Father’s Day – 2024 – Crashing Plaster and Pancakes

And the rolling year has once again brought us back to that most equivocal of fake holidays, “Father’s Day.”  When I say fake, I mean that it’s a manufactured occasion that has no long history of celebration.  Its equivocal nature is owed to the mixed feelings that everyone in a family feels about dear old Dad.  Well, at least that’s my own point of view.

And this is based on my own father and the way he raised his six sons.  Basically, it was like some kind of anthropological experiment that was started out with the best of intentions but then went horribly off the rails and eventually completely overwhelmed the investigators and had to be recast as a cautionary tale for all involved.

A more beleaguered man has never walked the face of the Earth.  He was always outnumbered, outgunned, behind the times, short of resources and out of patience.  I don’t remember him getting through a single day in that house without screaming and hollering at several or all of us.  We were terrible kids.

We broke everything he owned.  We lost every tool he possessed and we caused at least one disaster a week.  His house was perpetually on the edge of crumbling into something resembling the debris piles seen in old footage of London after the Blitz.  When leaks would develop in the house’s flat roof his solution was to use a hand drill on the ceiling to direct the leak and put a bucket under it.  His idea was that by tapping the leak it would prevent it from soaking the whole plaster ceiling and have it collapse onto us while we were sleeping.

He had a steam heat system which perpetually leaked at all of the radiators.  And he battled this problem by attempting to use string and grease to seal the threads of the pipe joints.  But the threads were so stripped that this never accomplished much of anything.  But he soldiered on with the hope that one day he’d catch up with his expenses and have a plumber come in and replace it all.  Finally, the ceiling in the living room underneath the leakiest radiator on the second floor collapsed.  All the plaster crashed down on the living room floor and exposed the wooden laths in the ceiling.  One of my younger brothers was overjoyed and he said aloud, “This will finally force him to fix the ceiling once and for all.”  Well, no.  That ceiling remained in that condition until after my father’s death a number of years later.

So, my example of fatherhood was definitely idiosyncratic.  And as for Father’s Day, if my father could have had his wish on that day, it would have been to lock us all out of the house for the whole day and leave him alone to watch baseball, horse racing and boxing on his tiny, pathetic, black and white, constantly drifting television set.  But that was an impossibility.  We were an omnipresent reminder of his status as Dad.

So, on Father’s Day he often fell back on his only real domestic skill.  He could make pancakes and French toast by the imperial ton.  And in that house, he had to.  He bought the cheapest pancake mix and syrup he could find in bulk containers.  I always imagined that he got it from war surplus.  And when pancake day arrived, he’d cover all the burners on the stove with griddles and he would cook and we would eat stacks of pancakes until we couldn’t move.  It was probably the high point of our lives together.  For that brief time, we were all happy simultaneously and we were all well fed which rarely otherwise occurred.

So maybe Father’s Day should be like that.  A day when Dad should find something he knows he can do that makes the whole family admit that he’s good for something other than paying the bills.  Anyway, it’s a thought.

Bridging the Gap

The summer doldrums have officially begun.  Until Labor Day the only interesting news will consist of Donald Trump being prosecuted, persecuted or whatever the Left wants to call their absurd gestapo action in multiple jurisdictions.  So, we’ll have to interest ourselves in “other things” until then.

And that is what I’m scratching my head over.  Book reviews, movies, television, plays.  Science, music, religion.  I’ll have to widen my net to capture things that normal humans interest themselves in.  And that’s all to the good.

This weekend we will be hosting some of the Minions.  Their parents will pull up to the top of the driveway, toss them out of the vehicle in duffel bags, hit the horn and speed away into the night hoping for the best.  Camera Girl has cooked mass quantities of pasta sauce, meatballs and sausage and thereafter imperial tons of spaghetti will be cooked and consumed.

She has procured from various local libraries DVD’s featuring questionable cartoon characters from a selection of eras ranging all the way back to the 1970s.  I have begged for a boycott on any further screenings of Scooby Doo and his associates.  The answer I received was noncommittal.

The pool will be “opened” this weekend but I expect that for the first week or two the water will be suboptimal.  Specifically, it will be opaque and green.  I tried to sell Camera Girl on a trip to the regional zoo.  She shot this idea down claiming kids don’t like zoos.  Hmmm.  Maybe she’s right.  Maybe we’ll go the reptile zoo instead.  I know kids like reptiles.

We’ll probably have a baseball catch one of the days but I’m hoping we can get in some time at the pool table.  I think a good sense of geometry and dynamics is useful for any growing boy.  Plus, it’s been pretty warm for the last few days and the basement tends to be cooler.

