Saturday, December 31, 2005



May this year be a nice non-sucky one for all of us.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Just What the H*ll Am I ??

A while back I did one of those politics quizzes. Y'know, find out just where you lay in the big scheme of things. I was quite shocked to find that according to them, anyway, I have Libertarian leanings-actually more Libertarian than Republican. I was stunned.

Libertarians, to me, have always been part of that 'Legalize EVERYTHING!' crowd-something that I find extremely distasteful. I'm not comfortable with that agenda-nor would I want to be lumped into that group. Any society has to have limits, rules, laws. In my mind there is no such thing as a 'victimless crime'. All your actions have repercussions. Sadly alot of folks don't take that into account- which is precisely WHY we, as a nation and society, have laws! To protect us from the pinheads!
In my mind, the Libertarian party is just one or two steps removed from anarchy. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm oversimplifying it. But that has always been my impression of them as a whole.
Now, there are some aspects of their line of thought that I agree with-that big government is wrong, that it should stay for the most part out of our personal lives-but my affinity to them pretty much ends there. All the other stuff that goes along with that crowd I cannot in good conscience go along with. Hence, my mental anguish. I feel that when you align yourself to a particular political party, you are giving your stamp of approval to all it stands for, that it embodies your personal feelings and values. It's a blanket 'mission statement' for you as an American. Some of the Libertarian line is just too whack for this stick-in-the-mud hillbilly.
Maybe I'm wrong. But I have visited a lot of Libertarian sites to investigate this further and to ed'jucate myself and I'm still just a dab confused.
Can one be a Conservative Libertarian? That almost is an oxymoron in my way of thinking.

When I started this blog and slapped the title down it was serving 2 purposes : I was poking some fun at some of the old, stalwart newspapers that use 'Republican' in their name and to indicate just where (I thought) I stood politically. Besides-How can you not say "White Trash Republican" out loud and NOT smile or laugh? You gotta admit it is a funny title! And it suited me, I thought.
Besides, "The White Trash Conservative Libertarian with some Blantant Republican Leanings" just doesn't carry the same panache...and makes for a hell of a long and hard to remember URL!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Arelia Mae Rench, 2/23/1919 - 12/20/2005

(This was written on Dec. 21st.)

Yesterday morning I got the phone call I had been expecting. Ma had passed way just as dawn was breaking on the west coast after falling into a coma about 48 hours earlier.
Even though it was not unexpected, I did weep and wail afterwards briefly. But now I'm ok about it. Ma was just flat out worn out and it was way past time for her. I have no doubt where she is and I'm happy in that thought. But dammit, I still will miss her-she was an odd duck, an innocent in a big weird world, a stranger in a strange land. Naive about almost everything, but not afraid to let on about her ignorance. In the years that I knew her I have a vast amount of funny memories that will stay with me.
It was Ma's natural sweetness and humorous scatterbrainess that endeared her to everyone. It's strange these days to think that someone who sprang from such a ridiculously dysfunctional and horrid childhood could turn out so well. But as Ma herself said: "We didn't know no better." and therein is the secret- One only feels they are deprived and have a sorry lot in life only if it is made known to them. She wasn't a victim of poverty because noone told her she was! She was just part of a passel of kids, trying to be raised by a beleagured woman who had the bad luck to be married to a man much older than herself who came with a boatload of personal issues and addictions. They weren't no better or worse than any other lower-class family out in rural Indiana in the 1920's on the cusp of the Great Depression.

Ma's dad was a veteran of WWI. He came back from that ordeal saddled with physical injuries, mental demons and a walloping addiction to morphine and alcohol. Her dad often being bedridden, whacked out on morphine and seeing spiders on the walls was just routine. He would try to work when he could, more often than not to feed his addictions, not so much to benefit the household any and they were often part-time gigs or temporary jobs. They moved frequently. They were "on the county", as Mom told it- meaning what passed for Welfare in those days. A 40 lb. sack of flour, a 20 lb. sack of pinto beans and a can of lard, maybe a bag of sugar or salt was the stipend provided by some county department monthly. The rest was up to them. There were 5 kids in the family. (Mom's twin died in infancy.) Honestly, I don't know how Bessie coped with it, all them kids, a majorly impaired spouse-the uncertainity of life every friggin' day! But some how they did. What choice did they have? Oddly enough, despite all the unspeakable hardships they endured, my Mom spoke of her childhood as a happy one. In this case-ignorance was truly blissful.

