Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I got a Facebook message tonight from a good friends daughter.
"Steve, call me please" along with her number.
And you know a message like that can't be good.
I called.
"She's gone" Dawn said. "Mama is gone."
I've known her mama Cyndy since I dated her in1973, Cyndy had lost her son to a suicide a few years ago. She was a handful before she lost her son, and barely kept it together since then.
She delighted in nature, and lived on a lake, and owned one of these exotic cats from Persia or something. Here is a response from her to a comment I made a few weeks ago concerning one of her posts:

"There's a place I love to visit deep into the nature trail. It's a small pond and on the top it has a sort of green moss. I forget what it's called but I'm sure Tom McMurray, could tell me. 
When I go there, I sit in silence, with the fruits of nature surrounding me. The pond remains undisturbed for the most part. 
If you can imagine that small pond without one ripple of water, and can become one with it, it clears your mind. 
I carry that image with me as a form of meditation. 
I regulate my breathing shut my eyes and I can journey down the path, take whatever's bothering me and imagine placing it in my back pack and leaving it on a log and then continue my journey before I reach the pond where there is stillness of the water. 
I find no discord with animals in nature. It's humans interaction that I fall short. 
In nature I can hear a cotton wood tree in the gentle breeze before I see one. The sound of humming bird wings. 
I've been watching the lake melt and freeze up and melt while watching the great blue heron fish. 

Most people don't agree that I have such an exotic cat. But I know that special and odd cat. My soul tells me in a visceral way, that we were made for each other. 
She does things that I cannot describe in spoken words without murdering the English language. 
I can look into her green eyes that go fathoms deep and she looks into my eyes the same way. Spectacular friend and although wild and exotic, I'm somewhat a unusual breed of person myself. We are both exotic and unusual. We are one but separate. 

Once the great blue heron has left, I will go feed the ducks. 
The great white egrets have moved on for the season. I'm waiting to spot a cormorant. 

When I started planting for bird life rather than just flowers and common bushes, they told me I was hooked.
Oh, look! A cormorant!"

I told Cyndy when she posted this comment that it was pure poetry. I know she didnt try to write a poem. It just fell out of her, the way things, beautuiful things fall out of us from time to time.
Goodnight Cyndy. You was just too human.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


I looked around and found Willie and Cheryl singing this, but I couldn't handle the way she bopped around on stage in her miniskirt. Then I watched June and Johnny clown around with it, an entire orchestra in the background and Johnny in some kind of tuxedo, making fun with June.
I prefer it stripped down, and by the writer, Tim Hardin, born 12/23 and lost to a heroin overdose.
I've always thought of it as a Christmas song.

Monday, December 23, 2013


""A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The was deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires gong out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly."


Tuesday, December 17, 2013


We went to Home Depot last week to do something we hadn’t done in a long time. We bought a Christmas Tree! Not some "molded plastic and twisted metal perfectly formed cone shaped made in Taiwan with lights already installed (BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED) all you have to do is unfold it and plug it in" tree.

And not some poor innocent conifer severed from Mother Earth bleeding sap tree; a Clark Griswold hack job of a tree that at worst, in a week’s time will be a fire hazard and the entire apartment complex will be shivering cold and wet out in the parking lot at 3am on Christmas Eve, their faces lit by flames and illuminated by the flashing red lights of the Bedford Fire Department;  or a tree that at best, in a month’s time will be rotting next to leftover fruitcake and banana peels at the local landfill.  
For you dreamy idealists perhaps it will be chopped up into mulch to live eternally in communion as a living sacrament, the Body and Blood for Dogwoods and Daffodils,the promise of Christmas realized.
That’s not the kind of tree we bought either.

With a joyous heart we bought the prettiest little secular Norfolk Pine you ever did see!
It’s alive, and growing in a pot, and when Christmas is over it will be our companion. We shall water it, and it shall live on until next Christmas, and the Christmas after, providing us comfort and joy year round. And we bought some happy little twinkle lights to go on it, and ten teeny-tiny little glittery shiny gold bulbs to hang from its pretty branches.
Just 10 little ornaments, nothing gaudy or gauche, and we were excited.
It looked like it was going to be a great Christmas.

The first sign that things might not be as Fa-la-la-la-la as they looked was when we put our car in the shop the next day, and $1100.00 later realized that Christmas this year was going to be a little spare once again, just like last year, and the year before that. But we’ve learned to handle it. We make the best of things generally.
And since we suck so bad at buying gifts anyway (its well documented), it was almost a relief to be penniless. The pressure was off. At least, now we have an excuse for the sucky Christmas presents we will buy.
Who could blame us for a severe lack of funds?

So to cheer ourselves up last night  we decided to decorate our Norfolk Pine.
First the lights!
As we opened the package, we started to take a better look at what we had bought.These weren’t just any Christmas lights. We were horrified to find the words“Martha Stewart” on the outside of the box.
And when we turned the box over, there she was, smiling at us that little millionaire convict smile, as if to say “Not only have I been to prison, I can cook better than you, and I’m rich.”. We can’t believe we bought Martha Stewart lights. Should we take them back? We look again at the box, maybe they were made in America. That would be a redeeming factor, and reason enough to keep them.There it is, in all caps…
That bitch.

