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.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year 2019

Well, fellas, another year has rolled by, much too quickly it seems, and here we are at the gate of 2019 already.  What my grandmother told me is true:  the older you get, the quicker the years go by.  It is a curious fact that Time moves too slow for leaping youth, too fast for tottering age.

I'm glad to report that 2018 was, all things considered, a pretty happy year for us.  The weather was milder than usual, finances were a bit easier, and M.P. recovered fairly rapidly from his operation last January.  Of course his first thought was to get back into the kitchen, so we have had many and various toothsome feasts since then:  a lot to be thankful for.

The world is in a frightful state - but then, isn't it always?  When I started this blog ten years ago, I thought it a great opportunity to set the world straight on all sorts of matters; but alas, I'm sorry to report that all my best typing has done no good, and the world continues roaring down its heedless path, ignoring all good counsel, even from wiser heads than mine.  The Golden Rule, the Golden Mean, good sense, and good humor are all a drug on the market in this present age, it seems.

The leafless branches outside my window testify that the eternal cycle of growth, maturity, and decay continues on and on, as much for civilizations as for individuals; yet somehow, even in the darkest periods, the human race always finds a way to continue on, for better or worse, through successive tides of change.  Since I have no posterity to worry about, I suppose there is no point fretting over things I cannot change.  Hence, I blog less and rant less.  Why waste my breath?

But I am gratified now and then to discover that goodness and kindness still exist, side by side with wickedness and cruelty: pinpoints of light in a dark night.  At any rate, much as I deplore the many awful things that happen in this frenzied, frantic, foolish age, I am too old, tired, and poor to do anything about them.  So I just do the little good I can do for those nearest me, and leave the rest to the mercy of Providence.

As someone once said, in the midst of a world of sorrow and absurdity, we must each cultivate our own garden, and be content with that.  Like the flowers, fruits, and leaves, we all of us have our day in the sun, and then we are no more; but others will take our place.  The cycle of Time rolls on unperturbed in its steady course, with or without our consent, and no doubt that is as it should be.  The flowers do not understand why they should fade, nor the leaves why they should wither; but fade and wither they must, as night follows day and winter follows summer.  The whys and the wherefores are not given us to comprehend in this world; instead, the spark of life is given us for only a day in the grand scheme of things, to make of it what we will.  We must therefore enjoy what we have while we have it, without squelching someone else's chance at happiness.  It takes many flowers to make a lovely garden.

So here's wishing my truckbuddies, all and singular, a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.  Drinks are on the house!

Or feel free to BYOB:

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sunday Drive: Bach, Air on the G String

The exquisite Bach tune, as performed by the duo 2Cellos:

Friday, December 28, 2018

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Royal Navy Wants YOU

This just in:  Christmas greetings from the officers and crew of HMS Ocean, formerly the flagship of the Royal Navy.

Most amusing, to be sure. But more than that, I dare not say.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Queen's Christmas Broadcast, 2018

Her Majesty the Queen delivered her annual Christmas message today via television to Britain and the Commonwealth.


Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas 2018

Earthrise - photograph of our blue planet taken from lunar orbit by the crew of Apollo 8, December 24, 1968.

Christmas greetings and warm wishes to all my truckbuddies around the world.  May the Good Lord bless and keep you all.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Waitin' for the Weekend

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Season of Giving

A guest post by my truckbuddy Tim from England, now resident in Spain:

The Season of Giving 

Decorating the House by xTh13teeNx here at Deviantart . . . always a favourite!

Late October, 2016:

"My, my, who’s getting to be a big boy den?  Yes oo is, yes.  Oo's a big Wuffy Ruffy?" 

Piers rolled his eyes; listening to Chris doing baby talk was like listening to fingernails scraping on a chalk board.

"Does oo like a tickle?  Oo does?  Ha, ha, ha!"

Chris and Piers were relaxing in their home, codenamed the Deuce of Hearts.  Their GSD puppy, Ruff, lay on his back at their feet; his legs in the air.  Chris bent down and rubbed Ruff's belly again.

