Joys of the Patriarchy – Rituals of the Summer Season – The Basement

As the days reach their maximum length and when the mercury passes 90°F in what my old engineering boss would jokingly refer to as “white man’s units,” the dominant male, of the Italic strain at least, would shift his base of operations to the basement level.  Here he would gain a two-fold advantage.  The obvious one is a 15°F – 30°F reduction in ambient temperature as compared to the upper floors but equally as important is the freedom from female annoyance.  The lower level is the male domain.  It contains a pool table, a floor that needn’t be kept swept clean of minute amounts of honest dirt and vast storage space crammed full of valuable possessions that do not pass muster from Camera Girl for inclusion in the various bric-a-brac that she favors for décor.  Hundreds of old books, trophies of past campaigns, tools, and hobby, exercise and sports equipment of all sorts.  A veritable treasure house.

I learned this paradigm from Camera Girl’s father, the Old Fisherman of the Sea himself.  He would inhabit the basement in the summer almost exclusively and it was there that he was happiest.  He had his wine making operation, which encouraged at various times of the year quite a healthy throng of fruit flies, his fishing lure manufacturing space, his tool workshop, his own bath and shower and his favorite old padded chair.  He even had his own freezer and refrigerator to store the endless blue fish and striped bass that were the usual prizes from his frequent fishing trips.  Here he would retreat from the cares of work and family and reign unchallenged by female frippery and the demands for ever higher standards of particle free existence.  And in this environment, he lived to be ninety-five.  And if he hadn’t taken it upon himself to increase his gout medicine dosage to unheard of levels to compensate for his love of wine and beef, he probably would be alive today and well over a hundred years old.  God rest his soul.

Well, anyway in my version of the basement kingdom the lower level has direct access to the swimming pool and since the floor there is tiled there is no need to dry off after swimming.  Drip dry in flip-flops is acceptable.  If someone is exceedingly fastidious there is a bathroom and shower available here along with towels and changing area.  Also, the spare refrigerator from which hidden food items can be stored and retrieved without any note.  And the overstuffed recliner is available for periods of quiet reflection and deep thoughts.  And finally, the lower porch is equipped with a propane grill to handle any meat related cooking that may become necessary.  After all Camera Girl’s kitchen can be monstrously hot at this time of year.  It’s only decent that I pitch in and save her the discomfort of summer cooking as much as I am able.

There used to be a television on the wall but we removed it almost ten years ago.  There is so little worth watching that it never got used.  The only thing it lacks is a full kitchen sink and stove.  I say this with shame.  Because every good Italian American basement had a kitchen built in.  It was a point of pride and a practical feature.  This allowed the holidays with the extended family to be cooked and served in the basement which is always the largest room in the house.  Well, someday I’ll make the time and put the money aside to build this in.  For now, it is my secret shame.

Now the point of this essay is not to regale you with the lies about my basement.  The point is that in the hot weather (and to a lesser extent during all the other seasons of the year) a man can find peace and enjoyment hidden away from his loved ones in the dark and gritty comforts of the basement.  Here he can retreat from his wife and the demands of our hectic world.  Leave your phone and your computer off.  Get your hands dirty and drink a beer or whatever you like to drink and forget your troubles for an hour or even longer if they won’t come digging you out.  It is an amazing thing how they’ll leave you alone down there.  Possibly the castle that a man is king of is really only the dungeon.  But I’ll settle.

King of the Castle

“The house of every one is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injury and violence as for his repose.”

Edward Coke

Well the Memorial Day Family Barbecue Day dawns wet, freezing cold and gray.

Perfect for New England!  The land of cold and mildew.

But all is well.  I got up and cleaned the grill on the lowest deck and moved it so that the smoke will get blown out to the sky but will leave me under the overhang, snug and dry.  I walked the property in the rain and saw all the flowers and weeds swelling in the rain.  One of the ponds had cold bull frogs and leopard frogs that were too chilled to care that I was walking by.  I dropped the level on the swimming pool and backwashed it to get rid of all the pollen and tree debris that the wind and rain brought down.  We won’t be using it today.  That’s for sure.

