Monthly Archives: August 2017

red-blooded

Just to assure you from the outset as we wander into politics for a moment :  I’m a red-blooded American .

First , I’m an American . I can show you my passport . It’s not a forged one either . I know that because when I went through Passport Control in Belarus , the official checked it out extremely carefully . She had a magnifying loop that she used to scan all the secret stuff embedded in a US passport that should be embedded in a US passport . Evidently it was all in there . (If I had an extremely good forger , however , she failed to uncover that .) We’ll just move along like there’s no problem and just go about our business  . After a few tense moments she did just that , the uniformed protector of her nation , and my passport passed inspection .

I know about my blood being red because anywhere I go nowadays I tend to bleed . When  I work in the garden for awhile , inevitably I reenter the house with a long , by then dry , trail of blood usually on my arm , sometimes on my leg , from some tiny , usually imperceptible wound apparently inflicted from snagging a thorn or a branch or bumping against a this or a that . It’s annoying .

Just call me Alexei  Nikolaevich . You know , the Czar’s son ? No ? Okay , forget it .

Anyway , while in Belarus I was speaking with a young woman a bit about politics . She asked me what Americans really  think about President Trump .  That kind of a question in that kind of a setting kind of puts a guy on the spot . I tried to be representative of all Americans . That’s not so easy , but I had to do it anyhow .V-E Day in NYC

Rest easy . I told her the truth . I threw in my opinion too , of course , but I labelled it as such . She told me that their press is not censored in Belarus , that she can get any and all world news over the internet . No problem . But she wanted to hear from a real honest -to-god American the inside story . Well , as I said , the rest of you Americanos were at that moment at my mercy . I tried to do you all justice . Rest assured . (Well , a third of you might disagree with my analysis of the country even though it was  in my opinion a fair one  , but that can’t be helped).

She told me that the president of Belarus ( a true dictator )  continually asks the people of Belarus to compare themselves to North Korea , as if to say : At least we’re better than them ! She thought that his proffered comparison was a bit weird . Somewhat defeatist too , of course ,  we agreed .

And now I’ve been hearing our White House using the same kind of  arguments to defend Mr. Trump and his bumpy  ride through his presidential term . Their talking points , voiced by every Trump supporter lately , try to blame the Clintons and Obama , and sometimes Bush II and even Bush I and others for being more corrupt , or colluding more with the Russians , absconding with more money for themselves ,  making bigger blunders , or spending more money more foolishly , or whatever .

Trump  pardoned Joe Arpaio , for example , for what critics say is a no-good reason , but Clinton , the Trump folk reply , pardoned so-and-so for no good reasons too , and so , and so , what’s the problem !

What have we come to ? I used to hear this kind of stuff on the playground when kids got in trouble .( I wonder if Truman’s sign “The Buck Stops Here ” is still on the desk in the Oval Office ? )   It’s a childish tactic , at best —- from children , but  we’re hearing it from adults in the government . It’s an admission : I’m bad , but s/he’s worse !

That’s not a good argument . It’s like the North Korea comparison .

And then there’s the eternal  argument over who’s a real red-blooded American ? Who’s more patriotic  ? Who loves the country more and who doesn’t love the country at all ? And all of that . Most of it is flack  fired  into the turbid skies of worry , just in case , just in case , just in case the enemy is on the way .

The Belarussian gal asked me what is the one thing I like best about the USA .( She had one in mind for Belarus , quickly , right on the tip of her tongue . ) I gave her my answer after a moment’s consideration .  I wonder what some other Americans’  answers would have been .

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hater/ or /you scratch my back I Old Scratch yours

OldScratchI went over to the Ralphs supermarket a few days ago to see if they had any self-confidence . I looked around for awhile and didn’t see any . They changed their signs a year or so ago , and they don’t help at all .

  I need to get more scratch too . I haven’t been making anything from scratch lately . Sometimes it’s hard to find . Ah , someone will have it . Lots of people still make things from scratch , so it’s got to be sold someplace .

