Monday, September 30, 2013

In Furtherance Of My Evil Plan To Resurrect Wichita Lineman And Make It The Official Cover Song Of The Twenty-Teens: Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66

Wichita Lineman is playing in the elevator to cool. Of course, the cable has broken, and the car is rocketing down the shaft on the way to Beelzebub's Lounge, but my points stands. Don't forget to jump just before the car reaches the bottom.

Is Sergio Mendes the least cool hip person ever, or is he the least hip cool person extant, or what? Of course persons of a certain vintage never complain about Sergio's records, because without them their parents would never have gotten jiggy in the first place and brought them into this benighted world.

Oh the chin strap beard; the corduroy coats; the polyester tunics on the willowy sorta-singers; a blast of pink Qiana shirt cuff as Sergio himself tinkles all over the piano; the grim, low-bidder hairdos.

Is that... it can't be... It is! It's a stairway to heaven in the background!

Which lets you know exactly where you've ended up.

Anteceded by: In Furtherance Of My Evil Plan To Resurrect Wichita Lineman And Make It The Official Cover Song Of The Twenty-Teens: The Swinging Doors

Aforetimes: In Furtherance Of My Evil Plan To Resurrect Wichita Lineman And Make It The Official Cover Song Of The Twenty-Teens: Optiganally Yours 

Previously: In Furtherance Of My Evil Plan To Resurrect Wichita Lineman And Make It The Official Cover Song Of The Twenty-Teens: Glenn Tilbrook 

Also Sprach Sippican: Another In The Long List Of Songs I Don't Like That I Like  

Sunday, September 29, 2013

In Furtherance Of My Evil Plan To Resurrect Wichita Lineman And Make It The Official Cover Song Of The Twenty-Teens: The Swinging Doors

We're bad. But we're not just nationwide. We're global now.

We are legion. And we are determined to make Wichita Lineman the song that's played by the band in the corner at the dive bar, on the juke box at the pizzeria, and played during time outs at football games and water polo matches alike. I want it tastefully arranged with strings and French horn, murmuring from crummy overhead speakers in elevators in Kuala Lumpur, even though I hate French horn and I'm glad they make them shove their hand in there to try to smother the sound.  I want gas pumps to play Wichita Lineman. High School marching bands. I want it to become the opening riff of a Windows start, and an Apple shutdown. I want Lady Gaga to cover it because she's afraid not to. 

And be warned: I'm gonna come looking for first person that makes a "Rineman" joke, and not with binoculars, either.

Aforetimes: In Furtherance Of My Evil Plan To Resurrect Wichita Lineman And Make It The Official Cover Song Of The Twenty-Teens: Optiganally Yours 

Previously: In Furtherance Of My Evil Plan To Resurrect Wichita Lineman And Make It The Official Cover Song Of The Twenty-Teens: Glenn Tilbrook 

Also Sprach Sippican: Another In The Long List Of Songs I Don't Like That I Like

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Painting In A Museum Hears More Foolish Remarks Than Anyone Else In The World

Faithful reader, commenter, furniture buyer, and friend Leslie from Arizona painted watercolors of the two ugly roomers we keep here in the house and call Unorganized Hancock. My gosh, they're marvelous. 

I understand that many people paint in watercolors, but of course we know that it's impossible to paint in watercolors. Can't be done. I don't know how Leslie does it. I always stuck to acrylics and oil paint, so I could paint the trim on the house when the daubs on the canvas went south. I'd only paint a rental property with watercolors, and I don't have any rental property, so I'd never even attempt a watercolor painting.

I'm profoundly grateful to everyone that reads, and comments, and links here, and hits our tip jars, and uses our Amazon links, and purchases furniture from my little online shop, and sends us the occasional treasure. The Sippicans love you all!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Brother's Day

Nice people are nice.

Every day is Brother's Day around our house, of course. Our two sons are very far apart in age, so the fact that they can do something together, every day, in earnest, is a blessing. I remember desperately trying to grow up in time to hang around with my much older brother, and seeing him disappear over the maturity horizon over and over. Heartbreaking, it was. The kids in the video have great fun knocking around together, and I bet they will when they're men, too.

I worry what will happen to our younger son if The Heir lights out for adult life anytime soon. We live in western Maine, and it's a cross between a nursing home and a mausoleum around here. There are, essentially, no small children. Most of the children that are here are borderline feral. The brothers need each other more than I wish they did. My older son has lots of nice friends because he can cast a wider net than the little feller, but the Spare Heir is lonesome sometimes. Without his brother -- egad.

I used to make a joke when our first son was born: I was dissatisfied with the quality of humans available on this planet, so I made my own.  It doesn't seem like much of a joke to me anymore. I encourage everyone to make your own humans. Making a human involves much, much more than fifteen minutes in the back seat of a car. You've got to raise 'em up. Like the charming kids in the video, they'll help you raise themselves properly, if you'll just let them. Micromanagement won't produce a viable adult. Don't forget to sprinkle some  Laissez faire in there, dudes and dudettes.

A year ago and more, my older son was disappointed for the umpteenth time when the other children his own age failed to show up to play music. He tried over and over again to find anyone that he could do it with. No dice. I suggested he try his little brother. I told him his brother would never let him down like that. You can trust your brother. Make sure he can trust you, too, and you'll never falter.

On the odd, occasional day, spaced out quite a bit, I'll grant you, and interspersed with plenty of bad dadding, I'm a half-decent father to those children:

(Thanks to reader and commenter Leon for sending Brother's Day along)

[Update: Our friend Gerard at American Digest mashed the boys' musical education PayPal button to remind us of how swell he his. That's because he is. Many Thanks!]
[Update, More so: Many thanks to Charles F. from Florida for his contribution to the kids' music fund]

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dwight Twilley And A Very Confused Bass Player Play "I'm On Fire"

Right around 1975 or so, this was a minor hit. Top twenty or so.

Like most hit songs, there's nothing to it, really. If you quizzed fans of the song, and asked them to tell you the lyrics, they'd be able to sing-song the "hook," you ain't you ain't you ain't got no lover, which doesn't sound like Shakespeare to my ear, and the three-word title, but the rest is basically unintelligible, and unintelligent, if you look it up. It's the sort of song you could sing anything in if you were covering it, and no one would notice it. But pop songs aren't often worth studying overmuch. It was raucous fun, and any four people could bang it out in the garage if you got the notion.

