Archive for the 'Stories of Home' Category

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.

 

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January 2002.

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.

Huck, The Uberdog

Huck, The Uberdog

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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

Me, Circa 2004 taken by one of my best friend (and best mans) wife during our wedding.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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This story was first published by myself on March 3rd 2007 at Techography. I republished it here in 2010. – BloodSpite

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 in

Click for large version

central 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.

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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

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(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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

New start.

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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!

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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.

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Hopefully by this time tomorrow the signing of the papers for my new home place will be completed.

It’s odd for me really. I have spent most of my life moving in one form another. By age 14 I had already lived in almost every state on the Eastern Seaboard thanks to the US Navy. Since then I’ve moved well over two dozen times again. Packing, and moving, is something I can almost do in my sleep.

My daughter however, is not used to this. My wife either really. Before she met me and fell victim to my southern charms she had never lived anywhere but New York. Since then she’s moved to Arkansas and then Missouri. This next move will make her practically a veteran mover.

But my daughter is stressed. She doesn’t like putting her toys in boxes or her animals in bags. She doesn’t understand that she will see them again in just a few weeks. I find myself regularly having to take a deep breath before reacting, namely because I moved so many times that I can’t comprehend this problem. Yet while I experienced it myself, I find myself forgetting that experience, and responding not with understanding but rather exasperation. It’s troubling to me.

With any luck she will never have to grow up a nomad as I did. I try to not allow myself to become frustrated with her, but I digress.

The point of this, dear readers, is the Naming.

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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.

Smile.

Be Happy.

Be Green!

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When we first moved to southwest Missouri, I was exploring the backside of our property and came across huge boulders, the size of vehicles. At least one set that runs along the ridge that we live on, is almost the length if not surpassing the weight of, my home. Combined with the inability of grass to grow (but weeds can, hey they’re green!) in the amazingly rocky soil we named our home An Creagan, a Gaelic word that means “Rocky Place” or “Stony Place”.

We are looking to buy a home, and we have made an offer on it. We feel comfortable in saying it will be accepted. For us a home needs a good name, something that its residents can be proud of, to lay claim to it.  It helps to instill a since of pride and ownership. It doesn’t have to be plastered on the outside or raised over the drive, but can be just something to reference between us and friends. It gives a home a personality. Many folks I have met through the years call their places The Ponderossa, or simply The Home Place. One being from a old west television show and the other just country simplicity. But we all identify to the word “Home”, we just give Home a less common name, if that makes sense.

The new one differs only in a few ways from our current place. For one its not a mobile home but a real house. It’s also not as high up. It is on a hill top, but you have to go down in to the valley interior, and  it’s actually on a knoll in the center of the valley that An Creagan over look’s. So it has elevation, but the ridges come up around it blocking the view that my current home has.  It’s on a grassy and tree lined knoll between the ridges.

Also it has no great stone boulders on the property. And while the dirt is certainly as rocky, the previous owners of the house spent a good deal of money on topsoil so that it has good rich earth surrounding the place.

I am considering naming this place something else, should all go well and we manage to obtain it. We will be retaining An Creagan and moving my mother in to it (supplying her a home as every good son should) so it feels wrong to strip a name from a place that has so gallantly held it for so long.

For the new place, as it is centered in the valley I am considering a few names but none have leaped out at me.Then i figured I’d let ya’ll do some picking for me.

In Gaelic there literally dozens of words for Hills, and grove and those words are combined to form descriptions of specific places. So a bhuidhe or yellow and neach or that place becomes buidheanach or yellow place. But typically names don’t stop there. They usually designate further quantifiers like shape, size, and other descriptors giving it three words or more. A hill might also get named after a famous soldier – saighdear

Here’s a few examples and let me know of any you like or come up with your own:

  • Daire or Oak grove, as the new house has several live oaks surrounding it.
  • Cnoc da Darach or Hill of Oak
  • Cnoc sa Poll or Mountain in the hole (Since the house is on a hill top, thats in the Valley’s lower regions)
  • Saighdear caillte or Lost Soldier
  • Saighdiúirí An chuid eile or Soldiers Rest

If you don’t like these dig around. There a few resources on the internet and Google translate isn’t bad. Or hell just drop a comment and I’ll translate it for you. My Gaelic isn’t phenomenal but its passable.

 

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As a veteran I have had a lot of friends go on to Fiddlers green before. It never gets easier. As a civilian its a bit different.

You don’t have the bond that you get from the military. Sure you have drinks at folks houses, you talk about the kids but the struggles and traumas aren’t the same.

Storm chasing is different. You are pushed right up against the envelope in some of the most dangerous scenarios that mother nature has to offer. Me? I rarely if ever go out running them down. I readily admit I sit my happy ass in my comfortable office running radar scans and pulling information from multiple chasers over several states.

Andy made it fun. He made it interesting. He showed that chasers are professionals not only to each other but others as well and willing to give the shirt off his back to folks no matter the situation.

We lost Andy at the beginning of 2012. Killed less than 2 hours from my home by a drunk driver. In life as in war sometimes its the stupid things that get you killed. In this case it was a stupid person. Its often the things that seem most inconceivable, most unlikely that also do you in. Its not an artillery round, or a bomb vest, its a moron who doesn’t know how to say “Someone drive me home.” because at heart they are a mindless, simpleton coward.

It’s New Years Eve. I beg you be safe, be smart and be humble.

And remember those who have went before us, save a empty chair for them aye?

Bliain úr faoi shéan is faoi mhaise duit

 

 

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Merle Haggard had it right.

It has been tough going as dad, a student, a Volunteer fan, as a citizen.

The personal budget is screaming under the weight of schools, and Christmas. The countries budget might as well be on fire for all the good screaming has done it.

I am hopefully for a strong cold Winter. We haven’t had one in several years now, and frankly I think we need it.

Oh and lets not forget the Mayans. I’m attending a “We made it out alive or we got left behind!” December 22nd party.

But as I sit here in my office, sipping my coffee, my daughter playing on her computer beside me, even with all these troubles I can find a sense of peace.

Everything is falling apart around us, but at home, in the quiet of our home, we find peace.

Your life is what your thoughts make it.
– Marcus Aurelius

There’s a lot to be said for that I think.

At work its all 100 miles an hour, get it done lickety split quick. At home I try to slow it down. Relax. Breathe. Enjoy.

Kick back, scotch or wine, cigar and watch the leaves fall.

Peace.

If we can make it through December……but until that time, keep the peace, aye?

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