John Lennon's Loo

The porcelain lavatory was used by the Beatle for three years when he lived at Tittenhurst Park in Berkshire between 1969 and 1972. It was expected to sell for just £1,000, but an overseas investor paid £9,500 for it at the 33rd annual Beatles Convention in Liverpool. The lot was part of a sale of Beatles memorabilia, including autographs, rare recordings of the group, and a harmonica owned by Lennon's son Julian.

Man, I'd like a john like that even if it didn't belong to John.


Shelob's Return

If you were reading this blog six years ago (first of all, if you were, you need to take a bow) you may remember when I was bitten by a Brown Recluse, or Fiddleback spider. Yeah, it was right on my ass because, not knowing about these hell beasties, I innocently left my sweats lying on the bathroom floor. Doesn't everyone once in a while?

That bite made me pretty sick, but the doctor determined that it had probably been a baby spider, so the worst I got from it was some nausea, a pretty sore welt, and an occasional flare-up twice a year or so. It was livable because I've seen what can happen from a Brown Recluse bite. Trust me... do NOT Google it. Fortunately, my bite looks NOTHING like those nightmares. When it flares, it looks more like a large mosquito bite...


My Musical Roots - The Ventures

As many of you have read in the past, I come from a long line of drummers. I grew up in a home where there were never fewer than two drum sets at any given time. There was my dad's set, which was usually in the garage unless my parents were having one of their frequent parties or my dad's band, The Aristocrats of Dixie, were rehearsing. On any of these occasions, his drums were brought into the living room.

My brother, too, was a drummer and he kept his set in his room unless he was playing for a dance somewhere. Being seven years older than me, he was all about rockabilly, 50s rock and roll, and later, 60s Top 40. In the 70s he went into biker band music and blues, and finally, country...


My Musical Roots - Spike Jones & His City Slickers

First off, it's important for you to understand that my dad was a clown of the hobo/bumpkin variety, like Emmett Kelly or Clem Kadiddlehopper. Sometimes he dressed up for parades, in which he swept up after the horses only to threaten to deposit the "road apples" on the feet of innocent bystanders. This always elicited a lot of laughter as the kids ran away screaming. It was his schtick, and he came by it naturally as his father had been a child star in Vaudeville who grew up to be a clownish song-and-dance Man, as they were termed in those days...


My Musical Roots - Joe & Eddie

Because the deadline for my book is October first, I'll be spending the entire month of September working on that. I don't want to just leave you here with no entries though, so I thought it might be fun to share with you videos of people who were my first musical influences. I'm talking pre-Beatles, pre-1964. These will be in no particular order; I've saved the YouTube embed codes for a number of videos and I'll post them as they appear on my list.

Let's start with the great Joe & Eddie...


Matt Green - Mission Complete!

Matt Green finished his walk across the U.S. yesterday, from Rockaway Beach, NY to Rockaway Beach, OR, a walk of just over 3000 miles. Instead of taking 9 months as he'd predicted, it took him just 152 days...


It Was Awesome!

Heather chows down on a taco
Heather chows a taco.
Our going away party for Lauren and Dr. Kielbasa was a huge success. There were tons of incredible food, gallons of wine, and lots of laughs and conversation. It's funny how parties change as we gain more maturity get older.

When we were younger, a party was all about how blitzed everyone got, who fell down first, and who woke up in the bath tub with whom. Now it's more about friends just being together for an evening. And I really needed this party. Our circle of friends has been experiencing a few growing pains lately, as all families (chosen or natural) do. So thanks to everyone who made it such a great evening. And thanks for all the food. Everything about it was terrific!

This week I will finish With A Dream. Well, the story, that is, then begins the task of reading it from the top to flesh it out, delete, and clean it up. I have one more chapter to writethe penultimate chapterand then I can actually begin to think about this being a done deal. I'm diving in today, just as soon as I have a second cup of coffee in me.


Weekend Rundown

Okay, I agree with Lynette's last comment. That Fat Bastard entry has to be moved down. Even I found myself avoiding coming here because of it.

You might not see me around here much until after the weekend. This evening Lauren is coming home for a few days and tomorrow night we're hosting, not a fiesta as the new picture implies, but a going away party for her and Dr. Kielbasa. She will be spending a year in Bordeaux and he, as you might recall, earned a Fulbright and will be doing a professor gig at Wroclaw University in Poland for a year. We're going to miss them both, and we thought that Mexican will be the food they'll miss most. I don't know what they eat in Mexico when they get tired of their own cuisine...


Fat Bastard Syndrome

I remember watching an interview with Mike Meyers a few years ago in which he talked about playing Fat Bastard. Mike is one of those actors who gets completely obsessed with (and possessed by) his characters. He never breaks character off camera, or even at home...


Small Pleasures

I came outside a couple of hours ago. The cat was already in her usual spot on the ledge, where she can keep a watchful eye on things while the neighborhood sleeps.

I must talk about the weather because of the heatwave we've had for over the past month. The worst day was last Thursday when it was 108 degrees with a heat index of 115. Right now, I'm enjoying a pleasant 79 degrees. There is a slight breeze and a rain and thunder storm is due in about an hour and-a-half. Already, the sky is collecting clouds. The coming rain will be a celebration, a delight in small pleasures and a welcome purging of all that has gone awry.

