Sunday, December 29, 2002

Desperately Searching for Jesus Herrera

Pronounced "Eh-zeus Eh-reh-rah," and feel free to roll your "R's."

Jesus was my childhood friend. Together, we must have walked hundreds of miles, getting up at the crack of dawn and setting out for gosh knows where. One time I remember - we set out at around six in the morning and walked down to the old Pabst brewery in El Paso, Texas. It was next to the train tracks and quite a way away from our neighborhood. Jesus knew a Mexican lady living near the brewery who fenced rare animals for illegal trade and we visited her that morning. While Jesus spoke to her in Spanish, I played with a tiny monkey on her kitchen table. I'll never forget that place, nor the stench she lived in, with all the animals stuck in cages, walking around in their own excrement.

After our visit we began walking the train tracks when a slow moving train came along. It took the two of us about ten seconds to make our decision to hop the train and ride all the way to downtown El Paso, a good thirty miles, give or take. We easily hopped onto a flat car and sat there, feeling our oats and enjoying the scenery as we headed to the downtown train yards. Passing through intersections, the cars waiting behind candy-cane colored barricades, we waved to the people, happy as larks. Later that evening, while in trouble for being late getting home, I was surprised to find my mother knew I had hopped a train. It seems that one of her customers was in the traffic while we passed an intersection and recognized me. Foiled again. I got the stuffing knocked out of me that evening and ended up enduring yet another in a string of groundings.

That was just one of our many exploits while walking miles and miles about El Paso. In high school, we didn't see each other as often as Jesus was a grade ahead of me and our school was massive. We still got together after school some days and on weekends the two of us eventually entered into a business venture of sorts, fixing aquarium pumps for a local wholesaler. Jesus and I raised tropical fish, bred them, repaired tanks and brought air pumps back to life. The salary was small but enough to keep two teenagers in candy, taco's from Chico's Taco's and tropical fish.

Jesus eventually met a woman. Linda was a product of a local Mexican family whom I would generously describe as, "TROUBLE." Her brother was a local hoodlum and drug dealer and her father was a severe alcoholic and drug addict. My other good friend Steve Willis and I tried to reason with Jesus, telling him to get away from her, but a bad case of hormones got the best of him and weeks later Linda was pregnant. The rest is a sad and sordid tale.

Jesus and Linda lived in the welfare section of town, having little money and a child on the way. Knowing he would not be looked upon favorably for getting her pregnant, Jesus managed to avoid Linda's family for the most part, until one day when he took her home so she could pick up some clothes. Jesus waited in the car while Linda was inside, knowing it wouldn't be a good idea to go inside with her. He eventually told me the last thing he remembers seeing was the glint off of a blued shotgun barrel and the flash as the gun went off. He had been shot by Linda's father, whom after that incident, fled to Mexico somewhere, never to be seen again.

Jesus was blinded by the incident. Shot directly in the face at fairly close range with birdshot. He was flown to an eye specialist in Dallas, Texas, and underwent surgery for several hours to no avail. When I found out, I suffered that typical fear of the unknown, avoiding Jesus at all cost out of my own fear of not knowing what to say or do. Months later we finally reunited. He was home recuperating from the accident and his spirits were remarkably intact. I always admired him for that and was amazed that he was so positive about the whole thing. I had more of a problem with it than he ever did.

In the months following our reunion, we would set out to cause trouble. We operated as a team. Jesus would have me point out some unsuspecting people at a local shopping center and he would hit them with his blind cane, pretending to be searching the area for obstacles. We'd enter stores and he'd knock stuff down, always getting away with it naturally, because he was blind. Afterward, we would get into my car and howl with laughter at our sick little exploits.

Surprisingly, Jesus ended up eventually living with Linda. Steve and I visited one sunny afternoon and were greeted by a sour miasma of rotten garbage and filth. Linda never greeted us, choosing instead to lay on her bed in the middle of the afternoon in evening wear. Dirty dishes were piled in the sink and garbage was overflowing the trashcan. Steve and I changed the baby's diaper and before leaving, pulled Jesus aside and informed him of the conditions we had seen, including the baby's diaper rash. Once again, Jesus was a pillar of strength and told us he knew something was amiss but did not know of the extent. He thanked us and that was the last time I saw Jesus for many years. I heard through the grapevine that he divorced Linda and actually acquired custody of his child, but our paths never crossed because I was heavy into the drugs and bent on leaving El Paso for more fertile ground.

Much later, while in the Navy, stationed in Philadelphia, I received a call from Jesus. He wanted me to send a plane ticket so he could come visit. "On whose salary?" I exclaimed and he laughed. We had a nice conversation and caught up with the years. He was working as a minister of a church and had met and married a wonderful woman whom he met through the Lighthouse for the Blind.

