May and November, Bentley and the East Wing, Blackberry Picking and PhD’s

Greetings to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.

The middle of May and has this been a great wet spring or what??? I love May, ‘cause I love changing of the seasons, and ya know what, May is truly the changing of the seasons. Sometimes hot and sometimes cold, it’s just May.

There’s only two months of the year truly define the upcoming change in weather. May and November are those months that most clearly usher in the change of weather. Now don’t get too crazy and remind me we’ve got four seasons and not two. I know that, DUH! But do ya see a major change from December and January or March and April? Ya just don’t . How ‘bout that June and July thing, ya don’t see it there either. I’m telling ya, it’s May and November that tells us it’s a changing of the weather.

Guess I better answer a ton of email ‘bout the Bentley. So here goes. Yes, Bentley’s a Pit Bull. Yes, Bentley’s really big. Yes, Bentley’s the She’s little house dog. Just to give ya some concept of the size of the Bentley, it takes 2.775 Pup Babies to make one Bentley. It Takes 3.455 Gray Ladies to make one Bentley. It take 8.233 Spikes to make on Bentley. It takes 18.889 Sophia’s to make one Bentley.

When Bentley came to live in the East Wing, he recognized on day one the special attachment between me and the Pup Baby. After the most amazing struggle for life I’ve ever seen, me and the Pup Baby, well, we’re just buds for life. With her survival of the Badger attack and the heart worm night of the tribulation, all I can say is the will to live is strong in the Pup Baby, Mustina James. And it’s because of such will to live we’ve became friends for life. I think it’s that dog and man thing with me and the Pup Baby. It’s been around since dog demonstrated man way back in the day.

Spike and Bentley are the two newest members of the family of the East Wing and as such is seems natural that they’d just get along. And they do, so they do in spades. What’s funny is to watch those two when the weather is in a changing pattern, Spike knows ‘bout the weather change well before Bentley. Even before ya can feel it in your bones, Spike knows, he just knows. I think it’s a Man Cat thing.

Now Spike grabs hold of one of Bentley’s back legs and starts to chew. Bentley don’t know what the hell is going on. All he knows is a Man Cat is chewing on his back leg and he can’t seem to get him to stop. Bentley and Spike, a Pit Bull and a Man Cat, friends for life. Living out that life in the East Wing. I’m glad they’re here, they’re friendly people, Spike and the Man Cat.

The Gray Lady James, Solomon of the East Wing. The final authority in all dog matters, large and small. The Gray Lady makes decision independent of outside input. Bentley recognized the authority of Gary Lady James early on. The Gray Lady, Solomon of the East Wing. The Lady rules.

And then there’s Sophia. 18.889 Sophia’s to make one Bentley. That don’t mean a damn thing when ya’re a cat that’s walked with swagger on the south side of Chicago in the neighborhood of Leroy Brown. When ya’ve never spent a single day on that “walk with fear” side of life.

When you simply said to Bentley on the first day of his arrival to the East Wing. “Look Bentley, here’s your spot, now just get in line, don’t make me have to show my knives.” Bentley got in line. He knew she had the knives.

And so it was that the East Wing Pecking Order had be reformatted and brought back up on line. All because of the cat. Then so it was written and so it was done. The system was rebooted, then brought back up on line. Damn Republican Cat.

Blackberry Winter, Dogwood Winter, Cold Snap or whatever ya want to call it, there comes a time ‘round the last of April and the first half of May that a cold weather pattern moves across the land, Blackberry Winter comes around.

It’s as if Old Man Winter has once as once again stuck his icicy finger into the springtime winds to test his middle finger melting point. And he loses ever time. Middle fingers melt quick in the springtime. The really neat thing ‘bout Blackberry Winter is if ya don’t have ‘em, ya don’t get the Blackberries. Seems some years ya have lots, some years ya have few and some years ya have none. I prefer the lots years, when the picking is easy.

And so it is this year, Blackberry Winter came right on time. Now with a little luck and a little rain later on in the year, we’ll have lots of Blackberries’ come summertime. And the picking is easy.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying by “the picking is easy”. ‘Cause it take years to develop the proper technique of Blackberry Picking. Ya just go out there and start picking like a pro on day one of berry picking. I’m telling ya, it takes years of practice to come a master berry picker, to become a boneafied Blackberry Picker..

I just so happen to have been blessed by learning from the best. My first instructions into the fine arts of Blackberry Picking came from the Queen herself, the Queen of Southfork. When Lou taught ya the basics of Blackberry Picking, ya learned for the top. Me and Lou picked Blackberries on Southfork.

My middle school training in Blackberry Picking was turned over to my Aunt Maggie when we move to Tiptop. Me and Aunt Maggie, we picked Blackberries a lot, there on the mountains of Tiptop.

When I moved to Indiana, it was my Mama who taught me the final lessons in the fine arts of Blackberry Picking. It’s all in the writ ya know, that Blackberry Picking. My Mama gave the knowledge which allowed me to finally obtain my PhD in Blackberry Picking.

Did ya ever write a PhD Thesis Papers? I’ve written two, and they’re kinda cool. Now these Thesis Papers must demonstrate original thought process on the subject matter and at the same time develop a hypnotics which can be supported by logic. And one of the important points of the thesis is the use of really big words. It seems the people who decide if the Thesis is worthwhile, well, those folks, they like to see people like me use big words when we try for those PdD’s. And so I wrote the big words for hospital administration, and we got’er done.

That Blackberry Picking Thesis, the hardest damn thing I ever wrote in my life. There’s just not a lot of big word that can be used to describe Blackberry Picking. I’ll not bore with the details but the thesis paper, it involved wine and roses along with Barer Rabbit and Barer Fox and a Blackberry Patch high up on the mountain. It was the harder of the two, but it too was successful. Of the two I’m most proud to be called “ Dr. of Berry Picking.”

And so now ya know why it’s more fun to talk ‘bout when I was a kid at Tiptop or Toto, when ya just picked ‘em and ate ‘em.

Stay Safe In Afghanistan and Iraq

From the East Wing, May and November, Bentley and the East Wing, Blackberry Picking and PhD’s

I wish you well,


From the East Wing, STill Pulling Thread, Sophia Saves The World, My Farm Women, Gulf Oil Claims & USDA, Goodnight David, Goodnight Chet

Greeting to all and welcome to my new friends to the East Wing

So ya wanta still talk ‘bout time travel and that needle pulling thread stuff. I’m kinda surprised at how many people have asked how in the world I ever come up with a needle pulling thread. I’d love to say it’s BobbyRay’s own stuff, but IT’S NOT! It’s just part my stuff, Wish it was all, it’s not, just part, it’s the pulling thread thru time and space, that part, that’s mine, the rest, I just kinda hooked ‘em all together. Hooked ‘em together with a needle pulling thread thru time and space.

It’s a little hillbilly kid rhyme, that inspired me ‘bout the needle pulling thread. ‘Course everybody knows ‘bout that “ring around the roses” thing. Bet ya even done it a few times, everybody has done it a few times, and ya all fell down. When I’s a kid in downtown Toto, we done “ring round the roses a lot, but only when we played with the girls, ‘cause that ring round the roses is girl stuff, not boy stuff. The Toto boy stuff was the Army.

Do ya know the “ring ‘round the roses” originated with the Black Plague, yeah, the same plague that took the lives of a majority of the people alive in Europe at the time. Some estimates are as high as 75 million people died within 4 years ‘cross Europe, from 1347 to 1351, maybe as much as 60% of the European population. And we think we got it tuff now, Shew!. Bubonic plague killed a lot, and continues to do so to this very day, just not so many at a time. The plague is still deadly when it breaks out amongst the people.

That “achu, achu we all fall down” part, that was a description of a cough which developed shortly before a person died from the plague. And they all fell down, fell down dead. It was thought that roses would protect one from the plague. Roses did not. And so they still all fell down.

That Bubonic Plague organism was a deadly pandemic transmitted by fleas using the body of rats as the intermediate host needed to be able to jump into the human population. Control the rats, and the plague is brought under control.

Now here enters into this story, the cats. Cats that do control rat populations. Cats that are immune to the plague organism. Cats that are deadly to the rat population and when ya have no rats, no ya have no rat fleas, and when ya have no rat fleas, ya have no Black Plague. Hero Cats. Some say saviors of the world.

And so it was meant to be, to this very day, it’s just part of the reason Sophia The Republican Cat walks with swagger. It’s hard not to walk with swagger when you’re from a species of animal that saved the human race. As the cat struts her stuff handed down from past generations to many to count, we, me and the 2girldos along with the Bentley, we just set back and enjoy the show and watch the cat do her thing. It’s a cat walk. A step in time. Bare in mind there was a time in ancient Egypt when cats were revered as Gods. Sophia knows of such times and she so enjoys demonstrating her version of that ancient Egyptian Cat Walk of The Gods.

A hillbilly kid rhyme, a kid game, “The needles eye that does supply the thread that run so true, I subbed my toe and down I go because I wanted you”. It was from that needles eye that does supple…, that the needle pulling thread thru time and space idea come to me.

Worm holes, I didn’t make ‘em up. Just applied ‘em to the Prophet Ezekiel, and tied ‘’em together with a needle pulling thread to the needle’s eye that does supply the tread that runs so true. It worked for me and ya know what, I bet it worked for you too. That needles eye that does supply, that’s got a worm hole at the end of the thread. A needle pulling thread thru time. A worm hole in time..

Did I tell ya ‘bout my “farm women” Angela and Jaimie, let me tell ya ‘bout my girls. My two beautiful girls. Having spent my childhood in the presence of all girls in my family, I love girls. Having one girl and two boys in my family, I love girls and boys.

My daughter and my daughter in-law have decided to become “farm women”. I love ‘em so. And as such, I consented to having a sizable portion of my west lawn converted into a garden space. A garden space to be “farmed” by the Farm Women of the Howard Family, My Jamie and Angela.

And so the lawn was turned form sod to garden by the magic of a power take off from a John Deere Tractor and gasoline. A garden spot happened within 10 minutes where lawn used to be. Soft dirt that would fall thru your finger tips. A garden spot. A garden for my two beautiful girls to do their Farm Women Stuff.

A few days ago, while buying food for the 2girldogs and the Bentley, I noticed the Feed Barn in North Judson also sold garden fertilizer, and so I bought 100 lbs of 12-12-12 fertilizer, for the Farm Women.

That 12-12-12 fertilizer will help ‘em along the way. It just makes garden stuff grow better. I don’t even know what 12-12-12 means, but I do know it makes garden stuff grow better. My dad used that 12-12-12 fertilizer when we planted gardens in Toto, back in the day. It worked then, and so it’ll work today, ‘cause good garden stuff don’t change. Ya just grow better stuff when ya use 12-12-12 fertilizer.

The planting schedule of The Farm Women called for placing seed into soil on Good Friday. But Good Friday broke cold and raining, the potato planting was put on hold, and the planting schedule had to be adjusted accordingly. Don’t know if ya know ‘bout planting potatoes on Good Friday’s being a hillbilly thing or not, but It’s so stated in the Official Hillbilly Handbook. We’ll have to talk ‘bout that Official Hillbilly Handbook someday. I even wrote some of it. It’ll be worth the visit, when we don’t have anything else to do anyway.

As the world turns green outside the East Wing Windows, magic is everywhere ya look. Tree leaves the size of quarters. Some destined to become the size of small plates. Mighty natural factories, those little quarter size leaves, working full force even at their little size.

I think the current administration in Washington is counting the trees growing new leaves when the new job count is released. Sure seems like rosy numbers coming out of Washington. Ya know they do have an awfully lot of Cherry Trees In Washington D.C. and they’re all getting new leaves right ‘bout now. Can’t help but wonder if they count the blossoms too.

The other day I was amazed to hear the President say he was appointing yet another commission to investigate the high price of gasoline. DUH!! Why don’t ya investigate the high price of crude oil. Have ya noticed how this President has an uncanny ability to always find someone to blame for everything.

G W Bush, well he’s to blame for damn near everything bad on earth for the last 50 years. Ya know the pothole on your road, yeah, that one out there by your house, well, that’s Bush’s fault too. As is those weeds that grow in your lawn. And if ya noticed that you’re getting a little too heavy, that’s Bush too. And if your wife has recently ran off with the mail man, well his last name was most likely Bush.

Greedy big oil companies. Greedy automobile manufactures. Greedy doctors and hospitals, and heaven help those greedy insurance companies, and those nasty bankers, why we should preach ‘em all into hell. Why it seems it’s just not American any more to make a profit.

But ya can’t help but wonder if the bureaucratic processes that were put in place during this last year after the BP disaster in the Gulf needs to share in the blame for the current price of crude oil. Bet ya didn’t know that only half of the drilling rigs in the Gulf are now still drilling for oil. That no new wells have been drilled since the BP accident. And some 13% less oil is being produced from the Gulf than before the accident. And that not a single thing has been done to improve upon the safety of offshore oil drilling except one thing, stop offshore drilling for oil.

Bet ya didn’t know that a year after the big deal ‘bout the President holding the BP foot to the fire, so to speak, the twenty billion dollars the President demanded BP come up with and “set aside” to make sure they would pay for the oil mess. After the big deal ‘bout appointing a commissioner to handle the process and make sure the “little people” were taken care of in this whole oily mess, did ya know that only a small fraction of all the claims filed have been paid?

A small amount (less than 10%) have been rejected outright as attempt at fraud. Claims such as one from a New York City restaurant that claimed lost sales from the lack of Gulf Shrimp available for sale. It was rejected as a fraudulent claim. The vast amount of the claims have a status of “pending”. No time frame has ever been established on the amount of time a claim can be “pending”. And so they remain legitimate claims of damage from the oil, with funds available for payment, pending, forever pending. Maybe someone’s hoping they’ll just go away. Or stay forever “pending”. I wonder if BP will make any political contributions in this upcoming presidential election…. We’ll see.

Did Ya know that during the same time period as the BP Oil Disaster, when the democrats controlled Washington, both the House and Senate as well as the White House, they voted to settle an issue of racial discrimination claim in the United States Farm Management Department, the USDA. Now at the USDA, their current records showed less than 20,00 black farmers in the United States, which would become a party to any such settlement.

Some 75,000 claims were filed and paid without question within three months. Not a single claim was rejected from that lot, not a single one as being suspicious or fraudulent. Some of those claims had addresses in Chicago and Detroit as well as New York City, yet not a single claim was placed on a “pending” status. And those are just some of the little things that no longer make the evening news. When Sophia read of the USDA settlement, she wondered out loud, she wondered if LeRoy Brown was a farmer. She used to be his neighbor ya know, there on the Southside of Chicago, it all farm country.

Don’t ya sometimes miss that “Goodnight Chet” “Goodnight David”. Or even “ And That’s the Way It Is”.

There was a time, not too long ago, when we could really get unbiased news reporting. Seems today news has become a vehicle for political statements. Depending on your point of view, ya either love or hate FoxNews, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC. And they all just spin their webs to entice ya into seeing things their way. Their way is the only way, or so they want ya to believe.

When ya think ‘bout stuff like this, It’s good to always remember that life may not be the party ya hoped for, but while you’re here, ya might as well dance. And for those who remember ‘em, sock hops were always free.

Stay safe in Afghanistan and Iraq


When Mama Became An Angel

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing,

Seems I’ve read somewhere something ‘bout “there’s a time to live and a time to die”. During the last 16 months seems I’ve visited that time to die part way too often. The year 2010 brought death to both my oldest sister, Sister Thelma, and by youngest brother-in-law, Brother Ed Lopez. 2011 is not yet 5 months old and twice again the Death Angel walks across the Family of Howard. First my youngest sister, Sister Kay, and just yesterday, Mama. My Mama became an Angel of God.

You’d think with the kinda work I’ve done in the past, death wouldn’t have an effect on me. Some of my East Wing friends who just happen to have known me for a long time may find it puzzling that I would react as such. All I can say to ya is “it’s different when it’s your Mama.

My oldest Sister Thelma, what a pleasure she was in my life. I loved her so. Some folks’ would call us, Thelma and me, half brothers and half sisters. We weren’t. We were brother and sister, ‘cause in this Family of Howard we don’t have half anything, ya either are or not. It’s kinda like Yoda when he said “do or don’t do, never try”. Me and Sister Thelma, we didn’t try. We were. Me and my Sister Thelma, we are brother and sister forever. I miss my Big Sister Thelma. I miss Thelma’s husband, my Brother-In-Law Arthur, a lot.

And ya already know ‘bout my Brother-In-Law, Ed, Ed Lopez, and what I’ve already said ‘bout Ed. My big brother Ed. I loved so much being Ed’s little snot nose brother, BobbyRay.

What’s so neat ‘bout being a little snot nose brother, is ya can be stupid and not be embarrassed. Me and Ed played so well together. Ed taught me most all I know ‘bout computers, and I know a bite and a bit. I didn’t teach Ed too much, but he didn’t care ‘cause Ed loved me and I loved him, and we played well together, me and Ed. But I did teach Ed some stuff, hillbilly stuff.

Ed got me a computerized telescope for Christmas one time and we stargazed a lot, me and Ed. Me by my computer driven telescope relaying what I’m looking at by internet to Ed’s computer. He in turn looks at the same location using Google Sky. And the damnnest thing, Ed sees a better view of that little dot in the night sky than I do. ‘Cause Ed’s looking at a photograph taken by the Hubble Telescope and I’m looking real time on the north deck of the East Wing, freezing my buns off with a telescope maybe 1/1000 as powerful as the Hubble telescope.

Once we locked onto the same little dot in the sky, now I’m not gona bore ya with that technical stuff that Ed and I used to make sure we’re looking at the same spot, we just knew how to hook up on that dot I the sky. Then Ed, ‘cause he’s got a better view from the Hubble than I have from my scope, Ed starts telling me what to look for in my scope. DUH! Ed sees it way better than me, he’s seeing thing my scope can’t see, and Ed laughs at me for not “focusing in”. Ed and me, we just played good together, be it telescopes or computers, we played good together, me and Ed. I miss Ed a lot.

It was early this year that my youngest sister, My Sister Kay, passed away. I so loved my Sister Key, the baby of my family. My nephews and niece from my Sister Kay’s family are so special to me, why Johnny and I even drove all the way to Utah just to see one of ‘em get married. Just for nephew Kevin we went to Utah, Johnny and me. I so loved my Sister Kay, and my niece and nephews of my Sister Kay. Kevin, Ken, and Karen, I love ‘em so.

It was on a bright sunlit spring morning, that last morning of April, before the first morning of May, when the Angel in Heavens increased by one, as my Mama accepted a new job. She’s an Angel in waiting ya know, so the next time ya hear a bell……………..

Always remember, every time ya hear a bell, just always remember, a new Angel has just gotten her wings. And so Mama went to Heaven on the wings of a Snow White Dove. And Mama got her wings early on the first day home. A full fledged Angel in paradise, my Mama. That pretty little Red Haired Angel Girl, my Angel Mama.

Stay safe in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From The East Wing, When Mama Became An Angel

I wish you well,


From the East Wing, Sophia & Wisconsin, Cowboys Don’t Do Email, Sophia’s Birth Certificate & LeRoy Brown, Trump & QUARR HAIR, Chicken Lamps, A World Outside The East Wing, Japan Still Suffering

Greeting to all and welcome to my new friends to the East Wing.Seems that no matter what I say ‘bout anything or anybody, someone gona take exception to what I say ‘bout something or somebody.  And it’s that simple fact that drives me to tell ya the stories, to say the things that make ya think. To make ya challenge me in what I say and think, and what I make ya look at on your computer screen. We’re becoming isolated people ya know, just you and that screen, with people like me sneaking in only once in a while and saying boo! And making ya think, ‘bout many things.

Talk ‘bout thinking, guess it’s time I  talked ‘bout some of the emails from the last several weeks that  made me think…..  Not getting real specific here but many of the emails tend to have a similar content.  Such as “what does Sophia the Republican Cat think ‘bout the new Wisconsin Labor Law?”    When Sophia read those emails, she smiled. And we all know what that cat smile means. She said  “WE WON! YOU LOST”. Damn Republican Cats can sometimes be so harsh. It’s their nature to be harsh, ya know.

I continue to get emails ‘bout my in-house chickens. FORGET ABOUT IT!! We’re talking ceramic chickens here. Ya wanta come and count my ceramic chickens, ya’ll need to know ‘bout  the Bentley. I might’ve forgotten to tell ya,  the Bentley is an 80lb Pit Bull. The Bentley rules. The She’s little house dog, the Bentley.

And still  questions ‘bout Ezekiel. Read The Bible! I’m not gona talk to ya any more ‘bout that story.  When I talk ‘bout the Bible again, it’ll be a different story. From here on out you’re on your own with Ezekiel. It’s just you and the good book from here on out.  If ay didn’t read it yet, I hope ya do in the future.  It may change the way ya think ‘bout stuff, a lot of stuff in your life.

Needles pulling thread sure got some conversations  going. And yes I know worm holes are not a proven  scientific fact, and yes they are theory, not fact.  But keep in mind that theory is  a belief yet to be proven by scientific fact and also it has not been disproven by scientific fact. But can ya just see a needle pulling thread through time? Sure ya can. I can any time I want to.

All ya gota do is take a threaded needle, hold it in your out stretched left hand to the left of your body, now take hold of the needle with your right hand and while still holding onto the thread with your left hand, move the needle as far to the right as your arm  can go. And so it happened, right before your own eyes, a needle pulling thread thru time. Did ya by chance see any such things as described by the Prophet Ezekiel?  Maybe your worm hole was too small, Maybe ya just needed a bigger needle. Either way, ya just pulled a needle and  thread thru time and space.  And ya might’ve just made a worm hole.

Now it don’t say in the Bible how big a needle Ezekiel had.  But that’s just  another example of the Bible not telling ya every minuscule detail on everything that happened. It  wasn’t like Ezekiel had instant replay.

Why don’t ya talk more ‘bout Toto or Tiptop and when you were young?  When I talk ‘bout Toto or Tiptop, I’m  forever young. So I talk ‘bout ‘em only when it’s their time. Ya tell good stories as they bound along the back roads of your memories, not as ya want to squeeze  ‘em out.  When ya squeeze ‘em out they don’t work right. Those Toto and Tiptop memories, they just don’t squeeze out right. Stories gota  saunter up that thread of the needle  into the warm glow part of your memory before ya can tell ‘em right, at least the good ones gota do that. The bad ones, ya can tell ‘em any time ya want, it don’t matter, ‘cause they’re still bad stories.  Done right, that’s why good stories glow.

For those folks who want the email address of the Cowboy. FORGET ABOUT IT, the Cowboy doesn’t want to be a part of facebook or email or any other thing that has to do with instant communication with other people. If the Cowboy wants to talk to ya, he’ll find ya.  He can do that, he’s a man tracker ya know.  The Cowboy gave his email address only to you know who….. The Cowboy doesn’t want to feel obligated to respond to  email, so he don’t communicate by email very much.  But the Cowboy does answer Sophia’s   Emails. Now why don’t that surprise me? Ya gota keep in mind, anybody that’ll come from west Texas to the East Wing to just see a cat.  Well, there ya go.

 I suspected all along the  Cowboy was a Tea Party Republican. Sophia knew right up. She just knew, those Tea Party people, they all know each other, all the time. I think they can even smell  each other.  

What ever happened to Randolph Scott, riding the trail alone? Tea Party People!!! UGGH! Is this the new face of the conservative party in our country? Sara Palin, Pretty Face, Pretty Fluff. Tea Party, pretty tuff , real tuff. Dame Republican Cat. Damn Tea Party People.  But with huge growing numbers every day. It makes the traditional republican party scared. It makes the democrats even more scared.

How’s that $4.00 a gallon gas treating ya? Sure sucks for me. With our family clothing drive going so well, Johnny and I are planning another trip to Prestonsburg soon and the gas price is one of the things that gets your attention when ya start talking ‘bout driving a 1,000 miles going  to Prestonsburg and back. But whatever it takes, it takes.  ‘Cause the  project’s that important.

Did ya hear ‘bout the President’s solution to the high gas price. When asked his opinion on the high price of gas, he simply stated “get a smaller car”.

  No wonder we elected this fellow President. With an intellect at that level, I bet the College of Cardinals will select him to be Pope the next time that job opens up. There’s no question on his qualification to be Pope, ‘cause he’s already got the Nobel Peace Prize and has community organized on the south side of Chicago. And we all know what a peaceful bunch of Catholics live on the south side of Chicago.

Ya ever been on the south side of Chicago? I don’t mean on the Outer Drive or the Dan Ryan, but the part between those two main roads.  WOW !!! The stomping grounds of LeRoy Brown. On the south side ya walk with swagger or ya walk with fear.

That’s Sophia’s home turf, ya know, there on the south side of Chicago. Now how a Calico Republican Cat can be born on the south side of Chicago, it’s a mystery to me, but it happened. And so she is, and she’s got papers to prove it.

Much like the President, Sophia has her official certificate of live birth.  And also much like the President, Sophia has not yet produced an official  birth certificate from a State Health Department, but does have  a certificate of live birth. 

When asked ‘bout this matter, Sophia said “certificate of live births are $4.95 on EBay, ya fill in the blanks”. I guess it’s worth $4.95 to Sophia to have a certificate of live birth and be able to show she’s born in the United States, right there on the south side of Chicago, right next door to LeRoy Brown.

Now for those of you who’ve had the pleasure of meeting Sophia in person, you know that she does walk with swagger, swagger at least equal to the best of ‘em on the south side.  And when the cat struts her stuff, even the 2girldogs enjoy the show. It’s hard to out swagger a  Southside Calico Republican Cat.