It’s time to find out if the Minions are already slaves to their electronic devices.  As far as I know these younger descendants aren’t yet tethered to smartphone entertainment devices.  But I’d also like to cut back on the television time too.  I’ll make it the long weekend objective to try and bridge the multigenerational gap using non-electronic media.  I might even introduce them to the concept of human speech as a means of communication and entertainment.  I might even (shudder!) bring down a book from the shelf and read aloud.  Hopefully it won’t have the local constabulary at my doorstep demanding equal time for whatever woke PBS kid’s series is currently topical; Gender Fluid Jenny or Fern Affirmed or whoever.

I think I’ll start the weekend with a seminar on geographic and demographic topics in Middle Earth.  I’ll skip Beleriand at this time.  The Silmarillion is too depressing for the young ones. I’ll highlight various topics with video presentations from Peter Jackson’s motion pictures.  I’ll start with the Numenorean kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor and use this as a jumping off point on the branches of the royal family.  Of course, there could be extra points for anyone who can specifically identify how many generations separate Elrond and his multi-great nephew Aragorn.

Well, let’s see if I can freehand a map of Middle Earth.  As me old gaffer always said, “You’re nowt but a ninnyhammer, photog!”

What Do We Keep and What Let Go? – Part 1 – The Family

The Left’s dominance of the culture and institutions in America has undermined many of the customs, behaviors and attitudes that we once took for granted here.  Things like patriotism, respect for the military and even loyalty to the local ball team have all been tarnished by the changes that the Left has created in these things.  If the military now takes as its mission reinforcing deviant sexual behavior and championing societies that adhere to these beliefs, why would I want to have respect for such an institution?  Or if the local baseball or football team starts kneeling during the national anthem how will that make anyone more patriotic or want to cheer for such a team?

And these are just a very few examples of the many things that have been spoiled through the agency of leftist activism.  And this damage has been done.  What remains for us to do is to decide what things we ourselves value intrinsically and want to maintain for ourselves in our culture going forward.  And which things that we formerly embraced should be abandoned either because maintaining them will be too difficult or because we’ve found that they strengthen our enemies.

I won’t pretend that I have all the answers completely thought out but I think it might be helpful to think about some of these things.

One thing that has been relentlessly attacked for the last century is the traditional family.  The “liberation” of women has done the most damage in this attack.  The dislocation caused by women working outside of the home has been the largest factor in the diminution of happiness and mental health in our society.  Specifically, the damage done to children has been the worst.  But the effects have been all-encompassing.

Other attacks on the family come from the role school has played in undermining the authority of parents and in propagating harmful doctrines on such subjects as deviant sexual behavior, critical race theory and so-called gender ideology.  Currently the whole practice of transgenderism being introduced to grade school children is a criminal enterprise that should not be tolerated.

And finally, the laws in this country with respect to marriage have also done untold damage.  Divorce laws make it easy for parents to break up their marriages when small children are depending on them for security and direction.  Also, the tax laws must change.  The state and federal governments need to make it possible for a man and woman to raise a family with the mother staying home while her children are young.

And in the same way that the government puts a brake on the cost of drugs by acting as the largest provider of medical insurance through Medicaid and Medicare they can put a brake on the costs of college tuition and other expenses.  Instead of just passing along the absurd tuitions that these colleges charge, they can cap these costs and force the colleges to compete for the government backed loans.  Most of these colleges have become havens for bloated administrative bureaucracies that add nothing to the education process but waste and leftist ideological indoctination.

But just as important as the financial help that the government needs to give to families, it must also return sovereignty to the parents over their children.  No more bureaucrats and teachers should be allowed to challenge the authority of the parents to protect their children from the dangerous influence of those who want to proselytize them on behalf of ideologies like feminism, homosexuality and various other aberrant beliefs.  One thing that would help is a school voucher system that would allow parents to avoid the problematic public schools that now infest out country and instead find a school that respects their values.

Now in all these things, the federal government has been a disaster.  It might turn out to be the case, that the only way any of these things get done is if they are relegated to state government to make them happen.  But among the things that need to be restored to our world the restoration of the conditions that allow family life to survive are fundamental.  Without healthy families our society is doomed.  So this should be the first priority when we try to restore life in this country back to normal.

