Jun 29, 2006

Meme: a cultural unit (an idea or value or pattern of behavior) that is passed from one generation to another by nongenetic means (as by imitation)

I quite like this one--it's ripe for abuse.

If you're too lazy to cut and paste without my answers in place, well, just use Whiteout over my answers. I'm interested to see who takes this and runs with it. Be sure and tell me if you use it, I'm curious to see where you go with it.


I know ~ more than you think I do. I know I don't know nearly enough yet.

I believe ~ in very little that I can't see, touch, eat, or otherwise manhandle.

I fought ~ to say that I fought the good fight, but I haven't. I am, however, winning, which is more important.

I am angered ~ that I'm almost out of Frog Morton pipe tobacco.

I love ~ that feeling.

I need ~ to be taken less seriously by myself.

I take ~ bites that are too big to chew.

I hear ~ my candle burning out.

I drink ~ deeply of the wine that life hands me, even when it's bitter.

I hate ~ stupid people beyond all reasonable limits, but something has to be done. They walk among us.

I use ~ air, water, and nutrients like they're going out of style.

I want ~ to find my center.

I decided ~ that I like being me, most of the time. The rest of the time I want to be a small yellow rose that grows wild in an old lady's cottage garden in Bristol.

I like ~ that there are still mysteries that we as humans can't figure out. This makes me feel good and terrified, sometimes both at the same time.

I am ~ older than I act, younger than my years, and sanitized for your protection.

I feel ~ that it's the mileage, not the years that's going to be my downfall.

I left ~ the shell in the tide, the one I used when I drew along the edge of the surf with my heart. I wanted the ocean to remember what I wrote.

I do ~ what my heart wants to far too often to be good for those around me.

I hope ~ for things that shall never come to pass.

I dream ~ in more colours that are humanly possible. It makes me feel sort of edgy. And a bit delirious when I first wake up. This is a dangerous time for me.

I drive ~ slower than I used to, and with more skill than you could possibly think me capable of.

I listen ~ to people far worse now than I ever have before, and that saddens me, but I grow tired of empty noises.

I type ~ far better than I write, but writing has a majesty and a frightening power that I wish I could master.

I think ~ all the damned time, way too much for comfort's sake.

I wish ~ so often that beggars would ride and poor men eat more horsemeat than is good for a healthy heart and colon.

I compensate ~ for my wooden leg with a hand made of beaten copper that is more cunning than human artifice could produce, which is the only heirloom that I shall leave behind me when I shuffle off this mortal coil.

I regret ~ that I regret things.

I care ~ with all my spirit, leading me to wonderous new levels of being let down by Life.

I should ~ really learn to stop talking so much.

I am not always ~ the man I think I should be. I am also not that yellow rose often enough.

I said ~ the wrong thing, but you understood anyway. That's why I love you so.

I wonder ~ if butterflies dream about being human, and if they do why don't they just fucking well tell us and get all the confusion over with.

I changed ~ the other day, and the day before, and I'll probably change again before this meme is done.

I cry ~ when the tears are ready to come.

I am ~ often annoyed beyond belief at the dehumanizing aspects of electronic communication, but I am enthralled at the doors it has opened for me.

I am not ~ the person I used to be. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. It just is.

I lose ~ my powers of perception every moment I live, which is a terrible thing to happen to people.

I leave ~ everything behind when my candle is extinguished. I hope you can do better with it than I have. I always end up with a few screws and a flanged sort of metal rod left over.

Lips, Tails, and Arseholes

Taco Bell. Crotcho Smell. Toke-A-Bowl. Taco Hell. Whatever you call it, you're getting the nasty end of the stick. I used to joke that the meat you got at Taco Bell was lips tails and arseholes, or I'd kid that it was kangaroo meat. I wish that were the truth, bcause the reality of it is even grosser.

Ask any USDA (US Department of Agriculture) employee who works with meat and will be honest with you what grade of beef Taco Bell uses in their tacos, burritos, and any other meal item they offer that includes ground beef. Take a wild guess what grade of beef Taco Bell buys.

And keep this in mind while you think about it, especially if you buy your own groceries. The beef, steak, etc. that you buy in your local market is USDA Grade A, Prime, Choice or Select. That means it's the best, the most marbled, the tenderest, etc. And of course as you step down, you lose tenderness and taste quality.

Until you reach the bottom. You see, you CAN buy cheap meat. You often do without even knowing it; it's usually sold as value or no-brand ground meat or as filler for frankfurters. And it's sold by value restraunts.

Your local Taco Bell is using USDA Grade F meat. That's the lowest grade ranking of beef that is allowed (by your government) for human consumption. It's the same meat that people like Alpo, Purina, and Eukanuba put in dog food.

Remember that next time you hunger for a Fourth Meal. Me, I'd rather eat Soylent Green.

Jun 28, 2006

Yes, Lord!

It's the birthday of painter Peter Paul Rubens, born in Siegen, Germany (1577). He is probably best known for his paintings of voluptuous women, from which we get the word "Rubenesque."


Jun 27, 2006

Betty & The Train

For those of you who have been living under a rock or have never read this blog before, I need to make three points absolutely clear before we go on, so that this post might make a little sense to you.

1. I love trains. All sorts, from the coal-fired dragons of the 1800s to the streamlined Zephyr of the 30's to the big diesels of today.

2. I adore my bike. I love most all bikes, but right now I'm utterly loving having a Star Roadliner Midnight.

3. I love my camera, which includes laying out and taking photos.

So. If you remember the Camelspotting post of a while back, you can skip the link. For those of you don't, here's The Camelspotting Post, which fell remarkably flat. For those of you who still don't get it, it's about trains, based on a Camelspotting joke by Monty Python's Flying Circus. Replace 'camel' with 'train' and you've got it on the nosey. *s* I know, it's more of a British thing, but hey, I'm known for being obscure.

SO. Put the three together along with the information you've gained in the Camelspotting post, and you realise that if I were to be able to catch

  • my bike Black Betty, with

  • a camel train, and

  • my camera, in

  • a good location,

I'd have some damn fine pictures.

Betty 1

Betty 2

Betty 3

Betty 4

Betty 5

Betty 6

Betty 7

And yes, the next few pictures were taken from the wrong side of the warning gate, and yes, there DID happen to be a cop on the other side waiting for the train to go by, but he was out of his jurisdiction and I was moving toward home a lot faster than he could have gotten his car out of the line of cars he was stuck in so it was all good.

Anyway, my friend the Norfolk Southern D9 Camel (two humps) there wasn't going all that fast. Actually it had stopped for a few of those pictures, as you can probably tell. Certainly long enough for me to get Betty around the other side of that bothersome crossing gate and parallel to the cameltracks. *grin* You gotta work for what you want.

Betty 8

Betty 9

Betty 10

Betty 11

Talkies Tuesday Unplugged: Part 2

this is an audio post - click to play

Talkies Tuesday: Special Unplugged Edition

this is an audio post - click to play

Jun 25, 2006

Five Things

Since I got tagged by the Vulgar Wizard Herself AND Hannibal the Hampster, whom I had the pleasure of seeing in Wall-To-Wall Mart yesterday (Gah! Hate the place.) Oh, and Ashlyn, Hannibal's daughter is such a lovely little girl! And she's leery of men, which is superb!

Five Things . . .

Five Things in the Refrigerator
1. Fresh cucumbers from the garden
2. Swee' tea
3. Fresh beets (see #1)
4. String cheese (mozarella)
5. Leftover enchiladas

Five Things in the Closet
1. Less old clothes
2. Tons of shorts
3. Swiming trunks for next FL vacation
4. My two double-breasted suits
5. New sandals

Five Things in the Wallet
1. Driver's license
2. Proof o' insurance
3. Father in law's business card
4. Debit card (dusty)
5. Phone number where I can buy longleaf pines next year

Five Things in the Truck
1. Foldout windshield shade thingie
2. OEM truck jack
3. California car duster (lifesaver)
4. Loose change in the ashtray
5. Chunk of OEM dashboard to replace current radio hole

Five People to Tag
1. I think VW already got everyone I know
2. who might be willing to be tagged
3. so rest assured that I'm not
4. going to tag
5. you.

You're welcome. *s*

Muttonchops For All!

Okay, so I've been teasing about the new beard. For those of you who have known me for the past 20 years know me with a goatee. Well, it's full beard time, at least for now.

I've always thought that my goatee made me look a little older. Seems a full beard has the same effect, only greater. So which do YOU guys prefer?

