Monthly Archives: February 2017

……..and laid Jesse James in his grave

An old post from 2013


On April 3 , 1882 Jesse James the outlaw died .jesse james gun

Jesse was living in a house in St. Joseph , Missouri , at the time . He had assumed the name Thomas Howard .

A member of his gang , Bob Ford , shot Jesse in the back of the head when Jesse stood on a chair to straighten a picture that was crooked on the wall . Ford had made a secret deal with the Missouri governor for a $5000 reward .jesse james house

Crowds came to the house to see the dead outlaw . Bob Ford and his brother were arrested for murder . Within a day they were indicted , pleaded guilty , were sentenced to hang , and two hours later were pardoned by the governor .jesse james

In 1892 a man named O’Kelley walked up to Bob Ford , said ,” Hello , Bob “, and shot…

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garage photos

I posted a little story about garages a couple of days ago and I heard from a couple of regular readers of my blog . They had some criticism of my photos . One of them wished that I had included a picture of my garage . We’ll , he’s known me a long long time and he knows what my garage really might look like . Not like the photo .garage-2-and-garden-feb-2017-028

Actually , the photo in that post is of part of a shelf at the Gilb Museum in Arcadia where I hang out a few hours each week . I just put the picture  in the post to have something to show . Evidently , that’s not good enough for some people . They want legitimate documentation , not random unrelated photos . Fair enough , I say .garage-2-and-garden-feb-2017-029

A blogger friend mistook the museum shelf for a shelf in my garage . Fair enough . No way for him to know any different .

Hey , but this isn’t discovery , a collection of evidence to be presented in court . That’s what I think . Maybe it’s wrong-headed of me to think like that , though . garage-2-and-garden-feb-2017-030

So , to destroy any lingering urges toward requisite criticism and to try to oust any lingering dubiosity or double dealing on my posting part , I am including in this post some shots of my garage . Of course , you should realize that it is in a state of perpetual transition. Next week it may look very different . Maybe not , too. ( Well , it never looks much neater . I should say that .)garage-2-and-garden-feb-2017-032

Okay . Well , maybe I should have warned you first . I know ,  it’s not pretty . And , a lesson for a couple of you : be careful what you ask for . garage-2-and-garden-feb-2017-076


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my garage

The doctor must have put my pacemaker in wrong . Every time my husband kisses me , the garage door goes up . —- Minnie Pearl

My garage may be messy , but Abraham knows where everything is .  —-Mary Lincoln

” It’s in the Garage .” —–Abe Lincoln

Friend Willie still jokes about Americans and their garages . No one uses them for their vehicles , he says . Ah , he’s right in many cases . I do notice garages clean and neat and ready for the family car , however . Or , once in awhile , not so neat . A two-car garage with two vehicles parked in it is a sight to see !   It happens .

Remember , this is southern California , land of eternal sunshine . The snow drifts don’t bother us or our cars in Arcadia . Sure , we get ashes some years from the brush fires , but most of the visible air pollution seems to be gone . It doesn’t settle on the car surfaces any more .

I have a neighbor who always puts her car in her garage . Her garage is not so neat , I’d say . Kind of cluttered , but everting is shoved up ‘gainst the walls . Her husband said she was a pack rat . I’ll let that comment pass . I try not to use labels .

I used to help them get their automatic garage door working once again when it would go on the blink . It was kind of hard to get my foot up high enough to kick the thing . Pretty much impossible , really .  The main part is mounted near the ceiling . So , my tried and true kick-the-broken-thing method wouldn’t have been practical . I needed to go to plan B  . Plan B always starts with a closer look at the problem .

Hey , do you have a manual for this thing ?  ” The thing’s a hundred years old ! ” was the answer I got . In other words : no manual .GILB museum 026

There’s the internet these days , of course . That’d be plan C . Plan C’s usually a good one . I could easily find a video or two or more showing me how to repair the thing . Some man in Minnesota , most likely , with a pliers and a screw driver and a calm way of giving step-by-step advice .   Plan C -2  is to ask someone who knows . But no one who knows is ever nearby at the moment . That’s why I’m there in the neighbor’s garage ,  staring at the mechanism that’s mounted up under the roof ,  confidently  willing to go where angels fear to tread — or something along those lines .

