Tuesday, 05/26/2015

Home, Sweet Home

We're making some changes at the Pritsky-Garstka Compound.  Here's an annotated version of the current sat pic on Google:

Our property is officially 2 acres.  As you can see it's mostly wooded, with what would be called lawn is only slightly larger than the northern meadowy area (not to be confused with The Meadow, which is to the West, above The Circle where kids ride their bikes).

This is an old shot, so it still shows our Subaru (now a VW), a stone path from the driveway to the front porch (which I stole from for the School Path), and a deck umbrella that was lifted by wind out of its stand and tossed across the yard (a few repair jobs later after I kept forgetting to furl during storms and we retired it).  It's still pretty astonishing to me that you can zoom in and really see such details not readily apparent on this small image.

Anyway, our new gazebo (this is our replacement for the brelly) is by the new firepit (which is an addition, not replacement, for the old one ringed with stones from the old farm wall), in an area that had been taken over by brambles since the satellite snapped this.  I spent quite some time this spring reclaiming territory with a scythe.  My arms and back are tired.

In addition to the School Path, there is a short one under the big trees from our backyard to The Circle, another little jaunt in the SW corner to a stockade fort built from wood brought down by ice and wind storms, a wide avenue from the old pit past the original stockade to The Meadow, and a "secret" path behind the gazebo that connects to the School Path.  It's our version of a garden maze, I guess.

Speaking of fallen tree material, it used be a kinda boring straight walk to the baseball diamond.  Last winter a few large trees loudly snapped during one particular storm, and we rerouted to a much nicer winding path through the woods.  I cut those trees up earlier this year, so we'll have some fuel for fires next summer.  Might need some of that wood to build a new footbridge, too.

Not sure you can tell how ratty the driveway is, but Lake Pritsky (not labelled) was a major problem so recently we had the driveway essentially rebuilt with a proper culvert (the original was too small, poorly place, then destroyed by the plow), etc.  It's gorgeous, and still a topic of conversation with delivery people.  Can't wait until a new sat pic is taken showing its glory.

But Google, please wait until our roof is done.  The guys are banging around right now, ripping off 20yo shingles as prelude to a standing seam beauty.


May 26, 11:53 AM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, 05/25/2015

We Don't Measure The Blood We've Drawn Anymore

We don't measure the blood we've drawn anymore.


May 25, 11:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gentlemen, You Can't Fight Here, This Is The Texas Lege!

The original cut had a big pie fight at the end.


May 25, 10:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

They Were Soldiers Once

Narturally I'm watching We Were Soldiers Once, based on the book about the Battle of Ia Drang by Hal Moore and Joe Galloway.

This battle in particular has stuck in my mind for a long time because it was our first real fight over there and a big test of air mobility concepts.  I admit I'd not known about it until I saw another movie, Platoon--just an allusion to later ops in the area (presumably search & destroy missions) by Sgt Elias, but it was enough to make me look more into it (pre-Wikipedia!), and interested in the Moore/Galloway book when it came out in '92.  

By that point I'd already read A Bright Shining LieHell in a Very Small PlaceStreet Without Joy, etc.  We Were Soldiers Once...And Young was so very different from everything else in its intensely personal focus on our first steps into the quagmire.

Then several years ago I got an email after some discussion about Joe Galloway: 

My uncle died under Gen. Hal Moore's command in the Ia Drang Valley. I didn't know that until the movie came out and, realizing that the battle took place about the time of my uncle's death, I looked in the book and found his name there.
The guys who fought in the Ia Drang have a reunion once a year in Arlington, VA .  I live nearby, so I have had the honor of attending several times.  When I first found out about the reunion, I found an e-mail address for Joe and wrote him, asking if I would be allowed to attend.  I put a phone no. on my e-mail.  Joe wrote back that I was, indeed, welcome.  A week or so later, I received a phone call from General Moore; apparently Joe had passed on the phone no.  That was a fascinating conversation! 
I have gone to the reunion for several years now...When I met Gen. Moore in person, he told me he'd carried Uncle Luther off the battlefield, and he actually wept.  He said Luther was his friend.

Yup, Luther Gilreath fought and died in that valley in '65:

Edwards had gotten three brand-new second lieutenants as platoon leaders just before we shipped out of Fort Benning.

The 1st Platoon leader was Neil A. Kroger, twenty-four, a recent Officer Candidate School graduate from Oak Park, Illinois. Kroger's platoon sergeant was SFC Luther V Gilreath, thirty-three years old, a tall, slender paratrooper who hailed from Surgoinsville, Tennessee.
Although the enemy had withdrawn, he had left stay-behind snipers, and Diduryk's men came under sporadic fire, as did the landing zone and battalion command post. There were marksmen up in the trees and up on the termite hills. The North Vietnamese had been beaten back but hadn't quit yet.

