Monday, November 05, 2007

Born again eh?

It's really hard for me to relate to religious extremists. The only thing I'm extreme about is being tolerant. A person's religious beliefs, or lack of religious beliefs, is no more or less important to me than the pigmentation of their hair, eyes or epidermis. A couple of times I've had this mental flash of standing in line as a bodiless soul, with a large group of bodiless souls, in front of the fabled pearly gates while a fellow who looks like a cross between an Army drill sergeant and an angel is saying "You have the right to remain apostate. Nothing you say will make a difference. You have the right to a messiah. If you cannot select a messiah one will be appointed by the Deity." I suppose some folks might find this to be a frightening thought but I'm a veteran. I can stand in one more line as many times as it takes. No big deal.

Let's see, where was I? Oh yeah, I was talking about religious extremists. This morning one of our neighbors made a comment about a mutual acquaintance being a "Born Again Christian" and before I could stop myself I commented "Ooh, that's gotta hurt!".

Don't get me wrong here, I don't mean to imply that everyone who considers themselves to have been "Born Again" is an extremist but it's certainly true that a fair number of them are and it's equally true that, for the rest of my life, any time someone tells me they're a "Born Again Christian" I'm going to have to bite my tongue.

When I hear a funny one-liner or short commentary it's really hard for me to avoid using it at inappropriate moments and it's even more difficult when it came from my own dubious gray matter.

Here's an example from someone else "Jesus loves me but he can't stand you". I don't know who wrote it, but I love it. I can't think of another sentence I've worked so hard to resist repeating. If you repeat it, remember, you've got to use a whiny, facetious voice, ok?

Lisa says I'll probably get death threats for posting this but I figure most people are smart enough to see the difference between a little ribbing and being hateful. I'm not hateful, I don't have it in me. Am I religious? Yes, sorta. Can we discuss it? No.

Nuff said.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Good morning poopy diaper.

Thus dawns the much awaited day of Llano's Heritage Festival. I'll be playing on the courthouse square with my favorite drummer (my daughter Lily) and my favorite bass player (the inimitable Mr. Pat Gibbons) beginning at 1:00 PM and my custom-made, left-handed guitar returned from Ohio (Jay Pawar is my hero, thank you Jay, the refret is superlative) yesterday so I am going to bring the house down.

Nevertheless, I still had to clean mom up and change her diaper this morning. Nothing brings you back to earth any quicker than a poopy diaper. *sigh*

Anyway, I made a nice quiche for breakfast, which is in the oven as I type this, and the momma-sitter will be here in an hour or so. Barring unforeseen catastrophes Lisa and I will have a pleasant day of love, laughter and lots of photographs.

Otherwise, we will cope with whatever comes along. Bring it on.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Still muddling along

Mom broke her right hip about eight weeks ago and, following a brief stay in the hospital (in Fredericksburg, TX), she spent the next seven weeks mostly in a wheelchair. A few days ago she started physical therapy and is moving all over the house just fine with her walker, as long as she's supervised. I don't think she's quite ready to solo yet but things are pretty much back to what passes for normal around here.

My granddaughter Amanda posted something about a test at OkCupid so I went and took the one I could find only I'm not sure I got the right test because my results didn't look like hers (and she didn't give a link). They sent me an email to a link where they listed hundreds of potential mates. That's a little like winning the lottery after you joined a church that forbids gambling. I also noticed that one or two of those "potential mates" were men. I wonder what they're trying to imply?

Meanwhile, Lisa found the list of categories that men and women are sorted into by this test (at the bottom of the results page) and has been reading them aloud to me while I'm typing. Some of them are hilarious.

I'm so grateful to be happily married. Being single is the scariest thing I can imagine.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Sometimes Love is a Boadacious Breakfast

I slept late this morning and when I did get out of bed, brush my teeth, comb my hair and get dressed I sat and checked my email even before I went looking for a cup of coffee.   Sometimes I'm a slow starter.   Anyway it occurred to me that Lisa had been up for a while and was busy getting mom up rather than working on breakfast, even though she always wakes up starving so I decided she should have some banana nut pancakes (a particular favorite).   She saw what I was doing and suggested I add a couple of the fresh peaches our friend Pam brought us and, just for grins, I microwaved a handfull of dehyrated apricots in a half cup of water and threw them in too.

