Finding my way back in

Checking how this looks.

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On getting old, liking it, and lessons learned in the process

For the most part, I am surviving and sometimes even enjoying working through the process of brand new encounters that sneak up on me, as I grow older. This morning I encountered an exception. I frequently have both hands full of varying things as I move from one place to another. This morning I watered and increased the height of the penned in area of my tomato plants, checked for new clusters of blossoms turning into tomatoes, cheered them on to improved produce, checked them for creepy-crawly-ugly pests. Following a familiar routine, I gathered up my work stuff, closed the door as much as it would shut without the use of one of my hands to give it the final firm thrust. As usual, I positioned my body so I could stick out my hip and give the door the push it needed. That is where the routine ended. The body positioned correctly, the hip stuck out correctly but as the door shut, I felt a sharp, quickly spreading muscle pain, and discovered I looked like Chester from Gunsmoke when I walked. Determined to ‘walk it off’’ I toughed it out for the next few minutes, pressing on to the eventual soreness that will probably hang around for a few hours or days. My foot is asleep, so probably have some more work to do on this.

Now is the time in the growing season of my life when I think I would enjoy quick, fleeting glimpses into the future which would give me a heads up that my confidence, will, bravery and sometimes just not thinking is going to produce unwanted, perhaps even lasting negative results.

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Road Fever–May 18 2012

I guess that if there is a category of people called “Road Junkies” I qualify.  Yesterday after a beautiful start to a beautiful day, and a deep down restlessness I could not shoo away, the call of known roads conquered my more responsible side and a little before 7am I found myself headed east to enjoy the day.

Spring growth air-brushes a lot of the poverty and a lot of trashy ugliness to a point where with few exceptions I can find some beauty in all I see. 

Targil’s has been a favorite destination of mine ever since I moved to Louisiana.  Easy to get to in either direction on 190 as you drive through Opelousas, Targil’s  wholesale and retail store has almost any item needed to prepare and deal with meat from the kill through the serving cycle.  In more recent years, the line of Wilton baking needs garners a growing share of variety and shelf space.  To say I love just looking around is an understatement, yesterday was more of a mission stop to buy some six-inch serrated paring knives.  I ended up buying six as with six you get a 40% discount making each knife cost a little over $5.  For someone aspiring to get the job done outside of feeling like a knife welding chef, these multi-purpose cover a variety of tasks.

My next stop was Rouses’ across the road from the Cajun Dome and west of Lafayette.  They carry a full line of Boar’s Head processed meats and I came away with chunks of Spanish style Chorizo, perfect Pancetta, and for some strange reason some Lebanon bologna.  A chunk of Colby Jack cheese, a couple of pounds of local grown okra and I was on my way to the next food stop.  This store also carries a special glass case used for aging meats.  My budget does not allow for that, but it makes me happy to know there are some who can buy it and hopefully enjoy it.  I gave half the Okra away.  What is left will be sliced up and cooked today.  The combination of chunky canned tomatoes, a few sliced onions, and seasonings simmered together until the okra is tender provide some might good eating and my okra never turns out slimy.

Don’s Specialty Meats in Scott truly announces to your eyes and nose that this is Cajun country.  Well seasoned  fresh meats and poultry in their plastic wrapped trays share a kiosk next to a display case of unwrapped meats serviced by real people working behind the counter cutting meat and serving your needs.  The next area provides eat in or to go hot and cold foods.   I bought a thick-well-marbled rib eye steak.  If it proves to be the one exception I have found thus far since moving to Louisiana of NOT having any water added, I will be their customer forever.  I left this store with a locally baked snack sized Ginger Cake in hand, a paper bag of bulk pork crackling’s, (pork crackling’s will be ground up and added to skillet corn bread.   Lunch was eaten in the car and consisted of the link of spicy hot and temperature hot Boudin wrapped up in a piece of butcher paper and a plastic fork to cut into the thin natural casing to get the highly seasoned pork-rice dressing inside.  Some dry ice to keep all the good things nice and cold, and a very enjoyable trip home found me pulling into my driveway around noon.

It did not pour rain on my like it usually does on many of these trips, the threat or reality of bad weather does not set boundaries that coop up my road fever attacks.  Most of the Crawfish ponds were full of water, rice fields held tall-green rice.  Some farm work was going on, and traffic behaved very well. 

All in all it was a day full of fun.  I do have one tiny regret, I chose not to buy that gallon jar of hog lard that Don’s sells.

