Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring is Truly Here

 After flirting with a record low for the date just last week, I think it's safe to sat Spring has arrived. 

The peas are blooming and have set pods.  I have green tomatoes on the vine, the potatoes and carrots are flourishing. 

At present, I have ten tomato varieties planted, (San Marzano, Mr. Stripey, Early Girl, Yellow Pear, Brandywine, Florida 91, Super Sweet 100, Juliet, Heat Master, and Celebrity) five summer squash varieties (Black Beauty Zucchini, Flying Saucer, Fordhook, Benning's Green Tint, and Early Golden Crookneck), two kinds of peas ,( Little Marvel, and Sugar Snap),  two kinds of green bean, (Santa Anna, Nikki  and six kinds of pepper, (with more to come very soon).  Yesterday I planted okra (Emerald) and Sweet Corn (Early Sunglow ).

I have yet to plant the Good Mother Stollard beans, the Scarlett Runner beans, the cucumbers, the watermelon and the Golden Hubbard Squash.

A few updated pictures.  Yes - the fence still hasn't been done.  The weather really turned shitty for much of March. 

Looking West out of the back door.  The newly planted (3-30-13) okra bed is in the foreground, to the left is the newly planted sweet corn. 

 The tomatoes are doing nicely, loaded with green tomatoes.  Notice the small head of butter lettuce in the foreground.


 The potatoes are filling up their containers.  I need to top them off with more soil again.
 These tomatoes were planted about a month after the other ones.  The smaller ones were started from seed.
 The Little Marvel sweet peas.
 It's been a little cool for the pepper plants to really take off, but they will.
 Same thing for the pole beans, they will really surge when it warms back up.  This has been an unusually cool Spring following an exceptionally warm Winter.  Weird weather.  Sugar snap peas in the back on the pole.

 Closer look at the pole beans, peas, and nasturtiums.
 
Santa Anna Pole Beans
 
Benning's Green tint Squash
 
Zucchini
 
Okra
 
Corn

 
Where I will plant the Good mother Stallard Beans


Loquats ready to eat
 
Looking out the back door, North East

Friday, March 29, 2013

It's been windy!!

Updates coming very soon, I assure you.  The wind has been merciless for weeks.  Ugh.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Gardener's Work Is Never done.

Today I had planned on tilling all the new beds, but I spent half the day emptying and cleaning the refrigerator instead.  Unplanned work, I assure you.

I did manage to go cut more bamboo and construct a trellis for the sugar snap peas and the pole beans.  I went ahead and planted pole beans, again, it may be too early, but I think they'll be fine.  I had planned on planting Nikki, but the seed I ordered in January (and was charged for in January still haven't arrived.)  I won't be ordering from them again, less than half of my order was in the box, and phone calls haven't yet worked.  So, I planted Santa Anna instead.  If the Nikki make it here, I might go ahead and plant another bed so I can try them. 

I trimmed back the hibiscus, but I ran out of energy to haul the trimmings to the curb for pick up.  Maybe tomorrow.

The following pictures are awful, shadowy, poorly composed and poorly lit.  The yard is also a bloody mess, but if this is to document what I'm doing in the garden, I'm going to go with the good the bad and the ugly.  I will hope to show you great improvement in the next few weeks.  Remember, it is only February.  (All photos may be clicked to make them larger)

This is the view from the back door looking west.  You can see the rainbow chard on the left side of that bed.  Carrots have sprouted in the rest of the bed, and cucumbers will go there when it gets warmer.


Here you can still see the chard, now on the right, and three of the new beds.  If you look back into the corner you can see where I have cut back a wisteria and a bougainvillea.  They both where a pain in the ass and planted in the wrong spot.  I am temporarily moving my compost pile to that corner after I dig out the roots.  That spot will eventually be home to flowers and a water feature yet to be determined. 


This is looking back the other way, mostly north.  Don't look at the fence, I'm in the middle of a project with it.  I hope to have it done by the end of spring.  If you look past the birdbath you can see my existing compost area.  I plan on planting Scarlet Runner beans there when I get the fence finished, and I hope they will climb all over it.

 
 Looking back from the other side of the yard you can see the baby tomatoes in the left foreground, some lettuce behind it and the pea and bean trellises.
 
 
 A closer look at the lettuce.

 Baby tomatoes - the bottles of water help them stay warm at night.  I meant to cover them today, but I ran out of time.
 The asparagus peeking up.
 The two beds in the back have what's left of the collards, I will plant summer squash there when it gets warmer.
 Little marvel peas with some nasturtiums coming up in the center.  Radishes in the foreground.
 The lettuce left over from fall.  I will have more in a few weeks.