When you’ve got both of those , self-confidence and scratch , and maybe also a little bit of imagination , then the world could be your oyster .

Speaking of bivalve mollusks ………………………………..No , no , I’m not going to start talking politics . Or religion .  Or hate . Well, maybe hate .

Speaking of hate , as long as we’re on the topic , I was accused , I guess , of being full of hate , or trying to spread hate . I’m not quite sure , because the short and pointed  FB rant against a comment that I had posted on someone’s blog was a rather poorly worded and confusing response , with some non-words (meant to be words , I’m sure) . Anyway , my comment that this response provoked had been  , even if I do say so myself , totally lacking in hate .

Usually , I believe , you reap what you sow .

Anyhow , I touched a nerve with this responding woman bent on showing me the error of my ways .BELARUS TRIP 2017 208

Well , against my better judgement , I had responded to what I considered an ignorant statement made with the best of intentions by someone I’ve known long since the cows came home , from way past the twelfth of never , for an eternity , not only for a month of Sundays but for a year of Sundays. I’ve known this person for a long long time . Sometimes the urge overcomes me , the teacher in me perhaps , and I have to intervene when I see someone I know go way too far into the weed patch of blatant error .man newspaper chair 1880

I try to ease into my criticisms , nevertheless , but  even honey can taste bitter when it’s used to hide the taste of medicine . And on Facebook , of course , serious discussions that fly  without condemning those opinions of others who don’t fully  agree with the going batch of batter  are rare birds , indeed . That’s why it is ordinarily my staunch position to avoid being sucked into any of those discussions on FB.poland-xmas-2017-009

Every once in awhile , though ,  I just can’t help myself . I comment even though it’s  against my better judgement . You know the drill , I’m sure . You’ll regret it later .

Maybe I just like to spread my hate around . Maybe that’s it . In a way , I was glad that I got the kind of angry response that I did from a person who doesn’t know me from Adam , calling me out for my anger , bitterness , and hate . It’s my own damn fault anyway that I stuck my nose into what , after all , was a closed slap-on-the-back session , as most of them seem to be , of like-minded zealots .BELARUS TRIP 2017 329

I think that I should hang out from now on  only with my own fanatic  group of like-minded zealots   . We hate the rest of you , you should know ,  for not belonging to our group , because you’re just  a bunch of stupid haters who don’t know Shinola from a hole in the ground .

And , while I’m at it ,  to the guy who blocked me from his  FB posts a couple of years ago for posting a few critical comments :   Sorry , it must have been my hate again showing it’s ugly head when I posted those comments .  Let’s try again .  How about this reflection  by way of clarification and reconciliation  : You can lead a horse down the garden path , but you can’t teach an old dog  new tricks.  So , former FB pal , can’t we hash this out ?  Let’s get together . I’ll bring the scratch (   Old Scratch )  .haters

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wienermobile

weiner wagon 2   There was vacant land next to my elementary school way back last century  when I was in primary school .  (   Or was it Grammar school ? My friend Joe and I had a discussion about the use of those terms : elementary vs. primary vs. grammar school . )  A Hughes Market grocery store was built there . Now it’s a Ralph’s Market . Most of the space , or half of it at least , is now the parking lot , of course .  But that’s irrelevant to my story , so let’s get on with it .

Another random memory ,  emerging now  from my brain bunker  where I keep them  , uncatalogued , forgotten for decades , came back to light suddenly . I had gone to Berlin , saw a wurst stand , and began , I guess , to ponder wieners ( The name comes from Vienna , by the way , I hear ) . Unknown things trigger memories sometimes . We’ll just leave it at that . I can’t better explain why the memory came  . Doesn’t matter .

