Friday, October 26, 2007

Bear's Haints

In answer to my wife's post; "Marcheline's Haints", I have decided to post a few of the pics that I took on our spooky little Graveyard Jaunt; Some have been played about with, most have not... I'll leave it up to you pick-out the 'messed about' ones from the virgins. (Always a positive thing to have a few virgins to mess about with, I always say...) (Well... this is actually the first time I have ever said that... but, I'll make a point of saying it from here on out.. Scout's Honor!!)

"Lines and Shadows"

"Endless Solitude"

"Spooky Steeple"

"A Wave From the Grave! - (Hey! That's Me!)"

"Dead, and Lichen it!"

"Tomb it May Concern..."

"A Pillar of the (Dead) Community"


"We 'Spectre' 'Round These Parts Here Pretty Soon! "

"City of the Dead"

"Shadows... and Shades"

"Grave Thoughts"

"Haunted Tree"

"The End of Days Comes for Us All..Eventually"

Well, folks... there ya have it. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Back in 'The World'.

I have returned from my period of resident monastic training. It was tough... long days (18 to 21 hours), hard work, harsh discipline... but it was, well... profound. Life-changingly so... though I suspect that it may take me some time to fully appreciate what I mean by this... I *do* feel very much transformed by the experience, however. Much as I did upon completing basic training in the military.. You are different, and you feel different, but you aren't capable of seeing the change in yourself until much after the fact for some reason.

The long hours of exhaustion, meditation, enforced silence (there is no talking, eye contact, or even noises made by rustling or fidgeting, clearing the throat, sighing, etc., allowed), and manual labor force your normally outwardly focused attention to turn inward. There is deliberately very little to no outside stimuli at all, and your mind simply turns itself inside out in search for something to do.

This can get sticky.. as you begin to confront issues and events that you would otherwise have kept well hidden away... since you have no way of escaping them, you are forced to work with them, and, hopefully, eventually to put them to rest, or, at least... to accept them for what they are, learn what can be learned from them.. put them down.. and move on.

Time becomes an increasingly abstract concept, as watches are not allowed, and there are no clocks. Commands and instructions are given through a series of sound signals; gongs, clappers and chimes, the occasional vocal command or announcement (though these are kept to a minimum..), and hand signals (also kept to a minimum).

You are left with your own mind. Your own mind stripped bare of all of its masks, all of its accoutrements, and most (if not all) of its falsehoods and facades.

It can be unattractive. Revolting. Ugly. Frightening. ... and, eventually beautiful. With work... and very strict attentiveness, a glimpse of your actual reality and substance can be marvelous in its unadulturated 'suchness'. You are just like 'this' at this very moment... but the moment is flowing and changing and morphing... and so are you!! There is no such thing as a finished human being... we are all in a constant state of flux... and, like a silk kerchief sliding off the edge of a smoothly polished table, our lives flow without hitching up on anything.. without snagging... and without hesitation... the hesitations and snags are all in our perceptions... but life flows of its own accord, whether we are capable of seeing it or not. Like writing the story of our lives on the surface of water, we are constantly coming into existence and dissolving away simultaneously... although most of us cannot see this as it is happening.

We look inward to find our past... and outward to search for our future... but past, present, and future only exist as concepts in our minds... they are all compressed into the instantly and unceasingly flowing moment of now.

To be completely here right now is to truly embrace and engage life. To be fully here, without avoiding or averting what we dislike or fear, and without constantly seeking after what we want, or what we believe that we need is to be utterly and completely alive in the world such as it is.

And then we feel a yellow jacket land on our face, or wish that we had a doughnut.. and all of that disappears in a flash and we are back in a world of our own making...

And then we start all over again!

As I was on my way back home, I stopped to put gas in the vehicle at a station in rural upstate New York. As I was walking towards the front door of the place, a burly and very scruffy looking character looked at me through narrowed eyes. He was rough-looking, in dirty clothes, a weeks growth of beard, and sporting a set of 'Billy-Bob' teeth like tombstones... each pointing in its own direction, and each a slightly different shade of an indistinct color in the gray-green-yellow-brown spectrum. He walked into the place just ahead of me, and as I turned to look behind me, holding the door for the person I could hear coming after me, I saw a very large lumber-jack looking fellow in rubber waders, and a torn up green janitorial shirt, with a lantern jaw and piercing blue eyes. (He wouldn't have looked particularly out of place dressed in wolf pelts with a horned helmet and a huge ax in his large gnarly hands.)