Out in the Charlie Company sector Sergeant Major Plumley and I walked through the horrible debris of battle. We found Lieutenant Jack Geoghegan's body; the two of us personally carried him from the battlefield. Then we retumed, located Platoon Sergeant Luther Gilreath's body, and brought him back to the landing zone to begin the long joumey home.

The ensuing email exchange compelled me to visit Luther at the Wall, which I did several times during my frequent visits to DC once-upon-a-time (and still make an effort to do).

So another Memorial Day passes.  And war goes on tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...


May 25, 10:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Rebs Shot First

'member how I said the Stars and Bars aggravates me?  Let's just say that Johnny Reb didn't fight for freedom or his country, and kinda can fuck off on this particular day.


May 25, 10:14 PM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

War: WTF?

Paul Fussell died on May 23, 2012.  I referred to his work a couple times on this blog, and read aloud from his book Wartime once on a (now lost) podcast dedicated to the word 'fuck':

The use of fucking as the adjective and fucker as the noun of all work was so common among British troops that it was noticed in an official War Office pamphlet of October, 1941, issued not to reprehend the usage but simply to warn against careless identification of strangers. In North Africa a German spy dressed in British uniform had succeeded in deceiving a British unit because he spoke impeccable Other Ranks English. The War Office pamphlet warned: “lt should . . . be impressed on all ranks that the use in conversation of ‘f--—-s’ and ‘b----s’ is not necessarily a guarantee of British nationality.”

Now and then even the troops wearied of fucking and tried substituting equivalents like conjugal or matrimonial, as in “Where's the conjugal NAAFI in this camp?” or “What the matrimonial bloody hell do you think you're doing?” Fucking was so common and boring by the time of the Vietnam War that the Americans merely alluded to it and accommodated it to the more modern abbreviation habit. Thus a new arrival was a FNG or Fucking New Guy, and, as an army nurse remembers, a little rubber boat used for frolics while swimming was a LFRB, short for Little Fucking Rubber Boat.

After several years of fucking, one did not have to be a puritan to find it tedious. On Guadalcanal, Sherwood F. Moran, a Japanese language expert, said wearily to one marine, "Yes, I know, you saw the fucking Jap coming up the fucking hill and raised your fucking rifle and shot himbetween the fucking eyes.”

Ernie Pyle is also reputed to have had enough, even if his remonstrance took ironic form. “I am sick and tired of that word --,” he once said. “If I ever hear the ---- word again I'm going to throw up.”

But the use of the term could never be curbed because it was so essential to military meaning:

Once, on a misty Scottish airfield, an airman was changing the magneto on the engine of a Wellington bomber. Suddenly his wrench slipped and he flung it on the grass and snarled, “Fuck! the fucking fucker’s fucked.” The bystanders were all quite well aware that he had stripped a bolt and skinned his knuckles.”

NTodd's Pa's Wife got me the book the summer before my sophomore year of college.  As it turns out, the following spring I took a WWII class taught by an old friend of the author's.  The prof once assigned an article by Fussell, but I didn't read it since I'd read his book and I referenced that in the associated paper instead.  Wartime made quite an impact on me, and I highly recommend it.


PS--I took the class pass/fail, skipped several weeks in a row during a rough patch when I rarely attended any course, got an A- (which only counted as a 'pass').  The prof in question was right out of Central Casting: a tall old man, wore the tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, chain smoked right outside the room (you could still smoke inside back then) until classtime.  Began our section on the Pacific Theater by saying, "the Japanese...are a little people."  He also told me I didn't have to be so conversational in my papers and exams--I now look back at it as practice for blogging.

May 25, 8:08 PM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Game Of Life Is Hard To Play

I'm gonna lose it anyway.


May 25, 7:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Naturally, It's Evolution's Fault

Certainly it can't be Josh Duggar's fault, or his perverse form of patriarchal Christianity.


May 25, 6:04 PM in Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Blood, blood! The lines of every printed sheet...

Untitled poem:

O, heaven, I quail at the familiar way
     This fool, the world, disports his jingling cap;
     Murdering or dying with one grin agap!
Our very Love comes draggled from the fray,
     Smiling at victory, scowling at mishap,
     With gory Death companioned and at play.

George Henry Boker.


May 25, 4:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

We Fought For Republican Values

A grave just about 1000 feet from our house:

Leach, William H.,
d. 24 Mar 1864,
36yr old,
Co. H 2nd Reg't VT Vols
William enlisted in Company F, 1st USSS on September 3, 1860. He was a Corporal in the Union Army at the time of his death at Brandy Station VA of typhoid fever. His body was sent to Fletcher for burial...

