August 2nd, 2018

“Saba7 el khayr” Wishing you a fine Arabic “Good Morning” that you might hear in Lebanon.

The Great American Read is still running. I have not missed a day of voting. Its hard to choose which favorite to vote for each time. Seems I have a hard time getting past “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” my Mr. Twain. As they say, “ Location, location, location!!”

Gravity is hard on all of us. I don’t remember exactly when I discovered Gravity but I know it hurt. I imagine that I was some darling and too daring or perhaps too darling and just daring enough when I realized that floor was coming up fast to greet me. Unlike when the Poody, our dog greeted me with wet licks and smiles, this greeting had to be more like my Grandpa Jim’s greeting which was full of scratchy beard stubbles on my darling or daring soft cheek. In any case, always the rebel, I voiced my opinion that Gravity had unjustly hurt me. Everyone sympathized and agreed but no one else was surprised. From then on I kept a wary eye on our old friend Mr. Gravity. Oh yeah, we both had our victories. I managed to fly a couple of million miles around the world, navigate the stairs after some aggressive celebrations and hold myself mostly upright for better than 60 years. But he had his triumphs as well. The incident with he ladder changing the batteries in the smoke alarm above the stairs stands out. Who knew breaking banisters could hurt so much and for so long!?? My dance with Mr. Gravity has involved a rather long involved struggle over who was leading and who was following. This week it was his turn to lead. I now sport a very colorful, oozing, swollen 6 inch combination road rash and deep bruise on my left calf. Ask due to Mr. Gravity’s unreasonable insistence that I maintain my balance while rushing across the jetty rocks trying to return a small stingray to his watery home. I failed to do so, again! Yeah, it hurt. It still hurts now but not as much as the entirely too clear image of my dignity being forsaken on that rocky ocean border. Now … how does an infantile 66 year old get even with Mr. Gravity??? Hmmmm.

We will have our entire immediate family together for the first time in quite awhile next week. We are all excited. I am reminded of that lovely and poignant song by Harry Chapin, “Cats Cradle” as it strikes too close to my own story. Whenever I am complimented about my children, I place the entire blame for their beauty and success at the foot of their mother as I was always away. I was focused on the mission at hand in my career, sometimes even when I was home. I travelled and we moved extensively. The kids attended something like 15 schools before high school. I did it for the noblest of reasons, “for my family”. I guess that I was a fairly good provider and tried to help when I was home. They did get to experience perhaps a bit more diversity than the average kid that grows up on the same block through college. But as an old guy I know, all nature seeks is balance. Getting out of balance, even for good cause, requires a price to be paid. I cannot get back those days when my kids were little and I was elsewhere so I cherish those days when we can be together now even more.

This week I learned some stuff:

• Today is a twofer! We have two great things to celebrate on August 2nd every year. NATIONAL Coloring Book Day and National Ice Cream Sandwich Day!!! Go to the store and get a box of ice cream sandwiches and have a coloring party… Whoohoo!!! Ain’t Life Grand!

Website Update:
• New Vocabulary Quiz!!!
• Second week for our “UJT Music Trivia Quiz” !!!
• No new recipes this week.

Writing, Ceramics and Painting Update:
• I blew off all my classes this week. I had more important things to do.

• “It was so tender it was just falling off the bone.” is praise often heard around barbecues. But for me at least, “falling off the bone” is a sign of my mistake in cooking. I want my ribs to be almost that done. Don’t get me wrong they still taste wonderful “falling off the bone” but for me its just not as fun or flavorful as gnawing the tasty meat off the bone. It connects me to my inner cave man and boys of any age like to get messy. But its a fine line between tender and “falling off the bone” especially for a lazy cook who doesn’t want to get off his big butt and check fairly often as the time for the ribs to be done gets close. Ah well, we all must choose our priorities, I guess.
• I got some feedback on my Trump Sign story. Most every one liked it but one reader told me that the event actually took place in Washington state. Hmmm…. I confess that I do not have the bon-knee-fides on the story’s origin but I have been to both Texas and Washington state. The Washington state context does not fit my impressions of my time there but I stand corrected. Whether from Texas or Washington State, lets try not to use lethal force to protect any signage this week, y’all!

Music Update:
As always, I try to find something to make the UJT Radio mix work for everyone.

Go to this week’s UJT Radio program.
• The Shins — A Simple Song — On the way back from our fishing and my dignity destruction trip this week, my daughter Jessica captured musical control in the car and put on this song. I was very impressed. The next day, I got up and did some research into The Shins. The creative force behind virtually all of their music is a guy named, Randy Mercer. He is lead vocals, guitar and songwriter. This song comes from their, “Port of Morrow” album released in 2012. I really hope you like these guys because you will be hearing more of their music.
• Crosby, Stills, Nash & Yong — On the Way Home (Live) — This one is from 4 Way Street. This is the song where they introduce Neil Young. There is just something about these guys when they play together that supersedes the stuff that they do on their own and that is really saying something!
• Eric Clapton — Catch the Blues — There are things I really love about his “I Still Do” album released in 2016 and this sweet simple little bonus track is one of them. Its just so tight and wonderful. It reminds me a lot of Stevie Wonder at his very best. I hope you enjoy it as well.
• Stevie Wonder — Creepin — Speaking of the great man “hisownself”, guess what came up on the song rotation??:) This classic is from his “Fulfillingness’ First Finale”. No one plays harmonica like Stevie!! “So let be, you always creep into my dreams … “
• Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers — Down the Road Tonight — This one is from their, “The Way it Is – Live 2016” album. I love this live version of this great song. By the way, this live album was available in its entirety for free on their website.
• Blood, Sweat & Tears — God Bless the Child — This great old Billie Holliday tune was treated to BS&T’s big band sound and David Clayton Thomas’ wonderful soulful singing on their second album, “Blood Sweat & Tears” released in 1968. This record edged out The Beatles, “Abbey Road” for the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1969.
• Extreme — Song of Love — Nuno Benttencourt has always amazed me! This one comes from their “Extreme II – Pornograffitti” released in 1990. Supposedly they are back together and recording new songs that are due to be released sometime soon.
• The Beatles — Fool on the Hill — From their, “Magical Mystery Tour” album released in 1967. It was always interesting to me that a song that features the flute so prominently actually had more people playing harmonica (4) than flute (3). This one is all Paul though credited like all the Beatles music to both John and Paul. Paul originally wrote it for “A Little Help From My Friends” but didn’t follow up on writing it down for the band so he had to recreate it for MMT. It was inspired by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who developed the Transcendental Meditation technique that became popular in the 1960s.

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!

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