Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My place in the world...

So I am real guilty of the butterfly effect. You know how it is, I sneeze and a Republican congressman gives a speech to a hate group. I don't know how it got this way for me to be so intricately involved and on the scene when things happen. As I scanned the paper today and deleted text messages from Bob Dylan accusing me of mere journalism I noted a couple of celebrity birthdays. Bo Diddley and Patti Smith are musicians and I have seen both in concert.

First Bo Diddley. It was 1989. The New Orleans jazz fest. I was standing in the crowd before Bo's set chatting with a guy who wore a pin that said press pass. Bo came out started playing and it was pure two chord sonic mayhem of the finest kind. The press pass guy whips out one of those big old camcorders (it was the 80s, things were worse that you could ever know) and starts filming Bo. This was back in the day before everybody had a combination video/recording studio/communications/Star Trek type device in their pockets and also it was a fact that not everyone liked to have their set recorded. There was no youtube and after about three songs Bo leans out over the audience larger than life and points a big stubby finger right at this guy next to me and says "you with that camera, get out of here." And do you know what? That guy did. Real fast. I was glad Bo do not think I was with him or anything because I would have hated to have him say "and you too." I'd have left. Bo was just the kind of guy who made you think you should do what he said. Anyway here is a grainy 35mm picture from that day. It this digital blogging age I would have taken photos of the guy with the camcorder as he fled.  Bo passed away in 2008.

This fall we went for a Chicago visit to see Katie and Peter. We went to the riot fest concert. It's a punk/alt kind of thing. I noticed as we saw various bands that the punk girl singers tended to sound like cats on fire. Not Patti Smith. She sounds like a full grown woman. Her music is not music I ever got really into but I should have. Good music is good music it does not matter what genre and I am luckly to have been blessed with broad tastes. Here's some photos of Patti.  She's 68 years old today

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

It's the Most Confusing Time of the Year...

I know that it should be like the old song goes, the most wonderful time of the year.  When it comes to the great silly string shoot out that is a yearly part of the stocking stuffer gift it can be confusing to the grandchildren. I know it's not confusing to you because as I say it's yearly and you have seen it  posted here before. 

It's confusing to the children because it's adults making a big old mess and getting stuff all over their nice pants. I still get in trouble for getting my trousers messed up even though I am not a child. I remember how I used to think and laugh about how it was so so square for a guy to be in Sears or JC Penny shopping the slacks that advertise "stain resistant." I have since grown. I usually find myself in those stores once a year or so and I can see the advantages to a stain resistant product.  

I also get in trouble over making a big mess and so do the children. They know almost from the start you are not supposed to do that and I guess I know that also. That's why it's so troubling to us and Coraline hollers "All over my dress." 

So here are the photos of the great silly string massacre. If you look close you might see silly string from last year on the walls. It's like that around here. A big old mess, a good mess at a wonderful time of the year..  


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Another Christmas Possum...

The first Christmas possum, as you saw in a previous posting was secured just in time for everyone's holiday arrival. Christmas saved. That's what we think around here. Of course you may think something different and that's ok as long as you don't make me try to think that also. In fact our Christmas was so good and blessed and happy there was a second Christmas possum.

Now contrary to what you think these possums are not swimming in our belly. They are catch and release only. Mary and Miguel are the champion possum catchers. Seems they have some sort of trap that you put a little tuna fish in. I know tuna fish would be protein to fight over with automatic weapons in some parts of the world but like I said, it was a blessed Christmas and a possum will go right in the trap for a bite of tuna. They also have fertile trapping grounds. It's Miguel's parent's house. I don't know why there are so many possums readily available in that neighborhood of tidy early 1960s brick homes. They are mere blocks, walking distance from the hub of downtown Lufkin. Yes sir these are town possums. Maybe we are on the verge of discovering a North Korean invasion plan (they are everywhere) or at least the idea of a plot for a stalled science fiction novel or a new Christmas Story. .In any event the possums for two years in a row have been brought to my cozy comfortable country home for release.

Mary with possum. Nothing makes a girl look prettier than standing next to a possum. 

Peter and Katie squat before the possum in great reverence. Peter had never examined a possum up close. He's Canadian and I know it's the great north woods but he is not that kind of Canadian and  this is Texas and I am not wearing a six shooter on my hip because I am not that kind of Texan even if other people are soon to be.   
Somebody may have to go in after the possum. When they do they will perform "The Interview." Could not resist that one. 
And he is off and running. Katie crosses arms, thinks, "he could run faster, it is Christmas after all. 
The possum has set a course dead east. 
The excitement is over. Katie and Peter watch the possum disappear into the distance. Juan missed it. Mary sets out to catch the next one which by second hand reports was successfully released but tried to go up the steps into my house.  I may be responsible for next year's possum since we are increasing the possum population in my neighbor hood. 