To put his service in context:

By reason of the character of its population [Vermont] furnished a greater proportion of native-born citizens than any other state, and in proportion to the number of men furnished, it gave to the Union more lives lost from all causes than any other loyal state. Pennsylvania sustained the greatest loss in killed of any state, its percentage being 7.1 ; Vermont ranks second with a loss of 6.8. The percentage of loss in the Union army, killed and mortally wounded, was 4.7, and it will thus be seen that Vermont troops saw their full share of the hard fighting.

The first reconnoissance in force made by United States troops upon the soil of Virginia, was that of the ist Vt., May 23, 1861. It is an interesting fact that the 2nd Vt. fired the last shot of the 6th army corps, April 6, 1865, at Sailor's creek, Va.

Corporal William Leach was mustered as private into the 2nd, which according to Howard Coffin's Full Duty...

...was a picked regiment, chosen by Adjutant General Baxter from 60 Vermont militia companies.  The selected Brattleboro, Burlington, Castleton, Fletcher, Ludlow, Montpelier, Tunbridge, Waterbury, and Vergennes outfits.

They headed for DC in the summer of '61, and the NYTimes reported:

The Second Vermont Regiment, which has for three weeks been encamped at Bennington, Vt., arrived in this City yesterday, via the Hudson River Railroad...Friends flocked in rapidly to greet old relatives and acquaintances, and the provincial hemlock -- the Vermont insignia of patriotism -- graded several regiments of civilians' hat-bands and button-holes, in honor of the day.

The regiment, like others from the hardy North and East, commanded approbation. The men were all well behaved, and intelligent, while at the same time their stalwart frames bespoke the best material for soldiers...The excellent deportment of the men contrasted strongly with the maudlin pranks of a corps of the Thirty first Regiment of this City, Col. PRATT, whose conduct brought blushes to the cheeks of many a New-Yorker. 

The entire sobriety of the Vermont men was none the less commendable in view of the sale within the barracks of "refreshments" in violation of all military rule and sadly destructive of discipline...The Vermonters, however, withstood the temptation...They exhibited their prudence by filling their haversacks with fresh provisions, purchasing portable filters, changing their paper money for silver, writing letters home, and otherwise improving their time like reasonable men.

The Second Vermont saw a lot of action over the course of the war:

Lt. Chester Leach best summed up the situation in the 2nd Vermont the day after the battle of Spotsylvania when he wrote, "It is impossible to tell how long the fighting will last, but if we keep at it much longer as we have, there will he nobody left to fight." Leach's company had gone into the Wilderness with 63 men; after Spotsylvania it had but 19. Company E was down to 16 men. The other companies of the 2nd Vermont were in equally bad shape."

Just a couple months before, Lt Leach had lost his brother William.  Howard Coffin's The Battered Stars includes the former's letter home about the death:

Thursday morning the flush had gone from his cheeks, & more death like color was on him, otherwise, he appeared about the same only weaker & the nervousness of the day before had left him. I saw him last about 11 O.C. & about 2, they sent down word that he was dead. I started as soon as possible to make arrangements to send his body home.

I learned that there was an office of embalming at Brandy Station, so I got an ambulance and were there Thursday afternoon, go a coffin to take the body in, & sent it to the station that night...I would very much like to have taken the body home, myself, but I knew there was no use to try, therefore, have done all that I can do, & hope it may reach home without any accident.

There will be some of his clothes in the box & if I had thought about it before I went to the Station, should have sent everything he had that was worth sending, as it would cost nothing, & help hold the coffin steady in the box...Thursday, the day Wm. Died, was a very pleasant day, & reminded me of a first-rate sap day in Vt., after a big snow storm.

Chester survived the unpleasantness:

He was one of a family of seven children and his early history is that of hundreds of young men in his native state, born and bred upon the farm and in the intervals receiving a meagre education in the district schools.

From 1856 to the time of the civil war he was employed in the vocation to which he had been brought up, but sharing in the general outburst of patriotism that followed the fall of Fort Sumter, he enlisted in the 2d Regt. of the old Vt. Brigade and was mustered into the United States service June 20, 1861. He was immediately made 2d Lieut, of Co. H., and participated with his regiment in the first battle of Bull Run. After this defeat he was present at every important battle and engagement in which that veteran regiment took part, and received his discharge as 1st Lieut, after three years of gallant and arduous service.
After his discharge from military duty Captain Leach, like Cincinnatus, returned to the plough, and, after cultivating different farms, finally settled on the old homestead, where he still remains. He is a successful dairyman and also produces a large crop of sugar from his orchard of more than two thousand maple trees.
He was elected as the Republican candidate to the state Senate in 1878 and was a member of the committee on military affairs and agriculture. Besides this position he has also held many offices of minor importance in the town where he resides.

Even tiny Vermont has many reminders of the great cost of war, even "good" ones to preserve the Republic and make other people free.