Anyway :

One day the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile pulled up and parked on the vacant land next to the school .  The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile ,  a 1930’s idea of one of the Mayers , was a vehicle shaped like a giant hotdog in a bun .  It was driven by   ” Little Oscar” , who  was a little person dressed in a chef’s outfit , traditional high chef’s hat and all .  The nuns ( Corpus Christi Catholic Elementary School  ) took the entire school out to see the Wienermobile .  Why ? How that happened ?  Your guess is as good as mine . Stranger things have happened , I guess . Perhaps . Wienermobile 6

Well , this event was memorable . Who knew there was such a thing ? Who knew that hot dogs were cooked by little happy chefs in high hats ? Who knew ?

When I was a kid I didn’t know much about the world ( Same holds  true now — a little less so ) . From time to time little bits of it would show themselves , surprising things , good or bad things . The Wienermobile was one of the oddest things to come along . Now that I think of it , it’s still an odd piece of the reality puzzle . I know that there are odder things ;  but for a seven-year-old , a Wienermobile with a small chef inside with wiener whistles  for everyone —- that was something !

Yeah , to top it all off , Little Oscar handed out little plastic wiener whistles to every student and we all whistled like crazy out there in the open ,  and then we got to play with the silly things  for a few minutes back in the classroom .   Amazing ! weiner whistle

Wiener whistles are available on eBay . Get a vintage one for $ 3.75 !

There are , evidently , eight Weinermobiles  still in operation . The drivers , recruited from the ranks of college students , are called hotdoggers . A hotdogger blog hides on the world wide web , telling of hotdogger exploits .

I had forgotten all about that old Wienermobile and my wiener whistle ( which probably broke that same day ) , and Little Oscar the happy hot dog chef .  I never missed them , I have to  say ; but ,  it made a nice break  in  that long-ago day  from reading , writing , and arithmetic . weiner wagon chef

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xxx

I missed the eclipse . I was looking forward to viewing it up close , but my internal gyroscope was wobbling , I suppose , and I miscalculated the month . Ada and I were in the air on a WOW Airlines jet coming back toward LAX from Iceland when the eclipse was happening . Well , silver lining at least , my eyesight is just fine .

I’m glad I missed it , actually . Isn’t it a little like a Disneyland ride , where you wait in a long line ( people like to use the English ‘queue’ these days , I’ve noticed. Sounds much more sophisticated , I suppose . I’m proud to say that I’ve never waited in a queue in my life , though . I’ve never ever queued or queued up . Ever . I haven’t missed anything I think . But , on the other hand , I’ve spent a lot of time waiting in line . UCLA was good for that . I almost said ‘wasted my time ‘ in line ; but , one makes of their time what one makes of it . One man’s waste of time is another man’s observation opportunity . Or , something like that . )  and then the ride is so brief that the thought nags you from then on that the wait just wasn’t worth it ?  Why go all the way up to Oregon for a one or two minute show , anyhow ?

I know . I know. Sour grapes !

Anyhow , this post is about something else entirely . If I knew what that might be , I’d be straightforward and tell you ; but the topic of the day has temporarily drifted away . Maybe if I go into the same room again where I was thinking about it ……………………………..   .     It happens . My mind is not a steel trap .

Which brings me to the story of the old guy sitting on the fender of his Bentley and crying . Someone approached him to ask what was the problem . ———– Well , you know the joke . I can hear Ada right now in my mind’s ear saying : “Yeah . Yeah . I know that one !”  with a tone that clearly says she wouldn’t like to hear it just one more time .  If friends are around , then she’ll probably add : ” I’ve heard Dan tell this  joke 1000 times , and he still laughs his butt off when he tells it . And if someone else tells a joke , he just sits there with a straight face ; but then when he retells their joke later on he laughs his butt off . ”

Oh ! I know . I intended to write about the heat wave that is scheduled to hit our area this weekend . Monday will be the hottest day : 104 degrees in Arcadia . I’m pretty sure that Monrovia will be the same . I’ll check with the guy who lives in the house behind mine when I hear his sixties music wafting over the fence. He’s in Monrovia ( …. but I’m pretty sure it’s not his fault . He seems like a nice enough guy despite being Monrovian . Who knows how these things happen and what might be the unique exigencies in his existence ? We should all learn to get along , despite another person’s circumstances ) .