Irrelephant's Beard, Before and After

Sometimes You Just Gotta Smile

Goat demoted for parade incident
Handler: Commander 'had no option but to demote Billy'

LONDON, England (AP) -- A British army regiment's ceremonial pet goat was demoted in disgrace after it marched out of line before a host of international dignitaries during a parade to mark Queen's Elizabeth II's birthday, a military spokesman said Saturday.

The military mascot, a 6-year-old male goat called Billy, was downgraded from the rank of lance corporal to fusilier -- the same status as a private -- after army chiefs ruled his poor display had ruined the ceremony June 16 at a British army base in Episkopi, western Cyprus.

Lance Cpl. Dai Davies, 22, the goat's handler, was unable to keep control during the march earlier this month, as the mascot darted from side to side, throwing soldiers off their stride, spokesman Captain Crispian Coates said by telephone from Episkopi -- one of two British bases on the island.

"The goat, which has been the regiment's mascot since 2001, was supposed to be leading the march, but would not stay in line," said Coates. "He was reported for subordination and after consideration, the commanding officer decided he had no option but to demote Billy."

Since his demotion, soldiers of a lower rank are no longer expected to salute Billy as a sign of respect, Coates said.

Captain William Rose, a soldier present at the parade, said the goat "was trying to headbutt the waist and nether regions of the drummers."

The regiment, the 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh, has traveled with a pet goat since soldiers adopted one of the animals during the Crimean War, awarding it ceremonial status as a lance corporal.

A total of 11 ceremonial pets -- including a ferret, an Indian black buck and a ram -- are kept by the British Army, but regiments do not take the mascots on tours to combat zones. British legislators were told last month that keeping the pets costs £30,000 ($55,000; €44,000) per year.

The Welsh regiment was presented with a goat from the Royal herd in 1746, and Billy is a descendant from the same bloodline, said a spokeswoman for Britain's Ministry of Defense, on customary condition of anonymity in line with policy.

"He is not a grazing goat and has food flown in from Wales. Billy also has an allowance of two cigarettes a day -- both of which he eats," said the spokeswoman.

Ambassadors from Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, a United Nations special representative and the head of U.N. forces in Cyprus all attended the march, Coates added.

*stolen shamelessly from CNN News.

Jun 24, 2006

Luncheon At Chez' Irrelephant

It's where all the glamourous diners go, where the menu is filled with the finest that the field can offer, it's the place to see and be seen, ample dining area and the finest in haute insect cuisine.

Yes, it's bushhogging time again boys and girls. Get used to it, I'm already to the point of having to cut twice a month, and anything that occupies four hours of my weekend every other weekend is going to be blog fodder whether you agree or not.

Today was, however, the first day that the cowbirds made a big showing. Yes, I know that "Cattle Egret" is a cooler name, but I've thought of them as cowbirds ever since I knew what cows and birds were and how to tell the two apart. See, living in a fully agricultural area like I do, you see lots of cows, and where you have lots of cows you have lots of Cattle Egrets. To be proper. They often follow in the wake of livestock eating bugs, but they've also gotten very smart living in our modern, mechanized society and have realised that tractors, especially those pulling bushhogs or plows are just great big noisy cows, and have adapted their behaviour and diets accordingly. Around here it's nothing to see hundreds of them flying behind the big eight-wheel drive John Deeres, steadily gorging themselves on insects and worms, and it's always a field day when the state mows the right-of-way.

So there I am this morning, sweating like a port whore during Navy shore leave, piloting the old tractor around, stirring up dust and bugs and oil fumes, and the egrets appeared, as they always do, sort of out of the blue. I make a pass down one long side, and the field is empty. I turn at the end, and suddenly there's fifteen of them carefully wading through the mown grass, heads bobbing and stabbing at bugs.

"I do like the decor a great deal, but do we seat ourselves or is the maitre'd coming along?"

That's the only cool part of mowing the field for me. The clouds of egrets that always show up. I've seen as few as none out there with me, and one record-breaking summer a few years ago I counted over 125, all wading through the freshly shorn grass like diners at an open buffet.

"Oh look, Frank, they have black AND brown crickets!"
"Yes m'dear, I told you this was a nice place. Do try some of the katydids, they're quite fresh."

This morning was an average sort of day. Plenty of heat, I cut for about an hour before anyone showed up, and then there was a flutter, a flash of orange leg and yellow bill, and then the sudden appearance of a dozen or so birds, all standing neatly along the cut edge of the field, staring carefully into the tall grass for signs of delectables.

"Oh I say, we're here early!"

"Find us good seats, will you? I've just got to try some of this locust."

As I cut, and as the heat of the day increased the white and buff long-legged/long-billed population increased with it, much to my pleasure. And me being an old hat at this sort of thing, I started taking care to make sure that I made wide passes, slow turns, and if I was going to back up suddenly I did so slowly. See, there's three kinds of diners in the field while I'm cutting: the newcomers, the regulars, and the veterans.

"There's certainly some new faces around, isn't there?"
"Yes, a lot of vacationers here, down for breeding season I'd say."

The newcomers are always the frightened ones, the young birds that make their warbling danger calls every time I get within twenty feet of them. They're usually ignored by the regulars and the veterans, but they can certainly spook the rest of the newcomers. They seem to settle down when the numbers get up around twenty or so. Apparently there really is strength in numbers.

"Oh my god, we're going to get killed! Hey, you there, be careful! Oh lord lady, watch out for that noisy cow!"

The regulars are the birds that live on or near the bayou and recognise the sound of a tractor for miles. They're also the birds who know that the tractor and me are nothing more, in their opinion, than a strangely loud, wildly voracious, oddly fast-footed rust coloured cow that just happens to have "McCormick Farmall" stamped on either side of it's nose. These are the ones that, seeing that I've left them way behind, come flying straight at me as fast as they can, peeling off at the last second in a feather-ruffling five gee turn, then reversing suddenly so that they land immediately behind the effluvia slinging out of the bushhog. Right, as it happens, where the best bugs are still trying to figure out where their hiding place went.

"Hey Pete, I didn't know you were here!"
"Oh hey there, Mark! Yeah, I just got hit by a big chunk of jimson weed. Man, I love eating here, their bugs are the best, and lively? It doesn't get any better than this!"
"Yeah Pete, I know what you mean. Hey, watch that bit of ant-mound. Comin' atcha!"

Then there are the old-timers, the birds who have followed me around the field more times than I've had hot meals. These are the birds who I always see eyeball deep in the tall grass right in FRONT of the tractor.

"See honey, I told you, there's no sense lining up at the salad bar when all the best dishes are right here in the kitchen."

"Oh Horace, you're always so clever."
"Look there, a lovely fat moth. Quickly now dear!"

They stand in front of the tractor because, with the wisdom of their kind they've learned two very important things about me:

  • I would likely kill myself before hitting one of them, and
  • All the BEST best bugs are startled into running in front of, not behind the tractor, plus
  • There's no worry about being hit by a clump of freshly-cut ragweed being flung at you from the ejector.

So, these wily old birds are always wading out of the grass mere feet in front of my wheels, taking that sort of exaggerated care that old men take when crossing a busy intersection, secure in the knowledge that everyone sees them and nobody would dare hit them. All they need is walking canes and tophats and they'd be New York theater goers, out for an evening on Broadway, right down to the slow, stilted walk.

"Rest assured, Bobby has two tickets for 'Cats' at the ticket booth for us, he owes me a big favor. Don't mind the rusty cow, he wouldn't DARE hit us. Oh look, a plump grasshopper, my favourite!"

"Reginald, you look absolutely dapper in your white tux and tail. I do so like the honey-coloured cummerbund and hat. Want to father my eggs?"

And so another morning went by, filled with flying dirt, grass clippings, seeds, and birds. As the heat came up and tummies filled the egrets started lingering in the shade of the oak trees more, and I wanted to also, but I still had cutting to complete. And right about the time I wrapped up I started noticing my forty-odd diners taking wing back to shaded trees overhanging the bayou, where they could, perhaps, enjoy a nice snifter of brandy and a cigar before their noontime naps.

Sounds like a darn good idea to me, actually.

"Matilda, be a dear and bring me a snifter of the '42 and a Cohiba?"

Jun 23, 2006

3:00 Friday Afternoon And Counting

Pain can make a day pretty long, can't it.