At an early age Mom did what she could to help the family out. That's where she learned to love fishing. She often spoke of heading out to good fishin' holes (often some farm pond nearby.) most times alone, as young as 6 (!) , to fish the day away and bring home something to add to the evening meal. I think she relished this time away from her miserable situation-a time to get lost in your own thoughts and childhood imaginations. She told of an incident of a rather good fishing day. Her stringer was full, pegged to the pond bank when she spied a wildlife agent coming down the road. She was terrified. Firstly, because she was tresspassing on this farmland-having hopped over the fence to get to the pond and secondly, she suspected she had a few undersize fish in her possesion. Visions of jail filled her head. Nevermind that she was just a kid and more than likely if the agent even bothered with her all she would get was a stern talking to and may have to throw her fish back. Mom panicked. She quickly pulled her stringer, hiked her jumper and hid the stringer of still wriggling fish in her bloomers and then beat feet back to the house. She told of how uncomfortable it was trying to run with a bunch of sunfish flipping around in your undies.
She told me that story one summer afternoon, years ago, while the 2 of us were fishing at my own pond here on the farm. Everytime my folks would visit, Mom and me would go fishing. It was her favorite past time.

All her life she was called Harriet. About 30 years ago something came up that required her to produce her birth certificate. Nowadays that document is a neccessity when applying for almost anything, but way back when not so apparently. And Mom had skated through life without ever having to really prove who she was. I believe it had something to do with her social security or something, any how when my folks were back in Indiana on their annual summer pilgrimage to their respective hometowns Mom went to the courthouse to hunt up her birth certificate and get a copy. She gave her name as Harriet and gave the birthdate.
No such records could be found of a person by that name. More questions were asked, Mom answered. Her mom's name, her dad's, etc. etc. etc. Finally after quite a while the dots were connected and a birth certificate produced. Mom had been named at birth Arelia Mae! Yet as far back as she could recall and as far back as her sisters could recall she had always been Harriet! How or why this name change had occured was a mystery. One sister offered a possible explanation, even if it was a bit of a stretch : Their dad was the one who had named them all. By the time my Mom had showed up her dad had suffered some mini-strokes and many years of substance abuse, leaving his speech somewhat impaired. Perhaps 'Harriet' was what everyone heard when he said 'Arelia' or vice versa. A strange theory, but the only one they could come up with. Rather than adopt to a new name, my Mom went through the lengthy legal hassel of getting her name "officially" changed to Harriet on her birth certificate.

Mom was left-handed. This combined with an odd surname made for easy schoolyard fodder.
All through her elementary school years she had been taunted with "Left Handed Monkey Wrench". She hated that. I can just imagine the grief she had to endure with a label like that-kids can be cruel no matter what era we are talking about.
But her left-handedness led to some interesting adaptations- I marvelled how she could take a guitar, strung right handed and strum a tune on it holding it as lefty would do-she was having to think upside down and backwards! But, if you knew my Mom, that was her normal state of mind anyway.

Her scatterbrainess was legendary in the family. She was forever losing her car keys or worse, her handbag. I can recall one especially terrifying (for her anyway) incident, one afternoon.
I had just got home from school and Mom was frantic and near tears. She couldn't find her purse. Been searching for nearly 2 hours by that point for it and she was all but at her wit's end.
I tried to be helpful and offer the usual suggestions : "Didja check the car?", "Where did you have it last?" all to no avail. She had just got back from the Navy commissary that day where she did all the grocery shopping at that time. She had had it then, because she had to pay for the groceries, but after that-she couldn't remember. Finally her panic had reached red alert and she tearfully called Dad at work, begging that he come home and help her search for it. Dad was due to come home at any minute anyway and the Post Office he worked at was a short distance away. So, with no other options left to us, all we could do was wait until Dad got home. I figured I would go and have me an afterschool snack, so I went to the kitchen to grab a granola bar or something and a glass of milk sounded good right about then too.
I opened the 'fridge to get the milk. There, sitting next to the new cartons of commissary milk was Mom's black handbag.
"Mom...c'mere." I said.
She hurried into the kitchen and I just stood there with the 'fridge door open and pointing inside.
" Well, Dear John!!" was all she would say. Mom had a gob of quaint sayings, 'Dear John' being her version of 'Well, I'll be damned'.
Best we could figure was that Mom had her purse hanging on her wrist when carting the groceries in and sensiblly began to put the cold stuff away first. The purse must have just slipped off her wrist while putting the milk away and she never even noticed it.
A few minutes later Dad showed up with a very annoyed look. I'm sure Mom's proclivity to losing things wore on him as well. He intially was not pleased when she told him that we had found the purse. But he kept it to himself. By after dinner time that evening he was cracking jokes about 'cold cash'-so all was well again. It was tough to stay mad at Mom for very long. As I said at the start of this she was a stranger in a strange land, a babe in the woods. One couldn't stay anymore angry at her than you could a 3 year old child.