We’ll get over it. They haven’t made Christmas lights in America since Nixon visited China. It’s not Martha Stewart’s fault any more than its Barack Obama’s fault,even though we have a feeling he is in on it, somehow.
The idea is to stay joyful and triumphant, right?

We string up the lights and open our pack of 10 little ornaments.
It’s the last straw. We are reminded why we hate Christmas.
There are no wire hangers.
Those bastards.
How can they sell ornaments without hangers?
Have we become so desensitized and accustomed to batteries not being included that now we accept buying ornaments with no hangers?
Ten lousy hangers, that’s all we need.
We just can’t believe it.
How did it come to this? We cried for a little while, not so much for ourselves, or our tree, but for the world we live in where hangers are extra.

Against the current, we beat on.
We found some old Chinese speaker wire, and with a little Martha Stewart jailhouse improvisation managed to fashion some hangers, and now our Norfolk Pine stands decorated for Christmas in all its wonder.
Joyful and Triumphant baby, joyful and triumphant.
Only six more days to suck at shopping.
Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Being white and all, I don’t get to hear much stuff like this, unless I start acting all Scandanavian.. But when my family moved to Detroit from Fort Worth when I was 5, and I started 1st grade the next year, the principal called my mother and asked if there was anything she could do to keep me from “talking like a little black boy”.

There wasn’t.
All little 6 year old boys from Fort Worth Texas, black or white, talk just about the same.

But then when we moved back to Forrt Worth when I was 12, I caught a lot of crap from my new classmates down here who tortured me over my “Yankee” accent.
“Yankee kid” they called me.
I had to forgive them and move on.
They were just mad they had lost the Civil War.
Some of them are still mad.

Monday, December 09, 2013


We had a big ice storm down here, you may have heard. Freeways shut down, no school, no government offices, most businesses, all closed. It started Thursday night, and really got bad Friday afternoon.
I did make it to work Friday morning, I only live two miles away. Only saw one car on the way in, a cop, and he was watching me pretty close.
So I went 48 hours between Friday and Sunday and didn't see another single human being. Everyone was iced in, no one going anywhere. I was really starting to feel like Nicholson in "The Shining", isolated with a bad case of cabin fever. So I ventured out to the grocery yesterday afternoon about 5, but they were out of what I needed:
Milk, TV dinners and certain other essentials.

Which reminds me of a trip I made to Walmart last week. I went through the groceries, had a lot of food and beverages, and then remembered I needed Anti-Perspirant. I rolled over to the deodorant aisle and I look and there is a gorgeous woman shopping there. Oh my, what luck!

Man, she is really built too, gorgeous blonde hair, wrapped up in some kind of stylish semi-sheer blouse unbuttoned down to about here, and a pretty gold chain with a huge cluster of amethyst crystals nestled snugly in her cleavage. Through the thin veneer of the blouse she has on some lacy red brassiere, and her jeans are just about painted on, and she's wearing gold peep-toe stilleto heels and I'm embarrassed just looking at her from 20 feet away. I take a deep breath, suck it up and take a right down the aisle and to my horror, she is not looking at deodorants, no, she is looking at the condoms, personal lubricants, and creams in the "Family Planning" aisle which happens to be, you guessed it, right next to MY anti-perspirant.
She looks up and smiles at me.
I've reached a cusp here.
I can keep rolling over to the AXE deodorant display, where I'll be shoulder-to-shoulder with this Venus-like Love Goddess with the blood-red nails from Colleyville, and maybe we'll discuss the pro's and con's of the different products she is admiring; maybe I can put some on my wrist and she can see what it feels like, just a little sample; or else I can pretend I am on the wrong aisle and boogie my butt out of there.
Any guesses what I did?

Saturday, December 07, 2013


I've found the whole trick to dating is to not date. Too much contrivance. The minute I start trying to date I turn into a jerk like everyone else. Just relax, and pretend you don't really care if you get laid or not. In fact, its best to just pretend sex doesn't even exist. Right up to the point you are actually having it  in flagrante delicto.
You dont have to care, in flagrante delicto, because in the end, sex is what drives everything anyway.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Louis Agnon was my best friend in Grosse Pointe Park and lived 5 houses up on the corner of Essex and Trombley. In November of 1963 we were both 6 and in Mrs. Sherman’s (Sherman the German, we liked to say) First Grade class. Every house in the neighborhood had a basement except for mine. Louis’ house was special in that he had a detached garage and even the garage had a basement. We were not allowed down there and there were locks on the doors to keep people out and the windows were soaped to keep anyone from peering in.

There was an Acorn tree, tall and slender, in my backyard and this is where Louis and I spent most of our time. We could get so far up, up in the tippy-top and we could make that tree sway back and forth. It was like riding a 50 foot high teeter-totter with him on one side of the trunk, now tapered to only 3 inches thick, and I on the other.

