27 April 2009

Holy Word Processor, Batman! I've Been Awardified!*

I certainly like this kind of rain...

I have the honor of another award, this time from onlyamovie. This one is the "Noblesse Oblige" award, and I must say I was very flattered to have received it. And a little befuddled after I read the criteria for the award: I thought to myself, "You sure you are talking about my blog?". But I double checked, and yup, she was talking about me. Gulp.

Thank You!

If I wasn't so tired and scatterbrained I would lay upon you the Rules, but it is better if you pay her a visit, and check out the other lucky bloggers she awardified. Also take a peek at the profile: one of the coolest occupations I yet seen posted!

*Special thanks to Heinous for 'awardified'...We miss you, man.

26 April 2009

Calving Season

Heart sat quietly in the kayak, waves lapping softly at its hull. He was staring blankly at the dirty white face of the glacier that loomed large across the stretch of open water before him. Behind him, a small cargo hatch lay open, in the middle of which lay a waterproof duffel bag. The bag bulged slightly, faint outlines of two semiautomatic pistols tenting the fabric. Heart scratched the stubble on his chin and considered the possibility that those pistols would just not be enough. Back in the small town of Whittier, Heart had bought the guns from a nervous Russian who seemed in no mood to discuss inventory. And Heart hadn’t enough cash to get the grenade launcher he had been offered. Ah, well, couldn’t be helped.

Gulls and kittiwakes flying past it in the cold air served to heighten the immensity of the glacier. Heart sensed the smallness of himself. He coughed in an attempt to loosen the knot of tension in his belly. The face radiated a palpable feeling of power held in check, a beast on a leash. A leash that could break at any moment. The kayak lifted gently on a passing swell, the chuffing and blowing of animals behind him, whales or seals he could not tell. He back paddled slowly, coming to a halt. Another oily swell, its surface like molten glass, gently rocked the kayak. The slow plokplokplok of water dripping from the blades of the paddle beat time as Heart studied the glacier. Dipping the blades into the heavy water Heart moved himself closer. The feeling of power increased, the air thickening like an invisible cloud of syrup.

The kayak glided closer to the wall of ice, which eclipsed Heart’s field of vision. He had to crane his neck to see the top edge, a jagged silvery knife cutting through the shimmering blue silk of the sky above. The crystalline sunlight glinted off the cracks and runnels in the ice, a curtain of diamonds dazzling his eyes. He paused again to listen for any sounds that the ice was about to crack. Heart laughed softly as he realized he had no idea what those sounds might be. He leaned into the paddles to propel himself forward, closer to the flanks of the beast.

The small craft was now so close that Heart could almost touch the glacier face with the tips of his paddle. A spasm of panic threatened his balance as he shivered in the cold air cascading from the craggy ice. A chorus of waves lapped gently at the waterline, singing of grave secrets known only to the orca and the salmon. Their voices lulled Heart into a trancelike calm. He could feel his heart slowing down. The blood surged slowly through his veins like cooling lava, thick and hot. The surface of the glacier began to smear and blur, and Heart found himself fervently wishing the glacier would calve. He let the sun slide a degree or two down the dome of the sky until it became apparent that the glacier was in no mood to indulge his wishes. Heart coughed and spat into the glassy, green-black water. He shifted in his seat and spoke to the ice.

“You aren’t going to make this easy, are you?” he muttered.

No answer. The glacier face silent, like a dirty white version of the monolith from "2001: A Space Odyssey". Heart chuckled, thinking himself a monkey and the paddle a bone weapon to toss in the air while howling at the universe. Weapons. Heart started as he remembered the pistols in the bag behind him. A smile ghosted across his chapped lips. He sat up straight, galvanized, and swiveled the kayak around to paddle about ten yards back from the glacier. As he did so, he saw that a mist was creeping in from the open water beyond. No matter, hopefully this wouldn’t take long, not if the guns would help.

Heart reached into the bag and pulled out one of the pistols. The heft of it was greasy and cold in his hands. It gleamed like a black pearl in the nacreous light from the dimming sky. Heart thought it must be an old Russian military model; it had a long combat clip in the grip but Heart knew too little about the weapon to name the model. All he knew for sure was that it was big, ugly and powerful. He clicked off the safety and chambered the first round. Pointing the pistol at the glacier face, a vision of his G-maw flashed before him, she was sitting at her kitchen table with cigarette at the ready, laughing and saying “That boy couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a skillet". Heart chuckled.