She had a weird affinity for animals. Perhaps because they could sense her genuine innocence and affection for them. She was the only person I ever knew who could call turtles.
Tortoises, actually, to be precise.
As alot of people did back then in southern California, we had a desert tortoise as a pet. Now it's illegal as all get out to have them. His name was Bozo and he lived in our backyard, in the honeysuckle bush. He was a nice specimen, being just a little bigger than an Army helmet. He was cool. He loved peach peelings and hibiscus blooms. Most of the time he preferred to doze in the honeysuckle bush but would venture out on warm days to stroll about the backyard.
Mom would often go out there with a bowl of his favorite treats, stand out there in the middle of the yard and with an oddly lilting, melodic voice that I can still hear in my head, call out to him :
"Turtle-Turtle! Turtle-Turtle!"
In no time you could hear that tortoise tearing through the honeysuckle and he would run, yes, run right up to Mom. He'd stopped at her feet and craned that neck upward and look at her with those ancient, reptilian eyes, eagerly awaiting his treat for the day. She would stoop down and hand feed him, talk to him for awhile and then leave him whatever goodies he didn't finish during their visit. He wouldn't do that for me...only Mom. Only Mom had the power of turtle calling.

Mom was an artist. But it was one of those odd, savant type talents in which she could look at something and accurately draw it. She could never really produce something from her imagination. I'm just the opposite. I can't reproduce a still life or accurately draw a human form for a hill of beans-but let me draw something in my mind and I'll really go to town! But I envied her ability. She'd amused me when I was little by drawing Popeye or her leggy bathing beauties and fashion models which she could draw with mechanical-like speed. It was her artistic talent that led to her meeting Dad. A local tavern owner had contacted her about doing some sign work for him. She was in the bar to discuss the deal with the owner. This half hammered swabby at the end of the bar caught her attention and the rest is my brother and I.
She also briefly earned a few bucks painting ties, which were in vogue then. The only known surviving example of her work was a white silk tie which I believe she painted as a gift for Dad. It featured a beautiful leaping tiger running the whole length of the tie almost. Pretty cool.

But her life as an artist was just a side-line, she held down real jobs to make the rent as a young adult. She worked for years at a leather glove factory, the result left her with the ridges of her fingertips worn down to almost nothing. We often joked that Mom would have had a good career in crime, since all her fingerprints were illegible smudges.
She worked for a while as a switchboard operator, back in the days when all phone calls were transferred manually by plugging in cables to the proper port at a huge switchboard. You've seen the old photos- a line of women seated in front of that thing, a tangle of retractable cables at the base, the women all sporting somewhat bulky and heavy looking headsets, all busily plugging cables in and out and talking to whoever was on the line, all at once. A task that seemed nearly impossible to imagine, knowing my Mom. How on earth she was able to keep that all straight day in and day out for up to 10 hours a day just boggles me. She was so scatterbrained, to me anyway, that she couldn't have possibly managed that job period, let alone do it for any length of time as she did! Funny what you don't know about a person. It was enough to make me suspect that the ditziness was just an act.

She was married to my Dad for over 54 years. They lived in the same home they had bought together in a little brand new subdivision some 49 years ago out in San Diego, California. Dad had gave the real estate agent 5 bucks as a down payment. If they had had the cash to buy it outright then it would have been 9,000 dollars! But like everyone else then, they got a mortgage and made house payments of about 50 bucks a month. It all seems so amusing now.
9,000 bucks will barely cover the 1st and last for a 2 bedroom RENTAL out there now.
That was my childhood home...and a darn good one at that. These homes were originally meant to be new family 'starters' since they only had 2 bedrooms and ridiculously small square footage. But my folks just stayed. And we made do. All and all it wasn't a bad life.

Mom's health began to decline in her 70's. Arthritis in her hips, a failing heart and failing lungs slowed her down considerably until a few years ago she was, for all practical purposes, bedridden. Recently there had been a spate of E.R. visits, extended nursing home stays-all the usual markers of a life about to end. Dad's passing in October of 2004 was the final straw, I feel.
The beginning of the end. Ma just simply didn't have it in her to go on. She was lonely for Dad.
Facing another Christmas without her man was just too much for the old gal to take. And so she just lost the will to live, as they say.

It is so hard to sum up someone in a few rambling paragraphs. I could go on and on about my Ma. She was one of a kind. And as a part of that Depression era generation-very well the last of her kind.
I hope you'll excuse me for this long winded account. And if you've read this far then I'm amazed.
I just wanted to tell someone about my Ma.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Winter Holiday is RACIST !!