On final reflection it might be some significance the possum headed east. North Korea, Hermann Hesse, war, time, space and a secret league of some sort seem to be topics we could use to explain all these happenings and address who is going to read all this. 

Let us not read. Let us listen to the Tarbox Ramblers and "A Fix Back East.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Morning Duck Hunt...

I have been dragging my feet on the duck hunting this year. It's something I want to do and like to do but the thought of a long cold boat ride in the early morning hours or a long walk in thick brush wearing waders has put me off. I can remember when my dad, who rarely deer hunted suddenly wanted to deer hunt all the time. And I seem to recall that he never killed a deer. I think he just gave up those cold morning struggles of duck hunting and was sitting in the woods taking a nap. I think he was about my age when he started doing this. I decided to toughen up and this morning and head out to the Big Slough Wilderness Area for a hunt. Here's a look up the big slough where I hunted this morning.

I did not duck hunt last year. So I was a little cautious about driving over in the dark morning hours to the wilderness area as I did not know the condition of the road. It's a good road and not slick in the rain but in the wilderness area there is only the most basic maintenance. I set out and with the road fair to good arrived at exactly sun up. You can shoot ducks 30 minutes before sun up but in my two year absence from this area the trail I walk in on has about gone away and I did not want to try to find my way in total darkness.. I had my land marks on GPS but the brush was very thick and I ended up following some one's flagged trail that ended up at a point on the big slough and at that point sat about 30 ducks. I dropped one as they flew. 

It seemed a good spot so as I had backpacked my waders in I put them on, retrieved the duck (a wood duck hen) and settled in. Those ducks liked that spot for some reason and I waited less than 5 minutes and killed a drake. by the end of an hour I killed a second drake and although you can kill 6 ducks 3 wood ducks is all you can have of that species.  

I never really identified where I was on the big slough. The GPS showed and this is crow flies measurement that  it was .15 miles to my favorite ambush bend, .34 miles to where the old main trail ends at the slough and .64 miles to the car. That involves a bunch of walking around thick brush and downed trees.   

It took three shots for these ducks. I was a model of efficiency this morning. In that photo is the shot gun, a Winchester 1200 that I got for Christmas when I was about 17 years old. It has served me well as has the single shot 20 that was my first shot gun and sits waiting for grandchildren to grow big enough for the old family fun of a duck hunt. I was hunting with my dad's old model 12 duck gun the past few years but it's about worn out. These are good all purpose guns that are made to serve a life time. 

So it probably took me longer to walk in and out of the area than the hunt did. On the way out I flushed a bird along the trail that was about crock pot size that I could not identify and stopped and took a picture of this fellow. He is not swimming in my belly but I would like some help from the bird experts in knowing what kind he is. 

On the way out four does ran in front of the truck. It was a great morning in the woods and now we have duck to eat.  


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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas is Saved...

If you recall last year one morning during the seasonal frenzy I burst from the house well before the dawn headed for work. I was confronted by a possum in a wire cage. It's the new tradition, a Christmas possum started by Miguel and Mary. Always important for a new couple like that, they had only been wed about 7 months at the time to start lasting traditions as they begin their lives together. That's just so romantic you will have to wait because I feel all warm inside and I need to get up and dance around the room in my underwear for a minute. 

Ok I'm back. And don't ask me how Miguel does it. There are secrets on this blog. Secrets that we will never tell. Secrets like how to save Christmas. Meet this years Christmas Possum! 
Maybe we will drive around later tonight and stop at places like Standpipe Coffeehouse, The Factory, Blackspot Tattoo and the Old Souls Food Truck and you can meet us there and we will take Christmas photos of your kids holding the Christmas Possum in their laps. No charge of course. Just our way of giving back to the community. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Friday for Me...

I've been rocking out with the boys tonight doing some good loud jamming. I came home and played some more guitar. Now I'm watching Social Distortion videos on youtube. They are a band I missed some how and although I have always been aware of them I just never found the time to like them. I have found the time. The music makes me feel good. Here are some photos from when I saw them at Riot Fest in Chicago last September. 

Mike Ness. Looks like what with that Fender piggy back amp in the background he might be a man after my own heart. 
Other Guitar player is Jonny Two Bags. I just picked up a solo cd by him and while it's not a ground breaker it is good music with the Americana vibe going on. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

He's Making a List and Checking it Twice...

It's that time a year and time for the big game I play. I hear such an uproar each Christmas season. (And really it is not even Christmas. It's Advent, the time where we prepare a way for the King) Also lately I have encountered some folks that want to grip about things they don't even understand. So time I check my scoreboard of Christmas cards hung in the window. 

