Archive for the ‘Stories of Home’ Category
So its finally March. Usually my favorite time of the year.
As you can see I managed to ensure that the website changed to its typical green hue for the occasion, forests of Ireland a backdrop for something I have done on this website for several years: that of sharing some Irish history, Mythology, lore and my own families history with you.
This year has been crazy, and the last several weeks hectic. Last year our March celebration was marred by the loss of longtime friend and fellow MilBlogger Lex.
I can’t promise you this month will be better. There are things moving in m own life that have me as worried as a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but I digress.
It’s March. There is still snow on the ground. Spring is coming soon as the last vestiges of winter make their way from our lives for this year.
On Easter Monday, shortly after noon, Patrick Pearse and a band of ill armed and ill prepared poets and romantic patriots rose in rebellion took control of the General Post Office incentral Dublin and several other strategic sites around the city. The Irish Republic was proclaimed in Dublin, and the insurgent Tricolour suddenly broke upon startled eyes flying from the flagstaff above the General Post Office in the very heart of the Irish capital.
So we finally got the majority of the room complete and we have steadily been filling our shelves with the boxes of books we have had in storage for what seems like eons.
One thing to keep in mind, that while this is a Library room, its also meant to act as a quasi study, a Victorian, or throwback room heralding to our former culture norms, a room that is comfortable and made for relaxing, ready and quiet reflection. We wanted it to be old looking, and old feeling from start to finish, with only a handful of modern conveniences.
With that in mind lets be off!
Best laid plans of mice and men they say
I have been extraordinarily busy as of late.
I started a doctoral program back in August and juggling it along with my work as well as my Non Profit time has been challenging to say the least especially when it comes to finding “Me” time such as for this site.
All that aside I have been busy here as well.
The pups are growing like weeds with Sherlock nearly at 40 lbs already.
For the Holidays I am attempting to build the dry bar in the Library finally
Hope your holidays are good and thanks for sticking around!
It was early morning on Barker Street as Watson coming strolling up to his flat mate.
“I say! Sherlock ol boy! What the devil has happened to your wall?”
Sherlock looked nonchalant “Well, after consuming a mixture of cocaine and heroin I borrowed your Webley and….”
“Oh, stop it man!,” Watson interrupted. “I’m a war veteran for goodness sake. That wall looks like its been positively eaten! No weapon could possibly do that sort of damage! Miss Hudson will positively have kittens!”
“Mmmm, kittens…,” Sherlock with a delicious look in his eyes.
“Holmes! How could you possibly think of kittens at a time like this!” Watson exclaimed.
“Quite easy really. I’m hungry!”
(And be sure to hit the Play button for some ambiance!)
With all respect to Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as to Cumberbatch and Freeman, I think I finally found a way to spur my blogging back to normalcy.
Sure the world didn’t end when I started slacking. However, it may experience a momentary lapse in dignity now that I’m trying to begin again.
Ladies and gentlemen allow me to present to you the residents of 221A, 221B and 221C Ba(r)ker St.
I feel a bit sanctimonious posting about new dogs immediately after the loss of Huck.
The problem, unfortunately is more one of a lack of blogging on my part rather than one of poor intent. I’m trying to make it a point of posting more, but where as before I felt inspired, angry at the world in some cases, and otherwise driven to add my voice to deluge of people shouting against the whiles of the world, these days I find myself more often shaking my head in disgust and walking away.
At any rate a more pleasurable topic.
As of yesterday, Sherlock, Watson and Mary arrived at An Dun. It’s hard to say whom was more excited us or the pups. Training has begun, but not in earnest. I need to acquire three cages as the ones we initially procured are not going to be sufficient in anyway. That said we are all extremely excited to have the rug rats
I need to start with a couple of hat tips. First a big shout out got to the Baxter County Arkansas Animal control whose adoption process was not only painless but enthusiastic. The only downside to their operation is it is a “kill shelter” but I also understand why they don’t feel they have a choice starting with the funding just inst there. They rely on folks like me who want a pet and who aren’t looking for something with a pedigree 90 miles long.