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Other Evolving Issues In My Lifetime

Creation vs. Evolution – Not satisfied with a court decision supporting Evolution, forces continue to work and win battle after battle to wipe any public acknowledgement of creation from every public aspect of our lives.

Equal rights for females – A clear line is not drawn in the sand on this subject.  Concerning this issues separate but equal seems to be more widely accepted then one would think.  Battles still brew as females gain a toehold in desired rights they seek for themselves.  An example:  Two people work side by side doing the same job, under the same conditions exposed to in the work place.  Salaries are paid according to printed job requirements, published reward systems and expectations as to requirements for advancement.  The separate but equal part starts to upstage all these other things as women demand considerations outside the standard norm for the position.  These demands frequently reduce the time spent on the job dedicated to performing requirements while still demanding equal pay and equal access to promotions.  In order to maintain this separate but equal status females also strive to change the job requirements to suit their needs by making changes that include both males and females regardless of the demands/desires/needs of the male.  In a male/male situation, or female/female situation sticking to the published requirements seems to elicit less of a battle to change carefully thought out requirements that tie performance to rewards.  Please Note:  My work history from 1953 through 1996 probably makes me as qualified to address this subject as any of the many other opinions seen, heard, read on this issue.

Recognition of same sex relationships”  The word “Marriage” being left out of this battle, in my opinion, and using “Civil Union” would have let this evolve into a quiet recognition of any civil rights for people committed to same sex relationships.  This issue also seems to provide a platform for verbal payback by advocates of same sex marriage to assign negative names to people who do not support their same sex choices.

The Ten Commandments – Now the Six Commandments in some circles:  My absolute belief, love for, and fear of God makes this a subject I believe I must let God address and handle as HE sees fit.  Note:  I have never claimed to be successful at obeying all of them, I would however give my life in defense of the absoluteness of all Ten of them. 

I still feel driven to give my opinion on the ‘work for it’ vs. ‘I want it for free, and you pay for it’ battle.  I frequently express my opinion and disdain for the current administration and firmly believe it will prove to be one of the most destructive, embarrassing, amoral and immoral administrations of our nations history.

I hope, but I have my doubts, that in the next 25 years or so I hope to live that I will not see the ‘evolution’ and government recognition of males or females  in child relationships, males or females in animal relationships.  I probably won’t have to worry about those two for a while, the next battles already formed and waiting for the spotlight by ego/need driven supporters will be the legalization of legalizing drugs, the legalization of legalizing prostitution, an the ongoing implementation of a Socialist government.

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The hopefully temporary loss and recovery after a computer crash

Working my way through starting access to and recreating the portions of my life committed to writing.  This blog is stored off-site so am doing some set up work to make access to it easier.  Was going to take the crashed and burned computer to the only game in town that fixes computers. 

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Back to blogging and Tweeting

Spent some time the last few days getting back to Tweet and relearning how to use it. This morning I went back into this blog and was surprised how long it had been since I blogged on a regular basis. Perhaps this would be a better venue to air my thoughts. Tried to find what I wrote avout the last Presidental election. Nothing I do is profound, but I did want to revisit what I said. If you read this, wish me luck, I’ll repost.

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Signs of Spring in my town

On A Whim this morning, I decided to take a new way to my CPA in order to take part in the privilege of paying taxes. My efforts were rewarded with a beautiful surprise; the ‘new’ neighborhood had an abundance of Redbud trees in various stages of blooming.

Earlier, I had fully opened drapes, venetian blinds and window shades so rooms closed in to save on heating bills could enjoy the 70-degree weather and sunshine we are supposed to have the next few days.

Warmed to the bone and with these blessings still feeding my soul I walked out to the back lot and examined my own Oaks, Sweet Gum, Crepe Myrtle, and Wild Cherry trees for signs of spring. Sure enough on both the Oaks and Sweet Gum trees buds were present on the tips of the ends of the branches.

The Crepe Myrtle and Wild Cherry bore no signs of renewed efforts to welcome spring. The these two trees were planted many years ago, as close as possible to each other while still in the first year of their life. People tend to look at the same things in life and see these same things quite differently. I tend to enjoy the results for the beauty in contrast. The Crepe Myrtle with its smooth olive-green dapples of color over the beautiful light colored wood that seems to be highly polished in places and void of bark, contrasts to the Wild Cherry tree with its rough and sturdy multi-colored light and dark bark. My best friend, even after I carefully explained why this planting was so right, still shakes his head over someone planting these trees as though they were one.

Some of the promises of spring have been fulfilled for me this morning. I am so blessed and have so much for which to be thankful.