There were a number of other equally troublesome-looking types inside the place, all looking at me.

(Fuck! Here we go!) I thought, as I approached the counter and got into line.

'Teeth' turned around to look me boldly in the face, and fully expected some type of challenge to issue forth...

He smiled a huge smile.. with those teeth of his... then jerked his chin towards the window on the far side of the building through which a large lake or pond was visible, and said, "At leasht shomebody is having shome fun! Them Geeshe shure are beatiful to look at!"

I looked where he had indicated, and flock of Canadian Geese were flapping and frolicking in the water, and they were, indeed, very, very beautiful to look at!!

I looked back at my friend, with new eyes, and returned his frank, open, innocent, and completely unassuming smile.. sharing and enjoying the moment with him. We conversed for a few moments, he told me that he had just finished cutting acres of hay, and now he was on his way to cut acres of grass.

The lumberjack cut in, asking me if I was one of the Zen Monks. I admitted that I was, and he smiled a huge smile, offered his hand, and said, "I always wanted to actually meet one of you folks, but I've always been shy about just walking up and trying to start a conversation... do you like being a monk?? Is it hard?? Can anybody do it??"

Once again, my perceptions were turned on their head by the reality of the situation, and spoke with him for a little while. Other folks offered their comments and smiles, and soon it was time for me to pay the cashier and head out.. to a chorus of "Safe trip!" and "Take care, now!" and other well-wishes... from total strangers.

I could not have been more mistaken in my pre-judgment of these people if I had tried. My instant judgment of these people was entirely based upon my own pre-existing attitudes, opinions, preferences, and aversions... rather than upon the reality of the situation.

I am grateful to life for being such a wonderful teacher... and to my Zen practice for giving me the clarity and calmness of mind (some of the time) to recognize the teaching when it takes place.

I may have been transformed by my experience during this training retreat.. but, as I drove towards home down the highway, surrounded by mountains covered in the spectacularly vibrant autumn greens, golds, oranges, reds, and browns.. under an impossibly high and freshly scrubbed sky, It occurred to me that, clearly, life wants me to know that there is much more in store for me to learn before it is all over.

I am always and constantly arriving...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

So, What's the Deal?!

I am a patient man.. no.. really!! I am *extremely* patient...

I don't mind waiting...

I am the one who generally reminds others,... very gently..., that there is no reason to get uptight when faced with a delay..

But.. (yes... there's always a but, isn't there?)

Here's my question;

What *exactly* is so FRIGGIN' difficult about using an ATM??

  1. The directions are right there ON THE SCREEN!!

  2. You get to pick your own language!!

  3. Chances are - YOU HAVE DONE THIS BEFORE!!

ATMs aren't new any more...






WHY is this so difficult??

Not for nothin'... (what does that even mean??)... but, I can exit my vehicle, approach the ATM, perform whatever transactions I require, and be back in my vehicle with the seatbelt on in about 90 seconds... and I am not world-renowned for being the fastest-moving human being on earth!!

So why is it that I so often end up standing in the vestibule of the bank, ATM card in hand, watching some jackass - uh... technologically challenged individual ham-handedly stabbing away... apparently at random.. or playing the world's longest game of "Guess my PIN Code!" ??

But really though... is it me??

I don't understand how this is so difficult... um, maybe that would be because


I have a suggestion that perhaps some of you lurking bank managers might wish to employ...

I was thinking that these unfortunate intellectually-deprived banking customers may be in need of some assistance. Just a little help in moving things along... hopefully a little faster than molasses in January.. cuz, honestly?? The folks that I am referring to move like old people fuck, okay?!

Here is what I have in mind;

I thought that the banks might wish to employ some retired Drill Instructors who might be interested in making a few bucks on the side... to stand alongside each slowly moving ATM user... and, um... ASSIST that individual by offering some helpful hints, at a somewhat elevated volume, including such methods as calling the relative intelligence level, ancestry, appearance, hygenic habits, sexual proclivities, general competence, and personality of said customer into question... publicly... and graphically... while invading their personal space in an exceedingly intimidating manner...