“Well, G-maw, that there is a pretty goddamn big barn, you know?” He squeezed the trigger.

The report thundered across the water and bounced off the glacier, stinging Heart’s ears with a tiny shock wave. A small puff of pulverized ice blossomed on the face. The nearby sea birds shrieked in surprise and veered wildly away from Heart and the gun as he rapidly emptied the clip into the wall of ice. When it was done, he paused to see if the bullets had any effect. The glacier face failed to move with the exception of a few stray clods of ice tumbling away from the impact holes. Heart cursed.

He grabbed the other pistol, repeating the process as fast as he could muster. The shells tumbled into the icy water around the kayak, disappearing in little hisses of steam. His mind a blur, breathing ragged, Heart quickly finished off the five extra clips he had bought in what seemed a lifetime ago. As the last bullet smacked into the ice, Heart groaned as he realized the glacier face wasn’t going to calve. Frustration drove him to throw the pistols at the face as hard as he could manage. All that way, all that time, all that nervous energy, and the goddamn thing refused to cooperate. Another curse escaped his lips and he dug the paddle into the water to launch himself at the ice like a spear forged of compressed wrath.

As the kayak smashed into the wall of ice, Heart let loose a scream at the top of his lungs, a concentrated blast of anger and fear and hurt boiling up from his guts to shatter against the impassive face of the glacier. His head fell forward as the scream reflected off the face to die out in the pearly fog that was gathering over the quicksilver ocean. Tears of rage poured down his cheeks. He lifted his head and screamed again, this time drawing the paddle back over his head and bringing it down as hard as he could on the ice. The paddle rose and fell, sending up a fine spray of ice that pelted Heart as he furiously pounded the glacier. Small chunks began to bounce down the face and land on the kayak. Heart barely noticed. His face red and throat raw, he continued to swing but the blows were getting weaker and weaker as the rage drained from him.
Goddamnit, break you fucker, break! Why won’t you break? God have mercy, just break and put me out of my misery!”

Spittle flying, eyes bulging, Heart shrieked himself into incoherency. He slumped over the shell of the kayak, gasping and sobbing. Minutes passed as the small craft bobbed slowly along the glacier face. His mind was swirling. He jerked awake from near catatonia as his conscious mind reassembled itself, like the shards of shattered mirror snapping back into place. He sucked a few deep lungfuls of the wet cottony air.

It was not going to happen, he decided. Calving season it may be, but there were no young ones to be found here. Shoulders slumped, Heart pushed away from the glacier with the paddle, pointing himself in the direction of the open water he could no longer see through the dense mist rolling over him. The stoic face of the glacier disappeared into the mottled grayness. Heart stared blankly ahead, paddling slowly, not knowing how he would find his way home.

The kayak had gone perhaps twenty yards when behind there sounded a thunderous crrraaaccck, like the firing of a gigantic rifle. It was followed by a low roaring groan, as if the seabed itself were giving voice to blinding pain. Heart whipped his head around but could see nothing through the thick fog. There was a rushing noise, cosmic thunder, and Heart knew the glacier must have calved, in massive quantities. He smiled faintly knowing there was no way he could outrun the wave front closing in on the kayak. A clear calm descended on him and he turned facing forward, gently placing the paddle across the hull. His eyes drifted closed and he threw his arms open wide, waiting for the wave to overtake him.

The future lay all around, pearly gray and unformed, and Heart laughed as the implacable wave flung the kayak into the void, tumbling, tossing and straining to right itself.

25 April 2009

The Test for Today

'Tis himself!

22 April 2009

A Nice Thing Happened To Me

Between the rain and the sun today, I found time to check in the digital fridge, looking for a snack. And there it was, right on the center shelf, next to the last bottle of Guinness:

Someone was kind to me today. Merrily Down The Stream gave me an award! Stop by her place, and check it out, say hello. An award for something good, that's a lagniappe, for sure.

Happy Wednesday, one and all.

