January 4, 2018

“Tere hommikust” ! Here is a nice Estonian “Good Morning” for the first time you have heard it in 2018.

I am filled with hope for our 2018. I foresee many difficult times but also learning and application of what we have learned. I have never been afraid of the difficulties of life just the injustices and injury done in hate, anger or greed. 2017 was filled with the actions of life and death but also marked by the injury and injustice powered by hate and anger. We have danced with the dark side now, this year, it is time to look into the light. We all need to be just as good hearted as our dogs to each other, the world in general and especially when being good hearted is totally uncalled for. We need each other and we need to respect that everyone serves a purpose to be furthered.

We got even with the nice neighbors that inflicted us with the cinnamon rolls before Christmas. We gave them a lovely home made Pecan Pie. Ha! Take that you kind bastards!

I am excited about my new project. I got a great Christmas present this year – a new woodworking workbench kit. My old workbench was fairly dilapidated. I did some research and obtained some really cool workbench castors that will enable me to move this 250 lbs. workbench around with ease. We also took the opportunity to clean out some other junk we had stuffed into our garage.

This week I learned some stuff:

• Many of you know that Aberlour is my favorite scotch. So as a new years treat I purchased a bottle of this fine 12 year old Speyside whisky. I have habitually mispronounced the name for the entirety of the thirty or so years that I have been drinking it. So I decided to see if I could find out more about my joyful beverage and more specifically how to say it’s name correctly in Gaelic. I found the Aberlour website to be informative and fascinating. Aberlour means, “ The Mouth of the Chattering Burn” in Gaelic. Oh and here is how you pronounce it – Aberlour
• Alexa, my personal virtual slave, was given to me as a Christmas present. Its a pretty cool little bluetooth speaker but was surprised when I learned I could do my shopping list. The surprised again that rather than just repeat back to me the things I told her to remember before I went to the store, she populated the Shopping list on my phone. Woohoo!
• January 4th is also National Spaghetti Day so break out those pasta makers and your best Ragu recipe and let her rip! Don’t for get the Garlic Bread and fresh Parmesan!!!

Website Update:
• New Vocabulary Quiz!!!
• Added a new reciepe for a wonderful Mushroom Leek Soup. Even our resident Soup Hater, Jessica, commented, “Its not too bad!” High praise indeed!! It is easy, fast and tasty. Try it!

Writing and Painting Update:
• Back to class this week. Pastels, Watercolors and Ceramics! Oh My! Worked on some writing as well.

• Awhile back we went through the exhausting process of setting up a family trust. I stated that I wanted my remains disposed of in the least expensive way possible and that any monies that would have been spent for a big send off funeral or gravesite, etc should be spend in celebration of a life well lived by my remaining friends and family. A friend of mine mentioned that cremations were much cheaper if the services were purchased in advance so I started to check it out. In the process of doing that I remembered the VA provides cemetery plots for Veterans. I found out that does NOT include the body disposal costs (funeral or cremation services). I also found out that we can donate our bodies to science – colleges that use cadavers for anatomy and other research or teaching purposes. Always the clown, I thought I would take my after life act on the road to University of California San Diego School or Medicine where they will teach doctors how to slice and dice my old ass or do “learn how not to treat a liver” research for a couple of years before sprinkling my ashes in the Pacific. There is no charge for the body cremation but the family does not get the remains returned at UCSD. In some states the medical schools will return the cremains in a couple of years (VA for example). You can find out about donating bodies in your area by checking out this website directory. There are some common conditions to this approach. Bodies must be relatively intact, meaning your lungs or heart cannot be donated before the school gets your body nor can your body be autopsied as these changes limit the value of the body to the school. So you have to decide if you want to be an organ donor or a body donor although most schools will accept bodies that have donated eyes or just corneas. Also if you die of an infectious disease like HIV or Hepatitis or Staph infections the body will either be rejected or summarily cremated to protect the students.
• When I was almost 14, I got Mononucleosis. I had had it for awhile when it finally put me down hard. They were worried about my Spleen rupturing so I was ordered to pretty much stay in bed for almost 2 weeks until cleared by the docs to resume life. After the first day of soap operas and reading, I started to get crazy for something to do. I had started smoking so it didn’t help that I was “jonesing” for a cigarette as well. Our neighbor, a sweet lady by the name of Mary Brogan, saw how fidgety I was when she came to check on me while mom was at work, and decided I needed something to do with my hands. So she taught me how to knit. It was really a big help. I had this flashback looking at a Facebook article on how to soften scratchy yarn. Most mere mortals are not aware that most inexpensive yarn is scratchy compared to the soft stuff most of us associate with our expensive sweaters. Some enterprising mom out there in “Facebookland”, figured out how to soften the cheap yarns with out ruining them. I read the whole article and kicking around the idea or trying to knit again – Maybe I can become a fiber enthusiast again!!! What was it .. Knit one, Pearl two ?? Weird stuff!
• Last Saturday, I was celebrating new years eve. As I mentioned before I had purchased a treat for me.. a bottle of Aberlour to celebrate the end to perhaps my shittiest year ever. I never watch the Ball come down or any of the other hokey New Years Shows so I just kind of channel surfed the cable channels until a little after midnight and went to bed. I sent a text wishing a friend a happy new year .. and said happy new year to my wife as I settled in to a lovely Aberlour enhanced sleep session. Then I woke up on Sunday, December 31st. Oh well .. a old guy year end moment.

Music Update:
Click here for week’s UJT Radio program. I decided to collect a group of songs that tell a story. Someone on Facebook started a threat about great story telling songs, so I thought that I would continue the thread this week on the UJT Radio. Some of my selections you will know well but others may be new to you. What is your favorite story telling song?
• The Beatles — Eleanor Rigby — This maybe the best known story telling song in the planet. It certainly enjoyed immense popularity. It was always one of my favorites.
• Bob Dylan — Hurricane — Ruben “Hurricane” Carter’s story and just one of the jewels you can find on Bob’s 1976 album, Desire”.
• Shawn Phillips — Ballad of Casy Deiss — We have featured this song on UJT Radio before but it tells a great story well. This song is from his “Second Contributions” album released in 1970. I love the rich array of instruments and his powerful vocals.
• Stephen Stills — Johnny’s Garden — From the Vinyl !!!!This is the story of how Stephen Stills ended up with a British Estate house south of London in the early 1970s. It came complete with a gardener, named Johnny.
• Rod Stewart — Maggie May — This is a story of a young lad falling under the spell of an older woman. This one comes from his 1971 release, “Every Picture Tells a Story”.
• Shawn Mullins — Lullaby — This is a great song tells the story of a disenfranchised young woman trying to find meaning on the plastic side of LA.
• John Mayer — Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967— I have loved this song from the first time I heard it. I love this fairy tale of human perseverance and nobility. This one is from John’s “Born and Raised”, album released in the spring of 2012.
• Bruce Springsteen — Streets of Philadelphia — Bruce tells so many stories with his music and he tells them so well. This story of a Geoffrey Bower’s confrontation with his own death from a disease that is trying to kill an entire community while also dealing with the injustice and prejudice in his workplace. Its an academy award winning sad song written for a great movie.

That’s it… Do the best you can; Laugh every chance you get; And always remember … The best is yet to come!

As always, thank you for being my friend! Happy New Year !

Under the Jacaranda Tree URL: http://www.jfmccann.com