I've been busy the past few days, like alot of you. It's that time of year again.
The Season Which Hath No Name. The Holiday Hot Potato.
In other words, Christmas. I've been watching, reading and listening to the rancor and indignity reach fever pitch this year-in between trying fulfill, within reason, my little ones letters to Santa; wrapping and carefully concealing said requests, getting up the gumption to actually get our tree up before Christmas Eve, taking care of general business and fielding calls from all over the country from far flung relatives concerning the recent passing of my mom. Her death was not unexpected, but the timing was awful. But that's for another post which is currently stewing away in the drafts folder. I may post that on Christmas Day...she would like that.
So I've had alot on my mind lately.

This morning a thought occurred to me concerning all the holiday bruhaha. Over the past few years winter and all the things associated with it- namely snowflakes, snow, cold and other winter-like things have become the "safe" icons to use in connection with the end of December.
Schools across the board have replaced "Christmas Break" with "Winter Break". Last year, at our school, under the instruction and guidance of a very p/c music teacher, we parents were treated to a "Winter Program" by our scrubbed face little scholars and budding musical geniuses that could have taken place at any time of the year. That's how vague and "inoffensive" the music selections were. Every song was completely unfamiliar to any of us adults and no doubt unknown to our kids. Some of the choices were supposedly folk songs from other countries and some actually had something to do with winter-emphasis on snow. I think as a whole even though we as parents were tickled to see our little ones perform, we were left somewhat empty. A feeling of "what the heck just happened here?"
This is becoming the norm. Schools are playing up the winter thing, to be safe and not to offend-but therein lies the problem. Just go along with me here, I'll explain.

I contend that this Winterizing is discriminatory to people of non-snow persuasion!!
It's horribly unfair, insensitive and cruel to subject people, especially the children to images and stories and songs about winter and snow and snowflakes when they themselves have never or may at any recent time in the future ever actually see it in real life!
I grew up in Southern California. Did I ever see snow as a child? Hell no! Did I know what a Flexi-flyer was? Did I ever experience the joy of trying to get a snowsuit off in a timely manner in order to relieve myself? Did I know what it was like to get beaned with a well aimed snowball? Had I ever had the exhilaration of sledding? Had I ever gazed at wonder at the mosaic-like intricate patterns of ice on windows? Catch snowflakes with my tongue? A resounding No to all of the above. I never saw snow for real until I was well into my 20's and had moved to a part of the country where that sort of thing occurred. I'm not alone. There are millions of us who are season deprived- a good chunk of deep southern states, especially Florida, everyone in Hawaii, residents of southern California. How tragic and sad it is to subject a child who has never seen snow in their lifetime to actually sing a song about it AND BE HAPPY DOING IT! The mental anguish that poor child must be subjected to is beyond description. Words fail me, but I must continue. This is an issue that must be talked about-brought out into the light. Lives are at stake here, dammit! Think of the children!

These innocents, who had no say in where, geographically, they would be born and raised are now being forced to Think Snow without having first hand knowledge of what that is all about. All they know is that it's suppose to be fun. But their joy is tempered with the knowledge that they, themselves, will never know that joy-Oh, the humanity!
Daily they are subjected to this sadistic mental cruelty by insensitive school boards, media advertising flaunting cheerful scenes of more fortunate ones frolicking in the snow in order to promote whatever product they want to sell this season. Snow is being shoved down their throats and there is no one, no champion, no activist crying out in their defense! This is wrong people! This is discriminatory! I, for one, am boiling with righteous anger about this. How dare they?! Would you force a diabetic to sing songs about how wonderful candy is? Of course not, that would be mean and yet for millions of children and adults this is their hellish reality: They must be happy about snow, they must love snow and yet, they can never HAVE snow.

I urge anyone living in the non-snow areas to contact their school boards, to picket and protest major retail sites in their region who dare sport snowflake decorations and use these wicked icons in their advertising. This madness must stop! We will not remain silent! We are people too-we demand fairness! Why should the east coast and midwest have all the fun? Think of the children!

(Now if you think that was just a bit over the top and ridiculous then my point has been made, my job is done here. Carry on. And on behalf of myself here at The White Trash Republican, I wish all of you and yours a very Merry, fearless Christmas and a wonderful Hanukkah, y'all!!)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry ??? ( Oy!)

OK, Let's just get this over with.

Merry Christmas
Happy Holidays
Happy Hannukah
Merry Kwaanza
Happy Monkey Day
Happy Take Your Pet to Work Day
Merry Soltice
Happy Yule
Joyous Noel
Season's Greetings
Happy Boxing Day
Merry Festivus
Feliz Navidad
Happy New Year

That oughta be it, if I have missed any, please forgive me. It's not because I'm a thoughtless, inconsiderate boob- I'm just a normal person trying to get through this season of phoney "goodwill to all" this year like anyone else.