19 April 2009

Running for My Life, Occasionally Colliding with a Lamppost

Lately, I have been running full tilt through life, much too fast to really comprehend anything, much less enjoy it. My interactions with the World Beyond My Shoulders have been limited to a quick dip in the daily newsrag whilst noisily gulping down my breakfast, and the little tidbits I manage to sop up from the radio news that I sporadically hear on my daily commute, i.e. between wishing for them to "play music!" and hollering at the idiots, er, fellow drivers surrounding me on the road.

A lot of what I do hear tends to bounce off; to paraphrase from "Raising Arizona" my brain "is a rocky place, in which the ideas could find no purchase". This is because a lot of what I hear is Bad News on a Global Scale, or Mayhem and Murder on a Local Scale. I reckon at least some of that universal white noise does have some relevance to my poor self, but in reality my headbone and my heart are exhausted and full. Too much swirling around me on a personal level to get lost in the details of messes I did not create, and cannot solve.

In the rare moments that I have a convergence of Time and Energy to concern myself with extracranial matters, I sometimes afford myself the luxury of catching up with What I Have Been Missing in the blogosphere. I know I will find something to make me laugh, or make me cry or shore up some sagging spirits. And sometimes, I read something that does all three. I ran into a lamppost, and it made me stop.

Today, the stars and planets aligned. I laughed. I cried. I felt the cloud lift a little.

Go here: 4/18/09. Read it. Beauty, ice cream and a happy ending. It's all good.

12 April 2009

Easter Eggs and Gumbo

We colored eggs yesterday, and the Spouse, er, The Easter Bunny left a basket of goodies for Wee Lass to find this morning when she came downstairs after getting out of bed. She was very excited, especially when she saw the nibbled pieces of carrot we had left out for the Bunny. She laughed and oohed and aahed over the candies and the eggs. Her laughter warmed my heart.

Eggs, resurrection and rejuvenation on my mind as I sat down to write something this morning. Inspiration coming to me this morning in the form of sunlight streaming through the window next to the couch. A chilly Easter Sunday outside, clear warmth spilling across me and the computer as I write, here inside the house. Eggs made me think of food, which made me think of cooking, which made me think of writing. Which in turn, made me think of how little writing I have done lately. I am, I realized, in dire need of rejuvenation. Not exactly being in position to provide it for myself, I have been seeking it in the work of others.

I have read of a gumbo that, believe it or not, includes sliced hardboiled eggs as part of the recipe. It may sound weird, but it is in keeping with "gumbo" as a concept, a method rather than a proscribed set of ingredients.

And isn't that a wonderful thing?

I used to want a recipe for everything, no matter what I was doing: cooking, reading, writing...living. For a while this worked. Recipes are useful in that they give structure and ideas where there may be none. A recipe can give you a map when one has no idea of the terrain. Recipes can also be limiting. Be careful the recipe does not become a trap.

Recipes are dangerous in that they only inform, they do not teach.

Following recipes is not so much an exercise in achieving brilliance as it is one of avoiding failure. The distinction is subtle, but crucial. I say this because I have eaten more of my mistakes than I have dished up my triumphs. And I have learned so much from those mistakes. There comes a time where one has to do, not just be a passive observer.

That is not to say it is impossible to learn by watching, observing, studying.

Last week I was honored to have three guests posts here on Irish Gumbo: Captain Dumbass, Idiot Boy and cIII. And it occurred to me, as sat down in the sunbeam at the window, that I hadn't asked those fine gentlemen to post because I was too lazy.

It was because I wanted to learn something. I was looking for rejuvenation, something to shore up my sagging spirits and worn-out mind after a long winter of cold, grey damp and spiritual corrosion. I reckoned all three of those fellows would be able to help, and my instinct was rewarded. My spirits were lifted by their humor, rejuvenated by their insight. I learned something about writing. Suffering from thin blood and cold hands, that was the tonic I needed to shake off some rust.

Am I ready to get back in the driver's seat, set my feet in the blocks, hit the ignition button? Not quite, but I am warming up. It's spring, there are blossoms on cherry and forsythia. I can feel the sap rising in the trees. It won't be long.