Would you vote for Donald Trump as President? Don’t know as I would. But he sure  is hitting all the right notes that turn on the harts and minds of many people.  Donald Trump just stands there in front of the TV  cameras and says things that many normal, average people want it to be said in public. Donald Trump says those things. He says ‘em in such a way that many can relate to this message.

Donald Trump says things like China’s kicking our butts and we’re letting ‘em do it. And says “why in the world would an American President go all around the world aphorizing for the actions of the United States and bowing before  Arabs in the desert sands simply because they have the oil we so need”.

Trump also says things that connect so well with the average American when he says  things like “why don’t we drill for oil in our own country and not depend on people who hate our guts and want to kill us all”.

Donald Trump may or may not be a factor in the 2012 election. But for the moment, he’s right in there. And now I’m gona lay a really old hillbilly word on ya….. No matter what ya think ‘bout Donald Trump, ya gota agree, he’s got “QUARE” hair. Sure hope ya can pronounce that one correct, ‘cause it’s old school English. And I really mean old school. That hillbilly word came from Lou, the Grandmother Lou, The Queen of South Fork, and when Lou said ya’re QUARE,  ya were QUARE.

Old English is still spoken in the high mountains of southeastern Kentucky, maybe that’s part of the reason why I love the mountains so. Or maybe it’s just ‘cause I’m quare. In any case, some are QUARE and some are not QUARE. And only a select few can tell the difference. I’m glad I can tell who’s QUARE.

I’m so glad that we’ve collected enough clothing to justify another trip to Prestonsburg. Am looking forward  to when we go. And when we do, you’ll know. “Cause one of the things I love to do is tell the story as Johnny drives the trip.  I do ‘em live ya know, even if ya get don’t see the story till the next Sunday, I tell the story as we go along the way.

 It’s better like that, more fresh in my memory. I just say it  as I see it, and then ya can see it as  I say it along the way. I love telling the story as it unfolds before my eyes. Of all the stories I’ve ever told, the ones I’ve  enjoyed most are the ones I tell while Johnny’s driving and I’m seeing the story coming at me.

When Johnny drives and I’m looking out the front window, the world’s forever changing in front of me and I’m talking ‘bout it.  I don’t know who has the most fun when Johnny and I travel , Johnny or me.  I think it’s a tie. We just travel good together, Johnny and me. And there’s always another Cracker Barrel in front of us out there on the interstate, but that’s another story altogether, those Cracker Barrels.

That’s  where most of my chickens came from ya know. The chickens of the East Wing, mostly came from Cracker Barrel Visits along the way. Some are big and some are small, and some are standing two foot tall, and all set apart to be the chickens of the East Wing.

 Did I tell ya ‘bout the latest edition to the East Wing Chickens? The Chicken Lamp. It was added to the East Wing collection  the last time Johnny and I went to Prestonsburg. The Chicken Lamp is now the light source by which I tell the stories from the East Wing. It’s not the largest chicken in the flock, but it’s the brightest.

Sophia has developed a fondness for the chicken lamp.  The bottom of the lampshade is just the right height for Sophia to stretch and rub the top of her head. The shade is the type that sets on free standing post and as such when Sophia rubs against the shade it turns with her weight pressed against it. And when Sophia is on the table, which is often, the shade is in motion.

Did ya ever notice that it seems those of us who’ve never been anywhere else in the world except America, are the ones who complain the most and the loudest ‘bout America.  Shame on us.

If nothing else, my ramblings from the East Wing have introduced me to a different world. A world outside the Untied Stated. A world where life is unimaginable by American standards. Yet it is.  And so those people, friends of mine, endure. They endure a lifestyle that I question if we as Americans could handle.

The emails I’m starting to get from Japan makes ya wanta cry. Such hardships that are unfolding for those people of Japan. But for the grace of God,  there goes I. As I talk to those Japanese who visit the East Wing and can still email, I wonder, I just wonder, could we handle a disaster of that nature in our society.  I wonder. Would we kill for each other for food? For gas? For warmth?  Or would we share what’s available with our brothers and sisters.  Ya gota wonder.

Now these Japanese folks may well have done us dirty at Pearl Harbor. I’ve heard that story way too much in the last few weeks.  Ya gota keep in mind that we paid ‘em back. In Spades!  Now  we may very well  learn a lesson from the Japanese on how to handle a major, major catastrophe.  A life changing event for a whole nation. Maybe a whole world.

Ya pray it never happens in your lifetime, but if it does, ya pray that we as a people have the courage to handle a catastrophe to the extent demonstrated in Japan that time when the ocean walked upon the land.

 Stay safe in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

I wish you well,


From the East Wing, When The Cowboy Came To See The Cat

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.

Made a new friend a while back, a feller from Texas, out toward that West Texas Town of El Paso.  He came to Chicago on family business, sad family business, and decided to see if he could find the East Wing while in this part of the world.

Now I’m just setting in my office one day doing the stuff that I do for a living, things that’ve sustained me and mine for a long time. Nothing exciting ‘bout what I do for a living, just keep track of stuff for other people. And sometimes make suggestions which I think may help somebody along the way. Actually I love what I do for a living so much that if I didn’t have to pay bills like everybody else, I’d do it for free, and some times I even do, do it for free.

So I’m working away one day and my front door opens. Right there with a smile as big as Texas, a white hat, black boots, black paints, a white shirt with little black trim around the edges of everything. A white shirt that would do Roy Rogers proud. That kinda shirt with snaps, not buttons, the snaps with the little mother of pearl inlayed on the top of the snap. The shirt pockets with those  little flaps that come to a point, and those same little snaps, not buttons, even on the pockets of the shirt.  Um, um, what a shirt! There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m truly looking directly into the eyes of a real Cowboy.

He says “you BobbyRay?” I say “I am”. And then he spoke his first cowboy words of the day as he smiled and said “Howdy Do BobbyRay, I came all the way from Texas just to see Sophia The Republican Cat”.

 And I knew right then and there that me and this Cowboy would just get along. He told me his reason to be in Indiana in the cold weather. Of driving to Chicago for a funeral. Taking three days of long hard driving to get to Chicago, and staying a little extra time to visit family before heading back home to Texas.

It was on that drive ‘cross Texas, that long  night drive ‘cross Texas, the Cowboy decided to visit the East Wing in person. Told me there were three reasons he decided to come to Indiana on the way home. The first reason was to just see if he could find me based only on the information he’d remembered receiving from the East Wing.

Turns out the Cowboy is, among other things, a tracker, a man tracker.  He does contract work from time to time with various law enforcement agencies and other organizations through out the country. The Cowboy finds people.  When it’s necessary to find somebody in the vastness of open country, such as west Texas, or an urban environment such as New York City or Chicago, a man tracker is sometimes used, and that’s what this cowboy can do. He can find people, he’s a man tracker. The Cowboy that walked into my office, wearing that cowboy shirt from the movies when I was a kid, he finds people. Both good people and bad people,  he find’s ‘em.

And so it was to be, a man tracker had found BobbyRay.

The Cowboy’s second reason for tracking down the East Wing was to see if Sophia the Republican Cat is real or just a figment of my imagination. And the third reason was to see if the 2girldogs were really just laying ‘round on their couches waiting for handouts.

After ‘bout two minutes talking with the Cowboy, I knew, I just knew, this was a day no work would be done, so with noon still two hours in front of us,  as I shut down the office computers,  I asked the Cowboy how he’d found me.

 He said “It’s not hard to find ya BobbyRay,  ‘cause ya tell everybody where ya live,  even where ya teach Sunday School, ‘cept ya all call it something else, that I don’t remember. Ya told me everything I needed to know to get close to ya, and when I got close to ya, I just started asking the question, and only had to ask the question twice.”

 Then the cowboy said “When I left Chicago this morning ‘bout 8  o’clock or so, I set the GPS  to North Judson Indiana, and when I got into town, stopped at the very first gas station out there on the edge of town, that one that sells hamburgers and stuff along with their gas. Went inside and asked the little lady did she know BobbyRay”. She said  no, she didn’t know any BobbyRay, but she’d ask the other girl doing the stocking today.  When that girl came form the back room the little lady asked  her did she know BobbyRay.  And she smiled and said “from the East Wing?” Well that’s when  I said “BINGO!”  Now that lady even knew where ya’re setting right now. And I just followed her trail right here to your office.

After hearing that story I knew it was gona be a good day, a fun day, and so it was. A day to remember, a day spent in the company of a real Cowboy, a man tracker, a Cowboy from West Texas, out there by El Paso.

  With a proper introduction to Miss Kitty and Little Brother, the Cowboy felt right at home in my office. He said they’ve got bigger cats in Texas, call ‘em bobcats, out there in west Texas. But they sure don’t have thumbs like Miss Kitty. I was surprised how fast Little Brother took up with the Cowboy, ‘course ya gota keep in mind, this was the first real Cowboy Little Brother had ever seen, so the natural curiosity of the Little Brother kicked in.

Miss Kitty as the official greeter of the RHCO Office, was in the Cowboy’s lap almost as soon as he sat down. 

The Cowboy asked the history of Miss Kitty. He said “All God’s Creatures have a story to tell and the best way to know the creature is to hear their story”. And so I told the Cowboy the story of Miss Kitty, how my son, John had found her in the very final throngs of death, how we gave her water, food and warmth, and how she responded by walking into my life. When I’d finished the story of Miss Kitty’s tribulation, the Cowboy said “Ya know, BobbyRay, the story of Miss Kitty  alone, makes my trip to Indiana worth while”

The office was locked for the day and off we road, with the Cowboy trailing Mr. Lincoln, east to the East Wing. The Cowboy was about to get his wish to meet Sophia The Republican Cat and the 2girldogs.  Now the 2girldogs have long since learned the sound Mr. Lincoln well before I pull into the driveway, so even though the 2girldogs are inside the house, by the time I’m in the driveway they’re at the West Wing door waiting to come outside.

As soon as I unlocked the door, out runs the 2girldogs and up to the Cowboy. The Cowboy recognized who was who right up. He said “ Why I believe I could pick these 2girldogs out of a lineup if I had to.  They look just exactly what I expected.” As he bent over to pat Mustina on the head, he even remembered to rub and scratch her hind quarters where the badger attacked her and the scar had healed over. I realized  then  this man tracker pays attention to such minute detail.  He even remembered where to rub and scratch the Pup Baby.

By the time we walked through the house and reached the East Wing, the Pup Baby and the Cowboy were  best of friends. Mustina invited the Cowboy to share her couch, and he accepted the invitation . Sophia on the other hand was a bit more stand offish. In fact she didn’t even look at the Cowboy.

When I sat down, Sophia ran over and jumped up on the back of my chair, and only then turned and looked at the Cowboy, as if to say “I don’t sit with strangers like that Pup Baby does.” But in a little while Sophia was off the chair to check out the Cowboy. Sophia first looked at the boots, I don’t think she’d ever seen real cowboy boots before. ‘Course her circle of friends tends not to wear boots, they tend more toward kat skin, ‘cept her friend Pus, of course, who does wear boots.  Soon Sophia was setting on the knee of the Cowboy allowing him to stroke her fur at will. Sophia  looked at me, as only Sophia can look,  and said “WHAT ????”

The more the Cowboy talked, the more I enjoyed hearing the Cowboy talk. He told me ‘bout west Texas. How dry it was where he lived. How hard it is to make a living in the dry, infertile  land of west Texas. It turns out the Cowboy owns a ranch. A huge ranch by Indiana standards, a small ranch by Texas standers. The Cowboy owns 7,500 acres of land and has access by contract to another 16,00 acres of open range land.

Setting in the East Wing looking south, I told the Cowboy the 40 acres ‘cross the road was my ranch. He was impressed, not so much by the size but rather by the amount of vegetation on my ranch. Said he wished his land was one one  filthiest as productive as mine, then he’d need only a fraction as much to make a living.

It amazed me how Sophia the Republican Cat was sucking up to the Cowboy. It was as if she knew, she just somehow knew the Cowboy was a republican, and not only a republican, but a Tea Party Republican. I didn’t ask the Cowboy ‘bout politics, we didn’t talk ‘bout that stuff. Didn’t want to know that I’d wasted a day with a republican who may have the same political point of view as Sophia. Damn Republican Cat.

He told me ‘bout the times spent on the vast open spaces of west Texas during roundup. ‘Bout using horses as well as helicopters, four wheelers and jeeps to find the cows, and baby cows, and bring ‘em home. He talked ‘bout the story I wrote when Johnny and I went to Utah and how those two stories ‘bout our trip out west got him to thinking that he could track me down.

How the events in his life required him to travel to Chicago in the winter time, how he’d never been to Chicago, and how he hoped to never need to return to Chicago again. The thought crossed my mind that this is not your typical drug store cowboy, this is a real Cowboy, a Cowboy from  West Texas.

His descriptions of the open range were most fascinating when he asked me if I’d ever been 50 miles away from everything in my life. I hadn’t. “Ya can do that in west Texas, be 50 miles from everything”, so says the Cowboy. Said his closest neighbor is 23 miles from his front door. I pointed east and said, “ my closest neighbor”. The Cowboy smiled, he could see the house several hundred yards away.

Stories were told that day by both me and the Cowboy. Stories ‘bout my childhood, Weeksbury, Southfork, Tiptop, Toto, California Township School, North Judson Blue Jays, Elkhart University, Medical Laboratories, Forensic Autopsies, The Ohio State University, Hospital Administration, Buying a Paint Factory, RHCO INC., the East Wing, and  ‘bout telling stories.

 While the cowboy talked ‘bout being born west of the Pacos River, going to school in 100 ° heat as a routine part of the day, learning to rope and learning to ride before he went to school, of being a cowboy, of knowing how to tie knots with one hand, of time spent on the open range, of having a hose as his best friend. Spending time with just him and God and his best friend under the west Texas stars, of not being afraid of the dark. Being  50 miles away from anybody. Of having time to think of many things. Of seeing more stars in one night out there in west Texas, than most city people will ever see in a lifetime. Of talking directly to God.

The one thing I enjoyed most from my time spent with the Cowboy was his descriptions of time spent out on the open range and how ya have so much time to think. To just plain think ‘bout anything and everything, and how that affects your outlook on life.

The Cowboy shared with me some of the stuff he’d spent time thinking ‘bout, out there under the stars in west Texas, on those 16,000 acres looking for the cows.(keep in mind that one square mile is 640 acres) Such things as  “It is what ya know and not who ya know that really makes a difference in your life.” “ There’s no such thing as trying, ya do or don’t” “ Winning and losing are the same thing, just a different point of view.” “ Most all the angels and saints in haven at one time on another wanted to be cowboys, but they just never got a horse”. “Cowboy hats looks dumb on anybody that’s not a cowboy.”

The Cowboy was a treasure trove of wisdom with such sayings as “don’t squat with your spurs on”. And “if ya want to have a really good day, just ride your horse in the direction he’s already going.”

Of all the things the Cowboy said, the one I love the most was “If ya think you’re important in this world, and ya have influence over other people’s lives, just try bossing their dog around for a little while.”

Only a man who’s spent time in deep thought could’ve possibly harbored such ideas as,  “after all is said and done, there’re only two type of people in this world, those who can be ruled, and those who’ll allow others to govern. And ya gota choose one or the other, ‘cause ya just can’t get on both sides of that rope”.

The days end came much too soon for me and the Cowboy. So me and the Pup Baby, walked the Cowboy to his pickup truck. And I didn’t even tell ya ‘bout that Cowboy’s pickup truck. What a truck, WOW !  We said our goodbyes as the Cowboy climbed on board his transport.

Then as the Cowboy programed the GPS to take ‘em back home to Texas. We, the Pup Baby and me, with the Gray   Lady  now at our side,  we  watched and waved when the Cowboy drove from the East Wing, turned his pickup truck west, and road off into the sunset.

Stay safe in Afghanistan and Iraq.

From the East Wing, When The Cowboy Came To See The Cat
I wish you well,


From the East Wing, , Good Doctors & Bad Doctors. Still Talking ‘Bout Ezekiel, Old School NASA, A Needle Still Pulling Thread, Red Buds In Bloom, Bologna Sandwiches From Wal-Marts Of The Mountains

      Date Size
Greetings to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.Sure didn’t take long to get emails  ‘bout Ezekiel and the UFO. WOW! Seems I caught the eyes of the Trekkies. Now if ya don’t know ‘bout the Trekkies, they’re the folks who’ll go to the ends of the earth, it seems, to do Star Trek stuff. I even read of a fellow who had surgery on his ears to make them pointed, A La Dr. Spock.And that bothered me, knowing that there was a doctor out there who’d do human mutation just for money, and there’s somebody stupid enough to pay for it. That’s why some of those Plastic Surgeon guys are kinda shunned by the rest of the medical world.  Physicians not practicing medicine, but doing bad stuff to human bodies just for the money. I don’t like that.  And the real physicians in this world don’t care much for it either.

I’ve been associated with a lot of doctors along the way.  Both at the professional level as well as at the  social level. Most physicians I know are of the highest level of professionalism, just good people to know, them docs.  Did ya notice I said “most”. Just like any other group of people, most are good, while a few are not so good, and a few are real crap, I mean a real piece of work that needs be flushed down a toilet.

Right here in Starke County Indiana we have what I consider to be a typical mix of doctors  among us. Some are physicians who both live and practice the Hippocratic Oath. Some consider themselves more way more skilled in the art of medicine than they really are, and some are crooks who’ll do what ever it takes to make a buck. There’s a couple of doctors in the county I consider to be special friends of mine.  And then there’s the dark side of the doctor business also right here in Starke County.

A few years ago while I was taking to a client in my office in order to collect the information needed to file an income tax return. I became aware, during the normal course of the conversation, that the person I was talking to didn’t fit the normal mold of my client model.  Ya see, this client made a living walking into the gray side of society.  He did nothing what so ever that was illegal. He made his living by selling information. The information he sold was simply a single sheet of paper.  He sold these sheets at $500.00 per sheet. Now don’t laugh here, ‘cause this fellow makes more money me and you combined in  any give year. And he’s still in business and unlike the rest of the economy, his business is growing.

He had several different sheets and they each had the same price tag, $500.00. Ya just picked the one that would be the best fit for your own business plan. Like I said this fellow just sold information. There was not a single word on any sheet that was illegal to speak or transfer from party to party in any format.  The man sold public information only.

What was so unique ‘bout those sheets of paper were their contents. They contained the specific  symptoms of medical conditions which would cause the doctor to prescribe the drug you were wanting to get your hands on, solely for it’s street value.  This sheet of paper, this $500.00  business investment came with a money back guarantee.  The sheet even came with a listing of physician names and telephone numbers to call for an appointment. It was with only those physician on the list that the money back guarantee applied.

I didn’t have any lengthily conversation with the guy selling the $500.00 sheets of paper, ‘bout that business, but it’s an interesting concept, and it works.  What was most interesting to me was the money back guarantee with names and phone numbers attached. I didn’t see a single name on the list that I didn’t recognize. And some I recognized all too well, all too well for the public good.

There was once a physician employed by Starke County Government  as the Starke County Jail Doctor. During that tenure, Starke County Government paid some $12,000.00 annually for prescription narcotics for inmates at the Starke County Jail. $12,000.00 of narcotics flowing into the county jai. This  practice went  unabated for years. Totally unabated for years.  After a change in Jail physicians,  the first year pharmacy cost to Starke County Government was below $1,500.00 and  continued to stay in that range to this day.

A former jail physician was on a list I saw. And so it turns out that doctors are just like everybody else, some are noble,  some are good and some are not so good and some are crap.  And the most amazing thing ‘bout our society is our ability to separate the noble from the crap.   All bad people get their dues sooner or later.  Sometimes later than ya may want, but dues never the less.

 But back to the Trekkies. They assaulted me in mass via the email system.  Now mind you their assault was not in disagreement to what I’d said, quite the other way , they were in total and full support of what I’d said. The Trekkies wanted to thank me for joining their ranks. I didn’t join their ranks. I just told a bible story. I didn’t make up that Ezekiel thing, just told the story.

They even wanted to make my dad an honorary member posthumously for his thoughts on “Gods other people”. My dad was a Baptist Preacher, not a Trekkie, and I believe he’s already in Heaven, and already talks face to face  with God every day, so  I turned ‘em down. My dad don’t need to be a Trekkie, ‘cause he’s doing ok where he’s at. Him and God and all.

 It’s all in the bible and I’m amazed at how many people read Ezekiel, then told me that they’d read the story. Knowing the number of people who visit the East Wing on a given Sunday, and using average response to survey data as a guide, those who read the space ship story in the Old Testament, the Book of Ezekiel, that number’s high. I’m glad.

 Even had some emails  that said “I’m gona read the rest of the story”. I’m even gladder. The rest of the story’s better than the Book of Ezekiel. Can ya just see  those folks when they get to that walking on water part in the new testament. I didn’t even tell ‘em ‘bout that. Or that wine making at the party. That’ll get some attention out of everybody who reads it. Especially party goers.

When I said I expected to hear from NASA ‘bout the Ezekiel story, I didn’t expect so soon or so much. WOW!  Yes the folks at NASA have hear ‘bout Ezekiel that’s for sure. Mostly it’s the former employees of NASA who’re willing to talk ‘bout the older stuff there. Kinda back in the day sorta stuff. Back when NASA was young. 

One retired engineer from NASA said “It was time in my life when I was so excited that I could hardly sleep, just thinking that I was being paid to dream of what could be.” NASA,  the original Dream Factory, that put those men on the moon. Two former employees in particular were a wealth of information on how NASA viewed The Prophet Ezekiel in it’s  very early days of existence.  They viewed it as possibly a model of things to come. Maybe even a roadmap to the stars.

 They even went as far as engineering up that thing described by Ezekiel, just to see if it had  any of the aerodynamic qualities that would allow it to fly. It had ‘em all. Based solely on Ezekiel’s description of something he wasn’t prepared to describe, NASA engineers created a vehicle and deemed it worthy of space travel.

NASA never called a news conference to announced that they had scientific support for the Prophet Ezekiel and what he saw in the sky a long, long time ago. No they didn’t do that. Even though there was a segment within NASA that wanted to take these findings public, they didn’t do that,  ‘cause it was thought  too religious to have the government provide scientific support for an old Hebrew Prophet of the Old Testament.

 Did ya ever think  Ezekiel happened upon a worm hole? Perhaps he did. Ya know ‘bout worm holes?  They’re thought to be ways to time travel from one time into another.  Remember that needle pulling thread thing we talked ‘bout a while back? Ya gota remember that every needle, as it goes forward produces a hole, maybe in fabric and maybe in time, and so maybe that needle pulling the thread of time, does make a hole, a hole in time. Then, from time to time, someone or maybe something steps thru that hole, the hole the needle made, and steps into our lives, into our time.

Should that have happened to Ezekiel, he described what he saw. A needle pulling thread made a hole in time, a worm hole, and something stepped into the time of Ezekiel . A step in time. A step thru time. A needle just pulled the thread of time . NASA backed it up with scientific research, then thought it too religious  to publish.  I’m glad  NASA wasn’t in charge of making the call on the Gutenberg Bible, else we’d be reading from clay tablets and dead sea scrolls to this day.

At the start of April I enter into the hardest two weeks of my work year. As a tax preparer, the last two weeks of the tax filing season are the most difficult.  Everybody coming thru the door has a problem and have know ‘bout it for a long time.  Just hopping it’ll go away. It didn’t go away this year and it never goes away any year….. So  then it turns into  “let’s deal with the problem and get it over with”.

And so they show up the last two weeks of tax filing, every year. And I love ‘em all! It’s stuff like that, that keeps me forever young and makes me want to go to work, even when some of me wants to sleep a little longer, or at least lay in bed a while longer. This time of the year, I go to work early, real early.  But come April 19th I’ll sleep in. All the way to 6:30 AM, maybe even 6:45.

As most all of you are aware, my family and I do an on going clothing drive for a clothing bank in Prestonsburg KY. High up in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky, right there next to Jenny Wiley State Park, stuck on the side of the mountain is Saint Martha Catholic Church. At St. Martha Catholic Church there’s a place called Martha’s Porch. And it is to Martha’s Porch that we bring our offerings.

My son Johnny and I were just to Martha’s Porch a few weeks ago and I’m so thrilled that already we’ve  collected more clothing than what we took the last trip. Now  it appears that it’s once again off to see the mountains. My Kentucky.

I hope the Red Buds are still in bloom when we go this time. Now if ya’ve not seen the Red Buds in bloom on the Kentucky Mountainsides, then you’ve missed a lot in life, I’m telling ya, you’ve missed a lot.  It’s worth the trip to southeastern Kentucky just to see the Red Buds in bloom on the mountains.

Everybody knows ‘bout the fall colors on the mountains. Not as many know ‘bout the spectacular view of the mid winter full moon of February should the bare mountains be covered with snow. And a like number may be aware of how special those mountains appear every spring when God turns on the Red Buds. He flips the switch and lavender color illuminates  half way up the mountains as far as ya can see, and all the while, all around ya, the world’s just turning green. It’s springtime in the Kentucky Mountains.

And no better place to see such beauty of nature than your trip to Prestonsburg.  And if ya wanta stop at St. Martha Catholic Church you’re always welcome. Just tell Father Bob  that BobbyRay sent ya. He’ll know what ya mean, any he’ll welcome ya with open arms.

Now driving, as far as the eye can see,  in Kentucky,  is limited to the next curve. Even on the Big Road, it’s limited to the next curve. “Cause mountain roads don’t go straight, they curve, they curve round the hills. First one side, then the other, but forever curving ‘round the mountains.  They get ya where ya want to go, but not in a straight line, not in the mountains.