I figure that while it may not actually speed things up, it may afford those of us who are forced to stand and watch for painfully long and unnecessary lengths of time at least a modicum of amusement.

Just a suggestion..

Having served as a Drill Sergeant and Senior Drill Sergeant, I would be happy to schedule an interview, and, I think I may be able to suggest some particularly well-qualified applicants...

That's me.. always trying to be of some small help!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Orgasm Soup

1 bag black eyes peas (dried)

1 48 oz can chicken broth
1 16 oz can chicken broth
1 16 oz can beef broth
Water - 2 48 oz canfuls
1 chicken (2 to 2½ lbs)whole
1 large yellow onion cut into sixths
2 turnips - peeled and cut into one inch cubes
1 parsnip - peeled and cut into ¼" to ½" cubes
5 red potatoes cut into thumbtip sized chunks
5 bay leaves
2 to 3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons rosemary
3 pinches cumin

½ Lb Andouille sausage
olive oil
1 white onion - cut into dice-sized pieces
8 cloves garlic
1 bunch fresh spinach - wash and remove stems
1 package fresh mushrooms - cut into fingertip sized chunks
1 quarter cup of half & half

1 half head of green cabbage - slice into ½" strips
1 leek - carefully quarter lengthwise, wash thoroughly, ensuring all sand and dirt have been removed, then cut into 2" pieces.

1 16 oz can corn (kernels)- drained
1 16 oz can peas - drained

Soak black eyed peas in lukewarm water for 30 minutes, scooping out any chaff that floats to the top of the water. Gently scrub peas by agitating them with your hands. Drain and set aside.

Rinse chicken and place in a large soup pot (LARGE! ours is approximately 4 gallons)
Pour chicken broth, beef broth and water into pot, adding as much additional water as necessary to cover chicken under 2 to 3 inches of liquid, add turnips, yellow onion, parsnips, potatoes, bay leaves, salt, pepper, rosemary and cumin. Put on high heat and boil for 1 hour or until chicken meat is loose enough to easily pull from bones.

While chicken and vegetables are boiling, make a small 'boat' out of aluminum foil, peel garlic cloves, place in boat, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper and broil until tops of garlic are slightly charred. Remove from oven, mince with a sharp knife, place back in aluminum foil boat, and set aside.

In a large frying pan, brown andouille sausage in olive oil, remove from pan, slice in half lengthwise, and cut into thumbtip sized chunks.

Cut white onion into similarly sized chunks as sausage, place both back into pan on medium to high heat, add garlic and simmer until onions caramelize and sausage is evenly browned on all sides.

Add spinach and simmer until spinach wilts.

Add mushrooms, stir so that mushrooms become completely coated with oil in pan, simmer until mushrooms begin to darken, and add half & half. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, add black eyed peas and two cups of the stock liquid. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Lower heat, cover, and simmer slowly for 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove chicken from cooking pot, place on a large cutting board, and, using two forks, pull chicken meat from bones, separating into bite sized chunks. Use caution - chicken will be very hot inside!! (bones and skin may be discarded).

Once chicken is removed from pot, add leeks and cabbage to the stock.

Boil stock at a rolling boil for 10 minutes or so, then add Andouille sausage/onion/garlic/spinach/mushroom/peas mixture to stock pot.

Add chicken meat to stock pot, along with corn and peas.

Stir until everything is thoroughly mixed, lower heat and cover. Simmer on low heat for 1 to 1½ hours, stirring once every 20 minutes or so.

Serve with buttered pumpernickel bread and enjoy!!

Serves one regimental sized unit or one small island nation.

Have fun!!


We just got back from having Marcheline's tattoo done, and it is amazing!! Absolutely fantastic!! I really like it! Wow!!

.. and here it is!

Marcheline's design and concept initially, with bigtime kudos to Stacey Sharp of Ink Alternatives in Ronkonkoma, NY for the unbelievable skill and artistry!! She took Marcheline's design and really ran with it!

Friday, October 05, 2007

An INKling...

We are off in about two minutes to get a brand new tattoo for Marcheline!!

I will post pics when it is all done!

(This is my 5th Wedding Anniversary Present to her... she's the best wife anyone could ever hope for!!)