Thursday, December 31, 2015

NEW YEAR'S EVE




An owl was hooting near my window before dawn this morning. It was a cold, raw, dreary, misty day. 

The unseasonable warmth has vanished. 73 degrees (Fahrenheit) last week, 38 degrees today. I savored the warmth, but somehow the frigid change is a festive accent on this New Year's Eve.

It's just after 4:30 p.m. as I'm writing this and it's already nearly dark. My trio of cats are sleeping. A peaceful respite.
My plans for tonight? I'll welcome the new year with solitude and a midnight dinner by candlelight. Alaskan salmon.
The glorious New Year's Eves of my past are gone. I was going to write about some of them but will save it for a future post.

I have no intention of summarizing the events of this past year, but I'll give a brief recap of this week:

Drove into town on Tuesday and stocked up on groceries.

That's it. Blissfully brief.

 Scratch (also known as Kitzee)

The only other excitement was generated by my 10 yr. old cat Scratch. She's the oldest of my feline brood and was exclusively an indoor cat. Lately however, I've been letting her outside to get fresh air and exercise. She was getting overweight and had asthma, but her health has greatly improved since she's been romping outdoors.

Unfortunately, her personality has changed for the worst. Ever since gaining her newly-found freedom she never wants to come inside. And she's become demanding and rude. I've created a monster.

Yesterday I completed a project that I've been wanting to do for a long time: I enclosed the underside of the back porch. It was very easy for wild creatures to get under there (that's where the 'possum used to live) and I didn't like it.

It took me over an hour to completely seal it, but it was snug tight - nothing could get under the porch now. I was relieved.....

.....until I heard scratching sounds and muffled grunts of frustration coming from beneath the porch.

You guessed it. Scratch was under there, completely sealed in. I was almost tempted to leave her there permanently, but eventually I painstakingly pried out the nails and removed one of the panels to let her out.

Deja vu
A few months ago, the same thing happened to Scruffy, when I accidentally sealed her under the house after checking the water pipes. I vowed that it would never happen again. 

 Scruffy, looking deceptively innocent
I named her Scruffy because I initially thought she was a boy. My observant cousin told me "He's a female".....Heck, what do I know?

Want another cat story?
Waddaya mean, "no"?
This afternoon I let Scratch outside, while I ate lunch. I normally never eat lunch, but I had some smoked ham and Swiss cheese so I thought I'd make a sandwich. 

I'm halfway through the sandwich when I hear frantic scratching at the back door. I open it and Scratch runs in making frightening guttural sounds. I think she's dying. 

She runs around the house growling, then quickly drops a mouse at my feet. She brought the damn thing in from outside!

The rodent was still living and I felt sorry for it's plight. I scooped it up and took it back outside - far from the house. 

My two female cats, Scratch and Scruffy, provide all the excitement around here. Bosco, the male, is timid, polite, and well-behaved. Well, all except for the time he jumped on my head when I was sleeping and accidentally bashed my face (that was recounted in a previous blog post).

 Bosco

I'm going to take a brief nap before making my midnight dinner and ushering in the new year.

I want to thank all the kind people who take the time to read my blog. It's rewarding to know that my efforts are appreciated....or at least politely tolerated.

Have a fantastic 2016!  


Sunday, December 27, 2015

EXCURSION IN A FACSIMILE OF SPRING





In order to pique the interest of potential readers, I have resorted to the cheap ploy of using unusual blog post titles. Hell, I've tried effusive writing techniques, music videos, secret confessions, humor, and sex. Mysterious titles are less emotionally taxing (for me).

So, what exactly does an excursion in a facsimile of spring mean, Jon?

Think, Tonto, think.
 It means that I took advantage of the springlike weather today and went on a mountain hike.

Took advantage of the weather?

Hey, weather isn't the only thing I ever took advantage of - but we don't want to go there. Respectable people read this blog. Or some of them are, anyway.


Enough preliminaries. Let's cut to the chase.
I woke up this morning in bad shape. Some sort of a stomach virus, and severe spasms in my back.

Old age??