Happy Easter, one and all. Time to start waking up.

10 April 2009

Old Man, Look at My Life, I Pick My Nose Like You Do

(What we have here is a nice ending to an accidental triad. A triad of stories that, by sheer kismet, or quantam flabbergastery or some other Supernatural skullduggery, ended up with a commone theme: the ages of man. The young(ish) man, the middle ager and now a delightful meditation on the Old Man and the Young Man. All brought to you by the magician, the coyote, the 'Kokopelli from Kentucky', my friend cIII from The Goat And Tater. Boy's got thunder in his head, he does...and pay no mind to his Shift Key Palsy. He still writes purdy - Irish Gumbo)

I have a Friend that asked me once if''n I was an "Old Person" type person or a "Child" person.

To be honest, the question took me aback for a second or two. I reckon I thought that if I answered on way I'd never get to involve myself with the Other ever again. But that is silly and a little bit foolish to think that a way. Anyway, I told her that I was a Child person. I reckon everyone likes to hear that. That you like Children and such. They're cute and squishy and they make funny noises and pick their nose allot. Kids do.

I recon those Old Timers, some of 'em, the ones which I like to associate myself, make funny noises and they sometimes pick their nose(s). But, more often than not, the Old Salts will let you in on some of the Secrets we've long forgot. If you'll listen for a spell. The will.

When I was a boy we had no access to "city water". The lines just didn't reach out that far.

Our water came from a Cistern that was filled by one of the Old Timers by the name of John. John would come every couple weeks and top off our Cistern and he and I would talk about this or that and he'd laugh about my Parachute pants and my Tony Hawk haircut. I'd laugh at his Shit Kicker boots and his bib overalls. And even though I would ask him every time "John. Can I have one of them Camels?" He'd grin and say, "What the hell do you want one of these goddamned things for?" To which I'd respond, "I dunno..." And then, every time, he'd say.."You sure as shit don't. Do you?"

John was a tobacco farmer more than a Waterman. And one Summer, and on through the Season, he worked me like a Dog in those fields. I'd come home blistered and sunburned. Tired in every inch of my body. Tired like you'd never get enough rest again in your Whole life. Tired you could drink from. Like a whole well of it. But at the end of every week, on Friday, he'd bring me up to the House and we'd have lunch and he'd give me some money. No checks. Cash type foldin' money. And he'd say, "honest pay for honest Work." And I'd say, "Yessir."

I don't reckon I know what the point of all that was. Just a boy and an Old Man sitting and talking.

John moved real slow. I think that's what I liked about him the most. He had a good piece of land, many Acres, and his income depended on the Stewardship of that land. But he wasn't pushy about it. Time weren't money to John. He never fought that ground when he turned it over ever Spring. I don't reckon he whispered Longfellow or Whitman, or Keats, or Thomas to it either. He just showed it the Respect that it deserved. And in turn, the Land reciprocated.

I don't live in some major Metropolitan area now. Even though John would call me "citied up". If your house was within yellin distance to another house John thought that was "citied up". No. The city I live in is big. It aint Los Angles or Chicago or hell, even Dover, Delaware big. But it's big enough to give me the Fear sometimes.

All that racin' around from place to place. Every goddamned face I see in the oncoming cars has a cell phone, maybe permanently, strapped to their faces. I think about John in those instances. I wonder what he would have made of all this. High speed this and lightning quick that.......I reckon he'd say, "Shit. The only thing that needs to be lightning quick is the goddamned Lightning." I'd bet my house that he'd a said that. And that makes me full-on belly laugh.

I still don't know what any of this means. There aint any philosophical Revelation I'm trying to make. And I damn sure am not trying to write a Manifesto of some sort. I don't want to go to the Bush in Alaska and live on what I shoot or catch with a hook. It sounds pretty enough, but if'n you've ever hunted for breakfast, well, it aint as pretty as it sounds. I figure I like the conveniences of the Modern world. Although, some of the bullshit that accompanies it, I could do without.

And I still don't know what any of this means.

I reckon I'm tryin to calm my Nerves a bit and I'm taking up your time going on about it trying to make myself relax, and for that I apologize.

