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.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year 2021


Well, fellas, at last we have reached the end of a tumultuous year, a time to pause and reflect on where we have been and what we have learned; yet the relentless spiral of Time goes on and on - for better or worse, who can say?  

Your Head Trucker is not completely in sync with the frantic modern world, its frenzies, follies, or fashions, but one has to make the best of it.  Like leaves floating on a stream, sometimes calm, sometimes rapid, we are carried along with the flow of changes and chances in this mortal life, helpless to stem the flood of Time that bears us ever onward, like it or not.

It is always the best of times and the worst of times:  annus mirabilis to some, annus horribilis to others.  Let us pray that this coming year will at least be a better one - and more peaceful - than the one now ending.  I wish good health, good luck, and good cheer to all my truckbuddies around the world - and I thank you all for rolling along with me here in the Blue Truck.  God bless.


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Pork Boys Do Christmas 2020

M.P. likes to string lots of lights out front, but this year settled for simplicity.  I think it's pretty enough for two old men who don't need to be falling off ladders.

Since the annual family dinner was cancelled on account of the pandemic, we were left with a larder full of goodies that M.P. has been accumulating over the past few months, as he always does, in anticipation of feeding a houseful of his posterity.  But nothing daunted, M.P. has carried on with cooking as planned - we have simply decided to celebrate not merely one day, but all twelve days of Christmas this year, each with something delicious to eat.  Of course leftovers are part of the plan, but every day M.P. thinks up some new dish or treat for us to enjoy.  Monday it was homemade shortbread cookies.  Yesterday it was mini-tacos, a nice change of taste after being well-nigh surfeited with ham, duck, and even goose.

Here are a few pics to show you what I mean:

Christmas Eve hors d'oeuvres:  yummy deviled quail eggs, eight kinds of cheese, assorted crackers, and a pot of luscious cream of green bean soup (sounds yucky, but believe me when I tell you it is really sublime).  The array of spoons was not really necessary for just us two, but isn't it pretty?

La table, soup bowls at the ready.

M.P. made the lighted wreath out of twigs and things he picked up in the yard.

Christmas Day buffet:  this time with the addition of scrumptious homemade pate de foie gras as well as a plate of oven-fried chicken pops coated with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.

Cardinals have been a favorite Christmas motif of ours for years, since we have a family of them that nests in one of the backyard trees.  But notice that our new lighted centerpiece has two red cardinals.  Think about it.

Candlelight makes the season bright, whether real or artificial.

A view from the fireplace end of the room.  When M.P.'s family comes to dinner, we somehow manage to seat 14 people in this same space, using extra tables and chairs.  M.P. loves to cook for his young'uns, but he does admit Christmas is a bit more enjoyable this year without having to deal with the logistics of feeding a crowd.

We are very thankful, considering all the things that might have turned out much worse this year, personally and politically, that despite the infirmities of advancing age and precarious finances, we are still able to enjoy good cheer, good food, glad hearts, and quiet minds.  I hope all my truckbuddies are likewise enjoying this season of renewed hope and goodwill with those they love.


Friday, December 25, 2020

The Queen's Christmas Broadcast, 2020

Her Majesty the Queen broadcast her annual Christmas message to the nation and the Commonwealth today - and a deeply moving message it was, too.

Even on the darkest nights, there is hope in the new dawn.


Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas 2020

Credo quia pulchrum est.

The Adoration of the Shepherds, by
Gerard van Honthorst, ca. 1622.  Click to enlarge.

For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man . . .

to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, 
to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all.

The Gramophone Ghana Chorus sings out the good news with joy:


It has been a year of unexpected changes, great and small; and even Christmas is being celebrated differently this year by many people around the world, though the spirit of the season is still evident if one has eyes to see it.  

After a toilsome week of cleaning up the messes left by successive Christmas parties at his school, M.P. rested a bit at home and then got busy once again stringing lights on the front of the house, and decorating the living/dining room with a truckload of abandoned poinsettias he brought home from work.  Now it looks a bit like a Christmas garden in there, considering it was already filled up with all the outside potted plants that we are sheltering indoors for the winter - a couple of them are as tall as I am.

M.P. has also given the main rooms a Christmas cleaning, though not quite as thoroughly as usual, because this year his children and grandchildren are not coming for the annual Yule dinner at Papaw's house; after a good deal of dithering and twittering and what-shall-we-do-ing, the group mind finally settled on each family staying home and cooking for themselves.  Which is a prudent decision for all concerned, old and young; but M.P. had already laid in supplies of Christmas foods that he was not about to let go to waste, including a nice fat duck, and a ham that he produced himself by curing and smoking a piece of ordinary pork loin - which seems a miracle to me.  

So on Monday evening, the day of the winter solstice and, this year, the remarkable Great Conjunction - a fascinating sight in the southwestern sky - M.P. after much cheffing around in the kitchen served up a luscious Yule dinner for just us two, and here are the pics to prove it.  Of course, the proof is in the eating, but you just have to take my word for it that every single bite was deee-licious.

From 5 o'clock:  apricot-glazed ham (so tender it fell apart in cutting); succulent roast duck leg; deep-fried diced parsnips (like potatoes, but slightly sweeter); creamed sweet potatoes; spinach-cheese casserole; and a deep-fried biscuit, crispy outside and oh-so-buttery inside.

Of course, we have been re-heating and re-eating this same meal ever since, delightedly.  But there is more to come from the depths of the pantry and deep freeze:  On Friday M.P. will bestir himself to cook a proper Christmas dinner; then next week, a New Year's dinner; and the week after that, a King's Day dinner, with I hope, a nice King's Cake to top things off.  And your Head Trucker, being also Head Dishwasher of this joint, will do his part to keep kitchen operations rolling along.