Of course Dwight and his friends got the idea of banging things out in their Tulsa garage by seeing A Hard Day's Night, and figgering, "How hard can this be?" This song made it to the charts out of nowhere, while the band was trying to get famous doing something else, and then they started paying attention to it again, and the something else never materialized.

It's not hard to have a hit song, really.  It's almost impossible to have a hit song, but it's not hard. There is no way to tell what the public will like, or even what they're willing to have shoved in their ear. Payola got bad songs played on the radio back in the day, but it wasn't a slam-dunk way to make things popular. The record companies just tried everything to see what worked, and were satisfied with one million-seller out of a thousand tries. It wasn't that difficult to get thrown at the wall thirty years ago. Deuced difficult to stick, though. I'm not sure exactly what alchemy is used now, although fake Twitter followers and bot-driven YouTube views seem to have supplanted having members of the band and their families calling the radio stations non-stop and requesting their own songs with a hankie over the receiver to disguise their voice. Time marches on.

This song was about the first thing Dwight Twilley ever did, and it's the only thing that might even merit a trivia question about him. You could perhaps tease a second trivia question about the drummer and female singer in the video. They're castaway Cowsills. You can hear the drummer playing and singing on other recordings that made the charts, too; that's him on Tommy Tutone's Jenny (867-5309),  another one-hit wonder in the same guitar/bass/drums vein.

The rock and roll machine has always been the musical version of The Million Monkey Theorem. It explains probability theory by positing that if a monkey hits keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time, it will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare, eventually.

So I offer the Dwight Twilley Theorem to you, my readers. Here goes:

If an infinite number of garage bands are formed after watching a Beatles movie, and they hit notes at random on Telecasters and sing doggerel for an infinite amount of time, they'll eventually get Casey Kasem to utter their name on AM radio after midnight on Sunday, even if their bass player doesn't know what to do with his hands.
The corollary to this theorem is: Only the music store and Yoko Ono will end up with any money.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Sparkletones Is The Second Greatest Rockabilly Band Name Ever

I was in the Superfonics. That's the greatest Rockabilly band name ever. We stunk, but man, could we name things.

The drummer was an ancient old dude, probably ten years younger than I am now, and he didn't have a car or front teeth. I'm not sure if those two details are related. He got rid of most of his toms and cymbals, welded the remaining drums together, and bolted a big handle to the resultant apparatus. He'd ride the subway with it. He'd come in, plop the thing down, sit on a milk crate, and start playing. He was either a genius or a dullard.  The two guitar players were roommates, attending MIT. They were either geniuses, or very smart, I can't remember which. They played everything  exactly like the records we copied. The singer -- couldn't.

[Oh, dear; look what I found in my junk drawer:]

I remember Chet's. If I owned Hell and Chet's Last Call, I'd live in Hell and rent out Chet's.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Inside Baseball And The Beatles

We're visiting the Hope and Anchor bar again, that magical nightspot where you can wander in and find Glenn Tilbrook, formerly of Squeeze, and a motley assortment of whoever's handy banging out whatever tune comes to mind. Can't Buy Me Love is a great tune to come to mind. It's a hardy perennial.

Here's the inside baseball for you. In the past I played music for money, often on short notice, sometimes among total strangers, so I notice such things: About eight bars into the song, Glenn realizes that the bass player doesn't know the song. You can see him turn his torso towards the laggard, and his eyes recognize the mild sort of panic in the other musician's eyes. He stays turned through one verse, making very deliberate chord shapes way down the neck, so that the bass player can see them. A good bass player knows something about the guitar, and by looking at the position of the fingers and the spot on the neck, he can sort out the chord changes. Once around should do it, and does. If you want to know what being a bandleader is like, Glenn is trying to sing like Paul McCartney, play like John Lennon, and coax George Harrison through playing the bass at the same time. If he's like me, or most any other human, he's desperately trying to remember the words at the same time.

I learned the knack of watching the guitar player's hands out of self-defense, mostly. Many guitar players can't tell you what they're playing. They learn things by rote, or by ear, but they can't tell you beforehand what they're about to do. They often don't know the correct key of the song, they can only tell you the first chord, and if the first chord of the song isn't based on the tonic note of the scale, they'll misidentify the key to you, and you'll end up chasing them around and playing majors and minors wrong because of it.

A very long time ago, I wanted to play the drums. The public school wouldn't let me. When I was a man, I could do what I pleased, so I went to the drum shop, and bought the set of drums you see my ten-year-old son playing in Unorganized Hancock music videos. I took a few lessons, and then got a job playing drums in an open mike night at a disreputable Irish bar. The impresario that ran the show paid me fifty dollars a night to come, on two conditions: I had to bring the drums; I had to keep the fact I was the only one being paid a secret -- no one else got paid except him. I played the drums for the first few songs, and then I played the bass, which was my natural instrument, and then when more people came in I'd just play darts all night and drink Black and Tans for free. It was a great job for a Monday night, which is a graveyard in the music business. My liver and hearing might have other opinions.

The impresario, who I'll call "J," had a very fine Irish tenor voice, could play nearly any instrument you could produce, and was some form of an insane person. He liked taking drugs, drinking, and having sex with lots of ugly women. He was as reliable as phone service in a tunnel. But he could sing, and run things, and he got work. He started hiring me for all sorts of jobs, after he found out I could more or less follow along with him on the bass by watching his left hand on the guitar neck.

I was broke at the time, had no regular music jobs, and would play with anybody for a few bucks, so I was game. But man, some of those jobs beggar description. I started doing an Irish duo thing with him. It was in another, much more disreputable Irish bar, and there were glasses and tables and fists flying around the joint with a regularity that bordered on boredom. He would sing and play busker tunes on the guitar, and I'd follow along as best I could, which wasn't very well, partly because he would turn away from me mostly. It was every man for himself with that dude, morning, noon, and night. I couldn't sing harmony with him on a good day, and there were no good days, because it was all I could do to just follow along with him. It was like chasing a moving musical bus.

When the crowd got really unruly, which is really saying something, he'd sing Carrickfergus, or Danny Boy, in a lilting operatic tenor voice he owned, but hoarded, mostly, and it was so compelling that he'd stop traffic outside and everyone would weep and sway in each other's arms for a bit. Then he'd tell the audience if they had a request to write in on a twenty and send it on up, and it was right back in the mosh.