 Unlike Interstate 80 where, I believe it was in western Nebraska or  eastern Wyoming, that Johnny and I came upon a 100 mile or so, stretch of road that was so straight I thought the GPS was not working right.  That road was within a foot or two per mile of being dead straight, east to west, north to south. A straight road for a long way.  In Kentucky the straight roads tend to be limited to the Wal-Mart Parking Lots. There’s also flat , those Wal-Mart Parking Lots up there in the mountains. ‘Cause the Wal-Mart folks chop a mountain in half, and build their stores on the flat part. I call ‘em the Wal-Marts of the Mountains. Up there on the flat part. 

Then young teenage girls to into those Wal-Marts of the Mountains and talk on Cell Phones. Talk way, way too  loud, but talk they do, to each other maybe. I don’t know for sure who they talk to,  but talk they do and too loud too. I believe it may be a social statement of some sort from those with more limited resources in the community, saying to the world, look at me, I’m part of society too, ‘cause I’ve got a cell phone.  Wal-Marts of the Mountains, ya gota love ‘em.

Several years ago, I had an occasion to travel to Jackson KY for the wake of my dad’s last surviving brother.  Drove all day, right by myself from North Judson, pretty much non stop. Got to the funeral home. Stayed for ‘bout four hours and started the return trip to Indiana. Having eaten only one meal that day early in the morning, I was hungry but didn’t want to stop to eat. 

And so it happened, I came upon a Wal-Mart of the Mountain, right there at Jackson KY, right there along the way. With a flat parking lot and all.  Went up the hill,  went inside, and bought, from the deli a pound of bologna and a loaf of bread. I ate bologna sandwiches for the next seven hours going home in the dark. 

When I got home, way, way  past midnight, and well into the next day, and told the She what I’d done, well, the She thought I’s crazy, but just a little crazy, not too much crazy. The She was just glad I’s back home, and so was I. It’d been a long  twenty hour day. That trip to Jackson and back. It’d been almost non stop thanks to the bologna sandwiches.

I love Wal-Marts of the Mountains. And Wal-Mart bologna sandwiches from the mountains.

Stay safe in Afghanistan and Iraq.

From the East Wing, , Good Doctors & Bad Doctors. Still Talking ‘Bout Ezekiel, Old School NASA,  A Needle Still Pulling Thread, Red Buds In Bloom, Bologna Sandwiches From Wal-Marts Of The Mountains.

I wish you well,


From_the_East_Wing,_Taking_A_Step_In_Time,_The_Barba ra’s_Of_My_Live,_Eeny-Meeny-Miney-Moe,_And_The_Double-Dog- Dare-Ya

Greeting to all and welcome my new friends to the East Wing.

The other day I was talking to an old friend, in fact, a member of my army. Ya remember the Army of the Toto Volunteers I’m sure. We were friends as kids and have remained so forever. We’re talking ‘bout the “good old days”.

Now I’m not too keen on talking ‘bout the good days, ‘cause I think the best days are today and tomorrow, not yesterday and the day before. But we were talking ‘bout the things we remembered from the past. When the Toto Volunteers reigned supreme, at lest in the eyes of little hillbilly boys in downtown Toto.

So this is for those who visit the East Wing and’ve never seen a black and white television, just try to image, and see if ya can see what I saw a long time ago.

It was a time when all the pretty girls had ugly gym uniforms in gym class at high schools. And they wore tennis shoes, and nobody had even heard of Nike’s. It took three minutes for your TV to warm up before ya saw any picture. Nobody owned a purebred dog. A quarter was a lot of money, and you’d reach into poo for a nickel. Your Mom wore nylons that came in two pieces, one for each leg. Pantyhose was not even a word.

At a gas station ya got your windshield washed, the oil checked, and the gas pumped, without asking, and it was free, every time ya bought gas. And you didn’t even pay for air for the tires. And ya got trading stamps to boot. Bet ya don’t even know ‘bout trading stamps. We’ll talk ‘bout that some other day.

Laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box. It was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner at a real restaurant with your parents.

In public education they threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed… and they did it! Oh how I wish that still prevailed in public education. We’ve dumbed down public education to the point where we now produce high school graduates right here in North Judson who can’t read to the extent of simple understanding of the English Language. I’ve seen it in the normal course of doing business at Robert Howard Company right here in North Judson IN.

Back in the day when a 57 Chevy was everyone’s dream car…to cruise, peel out, lay rubber or watch submarine races, and people went steady. Me and the She went steady, and loved it. I still remember being so much in love with the She that I couldn’t even go to sleep at night, just thinking ‘bout the She. Pretty Italian girl, that She. I’m so glad I married the She. I’m so glad the She choose me.

It was a time when no one ever asked where the car keys were ‘cause they were always in the car, in the ignition, and the doors were never locked. Lying on your back in the grass with your friends and saying things like, ‘That cloud looks like a……

We played baseball, we played with no adults around to enforce the rules of the game. If ya didn’t like the call, ya fought.

All the stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals because no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger.

Now with all our progress, for those who remember like I just did, don’t you just wish, just once, you could slip back in time and savor the slower pace, and share it with the children of today, the slow lane. When being sent to the principal’s office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited ya at home.

There were fears for our lives, back in the day, but it wasn’t because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs, etc. Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat. But yet we survived because their love was much greater than their threat.

And our summers were filled with bike rides, Hula Hoops, and visits to the gravel pit or the Yellow River just north of Toto. Playing marbles and Hop Scotch. We ate Kool-Aid powder with sugar. Put it right on our tongue. Ya had to be really tuff to do Kool-Aid powder straight up, or really stupid. In Toto, we had ‘em both. And they showed.

Now didn’t that feel good, or what? , Just to go back and say, ‘Yeah, I remember that’.

I’m sharing this with you today ‘cause my friend said “I Double Dog Dare ya to write ‘bout this stuff from the East Wing” I’m sure ya remember what a Double Dog Dare is, and if ya don’t just read on… And remember that the perfect age to live in is somewhere between old enough to know better and too young to care. I think that’s where I’m at right now. Me and a special friend of mine, The Barbara of The North.

She’s called “The Barbara of The North” ‘cause as most all you know I’ve also got a sister named Barbara who lives in Roswell GA. So when talking ‘bout the two Barbara’s in my life, and I talk ‘bout ‘em a lot, it’s either Sister Barbara or Barbara of the North. I love ‘em both, and I’m so glad they share my life, my two Barbara’s.

I’m wondering how many of my friends of the East Wing still remember Howdy Doody and The Peanut Gallery, the Lone Ranger, The Shadow Knows, Nellie Bell , Roy and Dale, Trigger and Buttermilk, Champion and Gene Autry, Lash La Rue.

And if ya remember those, how ‘bout these. Candy cigarettes…Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water inside… Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles…Coffee shops with Table Side Jukeboxes…Blackjack, Clove and Teaberry chewing gum…Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers…The milk man, that guy who ran over my dog and then brought me BuckyBoy. Gentle rabbit, BuckyBoy.

Newsreels before the movie…Telephone numbers with a word prefix…( Twin brook 6-5421, the number for the She). Party lines for telephones…Peashooters… Hi-Fi’s & 45 RPM records…78 RPM records…Green Stamps…Mimeograph paper and mimeograph smells…The Fort Apache Play Set… Do You Remember a Time When Decisions were made by going ‘eeny-meeny-miney-moe’? And they were always good decisions.

Wonder if we would all be better off if congress opted for the ‘eeny-meeny-miney-moe’ form of decision making today. It sure wouldn’t hurt, and maybe would be a big improvement on what we got. In fact this decision making process could very well be extended to the state level also. I’m sure the State of Indiana would’ve been much better off had the democrats used this process of decision making in place of following the Mad Hatter from South Bend, dressed up in a costume as a state representative.

With the democrats finally coming back to Indianapolis with the cock and bull story of victory for the cause, while all along at the same time educating the public on the ills of the republican majority currently in charge of things in Indiana Government. And now the Mad Hatter has convinced the minority party we’ve won. Guess we democrats will fall for anything. We fell for the President’s line of change we could believe in.

But where the ‘eeny-meeny-miney-moe’ system of decision making could work best is at the local level of government. Yup, right here in Starke County Indiana. I’m sure ya’ve heard ‘both the push to develop a county administrator in place of much of the county government. Ya know who’s most opposed to this idea? Those in county government and those employed by county government. DUH! That don’t surprise anybody. Seems we’re ripe for ‘eeny-meeny-miney-moe’ government. Ya don’t believe me, just look at the local decision makers here in Starke County Indiana, Larry, Curly and Moe.

Mistakes were corrected by simply exclaiming, ‘Do Over!’ ‘Race issue’ meant arguing about who ran the fastest. Catching The Fireflies Could happily occupy an entire evening. It wasn’t odd to have two or three ‘Best Friends’. Having a Weapon in School meant being caught with a Slingshot. Saturday morning cartoons weren’t 30-minute commercials for action figures.

‘Oly-oly-oxen-free’ made perfect sense to everybody.

Spinning around, getting dizzy, and falling down was cause for giggles. The Worst embarrassment in the world was being picked last for a team. War was a card game. Baseball cards in the spokes transformed any bike into a motorcycle. Taking drugs meant orange flavored chewable aspirin. A time when water balloons were the ultimate weapon.

Thought I’d talk ‘bout this stuff a little bit just so the kids now days at least can have an idea that there was a time before computers and texting. It was a time when ya just went out and played in the sunshine. Ya played with your friends, face to face not by text to text. Ya done things together, and ya had fun doing it.

The thought of nothing to do never crossed your mind, ‘cause there was always something to do. Ya looked forward to waking up and getting outside in the sunshine every morning of the summer. Ya pulled your shoes off the day school was out for the summer, and put ‘em back on the day after Labor Day when school started back up. There was always just one more step in time.

Now ‘bout that Double –Dog-Dare-Ya! That had a special place in the annals of the Army of the Toto Volunteers. We Double-Dog-Dared-Ya a lot. In that Army of the Toto Volunteers.

Ye see this Double-Dog Dare-Ya was the ultimate challenge to lay on to anybody. When ya felt somebody couldn’t do something, or was afraid to do something, like eat a worm, or climb a tree with one hand tied behind their back, or try to ride a bicycle backwards, or YUK!!! Kiss a girl. Ya Double-Dog-Dared-‘em. It was a challenge few if any upstanding members of the Army of the Toto Volunteers walked away from.

Boys were turned into men by the use of the Double-Dog-Dare-Ya Challenge. If not turned into men, at least turned into boys who felt a little better ‘bout themselves after having survived their latest Double-Dog-Dare-Ya. As the General of the Army, I used the Double-Dog-Dare-Ya to build confidence and self worth into my military force.

One time I asked my dad ‘bout Double-Dog-Dare-Ya, and what he thought ‘bout it. I asked him one Sunday evening while we sat on the front porch in the swing. Me and my dad sat on the front porch in the swing every Sunday evening when the weather permitted. We talked man to boy stuff, me and my dad right there on our front porch, sitting in that swing, right there in downtown Toto, most every Sunday evening, when the weather permitted.

When I asked him ‘bout Double-Dog-Dare-Ya, he said “BobbyRay the most important thing to remember is when ya Double-Dog-Dare someone to do something is to make sure you’ve never Double-Dog-Dared somebody to do something that’ll hurt ‘em if they can’t do it.

Then right there on the front porch, in downtown Toto, sitting in the swing, my dad said “BobbyRay I Double-Dog-Dare-Ya to make sure your army never Double-Dog-Dares anybody to do something that’ll hurt themselves.

And so it happened, right there on the porch, right there sitting in our own swing, my dad, a preacher man, had Double-Dog-Dared me to do something with the Army. To protect the lives of the solders, the solders of the Toto Volunteers.

Whata ya gona do? Ya step up to the Double-Dog-Dare-Ya Challenge, and take it on head on. And so the next time the Army of the Toto Volunteers got together, I told the troops that from now on, I, as the General of the Army, would have to approve all Double-Dog-Dare-Yas before they became official.

Now there were a couple kids that didn’t like that too much and wanted to know why the had to get my approval on their Double-Dog-Dare-Yas. I just told ‘em ‘cause my dad had Double-Dog-Dared-me to do so.

Everybody in the Army knew my dad and knew ‘bout him being a preacher and all, so when they found out ‘bout my dad having Double-Dog-Dared me to make sure none of the Volunteers got hurt, well, it was just hard to go against my dad’s Double-Dog-Dare-Ya.

I think everybody in the Army sorta knew that my dad, from time to time, offered me advise on how to run the Army. And so it was with that unspoken fact in mind, that as an Army, we choose not to challenge the higher authority of the Preacher Man in downtown Toto.

A Preacher who’d Double-Dog-Dared the General of the Army of the Toto Volunteers. A Baptist Preacher who’d shepherded the Army along the way. The same Baptist Preacher who left an imprint on the lives of most all of the Army of the Toto Volunteers, including an imprint on the life of BobbyRay. Yup, Double-Dog-Dare-Ya played a big role in the lives of that Toto Army.

Stay safe in Afghanistan and Iraq.

From the East Wing, Taking A Step In Time, The Barbara’s Of My Live, Eeny-Meeny-Miney-Moe, And The Double-Dog-Dare-Ya

I wish you well,


From the East Wing, Waves of Death & Missing Corks, A Chicken House, The Cat Judge Judges Miss Kitty, Heroes Still In The Sand and Mountains, Happy Spring & Rolling Thunder

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.

Just when ya think things can’t get an worse on the world scope, it gets worse, a lot worse. The Middle East is a disaster of man made proportions. We fight and kill to control the worlds supply of oil. It’s damn important, that oil that keeps up moving on up to the East Side.

When the ocean sends the water onto the land, that wave, that giant wave, 23 foot high then came to Japan’s shore line, and things got a lot worse. I’ll never forget for the rest of my life as I sat in the comfort of the East Wing watching a live TV broadcast of the tsunami rolling onto the cost line and over the countryside of Japan. Continuing unimpeded as all man made objects gave way to the water. It was as if for the first time, I’d truly encountered the dark side of the force.

My view was from a news helicopter showing live feed to world television as this freak of nature came into being. Without comment or voiceover the pictures spoke for themselves. There was nothing to say. It was as if ya were watching special effects of a horror movie. Except it was live, it was horror, and it was real. The people who would normally speak on TV as voiceovers in such type broadcasts were speechless, stunned into silence upon witnessing the true power of water.

The earthquake didn’t do the majority of the damage to Japan, it was the water. The earth moved, and the water devastated everything in it’s path. I think somewhere in the Bible there’s a covenant between God and Noah ‘bout no more water, but fire next time. Now I’m paraphrasing here, but ya know what I’m talking ‘bout. It’s the rainbow story.

Now I’m not preaching to ya here, but I’m just telling ya ‘bout the power of nature. Everything else is paled in the presence of the power of nature. And of all of nature’s power, water is number one. More destruction is brought be bear from water than all other forces in nature combined.

Then again when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, it got worse. Nuclear radiation, it has to be one of the most freighting of man made inventions. Just think, we’ve turned loose a power of nature which was never intended to be released. We took the Genie out of the bottle without knowing how to put ‘em back in the bottle if and when it became necessary to cork ‘em up.

In Japan it became necessary, and they didn’t have the cork. Here in the United States, I propose we, too don’t know how to cork the bottle. There will be finger pointing galore all around the world on this mess. And much of the finger pointing will be a vale attempt to deflect fingers from pointing the direction of the pointers People in high places will fall from grace. Tragically people will die because of our inability to put the cork back into the Genie Bottle. But we’ll learn.

Yet we as a people will learn from this disaster and will go into the future with a better grip on the cork, with a better understanding on the true horrors of multiple melted down nuclear reactors. Before it was mostly theory, now it’s all fact. Ya learn from fact, ya think ‘bout theory, but ya learn from fact. This is a hard lesson, learning from this fact, but a lesson learned never the less. It will most likely be decades before the full price of this learning is calculated, but it will be so calculated in the future. It will be calculated in different modes, money, lives, and real estate lost.

But a big one which can never be calculated or replaced in any manner is the total loss of the “stuff” of the Japanese people. Important to no on except the owner of the “stuff”, and to the owner, priceless. Stuff that just got washed away with everything else in the lives of so many.

Below is a link to satellite images, there are two images of the same location taken 90 minutes apart. Click on the link or copy and paste into that http: box up there at the top of your screen on your home page. It’s worth your time to see these photos.

When you get to the first photo, place your curser to the right side of the photo and hover for a second on two. A vertical line will appear. When the line appears simply move your mouse toward the left side of the picture. To the left of the line is life as it used to be. To the right of the vertical line, as you move right to left, is life after the ocean came to the land. Nothing I’ve seen on TV comes close to demonstrating the extent of this disaster as do these photographs from space. The second picture reveled here is one of the most freighting things I’ve ever seen in my life.

In the ocean this tsunami moved across the water at the speed of a commercial jetliner. If you were on a boat in the mid Pacific as this tsunami wave passed you by, ya didn’t even know it, ‘cause the surface of the water may have risen only a few inches. It’s when that energy in the wave starts to get into shallow water, then it happens, the water starts to stack up on itself, ‘cause the water behind is driving forever forward, and the ocean then walks on land.

Ya can almost duplicate the wave action of a tsunami by taking a large container of water, the larger the better to see what I’m talking ‘bout. After filling up your container, from a height of say, 18 inchers or so, drop a marble into the water. Watch the waves created. They go in all directions at the same time, at the same speed, and only stop when the energy created by the wave is spent or an unmovable object is encountered and the wave energy is then reversed back into the next oncoming wave. Drop the marble again, it’ll be the same thing, every time. Take the time to do the link below and you’ll be amazed. The power of water.

The She says if I bring another chicken into this house, then I’m out of a place to sleep. I think that’s being kinda harsh on the part of the She, but I’m gona have to watch my chicken collection real close at least till the She forgets the threat of me having to finding new sleeping quarters.

Seems somewhere in the past I’ve heard references of “going to sleep with the chickens” but don’t think that’ll work for me ‘cause my ceramic chickens don’t sleep. They just stand ‘round and look really cool. One time I thought ‘bout counting my chickens, but decided not to. Was afraid if I did some level of government may decide to tax ceramic chickens.

Already the town of North Judson taxes Miss Kitty and Little Brother, my black & white cats of the RHCO Office. I’m telling ya, there’s a kat tax in my town, Mr. And I’m still trying to figure out what public service I’m receiving for Miss Kitty and Little Brother in return for paying that kat tax in North Judson. Sure glad they don’t know ‘bout those office chickens.

Back in January a new client came to RHCO to have her taxes filed. For those who don’t know ‘bout RHCO, it’s the company that allows the East Wing to exist. It’s the bread winner for Sophia, as well as the hand outs for the 2girldogs. It’s the “salt mine” for BobbyRay. RHCO, Robert Howard Company in North Judson IN. It’s the work that let’s us go out and play.

Anyways, this lady comes for me to do her taxes, now she lives west of Valparaiso out there toward East Chicago, seems one of my clients recommended my services and she made an appointment. And so she came. I tell this story not to promote RHCO, but what was so interesting ‘bout this one client, was her job. Ya ready for this,,,, she is a judge at National Cat Shows!!! Now is that a cool job or what? I didn’t even know there was such a thing as National Cat Shows.

Turns out there are several, she doesn’t judge in all of them but does six or seven a year. The lady judge fell in love with Miss Kitty. It was her thumbs that caught the heart and mind of the judge, Miss Kitty’s got ‘em, all four of ‘em. Miss Kitty has thumbs. Perfect thumbs according to the judge.

She picked up Miss Kitty and demonstrated how cats are judged at the cat shows. It kinda looked to me as if she was using Miss Kitty as an accordion. ‘Cept Miss Kitty didn’t make any sour notes. Then in a very business like manner the lady said “would you consider selling this cat?” And I said “NO! Ya don’t sell your babies or your cats”.

Not to be deterred, she said “would you consider using her as breeding stock?” I told her right up “if Miss Kitty has a baby it will be the second Immaculate Conception”. She got the joke. Then asked if she could take pictures of Miss Kitty. Of course ya can take pictures of Miss Kitty.

After going to her car and getting her camera, she took maybe four or five pictures of Miss Kitty’s face, she then took 30 – 40 pictures of Miss Kitty’s thumbs. When she finally was satisfied that she had enough pictures of Miss Kitty’s thumbs once again asked “are you sure you don’t want to sell Miss Kitty?” I didn’t even tell her the story ‘bout me saving Miss Kitty’s life when I found her dying in one of the out back buildings, I just said” Miss Kitty’s not for sale”. Miss Kitty will never be for sale. Just as Sophia plays a special place in my life, so does Miss Kitty. And I’m not ever talking bout Little Brother or Spike, those Men cats, or the outside deck cats. Cats galore, both office and East Wing. And I love ‘em all.

When I sit in the comfort of the East Wing and look at the surroundings which engulf me, it’s my stuff, this East Wing stuff, my chickens, my books, my flamingos, my toys, my computers, my stuff. I can never thank God enough for putting me where I am, and not some other place in this world. “Cause there’s a whole bunch of other places that life would not be nearly as much fun as the East Wing.

Just today the She pointed out the fact that such a small number of our young men and women do so much to protect our freedom and the vast majority of us don’t give a damn about ‘em. And we don’t, we just don’t. We no longer ever hear ‘bout ‘em dying in Iraq or Afghanistan. Three years ago every death in the military was part of the daily news. Not now. I wonder who changed the rule so we’re no longer told of every military death just as soon as it occurs. Young men still die there in the desert sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan.

A week or so ago one of the people who reads the Wednesday Night “From East Wing to Afghanistan” emailed me such a sad story of two of his friends not coming back from a mission, and how hard it was to accept that they’d not be coming back to continue an ongoing computer game they were all playing. I made it a point to watch and listen to the national news to see if it was reported.

It was not. I wonder why. Has someone made a decision not to tell we the people, such bad news. And if so, why were we fed a never ending stream of such devastating information for so many years. We’re even shown pictures of the fallen hero. In what seems to be a change in national policy or in news “editing” either way, it worries me, this change. The question has to be why.

Happy spring!!! It came today, Springtime in the Valley! As I sit here in the East Wing it’s 9:30 PM this first Sunday Night of Springtime, and guess what, the lighting is walking about, and the thunder rolls. It turns out the Bentley Dog, even though he’s 75 lbs or so, he’s still afraid of the thunder. So I sit in the floor and hug ‘em.

The power of hugs, ya gota love it. Be it people or otherwise, the power of hugs. It works for me and the She. We hug a lot, me and the She. Then I hug all the otherwise.

Stay safe in Afghanistan and now back in Iraq after a while, so be careful out there in the sand.

From the East Wing, Waves of Death & Missing Corks, A Chicken House, The Cat Judge Judges Miss Kitty, Heroes Still In The Sand and Mountains, Happy Spring & Rolling Thunder

I Wish You Well,


Indianapolis, Cincinnati, The Big Road, Prestonburg, Salyersville, Burning Fork and Slinging Mud, A Piano Comes Home, Saint Luke of Salyersville, Buying Chickens

Greetings to and welcome new friends to the East Wing.

Ever notice how the best laid plans sometimes just go away? Don’t know why that happens, it just does. And so with those best laid plans having gone to the graveyard of best laid plans, which is much like that Island of Misfit Toys, we, Johnny and me, we find ourselves here on the north side of Indianapolis and it’s not yet 8:00 AM this Saturday morning. This March 12th Saturday Morning of the bright sunshine, as we drive south on I-65.

Sitting in the East Wing darkness a short time ago, before the sun even thought ‘bout going to work for the day, my thoughts turned to today’s activity and the reason why I’m sitting here in the darkness thinking ‘bout what I’m gona be doing before the sun comes and then goes down for the day.

Indianapolis passes before us as Johnny turns on I-70 toward Columbus OH. It’s been a while since I’ve driven I-70 to school, my beloved Ohio State, but I did a lot, back in the day.

I-70 soon turns into I-265 then into I-74 as we end up headed toward Cincinnati and not going to Columbus after all. Oh well, go Buckeyes anyway. Southeast Indiana is just starting to emerge from its winter hibernation and take a step into the sunshine of spring this morning as Johnny and I pass by without anyone even noticing we were there, but we were, this bright spring morning in southeastern Indiana.

Ohio comes into view without any fanfare or hoopla. No need for fanfare or hoopla when Ohio comes into view, after all it’s been there a while, in fact, so long the newness of a new neighbor has worn off. We choose to see Downtown Cincinnati this morning. Not from a tour bus, rather from the vantage point of the interstate. Viewing the Cincinnati Charms are limited when gawking from I-75 at 75. Yet I gawk just the same, at 75 mph ya gotta gawk quick. I think I did see WKRP in Cincinnati, but not Johnny Thunder.

Almost as soon as I’m accustom to gawking the Cincinnati Charms at 75 on 75, Kentucky pops up on the other side of that big double decker steel bridge. Kentucky, a land of pretty women, bourbon whisky, friendly people, fast horses, coal mines and wildcats, those U of K Wildcats, not that other kind, Kentucky in a nut shell. I feel at home.

As always and forever, and today’s no different at all, I love this Mountain Parkway, this road to Salyersville. The Big Road. It was called that by these mountain people when it was first built. To me it’s still the Big Road, was when I’s a kid, still is. A pretty place, that Big Road.

Johnny and I are on our way to Martha’s Vineyard at Prestonsburg, “cause we’re bringing the stuff collected from our ongoing clothing drive to assist the clothing bank operated by Saint Martha Catholic Church at Prestonsburg. That’s the place I told ya ‘bout back in December, just before Christmas, Johnny and I were there. We’re going back, but this time we’ve got ‘bout 8 times more stuff. We’ve filled the Envoy plus we’re pulling an 8’ enclosed U-Haul

I’d been shipping stuff by UPS since Christmas, but decided it’s time to revisit the mountains, and besides I’ve got other business in Salyersville. Last year my sister Thelma passed away and her sons offered me my sister’s piano. A free piano , but with a catch, it must be moved by March 15th ‘cause that the agreement when the house was sold. And so we drive toward the beautiful mountains with a twofold purpose, bring some stuff and take some stuff back to the East Wing.

