Wednesday, October 13, 2004

What a difference a change in administration can make……

I am trying really hard to get more interested in politics. I fear that we will have another repeat of the 2000 elections where one candidate got the popular vote and the other got the electoral vote. The one with the electoral votes won. I see the same trends happening with the current election. I have to educate myself on the issues and become more involved in the process. I do not want another four years of Bush and if I get it, I want to be prepared for what is going to happen.

To better educate myself, I have been reading about other presidential administrations of the past. I wanted to find out what programs they implemented and how a change in administrations affected those programs. I did find some interesting things. One example is as follows and shows how quickly things can change or be done away with a change of administrations.

In 1964 President Lyndon Baines Johnson proposed a concerted government campaign to eliminate poverty. This was known as the War on Poverty. The result was the enactment of one of the most significant pieces of social legislation in the 1960’s, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. This was implemented to coordinate various programs to eliminate illiteracy, un-employment, and the chronic conditions of poverty.

In the early 1970’s, after a change of administrations, President Richard M. Nixon transferred many of the agency’s projects to different departments of the federal government and ended others; most of the projects were considerably reduced in scope and funding. In 1974 the O.E.O itself was disbanded; its few remaining programs were taken over by the newly created Community Services Administration.

This shows how important it is that we choose our next administration carefully. I read the other day that if we took 30 percent of the world’s military budgets we could easily solve most of the world’s social problems such as poverty, hunger, and homelessness. 30 percent is not a large amount in the grand scheme of things and would do a world (pun intended) of good. A change in administrations could very well start us down this path of change.
I also want to see a shift in equality in our nation back to what our fore fathers intended. I want every man equal regardless of his wealth or material possessions. It is way too easy to buy yourself into office and buy favor within our current system of government. People of wealth and power have too much control over those that live on less. The Declaration of Independence stated, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.” These words do not mean that all persons are alike because we know that everyone is unique. These words do tell an important message: That all people are born with equal rights. I want this ideal to be held in esteem again.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Our Society is Mentally Ill……

I have always found something fishy about the way our society lives. I have always questioned how things are and how they should be. It would drive my father crazy when I would ask these kinds of questions and he didn’t have an answer. I finally had a breath of fresh air when I realized some things a few months ago.

For years I was miserable. I felt I didn’t fit in and had a hard time conforming. I thought there has to be a better life than the one I am living now. I hated having to work some dull, toilsome nine to five job for just peanuts. I hated having to dress or look a certain way just to conform to my peers expectations. I hated how I was taught to consume, consume, consume and for what? I just had a house full of things that made me miserable in all honesty in the end. It is a vicious cycle that once you are caught in its web it is so hard to get out of it. I finally realized that I had a choice and didn’t have to live this way any longer. It was like waking up from a bad nightmare and finally seeing the bigger picture.

When we are born, we are taught many, many things over the years as we grow up. Society is thrust upon us at an early age. We really don’t have a choice then. We are taught to toe the line and conform. Go with and follow the herd! The kind of things I was taught was that going to college was all important. Working for 40 years at 40 hours a week is the way to get the good life. Buying a large house and a car is a way to show others how successful and important you are. Bullshit! I would cry. I am important and meaningful without any of these things!

Another thing I have always loathed was how fearful everyone around me was. The media and the government promote fear to keep us in line and to make us conform. Everywhere I look, I see reactions to things out of fear. Children can no longer walk to school like I did. They must be bussed or driven. I see burglar alarm signs in most yards now as people try to barricade their homes against the outside world. I see us invading other countries and this being supported out of fear. I see reports about crime almost every time I make the mistake of looking at or reading the current news media. Folks, crime is at its lowest in years!
I have been actively seeking out people who think like me lately. I want to hear non conventional ideas and thoughts. I am tired of being alone in a sea of conformists. I have found some great websites lately that as I read I nod my head and say, “Yes! It’s about time someone talked about this!”

