Gnawing on It

I will try to make this as smooth a transition, as possible.  Course, I say that, but when traveling with two, four-legged, friends, the opposite is typically the case.  The getting into the car, packing up the dogs, bringing treats, a leash, etc.  If by chance a leash or two, is forgotten?  A belt is always worn that can double as a ‘in case of emergency’ tether.

Pretty much, where I go, the dogs go.  Unless extreme weather gives the finger to keeping dogs in too hot a car.  Or, meteorologists imply that the current not habitable cold temperatures would not be good for chasing the great outdoors.

Other than the above mentioned, bad form temperature intensities, my friends are with me always!

When we evolve from Home Sweet, Home to New Hampshire’s vast rural nation?  It can be quite an undertaking.  As many writers do, I have an imagination that could be deemed a lethal weapon.  And, of a restless nature, my need to get up an go, can be almost as frightening.

Hour upon weary hour with Bogie and Mattie; I have developed their character analysis.  But with a twist.  Who were these lovely creatures in a former life?

Mattie, the hound mix, is no less than an eloquent expression of canine grace.  Having been abused before I met her. She has developed an edge.  Pretty simple stuff…She does not like; unspayed female dogs, over bearing male dogs, loud noises, quick movements, her little brother (Bogie) on occasion.

She is a Georgia Peach on steroids mixed with the aloofness of a Wallflower and lightly salted with all the athleticism of her great ancestors.  She is serious as shit!  No comedy!  No jokes!  Just cut to the chase and show her some love.

Bogie, a Beabull!  Is an anomaly!  Part beagle, he insists that he can hold his own out in the great north woods.  Part bulldog, he cannot hold his own.  And, is what many would call, delusional, in thinking he was ‘all that and a bag of chips!’

I refer, on exceptionally long trips, to Mattie as, Big Pat!

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Along the same lines of road monotony…Bogie is referred to as, Little Dot!

Big Pat and Little Dot were/are members of a backwoods bowling team.  They are the only ones on the team.  No one else feels comfortable playing with them.

Big Pat, in my fantastical mind, wears a polyester shit with an emblem.  The emblem displays bowling pins falling here and there.  Underneath the neon thread?  Her name: Big Pat.

Big Pat does not have a last name!  She listens to such music as; Black Sabbath, Joan Jett and when feeling soft inside…Led Zepplin.

Big Pat does not really like Little Dot.  She does for the first five minutes they are in the lanes.  After that, with the chaos and comedy, Big Pat pops a Pabst Blue Ribbon.  She is often spoken to about bringing open containers into ‘Your Balls in the Way Bowl-a-rama.’  Usually, the owners back off after Big Pat admonishes a switch blade.  And/or, worse case scenario, Big Pat will threaten to expose her left breast.

Unbelievable, but true, Big Pat is tough as nails and a beauty!

Little Dot had done the comedy circuit at Salisbury Beach.  She even branched out to Revere Beach.  And, Chinatown in Boston.  Her career never took off after the ‘incident.’

Little Dot had been spotted by Boston PD…peeing two miles from a playground.  The arrest would certainly have done her stand-up career…in.  She took a plea agreement.  So, now besides, bowling with Big Pat.  Little Dot volunteers at the Home for Wayward Aspiring Comics.

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She currently is in charge of the Bingo games on Wednesday afternoons.  Happy with the gig.  Little Dot has had the pleasure of meeting such greats as; David Spade, Pee Wee Herman and Jackie Gleason’s son.

Little Dot is in actuality, rather round.  Most of her stand-up routine consists of physical jokes.  Walking and falling.  Talking and chewing gum.  And, on rare moments, hurling her Humpty Dumpty frame…into the crowd.

Little Dot had been raised in an orphanage north of Boston.  Unfortunately, they stacked the beds from floor to ceiling.  Last or…first, one on the totem-pole?  Little Dot got the bottom bunk and received a life debilitating injury.  Having been stuck beneath many other larger than life…tots!  The circulation to both her brain and limbs became severed!  Little Dot, though, as adorable as a ferret, is slow on the uptake.  And, stopped growing after the age of one!

Little Dot doesn’t mind that Big Pat seems confused about her sexuality.  After all, Little Dot experimented down at the local shelter…back in her youth.

Big Pat, appreciates Little Dot, for her open mind.  Just the mere fact that Little Dot, will make-out one week and have an out an out brawl…the next?  Makes Big Pat want to keep Little Dot around.

Little Dot and Big Pat have been ‘friends’ for a lifetime or so.  Often, after a heated big ball game, the two will sit in the back of Pat’s remodeled school bus.  Discussing such things as;

Why squat to pee?