Maybe, I'm trying to say that it's even alright to fall Behind. and for that I apologize as well. I never said I was a great Roll Model for impressionable folks. I really shouldn't be allowed around descent folk anyway.

Fuck. I don't know at all. And if'n John were still about he'd probly say, "You sure as shit dont. Do you?"

No I don't, John. But I figure I'm gettin close. So thanks for that.-


09 April 2009

The Goat and Tater: No, It's Not a New Restaurant Fad

Athough I guess it could be, maybe some sort of Caribbean-Middle Eastern-Irish fusion cuisine...I'll look into it.

Many thanks to Idiot Boy for such an uplifting...er, thoughtful and funny post. He gets you to thinkin' he does. Don't let the name fool you, he's all man. At least, I've heard that. (grin)

Someone else who makes you think, but in weird-good way, is cIII from The Goat and Tater. Please don't forget his turn at the plate is tomorrow, and what a fine treat to round out the week. He's got some magic, he does, and I am happy to have him as a guest. Shots of bourbon all around! Slainte!

Mr. Johnson, I’m Afraid We’re Going to Have to Let You Go

(I knew when I asked my pal Idiot Boy to bless me with a guest post, I could count on it to be funny, sharply observant and almost certain to involve the word "johnson". And my faith was rewarded! Behold, a keen little essay on Things We Dudes Don't Really Want To Talk About. Trust me, you'll laugh! - Irish Gumbo)

I have a physical exam scheduled for Tuesday of next week and I’m dreading it. Nothing good can come from a physical and the staff at the Doctor’s office does everything they can to prove to you this fact from the second you walk in the door. Everything from the 27 page sign-in forms, to the glacial pace at which the 13 patients waiting ahead of you are called, to the long wait in the chilly exam room when all you have on is a paper dress (open at the back), and the finger up the ass “prostate exam”, are all designed to remind you a visit to the Doctor’s office is but a sampling of hell.

That’s all horrible enough, but what I’m really concerned about is what the Doctor will tell me. He’s going to say I have high-cholesterol and high-blood-pressure. I know he will tell me this because it is the same thing he told me the last 3 times I have had exams. And, I know this time, he is going to very strongly suggest I start a treatment program which involves exercise (ugh), consuming a diet of hog-fuel, cardboard and broccoli (ugh!), and certain medications (UGH!).

I can get past the exercise and the fiber intake for the high-cholesterol; it’s the drugs for the high-blood-pressure that have me freaking-out. A friend of mine, who suffers from the same condition, has told me that his medications leave him…somewhat lacking…in the libido department. Worse, he actually has trouble, um….getting the bread to rise…on the rare occasions he finds himself even remotely interested in sex.

Upon hearing of this news, I immediately Googled up articles on high-blood- pressure meds and, what Doctors refer to as “Erectile Dysfunction”, or what I like to call, “The Death of Meaning and Purpose”. As it turns out, my fears are well founded. Apparently these “medicines”, while great at lowering blood pressure, also reduce blood flow to Mr. Johnson and therein lies the lack-of-rub.

This begs a fucking serious philosophical question (or is it a serious philosophical fucking question?) to whit:

Is there a point to living longer if you can’t continue to employ Mr. Johnson in the capacity for which he was hired?

Well, my wife thinks so.

“What do you think?” I asked. “According to the information, I’ll be less stiff than a garden hose on a hot summer day”.

“Wouldn’t you rather be alive?”

“Uh, no, I wouldn’t”.

“If you ask me, it’s a small price to pay”. She chuckled, then turned and walked away. I’m pretty- sure I heard her humming “Zippity-Do-Dah” as she left for the store (she said she needed to get some “D” batteries). Sometimes that woman can be just cruel.

So, I guess I’ll take the medication because, I “want” to be around to watch my son get married, and I am “looking forward” to playing with my grandkids, and I “hope” to escort my wife into her golden years, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…

08 April 2009

Be Careful, Man, There's A Ninja Around Here...I Think

Always a treat to have the Captain on board, I think you'll agree. Or is he an Admiral now? Perhaps we should ask Supreme Leader, you know, someone who is really in charge*. We'll see. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, set your course for some new territory tomorrow. Please stop by when Idiot Boy sneaks in through a crack in the window, all shadowy and ninja-like, for a turn on the Irish Gumbo guest post rotisserie. I think you'll enjoy what he's dishing up.

