Still Missing George

The day has come around once again, and those of us whose lives were impacted by the man stop and consider that George Harrison left this world on November 29, 2001.  Nine years, and his influence seems to grow alongside the legacy of the group that gave him his fame and, perhaps, more heartache than his words and music could ever fully convey.

In spite of the wealth of music and adventures provided to him by The Beatles experience, most of us know how heartwrenchingly painful some of it was to the man who introduced the world to the concept of eastern music within the pop realm.  Were it not for his journey, many lives might be considerably different from what they are today.  Not only did he paint a picture of a spiritual journey for those embracing eastern paths of faith, but it was also the ignition for what was, in its day, known as the Jesus Movement.  I have no doubts about that as I look back on it from this vantage point of passing time.

Had it not been for the turmoil and quests of the 60’s, the inexhaustible searching of an entire generation and the impact of that journey, then I doubt we would have seen the explosion of youth who headed into churches of every description.  Most especially, it helped to create what is now known as Contemporary Christian Music, but was, in its day, the very core of a revolution in the pews of the world.  The music was a result of the searching of the youth who survived that tumultuous decade, and their heading to a faith they saw, not as traditional, but as a source of power and comfort in a world that was fast rejecting the idealism of that period of time.  The drugs had failed, and so had much of the extraneous activity that had been heralded as cures or balms for a troubled world.

So it was that, among a group of hungry and dissatisfied souls, a movement of Christian faith began to emerge out of the depths of the searching that had flowed alongside people like George Harrison.  He sought a relationship with a God he had given only a passing thought to throughout most of his life.  When he sang My Sweet Lord, people of various faiths and pursuits could identify with his longing for a touch from a caring God, not one whose eyes sought out whom He might destroy or hurt on the whims of diety.  George made people think about what they wanted from the Almighty, and many of them turned to a faith rooted in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. 

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about George, later in his life, was his inclusion of a cross alongside the OM which was famously portrayed as part of his signature.  The inclusion of two seemingly divergent paths of theology symbolizes so much of what he brought to the world through his music and his continuing search for the face of God.  Whether or not one completely embraces one or the other or, like George, both of these facets of the Creator, the legacy of his contribution to the awakening of a world mired in distress and apathy about the supernatural truths of the spiritual realms remains as relevant today as when he  evangelized the world with pronouncements and greetings of Hari Krishna. 

As a Christian I take no offense at this, but rather tend to seek more diligently for the intertwining of histories and particles of truth that reveal the kindness and mercies of God.  I would welcome another George right now, someone who has something real to say concerning his search, rather than the pursuit of something hip or trending as a substitute for real spirituality. 

I miss George Harrison for many reasons; for his music and his voice in a world that he rightly perceived as running on the edge of sanity.


Thanksgiving Memories

One of the happiest memories I have of my mother and her talents in the kitchen revolve around the recipe here on this page.  It is one of the most pungent visceral memories I have of being a child, and of numerous holiday dinners.  She would pull out this cookbook, the remains of which are in the picture, and start the process of baking this lovely cheese bread.  It was always Kraft Cracker Barrel sharp cheese, which always makes me want to reach for that in the grocery, the taste not nearly as sharp as the memory of how it was used.
Being from Southern California, the aroma usually had to float into the outside air, as even in November and December, I would probably have been out playing with abundant sunshine in attendance.  The smell of that bread was unmistakable, and happily was not confined to only holidays.  Sometimes it was just a treat, and the faster I got inside the sooner I could have a piece of the hot bread, slathered in butter and waiting for my first bite.
It’s always that first bite that gets us, isn’t it.  Sort of like a first kiss (hopefully) or the first sight of something treasured.  The initial response to that first taste of the cheese infused bread was unequaled in savory delights, and even now  makes my mouth water for a small piece of it.  The inclusion of this at a holiday table usually meant that there was a ham on the menu, usually accompanied by mom’s version of Waldorf salad, the one with apples and grapes, celery and walnuts.  Candied sweet potatos always found a spot, whether with or without a turkey, and the obligatory cranberry sauce.  Mom’s dressing was the best, and I”ve never had anything close to it,(except for mine, which is an exact duplicate).  She always baked hers, preferring that to the hazards of stuffing it in the turkey.  
To this day, I follow her example in most aspects of preparing this holiday meal, all of it from memory as she never wrote anything down.  I’m just grateful for having observed and helped enough to know each step, as we say, by heart.   But the bread, that requires the recipe.  I’m not preparing the Thanksgiving meal this year, so the memories will have to suffice since the food will be someone else’s family treasure.  In the spirit of the holiday, however, I offer the recipe for the world’s best cheese bread.  It certainly is that to me.

