Category Archives: Harbor Life

Spring Has Sprung…

the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers

I wonder where the flowers is?

`Unknown.

So here we are at the end of April, out in the hinterlands of Northern Illinois.  Baseball is in full swing, the Cubs are above 500., and both the Bulls, and the Blackhawks are in their respective playoffs.  Oh, and it hasn’t snowed for at least 3 days now!

Life in our little hamlet goes on.

Dodged some major weather a week or so back….folks just to our southeast/east of us were not so lucky. An F4 tornado took out a restaurant and a few miles further down the road, another little farming community. It cut quite the swath, by the grace of God, only two people lost their lives.  There have been, and are, ongoing acts of kindness and charity to provide assistance and help to all who were impacted by this storm, from all parts of our county, and from all corners of the state as well.  Makes one feel a bit better about (at least the local version of) humanity.

Life in our little hamlet goes on.

You may have noticed, there is no political commentary, or observations, of either the State or national level anywhere in this post so far.  Yes, I am still an election judge, as long as they see fit to allow me to do so.  And our local exercising of the franchise goes on with no worries about hanging chads or folks voting multiple times…or from the great beyond.  Aside from that, don’t know when I will post about such goings on, at least at the  State/National level.

Frankly, it all flat pisses me off.  No…more than that…it .. the whole mess, from all three branches of government…at all levels beyond the local…they are corrupted beyond repair.  “They”, and there are exceptions, but they are getting harder to find, are all the same.  No longer legitimately looking out for their constituents and or the welfare of this once great nation, they are only looking to either advance the agenda(s) of those who “bought them out” or of their respective political overlords (upper level party hacks) , or to do what is best for themselves.

And to all of them, the Constitution….is a joke.

Our borders are … a joke.

Our (pick any one or all) amendment “rights”… are a joke

Our civilization crumbles around us.  Fueled by the willful ignorance of an ever increasing number of it’s supposed members. And the “any excuse is good enough” mentality which saw Ferguson Mo. go up in flames, and now sees Baltimore heading in the same direction. (Though I will grant, in the case of Baltimore, at it appears they may have some justification for at least protesting….but if they are going to riot…why are they attacking innocent people…and not taking their chances against the agents of the State who ALLEGEDLY caused the concern they are supposedly protesting, in the first place?)

An aging olympiad sauntering towards a sex-change garners massive media attention, while those in power are degrading our ability to prevent (via military and diplomatic means) or at least avert for now, the eruption of war at various “hot spots” around the globe.  And we, for the most part, the public at large…are blissfully unaware as to what is really going on.

Nero isn’t fiddling…he’s using a damn flame thrower.

I have become uncomfortably numb…and it’s better for my health (physical and mental) to focus on what is going on here at home.

I think, from beyond  the grave, the founding fathers are no longer spinning at a high rate of rpms.  They are giving us all the collective finger.   And I can’t say as I blame them.

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Odds and Ends, Random Neuron Madness on a Monday

1. It seems we finally received around an inch of the white stuff today. The weather guessers were forecasting anywhere from 3-5 inches. Once again proving you can have a job which pays good money, requiring you to be correct only 20-50 percent of the time.

2. The latest news (at around 1pm this afternoon) is the Grand Jury for the shooting in Ferguson MO has reached a decision …when this will be released to the general public is anyones guess. If the media spin is to be believed (yeah, right), the protesters, rioters, looters, their fellow travelers, and any who enable same, will be ready to give us a hot time in the boarded up town tonight! (Or, perhaps tomorrow?) Oh, wait perhaps this might give the more cautious ones cause to refrain…

Get your popcorn ready kids.

3. And let’s close out this bit of randomness, with a comment or two.

Some of this is perhaps a bit dated…but I have been away from the keyboard for a bit.