Now-- Get off my back, already!

XXX's & OOO's,


Monday, December 19, 2005

"Great Gipper's Ghost!"

Hoo boy, I guess it was just a matter of time before stories like these began to surface.
Hey, I liked Ronnie the Popular just as much as anyone, but I never had him pegged as a type of symbolic Messianic-like figure, as they are hinting at in this article.
Look for World Weekly News to soon replace their perennial favorite character, Bat Boy, with the latest prophetic utterances and signs by the spirit of Reagan. I can just see the screaming headlines now: "Ronnie Warns of National Calamity in 2008!"


Ok, whenever y'all have some time after getting your undies un-wadded--Please, kindly, try to explain this away. And tell me why this is any different than the current firestorm.

I'm old enough to remember that little bru-ha-ha, it is recent history. I recall a tiny bit of handwringing, but that's about it.

Of Vital Interest to All Parents

Compliments of (click this post title above.)
Now if we can just find some vital stats and positive research about that other disgusting kid habit:
Toenail biting!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

AdSense Nonsense

Since reviving this piddly little rant respository I see there's been some changes to Blogger.
I've been going in and tweaking this blog, making little additions here and there and now I see that we can have Google ads on our blogs.
Hmmmmm. The info that Blogger has on their Help pages explaining this and how it works seems counter-productive to the whole point of having a blog. In order for this to work, they say, one must write about stuff that will cause the ads to be more targetted to your audience (whomever that might be!) To me that means you are to forsake the real purpose of the blog and become a marketing whore. Well, ok, maybe that's a bit harsh, but if one wants to set aside creativity for the sake of a tiny commission then I guess they can. But it just seems wrong to me.

I have seen these ads at work on other sites and sometimes the results are quite hysterical. Apparently the program locks in on a keyword in the posts and generates a bunch of ads "tailored" for the site. In a perfect world, that would be nice-handy even, but in reality the end can be disturbing, since all the program knows is keywords-not the power that certain words carry in a society. So hypothetically, you could see ads promoting an online site for S&M products on an extensive post on a spousal abuse victims forum if the post has any mention of what a sadistic and domineering SOB the guy was. Again, that is an extreme example, and I don't even know if that falls within the Google policies about what ads will show up on your site-but you get the idea.
I frequent alot of conservative blogs that use AdSense and often whenever the word Liberal is used or Democrat then you see ads promoting Liberal and Democratic sites...offensive to their target audience, I would think. ( I know it annoys the crap out of me!)

On other non-political forums I visit I see the same thing occuring- counter productive advertising. On a forum for people in the Gift Services biz I see ads advertising Retail Gift sites! Sorry, we have the inside track, folks-we buy everything WHOLESALE! We don't need you. It's ridiculous.
Or say, for example, someone in passing in a post says :
" Yesterday, when I tried to tie my shoes..." The program will lock onto the word shoes and a flurry of shoe site ads will pop up!
WTF did that have to do with anything? You get my point.

So now I'm curious...the service is free to us with blogs. I'm pondering if I should give this a shot...not for pure capitalistic reasons-because I know there ain't no way I'll see a dime from it anytime soon, if ever. But purely for social experimental reasons. Just what would crop up? What sort of nonsensical ads would be generated? On one hand I relish the notion-on the other I cringe at the thought.
Oh, well...I believe it was Wavy Gravy who once said : "Y'know, Capitalism isn't all that weird."
But in the world of AdSense it can be.

Friday, December 16, 2005

It's a Miracle !

Well, Dish Network gave me my Christmas present early this year!

Ever since switching to them from DirecTV years ago (about 3 to be precise), we have had only 2 major choices for news- CNN and (gulp) MSNBC. I'd include CNBC in that but that's more financial than newsy news, but we get that too. Now with DirecTV's budget bottom level you got those AND Fox News-not so with Dish Network. And that annoyed me to no end. I hated having to depend on Wolf Blitzer-the hardest working man in the ministry of propaganda-to tell me what to think...or rather what I should feel, which was a worthless piece of crap in their minds. I missed my Shep, I missed O'Reilly and his indignity du jour. I missed the vibe of that network. 3 years of CNN and I was ready to put a bullet in my head ! (I wonder if anyone has indeed study the long term effects of extensive exposure to the Chicken Noodle Network on a persons' psyche? How does it effect their overall world view and general attitude? This could be one explanation for my lingering (although not impairing) depression for the past 3 years! )

If I had to endure one more minute of that over bloated, pompous sour ass Cafferty trying to be clever with his contractual straightman, Blitzer I swearda Gawd I was gonna lose it. And let's not even get started about Oberman on MSNBC. I hate people who think they're funny and clever and smartassy. Only one person on the tube can pull that off and that's Letterman. Actually, no. The difference is that Letterman doesn't THINK he is...he just is. There's a difference.