One day, I showed up to the job, and he wasn't there. There was another fellow holding a guitar, and staring at me. "J couldn't make it, so he sent me." I set up my equipment, hung the bass around my neck, and looked at the other fellow. And he said, "J said you know all the tunes, and all I've got to do is watch your hand on the bass neck and follow along."

It was a very long night, and I never laid eyes on J again.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

If You Make Things, You Are My Brother. Or Sister. My Chinese Brother Or Sister, Apparently

I scour the Intertunnel looking for videos of craftsmen of any sort that I can feature on this blog. I make furniture. But you should understand: I don't LOVINGLY CRAFT anything.

That term is a running, inside joke between my wife and me. It's shorthand for someone doing handwork as slow as possible, in order that the (sometimes imaginary) customer can tell all their friends they bought something that's LOVINGLY CRAFTED. Most American craftsman featured on the Intertunnel are running little personality cults. They don't make enough stuff to reach a threshold I keep in my head to be called a true maker of things. They are  performance artists; or wish they were, anyway. They LOVINGLY CRAFT.

As I said, I don't LOVINGLY CRAFT anything. I make things with all the intelligence and effort I can bring to bear, as fast as I can, and sell it for as little as I think is necessary and as much as I can get at the same time. Finding that financial fulcrum is deuced difficult. If you charge too little you starve. Conversely, if you charge too much, you starve.

Why do I have to travel the Intertunnel to China to find people like me? These people are exactly like me. They are clean. They are "well-turned-out." They are not slovenly in their appearance or demeanor. They are all sober. Believe me, I've managed hundreds of people at a time. I can tell at a hundred yards if you're lit. They smile at work. They work really, really hard, and someone else ends up with almost all the money, but they make enough to keep body and soul together. I noticed, in the background, a young woman returning to work from outside, and she appears to be holding a better phone than I possess. There is a child hanging around the workshop. My workshop often has one of those.

That workshop has nothing that I don't understand going on it it. It's a very safe place to work, although the State of California would tell you that every single thing in it is known to give you cancer. But they say that about a glass of tapwater. The finish that the woman's applying is shellac, which you can eat after is dries, and the glue pot is filled with hide glue, which is just horses that came in last, and most of the tools make wood shavings, not sawdust, and the sanding is done by hand, so the sawdust isn't copious or particularly dangerous. No one in the video is missing a digit, or has any visible scars from working with their hands all day. They all have fans pointed at them, but that's no doubt because it's too warm for comfort wherever they are. That place is not full of toxic fumes. You'd pay money to smell the smells in there. Shellac and hide glue and wood shavings smell wonderful. I hear laughter in there, and people smile when a camera is pointed at them. It's a sheepish smile I understand. They are not used to people being interested in their mundane life. No one is wearing safety glasses or ear protection, and no one needs them, either.

No one is LOVINGLY CRAFTING anything in the video, although the violins they make will be sold for huge money in Europe, and the customers will be told that their violins were... LOVINGLY CRAFTED. But then again, no one I've seen in five thousand LOVINGLY CRAFTED videos have one-tenth the hand skills I see demonstrated by everyone in the video. It's important work to them, so they do it to the best of their ability. People that do things over and over get really good at them. I wish them all well -- and hope on my best day, I'm as good as they are on their worst.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ladies And Gentlemen, I Give You: The Intertunnel

It is a silly place.

The light at the end of the Intertunnel is a dumpster fire. An Intertunnel in the hand is worth two in Kate Bush. I think that I shall never see, an Intertunnel take an arrow to the knee. The Intertunnel is the place where, when you have to go there, you're likely to be taken in. Do not go gentle into that Intertunnel. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing but look at the Intertunnel. There's a sucker born every refresh. And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your Intertunnel can do for you—ask if you can upload a mariachi band serenading a beluga whale.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pure Pop For Then People -- Crowded House

Neil Finn's entry in the "Men that look like old lesbians" sweepstakes. He's been going to the beauty parlor with Ron Wood and Jeff Beck, I see. Neil's fronting the current iteration of Crowded House in the video. They were semi-big in the eighties. Big enough to still be working, at any rate. They're from New Zealand and Australia and other upside-down places.

He can still sing, I also see. Before Auto-Tune, if you wanted to make money in pop music, you sort of had to be able to sing. It wasn't absolutely necessary, of course. You used to be able to mumble into a microphone, then the producer would put all sorts of sturm und drang all around it, and you could have a hit; see: Don't You Want Me Baby, by Human League. But crooners have an easier time of it, and have less trouble having more than one bite of the top forty apple.

Crowded House was one of those eighties bands -- A Flock of Seagulls;  ABC, The Bangles; Thompson Twins; Duran Duran; Escape Club; The Fixx; Simple Minds; Simply Red;  Howard Jones; XTC; Dan Hartman; Icehouse; Level 42; Psychedelic Furs;  Hair Cut 100; Tears for Fears;  Wang Chung; World Party -- bands that are growing interchangeable with the decades slipping by. If you put them all on the same bill, and they all wore matching suits, they could all play each other's tunes and not many people would notice. But you always notice when people sing well.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Boulder Colorado Flood Cleanup

Say, shouldn't you people be out looting or something? Waiting for a morbidly obese governor to hand you a check? Getting your stories straight for your fraudulent insurance claim? Shouldn't you be waiting outside for FEMA to do that? Waiting for Brownie to come and do a heckuva job? Asphyxiating yourselves by running a generator indoors? Guarding your stash of non-perishable food by brandishing semi-automatic weapons at everyone that passes by?

What the hell's wrong with these people?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How Long Has This Been Going On?

How long has Eric Clapton been standing by the highway offramp, holding a sign that says: Will supply tasty, understated licks for food? I didn't get the memo.

That song is, as they say, "a horse to ride." Paul Carrack, the fellow pestering the Hammond organ and singing, wrote it back in the seventies, and had a minor hit with it with his band Ace. Number three, Billboard in the US. He's British. I imagine he shuffles out to the mailbox every morning in his slippers and bathrobe, and finds a check in there that says How Long on it in the memo line, and shuffles back in to throw it on the pile. It's good to plant perennial crops in this world.