We got several batches of plums from our neighbor's tree this year and after I worked up the last batch I had seven cups of juice. It takes six cups to make plum jelly and I already had several batches put up but I hated the thought of having an entire cup of juice left over so I divided what I had into two 3½ cup batches, put one of them in the fridge in a covered container, added 2½ cups of unsweetened apple juice to what I had left and simply followed the directions for plum jelly.   It didn't set so I wound up with four pints of plum syrup.

A few days later I made a wheat-free chocolate cake.   Powdered sugar contains corn syrup and corn products are highly toxic to Lisa so a traditional butter cream frosting, consisting of powdered sugar and butter, is out of the question.   We've tried to produce a decent frosting using regular sugar but we've had no luck so far with that.   Then I remembered the "plum sauce" I got from my last attempt at jelly so I opened a jar and poured that over the cake.   Wow!   Serendipity is sometimes good stuff you know?   So, yesterday I remembered the 3½ cups of plum juice which was in the fridge, even though I'd intended to throw it away when my last batch of jelly didn't set but, having discovered "plum syrup", I got everything together and made myself another batch and that's what we had on our peach-apricot-banana-pecan pancakes this morning.   Life is good y'all.

Don Crowder

On the vagaries of domestic tranquility.

Lisa's been working on a website for her Llano Master Gardeners group and, naturally, she wanted to use all sorts of CSS tricks that I don't know anything about so I had to show her how to quickly and easily find CSS data by googling for information on specific features, anywhere you can find it, rather than a frustrating search of a single site when you can't find the keyword that leads to the data you want or a long and frustrating round of reading tutorials that never mention whatever it is you're looking for.   Then, if she found information and couldn't understand it I had to read it and explain it to her and then when she got it to do whatever she wanted it to do I had to admire it and compliment her on it.   I'm not allowed to be busy when she wants me to help her with something; I can help her with whatever it is she wants help with or I can pay, and pay, and pay for the next week or longer.   Nor am I allowed to distract her when she's busy; I can quietly leave her alone or I can pay, and pay, and.... *sigh* anyway, I've learned all sorts of new CSS tricks that I truly didn't want to know and getting the most recent issue of our ezine and personal news page finished was fun and challenging.

She insists that I mention how distracting I was while she was working, constantly bothering her with questions or wanting her to watch some video on YouTube.   I don't remember any of that but she did say that so I'm mentioning it.

I'm sweating bullets over the next post to my lockergnome blog.   It's entitled "How You Can Try Linux" and it's supposed to be a simple, clear, understandable explanation of all available ways and means by which an average citizen can get a first hand look at Linux.   There are lots of choices, enough to be really confusing, and I can't change that so I've got to explain each of them simply enough that an average person who knows nothing about Linux will have no trouble selecting an option that suits him or her.   Nothing to it, but it may take me a few more days.

I made another trip (my third) to the clinic in Llano the other day and our favorite PA, Joanna Schork, loaded me up with advair, singulair, levaquin and nasonex.   For the first time in months I'm starting to feel better.   On both of my previous visits to the clinic I called in and took whomever I could get because I felt so bad and Joanna wasn't available on either of those occasions.   She's certainly made a believer of me now; if she isn't available the next time I'm miserable I'll make an appointment for whenever she will be available and simply continue being miserable for as long as necessary.   Nuff said.

Don Crowder

Friday, June 15, 2007

Am I Reigning or Raining and Where's the Parade?

