C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year 2018

It's been a happy but tiring week here - M.P. and I had our little Christmas ham and other goodies last Monday, then spent the rest of the week preparing for the big feast yesterday, when we hosted his four grown children, their spouses, and his three little grandchildren, ages 4, 2, and 3 months, who were adorable - and full of pep even when the older generations were dragging.

Needless to say, today we slept in, and awoke to discover the outside temperature in the 20's - it won't be above freezing again until Wednesday, but fortunately there is no snow or ice in the forecast. As it is, even with the thermostat cranked up, we can't seem to get the inside temperature above 60, but that's bearable with flannel shirts and pants. M.P. has already begun cooking our New Years' dinner for tomorrow, a fine mess of gumbo 'zerbes and the hambone from last week, plus of course blackeyed peas and baked sweet potatoes and corn muffins, so the kitchen is toasty warm.

I had intended to end the year with a thought-piece on old times, new times, and the dismaying state of the world at this point in history - oh, but I really don't have the psychic energy for all that, and besides, you fellas surely have your own memories, hopes, and fears to contend with already. But sometimes grace happens just when things are darkest, offering light and a way out - and meanwhile life goes on.  Whether the present time is to our liking or not, we must all simply make the best of things, and do what good we can, great or small, for ourselves and those we love, and do it with cheerfulness and courage if possible. I guess I really have nothing more to say than that.

All good wishes to my truckbuddies for health, wealth, and happiness in 2018, and a world at peace.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Queen's Christmas Broadcast, 2017

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Doesn't she look marvelous? Even at 91, God bless her.

This year's broadcast, recorded earlier this month at Buckingham Palace, marks the 60th anniversary of the Queen's first televised Christmas message in 1957.  Before that, she broadcast on radio, as did her father and her grandfather, King George V, who originated the practice in 1932.

And here is the first televised message, broadcast live by the Queen in 1957 from Sandringham, her country house in Norfolk:

In 2015, the BBC produced this fascinating documentary outlining the history of royal Christmas messages:

From our little hacienda here in Texas, where M.P. is hard at work conjuring up our holiday feast, I wish all my truckbuddies around the world a very merry Christmas.

The Christmas cactus blooms every year right on schedule, as you can see.

As promised last week, here is a slightly better exposure of the front of the house.

Simple but charming, isn't it?  All due to M.P.'s careful, persistent work, which your Head Trucker simply hasn't the patience for.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sunday Drive: O Come, All Ye Faithful

As sung by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge:

The Virgin of the Lilies, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1899.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas

M. P. loves to light up the house for the holidays, and wanted to do it three weeks ago, but the weather did not cooperate, so he went at it piecemeal.  It takes longer than you might think to wrap those trees from bottom to top, and to line up everything just so, inside and out.  At last, however, he finished up at sundown on Sunday, and here is a pic to show the results of his labors - a bit overexposed, so I will try to get a better shot soon, just for the record.

Click to enlarge.

Over the weekend, he also smoked a ham, which had been sitting in his homemade curing solution for weeks, and a couple of cornish game hens. The hickory wood gave it all a lovely taste.  And today Amazon delivered a big box of little presents I had ordered, so that was a relief - you never know with mail order if or when things will arrive, despite all their promises.

So our holiday preparations, modest as they are, are proceeding nicely, and I hope yours are too, loyal readers.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Drive: Once in Royal David's City

I post this series every year in loving memory of my late husband Cody, a master organist and choir director, whose greatest glory was playing sacred music in church, especially his Christmas concert.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Love Wins Down Under

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December 7 will be remembered fondly by our Australian brothers and sisters as the day Parliament passed the Marriage Amendment Bill 2017, legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the southern continent -- the last large English-speaking nation to do so.  Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivered the bill in person the next morning (remember, they are twelve hours ahead of us) to Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, who promptly gave Royal Assent to the bill, making it the law of the land from December 9.  Same-sex marriages contracted by Australians in foreign countries will be recognized in law from that day forward.  Following the standard one-month waiting period, gay weddings on Australian soil can begin on January 9.