That's why Paul Carrack is a good example for me to show my son the musician. Paul Carrack works, and works with good people. Well, he works with everybody; I assume there's some good people in there somewhere. I find it amusing that he was in Roxy Music, and then Squeeze. According to Wikipedia, he's also either played, sung, or played and sung with:

Roger Waters
Mike and the Mechanics
Ringo Starr
Elton John
Eric Clapton
The Pretenders
The Smiths
Simply Red
Nick Lowe
John Hiatt
I'm sure I missed a couple of dozen more

As I said, I think he's a good example to show to my son in this respect: Learn to sing, dude. It's the only thing that matters. If you can sing, you'll work. You'll have some control over who you work with. You'll be autonomous, if you like. You'll be able to shuffle out to the mailbox in your jammies someday, and look for something besides dunning letters.

Learn to sing, son. Some day you might want old ladies to flap their bingo wings while they clap along to your songs.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

When I Buy A Sofa, I Want Some Upholstery On It

A ship's hull should be worth more than its rigging. Women should cast a shadow. They shouldn't be able to break their nose walking into a wall if they tried. They should have lips without a trip to a doctor's office. It's shouldn't be a straight shot from the armpit to the ankle. Beauty shouldn't just be in the eye of the beer holder. Some girls' middle name is Pavlov. Some women are the reason why some women distrust their whole species. No matter how bad a housekeeper she might be, a beautiful woman will get to keep the house. Some women have to point out Halley's Comet. Behind every great woman -- is me, looking at ...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Don't Miss The Groucho Marx Eyebrow Lift At 1:26

Here's more of my two sons, AKA Unorganized Hancock, playing live at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture last month.

Some inside baseball: It rained like crazy all day that day; wetter than Noah's shower curtain. We slogged it over to Skowhegan, about an hour and twenty minutes from where we live here in Rumford, Maine. There were a whole bunch of delays, as the closing ceremonies for the school were pushed back a couple of times. We sat in our van for an hour or two, and finally our waterlogged hostess came out and asked us if we wanted to leave and eat dinner, and then come back. She paid the boys in full right then, and whispered, "If you don't come back, we'll understand."

Of course we came back. We dragged all their equipment through the downpours, not a soul in the  big barn where they were to perform. Five hours after they left the house, they started playing. The whole crowd came in en masse, and they did the usual double-take when they see the midget behind the drums making all that noise. The video above is after an hour and a half of playing, without a break. They were the nicest, most fun crowd you could ever find.

The Heir carries a lot of weight, but it doesn't always show. He's singing and playing a night's worth of tunes with nothing but his little brother to help him. To play unaccompanied by any other instrument but drums is a tightrope act. If you ever stop playing or singing, there's basically nothing. He's already a lot better than I ever was. 

We're careful not to put too much pressure on the Spare Heir. He's precocious, but it's not fair to expect any ten-year-old to work like an adult. But he really is a wonder, I think.

[Update: Many thanks to Kathleen M. in Connecticut for her generous support of my sons' efforts, and this blog. Our world is better because you're in it]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

الجنرالات والتخصصات

Remember, we've always been at war with Eastasia. Botox Lurch said so. Must be true.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

We Could Always Motivate Our Employees By Treating Them With Respect And Paying Them Well. Nah

Every once in a great while I get disconsolate about these here Intertunnels. A contest to see who can be the stupidest gets old fast. Nothing much seems genuine. I have every expectation that this video is genuine, don't get me wrong; but the Intertunnel's interest in it will not be because it's good. It's because it's very, very, bad.

When you worship the gods of bad and stupid, this sort of thing is what emerges from the tail end of pop culture's alimentary canal.  Either you're savvy, and understand that your employees won't respond to anything serious if it's presented in a serious way, or you're a dullard, and think you're hip because you're immune to just how lame-o you appear. Either way, you're not Dale Carnegie.

Or maybe you are. Fish don't get to swim in the water they desire. They must swim in the water they're in, or perish. I imagine that it's deuced difficult to make a living these days selling trinkets to the natives anywhere in the US. There is, literally, not one item in that store that I'd keep if it was given to me. Purchasing anything is out of the question. The owner of the store has to figure out how to get his employees on board with his scheme to sell this dreck or they'll all starve. His scheme is being pleasant to the customers. That's it. Nothing fancy. The video will be hooted at much farther and wider than when it was conceptualized, that's for sure, but the point was made, moronically, perhaps, but no one that watches it would be struck by the idea that there were unpleasant people anywhere near it. Many nice people don't summer in Cannes, and dress in couture. I said nice people, not Nice people.

If you had produced the best customer service video ever made, flashy and full of sober and sage advice to the retail worker, you'd get maybe five thousand hits on YouTube. I guarantee this one will get five million. Therein lies a lesson. My only problem is I have no idea what that lesson might be.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Kids These Days

If you're of a mind to lament the comparative worthlessness of kids these days, there's one detail about your observation that I'm certain you're overlooking: Kids don't make themselves.

Children have almost no autonomy. They are what we make them, almost exclusively. We have the greatest effect on our own kids, but we have some effect, at least collectively, on all of them. That may sound weird to people who know me. I don't believe in "collective guilt." But people who do believe in collective guilt are guilty as hell when they say, kids these days. The index finger points out two malefactors, generally.

Kids these days are probably tired of hearing that they grew up in the world others made for them, but they're somehow doing it wrong. I'm not young anymore, but more than once I've suffered an affront that goes something like this: You screwed up; you cooperated. That'll teach you!

Well, I don't cooperate all that much anymore. I'll tell old people to get off my lawn, mostly, but not the young people. I like energy and the promise of better things to come. I will continue to do so until I get a bed with a lid.

I like my own kids, and every once in a while I indulge my wife and allow myself a bit of pride about their energy, or their bearing, or their good natures. I would expect to be judged harshly if they had turned out like... kids these days.