I've had a bad back since 7th grade, as I recall, or thereabouts. I was free-lifting weights in P.E., pretty much unsupervised since the coach was a lazy piece of donkey's ass, and when I went to straighten up under a 225 pound squat my right knee gave out, the weight came down just like a hot air balloon doesn't, and I did some terrible things to most of my joints. This has, over the course of years, been a regular thorn in, well, my backside. Here of late I've learned how to be careful and not do things that exacerbate the problem, but sometimes I simply can't forsee every eventuality.

For instance: I managed some clever trick by which I slept pretty well in Florida in this giant, overstuffed bed that felt like someone had replaced the mattress with a huge feather comforter. When I slept on my back my body was bent in a "V" like you see the old people on the Craftmatic Adjustable (Hospital) Bed commericals, except I wasn't smiling all that much. I mean, I slept, and most times slept pretty good, but I would wake up each morning with a mild backache. Ordinarily a soft bed utterly kills me.

So upon returning to my own, rather firm mattress, I woke up Wednesday morning with the most astonishingly bad backache I've had in months. Crippling pain, and I'm not just saying that. And what really gets me about that is that I have no earthly idea what I did to myself to earn this misery. The second half of this week has been an adventure in Tiger Balm, heating pads, and tons of asprin, Tylenol, and Doans. It's finally getting bearable, and I'm on my knees (with pain) hoping that by the weekend I can function with some sort of ability, rather than creeping around hunched over to the right like an upside down question mark, my body's answer to trying to avoid pain. The garden looks bad, the yard looks worse, and the chores are racking up like a pool shark at a YMCA.

And it's taken me half an hour to write this little chunk because I've been trying to wrap up the week's work for the weekend so there won't be a mountain awaiting my Monday morning, so I guess I'd better scat.

Have a great weekend, guys and dolls!

Jun 22, 2006

Wots In Your Wallet?

Capital One has got a good thing going on.

Or maybe I should rephrase that so it implies that Capital One's ADVERTISING GROUP has it going on. With the whole 'viking bankers' thing. I've watched it from the first, laughed at the silliness, and yes, gotten tired of seeing the same old things over and over, but I like a great deal how they have developed from a huge raiding party/angry mob that is about to crush you if you use some other bank card to pay for your dinner all the way to clearly defined characters.

Case in point--the radio commercials. They're like the new tv spots, mostly, but they introduce the raiders before each one speaks. So, your trivia question for the day is:

What's the names of the four raiders who star in the three current commercials?

I'd write them upside down here, like they do in the puzzle books, but the best I can do, I guess, is sort of jot down a few lines and then put the answer down.
There, a few lines. Don't peek until you've guessed.

They are, in no particular order and with phonetic spellings because I can't seem to find ANY reference to them on the web by name,

  • Toga the Hostile

  • Thor the Extraordinarily Angry

  • Irvid the Beligerant

  • Ulaf the Unstable

My problem now is that I can't figure out what bothers me more--the fact that they're getting names now (albeit funny names) or the fact that I spent a week trying to catch all the commercials on the radio so I could jot them all down.

You Are Free And Clear To Navigate

When you make the mistake of learning about Pscyhology, you learn things about yourself that I think sometimes it's best not to know. Nothing terrifyingly bad, Psychology has't been a science long enough for that to be a concern, but still and all there are things that Man simply shouldn't know.

One of those anathema things is "Locus of Control." That's a clever way to describe how we let outside things affect our mental conditions. And originally enough, the locuses are divided into Internal and External. Fancy that.

Internal Locus of Control folks do just what it sounds like they do - their mental lives, their moods and emotional states are self-directed, and they tend to be more level on a day to day basis than Externals.

And since I gave such a brief nod to Internal folks, it stands to reason that I'm considered an External Locus of Control person. If you guessed this already, pat yourself on the back and give yourself a cigar.

I see myself, among other images, as one of those old sailing ships, all sails and masts designed to catch the wind and be propelled forward. And like anything that is controlled by outside forces, one must adjust the sails to make the best of the wind. Unfortunately, nobody has invented any sort of reliable weather control, unless you count the myriads of pharmaceutical answers.

On some levels I want to change this travelling with the winds, and on other levels I have become so accustomed to it that I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I suddenly went to a pair of inboard V-8s. My moods have always been what used to be called 'an artist's temperment' and now are called by some OCD and ADD and Bipolar Disorder and any other of a dozen convenient descriptors that aren't really describing much of anything.

So here I sit, all over the map, desperately trying to avoid that big clear bit that says "Here There Be Dragons."

Stupid People.

From an email conversation with VW this morning at work about Butter Troll and how VW wanted to crush her with her own car.


She's a poor teacher, and a miserable excuse for a person. Unfortunately, if we gathered all these people up and stuffed them into a giant toilet and flushed it the resulting flood of waste into our oceans and rivers would pollute the entire planet.

Plus you'd need a big ole hugemongous plunger for when it got all stopped up with dumb people.

Jun 21, 2006

I need to borrow your blog right quick.

Clerks II - July 21, 2006

I have to post this as many places as I can so I can win a cool Clerks II coozie or something.

Take me to see this movie next month!

Jun 20, 2006

Talkies Tuesday - Lightning Strikes Again

this is an audio post - click to play

So, I need your input, specifically my Talkies Tuesdays chums, but those of you who haven't or don't participate are welcome to chime in, too. You know that as an added feature of TT I always put links to everyone else who TTs with me, and put something silly about what they're going to say, in my own little surreal way. Vulgar Wizard has started taking those seriously, and trying to work her own TT around what I jokingly suggested. And, I've noticed that life, the universe, whatever has gotten a few of us off the track, and I know that it can be really hard sometimes to come up with original stuff once a week.

So. My question is this:

Would you prefer to:

  • Leave things as they are, they're fine

  • Change to once a month or bi-monthly posts

  • Have me assign either a joke or something serious, ala a weekly meme

  • Or is there something else you'd like to see from TT?

Please let me know, by comment or by email, as I'm honestly curious how I can make this a better, more enjoyable, and more traffic-producing experience for us all.


Jun 19, 2006

The New Addition

I was surprised today, at the reaction I got at work my first day back.

It wasn't that noone missed me, because it was obvious that I was missed. I work with a lot of very nice, very expressive people (well, not all of them, but enough to count) and they let their feelings about my return be known.

What threw me is that nobody said anything about my new beard.


You see, I rarely shave on weekends. I just don't like it particularly. And back in 1985, May to be more precise, the day after I graduated high school to be even more precise, I started growing my hair and my beard. A week later I realised that right then I would never be a full beard guy, because mine simply refused to be full. But, I had enough growth to manage a nice goatee and moustache, which does a lot toward covering up and sharpening what I feel is a rather soft chin.

I've shaved my goatee off once since then, for a job that I later learned to hate with a passion. So, since 1985 I've had a goatee and moustache non-stop except for a year and a half haitus. My long hair went the way of all good things after about 14 or so years, but the beard is still here.

The thing is, I decided that since I was already changing myself so radically (sandals wearing, cargo shorts owning, swimming,) that I would go ahead and make another stab at growing a full beard. And thus far I've succeeded, I think. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not looking like Grizzly Adams or anything just yet, but I've got enough growth over the last week that I don't feel ashamed to be seen in public. But the place where people most know me, my job, nobody said anything.

VW told me I looked like I hadn't shaved in a week when I prompted her by asking what she thought, but that was as far as that went.

So now, I'm curious. You see, I'm still up in the air about it. Beards by themselves are rare enough that the man who wears one in today's society is already a little bit of an outsider. A goatee and moustache is further proof that the wearer is something a bit more radical than the clean-shaven prep boy in his Ralph Lauren suit, so going to the full beard is, to me, something of a step backwards. But, I've wondered for a while about it, so I'm going to continue in this vein for another week or so, and then we'll take a vote on it, if you guy's like.

Should be interesting.

Jun 18, 2006

Home Again, Home Again

Jiggety jig.

It's nice to go travelling, but as we all know, there's no place like Nome.

Hah, gotcha. *smile*

I'm not a traveller by any means. I dislike to be far from my home, much like Nero Wolfe, only I'm not nearly his 1/7th of a ton. There are times, though, even in my life when a change of pace and scenery and air and everything around me can help jar me out of patterns and ways that have settled on my shoulders like dust on the furniture -- unnoticed until the chest of drawers collapses under the weight of sloughed off skin and dirt and cat dander.

Hmmmm...not quite what I intended there.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig. It was nice to be gone, but it's good to be home.