"He's growing so fast.  I think it might be time for Danny to give Ruff the facts of life lesson Ace.  You know, like we had at High School?  Blow-up dolls, fumbling with condoms on bananas."

Piers raised his eyebrows.  "Er, well I don't know what you were taught; we had some poor young TA slotted for the job, cute guy.  I still remember his red face when he . . . er, anyway it's rather different for animals, it's more an instinctive thing.  And besides, I don't think Ruffy needs our help or training from Danny anymore."

Continued after the jump . . . .

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sunday Drive: The Holly and the Ivy

A favorite of M.P.'s:  the traditional English carol, as performed by American pianist George Winston with wondrous style and speed.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Waitin' for the Weekend

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

In Memoriam: George H. W. Bush, 1924-2018

The nation mourns today as a state funeral is held at 11 a. m. Eastern Time in Washington's National Cathedral for the forty-first president, George Herbert Walker Bush.  In the afternoon, the former president's remains will be flown back to Houston, where a private funeral service will take place tomorrow morning; in the afternoon, he will be laid to rest beside his beloved wife Barbara (1925-2018) on the grounds of his presidential library at Texas A&M University in College Station.

Mr. Bush led a long, active life of service to the nation before, during, and after his tenure as president.  One of the so-called "greatest generation," he was the last president to have served in World War II, and indeed, the last to have any memory of that war.  A full account of his public service is found in his Wikipedia article, and the following news videos recount the highlights of his life.

While I disagreed with some of his politics and was never what you might call a fan of Mr. Bush's, I remember him as a fundamentally decent man who honestly, competently, and faithfully served the nation as president, maintaining the long continuity of constitutional government in our Republic. All of which used to be simply taken for granted in presidents, but is sadly no longer a certainty.

After the stone-cold chill of the Reagan years - the plague years - I was impressed with Bush's call for a "kinder, gentler" America; and I thought his call for a "thousand points of light" - i.e., a spirit of volunteerism for the good of the whole country - was also a fine thing. I won't attempt here to review his time in office, which has long since been overshadowed by more recent, more disquieting events. But I will mention that it was during his presidency that your Head Trucker, along with several thousand other gays and lesbians, picketed the White House, a memorable occasion in my own history, which perhaps I will relate at more length another time.

Mr. Bush, like every other president, may have had his flaws and shortcomings; but I believe he was a good and conscientious man who was faithful to his constitutional duties as president:  perhaps not the greatest president, but certainly far from the worst. May he rest in peace.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Sunday Drive: Christmas Is Coming

The Blue Truck is now back online after a week-long and strangely unfathomable internet outage. Funny how something that 20 years ago we had no concept of, and never even thought about, is now so necessary to household happiness, all day every day. (Oh Mary, don't ask.)

But to get this blog back on track:  by request, the well-known theme from A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio:

Friday, November 23, 2018

Waitin' for the Weekend

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Giving Thanks

A guest post by my truckbuddy Tim, now resident in Spain:

This Nivanfield short was written in response to a fan who asked for a Thanksgiving-themed tale. Being English, Thanksgiving is not part of my culture, so fingers crossed I have the detail right.

Captain Chris Redfield is center stage here as he gives a speech before the meal. This is a man who doesn't like making speeches. He prefers action, not words, and he's making it off the cuff. He sees inspiration in the faces looking at him, not a set of notes in his hand.

Happy Thanksgiving! Tim.

Giving Thanks

He smiled at the irrepressible Finn Macauley. Alpha teams’s very own "exploding" expert, who seemed to be wearing a turkey-shaped beanie that evening.

"Oh my! Captain Redfield, what a big one you've got!" The young girl opened her eyes wide in surprise and delight. "I’ve never seen one so ...” she was almost lost for words. "… so enormous!" she giggled.

"Ha, ha! That's just what Piers said!" Chris turned around. "Didn't you Ace?"

Piers was busy turning scarlet. "Chrisss!" he hissed, "Tone it down; we don't want everyone to know."