From our perch we could see out over the rooftops and a block away to Lake St. Clair where the big ore boats took their loads to the Steel mills. They had come from Lake Superior and were relatively safe now having put some distance between themselves and “the big lake they call Gitchee-Goomie”.
From our perch we would discuss what could possibly be in the mysterious basement of his garage. It couldn’t be good, that much we knew.
Maybe it was flooded with water and filled with old tires, reptiles, flotsam and jetsam of all kinds.
Maybe there was a cache of stolen money, bags of gold coins and bundled bills.
Maybe his father knew some tough guys that used it to “squeeze” people like James Cagney did in the movies. Probably there was some mutant monster, a terrible Shoggath-like creature that had gone long unfed, waiting, waiting, waiting...

The ‘Summer of Love” was still 5 years away, Rob and Laura Petrie were still safe in separate beds, and Louis and I knew nothing of the mechanics of sex. We would talk about all the girls in our class and which ones were kissable and how we would go about getting them alone to do just that. It was Lori Sundburg that emerged as the 1st Grade equivalent of Marilyn Monroe.

In 1963 September turned to October and the October leaves fell to November winds. We were forced to abandon our trees for the shelter of my room to watch T.V. “Maverick” and “The Man from UNCLE” and the "Wild Wild West". We played Mousetrap, Monopoly and Life while mom brought milk and cookies.

Then one day in the most somber of months the news broke like a lightning flash.
The President was dead. November.

They let us out of school and Louis and I had much discussion over this event. Later that afternoon, when they caught the guy, the Assassin, we were delighted to imagine what to do with him.
Hangin’ from a Sour Apple Tree was too good for this guy.
Stabbing with a thousand little knives was too quickly done.
Chained to a bag of concrete and dumped into Lake St. Clair offered no real appreciable trauma.
First Runner up in our choices was to lock him up into Louis scary garage basement to be chewed up by whatever the hell was down there.
But the worst thing we could imagine, Louis and I, was to have the slimeball’s wiener cut off.
We had no idea why but we knew he would miss that the most.

For me it’s the saddest month.
The wind turns cold, boats sink, presidents get killed and their pretty wives are bathed in blood and brains.His kids dont have a daddy anymore. 
It even starts out with a No.

In a way, this may be the first story I ever wrote. It was 2003, and I was living in a burned out old trailer in Kennedale, no water or electricity. I wrote my sister a letter or two, and this story was in one of the letters to make conversation.
She was very worried about me.
It has appeared on Bulletholes several times before. I kept adding to it. But for this version, I cut about 300 words out. Its better for it I think.
The inspiration for this story back then, and now as well, is a song by Greg Brown I heard in 1994. Its the way he says "November" in that growling voice, and the picture he paints that takes me back to as though it was the day before the president was killed, and everything was fine. Someone finally got a Youtube of it up a few months back. Since I shaved some text from the post, lets go ahead and share it here and  now.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dressed All In Pink

Dressed All in Pink
by Dudley Randall

It was a wet and cloudy day
when the prince took his last ride.
The prince rode with the governor,
and his princess rode beside.

"And would you like to ride inside
for shelter from the rain?"
"No I'll ride outside, where I can wave
and speak to my friends again."

They ride among the cheering crowds,
the young prince and his mate.
The governor says, "See how they smile
and cheer you where they wait."

The prince rides with the governor,
his princess rides beside,
dressed all in pink as delicate
as roses of a bride.

Pink as a rose the princess rides,
but bullets from a gun
turn that pink to as deep a red
as red, red blood can run,

for she bends to where the prince lies still
and cradles his shattered head,
and there that pink so delicate
is stained a deep, deep red.

The prince rides with the governor,
the princess rides beside,
and her dress of pink so delicate
a deep, deep red is dyed.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


She was supposed to be reading “The Great Gatsby” but she couldn’t stand it. So she started reading "The Last Unicorn", and every other book ever written, except for Gatsby. I would plead with her to slog her way through Gatsby (which doesn’t even qualifies as a nanowrimo with only 47,000 words), and get the damn report made so her mother would get off my ass.
But she couldn’t stand it.
“I don’t care about the color yellow” she would say.

I’d wake up at 1 in the morning and find her under the covers, using the light from her phone to read anything but Gatsby.
“Water Baby! Get to sleep!” I’d yell.
“OK daddy”
But then at 4 o’clock, my finely tuned senses would detect the faint rustle of pages being turned, and I’d go back in there and find pillows where she was supposed to lay sleeping, and a soft glow of a cell phone light emanating from under her closet door, where she was not reading Gatsby.

Monday, November 18, 2013


I got to watch a friend “flirt “ with a girl.
He disagreed with just about everything she said.
I tried to point out to him that to be so disagreeable was not attractive.
He said that he wasn’t trying to be attractive, he was trying to be intelligent.
I said its never intelligent to be unattractive to the ladies, especially, you know, if you are trying to attract one.
“Really?” he said “I guess you’ve learned this lesson the hard way?”
“No” I explained “I’ve learned this lesson the “fun” way.”
 Then, he explained to her that he didn’t “suck up” to anybody…that he was “set in his ways”…
So I leaned in and whispered in her ear “Baby, I’m flexible...very flexible...”
She giggled.
Then he said he wouldn’t  go out of his way to be “flexible” for anyone just in order to give them what they wanted, so I leaned in real close and whispered:
“Just consider me at your service...”
She giggled some more.