I spent a week in a stranger's rather palatial house. I walked up and down her stairs seven or eight times a day. I walked out across purest white sand in her 'backyard,' down to the salt-smelling water several times a day. I woke and slept at my body's behest on the sheets and pillows she picked out, and I napped under her ceiling fan when I felt the urge on me. I fished, I collected shells, and I availed myself of a beautiful brass telescope that the homeowner had as part of her decor. I looked at people, I talked to people, and I ignored people. I kissed fish on the mouth (not too many of them) and I helped sculpt most of three fourths of a Pleisosaur out of sand and my sister in law. I even walked down the beach the last night and drew Picasso-esque pictures in the sand with part of a shell, right up next to the surf, so that the surf would erase them, and erasing them carry them back to her bossom, where they would live forever.

Toward the end, as you can tell from my prior posts and from how closely I play my cards to my chest that I was ready to come home after a week. I was very surprised I lasted that long. Nothing was the same there, no familiar point of reference. Surprisingly, instead of feeling like an oyster on a mountainside I dealt with it rather well. I set my own schedules of rising and beach walking and fishing and almost-swimming and touring the sights. And I dreamed such rich, dark, disturbing dreams as I have not dreamt in a very long time, and I let go of all that dust, let go for just a time the overcoat that I wear that is my life.

And on the last day I bid goodbye to the water, and the sand, and the brass telescope and I turned my face happily toward home.

When I was walking on the familiar ground, when I was feeling the old, familiar oppressive heat, when I smelled the familiar smells and heard the familiar sounds of home I saw it with a different eye for just a moment. I saw it all with the eyes of a stranger, and it was peculiar and unsettling. But then I showered the road off in my own shower, crawled into my own bed under my own sheets, smelled the old familiar smells of my own skin and my old dreams, and I felt the cats settling on me here and there like small, mobile heating units, and I knew that I was home, in my familiar rut.

Which was not as comfortable as it used to be, but it still welcomed me, and I was glad to return to it.

You Asked For It

And now you got it.


Sadly enough, Flickr limits me to 20mg a day. I've got a total of 79 in the digital, and five rolls of 24 exposures each, which are still at Wal-Greens getting developed.

And, I just finished two days of washing and shellacing about eight sink-loads of shells.

It's going to be a long week. But I promise, there's more to come, as soon as this thunderstorm of doom passes over and I feel safe working on the 'puter again.

Jun 16, 2006

Irrelephant Has Left The Panhandle

Or at least I will have tomorrow. Tomorrow morning is official Exit Florida day, 8am, and this is the last opportunity I will have to blog, more than likely. We're about to have a seafood dinner at a superb restraunt, and afterwards is fireworks on the beach and an exquisite $12 Gurka cigar. And right now is that sort of bittersweet time where we're packing and trying to fit in the last of the shell-hunting and the sunbathing and the photography and the napping. And yes, I've become a championship napper, which bodes badly for my return to work Monday morning.

And, I've spent my week fruitlessly searching for my Unicorn. Remember the movie "Gone In Sixty Seconds"? Here's a clue-- I haven't been seeking Eleanor.

Yes, I arrived here last Saturday afternoon with dreams in my head, much like every visitor and resident no doubt, of finding a Unicorn. That'd be, of course, the much-treasured conch shell, a perfect one, a huge, perfect one, a shell the likes of which would turn any finder into a British schoolboy with dreams of power, shipwrecked on...no wait, that's been done.

So anyway, I've been seeking my Unicorn all week. And not finding it, naturally.

This morning it occurred to me that I have been going at it all wrong, which explained my lack of success. Instead of seeking, I reasoned, I had to stop seeking, and it would find me.

I remembered, you see, all those wonderful stories of my youth, all those tale-teaching parables. I remembered that if Mohammed would not go to the mountain, then the mountain must go to Mohammed. I remembered inumberable fairie stories wherein the Handsome Prince went through trials and tribulations uncountable before, finally, he won through to the Princess. I remembered that to find Zen, one must stop looking for Zen. When Sir Gawain finally gave up the desperate quest for the Holy Grail he found the very thing he was looking for, right in front of him. So, I took the hint.

This morning, my last shell-seeking morning, I decided that instead of making my morning stalk down the beach for landed goodies and then spend several hours trolling through the rising tide and the pounding surf for several hours, I would do this the Zen Way. The only way left open to me. I would find my Unicorn the proper way, the time-tested and proven way.

I found a likely spot and stood still. I stood there with my eyes open, my heart pure of lust and desire, my spirit wandering like a brown pelican soaring on the breeze overhead. I became One with the Water and the Sand and the Surf and the Little Espresso-Fueled Crabs. I centered myself, and became No Thing.

And in the course of my spiritual undertaking, I found:

  • three mountains looking for a prophet
  • enough Holy Grails to make a lovely setting for eight
  • seventeen assorted Princesses, Maids In Distress, and Ladies Needing Rescue
  • I even found four different varieties of Zen and
  • I found myself, buried waist-deep in the sand and surf, unable to extricate myself.


I didn't find my Unicorn.

Ah well. More reason to come back next year.

Perdido Key, We Hardly Knew Ye

To include going home time, too much fun, jungle humidors and very old, very small English sports cars.

It's getting that time again. I realised what yesterday was, and why there was a certain desperation mixed with gloom in the house.

You see, it's almost over. And I felt a resonance in my own mind when MIL said "I'm ready to be home." It's been wonderful, incredible, and such a break from the cold realities of life and job and such, but it's got to end sometime soon. I guess that there is a certain level indicator in me that tells me when I've had just enough happiness, a thing that I think was installed when I was baptised Catholic, but anyway, I think I've about had my fill of this fun, if that's possible. The house is exquisite, the beach is unthinkably cool, even getting the crap pinched out of my finger by crabs was different, but I'm starting to long for the cool (hot) green (brown) hills (clay riverbottom) of home.

Yesterday found us taking a small roadtrip into what I think was a suburb of Pensacola, called Cordova. I remember it was called Cordova not because of some esoteric reference to some bit of my past, but because the word was plastered on EVERY STINKING THING. Everywhere you looked the word shouted itself at you--Cordova Trailer Park, Cordova Laundromat. Cordova Cardiovascular Clinc. Cordova Rhinoplasty. And the Cordova Mall, which houses a very old (30+ years) Tinderbox.

Yes, I found a Tinderbox, and yes, I visited. It was, as it always is when I enter a Tinderbox, a wonderful trip back to my own halycon days. The smells, the sights, the atmosphere, it was all there, just like it was when I left my own Tinderbox when it closed, oh, way back in 1987 or so. It was very nice to be able to sit and look and talk to a great manager who reminded me in a way of Old Grey Mare's hubby, under whom I worked at TB way back in that day. He was funny, relaxed, and knew his stuff, and reminded me of the one thing that I need to remember more, and no, it has nothing to do with turning your back on the sea.

He reminded me that it is useless to argue with someone, especially someone who has their heart and mind and everything set on them being right.

You see, I stepped foot into a crazy little store that I've been calling "Cheap Beer" because that seems to be their only claim to fame--they sell very cheap cold beer. And that means a lot when you're across the road from several multi-billion dollar condos going up, which means hundreds of thirsty, tired, hot construction guys, who want what else but cheap, cold beer, and lots of it. The place is actually called The Flip Flop shop because they sell, yes, those, and hats, and all the silly little things that you don't ordinarily bring on vacation with you because it's just easier to buy them there. And they advertise the only walk-in humdior in Perdido Key.

This is not saying a lot as we discussed before because Perdido Key is about two miles long and has three roads. The thing being--the FIL and I stepped into it with high hopes, and I walked into what felt like my own backyard: 80% humidity, which is right, and also is a dry day at home, and 90 degrees temp. Yes, that's right. 90 degrees.

See, humidors are supposed (I've learned) to be 80 and 70. 80% humidity, 70 degrees. That keeps the cigars fresh and keeps tobacco bug eggs from hatching, if you're unlucky enough to have them. I asked the fellow at the counter why he had a butane camp stove going in his humidor, and he embarked on this loud discourse to put me in my place as to why a humidor should be kept like a jungle--hot and damp. I didn't try to argue because a) I knew I was right and he was wrong and b) he was a loud, boisterous idiot. But the Tinderbox manager, Bobby, was right--just nod your head and be done, because it's not worth it.

And I found the car I have to restore when I get multi-billion rich and move here for the winter: an early 60's Austin Healy Sprite. About the size of a Folger's coffee can, no interior, no dash, probably no engine, it was beautiful. Transmission, body, hard top, and a steering wheel, all I need. Well, that and my multi-billion dollars.