If the owner of a professional sports franchise wants to name his team “The (Washington) Redskins”, or the “Peter Puffers”, that should be his choice, and his choice alone. The State, assorted victims groups, and or those with agenda(s) of their own, should just shut the hell up. If the public at large finds it objectionable they have the right to “vote with their feet/pocketbook”. Vacant stands, low viewership ratings, and the like will either cause him to rethink the necessitate for the current name…or he may continue on with same knowing he is not going to be making any money off of same (or perhaps not as much money as he would like).

The same is true for any business.

I liked smoking in bars. It seemed like a very logical place to do so. If I had the money, time, and opportunity, I would have had a bar, and there would have been smoking allowed. If you don’t like it (smoking), and I understand there are many reasons for not wanting to be around same, that’s fine. But you wouldn’t see me “turning off the smoking lamp” anytime soon. Rather than banning the use of tobacco products in bars and restaurants, here’s a thought, let the market decide. If I can’t get enough patrons for my establishment, then I will face the same choices the Washington Redskins fella would above.

The State needs to be out of the “bandaging the buttheart by enacting idiotic lows”. It was never about the children, or second hand smoke. It was (always) about control, and or increasing revenue for the State. This is as true (give em time, they will figure out a way to pressure the Redskin’s owner into changing their name) with the Redskins kerfuffle as it was with the smoking. Hey, just give the LGBT community a bit of time, and you may see them attacking Green Bay in much the same manner. (At least when you put “Fudge” in front of my teams name, it sounds like a candy.)

Crossposted at League of Outlaw Bloggers

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Time passages

“It was late in December, the sky turned to snow
All round the day was going down slow
Night like a river beginning to flow
I felt the beat of my mind go
Drifting into time passages
Years go falling in the fading light
Time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight”

From: “Time Passages” 1978, by Al Stewart

It was a low-keyed Christmas this year. Enough snow on the ground to give a half-hearted effort towards the “White Christmas” standard on expects, and the temperature stayed in the margins of a winter wonderland, vice an arctic blast from the Canadian plains.

Food was plentiful, wonderful smells sending advance waves of anticipation, pleasing to the tongue, and taste-buds. Coffee, teas, nogs, and more, were at the ready, to quench the thirst of any takers. Deserts stood by, in the rear guard. Pies, cookies, and various candies, there to round out the holiday feast.

Few presents were exchanged, and this year saw no tree or lights adorning the house, inside or out. It wasn’t due to a lack of money, for the first part, or a disappearance of bags and boxes marked “Christmas Lights” and “X-Mass Tree”, on the other.

This year would see one special person in the family given the gift of peace. We would not be the ones who directly gave her this gift, and all in the family would feel the aftereffects of this gift being “accepted”.

Deb’s mom dealing with attacks to mind, body, and spirit over the past few years, particularly within the last five months or so, accepted her call to close out this final chapter here on earth. On the day after Christmas, she completed her transition from this level of existence, to the next. No longer in pain. No longer restricted, in a body which ceased to honor her will, wishes, or desires. She was set free…to be at rest…and at peace.

  ________________________________________________________________________________________________

I remember when Isabella’s first opened, down Grand Prairie Texas way, in a little hole in the wall at Marshal Plaza. In the space of two years, the big move down the road to where they exist to this day. All the fellow military from the old NAS Dallas who worked there over the years. LEO’s from various cities, both counties, and probably a few Texas Rangers as well, who graced the tables.

The delivery drivers used to compete against each other to see who could make the most tips (and some of the tips….well, there were very interesting stories told about them) on any given evening.

One time when Howard (the owner, fellow retired Navy type, and most importantly, friend) and I raced out of there, as soon as we could close up (Want to say it was a Monday or Tuesday night), to go and see the first Star Trek film. We hopped in my car, an old Mazda RX2 with the rotary engine, and broke land speed records to make it to the theater in time, getting there just a few minutes before it started.