We want a family member, not a paper trail and the staff there was more than excited to assist us. I cant say enough about these folks who I spoke to via phone and E-mail almost on a every other day basis.
Next All Creatures Veterinary Hospital in Mountain Home, Arkansas. They not only spayed and neutered the new additions to our home, they treated them for worms, distemper, rabies and fleas. They didn’t break the bank doing it either. For someone who wants to adopt an animal the process that Baxter and All Creatures has set up is not just reasonable its a medical god send frankly as your pet has damn near everything you need before you walk out the door without costing you a fortune.
You folks are awesome.
Lastly Dr Sherman at Oak View Animal Clinic. Dr. Sherman has had the misfortune of being with us through loss. She will now get to be work with us through the good fortune of life. We like her and her staff, the fact they have different payment options in a medical area that’s cost can quickly become exorbitant is beyond helpful and the fact that she is beyond competent is frankly an added bonus.
It’s nice to have An Dun filled with the sounds of canines again.
My soon to be wife and I were driving from Buffalo, NY to Avoca, AR looking to get a new lease on life.
I hadn’t been out of the Army long and a string of bad luck, and troubles followed in my wake. I needed a change before I changed the path on which I was traveling.
My mom and her husband had just closed on a house, and were moving out of a place that they were renting, a single wide trailer. It wasn’t much but the landlord agreed to transfer the lease to us.
While cleaning the place preparing for our arrival so they could move, my mother had hit a Burger King for lunch and was eating it in her truck. It was then she heard a whining sound outside her drivers window and turned to find a Rottweiler puppy outside her door.
So began our journey.
I wrote this just before my wedding. June 12, 2004 at our sister site of Techography.com. I’m republishing it here both for posterity, and because this weekend is my wife and I’s eight year anniversary. I look back now and I can see a visible difference in my writing. I can also see a difference in myself. That’s for another time, however. Bear in mind this was written several years ago so the phrasing is appropriate. I did not post that weekend. I will not be posting this one. Somethings are worth celebrating privately. -BS
History tells us that that June 23, 1865 was the date the last Confederate General Surrendered his command.
I”m afraid its just not so.
The real date is June 12, 2004.
Thats the date I surrender (I”m a former 18th Georgia Infantry Re-enactor) my freedom to a Northern born individual, a former Union Re-enactor for the 155th Irish of Western New York.
In case you missed somehow, Phase I is located here.
So once the room basics were in place it was time to get serious.
First we had to take the sofa, the fireplace, my humidor and the lamp out of the room.
Then using some left overs from putting in the floor, came the fun part. Fun being used here in total sarcasm.
So the Domestic 6 and I decided to build a home Library. Its been something of a labour of love.
We’re old fashioned sorts, and I wanted to do something more with a Victorian/Steampunk feel.
We were inspired by some of the old Sherlock Holmes movies with colours and a lot of pictures of old Victorian libraries thanks to Google.
For fun and since I haven’t blogged anything in a coons age I figured I’d post what we did with a few how we did it’s.
I wrote this in March of 2012 once it had finally settled in to my brain on the passing of Neptunus Lex. Brother in Arms, Brothers in Ink, Milblogger, and a man I’d like to consider a friend. I think it needs to be reposted as its that time of the year again.
It is Ireland’s sacred duty to send over, every few years, a playwright to save the English theatre from inarticulate glumness.
Kenneth Tynan, Observer, 27 May 1956
We didn’t send him to England. But really, for an Irishman there really isn’t much difference between death and Ireland.
For me, it didn’t really click until this morning.I had an eval with my current employer, I sat in front of my laptop at 4 o clock this morning with my coffee, and on impulse clicked Lex’s blog link from my bookmarks. My nerves akimbo. I wanted some peace.
Over the years the people I have known via websites have waxed and waned. When I first started writing on line back in 1995, there was one other site I visited with regularity. In 2000, there was eight. In 2002 twenty two. In 2007 almost 52.