The potatoes.  As the plants grow I keep covering them with soil until just a few leaves show.  Keep doing this every few days and by the time the containers are full they will be full of potatoes.  This works because potatoes only produce tubers above the original root.

 The tomatoes from the other side.

Friday, February 15, 2013

About The Castle Grounds . . .

Brave Sir Robin has been busy of late.  Let me give you the Reader's Digest Condensed version before getting on with this post.

You know I got married, right? 

I reconnected (via Facebook) with a girl I dated in high school.  She had been living in Miami and was willing to leave paradise and join me in her hometown, (where her parents still live).  So, I have a wonderful wife, whom I have adored for well over thirty something years. I also have wonderful in-laws, (retired school teachers - I had both as teachers.)

I am also now an empty-nester.  Let that one sink in.  The kids are all away to college.  I have a Senior, a Sophomore and a Freshman in College.  Zoe will be 13 in September.  (Zoe lives with her mom, as I'm sure you remember.

So. . . . over the last year or so, we have been gravitating to a more healthy lifestyle.  We read Michael Pollan's book "Food Rules" and sort of casually started following it.  Being a cook, and a gardener, I sort of naturally have always been interested in healthier, more natural food.  We both started losing weight, feeling better, sleeping better, and just generally feeling better.  We then watched "Food Inc.", and "Forks over Knives",   that sort of reinforced our desire to eat real food.  We purged the house of white flour, and pretty much anything processed.  We haven't become full out vegetarians, but we are flirting with it, and rarely eat meat more than one or two meals a week, often we may go a couple of weeks meatless.  The point of all this is that our garden has become much more than a hobby, it has become a very important food source for us. 

I switched to raised beds instead of long rows years ago.  It's way more work up front, but over the long term it makes it much easier to work the bed.  I started with three raised beds over the spot where my original garden was.    I have expanded it bit by bit, until this year I had 9 beds of varying size.  This week I had 7 new beds dug.  I generally  will dig them myself.  I use a shovel to dig out the Saint Augustine and it's root system, about the top 6-8 inches, and then I till and amend like crazy to build about 14" of good friable soil.  We have a very thick black clay soil that doesn't drain well and dries like a brick when it gets hot and dry.  It is a very time consuming process, and the soil being removed has to go somewhere.  I have run out of places to put it, so this year I hired a couple of my wife's students to do the initial digging and to haul off the sod.  I now have 7 new beds to begin the prep work on. That brings me to a total of 16, 17 if you count the little bed I have my rosemary plant in.

My plan is to use the space we have to produce as much of our food as possible.  Our fall garden was very successful and I harvested the last of the kale today.  I still have an abundance of collards, lettuce and rainbow chard left from fall.  A few weeks ago I planted spring peas and followed it up with carrots.  Today I planted early tomatoes and peppers.  I know it's early, but the weather has been warm, sunny and quite beautiful for quite a while now.  I also put in an asparagus patch in a 5' x 5' square that's a bit shadier than the others.  (I put those in a couple of weeks ago and they are already putting on ferns).  Today I planted 4 early girl tomatoes, one Mr. Stripey, one Celebrity, one Florida 91, one Heat Master, one Yellow pear, and one Supersweet 100 cherry tomato.  that's 10 tomatoes on Feb. 15.  We'll see if that was too early or not.  I also planted a pimento pepper and a Big Bertha bell pepper.  I also planted 19 potato slips in containers.  (More on that later)

I plan on using this space to journal my garden and our quest for better food.  I'll work on getting pictures up soon.  I changed computers a while back and I don't have any software loaded on this one yet.

All things in time.

xoxoxoxo,
BSR

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Is There Anybody Out There???

**Blows the dust off the place**

I'm alive and well.  Quite well for the most part.
Life is throwing so many new and (potentially) exciting things at me I can hardly catch my breath.
I hope to share them with you .

See ya soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

" But blue is wrong . . . for roses"

Hmm, what would Tennessee have to say about this? They look more lavender to me. What do you think? Will they catch on? Is it a little too much to have a GM flower, or is it not that far a stretch from hybrids?

I'm not sure I want one in my yard, but they are pretty.

Maybe you think like Jim, huh?

JIM: The different people are not like other people, but being different is nothing to be ashamed of. Because other people are not such wonderful people. They’re one hundred times one thousand. You’re one times one! They walk all over the earth. You just stay here. They’re common as—weeds, but—you—well, you’re—Blue Roses!

[Image on screen: Blue Roses.]
[The music changes.]