Why does hand size matter?

How to kill a person with one bite to the jugular

Where Little Dot could find one of those cute little ‘dog collars’ made of leather with spikes on it?

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I love Little Dot and Big Pat.  Never one to think too much about someone’s past.  Or, someone’s future…I’m uncertain about the idea of dying and coming back in another form.  That the gods decided to make all of us…cats, dogs, humans, etc., live life over and over again, until we get it right.

I am certain that Mattie and Bogie; the not so comic but funny as shit, duo, were professional bowlers in a past life!

a Common Grave

I am a loosely self-appointed, history buff.  I am a staunch critic of our current and constant fight for human rights for all…in that the beat goes on.  Centuries have passed, and yet, the rights of, women, African-Americans, immigrants, LGBT, etc.; seem to lie in question.  As though, God, whichever one you choose, decided, who shall inherit the earth and handed that message down only to…that ‘moral majority’!

Hence my interest in history.  For as many great and wise poets and sages have pointed out, history will repeat.  Particularly, if we do not face our differences, heal and commune together as the certain ‘melting pot’ society we are!

 

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On Aug. 11, 1862, Robert Gould Shaw arrived in the Virginia town of Culpeper on a grim errand: the young lieutenant was there to accompany the remains of five fellow officers on the first leg of a final journey home to Boston. Before the bullet-ridden corpses were packed for shipment, Shaw carefully clipped a lock of hair from the lifeless head of one body. He repeated the somber act on the others, and put the locks away for safekeeping. He planned to present the keepsakes to mourning friends as a memento mori.

Robert Gould Shaw pictured as a second lieutenant in the Second Massachusetts Infantry, circa July 1861Library of CongressRobert Gould Shaw pictured as a second lieutenant in the Second Massachusetts Infantry, circa July 1861

Two days earlier and five miles south of Culpeper, the five officers were still very much alive as they prepared to go into action during the Battle of Cedar Mountain. Shaw marveled at their courage as they marched “straight up into the shower of bullets, as if it were so much rain; men, who until this year, had lived lives of perfect ease and luxury.”

One of the deceased who inspired Shaw was William Blackstone Williams. Known by his middle name to movers and shakers in Boston’s high society, he was well educated and widely traveled. He prospered as a civil engineer in the booming railroad industry, and served in the militia.

After the bombardment of Fort Sumter, Williams was quick to enter the Army. “I am young and unmarried, and am just the one to go,” he told a friend. At age 30, he wasn’t exactly young for a soldier. He was in fact a reluctant warrior. Williams believed that the war might have been avoided and blamed ruling Republicans for it. He was “staunch in the conviction that the success of that party, following the long agitation at the North of the disrupting question of slavery, had precipitated the Rebellion,” his minister noted. But he set aside political differences to defend the Union.

Williams became a first lieutenant, and along with Shaw and other sons of the first families of Boston signed on to the Second Massachusetts Infantry. It was considered the best-officered volunteer regiment in the Army, due in part to its West Point-educated colonel, George H. Gordon. He broke with the convention of having members of the rank and file elect their own leaders and selected his own subordinates. According to notes kept by Gordon, the first man to apply to join his regiment was Williams.

 

In July 1861, the Second forded the Potomac River and entered Virginia. Col. Gordon recalled, “The officers were in full uniform, adorned with epaulettes and sashes. The ranks were full, a thousand men, marching in close order, moving with the military precision of veterans, and keeping time to the music of a full band.” He added, “Never again was the regiment to make that march in such style.”

One year later, in the summer of 1862, the Second mustered half as many men. There were also changes in the cadre of officers. Williams had been promoted to captain. Gordon had advanced to general and commanded a brigade that included the Second and two other regiments. Shaw served Gordon as an aide.

Late in the afternoon of Aug. 9, the Second and the rest of Gordon’s Brigade occupied the extreme right flank of a mile-wide Federal front at Cedar Mountain. The brigade on their left received an order to attack. Shaw recalled, “They advanced through a wood, emerged from it, and crossed an immense field under a very heavy fire from forces far superior in numbers. After they were cut to pieces, our Brigade was ordered up.”

“We went through the same wood, but more to the right, and came out into the same broad field,” Shaw explained. “The first thing I noticed upon coming out of the wood, was the immense number of bodies lying about the field, and then I saw a long line of rebel battalions drawn up opposite, and almost concealed by the smoke from their pieces.” He added that the Massachusetts men “were placed on the edge of the wood, behind a snake fence. The men were ordered to lie down until the enemy came nearer; almost all the officers kept on their feet, though.”