"The best part of 30 pounds—it's a monster, all solid meat!" Chris beamed proudly, as if he'd reared it himself.

"Ok Chris, it's huge, I have to admit, but get over it. Stop showing everyone, please!" Piers wished he could disappear, but he'd left his shemagh in the truck with Ruff. Its familiar smell helped the puppy settle down when he was left alone.

"Ha! If you've got it, flaunt it!"

"It's a turkey Babe, not a new plan or an assault rifle or your d—.” Piers checked himself just in-time. "I mean, I don't know if it will even fit in the oven." He pouted; he knew who'd have to cook it.

"Then we'll get a bigger oven. Do you sell them here ..." Chris peered at the commissary checkout girl's name tag, "... Mary-Jo?" He gave her his best 'little boy lost' smile.

"Oh yes Captain, over in Major Appliances. Two aisles down and on the left at the back."

"Remember those co-ordinates Ace, you might need them later … on my tab please, Mary-Jo. Oh, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving yourself." He left her a large tip as she bagged up their purchases, except for the turkey that was … she didn't have a bag big enough for that. They headed out for the car park.

Continued after the jump . . .

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sunday Drive: How Great Thou Art

The beloved 1885 hymn, as performed in 2016 on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry by 98-year-old Lois Cunningham, grandmother-in-law of country star Josh Turner:

Friday, November 16, 2018

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Prince Charles at 70

The Prince of Wales turned 70 yesterday, and celebrated the milestone at a glittering private party in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace with his extended family, including some more distant relatives from among the royal houses of Europe.

The Queen, age 92, and 66 years on the Throne, made this heartfelt toast to her son and heir:
It is a privilege for any mother to be able to propose a toast to her son on his 70th birthday.

It means that you have lived long enough to see your child grow up. It is rather like —to use an analogy I am certain will find favour — planting a tree and being able to watch it grow.

My mother saw me turn 70, of course. And she was heard to observe that 70 is exactly the age when the number of candles on your cake finally exceeds the amount of breath you have to blow them out.

Over his 70 years, Philip and I have seen Charles become a champion of conservation and the arts, a great charitable leader — a dedicated and respected heir to the throne to stand comparison with any in history — and a wonderful father.

Most of all, sustained by his wife Camilla, he is his own man, passionate and creative.

So this toast is to wish a happy birthday to my son, in every respect a duchy original.

To you Charles. To the Prince of Wales.

The official YouTube channel of the British Royal Family has posted this video montage of scenes from the Prince's life:

I admire the PofW very much, and add my congratulations and best regards to those from many other well-wishers around the globe.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Let's Talk Turkey (1955)

It's that time of year when some people get a little hot and bothered in the kitchen, what with all the holiday cooking to do.  Are you sweating it?

An overseas correspondent recently suggested that your Head Trucker publish some guidelines for preparing a real American Thanksgiving dinner. Well, I suppose I could; but since this falls under the heading of What Everybody Knows over here, I doubt that it would be of much use to anyone living between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. And of course the only correct way to roast a turkey is--the way your mama did it.

And the components of a Thanksgiving dinner are too standardized to bear repeating in detail: a turkey with stuffing or dressing; giblet gravy, which each diner pours over his dressing and his mashed potatoes too; down South here, next comes green bean casserole, which in my lifetime has become the sine qua non for any large family meal; and another vegetable or two to round things out (in my family, we usually had canned asparagus gently heated in butter sauce, and candied yams or perhaps a sweet potato souffle); and some kind of dinner rolls, preferably the classic Brown & Serve rolls that you just pop in the oven for ten minutes. And one must not omit the cranberry sauce, as essential with turkey as mint sauce is with lamb.  For dessert, it is de rigueur to have at least one of pecan pie, pumpkin pie, or sweet potato pie, along with whipped topping or vanilla ice cream, and of course a good cup of coffee or two.