So Many Cookies

Christmas Cooking, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens

Camera Girl is like a food terrorist. She festoons treats around her kitchen like so many high-caloric land mines. And there I am blasted to bits over and over by all of these irresistible gastronomic pyrotechnics. I know how awful will be the penalties I’ll suffer when the holidays are over and how many hours of exercise will be needed to work off the hundreds of thousands of calories of delicious, delectable evil that she has surrounded me with. But eat I must. Over the course of almost five decades, she knows which foods I cannot resist. The cookies; grandma (or white), chocolate chip, oatmeal and the chocolate dipped coconut macaroons. The pies; apple, coconut custard, pumpkin, cherry and more. And that’s not even counting the ice creams and cheese cakes. And all of this will be after the sheer tonnage of lasagna, meatballs, sausage and filet mignon. Oh, the pain, the pain.
I rate my chance of surviving this onslaught as minimal. I reckon that if the EMTs arrive while I’m still breathing, they will advise her that as a purely practical triage decision they should leave me and move on to the next 911 call. At most they may spend a few moments berating me for allowing myself to come to this pathetic end.
But in all honesty, I acknowledge, that all things considered, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Gathering around the holiday tables groaning under the weight of Camera Girl’s bounteous feast is the highlight of every year. Enjoying delicious foods with family and spending time with the people closest to me in the whole world is well worth any bout of indigestion that might occur. Each of the rituals and ceremonies is a touchstone to the past. These same words and actions bring me back to the time when I was a child and eating these same foods and gathering together with family was the highlight of our holidays.
And to ensure that this tradition will continue, Camera Girl has her daughters and now her granddaughter over each year to knead the dough and shape the cookies that they bake for Christmas. And my son and sons-in-law and grandsons share in the expectation that these cookies will be there in the years to come. And I hope they do. Family traditions and gatherings may be the most important social functions in our human existence. They don’t fall under any government program and they aren’t mediated by any of the organs of modern life. TikTok and Meta don’t decide what’s the correct way to break bread with family and I doubt that the Kardashians or Taylor Swift even know what a grandma cookie tastes like, never mind know how to bake one.
So, whatever your traditions and whoever you gather with for Christmas, enjoy the time off away from the soul-deadening dictates of our woke institutions and brain-dead social media influencers. Use the time wisely to spend time with the people who actually mean something to you and enjoy that time together.
God bless us all, everyone.

Guest Contributor – War Pig – 19NOV2023 – Female Empowerment the Old Fashioned Way

My late wife never voted. She said they were all corrupt and voting was about the same as choosing which buzzard is going to dine on your carcass.

She did her politics through volunteerism. At the local hospital, making cookies for on-duty deputies, firefighters and EMT/rescue crews. Her oatmeal raisin cookies were notorious. She plumped the raisins in red or white wine depending on which raisin she used. She cooked and served at the local soup kitchen. I often donated venison as I always filled my limit. It served more than soup but my wife’s ham and mixed bean soup was always a big hit. And her cornbread (scratch, not a mix) was beloved by southern transplants. She got me to go down around Mardi Gras and make jambalaya, shrimp etoufee, gumbo, and red beans and rice.

The Great Sorting

The powers that be are working to reshape the world.  It will no longer be an old-fashioned analog model where people can find their own place in the world and cobble together a life that suits their individual talents and preferences.  No, this new model is a quantized arrangement.  There are only a few allowable choices for profession, school, sexuality, race, religion, and only one choice for political party and belief system.  And that’s only the start.  Soon there will only be one kind of car, one kind of heating system and one kind of bathroom and kitchen.  And the power company will tell you if you’ve used too much power for your car or the air conditioner (if they even allow A/C to exist anymore).  And the city will tell you if you’ve taken too long a shower or flushed the toilet too many times.

But where it really gets tricky is if you aren’t from the right family and didn’t go to the right college but you still want to have a normal life.  You know, like having a wife and kids.  Well, that’s sort of a problem.  Because they don’t want just anybody having kids.  You’ve got to have the right pedigree and the right mindset.  Kids are expensive and it takes a village to raise them so unless you’re the kind of person the village approves of, you’ll just be messing up the orderliness of the hive.  So, the mechanism they’ll use is to make it almost impossible to be able to afford kids unless you’re the right kind of person.

It’ll cost a fortune to buy a house and it’ll cost a fortune to send them to good schools and even feeding and clothing them, unless you’re an illegal immigrant, will cost an arm and a leg.  So, many people, especially young men are just giving up.  It’s just not worth the effort.

Well, the alternative is family helping out with providing a place to live until a house is affordable and providing resources for a down payment and maybe foregoing luxuries like vacation homes and expensive toys to provide help with medical expenses and other incidentals that are bound to come along.  And also providing advice and contacts for the young.