Anyhow, imagine my elation this evening when zinging through the 100 channels of nothing I saw that Fox News was no longer blocked!! There was my Shep-o, still looking every bit the human Ken doll that he is. ( Really- Take a good look at the guy- a perfect humanoid Mattel Ken, circa 1970! ) I was majorly freaking out. What had happened? Had I upgraded my account in my sleep? Didn't matter...I was stoked! No more 6 hour versions of the Situation Room, no more Blitzer and his perpetual hand wringing. Free at last! Free at last! Thank Gawd Almighty, We're free at last!
After regaining my composure, I finally figured it out.
Dish Network had yanked MSNBC from the budget level line up and gave us Fox instead. Woo Hoo! Take that in your smoke and pipe it, Oberman! I don't have to put up with your smarmy butt any more, either! Now that's fair and balanced in my humble opinion. Dish Network finally gets it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

"I am the Great and Powerful Oz !"

Sheeeesh!! No wonder the Left thinks we're all a bunch of fundamental whack jobs with stuff like this out there!

( I am getting one of their coffee mugs, though!)

Life Imitates Art!

Normally The Today Show is just background noise here in the mornings. But this morning, they did a story that captured my attention. If you missed it, it was a great piece-unusual for them, since most of the stories they cover are crap.
Anyway, this brought to mind that goofy, sleeper movie from the 80's "Top Secret!" which starred Val Kilmer as a pop/rock star who just happened to double as a secret agent for the government. Cool idea for a film, but it was done in that slap-schticky style of "Airplane", so something got lost in the translation and I can never sit through the whole thing. But I digress.

Since The Today Show hasn't updated their site yet this morning- here's a news article that will get you up to speed about what I'm referring to :
"Rocker Jeff Baxter Moves and Shakes in National Security"

Ain't that cool?!

Addendum: The Today show story and vid can be seen here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Banned Words

I don't claim to be the perfect parent. As I often tell people "Hey, I'm just making this up as I go."
My only true wish is for my kids to grow up to be fairly decent people, be happy and not have an extensive arrest record. But as they both begin to realize and experiment with their newly discovered autonomy that comes when one hits the preteen years, I'm growing weary and have also discovered that my patience is starting to wear thin. Parenthood ain't for sissies and sometimes we have to make unpopular decisions when it comes to civility with other members of the household and to the world at large.

After the umpteenth time of hearing impassioned screams throughout the house of :"Mom! She called me a (insert whatever mild kid-like insult applies here.)" which is immediately followed by another voice countering with a :"Did not, You big liar!" I have decided to create a Banned Word list for our home. These words are not to be uttered by a child or parent to anyone residing in the aforementioned home, these words are as follows and maybe added to as the need arises:

1) "Retard" ( and any of it's pig latin type variants, such as "a'tard", "e'tard" or "tardo")

2) "Stupid"

3) "Dummy"

4) "Pinhead"

5) "Fathead"

6) "Loser"

7) "Poophead"

8) "Big fat liar" (this one might be tricky, since others feel it is essential to pleading their case.)

9) "Butthole" (and it's doubly daring and risque cousin: "A-hole")

10) "Ding-dong"

11) "Dork" (only when used in a threatening and intimidating way. Self-effacing remarks like "I'm such a dork" are still ok.)

12) "Freak"

Now I know what you're thinking, "Jeez, they oughta be glad that's all their kids are saying!" Yes, you do have a point. Compared to what I'm told freely spews from the mouths of babes these days due to slack parenting and the general decline of civilization via vulgar and coarse language in public and on TV, even during the early evening hours (the once sacred 'family time programming') my spawns verbal offenses seem delightfully tame-even quaint. But as a parent who has to daily contend with such verbal hostility, the type of word is moot. They are still hateful and hurting, regardless of the shock level. From the time that they were both able to utter a cognitive sentence, I have strived to keep their language from straying into that realm of insults, reiiterating time and again that such talk was not allowed in our house. But as of late it has been spiralling out of control. Actual physical posted rules seemed like a good idea to drive home the point. Now everyone knows where they stand.