Holidays were always special. The egg-nog and sangria would be flowing, food (and not just Italian) was consumed in mass quantities…and gifts exchanged. And yes, I still have the Navy fight jacket Howard gave me better than 25 years ago. (It saw time overseas btw, in Asia, the Med, and Atlantic)

The pizza was outstanding, the cheesecake “to die for”…but for me the best part of Isabella’s was the people. Howard and Iz were the spark that gave the place life, and character, the rest of us “supporting cast”, added our own little idiosyncrasies…for a bit of added flavor. But Isabella’s would never have been what it was, and what it came to be, without Howard and Izzie.

The mixer will silently sit, ovens cold and stoic their cavernous maws empty, chairs at rest atop their respective tables. All will be silent, and the community will be all the poorer for it.

The memories will live on long after the doors finally close. Those of us who worked (and sometimes, I think, lived) there….the customers who came back time and time again…the families and friends who became permanently intertwined….we are all the richer from the bounty of memories made there.

So the year comes to a close. We are left with memories, and that will have to do. Allowing for the occasional time passage, especially as one gets older, with less time at hand for the future, but an ever-increasing supply of memories…a luxury, an earned mental liquor, to be sipped on a cold winters eve.

Mom and Isabella’s … both provided comfort, joy, the living of life in large chunks. Both were loved and will be treasured.

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Sometimes, simple and straight forward is the way to go

“And this is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

When this first came out, back in the 60’s, Charles Shultz fought tooth and nail to keep Linus’s monologue in the cartoon. To his everlasting credit, it stayed, and is one of the most memorable parts of the show.

Merry Christmas to you all, from all of us at “the Harbor”. May you all be blessed this Christmas and throughout the New Year.

And one more for the road.

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Filed under Faith, Harbor Life, Music on the Right

Goodnight Mr. Bradbury

He had not returned to Waukegan since his 13th year. But Waukegan never left him. It’s presence stayed in his heart and mind. found its way into any number of stories. I would like to think, that sometime yesterday, Ray Bradbury came home. That the spirit of the man now happily roams the streets, visits his old haunts, making them his own. Oh not in a dark and foreboding fashion, one of chained spirit to past memories formed while living, rather, that of one which infuses his essence into the places which he once cherished, making them richer for having his presence there.

Certainly, if I were a librarian, or night watchman, tasked with closing up Waukegan’s Public Library(s) for the night, I might give pause to the spry 13-year-old who is still reading quietly … or the elderly silver-haired gent doing the same. If you happen to mention it is closing time, and the only response received is “That’s okay, the books and I will keep each other company, until you return.” Smile, and perhaps say “Goodnight Mr. Bradbury.”

For the world is poorer in his passing. But richer for what he left behind.
Rest In Peace Ray Bradbury.

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He would have been 83 today.

Most likely there would have been a family gathering, perhaps a roast, or if warm enough, steaks on the grill. The usual discussions would have taken place, about weather…family…jobs…sports. And of course, he would have a scotch in his hand, a smile on his face, and a cigar at the ready (to be lit up outside, after dinner).

Happy Birthday Dad, those of us still down here in the rat race still remember. And still miss you. You left a bigger void than you may have known or suspected. Your shoes still much too big to be filled.

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When It’s Survey Time Again … I’m Gonna Review…

Yep, it’s RNC survey time again!!

Received it in the mail four days ago.  It has taken this long to not only compose this post, but to calm down enough to think clearly.  In light of the sterling effort by the RNC, at all levels, to provide us with candidates which make one proud and honored to “vote Republican”, along with their amazing ability to kept their fingers on the pulse of the (conservative) American voting public, let’s get down to brass tacks and go through the list of survey questions.

1.  Do you believe Barack Obams’s economic polices have:

a) Helped make the economy better.

b) Had no impact on the economy.

c) Made the economy worse.

Love those softball questions, right from the start, don’t you?  Had this “survey” gone out to all households with voting age residents, I could see it being of interest.  That it supposedly is going to “Republican Households”, should ensure “c” is the only obvious answer.  (And yes, I chose “c”.)