Because of changes in my mother's medical condition, Social Services has requalified us for respite care on Monday and Thursday afternoons.   It's a real luxury for us to be able to go somewhere together for a change even if it's just running errands and grocery shopping.   Lisa wants a rose trellis and the flimsy, crummy prefabbed trellis they sell at the lumber company is really overpriced so we decided to build our own.   On our last respite care day we took my old pickup truck to town, because it's the only thing we've got with room to haul building materials.   After we got to town the lower radiator hose developed a leak but we were only a few blocks from the shop which maintains our vehicles and we drove straight there.   The mechanic wasn't interested in working on it until it had cooled off a little so we made a half-hour hike to the nearest fast food place and soaked up the air conditioning for an hour before walking back and picking up the truck.   Because of the lost time we weren't able to finish all of our shopping but that just gives us something to do on our next respite care day.   That night I slow cooked a medium sized brisket in the oven overnight in a covered roaster.   The next day I let the cooked brisket cool for a couple of hours before removing it from the roaster and placing it in an aluminum foil basket in order to reheat it on the grill (allowing it to stay nice and tender while picking up some smoke flavor) but I found I didn't have any Mesquite wood left.   Mesquite wood makes the worlds best BBQ, no true Texan would dream of using anything else in the grill but there are affluent Texans who simply purchase Mesquite charcoal.   I'm not so affluent but every vacant lot in the neighborhood has Mesquite trees on it and most of those trees have dead limbs on them which is where I get firewood for the grill, by breaking off the dead limbs.   Mesquite is a particularly tough hardwood and a dead limb that's around 2 inches in diameter which hasn't aged enough to be suitable for BBQ cannot be broken, by me at least, and that's how I determine whether or not a dead limb is suitable for firewood.   I look for dead limbs that are around 2 inches in diameter and, when I find one, I give it a good yank; if it breaks cleanly it's firewood; if it doesn't I move on.   When I gather firewood I always get more than I need and the extra gets saved for next time.   Anyway, my firewood pile was empty, I was in a hurry and all the Mesquite trees in our immediate neighborhood are pretty well picked over but there was one 5 inch dead limb, about three feet long (I broke off the rest of it a couple of years ago) in a tree right across the street which I figured ought to be aged enough I could break it off.   I found a piece of rope, tied myself a lariet, walked across the street and was able to rope the limb right out on the end, where I'd have maximum leverage, on the first throw. I thought "Hot dog, I'm on a roll!", pulled the lariet tight and yanked down as hard as I could; it barely even moved.   It wasn't going to break off, nosir.   I left the rope hanging while I walked back across the street to get my bow saw and a lightweight six-foot aluminum step ladder.   I set up the ladder, climbed up and as I placed my saw for the first cut something shifted under one of the back legs and the other back leg totally caved in, bringing down the ladder, and me with it.   As I fell, I tossed the bow saw aside, knowing I didn't want to land on those wicked sharp teeth, and tried to squirm into a position that would miss the ladder but I didn't have much success.   I was able to roll as I hit the ground but my left leg and foot both hit the ladder hard enough to be well bruised.   Nothing was broken but it hurt like the dickens.   I limped back across the street, grumbling and cursing, and got my much sturdier 8 foot alluminum step ladder.   This time there were no surprises, I sawed a little over half-way through the limb, climbed down, moved the ladder, gave the rope a strong yank and down it came.  About an hour later we had Mesquite smoked beef brisket with brown and wild rice, Portabella mushroom gravy and green beans for supper and all was well with the world.

That was several days ago; by now, my foot's ok but my leg is still awfully tender.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Got Guitar?

My left-handed guitar was built for me, to my own specifications, by Jay Pawar back in 1994.   That was the year before he helped found Pawar Guitars and it was a sweet sounding monster-axe from day one.   I never owned a guitar that played so nicely or sounded so good and it'll do country twang, hard rock, heavy metal or smooth jazz with a combination of technique and electronics so I like to think that my guitar may have played a part, however modest, in the creation of the guitars he's building today.   This year, my Pawar is thirteen years old and its frets are all but worn out.   With a Strat or Tele style instrument it would be relatively simple to replace the bolt-on neck but my Pawer has a bonded neck so its frets must be replaced and while that's not a great deal more expensive, a skilled luthier is required to do a proper job of it, this is my baby we're talking about, this is the only electric guitar I own (why would I need anything else?) and I have gigs every week.   Fortunately I've had most of the parts needed to assemble a left-handed strat-copy buried in a box out in the shed since 1997 when someone gave me one that was in pretty sad shape and, because the parts needed to fix it weren't expensive, I ordered them.   In the back of my mind I was thinking about becoming one of those fellows who has two guitars on stage and swaps between them every so often but somehow it was just never the right time to put that guitar together until now.   I gotta have something to play while my baby's in the hospital so the strat copy is finally all assembled and only needs a little bit more fine tuning of it's action and intonation to be ready to boogie.   I should finish it up tomorrow but honestly, I don't have my heart in it.   I'm going to miss my Pawar and therein lies another interesting story.