LAURA: But blue is wrong for—roses. . . .

JIM: It’s right for you! You’re—pretty!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Edna

On this day in 1892, Edna Vincent Millay was born in Rockland Maine. Would that she had lived twice as long as her too brief 58 years.

Although perhaps most famous to the general public for her poem First Fig, this poem (obviously, no?) speaks to me.

I read it often a couple of years ago.

Things are so much better now.

I Know The Face Of Falsehood And Her Tongue

I know the face of Falsehood and her Tongue
Honeyed with unction, Plausible with guile,
Are dear to men, whom count me not among,
That owe their daily credit to her smile;
Such have been succoured out of great distress
By her contriving, if accounts be true:
Their deference now above the board, I guess,
Dishcharges what beneath the board is due.
As for myself, I'd liefer lack her aid
Than eat her presence; let this building fall:
But let me never lift my latch, afraid
To hear her simpering accents in the hall,
Nor force an entrance past mephitic airs
Of stale patchoulie hanging on my stairs


How are thing with you?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Want To Be Famous . . . . . .

Famous, but only to all of you. It's been so very long since I could find the time, and the will, and the inspiration to write, but mostly, I needed the courage.

Let me explain.

I love Facebook. If it wasn't for Facebook, I wouldn't have reunited with several old friends that I had assumed were out of my life forever, I wouldn't know that my niece was accepted into the Cytogenetics program at UT / MD Anderson
. (Go Mattie! - and yes, I had to look it up to see what the hell that meant.) I wouldn't know about friends new puppys, or jobs, or many other mundane but joyous things. If it wasn't for Facebook, I wouldn't have the lovely Xena to wake up to each morning. So yes, I love Facebook.

So . . . . the problem is, Facebook makes it so damn easy to keep in touch with people, including the great majority of you, that my communication has become one-liners and hitting the Like button. I have forgotten how to sit down, organize my thoughts and turn them into a coherent post.

Believe me, I've tried. You should see the unfinished drafts in my queue. It's not like I haven't had plenty to write about. Writing has just become scary and hard.

So bear with me.

Scold me.

Remind me to go write something more than a poorly punctuated paragraph about how stupid Sarah Palin's admirers are.


When I was a brash young man, I dreamed of being famous. I still want that, but I want a different kind of famous now. Something like this.


Famous

by Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.


I want to be famous to you guys again. I really do.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The "he" is always lower case . . . . .

Ahh, finally a song for the rest of us.

The win is strong in this one.

The Traditional Light Bulb Vote Must Be Huge . . .

Meet Joe Barton.

He desperately wants to be chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. You may of course, remember him for apologizing to BP following their causing the largest environmental disaster in the history of the United States.

FSM help us if he does.

In a speech yesterday to The Heritage Foundation he laid out his agenda -

Repeal Healthcare Reform

Fight the EPA

Fight Net Neutrality

Fight "Radical Environmentalist

Defend the Traditional Incandescent Light Bulb

Err, umm. . . what was that last one again?

Yes, he is out to fight for the traditional values of incandescent light bulbs, to prevent government regulators from replacing it with "
the little, squiggly, pig-tailed ones".

Boy, they're not even trying anymore, are they?

He recently compared his fight against the Democrats to Davy Crockett and the defenders of the Alamo. I'm not sure exactly what he means by that . . . the Mexicans won a decisive victory at the Alamo, and every last one of the defenders was killed.

Hmmmmm . . . Mr. Barton, you keep using that analogy, . . I don't think it means what you thinks it does . . . .

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Yes, He's Alive . . . .

Hey Guys,

I'm still here, just busy.

I thought I'd give you an update on my life and frame of mind. (Mostly in random thoughts and bullet points.) Of course, I am also on Facebook. More about that later.

First and foremost, in early June, I flew to Miami where the lovely Xena was waiting for me at the airport. We then proceeded to drive from Miami to Texas with all of her worldly goods.. Yes, she is here and all is well. As a matter of fact, she has my dream job! She is the Theatre Arts teacher at our old high school.

We have another dog - Titus Andronicus Barnes. I suppose he will be the subject of several posts all on his own.

My brother continues his struggle to regain function in his body and brain after his accident of a couple of years ago. He is better, much better actually, but will most likely never walk again or be able to live unassisted. Again - several post to cover that.

On the same sad note, my Mom died last month. She was 71, and it came very unexpectedly. That post is definitely coming soon to a blog near you.

Work is picking up, after an extended period of reduced hours. I am very grateful for that. Things were looking pretty bleak around the office, there were a number of layoffs, but thankfully, I wasn't one of them.