Now? 17…and of those fully half are inactive links. Its a testament to my love for Lex’s work that I kept him on my book mark list. The others I liked and I keep hoping that they will update. I have been reluctant to remove the inactive ones from my bookmarks for this reason.
As I clicked his link, and the page loaded the hot coffee turned cool against my lips as I was reminded by whisper…he’s gone. His words will not grace us any longer, save for works in days gone by. His thoughts of previous days left to haunt us in the present.
I set my cup down and wondered. This digital snap shots in to our lives. Where will they go? What will happen to them. For many, when the costs come due our families will shut them down, turn off the lights, and our words will vanish in to the ether at some point.
Our words left unread by those in the future whom may read them. It is one advantage our print and media brethren have over us. Our archives are only around as long as someone wishes to pay for it. There are no libraries whom receive our subscriptions, no history scribes whom will hallmark our work and words. It is up to us to find ways to back up these works, save them, and distribute them in some fashion for others to hold dear.
Our children may not come of age knowing our works, or what motivated us without these very lines I type. How we thought and the people we sought to be, in the end are portrayed here, in black and white and sent to you in hi definition on 1,024 x 768 pixels through a OC48 pipe from one coast to another.
Lex is gone. That much is final. His words may one day slip in to obscurity. Like my other blog friend triticale whom we lost in 2007, or Acidman whom we lost in 2006, their websites stand testament to their sentiments, themselves, and their values. Digital monuments.
But one day those digital monuments can and will fail. Companies get sold, servers crash, people move on, costs become exorbitant. For me a culmination of almost two decades of writing belong on two websites…the thought crosses my mind…what will happen if? I have no regular blog partner with keys. My wife has no interest in these things, and no interest in voicing her own ideals. It will simply become like my coffee, cold, and one day to vanish in to the electronic ether.
Maybe I am bleak because a little light has left this world. Because one who continued, with others fell to the way side, to provide us with measured, rational doses of words, wisdom and work. Who shared with us his day to day experiences, struggles and life.
Maybe I am bleak because how many of us, in that former profession, had those narrow misses? Those brief glances in to our future? that feeling that all we knew and had was about to change in a single instance….and once he was past that point he chose to go back to it, willingly, knowing the costs at stake? Only to be snatched at the last possible instance mere feet from safety?
It seems incomprehensible really. But the Banshee does not care about prose, wit, or talent and at some point when she calls to us to warn of us of An Bás, the time to prepare will be over.
I prefer not to think that those engines final whine were the cry of the Banshee for Lex, although fitting it may be.
When An Bás came calling, I choose to think that someone, up there….just wanted a good debriefing on how life is down here these days. And to keep it interesting he picked the best writer we had.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam
May he rest on peace
(Editors Note: I first published this at the beginning of 2012. For March, I thought it was a good story to bring back up and republish. Enjoy!)
The Irish and the British will always have issues because the British never remember, and the Irish never forget.
It’s a hot button issue in Ireland.
At the time, and now to an extent, many feel that the over 5,000 Irishmen who left Ireland to fight against Nazi Germany in World War II were and are criminals, or deserters.
They left the Irish Army, leaving Ireland who was neutral, to fight to stop the Nazi’s in World War II.
Today, there is a possibility they may be pardoned.
The Starvation Orders were the orders to blacklist those 5,000 troops upon their return. They could not get jobs, welfare, pensions or any assistance what so ever, some of them made a go at it. Others left the country yet again. Whats more the orders extended beyond just the individuals, but their families as well. It’s how my own family ended up in America.
Five thousand Irish soldiers who swapped uniforms to fight for the British against Hitler went on to suffer years of persecution. They were formally dismissed from the Irish army, stripped of all pay and pension rights, and prevented from finding work by being banned for seven years from any employment paid for by state or government funds.
One of them, 92-year-old Phil Farrington, took part in the D-Day landings and helped liberate the German death camp at Bergen-Belsen – but he wears his medals in secret. Even to this day, he has nightmares that he will be arrested by the authorities and imprisoned for his wartime service.