*Yes, I am sucking up. SL has a lemon cake recipe I hear is realllly goood, and I'm hungry. So if I'm nice and obeisant, I might get the recipe. I'm wily like that.

Ah, Spring...And a Young Man's Fancy Turns to F@#!in' Yard Work...Or Something

(I am sort of glad when I wasn't in the same room with my friend Captain Dumbass when I asked him if he would please write a guest post for me. He was a bit distracted,a s you will read, and he's faster than me so I wouldn't have been able to duck. Plus, he has a badass dragon tat on his back. A cautionary tale for us all...Enjoy! - Irish Gumbo)

Do you ever wonder if the tree huggers are right? That a tree cries when you cut it down? Or that plants scream when they're uprooted? If they are, I hope there was a lot of screaming in my back yard today. I hope those little bastard weeds screamed themselves hoarse. I hope all their little weed friends heard them dying. I hope all the little weeds still waiting to break the surface heard too and understand their certain death if their damned heads break through the soil. Vengence is mine.

Ah, spring. My garden has been doing it's thing for awhile now, but today was the first day

*my wife just came into the room and is talking non-stop about some TLC show on woman who deliver babies and didn't even know they were pregnant and wait, no, now it's something about taxes and wanting to get organized now before... something. Probably going crazy and murdering her husband in her sleep*

the wind wasn't trying to uproot trees and the rain wasn't trying to physically hurt you, so it was time to drag my ass away from the computer and do some yard work.

*now my wife is making me check one of my bank accounts to find out how much interest I accrued last year. An account I only go into once a year because I use the money for car insurance so I can't remember my PIN number and have to reset it*

What was I talking about? Right, spring. I was trying to get to spring cleaning and how we do it in spring because the change in light allows us to see how much dust and spiderwebs have built up over the winter.

*Sweet Jesus! Now she's misplaced some statements and is losing her mind*


*now she's reminding me of the year I shredded some vital piece of paper that she had to painstakingly tape back together again and how she cursed me the entire time*

I think I have a new idea for this post.

07 April 2009

Woot! Woot! Set The Alarm Folks, Don't Want To Miss This!

A most interesting cross section of comments on the 'Lemons' post, dear readers, and thank you all for dropping by, current readers and new. I was a bit rusty on that one, but it sure felt good to shake off some of it. (And Kat, I just might put some vodka in my lemonade...or maybe some scotch, mmm....).
Don't forget, though, there is some real talent coming up! Captain Dumbass is my guest tomorrow, so please come on by. I had to promise him some liquor and some favors that shall remain undisclosed at this time (well, forever, anyway)(sheesh, can't a boy keep some secrets?) so make it worth my while...to borrow a phrase from Lady Braja, "the things I do for you people!"

We Are Sometimes Lemons


You’ve seen that overworked, trite little phrase a million times haven’t you? On bumper stickers, t-shirts, and greeting cards. Plastered on a beat-up photocopy of a photocopy with some irritating little graphic and hanging on the pockmarked tack board that is screwed to the wall in the employee break area, hung there by that overly perky office mate with the truly annoying habit of saying things like “Well, now, someone’s got a case of the Mondays!” in that murderously chirpy voice that makes you want to jam pencils in your ears, or run full speed into a brick wall if only it would make them STOPPPPPP…. Yeah, I’m on it, Chirpy McMoron, here’s a big ol’ glass of bitter and sour, just for you.

“Make lemonade”. Sounds great, ha-ha, gee whiz…but totally ignores reality. The cold, uncaring reality that is life sometimes. More precisely, this platitude ignores pain. When handed lemons, make lemonade. Pffttt. Tell that to the displaced refugee living in a camp, running away from machete-wielding thugs calling themselves an “army” protecting “the rightful government”. Begging your pardon, sir, if I give you this glass of imaginary lemonade, sir, please, could you not rape my sister? Or at least not kill my parents?