The bad back is from when I fell on the ice down the friggin' mountainside last winter. As a permanent result, I now very often hobble around like a spastic version of Quasimodo.

This morning, it was worse. I not only hobbled, I performed unethical variations of the Turkey Trot, the Charleston, the Mambo, and the Rumba. My cats were appalled.

When I was finally able to maintain a reasonable vertical position, I noticed that the December weather was as warm as spring. I opened the windows. I ventured outside (it was a painful venture, but I ventured nevertheless).

A strong, warm wind was singing high in the trees. The temperature was in the 70's (that's Fahrenheit). The opportunity to seize the day was irresistible.

I popped a few aspirins, swigged some Pepto Bismol, put on my hiking boots, and ventured out into the mountain wilderness.

Isn't it more like a hill where you live, Jon?

One more wisecrack, Bucko, and you'll have to have my Pepto Bismol bottle extracted from your....

Whoa, Jonathan! No need to get physical.

Heck, when I lived in the Missouri Ozarks, the locals called 50 foot hills "mountains". I told them I had seen bigger nipples than their so-called mountains. They didn't laugh.

SO.......

So, today I enjoyed this absolutely glorious afternoon in the wonderfully peaceful wilderness. I didn't fall and I didn't have any panic attacks. It was a momentous occasion.

 A distant view of the "mountain" on which I live. I took this pic today.


I, of course, came home covered in stickers and burrs, bitten by insects, and caked in mud. But it was a delightful excursion, nevertheless. 

I'm especially glad that I went - after seeing the extended weather forecast. Severe storms are expected tomorrow (Monday) and very cold weather is predicted by New Year's Eve.

I'll write more about New Year's Eve later....

All of my recent photos are drab and completely uninteresting, but I decided to inflict some of them on you nevertheless.


 Two views of my cat Scratch (also known as Kitzee) out in the weeds


The far side of my property, facing east. Beyond these trees is the meadow where the cows reside.
(isn't this exciting?)



The south-western part of my property
(all photos were taken today)






  http://cabinetofcurioustreasures.blogspot.com


Friday, December 25, 2015

I THINK IT'S CHRISTMAS




Christmas is just about over. Now, don't you feel foolish for working your ass off putting up those decorations and emptying your piggy bank buying gifts?

Aw, settle down. I only said that to cause an adverse reaction. It's one of my specialties.

Some blessed Christmas spirit must have pimped my recent post Christmas Music to Treasure, because it got over 250 views in only a few hours (you can find it somewhere on the sidebar).
Heck, usually my blog posts only get about 3 views in 250 years. I don't know why my readership is so low. I'm damn good.
Look carefully and you'll find a bitter hint of sarcasm.

Anyway, whoever the Christmas spirit is, I hope they'll do it again. And again.

My previous Christmas Eve post is long and tediously intricate. Readers don't like that. They don't want to waste precious time pondering. And I don't blame them. But I love to go on a sentimental ramble now and then.

The above photo was taken in my back yard at sunset on Christmas Eve. Just in case you cared. It was a glorious sunset.

So how was your Christmas, Jon?

I thought you'd never ask.
Let's begin with Wednesday night, the 23rd. I laid down on my bed rather early, just to read. Somehow I fell asleep, book in hand. I was sleeping heavily when the ringing telephone literally jolted me out of a dream.

It was an automated call, saying that the county I live in was under a tornado watch. That's nerve-wracking news when you're half-asleep and half-naked (I threw the half-naked part in just to pique your interest).

The wind was already howling outside, so I hurriedly got dressed and exchanged a few texts with my cousin Nancy - - until my cell phone service was lost. That happens quite often way out here in the sticks.

The storms moved in quickly and it was one helluva night, but no serious damage around here.

The foul weather cleared out on Thursday and Christmas Eve was absolutely gorgeous. And unseasonably warm! It was over 70 degrees (Fahrenheit) and stayed nearly that warm all night. A beautiful moon and a strong, eerie wind. 

By dawn on Christmas Day, clouds moved in and storms began rumbling. It rained in a torrential downpour nearly all day.