Willie doesn’t have a garage , by the way . Easy for a guy like that to be flippant about Americans and their cluttered garages . He’s English , by the way . Need I say more ?

He’s absolutely right about my garage , though . We couldn’t get a car in there during any ordinary day even if there was an executive order to do it . I did get Ada’s car in there last year , however . Just barely , but I got it in . I used a shoehorn and some WD-40 , but it eventually squeezed in comfortably enough .

I called Salvation Army to come get the big blue sofa that has been sitting  in the garage , the sofa that we haven’t had inside the house for a few months now . Three weeks after my call the Salvation Army came around . Some time between 7:00am and 5:00 pm , the woman said . Sign me up , I said !WD 40

Two guys and a large truck carried the thing away . That was yesterday . I don’t know what to do with all the room in the garage now . I should think about parking my car in there before more stuff shows up to somehow stealthily steal away the suddenly open space .

I might invite Willie over to have a look if I get the car in there . Willie , by the way , helped me re-program my remote control for my automatic garage door . That was a hundred years ago . Maybe more . We never even had a manual , as I recall , or the internet , for that matter .  We put our brains together . Anyone with half a brain could have done it , I’m sure , as long as they put their two half-brains together .


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a heartless gas

goodwill storeSomeday I might need gas money to get to Texas , too . You never know .  I’m too old to pretend to have a baby with my wife waiting  in the car . Why Texas ?  I think it was a sick , or dying ? , father down there . And no gas to get there . And , of course , no money .

I should give you a few dollars because you asked ?   I guess  if you don’t ask ,  you probably won’t get anything .

Decades ago , when the Hari Krishnas , and the Moonies , and the Born Agains , and others , infested the L.A. airport , I was there with my old friend Fred Kail .  Why we were there I don’t remember . Neither of us had any money in those days  to fly anywhere . We must have been there to pick someone up . Doesn’t matter .

All of these  askers-of-money seemed to be dressed  well , in crisp white suits and polished shoes ,  and they carried clip boards  ; even the Krishnas ; even the Moonies . Well , at first the Krishnas wore their orange robes , enraptured smiles , and , maybe , occasionally , hopped a little . But , I suppose , that wasn’t working for them  . Some head  Hari in charge maybe talked to a marketing guy . Get a crisp white suit , he must have said ; maybe a fedora hat to cover the shaved head ? ; and don’t hop ……    and  don’t mention Rama or white rice .   The Moonies got on board , too  :  white suits  ; clipboards .

They all looked like they may work for the airport . What is it , a survey ? An airport promotion of some kind , or a security check ?  They would approach just-arrivers  , especially foreign people arriving with confused expressions , and begin their hurried spiel  , holding the clipboard as if it should be respected , as if the confused traveler were being spoken to in some official capacity . Was it Customs ? The airport broadcast continuous announcements : These solicitors don’t work for the airport . You don’t have to give them anything .

Fred and I were walking into one of the terminals when we were approached by one of these anonymous beggars shrouded in white . This one was a cute girl . Maybe in light of that Fred reached for a bill to give her . I tried in that brief moment to dissuade him . He had a fiver in his hand . What , are you crazy , Fred ? A weak moment ?  She’s a Moonie , man !  He held the five dollar bill  out to her .

” Most people give ten dollars , ” she said .

Wow ! Yeah . Pushing her luck just a little bit . Fred instantly flicked the fiver back into his pocket . ” I’m not most people , young lady , ” he said . And we were off . I was reassured . At least old Fred hadn’t completely lost his mind .okies

So , I’m pumping  twenty dollars worth of gas yesterday  into my car in the mid-day heat  , minding my own business , when a young guy , maybe twenty-two , twenty-three , walks over . I’ve seen  him approach a couple of other gas pumping people on his way across the lot . ” Meaning no disrespect …..” he says to me . His opening gambit .