So, now we have the List.
However, already I have given them a loophole that one could drive a bus through. And I knew it as soon as the proclaimed amendment left my lips- knowing that an occasional epithet can be a great stress reliever, I did clarify the rule. These words are not to be hurled at another human in the house- dogs are the exception. So regretably I can just hear the next scenario, probably sometime tonight:
"Mom! She called me a retard!"
"Did not! I was talking to the dog! Sheesh!"

Oy...well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My Kids College Fund Cooks Us Breakfast

Some people waste idle hours at the p/c looking at images of questionable content, others bounce about silly, mindless game sites or read humorous postings. Some actually perform productive work while at the keyboard-imagine that! My weakness is vintage stoves. Photos of vintage, circa 1940-1950, June Cleaver-esque, what-a-wonderful-world, gleaming porcelain white domestic bohemoths stir something in me akin to what a man must feel when viewing pornography. I could spend hours Googling these images, gazing lustfully at the shiny nickled surfaces, sighing at the smooth, soft curves, marveling at the detail and quirky design features. It's an affection that goes way back.

Long ago and far away, when it became apparent to me that California would soon become inhabitable, I sought and found my little Ponderosa out here in the Land That Time Forgot. This was about 1986. The humble farmhouse and land we purchased was perfect-except that the new home had no appliances-as in kitchen accoutrements. No stove, no refridgerator-nuthin'. So it became my job to find such items so that they would make the trip with us from California to the deepest, darkest depths of the Missouri Ozarks-since we weren't sure if such things would be easy to procure out there-being in the middle of nowhere and all. It just made sense to us urbanites to make sure we brought what we needed. We viewed this move much like missionaries traveling to the jungles of Guatemala. We had some idea what was in store, but alot was still uncertain. Would they have used appliance stores there? We didn't know. And rather than be stuck for who knows how long living on sandwiches and microwaved burritos, we decided to play it safe and bring "the bare essentials" with us. That way,within a day or two of moving in we could enjoy baked apple pies and meatloaf, just like normal people!

In California, we rented-which meant all the kitchen big ticket items were the property of the landlord. Ours was an agreeable sort and allow us to buy the 'fridge that was in the house at the time. OK, that's one thing off the list. He offered the stove as well, but I turned him down. No. This house needed a suitable stove to fit with the decade or era of the home. A 1979 Kenmore would not do.This funky craftsman-style bungalow we were moving into needed some ambiance. I wanted an old stove. A relic from my childhood. I wanted The Beast. A thing that would all but swallow up the small kitchen. It would be the center of attraction. A gleaming iconoclastic altar to the way things used to be.
I wanted my cooking to be an act of worship.

And so my search began. I frequented the old appliance stores that were clustered along stretches of the downtown streets that were now technically in "the bad part of town". For the most part I was coming up empty handed. Back in the mid-80's retro hadn't really caught on and these stores either just wouldn't accept the old, nasty inefficient stoves or kept them in the backroom gutted for parts. Sad,really. They kept newer models in their showrooms-anything 10 years and up,in good shape. But then one day...

I wasn't too sure if the store was even open. It had that abandoned look about it. It was a genuine junk shop. Ancient window frames were stacked out front along with all manner of debris from the Modern Age. Old washers, dryers and other crap I couldn't even identify what purpose they once served filled the yard. The shop had once been a home, but rezoning had allowed it to be turned into a business years ago. A six foot chain link fence surrounded the place. It had a run down, tacky, sleazy feel to it. The kind of place where you almost feel unclean after leaving it, longing to at least wash your hands afterwards.
After carefully wading through the bargain items out front I managed to find the porch and went in. A disinterested unshaven man in greasey overalls was sitting behind a small wood desk,leafing through a magazine. The place smelled of stale cigar smoke and mold.

" 'Mornin'. " was the only acknowledgement I got from him. I was free to wander about and browse.
I entered what at one time had been the dining room, it was now literally packed to the rafters with old washers and dryers, narrow aisles, or were they paths?- snaked through the room, maze-like.
"Whatcha lookin' for?" the guy asked from the front room/office.
"Stoves." I answered, nearly bonking my head on a loose and opened dryer door.
"Way in the back." the oh-so-helpful man replied.
: 'Kay, thanks!" I tried to navigate towards the back without causing harm to myself or his 'valuable' inventory.