And in the past, I’ve kidded about opening up my own match-making business but I think it’s a real need that exists.  Women especially could get involved by finding eligible girls who wants to get married and have kids.  Sure, I know there are all kinds of dating services and maybe some of them are selective enough to help serious, normal men and women find mates.  But relatives and friends are still a valuable source for finding a man or woman for someone looking to start a family.

It may seem like this whole thing is a silly topic.  But I think it’s serious enough to think about.  There is a great contraction already in the works.  If you want your family to survive it then you’re going to have to provide some extra help to make it work.  Now, some people probably don’t care.  A cheap apartment, a streaming service and a small government check will keep things going until your health gives out and then there’s euthanasia so what’s all the fuss?  The path of least resistance is the preferred route for some of the young.  The government is just making the choice easier.

But for those of us who want a future that includes a fulfilling human life for our descendants then it’s time to take a hand in what happens to your kids and their kids.  Lend a hand.  Or go extinct.

22AUG2023 – Scenes from a Family Gathering

Christmas Cooking, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens

Driving from a rural area toward a megalopolis is almost always a frustrating experience.  The closer you get to the heart of darkness, the worse the traffic becomes and the more likely it is that you will accidentally cross the event horizon and be sucked in, never to break free of the bumper-to-bumper traffic of the black hole collapse.  Or so it seems to me.

By comparison driving in the reverse direction, away from the beast, feels like a continuously increasing sense of relief as the road and the entrances become less and less congested and the craziest of the homicidal drivers are left behind or at least no longer have the traffic density needed to ensure maximum mayhem.

Now all of that was true yesterday as I arrived and departed from the party that I travelled to.  But despite the tension of defying the human density gradient around the suburbs of Gotham City I was sorry that the party couldn’t have been extended indefinitely.

Everything about the gathering was congenial.  It was almost the entire family.  And that’s no mean feat.  We are many and we are scattered much more than in the past.  And Sunday is a tough day for travelling.  Saturday being the optimal day to allow for recovery before work resumes.

And everyone there was splendidly sociable.  The talk was the usual mixture of family events, politics, current events and reminiscing about crazier things and planning for crazier things.  And I learned things that I had never known about people I know very well.  And I saw what the youngest generation is starting to look like when they socialize.  And despite all the dire warnings and predictions they seemed quite healthy and normal.

Of course, food is always a highly important component of one of these shindigs and the hostess was extremely wise in her choices and provisioning.  There were several completely different themes with respect to the menu and there was never any danger of running out of the favorites which is always comforting.  I will admit that I no longer make the impact on the buffet table that I used to.  And that is necessary.  I wouldn’t have survived my former exploits as a trencherman.  But I still grazed high and low and tried a bit of everything.  Wonderful.

But the highlight is when the old bulls stagger into a corner, collapse into a circle of chairs and start pontificating about what’s wrong with the world and what we should do about it.  And eventually we come to agreement that things are going to go to hell no matter what we say or do and then we come to agreement that at least the world has us in it to make it a world worth living in.  Now this was what I remember when the old bulls were my father’s and my grandfather’s generations laying down the law and telling us what was wrong with my generation.  And now, heaven help me, I’m at my grandfather’s age and making my last speeches before shuffling off the stage permanently.  What a strange thing time is.

And just in time the cake and coffee are served and we lapse into a warm glow of caffeine and pastry ingredients.  And all too soon it’s time to go.  We need to leave before it’s too late to make the drive back.  But of course, there is at least a half hour of goodbyes, to each and every one.  Back slapping and hugs and hand shakes for one and all and then last-minute details remembered and plans for the next gathering.  And then we’re on the road and headed home.  But the glow from the party is still with us.  We talk about what we’ve heard and seen.  We talk about those who couldn’t make it and those who are gone.  But it’s all a happy feeling.  A good feeling.

The country and the world have gone straight to hell.  There’s no denying it.  But good things still exist.  And the best of those things is family, is the humanness of family.  The ties that bind and the hope for a future and the precious, priceless treasure of the young in our midst.

The world is not all ruin and depravity.  There is hope.  And I can see it when we get together.

29JUL2023 – OCF Update

Hazy, hot and humid.

July!

So today I have the sixteen year old grandson here.  Now I have to up my game.  Sixteen is an island and nobody from off of that island can crack the code.  Will I have to play video games?  Do I have the reflexes do I have the brain cells left?  We’ll see.

Needless to say some part of the day will be a black out period on the site.  But I also expect the day to be shorter.  No one can expect to keep a sixteen year old’s attention except with other sixteen year olds.  But I’ll do my best.

