Friday, September 19, 2014

Week End Surprise - Books, Bankers and Maybe a Beer

Well - Half price Books IS on the drive home.

The end of a long week and some great surprises. And not just these little finds, the one below only $3.
I got everyone's books out that sent one for an autograph or money for an autographed copy to the Wild Hare Enterprises address.  Since I was late in picking up that mail they all went out UPS or Priority Mail to get there quicker. Lois M.- the address that you requested it to be sent wasn't recognized by UPS (don't know if it was a typo in the street number or error in their system). So I sent it inscribed as you requested to your home address with enough money to cover shipping it to where you wanted it to go priority or UPS.

Gene G. I sent yours to the address on the envelope and later noticed you had a different address for mailing at the bottom of your letter. If that envelope one isn't valid, drop me a "do not post" comment and I'll send off another one (it was one of those  long days, 3 hour of sleep nights and I wasn't too swift today).

But what was really wonderful was all the hand written notes in the requests, from a couple of people who comment that I know, and others that may or may not be bloggers, perhaps just readers.
The kind words and appreciation for my daily meanderings here moved me to tears. That my efforts here, these thoughts and pictures have meant so much to so many of you, and have become a daily part of your lives, as some of you said, means the world to me.  Your support online has brought me a great deal of joy and comfort in this last year.

But there was another surprise, in a box, from a blog name I recognize.  It was not a request for a book, just simply a little gift, to brighten my world found at a thrift shop  (which stirs my new found Scot blood) and mailed off to me. He lapped up the coins, but needed a little coaxing.  Inside, a planetary gear box was found to have slipped off a shaft.  That was fixed and Whoa Nellie - that Barkly the Banker can eat some coins!

Barkly the Banker. 
(this is from youtube, as my own movie efforts didn't turn out so well).

You put coins in his dish and he gobbles them up as they disappear into the bank below..

It still is making me laugh. Thank you U.!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Barkley Memories - Posts From a Long Day

Today got crazy busy, and it will be a short night here at the Crash Pad and quiet, as Abby stayed home with Partner in Grime while I came down for a quick bit of business.  So for this evenings post, some Barkley memories and a note to those of you who mailed in payment for a book (or a book itself) to the Wild Hare Enterprises address in northern Indiana.

 I will be getting those tomorrow and will get everything out in the mail either Sat. or Monday depending on what time I get through there to fetch them. Due to a  crazy schedule for Partner and I, someone always home with Abby, but over 3 weeks away from home for me,  I hadn't been physically in the area to pick them up. If any of you had to wait more than 3 weeks for your book, I will add a second one for free, for Christmas gift giving with my apologies for the delay.

But they are in hand, and I will pick them up at my friends business as I drive home late tomorrow or early Saturday. Thank you so much for your patience and continued support of The Book of Barkley.

Til then, I'll leave you with a memory of Barkley.
Yo, Mom, I was watching Animal Planet.  What's with you guys taking over  the crash pad  TV set.
Yeah, but he's messing with my channel.  There was going to be hot poodles on the commercials, I know it.
Hey, he's in my spot, I'm supposed to get the spot next to Mom.
Well, Archer IS kind of like Animal Planet. . . .
You were ignoring me so I ate your last roll of toilet paper.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Old Friends

Dad and Barkley - Old Friends

My dear friend Vic posted a fun little piece about her Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue dogs she got from Texas Independent Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue - TIRR  (she provided a photo below) called Old Friends . (click on link to open)

I just loved it and told Partner in Grime "Vic did a piece using a Simon and Garfunkel song, but now it's about dogs!"
He looked at me, lifted an eyebrow and said--

"In the clearing stands a boxer."

Smile, take a peek at Vic's post and consider a Rescue Dog or a tax deductible donation, if you have some extra to spare with love but no room in your home for another dog at the moment.  I love Abby, who I adopted through the caring hearts of Love of Labs Indiana--LOLIN. 

They can't replace the dear furry members of our family we have lost, but they are a balm to the heart, and a joyous greeting when we are downtrodden.  It outweighs all that we go through to make them a brief part of our lives and I don't regret making that journey again.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

View From a Shop

In the Range basement a shop has taken hold; bit by bit, adding an assortment of old tools. antiques, artifacts, and things that make us smile. This is by the door to the outside, for it's a walk out basement, with just 3 steps up to the driveway.
That made it easier to set up certain heavier pieces.

You'll have to click on the picture to read the signs.
Each day, unofficially punching in, is a new adventure.  But, due to the flooding, before any other projects are started, there will be cement work, a sump pump to put in, as with 8 inches of water over just one night in a village with  ancient shared sewers after some previous hard rains, we had flooding even with the floor drain.  While we were both out of town.  Anything in working condition was well off the floor, but we still had a big  mess to clean up.
But, it's getting there, a work in process, like the rest of a 100+ year old home. All the Shopsmith stuff is still in the garage with Miss Madeline, the current TR6 restoration, to be moved in here when the floor is done and sump pump installed. I'm not sure WHERE "The Mangler" is going to go, even if it's just a working "Free on Craigslist Conversation Piece".
Til then Barney keeps his eye on things . . .including a beloved single stage press that can craft him his single bullet.  I have a love/hate relationship with many tools as evidenced by my 2012 Tool Advice but I still love to putter, as my Dad would say.
There's lots to be done, but still, it's just a fun place to hang out even with our goofy signs. For as Red Green said - "If you can't stay young, you can at least stay immature."