God how I love flirting.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Sometimes they just fall,
the birds, from where they’re sitting,
they just fall open
and let the wind carry them.
I want to love you like that.

- Peregrine

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Antidote for "In Flanders Fields"


He’s gone, and all our plans
Are useless indeed.
We’ll walk no more on Cotswolds
Where the sheep feed
Quietly and take no heed.
His body that was so quick
Is not as you
Knew it, on Severn River
Under the blue
Driving our small boat through.
You would not know him now …
But still he died
Nobly, so cover him over
With violets of pride
Purple from Severn side.
Cover him, cover him soon!
And with thick-set
Masses of memoried flowers—
Hide that red wet
Thing I must somehow forget.
By Ivor Gurney in 1920, who was gassed during WW1  and lived out his days in an asylum.

Contrast that now with the poem ""In Flanders Fields", often cited for its patriotism and devotion to an unnamed cause, that that cause be continued only on the merit that a predecessor had died for it.
"In Flanders Fields" was written in 1915, just as the war had started, before the human wave attacks, before the bayonet and machine gun, before the gas, before the bloody bloody trenches and stalemate on the Western front.
It was written well before the 9 million would die.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses, row on row, 
That mark our place, and in the sky, 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly, 
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 
We are the dead; short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields. 
Take up our quarrel with the foe! 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high! 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae

Thursday, October 31, 2013


A few weeks back, I’m sitting at the computer in my bedroom, watching it rain through the slats in the window blind on a lazy Saturday evening. Suddenly, I realize its a Buddy Whittington Show tonight up at Broncos.
Allright! Rock and Roll night!
So into the shower I hop. Washwashscrubscrubshampooshampoo when I find that I am out of clean towels!
Oh well, it’s a lovely rainy day, we will just drip dry.

So here I am, flopping around the apartment bare-beamed and buck naked. I go back to the computer, check Facebook, leave one of my famous enlightened well thought out intelligent and funny comments, and then skip into the kitchen for a turkey sandwich. I go back to the computer, in all my full naked glory, eating my sandwich and note, through the slats in the blind, that it is no longer raining. The street lights flicker on as evening falls and people are walking their dogs, and Heather from two doors is taking out her trash, and here comes little Ramon and his buddy Jesse with a football. The weird people across the way are pulling junk off the porch, taking it to their car, and bringing junk from their car and setting it on their porch. Its just what they do, 24 hours a day. I don’t think they ever sleep…
So I stand at the computer, eating my sandwich and surf the net a little, and notice after a time its pitch dark now, and drip has turned to dry. That means its time to get dressed.

Into the closet I go, and whats this? Oh, all my old family photos! So I stand there in the closet, looking at my great Aunt Thelma in her graduation gown, and a few pics of mom and dad at Yellowstone, and here’s my brother, his plebe year at West Point. But what to wear? It took a few moments to decide on my favorite flowerdy shirt from Target, 12.99,  and a pair of jeans.

Now afoot and lighthearted, out the door to my car, and just as I am about to climb in I notice through the blinds in my window that I have left my closet light on.
I can see in my closet. 
Through the blinds.
The angle is perfect, if the idea is for the blinds not to, you know, obstruct ones vision into my apartment.
I can see everything in my bedroom, the book on the desk right next to the computer, the empty milk glass,  my chair is back lit like  the stage at a YES concert, and for the last hour I have been bouncing around my apartment, naked as a Jaybird, and obviously half the apartment complex now knows everything there is to know about me.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"You get Laid Lot in This Business"

My ex-wife and I, we get along pretty good for an old divorced couple. But she likes to remind of the time we worked at the hotel together, and I found her and several waitpersons eating off a Queen Mary loaded up with leftover buffet food. She likes to give me a really withering look and remind me how I came over there and took HER plate from her hands, and dumped it in the trash can and ran everybody off from eating this leftover food, making sure to chastise HER especially the whole time.
All that food was basically destined for the dumpster anyway.

I remind her that it was "the rules" that no one eat off the the Queens, and the reason I picked her out to snatch the plate from was to make sure no one thought I might be playing favorites.
"No one ever did" she assures me, which nowadays cuts to the bone.

Anyway, while I'm telling her this, there is a spot in the back of my mind that cant quite square the fact that I was being an asshole under the guise of just doing my job. I was really kind of going out of my way to be one too. I never saw the Executive Chef run off everyone from perfectly good food.
Shoot no, he had assholes like me to do it for him I guess, but the fact was no one really cared and it happened all the time. Shit, thinking back,it should have been in the policy as part of the benefit package, right between Health Care and "You get Laid Lot in This Business".

At the same time this was happening, all this unauthorized munching going on, the General Manager would be downstairs explaining to the Banquet Chef that the employee meal down in the cafeteria was the most important meal he would prepare that day.

I'm really glad I'm not a Chef anymore. I do miss it so.