I don’t know what 104 F   would be in Celsius . I just got back from Europe . I don’t know if you know this , but they talk a different language over there  :    ” It’s gonna be 24 today ; up to 30 maybe by the weekend .”  Okay . How hot or not is that , really , in good old red blooded American Fahrenheit ? They must sell cheat sheets someplace . My friend Tom can accurately do the calculation of conversion in his head . I saw him do it once . Tom won’t go to Europe , though ,  because he can’t stand the thought of not smoking his Camels for such a long time on the airplane . So what good is his talent , I ask you ? Life is weird !achie bunker

We don’t have air-conditioning . At one time I put a couple of window units in and they cooled the bedrooms pretty well ; but Ada likes fresh air and doesn’t care for the noise of the air-conditioners . The window units are gone , or out back in the shed perhaps . I’ve snuck in a couple of portable fans that I will use this weekend . 103-104 degrees Fahrenheit calls for a fan , at least . Ada will be poo-pooing my fan usage .

Ah ! , but the ceiling fans she’s taken to using sometimes nowadays, I’ve noticed  . Southern California living just spoils a person ! That’s all there is to it .

 

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you can’t take me anywhere

I go through life trying not to be a klutz . Really . I’m a big guy but I walk around the house like a James Fenimore Cooper Iroquois in a pre -Department of Agriculture forest , softly , deftly , and making as little disturbance as possible  trying my best not to draw attention .

I’m not saying that I’m a delicate dude , but I usually try to be polite and cause no trouble . Doesn’t always work out that way , though .

Ada and I were over at Sister-in-law’s home having dinner a few nights ago . Cousin Mirek and his wife were there . Everything was going along swimmingly until I stood up at one point only to see a chocolate stain on the cream-colored armchair upon which I sat . It kind of stood out , no — more than that  ;  it announced itself in a definitely embarrassing-to-me way to Sister-in-law , who was sitting on my left , and to Ada , who was on my right .

At first I thought that the spot must have been there before I sat down . Really . I even asked Sis-in-law if it had been there . I heard a definite ” Certainly not ” , luckily with no anger attached . Ada poked the rear of my black jeans a bit as I was standing . She declared no chocolate there . Cousin Mirek was entertained , I noticed,  and Sister-in-law began the  ” Don’t worry about it at all ” protestations.

When I checked a little more carefully in the bathroom I could see that I had indeed sat on some chocolate. It was that chocolate mousse that Sister-in-law served . Actually , I had dished myself a helping , so I had to have been the one who had plopped a bit on the chair and then rubbed it around before I caught on that it was there . How I had done that I have no idea . Things happen .

I don’t know what it might be with sisters-in- law , but years ago Ada and I went to Easter dinner at my brother and sister-in-law’s newly re-decorated house in Newport Beach , CA . All the furniture seemed to be ultra-white fabric .

Do you see this one coming ?

No sooner had we arrived and I had sat myself down on the new white sofa , than my niece who was sitting next to me , said , ” Uncle Dan , you’re bleeding ! ”  She said it just loud enough to get everybody’s undivided attention . I looked down and a circle of red about the size of a dime glowed right under my arm . Some tiny cut on my wrist had bled just enough and just long enough to ruin the new decor . It was a small spot that shone like a bright red beacon in the previously spotlessly white room .TALL SHIPS Szcz. 2017 117

Sister-in-law came rushing over . Who knows what might have been going through her mind . The   “Don’t worry about it at all ”  protestations had already begun .  ” I can get it out ,” she assured everyone . And maybe she did get it out ; but I doubt it . I think that red spot was there up until the day they sold the Newport house . I’m not going to say that that’s the reason they sold the house ; but , who knows ?

And then the bottle of perfume  at Sister-in law’s apartment in Paris . I accidently shattered it one night , trying to open the bathroom window a bit . How did I know the bathroom window sticks and an expensive bottle of French perfume was sitting on the little crowded table next to the window ? I simply wanted a little air . That’s all .