Included in this group of officers of the Second Massachusetts Infantry in camp are Capt. Richard Cary (third from left), Lt. Robert G. Shaw (fourth from left), and Capt. Richard C. Goodwin (tenth from left), circa 1861Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical SocietyIncluded in this group of officers of the Second Massachusetts Infantry in camp are Capt. Richard Cary (third from left), Lt. Robert G. Shaw (fourth from left), and Capt. Richard C. Goodwin (tenth from left), circa 1861

Shaw was called away to another sector of the battlefield about this time. The order might have saved his life.

The Confederates poured forth a perfect storm of fire as Williams and the other captains and lieutenants steadied the men. A soldier in the ranks reported, “The rebel’s assault was met with our accurate heavy fire, and so they did not advance closer than fifty yards of us. Then the heaviest fire yet came down on our right flank.” He went on: “Our line wavered and backed away. The brass eagle was shot from the staff which bore the colors of our regiment, and the staff was shattered by a bullet, but the flag was saved.”

The order to retreat could not come quickly enough. In 30 minutes, the Second had suffered 173 casualties, about a third of the 496 officers and enlisted men engaged. Roughly one of every four Massachusetts men was killed outright. Total casualties, North and South, numbered 3,691. The overall result was a Federal loss.

Gordon and Shaw surveyed the Confederate-occupied grounds on Aug. 11 under a flag of truce. Gordon observed, “In the woods into which our regiments charged and by the fence where my Brigade fought in line of battle, there were ghastly piles of dead.” An eyewitness account reported by one newspaper confirmed their observations: “The view of the battle field was a sight never to be forgotten. It was full of horror. For nearly a mile, the dead lay scattered or in heaps, many disemboweled, decapitated and mangled by shells.” Temperatures hovered near the 100-degree mark, speeding the decomposition process and adding a foul odor to the nightmarish landscape.

Gordon and Shaw arrived at the grisly scene where the Second had been decimated. Among dozens of corpses they found the five officers — four captains and a lieutenant. Shaw found the first captain, Richard Cary, lying on his back, his head resting on a board and his hands crossed over his chest. He had been mortally wounded, and according to an injured sergeant who lay nearby, lingered for some hours before he died. Shaw observed, “He looked calm and peaceful, as if he were merely sleeping; his face was beautiful, and I could have stood and looked at it for a long while.”

George Henry Gordon, West Point Class of 1846, pictured as a brigadier general, circa 1862-1865Library of CongressGeorge Henry Gordon, West Point Class of 1846, pictured as a brigadier general, circa 1862-1865

Shaw then discovered Williams and the two other captains, Edward Abbott and Richard Goodwin, clustered together where the regiment made its last stand. He judged that all three had been killed instantly. He did not attempt to describe their appearance except to note, “all were much disfigured,” and “the heat was very great.” The last man, Lt. Stephen Perkins, Shaw stated, “was some distance to the rear, lying on his back with his face to the front as if he had turned round in the retreat.”

Later, after Shaw snipped the locks of hair and saw the bodies off from Culpeper, he observed, “All these five were superior men; every one in the regiment was their friend. It was a sad day for us, when they were brought in dead, and they cannot be replaced.”

The pastor who presided over the well-attended funeral of Williams echoed Shaw’s sentiment: “My friends, his best eulogy cannot be spoken. It is the silent homage to his worth, of which this immense concourse of friends is the expression; it is the unbounded confidence, respect, and love of his companions in arms, and their pathetic testimony to his extraordinary merit as a man and a soldier; it is the eternal debt which the American Nation owes to his memory, and the enrollment of his name in the grand historical obituary of the peerless defenders of her institutions, her liberties, and her life.”

A month later, an even greater death toll at the Battle of Antietam grabbed headlines across the divided nation. Cedar Mountain faded into oblivion, barely remembered as the opening clash of arms in the Second Bull Run Campaign. In a 1921 biography of the philanthropist Henry Lee Higginson, who served alongside Williams and Shaw, the author Bliss Perry stated, “Cedar Mountain was a stupid, useless sacrifice of brave men.” Two of Higginson’s closest friends were killed in the battle, and he never got over the loss.

But the courage of Williams and the other four officers inspired other survivors of the Second, who achieved a distinguished combat record in 11 engagements. William F. Fox, in his treatise “Regimental Losses in the American Civil War,” lauded it as one of the “Three Hundred Fighting Regiments” in the Union Army, in recognition of its high casualty rate.