23JUN2018 Photo of the Day, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens, flower

The hellebore flowers are fading out now and the rhododendrons are at peak bloom and one of the earlier blooming bushes is already shedding its flowers.  Have to get a few photos soon.  The cone flowers and the roses are starting to bud and the irises are just about done.  Boy they don’t last long.  And miracle of miracles the deer haven’t eaten the daylilies or the hostas like they usually do.  They did pick off one bunch of Solomon’s Seal bunches but I’ve got plenty to spare.  As Camera Girl says everybody’s got to eat.  Well, I wish someone would eat the deer but that another story.

It’s too cold for us to eat outside so I’ve made a big table in the dining room from four folding tables and we’ll all sit together and feast on Camera Girl’s fixings and my barbecue skills.  Today is restricted to burgers, dogs, and sausage on the meat side.  We’ll complement that with homemade potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, washed down with lemonade and followed up with watermelon, Italian cheese cake, apple pie, strawberry shortcake, vanilla ice cream and by popular demand Klondike Bars.  All of that dessert will be washed down with good coffee and lots of good talk and laughter as the grandchildren get spoiled their grandmother and I tell lies about the good old days.

Afterwards we’ll talk about school and what they want to do this summer and their vacation plans.  I’ll make a point of leaving out politics and COVID since that will just upset everyone on a happy day.  We’ll talk about inflation and education costs and whatever else is on their minds.  Maybe we’ll watch some old kids’ movies.  Maybe not.  Maybe I’ll just put on some music.  Should be a lot of fun.

What else can I ask for.  Healthy kids, productive adults and functional families.  That’s as good as it gets.  So at least for this year I’m still king of my castle and the secret police aren’t supposed to make an appearance at the castle gate.  I can make believe that Memorial Day still means we live in the United States of America.  Enjoy your holiday.

Separating Our Problems into Actionable Buckets – Part 1

One of the problems with our present situation is that it’s not just one problem.  And worse than that, it’s not as if all of these problems we have are arranged in such a way that any single action undermines all of them like some kind of keystone that once removed destabilizes the whole structure that is arrayed against us.  And maybe there is such a thing that can neutralize the Left’s hold on our country but if it does exist it probably involves the use of brute force.

So, putting that aside let’s talk about how we can act on separate aspects of our problems with the Left to minimize the damage that it does to us and allows us to maximize the quality of our lives.

To do that we might look at the different impacts that the Left has on us and order them from worst to least damaging.  For instance, recently the well known beauty pageants like Miss America and Miss World have begun allowing “transwomen” to compete.  As horrendous as the idea of this is, the actual damage to my life is relatively limited.  I don’t think I’ve ever watched more than the clips of the winner crying and hugging the other contestants as if she didn’t hate all their guts.  So even though it is an abomination I’m not losing any sleep over it.  And that’s good because my chances of stopping castrati (I assume) from participating in the swimsuit competition are decidedly closer to none rather than slim.

On the other hand, if I had children in a school that announced that they were going to indoctrinate them in critical race theory in general and transgenderism in particular, I’d be extremely upset about the damage that would do and I would be looking for a way to avert this situation.  I would look into protesting to the school board and failing action from this, I would look for a private school that would preclude this sort of propaganda.

So notice the difference.  If a minor problem for which no real solution exists can be detached from a major problem for which a real solution does exist, I can stop moaning and groaning about the transgender nightmare and do something about the problem.

So that’s the approach, look for how a general problem impacts me and mine and concentrate on solutions that address that specific impact.  Sure, if a general solution appears that would be great.  If Bruce Jenner gets his sanity back and denounces the Kardashians and declares himself a castrated man and stops wearing dresses and high heels and begs America to force all “trans-people” to undergo electroconvulsive treatment until they snap out of their insanity then maybe we won’t have to worry about psychos indoctrinating our children.  But I think it would be wise not to wait for that.