The man with a soft heart……

I don’t hate my ex-wife. I have had a feeling of indifference lately. I know I don’t want to live with her and join in on her lifestyle anymore. I do want her okay and to be seen about. I want our cat and dog to have food, a home, and water. I want her to always have a home as well.

Rachel came by tonight to bring something I had forgotten about. It was a weed-eater and a blower my father had given me years ago when I was still married. She knocked on the door and sat them outside.

“Can I come in for a moment?” She said.

I opened the door fully and let her in.

“I need a friend tonight. I need to talk.” She said.

“What’s wrong Rach?” I asked.

She started to cry and cry really hard. My heart melted.

“Rach, what is wrong? You can talk to me.” I said.

“I don’t have enough money to do anything. I am tired of living check to check. I worry I will lose the house.” She said.

“Terry and Rebecca will help you. You just have to ask them.” I said.

“Mamma and Daddy are having problems of their own.” She said.

After saying this she started to cry harder. It was pitiful sounding. Jesus, I didn’t know what to do. I do want her seen about. I grabbed her and pulled her close to me. She sat down in my lap in the old lazy boy in my apartment. I held her close to me.

“Shhhh, shhhhh, hush now, it’s going to be okay.” I said as I held her. “You are going to be alright.”

Her crying slowed down as she laid her head on my chest.

“Life’s a bitch, ain’t it?” I said. “It never goes as you plan.”

“Yeah.” She said as she sniffled and held me tighter.

“Do you need some money?” I asked.

“No, I am okay. Things are just tight. I worry about it all the time.” She replied.

“You know, I don’t hate you. I do care about you very much. I want you to be okay.” I said.

She started to cry again. My shirt was getting wet from the tears. Tears steamed down my cheeks as well.

“Why didn’t we work?” She asked as she looked at me.

I just held her tight and told her to hush. We ended up sitting there for a long time. It was one of those moments of quiet contemplation. I sat there and heard the beating of her heart. As she got up to leave, I put $20 dollars in her hand.

“Buy Otis and the chairman some toys.” I said.

She kissed me on the cheek and said good night.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Adventures in Dumpster Diving……

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately and have found some wonderfully interesting websites and books to read. I am trying to find ways to lessen my dependence upon money. I am trying hard to think out of the box. I want to learn and try novel ideas to make me more self sufficient.

I read a book they other day called Possum’ Living. This was a book about the adventures of a daughter and her father and how they lived on just $1600 a year. They did this solely out of choice. Their biggest asset was that they sold everything they had and bought a modest homestead and some acres of land. This was the key to their self sufficiency. They grew all their food and raised chickens and rabbits for meat. Although they went farther than I probably would in my attempts for self sufficiency, it was very interesting reading. Polly, the author of the book, had tons of unique and interesting ideas to share.

Reading this book got me to thinking and looking for resources on the web along similar lines that the book shared. I wanted to know how these people were able to live well on such little amounts and they way they talked they were not poor at all. They had interesting, free lifestyles full of wonderful things and great satisfaction.

I was sitting here looking at my budget and how to cut costs and the cigarette monster raised its ugly head. I spend $80 dollars a month on cigarettes. They have to go. I also spend $200 dollars a month on food. I have to find a way to lessen my food budget. My biggest expense by far is my utilities and mortgage. I don’t see a way of lessening those amounts unless I choose to live in a tent again.

I decided to get up early this morning and try an experiment. I have always looked down on people who dumpster dive (rubbish bin for you UK persons). It seemed to symbolize poverty and squalor. I had to try and get over these hangs ups and try it for myself. From what I have read, you can easily find good food in the dumpsters behind super markets.

I waited till it was just light and hit the dumpster behind the Piggly Wiggly. I knew the police would harass me if I was down there before dawn with a flashlight. They would think I was a burglar. Here are some of the things I found that were perfectly edible.