I'm sure I'll have something to say about the dismal election and the stupidity of giving the keys back to the guys who crashed the car.

What I mean to say is . . . . . can I come back and play?

k

Oh yes, and Zoe is still as beautiful as ever.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Really? . . . Cory Doctorow?

Well, at least it wasn't Dan Brown . . .


I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

See? This is Good Stuff!!!

This.

Is the type of review I wish every movie reviewer could write.

It is also the reason Pajiba is the best damn movie site on the inter-tubes.

I love you guys! (and I miss you all)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

. . . . . . And Thanks For All The Fish . . . . . . . . .


Thanks Guys, for sharing the last couple of years of my life. It's time for me to move on. I'll still visit you, you'll probably see me around here and there, but Sir Robin is indeed riding away.

It's time.

Never let anyone tell you that online friends are somehow lesser friends than those in the meat world.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Bob!


Bob Marley would have been 64 today. It's hard for me to believe that he was only 36 when he died. He was a true poet, in his mind and in his heart.

He left us way too soon.

Everyday at work, as I sit at my desk, I can look over my monitors and see Bob hanging on my wall. Many years ago, I purchased a charcoal drawing of him at an art show. I paid about a hundred dollars or so for it. At the time, that was a pretty large sum for me. I've never regretted the purchase. During those years, (my low to late 20's), I moved several times. Bob was always the last thing off the wall in the old place and the first thing on the wall in the new place.

When I got divorced, I brought Bob to my office. No one in my office even knows who he is. I tell them he's my grandfather. The most common response is: "Are you Indian"?

Philistines.

I love to watch him sing, he has such passion. I get the feeling he'd be just as happy singing on a street corner as he would be in a concert hall. It was about the music, not the money.

Anyway, I love Bob. I wish he were still around.



Redemption Song

Old pirates, yes, they rob I;
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.
But my hand was made strong
By the 'and of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly.
Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom? -
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
Some say it's just a part of it:
We've got to fulfil de book.

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom? -
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.
---
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our mind.
Wo! Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Yes, some say it's just a part of it:
We've got to fulfil de book.
Won't you help to sing
Dese songs of freedom? -
'Cause all I ever had:
Redemption songs -
All I ever had:
Redemption songs:
These songs of freedom,
Songs of freedom.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Oh Dear

I am at a loss for words.

That doesn't often happen, but there are just so many ways to approach this.

I suppose one can applaud her for the sentiment of the passage. As bible verses go, it is an agreeable one. The circumstance in which one might find themselves in a position to read it, however, might negate a bit of it's effect.

Speaking of negating . . . . just a thought . . . . . if one were to be in a position to read the words, mightn't they, (the words), oh . . . . I don't know . . . . lessen the . . . . well . . . . um . . . need to be in such a position? I mean, in times that one might find oneself in that position, might bible verses not be on one's mind?

I'm just sayin' . . . . . . .

Are you sure you want to see this?



OK. but you've been warned . . . . . .











Last chance to not look . . . . . . .





OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!

THIS!!!!!!
Makes me very happy.

I own and enjoyed this, but I am very excited about the new project.

Discuss - please. . . . . . .

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I Got a Big New Love . . . . . .


I have a question for you.

When you find that you really like something that you assumed you wouldn't, does it annoy you, or delight you?

I must admit, it rather annoys me. Let me explain -

I don't watch a lot of regular TV. I simply don't have time to get involved in a series. Yes, I have a DVR, (what a wonderful invention!), and it helps, but I still rarely find the time to actually sit and watch something. Because of that, I just don't even start to watch a weekly TV series, even one I'm sure I would love, because I don't want to spend the time trying to keep up with each episode.

When I see advertisements for a new show, I tune them out just for that reason. So, when Big Love started a couple of years ago, I didn't pay a lot of attention. The premise alone was enough to turn me off of it. Let's face it; I have some very prejudicial, preconceived notions about far right Mormon pluralist, and the entire idea of multiple wives creeps me out to no end. Easy to avoid that show, right?

Well, it was.

The new season started three weeks ago, and I caught a few minutes here and there of the show. Then, I watched the entire third episode.

Damn you HBO for making such intriguing and interesting characters!!!!

I'm hooked. I've already set the DVR to record all the episodes, and this Friday is a back to back to back catch up for all of this season.

**sigh**

It is a good show. Even if I feel like I need a shower after I watch it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Better Late Than Never?

I somehow missed Blogger Poetry Reading Day yesterday.


What do you know about Ted Hughes? I didn't know much. To me, he was always the guy who killed Sylvia Plath. Of course, that's not true, things are rarely that simple.

