New entry in my Kilt blog 9/21/2011

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Old Fools Journal: Towel Day and the continuing saga of the birds.

May 24, 2008

Towel Day Notification

Tomorrow is “Towel Day”. An event that comes around every year in remembrance of Douglas Adams the author of “Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”. He wrote in the Hitchhiker's Guide this.

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a min
dboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very, very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological va
lue. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

I try to keep a towel handy at all times and tomorrow is the only day that I can justify that. I intend to wear a towel all day.

Now for some Good news.

Wrens have returned to the Wren Hou
se. That made “She Who Must Be Obeyed” and myself very happy. I asked “SWMBO” if she would like to take it down again and check (see earlier post) and all I got was #$%^&@! and a dirty look. Nevermind

The new story is that House Sparrows built a really nifty nest in a hanging planter basket on the back porch. They tolerated SWMBO watering the plant and the constant roaming around of cats and produced four hungry chicks. Yesterday morning I told her that the parents were
calling for the chicks to fly but I had to go to the store on my bike before the coming thunderstorm hit. So she stood watch. She got to see all four fly. One didn't make it and became trapped behind one of the other plants. She plucked it out of there and put it into another plant higher up. After it got over that trauma it took its second shot and was a success. They are still around here and a constant joy. Those tiny birds can sure make a lot of noise and in the words of the peasantry “they don't take no crap off nobody”. While trying to entice the young'uns out the adults cleared the area on the back porch of all other birds and that includes around the feeder.

When I was a kid with a BB gun my grandmother ask me to never shoot her songbirds. I promised and I have never done so. Throughout my life I have forbid anyone, on or around property I had some control over, to not either. As a flier it just goes against my grain to shoot anything that flies. Come to think of it I don't want to shoot anything else either.

Something that brings me to despair is a big shiny gas guzzling new pickup truck with a sign in the back window that says
“If it flies it dies”. Ah, bird hunters are a brave lot.


One of the things about being a senior citizen is that no one ever ask me these questions.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

What do you do?

When I was younger my answer to the first question would be that I want to be a rock and roll superstar. Unlikely of course but in the past it stopped all other inquiry's. One look at me and they knew I was nuts. The answer then was really “I don't know” and it still is. For a while I thought it was astronaut but realized that I was already a space and time traveler so what was the point of pursuing that.

As for the second; in the early '70's there was a TV series by the title “Kung Fu”. When Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine) is asked “what do you do” he replied “I live”. That reply impressed me very much and I have used that answer for more than 35 years. It also gave me the resolve to “do” instead of “watch”. And I have.

Master Po, I am ready for another lesson.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Old Fools Journal: Life

These post were published on the Bicycle Forums.

May 7, 2008

Terrible mistake day

I made a terrible mistake t
oday. I finally gave in to "She Who Must Be Obeyed" and took down the Wren house. She said" the hole is too small". I said "there are birds living in it". She said "I have never seen any".

I gave in even though I have watched the comings and goings for the last month. I took it down and measured the hole. It was exactly the right size. We broke at least one egg. She finally saw the birds as they were waiting frantically for the house to return. They are about the size of my thumb. I got it back up as quickly as I could, the wrens checked it out and I haven't seen them since. I feel terrible.

SWMBO feels worse. I intend to never let her forget it. There is no telling what we have done to the balance of the universe by breaking that one egg and upsetting that happy home.

I am going to punish myself now. One last word "Bummer".


I have not yet seen new action at the Wren House but life goes on elsewhere. A new nest appeared in a hanging pot on the back porch and de
spite the cats has persisted. Gaping hungry mouths in that nest and some very aggressive parents when it comes to cats.

My Princess on her last visit (last weekend) graduated from her 20 inch bike to her grandmas 24 inch. The bike is a 1979 Lady's Schwinn Breeze that I have been restoring little by little. Everything on it is original except for the front wheel and the seat. The original Schwinn seat is a crotch killer so it will never be put back. I have been having a little trouble locating tires and tubes. I have a rusty but strong original front wheel but need a tire and tube. I also have fenders. It's going to be sweet.

Her grandma, who doesn't care for bikes and never has, told the Princess "that's my bike". The reply was "too bad". How cruel. Grandma just smiled. Grandma didn't want to ride the damn thing anyway. She thinks bikes are a cursed abomination.

Her Highness will be spending a good part of t
he summer with us and I plan for us to have some high adventure on this bike with me on its big sister a 1976 Lady's Schwinn26 inch that I ride.