1) Two heads of cabbage that only had brown wilted leaves on the outside. I pulled off the outside leaves to reveal two perfectly good cabbages.
2) A large can of coffee that was severely dented but the seal was still intact. I
drink a lot of coffee and it is expensive so this will help.
3) Several severely dented cans of Piggly Wiggly brand Spaghetti O’s. I could still open them from the bottom.
4) A bag of bread where one end was smashed. The whole other half of the loaf was still good and fresh. I will freeze this and use it as toast. The smashed
bread will be used in meat loaf and bread puddings.
5) A bag of bruised apples. I will cut out the blemishes and then slice and freeze them for pies and tarts.

I made some beef low mein with the cabbage. I took a pound of ground beef, some soy sauce, and the cabbage and cooked it till the cabbage was wilted in a very large skillet. I then cooked some rice to eat the beef low mein on. It was a very good meal and filling. I am freezing the rest in individual freezer bags for future meals.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

George speaks of the virtues of women……..

The Pig had a sale on cokes (Coca-Cola). I normally don’t buy sugared, carbonated water unless it is on sale. I prefer a homemade concoction of tea or coffee that is much cheaper. As I pulled up, I saw George and he waved me over. I walked over to the car and leaned into the window.

“Brotha, my man, buy me a beer.” George said.

“Milwaukee’s Best Ice?” I asked.

“You be speakin’ my language.” George replied. “You is my brotha.”

I walked into the store and bought two 2 liters of coke for $2.16 and a .84 cent can of beer. I stuffed the cokes into my day pack. I walked outside and handed George the beer. He tried to make it a clandestine operation as he looked all around for police and slowly grabbed the beer from my hand. He cracked it open and took a long draught.

“Those mutha fuckas be watchin’ me!” He said as he was speaking of the police and looked around over his sunglasses.

By this time, I was ready to head home but the fun was about to start. I was trying to get out of our subsequent conversation.

“Let me tell ya bout last night.” George said.

“What happened?” I said, trying to Fein interest.

George held up both hands open towards me. He was trying to show me how he held a woman’s breasts in his hands.

“Dey be the biggest titties I have ever held.” George said.

I stifled back a laugh and was trying to stay serious. The way he held out his hands made these breasts the size of watermelons.

“She sure was well endowed.” I said trying not to smile and be serious.

“Dat bitch could throw em over her shoulder to takes a bath and wash unda dem.” George said with the biggest grin you ever saw.

I grew queasy at my stomach at the thought of this. The thought of George and a woman with the breasts the size of….well, enormous size, you get the picture, made me sick. George thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.

“We made love all night LOOOONNGGGGG!!!!” George said with emphasize on long

By this time I was squirming and trying to get out of this conversation. I didn’t want to hear about George’s love life. It was making me nauseous.

“You been with a bitch lately?” George asked.

“Not lately.” I said.

“You come with me tonights and I will let you have a woman of yo dreams.” George said as he reached out to shake my hand.

Okay, it was time for me to depart. This conversational string had gone long enough.

“George, I have got to run. You take care man.” I said.

“You just lets me know my brotha. Ole’ George will look after you. I have a woman who will knock yo socks off.” George said.

It was a long walk home with the image of George and a very large black woman with incredibly large breasts slung over her shoulder to take a bath.

An update…..

I have much news to share and things to talk about. This post will expand as the day goes and I have more time to write. The house is coming along nicely. I am dead tired and have worked my ass off all week. I have much of my belongings moved. The hardest thing to move was the piano. Man, those things weigh a ton. I am seriously thinking of selling it but it was a nice gift and I don’t want to hurt my family’s feelings so I guess I will hang onto it. I wanted to sell it to get up the money to buy a washer and dryer.

I went to the Auburn game yesterday. It was a much more relaxed game than playing LSU. We played Louisiana Tech. University. We won 52 to 7. We are now ranked number 6 in the nation and I am sure will move up in the polls come Monday.