Perhaps no soldier was as profoundly moved by the losses at Cedar Mountain as Robert Gould Shaw. He later left the Second and became the colonel of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, the first regiment of African-Americans raised in the state. He famously fell at the head of his troops during the failed assault against Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863. He and his men were buried without ceremony in a common grave.

https://www.twitter.com/NYTcivilwar/

We all die the same death.  And, in truth, we will all be in the same common grave!

RandomwordbyRuth

Dusty Conversations with Kahlo and Others

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Mad-dogs and Indians.

Latent women and disposed black men.

Raising up Cain and lifting up Eve.

Platforms so strange.

Someone else’s joy.

Someone else’s pain.

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Afrin and my Irish Mother

Duck and cover
When the big one drops…make sure to assign guilt!

Jezebel threw open the sash that had held her tiny little life together.  With the sweat of the night before and/or the heat flashes that seemed to encompass her daily routine…the Bell of the ball…felt the wind being sucked from her sails.

‘This fuckin’ cold is kicking my ass.  Today!?  Today!  Is the last day of the rest of my life!’

What with a 100 degree temperature, a swollen big toe, one runny nostril and a handful of other ailments…one of which being, potty mouth and potty bottom…

With all these small but increasingly life threatening ailments, Jezebel, knew the end would be coming soon.

Common colds are for commoners.  This particular cold was much different than all the others for the very simple reason…Jezebell was prone to the dramatics in life.

What had made her careen from the bed to the window…with the speed of a cat in heat?  The bi-yearly visit to dear old grandma Jeze’s tomb!

Today had been the day to end all days.  Today Jezebel, Sister Lelah Catherine, Mother Sarah and Jezebel’s partner in crime and in the bedroom…Meghan, would be churning up the old Volvo station wagon and pointing it toward the badlands…commonly known as, Massachusetts.

Yet, as Jeze, stood milling over her short life…how her obit would read…

…a fellow sister has fallen today.  Gone by way of the heavens.  Leaving behind a lifelong legacy of self fulfilling prophecies…a writer by day, lover by night and guilty as sin every hour in between…

…Jeze, succumbed two days ago, to a 36 hour illness known as the common cold!

Not only did tears well up in the eyes of our heroine.  A memory, a deju vu, a recollection of the night before and it’s dreams crept up and reminded her of guilt and it’s true and far reaching legacy.

They had been traveling at the lightening speed of 45 mph.  Meghan had been at the helm.  Up snug and close to banging her contact lens on the windshield…Meghan had only just received her license 2 years ago.  After several failed attempts and one bad hot coffee spill!

Of course, Meghan had been the obvious choice… to make the long trek down to the armpit of New England…the suburbs of Boston.  The two other co-pilots straddling the bench seat were less likely to get the group to it’s destination than they were in receiving a book of matches, a map and a reward…if they could navigate their way out of a corn maze!

Sister Lelah had been warned by her doctor to lay off the cosmetic braces.  That she had been wearing adult braces for so long…they could possibly be responsible for the good sister’s lack of common sense.

And, Mother Sarah?  Well, Jezebel’s mother had needed help getting her acceleration leg in the car since she was diagnosed with Shenanigan Syndrome.  An old malady, handed down from one catholic female to the next.  Often confused with the following term; SPELL

‘Oh, the good sister?  Well, she had a spell!  No other way to explain.  One leg went out from underneath her, than the next and well, the last thing I remember, her dentures flew across the lawn.’

And, of course, due to the simple fact that Jezebel has thrown theology out the proverbial window…in exchange for the Goddess.  Jeze found herself entombed in the back.  Arms crossed delicately on the upper torso.  Ankles crossed virgin-ally…on the lower torso.  Between living between sin and homosexuality...made your’s truly a prime target for the dreadful sniffles.  Jezebel was indeed death warmed over.  And, make no doubt about it, her tawdry ways coupled with guilt, were key ingredients to this boiler maker cold!

Sneezing and coughing and spewing.  Jezebel had been the season’s first victim to the common cold.  Her only hope?  The hidden bottle of Afrin…placed beneath the chains that held her wallet in place…

Current day, Jezebel, shivered from the memory, the dream.  Had she concocted the whole scenario?  Did her mother, as in the dream, denounce the Afrin demon with ten rounds of the Our Father, five rounds of the Hail Mary and a promise to never scratch a sweepstakes’s ticket again!