Friday, October 18, 2013


“I'll tell you something of the forbidden horrors she led me into - something of the age-old horrors that even now are festering in out-of-the-way corners with a few monstrous priests to keep them alive. Some people know things about the universe that nobody ought to know, and can do things that nobody ought to be able to do.” 
― H.P. LovecraftThe Thing on the Doorstep

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


“These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
The Weight of Glory” CS Lewis

"The only people opposed to escape are the jailers"

C.S. Lewis

Friday, October 11, 2013


The standoff and finger pointing in Washington reminds me of Picasso and his painting “Guernica”. The painting depicted the Nazi bombing of the Spanish city Guernica in Picassos own inimitable style. It was painted in like 1938.
Anyway, as the story goes, when the Nazis raided Picasso's Paris apartment in 1941, they found a copy of the now famous painting.
The SS Officer shook it at Pablo, screaming “Who? Who did this?”
Picasso looked at the officer and said “You. You did this”.
I never quite got Picasso's art, but I get the shit out of that answer.
A man that eloquent deserves another look.

It was later done as a huge Mural.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


When I think of Forrest Hardwood, I think of back in 1973 when I was arranging entertainment for the Valentines Dance at Bedford Methodist Church. Forrest was the manager for the band "Aftermath", which featured Loren  on guitar, Sara  on Keyboards, and John on drums. I cant remember the bass player, because Aftermath seemed to always be looking for a bass player, they even let ME tryout one time for bass player. It didn’t take very long for them to see that I didn’t really know anything about playing the base, but they were pretty good sports about it.

Anyway, I made arrangements with Forrest for Aftermath to be the band at Fellowship Hall on February 14th 1973. Forrest pulled a contract out from under his shirt, and I signed it; One Hundred Dollars for a night of music at Bedford Methodist!

I only knew Forrest from our English Class where he was pretty good at torturing poor old Mrs.  Weathers. Mrs. Weathers was the blue haired relic tht tried to teach English to a bunch of 15 year old hoodlums. Forrest kept her in tears pretty much, and I figured if he was as good at managing a band as he was at being a horrible student, everything was going to be ok.

I met Forrest and Aftermath an hour early so they could get set up. Part of their pay also included Valentines Dinner in Fellowship Hall and after dinner, I followed them outside to “get ready” for the music.
I was shocked to find that “get ready”  meant that Forrest would pull a few pre-rolled joints from his shirt pocket and fire them up, right there on the steps in the back outside of Fellowship Hall, while the Methodist Youth Fellowship grades 7 through 12 waited for the band to take the stage.
I tried to protest.
Forrest, wearing a big floppy hippy hat and wearing Mott the Hoople sunglasses,  assured me  they couldn’t play without it, and that in fact it was in the contract, which he again produced from under his shirt, and showed me the line in Section 5, Part 3, which read:
3)Band gets a toke before the show.  

What could I do? 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013


I applied at a Pappadeaux a few years back, the last time we were headed towards an economic collapse.
The manager asked what my qualifications were.
“I was a chef for 25 years” I told him.
He was a fresh faced 26 year old punk as far as I could tell.
“Well, how does that qualify you for being a waiter?” he asked.
“Have you ever wrestled an alligator?” I said.
I got that crazy Jack Nicholson look on my face and told him:
“Well, I have. Wrestled him, killed him, cleaned him, cooked him, and served him up with a glass of white wine and a nice Remoulade.”
His eyes were like saucers.
“OK then...” he said, but they never called me back.

Best interview I ever had.


Monday, October 07, 2013


Our highly skilled and intelligent staff is eagerly waiting to serve you.

Saturday, October 05, 2013


At my grandmothers house in Grandview Texas hung a tapestry I was fascinated with since I was a little boy. I would stand in the hallway, gazing at it, imagining Ali Baba, or the 1001 Nights, or Xanadu, where Kubla  Khan did decree a stately pleasure dome. I always told my grandmother that I wanted it.
Here is a picture of it.

The size of this piece is 60" by 20"
Click on the image for a larger view

She finally gave it to me in the 1980s. Then about the year 2000, it was stolen from me. It had a huge sentimental value and I recently started looking on Ebay to find one to replace it. It took a while, and I got screwed on one attempt (click here) but I found the one pictured above and bought it. I sent the lady I purchased it from a message and told her how pleased I was to have found it and asked if she knew much about it.

She sent a reply back that she didn’t really know much about the piece. Then she says: "I see by your shipping address you live in Texas. I grew up in a little town named Grandview and knew some Renfro's. Are they any relation?"

Man, that just about blew my mind. I told her the tapestry I was buying from her was to replace the missing one that had belonged to my grandmother Renfro, and that yes, it it had to be the very same grandmother Renfro who lived in Grandview Texas.  As the story unfolds all the way, this woman selling me the tapestry actually lived right across the street from them!
How uncanny is that?
It gave me the chills.  

She was a few years older than me. We never crossed paths somehow. Partly because she said her parents always told her to “leave the Renfro’s alone, they are old and don’t want a bunch of kids around”.
So the story of my tapestry appears to have come full circle. Its got to be the greatest EBay story ever told.The one I bought pictured above is in very good condition compared to the one I lost. The colors tend to fade on these old textiles, but the one I bought still looks good.