Only four members of the House of Commons voted against the bill; many conservative members simply abstained or absented themselves from the chamber.  The picture below dramatically shows the overwhelming majority of members sitting on the "yes" side, while the "no" side is practically deserted.  The galleries burst into applause and song when the Speaker declared the bill passed.

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The change in the law is a happy conclusion to the long struggle for marriage equality in Australia, which has its share of right-wing fanatics and zealots; you can read the history of the struggle at Wikipedia.

Australia is now the 26th nation to embrace same-sex marriage. The Pew Research Center gives a global summary of same-sex marriage laws here.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sunday Drive: Impossible; It's Possible

Even when all the world seems dreary, dark, and hopeless, sometimes a miracle happens for those who believe.  Julie Andrews and Edie Adams show how in the marvelous 1957 television production of Rodgers' and Hammerstein's Cinderella:

Friday, December 1, 2017

Waitin' for the Weekend

In Memoriam: Jim Nabors, 1930 - 2017

Jim Nabors in 2008

Jim Nabors, a good-hearted Alabama boy with an amazing baritone voice, who made it big in Hollywood playing aw-shucks Marine private Gomer Pyle, has died at age 87 at home in Honolulu.

I well recall hearing - with great disbelief - that rumor back in my high school days that he and Rock Hudson had gotten married.  It was just too silly to take seriously:  I mean, really -- those two, obviously straight as a board?  They didn't fit the gay stereotype at all.  It was to laugh.

But little did I know that both Nabors and Hudson really were gay.  Sadly, Hudson died of AIDS in 1985, but Nabors lived a long, full, happy life with his partner of 40-plus years, Stan Cadwallader, happily running a macadamia nut farm on Maui and doing the occasional singing or acting gig.  The couple were married by a judge in Seattle in 2013, shortly after same-sex marriage was legalized in Washington state.

Nabors kept his private life private, and there's nothing wrong with that.  I suppose his modest, gentle style of humor is quite incomprehensible to the frenzied children of this harsh and vulgar age, but I remember his character fondly.  May he rest in peace.

In this clip from Gomer Pyle, USMC, Nabors displays his big, beautiful singing voice:

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Pork Boys Do Thanksgiving 2017

Click to enlarge.

We had a lovely feast last week, beginning with an 18-pound turkey that M. P. found on sale for only six dollars or so; two new supermarkets have opened near us in recent months, and isn't competition a wonderful thing?  When it works in your favor, that is.  At any rate, turkey and dressing is M. P.'s favorite dish, so he set to with a will, and when he was done very late that night, our menu included the following:

Hors d'oeuvres
Ham roll-ups
Beef roll-ups
Swiss cheese bits
Extra-sharp cheddar cheese bits
Deviled eggs
Green olives
Black olives
Boudin balls, breaded and deep-fried (a Cajun delicacy; M. P. had made the boudin from scratch the week before)

Velouté de brocolis with Velveeta cubes in lieu of croutons

Main Course
Roast turkey stuffed with sausage dressing
Cranberry sauce
Mashed potatoes
Giblet gravy
Maque choux (a Cajun corn casserole, like M. P.'s mama used to make)
Cornbread salad
Green bean casserole*
Sweet potato souffle*
Cranberry sauce
Homemade biscuits and butter

White Zinfandel (Winking Owl, California, 2017)

Pumpkin pie
Pecan pie
Crockpot caramel cake with whipped cream and caramel sauce
Maple-bacon cookies

* - Your Head Trucker made the starred dishes, both of which are much too simple to qualify as haute cuisine.  But M. P. ate them up just the same.