So that’s the approach I want to take with this idea.  Find the particular critical problem and look for an actionable and effective solution.  Feel free in the comments to provide any examples of these kinds of problems and the practical solutions you can think of.  It would also be useful to list which critically important problems currently lack effective solutions altogether.

Eastern Europe at the Forefront of Protecting the Family

As the West goes from abomination to abomination these four former Eastern block captives point to a strategy for protecting their citizens and national identity from being obliterated by the nihilist globalist cancer all around them.  Well they certainly have caught my attention.  Hopefully there are Red State leaders who are receptive to similar strategies.  Joining an organization like this would make a lot of sense.  If not I may have to learn Hungarian.  Maybe Czech or Polish is easier.  Decisions, decisions.

“Pro-family coalition” launched by Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic

The COVID Curse is Over

Today I spent the day with my family.  No masks, no outdoor seating, no nothing.  I spent the day with my children and their families.  I spent hours with my grandchildren and I caught up with them about school and their hobbies and other things like what they were reading.  And with the two youngest I played a game of catch that went on for a couple of hours.  It was exhausting and wonderful.  And then we had a grand meal.  My son in law let my daughter relax for Mother’s Day and went outside and grilled steaks and salmon and we had a feast.  And then we had some excellent Italian pastries and coffee.

And I sat down after dinner and talked to my oldest grandson who is a junior in high school and asked him about his math classes and he said he is doing well in calculus.  He is much like me and I think he will end up in engineering or computer science.  And we discussed some of his other activities.  He has a 3D printer that I funded and I was glad to hear that he has learned how to replace the parts that wear out and make the adjustments needed to keep it working well.  Later I spoke with my daughter and she told me about the straight A’s her son has been getting in math.  And that made me happier than anything.  I guessed that he would have academic abilities but I was afraid he would also have inherited from me a disregard for studying.  I always depended on just raw ability to barely squeak by without doing anything but last-minute cramming.  Hearing that he had picked up some discipline was music to my ears.

And I spoke with my next oldest grandson.  He had grown a lot over the last year and now was almost as tall as his older brother.  And we talked about his school sports.  He loves playing soccer and basketball and now he’s added tennis to his games.  He was happy about being able to play again now that school was returning to normal.  I’ve seen him play and he has great enthusiasm and talent.  And he was so personable and cheerful.  That was personal growth and great to see.

The other two boys, the little guys were live wires and played and bickered with each other and gave me the chance to chide them about their outlaw behavior.  We talked about dinosaurs and giant ants and ninjas.  Of course.

I knew I missed all these things during this insane lockdown but now I remembered exactly what they felt like.  Camera Girl and I were smiling all the way home and we went on and on about how good it was to see everyone and how we would have a pool party for the kids with a barbecue very soon.

And I think how much we were robbed of in the last year.  Our children were cheated out of a year of their education.  Our neighbors were cheated out of the businesses they had built up over the course of a lifetime.  Our country was cheated out of the freedoms that have been the birthright of this country for centuries.  And all of us were cheated out of the government we voted for.

All of this was done under the false pretense that COVID was a deadly plague that threatened everyone.  We were lied to and bullied into giving up all these things and then humiliated into walking around with a pathetic mask that was supposedly keeping away the invisible invader.  We had to forego human contact with those we cared for the most.  Even those who actually did die from the virus had to die alone in a hospital surrounded by masked strangers.

But now we see that the masks did nothing and all the same people lived or died regardless of these useless gestures.  In Florida the people were freed from the masks and other restrictions and they had lower death rates than New York where everyone remained locked down for a year.  And now maybe people will start to wake up from this charade and hold responsible those who perpetrated this fraud on us.  Newsom and Cuomo and Fauci are the names that stand out.  But there are dozens of governors and mayors who locked up their people and enjoyed their little reign of terror.  They locked up innocent people but let the BLM gangsters have free rein to form mobs of people and terrorize the hard-working people of their states.

So, the nonsense about COVID has stopped scaring people.  Now we have to decide if we are going to get our lives back the way they were.  If we can’t do that then we’re slaves here and should look around for a better place to live.