If you followed the link above, you would know there is a little more to this story. Having bought this tapestry, I now have two of what I guess to be a set of four. Here is the tapestry I bought at an antique store 30 years ago that is part of the overall scene. I just need two more of the larger pieces to have the complete set. When I do, it will be like finding all 4 decoder rings in a box of Lucky Charms. A portal may open, transporting me toXanadu and its pleasure dome of earthly delights, where virgins wait eagerly for my arrival, and I shall feed on honeydew, and drink the milk of paradise, and there will be dancing, and dancing, and dancing.

The size of this piece is 48" by 34"

" A damsel with a dulcimer
   In a vision once I saw:
   It was an Abyssinian maid
   And on her dulcimer she played,
   Singing of Mount Abora.
   Could I revive within me
   Her symphony and song,
   To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise."

Friday, October 04, 2013


"We will pass through the American patrols, past their sonar nets, and lay off their largest city, and listen to their rock and roll... while we conduct missile drills"
Captain Ramius, Hunt for Red October

Wednesday, October 02, 2013


The first time I saw her,
Everything in my head went quiet.
All the ticks, all the constantly refreshing images just disappeared.
When you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you don’t really get quiet moments.

Even in bed, I’m thinking:
Did I lock the doors? Yes.
Did I wash my hands? Yes.
Did I lock the doors? Yes.
Did I wash my hands? Yes.

But when I saw her, the only thing I could think about was the hairpin curve of her lips. 
Or the eyelash on her cheek—
the eyelash on her cheek—
the eyelash on her cheek.
I knew I had to talk to her.

I asked her out six times in thirty seconds.
She said yes after the third one, but none of them felt right, so I had to keep going.
On our first date, I spent more time organizing my meal by color than I did eating it, or talking to her.
But she loved it.
She loved that I had to kiss her goodbye sixteen times or twenty-four times at different times of the day.
She loved that it took me forever to walk home because there are lots of cracks on our sidewalk.
When we moved in together, she said she felt safe, like no one would ever rob us because I definitely locked the door eighteen times.

I’d always watch her mouth when she talked—
when she talked—
when she talked—
when she talked; when she said she loved me, her mouth would curl up at the edges.

At night, she’d lay in bed and watch me turn all the lights off.. And on, and off, and on, and off, and on, and off, and on, and off, and on, and off.
She’d close her eyes and imagine that the days and nights were passing in front of her. But then…

She said I was taking up too much of her time.
That I couldn’t kiss her goodbye so much because I was making her late for work.
When she said she loved me, her mouth was a straight line.
When I stopped in front of a crack in the sidewalk, she just kept walking.
And last week she started sleeping at her mother’s place.

She told me that she shouldn’t have let me get so attached to her; that this whole thing was a mistake, but.
How can it be a mistake that I don’t have to wash my hands after I touch her?
Love is not a mistake, and it’s killing me that she can run away from this and I just can’t.

I can’t go out and find someone new because I always think of her.
Usually, when I obsess over things, I see germs sneaking into my skin.
I see myself crushed by an endless succession of cars.
And she was the first beautiful thing I ever got stuck on.

I want to wake up every morning thinking about the way she holds her steering wheel.
How she turns shower knobs like she’s opening a safe.
How she blows out candles—
blows out candles—
blows out candles—
blows out candles—
blows out—

Now, I just think about who else is kissing her.
I can’t breathe because he only kisses her once—he doesn’t care if it’s perfect.
I want her back so bad,
I leave the door unlocked.
I leave the lights on.

OCD, Neil Hilborn

Saturday, September 28, 2013


When the Red Dirt Girl was in town this week I had hoped that maybe she would be able to go with me to see my pal Buddy, and meet some of my friends at a Buddy Whittington Show, and we would jam to Slow Rolling Train or Grits Ain't Groceries, or any other of Buddy's great songs..
But it just didn't quite work out that way. I hope when Souby gets to Texas here in just a few weeks that maybe they will be able to come up sometime and we will have some good fun and listen to some Buddy.

It was great to meet Red after all these years. We mention from time to time the fun we had in the early days where Red would put up some picture of a shoe, and I would build some kind of menu around it. It may sound far fetched, but it wasn't that much of a stretch once we got rolling. In fact, lets see if maybe I have a picture of a shoe handy....
OH! What do you know? We just happen to have one here!

The rule has always been in determining a Coral Snake from a King Snake:
"Red touch yellow, kill a fellow
Red touch black, friend to Jack"
So it looks like we are in business, especially if there are some black fishnets somewhere near.

Now all we have to do is come up with a menu for this shoe. This shoe is almost biblical. It reminds me of the verse in Genesis that says the serpent was the "craftiest creature in the garden, except the woman".

