Saturday, July 08, 2006

Live...From Lower Alabama

BBQ Pork, Anyone?

Well, we made our journey in record time yesterday, thanks to first driving south from Georgia to Florida to find an west bound interstate highway.

Even though we probably traveled an additional 100 miles out of our way, we shaved nearly an hour and one half off of what had previously been a seven and one-half hour journey.

Our thanks go out to my friend Mark for that little travel tip.

Between now and Monday morning I've got a full plate, excuse the pun, considering my cooking endeavors and the need to spend the morning cleaning pine straw off about 3,000 square feet of roof and cleaning out the associated rain gutters.

Then there is the ailing 7.5 KW emergency generator, that needs my attentions.

In the food department, I have a seven pound Boston Butt Shoulder happily swiming in a spicy brine in the fridge, and if everything goes as planned our other guests will enjoy BBQ Pork, Fancy Asian Cold Slaw, and Potato Salad on a table by the swimming pool late Sunday afternoon.

Wish me luck...

Friday, July 07, 2006


More Travel Blogging

I’m sitting here trying to figure out if it would be easier to get on an airplane and go personally strangle FOX News’ Greta Van Sustren, or just change the channel….

OK, I changed the channel rather than risk being indicted for a felony Murder.

Dammit Gretta…give it a rest already…that woman wears me out with the Lacy Peterson and Natalee Holloway epic sagas.

Any way, about three hours from now we’ll be climbing into a car and droning cross country from the Georgia coast to spend a long weekend visiting my lovely Mother in lower Alabama.

Almost six hours looking at billboards and pine trees.

I hope our little nest of Wren’s will be OK while we’re gone. Their mom seems to be doing a good job of keeping them fed and the tourists and raccoons have left them alone so far, so I’ll just have to say a prayer and hope they’re safe until we return Monday afternoon.

By the way, let me mention that I'm really excited about my latest art project.

I had a great meeting with a bunch of our city officials yesterday afternoon, talking about my “K-Street Tree” art project. We had a conference call with our proposed “chainsaw artist,” Joe King from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and I had the opportunity to present my final plans to Bryan Thompson, the Brunswick Mayor, Roosevelt Harris the city administrator, and my friend Heather that handles the one of the local arts associations.

The city finally got around to moving it last month, and it turns out that my giant tree carcass weighs nearly 100,000 pounds (I had guestimated at least 50,000 doing a "back of an envelope" calculation).

I had to laugh out loud when I heard that my giant Live Oak tree trunk not only took TWO cranes to pick it up, but it broke the trailer they used to haul it to the temporary storage area and fell off in the middle of the road in the process.

Here’s another look at it for those that missed my February posting when I first took charge of this big stick of firewood:

This is the first time I've ever done anything of this size and scope in the public eye. The city is completely behind my idea to salvage the tree's tunk to be carved into a sculpture and placed back in the community from where it was removed to make way for a utility project.

We're talking a cost of nearly $50,000 when it is all said and done, including the foundation, artist's commission, and landscaping.

I sure hope that I haven't bitten off more than I can chew...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Feed US!!!

Our Birds Are Growing Up

Well, the good news is that our baby Wrens--I call them Winkin', Blinkin' & Nod--survived the busy Independence Day holiday weekend none the worse for the wear.

Their eyes have opened, and they've gotten their voices now, "peeping" and "cheeping" asking for food every time I disturb them to take their pictures.

Here's a sample of the goings on from yesterday:

By the way, I figured out that the big raptor I photographed and displayed in my last posting was a young Red Tailed Hawk. That explains why the squirrel was stareing him down and he was clumsy bouncing around in our tree yesterday.

I know that we have a Red Tail nest in the area because I've seen them circling overhead the past few years, I just never saw a juvenile bird up close. Our bird books tell us that the Red Tailed birds tails don't actually turn red until they are mature.

So like I said earlier, this place is a bird "Mecca"...I can't wait until tomorrow to see what I'm gonna see,

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


We Have To Have It

One of our greatest pleasures, and to me actually quite a bit of a surprise since moving here to our little island, has been our collection of birds that we’ve adopted.

Maybe I should say that they’ve adopted us.