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Awaiting Spring

I woke up this morning with my first thought wanting it to be daylight so I could look for the first signs of spring.  I like to think of myself as a welcoming committee so Lady Spring dressed in her delicate green comes along here early and desires to stay until the heat of summer drives her away.

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Food for Pleasure and Thought

I have a huge love and respect for food. I put a lot of thought into bringing together a large collection of cookery books, fine equipment, and gadgets to support just about any cooking/baking effort I choose to undertake. I seek out and purchase the finest ingredients available within a 3-hour drive in any direction. I look over each piece of vegetable and produce as though it were a long term investment, all the while enjoying the touch and aroma it possess’.
Meat, poultry, fish, and other seafood have a set amount of my food budget; weather influence is important for the long ride home, even with an ice chest and a supply of dry ice. I prefer not to buy any previously frozen version of any of these products so my choice is limited by that piece of criteria. I do not doctor up a fine specimen of any of these products but work to prepare it to preserve the pure fine taste of a fine product carefully prepared and served to enhance its fullest potential.

Once home I prep each item for storage, all the while planning on when and how I want to use it. I live alone, but feed my yardman once a week with enough food prepared to send him home with another full meal for himself.
Lots of experience and lots of reading and watching information on the preparation of food usually produces some fine eating. I do have more than my share of “I’ll never try that again, or next time I will add/delete/change something.

Therefore, at two o’clock am I took some of the food receiving all the attention listed above, prepared it, and then as I looked out my kitchen window-facing due east I found a large-bright piece of the moon coming up and just above the horizon. Oddly enough almost in the exact location the sun will rise a few hours from now. The image of that moon as it shone through the huge skeletons winter makes of the trees in frosty 32-degree temperature and clear night air filled my soul with peace and happiness. I took my fine food fare and stood in front of the kitchen sink eating and watching this moon-rising event, all the while feeling there probably was no other place to eat on the face of the earth that might give me more pleasure.

I never, ever forget the long-hard struggle and extreme effort I put into whatever job I had over the 5 plus decades I worked for a living. So this morning I also thought about standing at the sink of wherever I happened to be living at the time, dead tired from the 40 to 60 hour weeks I worked eating whatever was handy and for a longer period than I care to think about whatever I could afford, with a fork or a spoon out of a freshly opened can. The memory this time was for some unknown reason was of Vienna sausages, and the memory added just another layer of enjoyment to my early morning meal.

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My Days In Court

What I write here is a side product of my efforts to obtain barebones knowledge of what takes place in a courthouse and flesh it out with what I observed, listened to and learned during time spent in that environment. The fictional character in the book I am writing will be very comfortable in this environment and I want locations to be believable even though I am writing fiction.

1, 2, 3, 4, if left alone, would there have been more?
On the surface, this looks like a riddle presented by a mommy or daddy and innocent enough for a child to try to guess, it is not.

My creation of this riddle, for lack of a better word prefaces my take of what took 8 days of my sitting in a courtroom taking notes most of which will go no further than that paper. As a matter of fact, my pages of notes are a giant mess. I did not take on this task to study one or more cases. I intended to study the process, the players, and their interactions in it. This would provide me with visuals, memories, and experiences to flow in and out of my writing as desired.
The case is blocking my ability to write my book. I need closure on opinions, feelings and emotions, along with some surprising revelations of experiences in my own past that are putting the brakes on my ‘hamster on the spinning wheel’ mind I possess.
The case involved a white male age 43 arrested and charged with one count of sexual molestation of a juvenile, three counts of aggravated incest, and one count of sexual battery. The defendant, the stepfather of the three sisters. The first complaint and investigation came around 2002. One by one, the girls filed complaints that went through the proper channels and agencies, complaints then investigated, with one or more actions or recommendations made in an effort to protect the girls. One by one, the three young girls unable to take this stepfathers version of “horseplay” left the home to live elsewhere. Finally, when all the victims were no longer available the man turned to one of his neighbor’s children, a daughter. It was this event that if I understand correctly finally gave the state a strong case. I want so badly to get into details, this cannot happen. I am not prepared with accurate dates, facts, and other pertinent information necessary to create a piece that delves into this horrific situation.
How this started for me:
As I walked up the wide marble steps of this 1915 Parish Courthouse and into the Clerk of the Court – Criminal Court office, I had no idea where this first step of my information gathering might eventually lead.
I exchanged greetings and smiles with the warm and friendly person who I hoped would assist me in starting my fact to fiction journey in order to provide a believable story line to my main character.
I needed to know if an observer could just walk into a courtroom, sit, and soak up whatever was taking place in order to establish feelings and minimum knowledge of the processes taking place. In less then five minutes I learned no public court dockets or calendars are available announcing various on going or upcoming legal proceedings. I was told a case was coming up the following Monday I might be interested in, I left with wondering if the case would be one version of a routine cut and dried court proceeding; it most certainly was not.