PS--It annoys me to no end when I see the Stars and Bars flying on houses or plastered on cars up here.  Even more than Gadsden flags.

May 25, 10:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, 05/24/2015

"In Jersey anything's legal as long as you don't get caught,"

Does Governor Christie know?


May 24, 9:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

WORD over all, beautiful as the sky!


Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage, must in time be utterly lost;
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, incessantly softly wash again, and ever again, this soil’d world:

For my enemy is dead—a man divine as myself is dead;
I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin—I draw near; 
I bend down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.

Walt Whitman.


May 24, 4:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, 05/23/2015

Keep That Coffee Hot

Gonna need a lot tomorrow.


May 23, 10:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I longed for spring’s thousand tender greens

The Clearing:

The dog and I push through the ring
of dripping junipers
to enter the open space high on the hill
where I let him off the leash.\
He vaults, snuffling, between tufts of moss;
twigs snap beneath his weight; he rolls
and rubs his jowls on the aromatic earth;
his pink tongue lolls.
I look for sticks of proper heft
to throw for him, while he sits, prim
and earnest in his love, if it is love.

Jane Kenyon.


May 23, 9:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, 05/22/2015

We'll come in low out of the rising sun...

Shall we dance?


May 22, 10:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

An Ancient Admonition To You

Mrs. Meyers:

He protested all his life long
The newspapers lied about him villainously;
That he was not at fault for Minerva's fall,
But only tried to help her.
Poor soul so sunk in sin he could not see
That even trying to help her, as he called it,
He had broken the law human and divine.

Edgar Lee Masters.


May 22, 10:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Ericka at the Deke Slayton Space & Bicycle Museum on our Epic Journey, July 11, 2008.


May 22, 11:20 AM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

They'll be doing intricate MILITARY MANEUVERS to the soundtrack from "OKLAHOMA"!!

What a pinhead:

"I hope people always question government," [former Governor Rick] Perry continued, "but don't question your military. Don't question the men and women who have put their hands up and sworn this oath to our Constitution and defended this country.”

Because government officers don't swear (or affirm) an oath.  But hey, at least we can trust the members of standing armies, just like the Framers did...


May 22, 10:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Let's Take Franklin's Advice

To protect kids from cis-het predators like the Duggars, we should do what Benjamin Franklin suggested Britain try on some uppity North Americans: all the Males there be castrated.

The English, whose Humanity is celebrated by all the World, but particularly by themselves, do not desire the Death of the Delinquent, but his Reformation. The Advantages arising from this Scheme being carried into Execution are obvious. In the Course of fifty Years it is probable we shall not have one rebellious Subject in North America. This will be laying the Axe to the Root of the Tree. 

It's for the good of our precious ones.


May 22, 9:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Such A Scandal!

Um, McPaper?

Duggars reeling from Josh's sex-abuse scandal

Last word is superfluous.  Unless they really are more upset about how it harms their image, not about the sex-abuse itself (which brought them all closer to G-d and a child-porn loving police "mentor").


May 22, 8:15 AM in Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, 05/21/2015

Tickling The Dragon's Tail

Criticality's a bitch.


May 21, 11:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

We'll Throwback Tomorrow

From The Art of Sinking in Poetry:

Ye Gods! annihilate but space and time,
And make two lovers happy.

Alexander Pope.


May 21, 11:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, 05/20/2015

Djäpana wlutju

Live it up.


May 20, 8:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Where is today's white, Harley-riding MLK?

With white citizens, officers feel it is their duty to protect the unsafe and de-escalate the situation. With Black citizens, officers, acting out of their own fear, escalate conflicts, antagonize citizens, and move swiftly to the use of tanks, tear gas, and billy clubs to subdue, even lawful and peaceful protests. What Malcolm X pointed to, and what we would do well to recapture on this week, as we, if we are brave enough, choose to remember his life, is that there is something fundamentally dishonest about a society that revels in the violence of one group while demanding non-violent compliance from another. That kind of thinking is unjust, unfair, and unproductive. And for those of us who are not white, white ignorance on these matters is not bliss.



May 20, 12:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, 05/19/2015

The Late Marilyn Monroe

Apparently she was just out of breath.


May 19, 10:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Trời sinh ra bác Tản Đà

The Almighty gave birth to a fellow named Tản Đà:

He has a country but no home.
He travels far and wide half of his life.
He has lots of friends, but is seldom home with his wife.
With a bag of poems he visits all three regions,
Befriending mountains and waters, frolicking with
winds and the moon.

Tản Đà.


May 19, 8:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

When Will Their Parents Start Controlling These Thugs?

We Jewkranians don't particularly care for Cossacks.


May 19, 6:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Brooskie's No Take Backsies

A mistake was made invading Iraq, really by us all.  So sorry about the fuss, now let's move on to just bombing people with drones.


May 19, 3:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)