This year, I was gifted by a dear friend with two volumes of his poetry.

This one is from Birthday Letters. It is addressed to Sylvia, as are all but two in the collection. They are deeply personal, intimate, and occasionally disturbing. Reading some of them almost makes me feel like a voyeur, peering into the raw emotion of an intense but flawed relationship.

If you can't guess what this one says to me, you haven't been paying attention.


The Shot

Your worship needed a god.
Where it lacked one, it found one.
Ordinary jocks became gods-
Defiled by your infatuation
That seemed to have been designed at birth for a god.
It was a god-seeker. A god finder.
Your Daddy had been aiming you at god.
When his death touched the trigger.
In that flash
You saw your whole life. You ricocheted
The length of your Alpha career
With the fury
Of a high-velocity bullet
That cannot shed one foot-pound
Of kinetic energy. The elect
More or less died on impact-
They were too mortal to take it. They were mind-stuff.
Provisional, speculative, mere auras.
Sound-barrier events along your flightpath.
But inside your sob-sodden kleenex
And your Saturday night panics,
Under your hair done this way and that way,
Behind what looked like rebounds
And the cascade of cries diminuendo,
You were undeflected.
You were gold-jacketed, solid silver,
Nickel-tipped. Trajectory perfect
as through ether. Even the cheek-scar,
Where you seemed to have side-swiped concrete,
served as a rifling groove
To keep you true.
Till your real target
Hid behind me. Your Daddy,
God with the smoking gun. For a long time
Vague as mist, I did not even know
I'd been hit,
Or that you had gone clean through me-
To bury yourself at last in the heart of the god.

In my position, the right witchdoctor
Might have caught you in flight with his bare hands,
Tossed you, cooling, one hand to the other,
Godless, happy, quieted.
I managed
A wisp of your hair, your ring, your watch, your nightgown.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Can Brave Sir Robin Come Out And Play?

I've been tagged!!!!

Audrey, the lovely proprietress of Multitude has tagged me with the "4th" meme.

Here are the rules:

Got to the file that holds your pictures, go to the fourth folder and pick the fourth picture and display and write about it.

My home computer crashed last week, and I haven't received a call from the repair shop as to it's health. The photo folders on my work computer are not nearly as extensive as on my home computer, but I do have some.

Here goes:



This is a picture of the USS Constitution. It was taken in the Spring of 2000. I was still married at the time and I took my wife to Boston for the weekend to celebrate her birthday.

The story of how it came to be on my work computer is far more exciting than the picture itself.

I have been and out of my attic several times over the last few weeks, as I have been working on a bit of remodeling/redecorating at the castle. My attic is a pain to get in and out of, so I don't usually go there. While up there looking at wiring options for a light fixture, I found a box of old photos that I didn't know was up there. They included many picture of the children growing up. These are a particular treasure to me because I lost most of my photos in the divorce.

This photo was on a CD that was in the box. I was on my lunch break when I found it, so I brought it to work to see what was on it. Photos from our weekend in Boston, Spring of 2000.

As always, consider yourself tagged!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A New Feature!

I'd like to introduce a new feature here at Tales of Brave Sir Robin. I call it:

Songs I like that you've probably never heard of.

Of course, the problem with that premise will be that the more obscure the song, the more difficult it will be to find a video of it. The quality of today's video will attest to that fact. It is a live version and not nearly as haunting and poignant as the studio cut.

So, now that my intro is crudely out of the way . . . .

Songs I like that you've probably never heard of.
(Vol. 1)

Paralyzed

Artist - Sixpence none The Richer Album - Divine Discontent

Americans like distractions.

We must, because we are so easily distracted. Why do you think bad news always comes out late on a Friday afternoon? Although you'd barely know it from the (American) media, there has been a great deal of brutal carnage going on in Gaza for the last month. To be fair, there has been a lot to distract us from the rest of the world lately; the holiday season, the banking crisis, the economy, the new administration nominating cabinet officials, and of course, the inauguration.

It seems the human race just can't keep from killing and maiming one another. I challenge you to find a 5 year period in modern history without a war of some type. Hell, I haven't done the math, but I'll bet a 2 year period doesn't exist. Perhaps that's why we hardly treat it as news anymore. What is your reaction when you watch an account of a village being bombed? Do you ignore it? Are you anesthetized to it? Or do you grieve?

This song was written 10 years ago, but it will sadly remain topical for as long as human nature remains as it is. It is also an appropriate response to violence.

Again, seek out the studio cut, it's so much better.