By mid afternoon we’re at Martha’s Vineyard. Unloading the U-Haul and all the while visiting with Father Bob Damron. He’s glad to see us, we’re glad to see him, It’s a mutual admiration society moment, we need him, he needs us. It’s one of those Baptilic things.

With our delivery having been made, we sit on the steps of Martha’s Portion, that’s the store that touches the heart of the issues of Appalachia, the cause, for which we came. 4:00 PM and the Peeps, yup, the Peeps are singing in full force. Sure didn’t expect to hear the music of the Peeps at Martha’s Vineyard.

To hear the Peeps singing in the late afternoon sunshine while sitting on the steps of Martha’s Vineyard, well, for our work today, we’ve just been paid. Paid by the simple music of the Peeps. Little frogs, those creatures of God, half the size of a quarter, ‘bout 15¢ worth.

With an ample amount of daylight left, we decide to go to Burning Fork and load the piano, the second reason for our being here in Magoffin County this delightful day in March. Oh, I almost forgot to tell ya, the temperature is 71° and no wind, just sunshine on the mountains.

We get to the location of the piano, and find much a pleasant surprise, the people who bought my sister’s house, well we know ‘em, and they know us. Know Johnny more so than me, they recognized Johnny right up. They’d just heard of me and didn’t say if what they heard was good or bad and I’s afraid to ask, so we just left it at that, me not asking and them not telling.

People we already knew are who we found at my sister’s house, I was gald. Two big boys, the size of Johnny offered to pick up the piano and put it in the U-Haul. They picked it up, but thought better of it after I explained my idea of using 4-wheel dollies to move the piano. So the piano was moved from the house on to the front porch which was almost exactly the height of the u-haul trailer.

Someone suggested John back up the trailer to the porch and we’ll load direct from the porch. When Johnny said he wasn’t too good at that backing up part an offer was made to do the job, ‘cause he’s a truck driver. And then it happened.

The Envoy was not moved 25 ft. from where is sitting when the wheels started spinning in the wet Kentucky Clay. The Envoy was put into 4-wheel drive. The only thing 4-wheel drive does in wet Kentucky Clay is ya get 4 wheels stuck instead of 2. And the mud really started flying. By the time all our efforts to un-stick the Envoy were completed I think some of the enthusiasm for loading my piano had diminished somewhat, but being good people, the boys didn’t abandon me with my piano sitting on the porch. We loaded and secured my prize for the journey to the East Wing.

By the time we were back on asphalt, Johnny’s Envoy looked like it had been mud weaseling with a wild boar and the boar won. Johnny couldn’t sleep with a dirty truck and so we headed to the Salyersville Car Wash. Takes a lot of soaking to get the clay to turn loose, once in place seems like forever locked, that wet Kentucky Clay. That same clay I think we even tracked into our hotel room last night, ‘cause Johnny said he left the mail a tip for messing up the carpet with mud. It was Johnny who washed the clay from our shoes last night. Now I’m not gona get into details here, but if ya had to wash clay from your shoes in a hotel bath room which water source would you use? Yah, Johnny did too.

I’m still trying to figure out how so much clay got on top of the truck, but it did. I had Johnny get me a big gob of that clay. Put my clay in a cup and when once dried, it’ll be as hard as a rock and I’ll sit it on top of my new piano. Forever to be called my Thelma Piano.

With the mud of Kentucky finally washed from the Envoy, Johnny could once again drive down the road without being embarrassed. Even when I pointed out that most every truck we saw was covered with the same mud, it didn’t matter, Johnny just don’t sleep good with a dirty truck.

For as long as my Sister Thelma lived at Salyersville I always wanted to attend Mass at the Saint Luke Catholic Church there at Salyersville. St Luke Catholic Church, right there at the eastern end of the Mountain Parkway, the Big Road, right there on the left side of the road just after ya cross the Licking River, at Salyersville.

Today, March 13th at 9:00 AM Johnny and I did go to Mass at St. Luke Catholic Church at Salyersville. They welcomed us as brothers in Christ. St. Luke’s is a living example of what the bible means when it talks ‘bout God’s presence in small crowds. Wanta see that in living action? Any Sunday at 9 o’clock, there at St. Luke’s at Salyersville. Just tell Father Bob that BobbyRay sent ya, he’ll make ya welcome that’s for sure.

After taking Johnny’s picture outside the church we buy the gas and turn onto the Big Road to take us home. Driving from the mountains this time I’ve got several different emotions all at the same time spinning for my attention. It’s as if all are saying “pick me” pick me”, and I can’t choose.. My oldest sister’s piano, a piano she never played. I’ll play it for her when it gets to the East Wing. Yesterday would have been my youngest sister’s birthday, had she not passed away a few days ago. I attended Mass in a Catholic Church that I’d wanted to attend for a long, long time. There’s a time for everything. It’s all part of God’s plan

Late Saturday night I read an email from a very special friend of my Sister Kay, also a friend of mine, but such a special friend of my Sister Kay. He was expressing his since of sadness of losing his most special friend and his thoughts for me and my family.

My Sister Kay’s friends an artist, who doesn’t give himself any credit for his talent, but then again he don’t see his work through the eyes of other people, only his own personal critical point of view and not from the view of the East Wing.

He’s an artist. Tom Talmage. He offered me his choice painting, I’ve seen his work. I humbled by the offer. Why of course! Someday such paintings will hang in the Office of Robert Howard Company as well as the East Wing. ‘Course Tom’s art work will have to share top billing with the ceramic chickens and Sophia The Cat. They’ll all get along in the East Wing. ‘Cause everything in the East Wing get along.

One emotion that came rushing back this weekend was playing in the mud. Hadn’t done that in a long time. Not too much good mud in Indiana. Sand or muck soil don’t really make good mud. Ya need clay if ya really wanta play in the mud. We didn’t make mud pies this time, but used to, me and my two Sisters, Sharolette and Barbara.

‘Bout 30 miles south of Cincinnati we stopped at one of those ceramic chicken stores that also sells food from time to time. Before leaving home Early Saturday morning as the sun came up, we resolved not to eat all our meals at Cracker Barrel, and we didn’t. Except one, the last meal on the road. And while I was there anyway, I bought a Ceramic Chicken Lamp. DUH! Why didn’t that surprise anybody. Also bought a pretty blouse for The She. I like buying stuff for the She, after all the She puts up with me. And I’m glad.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the East Wing, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, The Big Road, Prestonsburg, Salyersville, Burning Fork & Slinging Mud, A Piano Comes Home, Saint Luke of Salyersville, Buying Chickens

I wish you well,


From The East Wing, Doing the Tax Work, Hiding Politicians, Oil and Wal-Mart, Facebook & The Thunder Base, A Burning Fork Piano Is Coming to the East Wing, Loving Reading

Greetings to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.

It’s the middle of the income tax filing season, I’m up to my eyes in it and loving every day. I should probably say and every night too. An interesting thing ‘bout this kinda work, I do most of the actual work on the tax forms from the East Wing, operating the office computer and choosing which printer to use, home or office.

Every year is different and has it’s own challenges. This year the tax laws changed in a major way between Christmas and New Years. These changes in the tax code were a big, big benefit for ALL my clients. Without these new tax laws there would’ve been a BIG, BIG bunch of unhappy campers when they found out the bad news.

Knowing what was expected to come in the future with the tax codes, last year at this time, I started warning my clients that the 2010 tax filings wouldn’t be a good experience for most of ‘em. I’m glad that Congress did what they had to do to change the tax laws. It was beneficial for ALL my clients.

But make no mistake about it, had the November 2010 Election results been different, a massive change in the tax laws would be in place today. I’m just one little tax preparer who’s glad those massive changes are not in place today. A major factor in the calculation of funding the current health care law was banking on the amount of tax increase with the 2010 tax filing. It didn’t happen. It didn’t happen ‘cause this country stated their position on the current direction of the Federal Government, they rejected it at the polls. So we now have a health care system in place which appears to be a financial disaster waiting to happen, much like a boil underneath the skin waiting to pop. But it’s money not pus. From the point of view of an accountant, it scares me, it scares me a lot. Maybe the boil would be easier to treat.

Even though the average tax payer may never really know how much they’ve benefited by these tax law changes at the very end of the year 2010, they did. Believe me, they did. It was good for the average person. And that’s one of the things that gets me going. It’s the distance the people in Washington have between what they do there, and how they act in our presence. ‘Course that happens even at the state level.

Right here in Indiana, the Indiana Democrats in the Indiana House left the state rather than attend to the peoples business in debate. It’s tactics like that that now make me ashamed of being a democrat right now. My voice in the Indiana House has chosen not to represent me on the floor of the Indiana Hose of Representatives, but would rather represent me by being in Urbana, Illinois. YAAUH!!!

What ever happened to politics like the dear old Mayor Daily of Chicago. The real mayor, not the kid. When he said of a particular election. “We stole that election fair and square”. And so they did. The opposition didn’t run and hide. They bit the bullet. Guess the old school Chicago Republicans have more moxie than the current Indiana Democrats. Gota give ‘em credit, those Chicago Republicans didn’t run and hide. I can’t believe they done that here in Indiana . Damn hiding Democrats.

At the East Wing, the most die-hart democrat, the Gray Lady James, when confronted by Sophia the Republican Cat, with the situation of those bailing out of the Indiana House of Representatives, just wags her tail, and has no comments. Seems dogs don’t smile as well as cats do. It’s hard for me to put a good spin on this thing, this disgraceful thing the democrats have done here in Indiana. They’ve brought political shame to the East Wing, and the cat’s loving it.

It pains me to think this plan of opposition to the majority party, is to run and hide. It’ evident in Wisconsin as well as Indiana. It pains me even more to think this approach to the problem may have even come from those advising the President. That scares me. It should scare everybody. I Hope it does. When we the people are scared, we get things fixed the way they should’ve been in the first place. We the people don’t run and hide. We vote and stand in public, we don’t ever run and hide, we vote.

And all the while Sophia the Republican Cat’s saying “bring ‘em on” Sophia’s having a field day with the Wisconsin debate on the limits of public employee union rights. And this Indiana thing, well, she just sits on the back of my chair and I’m sure grinning from ear to ear. But if I turn around really quick, she looks most solemn. But cats are quick too, ya know.

Sophia says that if ya look at this Wisconsin thing, it’s an example of how weak the President of the United States really is. The President had publicly stated his unyielding support of the American Union System during his campaign for office. “Why is he not in Wisconsin?” Asks the cat. “Why is his wife not in Wisconsin? Why is the Reverend Jessie Jackson not in Wisconsin? Why is the Reverend Al Sharpton not in Wisconsin in support of the union position?” Sophia wondered out loud, just loud enough so I could hear. “While campaigning for office the candidate Obama said he would just change his shoes and march with the union. He didn’t march in Wisconsin. Maybe those shoes got lost somewhere, maybe in the office of the Czar who is in charge of public opinion for Wisconsin, or maybe even the Shoe Czar”. Sophia said as she barely took time to breath, and with the cat on a role she continued.

“It’s really simple, the vast majority of public opinion in Wisconsin lays with the Govern of Wisconsin on this matter. He was elected to do what he’s doing. The people spoke. And as such, the President, or those who advise him choose not to become public in their support of those who oppose the Wisconsin bill to limit collective bargaining of public service employees. In short the President and the President’s men will not support those who are opposed to the limitation of collective barging at the risk of alienating the majority in Wisconsin. Shame on them. They choose to be silent rather than truly support those they said they would support, based on poling data, not on ideology. Do we have a weak President or what”. Damn Republican Cat.

And the same holds true for Indiana. In Indiana, It’s an embarrassing time to be a democrat, that’s for sure, with my reprehensive leaving the state. Shame on her. She should have know that such tactics would bring disgrace upon her, the party and the district. And so it has. This may the first time I’ve ever been ashamed of being a democrat. My voice has left the state. Nancy Dembowski has left the building. Shame on her. It’s sad to think that on this one issue alone, she will most likely be defeated in the next election.

If my position wins or looses is secondary to the fact that my voice has been heard. I’m not being heard here. My voice ran away. She listened to voices other than those who elected her. Voices outside the district told her what to do. Shame on her. And so it turned out my voice in the minority would rather run and hide than fight and possibility lose. One thing for sure ya never have a chance to win when ya run and hide. I’m embarrassed to be a democrat in Starke County Indiana right now….. I may have to start listening more closely to that Damn Republican Cat. Cats never run and hide.

It turns out the President was at his best when he was campaigning for office. Once in there, the picture changed forever. But after all, we must keep in mind the President is at his best when the going is easy. And that was so demonstrated in the campaign for office. Was he that good on the campaign or John McCain that bad? Sophia proposed that maybe the President could moon-light for the mayor elect of Chicago and do some more community organizing on the South Side. But that could be just wishful thinking on the part of Sophia, she may have aspirations of re-opening that South Side Cat House, and we all know where that’s going. As I watch the carnage in Libya I can only pray such will not come to The United States of the future. We can not guarantee it will not happen here, we just can’t. When people are oppressed by government, be is massive force or rules and regulation, there are limits to human tolerance. And like the Children of Israel. There is a limit on what it takes to become free. Let my people go.

It’s been demonstrated in Egypt and is being demonstrated in the rest of that part of the world. Let my people go. Uttered first by Moses, and last by Charlton Heston, to which most of us relate to as Moses, he’s not. But he did give us a very visible Moses, one of which we would’ve never had, had it not been for Charlton Heston. Let my people go. I pray the Middle East will not explode all over the world. I fear it will.

But it’s oil ya know, it’s what keeps up running up and down the road. Oil from anywhere and everywhere. Just as long as there’s oil to keep us going where we gotta go. We don’t give a damn ‘bout human rights, we give a damn ‘bout oil and nothing else.

I’d have more respect for my government if we were honest and just said “we’re taking all your oil and ya can’t stop us. We don’t do that. We cover our intentions with our concerns of “human rights”. I propose we don’t give a damn ‘bout human rights, we’re concerned only ‘bout the never ending supply of oil, that allows us to make gas that allow us to run up and down that ribbon of concrete, asphalt and steel. The highways and byways that take us anywhere and everywhere we want to go. The oil that takes us everywhere. We don’t give a damn ‘bout human rights, just oil, and a little bit ‘bout miles per gallon. After all, it’s oil that takes us to Wal-Mart. YAAAAAG!!!

It turns out the ole Ground Hog was right, an early spring. It was such a pleasure to sit in the East Wing on February 27th in the afternoon, just doing the tax work and seeing the rain, hearing thunder, and seeing lighting. Sure signs of springtime, that rain thunder and lighting.

Of all the weather conditions I’ve encountered in the East Wing, lighting in the nighttime has to be most spectacular. As many of you know I’ve got a security light in the south gardens of the East Wing. As I face the computer, I face the light from outside, high upon the glass wall to my left.

That light turns on and off by photo cell technology, which is pretty cool stuff all by it’s self, and when lighting walks about in the darkness and the thunder rolls, the photo cell will turn off the outside light. It’s just on such occasions that I’m able to see the true beauty of the magic light show from heaven. The fireworks of God. Watching weather from the East Wing is special, so very special. I’m glad I’m here and not there. Where ever there would happen to be.

Have ya started doing that Facebook thing? It’s kinda like a party line telephone conversation with long pauses while somebody comes up with something to say ‘bout what ya just typed on the screen. Now granted, ya get a much larger audience, but for those who can remember the CB Radio of the 1970’s , the CB’s were much more fun. Ya may well have talked to many less people, but it was direct and without pauses.

Should ya have operated an illegal radio prior to the East Wing ever having being build, well then ya could’ve called yourself “the Thunder Base” and spoke as the voice of the “Cold Country, Radio Free Indiana” in the winter time and the “Voice of the Flatlands” in the summer.

When folks spoke on CB Radios, back in the day, they gave each other nicknames, someone tagged me as the “Medicine Man” and so it stuck. I was the Medicine Man. This was back in the time I operated a clinical laboratory, hence the name Medicine Man. It was even before I got into hospital administration. This was really back in the day.

I built my own radio, 5,000 watts broadcast on a 4 watt channel, and called the thing “The Thunder Base”. And was broadcast as “Radio Free Indiana” The Thunder Base, and it was. It was such a time, such a time. Given a choice of The Thunder Base of Facebook, well, I’m sure ya know what I’m gona choose, after all “Radio Free Indiana”, ya gota love it. I could speak all the way to Cuba, and I did, from The Thunder Base.

As most of you know, Sophia The Republican Cat’s not the most friendly of girls, particularly to democrats. Well, just in the last two weeks she’s moved from the back of my chair to my lap. And I don’t know what to make of the move. It could be she’s just playing mind games with me. Or it could be she’s trying to suck up, ‘cause I’m so disappointed with my democratic party at the state level for running away from the political process and hiding. I just don’t know. Damn Republican Cat. Damn Democrats for running away. Shame on us.

Have to go get my piano on Burning Fork down by Salyersville KY real soon. Nephew Pete gave me my Sister Thelma’s piano, but have to move it by March 15th, so I’m working on putting the puzzle together to bring the piano home. Precious Memories. And I’ll play that, when the Thelma Piano comes home to the East Wing and gets all tuned up, I’ll play Precious Memories. And they’ll linger.

I don’t think I even told ya ‘bout me playing the piano. Yah, I can play the piano. Self taught, just go a book and read. A most very special friend of mind, one whom I must tell ya ‘bout some day, gave me the piano which I have in my office. It was on just that piano I really learned to play.

That’s the good thing ‘bout knowing how to read. If ya can, ya can do anything. Built the house I live in ‘cause I knew how to read, even back then, I knew how to read. Only built one house in my lifetime. Only needed one, so far. Have remodeled several times. Even built the East Wing. I’m not a carpenter, but I can read. The only difference between me and a carpenter is speed, ‘cause I can read.

But ‘bout that playing piano stuff. I took a lot of guitar lesions, and could play a little bit. Developed arthritis in my left hand to the extent that I couldn’t squeeze the wires just right. It hurts when I squeezed so I stopped playing the guitar and I missed the music. But I still smelled it, that music.

At Grand Central Station, I’d purchased a Baby Grand Piano just for decoration, and one day as I walked by that decoration I smelled the music and knew it was there. I just needed to learn where to put my fingers. And then it started, all because I could read.

Now I’m not the best at playing the piano, but I’m better than most, ‘cause most can’t play. And the only reason I can play the piano, ‘cause I can read. Life’s hard if ya can’t read. It’s worth the effort, learning that reading stuff. Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From The East Wing, Doing the Tax Work, Hiding Politicians, Oil and Wal-Mart, Facebook & The Thunder Base, A Burning Fork Piano Is Coming to the East Wing, Loving Reading

I Wish You Well


Spike The Man Cat, Tigers I’ve Known, Brother Ed and UPS, Astroid 22723 Ediopez

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.

Know why cats got whiskers? It’s ‘cause the width of the whiskers is the same size of a hole the cat can fit it’s body thru. Knowing that, don’t ya just wish ya had whiskers? Spike The Man Cat just walked by and got me starting thinking ‘bout whiskers. Spike’s got the biggest whiskers in the East Wing. He’s two, sometimes three times the size of some of my north side deck cats. Got six of ‘em out there on the deck by the pool ya know.

Spike came into my life as a birthday joke when some friends of mine gave me a little boy cat back in May of 2010. What’ ya gona do when ya get a little boy tiger cat as a birthday present. Ya keep the baby cat for sure.

And so it was with me and Spike. A little cat I could hold in the palm of my hand. A two color grey tiger cat who came to me with a name in place. “ Spike” and everybody knows, once named, forever named, Spike.

Well I’m telling ya Spike grew up, and I mean really grew up. Not yet a year old and I now have to deal with Spike The Man Cat of the East Wing. A 14 lb tiger who prowls the darkness, a night stalker. I’m not joking ya, when it gets dark, Spike The Man Cats starts to walk different. He walks like a tiger, acts like a tiger, and I suspect he thinks like a tiger, ‘cause he sure moves like a tiger.

I’m sure somebody’s thinking how’s he know ‘bout a tiger thinking? I don’t! But it just so happens that I’m one of a very few people in the whole state on Indiana who can lay claim to the fact that I’ve actually held a Bengal Tiger in my arms. So there! When ya’ve held a Bengal Tiger and lived to tell the story, ya just know ‘bout how tigers think and stuff like that. I tell everybody ‘bout holding that baby Bengal Tiger, I’ll remember the tiger for the rest of my life. I don’t think the tiger remembered me at all, I don’t think I even told that little tiger my name”.

Guess the closest I’ll ever get to holding another tiger is picking up Spike the Man Cat. Actually Spike is much larger than the baby tiger the first time I held him. The baby was 10 days old, and even at 10 days, it took two hands to hold the tiger. The last time I held him the tiger he was 10 weeks and 40 lbs of baby boy tiger on his way toward 500 pounds. 40 pound baby boy tigers don’t hug easy. Big cats, those Bengal Tigers. At 40 pounds some of his teeth were already almost 1 inch long. Big teeth for a big boy tiger on his way to 500 pounds.

Those of you who’ve visited the East Wing for a long time have heard me talk ‘bout my brother-in-law, Ed Lopez. And how much I miss him to this very day. I don’t remember if I told ya ‘bout the relationship between Ed and I. To me it was special, so very special. And I always hoped it was just as special to Ed. We never talked ‘bout emotional stuff like that, me and Ed. We talked boy talk.

We talked man talk. We were stargazers, me and Ed. We talked computers and stuff like that. I never said anything much from the East Wing ’bout Ed while he was alive, mainly ‘cause he was my biggest fan of what I said form the East Wing. And I knew that if I should say very much ‘bout him he wouldn’t like that at all. Of all the email I receive in the East Wing, I could always count on getting at least one and sometimes three, four or five from Ed every week. I think sometimes Ed would go back and re-read what I’d said from the East Wing and decide to say something else ‘bout it. Some times Ed would email something ‘bout what I said a month back. And when Ed spoke I always listened.

Ya see Ed Lopez was the big brother I never had, I grew up in a family of girls, and as much as I love my sisters, I didn’t have a bother to play with. Ed grew up in a family of girls and as much as he loved his sisters………. Now ya can already see where this things going. Ed was the big brother I never had. I was Ed’s snot nose little bother. We just needed each other, me and Ed. Guess it was meant to be. And so it was. And it’s has been such a trip. I’m glad Ed came into my life early on. The best thing ya can say ‘bout your life is if ya had to do it all over again, ya’d do the same thing. I can say that, and I would.

I think it’s time I tell the whole world a little bit ‘bout my bother Ed. Here’s something I’d never dare tell from the East Wing while Ed was alive. Ed didn’t like being the center of attention. He didn’t have that need in his life, like many people do. But the things he did in his life made him such. But only in a very select circle of people. I’m forever humbled to be included in that circle.

Now most everybody I know has come in contact with the delivery of a UPS package. Ya know what I’m talking ‘bout, the guy in the brown truck that brings ya a package, reaches ya a little box and asks ya to sign your name in a little window, gives ya a pencil that’s not really a pencil, just a plastic stick, but, somehow that plastic sick still works to write your name in that little window of the magic box….. Yeah, that thing ya just signed your name on, that’s what I’m talking ‘bout.

Ed Lopez invented the magic box for UPS. Now is that cool or what! I call it the magic box, Ed called it a “delivery information Acquisition Device”, or DIAD.

But before he invented the magic box Ed created the worlds very first robot ever with the ability to sort packages. And the Lord knows that UPS had a need to sort packages, that’s what those folks do, just sort and deliver packages, really quick..

Ed grew up in Florida and was educated in Chicago as an engineer then spent his whole working career in the service of United Parcel Service, UPS. How many people do ya know who can say they worked their whole life on one job. Ed was a computer researcher, well before PC’s existed.

There was a time when the computer research department of UPS consisted of Ed and his boss Stu. I never met Stu, but heard much ‘bout how the two worked long hours on ideas and concepts to develop what today is the computer system that drives UPS. Those Brown Trucks roll today, due in part to the computer research done by brother Ed and Stu.

After retirement a cancerous tumor was discovered in Ed’s leg and his leg had to be amputated. He spent the remaining years of his live in complete misery from non relinquishing pain. It never stopped, it never went away. Even with the pain, Ed and I talked by computer most every day. Every day Ed felt up to it.

Ed taught me everything I know ‘bout computers, Ed taught me how to discuss technical stuff with non technical people. One of the things Ed told me early in my learning process of computer technology was “if ya can’t take computer technology and express it in “people language”, ya don’t really understand what you’re trying to talk about.” Learn it first. Talk about it later” was what Ed told me early on when I was learning ‘bout the computers. And I did learn it first before I talked ‘bout it later, and still talk ‘bout it when he’s gone.

The first portable computer I ever saw, Ed brought to Indiana, just to show me. Damn near big as a suitcase, brought it to show me, and let me touch and push the keys. Ed told and showed me the concept of database information before data base programs were ever developed. UPS used the concepts developed by their computer research department to just get bigger and better at what they do, deliver packages, much faster than the Post Office.

My Sister Barbara is a Registered Nurse, and received her nursing degree at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. It was while Barbara was at Michael Reece she met Ed Lopez. And she brought him home, home to Toto IN. Ya gota remember now we’re hillbillies living in downtown Toto, and my sister going to Nursing School at Michael Reece in Chicago, and I’m so proud I’m busting my britches, my sister Barbara’s why I’m so proud.