Two Quotes on Writing

"...focus on your protagonist(s) and make them the most interesting, human, multi-faceted, deeply motivated character(s) you possibly can. Give them intense, overriding needs: finding love, fighting danger, restoring justice to an unjust world. They will tell you what their story is about. Create a rock-solid plotline out of that. An unexpected hook. Hair-raising conflicts and complications. A climax like electrocution. You know the drill. Then spend a long, long, long, loooooong time enjoying every minute of writing that story scene-by-scene, development-by-development. Luxuriate in it. Wallow in it. Fill your mind with your imaginary universe, roll around in it, get it all over you." A. Victoria Mixon

"I believe that writers who have the sparkle suspect, but never know for certain, that they have it. In fact they’re more likely to have doubts about their work, for the simple reason that they experience glimpses of a perfection that no human pen can ever achieve." Jane Steen


Friday Morning Stuff

It's supposed to get to 108° today and 107° tomorrow. I didn't think it could get worse than a solid month of 104°, but I was mistaken. Fortunately, we have a cold front moving in on Monday, which will take us back into the high 90s. Oh, bother...


Morning Glory Dreams

Remember this picture of our back fence at the other house? No, probably not. I started those Morning Glories from seeds, and for a first crop I think they did rather well. That's what I'm trying to re-create here at Bookends Cottage. Last spring I planted five or six packets of seeds and carefully watered them. The soil here is so much better than that red clay we had at the other house. It's rich and loamy from 80 years of gardening, and needs no feeding...


Peanut Rolling

I've made a new discovery. Or maybe it's a new determination, or both, and of course I'm going to tell you all about it.

I don't handle negativity very well. I can be happy as can be, smiling, enjoying my day-at-a-time existence, but the minute someone starts talking about how pissed off they or, or what's wrong with the world, or how bad they feel, I get sucked right into it.

The first clue is that I get angry. Not raving mad, but just unsettled in the little place that was happy before they opened their mouth. Something in me just sort of wilts and I start looking for ways to get away from them. If I can't do that, I simply tune them out, one of the Waller gene pool's many talents.

That's why, on Facebook, I've hidden people who post nothing but stuff about politics, religion, environmental concerns, veganism, etc. They're still on my friends list, but I don't have to see their constant ranting. I just can't handle it, even if it's flavored with enough positivity to make people think they're not actually being negative. This is also why several months ago I announced that I'd no longer make political or religious posts in Facebook, or comment on those of other people. And come on, it's just so much pontificating and preaching to the choir anyway, isn't it?

I understand social consciousness. I'm from the Sixties for crying out loud. But to tell the truth, I've had my fist up in the air for so long, my arm's about to fall off. I know the planet's in trouble. I know about the rising tide of corporate feudalism. I know that everyone has been thought of and treated unfairly in some part of the world, at some time in history. I know that Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and others of their ilk are morons who are poisoning America. I know that Hitler was bad and I know that Marie Antoinette never said, "Let them eat cake". I know that Lynette and I are considered little more that second-class citizens to some people and that other people believe we deserve to die cruel, miserable deaths, and I know that the economy is the worst it's been since the Great Depression. I know all of this stuff, but I don't have to, nor will I, allow it to steal what little happiness I've been able to scrape up for myself, so leave me alone, alright? Quit pissing on my parade and understand that unless you have something nice to say, I really wish you'd just shut the hell up.

All this is not to say that an occasional conversation about what's wrong isn't okay. I just don't like it to be the only conversation. I've always hated talking politics and religion. That's why I didn't fit in very well into that part of the Sixties. While everyone else was chanting protest songs, there I was, singing Donovan ballads.

I've battled depression my entire life, but although I've gotten a pretty good handle on it, my daily life is a constant struggle with my own negative thoughts, fears, and worries. I work hard at it. I meditate and I always look for the good around me. When people start talking about what's wrong with the world it just triples my workload, which means that once they're gone, I have to start rolling that peanut uphill with my nose all over again. It's exhausting.

Look, the bottom line is that this stuff simply lessens my happiness. It makes me angry and opinionated and discontented, and I don't have so much life left to me that I want to spend it feeling like that. That's all. If you enjoy marching around with your fist in the air that's fine. Go for it. Just don't bring your parade up my street.


Gentle Gratitude, Sweet Surrender

The miracle of life is that just as I start to get bored or tired, it deals me something so surprising, so wonderful, so transforming that I know I'm alive. All I can do is weep at the beauty of it. Sometimes these things can be quite painful when they first crash into me, but with a little time they always prove to be the eventual fulfillment of something I've wanted to happen. When my fear is confronted and put aside, I see the miracle...


Life Passes Much Too Quickly

Today is my oldest son's 40th birthday. How can that be? I was just 40, wasn't I? When I look at these pictures, in which I was a tender 20, I still feel when they were taken. I can feel the sun, the air, the grass and water.

It's odd when your child enters the age group of most of your friends. And Joel and I have built a beautiful friendship in recent years. I had him pretty young, so we've kind of grown up together. We've faced some of the fiercest trials life can dole out, and we've come out whole, sane, and happy. And we have quite a tale to tell...


Just When You Thought You'd Seen it All

Apparently, British TV in the Fifties wasn't much better than ours here in the States. Many thanks to Liz Ringrose for the link to this.

And I'm not apologizing for my silliness the last two days.


Because I Need to Laugh

Things have been kind of heavy for me lately, and I just needed to laugh. When I thought about who makes me laugh harder than anyone, there was only one person who came to mind: the gifted Wayne Brady.

Here are some of the funniest songs from Whose Line Is It Anyway (the US version). For the two or three of you who have never seen the show, these songs are totally improvised on the spot (that's redundant, isn't it), and Wayne is the very best at the art. Besides, he's so damned cute I just want to hug him. Wish he'd marry one of our daughters. I'd love to have him as a son-in-law and give us lots of little Waynes to huggle, the rascal!


I've Looked At Life

I've recently been granted cause to look back over my life in a way that has been both joyful and painful. I hasten to add, however, that the pain is the kind that leads to personal transformation, so I've been relishing it without a single thought of regret or remorse. I'm sorry for those of you who are still in your forties and younger because there's no way you can know exactly what I'm talking about. That's not me pulling the age card, it's just facts...