Dan Erlewine is perhaps the most well known luthier in the world and, because I'm not about to let just anybody touch my baby I began my research on a refretting job with two emails; one to Dan and one to Jay Pawar c/o the website's dealer service email address (the only address I could find on the site).   Dan was real nice about it but the plain truth is that I can't afford his work so I contacted Dan's cousin Mark at Erlewine Guitars in Austin (TX) who's rates were pretty much the same as Dan's.   A little more research turned up Jeff Rice of Intown Guitar Repair in Greenville, South Carolina.   Jeff used to live in Austin, Texas where he still has a reputation as an excellent luthier.   In fact, there are still musicians in Austin who're willing to send their instruments to South Carolina to have Jeff work on them.   Jeff's rates, which are posted on his website, are substantially more affordable than those I was quoted by Dan or Mark so I was all set to send him my Pawar when I finally got a reply from Jay.   My email lost some time in being forwarded and Jay, who's a busy fellow, didn't get back to me right away.   Jay's a successful businessman these days and to tell the truth I didn't really expect him to respond to my email so I was surprised by his response.   Because he built my awesome axe in the first place, all thoughts of having anyone else work on it faded from my mind as soon as I got his email.   Jay explained that he doesn't really do much of this sort of work any more but he'd be happy to refret my Pawar.   That's just about the best news I've had in weeks and tomorrow I'm going to finish tweaking the strat copy and start building a packing crate for my Pawar so I can ship it to Ohio.

There are perhaps tens of thousands of guitarists in the world who are better musicians than I am, this is a given, but I'll wager there are no more than a handful who're happier than I am.   Life is good stuff you betcha, lemme told you.

Don Crowder

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Hang on, I'll be there in a minute...

I don't post here as often as I should but I am trying to improve.   Right now, for example, I'm here trying to edit a typo I spotted in an earlier post when I should be working on my ezine which I'll have to post in about a half hour.   I think this site is important because it doesn't come with the kind of peer pressure I feel about writing anything for Lockergnome but I'm just babbling aren't I?   I need to fix that typo and get back to work on my ezine.   I suppose I should name this one "The Someday Show" and make a little banner image that says "More To Come".   Yeah, I like the sound of that.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Call me Jones...

I'm having trouble keeping up with myself. I created this blog because myspace was getting so darn much negative publicity but I lost interest in blogging somewhere along the way and then Chris Pirillo invited me to create another blog at Lockergnome but it's real intimidating for me to post anything at Lockergnome for crying out loud, pick any three average Lockergnome readers and add their ages together; they're still younger than me. So, ok, I don't wanna be a wuss you know? Um, Lockergnome blog, that'd be here:

Donspatch at Lockergnome

I've made one post and have the second one almost finished but damn it's intimidating. I have to write it, proofread it, edit it, proofread it, and then finally, waffle for a couple of days before I can post it.

The only good thing I've found as a result of this blog is a new granddaughter. She's hell-on-wheels, Do Not give her any trouble or she'll hand you your head. Her name is Amanda. Check her out.

Let's see what else? Oh yeah, check out my website and the ezine my wife and I write twice a month then snag some freeware from my favorite programmer's website.

I'll be making my second post to the lockergnome blog in.. um... well, sooner or later and I'll make an honest effort to post here (*sigh* and at myspace) a little more often.