I’m not in a good mood that day , you should understand . Too hot . I’m looking at his tatoos . He’s evidently covered with tattoos . How much do those cost , buddy ? , I’m thinking .  Maybe you could have saved the tattoo money for your needed gas  . He looks healthy , strong ,  despite the hang-dog expression , the ” Meaning no disrespect , sir … ”  ploy .  What , are we in the Army ? Sir ?  That’s supposed to sound respectful , to impress me ?  Melt my stone-cold heart ?  I’m supposed to be awed by this guy’s pathetic circumstances . Now , it’s my responsibility to buy his gas ? Why would that be ?

I’d rather have the fruit seller on the freeway off ramp ,  or the beggars with the cardboard signs : ”  Veteran God Bless You anything helps homeless ”  Once in a long while I hand them a dollar , although I’m not under an illusion that the dollar helps . I think the homeless veteran god blesser should go to a social agency or an established charity or a church and get the help that will keep him/her off the roadways with the scribbled bullshit  cardboard signs .mission church front

So I told the gas station beggar  , a little too firmly , that I wasn’t going to give him any money .  He walked away . He’ll find some sucker soon enough . I stepped around the other side of the pump and asked some man with a Volvo , ” Will you pay for my gas ? ”  He didn’t laugh . I could see his little ‘crazy person’ antenna immediately go up . He shook his head solemnly  and looked away . I could see that he didn’t know if I was joking or not . Can’t be too careful these days.two hobos

Maybe I wasn’t joking . Maybe I should start asking . Ask and you shall receive . If you don’t ask you won’t get . It’d be easier for me just to canvass the people at the gas station when I go for gas . Won’t someone pay for my gas ? I have to get home . My cat’s sick and I need to replace the front garden hose .  I’m trying to upgrade the modem for my DSL . Anything helps .  I want to get to Oregon next fall .  Need gas desperately . Sir . How about a few dollars  ? Meaning no disrespect .

I was walking , once , with my Danish friend , Ivan , when someone asked for money . ” You’ve chosen your lifestyle , ”  Ivan told him ,          “not me . I’ve chosen my own lifestyle . ”  The poor guy was listening . Ivan speaks authoritatively .  ” I don’t ask you to finance my lifestyle , ” Ivan said . ” You shouldn’t ask me to finance your lifestyle . ”  And we walked away . At least the  guy didn’t call us ‘sir’ and make something up about needing to get to Texas .  Or dress up in a crisp white suit and carry a clipboard .


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my cat

I’m not really a cat person , but I have a cat . Well , I’ve always had cats since I’ve known Ada . Ada is the cat person , apparently .  Show her a kitten and she’s a goner .

My cat’s name is Cosmo and she’s old and a little too fat and  she’s lazy . She doesn’t get that from me , I should say right off the bat , so you won’t get the wrong idea and come to egregiously erroneous conclusions .  It’s just a coincidence that the beast and I  share a few common traits . I used to have black hair like hers , too , by the way , and I was also never very enthusiastic about chasing rats , either . And we both like chicken .cosmo in box

Ada was in Europe several years ago when Cosmo was , for whatever reason , out in the backyard about 4:00 am and  was attacked by a coyote . I heard the loud agonized screech and went running out . I almost stepped on Cosmo ,  who was lying on her side in the dirt,  bleeding . The attacker had had her in his mouth . I could infer that because there were deep wounds on either side of her .

I saw the coyote walking away , looking back at me with what seemed like a disappointed and spiteful  scowl . Coyotes are , as you may know , generally cowards . Sure , you get them in a pack and they show  a  dab of audacity , but  a wolf , as far as I know , or a bear , or a raccoon , or even most squirrels would have undoubtedly challenged me for the bloody meal , but not a lone coyote .