My reason for refusing to sanction the bylaw made by the borough council of Stoke Newington was that I have received no evidence that the dangers arising from roller-skating by boys and girls are so much greater than the ordinary dangers of traffic in the streets, particularly motor traffic, that the practice ought to be prohibited by by-law.  Such a by-law would create a new offence punishable by the criminal law...would lead to the imposition of fines, and possibly to the detention and imprisonment of children and young persons for indulging in a form of amusement which would be legal on one side of the road and illegal on the other. I am very reluctant to increase the number of occasions when the children of the poorer classes may be brought into the police-court and rendered liable to imprisonment".   -Winston Churchill

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Since I Met You, Baby

Eric Lindell, with Anson Funderburgh on guitar, resurrect Elvin Bishop's Fooled Around And Fell In Love from 1975

It's completely lacking bellbottoms and dusters, or carpenter overalls with one strap worn over the shoulder. No sign of turd curls. No plaid pants that I noticed. Anson's flirting with a Qiana shirt there, but the collar's too small. Gotta flap in the breeze like Sister Bertrille's cornette to be a real Qiana shirt. There isn't a decent Jewfro in the place. No one's got a necktie wide enough to use as a tablecloth, either. Nary a tube-top to be seen.

It's like their heart really isn't in it.

Friday, September 06, 2013

El Jefe

[The end of a saga. I was a welder in the desert back in the day. I've been trying to explain how I got into that predicament without sounding stupid. It's not working]

The tribe wasn't talking, at least not to me, and not in English when I was nearby. Larry the foreman wasn't interested in holding my hand. His hands were full of index cards with pencil runes scrawled on them. Hitler's stunt double, and Irwin Corey's red-headed nosemining love-child, seemed of doubtful utility. The girl from Flashdance wasn't going to show up anytime soon and show me how to weld between dance numbers. I was going to have to, as Peachy Carnehan says, "brass it out."

Nowadays, dorks on the Internet enjoy playing the The Dunning-Kruger card in blog comments at 3 AM to try to settle things, but the concept isn't useful out in the real world. It wasn't a useful thing to know before the Internet, either. Everyone in the Dunning-Kruger experiment was a college kid -- i.e., someone full of themselves for no reason. Saying that stupid people think they're smart, and smart people think they're stupid, is simply a way for people with an IQ of 105 to attempt to sidle up to people forty points north of that and say, "Isn't that guy with an IQ of 103 a dolt?"

The people educated people think are really stupid -- people with dirt under their fingernails --don't "think" they're smart. They are smart in the only way that matters. They know what they're about. They don't go on Jeopardy and expect loading dock questions. Conversely, if you're a welder and can't weld, your enthusiasm for French poetry or something equally useless wouldn't enter into it. So I might have been the smartest person to ever enter the zip code I was in, but I most certainly was the dumbest fool in the room. There's only one way to keep score. Style points can't weld things. So I hitched up my britches, got in line at each work station, and when in Rome...

I did as the Romans did. Badly. I couldn't pass for Roman, but I could have at least ridden the short bus to an Etruscan elementary school after a while. At first I couldn't get the electrode to spark, then I welded it to the brass fixture. I used ten pieces of filler rod to everyone else's one. My work had more bubbles in it than a frappe, and was more lopsided than an election in a dictatorship, but I stuck with it. I drove home every afternoon in a trance, then slept in my dirty clothes on top of my bedclothes until the next morning. That's when I discovered that a little help would have gone a long way.  I woke up on fire. And not the good kind of fire that can be extinguished, either. The sensation was the same, though. I went to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt.

I'd worn a long sleeve shirt -- cotton; even I knew that any sort of polyester version would ignite if welding sparks hit it, cotton just smolders --  a welding helmet, and leather gauntlets. But I didn't know enough to button my shirt all the way to the top. I'd left a triangle of flesh exposed to the ultraviolet rays that welding likes to bless you with without you noticing, and I'd burned a big Bass Ale logo onto my chest. It hurt like taxation, with the lemon juice of sheepishness ladled on it. I buttoned my shirt over my own personal superman logo, and slowly abraded it off over the next couple of weeks. I swear I can still make out its outline all these years later, whenever I'm shaving that fool's face in the bathroom mirror.

Day in, day out, I hung in there, no more than that, and no one talked to me in any meaningful way. Amish couldn't have shunned me more effectively. At lunchtime I sat alone and ate my pasty sandwich at my shabby desk while the easy laughter of the other men drifted in through the open door as they stood out in the blazing sun and ate burritos from the "roach coach" that pulled into the lot every day at lunchtime. I slowly morphed from a gibbering Irishman into one of those fellows that lives in a barrel and eats thistles and drinks from puddles and waits for wise men that never show up.

Like all places with a rough and tumble workforce, everything worth a farthing was locked in a big cage, which was lorded over by a human guard dog. There was a very calm and quiet young fellow in charge of the place. He was a short Messcan. There were tall, lordly Messcans about, too; they looked like Andalusian Senators or something. But he looked like Mexico before the Europeans showed up. He was dark and doe-eyed and taciturn, and had been trying to grow a moustache unsuccessfully since he was born. He sat at the neatest desk in the building, knew the protocol for everything without hesitation, and spent most of his time reading. He was not required to do anything except hand us stuff, and keep track of it all. All of a sudden, I was informed that he'd been keeping track of me, too.

"Do you know why they don't like you?"

I briefly considered feigning ignorance of this Everest of quiet contempt I'd scrambled up and down every day, but I thought the better of it and just said, "No." Which was the truth.

"They don't like you because you took their cousins' job. Their brothers'. Maybe their fathers'. Who do you think all those cholos in the lobby were when you came in here? They need to weld. You don't need to weld. You don't even know how to weld. You could do what you like. You took someone's place."

I was sort of stunned. I'd been in unions that cared less about whether you were part of their brotherhood. 

"They would have gotten over that, I guess, eventually, but they know that you hate messcans, man."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Who says I hate Mexicans?"

"You think we all steal."

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"Every day you bring all your tools home. We see it. Every day. You think we're all thieves."

There was a long pause while I processed this information. I imagine I had a look of wonder and astonishment on my face that wouldn't be equaled until much later in my life, when another, smaller version of me appeared, coming out of my wife.  That would be quite a long time, as she was currently in ninth grade.

"Do you really think that if I could do something else -- skin diver for Roto-Rooter, rottweiler dentist, anything --  that I'd be a welder in the desert? You must be crazier than I am. And let's get one more thing straight. I bring my tools home every night because every single goddamn day I figure today is the day that I can't take another minute of this godforsaken filthy oven, and I'm never coming back here. Every day I bring my tools home because I might need something fairly sharp to kill myself with when I get home. If I thought you'd steal my tools, I'd have left them here and prayed you'd steal them, if it meant one less day working in this dungeon."