May 23, 2008
National Bike Month and other stuff

May is national bike to work month and I really don't know what to say about that. Someone I suppose thought it would be a good idea to pander to the bike crowd. I don't see government support of biking as a mode of transportation or for that matter support by the general population. Maybe it's going on somewhere else but it sure is not here. I for one did not bike to work on “bike to work day”. Since my work was in the garden I just walked to work.

I do see a lot more people on bicycles these days (and on foot as well) but I do not see any governmental policy supporting that. The best part is I have seen only two roadies in the last 6 months but I have seen at least a half a dozen bike bums like me upgrading their utility bikes to carry a load. At least two of these have the mentality of a toad but they are getting the job done and without gasoline. Also I have been getting comments within the last week or so about “having the right idea” from people that I think had crossed me off as an eccentric old man that rides a bike. Since I retired I only come in contact with the lower economic strata and these people are hurting. They are the ones that man the stores and do clean up work and when they no longer can afford gas just won't go to work. Th
ere is already a shortage of people to take these jobs.

One of the indicators of the economy is how clean the ditches are. Usually there are aluminum cans everywhere from all the kids that go to the snack shop and before they are half way home just toss their cans in the street or ditch without a thought. It hardly hits the ground now before someone picks it up. They are not picking it up for beautification. If they where doing that they would pick up the candy wrappers also. I get to do that.

No one I talk to thinks they are better off now than they were eight years ago.

This is Memorial Day Weekend. Be Memorial.

I am celebrating by not driving. My car has not moved since May 11 and that was to take the "Princess" to her mom. I can not say the same for "She Who Must Be Obeyed" as she is living in denial.

Celebrate life at home.

I ain't pretty but that's my grandma and grandpa looking over my shoulder and they were.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Old Fools Journal: A Practical Solution or How I Found Comfort in a Skirt

May 16, 2008

It's gardening time here in southeast Louisiana and it is starting to get hot. Not the kind of hot that we will get later in the summer but since we have been used to the benign weather and low humidity of winter and early spring it seems hot. We will adjust. The killer is the humidity. So far it hasn't been bad but it's coming and we have had some 84 percent days already. The sweat lays on your body and if there is no breeze it acts as a layer of insulation or seems so at least. It also soaks into your clothing making an environment for critters you'd rather not know about. Gardening is sometimes intense physical labor that needs to be done now. When the time is right you bite the bullet and go for it, intense sun and humidity not withstanding. The things you are planting couldn't care less that your toes and shoulders are burning in the sun or that you are soaking wet with sweat.

In the very early '70's I lived remotely on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada's. Unless you came through the woods it was one way in and the same way out and it was very steep. Clothing was optional until needed for protection from the weather. Humidity was not a problem so the dress of the day was whatever you wanted six months or more of the year. Later while in the tropics, mostly on a boat where the work had to be done “weather” or not. We were mostly remote. That means no people. Clothing was optional however since fresh water was not always available and since clothing had to be washed we didn't wear any. When in port minimal was the dress of the day. Even the church folk in Mexico understood that. I never heard them complain about the “gringos loco”. They mostly wore loose, worn and thin clothing. We went as near naked as we could. They seemed not to be offended. The church had taught them to be ashamed of their body and given them a need for twice as much fresh water since they had to wash themselves and their clothes. The false modesty of clothing has not slowed their birth rate one bit.

I now live in another fine Christian community and it is worse here to the ridiculous. It is not unusual on a hot humid day to see young males in two t-shirts, a hoody with the top up, really long pants showing two pairs of boxer shorts and $100 sneakers with really heavy winter socks. I wonder what that smells like at the end of the day. Mostly these young men just saunter around using one hand to keep their pants up and the other holding their crotch. Men, young and old do wear shorts and tee shirts but they are not the majority by any means. Some young women do as well but obesity is so rampant here that I would rather that most wore bhurkas. God forbid that you would see one in a cool summer dress. That happens so seldom that I've been keeping score and have a zero for the last month.

Since I can't work without clothes here (I would be arrested within the hour, hauled to jail, probably beaten and dropped 15 miles from home without being charged) (not to mention that I ain't as pretty as I used to be) I have taken a different tack. I have a work kilt with 4 pockets, in woodland camo made from used surplus military uniforms. Is that macho enough? So far the only one embarrassed is my wife the hypocrite. The lady that 25 years ago didn't own a bra, thought nothing of wearing see through blouses in public and cooking dinner in the nude in front of guest. How things change. The only thing that has been said was by my grandson who is a very impressionable 14 years old and all he said was “you have a kilt”. It was a statement not a question and no judgment implied. Apparently there are a number of “rock and rollers” that are into kilts and these kids are more aware of this choice of men's clothing than their parents.