Well , I’ll replace the perfume  . Accidents happen .

Ada thought that I was blaming someone  for putting the costly bottle of stuff out in an exposed and precarious place near the defective window on a rickety table with a lot of other stuff when maybe such an expensive item like that shouldn’t have been there so exposed in such a vulnerable position at all at all as if it were some kind of a booby-trap , a ticking time bomb , set just for me  ; but I wasn’t .

I go through life trying not to be a klutz. Sometimes  it just doesn’t work out as planned  . So send me the repair  bill . It’s okay. These things happen . Better yet , think twice about inviting me over . That might work. Or , on the other hand , I could carry along a drop cloth to spread over the furniture — just in case . Hide the expensive items . POLAND 2017 with Frankie and boats 047

 

 

 

 

 

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beer and boats

Once again , time to relax down by the river , sip a beer , and watch the river traffic pass by . I could’ve , instead , decided to do greater things , but hey………………………..boats poland 2017 020boats poland 2017 001

boats poland 2017 008POLAND ships 2017 001

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cowboys in poland

KARPACZ 2017 002So we went to Karpacz on what Ada assured me would be a luxury bus . Eight hour trip . [ I started this with the word  “so” because I’ve noticed that it has become the going thing these days for media folk to begin their reports from the field with : ” So………….” . I don’t like it ; but , then again , I’m sort of a stick-in-the-mud on change .  So , let us continue. ]

 

So this luxury bus had a toilet  but it was locked . Only for extreme emergencies , the driver told Ada when , on my behalf , she asked . Instead , we paid two and a half zloty for a pee when the bus stopped . I think it stopped three times . Reminded me of the Greyhound bus stops when I was younger ; but they seemed more frequent at the time in life when I needed them less , and we never paid for a pee in America. That’s un-American !  That’s the kind of freedom we still have in America . So far .

So we eventually arrived in the beautiful Sudeten town of Karpacz , which is Polish but was German until WWII . It’s a ski resort in the Carpathian Mountains . I might post some descriptive stuff about it sometime . It’s near the Czech border , but there’s a mountain in the way . There’s an Irish pub there , too , with an Irishman attached . There are Irish pubs all over creation , even in Shanghai ,  but most don’t seem to have an Irishman . When I found the Shanghai Irish pub there was a Chinese owner and German customers drinking Guinness , but no Irishman .  As Nancy Mac would say : Just saying !

This town has a place called Western City nearby . It’s like Tombstone , Arizona , or like Knott’s Berry Farm in California  used to be before it got too corporate —–  old wooden cowboy -town buildings , periodic shoot-outs in the street , wandering cowboys , etc.  In Tombstone , Arizona the cowboys are as likely to be from Germany as not , I noticed. I guess Germans are into that sort of cowboy play-acting thing . But Poles ?KARPACZ 2017 178

 

So it was fun . The cowboys looked like real true movie version Wild West cowboys . The accents weren’t so authentic ………. but , hey ! Ah , just kidding .

The Indian doing the war dance did a good job , I think , had the right moves , although his complexion was a little pale . It was probably good that no Arapaho or Sioux were nearby to object , though . It would be hard to find a true-blooded native American in Karpacz  I would guess ; but then , who knows ! Jack R. suggested that maybe part of the Lewis and Clark expedition got sidetracked and ended up in Poland .  Stranger things have happened.

So there was mechanical bull riding , lasso throwing , horseshoe tossing , bow and arrow shooting , gold panning .  The horse shoe tossing was from about three feet away . That made me laugh a little . The participants were almost close enough to drop the shoes over the metal peg , but they were all having fun , and experiencing some real true Americana . I guess .

 

So there was a bullwhipper , too , showing off his skills .KARPACZ 2017 779

And a fast draw , gun twirling demo too . So .KARPACZ 2017 769

KARPACZ 2017 911

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