“They would come and get me, yes they would,” he said in a frail voice at his home in the docks area of Dublin.
And his 25-year-old grandson, Patrick, confirmed: “I see the fear in him even today, even after 65 years.”
Mr Farrington’s fears are not groundless.
I’ve been going hunting again.
I have not been in years. Up until about 1999 I was an avid hunter. But traveling as much as I did after that point made hunting a logistical nightmare and practically a impossibility.
So I quit and just did fishing instead.
I do some walking, and and some deer stand work. Nothing fancy. I’m not in to outdoor channels nor do I drool when the next camo pattern shows up in stores. I usually wear jeans when I hunt. Its more about being quiet, good and the creature not smelling you. Everything else falls in to place after that.
However truly I don’t care about the hunting. I prefer the peace.
A long time ago my grandfather gave me a piece of advice regarding the world. I have kept it near and dear, and recited it often. I have referred to it regularly and I find it on my mind a lot as of late.
There are folks out there who will take advantage of the kindness of others. To be clear this isn’t any group I am currently involved in, as I am involved in several, but rather an interpretation of our worlds state of affairs.
While a youngster in school I asked my grandfather about buying stuff for my school fundraiser. He refused and explained at the time”
“Offer sweat when required of you, blood when demanded, and money never.”
He later explained what each meant. You can volunteer your time, you can work hard and sweat to benefit society. Sweat is free. It’s easily generated. It’s your time. Blood is for wars, and defense of the things you believe in. Money however is reserved for the safety and well being of your family, and your families future. Money can be earned by those in need. Money should never be freely given. He explained it with wild life.
If you make it to easy for animals to get food, they come to expect it. Like bears raiding garbage cans. One day when they don’t find it, they’ll come demanding it from it’s source.
We’ve been pushed pretty hard here at An Dun. Critter under went surgery and that set us back on what little savings we had after doing a tremendous amount of work here at the house. In fact we don’t have any, now. My truck required some repairs to have it meet the state inspection standards, and my wife’s vehicle has another 4k in repairs I have to do to it. But I simply don’t have it.
This isn’t a beg. Or asking for money. Just me rambling some thoughts in my mind to clear my head.
I know no one currently who is not in hard times. I find myself focusing on seasons, concentrating on getting our house and land ready for winter, preparing to build a woodshed, and chop firewood. I see myself slipping back somewhat to my youth in watching the tree’s ,the skies and the land for changes of season. It’s not a unpleasant feeling. But it is a sobering one.
We have offered our time and our blood to a number of affairs over the years. It’s been enjoyable. We feel we have made a difference. But it is harder and harder to recognize that difference as more and more people come from the wood work needing assistance through the various charities we have done work in. I find myself growing disgusted with people in general.
I want to find them, shake them, and demand them: Find Work. McDonald’s pay sucks but it is work. A job is a job is a job. Take responsibility for yourself. Stop blaming the world. Handle your life. Raise yourself, and your family. At age 32 when I first moved to Arkansas versus being on unemployment, and after being a Project Manager for one of the largest telecom firms of the last decade I took a job cutting grass at a marina for barely more than minimum wage. Because it was a job, and I had a responsibility, and I had no time for the foolishness of saying a job was beneath me.
I’m currently examining taking a second job, possibly even teaching. Most likely online given my work schedule and load. But I can’t pursue it until I graduate. Thus time is not on my side at current.
Now Critter is experiencing adversity in her school. I have a very different interpretation of the intent by the staff. We offer our sweat, our time, and our efforts. But we don’t participate in sending money or fundraisers. We already spend a large sum for tuition. We pay our school taxes on top of that. Maybe it’s my families raising but asking for more just seems greedy. My interpretation of the adversity she is experiencing I feel is a direct result of our lack of spending. I see no other basis. I confess to being a sarcastic cynic as well, however. My wife disagrees but has no other theory to offer. However, that is why she is at the parent teacher conference this morning and I am home playing Nurse Dad. I am known to be….abrasive…when riled…and make no mistake, when it comes to my daughter I will rile easily.
