Friday, June 5, 2020

Fire and ice

The beauty of a June morning on the South Divide in Kimball County, Nebraska.

Summer haircut!

Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus). I dated her sister Iris when I was a sophomore in high school.

Me big tough man me.

Pretty nature show.

Didja ever wonder???

Shout out from Nebraska.



I don't write in detail about my personal relationships here. This is certainly not the place for something like that. I will note that my stoicism, phantom certainty, and analytical approach to interpersonal frictions can drive my loved ones up the firetrucking tree. When I'm in my E-5 "fuck you, send me to sea and feed me box lunches" mode I'm a rotten evil bastard and that's a fact. I alone am responsible for all of that. No one has the power to make me a dick. It's all me.


God, yesterday was a beautiful day. It was a frustrating day. It was a terrible day. It was a horrifying night. In a way yesterday was the perfect day. This life thing is something to be lived. Existing is simply not enough. As I sit here writing my mind is being photo-bombed with images of all the guys and gals whose demise I was present for, as well as those Shipmates who I sailed with and loved who got their shit scattered in my absence. They were all so young, and they gave up everything they had and everything they could ever have had.

I did not.

Once upon a time in the navy I had a close call that actually found a chink in my immortality armor. I have a blog post about that event in the works, and I'll get to it sooner rather than later. Anyway, during the informal discussion phase of the mishap board proceedings a helo driver with a zillion hours and gallons of green ink in the log book opined that our survival as a crew was only understandable as an act of divine intervention. At that point I remember thinking that any hearbeats I managed to string together subsequent to that close call were in the nature of a gift -- that the rest of my life would be gravy.

Now I haven't wasted my life by any means, but I've done far too much dog paddlin' in the gravy.

The last couple of years have been different, and If I have my way my life going forward will continue on that living vs existing path.

There is a lot of hard in my life just now. My day job is physically and mentally demanding and has the added component of a great deal of nerve pain. My not day job of personal relationships resembles a train wreck mated with a hurricane being attacked by lions and tigers and bears. Oh my! To top things off, nearly every event in my daily walk is dynamic, challenging, and fraught with unanticipated complexity and difficulty.

Yesterday I traveled to the big city of Sidney, Nebraska, which is equipped with a wally world. Kimball is not. I went with the sole purpose of purchasing a lawn mower for to mow weeds on my lot in town. When I got home and opened the pristine box I found a lawn mower which had been smashed. So I had to do the return and exchange thing. Therefore two trips to Sidney, or 175 miles instead of half that. Not a big deal, but a complication. Life. I should have taken pictures but I did not. Here's what the non-smashed one looks and sounds like this morning... 

I've got green ink in my log book. I've been shot at and missed and shit at and hit. I've seen and done some serious stuff, and I thought I was long past being shocked by what ape-lizards can get up to. Last night I experienced events that made my soul feel like that crushed lawn mower. I won't describe the horror but I will say that today I am fundamentally changed. That's okay, it's just part of the living deal and because I am spiritually healthy and alive I am safe and protected from real harm. Doesn't make the pain any less. It's far worse than the nerve pain I'm living with. It's horrifyingly bad. But it's not too hard. Yes, life is hard. But hard is good. It's an opportunity to suck it up and drive on. To learn and grow. To get crushed but not be defeated. To never give up, never surrender. For reals.

I look around me and take stock and I am humbled by how very blessed I am. The Big Aircrew Chief knows exactly what I need and exactly how to line me out. My cup runneth over.

This calls for some Kipling...


IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

And this one seems appropriate too, though I'm not sure why...


BY THE old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' lazy at the sea,
There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
"Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay! "
Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay:
Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay ?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

'Er petticoat was yaller an' 'er little cap was green,
An' 'er name was Supi-yaw-lat - jes' the same as Theebaw's Queen,
An' I seed her first a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot,
An' a-wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot:
Bloomin' idol made o' mud
Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd
Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud!
On the road to Mandalay...

When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow,
She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "Kulla-lo-lo!
With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' 'er cheek agin my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an' the hathis pilin' teak.
Elephints a-pilin' teak
In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was 'arf afraid to speak!
On the road to Mandalay...

But that's all shove be'ind me - long ago an' fur away
An' there ain't no 'busses runnin' from the Bank to Mandalay;
An' I'm learnin' 'ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
"If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else."
No! you won't 'eed nothin' else
But them spicy garlic smells,
An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay...

I am sick o' wastin' leather on these gritty pavin'-stones,
An' the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho' I walks with fifty 'ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An' they talks a lot o' lovin', but wot do they understand?
Beefy face an' grubby 'and -
Law! wot do they understand?
I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
On the road to Mandalay...

Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin', an' it's there that I would be
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay,
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
O the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay !

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.


  1. Remember that you have friends; if there is any way I can be of help, do NOT hesitate to let me know.

    Paul L. Quandt

    1. Thanks Paul. Appreciate that more than you know.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  2. " No one has the power to make me a dick. It's all me."
    Could be my epitaph.

    Railroad ties... when I was in college, after the Navy, we used railroad ties to build the homecoming bonfire.
    Our only cost was for the truck and fuel we needed to pick them up and haul them.
    They burn rather spectacularly.
    It helped, too, that one of our group worked for Dow and was able to get some napalm for a starter.

    1. That's an awesome story Skip; what goes best with creosote... Napalm!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  3. Thoughts and prayers for you and your fellow ape lizards in good times or bad.
    You can only control your own actions. Others have free will and may choose wisely, or maybe not. I am sure you have done your best, but others may do their worst, negating your admirable efforts.

    None of us is perfect, and some don't even try to be marginally good.

    Make your departed shipmates proud of you, at least most of the time- remember none of us is perfect.
    Try to take it a bit easy on that tie-humping fencing project, we don't want to hear a bunch of justifiable whining about making your back worse.

    Remember, your readers, the cows, chickens, Nona and Red all like you and depend on you too.
    John Blackshoe

    1. Thanks John. Things are breaking better than I could have hoped for at zero dark last night.

      When I do my part as bedy I can and trust God and his will things seem to turn out okay, if not always to my liking.

      The ties are a burden as is the pain but they are also a multifaceted test or trial. It's a good deal.

      It's good to have responsibilities.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. What the others said above. Prayers are up for you and yours and good wishes are being sent your way. Thank you for the post. Still beautiful here too.

    1. Thanks very much Mark. We experienced a remarkably frightening but very illuminating event. We navigated it together and got everyone pointed back in a solid and sane direction. I think we'll be okay.

      Springtime is awesome!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!