OK, maybe I should admit that we’ve actually bribed our birds to hang out on our back patio by conveniently placing various forms of BIRD FOOD within easy reach of their little beaks and footsies.

Any way…you want to see birds…we’ve got birds for you to see.

First we have the teeny tiny little Ruby Throated Hummers, which consume at LEAST a cup of water/sugar mixture from our feeder each week.

Then there are the Cardinals, Chickadees, Thrashers, Doves, the occasional Blue Jay and even Red Headed Woodpecker (and God knows who or what else) that show up at our two feeders full of Safflower Seeds each day to provide for our additional entertainment.

Today I came home from an early swimming pool expedition and found Pat in a state of excitement as she pointed out this Hawk sitting within twenty feet of my dining room table.

I missed the best photo opportunities while running to get my camera set up. There was actually a Squirrel in the tree adjacent to this three pound bird staring him/her down and generally raising heck over its presence.

I think that this bird has visited our patio before. At first I though that it was a Red Tailed Hawk, but upon closer examination, at this point I don’t have a clue.

Maybe a Falcon?

All I know is that it was hanging out around our bird feeders looking not for the bird seed and sugar water, but for the birds that our feeders have attracted.

Our regular birds WERE NOT HAPPY.

Fortunately, this big old bully left the scene and everything returned to normal within a few hours.

I was ready to go out and risk getting the Animal Police after me if Winkin', Blinkin', and Nod had been threatened.

By the way...their doing just fine...more baby bird pictures to follow.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Going Forth For America’s Fourth, 2006

What Else Can I Say, That Hasn’t Already Been Said More Eloquently?

Unless I change my mind and get inspired by something, this morning, on the anniversary of our great nation’s independence, I’m just going to point out some recommended reading, and offer some famous quotes for your enjoyment….

First, there is a collection of essays out here that have been published on the internet called The Federalist Papers. I don’t mean to be condescending in mentioning them because many people over the age of thirty or forty probably know about them already.

As to the young “whipper-snappers” out there, I have no idea what you’ve been taught…but…the Federalist Papers were written by James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton and published in New York City Newspapers after the US Constitution was written and awaiting ratification by the individual states.

I can’t make you click on the link and take the time to read these writings, but I wish that everyone would, because they provide an excellent context as to where our country has come from and possibly where we are going—if we don’t further lose our way due to the insanity of crappy public education, partisanship, and various other forces of dubious intents and capabilities.

Next I’d like to present a few of my favorite historical quotations. (If you’re a regular reader, please excuse any redundancy found in this offering):

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

--C.S. Lewis

"A republic will avoid war unless the avoidance might create conditions that are worse than warfare itself. Sometimes, the dispositions of those who choose to make themselves our enemies leaves us no choice. In any case, declarations of war rest with the legislature alone; the President is authorized to take defensive actions only."

"When, in spite of all efforts to avoid it, a republic must go to war, the focus of the nation is temporarily changed. The President, as Commander-In-Chief, assumes the extraordinary powers necessary to conduct the all-out effort. Citizens and legislators must then put aside differences and unite against the common enemy. Undesirable conduct may be forced on the republic in dealing with an unscrupulous enemy."

"The right to procure property and to use it for one's own enjoyment is essential to the freedom of every person, and our other rights would mean little without these rights of property ownership. It is also for these reasons that the government's power to tax property is placed in those representatives most frequently and directly responsible to the people, since it is the people themselves who must pay those taxes out of their holdings of property."

—Thomas Jefferson

"I am in the prime of my senility"

"If you would persuade, you should appeal to interest rather than intellect..."

"Never leave that till tomorrow what you can do today."

"Search others for their virtues, thyself for thy vices."

"Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at a tempting moment"

--Benjamin Franklin

And finally, a few short stabs from my idol Samuel Clemmons:

"Clothes make the man... Naked people have little or no influence on society."

"Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge."

"Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable."

"If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything."

"Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't."

"It is easier to stay out than get out."

"Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."

"I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened."

"Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first."

"Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

--Mark Twain

OK, now go out there and enjoy your Independence Day, cook some hot dogs, visit with your family, and even take the time to READ something serious besides MY internet rantings…

Monday, July 03, 2006

Baby Birds

We're Proud Grandparents... Of Winkin', Blinkin', and Nod

I went out and got these photos of the nursery area this morning just about sunrise. First here's a sign I posted when the little house Wren set up shop in our postal outbox:

Here's Blinkin'...maybe Winkin', asking for a little snacky...

Here's the whole flock sleeping...

And here's everybody yelling at me to get the heck out of their faces so they can sleep some more...

We're So Proud...More photos to follow as our little family grows up.

I'm beginning to feel the urge to start knitting little things...

Brain Surgeon...Or Fry Cook?

What Will I End Up Doing When I Grow Up?

I hate to admit it, but these days I feel a little like Max Baer’s character Jethro Bodine on the Beverly Hillbillies.

For those of you who have been living in a cave for the past forty years or otherwise can’t bear to watch the adventures of the Clampetts et. al., let me remind you that Jethro—a graduate of the sixth grade—was constantly plagued with indecision as he pondered his employment options.

In addition to Brain Surgeon and Fry Cook, I seem to recall Mr. Bodine investigating other careers like…

Rocket Scientist
A “Double naught” Secret Agent Spy
Movie Producer
International Playboy
Rock and Roll Star
Airline Pilot
Frogman i.e. Navy Seal

Any way, I’ve been spinning around here on our little island for over two years and other than a little engineering consulting work here or there and some property rental income, my money making ability has basically sucked.

Yeah, I know, I know, I appear to be the ultimate philanthropist with my work with the community theaters and our neighborhood association, and we adopted a foster grandfather to look after for a year or two, but I’m basically bored out of my skull much of the time and writing blogs ain’t putting no bacon on the table and chicken in the freezer.

Thinking about the parallels between Jethro and I, I just realized that I’ve worked my way through most of his list of professions, and found most to be financial loss leaders when it’s all said and done.

I did twenty years of highly technical work as a Mechanical engineer. Those jobs paid really well and I guess that you could say that I was close to being a “Rocket Scientist.”

I spent a couple of months spying on the sexual antics of a soon to be ex-wife before she moved out, threatened to have me killed, and put a restraining order on me. Not much of what I’d call a success, but all in all a good learning experience. I’m most definitely not private investigator or spy material, in my estimation.

I've never had much interest in movie production. In fact, I’ve never owned a video or movie camera and I haven’t been to a movie in a movie theater since the last Lord of the Rings film came out.

As far as being an International Playboy, I once took three different women to the same Jamaican resort in a twelve month period back in the mid-nineties. I was quite famous with the resort staff and I guess that I was trying to play the ladies man back then. I'm proud to report that for the past five years I’ve settled down with a wonderful woman that puts up with my quirks and obsessions.

As a rock and roll star, I did about a year in the late 90’s as a harmonica player and back up vocalist with a local Atlanta band that had a good deal of potential until the inevitable infighting, wife/girlfriend issues, insanity, and job relocations broke our little gang up. But then again. there's always karaoke...

As to being an Airline pilot, I never came close.

My navy flying career ended when my vision took a turn for the worse in college and my private pilot career ended when the FAA refused to give me a Third Class Medical certificate because of my hypercoagulative blood condition. I did manage to have the thrill of renting an airplane and flying around the planet by myself, and I'll never forget the day I flew my first solo flight and got my "shirt tail cut off." (All the pilots out there know what I'm talking about...)

Navy Seal?

Nope, the Seals would have killed me and used me for fish bait, but I did a short stint in the Navy Reserve back in the late 1970’s and I have spent a hundred or so hours underwater as a NASDS certified scuba diver.

That just leaves Brain Surgeon and Fry Cook, and I feel too old to go back to medical school now, although I could probably make it if I wanted to.

Finally I have to look at Jethro's Fry cook ambitions, and that’s another story entirely. I’d love to go to culinary school, but I don’t want to spend the time and money at this point in my life, so I’m thinking about doing the next best thing.

You see, I had an interview last week with the executive chef of the best damn restaurant here on our island. He didn't make me any promises of employment because he had just started the interview process, and he thought that someone of my age and experience was crazy to want to start at the bottom in the restaurant business, but I think that the interview went quite well and I know that I’d love the experience.