Pictures of kilts are from Grody Goose

This kilt which is made by Grody Goose in Tulsa, Oklahoma is an enterprise that is turning swords into plowshares and good for them. Their goal is to have no material to make them from. Meanwhile they are made from BDU's (battle dress uniforms), they are used, worn and cheap. Mine is made from a Air Force summer jacket which is ripstop cotton (10%nylon,90%cotton) and is damn near bullet proof. I broke three needles making modifications. I was sent what I ordered but I made some modifications as I am loosing weight and inches. It is not a traditional kilt, it is a very much a contemporary kilt every bit as much as a Utilikilt. It you haven't been to their website you really should just to see the costumers mockumercials. The Utilikilts are a little pricey for my budget and probably worth it but I just can't spare the change. This kilt from Grody Goose however is a workhorse. It has four deep pleats on either side of a center box pleat in the back and all sewn in, inside and out. I does not have overlapping aprons in front but has a button closure slightly on the right side in the front. It has four pockets and belt loops. I'm not afraid to wipe my hands on it, I can carry lots of stuff in the pockets and sweat runs down my legs onto the ground instead of soaking my shorts and turning my forked end into a red, flaming, burning mess. It is heavy but I don't have to worry about it doing a Marilyn Monroe on me. Although it is not a slick finished product it is well sewn and sturdy. There is a lot of work in this thing not to mention just figuring out how to turn military uniforms into kilts. I would not be ashamed to be seen in it anywhere. I see myself buying another due to weight loss and I hope it is soon.

I have worked in shorts, lava lava(sarong) and naked in hot humid weather but this is the first time I have tried a kilt. With plenty of freedom of movement, plenty of ventilation and the bonus of pockets it may become my favorite.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Old Fools Journal: The Bicycle Nomad

May 6, 2008

Around 28 years ago I was spending some time in southern California and it was my habit to occasionally have breakfast at one of the local establishments between Little Rock and Palmdale, . I called these places “character diners”. This particular one was a ramshackle wooden framed building so small that when you closed the door you were already standing at the counter. It had a counter with a few stools and a couple of tables and a TV that was always on and tuned to the soaps. Two old ladies ran the place without any other help that I know of. They were open 6 days a week for breakfast and lunch.

The food was not fast food. The eggs were not broken until you ordered nor was the ham sliced. If you ordered a meatloaf sandwich it was taken from the refrigerator, sliced and warmed on the grill when you ordered it. There was pie. Boy was there pie. These ladies could make pie and from the looks of them they could eat it as well. Everybody that came in ate pie no matter what else they ate and that would include me. The food was home cooking at its finest but the pie was from heaven.

Just picture this. You're in the Mojave Desert on a stretch of two lane blacktop having pie in a tiny wood frame diner (complete with peeling paint) with a couple of other ne'er-do-wells and up rides a scruffy old man on an old coaster brake bicycle. That in itself would be strange given the time, place and heat of the day. The old man looked like he had been living outside for the better part of his life and so did his bike. The bike was loaded. As I recall he was carrying a sleeping bag, several blankets, a large tarp or two, a box of groceries, a coil of rope, a couple of pots and pans, some tin cans, a 22 single shot rifle and a bunch of one gallon water jugs most of which were empty. I seem to recall that there was a spare tire lashed to the bike along with a number of other unidentifiable objects. There was a dog keeping an eye on things.

The old man came in and ordered pie. He had been there before. The ladies said the they see him twice a year usually, in the Spring and in the Fall, but not always. They thought he traveled back and forth across the country seasonally. They said he always had money and that he never begged but that was all they knew except that he ate pie. I was too wrapped up in my own petty ass life problems and fantasies to try to talk to him and besides in that part of the country minding you own business is a strict rule.

After he had his pie and left the only comment made about his life style was by a rancher type who said “I believe he has the right idea about how to live and we don't”. I agreed.

I saw him several more times over the next 5 years going one way or the other on Highway 138. Then sometime in the '90's I saw him again twice. Once in New Mexico west bound and once on the two-lane going into Death Valley from the west side. He was going upgrade and I was going down. Impossible for me to stop as it was a very narrow highway and with no place to turn around I think I missed the last chance to talk to him.

Why this man had such an affect on me I do not know. I have spent a great deal of time thinking about him over the years and have imagined a number of story's of his life. Are any of these story's near the truth? Probably not but by thinking about him I have repeatedly examined my life and decided it is good and I know if I took up his life style that would be good as well.

Reprinted from