Yesterday M.P. spent the whole day boxing and wrapping presents for his progeny (4 adult children, 3 spouses at the moment, and 4 little tykes), including all sorts of fascinating toys and dolls and whaddayacallits that toddle and coo and go root-a-toot-toot.  Later today he will drop them off, and then come back to put up our Christmas tree.  (While he is gone, I will wrap the few presents I got for him.)  On the big day, there will be a family Zoom conference to watch the unwrappings at the various houses, which for parents is the climax of all their endeavors.  How lucky we all are to live in an age of such technological miracles.

And so Christmas is not ruined at all, just a little different this year; I do hope by next Christmas things can get back to the usual routine - busy but comforting in the endless procession of the years.  And I hope all of my truckbuddies are enjoying some Christmas cheer right now - though you may be apart from your loved ones, and perchance even Zoomless, you can still be united in spirit.  And I believe that, come what may in this mortal life, nothing can ever separate us from the eternal Love that moves the stars, and moves our willing hearts, by whatever name you call it.

I am thankful for the quiet good cheer M.P. and I share here in our humble circumstances, with general health and finances stable at the moment; as we have both reflected, it would be a sad thing, growing older, to eat alone day after day.  It's harder to cook for one than for two.  So we celebrate what we have with grateful hearts.  I'll close these rambling thoughts now with some musical selections that sum up the meaning and the joy of Christmas for me.  My prayers go up for peace on this troubled earth and goodwill among men all over the world;  and from our house to all of yours, we send best wishes for a very Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Sunday Drive: Creator of the Stars of Night

An awe-inspiring presentation of this ancient hymn from St. John's Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colorado:

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

The Annunciation, 1898
Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937), 
African-American artist.
Click to enlarge.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Buttigieg Accepts Cabinet Nomination

Mayor Pete speaks after President-elect Biden announces his nomination as the next Secretary of Transportation.  His appointment must be confirmed by the Senate following the inauguration of Biden as the 46th President next month.


A gay man nominated for a job in the Cabinet, my stars.  Unthinkable forty years ago when I came out.  But I have lived to see this day. 



Monday, December 14, 2020

No Doubt About It: Biden Wins the Presidency

[We have] faced difficult times before in our history. I know we’ll get through this one, but together. That’s how we get through it, together. So as we start the hard work to be done, may this moment give us a strength to rebuild this house of ours upon a rock that can never be washed away. As in the Prayer of St. Francis, for where there is discord, union, where there is doubt, faith, where there is darkness, light. This is who we are as a nation. This is the America we love and that is the America we’re going to be. So thank you all and may God bless you. And may God protect our troops and all of those who stand watch over our democracy.

And God bless the Electoral College!  Meeting in their respective state capitals today, the electors ratified the election of Joe Biden as the next President according to the Constitution, 306-232.  And for once, there was not a single faithless elector among them.  So my hat is off to them; the election system may need changes in future, but for now the good old Electoral College has preserved democracy and guaranteed Uncle Sam a new lease on life.  Well done!

My longtime truckbuddies will have noticed I haven't blogged very much since the election.  It's partly because the colder weather has put me in something of a hibernating mood; and also I simply haven't thought it worth disrupting my peace of mind to rant about the blatant lies and seditious attempts at subverting our democracy - even overthrowing the lawful government of this republic - that have the support of far too many would-be fascists in high places and among the citizenry.  I have instead tried to stay calm and do my part in keeping our little home running smoothly and happily, turning all the other stuff over to the Lord to handle - and He does seem to be doing a good job with it.

I also pray daily for Joe and Kamala to find the strength and wisdom to lead this sadly divided nation back to the path of justice, unity, and peace.  There is much that needs mending and fixing in this old house; but now we can breathe again, and begin again to build that more perfect union - which is always a work in progress.

Here are Joe's thoughts on that subject, in a speech given today after the Electoral College finished voting - a real "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" speech that warmed your Head Trucker's heart:

Lift up your hearts:  the dark night is ending, a brighter day is coming.  You take care fellas, and stay safe.


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sunday Drive: Ave Maria, Il Volo

Grazie to my truckbuddy Frank, who tipped me to this exquisite rendition of the beloved hymn to the Virgin Mother: 


The Third Sunday of Advent 

The Song of Mary - The Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; 

for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed: 

the Almighty has done great things for me, 

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him 

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm, 

he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, 

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things, 

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel, 

for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

The promise he made to our fathers, 

to Abraham and his children for ever.

--Luke 1:46-55


Saturday, December 12, 2020

R. I. P.: Charley Pride

Country music legend Charley Pride died today, age 86.  The first black country singer to receive widespread acclaim, Pride racked up a long string of number-one country music hits in the 1970s and 1980s, and accumulated numerous awards and honors throughout his career.  His last appearance was just a month ago in Nashville, where he received the CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.  Here he sings one of his greatest hits with contemporary country artist Jimmie Allen:


Here he sings the same hit song on the Lynn Anderson Show in 1971:


 In this 2017 interview, Pride talked about his roots and his music:



Sunday, December 6, 2020

Sunday Drive: O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion

The well-known aria from Part I of Handel's Messiah, as performed by American mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry:

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

R. I. P.: Pat Patterson

Pro wrestling champion Pat Patterson has died at age 79.  In 2012, he came out to his wrestling colleagues in this clip that was first broadcast a couple of years later:


I never heard of Pat until now, but God rest his soul.  It just goes to show - we're everywhere.


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