In addition to having the opportunity to improve my cooking skills and recipe knowledge, my Redneck Gourmet cooking blog would benefit and the cookbook would finally get done.



Maybe I should start comparing myself to Samuel Clemmons…

Let’s see...

River boat captain
Newspaper reporter

Yeah, that's the ticket...

I haven’t done any of that stuff yet.

Never Take A Car To A Boat Race

Lazy Blogging

I'm lethargic and over stuffed from dinner, but I feel like posting something...

Here, take a look at This Story and I might be back after a while with something meaningful to say.

(Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that we 're grandparents...our little house wren's eggs hatched Saturday night, but I haven't been able to get a good picture of the chirren.

The three little fuzzies are each smaller than half of my little finger, and basically all head and mouth right now.

We're so excited, although we don't know whether to buy pink or blue balloons--maybe a couple of each?)

Bird pictures are coming...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

“Miss Crappy Pants” Strikes Again

I Guess That I Just Bring Out The Worst In Some People

It took over two weeks for me to cool off enough to talk about this issue, but now, being the arrogant bastard eloquent wordsmith that I strive to be, I feel like venting a little this morning.

What got me started thinking about it again came about while taking my early morning wander stroll around our complex.

You see, I just came back home after doing my job as official unofficial pool Nazi, checking things out to make sure that none of our Independence Day Reveler’s were abusing the property, and I noticed that the bulbs in no less than eight of our landscape, parking, and security lights are not functioning.

Still Again.

I want to say “still” because most of them have been out of service for over a month now.

Not a big deal for me personally, but it’s a maintenance issue that is a sore spot with many of our full time elderly residents—many of them women.

What pisses me off personally is that I’ve previously done my best to assist in these areas with the previous arrogant asshole original property manager that I helped get fired, and now the current property management company has relegated the task of managing our 48 unit condo complex to a woman that has the personality of a brick, and the people skills of a prison convict bilge pump septic tank the Grinch.

In spite of paying over $7,000 per year for managment services, I've found that we have outdoor lighting in need of service here almost all of the time, and calling to notify someone of the problems is only met with arrogance and indifference, especially if it comes from me…but I digress...

I call her, this offending, unprofessional bitch lovely assistant property manager, Miss Crappy Pants.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you’ve probably already heard of her.

Any way…

Miss Crappy Pants and I got into another disagreement a couple of weeks ago, and she thinks that she won.

I have a little message for her…

SHE LOST, BIG TIME…She just don’t know it right now.

Here was the situation.

Just before Memorial Day, Miss Crappy Pants’ boss, Miss Property Management Company Owner, asked me to take a look at the pool deck and, pending her prior approval, pick up a few things at the local hardware store if we needed them.

I did.

And she did—prior approve my purchase, that is.

All we needed was about seven dollars of brackets and bolts to properly hang up our “Shepherds’ Hook” on the Pool deck fence railing. (For those of you that don't know, a ""Shepherds Hook" is that curved thingie on a long pole designed to pick unattended dead grandchildren poor unfortunate potential drowning victims out of the deep end of the pool.)

Until late May, our “Shepherd’s Hook” had spent at least three summers conveniently hidden behind a row of bushes, out of sight and unavailable in the event that someone that could swim wasn’t available to remove the aforementioned unattended grandchildren poor unfortunate drowning victims from their watery demise.

Any way, after a trip to Ace Hardware and after fifteen minutes of turning bolts with a crappy pair of pliers I brought with me for the task, our rusty “Shepherds Hook” was hanging up in plain view on two shiny new stainless steel brackets.

I was so proud.

Then a couple of days later, just before our mid-June poolside Condo Owners Extravaganza, one of our lovely neighbors that happens to sit with me on the Condo board of Directors asked that I purchase a tungsten light bulb to replace the one that had been burned out for about THREE MONTHS. This bulb illuminated our pool side flag pole.

No problem, another six dollars at Ace Hardware, another five minutes with a screwdriver, and we had a brightly lit American Flag in the evenings.

Hurray for me….