2.  Do you believe that Barack Obama deserves a second term as President?

This is going to only GOP households, correct??  Ya know, folks who want small(er) government, less intrusion into business/bedrooms/private affairs, a return to a stronger adherence to the Constitution … just checking.

3.  Do you agree with Barack Obama and the Democrats that taxes should be raised for the sake of  “fairness”, regardless of the negative effect it has on the economy?

At the risk of being redundant, I won’t address this one as I did the first two.  Although it seems to follow the same clueless trend.  Of bloody well course I don’t agree with Obama, and I don’t want my taxes raised, certainly not for the nebulous “reason” of  “fairness”!  “Especially” if it is going to have a negative effect on the economy!!  Is the RNC trying to ferret out GOP impostures?  Do they expect to find something higher than perhaps a half of a percent who would actually consider this a good idea? (More on this at the end of the survey.)

4.  Do you support passage of  a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

At last!!!  A legitimate question!!!!  In all honesty, if I thought the House and Senate, with in six months of having said amendment placed into the Constitution, wouldn’t have figured out at least one “end run” around same, than yes I would be for it.

5.  Do you support amnesty for illegal immigrants?

Short answer:  Build the wall, fill the moat, man the watch towers, along the border, and then we can address the issue of illegals in this country.  Priorities gentlemen, priorities!

6.  Should improving border security be a national security priority?

First off, I don’t want it “improved”… I want the damn border secured!!!  Yes, I know you can not reasonably expect the whole border to be “closed off”.  But you can put any number of plans in action which will cause such a radical drop off in illegals being able to enter the country as to make that no longer an issue.  Over and above the “securing” of the border(s), proper screening of all who enter, and of all major avenues of entry would be the most effective way to deal with “border security”.  Not so much worried about the poor schmuck who comes from any where in the world, seeking to make a better life for himself, or trying to provide for his family back where ever home is.  (We do this right, and they will be allowed in on workers visas anyhow)  What I am worried about is the folks who cross the border for less than honorable reasons.  Be it drug running, gun running, various other organized crime activities/interests, and of course those rascally terrorists, who right now, stand a pretty good chance of crossing our border unscathed.    Oh, and if by “national security priority” you are talking about Homeland Security being in charge of this, than thanks but no thanks, I’ll pass.

7. Are you in favor of granting retroactive Social Security eligibility to illegal immigrants who gain U.S. citizenship through an amnesty program?

Nope.  Unless they want to pay retro-actively (with applicable penalties) to “buy into” the program, than we could discuss this further.  And my, aren’t we hot to trot on this amnesty thing.  Didn’t that little item pose a bit of a problem for the last Republican to hold office?

8.  Should Congress act to preserve the fiscal soundness of Social Security, even if it means raising the age of eligibility, setting income limits and providing opt-out, private account options for younger individuals?

Might not be a bad idea…seems like this was something the last Republican President suggested years ago.  Wonder why his fellow GOP folks didn’t push harder to get this in place?  I expect this will happen about the same time the Cubs reach the World Series.  And will have about the same chance of passing as the Cubs have of winning same.

9.  Do you believe that measures should be put in place to make it easier to impeach federal judges who legislate from the bench in direct conflict with the original intent of the Constitution?

Wow!! Another legit question!!   Would have to brush up on my Constitution, but wouldn’t something like this have to arrive in the form of an amendment?  Especially if we are talking about federal judges?  Something along the lines of clearly defining their responsibilities (I assume they have to take something akin to the Oath I took many times  in the service….about protecting and defending the Constitution…but I could be wrong.), and duties as a federal judge.  And specifically add what the penalties are for willfully falling short of this.  IF the bar is set at “original intent of the Constitution, or as currently amended”  and there is some definition in place, so as to make the “intent” perfectly clear, than I could go along with this.   My problem is the folks who are the grossest violators are the ones who either view the Constitution as a non-entity, or as it being suborned to a “higher” (read UN or EU) law, or as something which is “living breathing” (ie: constantly changing in interpretation).  If you can pin the bastards down to specific parameters, than we might have something here.