And then one weekend Barbara brings to Toto Ed Lopez. And I loved Ed from the first time I saw ‘em, he’s a boy, I’m a boy and we need each other. Me and Ed, we just do, need each other. From the very first time I meet Ed I hope my sister Barbara will marry ‘em ‘cause I realized how much I’m needing a brother and Ed’s footing the bill really good.

Barbara and Ed do decided to marry. Ed asked me to be the best man. I was not even a man, I’ve just turned 16, but I was for sure glad to be asked to be the best boy at that wedding. There has never been a day in my life where I was more happy than to be the best man at the wedding of Ed Lopez, when he married my Sister Barbara. For being the best man at his wedding, Ed gave me a tie tack and cuff links. That wedding was a long time ago, but to this day, the only tie tack I’ve ever worn, ever, is the black Onex , giver to me by brother Ed.

When Ed passed away last year, I went to Georgia, my Sister Barbara gave me a tie to wear to the Funeral Mass, it was one of Ed’s ties. It had been arranged that I would participate in the mass by doing one of the reading.

For those who may not be familiar with the Catholic Mass, there are three bible reading during the service. It’s very common that lay people like myself read the first two and the priest does the final reading from the bible after which he provides his homily.

I’d been provided a copy of my reading a day in advance. Now I’ve got no problem speaking to large crowds, I’ve done that many times in the past. Speaking in front of a crowd was not an issue at all. It was the occasion that brought fear and trepidation to my soul. I didn’t know if I would talk or cry when it was my turn to do my part at Ed’s Funeral Mass. I was determined to do it right. And just like any speech I’ve ever give to a large crowd, I memorized the reading I was to deliver for Ed’s Funeral Mass the next morning.

When the time came, I stood up from my pew where I was setting, walked to the front of the church, all the while praying to God that he not let me cry in front of all these people. When I reached the spot where I was to deliver the reading, I turned and looked into a sea of sad faces. Tears were near my eyes.

It was there in a beautiful new Catholic Church in Roswell GA, wearing Ed’s own tie and the same tie tack he gave to me when I was the Best Boy at his wedding, with both hands firmly on the podium, and no notes in front of me, while looking directly into that sea of sadness, I spoke the gospel, as I cried inside. ‘Cause Ed wouldn’t want me to cry at his Funeral Mass . Me and Ed, we loved each other. I think we still do.

Now an exciting part ‘bout me and Ed. After retirement, Ed was asked to be a member the board of trustees for an observatory out there in Arizona. The Lowell Observatory up in the mountains. Out there some where ‘round Flagstaff. Ed accepted and sat on the board of directors for some time.

When Ed passed away the folks at the Lowell Observatory decided a way to honor Ed for not only his service to the Lowell Observatory, but also his life’s work, was to name an asteroid after him.

And so it came pass that Asteroid 22723 Edlopez (1998 SS58) got it’s name. If ya do a Google search on asteroid Edlopez you’ll find the following message:

“Discovered September 17, 1998 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station in Flagstaff, Arizona. As a research engineer, Edward (“Ed”) B. Lopez, III (1939-2010), created the first industrial robot to automate parcel sorting. His team designed the DIAD (Delivery Information Acquisition Device), a handheld data collector used to record and transmit delivery information.

Asteroid 22723 Edlopez is a main belt asteroid, orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter every 4.21 years. The asteroid’s diameter is 4-3 km.”

If ya go to the NASA website and search under asteroids, ya’ll find the same thing ‘bout the Asteroid 22723 Edlopez, but with lots more technical data. When I first looked at the NASA stuff ‘bout Ed, I almost cried. It was sooooooo Ed Lopez. All the known technical information on this asteroid is being displayed at the NASA website. Ed would’ve loved it.

Ed loved numbers. And could do amazing things that everyday people like me and you could never do. Not only couldn’t do, couldn’t even think ‘bout doing. Ed could look at the Rubix Cube from any position, put it behind his back and in a few seconds return it to the home position. That’s no joke, I saw him do it a lot. I tried one time behind my back, dropped the damn thing and gave up. But Ed could do it any time.

And so some night when the weather is really clear, probably next January. I’ll try to put my telescope on the Ed Asteroid, it may be too small for my ‘scope to see, but I’ll try, ‘cause Ed would want me to try. One time we were talking ‘bout life in general and Ed made the comment, “if ya don’t try, ya don’t know”. I’ll try to see, and then I’ll know.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the East Wing, Spike The Man Cat, Tigers I’ve Know, Brother Ed and UPS, Asteroid 22723 Edlopez

I Wish You Well,


Good Bye Sister Kay, A Circle Never Broken, The Love Month, To Catch a Prize, Marriage Rules, Than You Winter, Snow Cream

Greetings to all, and welcome new friends to the East Wing.As some of you know, I’ve lost another sister a few days ago, my youngest sister, Sister Kay, the baby girl of my family, the baby girl of my life.  A cancer victim, who fought the battle for 13 years. A long war. My Sister Kay, my baby sister. My sister count is now down to two. I’ve had four sisters most all my life and loved it. My sisters have been reduced by 50% in one year. I pray the reduction of sisters  has halted for a long, long time.  I can’t take loosing sisters from my life.

You’ve probably heard the saying that when a family member dies, the circle is broken. As I looked upon my Sister Kay for the last time in this life, as I hugged my two remaining sisters, Sharolette and Barbara, we stood as the  Family of Howard.  And so I told ‘em, ‘the circle’s not broken, today the wheel just got a littler smaller.” And so it did, that day with me and my sisters, Sharolette and Barbara.  The wheel just got a little smaller as we cried. And even more precious as memories were made as we cried. A Family of Howards with the circle still unbroken. Precious memories how they linger, how they ever food my soul. But we sill got that circle, me and them girls, my precious sisters, Sharolette and Barbara.

Ya know what February’s famous for, other than having one of those 3 day weekends with  a Monday Holiday? Why it’s LOVE  of course. Right here in the middle of winter, love comes along and has it’s own special month.  Even has it’s own special day.  That Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is a Major Holiday for the She. She has operated Pioneer Florist Country Store in North Judson IN  for a long time. Of all the holidays in her business, Valentine Day is the hard one to handle. The first major issue to deal with every year is weather. In Indiana, in the middle of February, Ya just never know what you’ll get, ya just never know.  Over the years, we’ve had ’em all. Blizzards that lasted three days, yesterday, today and tomorrow. And that year of the blizzard, well,  Valentine Day fell into the today spot of that blizzard.

It was one of the very early years for me and the She and Pioneer Florist.  We thought, the She and me, that it was gona to be our last year in business, it was that bad. But that was not to be, we lived to fight another blizzard on another day. We survived that hit and continued into the future.  To this day we can’t quite figure out how we survived, that second year at Pioneer Florist, that three day blizzard the day before, during and after Valentine Day, but we did. It was just meant to be.  That’s one of those “things just work out” deals, I talk ‘bout from time to time. Ya don’t try to figure ‘em out,  it just is. And remember, saying a little prayer of thanks be to God for blessings received never hurt anybody, even hillbillies like me and, ya might too be surprised on how good it makes ya feel. God knows ‘bout stuff like that.

With Valentine being over for this year, and if you’re still looking to find that special someone in your life, I thought ya might like some tips on surefire techniques for finding, attracting, and wedding the person you’ll love forever.  But keep in mind, I’m not guaranteeing that all these things’ll work for ya. But they just might. Some worked for me and the She. See if ya can guess which ones did. This is old, rally old school stuff, enjoy.

“Roast hummingbird hearts, grind them into a powder, and sprinkle it on your beloved.”

Well, when I sprinkled that hummingbird heart on the She, I’m not going into detail here, but it just didn’t work out too well. Actually the She thought I had lost my mind. Now if ya think ‘bout it for a while, powered humming bird heart.  Now I can see where ya ca loose your mind. But it sure seamed like a good idea at the time. My problem was getting that humming bird heart, they’re little and scarce.

“Kiss as many people as possible”. Now  kissing is a way for us to taste semiochemicals on another’s skin. Semiochemicals transmit biological signals of compatibility and attraction. With my medical laboratory background, if I can demonstrate and replicate stuff in my laboratory, ya can take it to the bank. And I’m telling ya , this one is the bank!

“Pluck a stalk of yarrow and stick it up your nose. If a drop of blood appears, your love is true. “
Any time ya stick anything up your nose, you’re on your own. Good luck to ya.

Australian aborigines prepare a love potion from the testicles of kangaroos. This one’s tuff, I’m not sure who ya fall in love with, another aborigine, or the kangaroo. Either way, with the current price of kangaroo testicles on the world spot market, I don’t think most of us  will be in a position to try this one. But for those who can afford, I say go for it, ya never know. Kangaroo testicles? Wow!

“Think of the one you love while you swallow a four-leaf clover, and your love will be returned.”  Did ya ever try to swallow a four leaf clover? Not an easy task, swallowing that four leaf clover. I don’t think you’re supposed to chew ‘em up, just swallow ‘em whole. Hard to do, swallow ‘em whole. They tickle your epiglottis if you’re not careful. I almost forgot to tell ya, that epiglottis word, that’s that little thing in your throat that keeps stuff from going into your lungs when your swallow.  It’s like a little switch that goes on and off. Your epiglottis keeps ya from chocking to death. Go with me here, your epiglottis is damn important. It alone keeps ya on this earth. If it fails to do it’s job, ya go to the sod field.

“Upon hearing the first coo of a dove in the spring, take off your left stocking and look in the heel of it. You will find a hair the color of your true love’s hair.”  Foot fetish people, ya gota steer clear of these folks as much as possible.

“Swallow the heart of a wild duck.”  Where in the world do ya get the heart of a wild duck? Did ya ever see a wild duck heart? Maybe the meat section at Wal-Mart can special order a wild duck heart.

“On New Year’s Eve, walk from one room to another while throwing a shoe over your shoulder, then look in a mirror and your mate’s face will be there.” I don’t know if it works with the right shoe or the left shoe, and I don’t’ really care.

“Place a snail in a pan of cornmeal, and the tracks it makes will spell your true love’s initials.” This  is the origin of snail mail. The internet just blew it out of proportions. Those internet people, the made fun of snail mail.

“Hide the dried tongue of a turtledove in a girl’s room; she will love you forever.” When I wooed the She, I had one hell of a time finding a turtledove tongue, but I did, and “goterdone”

“In 18th-century France, a man told a woman three times that she was beautiful. The first time she was required to thank him, the second time to believe him, and the third time to reward him.” I’m still looking to see if I can find out what the reward is suppose to be.

“If you touch your little finger and forefinger behind your two middle fingers, you can have any sweetheart you like. Well guys did ya do it? Don’t tell me ya didn’t even try, ‘cause I know ya tried. Use your thumb, just push your forefinger a little bit toward your little finger, it’ll work our for ya.

“Swallow a white dove’s heart, point downward, while resting your hand on the shoulder of one you love.” Had a tuff  time finding the wild duck, much lessen the white dove.

“Hard boil an egg, cut it in half, discard the yolk, and fill the egg halves with salt. Sit on something you’ve never sat on before, eat the egg, and walk to bed backwards. You will dream of your future mate.” Kinda too salty for my taste, and that walking backwards part.

“Walk around the block with your mouth full of water; if you don’t swallow it, you will marry within the year.” I swallowed it and  me and the She didn’t get married for six years.  In fact, we dated so long that people started to wonder ‘bout me. They never wondered ‘bout the She, ‘cause She’s too pretty.

“Pull a hair from the head of a girl you like, and she will love you.” I pulled She’s hair, She slapped  my face.

“Pick an apple, prick it full of holes, carry it for a while under your left arm, then give it to your lover.” I didn’t do this one, it was that underarm ting, I just didn’t think it would work out.

“If you stub your toe, kiss your thumb and you’ll see your beau.”  I did, and didn’t. This one don’t work.

“Cut your nails on nine Sundays in a row.” I didn’t have enough nails to got nine Sundays, so I dot’ know it this one works or not.

Stop looking. Most all agree that searching for a perfect companion is doomed. Be flexible and commit to the unknown. But if you must still look, then carry the heart of an owl with you at all times. I’m telling ya, the ole owl here is the key to success. Had it not been for the ole owl heart, me and the She could very well have ended up as just me.

Now once ya’ve found that sole mate, ya gota make sure ya live happy ever after. Well I’ve brought ya this far, I’m  for sure not gona abandon ya know. ‘Cause now the real fun times start. So direct from the 1880’s I offer a simple formula for marital bliss:

For the ladies, here are some tried and true rules to Keep Your Husband Happy.

Never speak slightingly of or to your husband in the presence of other people.

Do not neglect neatness of person and surroundings.

Speak gently always, and do not allow your voice to become sharp and loud.

And guys, it’s important that ya also know  How to Keep Your Wife Happy. So with that in mind, ya gota just

Treat your wife as politely and kindly as when you were wooing her. ( I love that word, wooing)

Do not speak lightly of her cares and fatigues, but sympathize with her troubles.

Share your pleasures and cares, and show that you value her society and advice.

One of the  favorite saying that me and the She have always agreed on is: “For a happy marriage, never speak loudly to one another unless the house is on fire.”

It’s worked for me and the She, so far. But I’ll admit when the Smoke House Rules went into effect, I thought the house was on fire.

Ya gota remember life’s never gona be as good as the movies. Yet it’s most important to learn early in life a very simple lesson, that lesson  being: “Life isn’t about how to weather the storm, it’s how to dance in the rain.” Me and the She, we’ve danced in the rain, a lot. We still do, a lot, that dancing in the rain, me and the She.

How ya liking this winter?  I’ve not heard so many people complain ‘bout the weather so much in the last 30 years as this winter. Seems as if we’ve all forgotten how a real winter is supposed to feel.  Cold and lots of snow makes a winter, winter…. DUH !!!  Ya want sunshine and warm for the winter, be a snowbird.

I’ve never seen a winter I didn’t like. Thanks to this winter for reminding me how much fun it is to get snowed in at home for a day and a half.  Thanks to this winter for reminding me how really, really cold air feels on my skin, and how much I don’t like that feeling.  Thank you winter for reminding me to feed the birds when the ground’s snow covered for many days. Thank you winter for not allowing that groundhog to see his shadow in the land of fried Scrapple. Thank you in advance winter for leaving early this year.

One of the things me and the She do when the local schools have a 2 hour delay in starting school, we too have a 2 hours delay in starting our business day. I love 2 hour delays!!! Thank you winter for 2 hour delays. Thank you She for sharing in my 2 hour delays.

One of the most overlooked thank you for winter is, the  thank you winter for bringing back the sun.  Yes bringing back the sun. ‘Cause the first day of winter is the shortest daylight day of the year, and the longest night. So even though winter has just started, the days start to get longer.  Not too fast at first. Just seconds each day, and then minutes. Then before ya know it, there is noticeable longer days.  By the middle of February, everybody notices the longer daylight. So thank you winter for making the days longer.

Winter’s much like life as  a whole, ya can find the good side or the dark side. On the dark side of winter, well, I’m not even gona go there.  “Cause who cares! We’re all in the same boat when it comes to winter. When it snows on me, it snows on you. Unless ya happen to be one of those folks from other parts of the world who don’t have winter season. Then ya miss out on much. Ya miss out on winter. A special season. I have a cousin who has spent much of his life in Hawaii, he misses winter ever year. Why,  bet they even have Santa’s in shorts in Hawaii but not snow. There’s never been a White Christmas in  Hawaii. Too bad. Some things just don’t work out well.

Now we’re all familiar with the saying “when you’re dealt lemons,  make lemonade.  But really now, how many people do ya know that make lemonade? Very few if any. A much better saying could be “when God gives ya snow, make snow cream” Don’t know if I ever told ya ‘bout snow cream or not, if not, but I’m ‘bout to.

Snow cream’s a big hillbilly thing.  When I’s a kid, we made snow whenever it snowed. The only problem was it didn’t snow enough, too often we got rain or sleet when I lived at Tiptop. But when it did snow. WOW! My Mama made snow cream and me and the Cole Clan Cousins, we had a winter party ever time my mama made snow cream.

The ingredients for snow cream are  really simple, just fresh snow, vanilla, sugar and cold, cold milk.  Ya just mix all that stuff  up along with a really big helping of  the love of a hillbilly mother, both her love  and her desire to  make her babies happy, and I’m telling ya, you’ve got the best tasting stuff in the world. A gift from God, Snow Cream  for hillbilly babies. It don’t get any better than that.

 I’m not sure what makes it so  good, I think it’s that Mother Love stuff that makes it taste the way it does. And just as soon as ya make it, ya get to  eat it. Ya don’t have to wait, ya just eat it as soon as your mama makes it.  Unlike the ice cream of today, ya don’t have to be a chemist to understand what goes into snow cream.  Snow Cream, something really special in my life. But don’t ever use yellow snow, it’ll not work right…..

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the East Wing, Good Bye Sister Kay, A Circle Never Broken, The Love Month, To catch a prize, Marriage Rules, Thank You Winter, Snow Cream

I wish you well,


Blizzards I’ve Known and Loved, Cajun Scrapple, Peeps, Words of Wisdom, Spam and 22,400 Eggs

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.

It was a good blizzard, but not a great blizzard, the one they called the blizzard of 2011. Actually from the East Wing’s point of view, the prior blizzard seemed to pile the snow much  higher. In fact my west drive way is yet to be plowed out from that blizzard. That was when the snow plow guy got stuck and had to have help to rescue the snow plow. Now I don’t care who ya are, when the snow plow gets stuck, ya got yourself a real old fashion blizzard going on out there.

 And so we only have one driveway available  until springtime comes to the valley and melts the west driveway back into drivability. Now that’s  really cool word, that drivability, I didn’t even know if it’s a word or not  till I typed it and Sophia, the official spell cat checker of the East Wing, approved it’s use. Drivability, shoo .  I’m not sure if that cat’s right or not but she approved, and so I use. Drivability, a word  used with spell cat checker approval.

 The other blizzard I’m talking ‘bout’s the one when the East Wing filled up with smoke and the She turned the whole house into the smoke house while cooking meat for our Bub’s BBQ at Demotte. It was our  most memorable  blizzard. It was when the Smoke House Rules were first introduced to the East Wing. A Wind Tunnel thru the house, exiting via the East Wing.

Did ya hear the ole groundhog didn’t see his shadow, well whooptee do!  Sure hope the spring come next week. But don’t hold your breath.  We talked ‘bout Groundhog Day stuff already, but and interesting side line is the fact that only 16 times from 1887 has the Groundhog NOT seen his shadow. Now does that tell ya something or what? No it don’t, it’s just dumb winter talk ‘bout a  rodent who hibernates during this time of the year, and some  drunks from Pennsylvania digging ‘em up way too early in the year just to make a big deal ‘bout that shadow thing.

Remember this Groundhog Day deal comes from the same state that gives us Scrapple, and we all know how important Scrapple is to putting this nation back to work. In fact, I think that non profit organization ya may have heard ‘bout, that “Feed the Children” organization,  it’s primarily based on the premise that Scrapple  can solve world hunger.  Now I’m just joking ‘bout Scrapple, I ate the stuff, and liked it.  Scrapple is somewhere between Potted Meat and Spam. And I like ‘em all, But keep in mind, I’m hillbilly and I like easy. Scrapple, the official meat of Pennsylvania.

 After eating with the Cajuns, ya don’t worry ‘bout eating Scrapple. But one thing for sure if Scrapple was in south Louisiana, they’d put spices on it, more specifically they’d put  file on it, ‘cause ton a lot of stuff down there in the delta,  a hundred miles south of New Orleans.   Oh I almost forgot to tell ya, that  file stuff is a spice made from dried, then ground up sassafras leaves, and goes exceedingly well with prime Pennsylvania Scrapple.

Now if ya gona talk ‘bout hibernation this time of the year, then ya gotta talk ‘bout the peeps. Those little tiny green frogs, smaller than a quarter, ‘bout 15 cents worth, who make the pretty music of the spring time night time. Those little peeps. They make their own antifreeze ya know, those little peeps. One heart beat every 3 minutes, one breath every 4 minutes keeps the peeps alive during that cold, cold deep freeze of the wintertime.  Dark as a dungeon, down there where the peeps survive. Those peeps down there under only the dead grass and leaves fallen from the trees  last autumn. Those cold, cold  frozen to near death peeps of winter, clinging to that very, very last thin thread of life in the peep world. Frozen almost solid Peeps. Somewhere between life and death, those Peeps, in the twilight zone. If ya could put ‘em on sticks they’d be Peepscycles

They’re  just waiting for the warm of the sunshine to wake ‘em up.  To thaw ‘em out.  Just waiting to come back to live, so cold down there under those  old leaves and grasses of last year, and so, so ready, those peeps, just waiting for the sunshine to warm ‘em up and bring ‘em back from the brink..  And ya know what they do when the sun warms ‘em up. Why they look for girl friends the very first thing. Those little rascal peeps. The sounds of springtime.  I can hardly wait for the sounds of peeps. Springtime music by creatures smaller than your thumb. Musical Peeps.

I’d not heard the sound of Peeps for many years, and  in January 2010 I got new and more advanced hearing aid systems  and guess what, I heard the peeps!  I heard the Peeps for the first time since I was a kid.

So last springtime I went outside many evenings and sat in the darkness of the East Wing Garden, me and Pup Baby, and we listened to the sounds of spring. The Peeps. Magic to my ears. The sounds of  springtime returned to my life. I love Peeps, those little frogs ya don’t see, just hear. Little green Peeps, smaller than your thumb. Little Rascals, Little Peeps.

I’ve just finished yet another book on the life and times of Thomas Jefferson.  Now if ya only know ‘bout Thomas Jefferson as the 3rd president of the United States, you’ve missed out knowing  ‘bout  one of the most intelligent men of the century. That century when these United States were born.

Thomas Jefferson studied the previous failed attempts at creating government of the people thru out the world.  He understood actual history, the nature of God, Gods  laws and the nature of man.  That seems to be way more than what most people understand today.  Jefferson  was capable of handling the job at hand.  At age 33,  Thomas Jefferson wrote, without speech writers or teleprompters,  the Declaration of Independence, also  without word processors or spell checkers.

Thomas Jefferson, the intellect of that gang traitors who started the American Revolution. That same gang of traitors that created these United States. Jefferson hung out with the likes of such low lives as George Washington, Ben Franklin, Patrick Henry and I’m sure others of equally questionable character.

   One time when  John F. Kennedy was President, he  held a dinner in the White House for a group of intellects from around the country. President Kennedy said “This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” Kennedy knew the intellectual level of Thomas Jefferson. It seems as if no one on the current political landscape  knows or gives a damn ‘bout the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson. That is truly sad for all of us and sad for the whole world.

Here is just a small sample of words of wisdom from Thomas Jefferson, should you disagree with ‘em, please let me know. I’d be most interested in your reasoning for disagreement with Thomas Jefferson.

 “When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe”.

With that statement in mind, Whatta ya think ‘bout Detroit? Or for that matter, how ‘bout the politics in Chicago?

 “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not”.

 Currently the Federal Government has mandated that our society shall provide 99 weeks of unemployment payments. I can’t help but wonder is that 99 weeks (1.9 years)  of free money a disincentive to seeking employment. It just seems it could be to some, or so says Sophia The Republican Cat.

“ It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.  A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world”.

 The current national debt of the United Sates exceed 14 trillion dollars.  A number too large to comprehend by even those who keep track of such tings. The major holder of the American debt  in the form of US Treasury Notes is China.  They get their the money from Wal-Mart then turn ‘round and buy all the Treasury Notes from the United States. In a way it didn’t cost China anything to buy our country’s future, they just bought it with the profit they made from selling goods to Wal-Mart. Now is this a shame-on-us or what?

“ I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

  The national health care issue, passed into law in 2010, is the single most expensive law ever created  in the history of the United States. It is intended to take care of us.

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”

Government regulations for every aspect of our lives. If ya’ve never owned a business, ya just don’t know. If ya have, ya know.  There is no way to convince a non business person of  the negative impact the government has on business in the United States. Such impact has to be experienced to be believed.

“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”

 Ask Mayor Daily in Chicago how he feels ‘bout this one.

“ The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

 Some think it can never happen in the United States, others think it can.  Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the NRA is a beacon to protect such rights of the people.

“ The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

 It’s being demonstrated in Egypt as we watch the mayhem . There may come a time when our tree of liberty may need to be refreshed, I hope not, I pray it not be so, but it may, someday in the future……

“ To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

How ‘bout the National Endowment For the Arts. Did ya know the National Endowment For the Arts  paid a guy to put his urine in a jar and call it a piece of artwork?  Did ya ever pee in a bottle? Did your government ever pay ya to pee in that bottle? Some people just  have all the luck. I never got paid for peeing in a bottle either. “course I never asked before I peed if I’s getting paid. Should’ve asked. Damn it.  Did ya ever look closely at much of the work of the EPA?  You’d be surprised. In 1976 the Department of Energy was created with a mandate from congress to rid this nation from dependence on foreign oil. How’s that one working out for us?

In 1802 Thomas Jefferson said “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.  If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property – until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

 Banks too big to fail. Auto manufactures too big to fail.  Insurance companies too big to fail. What ever happened to the idea, too little to fail? Who gives a damn ‘bout the little people in our society, Is it the government, the banks,  or the spirit of Thomas Jefferson?

Ya might have guessed, I’m a big fan of Thomas Jefferson. I consider him to be the strongest light in the history of this country.  Should this nation ever fail, it will fail much along the lines of which Thomas Jefferson warned us all. And we let it happen.

Remember when the only junk mail was in the real mailbox out there by the road. Ya knew even before ya opened it that it was junk, but ya opened it anyways. Some things just never change. Along comes the internet and shortly behind comes email and shortly behind email comes junk mail. Junk email’s  called Spam, don’t know why it’s called Spam, it just is.