During the hysteria!  Her partner, Meghan driving recklessly arguing with Sister Lelah Catherine on the proper arrangement of ‘thongs’ while being wheeled away by EMS...Sister Lelah texting her new found love, a virtual IGO (image generated object)!  Igo declining to take the relationship to a new level.  The Sister debating the pro’s and con’s of sex one handed!

Amid the bad karma, playing heavily in the background, Brand New Key, by a little known artist named, Melanie!

Turning from the window, placing the day in order.  Placing the nightmare in a box of pinky sized laughing BuddhasJezebel took a hit off her pipe, shook the air our of her head and took two good tugs of a bottle of Afrin.

Slowly she made her way downstairs.  Readying herself for the tormenting phone call that lay ahead.

‘Hey, Mom, it’s me…I know I promised you.  But I’m too sick to go anywhere.  Can we go to the Cemetery next week?  I know, I know…you’re disappointed!’

Spells:

Known to cause paralysis from the neck down.  No known cause.  No known cure.

Common symptoms:

flighty behavior

immobility of brain cells

road rash

hives

Age of onset: 15 yr., in catholic/irish/females

Get Out the Map

So after many, many years of marriage.  After the consoling.  The begging and the pleading.  The Misfits on the Isle of Misfit Animals and Lesbian women…will leave most of their brood home and head down to where the GAIETY began…Ptown!  The last stop on the Cape unless you plan on swimming to Cuba.  Been there many times before…this time however, the big boss has given the thumbs up to a bit of rustic romance in a tent!  My lucky day!

The other night I looked at my spouse as I am sure she has with me; thinking of how far we have come and envisioning the times I sing off key and understanding nothing would have been surmountable without my backup singer.    These now and again glances of quizzical comfort born from years of finishing each other’s sentences make up life.

With every lesson learned a line upon your beautiful face We'll amuse ourselves one day with these memories we'll trace
With every lesson learned a line upon your beautiful face
We’ll amuse ourselves one day with these memories we’ll trace
the Ambiguity of Love
love me love my feet

What is love after a decade plus of snoring, rubbing shoulders with Ben Gay, comforting one an another when a relative has passed?

Tough to say.    Yet, I think I’m beginning to getting the picture.

Could it be that accepting your partner’s not vain attempts at cooking while you’ve just come home from a shit day and a shit job…could it be that those slabs of crispy well done ribs, the pig sticks left in the oven too long, are parts of love’s equation?

Perhaps, at night when sleeping spouse beauty is near her twilight zone and you decide it’s time to draw circles around her breasts, an act she abhors, is that the twinkle in the eye of romance.  The twinkle that allows her to let your sophomoric ways continue a minute past her aggravation point.

Honestly, to me, I feel our love has grown with the frost heaves in the road.  The strange outfits, Hawaiian shorts and flannel shirts.  The days when there is little to say and that feels wonderful.  The nights when I can’t fall asleep and spoon my way into her heaven.  We aren’t big on fighting.  I preach.  My partner becomes moot.  Generally, we avoid a family discussion with all eight animals and the two human fools.  It seems far more peaceable to understand that the quirks and quips and eccentricities we all bring to the table are the perfect equation to a perfectly happy quietly dysfunctional home-built on love and duct tape.

Favorite All Time hit the Road Trip Song:

Get Out the Map

he saddest sight my eyes can see is that big ball of orange sinking slyly down the trees
Sitting in a broken circle while you rest upon my knee this perfect moment will soon be leaving me
Suzanne calls from Boston the coffee’s hot the corn is high
And that same sun that warms your heart will suck the good earth dry
With everything it’s opposite enough to keep you crying or keep this old world spinning with a twinkle in its eye
Get out the map get out the map and lay your finger anywhere down
We’ll leave the figuring to those we pass on our way out of town
Don’t drink the water there seems to be something ailing everyone I’m gonna clear my head
I’m gonna drink that sun I‘m gonna love you good and strong
while our love is good and young Joni left for South Africa a few years ago and then
Beth took a job all the way over on the West Coast
And me I’m still trying to live half a life on the road
I’m heavier by the year and heavier by the load.
Why do we hurdle ourselves through every inch of time and space I must say around some corner
I can sense a resting place
Poseidon and the Bitter Bug
Poseidon and the Bitter Bug (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With every lesson learned a line upon your beautiful face
We’ll amuse ourselves one day with these memories we’ll trace
Get out the map get out the map and lay your finger anywhere down
We’ll leave the figuring to those we pass on our way out of town
Don’t drink the water there seems to be something ailing everyone
I’m gonna clear my head I’m gonna drink the sun
I’m gonna love you good and strong while our love is good and young