Oh, and last night's fresh-caught Gulf fish supper? OMG incredible. So many delicious tastes and textures and OMG. Did you know that bluefish is SWEET? And Red Drum (the official name of redfish and/or channel bass) eats like steak but tastes like heaven? Ooooh talk about being spoiled. And flounder? Freaky ugly fish, terrific taste. Whitings? To die for. The fresh fish is the part I'm most going to miss.

Jun 15, 2006

Biological Erratum

It's tough getting old--the first thing to go is the grey matter.

I almost forgot (I ALWAYS forget some little thing or other that I was struggling to remember to blog about, every single time I blog) to tell you guys something kinda fun to do while at the beach: go crab chasing. Not hunting, because there's not all that much sport involved. Chasing I said, and chasing I meant. You see, crabs, especially those little tiny white ghost crabs I mentioned earlier spend all their daylight hours down small, dark holes. And I've found out what they do down those small, dark holes all day. They drink triple espressos. All day. And at night they come out and they try desperately to burn off all that stored up coffee energy by tearing around the nighttime beach like tiny white V-2 rockets.

And I managed to catch a few last night.

You'd be amazed how much effort a crab whose little square white body is the size of one joint of your thumb can put into equally tiny white pincers. Made me almost holler aloud.

And the other cool thing is that the little sand-coloured crabs, the ones that bury themselves up to their eyestalks in the wet sand down in the surf? You can stalk those too, which is more of a sport because they're almost impossible to find, since they're entirely sand-coloured and prone to hiding in the sand, buried except for their sand-coloured eyes. They're spawing sometime soon, so all the females were very obvious without even having to flip them over, because their bikini-bottom-shaped shell flaps are stuck wide open, filled with clusters of tiny yellow eggs. And for a crab whose entire body, legs and all can fit comfortably in the palm of your hand they have an astoundingly strong set of pincers, which they are not affraid to use, even when you're trying to free one from a shell-net after it's been successfully stalked and dug out of her sand castle. And that DID make me holler aloud.

And yes, you just read a five minute post whose only intent was to tell you that there's two kinds of neat crabs on the beach; one sand-coloured aquatic kind and one white-coloured dry land kind, and that representatives of each species both pinched the tee-total CRAP out of my hand last night, both on the same finger. And the question of how in the heck a tiny creature like that can produce so dang much force from tiny little muscles and tiny little bits of exoskeleton?

Perdido Key: I've Lost Track Of The Days

To include Dr. Seuss's arrival on the beach, the wisdom of not turning your back on the Gulf of Mexico, and even more jellied evil.

Fishing has been extraordinary! The catch counts have gone beyond my ability to remember, but the FIL has landed TWO stingrays now, and between the three of us we've caught Pompino of wonderous size, tons of Ladyfish, a Redfish, a Bluefish that has more sharp teeth than most adults, and a flounder, plus a jellyfish if you count my one accidental capture while fishing for shells on the shoreline. So thus far, we've got:

Wait for it...

One fish, two fish, redfish, bluefish.

Hey, sometimes you just have to say what's inside you.

I've become addicted, by the way. To, of all things, fanciful calcium exoskeletons. I can happily stand in pounding surf all day just for one nice whelk. I've even almost stopped looking at pretty girls for fear of missing That Perfect Shell. Almost. It's actually easy because there are frighteningly few pretty girls on this beach for some reason. *shrug* My shell addiction has gotten pretty advanced, however. I'm up at 6 am to walk the sand to see what got washed ashore the last evening, and then I spend about an hour wading through the increasingly strong rising tide to see what's being exposed. Then it's a late evening scour of several hours as the tide goes out and reveals it's hidden wonders.

Alberto finally made landfall and the water has returned to it's normal, placid self. When the cycle of waves is at it's low point you can stare through the water four or five feet, and it's as though you are looking through an old farmhouse window, where everything is pale green and wavery, but still strangely clear and pure. It's so lovely it should be shared with everyone. Which I'm trying desperately to do here.

The water is funny, too. I started comparing it to a miser, or an old dragon, sitting on a huge hoarde of treasure. And like a dragon or a miser the hoarde contains everything from the most chipped, blackest penny to the most perfect dubloon. And with each wave the water reveals it's treasure, laying it out to be counted, to be desired, and then with each returning sweep it draws it all back to itself, afraid that some rogue soul armed with a small net and a lot of desperation might snatch one perfect coin away. Which I've managed to do, in a few cases--last night brought one nearly perfect tiger-striped whelk shell, and a perfect sand dollar the size of a fifty-cent piece that I caught purely by serendipity, and a whole selection of scallops in shades from purest white to purest black, red and white calico patterned ones, smoke greys, and even Kitten's Paws from the tinest peas to huge tomcat feet.

The important lesson to be taken from the Gulf is twofold: if you see something you want, or think you want, or think might be of some intrisic value to you, you'd better go for it instantly, because no sooner than you've spotted it there's a wave behind or before you that is ready to bury it under a mountain of shards and pieces, and you'll neve see it again. Secondly, never turn your back on the water, because as sure as you just missed that perfect shell there is a wave three times as big as the previous ones that is lining up to beat you onto your hands and knees in all those sharp shells, as payment for taking it's treasure. Words of wisdom--do with them as you will.

The jellyfish are exerting their evil influence, too. BIL got a very bad sting on his upper arm and then on his leg when he brushed the perishing beast away, and I got an anklet of pain for daring to remove my fourth Wal-Mart bag of shells. "Hello, my name is Irrelephant, and I'm an addict."

I hear breakfast being prepared, so I'm off--time for the first pina colada of the day. *lol*

Jun 14, 2006

P. K. Day 4: You Shellfish Barstard

To include being attacked by rogue jellyfish, multiple fishing techniques, the proper use of a net, and our copycat neighbor.

Oh yes, you read correctly. Jellyfish, contrary to popular scientific belief, are not mindless automata of the sea, guided by rudimentary senses, nothing more than a floating automatic appetite. No, it has become my firm opinion that jellyfish are evil creatures, wildly intelligent, existing only to drive humans from their watery domains.

I'm telling you.

Yesterday I received several more near-fatal stings from these evil creatures. Granted I was standing in some very rough surf, but that's neither here nor there. I was wantonly attacked several times, on my ankles, arms, and hands. My poor wife got stung in the water, went to the condo, and returned to report that a tentacle had somehow lodged itself in her bathing suit and had been repeatedly stinging her in a place that was not easily accessible in a public area. And to think that, having caught one earlier by accident I released it (at the neighbor's part of the beach.) Grateful? HAH!

The FIL outdid himself yesterday--fishing like a man possessed (or outside in the Florida sun without a hat and/or hair) he caught something like 17 catfish, at one point going so far as to catch two catfishes at one time, since we've been using double-rigs. To add insult to injury both to my own non-catching self and to the surrounding sea life he then proceeded to catch a catfish on his bottom hook and a sand crab on the upper. Seems the crab was a paid cohort of the catfish, and was trying to release the fish from the hook, and seeing as it was just a simple crab and not a mastermind jellyfish it managed not only to fail miserable in freeing the fish but also entangled his starboard-side legs in the fishing line. I spent an interesting five minutes with pliars, jaws-of-life, and some super glue to free this wily bugger, and was finally rewarded when my efforts paid off--both fish and crab returned to the briny deeps, and the crab rewarded my efforts on his behalf by not snipping any of my fingers off.

We also learned the easy way to find cool shells--wait until low tide, find the one place on the entire beach where shells are coming ashore, then stand just at the drop-off point with a net in one hand, the other outstretched to catch you when you fall. As the water rushes back out in preparation for the next wave, simply hold the net in the on-rushing flow of shells, sand and water, and catch your heart's content. Sort carefully for the good stuff while the next wave rushes in and strikes you with the force of three Yugos at full speed, sprawling you face-first into the giant bed of razor-sharp clam and scallop shells, while you try desperately not to crush the perfect whelk shell you just found.

Tiring, painful work, but I managed to collect three Wal-Mart bags full of beautiful shells in about two hours. Shadowboxes, here we come!

And our neighbor. We stay in a nice-sized duplexed condo, three stories if you count the bottom-floor garage. Right next door to us on the right is another duplex. To our left is a ten story tall gigantor condo being repaired from Katrina/Ivan damage, and right next to that, hosting something like a thousand rooms, all of which block the sunlight for several hours at a time, is an utterly frighteningly large condo called Eden, stepped like the layers of a cruise ship but twenty times as big as any Holiday Cruise Liner. And in there, somewhere, in one of those wildly expensive, hive-like rooms is a copycat. First day, we fished. The second day, he's got fishing equipment. The second day, we shell-hunted. The third day, he's shell hunting in our prime ground, er, sand. With a net just like the ones we had such success with. It's really starting to creep me out. I swear, if that barstard shows up with a pipe in his teeth I'm going to drown him in the first deep bit of surf I can find and just be done with him.