Praying Mantises, Children’s Books and Pa – Part 2 – The Arrival

Preying Mantises, Children’s Books and Pa Part-1

 

Well, the little buggers arrived two days ago and unharmed apparently.   Some hatched out today so I held onto a few and attached the egg cases to tree and shrub branches around the perimeter of the yard.

They’re minuscule.

 

 

 

But I’ll try to feed them by raising fruit flies and letting them feed on them.  Here is my fruit fly attractant.

 

The game is on!

Praying Mantises, Children’s Books and Pa – Part 1

My two-year-old granddaughter is a big fan of the books by the children’s author Eric Carle.  And one of her favorites is the Very Quiet Cricket.  There is a YouTube video of an animated version of the book and one of the characters is a preying mantis that whispers in a hoarse voice a funny sounding “HELLOOOOO!”  And that character is my granddaughter’s favorite part of the book.  So, she is a fan of preying mantises.  And by a strange coincidence so am I.  I’ve always liked finding mantises wherever I have lived.  And I have found them here in New England too but infrequently.

And so, for that reason I’ve decided to increase my odds of finding them this summer for my granddaughter.  She said, “Pa, show me preying mantis.”  She calls me Pa because that is what all my grandchildren call me.  My oldest grandson made the name up when he was barely able to speak and it became official.

So I have to find her a mantis.  I looked to see if any of the gardening supply stores in the area sell preying mantis egg cases.  They didn’t so I just ordered some on-line and should have them soon.  Camera Girl thinks it will be educational to see the baby mantises hatch out and thinks we should keep a few to raise up.  The prospect of finding aphids and then larger insects to feed them sounds challenging but I’ll give it a try.

With any luck by summer we’ll have a few good sized mantises and my granddaughter will learn a little bit about an interesting insect.  At least that’s the plan.

Me and My Shadow

Over the River and through the Woods, to Grandma’s House We Go

Finally, life is returning to normal.  But today I’ll skip the rants about why it isn’t.  I’ll celebrate life instead.  Camera Girl is cooking a spoon roast and humming and even singing slightly as she goes through the rituals that precede the magical food that will appear on time on the dining room table today.  There are potatoes and asparagus and corn and mushrooms and gravy and buttered rolls and of course the roast.  And pies and cakes have been baked and I know there will be ice cream to go along with that pie.  And of course there will be chocolate for the little girl who will be old enough this year to really know what’s going on.

And today is sunny and it will be warm enough to go outside and walk around and look for bugs and flowers and birds and look at the trees and the sky and play catch with a ball and pet the rabbit (alias bunny-hop-hop or Petey).  And we can sit around and talk about the barbecue that will be happening in May once it’s warm enough for the tables to be outside and the pool will be opened and we can have the rest of the family with us too.  That will be another milestone.

But today is for enjoying today.  New England forgot to provide one last, end of March, nor’easter snowstorm so the ground is pretty dry now and fit for walking and running and having a catch so today is a wonderful opportunity to declare the world is open for living again.

And as Kazantzakis said through his character Zorba this Easter dinner can’t be wasted,

“We ate and drank for some time in silence. The wind carried up to us, like the droning of bees, the distant, passionate notes of the lyre. Christ was being reborn again on the village terraces. The paschal lamb and the Easter cakes were being transformed into love-songs.

When Zorba had eaten and drunk quite copiously, he put his hand to his big hairy ear. “The lyre … ‘he murmured. “They’re dancing in the village.’ He stood up suddenly. The wine had gone to his head.

‘What ever are we doing here, all alone, like a pair of cuckoos? Let’s go and dance! Aren’t you sorry for the lamb we’ve been eating? Are you going to let it fizzle out into nothing, like that? Come on! Turn it into song and dance! Zorba is reborn!’ ‘Wait a minute, Zorba, you idiot, are you crazy?’