Paralyzed
(Matt Slocum)

I look out to the fields
Where blood is shed upon the ground
I breathe in, breathe out
Change the channel, mute the sound
I take a match, a cigarette, and a walk to clear my head
Stomach's reeling at the thought of all those (human beings dead)

I breathe in, breathe out
I'm going to an interview
About a song, three minutes long
I just need something to do
Especially when my dearest friend
Was sent to cover Kosovo
His last assignment brought a bullet
And now he's gone, he's gone

Feels like I'm fiddling while Rome is burning down
Should I lay my fiddle down, take a rifle from the ground
I need the Ghost to breathe a Northern Gale tonight*
'cause I'm paralyzed, I'm paralyzed

I packed his books up, left the office*
Went to tell the wife the news
She fell in shock, the baby kicked,
And shed a tear inside the womb
I breathed in, I breathed out,
Soaked the ground up with my eyes
It's hard to say a healing word
When your tongue is paralyzed

Feels like I'm fiddling while Rome is burning down
Should I put my fiddle down, take a rifle from the ground
God give me strength to pray that You will set things right
'cause I'm paralyzed, I'm paralyzed


*Yes - some of these lyrics don't quite match the live version. This band was originally signed to a Christian label, and was still representing this label in 1999 when this performance was recorded. The song wasn't actually released until 2002 on a secular label. I am supposing that is the difference. These lyrics match the studio version.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's Almost Over


Our long National nightmare is about to come to an end.

It's yet to be seen if the Republic will survive the devastation of the Bush years, but millions of Americans and millions more worldwide are hopeful.

That hope is personified in one man.

Thank you Mr. Obama, for accepting this burden.

Monday, January 12, 2009

While You're Waiting . . .

Sorry guys, I've been very busy for a few days. I'll have updates and details soon.

Meanwhile, Fred took this video of Zoe Christmas night, and it was too cute not to share.

(The laugh track you hear in the background was the boys watching TV - it sounds coordinated with Zoe, but that was just happy coincidence.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Oh, Sorry, Is It 2009?

Brave Sir Robin has been remiss during the Holidays. I have neglected all of you shamelessly. What with fabulous Holiday parties to attend, a gorgeous new girlfriend to keep me occupied, and jet setting away to a sunny locale I just haven't had time.

Oh, what's that? None of that happened to me? That was all other bloggers?

Well, then I guess I was just lazy.

Or busy.

Or a combination of both.

So, what has happened in the past few days?

Brave Sir Robin rested.

A lot.

This was my year to have the kids for Christmas, so I took the last two weeks of the year off. 17 days in a row without going to work.

A guy could get used to this I tell you.

Alas, it ends tomorrow, back to the routine I'm afraid. Luckily, I have had the chance to ease into it. Clinton had a basketball game Friday the 2nd, so school has intruded into our lazy time a bit before work will.

I spent a lot of time in the car, traveling back and forth to Houston, but I don't usually mind the drive. We visited Scottie quite a few times, including yesterday. I'm elated to report that his is progressing. His progress tends to go in spurts. He will make several advances in a short time, then plateau for a week or two, but his overall progress is readily apparent. He is feeding himself now, and can dial a telephone. His speech is getting better, but it is still far from good. His therapy at his current facility is primarily focusing on getting his left arm and leg fully mobile. His leg is showing progress. He isn't walking yet, but I feel certain he will in the next few weeks. His left arm isn't showing nearly so much cooperation I 'm afraid. He still has pretty much no mobility at all in that arm. His spirits, however, were very good throughout the holidays.

Did I mention I rested?

The photo detectives among you may have noticed a pattern in the pics I posted the day after Christmas. Yes, everyone is wearing pajamas. Bee lamented that she didn't spend a couple of days in pajamas watching movies. Rest assured dear friend, Brave Sir Robin's clan more than made up for your lack of sloth, with our excess of same. I let the family open one present a couple of days early so it could be enjoyed all week. Enjoy we did.

Christmas Eve, we awoke early and went to Houston. We visited Scottie, and brought him an order of enchiladas, rice and beans. We then went shopping for Christmas Dinner at the newly opened Wholefoods right across the street from my children's absolute favorite restaurant, (no - not McDonald's) - P.F. Chang's. After stowing away our Wholefoods booty in the ice-chest, we went and feasted across the street. That's about all we did in Houston that day, we drove home and while I prepared Christmas Eve dinner - Tamales, rice, beans, assorted cheese, crackers and finger foods, the kids immediately got back into PJ mode. The entire family remained in PJ mode until Saturday when I had to take them all to their Mother's. I prepared Christmas Dinner in my Pajamas, and it was consumed by all in the same manner. The day after Christmas I watched about 10 hours of TV straight through. All told, while all four kids were here, I watched about 5 movies, 4 seasons of That 70's Show, and as much football as possible.