In short it has been hectic around An Dun these days, and my grandfathers words have been tested. In good news, we fixed the leaks, replaced all the doors but one, repaired the foundation and have made a lot of headway. Now I fear my daughters birthday and supplying a Christmas.
They are first world problems. I do not argue this. I always keep in mind the places I have been. The things I have seen. There are others who are much worse off than us. Who would trade what little they had to be us in an instant.
But it does not make it an easy thing, just the same. In a little more than 6 months I will graduate with my Masters degree. I don’t know that I be fiscally able to continue with my current employer, and that bothers me as well. I have not shown loyalty to a single employer since my time with the Army, it could be said I have commitment issues. But I like my job, I like the company, I like the people. I just don’t know that I will be able to continue in such vein by the time my first student loan payment comes due.
As in all things, time will tell. And in that time the leaves will change, the snows will come, and the wind will blow. But in that I will be ready. The wood will be cut, the house will be warm, the roof solid. My grandfather taught me well.
The man who survived World War II, who survived the Great Depression, who lived off the land, who ate not from a store but from the woods, and drank from streams who did his best to pass on to us how to be the best people we could be, and showed us how to speak and act with intent, and integrity. It often leaves me confused in my interactions often around others who speak from the side of their mouths as to why they feel the need to do such things.
In her adversity, I try to teach Critter what was passed to me, and how to watch the seasons, the land, the leaves, and prepare. People who demand money will always be there. Vehicles always need fixing. Adversity at school is a constant. But one’s home is one sanctuary, and one’s family is a responsibility that can not be denied.
And in that, it can be said that no matter how technology driven our society becomes, how professional I may be seen to be, or business oriented, I learned my lessons from my very Appalachian oriented family well: My grandfather taught me well.
We will persevere.
Nestled within the Seven Valley region of Southwest Missouri, lies the home that was voted to be called An Dun.
It’s a work in progress. We’re still unpacking in fact, a slow and tedious process with our work and school schedules.
Since procuring the home place, we have painted the entire interior of the house. I have also discovered a lot of water damage that I have been working feverishly to repair. New doors. New carpet. New fridge.
Current vote tallies are as follows.
An Leargaidh The Slopes 3 Votes
An Dun Hill Fort 3 Votes
Monadh Liath Grey Mountains 2 vote
Cair Ceann Tulaich Fort of the hillock 1 Vote
And lets not forget an honorary mention for Caisleán Critter
Don’t forget to check here for the full list.
I was going to finalize this on the 10th, but frankly I have not been able too. As May 4th we should actually be able to start officially relocating in to the house I will probably make the naming ceremony then.
We have gotten a lot done.
All of the rooms are painted, about 90% of the trim and touch up work is complete as well. The old carpet has been ripped out.
The chimney sweep will be out Tuesday. The carpet is being installed on Wednesday, the new water heater, fridge and exterior doors are coming on Thursday. So I’ll start transporting stuff over Thursday night most likely as long as the weather holds.
I am so ready for all this moving and construction to be over.
Still will have a busy summer. Entire outside of the house needs to be stained, and there are a lot of repairs still to make.
But at least now we can see light at the end of the tunnel!
Current vote tallies are as follows.
An Leargaidh The Slopes 2 Votes
An Dun Hill Fort 2 Votes
Monadh Liath Grey Mountains 1 vote
Cair Ceann Tulaich Fort of the hillock 1 Vote
And lets not forget an honorary mention for Caisleán Critter
Don’t forget to check here for the full list.
Vote tallies will end the morning of Saturday April 20th.
As for me? I’m trying to maintain decorum. Of course inside I’m screaming. 5 and a half hours and it will be all over.
So here’s something to set the mood. Caoineadh Cu Chlainn, probably one of the prettiest songs I know of, as performed by Bill Whelan and played on a Uilleann Pipe.