Oh, and real estate. If you want to move here, be prepared with some bank. 1.14 acres of empty beachfront (sand and beach grass provided free) will set you back a cool three and a half million. An okay, typical suburban three-bedroom house a few blocks from the beach with a minuscule pool, a dock (that is built over a NINETY FOOT DEEP CANAL that is twenty feet across) and a yard you could cut with scissors will set you back a million and a half, and you'll be able to toss your eggshells right into your neighbor's bedroom window, each house seemingly wedged right up against all the houses around it.

Not for me, thanks, I'm just here for the seashells. And the jellyfish.

Jun 13, 2006

Perdido Key Day 3: The Tide Is High

In which I make no more lame references to Blondie songs, we have dinner at the finest seafood restraunt in Perdido Key and why this is not a big deal, and the Pensacola Naval Air Station Aviation Museum, and no, this won't be a boring post about airplanes!

Okay. Yesterday, as have been the past few days, was wonderful. Even with a late evening rainstorm courtesy of Alberto and some surf that rivals the Pacific Ocean for ferocity it was still wonderful.

The Naval Air Museum down here is a must-see, especially if you're a naval aviation buff. I'm not huge into Naval aircraft, but the curators didn't hold themseves entirely to that theme. I was utterly agog to see a recreated Curtiss P-40 Warhawk done up in the "Adam and Eve First Pursuit" colours, with the original Burma/China/India theater AVG Flying Tiger on the side. I nearly wet myself over that. Nothing to do with the Navy, but utterly cool nonetheless. And the PBY-5A Catalina, and the Harrier, and the PAIR of F4U Corsairs, not to mention the utterly incredible collection of old biwings and utterly ANTIQUE aircraft. Unthinkably cool.

And that's all I'll say about that for now, and will let the pictures tell the story when I get home and can download them. Seeing as I forgot the cable and all.

Fishing was better than ever, apparently. See, I'm leery of wandering out into ten foot waves, but the FIL is fearless, the new incarnation of The Old Man And The Sea, or perhaps I should start calling him Ahab, since he is possessed of the idea of landing a 6' shark. Which is, scarily enough, quite possible. Catfishes abounded last evening, and he's been out there, steady as the Rock of Gibraltar, angling for what is shaping up to be a sizeable and delicious grilled fish meal.

Which leads me to The Reef, advertised as having the best seafood out of all the Perdido Key seafood restraunts. Sounded great, until it occurred to us that the only other seafood place out here was brand new and therefore probably hadn't made it into the competition, and any older places have long since been blown to firewood by Katrina's arrival, scenes of which are still very evident, so The Reef wasn't quite as lovely as we thought it might be, nor quite as, well, appetizing as one might think for such a prestigous title holder. But, truth be told, and not taking into account the dodgy cole slaw, the grouper was quite excellent, though I have already learned that next time I order grouper it will be blackened and not fried--frying seems to take out a lot of the natural moisture and a fair bit of flavor, while the blackening--wow. Great fish.

So, let me close for now, in terror of what today's Talkies Tuesday is going to bring. I have to wonder at this point if Vulgar Wizard The Blog Hacker and sometimes Guest Blogger here knows that I've got broadband in the condo, not to mention the incredible third-floor view of the Gulf busy pounding beautiful seashells into white sand while I sit at a decent Louis XIV writing desk recreation. My stars and garters this place is spoiling me mindlessly ROTTEN.

Tomorrow: stay tuned for more tales of daquiris and tobacco on the veranda, and maybe more about NAS Pensacola.

Talkies Tuesday!

A-ha! Have at you!

Okay, by now you know the drill (which is why I won't bother to link the mic to the TT site). Irrelephant posts some topics for us to discuss, and we all say whatever the hell we want (well, except me, because I can't think for myself when creativity is necessary).

Things change today.

Everyone MUST discuss the one thing they most admire about Irrelephant. For those of us who know him in real life, this is an easy one. For those of you who know him here, you'll probably be able to come up with something. I mean, this is really him, so figure it out and talk about it. M'kay? Thanks.

Jun 12, 2006

Perdito Key Day 2: Digging In The Dirt

To include being shellfish, overcoming hydrophobia, and the difficulty of fishing in the surf.

I kept thinking yesterday evening, Sunday night, was to be our last night here. Boy was I wrong. See, I'm used to happy weekends ending rather abruptly, with the bright promise of a Monday morning greeting me, oh, 'round about 6 am Monday morning. Strange to realise that all the upcoming morning meant was that there's the bright promise of a whole week ahead. Oh my stars and garters.

Yesterday was, naturally, a lot of fun. Plenty of sitting in the sand, fishing (one ladyfish on, two escaped) and I managed to both find some pretty shells and take a chip out of one of my major fears: the water, as well as daquiris on the veranda, a nice smoke or two, and more fireworks.

Yeah, I can hear you now: "Uhm, Irrelephant, if you're so scared of the water, why did you go to the Gulf?" And I answer "Shut the hell up, it's none of your business." No that's not right. I love the water, I just don't like to go out into it very deep, as we Irrelephants are not born swimmers. But the lure of all that wonderfully warm water, which is still quite cool when compared to the 90 degree temp outside is quite powerful, and since I'd already broken myself into the idea by wading out sternum-high to make long casts into the surf while fishing it was only a matter of time before I was out there bobbing with the rest of the family, thrusting my head firmly below the breakers (ever increasing, with Alberto out there stirring the pot) and digging for shells.

Yes, digging. I've formulated the idea that looking for seashells is a lot like playing the lottery: A lot of hoping, and not many people scoring. Oh, the beach is covered in the one dollar prize shells, but the big prizes are still hidden way out there, or have all been beaten to pieces by the surf already. So, my brother in law came up with the bright idea of digging right along the line where the shells and such stop while the surf continues on up the shore, making a sort of sharp, treacherous, very diverse calcified shelf.

Success! Well, for him anyway. But again, I took another chip out of that perennial fear: yesterday found me floating face-down, wearing a face mask, digging like a crazed, oversized Ghost Crab in the surf. Couldn't have been much more fun. Salt water in my ears, up my nose, all over, and hands almost raw from rooting in what seemed like an endless strata of sand and shells. But I was floating in the water, mostly. My Mom would have another stroke to realise that I was out there.

The first two jelllyfish stings of the day were recorded yesterday, too. The wife got an armfull of tentacles, and I somehow managed to get a fair sting across the inside of my thigh. The heavy surf and waves have driven them inshore, where we innocents are trying to fish and enjoy ourselves. How dare they! Stinking insenate, invertebrate, irresponsible marine life. I swear. That and the rather tempestuous waves made fishing questionable; not that it is stopping the FIL however, who landed quite a few nice Whitings, Pompano, and a flounder of all things.

The fishing did get more difficult with Alberto out there knocking and slamming around, though, no question. Surf crashing in, and the ever-dreaded UnderToad was lurking, trying to drag the unwary angler into his insidious clutches. The wind, an eternal presence out here picked up tremendously, blowing our pavillion up the beach a short way before a daring rescue by the wife, and blowing the Annoyingly Loud Neighbor's hexagonal tent a good hundred yards to the gate. Take that, Escalade Snob. The clouds are thickening, and the normally placid water has taken a turn for the Pacific: huge tumbling rollers, and tons of white foam all over, with a manifold increase in the noise. Utterly beautiful. Watching the almost full moon rise behind a huge cloud bank and spotting big groups of brown pelicans soaring overhead on huge, graceful wings topped off a wonderous day.

Monday: we see the remains of the day, and more Alberto.

Jun 11, 2006

Perdido Key, FL, Day 1

To include the eternal trip across Louisiana, the blandness of the interstate system, and the world's coolest firework stand.

Oh yeah babes, I've got an internet connection! That means you're going to have to endure day-in and day-out coverage of my vacation in Florida with my in-laws! Righteous!

Oh, and as a warning; I'm working on my Mom-in-law's laptop, so if things sound a little strange here, her lappy is some strange foreign brand, and I'm used to working on a good ol-fashioned Commodore 64, so that's why. Either that or because I'm unwinding. Your choice.