The next day, they came in a gang, and dragged me bodily out into the late morning sun, the parking lot shimmering with the heat like a cookie tin from the oven, and they hugged me and bought me burritos from the roach coach, so spicy that they made me shiver, and after work they hauled me all over their town and got me drunker than a fiddler's whore, and the next morning I threw up chicken mole and Tecate in the john, and the man in the cage said, "Now you're one of us, jefe."

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Steal With Your Eyes

[If you just came in, I was a welder in the desert back in the day. I've been trying to explain how I got into that predicament without sounding stupid. It's not working]

You can bluff your way through most any circumstances if you'll simply pay attention. "Steal with your eyes," it was once explained to me. But paying attention to what? That's the big question. First day on the job, first date, whatever. What do you pay attention to, and to whom? Who's a sage, and who's a doofus? I swear this is the only kind of wisdom you can pick up in this world. You tune out one thing after another, one philosophy followed by another, stop reading bad books, stop wasting your time caring what flavor of imbecilic pop songs comes out of someone else's radio. To live in this world is to be an editor, not a writer.

So I'd promised them I was a welder, and I needed to be a welder, and I was determined to be a welder right quick. I looked around furtively early on, and tried to espy anyone giving off a Stakhanovite vibe, determined to shadow them to see what's what. Grand Theft Eyeball.

In these situations, it's my experience -- hard-won -- that the first person from any insular group that tries to strike up a friendship with you, the new guy, is invariably either a ne'er-do-well or an incompetent. Usually both. Everyone else in the building already knows of, and is tired of, his schtick, so he tries it on the new guy. You can generally learn how to get fired, immediately, from this person.

But I was young then, and didn't have this sort of information in my head yet. I was a lamb for any stray coyote to get ahold of. I'd be friendly with anyone that would be friendly back. This place presented a problem. No one was friendly. No one even looked at me, except to glare, and precious little of even that. I immediately got the impression I was a seal on an ice floe with a dozen polar bears, and the bears did nothing but whisper to each other, then look over their shoulder at me from time to time. I didn't get the impression they were planning a surprise party for me. My attitude toward them didn't matter, so I relied on my grade school education to see me through. Who was the nun in the room? They'll have to talk to me. Larry, the happy Hawaiian with the fantastic aureole of frizz around his head, was the nun. He was in charge. He'd have to help me, surely.

This simply presented another problem. Larry was sort of silly. He smiled all the time. He smiled when things went badly. He smiled when things went well. He smiled while he was being devoured by crocodiles. OK, OK, but he would have, I'm sure of it. If you asked him a question past where's the john you flummoxed him. He smiled when he was flummoxed, especially.

But it was me, of course, that was truly flummoxed, not Larry. Larry wasn't going to be fired if I couldn't weld. Larry would smile and wave to me in the same way if I was run out of the town on a rail, or picked up by limousine to go get my Nobel Prize. I was in a strange place among strange men, doing a strange thing. They all belonged there. I didn't. But I had to. My back was against the wall and the cigarette was almost out.

There was a work room separate from the big shop area. Everybody got a metal desk that looked like reform school, where you could solder things, or eat your lunch, or solder your lunch, or eat solder, or do any number of other interesting things. Larry pointed out mine, towards the back. I sat down and looked around. To my left was a voluntarily mentally retarded young man with Professor Irwin Corey's hairdo, thick glasses with bent frames, and skin like the Sea of Tranquility. I tried watching him, first. I watched him mine his nose, and add the contents to his diet. I did not get the feeling that he was reading encyclopedias at home by the hour for amusement. My eye wandered on.

In front of me there was what appeared to me to be an immensely old man, probably four years younger than I am now, with a bucket-shaped head, a haircut that was obviously the denouement of some sort of bet he'd lost, and a moustache that had gone grey mostly on the sides, so that only the portion of his cookie-duster directly below his philtrum was black, and so rendered him the spitting image of the former chancellor of the Third Reich. He was repeating the same non-joke over and over to no one, just out into the ether. He thought it was funny to hold up a can of Glyptol, a kind of sealer paint, and pronounced it "Griptol," in a Charlie Chan accent. My eye wandered on.

Everyone else was, in the charming vernacular they all used, "Messcan." They were a tribe and a family and an army. I could see immediately that in any real sense of the word, they owned the place. And they were inscrutable to me.

[To be continued, if you feel like it]

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Strange Adventures In The Fall And Rise Of Sippican Cottage

[Editor's note: We continue the seemingly neverending saga of Sippican welding in the desert. It was uphill both ways in the snow, in the desert, apparently.]
[Author's note: The fancy writing dudes always pooh pooh physically demanding things. Mental toughness is a form of intelligence, if you ask me. And there is no editor.]

I've read that it's smells that humans remember the longest, or are the most likely to jog memories. After positing that, the pseudoscientists often talk about Grandma's cookies. Let me tell you about smells.

It smells like exotic bread is baking near the dust collector when you put pine through the drum sander. You know the fine dust is giving you nose cancer and lung trouble so you're almost immune to its charms. Almost. There was this smell once, when I had to renovate an apartment a guy died in. He was in there a good long time, too. It's the smell of the mass grave. That was fun. But nothing can compare to the smell of the abrasive cutoff saw going through steel. It makes brimstone smell like French pastry.

You see, to cut metal like that you don't often use a saw with teeth. It's just an abrasive disc, and you send a shower of sparks and an acrid, burning blast of stink up your nose. It's like snorting sand from the outdoor ashtray next to the door at the place they hold Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. I'll never forget it.

Work started about a half hour before you were scheduled to go to bed, so there was a dreary weariness writ on everyone's face. There was a huddle with everyone looking off into the middle distance, while Larry, the Hawaiian guy with the Long Island housewife afro told us what to do. All the work was tracked on little yellow index cards in pencil. There wasn't a lot to know; outside diameter of the stainless steel tube, length of the finished probe, and what kind of metals were used for the electrodes inside the tube. We made all kinds, but it was mostly J and K types, which are common things made from common metals. By common people, Larry's aureole of hair notwithstanding.