‘Honestly, boss, I don’t care! But I’m sorry for the lamb, and I’m sorry for the red eggs, the Easter cakes and the cream cheese! If I’d just scoffed a few bits of bread and some olives, I’d say: “Oh, let’s go to sleep; I don’t need to go celebrating!” Olives and bread are nothing, are they? What can you expect from them? But, let me tell you, it’s a sin to waste food like that! Come on, let’s celebrate the Resurrection, boss!’ ‘I don’t feel like it today. You go – you can dance for me as well.’ Zorba took my arm and pulled me up.

‘Christ is reborn, my friend! Ah! if only I was as young as you! I’d throw myself headlong into everything! Headlong into work, wine, love – everything, and I’d fear neither God nor devil! That’s youth for you!’

‘It’s the lamb talking, Zorba! It’s turned wild inside you, changed into a wolf!’

“The lamb’s changed into Zorba, that’s all, and Zorba’s talking to you!”

 

So I’ll take Zorba’s advice and put the Easter feast to good use.  I’ll celebrate the Resurrection and spring and new life and old life and I’ll put off Biden and woke ignoramuses and even the dissident right for another day.

Happy Easter.

Reclaiming the Family – Part 7 – Team Work

I have a very close relative who was in Iraq.  Well, actually, I have several close relatives who were in Iraq but in particular there is one who runs his family using the Army’s manual on discipline and unit cohesion.  And I have to say that has a lot to be said for it.

Full disclosure I never served in anything more regimented than the Boy Scouts.  I was too young for Vietnam and too old for 9-11.  But my father and my grandfather served and they always talked about military discipline and unit cohesion as traits that were sadly lacking in civilian life.  Well, when I was a kid, we gave all that talk very short shrift.  We were way too smart and savvy for all that regimentation.  At least that’s what we said back then.

But it recently occurred to me that discipline and unit cohesion were the answers to a lot of the problems we see in the world today and also a source of satisfaction in a world that is drifting apart into chaos.  Even within close family there is a tendency to become strangers.  I don’t mean that literally but rather compared to the closeness that existed when people didn’t move away from each other every other year.  We see each other once or twice a year.  We talk on the phone every few months and we lose track of what’s going on in each other’s lives.

But then when something goes wrong, we’re all alone.  And that’s even considering the old days when families had a passel of kids and everyone had plenty of brothers and sisters.  Imagine now where every family has at most two kids.  You start out almost alone and then by the time you head off to college your family is just a forgotten period in your life that is only revisited at Christmas and the Fourth of July.

The alternative to this is feeling responsible for your family.  If your brother has a problem.  Maybe he’s having trouble in school.  Make it your problem.  Help him out.  Tutor him.  Or maybe you notice that he’s not making friends very easily.  Include him in some activity or ask one of your friends to have a younger brother include him in some activity.

And of course, parents have to lift up their kids.  We take that for granted but you’d be surprised.  With two parents working often the kids get lost in the shuffle.  Spending time on kids’ homework and paying attention to teacher’s reports and what your kids tell you about school is critical.  Instead of the extra toy at Christmas, the weekend camping trip or the vacation in the mountains or at the shore is a much smarter investment.  You build the memories and you build a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself.

And just as important is having the kids do their part around the house.  Chores and responsibilities are vital to keeping kids engaged.  Even if mom is home every day, she is swamped with things that have to be done.  Enforcing discipline and teaching the value of work is probably the most important activity a father can have with his sons. And when kids become teens a first job is the transition from childhood to responsible adult behavior.

Grandparents have their place too.  Having get togethers that bring together your children and their children allows the cousins to know each other and stay close.  With the smaller family sizes today, this is even more important to maintain some sense of familial closeness.  Let the grandkids know they are part of a bigger and older family than just their parents and siblings.  There is magic in that for children of all ages.

I’ll be the first to admit that I came from a family where all of this was woefully missing.  We were a large family and my poor parents were outnumbered and unprepared for the insanity that we inflicted on them.  We ran amok.  Somehow, we all survived but sometimes it was a close thing.  But I have since seen it handled better and I attribute it to discipline and unit cohesion.  Give the kids plenty of love and attention but also expect family loyalty and responsibility for themselves and for each other.  Drill it into them that families don’t disband when the kids turn eighteen.  Family is a multi-generational structure where we support each other and make life better for those who came before us and those who are coming after.