The Saturday after Christmas, I loaded up the kids and took them to their Mom for her half of the Holiday. I was prepared to stay in Houston for several days and do New Year's Eve out on the town with friends.

Didn't happen.

For some reason, she wanted me to pick them up New Year's Eve morning, so I did. Clinton used the opportunity to attend a party at the home of a young lady he is fond of. Unfortunately for Dad, said young lady lives almost 25 minutes away. There is no way, no how I was going to be on the road after midnight with even a drop of alcohol in my system, so I spent a sober night at home, alone, watching football.

I spent the rest of the week either driving to Houston or working on my redecorating project, which - btw - is coming along nicely.

Yes, I did spend more than a few moments this weekend thinking about She Who Must Not Be Named, but it was more bittersweet than raw and painful.

That, dear friends, is the kind of progress that makes me hopeful for 2009.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas At The Castle

A few random images of our Christmas together.



On Christmas Eve, we drove to Houston to visit my brother, on the way back, we spotted this pink limo. Zoe knows what she wants for Christmas.



But she was thrilled with the new dress.



We had Roast Beast.



And had pear and apple pie.



Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

It Could Always Be Worse

If you tend to get the Holiday Blues, remember, it could always be worse.



Classic scene. I wish I could find a better copy.

I know this is a cheesy movie, but I always watch it when it comes on. Consider it a guilty pleasure. Besides, was there anyone more lovely than the young Phoebe Cates?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Freakin' Christmas

Ok, I know I posted this last year, but for those of you who missed it . . . .

If Martin Scorsese directed animated Christmas specials . . . . .


Raging Rudolph

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Remembrance Of Cookies Past


Do you have a favorite holiday memory? Or, even a memory, favorite or not, that just means the Holidays to you? I was forced to think about that last year. It was just over a month past the end of my ill-fated love affair, and I was facing Christmas without the kids. I needed a shot of holiday cheer, and I needed it fast. What to do?

I remembered a cookie my Mom used to make, back when I was a kid.

A bit about my Mom, Christmas at our home, and these cookies.

As I've told you before, my Mom wasn't really a great cook. She wasn't horrible, but she wasn't especially adventurous. Pretty much everything was fried, at least until my Dad's heart attack. After that, everything was shoved under the broiler.

She was, however, a proficient baker. She made great pastry, and I still can't match her biscuits. Every Holiday, be it Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving, she would bake, and bake, and bake. I can't say whether or not she enjoyed it, but she did have a sweet tooth, and spared no effort to fill the dessert table at each opportunity.

Christmas baking meant pies, of course; pumpkin, mince, and chocolate for sure, sometimes apple, and usually a sweet potato in later years. Every year she made fudge, pralines, divinity, a non bake fruitcake abomination that consisted of crushed vanilla wafers and, something else, I'm not quite sure what, and lots and lots of cookies.

The usual cut-out cookies were there, iced with powdered sugar icing tinted a garish red and green, some kind of spiced date bar that I wish I had the recipe for, spritz cookies in the same shade as the icing, and fruit cake cookies.

The fruitcake cookies were ubiquitous to my childhood Christmases. We had them at home, if I went to a friend's house, they were pretty much guaranteed to be sitting on the counter there as well. My grandmother always had them, and I can remember eating them at church get-togethers.

The funny thing is, I didn't really like those cookies. They were white and bland, and filled with artificial, chemical tasting candied fruit. That was it. The cookie was just an innocuous vehicle for candied fruit and citron, along with a small amount of nuts. I didn't like fruitcake, well, not the one's I'd been exposed to at this point in my life, and I didn't like the overly sweet, artificial taste of candied fruit. Yet, every year, I looked forward to those cookies, and I anticipated their appearance on the kitchen counter.

The only time I ever saw those cookies was at Christmas time. One taste of that chemical, bitter citron and I knew that Christmas was really almost here. When you're 10 years old, that's a pretty big deal.

I thought about those cookies as I tried to jump start my holiday spirit, so I set out to make them. There was a problem; nobody but me remembered them. I guess they must have been some 70's fad from a women's magazine or something, because I couldn't remember the last time I had them, and I couldn't find anyone who even knew what I was talking about.