So. The first day found us leaving bright and early at 6:30ish. Not too shabby, considering the packing for a week and two vehicles and the coordination of 6 people. The strangest part of it was the fact that, since we were heading from central LA sort of southesast it seemed like we were in Louisiana for five of our six or so hours on the road. MS and AL went by instantly, it seemed, in comparison. And naturally, as always, the interstate was the longest, most boring, driest chunk of riding I have ever had to endure, but it was endured in good company. See, somehow pretty early on it got decided that this would be a stag/does road trip. The menfolk loaded into the Paw-in-law's truck, and the wimminfolk piled into the SUV. This was cool, because our truck had the XM radio and the smokes, so it was all good.

Many hours passed, the wimminfolk tried several rather conniving methods of getting ahead of us, such as lying blatantly about stopping for food and asking us to stop and wait for them while they sped merrily by, but driving slightly over the speed limit and the natural direction-finding ability of the human male ruled the day. We arrived a good five minutes ahead of the ladies at what has to be the coolest place in the world:

Stuart's Fireworks Warehouse, in Alabama. Or something to that effect. *lol* This place is quite literally the greatest thing since sex was invented. It's a blood-red (didja think I was going to say 'firecracker red?') warehouse, three stories tall, shining like an expolsive beacon of hope for all red-blooded men everywhere. They've got quite literally EVERYTHING, stacked from concrete floor to, in most cases, dizzying heights of 20' or so. Utterly incredible. Huge bins, stacks, and piles of a quite staggering aray of exposive devices. I walked around for what must have been twenty minutes with my mouth hanging open, making a sort of "bwah...bwah...bwah" noise, until the wife appeared with the cash, and we started filling shopping carts. Yes, they offer shopping carts. HEAVEN.

I never knew that the cool mortar-shell fireworks came in something called "The Black Avenger," which is a box three feet wide, five tall, with single, double, up to five-shot shells and a mortal tube the size of your thigh. And for only $250 you can have this gunpowder wet dream for yourself. They had a stack of fifty.


So anyway, fireworks aside, we are stayiing in a beautiful condo right on the beach, an utterly gorgeous two-story house with balconies and jacuzzi tub and marble and tile floors and giant beds and oooh, the mind boggles. I quite feel like I'm staying in a very rich, very reclusive friend's house, only the in-laws, spirits bless their lives, are paying a healthy sum for it. Me, I'm going to live like a big dog and lap it up like a cat at the cream pitcher.

So. First day's surf fishing? I caught a few ladyfish, these foot-long, tubular, fighting-like-the-deevil-hisself fish, and and got to watch the FIL land an utterly beautiful, BEAUTIFUL foot and a half long black-tip shark. Yes, a shark. My first encounter with surf fishing (meaning you stand in the surf and cast as far as you can into the depths) saw me moving fast to get away from a small greyish shadow that was patrolling around my toes. I can only hope it was the same shark that FIL caught; serves her right for scaring the pee out of me. Thank heavens the water was warm and I was waist deep in it.

The water. It's beautiful, green, and almost as warm as blood. The full moon on the water last night was incredible, and the waves were small and quiet. This morning the waves were crashing inland like they were competing to be the new Pacific Ocean, and standing waist-deep in them meant that every minute you'd be underwater when the next huge whitecap crashed inland. Utterly incredible. But that's for tonight's post about today.

And so, yesterday found us arriving, getting settled into our gated and combination-locked gorgeous house, and wandering up and down the beach like crazy people. And of coure I can't forget Crustaceous Rex, the King Crab. The night-time beach is covered with these tiny Ghost Crabs, little white multi-legged bodies that speed around like double-espresso drinking Vespa drivers, and the high event of the night is chasing and catching them, which is a lot harder than it sounds; they can corner like they're on rails. So midway through the evening's festivities of seeing these little one- and two-inch long crabs being triumphantly brought into the flashlight, the wife comes up with what had to be the king of all Ghost Crabs. He (or she?) was just smaller than a full-grown blue crab, and as beautiful as a wedding cake. He was covered in the purest white shell, which was decorated all over by tiny orange spiky hairs, giving him a sort of fuzzy peach appearace. Strong, and bold, and huge, he rested regally while we all oohed and aahed over him, and then finally let him return to his watery domain, cursing us all the entire time.

Soon to come: more fishing, the USS Alabama battleship tour, and the Naval Air Station Pensacola Aviation Museum. Woot!

Day One of "House Sitting" for Mr. and Mrs. Irrelephant

I found "the list" Mrs. Irr left for me on the kitchen table. I was sweating by the time I left today. LOL!

I fed the kitties pouch. Egan wanted no part of that or of me today, however he did go completely nuts on the cat gym in the living room.

I took care of the litter box; it wasn't too bad. The spare litter box was clean as a whistle.

I fed both sets of fishies; the fish in the large aquarium went APESHIT. That was fun to watch. Fiona was freaking out watching the fish freak out. That was also fun to watch.

The humming bird feeder was still full. I told Cracker and Dee that they could go outside tomorrow afternoon and to get the hell out of the way so I could close the door. They were not very happy about that.

I checked on the garden and harvested one cucumber. I went back into the house to finish the list, and Dee was sitting on Irr's stool in the den in front of his work-in-progress. She appeared to be thinking that the painting needed a little something but was unsure of what, so she licked her right shoulder and jumped down. That was weird.

I found the money, and THANK YOU RIGHT FRIGGIN' NOW FOR THAT, because we are strapped. I also found the check, which I will deliver as instructed Monday, which means I get to leave work. *tee hee hee* Fiona attacked me, and I left.

So far, so good. Now, if Egan will get over himself long enough for me to kiss him, I will, but I'd like to keep the skin on my face intact, thank you very much.

Jun 10, 2006

Oh, yes, it has begun.

Welcome one and all to the

Over the next week, you will witness the mass destruction of a rather pleasant blog, courtesy of yours truly. I know there are some of you who read Irrelephant but do not read me. Trust me, this will change NOTHING. You will come back in a week when it's safe here again, and you will continue to avoid me like the plague. And that's fine. Because I don't need you. I blog for myself, just like everyone else, with the BlogExplosion buttons and the webring links and the "Rent My Blog" ads. Yep. Just like everybody else.

Jun 9, 2006

Last Call

Yup, it's that time. Closing time, ringing the time bell. Last call for blogging.

You see, this time tomorrow I'll be somewhere right outside of Pensacola, Florida in a lovely beach-side condo, soaking up the sunshine, eyeballing the pretty girls, jumping over alligators, and fishing in the Gulf. And I won't be at the office. Oh my stars and garters, how sweet is that?

I think there might be a laptop and perhaps an internet connection there, so chances are pretty good you'll be seeing some sand-and-surf posts. And if there isn't, then Vulgar Wizard will no doubt hack into my blog in about four minutes flat (I'm not very good with paswords) and she'll be guest blogging for me, which should be interesting.

No, really. Heck, she's got the house keys, so likely she'll be sitting in my chair in my office, eating my food, drinking my tea, smoking my good puros and my pipe tobacco, working on my computer on my hacked blog.

I feel so violated.

No matter. In just a few short hours I'll be packing and cleaning and doing all sorts of things to get ready for the road, and tomorrow morn 6 ayem I'll be on the road with the inlaws and the wife headed for the beach.

Be happy, be safe, smile a lot, and I'll either see you here sometime tomorrow afternoon or I'll see you on the 19th.


Jun 7, 2006

Walk That Walk, Talk That Talk

I missed the important day of Satan! Drat him and his minions for making me miss his day!

Dangit. *scuffing toe in dirt*

So, to make up for it, I stole this from Lisa over at Bored Housewife who in turn stole it from someone else. Aaah, the joy of the internet.

666 = The Number Of The Beast
660 = Approximate number of the Beast
DCLXVI = Roman numeral of the Beast
666.0000 = Number of the High Precision Beast
0.666 = Number of the Millibeast
/ 666 = Beast Common Denominator
(-666) ^ (1/2) = Imaginary number of the Beast
6.66 e3 = Floating point Beast
1010011010 = Binary of the Beast
6, uh . . . what was that number again? = Number of the Blonde Beast
1-666 = Area code of the Beast
00666 = Zip code of the Beast
666 mph = The speed limit of the Beast
$665.95 = Retail price of the Beast
$699.25 = Price of the Beast plus 5% state sales tax
$769.95 = Price of the Beast with all accessories and replacement soul
$656.66 = Walmart price of the Beast
$646.66 = Next week's Walmart price of the Beast
Phillips 666 = Gasoline of the Beast
Route 666 = Way of the Beast
666 F = Oven temperature for roast Beast
666k = Retirement plan of the Beast
666 mg = Recommended Minimum Daily Requirement of Beast
6.66 % = 5 year CD interest rate at First Beast of Hell National Bank, $666 minimum deposit.
$666/hr = Beast's lawyer's billing rate
Lotus 6-6-6 = Spreadsheet of the Beast
Word 6.66 = Word Processor of the Beast
i66686 = CPU of the Beast
665.9997856 = The Number of the Beast on a Pentium
666i = BMW of the Beast
DSM-666 (revised) = Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the Beast
1232 Octal, Apt. 29A = Beast's hexed address
668 = Next-door neighbor of the Beast
333 = The semi-Christ

And I missed it all. Damn it!