I have to leave for homecoming in New Harmony in a few moments. I cooked a casserole dish of macaroni and cheese. We are having a pot luck lunch. This is an annual tradition for a little Presbyterian church out on a dirt road in the middle of no where. They don’t even have electricity. I am worried it will just be me and my great aunt. Everyone has passed away or moved away who used to attend. We used to have large crowds when I was a youngster. I will write more this afternoon.

Back from New Harmony……

Okay, I made it back from New Harmony Church. We actually had 25 people show up who were all my relatives on the McDonald side. There was plenty of homemade southern cooking and lots of conversation about family history and genealogy. I spent a long time sweeping out the church. No one had been inside since last year’s homecoming and the floor was covered with thousands of dead lady bugs. Lady bugs like to over winter in old or abandoned buildings and apparently they got in but couldn’t get out.

I am a big history buff so bear with me here. New Harmony is the oldest church in Chambers County Alabama. It was founded in 1835 after the forced resettlement of the Creek Indians, also known as the Muskogee Indians by their native tongue. A large group of Scottish settlers moved in and established homesteads and this humble church. I took a few moments to write down a few gravestones to give you an idea of the age of the church and the graveyard.

Malcolm Campbell
Born 1832 Died 1861
Confederate Army
Died a Prisoner of War

Angus McIntyre
Company L
6th Regiment
Confederate States of America
Born 1837 Died

Calvin L Campbell
4th Alabama
Confederate States of America
Born August 5th, 1839
Died January 1st, 1917

I hope to research these names and their confederate army units and find out what battles they fought in. That will be a fun project for my history hobby next week.

About me blog……

I’ve been busy lately but also had the blogging funks. I just have had no interest to update this blog any longer. I am going to try to start writing about some things that have greatly interested me lately to spur more writing from me on this blog. Some of these things will be unorthodox and unconventional but are things I have studied a lot about lately. A lot of it has to do with homesteading, frugality, self sufficiency, and wilderness survival. This may bore the shit out of some of you but please stop by to catch the occasional post about the piggly wiggly groupies. I have a good one written up about George that is very vulgar but funny (George was on a roll yesterday). I just want to take this blog in a new direction for my own interest’s sake.

Friday, October 8, 2004

Taking a day off……

I didn’t work on my home today. I rested. I have worked my ass off all week and just needed a day to rest and catch up with my online world. I found a website today about unconventional thinking and ideas and got swept away reading it. I ended up spending hours reading and thinking over what the author wrote. He had a lot of great essays on simple living. These essays where right up my alley. I find it reassuring that people who think like me are out in the world and I am not so alone.

I don’t feel like blogging any more. I am having a hard time just to motivate myself to write for this blog. Maybe I am experiencing a burn out. I just find that I enjoy writing better if I keep what I write to myself. I can express myself without worrying about what people would think of my somewhat unconventional ideas and thoughts. I looked in a folder called My Blogs today and I have written over 400 word documents since December 2003. Many of these I never published. I enjoyed going back through what I wrote to see how my thoughts and ideas have evolved and changed over these past months.

It is completely odd for me to wish that my blog had no viewers or was not public? Maybe I just need to put together a little journal and organize all those many essays I have written in a format that is easy for me to peruse instead of having to open up each word file individually. I think I will look into adobe acrobat and making a .pdf file.

I guess one of my funks lately about blogging is that I have found it very restricting. I find that a write only about the good things and not the bad things. I feel people have a certain expectation of me and I must live up to that expectation. It is so easy to share the successes and keep the failures to myself. I see some of this in James Christian’s or James Ramsey’s (whatever the hell his real name is) blog. He wrote only of his successes and then one day he disappeared and left everyone wondering what happened. He had talked forever of going to AA and staying sober and the next thing he was in Jail.

I am not saying that things have been bad lately. On the contrary things have been really great. I am at one of the happiest times of my life. I am far more stable mentally and emotionally than I have ever been. I feel I have found my place in this harsh world. I still have wild thoughts and ideas. I would love to buy some land and become a survivalist. I would love to sustain myself via the homesteading lifestyle. I would love to hop a freight train and head across the country on a hobo journey and adventure. I would love to get on the train tracks in Waverly, don my backpack, and see where they take me. These are just dreams though and I enjoy planning and thinking about them.