The raw stock to make the thermocouples was coiled to make it easy to store, and simply labeled with a tag tied to the coil with a letter on it. You'd find the coil, which weighed a bit when it was new but was infinitely more appealing than handling the light remainders of the coils. The guys that had worked there awhile never touched the bits and pieces and broke open new coils all the time. Sooner or later someone had to face the short, stainless steel straw, though.

You had to straighten out the coiled pieces by shoving them through a machine called a desuager. A desuager is just a revolving bend. You feed the SS tube through a yoke with three holes. Input output, and the middle. The middle hole is offset from center. The yoke was spun by a motor, and you have to hold on for dear life to the coil as the revolving bend tries to spin it -- and you--all around. It's easy to hold onto the big coils of small diameter tubing, but the scraps of large diameter stuff were almost impossible to hold. You'd clamp the world's oldest Vise-Grip to those and hold on for dear life. More about that later.

So you'd straighten the coil out, and use the abrasive saw to chop them to length. 20 ea K 1/4" 24" is all the work order would say on it. You didn't measure, there were rude markings in pencil on the work bench from the first person who worked there, and you'd use them. Then you got the smell.

It was starting to get hot now. The metal roof sorta glowed with it when the sun started rising up in the sky. So we did what any intelligent person would do. We climbed a ladder to get closer to it.

You see, the shop was set up to handle the largest thing we might sell, not the usual two foot trifle, so you climbed a sort of gangway ladder to a tower where you'd weld. You were working on the tip of the thermocouple, and it had to be oriented vertically. To this day, I can't understand how I climbed up there carrying all the welding stuff and the thermocouples.

The Road Warrior came out shortly after I worked at this place, and I thought they filmed it on location there. It was a barbarous set of circumstances. You'd sit in the kind of chair you'd find at a flea market held outside a torture dungeon, the hot metal roof right over your head. In front of you was a Fred Flintsone looking vise arrangement with brass jaws with a series of holes drilled in it. You'd clamp the thermocouple stock in the appropriate circle, and get to work.

You had to sandblast the insulation out of the tip of the stock to expose the two electrodes inside. And now you had to weld them together. To work, a thermocouple joins two dissimilar metals at one end, sticks that end in the nasty spot full of incredible hotness, and you measure the tiny voltage at the other end with a meter to tell the temperature. The operative term here is: dissimilar.

It's hard as hell to weld identical metals together properly. Welding dissimilar metals is impossible. You do it, but I stand behind the word: it's impossible.

It becomes possible because if you falter once, you will be immediately fired and the other 135 guys that got passed over get their shot. It's possible because if you tarry on the only tower, the other ten guys waiting to do their work while you fumble around will meet you outside after work, and they don't knit for a hobby. You'll lose the only job you can find twenty-five states away from the place of your birth and you won't even have enough money to drive home to be poor there in the snowbanks.

So it's not even possible. It's downright easy.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Being A Welder In The Desert Is Overrated By Exactly No One

[Editor's Note: If you're just getting here, Sippican is droning on about walking uphill both ways to work in the seventies or something, a continuation of this.]
[Author's Note: I Think it was the early eighties, I can't recall exactly when, and won't research it. I'd fire that editor, if I had one.]

I can't remember what year it was, or the exact address of the place, or a host of other things, but I can tell you what I had for lunch on my first day as a welder in the desert. I can tell you because I had the exact same thing every day for a year. Paper bag was a Toreador Squat, I think. Peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread. Verifine apple juice in a likewise squat little glass bottle with a metal cap and a sort of foam label/wrapper. An apple. A granola bar, A paper napkin. I tried eating the napkin a few times before I lost interest.

You couldn't get an apartment in LA without a bank account and a job. You couldn't get a bank account without a fixed address. I couldn't get a job without an apartment. I can't remember who was governor of California at the time. It might have been Jerry Brown or maybe George Deukmejian. At any rate, Franz Kafka was actually running the place. I picked a day, and simultaneously told the apartment landlady I had the job, told the bank I had the apartment, and told the job I could TIG weld thermocouples all the live-long day, baby. The Million Pound Bank Note is just a short story to you; it's an instruction manual to me. You guys should read less Rand and more Twain if you want to get on in this world. By "less Rand," I mean "no Rand," and "all Twain," actually.

(I put "actually" at the end of that sentence so you'd get the proper Valley Girl vibe that was born in LA at the time.)

TIG means Tungsten Inert Gas. You have an electrode in your right hand and you blast an arc through an aureole of plasma while you feed in the filler metal with your other hand. It's harder to do than other types of welding.

I went to Catholic School, so when I said I lied about welding, I don't mean lie in the contemporary sense. I am incapable of looking anyone directly in the face and lying. The nun is there over your shoulder forevermore. To us, even giving people the wrong impression was considered lying. We didn't parse "is." People mistake it for false modesty now, but it's pure terror of the shades of nuns past.

But it's also just a venial sin, and in the Berretta fashion of being willing to do the time for the crime I figured I could take a few weeks in Purgatory or Limbo or Hell's Kitchen or the Department of Motor Vehicles or whatever God's badboy waiting room is called. A man's gotta eat.

I had TIG welded under a microscope in a clean room before. I wore a nylon smock, sat at a sort of school desk, looked through a little green peep lens, pressed a button and stepped on a foot pedal while a tiny weld was made. But it was TIG welding.

Now it was 5:45 in the morning. You have to start early in the desert or it gets too hot for much of anything. The roof is corrugated steel, uninsulated. There are no windows. I eventually used to see the guys working at other shops on the street in sort of shantytown lean-tos, or just under a roof with no walls, and envy them. We were a more formal business, so we got to work in a concrete block Minotaur's labyrinth with a warming tray over our heads. I'll leave it to your imagination and arithmetic to figure out what time you get up to arrive at a job over fifty miles away at 5:45.

I'm not stupid, I'm just dumb. I know I'm in for it, and have to be prepared. No nylon smock is gonna cut it here. I wore jeans, boots, and a flannel shirt. I brought leather gauntlets.

When people talk about thermocouples, they generally think of the little one in their oven the size of two Excedrin laid end to end. Hmmm.... That's incorrect; no one ever thinks about any sort of thermocouple until you have to weld them or you don't eat. Then you think of them really hard.

There was no money in that sort of thermocouple and the company didn't bother with them. We made them for sticking into thermowells that we also made, which in turn were stuck into oil wells and foundry cauldrons and heat treat furnaces. We made those, too.