I Don't Understand Half Of What I Know

Human knowledge, it's breadth and scope, is startling both in it's sheer volume and in it's sheer lack. We can send submersibles into the ocean to depths at which many fish can't even live, and we can venture out into the harsh emptiness of outer space, but we don't know why we dream. I certainly don't know why.

I dreamed last night, as I often do. I think it's pretty common knowledge that most everyone dreams at night, it's just that many of us don't remember dreaming. In my opinion this is a defense mechanism designed to keep us from all going starkers from the horrible things that our minds dredge up for us to review in living colour, full surround sound, and stomach-wrenching horror.

See, I had the nichtmares last night, in spades. I can't recall much of it, only very scattered images and sensations, but it was, I can assure you, one of those dreams where my mind found every disturbing thing it could find and strung them together in the most unlikely and yet dream-believable way possible.

The thing I most wanted to mention, though, is the part that I remember best, mostly because of it's complete strangeness. It's a rather pedestrian strangeness too, and in the process it's also a violation of my sense of things.

I have a powerful sense of nostalgia. I highly favor things that evoke that sense of distance and connection, pieces of my childhood that have particular sentiment attached, that sort of thing. So last night I dreamed that somehow I had returned to my childhood home, and the entire place had been secured, frozen just like the day we left it, complete with all the furniture and dressings. It was as perfect as though we had not moved as a family but somehow been plucked whole from our place and removed to some other spot, like paper dolls moved from one dollhouse to another by a five year old girl, leaving behind the set for another time.

I remember clearly walking around the house seeing things that had powerful sentimental connections. I remember an ashtray my father used, a photo album, and an old rotary phone that I knew would look good in my office now. I saw and touched my old toys, places I had played, and rooms of furniture. And when I woke up I realised that all those wonderful nostalgic reminisces were completely false, all fabrications of my dreaming mind. In the dim glow from the nightlight I realised that we had never owned a phone like the one I dreamed about. We had never owned a chair like the one I remembered, I never owned or loved those toys I saw, and for that matter we never had a house like that. All fabrications, all lies.

My mind, my treacherous sleeping mind had not only taken me for a walk through some imagined childhood home but had manufactured all those powerful, sweet feelings of lost items found, of long-forgotten connections to a simpler time. I felt so profoundly lost upon waking, felt deeply that empty-socket ache of missing good feelings. Worse, I felt deeply betrayed by my own mind, my own imagination. I had lied to myself so well, manipulated my own heart so powerfully, so masterfully, better by far than anyone else could have, and then had to wake to the cold reality that I had been played for a fool the entire time.

It wasn't a pleasant experience.

Jun 6, 2006

Talkies Tuesday - The Joy Of Irrelephant

this is an audio post - click to play

Join us today as:

Irrelephant discusses the relevant issues surrounding cooking within one's own species.

Vulgar Wizard delves deeply into the ramifications of aluminum versus steel kettles for large-scale boiling.

Hannibal The Hamster answers your burning questions about burning and searing.

Strange Cousin Susan quests for the perfect playlist to have arranged for any sort of culinary experience


Leesepea gives us her always unique viewpoint on why it would be a good thing if we all just got along and had a nice tuna melt social.

Wolfgang Puck or Iron Chef Morimoto? Put down that knife and fork and tell us!

Jun 5, 2006

We All Shine On (A Brief Diversion)

I fully realise that this little bloplet will not do any sort of justice to what all I want to blog about, but right now both you and I will have to settle for it, since my computer time here has become VERY precious and erratic, as well as it being busy as a monkey on fire around here.


I found out something interesting this morning. Riley, one half of the Ron & Riley show on Q93 texted Ron about 5:30 am to let him know that she had been stopped for speeding in *insert name of speed-trap town here* and was refusing to sign the ticket. She hasn't been heard from since, or at least I haven't heard anything.

Being me, I naturally started trying to find out what happens when you refuse to sign a ticket, and found out something very interesting from the State Trooper husband of The Right-Hand Woman.

I knew that a ticket was not an admission of guilt. Every police officer with whom I have had traffic dealings with has told me that, as does the ticket itself right above where you sign, for those of you very few who have never been ticketed. So why, I wondered, do you sign? My police officer contact informed me that your signature on that ticket is the same as a bail bond--you're actually under arrest when the officer stops you, and your signature on the ticket is you saying that by the due date you will either pay the ticket or appear in court. No money changes hands, but if you fail to respond past the due date then you're in effect breaking your bail bond and are subject to arrest on the original charge AND breaking a bond.

So. If you don't sign the ticket, the officer has the legal right to suspend your license, impound your vehicle and/or bring you to jail, all depending on, I assume, how you've been dealing with the officer(s) in question, because the whole time you've already legally been under arrest. And knowing dear Riley and her mouth and her attitude toward authority I can only assume she's in jail right now, or whatever little locking broom closet that they have for a jail down there. Or in rusty iron manacles in a deep, dank stone room. Or perhaps locked in an Iron Maiden, and I don't mean the band.

Me, for my part in securing her release I'm going to climb a water tower and paint "SAVE RILEY" on it's side in big black letters and maybe call Amnesty International.

Jun 1, 2006

So It Says Somewhere

Under there that I'm a Crunchy Crustacean or whatever, that at The Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem I'm ranked like 17,800th + in their blogroll.


Suddenly I'm popular!

Okay, *fishing in my hatband for my speech* I'd like to thank all the little people that helped me get here, including the entire population of my home town Houma, who are, in alphabetical order, Aanderson, Alfred L. Anders, William Q. Azore, Bulimic M.

Can you tell I'm off base a little bit? It's been such a strange week, sort of truncated and fast-forwarded and busy as an armless man with the crotch crickets. Things have moved along in sort of a mild blur, not unlike that blur you get when you've drank just a few too many vodka martinis but not so many that you're forgetting your own name or ready to start projectile vomiting those olives you've been gulping down all night like M&Ms. Just enough that you're perfectly okay with hugging men whom you've just met that evening and every girl in the place is prettier than when you first came in. Except that one.

And the rain hasn't arrived yet, either. I swear, someone has errected (heh heh, I said "errected) this giant invisible weather-barrier around the parish. Watch The Weather Channel or the 'Bug or whatever your favourite weather news feed is, I'm telling you, there can be these huge purple storms, surrounded by neon red trapezoids marked "Certain Death" tearing their demoniac way across Eastern Texas and the moment they reach the outer border of our parish they sort of dissipate, turn into light mist and burn off in the 98 degree heat, then miraculously reform one parish over and begin blasting off huge chunks of the state with force majeur lightning strikes and hail the size of Golden Retrievers.

So right now, nothing. Which has been nice, mind you, because I've had an amazing length of time in which to be riding Betty. What makes me a little sad is that I hadn't realised how little I had been enjoying riding--I've taken to making extra-long trips home now, finding one way or the other to make my usual 4 mile commute home into a fourteen hour exodus. Okay, so the best I've managed to do so far is to stretch it into 6 and a half miles, but you get the picture. It's tough when there's only two road options between your office and home. I suffer through.

The garden is doing nicely, better than I had any right to hope for. The beans are up, tomatoes going well, carrots and beets growing to beat the band, and the cukes and squash are growing like there's no tomorrow. Even the catnip we had feared dead has returned to life, and the basil is reaching fragrant new heights. The drawback is that I've become That Farmer Guy. You know the sort, the guy who is always trying to foist vegetables wrapped in plain brown grocery bags onto his friends and coworkers. I swear, there are times when I feel like an Amish drug dealer. "Haya there goodman, wouldn't thee like some lovely cucumbers? Or per'aps thy youthful head is turned by yellow squash? Thy first one 'tis free."

I think it's the lack of rain--it's making my brain all crispy and dry. My stars and garters, we need some rain here people.


Just a tetch?