See there's a push to put Christ in Christmas each year. But when I check my Christmas cards as I do each year the score is 17 to 9 with secular Christmas cards leading the religious cards and looking to pull away.  Some people are not putting their money where their mouth is because I think most of these folks, well except for the card I got from the WH are coming from the same Judo Christian background as me.

Now I know you say "Mudbelly don't be so grumpy! It's because you only have 26 cards, I must have 60 or 70" And I know you probably bought your cards last Dec. 26 during a clearance sale at the poor people's store when they were already too well picked over to get anything meaningful. But if you sent me Charlie Brown Christmas and don't like it when I tell you happy holidays because I happen to like alliteration phooey on you. 

But then I am just writing, raving and pointing out things. I really don't care what you say and I think B.O.'s dogs look nice on his card. I am a tolerant guy. I hope you are too and must be if you like Frosty the Snowman.  Anyway here are my Christmas decorations outside my home. It's really a picture from last year as I usually do about the same thing and I always make sure I have them all taken down before Easter. I hate to waste a perfectly good Easter morning taking down Christmas decorations. 
There is still time to turn the game around. I'll post updates on the score as Christmas approaches. I'll even give a grace period so if you are a little harried this year you can get your's in. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

It's a Changing Environment...

I am a recycler. I am outside the city limits so once or twice a month I load up newspapers, magazines, pizza boxes, fish grease, plastic milk jugs and discarded big screen TVs and take them by the city recycle center. Aluminum cans go to a collection point at church where they make money off the scrap. The brand of shoes I have been buying lately have soles made from the milk jugs and Willie Nelson gets the fish grease to power his bio diesel bus.  I don't know what happens to the big screens.

Some may think I recycle blog post. It's always about music, mine or some I have gone to see, grand children or catfish. Seems like from the feed back I get the cat fish is pretty impressive but how do you know I am not recycling those photos? Well the time to recycle those photos may come because this photo is one I made in the cove at Hank's Creek where I launch my boat most of the time. It's the invasive species Giant Salvinia.

This plant was floating in numerous bunches up and down the cove. Judging from it's progress on other nearby water bodies such as Toledo Bend and Lake Conroe we are going to have a large problem and may already have a giant problem. I only go to one little old spot on Big Sam Rayburn so there may be areas I have not seen where the plant is growing fast. I first noted this plant in an area we were duck hunting two years ago. Here's a youtube video with some info on Giant Salvinia on Rayburn. Note that is from 2009. I have seem more of the plant since then than before this was produced. 

I am seeing changes to the environment, noticeable changes in my lifetime. One of these days and it will be sooner rather than later I won't be quite so mad at the catfish and I won't be trying to get them all out of the lake or I will get too old to do the man against beast thing at the side of the boat and still win. I will leave it all to those young hungry ones, my children and grandchildren. I hope this plant does not turn into a disaster that ends in all the fun Lake Sam Rayburn and the great outdoors has been for me all these years and just turns it into a memory recycled and posted on this blog. 

So check your boat trailers, empty your live well before leaving the lake and while you are at it think about other ways you can influence the environment. It makes a difference and it's more fun that recycling big screens. 

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I Get Yard Work Done...

I like working in the yard. I guess I should qualify that to say to a certain extent. I certainly would not want to get involved in anything that involved large hole digging but raking, mowing, trimming and such as that is ok. This past weekend I had some good yard helpers in Coraline and Warren. 
Maybe not the best tool for the job but Warren gets it done. 

Coraline was a bit harder to get a photo of as she was in constant motion. I made the next photo into a black and white because of some slight blurring. 

They grow fast. Be moving on to power tools next thing you know. 

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Teach Your Children...

That was an old song. It's so true you must teach your children. They don't know things, don't have the experiences you do despite all the electronic media out there that lets you see the world without getting up out of a chair. 

In this photo Cathy does some teaching with Warren. Not only is he learning to fish bit see that distant shoreline? It's partially obscured by an oncoming rainstorm.  Warren is fixing to get taught how to take a good old East Texas butt wetting while fishing on the big lake. 

I got a little teaching also as the final score for this short afternoon fishing trip was Cathy 5, me 2. Rose arrived back at the house about the same time we did having driven in after work with a shrimp creole she  made (Juan is doing border duty this week) and we fried up those fish to make a real fine dinner. 


Friday, December 05, 2014

John Hiatt at the House at the House of Blues...

So it was our first trip to the House of Blues. We met Annie there to see John Hiatt. He's a favorite of ours and this made the third time to see him. In the past as I travel around there is usually a House of Blues everywhere I go. While they certainly have good music I usually have avoid them for a more authentic local experience. Well we went ahead and dived right in for a great concert. I was for sure in the company of a couple of bluesy chicks. 