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Strike three, you’re out!

I am sitting here listening to late 20’s and early 30’s jazz and writing. I’ve had a long day of painting and moving and am glad to have downtime. I wrote this little story for fun as I was sitting here. It captures a moment of time as me and my great aunt sat eating our barbeque Saturday. I was trying to capture the nuances of what happened in a way where you felt you were there with us. I laugh about it now but it made me very nervous as it happened.

She sat down in front of me. She was as cute as a button and had a smile like a million dollars. She looked like she was in her late twenties or early thirties. We made some small talk to break the ice.

“Hi, I am Karen.” She said as she thrust her hand towards me. I stood up as she sat down.

“I’m Andrew. Nice to meet you.” I said as I sat down with her.

She smiled back very flirtingly. My great aunt sat next to me complaining about the large portion of food and how wasteful it was.

“I will never be able to eat all of this.” My great aunt cried.

“Take it home with you and put it the fridge.” I said.

The woman across the bench from me smiled and chuckled at our little repartee.

“So, were do you live?” She asked.

“I live in my late grandmother’s home in Lanett. I have a little apartment downstairs.” I said.

“Ah, I see. Do you own it?” She asked.

“No, my father does but I pay rent.” I said as I nervously squirmed on the bench.

Strike One!

“So, where do you work?” She asked.

I hesitated. I didn’t want to sound like a slacker.

“I don’t. I am on disability. I am trying to find a part time job.” I said as I blushed.

Strike Two!

She took a drink of coke and we tried to avert eye contact. I sat there nervously fidgeting with a napkin.

“So…..what kind of disability do you have? I hope you don’t mind me asking.” She replied.

What could I say? Oh dear miss, I fell off of my motorcycle and broke my shoulder was what I wanted to say. I told the truth.

“I have a mental illness. I am normal on my medicine though.” I said.

There was this God awful silence. I wanted to walk away and needed to smoke. She smiled politely and focused on eating her lunch.

Strike Three! I was out.

Her initial flirting turned into polite conversation. You could tell she was trying to back away now. Oh well, I had no more intentions than just friendship even though I think she had other ideas at first. Thus goes the life of a man with a complicated past and present.

Painting, Painter, Painted…….

“You tired?” Charlie asked.

“I am beat. Let’s call it a night.” I said.

“God damn it!!!!!!” Charlie cried and I turned to look.

I bowled over laughing. He had stepped on the edge of the paint pan and paint went all over the canvas drop cloth and his pant’s leg.

“Good thing it’s latex.” I said as I laughed.

“Shut the fuck up!” Charlie said as he laughed back.

I grabbed a roll of paper towel and proceeded to try my best to muck up the spilled paint. Charlie stood in the middle of the room wiping the paint from his slacks.

“What do you think?” He said as he marveled at our progress.

“I think I can call it home. I just hope the paint fumes go away soon.” I replied.

I stood up and took a long look myself.

Now this is home. I am so proud.” I thought

Monday, October 4, 2004

A journey into the past…….

“Come on, come on, hurry up!” My cousin Carol Ann cried.

“I’m coming as fast as I can!” I said as I hurried forward.

“I have something really cool to show you. You won’t believe how good it still looks.” She replied.

My cousin Carol Ann is eccentric to put it nicely. She is an amateur ornithologist and talks incessantly of birds and habitat preservation. She is also pretty cool to hang out with if you can get her mind off of birds. We met by chance at the barbeque. I haven’t seen her in over two years.

I walked up the steps to the old Waverly High School auditorium. It was built around 1890 and still stands but needs major repairs. Carol Ann opened the door and it creaked eerily forward. It had been many years since I had been in here. The original school building had burned down in the fifties and this was all that remains of the complex. This lone auditorium stands as a last testament to the countless students that graduated from Waverly high school. The last student graduated in 1949 according to my great aunt.

