. I had gotten my license earlier that day and was nervous about driving alone, but wanted to see what would happen. I didn't know my way around as well as I thought I did, so I had to keep track of the many turns I had been making.

I drove for a while, radio on, windows down, enjoying the new found freedom that I had, yet nervous about getting lost. After I had made several turns I was, of course, completely lost. I tried to hide my fear and just enjoy the sights, but it was getting difficult to remain calm. I was a new driver and had no earthly idea where it was that I was at. I wound up on a long straight back road and decided to just see where it came out at, after what seemed hours, I came to the end of the road. Being lost, I just went with it and followed the flow of traffic that was fairly heavy on the road that the one I was on spilled onto to. Everyone else seemed to know where they were going, so I played along.

The nervous feelings grew, and I began to get down right paranoid, as the area I was entering was fairly populated and full of all sorts of people. I recognized nothing, yet had plenty of gas so I just continued on my merry way. The next thing I noticed was that the buildings were getting taller and more frequent. The people were definitely getting scummy looking and the foot traffic had increased. To add to the nervous feelings of impending doom, it started to get dark.

I topped a hill and looked down at a scene straight from a movie. Bars, strip joints, people walking all over, and a huge skyline of city. I had no idea where I was. About half way down the hill I decided to pull into an A & P grocery store and just ask someone where it was I was at, and how to get home. I pulled into the parking lot and noted an enormous amount of traffic, so I just pulled up behind the last car and sat, to wait my turn to find a parking space. I waited for three songs to play through before I moved at all. Then decided that I needed to find a different place for directions, at this pace I would never get home. I pulled out of line and meandered through the parking lot searching for an exit, it was then that I noticed that the line I was in was for people to talk to a group of women standing at the edge of the parking lot... Oh good... As I drove by the line and the group of women, offers for things I had never even heard of were tossed toward me, I still had my windows down... Hey, I was only sixteen. I did, however make mental notes to find out what some of these things were...

I turned into a hotel parking lot. Deciding to ask someone in the office for directions, you had to drive through an archway to get into the parking lot. Once through the arch I was in a smallish lot with rooms all around the perimeter. Most of the room doors were open and women were standing all around, scary looking huge guys were sitting all over the place smoking all sorts of funny smelling things and music was blaring from everywhere. They all looked at me as if I had landed in a ufo. As I did an emergency scan to find a place to turn around, several people approached the car and began to offer me all sorts of things I had never heard of. I was near panic as I made a forty point turn in the middle of the lot with many a "No thank you" flying out the window...

A bit farther down I saw an entrance ramp to the interstate and knew that it would be the best way for me to get back where I belonged, but I still had no idea where I was at. Making a turn in the wrong direction at this point would have been disastrous... So, just under the over pass I made a rash decision and pulled into the first parking lot I came to, a hard left and into the lot. It was a smallish cinder block building with a group of people of various nationalities standing around the door.. I decided to find someone inside that didn't look as if they would cut my throat to ask for directions. I steeled myself and walked through the group and into the building. Inside, I knew that I had made what was surely a fatal mistake. There was a little room, black in color, that you entered into, with a window just to your right. A group of people were standing around talking to a woman inside the window, so naturally I side stepped the group and walked through the doors...

What met me there was a huge room, with head throbbing music, lights, and vast amounts of naked women. I couldn't move... a mixture of fear and interest held me still. After just a couple of seconds, or it could have been a few hours, a huge man ushered me back through the doors, shouting all sorts of things at me, the woman in the window, and the guys around the door. In the parking lot, after he was finished telling me what he thought of me, I understood very little of what he said and was more concerned that my arm would never work again, he let me go and asked what I thought I was doing.. peppered with, "How old are you boy?" I told him that I was looking for directions and that I was sixteen. The blood drained from his face.. Eventually he calmed down, took a few deep breaths and asked where it was I was trying to get to. I told him where I lived and he immediately told me to get on the interstate, head south and I would find the exit for the town I was from. I thanked him, and couldn't help but ask him if I could use the restroom before I left. He laughed and said, "piss by the car kid" and walked off chuckling to himself... Hey, I had to try...

I drove off and found my way onto the interstate, headed in the right direction and enjoyed my first harrowing experience of heavy, fast paced traffic. Yet the panic didn't materialize, I just went with it, my mind racing with the visions it had been opened to for the last few hours. I found the exit for Newnan and went down the ramp. Sitting there waiting on my turn to get on Bullsboro Drive I decided that after all this mess I needed to visit the Waffle house for a comforting bowl of Bert's chili. I spent the next hour sitting there, lost in a meandering haze of naked women, hookers, various smells and strange looking people. I got home and my dad asked me where I had been, it was a bit after midnight. I simply said, "Driving around".. he laughed...

It took some time before all the things I had seen and heard that night were defined for me.. Sitting here now I think about that night and it frightens me.. all the things I saw and did, and how easy it would have been for me to just vanish... I shudder at the thought that Patrick is only two years away from the same age I was then....