When I went to bed (on Christmas Eve) I slept in blissful, undisturbed peace - which is rare. Usually my HellChild cat Scruffy runs around the house and periodically jumps on the bed to rudely wake me.
Even my other cat Bosco was absent.

It wasn't until around 10:00 a.m. Christmas morning - when it was pouring rain - that I happened to open the front door. A soaking-wet Scruffy stumbled in. She had been outside all night. I have no clue how she got out. 

The amazing thing is that Bosco (who usually stays all night on my bed) spent the night by the front door - waiting for Scruffy to come in! 

So where was your old cat Scratch, Jon?

Scratch usually stays out of the way and minds her own business.

I know, long cat stories are boring - which might be why my readership is low. I could tell about my erotic encounter with Santa Claus, but I'll save it for my memoir.

I had a peaceful, uneventful, very rainy Christmas. When the rain stopped in late afternoon the hunters came out. I heard nearby gunshots for quite awhile.

It is now about 6:00 in the evening as I'm writing this. Another storm is in progress and it's raining hard again.
I've rounded up the cats and took a head count, just to be safe.

Now I'm going to take a brief nap and then have a very late dinner (I love peaceful midnight meals).

I hope your Christmas was fantastic - - or at least tolerable.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

CHRISTMAS MUSIC TO TREASURE

I usually reserve my inane visual posts for my other blog Cabinet of Curious Treasures 
but today I'll make an exception.

In the spirit of the holiday season I'm offering some Christmas record albums that are certain to warm your heart.


 You won't thank me when it shits in your hands.

I initially thought these were two dudes, until I looked closely and saw that they're wearing June Cleaver strands of faux pearls

What's worse than a singing Santa?
A singing Santa with accordion accompaniment 

Memphis??
Looks more like Christmas in Chicago

.....and that's exactly where Dinkins belongs....


Looks like too much of a good thing

I'm making these captions up very quickly as I go along, without any thought....and it's painfully  obvious.....


 Those front teeth aren't the only problems- - this kid needs an ophthalmologist

 A finger-licking, grease-dripping Christmas


no comment necessary


It's rather ironic that Twitty rhymes with shitty


Hanged for the holidays - - and not a moment too soon.


Finally! An album that my cats can relate to!


Trust me - - you'll need the wine......




The innocence of a candy cane has been forever expunged......



I've actually been in Tijuana on Christmas (no kidding). It's thirty years later and I still haven't fully recovered.


Glad tidings from Mrs. Mills.
Dear Lord, I'd rather be in Tijuana.


.....not to mention a bad album......




Cody, you can't borrow anything. I'm not answering the door.


Now I've seen everything.
Shoot me.
Please!


I can't wait to hear the brass version of Away in a Manger.


Last, but certainly not least




I'll have a new post on my other blog later today (probably much later). It's presently dawn and I haven't been to bed yet. I'm too tired to function.

Come to think of it - - I can hardly function even when I get sleep......

http://cabinetofcurioustreasures.blogspot.com 



 

Monday, December 21, 2015

PRELUDE TO THE HOLIDAYS


My enthusiasm for the holidays is remote but - despite this fact - I've decided to offer a few visual tokens of the season.

Translate that for us, Jon.

Okay. Here are some haphazard photos I took this weekend. Well, all except for this one:


Since I don't have a fireplace here in Tennessee, I decided to warm you up with an old photo of my fireplace in Texas. I miss the coziness of a hearth - - but truthfully I seldom used it, and it was a helluva lot of trouble to clean.



The wintery glow of late afternoon in December. A view from my back porch.


The moon rising last night, or half a moon, anyway. Our unseasonably warm weather has vanished and the past few days have been colder than a penguin's kiss. Warm weather is expected again by Christmas. No snow in sight.

 Oranges and peppermint candles. I've been using these candles for several years now.




Mini tree on my antique desk. I have to keep things away from Bosco and Scruffy (my old cat Scratch is no problem). Painting above the desk is of Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland - painted in the 1840's.

 I have no intention of doing any decorating this year, but I will string up some colored lights this week - - simply because I love colored lights. They put me in a mellow, reflective mood.



 An antique prayer box salvaged from the ruins of an ancient church (it's one of the few things the movers didn't lose or break.....)