Monday, September 15, 2014

Elevator Music - On Planes and Pianos

In the last 8 years, the size of my home, was divided by half, then half again, not due to finances, but simply by choice.  I now have a 1200 square foot home, with a shop area almost as big.  It's not fancy, and I've smiled more here than in any giant McMansion I've owned.

For what is contained in that house, is only what is essential or  holds the most special of memories in it.  Some of such things are two violins, one very old, one fairly new.

Music is something I grew up with, playing piano and clarinet in both band and orchestra. As an adult there was a keyboard in the crash pad living room, a guitar often nearby, even if I didn't play often. But late in life, I decided I wanted to learn to play something new, what I wished I'd have learned instead of the clarinet.

I remember the trip to the music store 8 years ago, to look at violins, so many instruments of beauty, of power, love, lust, longing, faith, joy. So many ways to paint a picture on the silence of your life.  I didn't let the"oh, is this for your child?" deter me and I came home with my first violin in my 40's, the music from the store trailing like a contrail in the twilight.
It was harder than I expected, and I'd like to say I'm really good, but as a violinist, I'm a really good piano player.  Still, I have no regrets about giving it a try.

The first step is always the hardest. Trying something new. Embracing something long forgotten that at one time you loved. Embracing something you've never done but wanted to. I see it in people who take up a new hobby, a new career, late in life. I see it in friends who after years, or even decades of marriage, find themselves alone, as they fling themselves out into the dating pool again (which for most feels less like the pool at Holiday Inn and more like a scene from Jaws)
But we do it, in tiny leaps upward propelled by longing and only held back by the gravity of timidity.  It's not much different than learning to fly; the trepidation of the first solo. It's the fear of the what we don't know that holds us back, as a huge unknown beckons. The sky is almost human in its passions, almost spiritual in its quiet, and as likely to forgive as a scorned lover. But to certain people, it is the mystery that calls, until one morning, waking slowly upon this sleep-fast earth, they finally hear.

If I could have put some of my aerial adventures to music, what a song it would have been. Flying can be as mathematical precise as Bach, as fluid as Chopin and as restful as Brahms. I've had landings that were as lyrical as Vivaldi and I've had some that should have been set to the theme from Loony Tunes. There are flights that play in my head like a well worn record; there were flights that were less about moving towards a destination of physical place but more about moving toward a moment in time, a place in which fate and need became one. Had I listened to those that said "you can't do that" because of my age or gender or both, I'd have missed out on that grand adventure.
The only time you are too old to learn is when you cease to breathe. One is never too ingrained in their habits to take up the instrument that for them, will be the perfect blend of the joyous with the sublime, hands stroking a thing of beauty as it resonates with the sound of their dreams, the lingering notes of their need. So, be it an instrument, or putting hand to paper and crafting that book you always wanted to write, or crafting something else of your hands and brain, try it.  You have no guarantee of success but at least the music of your longings, that chorus that fills up those quiet spaces, will be heard, if only by you.

We'll never be 20 again. You can't make the years rewind like a tape. The Roman Poet Ovid said "All things change, nothing is extinguished, everything flows onward". Yet my music will pull me onward, pull me forward, calming me, soothing my mind, giving it peace, becoming the soundtrack of my life even as it propels me to explore my world.
What I listen to is diverse, at best, but good music for me may not be what's popular. Good music is a place where genres fuse; where concertos become operatic and arias symphonic; where glee and grief, the downtrodden and the sanctified, become one. A place where time is much too short, as with each note we are aware of our allotted span dwindling, time in which we not only have to find our true path, but derive some joy from the journey.

Though I enjoy many styles of music, I'm drawn the deepest into the classics. Many great composers have expressed the extremes of life: affirmation, despair, the sanctity of grace, the rush of sensual pleasure, fertile touch and barren void. But there are certain pieces of work in which all these emotions co-exist in the infinity of a short song, making it fuller, richer, touching a chord deep within. We play or listen to our music as we love, for different reasons, to redeem ourselves through the expression of it, to find forgiveness as well as reconciliation with what lives deep within.

Certain songs, certain sounds touch us like memory.  They can calm or uplift, they can bring us to cry, the quick, clear tears of a child for a lost toy or the long drawn out keen of  a love forever lost, salt on our face, salt in our wounds. When the tears stop, they can provide that beat in which we can place one painful footstep forward , muscle memory functioning in the desolation of grief.
Music is the landscape of the absolute, not as defined by black and white, but in those gray shores where beauty ebbs in and away, like the tide, where everything is contingent and nothing simple, and time is so very brief. A place where, as Henry James’s Madame Merle says, "an envelope of circumstances encloses every human life".