As a matter of fact, we had so much on our plates, we forgot about the biscuits until all was said, done, and eaten!  But of course we have enjoyed them since, along with a truckload of very tasty leftovers.  (Confidentially, fellas, after eating turkey for seven days in a row, I am now getting just a wee bit tired of it.  But shhh - don't tell M. P.!  I think a little talafia meuniere would be a nice change of pace, and that's another dish that requires no culinary talent to slap out.)

And so the Pork Boys feasted well and long again.  But just so you understand - these occasional feasts, along with our simpler Sunday dinners, are about the only recreation two gray and grizzled retirees can afford anymore - we never eat out, and only once or twice a year can we scrape our nickels and dimes together for a little KFC.  Other times, M. P. conjures up a homemade pizza instead of calling Domino's, and he says my cheeseburger pie - a trifling dish - rivals the taste of a good Whataburger.  So please don't begrudge us a little festivity in the kitchen now and then - when youthful charms and money have flown, food is one of the very last comforts - and one of the best. For all of which, we are truly grateful

Alas, I am too old and slow to chronicle all the kitchen doings in pictures these days, but here are a few snaps that show off M. P.'s artistry - he really loves to set a nice table and make things pretty.  I hope all my truckbuddies had a fabulous turkey day too.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Harry to Marry

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Kensington Palace has announced that HRH Prince Henry of Wales, 33, will marry American actress Meghan Markle, 36, in May at St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

Unlike the unfortunate case of the Duchess of Windsor (who, I believe, had no real idea of what she was getting into) it seems that neither the Queen, the Church of England, nor the British public have any objections to HRH marrying a divorced American this time around. Well, times change and attitudes change:  the fact that the bride's ancestry is half African-American seems likewise to have caused not a ripple of discomfort anywhere, except among the usual trolls and hobgoblins of the Internet.

I had wondered if Harry ever would marry - it's hard enough for an ordinary bloke to find a compatible mate without the pestilential reporters and paparazzi posting every little sneeze and stumble on the front pages, which must be utterly hellacious to those in the goldfish bowl of public life. But judging by the BBC interview below, it appears that Harry has made a very good choice: Ms. Markle seems poised, sensible, and grounded, very much in love but clear-eyed about her new status.

So they look to be in good starting position, and I hope they will surmount the hedges and hurdles of life well and wisely. All good wishes to the happy couple.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Royal Platinum Anniversary

A new photograph of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh released by Buckingham Palace to mark their 70th wedding anniversary today.

HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary today without any public pomp and ceremony, just a quiet dinner for 150 friends and relations at Windsor Castle, their weekend country getaway. The fact of a platinum anniversary is no more astounding and inspiring than their long, unfailing life of duty and service together.

Hats off and three cheers for the royal couple. May God bless them.

A photograph of then-Princess Elizabeth and Lt. Philip Mountbatten, RN, on their wedding day, November 20, 1947.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Drive: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

I believe this video is mistitled, as the interior of this church, while quite nice, lacks the fan vaulting of St. George's Chapel, Windsor.  Nevertheless, the congregation does a lively job with this venerable hymn of thanksgiving.

And while we're here in church today, do have a look at the fascinating, long-lost painting of Da Vinci's that was auctioned off at Christie's in New York last week for $450 million dollars. Surely the purchaser will have the charity and good sense to lend or give it to one of the great museums of the world. I mean, you could hardly stick something as exquisite as this - with that price tag - over your living room couch, could you?

Salvator Mundi, by Leonardo da Vinci
(click to enlarge)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Australia Votes YES for Marriage Equality

With about 80 percent of the population casting postal ballots, 61.6 percent voted in favor of same-sex marriage.  A crowd in Sydney reacts to the news:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hopes to get Parliament to pass marriage equality by Christmas:

The New York Times reports:

Australians Say ‘Yes’ to Same-Sex Marriage, Clearing Path for Legalization

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Drive: These Foolish Things

As performed by the great Ella Fitzgerald:

Friday, November 10, 2017

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