I started pouring through my collection of Holiday cooking magazines. I finally found a recipe that I thought might be close, so I made them, along with toffee and pecan tassies and far, far more sweets that we could ever hope to eat in three Christmases. I played Christmas music the whole time I baked, and by the time I had the counter filled with goodies, I had made it through the whole day without thinking of you know who.

Satisfied with my day's work, I made a pot of coffee and sat down with one of my cookies. It was a pale, golden white and had a very faint vanilla smell. I bit in. The moment that tang of candied citron hit my tongue, I could see my Mom's old kitchen. I could imagine the little Santa shaped cocoa mugs that lined the bar, and I could smell the Christmas tree. (Flocked, with a color wheel on it) It worked. Make no mistake, this cookie is a far cry from Proust's madeleine, but it accomplished it's goal.

Later, when the kids came home, they surprised me by liking those cookies. I made several more batches, and experimented a bit. I tried substituting first some, and then all of the candied fruit for dried. I used apricots and dried cranberries, even dried cherries. While the dried fruit may have made a better cookie, it was not the Christmas cookie of my memory, for that, it needs the candied citron.

This year, I needed the same boost, so last Friday, I put on the Christmas CD's, I made a pot of Earl Grey, and I baked these cookies. Maybe someday my kids will fondly remember me in the kitchen baking these, and always associate that memory with Christmas.

I hope so.

Fruitcake Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups AP flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cottage cheese (small curd, creamy - don't use low fat)
1 egg
2 Tab milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup mixed candied fruit with citron * see note below
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Lightly mix in half of the flour. Add the next 7 ingredients, mix until well combined, stopping to scrape the sides occasionally. Stir in the remainder of the flour, and the fruit and nuts.

Bake at 375 F for 10-12 minutes on parchment paper. Cool on a rack. This recipe makes about 30 cookies for me.

* The fruit should be chopped much finer than it comes out of the container. To accomplish this, I lightly oil my knife with vegetable oil. It makes the job much, much easier.

Scooped out and ready to bake.

Out of the oven - They don't get very brown or crisp, you want them soft.


Cooling on the rack.


A final note -

The title of this post is an obvious reference to Proust's great work. In recent years, it has become de rigueur to refer to this work as In Search Of Lost Time. I thought the earlier title better served my purpose, but after re-reading this post, I'm not so sure. Searching for lost time is a fair description of my blog, n'est-ce pas?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The One Where I Need To Relax


Brave Sir Robin is a little tense.

Just a tad.

My life has been a dime store novel (though, not a particularly compelling one) for pretty much forever it seems.

That, it appears, is changing!

The events of the past few days have made it clear that my life is indeed now a Christmas movie. Not a beloved one, that you can't wait to see every year because it doesn't feel like Christmas without it. Not one that TBS will run marathons of, and families will gather around the TV in Christmas Eve pajamas to watch, holiday libations in hand.

No, Brave Sir Robin is living one of those Christmas movies that plays on the other channels. The ones with "C" list stars from the 80's. The ones that play on channels opposite football games.

you know the plot -

Stressed out, type "A" person plans the perfect Christmas, works like the devil to make everyone's Christmas wish come true, only to see it turn into disaster after disaster through no fault of their own, and then wrap up neatly with a "that's what Christmas is really about" ending?

I hate those movies.

I will, however take the cheesy happy ending if I can get it.

I'm trying to schedule a carpenter, (no, not that one), an electrician, furniture delivery, and the cable (satellite) guys.

Everything depends on the cable guys.

Guess who didn't show up as scheduled yesterday?

Still, as problems go it's a better one to have than what most of the last year delivered.

I just need to relax.

I think Cappuccino has the answer. Doesn't he look sweet? Don't be fooled. He's playing nice the last two weeks before Christmas. He's hoping for some catnip in his stocking. Or a small child, I'm not sure which.

Oh - I did manage to make cookies Friday.


Recipe to follow.

Happy Holidays from my castle to yours.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This Is A Bailout I Can Get Behind!

It seems the family farms that produce the most heavenly, delectable, irreplaceable item on this earth are in financial trouble.

Of course, I'm talking about Parmigiano , of course, what did you think I was talking about?

Who knew?

The Italian Government has purchased 100,000 wheels of cheese in an effort to prop up the failing industry.

Damn. They could send me a wheel.

Have you priced the real stuff lately?

I can no longer buy it here locally, but I bought some in Houston Saturday.

Ouch.

But, the trip wasn't a total loss. I went to the downtown Spec's. (My annual Christmas pilgrimage), and look what I found!


Yes, Moxie!

The nectar of the Gods. They only had two left. I bought them both. I drank one that night, and I'm saving the last one for . . . . I don't know. A day I really need it.