I thought  Cosmo was a goner for sure , and I waited for the final moment ; but she continued her weak and shallow breathing hour by hour . As soon as the vet office opened up that morning I was there with my dying cat .

I’ll skip all of the details about the vet experience for now and spew them out at another time ,  perhaps , and  for the moment I will , as they say , cut to the chase . [ What  does that expression come from , the old cowboy movies ?  Was the chase at the end , just before the hero kisses the girl , but you don’t ever see the kiss because he always holds up his hat to block our view ? ]   Cosmo came so close to dying over the next couple of days that  she was within a hair’s breadth of giving up the ghost  { note: not within a hare’s breath ; that would be a whole different discussion } .

Now , notice that I say  “my cat” , rather than “our cat” , even though Ada is the real cat person . Why is that ?  Will the real cat person please stand up !  She’s not going to like me to say this , but I’m going to let the cat out of the bag  anyhow , so to speak : Ada doesn’t really like Cosmo much . Ah , we could go into why or why not some other time , talk about having two women in the house , things like that , discuss jealousy issues , etc . ; but , the fact remains . The feeling may be mutual , for that matter ; I don’t know . Cats’  thoughts , as everyone knows , are  a little tough to suss out .

During almost the entire day Cosmo ignores the both of us , Ada and I , but it’s my chest that Cosmo the cat sits on at night when Ada and I hit the sack . I think the cat , deep down ,  knows that I was the one there nursing her when she was struggling to draw each  breath , that I syringed that medicine down her throat and was there to take care of her . I didn’t think she’d make it , to tell you the truth ,  but she somehow survived .

  Cosmo , aka Coyote Fighter . And now , since then , for all of those years since that experience , she just sits around the house , doesn’t wander , and takes life easy , sleeps a lot , glad to be alive , I suppose .  She may well be dreaming ( sleeps most of the day ) of fighting coyotes and then afterward  having a nice chicken dinner  . Or not . hen-man-costume


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call security

A bill arrived by mail a few days ago and it didn’t specific what the charges were for . Ada’s credit card , and Ada is in Europe . She called and asked me to check it out . I don’t like this kind of stuff , so Ada handles almost all of it ; but she asked me to call . She gave me the secret codes . I didn’t share them with the Russians , but she provided them to me over an unsecured phone , so I’m pretty sure the NSA , Macy’s , Amazon , Google , and an assortment of other interested parties were listening . That’s the world we live in .russian ambassador

The first person I talked to at the credit card company ( no doubt a fellow in India ) asked for mother’s maiden name . Ada’s , not mine . And the credit card number, of course . You might think that’s no big deal , but Ada’s mom is Polish . Have you seen some of those Polish names ? I dare you to pronounce them .


” And who am I speaking with ? ” he asked . The husband , I answered . Same last name as the card holder ; same address ; same phone number . Co-holder of the secret security codes . Polite , moderated speaking voice .

No dice . Sorry , he told me . He had to be speaking with the person whose name is on the card , he said .  Security reasons , he said . He wouldn’t budge . I was done .

So I called right back ; same customer service number. This time I’m pretty sure my call went to the Philipines . I gave the same story ; same information . When she asked ” who am I speaking with ? ”  I told her “Ada” .  You’ll never gain anything if you’re not willing to take risks .  I didn’t try to disguise my voice . ” This call may be recorded or monitored ” the recording had said . Good .

She keep slipping over calling me ” Mr. ______ ” and immediately changing that to ” Mrs. _______ ” . The poor woman didn’t know how to address me . Man’s voice but a  woman’s credit card . These days , who knows , anyway . Right ?  I felt for her a little bit , struggling with how to address me.the-hat-1961

It didn’t slow her down for a second , though , on spilling the beans about the credit card billing . She hadn’t asked me , by the way , any security question , like mother’s maiden name , or what was the name of my first dog , or what’s my favorite flavor of jelly bean . Nothing . If the call really were monitored , I hope the woman still has her job today , but I’ll never know . To me she is  just a random voice encountered for a few brief moments and then lost in the wide wide world forever .