10. Do you believe that the best way to increase the quality and effectiveness of public education in the U.S. is to expand federal funding while eliminating performance standards and accountability?

If this is referring back to the old “No Child Left Behind” debacle, you have got to be kidding.   Since when have teachers, and any others in the school systems (yeah there are exceptions, sadly they are not the rule) been judged on performance and or accountability?  The best way is to get rid of the Department of Education, and return the setting of  standards to  as local a level as possible.  If little Johnny is not recieving a quality education, perhaps a more direct involvement by his parents in the local school would lead to a change in same.  Then again, there is always home schooling.

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He’s Not Dead, Jim!

Hope the Christmas holiday found everyone in good spirits and much good times and good cheer was spent with family and friends.

Posting was light for a couple of reasons. First off, in respect for the season, I could not honestly rant about the massive amount of corruption, evil, and ill will that is taking place around the country, particularly in any area one might find “King Putt”. (I soooo like that particular handle for our Usurper-in-Chief, that I believe it will be used here as much as possible, until the that particular “Constitutional Republically Challenged” individual, and all his sycophants/butt buddies/and fellow travelers are either removed from office, or exit on their own.) Of course, there is the world at large, and all the same flavors of the above, to get spooled up about too. In any case, at least for the few weeks before, and a couple of days after, this was something I could not wrap my heart around.

Secondly, at least during the week leading up to Christmas, there was lots to do at work (we are, like most other retail establishments, very busy at this time of year) so more hours were spent there, than were before (and they were busy ones).

Finally, medical issues also reared their ugly little heads. What could have been a potential Christmas write off (as far as visiting family and friends), ended up, thanks to the efforts of not only some fine medical folks, but my sister as well, as a smooth medical procedure for my mother. She was in and out of the hospital in a few days, and was able to have her family over for Christmas, without missing much more than a beat.
(And for those of you who were not as fortunate, my thoughts go out to you, was there myself ten years ago…when dad passed on…may the coming New Year bring you peace of mind, body, and soul.)

So this bit of fluff on the net, was neglected.

But now, all bets are off.

Expect to see a new post in the next day or so. Between SOPA and PIPA we should have some interesting verbiage shortly. There is the ongoing GOP circus…err, primary, lots of potential there. We have a subset of the last one, here in my own Congressional District (the 16th, for those taking notes). It seems Illinois has shrunk a bit in population, between the last two census were taken.
So we have to have our Congressional Districts re-apportioned. What this means to me, is our current Congress critter, is now in a fight for his seat, against the Congress critter from the old 11th District. The “new kid” on the block, looks to be the one I will be tossing my vote toward. He is a tea party fav, and seems to be part of that new freshman class that is causing consternation on both sides of the aisles, in Congress. But we shall see.

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Milk in the raw, and other misadventures in the hinterlands of northern Illinois.

I remember having milk delivered to our house in the (then) furthest western suburbs of Chicago, back in the early 60’s. Oberweis was a diary back then, and not a (positive) political voice in the cesspool of Illinois gubernatorial gladiator pit. It was (and I suspect, still is) good tasting milk. The products available at our local grocers, and those in the nearest big city, are okay, but there is no longer the rich creamy goodness one remembers from childhood.

So Deb and I were talking about what choices are available. Yes, there are some stores, relatively close enough, who offer Oberweis. But for all their creamy goodness, they are a bit higher in cost, not to mention the (one time) deposit on the glass bottles. So, we went one step further. After all, if we are going to pay more, why not see if there was a way to eliminate the middle man, and buy directly from the source. Thanks to this fine fellow, we found a place.