So, for an appetizer, we should go with a nice Rattlesnake-Leek Consomme', with some Quail Quenelles floated on top maybe.
For the entree I'm  thinking Filet of Sole (haha) ala Pompei, garnished with Seedless Green Grapes, Lobster Coral and Mississippi Baby Shrimps in a light White Wine Sauce.
For dessert, a chocolate Treasure Box, painted with Gold filigree, filled with White Chocolate Mousse on a Raspberry Coulis and seasonal fruits garnish.

I've still got it baby!

I went back and looked around, and found an excerpt from a long time ago, not about me or Red, but about the real star of this show, Sobriquet. Here is his place in the Land of Oz, that I had compared my pals here to at one point:

Soubriquet, whom we have not seen in these parts recently, I think we will call him the Farm Hand Hickory, I believe Hickory was building a wind machine and is the Scarecrows Kansian counterpart. Sobriquet has taken to giving us lots of Video Tech, and I miss his rambling stories. He is a parcel of information, but in between the Grit of his Gears I sense a tender Tin Mans touch.
Somewhere they will erect a Statue for Souby.

A statue for Souby! Who would have thought in 2008 it would be in Texas!

Anyway, it was such a pleasure to meet an old friend for the first time. Its really amazing how well you can get to know someone over time on the blogs when they present themselves in a genuine fashion. A few of us have come a long ways together.
As soft and sweet as I always thought Red would be, I was surprised to find that she is even softer and sweeter in person, if not even a little bit demure. She really IS a lot like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz!
This post is full of links to all sorts of places and I urge you to follow them to your hearts content. I dont think there is a way to tell the full story here, we lived it and watched it being lived. We really helped each other get through and get over.
Thats the trick sometimes you know, getting over what you just got through.

Oh, but back to Buddy and that Slow Rolling Train. heres a tune off his Dr. Wu Project. I'm not sure who wrote this song, but it really is a great song! They stop clowning around and get to the music at the one minute mark. Hurry home Souby. Take the fast train.

Friday, September 27, 2013


I know you are some kind of broken, maybe the kind of broken where everything seems ok, like a chair on which you let no one sit for their own safety and for the safety of the chair.

I know you are some kind of broken, maybe the kind of broken where the weather seeps in around the edges and you fall in love or fall apart and what’s the difference anyway, in the end.

I know you are some kind of broken, maybe the kind of broken everyone longs for in their life, the kind of broken that spills out over everything and everyone around you, a light that never turns off. 
— Peregrine (via youreyesblazeout)

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I have a Cockatiel. His name is Budgie. Last summer I had to send him to Outward Bound up in Oregon. It’s a boot camp for troubled birds.
I went to my therapist. I told him I was deeply troubled about Budgie.
He asked if I was troubled because of separation anxiety, or from having had to do some tough love, and essentially having to send Budgie to a Boot Camp.
“No” I said “I’m afraid I forgot to pack his swim trunks”

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I got up one morning and got dressed and looked up and it was only 7:05. I thought “I’m way early; wouldn’t it be fun to drive over by where she works and go opposite the way she comes , and maybe as I’m going down Forest Ridge we will pass head on, and I’ll honk and wave and smile, and she will honk and wave and smile, and it will be funny, and we will laugh to ourselves all day long about it. Then I’ll call her, and we’ll laugh some more, and I’ll say something really cool like “We have to stop meeting like this!” and she’ll fall even more in love with me, the crazy kooky guy that I am, fate having brought us together on our way to work in the morning."

Well, the next thing I know I’m driving in front of where she works. And I’m coming up to a stop sign right out front, in broad daylight, and suddenly Forest Ridge seems a long ways away. I feel pretty much hung out to dry, completely out of place, and I come to the realization that what I’m doing is really creepy.
And now I’m at the Stop sign, and sure as shit, there she is right across from me, and now I’m trying to crawl up under the dashboard, or down an AC vent, anything to prevent seeing her look right into my eyes with a creeped out look on her face as I sit at the stop sign in front of her workplace, which happens to be WAY OUT OF MY USUAL WAY of getting to work, and I suddenly realize they have a name for what I’m doing:

As we passed each other in the middle of the intersection, basically 5 feet apart, tops, I did such a good job of trying to crawl under the floor mats that I had no idea if she had seen me or not.
I couldn’t imagine she had not.
I talked to her that night and the next day, and the day after, and there wasn’t a clue as to whether she had seen me or not.
Which was a good  sign, a very good sign.
Then at breakfast a few days later, just as I’m about to wash a pancake down with a huge gulp of milk she says, just right out of the blue:
“ I saw a guy that looked just like you by work the other day, only his car didn’t have the big grill on the front!”

I might have gotten away with it if I hadn’t spewed milk and pancakes all over the table. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I’m really lucky. I only have a 10 minute drive in to work. There is not really a lot that can happen to you in that 10 minutes.
Up ahead this morning there was a school bus stopped. It had the flashing yellow and red  lights, and the STOP sign out. Traffic was stopped on both sides of the bus, and I was able to watch the bus driver do her business.