A small thermocouple for us was about the diameter of a pencil, a big one like the handle of a baseball bat, and made all sorts of lengths. They are made from a stainless steel tube, filled with a kind of white itching powder they called insulation, with two conductors made from dissimilar metals buried in it. The raw stock came coiled to make it easy to store, and you'd desuage them using a barbaric machine that used a revolving bend to straighten the coil as you pushed it through and held on for dear life. We made the desuaging machine, too, and sold it to other companies who had employees as valuable as the crewmen with no names on Star Trek that beam down to the planet's surface and take up permanent residence there.

Then there's this smell. Did I tell you about the smell?

(to be continued)

Monday, September 02, 2013

In Honor Of Labor Day, I'm Taking The Day Off From Work And Talking About Work Instead

[Editor's Note: Begun in 2009. Never finished.  The perfect metaphor for Labor Day]
[Author's Note: I only get to take the day off from writing. I'm making tables. Thank God there's no welding involved. And there is no editor]

Gerard at American Digest hit me with one of those Internet chain-letter chores the other day. As is my wont, I'm late in responding and refuse to cooperate. I'm supposed to list all the jobs I've had. I'm not sure I could if I wanted to and I don't.

I'm afraid of Gerard, so I have to say something. Gerard is one of the very few people that are actual writers on the Intertunnel. Between quixotic ramblings and bizarre pictures of women not always wearing all their clothes, he'll toss off an essay, which in my narcissism I assume is done simply to remind the web that Sippican Cottage is the second-best writer in the world, and no better. He is, as my father calls it: Full of life.

I'm full of other things. But if I wrote down all the things I've done for work no one would believe me so there's no point. I've chopped sugar cane in Central America and taught Frisbee in Framingham and many points between. If I exaggerated one iota you'd think I was Baron Munchausen.

Another person who writes things I want to read is the Barrister at Maggie's Farm. He writes in a spare, avuncular style I like, like many of his co-bloggers there. They are calm people and I like calm because I am mercurial.

The Barrister displays a hallmark of the truly intelligent. He is curious about quotidian things. He wrote about the lowly thermocouple today, because a problem with his water heater caused him to discover it.

I think he's misdiagnosing his problem, or had it explained imperfectly to him; if the thermocouple breaks it never tells the machinery that the water has gone cold, or tells it it's magma hot and turns it off even though it isn't. The pilot light goes out out of boredom, I guess. But the detail is not important.

So I'll respond to Gerard who's no doubt lost interest, and to the Barrister though no response was asked for: You two can't name a job I haven't done. I've made thermocouples. Thousands and thousands of them. I'll describe one job I had, instead of listing all of them.

I needed a job, bad, in LA, 1980-ish. I moved there with next to no money and no plan. I was only old enough to drink because they hadn't changed the law yet. I'd had a dozen jobs or more already. No one was hiring nobody for nothing nohow. If I see another person compare today's economy to the Depression I'm going to show them a picture of 1979. When a mortgage on a house reaches 17%, unemployment is right around 30% in the construction industry, and inflation looks like it's going to touch 20, you get back to me. Car companies did more than just talk about going bankrupt back then.

I was sleeping on the couch in an apartment shared by two girls, neither of which I knew then or know now. You can distill painful shyness into a kind of brazenness if you try real hard.

The only job opening I could find was a classified for a welder. I had welded under a microscope before, so I was prepared to say I was qualified. A ship in a bottle is still a ship, right?

I drove 66 miles dead east from LA to get there. Outside the place looked like Ingsoc owned it, and inside it looked like Beelzebub was renting it. Medieval. A metal corrugated roof in the desert. The concrete block walls could just barely hold in the amount of crazy required to be a welder in there.

It was a terrible job and the pay was about the same as begging in Calcutta or maybe a dental assistant in England. There were -- I remember because they told me-- 135 people there that day applying for the job. There was a person sitting on every horizontal surface you could see making out an application. I was the only one wearing a suit and holding a resume. They took me out of the scrum, up the stairs, gave me the man what are you doing here act.

I lied. I lied like a politician. I lied like an infomercial. I lied like four hundred sermons played backwards. You bet I can weld your thermocouples. They sent 135 people away that very minute.

(to be continued)

Sunday, September 01, 2013

This Is How I Go When I Go Like This

[Editor's Note: originally offered in October of 2011]
[Author's Note: My wife brought me a muffin and coffee today. Same as it ever was. And there is no editor]

The secret to life is to do the same thing over and over again, as long as the thing you're doing is pleasant in the first place.

Every Al Green song sounds more or less the same. That doesn't matter because the first one was so fine. It leaves you wanting more of the same.

"More of the same" is what most people get for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The problem is that you don't really like what you're doing, or seeing, or getting, or listening to in the first place. You feel compelled to do it for myriad reasons, and you hang in there for as long as you can, because you don't want to feel strange or left out or old-fashioned or something. Then you take a handful of pills for breakfast to get through the day. Something's busted.

I get up first in the morning, usually just before the sunrise. I do not have an alarm clock. To sleep until you're done sleeping is a great gift. People assume that since I rise so early that I must have some sort of military regimen. Not so.  The alarm clock is a dread lord and I have beaten it.

I dress in the dark and cold these days. I must make the heat if we are to have any. You might think this an imposition. You could think of it that way. There is an oil tank in our basement. It is a totem of a lost heat civilization that once worshiped in our basement. It holds 275 gallons of fuel oil. That would cost maybe $900 to fill, if you still had at least a puddle left in it. Even if the elderly furnace that was the oil tank's partner in crime still worked, there is no way I'd put that many quarters into the game. So making the heat might be considered an imposition; but the oil tank  is an obscenity.

You appreciate things more if you know the true value of them. What is lost, what is gained. We cannot do everything ourselves, of course. But what we give to others is precious to us, and so we tend to have an appreciation for what we get in return, more than if we were swimming in money, instead of the last decade's septic tank.

My wife rises a little later than I do, and I know she's awake because the ancient water meter under my floor goes tick tick tick. She comes five minutes later with two cups of coffee for us to share in my snug little office, and we wait for the sound of the little one's feet hitting the floor above us.

Today she was late, and came with pumpkin muffins, too, warm from the oven. I could do this every day forever and ever.