Monday, April 27, 2009

Iris Circabellum

It's hard to imagine, I know, that someone as hip, urbane and profane as my friend Biff would turn me on to something as down to earth, simple and plaintive as Iris Dement. But I had honestly never heard of this wonderful Arkansas girl (a redhead to boot!), and that was a shortcoming on my part for sure. You see, Iris is one of those artists whose work is nothing short of honest and heart-tearing. Of course I developed an immediate and profound crush on her.

Many of you remember the numerous crushes I've had over the past years, but this one is different. And I just had to figure a way to make Iris mine. Well, I'm happy to say after six whole months of intensive amorous pressure, Iris agreed to tie the knot with me and we were married in a simple ceremony in a small undisclosed Nevada town, not terribly far from where she lives. And she's coming back to Arkansas to stay.

Now, I have to figure out how to explain this to the little bride...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tea Party - Little Rock Arkansas - April 15, 2009

I arrived at the Little Rock Tea Party right at 4:00, it having started at 3:30. I figure a lot of people had not arrived yet, waiting until they got off from work to go. I had to leave at 4:30 to make an appointment, and there were streams of people still coming. (Don't forget, clicky the picky to make them bigger...)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

This Is Not A Gloat

There’s a saying on the interweb bulletin boards that “if you don’t have pictures, it didn’t happen.” Therefore, this is entirely a work of fiction.

One of my best buddies called me up the other night and was all excited. He told me about a cache of hardwood lumber, stacked and stored in a garage of a retired furniture maker in an elegant lake community home. Almost 3,200 board feet of random width, ten foot lengths of maple. And it could be had for a mere $450.00 or about fifteen cents a board foot. Quite the deal since it normally sells for around four dollars a board foot. Did I want to go in halves with him he asked? Way too much wood for one person and probably for two, but I had visions of just building all kinds of crap out of this stuff because it would be cheaper than pine. I could build tool cabinets in my shop that would be the envy of woodworkers everywhere. I could replace all the kitchen cabinets cheaper than I could buy plywood. I could build some little pieces of furniture and get some practice with my hand tools. This is going to be great. Of course I said yes.

We made arrangements to take off work a little early the next day and make the hour or so drive up to the lake community near Heber Springs. “These kinds of deals never happen to me,” my buddy grinned at me. He and I shared the same vision of a carefully swept garage stacked with pristine planks of rough sawn maple, dutifully watched over by a bespectacled, white haired gentleman who had sold all of his tools some time back and now just needed someone to haul off the leftover materials from a lifetime of craftsmanship. Maybe his wife told him he had to clear out the garage so she could park in it. It was an intriguing thought.

We crested a hill and saw the sparkling water of Greers Ferry Lake in the distance, and turned into a well manicured road of elegant two story houses. Which one is it? We thought as we counted down the addresses on the rural mail boxes. Ninety-nine, One Hundred and Ten, One Forty-four… we looked at each other, puzzled, when we saw the mail box for One Eighty. It stood at the opening between the dense copse of trees with just a glimmer of what appeared to be a pile of junk in the distance. We turned into the lane.

A pot bellied man with a long white beard and a fierce stare came out of the ramshackle “house” with the slap of a screen door. Dressed in flannel and wearing a wide brimmed hat, I began to flash back to the scene in Deliverance… well, you get the idea. Piles of trash and junk adorned the porch and front yard. He motioned to a small, lean-to garage covered with a blue tarp. We stumbled across rotting piles of fence posts and clapboards to peek in.

And there inside were two saw horses with a small stack of boards on them. Lots of small cut-offs on top, a couple of pine 2x4’s sticking out, and a few nice wide and long maple boards. My buddy shook his head and muttered, “These kinds of deals never happen to me.”

How did you figure the board feet on this, he asked. The old man produced a tattered notebook with a column of figures on it. “Here’s the figures the guy wrote down when he delivered it to me.” We peered over them and took a few minutes to realize that these were the calculations for square inches of lumber. And yes, there were thousands. But when you divide that by 144 to get board feet, well… it turns out you only have about two hundred and twenty board feet. Less whatever the dude used out of it. And scarcely a pick-up truck load.

We wound up striking a deal amidst our dashed hopes and loaded up the lumber and headed back home. No, we won’t be replacing the kitchen cabinets. Probably won’t build all those nifty tool cabinets for my shop. I might build that little table I’ve been wanting to build.

As we wheeled back up onto the highway, I heard a mutter, “These kinds of deals never happen to me…”

Monday, April 06, 2009

Maybe It Really Is All Bush's Fault

I’ve always been a curious person. I have a need to know as much as I can about life and the world around me. This runs the gamut from science to politics. And I guess I just don’t understand people that aren’t curious. Knowing the truth, the real story, that’s always been important to me. I’ve admitted that as a young man I was adamantly against the Viet Nam War. I wore long hair, peace symbols and bell-bottom jeans. I told anyone that would listen that the war was wrong and that we had no business in that part of the world.

It wasn’t until years later that I read about documents, declassified by the Vietnamese, that showed just how close we were to winning that war when we pulled out. [If you are a Democrat you will probably bail out right here because this is not sounding like something that makes you feel good.] You know, when we abandoned those that we had promised to help and left hundreds of thousands to die and millions others to languish in re-education camps. It made me ashamed.

I love reading both sides of the evolution theory. (Yes, there really are two sides). [Oops, bye-bye Liberals] I’m fascinated by the idea of extraterrestrial visitation even though I don’t believe it has happened (yet). [Gee, never thought I'd alienate the Ron Paul crowd] I’ve read the Gnostic Gospels. [Mainstream news reporters, sorry dudes, you'll be missed the rest of the essay...] I’ve read the Koran. I’ve chanted in a Buddhist temple. Even though I’ve always been drawn back to Christ for my faith I find no harm in learning about other religions.

What causes people to not be curious? Or to even stop being curious when confronted with ideas that don’t jibe with their own? I consider myself to be conservative in my politics and my lifestyle. But I listen intently to the words and arguments from the far-left and from the middle and from the far-right. And while I consider the far-right to be a little on the goofy side, the words of the far-left have so far always reinforced my core beliefs. I cannot for the life of me find anything in them that makes enough sense to change my mind. But I keep listening just in case. Well, and you pretty much can’t help but listen since that’s pretty much all you’re going to hear on NPR, CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN and just about any other news channels you turn to. Even FOX tends to spout some of that ideology from time to time.

So why would someone fix on a political ideology and not want to hear anything that disagrees with it? What makes one of your best friends, a person whom you endured listening to spew hatred and disdain during years of a certain past administration, suddenly have no interest in politics now that it’s a new administration? When you try to talk calmly and rationally about current events, what makes a co-worker threaten you with violence because they deem you too stupid to live? Why is it that when asked the difficult questions, they resort to shouting you down as if talking louder makes what they say a fact? Especially when presented with facts that dispute it…

What makes friends reply “unsubscribe Republican propaganda” when barbed in a friendly way about their politics? Why won’t anyone discuss this with me? I really want to know what’s real.