I like Spam, ‘course I’ve already told ya that I like Scrapple. I wouldn’t even be opposed to Spam, Scrapple and scrambled eggs. I sounds like a breakfast plan for the future.

My email system is set up to eliminate most all the junk stuff that comes toward the East Wing.  I don’t opt to delete it in mass, I choose to segregate it and look it over first. And much like the junk mail from the box out by the road, I open some of it up just for fun. Now I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase “an offer ya can’t refuse” . The She’s relatives, Italian, they use that one a lot, well it came today and so  it said:

Dear Robert,

Did you know that at this very moment, there is probably undiscovered treasure waiting to be revealed in your very own backyard? It’s true!

Imagine stepping out your back door and finding a bounty that could feed your family for life … save you tons of money … conserve energy and help the planet … and bring you a lifetime of pleasure, satisfaction, and fresh, mouthwatering flavor. Wouldn’t you call that a real treasure?

Well now, the riches of gardening success are yours to claim! Sparkling jars of cherries, peaches, tomatoes, and green beans … golden pools of sweet, luscious honey … jewel-like raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries … all of these and so much more can be yours, from as little as ¼ acre of yard!

• 2,000+ pounds of vegetables! • 100 pounds of honey! • 60 pounds of fruit! • 75 pounds of nuts!

• 50 pounds of wheat! • 1,400 eggs! • Even 280 pounds of pork!

How is this possible? Everything you need to know to get your best, tastiest, most productive gardening results ever is all inside. Click here to purchase.

Now the East Wing sits on 5 acres on one side of the road and 40 on the other, so I’m doing the math on just the home side. All I need is ¼ acre to get these results, what if I devote just four acres to this project? 32,000 pounds of vegetables. 1600 pounds of honey. 960 pounds of fruit. 1200 pounds of nuts. 800 pounds of wheat,  22,400 eggs. And even 4,480 pounds of pork.

Why of course I clicked to purchase. How often do ya have an opportunity to get 22,400 eggs for just $18.96 plus S&H? I think it’s the S&H, that’s where they get ya, that S&H, and make all their money.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the East Wing, Blizzards I’ve know & loved, Cajun Scrapple,  Peeps, Words of Wisdom, Spam & 22,400 eggs.

I Wish You Well,


Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.One of the by-products of  ramblings from the East Wing is the email  generated as a result of words spoken onto screens in places I’ve never seen. Ya just never know how such words will be interpreted or even taken to be as fact. Never, before the East Wing, did I realize there’s such a significant change in the meaning when words are converted from English into Chinese or the other Asian and Middle East Languages, as well as many of the other languages thru out the world. One thing I decided, I chose not to let that worry me one  little bit. I speak English. I don’t speak Spanish, I don’t speak Hebrew, I don’t speak Chinese, I even don’t speak Arabic  or  any other language, I speak English. Unlike my government, I don’t make any effort to translate into umpteenth  different languages to ensure that all the illegal aliens in the United States understand what I’m saying. I speak English. If ya wanta know what I’m saying in the East Wing, learn the language,  and  then you’ll know.

But I do some times wonder if me and some of my Louisiana friends ever speak the same language.  The only ones I don’t wonder ‘bout down there in Louisiana, are my Cajun friends. We’ve  already bonded when they called me Coon Ass, so I don’t wonder ‘bout the Cajuns, those folks way, way south  of Shreveport. As a matter of fact, Cajuns consider Shreveport up north.

Words and their meanings to different people are what brings ‘bout much of the conflict in this world. It’s those things ‘bout what people do and what people say. Egypt is just such a an example.

I sit in the comfort of home and watch on my personal Jumbo Tron,  an uprising of a nation of people.  The same people who’s history dates back before the birth of Christ. Watching the people of Egypt rise up and throw off the shackles of a ruler who had not harkened to the needs of those  he  governed.  The life or death of freedom for a nation of people who predate history.  It’s as if these Egyptian people are somehow revisiting the exodus but, in a different fashion, in the since of “let my people go”. I do believe that phrase has been spoken once before, there in the land of the Pharaohs. But it was a while back.

 The price of freedom’s high.  It’s always been high. It’s paid in blood. It’s always been paid in blood, freedom.  It’s always been worth the price. That price of freedom paid in blood. That’s  the only currency that can buy freedom.

In these United States we have so much freedom we don’t even know how free we are. In our world, freedom just another word for nothing left to loose, and nothing aint worth nothing, but it’s free.

Imagine if ya will, that ya couldn’t move between any of the United States without producing your passport and proper identification.  WOW!  Ya can’t cross that big bridge down there  on I65 just north of Louisville without proving who ya are.  The only way to get on the Chicago Skyway is to produce identification showing you reside in Indiana and have a reason to be on the Chicago Skyway.

Freedom’s  just another word for nothing left to loose, freedom aint worth nothing but it’s free. The cost of freedom’s high, it’ paid in blood, it’s always been.  Seems that most everybody in our society has forgotten ‘bout the time our nation purchased freedom.  Our nation used the same currency as is now being spent by the Egyptians, and they are still paying the price as I talk ‘bout ‘em.

Most of the time the stories from the East Wing originate on the same Sunday it is emailed ya, but not today.  And I don’t know why, it just isn’t. Usually I tell a story, email into the distribution system and go to sleep for the night. But didn’t do that this night. It’s still Sunday Evening, and  for some reason I  still had something to say, don’t know if it was the Egyptian conflict or just wasn’t done telling stories, either way It’s still Sunday night, I just sent ya a story ‘bout the lost story and I’ve still got stuff to say. Things that may or may not seem important to you, but important enough to me to keep me and Sophia looking at the screen, saying words from the East Wing.

I’ve been asked many times by email during the last month to comment  ‘bout the current political situation at the local level here in Starke County Indiana.  I’ve chosen not to respond to such inquiries and questions for a very simple reason. Those who visit the East Wing from many other parts of the world really don’t give a crap ‘bout Starke County Indiana politics.  I found out last week that the emailings into Starke County now comprises less than 2% of my friends who visit the East Wing each week, and as such, we try to talk ‘bout stuff  the majority will hopefully find interesting.

We’re forever humbled to be able to speak to such an audience. Knowing full well our words are not always interoperated the same as spoken, but always meant in the manor in which it’s spoken.  A Hillbilly boy from Toto Indiana talking “round the world ‘bout just common stuff. I don’t care who ya are, that kinda cool.  Never in my wildest dreams could I’ve thought of how the East Wing would expand ‘round the world.

Just to think that there are  people in India, whom I’m made fun of for their inability to provide tech support in a language I can understand,  and they visit the East Wing, these people form India,  then send me an email and ask me not to laugh at ‘em, ‘cause they  try to the best of their ability to speak my language, and they tell me how hard life is in their home town.  it’s a humbling experience, I’m telling ya it’s a humbling experience .  Now if ya ever get an email from one of those towel heads, telling ya off, it’ll makes ya stop and think.  It just does. But I do prefer tech support in English, not Indian English.

As I sit here in the East Wing, this 30th day of  2011, it’s the 46th anniversary  of my marriage to the She. It’s a happy day. A happy day for me and the She. A She who is sooooo  Italian. It just seems to me that if ya have to be born a hillbilly boy and ya have to find someone to love in this life, well, ya just find an Italian She and you’re all set. Thank God for the She.

Today as I taught my CCD (confraternity of Christian Doctrine)   class at SS Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in North Judson IN, I told ‘em ‘bout the importance of love and stuff like that, ‘bout the 10 commandments and how they guide our lives in what good and what’s’ bad. ‘Bout how there’s more rules to getting your driver licenses in Indiana than there is to being Christian. 10 commandments, how hard it is to not break ‘em.  And so we do, but God’s love brings us back into the fold, forever back to God, but only when we ask for his forgiveness.  One of the great things ‘bout being a Baplic and teaching CCD, I can truly see the face of God in their eyes when I tell ‘em the stories. I love teaching CCD.

It’s now January 31st and I’m setting in the East Wing along with Sophia,  looking at the front end of what may well be the blizzard of 2011. For the last 24 hours the weather forecast people have been talking up this major weather system which is moving it’s way ‘cross the nation. They’re calling it the storm of the season, some are even  calling it the largest winter storm since 1967.

But what really makes me mad on this storm of the year, it’s not that foot or so of blustery which is expected to hit the East Wing tomorrow night, it’s that Global Warming thing that’s taking place right here in the middle of winter, just outside the glass walls of the East Wing.  I still propose that we didn’t have global warming until such a time Al Gore lost the presidential election and needed to have another job to go to ever day, after he got fired from the Vice President. And because he got fired, he couldn’t even sign up and draw unemployment compensation, so he had to come up with something to do to make money..

Did ya notice how Al Gore’s fallen out of the national news of late. Seems that when both the science and the weather turn against ya, it’s best to lay low.  And so he does. Ya  gotta remember Al Gore’s at his best when the going is easy. There are many political types who fit this mold. Some of the locals fit this mold as well.

But in defense of good elected officials, we also have those, both at the local and state level, who don’t demonstrate  the Al Gore style of public service, but do demonstrate a true calling to public service.

One of the things I do in this life is listen to my mama, now for those who may not know my mama, she’s 89 years old, still sharp as a tack and told me to make very sure I don’t say anything too bad  ‘bout Ed Charbonneau when I talk politics  from the East Wing. Turns out Ed and my mama are friends even though Ed’s republican and mama’s a democrat.  Things work out in this life, it always amazes me how, it just does, it always has, always will, things just work out.

One of the old weather saying is “ when the snow comes from the east, it’ll be heavy” As I set here in the East Wing tonight, the snow is coming from the east. Now the science behind that old saying is very sound.  It simply means that if the storm pattern is of such size to produce snow and the storm center is still well to the west and south of your location, and it’s gona snow till the center gets past ya. Sometimes that may even take 24 or more hours.  In such case it’s gona snow a lot.

I love to set in the East Wing and enjoy weather, all adverse weather, winter, spring, summer or fall. If it’s  a storm, the best place to watch it play out is from the comfort of the East Wing. A winter Blizzard is one of my favorites. Bring it on. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the blizzard of the winter of 2011.

In the mean time I wait for this blizzard of the winter to arrive at the East Wing. It’s 11:00 PM, on this  31st day of January as we prepare to slide from January into February  and it has just stopped snowing.  But it just a  mere prelude of things to come as the wind continues to blow.  As I fell sleep, February 2011 blew into my life along with the front running winds from the east. A sure sign of winter weather woes.

Early morning on the first day of February, I call my mama and tell her that a major winter storm is barring  down on us and she can’t stay at her home alone, and I’ll be over to get her to take her to my hose at noon. Mama says ok. When I call my sisters to tell ‘em that mama is with me, one sister says “why I just talked to her and asked her did she want to come by me and she said no.” Told my sister, “there ya go, I didn’t give mama a choice, just told her I’s coming to get her, you didn’t.”  Mama was glad I called. I was glad I called. I’m glad I got my mama safe and warm in my house just west of my East Wing.

 By 5:00 PM the weather this February Day One  turned to the dark side and looking like something akin to the  “B” word which has so often tossed ‘round during the last 49 ½ hours. The snow’s now riding on the waves of the wind, they move as one, that wind and snow. Past the glass, the south glass of the East Wing, they move in unison.  In concert, they move the bare branches of my south garden maples as if mystical music is being plucked from bare limbs of Maple Trees. Now ya may not be able to hear the music played by the wind and by the snow in the bare maple tree out there just beyond  the south glass of the East Wing. But go outside right now, bet ya’d feel the music. The wind song. The cold, cold wind song of this winter blizzard.

And so it is that through the East Wing windows I enjoy the blizzard of 2011, as it’s come to be called, with the same excitement as I always seem to generate when inclement weather comes to the windows. From noon until well past midnight on that first day of this new month, this February, I enjoyed the blizzard. Ya gotta  admit, blizzards are kinda cool.

 Snowed in at home on February 2nd   as a result of the blizzard the night before, I watched on TV as the Egyptian people made a down payment on freedom. They didn’t buy it all, just a down payment, sad to think, but more payments are still due. The price of freedom is high, paid in blood. This time it’s Egyptian currency.

But remember the last time people were freed in Egypt, several years back, there were many more difficult logistical problems  that had to be dealt  with. Not only was there a hard hearted Pharaoh who had to be shown 10 plagues, and arranging  for the opening of the Red Sea as no simple matter to begin with.” Let my people go”, a human cry raised for the second time in the Land of The Pharaohs. The price of freedom never changes.

One of the really neat things ‘bout getting snowed in on the second day of February is I’m able to work at home and as such I’ve been able to be more productive in one day of working at home than 7 or 8 days of working in the office.  No phones no clients coming thru the door.  Now don’t get me wrong here, I love both the phone calls and the clients coming thru the door.  I hope they have to line up just to get thru the door.  But ya can sure get a lot more done uninterrupted.

Just me and the home computer operating the office computer and the tax codes along with the client tax information. I love to do the income tax work. But I love a lot of stuff, and most of all, as we start year 47 as me and the She,  I love the She.

Stay safe in Afghanistan

From the East Wing,  Speaking English,  Freedom Just Another Word,  CCD, Al Gore,  Mama & The Blizzard, 46 & Counting

I wish you well,


Greetings to All and Welcome to the East Wing

Did ye ever really mess things up on a computer?  Now one of the big fears that adults have with computers is, “I’ll mess things up, I’ll make a mistake, I’ll loose the stuff.” Well I just did. I messed up, I made a mistake, I lost stuff.  Now that’s not supposed to be. I know ‘bout these little machines, these things we call PC’s.  ‘Cause back in the day, when these little fellers were young, I bought one and took it apart, put it back together again just so I’d understand how it worked, and I learned. I know ‘bout ‘em, these  little PC’s. And have know ‘bout ‘em for a long time. I’m not afraid of ‘em like many people my age. I tell people “don’t let these little things get ya frustrated. If ya get mad at it, pull the damn plug outa  the wall, or shoot it, which ever one makes ya feel the best.”The more ya know  ‘bout anything the more apt ya are to make a dumb mistake with a piece of equipment. A mistake that will cost ya dearly. And so it was that  cold, gray  day in the East Wing. The same reason that farmers get killed while operating complex machinery, complacency, familiarity, and knowing how it works, and  not appreciating  its fallibility. Familiarity with mechanical devices, and some how they become our trusted friends, incapable of doing harm. 

It’s never the new farmer that gets killed with the corn picker, the combine, or the tractor, it’s  the older farmer who’s  operated this complex machine for years, just trying to save minutes in solving a problem with the equipment.   The one who took the shortcut, the one who bypassed the standard operating protocol. The one who was the most familiar with the equipment. The farmer who did not shut the equipment off when a problem developed,  it was that  farmer who died.  

I’m glad to say that nothing as dramatic as that happened in the East Wing, but I did loose a really good story, one that can never re replaced.  Just a dumb laps of memory of which key to push next, and the story’s gone for ever.  Ya gota  keep in mind that most people don’t know how to loose stuff on a computer with a keystroke,  but I do, and did.

There will never be an effort on my part to retell the story. I can’t. It just doesn’t work like that from the East Wing.  Me and the cat, Sophia, we set and tell the story from the brain to the fingers to the screen. The cat checks the spelling and I tell the story. When it’s done, it’s done. I have no ability to recreate the story.  I don’t know why I can’t tell a story twice, I just can’t. I only remember concepts,  and the cat can’t remember either, or won’t  tell if she does.  Damn Republican Cat.

It wasn’t a great story, but was a good story, I talked ‘bout Spike and his growth from a little frightened kitten into his present position as Man Cat of the house. How he portrays  the “Lion Walks Tonight” when the sun goes down. Spike as a 12 lbs Man Cat, it’s a site to behold.

There were stories ‘bout the loss of a cousin, Burl Cole who passed away a week ago. Of how he was a special cousin living next to me at TipTop. One of 12 cousins, so poor they only had one dog to share among 12 cousins. And my family being much in the same boat. But I had my own dog, which my mama made me share with one of the cousins. Of not knowing any of Burl Cole’s children. Of never telling them all the stories I know ‘bout their Grandma and Grandpa Cole when we all lived at TipTop.

I even talked ‘bout maybe going to Kentucky and telling the family of Burl Cole, a family I never knew,  the stories of TipTop. The stories ‘bout my Aunt Mag and the Ginger Bread.  I’d tell it to not only the children of Burl Cole, but also to his grandbabies, the grandbabies I  also didn’t know. But I’d tell ‘em the stories.

I even remembered where that Cole Clan lived, out there on Kentucky State Road 30. Between Salyersville and Jackson. Right there by the Bud Keith Tabernacle. That Baptist Church, along the way to Jackson, on Hwy 30, just before ya get to the Breathitt County Line , which is up there at the top of the mountain. Up there by Bob Allen’s horses, at the County Line of Magoffin and Breathitt.  Up there where ya look into one county and turn ‘round and look at the other county. Pretty country, up there at the top of the hill by Bob Allen’s horses.

Talked ‘bout star gazing into the cold of January Nights ,a story that got lost by the wrong push of the computer  button, and how much fun it was, even in the cold weather, to stargaze.  Of the extraordinary January new moon, and how much it stood out from the rest, ‘bout the  difference from the summer full moon and the January full moon, ‘bout looking at the January full moon with not the telescope but with the binoculars.

Even talked  ‘bout the nighttime cold of the full moon and how much fun if was be outside when ya didn’t want to, but ya were just ‘cause ya see stuff that most people wouldn’t  see in a live time, and how that’s  really cool.

It made me feel bad to loose a good story, not a great story, but a good story.  A story that ya might’ve  liked. It was not a great story, but a good story. The kind someone may have enjoyed reading. Lost forever in the magical world of cyberspace.

Now this cyberspace stuff is what they call it in  computer talk  when ya make mistakes and Sh…t.  happens … It just does. Things that go away in the blink of an eye. It’s kinda like that bump in the night thing ya remembered when ya were a kid. That kinda scary stuff, that ya never wanted to admit ya were afraid of, but ya were.  I was too, them bumps in the night, they scared me too, sill do.

It was a good story, but not a great story. Lost forever somewhere within the twilight zone in cyberspace, lost somewhere between now and then, forever suspended somewhere between yesterday, today, and tomorrow, never to be read for the first time, a good story, forever lost simply when finger action was disconnected from a brain and  a keypad that just happened to be available.

It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “reach out and touch someone” Forever lost, a story.  A story forever not to be judged on its merits, it was not a great story, but I thought it to be a good story, we’ll never know for sure. Cyberspace, just anther word for  the vacuum  cleaner for mistakes of fingers and brains, when keyboards are throw into the mix.

As another tax filing season starts my world gets crazy again, as has been the case for a long time.  And I love it!   Early in the tax filing season, those who know they qualify for or otherwise have a large refund want their taxes files as fast as possible. Those who are most desperate for their money go to one of those fly by night operators who offer an “instant cash” refund on the spot. I don’t do that. For one it’s illegal, and for two,  those folks  doing such shady business are taking advantage of people in need, and I choose not to do so.

Last Tuesday I encountered a husband and wife so desperate for money that they offered to allow my to collect their $6,900.00 tax refund if I’d only give them $1,000.00 that day. I didn’t take the deal. But I proposed to loan ‘em $1,000.00 until the got their refund, which was going to be ‘’bout nine to twelve days. The reason for my proposal was simple, I knew, I just knew, there are somebody out here in Starke County Indiana who’d do such a thing, take advantage of these people here in Starke County

Now don’t get me wrong on this deal, I’m not trying to come across as “look at me, am I’m a good boy or what” I’m just saying when ya do people wrong in this life, ye pay for it, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but ya pay for the sins against the least of our brothers.

I’ve never been able to do that type business during the income tax filing season, and it presents itself every year. Maybe I’m just too Baptist, or maybe just too Catholic, or maybe I’m just too Baplic.  I don’t care what the reason, Ya just don’t do that kinda stuff and sleep well at night.

Ya might count the money, but ya might go to hell as a result of the money count.  I’m sure someone’s   gona  say, there he goes again, that’s the Baptist preaching stuff coming out. And it might be so.   But do ya really want to run that risk? What if I’m right?  Hell’s a long time ya know.

Those folks agreed to the loan.  So I filed their tax return and wrote ‘em a RHCO check for the $1,000.00. They assured me that when the refund check arrived they’d come directly to my office and repay the loan. I believe ‘em. Without faith we’re nothing. I had a good day, that Tuesday, as well as the rest of the week. Just putting faith in another person, and believing that they tell ya the truth, that  makes ya feel good. It makes me feel good that day and the rest of the week. I had a good week.

Remember those little angels I told ya ‘bout one time, that sit on my shoulders, well that little feller on the left, that little red devil angel, said “you dumb hillbilly, no wonder ya don’t have anything in this world, you’re  too stupid to know a good deal when ya see it, that’s why  you’re forever doomed to be poor white trash”.

That was just before the little white angel on my right shoulder reached ‘round behind my head and damn near knocked the little feller off my shoulder with the most amazing left hook I’d ever felt behind my head as she whispered in to my right ear, “he knows what ya do” Little angles, they keep ya thinking, right and wrong, they keep ya thinking. They help keep ya on track. Devils and angels, they’re part of the plan. Right and wrong. Our freedom to choose, right from wrong, truly a gift from God. Little angels with left hooks, WOW ! Right from wrong.

Ready or not, Groundhog Day’s coming! Will the groundhog see his shadow? I don’t have a clue, but I do know that  behind the Groundhog Day deal is a rather odd bit of science trivia that I know ‘bout.

First the folklore side of the story. Look at the legend that has had brought folks  to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania ever since the late 1800’s. According to the story, if Phil the groundhog comes out of his hole and sees his shadow on February 2, it means there will be six more weeks of crap winter  weather. If not, the rest of winter will just melt away into spring in a few days.

Now basis of this story originates  from European Folklore a long, long  ways back. Since medieval times, people watched hedgehogs, badgers, bears or wolves to see if they saw their shadows on Candlemas, February 2. Once people settled in America, the local groundhogs took the place of bears, badgers and wolves. And maybe ever lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

Now this groundhog day thing really took off when in 1887 a newspaperman wrote ‘bout some locals who got drunk one day, dug up a sleeping groundhog, cooked the damn thing, and had a groundhog barbecue while drinking rye whisky . To embellish the story, the newspaper guy threw in the forecasting skills of  the  ole groundhog, called him Punxsutawney Phil. And ya know the rest of the story. To come up with a storyline  like that the feller must have been a democrat, ‘cause republicans don’t drink rye whisky.

Now the Science behind the Groundhog Day  is kinda interesting too.  ‘Cause when people continue a weather tradition, it is usually because it contains at least a little bit of truth. And that little  bit of truth for the Groundhog’s Day in America is related to the El Niño weather pattern that develops  from time to time across, not only North America, but the whole Earth.

The El Niño, an abnormally warm Tropical Pacific current,  that warps global wind and weather patterns. In North America, it usually produces a warm winter starting along the West Coast and expanding eastward. By mid-winter, the warmth of a moderate to large El Niño weather pattern usually reaches the Great Lakes and Midwest. Then, as the El Niño weakens, the warmth retreats and normal winter returns to the East.  But the real story ‘bout Feb 2nd is not the Groundhog. It’s the Pancakes. Yes the Pancakes!

For the rest of the world, Candlemas, February 2, has a particular smell, and it’s not Groundhog.  It’s the delicate scent of pancakes being cooked for family and friends. Whose turn  it is to flip the pancake with a neat flick of the wrist, deftly maneuvering the pan with the right hand while holding a gold coin in the left.  It mustn’t fall, stick to the ceiling or come back down in shreds. They say that to  achieve this little acrobatic feat successfully will bring happiness and wealth. Perhaps no one really believes it, although everyone tries, tempted by the promise of money for the coming year! Hey for the promise of money, I’d flip pancakes too. And I’m sure, given a choice of possible money, so would you.

In fact, the old superstition went a step further, besides just flipping the first pancake while holding a gold coin, the pancake then had to be rolled around the coin. This little package was then carried in procession by the whole family and placed at the top of the wardrobe of the eldest member of the household, where, it was said, it wouldn’t mould. The remains of last year’s pancake were then removed and the coin inside given to the first poor person who passed by.  Among the Acadians of Prince Edward Island a collection was taken up on that day for the poor of the parish.

Just in case ya never heard of the Acadians, think Cajuns. Yap, the Cajuns, they  have their roots in Prince Edwards Island as well as else where, they’re French Canadian, those Cajuns.   I spent some time with a large Cajun family one time in Louisiana. It was such a fun experience, a truly fun time, me and the Cajuns.

We ate stuff that I was afraid to ask what it was, ‘cause I didn’t recognize what it was on the plate. It didn’t look like stuff I’d ate before, and I’d been told don’t ask questions ‘bout food, just eat it. And I did.  It was good stuff, that Cajun food.  Not recognizable, but good stuff.

File Gumbo comes to mind. Cajun stuff. The kinda food ya just don’t eat in Indiana. Not only was it the kinda food ya don’t eat in Indiana, it was the kinda food ya don’t eat north of Shreveport LA.  Now  I’m telling ya that stone cold Cajun. Real Cajuns consider  Shreveport up north.

Those Cajuns called me a “Coon Ass” I didn’t know if that’s good or bad till they told me Coon Ass meant  “my best friend”. Me and them Cajuns, we got along, we ate crawdads and other stuff.  I’m glad I got to know the Cajuns. Those  Coon Asses of mine down there in south Louisiana, many, many miles south of New Orleans. Out there in the real delta country, where the Coon Asses live.  Maybe where road kill and file make Gumbo. I love Cajuns. They talk funny, but they said the same thing ‘bout me.  My Coon Ass Cajuns.

Stay Safe in Afghanistan.