Hey, Mr. Terrorist-That-Just-Blew-Up-A-Building-And-Killed-People-Who-Didn’t-Deserve-It-And-Spread-Death-And-Misery, by some chance are you thirsty? Really, really thirsty? Are you? You look thirsty. ‘Cause as the son/daughter/father/mother/sister/brother/child of those victims, by some great fortune I have come into possession of this ginormous sack of mighty fine lookin’ lemons, straight off the tree; after I wash the blood off and dress the wounds, how’s about we share a tall cool glass of the finest lemonade on God’s green earth? Nothing better to wash down the big bolus of Pain that was just rammed down my throat. And, hey, killing innocents is thirsty work.

I remember the day I was away at college, and I received a phone call from home, my dad telling me that my beloved G-maw had finally succumbed to the nasty set of cancers that had been eating away at her for months. I remember being in shock, numb to it, not being able to cry until I was actually standing in the church gazing at her casket. The scene repeated itself a few years later, this time it was my uncle, my mother’s younger brother, who had died from HIV infection. I loved both of them dearly; both of them were relatively optimistic people, somewhat accepting of the crap that life had dealt them. They knew there was nothing they could really do to stave off the inevitable.

But at no point in the downward spiral of the awful diseases that ravaged them, took their lives in such nasty fashion, could I conceive of either of them saying “Wow, this sucks, but I think I’ll make a big glass of lemonade. I may be dying but who doesn’t love a cool summer drink?”

Job loss. Car crash. Divorce. Bankruptcy. Loss of a loved one or loved ones. Sorry, mate, not making the connection to refreshment. Ask yourself: how often in life am I the squeezer or that which is being squeezed? No, ‘squeezed’ is too mild a word. ‘Squeeze’ lacks the necessary violence that is implicit here. Crushed is better. Or flattened. Smashed. Pulverized. Words that connote extreme violence or disruption; these are the ones that offer a better fit. Too often in life we are the lemons, the poor bags of juicy pulp that get mangled by circumstance and random nastiness. The result is a rind crushed into a sheet, lifeless, bereft of juice.

A smashed rind: is that what we really want to be? I think not.

If I am going to endure tremendous pain and disruption, I don’t want to be the leavings of a crushed lemon. That would be pathetic and sad. I have to believe there is something better to be had out of all the misery. Otherwise, all the pain and suffering is for naught.

A lemon rind, no. For my pain and suffering, for being trapped between the hammer and the anvil, I expect to be something better. Something better and stronger, perhaps with strongly defined edges. A scalpel or a shield or finely crafted wrought iron gate. Like this one:

With all due respect to the Hallmark crowd, lemonade is for pussies. Gimme wrought iron, instead.

06 April 2009

The Creepin' Guest Postin' Blues

Well, friends and neighbors, boys and girls, dudes and dudettes and ambisexuals, it is that time again. As so often happens when the weather turns, finally tipping over from winter into spring like a slow putt dropping into the cup, ideas like crocuses begin popping up all over. Yours truly was lucky enough to have an idea that 1) I remembered long enough to write it down in my Idea Notebook and B) I actually found some time to write the post for it! Woot!

However, tonight is not that post. Tomorrow I will post it. This is just a teaser. See, I had this other brilliant idea (read: smacked my head into a door frame by accident) and that was to beg, plead, entreat* some of my bloggy buds to please please please for the love of all that is holy please write a guest post for me ImdesperateImdyinoverheah...

Be careful what you wish for. These guys said yes. Yes. Dear readers, I am pleased and honored and just plain tickled that I will have three guest posters this week, the creme de la scum, er, creme of the blogosphere, to dazzle and entertain us all.

For our edification and delight, Captain Dumbass of Us and Them, Idiot Boy at Idiot's Stew, and cIII at The Goat and Tater, have lain upon me some quality wordsmithing, which I will post over this week. The Captain is batting first, on Wednesday, April 8th. IB will follow on Thursday, April 9th. And cIII (provided I can get hold of him, where did that boy get to?) should be rounding out the week on Friday, April 10th.

My big idea, a mental aperitif, if you will, is slated for tomorrow. So please, get a drink from the big bar on the patio and come join me for some early spring hijinks here at Irish Gumbo!

*My bar tab is going to be sooooo big...these guys can drink like fish, and, well, I may have inadvertently said something about buying the first round...