In the back rooms were all manner of cookstoves from the 40's on up. They were lined up along the walls, waiting. Most were the old style small apartment types. Dinky things with only 2 burners and an oven barely big enough to bake a chicken in. Some were full size models but yet not large enough to suit me. In my mind I knew what I wanted-just couldn't tell you the model or make-I would know it when I saw it...and I hadn't yet. Most of them appeared to be electric models, a few had that future-forward crock pot like feature where a back burner should be. Cool,but not me. I wanted a gas stove. Cooking on an electric had always been an exercise in futility for me-never could get it right. I wanted a flame.
Besides, electric stoves had always seemed to be an unwise use of that resource-always expensive to operate. I knew that the house we would be moving into had 2 gas lines poking through the kitchen walls. One for a stove, one for a 'fridge-propane 'fridges being more common back then-especially in a region that had just got electricity in the past 30 years. The wiring in that old house probably couldn't support an electric stove. The place would burst into flames the first time I tried to heat up a can of soup! Gas stoves were more safer in my mind-simple parts that wouldn't catch fire or short out.
Anyway, I wasn't seeing what I wanted. Another wasted trip! Then there was what had once been an enclosed back porch, now a warehouse of sorts. A dumping ground for the new junk coming in that hadn't been cleaned up or assessed...and it was there that my heart began to sing!

She stood in the center of the porch, surrounded by useless crap that I couldn't even see-just knew it was there-I was so smittened by her beauty. She was huge. The small confines of the porch emphased the magnitude even more so. She was fat and wide and tall. My breath was taken away.Oh my God...could it be possible? I quickly began to scan for details-my knowledge of these old things still in it's infancy, but I knew there were certain things to look for. The salt and pepper shakers were still there! (That's always the first thing to go with these beasts.) The knobs were all intact and original. It had a clock and an oven timer.The center griddle was black with age and countless pancakes from years gone by. It had a cool overhead light feature. All the burner grates were there. For all intents and purposes, she was still all there and in working condition. But did she? Were there any critical innards missing? I hailed the guy up front.

"Just got that in last week," he told me, "Haven't had too much time to check it out, yet." (he's kidding, right?) "As far as we can tell, it works. Got a few chips..." and he indicated where. "Needs some cleaning up. That handle's loose...we can fix that. Once it's cleaned up and we do a safety check on it, oh, I dunno, maybe about 175 bucks?"
Even at mid-1980 dollars that was a bargain, to me. Oh, sure I could have got a stove for 50 bucks, but it would be blah, it would be bland, it would be purely a functional item, souless and ordinary. I wanted ART! I wanted that stove!

We did some minor haggling. Weak actually. I pointed out some flaws and tried to get the price down a few bucks because of it. I was assured that those chips, loose handles, dingy nickle plating and mice nests would be takened care of and he stood firm on his price. Oh, hell. OK. I agreed to return in a week to inspect the results and, if all was right, pay for the beast.
I kept my word. And so did he. When I came back it was still on the back porch but now had been transformed-it was even more gorgeous than before. Granted, the minor chips had only been dabbed with porcelain repair paint but everything else was in order and bright and shiny. I was thrilled.

I told the guy where this old stove was going. He said I would need a valve for propane, he could sell me one-ok, add that to the tab. 10 bucks.
"I suppose you need it delivered?" he asked. "That's another 25 bucks."
No problem.
We got all the little details hammered out and I wrote the guy a check.
The next day a beat-up old pick up truck showed up with my prize bungied in the back. The guy and an assistant wrestled the beast into our garage.

A month later it was inside a Mayflower van wending it's way to the Ozarks and it's new home. It took 3 grown men to get it into the house and it just barely got through the front door! They steered it into it's chosen spot in the kitchen and there it has remained for nearly 20 years now. I love that stove.

Recently, it has developed a problem with the gas flow. Some sort of regulator is out of whack. When the oven is turned on it just fills with gas until you get a Hollywood comedy type BOOM! and the oven door flies open. Not good! So now I don't use the oven. Everything else works just dandy still. I wasn't sure if it could be fixed. But now that we have internet access up in these hills, researching isn't so daunting. I was now able to find out just what exactly my stove was other than "a bigass O'Keefe & Merrit". And what I have found out is shocking...hence the title of this long winded ya never thought I'd get to the point, eh?

What I have is one of the model 600 series that O'Keefe and Merrit made in the late 40's and early 50's. I can't bring up the exact year right off the top of my head right now. But what boggles my brain is that restored models are fetching up to 20,000 DOLLARS!! If you can even find them. Even a rat's nest clunker such as mine could easily get 9 grand,with a little cleaning up. So my intial 210 buck investment ain't looking so ridiculous now. Would I ever sell it? Oh, hell no! At least not now...or in the immediate future. But it's nice to know that when I get too old or too dead, my younguns will have a nice nest egg to squabble over when they unload that beast to the right buyer. Who da thunk?
I found a great example of my stove recently. It's the stove pictured at the top of this post. (note: this IS NOT my stove...but with just a little elbow grease, mine could look that purty.)