From The East Wing, The Lost Story, Starting The Tax Season, Little Angles,  Groundhog Day, Pancakes & Cajun Coon Asses.

I wish you well,


From the East Wing

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.

Yesterday (January 22) was St. Vincent’s Day.   This is the feast day of the patron saint of both the  winemakers and the drunkards, no vines could ever be pruned on St. Vincent’s Day, like ya’d want to prune vines when it’s 10° outside anyhow. But in other parts of the world it’s nice weather on St. Vincent’s Day.  Now ya just know this St. Vincent feller must’ve been a good talker to become the patron saint of both management as well as labor at the same time, the winemakers and the drunkards.

That sometimes  makes me wonder if St. Vincent was one of the very earliest labor organizers, after all if ya can become the patron saint of both labor and management at the same time,  I’m telling ya, you’re good, you’re really good.   When thinking of early labor organizers, names such as A. Philip Randolph, and John L Lewis come to mind. One was black, one was not. A. Philip Randolph organized the Pullman Car Porters in the early 1930’s.  His efforts in organized labor later became know as the AFL, American Federation of Labor, not the American Football League.

John L. Lewis was most active in what was to become later know as the CIO, Congress of Industrial Organization.  Which would eventually  join with the AFL to become the AFL/CIO, at one time the most influential organized labor force in the whole  world.

Among other projects , John L. Lewis organized the United Mine Workers of America, of which my father was a member, in fact, my dad was a local union president when we lived there in Weeksbury KY, back when I was a little hillbilly boy, back in the day.  In 1949 the United Mine Workers of America went out on a national strike, shutting down most all the coal mines in the United States.  Keep in mind this was when most of the homes as well as most of the electric in the country was fueled by coal.

President Truman called John L. Lewis to the White House to work out the problem of shutting down the coal mines for the whole country.  The union leader was told that he must take his people  back to the coal mines and restart production or he would personally be fined $10,00 per day, a staggering sum in 1949.  On that day John L. Lewis told the assembled news reporters  he’d respond to the President’s orders within 24 hours.

It was well past dark, that  cold winter night in 1949 as an infrequent snow fell on the mountains of Kentucky, when the knock on the door to our house, there in Weeksbury,  that yellow house high on the hill, brought a telegram, a telegram which my mother may very well have to this day.  The message was easy to understand. It was addressed to my dad, from John L. Lewis. The message was simple, it was three lines. Line one  said “ Hello Wick” Line two said “HELL NO!” Line three said “John L.”

They didn’t go back to work that next day, those coal miners in Weeksbury KY. My father told ‘em “ John L. said Hell No”. They stood as one, those coal miners, high in the mountains of southeastern KY, there in Floyd County.  Those members of local 10 of the United Mine Workers of America. All 379 of ‘em, the stood as one. Coal miners, both black and white.  They had a saying there in Weeksbury, “Ya can’t tell the color of the man’s skin inside the mine. In the mine we’re all black” and they were.  Coal dust, ya know.   the President did impose a $10,00 per day fine on John L. Lewis and the United Mine Workers of America.

In a countermove , of which I participated, the babies of the miners were put on the streets all across the nation, with cups in hand, to collect pennies to pay the $10,00.00  fine. I held a cup in Weeksbury KY.

The labor dispute was finally settled and I never knew how much money was collected by the babies of the miners, but I got some money in my cup. John L. Lewis, an early labor organizer. Saint or sinner, I’m not sure if he’d qualify for sainthood or not, perhaps not. One thing for sure, he made a President  really, really mad, and still won the battle of the $10,000.00 a day war, thanks in part to cups in the  hands of hillbilly babies.

Another interesting thing ‘bout St. Vincent is his association with weather lore over the years. As many of you know, I’ve kinda got a thing ‘bout weather lore, just think it’s kinda cool. Some of the weather lore associated with St. Vincent goes as such.

A sunny day signifies more wine than water  and it means that the sap might begin to rise in the branches. Frost on St. Vincent Day presages a delayed crop, whether for wine or rye.

Another interesting fact ‘bout St. Vincent is the association of weather proverbs with his saint day. Some of the more often quoted proverbs are “Fog in January brings a wet spring”. “If grass grows in January, it will grow badly the whole year.” “He that drops a coat on a winter day will gladly put it on in May”.

But in the old weather lore world, the one proverb most associated with St. Vincent is:

Remember on St. Vincent’s Day,

If that the Sun his beams display,

Be sure to mark the transient beam—

Which through the casement sheds a gleam;

For ’tis a token bright and clear

Of prosperous weather all the year.

This year St. Vincent’s Day being mostly a cloudy day didn’t tend to give any hint of the weather to come for the new year. Oh well, next year we’ll watch St. Vincent’s Day again to see if we get a clue to the future.

I’m sure you’ve heard ‘bout he “man in the moon” but did ya ever hear ‘bout the “Woman in the in the Moon”? It’s from Polynesia, and she’s got her kid along too. And the Selish Indians from out by the Washington, Organ region see a toad in the moon.  Ya sometimes wonder what they smoke out there in the Northwest, out by Spokane, to see a toad in the moon. What ever it is, it’s happy, to see a toad in the moon.

Other people in other parts of the world see different things in the moon, some see a man with a bundle of sticks on his back, a giant, or a hunchback. And at the same time the Japanese see a rabbit.  Wow! A rabbit, those Japanese.

But the Scandinavians are the ones who saw the boy and girl holding a water bucket. It was from just such a sighting in the moon by the Scandinavians  that a little know and seldom remembered  nursery rhyme  originated. “Jack and Jill went up the Hill”, Ya probably never heard of it, but it originated from people looking at the full moon and drawing different conclusion as to what they saw.

I don’t  see Jack and Jill when I looked thru the telescope, nor did I see the rabbit, but keep in mind, I’m not Japanese, so I tend to see things on the moon that are not there, just a figment of my imagination. It’s kinda like seeing Godzilla destroying Tokyo in 1956. I love Godzilla movies. Before he was Iron Sides, he reported the destruction of Tokyo, from his vantage point of a third story window overlooking the city, as Godzilla rained havoc,  and he did it well. Perry Mason was a news reporter back there in 1956. Maybe that was ‘bout the time those folks saw the rabbit in the moon.  Ya get scared enough you’ll see anything. And Lord knows Godzilla destroying Tokyo can scare ya enough to see a rabbit in the moon.

Did ya ever think the Star Wars Series is a Western Movie? I’m telling ya, it’s a western movie.  Think ‘bout it, the good guys win, the bad guys wear black, and at the very end the bad guys turn to the good side. And that Yoda feller, why, he’s even a better sidekick  than Pat Buttram when it comes to playing a sidekick in a western movie.

Now that’s not to say that Pay Butrtam’s not important, if it wasn’t for Pat Buttram, Gene Autry would be in same class as Roy Rogers and Trigger. And that’s not even throwing in Roy Roger’s wife, Dale Evens. I don’t know why Dale Evens wasn’t named Dale Rogers, maybe they weren’t really married, just played like they were married for the movies.

Ya gota keep in mind that Gene Autry never had a wife, real or otherwise or even a girl friend for that matter in the movies. Which kinda leads me to suspect the intentions of Pat Buttram. Damn Cowboys, ya just never know. Out there on the open range and all, ya just never know, but maybe they were…..  Cowboys, ya just never know for sure, all alone and all,,,,, miles away from everything……And them cows………… It’s really dark, out there on the open range. Ya just never know for sure…. Damn Pat Buttram.

Do ya like going to the dentist?  I sure don’t. There’s just something ‘bout going to the dentist that against nature, I don’t know if it’s the fear of pain, which they don’t  have any more, or just that ya just don’t like ‘em, but with the dental problems I’ve had over the years, I consider it a part of my overall health program to do a regular dental program, and so I do.

This last week was one of those regular dental visits. Good news, bad news from the dentist. Overall I’m good for my age, but a few issues need to be addressed in order to prevent future major problems. I’m fortunate to be in the hands of the Badell Dental Clinic at Knox IN for my dental care.  It makes a difference in the way ya smile, and the Lord knows I like to smile. Thanks to Dr. Wittig and staff I can now go about my life with one less worry in mind, that worry being is my dental health ok? I don’t normally  recommend things from the East Wing, just in case it wouldn’t work our for ya.  Dr. Wittig and the Badell Dental Clinic are an exception to that rule. You’ll not be disappointed at the Badell Dental Clinic.
Sure hope ya saw the full moon of January. It’s one of my favorite  full moons of the whole year. Almost too cold to go outside and look, but not too. I never look at the full moon of January thru the telescope. If I look at the January  full moon at all, I just use the binoculars. I’ve got a couple  of those things, and one is used only to look at the moon in the winter time. It’s kinda cool.  It’s a high power thing and don’t work well for anything else, just moon looking.  When I look at the moon in the winter months with the telescope, I look when the moon is showing ‘bout 5 to 10%, that way ya can see the moon the best and not be overpowered by the light of the sun reflecting on the surface of the moon.  But it’s sure cold in January to stargaze, and it’s fun too, cold  January fun to stargaze.

Bet ya didn’t even observe Ben Franklin’s Birthday. It was January 17th ya know.  Not only was Ben a world-renowned statesman, inventor, and scientist, but also was fascinated by agriculture. Did ya know that Benjamin Franklin is on the front cover of The Old Farmer’s Almanac? He’s believed to be the father of the modern almanac. I think they make a lot of that almanac stuff up when it comes to weather.  That’s where the word “blustery” came from, that Old Farmer’s Almanac. And we all know ‘bout blustery, and how accurate that is in weather forecasting.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s observed Birthday is also on January 17th, and that pretty much means  we’ll forget ‘bout ole Ben. Now I’m not saying that’s good or bad, I’m just saying if Ben would’ve said something more memorable than “what the hell was that?” when the lighting struck  the string, he might well have surpassed Martin Luther King Jr. in history. When Martin Luther King Jr. said “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed,  We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” It was with those lines that Martin Luther Jr. got the lead and never looked back.

Ben Franklin’s lack of memorable statement is  kinda like Sophia the Republican Cat making a serious policy statement on her point of view as a conservative spokescat and Vice President Biden saying something  stupid like “malarkey” on Meet The Press . Some times the world just dumbs down to the lowest level of the vice presidency. Malarkey, Joe Biden’s claim to fame.

On the other hand ya gota keep in mind Ben Franklin does have  a stove named after ‘em. Now how many other people do ya know that’s got a stove named after ‘em?  Not too many that’s for sure, but just so you’ll know, the Howard Heater is in the planning stage.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the East Wing, St. Vincent Day, Godzilla,  Cowboys, full Moons, Ben Franklin & Martin Luther King Jr.

I wish you well.


From the East Wing

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.

Ever notice how ya don’t really pay attention to some of news on the national level till such time ya become one of the counted, or at the very least somehow associated with those that are being counted.

A few weeks ago I remembered reading news on the screen that the annual flu was well underway for the 2010-2011 season. Seems the people who keep track of those things measure flu seasons like we do winters, as in the winter of 2010-2011. But seeing that information didn’t entice me run out and get a flu shot at the nearest Wal-Mart . Now ya know there’s money to be had in the flu shot business when ya can get your flu shot at Wal-Mart. What scares me ‘bout Wal-Mart Flu Shots, we know where most all that Wal-Mart crap comes from.

Two weeks ago the flu bug came by the East Wing. Don’t know if it came by email, in person or on the wings of the wind. However it got here, it just got there. This particular type of flu bug was the boys only kind, ‘cause it attacked only me and my two boys. I think we, my boys and me, we, got the Man Flu.

WOW! Was I ever sick. Didn’t want to move, just lay still and hope I didn’t die from the pain of blinking my eyes. I didn’t have a part that didn’t hurt. In fact there were some of my parts that hurt four ways at the same time, the top part and the bottom part, as well as both front and back parts all hurting at the same time. Damn Man Flu.

The on set of the Man Flu was mild enough, just a little cough and a little bit of snotty nose. It was ‘bout twelve hours later ‘round 2:00 in the morning that I awoke with the Godzilla of Sore Throats. Looking for some relief, relief from any source, I tear thru our cabinet shelf that serves as the official house pharmacy, ya know that one everybody has where ya keep all the old OTC drug stuff and those old prescription pills that ya didn’t take ‘em all after ya started feeling better, when ya went to the doctor and the doctor said be sure to take all the pills, but ya didn’t, so ya decided to save some of ‘em just in case ya ever got that same thing again, along with all that stuff that’s at least seven years old but it’s still in there too, ya that shelf, we got one of ‘em just like everybody else.

I swallowed Vicks Salve, knowing that’s not the intended purpose of the stuff, but hoping it won’t kill me, but anything’s better than Godzilla in your throat. The Vic Salve remedy don’t work the best for me in the darkness of the kitchen illuminated only by the light from the rang hood. There was some other kinda ointment in there that said it was good for man or beast. At that time I didn’t know for sure which I was, and besides it didn’t say where to put it, and I was afraid to put that one in my mouth. I rubbed it on my throat, that didn’t work either. I did bypass the Preparation H, thought it would take too long to reach the affected area of concern when properly applied, and that was the only reason I passed it by.

An old hillbilly remedy for sore throat pain is to gargle warm salt water, so I’m trying to find the salt. At first I don’t find any other than a little salt shaker. I need lots of salt and that little salt shaker’s not gona make it.

On a bottom shelf of a different cabinet I find the salt. My wife, the She, God love ‘er, is so beautifully Italian. What do I find? MEDITERRANEAN SEA SALT ! What the Hell! Now I’m dying here with a sore throat and the only thing standing between me and the grim reaper is Mediterranean Sea Salt. But in emergencies ya use the equipment available. I had sea salt in hand.

As I pour this Mediterranean Sea Salt into a cup of hot water, I notice a health warning on the label. OMG! In bold print. “Warning this salt does NOT contain Iodine. Iodine is a necessary ingredient for good health.”

At this point, the Lord knows I’m looking for good health. I thought maybe I should gargle Iodine, as that might be the secret ingredient that makes the salt work for sore throats. Going back to the pharmacy cabinet I find the Iodine in that little bottle, that kind with the screw off lid with the little glass rod attached to the inside of the lid. It was only 17 years old. I decided I didn’t have enough to gargle, it’d take lots more than that little bottle for me to gargle Iodine. And besides if I gargled with Iodine, my mouth would be that Iodine colored reddish orange for months ‘cause that stuff’s hard to get off skin, even with soap, and ya for sure don’t want to have to wash your mouth out with soap when ya gota a sore throat. And so it came down to me and the Mediterranean Sea Salt.

Ya can’t find a formula on how to mix Mediterranean Sea Salt and water to use for sore throat gargling, so I decided to super saturate the water with salt.

Now hot water is able to dissolve more salt than cold water. Dissolving salt in hot water to the point of where no more will dissolve is called super saturation. When ya do this in hot water and let the water cool off, there will be a noticeable different amount of salt at the bottom of the water. As the water cools, the salt re-crystallizes and sinks to the bottom of the water. The saturation point of salt to water is heat specific above room temperature. And the same thing hold true for the freezing point of water, salt saturated water has a much lower freezing point. That’s part of the reason why some form of salt is used to deice roads, and any thing else ya just don’t want ice clinging to. Alcohol works too, but I’m getting too far away from the Man Flu story to talk ‘bout alcohol here.

So not having any formula, I just got really hot water and stirred in salt till no more would dissolve, and started gargling. I hate gargling! It’s messy! But it worked for a little while. By the time I needed to do it again there was lots of salt in the bottom of the cup. A quick nuke in the microwave, stir the witch’s brew, and off again to gargle, gargle land. Temporary relief is at hand, Godzilla is now only half size, still a monster, just not as bad. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had yet to survive the first full day of the Man Flu attack.

They knew, the 2girldogs, Sophia The Republican Cat, as well as Spike The Man Cat, they all knew that something was amiss in the East Wing. It’s 3 o’clock in the morning and I’ve got 2dirldogs and two cats, all wanting to hold my hand as I’m rapidly getting too weak to hold paws.

I sit in my chair in the East Wing, with only the front outside light shining thru the south windows, Sophia decides to take matters in her own paws and jumps up on her favorite spot, that being the back of my chair, behind my head, so she can see the computer screen. But tonight there’s no lit computer screen to read. It was when she choose to step over onto my shoulders that I thought “now I truly understand the term, the weight of the world is on my shoulders” . I sank deeper into the chair. I didn’t have the strength to push her off my shoulders. I never knew Sophia weighed so much, but that night she got a lot heavier.

As I dropped my arms to the side of my chair, with the cat around my neck, I immediately attracted a girldog for each hand. The Gray Lady James licked my left hand as the Pup Baby, Mustina James, tried to rub her scarred right hindquarters against my right hand. I rubbed the Pup Baby in the same manner as when she was in her time of need. She knew, that Pup Baby knew. The Man Cat, Spike, determined that all the good spots were taken so he decided to sit on my lap, and he did.

And so I sat facing east that morning of the first day of the Man Flu, in the company of friends of mine, that I didn’t have to tell I was ill, they knew, I don’t know how, they just did. I didn’t have to pet anybody. We just touched, and sat in the semi darkness in silence waiting for the sun, which was still ‘bout three hours away.

No stories were told that night, that night of the Godzilla Sore Throat, just silence and the comfort of knowing you’re in the company of family. Sometimes ya don’t have to say a thing to say a lot. It was one of those times, there in the shadows of the East Wing, as we sat in silence and said a lot.

“Bout 4 o’clock in the morning, the She came looking for me. She found me and my friends waiting for the sun. Just when I thought maybe this would be the day the sun didn’t come up, it did. Setting watching the sun rise in the east, I thought the daylight would bring some relief from the sore throat. It didn’t. The She suggested sipping hot coffee, or tea. I tried ‘em both. A little help but stop drinking and the return of the monster.

It was just shortly after noon on that first day of the Man Flu that the ache all over started. It was hard to tell where it first started, but it spread like butter on toast. And the first thing I knew, there were buttery aches everywhere, and I was toast.

The decision was made to lay on my bed. It was major undertaking to get that accomplished. The first step being finding enough muscle power to move me from the East Wing chair which I had occupied for several hours. It was during this effort to move from the East Wing to my bedroom the thought crossed my mind, that if I’s a cowboy, I’d be sure and put on my boots, ‘cause every cowboy wants to die with his boots on, but I didn’t have any boots and I didn’t think the kinda shoes I wear would count anyways.

We moved from the East Wing to the Bed Room as a family. Once established on the bed, we each took our same positions. Still no stories, but saying a lot. The She wanted to know what I wanted her to do, and I told her most of all don’t laugh at me in my time of need. She patted my knee right next to Pup Baby. She wanted to know what to get from the drug store, I told her everything they had.

And so I started down the path of being both physician and patient, diagnosing and accepting treatment all at the same time. Knowing full well that little could be done for my ailment other than treat the symptoms, I took Nyquil Day, Nyquil Night, and every other Quil I could touch. Then decided to give the salt water gargle treatment another go around. After the sea salt gargle, I actually thought that maybe the end of the misery was in site.

For a sort time there, the improvement was dramatic that first afternoon, and I gave the salt without the Iodine all the credit. But then as the shades of evening drew around the East Wing, the monster returned. Again Godzilla breathed fire, as evening came and morning followed. The second day.

After suffering thru the second night of the Sore Throat Monster, unlike the vampires, I looked forward to the light. Things get better in the light of day . Things just improve in the light, even aches, ache better in the daylight.

The attack of the Man Flu spiraled down into an endless stream of Nyquil , Mediterranean Sea Salt, Aspirin, Kleenex, snotty noses, and visits to the potty, with a little chicken soup thrown in the mix. All the while enduring aches and pains that may have registered on a Richter Scale somewhere.

It was on the sixth day of the battle before any signs of improvement emerged from the doom and gloom of the Man Flu War. And even with slight signs of improvements, another five day until a comfortable feeling of well being returned to the East Wing. A twelve day war. A battle Royal.

As the calendar pulled us deeper into the ice thralls of winter , I’d walked thru the shadow of the valley…… and I did fear…… The Man Flu’s tuff, I’m glad he’s gone, I hope forever. Forever and a day.

Now I’m sure you’ve head the old saying “I wouldn’t even wish that on my enemies”, well the Man Flu’s one of those kind. But if ya really want to dork over your enemies, ya can always wish…..

Stay Safe in Afghanistan.
From the East Wing, The Attack Of The Man Flu
I wish you well,

Greetings from the East Wing

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing. As we left Prestonsburg that first morning of winter, we headed south on highway 23.  That 23 road is one of those high speed four lane ribbons of asphalt, concrete and steel carved through the rock mountains of Appalachia, a fun road to drive, a more fun road to gawk on.   The GPS showed just a few miles to go as we started out that first day of winter, that snowy first day of winter in these beautiful mountains. As Johnny drove,  I marveled of the fact that we had come the  better part of 500 miles, and now this wintery morning we are relying on a thin little black box half the size of your hand, to get us to our final destination. Magic on the mountains, magic in a box. I’ll always consider myself forever privileged to allow both magic one and magic two into my life at the same time.Johnny turned left across the bridge and we entered into Martha’s Vineyard.  Now Martha’s Vineyard is the foot print of the Catholic Church in two counties ( Floyd and Magoffin)  in southeastern Kentucky. These  two counties have a combined  population in excess of 56,000 and have a median income well below most of the nation,  and they encompasses  over 658 square miles, yet, St Martha Catholic Church, simply put, is a jewel placed by God on the side of a mountain, out there along the way to Jenny Wiley State Park. A mountain by Prestonsburg. And oh, ‘bout  that 658 sq miles, it’s mostly all up and down. The only flat parts ‘round there is the water. And even the water is most always going downhill.

They were expecting us.  I walked in, said hello, and asked for Father Bob Damron. The lady said “you the feller with the truck from Indiana”. I said  “ no truck, half car, half truck, half mountain goat and I’ve got ‘em all full for ya. She smiled and said “Father Bob said call ‘em as soon as ya get here, as she picked up the phone and said “ I’ll get some help to unload”. And so we unloaded as we go acquainted. We talked between trips back and forth. With our load all inside, they were all surprised how much we had brought in the Envoy. I told ‘em ‘bout that ½ car, ½ half truck, ½ half mountain goat, and how ya can carry a lot more when ya have three halves rather than two halves. That third ½ mountain goat came in handy that day at up in the mountains at Martha’s Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard is a  three building complex consisting of the small house where the priest lives, the church and fellowship hall and on the eastern most end, Martha’s Portion. The clothes we brought from Indiana were for Martha’s Portion. Martha’s Portion is the outlet place for those who are able  to pay anything at all for its goods. Martha’s Portion is also the outlet place for those who’re unable to pay anything at all for its goods. Based on need, a program is in place whereby no one is ever denied access to any of the items available from Martha’s Portion due to their being unable to pay.

Father Bob Damron is the priest at  Martha’s Vineyard. Father Bob has been there ‘bout ten years or so.  Father Bob is one of the most committed  of any priest I’ve eve met, and I’ve met a few.  Father Bob, like myself, is a convert from the Baptist faith and as such we share a somewhat different viewpoint on religion, and the catholic faith in particular. Certainly a more comparative view in relationship to the Baptist faith.

The church at Martha’s Vineyard consists of 110 families made mostly of converts from various Baptist groups in the area. I’m told some travel as much as 45 minutes to an hour to go to mass. Father Bob, himself, is a convert to the church. In light of the fact that the vast majority of the parish are former Baptist, Father Bob said they’re not the run of the mill Catholics ya may find in the big cities up north, rather they take pride in considering themselves “Baplics”.  I too am a convert to the church and as such, immediately joined ‘em and became a Baplic right on the spot, right along with the rest of ‘em, I’m, Baplic.  Ya don’t have to get re-baptized or any thing like that to become a Baplic. Just  say ya are, and ya are. Being a Baplic is easy, ya already have the faith, hope, and charity, all ya need do is say ya are, and ya are.

I told Father Bob I was going to take the word Baplic to the Bishop of Gary Indiana and request he include it in the official Dioceses of Gary Dictionary. Now don’t hold your breath on that one, ‘cause there’s not too many of us Baplics in northern Indiana. But  our numbers are growing, so ya never know.

What I found at Martha’s Vineyard was an awe  inspiring example of what and how a catholic parish can grow and function in the face of adversity that many here in my church in Indiana can’t even comprehend. Everybody I met at Martha’s Vineyard made me welcome as a brother in faith. They all made it a point to shake my hand. ‘Course keep in mind we Baplics, we, shake hands a lot. It’s a carry over thing, and a good one at that.

I witnessed first hand the work of those who touch the face of poverty in Appalachia. Those who look into the eyes and touch the heart of lost hope. Those who do make a difference in the lives of those in need. Those who’ll never stop their effort. This is a contact location for at least a part of “The Least Of Our Brothers’.

At Martha’s Vineyard, I could see the music of the work. Father Bob is truly the leader of the band, and his musicians are not only all in tune, but they’re all on the same page of life,  playing the same music. What a band. I just wanted to be a member of the band, and so did Johnny.

Speaking of music, while touring the church at Martha’s Vineyard, they had a piano, all covered up with one of those big thick piano cover blankets.  I rally wanted to play on the piano, but didn’t ask. So the next time I go back, ya got that right, I’m playing that piano for sure. Maybe Johnny will bring his guitar and we’ll be asked to play with the band.

After a couple hours spent in the company of some of the most dedicated people I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting, Johnny and I say our goodbyes, promise to return again, and mean it, then cross that little bridge over the creek, turn west as  I tell that little black magic box to take us home.

Prestonsburg to Salyersville is 20 miles or so and we’re going to stop at the house of my sister Thelma. Thelma passed away last January, a full year ago, and there were three pictures in the house that my nephew Pete had given to Johnny.  Pete said to stop and get the pictures. “The neighbor has a key, just tell ‘em who ya are and what ya want.  If he has any questions have ‘em call me”, Pete had told me on the phone.