Music is as life is, it flows like wine and spills like wine, a communion with something as profound and rapturous as heaven. It is caressing whisper, it is epithet. It can touch you as if it were light, not decanted from heaven but as if  it was suspired from the heart itself.  It fills the room as scent does, leaving upon the senses the aftermath of invitation and  temporal promise, that secret affidavit, like scent itself.
Perhaps that is why I associate flying and music.  The two experiences are intertwined in my mind even if the only song playing in the cockpit was the hip hop beep of an aural warning system, the constant murmuring sound of the engines in still, serene air.

There were days when there was no sense of motion, my craft seeming to hang upon the high, clear sky in a tranquil paradox of time and motion, held on the air like a sustained note. There were days in which storms crashed around me, a kettle drum rumble of thunder warning me away, ice pellets striking the windshield with the ringing truth of a bell.  It would have been my loss had I not experienced both, but would have, had I listened to those that said "you shouldn't do that".
For both brought things to me that were worth every risk. Both induced in me a sense of the infinite and the contemplation of that which is unseen. Music and flying are both wonder, or can be. What is wonder to me may not be wonder to you, but you may understand it, the passion, the yearning for something that's only yet a taste, the visceral connection between the soul and what elevates it to the heavens. It is what strikes in you, that same chord, the same spark that is embedded in some hearts. Something that, in certain individuals, is simply part of our most basic and natural inability to live with the lonesome gravity of silence.

So when you wake up at dawn, listen carefully.  For there, within air that is loud with birds, you may hear it, that choral strophe that is your mystery and your wonder, laid out upon an altar of blue, waiting for you to answer.
- Brigid

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Canon Fodder - Pistols, Pork, and the Semi Auto Fly Swatter

It felt good to wake up at home, away almost a month with the work and travel schedule for us both.  Partner had business not only a few hours from where I worked so we got a couple weekends together, but it had been too long since I'd been home. I was still tired, putting in a very long work day followed by the four hour drive home Friday night in heavy traffic.
I'll be less grumpy after coffee and pancakes.
Time for pancakes.  Replacing the buttermilk with maple flavored drinkable yogurt in the world's fluffiest pancakes recipe and adding and about 6 strips of bacon chopped into the batter, with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and a teaspoon of milk, these turned out mighty tasty. Especially with more bacon on the side (hey someone ate the other  two pieces while the pancake stylist's back was turned!).
After that, it time to make the bread for Partners morning toast and lunches this week as he is not traveling. This  bread recipe, mixed up in the food processor  (one bowl, NO kneading) was in the pan in 10 minutes and after rising,  makes a loaf for about 70 cents. With some smoked turkey, this will make some dandy lunches for him with fruit and a homemade cookie.
We had a lot of catching up to do in two days. Partner had been out to Gunbloggers Rendezvous, traveling with a couple of raffle items.  Yes, it was a beautiful Ruger donated by the Ruger Company that had been in the range safe for a couple of months, and a handcrafted holster that Partner made to go with it.
As he always does when he's been on the road a long time, he brings me a little gift, as I do for him.  Our goal, funny, often useless, and occasionally tacky  items (think dried scorpion in a lollipop from some place in the Far East once).

Even better, the TSA didn't take it.  The Fly Shooter

This will be great back up for the Fly Taser!
Then it was time to do chores.  Partner had been home long enough to mow the yard during the last month, but it needed it again, as well as some limb and flower bed clean up. I do my part in keeping the place up, sharing in equally in the fun around here means we share equally in the work.
Partner works on a Mission Style Broyhill sofa sleeper we got for free on Craigslist. The wood has all been refinished and needs to be attached.  All new cushions were crafted with some black suede-like fabric and new foam.  But the last bits of the tacky  80's disco fabric has to come off before it can be finished up.  While he does that, I'll tend to the flowerbeds.
I had a feeling somethings was watching me.  I turned around and there he was, scoping out the birds and squirrels.

This is a safe neighborhood, but it is good to be aware.

It felt good to get the chores done.

But we can't forget about lunch.
 Beef chow mein on crispy noodles. (a great way to use up a little piece of inexpensive steak)
Now I need to attend to some other things.
Did I mention fun? 
Insert classified flying squirrel gun range photo here.
Before I knew it, it was time to make Sunday supper. This weekend was going by way too fast. Secret Ingredient of the day--handcrafted Fig Molasses, a brilliant recipe from a friend of mine, one not suited for the impatient or the poor with temperature control but making your own molasses, while tricky, is so worth the effort.

If it's something tasty, it's a good day in the kitchen.

Braised thick cut pork chops glazed with fig molasses and  served with corn bread and veggies.
click on photos to enlarge, carnivores, prepare to drool
Somebody sulked while the food was prepared.
Everyone is ignoring me while Mom is in the kitchen
 Nom Nom.  I smell something tasty.
I do!  It's something's coming off of the stove.

Sorry Abby - we've been down that road with you and pilfered pork.  You get kibble.

After the supper dishes were done, it was time for tea and a good book.
While Abby takes a nap with her little friend and I curl up in the rocker.
It will soon be time for sleep.  I hope you all had a safe, productive. and fun weekend, wherever it took you.