What I can relate in this blog is the following, which are a combination of what I heard and observed in the courtroom, my take on some of this, my own life experiences, observations, and plain old gut feelings.

Before I run out of steam there is some recognition that needs to be given, and unless I miss my guess this recognition seldom comes to those involved, and then in technical or trade periodicals, among peers, or across the desk from ones supervisor.

From the onset of the first referral around 2001 to an agency designed to protect children , to the sentencing taking place in December 2010 I would venture to guess untold hours were spent just on this one case. To bring this case together must have involved hours of investigation, information and evidence gathering, planning and decision-making. Documentation of telephone calls, interviews, meetings, filings, and hearings, checking and following the letter of the law in each step. Planning, bringing chunk by chunk of all this time and space into cohesive pieces to use when and as needed. During the course of interviewing the victims, skill sets may require adjustment from guidelines that cannot be specific to every situation. Interviewing juveniles in order to get the truth from the individuals who bring to the table a blending of emotions, level of maturity, circumstance, environment, and their own take on what is the truth and what is not. Justice may be blind, but what that means is she does not take all these things into consideration if the job and the effort are not thorough and according to law.
Some of my own thoughts: Child porn receives much deserved attention by the general public and our legal system, along with the use of the internet to use-and-abuse juveniles for pleasure and obtaining sexual satisfaction. Oversight of use and abuse of a juvenile by someone living in the home or visiting the home is often too personal and out of bounds for a major portion of the population to want to think about. Add to this is the learned behavior of a predator to limit their prey to those times and those areas that provide optimum opportunity to prey on their victims, with minimum chance of their action being exposed. Predators have an ability to behave in manners that make any accusations against them unbelievable to friends, relative, or even spouses. Many times the abused accused of lying punished and made to feel they brought it on themselves. For some of the abused then, it is easier to go along with what others want and need to believe.
There was no sexual intercourse involved in this case; however, it is in my opinion absurd to minimize the amount of damage caused to the victims and the long lasting effects. Several pages added to this could address the ripple effect through other family members and friends. Victim impact-statements and statements from family and friends in defense of the defendant, if one is to believe them to their fullest extent, indicate negative changes in lives and affect family relationships for years if not forever.
Complicating this is the fact that there is a possibility that a non-victim may make false or exaggerated accusations for their own benefit against a person who actually is a predator. In such a situation, this non-victim may damage the case for actual crimes against other victims. The non-victims testimony once judged to be false or exaggerated may weaken the case and even result in a lesser sentence than the predator deserves.

My take on motherhood: Contrary to some beliefs, woman who give birth to one or more children do not all have a strong maternal instinct. In fact, some do not have any at all. The range between “I will kill to protect my child” to killing a child before it is even born is complicated by influencing factors brought into play by a deliberate choice because it is more convenient; or by circumstances beyond the control of or more factors.
Based on what I observed and listened to, I have specific feelings and opinions about the mother of these children, it is not my place to judge, and my intent is to do no harm with this piece.

The defendant found guilty on all five charges bail set at $120,000 and sentencing scheduled to take l take place December 17, 2010.

Motions by the defense for a new trial denied. Sentencing took place as scheduled. The guilty verdict resulted in each of the first three counts involving the three stepchildren a five-year sentence with each of the five years to run concurrently. The fourth count brought 7 years to start after the completion of the first sentence. The fifth brought 2 years to start after the completion of the 7 years. Bail denied during the appeal process.

I have a regret regarding this blog piece; I could not include a transcript of the statements made to the defendant by the Judge during sentencing. It spoke to me about how the loss of trust and innocence take place due to these negative experiences such as these perpetrated on these four young women. These experiences create holes in soul. How each child fills these holes as they grow and learns to deal with life during and after these tragedies take place take many forms. Unfortunately, some of these are destructive with long lasting effects that join forces with long lasting memories of the abuse(s) that started the process.

Nietzsche, himself a considerable classicist, wrote of the Greek biographer Diogenes that he is ‘by accident the clumsy watchman guarding treasure whose value he does not know’. For me the watchman is the parent, the treasure is the child.

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