When you’re driving southeast out of Salyersville, the first road to the right is Burning Fork Road, and so we turned on Burning Fork Road. A mile or so and we’re in the neighbor’s yard.  I walk up to the door, knock, and the fellow opens the door, and before I could start my story he sticks out his hand to shake hands and says “Why BobbyRay I’m so glad to see ya, come in, come in my house”. With this guy wanting to shake hands so quick, I thought I’d maybe found another Baplic.

I’d met this man one time at my sister’s funeral and was embarrassed that I didn’t remember his name. I just said the ole BobbyRay standard when I don’t know someone’s name “bud it good to see ya again”. Works like a charm every time. Told him what I wanted and should he have any questions just call Pete. He said “why should I call Pete, I know ya, and besides I don’t think ya’d come all the way from Indiana just to tell me a lie. We got the Pictures, a set of three, depictions of  Butcher Holler at various times of the year. Those pictures have a special meaning to both my son John and his wife Jaimie.

On the way from Prestonsburg to Burning Fork I noticed the clouds descending down the mountain side.  There are certain atmospheric conditions here in the mountains whereby the fog doesn’t form at the ground level, but the clouds just come down the mountains to the bottom of the hills.

When that happens you’re talking really thick fog. I remember one time when I lived at Tip Top, the fog was so thick, in order to see where ya were going ya had to pull the fog apart with your hands just to get to school.  We used to pull fog apart just to hear it bang back together. Sounds  like little thunder, really, really little thunder. Ya gota listen really close to hear it, but it sounds like little thunder. Some people can’t even hear it, but I did when I was in the third grade at the Tiptop Elementary School. That two room school house, stuck up there on the side of the hill.  High enough up the hill that no flood would ever again wash away the schoolhouse with babies inside.

As the fog came slowly down the mountain sides, I told Johnny it be best we depart for flat lands that we’re more accustom to traveling in. So with Johnny’s Butcher Holler Pictures in hand, we turn to leave Salyersville and with it being shortly after noon decide to stop a Arby’s right next to the entrance of the Mountain Parkway..

We take the orders to go and after getting in the car I tell Johnny there is no way he can drive and eat. We’re talking mountain driving here. Forever you’re turning left or right, but seldom ever straight. Best we set and eat in the Arby’s parking lot. And so we did.

Good thing. I no sooner start on some kinda chicken strip thing and promptly spill  the sauce on my paints, with minimum napkins in hand, Johnny goes back inside and procures an adequate supply of napkins to handle any emergency. And another good thing there was an adequate supply, because no sooner did I finish that chicken dish and dip, a second emergency pops up.  Now I’ve had very limited practice eating Arby’s food and is showed. After the chicken strip / hot sauce on left leg deal, one bite of the Arby’s Roast Beef with cheese and it cheese sauce on the right leg.  Soft polyester travel paints clean up well from both hot sauce and cheese sauce. All ya need is Arby’s napkins and it’s clean without a mark. Magic stuff, polyester and napkins.

As we entered the Mountain Parkway driving toward the northwest, the clouds continued to descend the mountain sides, I was a little concerned as we drove. The Mountain Parkway has a rumble strip cut into the center of the road, I asked Johnny did he know why, he did not. When I told him it was to allow drivers to find out where they were in the fog, He was surprised, but was a believer, as now the clouds hung less than 100 feet above the Envoy. We never had to use the rumble strip part that afternoon on the Mountain Parkway, driving toward Lexington, but we came close.

At the Arby’s place Johnny reset the GPS to take us to visit my nephew Pete in Lexington, Pete has had some serious medical issues he’s been dealing with for some time and I just wanted to stop and say hello.  Just as if we’d been there many times before, which we had not, the GPS brought us to Pete’s front door.

Now when Pete and I get together it’s kinda a combination of Happy Days and a Goat Rodeo. Ya just never know for sure what’ll happen and it usually does. I walked in and Pete was in a terrible fix, his fax and telephone service were not working while his internet service was still on line, and all three came thou the same phone jack from the wall.

In typical fashion, Pete’s wife, Vee, immediately tried to feed us and we allowed her to do so. Pete needed his fax machine service as he was expecting an important fax of some sort. He was spending time on the phone with a tech support person trying to trouble shoot the problem.  They were unsuccessful.

Pete now has some limited mobility issues and was unable to access all of the connections to his equipment. So I told Pete I’d fix all his problems, by getting behind his stuff and work Indiana magic right there in Lexington KY. I unplugged everything, reset what could be reset, threw in some Baplic prayers for technical support at the highest level, plugged everything back in, the phone worked, the fax worked, the internet worked. Pete received his fax. And I got a lot more praise than deserved for fixing the problems. I thank it was that different tech support guy I talked to that did the trick as that first day of winter drew to a close in Lexington KY.

After a few hours of most  pleasant conversation and visit with family, Johnny and I are again off toward the flat lands. It’s almost 8:00 PM and we’re in Indiana, just north of Louisville, when we stop for dinner. Johnny spies a Chinese Restaurant and we give it a try. Such a beautiful interior, that Chinese Restaurant, such poor quality food, that Chinese Restaurant. But we didn’t have a disappointing meal that evening, ‘cause we’d set our expectations low and were not disappointed. by. Inside the restaurant was a large pool stocked with carp, call ‘em Koi Fish. Some big, some little. Don’t know if we ate any of those Koi Carp or not, but  if we did they weren’t too good either.

It was during our stop at the Southern Indiana Chinese Delight that we decided to continue  home rather than spend an extra night and goof off the next day in Indianapolis. The decision meant two important matters would have to go by the wayside. Those matters being the purchase of that Boy Chicken I’d spotted at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant the day before, and forgoing the best hamburger in the world at Carmel for tomorrow’s lunch. But oh well, a small price to pay to sleep in your own bed before the sun comes up again.  After our non-memorable Chinese Dinner, the most memorable being the Koi Carp, which we may or may not have eaten, we drove into the darkness knowing full well we were going to sleep at home this night.

Boy was Mr. Lincoln glad to see me, I’d left  ’em in town when I left late Monday morning and now very early Wednesday morning, he’s covered with ‘bout 8 inches of snow and shivering out in the cold. A quick sweeping of snow, a few minutes of running motors and we’re all warm and toasty. Back home Mr. Lincoln goes into his garage, I go inside hug the 2girdogs, Bentley, Sophia the Republican Cat, Spike and the She, but not in the order I listed ‘em.  I always hug the She first. We don’t shake hands, we hug. It’s 1:00 AM, Wednesday morning, I’m glad to be home. Dorothy was right. Johnny and I, we had a fun trip. We’ll go again.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the East Wing, Martha’s Vineyard, Clouds on the Mountains, Me & Pete & A Goat Rodeo, Mystery Meat & Koi Carps.

I wish you well,


From the East Wing

Greeting to all and welcome to new friends to the East Wing.

It’s the Monday before Christmas and along with one of my two  sons, Johnny and me, we’re on the road again. A few weeks ago I told ya ‘bout we’re going to do a clothing drive for the folks in eastern Kentucky, well today we’re delivering some of that drive.

The response to our proposal that we collect clothes has  been  absolutely amazing. When we started out, I thought if we were lucky, we’d collect maybe enough to fill the trunk of Mr. Lincoln, and I’d take it down to Prestonsburg.

Father Mark Dreves came to the Catholic Church in North Judson a few weeks ago and told of the need for assistance. He didn’t over tell or under tell the story of human need within our reach. He just told the story the way it was, the way it is.

Life in eastern Kentucky is hard, too hard for some, unimaginable for many, yet it’s home to those who’re born there. Now it’s so easy for some people to look down their nose and think why don’t those kinda  people just move somewhere else and they’ll get along fine and not be  burden on society.  It ‘s thinking stuff like that, that makes me some times come close to losing my religion. Hell is gona be full of a lot of people who harbor such thoughts in their hearts.

Remember that part in the bible talking ‘ bout the least of my brothers? I just thank God that I’ve not  yet been “the least of the brothers” in my lifetime, so far, but I’ve been close. Unless you’ve been close, you’ll never know.  When we harbor such bad thoughts of others, consider the fact that we still don’t know how our lives will play out in its entirety, so if an error in judgment has to  be made, it may be wise to error against the dark side, it may save your soul. Now don’t get all bent out of shape and think I’m preaching the gospel according to BobbyRay. But Hell Fire and Brimstone does call attention to ones point of view  and may serve to allow one to rethink appoint of view, from time to time.

That reminds me of a story my dad used to tell ‘bout an ole hillbilly boy, setting on the curb In Weeksbury KY, one hot summer day, half drunk and all happy, with an almost empty bottle of 4 Roses Whisky in his hand,  praying out loud  saying “Oh my Lord, a forgiving God and a pretty good devil too” when asked why he included the devil in his prayer, the ole boy said “ I’ve done some really good stuff in my time and I’ve done some really bad stuff in my time, an can’t figure out which one I’ve done the most of, so I don’t wanta make either one of ‘em too mad at me”.  And so it is with BobbyRay, I’m still trying to decide, so just in case..……And a pretty good devil too.

Remember years ago if ya were going on a trip how companies would provide ya with custom maps showing your route.  AAA was the one I used, back in the day. Trip Planners they called ‘em, maps on paper. Now it’s all in the laptop. Right now I’m traveling southeast from Louisville toward Lexington in the dark of night with Johnny driving and me telling stories on this magic little flat machine setting on my lap, plugged into an AC converter, plugged into a DC power source in the mountain goat part of this Envoy. It not only allows me to tell stories as I travel down the road in the darkness, it also tells me where I’m located on the planet . GPS was not yet science fiction when I lived in downtown Toto.

The best laid plans of mice and men…… And so it was this Monday morning. The day before I had laid out the trip planner in the magic box. We had a lot of stuff to move the Kentucky, a lot more than Mr. Lincoln could handle, so we changed plans and chose to take Johnny’s  Envoy.  Now for anybody who don’t know ‘bout an Envoy, it’s half car, half truck, and half mountain goat. The plan was to load the Envoy Sunday night, and print UPS Labels for everything we couldn’t load. We’d ship ‘em the same day and then we’d leave North Judson ‘bout 8 O’clock  Monday morning.

It was just two minutes past 8 AM I was one block south of my office when I saw Johnny stop the Envoy in front of my office. As Johnny got out I realized he still had his pajamas on. I pulled up behind Johnny, got out of Mr. Lincoln as Johnny said “There’s a little change in the plan, I didn’t do anything last night, I’s just too tired” “No problem we’ll do it now”, I said as we started to load the Envoy.

The older I get the more I  believe all things happen for a reason, should Johnny have loaded the car/truck/mountain goat Sunday evening and I got to my office the same time he did Monday morning, and we just started out for Kentucky, well I would have left the She in a terrible mess, ‘cause this morning the She had gotten a large amount of unexpected funeral work to do in a short time.

Our new business in Demotte, Bubs BBQ, is keeping us all hopping to process the volume needed to sustain the sales demand. It’s fun but it’s lots of work.  Should I’ve left on time this morning I would’ve left the She to slice 50 lbs of potatoes , 25 lbs into chips then deep fry ‘em up. With that job finished, then make potato salad with the other 25 lbs. Due to our change in schedule, I sliced all the taters and fried the chips, and cooked the potatoes for potato salad before I left the cold country at 11:30 with the thermometer only at 5° . Did ya ever see 25 lbs of potato chips at one time? I didn’t either till we opened Bubs BBQ at Demotte IN, now I see ‘em or a regular basis. It’s a pile.

As we loaded the boxes it became apparent that this was the vehicle of choice for the mission at hand. That half truck part, we loaded to the hilt, that half car part, we even put some stuff in there with us, and that mountain goat part, well, I’m telling ya, we loaded that mountain goat part of this Envoy down like a pack mule and the mountain goat held it with the pride of a true champion. Those mountain goats can carry a lot more than most folks give ‘em credit.

For our part, Johnny and me, we’re traveling light ‘cause we’ll be home on Wednesday, could be home Tuesday, but we’ll goof off a little on the way back home.  The most amazing thing, we don’t get out of Indiana and guess what? We stop to eat a late lunch at one of those little brown and yellow signs along the way, that Cracker Barrel sign.

As some of you know, I’ve got lots of chickens, a few dozen or so. Most of my chickens are ceramic, and  have over the years been purchased from Cracker Barrels.  A couple years ago I was in a Cracker Barrel and didn’t see a single chicken for sale. When asked I was told that “we don’t carry those ceramic chickens anymore”. I was crushed. My single source of chicken stock had done me dirty. Slowly but surely I continued to collect chickens here and there. Finding chickens helter skelter is about as much fun as herding  cats, and after that deal a few days ago with the little black and white in the East Wing, we all know what I think ‘bout herding cats.

Much to my surprise, upon entering a Cracker Barrel ‘bout 50 miles north of Louisville,  the very first thing I saw was a most beautiful 18” ceramic chicken. To say I was happy is an understatement, to say I was sad is an understatement. The most beautiful of chickens, a boy chicken, a rooster man, standing tall and proud, and not a single  place to stand in the Envoy. Another good thing ‘bout those GPS things, it’s kinda like that set it and forget it deal on TV. Our GPS will take me back to the 18” ceramic chicken, that boy chicken, the rooster with the bright colors, standing proud, just looking for the ladies. I’m gona go back and buy that chicken, and take him to the East Wing.

We drove the Mountain Parkway by night, entered Floyd County ‘bout 9 o’clock and in a few sort 15 minutes or so I stood in the lobby of the motel next to the Wal-Mart of the Mountain, that one there at Prestonsburg, where they cut the mountain in two just to make the parking lot, that Wal-Mart of the Mountain.

After 10 minutes of standing in an unattended lobby, I simply picked up the house phone on the  counter and dialed “operator”.  The little girl said “front desk, may I help you” I said “no, you’re not at the front desk little darling, I’m  at the front desk and I’ve been here 10 minutes waiting for ya, ya got a room tonight? Yes or no.” Poor little thing didn’t know what to say, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’ll be right there she said. And as I hung up the phone she popped thru the door to the office. A scared child, a little girl who had messed up on her job, had messed up big, and was worried she was going to get into lots of trouble.  She couldn’t  say I’m sorry enough so I finally told her to shut up and just get me and Johnny a room. When I smiled, she smiled, and her fear of me went away.

And that’s what’s so neat ‘bout smiles, everybody understands that language.  It’s like one time I saw the most beautiful little Spanish Baby in our church one Sunday Morning, and later during the mass, when that pretty little Spanish Angel got hungry, she cried in Spanish. Yah,  I’m telling ya, she cried in Spanish. I was so surprised that I could understand crying in Spanish. Right there in church I got to thinking ‘bout how neat it was that I could speak three languages, English, Crying in Spanish, and Italians talking with their hands. I had to learn Italian hand language before I got up the nerve to ask the She to marry me. An old Italian saying  is if ya can’t say it with your hands ya better not say it at all, ‘cause you’re talking dirty.

It snowed sometime between midnight and morning, sometime after I went out to make sure the cloud cover was too thick to see the eclipse of the moon at Prestonsburg KY. It was. I woke up well before daylight, pulled the window shades back to discover new fallen snow as I sat looking into the street light circles of light as I waited for the world to wake up and come to life in the Mountains of Eastern Kentucky this first day of winter, this first snow on the mountains, this December 21st  2010.

The first news story on the local TV was the listings of school closings. They closed ‘em all. Almost two inches of snow. This snow created a  major problem for an area with limited equipment to handle such weather abnormality.  Being accustom to much larger snow falls we almost forgot how disruptive snow can be to our lives. Seeing such disruption in a community with such, what we, Johnny and me, perceive to be a very minor amount of snow reminded me all over again.

By the time it was fully daylight, the magic of the snow on the mountains blossomed into the full beauty  of God decorating for Christmas. Ya  just can’t paint a better picture than when God decorates his mountains for Christmas.  As a fellow tried to snowplow the Wal-Mart parking lot with a small backhoe, we walked out from our breakfast at McDonalds.  It was against the backdrop of those beautiful snow covered mountains that Johnny and I set out to make our delivery, to complete the purpose for which we came to this winter wonderland.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the Mobile East Wing, On The Road Again, The Gospel According to BobbyRay, New Chickens,

Mountain Magic  Snow, The Delivery

I wish you well,


From the East Wing

Christmas Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.

As this Christmas Day, 2010 draws to a close, with the shades of nighttime having engulfed the East Wing, I set here surrounded by all my pets and my stuff, I pause to reflect on the one true meaning of Christmas to BobbyRay.

I’ll tell  ya one meaning it’s not, and it’s that “Happy Holidays” I’m so tired of hearing that happy holiday crap I’m ‘bout to scream. It seems the corporate world along with our government  has gone overboard in their insistence that their employees never say “Merry Christmas”, don’t think Merry Christmas, don’t  even have a Merry Christmas. Shame on them. And shame on us for allowing it to happen.

It appears that a systematic attack has been launched against Christmas, and I for one am not gona buy into it.   People  who don’t have the gonads to take a stand on something as important as Christmas should be ashamed to go out in public this time of the year.  Maybe this attack on Christmas is part of that ole “change” thing so many folks voted for a couple years ago. Or was that a different “change” so many voted for a couple months ago. I wonder when will we ever learn, when will we ever learn.

Happy Holidays! Give me a break here! If ya wanta say happy holidays, save it for Presidents Day and maybe even throw in Martin Luther King Day. If ya want happy holidays, use those two, or even throw in a couple more of those dumb type holidays, I don’t really care if ya do one way or the other.  Just leave Christmas out of that Happy Holiday bunch of politically correct monkey poop.

I firmly believe the vast majority people feel the same as I do ‘bout Merry Christmas, just don’t take the time to make their point of view know. And as a result a minority point of view rules the day.  That being said, shame on us.  As individuals we have such strong opinions, and many times as a group, unlike cats, we heard easy.  Sophia said “ The last presidential election may well be an example of how well we heard. Change you can believe in”. Damn Republican Cat.

Early Christmas Eve morning I had to drive the Michigan City to resupply Bubs BBQ. Now it’s over 50 miles from home, so when I’m driving back I decide to stop for a cup of coffee at a McDonalds  in Westville IN.  It’s not yet 9:00 o’clock in the morning, I’ve driven many, many miles before breakfast, shopped for stuff in quantities that most  wouldn’t believe if I told ya.  So I’m not really in a good mood for crap before McMuffin. I just wanta cup of black coffee and keep get on with the day, ‘cause there’s miles to go before I sleep.

When I pull up to that little black box that ya have to talk to at McDonalds Drive Thru, a little girl inside the box says happy holidays and what can I get for you this morning. I said “the first thing ya can get for me is to say Merry Christmas”. The little box went silent for a long time. When the box spoke again the little girl had turned into a little boy saying what can I get for your sir.

I saw right there it was gona be a hard time doing business with these people, but it’s Christmas Eve so I decided to take the time. I said look, don’t make me park my car and come in there to put  two eyes on you for not saying Merry Christmas to me this morning. The little box said, in a trembling voice, “Merry Christmas”. I said “coffee, black, that’s all” The little box said “that’s $1.07 pull up to the next window”. I said “what did you forget to say”. The little box said “Merry Christmas” I went to the next window.

An adult male was in charge of the collection of the money that Christmas Eve Morning at McDonalds, right there on the north edge of the town of Westville Indiana, on the east side of U.S. Hwy 421, right there  along the way. As Mr. Lincoln pulled up to the second little window that seems to open by magic, a smiling face said “Happy Holidays”. I said “well here’s the deal bud, the kid back there told me that I owe ya $1.07 for the coffee. If ya want the money all ya have to do is say Merry Christmas”.

This fellow  was so shocked you’d thought I just peed on this boot and he said “sir, we’re not allowed to say Merry Christmas, it’s a corporate decision and I just work here”.  So I decided to up the stakes a notch with this fellow, and with my left hand firmly holding a dollar bill and a quarter with my thumb and index finger outside my window, I  said “did ya ever hear that part ‘bout hell freezing over?” And with that said, I turned off the engine and started the set in demonstration for Merry Christmas. Me and Mr. Lincoln sat in silence. It appeared from, his facial expression, his other boot had just been soiled.

With a faint smile he whispered “Merry Christmas”. That’s when I removed one of my hearing aids, held it up for him to see and said “I can’t hear you very well”. The second Merry Christmas was sincere. I reached him the money and as he reached me the change he said “Merry Christmas Mr. you’ve made my day, pull up to the next window and thank you”.

The third and final stop in the journey for the McCoffee was just two car lengths ahead of me and I almost thought I’d grab the coffee and go. But that thought came from the  bad angel on my shoulder who just happen to be a happy holiday angel from hell.  And once again a little magic window just pops open, an adult lady reaches out my coffee through the little window and with a smile ya could see a mile says “Merry Christmas and Good Morning Sir” I must have been the one looking dumbfounded, ‘cause she grinned and said “he told me you’re coming, and he said for me to tell you  thank you again, and Merry Christmas again”. The whole McDonalds episode start to finish couldn’t have been more than four or five minutes if that long, but it sure made my Christmas Eve Morning start out right, and the day just got better from there.

After all, we’re talking Jesus’ birthday here, it’s not some stupid man made up reason to have a party, or another  three day weekend. Some things in life ya just don’t mess with, Super Man’s Cape, Christmas and Easter are  three that come to mind right off the bat.

It was fun drinking coffee as I drove to Grand Central that Christmas Eve Morning, thinking ‘bout the story those employees at McDonalds there at Westville were going to tell, and oh sure, they’re gona tell the story. Ya just don’t get involved with stuff like that and not live to tell the story to somebody. Merry Christmas McDonalds at Westville.

No sooner I arrive back in North Judson than I’m loading 16 chickens that have been smoking while I’m running to Michigan City. The chickens are for deliver to Bubs BBQ  in Demotte. Leaving Bubs BBQ at ‘bout 11:30, I remember that it’s Friday and Johnny and I have our usual Friday lunch date with my mama, and today I’ve invited a guest to meet my mama, a  friend of mine, Indiana State Senator Ed Charbonneau.

Actually I was introduced to Senator Charbonneau by Sophia the Republican Cat. Seems they share some political points of view, from time to time. And the cat’s always in the cradle.  Now I find myself 45 minutes from Toto and I’ve invited a guest to lunch with mama, Johnny and I.  I call Johnny on the cell phone and explain he will have to go pick up mama and entertain both Ed and Mama till I get there. One thing ‘bout Johnny, he can entertain.

By the time I got to downtown Toto all introductions had been made and the table conversation was underway. It was a pleasant lunch and afterwards Ed asked Mama is she liked chocolates. Mama said I’m a chocoholic. Ed went out, returned, and presented Mama with a box Whitman Samplers  where upon I accused him of trying to buy my Mamas vote. Mama told Ed she’d voted in every election since she was 21. Mama’s 89 and still voting.

We all laughed when Mama said “I don’t change my politics very much unless I know the person”. She looked Ed in the eye and said “the next time I see your name on the ballot I’ll probably remember the chocolate”. Ed and my Mama parted friends, after we all had lunch that Christmas Eve in downtown Toto.

One of the things I must clarify here, even though I’ve mentioned both Sophia the Republican Cat and Senator Ed Charbonneau in the same paragraph, I don’t want to infer the Senator shares any of Sophia’s extreme conservative points of view on any matters. Although Sophia did tell me Senator Charbonneau  emailed her and asked to see her autographed picture of Herbert Hoover.  Birds of a feather.

We, as a Family of Howards, go to Mass on Christmas Eve, and so we did again this year. One the good things ‘bout going to Mass on Christmas on Easter is ya get to see all the Christmas and Easter Catholics. Now don’t misunderstand here, I’m not making judgment,  I just saying it’s kinda  sad, ‘cause there’s more to the program than two days a year. When will we ever learn?

Toys and Christmas are like peas and carrots, they just go together. All toys are precious, if not in value, then much more so in memory. I remember a special toy, a homemade slingshot my dad made for me the first Christmas after the Pop Bottle Wars of Toto, such a special toy, I wish I had it still. Today I play with toys that couldn’t even be dreamed about by Leonardo De Vinci. Toys of the computer age, the very young computer age. Wish I was 21 so I could see where computers would go in the next 50 years. But I’ll know, I’ll just know. 

A laptop computer sets on my knee that has many times more computing ability than those used to put the first man on the moon. I hold in my hand a device that won’t allow ya to get lost, it just won’t, no matter what, even if ya wanta  get lost, ya can’t, the GPS won’t let ya. Even if I shut it off, the very next time I turn it back on, it tells me right where I’m at. Even my telescopes are now controlled by the laptop.

Ya know those cameras / video machines, those little things ‘bout half the size of your hand, yah those kind.  Well I thought it was neat to take lots of pictures, remove the little memory chip and insert the chip into the computer and put the pictures into the computer. Turns out that’s old hat now. My son, RJ, got me a different kinda chip, ya just replace the one in the camera and ya never have to take it back out and insert into the computer. The pictures just go into the computer by themselves. I don’t know how they do that, I think they just sneak out and jump in the computer or something like that.

  I got neat toys for Christmas.

As I’m sitting here with Sophia asleep on the back of my chair, the 2girldogs curled up on their couches, and by the glow of the new laptop screen, with  the warm output the little Eden Air Infrared Heather, I’m so enjoying this beautiful sound of silence. This Silent Night, this Holey Night, all is well in this East Wing tonight.  

Your company this Christmas Evening has, as always, made our day. We thank you for coming to visit.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the East Wing, Merry Christmas at McDonalds, Lunch at Toto, Boy Toys. The Sound of Silence

I wish you well.