Seventy Years Into Eternity

John Lennon and his group.  His group…the one he forged from the pit of his determined glint of future glory.  Had it not been for Lennon, there never would have been the wonder of Beatlemania, the music nor the mayhem.  It was all cast upon his shoulders, and he wore it like the mantle that it was.  He was a king, and he knew it.  He understood that his life, his vision was what powered the thing into existence.  Whether or not we have battles for dominance, one songwriter competing with the other…none of that is relevant outside of the realization that none of it would have mattered if John Lennon hadn’t formed that first group that garnered McCartney’s attention.  History would be different, and so would music, because no one else would have made the same sound, or created the identical insanity that produced the decade of the 60’s.  And, most likely, we wouldn’t still be buying the music that was made nearly 50 years ago.

Think about it: that first record is nearly 50 years old, and they’re still outselling some of the current crop of superstars.  All because John Lennon wanted to make music, at the cost of everything else in life. 

So, without being sappy and saying Happy Birthday, I would like to acknowledge the life of a man who turned the world upside down with his uncanny and brilliant talent.

Thanks John.

For Love Of A Cat

This is Buddy.  He was an extraordinary kitty, travel companion and friend.  He held confidences as though they were sacred, alerted me to unsavory people (cats having a sense of those things), and completed his long life with the same dignity with which he lived it. 
I’ve been talking about cats today, and I felt it would be appropriate to pay homage to my excellent little feline today.  He’s been gone now for a little over two years, having finally retired to wherever kitties decide to curl up and nap eternally, at the age of 19.  He survived his much loved companions, Bubba and Miss Kitt, each of them expiring or moving on, respectively, much to his remorse and, in the case of Bubba, a month of searching and crying for his friend to return to him.  Several of us cried with him as he tried to figure out why he was suddenly alone and bereft of the older, wiser adopted brother to whose stature he aspired.  Unhappily, Bubba the enigmatic bon vivant that he was, had run afoul of a passing car, causing the entire street to mourn him.  His gang of brother cats had lost their leader, the one with whom they wandered from door to door, visiting each other’s homes like a band of kids on summer vacation.
Buddy was left to deal with his grief, not quite bonded to anyone else as he had been to the older cat.  I had actually purchased Buddy as a companion for Bubba (thus the name, Buddy).  Bubba was a very social cat, and in spite of his affection for the human element, he longed for a sibling or, as evidenced by various attempts, even a dog friend.  When I saw the little half siamese kitten in the pet store, I had to have him and took him home to Bub as a present.  He wrapped his paws around the youngster and rolled him across the floor, overjoyed at the offering and ready to begin training him in the ways of cathood.  Unfortunately, Buddy always had a delicate system, and his response to the big friendly cat was to throw up in the middle of the living room.  Once done, however, he warmed up to the affection, although he was never an impulsively loving animal.
Eventually the two were inseparable.  When they had to be left at a kennel during a move, the vet’s assistant was amazed at the two male cats being so devoted to one another.  Once in their new house, Bubba’s effervescent personality made him a leader among the quixotic neighborhood cats.  One of them even wore a bandana and went by the name of Paco.  I have never before or since seen cats behave as these did.  They went from house to house, sometimes entering uninvited to check out the neighbors.  Everyone knew them and were quite happy to let them wander as they did, bringing them in the evenings to avoid being captured and eaten by the coyotes that howled through the desert nights.
Then, the fateful day when Bubba, excited to see someone, ran into the street in the path of car.  It was horrific, and the effect of losing that bright little personality affected all of us, human and cat.  Buddy was stricken with grief and would wander the house, calling at each doorway, hoping his best friend would emerge.  The ordeal of his search lasted about a month, and then he settled into a kind of morose attitude, not quite content but unsure of how to act alone.
The defining moment came when, against all of the rules, he was able to escape before dark and stayed out all night.  I was frantic, fearful of what might happen.  The next morning, those fears were realized when I found him on the front porch, his head bloodied and him seemingly in shock.  I got him to the veterinarian and didn’t ask questions when they took him and began the process of mending him.  After it was all said and done, I had a bill large enough to pay two months rent and a cat who had become this sleek little creature, barely resembling the fluffy little thing from just a week previous.  I slept on the couch with him, afraid that he might do something to damage the delicate little head that had been put back together with metal pins.  The doctor said it was like operating on chicken bones as they realigned his cheek and chin; the only evidence a small scar in later years beneath his mouth.
Something about that few nights on the couch with him created a bond that lasted until his dying breath.  From that moment onwards, he was my cat.  No one ever got between us, and his loyalty was unquestioned during all of those years.  On the night he died, I let him sleep in my bed, not being able to face his disappointment had I taken him in and done the unthinkable albeit to some humane thing by “putting him down”.  Even as he was suffering from some discomfort of the feline hyperthyroidism, he would reach out to me and touch me, letting me know that he could stand it if I would. 
I don’t expect to ever have another cat to rival my Bud.  He was a once in a lifetime experience, much like a soulmate or a perfect husband; rare but worth waiting for.  I don’t doubt there were imperfections, as there are in those we love of course.  Still, the fact that there is love involved diminishes whatever faults my lie beneath the surface or even blatantly on view. 
It was a privilege to live with Buddy, and a huge chunk of my life.  He traveled across the country with me, complaining little, adjusting every time.  Today, it’s good to know that love is always worthwhile, especially if you love a cat named Bud