Closeup of the glass-covered door which opens.


Night views of the Pieta statue at the top.

No big plans for this holiday week. I'll have to drive into town before Christmas to get a few things. Rain is predicted for tomorrow (Monday) which is a good excuse to stay home. I might make the turkey on Christmas Eve. It's in the freezer and I hope I remember to thaw it. I'll write myself a note.

Is this the worst blog post I've ever written? Naw, but it comes close.



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

MIDNIGHT ON THE CLIFFS









Here's my latest video Midnight on the Cliffs, inspired by a composition written by pianist Leonard Pennario (1924-2008). This has a special personal meaning to me, for more reasons than I could reveal here.
(video best viewed full-screen)

Pennario was born in New York but lived in Southern California his entire life. He wrote Midnight on the Cliffs when he was eighteen and gave the first live performance of it in 1942. The composition was initially titled Midnight on the Newport Cliffs - inspired by the cliffs at Newport Beach. He later changed the title to Minuit sur la falaise de Newport.

When Doris Day heard the music, she liked it so much that she requested for it to be used in her 1956 film Julie.

It has been widely believed that Pennario never actually wrote down a music score for Midnight on the Cliffs, but this isn't quite true. He wrote a simple piano version, which was published by Ardmore Music Corp. in 1954. He never wrote a musical score for the elaborate piano version that he performed in public - and he supposedly never played it exactly the same way twice.

My video is dedicated to someone now deceased who was extremely close to me. This person also happened to be a friend of Leonard Pennario.



to W.G.H.

Those were luxurious nights that we shared, long ago in the golden zenith of our youth and the spectacular setting of Los Angeles. The gentle winter nights washed clean by Santa Ana winds, the indigo sky immersed in an infinite sparkle of stars.

Candlelight, wine, and the piano. You would play your latest compositions and arrangements, and then I would play mine. We discussed every aspect of music and the keyboard....and planned to give future concerts together, works for two pianos.

Later we'd sit by the fireplace and listen to records, all of our favorite piano music. Midnight on the Cliffs was a particular favorite. Leonard Pennario was a friend of your family and you had known him since childhood. You would tell me stories, like the one about going to the racetrack with him at Hollywood Park.

And we both knew the secret, wild, intoxicating beauty of the cliffs at Newport Beach - - and we explored the same places that had inspired Pennario long before our time.
After all, love in Southern California is ageless....and endless....

Tonight, in the tepid mountains of Tennessee, so far from the pinnacle of our long-ago existence..... I listen to wind sifting through treetops and I think of you....and remember those pristine, perfect nights......and I think of what could have been....if you hadn't succumbed so prematurely to the arms of eternal sleep.

Jon




Probably shouldn't have posted this, but what the hell......
In case anyone cares, the video can be found on my YouTube channel  Jayveesonata



Sunday, December 13, 2015

B DAY







I don't want candles on the cake. Too great a risk for starting a forest fire. Anyway, I no longer have the energy to blow them out.

I've always considered the ritual of blowing out candles to be unsanitary. In the process, spittle and slop gets all over the cake - and then the guests have to eat it.

I won't have any guests to worry about. Only my trio of cats will be here. I probably won't have a cake, either. The nearest decent bakery is about 1,000 miles away (possible exaggeration) and I'm too damn lazy to bake one.

There's absolutely no joy in birthdays as one grows older. Anyone who tells you "the best is yet to come" is full of shit. Happy Birthday wishes are mandatory fabrications of goodwill.... meaningless to the donors and embarrassing to the recipients. 

I remember a time long-ago when I looked incredibly young for my age. It was a deliciously encouraging illusion. I thought I was Dorian Gray. I never worried. As the years passed, however, I started worrying and began lying about my age. Soon I was lying outrageously.

Then a time finally came when lying was hopeless. Even if I shaved ten years off, I'd still be old. That hurt.

True age becomes evident when you're at the checkout counter in a store. There was a time when the cashiers flirted with me.
Eventually they started calling me "Sir". That's when I really got worried.

Lately - if my sole purchase is a carton of eggs - the bag boy will ask "Do you need help carrying the eggs out, Sir?"