It seems this bus was equipped with a lift for a wheelchair, and at this particular stop, the woman driver was out and lowering it for a smiling young man in a wheelchair as his father looked on. Traffic was building on both sides of the bus as the lift slowly lowered. I watched the woman driver roll the young man onto the lift. The father handed him his lunchbox. I looked in the rear view mirror at the man behind me on his cell phone. I watched the oncoming cars, stopped now, motionless, except for the woman ahead absent-mindedly drumming her fingers on the steering wheel.

It was like the whole wide world had stopped, and would stay stopped as the bus driver secured the chair to the lift with a strap; that time would stretch itself out while the lift slowly rose. That for just five minutes the earth had stopped its rotation and this child in the wheelchair was the center of the universe, the most important person in the world, and I sensed that no one in any of the stopped cars was in any kind of hurry, that no one felt put out, and it made me feel proud to live in a country that would take this kind of care for one single person. To live in a school district that is able to do this. Maybe not all of them can, I don't know. 
Seldom do I get to notice such a manifestation of my taxes doing such good work.

My heart swelled, it really did, and now the smiling driver rolled the chair from the lift into the bus, and I wondered how the kids in the bus felt about taking a moment this morning, taking a moment every morning, to get their pal loaded up. I wondered if anyone said “good morning”, or helped get him strapped safely into his spot on the bus. I wondered if he was a good student. The lift disappeared into the bus, and the driver smiled at the boy’s father, who smiled back, then looked up to see me.

Me, also smiling now, having witnessed this act of care play out. She smiled and gave me a happy little wave, got on the bus and after a long moment the lights stopped blinking and the STOP signs disappeared, traffic resumed  and the world started back to its business again.
The whole world in His hands.
my moment of Zen.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I have been teaching my friend Cara to cook. She’s never cooked before, thinking its really hard, and time consuming. It doesn’t have to be that way.  She said all she ever cooks is Hamburger Helper.
Good  God.

So for two weeks now she and another friend have come over, and I’ve shown her how to cook quick and easy and clean.
The first week we cut up a chicken breast and sauté in a little olive oil and added some zucchini and yellow squash and served it on top of some sliced tomatoes with fresh basil and some angel hair pasta. She did all the cutting and cooking.
Total elapsed time was 25 minutes.
About the same amount of time as it takes to cook the Hamburger Helper.
We used 1 pot for the pasta, and 1 skillet for the chicken and squashes.
You don’t always have to have sauce for pasta you know. Just a little chopped parsley and olive oil is nice. Just make sure you season it. I call it cooking clean, not just because you don’t make so much of a mess, but the flavor is just light, and fresh, and , well, CLEAN.

This week, we went a little deeper. We had Pork Loin with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli, yellow squash and carrots.
First, I had her chop fresh parsley and rosemary.
Then she sliced the pork loin into medallions and we marinated it with the herbs, olive oil, and some garlic.
She cut the potatoes for mashed potato, and got them on the boil, the water slightly salted.
She cut the carrots, broccoli, and yellow squash…some good knife work with no blood, that’s good.
Then she heated up the skillet and started sauté on the pork medallions.
As they were browning, I explained to her  there was another way to do this.
 That this was the “ala minute’” way to do it, when she had no time, like just getting off work.
But with even less effort, she could roast the pork loin.
She could just season the loin, and rub it with the herbs she had chopped, then brown the whole loin on all sides in the skillet, throw some cut up potatoes and baby carrots in there with it, cover it and put it in a 250 degree oven for two hours.

“Lets say its Sunday afternoon, and you and your husband want to eat after the game. Just come in the kitchen at halftime, brown the loin, throw the veges in, cover and put it into a 275 degree oven. Go back to the TV in time for the 3rd quarter, and about the time the game is over, dinner is ready!”
She nodded her head. “Is it good like that?”
“Hoh-Hoh-Hoh! Is it good? Mais oui, madame! But yes!”

Then I told her to step aside from the stove, and I opened the oven and I pulled out the other half of the pork loin she had sliced up that I had put in the oven to roast two hours before!
You should have seen the look on her face!
She says “You mean you have me doing all this, and you already have dinner ready?”
I said “That’s how we learn, baby, thats how we learn!”

Of course, the roast makes a nice jus, and I pulled to cover off, and had her taste the juices in the bottom of the pan. Her eyes lit up.
“Oh, that’s good!” she said.

“Hoh-Hoh-Hoh!” I laughed in my best French Chef laugh. “You must learn to laugh “Hoh-Hoh-Hoh””.
“Hoh-Hoh-Hoh” she laughed back, and I had her get down on one knee, and I christened her with a wooden kitchen spoon, tapping her right, then left shoulder, and a third tap on her bowed head.
“I make you Sous-Chef, Hoh-Hoh-Hoh!” I said.

I had also made an Apple-Fennel slaw to garnish the pork with. Total cooking time for Cara was just about an hour, but we had leftovers enough for them to take home, and I ate the leftovers the next two nights as well. The pork loin cost about 9 bucks @ 1.99 a pound. That's less than a dollar a serving.

I got a message from Cara last night:
"I made chicken with cilantro and lime and zucchini and squash. I almost cut my finger, the knife chopped my finger nail instead. Cooking can be a bit dangerous"

Keep those fingers tucked in Cara, just like I showed you.
And follow your dream.