Beyond all that, each family has its own particular and time-hallowed menu traditions. A few years ago, it came to the attention of M.P. and myself that many black families have a tradition of eating macaroni and cheese instead of mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving. Now to my way of thinking, mac and cheese from a box is very tasty, but too pedestrian a dish to be considered for a festival meal; mais a chacun son gout. M.P. taught a black friend and co-worker how to make the dish from scratch, with a few extra-yummy ingredients, which he was thrilled to learn, and he has since, we hear, become the King of Mac and Cheese at every family gathering.

If you have lost or forgotten your mama's directions for cooking a turkey, there are any number of YouTube videos that will show you how to proceed; but as in all things culinary, no two are exactly alike, so I would suggest looking at several before settling on the version that seems most practicable to you. But I will make one suggestion if there are only a few persons to be fed at your house: it is nowhere mandated in law that you must eat turkey on Thanksgiving, believe it or not. Thus, a very small gathering can be well and easily fed on a roasting hen instead of a turkey; it can be prepared like a turkey and served with all the traditional trimmings, and you'll have plenty of bird to go around, but much less left over. Or for a few dollars more, a capon is a delightful change from ordinary chicken, with an elegant, delicious flavor all its own. Just sayin'.

Well, I have said all I know that is worth saying about turkey dinners.  But here is a very helpful video from six decades back that may teach you some things about turkeys you never knew before:

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday Drive: Moonight in Vermont

A lovely old tune sung by the lovely Miss Patti Page:

Friday, November 9, 2018

Waitin' for the Weekend

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Midterm Election Results: The Blue Ripple

Well, the American populace had its say on Trumpism last night, and spoke out of both sides of its mouth.  The Democratic Party hoped a big "blue wave" of fired-up voters would give them control of Congress; but they gained a majority only in the House of Representatives, the Republicans still controlling the Senate.  Well, that's disappointing, but it's a start.  At least now there is a power of resistance to the Trumpocracy in one of the three branches of government.

I found some videos that concisely summarize the election returns and results, in case my readers (like me) weren't glued to the TV set last night.  But whether you are interested in those or not, do take a moment to watch this rather heartwarming story of civility in a political race in Vermont - introduced by the delightful and ever-pleasant Jane Pauley, whom it's so nice to see again on screen.  (Where has she been all these years?  And why didn't NBC hang on to her, the fools?)

Well, that was a sweet story.  Maybe there' s still some hope left for this country.  Let us pray.

Wikipedia has the breakdown on all of last night's races here, if you want to burrow down into the numbers (though not all returns are in yet).  You could also take a look at the BBC's informative charts and maps if you care to.  If not, here's a quick summary of last night's election coverage from the Wall Street Journal:

The New York Times gives brief glimpses of some notable Democratic winners, including Jared Polis, the first gay governor of Colorado, or of any state, hooray:

Who knows what the percentage of red and blue will be, come the next election?  The NYT guesses at the future of American politics in this prognostication:

Friday, November 2, 2018

Waitin' for the Weekend

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sunday Drive: Liszt, Consolation No. 3

The well-known piano solo by Franz Liszt, as performed by Daniel Barenboim - and I dedicate this post to the victims of mindless hatred and violence in Pittsburgh, and all over this troubled world.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Waitin' for the Weekend

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Roulé au Fromage et Jambon

Or how to make French ham and cheese rolls with puff pastry. I just happened to discover Stephane's videos the other day, and I've already shown a couple to M.P., who I hope will try some new recipes. Stephane claims he is a self-taught cook, and M.P. says he sure does know his stuff. He's also an excellent teacher, so if you like puttering around in the kitchen, here's something new to try.

PS - the word for today is charcuterie.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sunday Drive: Autumn Leaves

It is astonishing to think that Eva Cassidy's exquisite voice was barely recognized while she was alive. Though she lived and died a relative unknown, I believe her talent must be accounted one of the greats of the twentieth century. Her genius is this: to take an old, familiar song and make it sound not merely fresh, but utterly new, to which one listens avidly as if hearing it for the very first time.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Waitin' for the Weekend

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