It was a solo concert just a man and his guitar. Previous John Hiatt concerts we have seen were him opening for CSN with Sonny Landreth's band and a two man show with David Lindley. A gear head note I don't know what the little amp is right behind John but it is a serious retro cool item. John's sound was nice and clean but I bet I could I could make it sound scrunchy. 

We had good comfortable balcony seats. We ate there and the food was good. I got the spicy burger and it had burning fresh jalapenos on it. Cathy got the fried chicken and it was a pile I ate sme of. I think Annie took a go box of food. I browsed the gift shop but bought nothing. I did like the rockabilly gas monkey style shirts. They had harps for sale but only in "C" and I need an "F" right now.  HOB is kind of a pricey place so most of the crowd was like me. Old rich people. 


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

I Dreamed Last Night...

I was at the Alamo. I mean I was really at the Alamo and it was not just one day when I was standing around all fat and full after a large Mexican dinner at a restaurant on San Antone's River Walk. I was at the Alamo in the courtyard and my best guess was it was during the legendary, mythical, historical scene where Colonel Travis draws the line in the sand and it was time to decide go or stay. In my dream I want to stay but really need to leave. See I dreamed I had a home health patient to see in Tyler.   

I stand there and look at my watch. It's digital and it's 4:15pm. I calculate and think. Maybe I can be in Tyler by 5:30, spend about an hour with the patient and be back on  my way here. I voice this possibility to those around me and people say, "that's not going to work." We know now that this is a dream so it is possible for Tyler to be one hour and fifteen minutes from San Antone. I do get paid for mileage if I do home health but in reality it is a 308 mile trip between two cities although as I think about it I doubt that's a record for home health miles in a day.  If I could drive to Tyler to see a patient and them have a patient to see in San Antone on return and therefore charge miles for the round trip it might be a record. It also might generate a red flag in the payroll office. That brings to mind the question about how late at night could you see a home health patient. In a nursing home or hospital setting I commonly roust people out of bed. I have never gone to a patients house late at night to do this and it might happen because in my dream it's now 4:30pm and that sets my arrival back a little bit. I need to get out of here. 

Get out of here is what I do. And it's the easy way. I wake up. It's my day off. I don't have to see any patients. In case you are wondering if I have committed some inadvertent violation of patient identity I do not have a home health patient in Tyler and in fact rarely make home health visits. I also rarely go to the Alamo. The only picture I have that is remotely related to the Alamo is this photo taken years ago on a trip along the old mission trail. It's before digital. I used a 35mm. 

I think pictures of me and the Alamo do exist in my mom's photo albums. It's taken on a family vacation  in the plaza on a hot July day. I stand in front of the old mission  in the late 1960s all fat and full. It's sunny and bright but at that age I did not know that there is such a thing as air conditioning and it was a thrill to be at the Alamo storing memories that would turn into dreams all these years later.  


Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Here's a New Vision...

Here's the new vision. Just studying my various influences has led me the the idea that a whole body of music needs to be composed about the catfish. It needs to have lots of tuba and banjo in these pieces. I am just the man for this job and I have begun by composing the "Catfish March."

It's a looped track. I played all instruments. To begin I played a Kingston tenor banjo of unknown vintage (50s-60s?) through the looper. I then played my 1936 King tuba for the bass track. I laid a third layer of me playing the cajon drum. Next I played a solo on a kazoo I bought in the French Quarter Market, a solo on a  DeArmond hollow body guitar and a harp solo all in real time. All sounds ran through a 1968 Fender Bandmaster Reverb amp. I recorded two passes and picked the one I liked best. Here it is. I like it and hope you do too.
The Catfish March

This sets me up for other compositions such as the Catfish Serenade, Catfish Fiesta, Catfish Lullaby and so on. Just to show that composing catfish music is a legitimate art form here is a new blues artist to the scene, Gary Clark, Jr playing an old, old tune that goes way way back "Catfish Blues."

Monday, December 01, 2014

Back in Action...

I had some internet troubles at home after an unexpected power outage left me sitting in the dark Thanksgiving night. Good customer service from Consolidated Communications delivered a new router to my door about the time I got off work yesterday. For those of you who thought that the reason for my absence was that Cathy made me quit writing this blog here's her photo posed with her dad Bill and his wife Geneva. 

Bill is rocking a pink shirt, black pants and vest. Just a historical note, Elvis was the guy who made it ok for the rest of us guys to rock a pink shirt and black pants. Life as we know it would be entirely different if Elvis had rocked pink pants and a black shirt. 

Life would be different without this blog. This weekend at Waymon Bullock's memorial service I ran into old friends who said "I just love your stuff on the blog." As an off the grid type that gets Cathy's goat a bit that people she does not know, know her through this. I say "but honey, they think you rock." I'll admit that she does occasionally leverage content here. The price of staying in business. 

So back on line. Got some ideas, some music, and adventures are planned.  

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