Yesterday, we went and picked up two gallons of rich unadulterated “raw” milk goodness. Two quarts of cream also found their way to our car. Not to be forgotten, were the dozen eggs of various hue and size, and finally, a brisket. It took about an hour to get there. The roads are nice, but there is no such thing as a straight line from our part of the hinterland, to where that bit of dairy heaven awaited us.

Tried a glass when we returned home. Somewhere, a memory from a far simpler time stirred. A six year old’s eyes lit up, and smile widened at the arrival, some fifty years later, of milk as it was ment to be. Rich creamy goodness, caressing taste buds in a manner almost immoral. And the cream…my coffee demanded not to be left out, and who am I to deny my caffeine addiction, a bit of satisfaction. Add a bit of sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and there is not a manufactured “creamer” on the market which can rival it, in taste or texture.

We will be returning. Having sampled the ambrosia of the Dairy Gods, we mere mortals have little choice but to return. Thank God, none of us are lactose intolerant.

After “moo-vanna”, we headed over to one of my companies other stores (I work for a small grocery chain, here in the hinterlands). As with many grocery chains over the past 10 years or so, this particular building had once housed a competitor, now it was “ours”. It was the first time I had the pleasure of seeing another of our stores. This store was easily 3 times as large as ours, and it showed. It wasn’t that there was so much more product, the large amount of area would have almost demanded this be so. What was of greater interest to me … the layout. All the photos we, my fellow employees and I, have seen of product layout, now made sense. They have more than enough room to be as creative as they want in product placement and presentation. When it comes to our store, we are lucky in having room enough to properly place what we have, let alone allow ourselves some extravagant product presentation, at least to the level of our bigger brother(s). It was interesting, and awakening to some degree.

There will be return trips to both places, in the not too distant future.

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Aunt Betty

Mom had two sisters, my Aunt “Nibs”, and Aunt Betty. Aunt Betty, like mom, stayed physically close to her roots; though all three sisters were of a bond, which neither time nor distance from each other could diminish or erase. Betty was of the generation which grew up during the “Great Depression”, became a young adult during “the war”, and became a blushing bride and eventually a mother, shortly there after. Both her and my Uncle Les, worked hard, saw their children, my cousins Chris and Laurel grow to adulthood, and were able to retire from the rat race most of us are still shackled to, some 20 odd years ago.

Betty was of quick wit, and had a way with words. I believe, had she been of my generation, she would have embraced the internet and blogging, and we would have been richer for it.

For my Aunt remembered.

She recalled, on paper, the life and times not only of her mother, but her grandmother as well. I was privileged to have been able to read a rough transcript of her memories, and found it easy to read.

Mom willingly told us about her families history as she remembered it, but Aunt Betty’s story provided depth, a thicker texture, which could only be produced from one who was old enough to remember in greater detail what went on, things her younger sibling would perhaps have missed.

And her skills in the kitchen … a slice of one of Aunt Betty’s pies, was to taste fruit, flour, and assorted spices, in the way the good Lord intended … as a bit of heaven on earth. To be at my grandmother’s house on Thanksgiving or Christmas, when all the women folk were performing their kitchen alchemy, was to know your waistline was in for a losing battle. If the dinner itself did not cause your belt to loosen up, seemingly of its own accord, or the button on the top of your trousers to voluntarily rocket skyward, well … then their desserts would provide the coup de grace.

But my Aunt’s pies, cookies, and cakes, quick wit, sparkling eyes, and smile, will have to content themselves to remain only as memories. As so many of her generation have done, with increasing frequency, my Aunt left us this week. And the world is a much quieter, a less enjoyable, and yes, a less “dessert friendly” place.

Please give Great Grandma, Grandma, Grandpa, and Dad, a couple of hugs from me when you see them … cause I know you brought them a pie or two to nibble on, while sharing a cup of coffee, and catching up on all the latest gossip from down here.

You will be missed, but never forgotten.

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