“It is still as it was before the war.” Carol Ann said.

I looked around in wonder at the ancient light fixtures and the rows of seats running downward before me. The room was filled with that musty smell of age old wood and plaster. The back of the room was filled with a half assed attempt by the Baptist church to make some more Sunday school rooms. Apparently, they stopped several years ago in mid progress. The new sheet rock stood out as a glaring reminder of the church’s attempt to gain more real estate.

“You know, my grandfather and grandmother walked across that stage and graduated in 1934.” I said.

“I know. That’s why I wanted to show you this.” Carol said as she stepped up on the stage.

The wood floor creaked beneath her feet. She started pulling on a rope and a stage curtain came gently down exposing a beautiful hand painted fresco. It was a painting of an Italian renaissance style mansion surrounded by palm trees. All around the fringe were hand painted advertisements going as far back as 1897. I stood in wonder as I recognized some names from my family who were prominent in the town at the turn of the century and there after. It was so well preserved that it looked like it was painted yesterday. The colors were still bright and vibrant.

“Man, I wish I had a digital camera.” I thought.

“Becky had it appraised.” Carol said.

“How much?” I asked.

“The appraiser said it would go for $30,000 at an auction.” Carol replied.

I walked up on the stage and felt the fabric. I felt as if I was touching a part of my past. We ambled around for a bit and then made our way back to the barbeque.

I had a great time at the barbeque. It was delicious and the turn out was amazing. I have never seen so many people at one time in Waverly. People had come from all around to join in the fun.

It had been many years since I rode a horse but it came back to me quickly. Some friends of my family owned the horses so they let me take kids for rides around the perimeter. They were busy trying to prepare barbeque for hundreds of people. I had forgotten how much I love to ride and be around these majestic animals.

Pipe Tobacco had asked, “What is Brunswick stew?” Brunswick stew is a tomato based stew that is a traditional side item for southern barbeque. It is made of pulled pork and chicken, lots of spices, corn, and tomatoes. It is cooked for a long time and gets really thick. My great grandfather often cooked it in a large black iron kettle over a fire.

Friday, October 1, 2004

The Annual Waverly Barbeque Extravaganza……

First off, I wanted to write a little bit about last nights presidential debates. I watched the whole hour and a half of last night’s debate and felt content that Kerry did a good job. I did realize that this was nothing like the debates of old. This was a carefully planned and scripted affair with all the questions asked decided a long time ago.

Bush came across as fidgety and caught off guard in my opinion. I was about to scream if he muttered “Uhhhhh” one more time before answering. At one point he talked about his plan to succeed in Iraq. I would like to see more divulged about that plan but they never talk about it at all. I also chuckled at his attempt to scare voters into voting for him as if Kerry was elected then there would be more terrorist attacks. He also talked of making “tuff decisions” as if Kerry would not be able to do this if he gained office.

As of this morning an MSNBC news poll had Kerry at 62 % and Bush at 38% on who won the debate. Okay, enough of talking politics. I just wanted to share my satisfaction with the outcome of the debates. Kerry successfully swayed my father who is a long time Republican to vote for him in November.


Tomorrow I get to have some fun. My great aunt has two tickets to the annual Waverly town hall barbeque. This is real pit-cooked, homemade barbeque and Brunswick stew and I look forward to it.

They are going to have lots of fun activities. They are going to have mule drawn wagon rides, horseback rides, an archery range, a shooting range, a pumpkin carving contest, a horseshoe throwing competition, a bake sale, and tons of activities for the kids. I hope they have a good turnout from the surrounding towns as Waverly is a tiny town. I think the population was only over 300 a few years ago.

I look forward to going tomorrow and my great aunt has already called to make sure I am coming. She is expecting me there at 10 am. uhhhgggg! lol I have to get up early. It is about a 45 minute drive to her house in the country.

Well, I hope you all have a great weekend. Hopefully, I will have some interesting things to write about come Monday. Take care and be well.