Sixteen.  A fraught age.  At that age nothing I did involved coherent thought.  So many stupid people.  So many stupid ideas.  Just surviving the age was a minor miracle.  But that was a more forgiving age.  Social media did not exist.  All our sins and stupidities, for the most part, faded into nothingness.  Today they’ll nail you on a cross for anything or nothing.

But it’ll be good.  The torch is being passed.  With the abandonment of the European Americans by the federal government it behooves all of us to marshal our resources to boost our children and grandchildren out of the wreckage of the middle class and give them a fighting chance.  And just letting them know they’ve got a family that cares whether they live or die is a part of that.

So today will be interesting.  Hopefully we’ll shoot some pool, watch some bad super hero movies, eat some junk food and who knows maybe even talk.

See you around.

Guest Contributor – War Pig – 16JUL2023 – Grandchildren

Great plan and very worth while. Since my grandson’s father died young, I became the masculine figure in his life growing up. I took him to many firsts. His first fish caught, teaching him to shoot, the first squirrel shot, then cooked, kindergarten “graduation”, elementary graduation, high school then college graduation. The first time his team won a football game in juniot high then high school. His first big job out of college. Great memories to take with me when the black camel kneels at my door.

It is said you die twice. The first time is when your heart beats its last, and the second is the last time someone thinks of you. I have tried to place myself in as many good memories as I could.

 

 

Seven

Six hours of Godzilla movies, some lime ices, two hours of swimming, a couple of pounds of spaghetti and meatballs, an apple pie and a quart of vanilla ice cream.  Apparently, that equals the optimal day when you’re a seven-year-old boy.  At least in one case.  Now I’m not seven.  And when I was seven, I’m guessing I would have preferred six hours of Universal Classic Monster Movies and maybe I’d have gone with blueberry pie in that line up.  But I definitely remember most of the vibe in that set of choices.

And so, I set up the itinerary exactly as specified by my guest.  And it was swell.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I would have preferred six fewer hours of Godzilla and maybe a ribeye steak would have been higher up on my list than spaghetti today for instance but bonding with the grandkids is an item very close to the top item on my list of priorities.  And because when you have several grandsons and they all differ in their preferences about everything including activities, foods, desserts and movies it sort of behooves you to divide and conquer.  So, I’ve instituted a separate day for each of them to spend the day with me and Camera Girl.  And on that day, they get to pick the activities, entertainment, food and desserts.  And they even get to decide when it’s over.

And it works.  Without his brothers or parents there, each kid gets to call the shots and be the king.  No one tells him to eat his vegetables or finish everything on his plate.  No one says six hours of bad movies is too much or says to get out of the pool because we have to pick somebody up from something or other.  And he even gets the chance to discuss with a supposed grown man whether Godzilla would beat King Kong or T. Rex or Indominus Rex or the Mosasaurus and why and under what circumstance.  And how Godzilla can have radioactive fire but somehow it doesn’t kill King Kong.  And he has to do it with a straight face.

And he can even eat his dinner while watching tv on the couch and not have to do any chores all day and go home as late as he wants.

But it’s also a good deal for me.  I can sort of remember caring about, “Who would win?”.  Sure, maybe it wasn’t Godzilla.  Maybe it was a Roman legion versus Alexander’s Macedonian phalanx.  Or Superman versus Thor.  Or whatever ridiculous thing I imagined that day.  But the point is I sort of recall the feeling.  Some very old neurons fire off a few synapses that I haven’t used in sixty years or so and it’s fascinating.  I almost remember being that age.  I almost remember the feelings.  And it’s pretty great.

I’m working this program youngest to oldest.  So, as we move up the line things should get more and more familiar.  Or will they?  Is nineteen any closer to who I am than seven?  I don’t know.  Each page in the book of life is an island.  A snapshot.  All of them are long ago.  But I expect to enjoy each chance to delve into their present and my past at the same time.

And ultimately, I’m trying to build a little immortality.  I still remember the times my grandfather came to visit me as I was growing up.  He understood that public relations with your descendants was terribly important.  So, he did it right.  He brought us out for the biggest, greasiest triple cheeseburgers at Wesson’s and he always had chewing gum when he came over and he always took us for a drive to the most beat up neighborhoods in NYC where he knew the most bizarre characters like a jeweler that he worked for as an armed guard.  And he always had stories about his times as a cop or when he was the mayor’s bodyguard or a private detective.  Or when he shot it out with armed robbers from the running board of a commandeered taxi.

And because he spent the time with us, in a sense, he’s still alive even forty some-odd years after his death.  And if I tell his stories to my grandkids then maybe he lives another hundred years.  So that’s my game.  I’m working on my immortality.  And I’m paying forward things that were given to me long ago.  What’s more valuable than that?