When I hung up the phone ( although phones don’t actually hang any more these days , we still hang them up , I think )  I wondered how much I should grieve over the lack of security that I’d just encountered with the credit card company . I know , small potatoes . The Chinese , after all ,  are hacking into the Pentagon as I sit at my keyboard ; the Russians………………well, we all  know about the Russians…….. ; the North Koreans hacked Sony ………………….. ; a multitude of other players from other places are  right now hacking whomever ,  Yahoo even , and no one even talks much lately about the three hundred pound guy lying on his bed in New Jersey ! Apparently ,  he might be a big problem .  It’s a spy’s paradise out there !  Bad !KutaisiTblisi 2016 551


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I’ve had limes ripened  on the dwarf tree out back for the last few weeks . Sometimes I’ll split one and put a slice in my beer ( purely in an effort to use the limes , you understand ) ; but there are only so many beers a person can consume . I have a friend who will use part of a lime in his gin and tonic, and I’ll give him as many limes as he needs  ; but , likewise , he only has a gin and tonic on rare occasions .lime-tree-002

I decided to buy some cod and make ceviche with it , using a few limes . Ceviche ingredients include fish , tomatoes , onions , peppers , salt , pepper . I added some garlic too. It’s usually served with tortilla chips , I guess , around here . It’s especially good for an outdoor party , maybe with some beers or margaritas . I envision a sunny day out on the back patio , kicking back and taking life easy .lime tree 001.jpg

So , I would expect a lime to have the common sense to ripen during the summer , wouldn’t you think ?  , or at least sometime in late Spring . Wouldn’t you naturally assume  that’s how things should be if all were right with the world ?  Why these guys decided to ripen in January and February is beyond me . Something just isn’t right . We’re living in strange times .

My lime tree is a young thing . Just started producing limes a year or two ago . I never noticed when the limes arrived last year . It had to be that they ripened at the same time of year , I suppose ; but I never noticed anything then odd or out of place . Well , last year we living here in what the local news people call  “the southland” ( southern California ) maybe wouldn’t have noticed much difference between winter and summer last year , or for the last several years of severe drought .

This January and February it’s been raining , and raining , and raining again . Very un-southern California -like , if you ask me .  Well , as people around here say , we need the rain . We don’t necessarily need so much all at one time ; but that’s another story . Somebody’s house slipped down onto the road in the Hollywood Hills a few weeks ago . Lots of hills around Los Angeles , and mudslide is a familiar term . Usually the standard  formula is : brush fires , then mudslides . Evidently the brush fire ingredient isn’t always needed for hillside residents to worry about mudslides , or for mudslides to do their damage .

My trouble , I admit , is a lot less important than dealing with  mudslides . I’ll state it anyway :

Margaritas just aren’t so enticing  in the rain . Sitting out on the back patio , also , just doesn’t seem so pleasant with rain beating down on the corrugated aluminum roof of the porch covering . I mean , it does have it’s attraction , sitting there listening to the clatter of the raindrops . There’s also the minor intrigue of waiting for that little leak where a roofing nail is missing to start dripping water onto the table . It’ll happen . Maybe sooner ; maybe later .

It’s not the same experience in a winter rain as sitting there on a hot summer day , though , with a cold glass of beer , or an icy margarita , with friends ( no one in their right mind will join me , it seems , in a rainstorm ) , and maybe with a bowl of delicious ceviche and another bowl of tortilla chips to dip into the ceviche .lime-tree-004

I can tell the lime tree to produce in summer . It’s young and maybe it just doesn’t know yet what’s what . I can try . I’m not especially persuasive , but I can give it a shot . I’ll try to be diplomatic . It likes the rain , though . I can tell . I’d better get on the internet first and find out how to talk to lime trees . They might be as stubborn as lemons , but I doubt it . lemon


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