But then, enter Miss Crappy Pants—stage right.

I waited another week or so, not caring to make a special trip to the real estate office and not really wanting to deal with the stupid arrogant bitches lovely property management staff, but finally I wandered into their office and presented the lovely assistant property manager Miss Crappy Pants with my original receipts.

After explaining what each piece of paper was for, that I had preauthorization to do the work, that I didn’t expect any compensation for my time and effort, and that there was no rush for repayment…

this stupid, arrogant, miserable, mouth breathing, ugly, crotch stinking, smelly footed bitch Miss Crappy Pants had the audacity to say out loud something to this effect (and I paraphrase because the top of my head blew off and I forgot the exact words she uttered)

“Well, I don’t know about this…how can I tell that this stuff was really for the pool area, and our regular contractors could have done this work if we had just been informed of the need.”

I turned 37 shades of red and purple, but I briefly managed to keep breathing and utter something about the “shepards hook” having been laying on the ground behind the bushes for 2-1/2 years. "What's there to not know about the need?"

Miss Crappy Pants didn’t blink, but instead added that she couldn’t tell by the receipt what the light bulb was and blaa blaa blaaaaaa….blaaa blaaa blaaa blaaa.

I reached across her desk, snatched the receipts cleanly out of her hand, and issued the following statement (and I absolutely do remember verbatim what I said):

“Dammit woman, but you have the worst F**KING unprofessional attitude on the whole damn planet. How dare you accuse me of trying to steal thirteen measly damn dollars. I don't know what you're about or what you're thinking, but I’ll have your job before this is over with.”

“Good luck”, She replied.

I turned and bolted out the door of the real estate office, and before I could burn the Mustang tires out of the gravel parking lot she must have come to her senses because she came outside and motioned for me to come back inside.

I flipped her a giant middle finger as I spun out of sight.

I also called her boss when I got home and told her about the incident, and stated that I would see to it that their property management company lost our account if Miss Crappy Pants continued to handle our business.

I tell you, I’m getting too old to let stupid idiot ignorant people upset me like that, and I’m actually a bit embarrassed at my own behavior, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, and…

The silence is deafening.

Art for Children

Mr. Frog Got an Pseudo-Honorable Mention

Well, last evening I attended my third Art Gallery opening in which I had some of my work displayed.

This time my contribution to the exhibit was three 16”x20” photographs. Here's one example...

My nerves have calmed down a bit since the first exhibit last winter, so I could actually enjoy the event and interaction with the other artists. Let me tell you, there are some GREAT photographers here on the island and elsewhere that were represented.

Once again I managed to screw around, after knowing about the exhibit since last summer, and create a bit of a disaster for myself when it came to printing the final copies of my photos.

I actually shot all three images which I decided to use in this show in the fall of last year, but I waited until two weeks ago to have them reproduced in the larger format because of the cost, not to mention the framing and matting expenses.

We’re talking spending dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars when the process is completed and, for whatever reason, I apparently specialize in cramming it all into the last few days before a show opens.

I guess that I waited because we don’t need a bunch of extra giant format copies of my photos hanging on the wall and I didn’t get notice that I was accepted in the exhibit until early June. In theory all of the photo's are for sale to the viewing public, but I'm not egotistical enough to believe that I'll sell all three going into the show so you understand the issue of frugality.

This time it was a UPS shipping error that caused my agony, but I managed to pull everything together late Friday and the quality of my photos offset the quick and dirty framing and matting I was forced to live with.

The bad news is that I didn’t receive an actual award in the exhibit, but when I saw the work I was up against I understood why.

The gentleman that did the judging was a professional commercial photographer of some reputation, and he took the time to address each of the photos he recommended for awards, and in the middle of his discussion he commented at length on my photos, and mentioned that his young daughter liked my work the best and that she told him that his judgment was in error.

He even gave me an opportunity to address the audience about my work and explain what I had done and where the photos were taken.

There were nineteen photographers and 57 photos, and I was in the top eight images—not enough for a prize, but there’s always next year.

Based on the the little girl's reaction, I think that I’ll start sending my work out to the elementary school competitions.

Any kids out there need a giant picture of a frog or an azalea?