Family is the closest relationship you should have.  But friends don’t have to be disposable.  It’s possible to have friends that are almost like family.  They’re rare but they can happen.  Probably for servicemen it’s less rare.  I have friends whose service buddies are lifelong pals who are there when they need them.  I envy them the camaraderie they have.

And finally, we have the wider community.  These are folks who share the same values.  With them we can share stories and good wishes and strategies.  Maybe sometime, something we say to somebody, may provide a morale boost or a bit of information that gets him over the hump.  At least that’s how I like to look at it.  But the same idea applies in each case.  Show a sense of solidarity with those you are related to.  Take responsibility to do your part and maintain your place in the family or community or even movement.  Feel like you belong and let the next guy know it’s not every man for himself.  And who knows, someday you might say something to someone who’s feeling very alone and it might give him a reason not to give up.  That’s not nothing.

Reclaiming the Family – Part 6 – The Miracle of a Traditional Wife

I never tire of reminding Camera Girl that in my mind she and I are very close in behavior to the married couple in W. C. Fields two classic movies, “It’s A Gift” and “The Man on the Flying Trapeze.”  In both movies Field’s hen-pecked character has a wife played by Kathleen Howard a tall, stout woman who affects the character of a cultured, histrionic scold who constantly hectors and nags at Fields’ character.  And Fields’ answer to almost every utterance of his wife is a meek, “yes dear.”  And I tell her this not because there is any resemblance physically or temperamentally between her and this shrewish character but because this reminds me of the natural antagonism that husband and wife experience in the course of their wedded bliss.  Well, also because I am sort of a jerk.

A few weeks ago, we were sitting down to dinner and she had cooked a soup using the leftovers from a ham we had for the holidays.  It was a ham and lentil soup and she decided to make it so thick that we call it a stoup, meaning stew/soup.  As I started eating dinner it occurred to me that being married to a woman like my wife is probably the greatest good that a man can have in his life.

A traditional wife makes your house into a home and raises a family.  And a family is the only true wealth that any man ever actually possesses.  And if she’s also pretty and a good cook like mine then it’s as close to heaven as any man can hope to see on this side of the great divide.  That’s the information I can provide to the young guys around today.

But where can you find such a woman today?  All the American girls have been sold on the idea that they have to have a career to be fulfilled in the modern world.  That is the root of the problem.  There are only two solutions, either convince some woman that there is a better option or go outside of the local pool of women.

As far as convincing women to move away from careers I think a man has to have the wherewithal to convince a woman that he can support a stay-at-home wife.  Probably that means owning your own home and having a stable income.  It would be best if you are up front about your plans and expectations so that you can eliminate the girls that will never work out.  I’m too old to know anything about on-line dating services but I would imagine a primary function would be trying to line up marital expectations.  Correct me if I’m mistaken that they must have a profile that corresponds to a traditional homemaker.

One thing that might be a starting point is avoid any girl who is planning on going to some very expensive college.  Unless her parents have funded her entire education, she is going to have to pay back those student loans and that will make it doubly difficult for you to afford a one income lifestyle.  So maybe you should be looking at women who go to the local community college or even better ones working in local jobs that do not require high powered college credentials.

But however you find one, if she has all the qualifications I mentioned in my intro then marry her and never let her work a day of her life outside of the home.  Have a passel of kids and enjoy every day of it for as long as you both shall live.  Raising a family is a challenging and sometimes a confusing task but as you get older, you’ll find that it really is the only meaningful thing that most human beings ever accomplish.    Ray Bradbury wrote a story called the Happiness Machine.  In it an inventor tried to make a machine that would make a person happy if he sat in it.  It had all the sights and sounds that he imagined could make a person happy.  Music, exotic vistas, delicious aromas, everything he thought he would want.  But by the end of the story, he discovers the truth when he looks into the window of his own house and sees his family, his wife and his children, performing their routine daily activities together in his own home.  That is the true happiness machine.  And if a man can’t find happiness in that then maybe he never will.