No, you cheeky little bastard. But you can help carry my balls. 

Am I exaggerating a little bit?
Naw, I wouldn't even think of it. 

Am I old? Heck, yea. But I'm not ancient. 
How old am I, exactly?

Hey, I might be an easy lay, but personal numbers will never be easily extracted from me.
If you must know - - I'm exactly between Has Seen Better Days and Almost Near Death's Door.

(the main reason I love blogging is because I always manage to amuse myself) 

Since most of my personal photos are still stored on my old desktop computer, I only have a handful of readily available ones to choose from. That's why I keep using the same photos over and over. I know you've already seen them. Just be polite and pretend you didn't.

The photo at the top of this post was taken in New Brunswick, New Jersey at the Thomas Studio. Thomas was the most popular photographer in the city. All of my relatives had photos taken by Thomas. I distinctly remember when that photo was taken. The outfit I was wearing was navy blue and white.

Thanks for clarifying that, Jon. We always assumed that your early photos were taken by Matthew Brady.

No, but a few later ones were. 

This is how I look now - a ravaged relic after years of heavy drinking and relentless carousing. A self-portrait that I took one day when I was soused. (actually I was very sunburned when this was taken) 

Endangered indeed.



 

My other blog
   Cabinet of Curious Treasures



Thursday, December 10, 2015

DISTANT DAYS, AND CRITTERS




Somehow  the days seem distant, lingering on the edge of an indistinct reality - somewhere beyond the trees, in the shadows of the mountain.

Late at night, in the abstract solace after midnight, thick fog creeps in and lingers until mid-morning. In the pinkish haze of a December dawn the fog casts illusions of drifting light outside my bedroom window. I lie in bed half-awake, watching the subtle colors of mists tinted by an unseen rising sun: ever-changing pastels of faded peach and blushing coral, pulsing over the landscape like the warm remembrance of a long-ago lover's kiss.

Holy crap, Jon - you're too damn good to be wasting your time writing in a blog.

These are only rank preliminaries, Kemo Sabe. I'm saving the good stuff for future endeavors. 

The days are annoyingly short. Dawn arrives somewhere around 7:00 and by 3:00 the distant sun is already sinking behind mountain peaks. Daylight disappears before 4:30.

Temperatures have turned mild again - near 60 during the day (that's Fahrenheit). The nights are chilly.

 Taken at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon. The sun is WAY south.....

Last night around 2:00 a.m. I opened the back door and my eldest feline Scratch darted out. I've been letting her wander outside during the day but never at night. She leaped (leapt?) off the back porch and came face to face with a large 'possum.
(I prefer to call it an opossum, but - what the hell - I'm in the wilds of Hickville).

This is the 'possum that resides under my back porch - - and it's the same 'possum that got into my house once through the clothes dryer vent.

My resident 'possum seems to be mild-mannered but he's a lot bigger than Scratch and has much sharper teeth. A close encounter could get very ugly.

I yell for Scratch to come in. She goes under the porch. Brilliant idea. If the 'possum goes under there, a brawl could ensue.

So, I keep Mr. 'Possum at bay with a broom until Scratch decides to finally come out and go back into the house.
This kills the better part of an hour.

I managed to snap a few pics of Poss.

    He's not demonic. The glowing eyes are from the camera flash. Here's the same picture lightened:


Wanna hear more wilderness adventures?

Sure, why not, Jon? You're irresistible. 

Today I brought in some plastic storage drawers that I had in the garage. They were securely shut and sealed with masking tape. 
Two of the drawers contained a large array of packaged seeds that I was going to plant next spring.
The other drawer contained some bars of soap.

Something - undoubtedly mice - managed to get into the sealed drawers. They ripped open the packets and ate all (and I mean ALL) of the seeds....
AND
they ate most of the soap!!!
Holy shit, I couldn't make this stuff up.

The only thing left was shredded paper from the seed packages.

  I had all the packets neatly placed in rows. This is what I found.

 Shredded paper - not a seed in sight.


You gotta see my new Creepy Claus post at this link:
Cabinet of Curious Treasures