Skinny Malinky Longlegs!

And right he may be a tall and thin person, but pure dead brilliant all the same.   So, to all the skinny Scotsmen, and especially those in kilts…
A little dialogue between the lunatic and the fringe…

The timid young woman approached her idol, hoping for a word and possibly an autograph.  Little did she expect what would ensue.
He was, at first, congenial and willing to sign her program.  Unexpectedly, he started to converse in the Scotch Gaelic dialect, and she with only a smattering of understanding.
“D’ye spaek Scots?” Oh, she groped for a reply, hoping to imitate his lovely brogue.
“Aye, juist a wee bittie”, so relieved to have managed that little phrase.  Then she thought of something else, and saw no harm in it until after it had escaped her lips…
“Foo d’ye say  “‘Dig the outfit, babe” in Scots?”
His eyes took on a look of concern, and then offense at the untoward request.
“Lae me aloyn! ” He fairly shouted at her, then attempted to turn on his patent leather heels and flee her presence.
“A’m sairy!” Her remorse was too late, and she lamented at her faux pax.  Then, in a rush, she fairly sang out another phrase from the guidebook, confusing it with what had been in the next column.  Instead of her intended plea, Good sir, we can sweep it all away with bloodshot eyes,(and even that did not fully convey her apology), she shocked the crowd by screaming at the top of her lungs… 
“Goad a’michty! Ma dampt hoovercraft’s breemin’ ower wi bluiddy eyls!”
Those in attendance looked fervently in every direction, trying to locate the hovercraft she spoke of,  security quickly secreted the tall Scot away in his tartan regalia, and she, poor thing, went back to her hotel without an autograph. 
“Ane leid is ne’er enough”, she mumbled to no one in particular, and vowed to study the strange language even more diligently before she next approached a tall skinny Scotsman.
The moral of the story is this: 
Don’t follow a Scotsman when he decides to turn on his ‘eels.

All About George

And, I mean that.  This one is all about George Harrison.  It seems there is a surge of interest in the not so quiet Beatle.  The fact that he was, in fact, disarmingly good looking, intelligent and spiritual, massively talented and able to play a slide guitar as though it were a conversation…well, that’s a lot more than the one fact I had in mind.  I adore George, and so do millions of others for various and perfectly good reasons.   So, here’s more to George.  I miss you still…

Okay, I Get It Now

After finally viewing the final episode of this season’s Doctor Who, after much grousing and wondering what it was all about, I think I finally get it.  Even though the action didn’t grab me in quite the same way of past seasons, it was a grand finale, indeed, and I found it thought provoking and entertaining.

I will be among those waiting for the new season, glad to have muddled through the first in this new incarnation.  I totally expected that Amy was on her way out, but the surprise worked and I was glad to see that Rory retained his place among the travelers.

All in all, the end became a good start to many more adventures.