My last venture home, was when my mother died in February of 1989. I called Jesus from the motel I was staying at and he sounded happy and very busy. Again, our paths would not cross as I was leaving for New Hampshire within days and he had too many appointments he could not break. Since that day I have made at least a dozen attempts to find Jesus, all to no avail. I sent e-mail and letters to every agency for the blind I could find in El Paso and a couple of people remembered Jesus, leading me to two different ends of the earth, Tennessee and Mexico.

My ploy here is simple.

I recently have seen his brother listed in Raul Herrera and I were never as close as Jesus and I, but we still traveled in the same circles. Raul was known in our circle as, "Camel," due to his height and stooped posture. Last I had heard Raul was either in Japan or China. I also have seen a listing for Steve Willis, another of my close friends during that era and another story in-and-of-itself.

Not being a paying member of I am looking for someone who is a member to send these guys an e-mail, giving them my e-mail address and telling them to contact me. I am in hopes that Raul knows the whereabouts or has at least heard from his brother. At any length I'd just like to say hello to these guys. asks way too much to become a member, for the few people I would ever care about contacting. Many people I already have contact with have either never joined or have let their membership expire because has become yet another cyber-capitalist.

Personally, I think they are shooting themselves in the foot, as many people would probably join if their membership was more affordable. Anywho, if you are a member and are willing to help me out, please drop me a line and we'll go from there.


Friday, December 27, 2002


Hi folks!

It's finally over and we're starting to dig out. It may take me a while....

Good time to check the roof for leaks!


Thursday, December 26, 2002

Emberton is back at it again and full force I might add. This time he's writing about "The Curse of the Generic Man-Gift." His December 24th posting, touts the merits of giving creative gifts and steering clear of the typical Man-gift, such as the generic tie, socks or power tool.

Well, my girl Wanda must have read his site (or his mind) because she came up with what I REALLY wanted.....

A Radio Shack, Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM 2000 - 1/32 Scale Collectable radio controlled racer! This thing is fun! You should see the cats! It takes a little practice, but in no time I've got them running all about the living room and kitchen, retreating from this tiny, motorized, cat calmer.

Emberton's right! We men need some thought put into our gifts. Why settle for the typical Man-gift? If you want to make us happy, get us something we can have fun with!

Something irresponsible!

Something decadent!

Something that will allow us to go back to our childhood for a while, cut loose, let our hair down.

Women burned their bra's in protest, bringing the Women's Liberation movement onto stage in the 70's didn't they? Perhaps we should stage a similar protest of the generic Man-gifts, burning our jock straps or our Fruit of the Looms!

It would go down in history.

You first Dave.

Well Annie, I hope this will suffice....

I couldn't seem to find a .wav file of Perry Como singing, "Do you hear what I hear?" So, I hope Bing Crosby will be a close enough replacement.

Taking requests!


"Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore!" ....a common response to a Google Image Search.

Yep, you guessed it. The image above was culled from a Google Image Search titled, "Christmas Day."

Go figure.

So, how are all the little Christmas Campers out there? Good and happy I hope! Didja get everything ya wanted? I did. Actually, I would have been just as happy with a tree, Christmas lights, warmth and the realization that I finally have an awesome life, but I got a bonus instead....

A radio controled mini-Mercedez Benz!

Cool beans. Wanda really knows me....I'm just like a kid.

The cats will never be the same however; what with the plastic ball gun and the radio controlled car. Zippy has sought refuge in the loft somewhere whereas Zooey has a morbid curiosity with the two toys.

Wanda and the kids are off to Maine and planning to stay the evening and wait out the storm. Meanwhile, it's already been snowing here, covering everything with a dust of white. This is SO much better than having to get through Christmas in the southwest, without snow. I personally can't imagine Christmas without snow. The forecasters say we're gonna get hammered with snow today, begining sometime tonight. They say we'll get anywhere from six inches to two feet in some places, which is 15.24 Centimeters to 60.96 Centimeters for our International visitors. Cool beans.

So, are you all focused in on the twenty-four hour marathon of "A Christmas Story???" You better be if you're gonna answer my trivia questions! So far nobody has had the intestinal fortitude to try them out. And speaking of television shows.....has anyone seen "Trigger Happy TV"" on the Comedy Channel? Oh my God! I saw that show last night and thought I'd get a hernia from laughing so hard. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Well, it's late...2:38 p.m. and snowing hard outside. I'm gonna cook a nice hot meal and settle in for the storm and some good TV. Life is Good.

Merry Christmas everybody!


Tuesday, December 24, 2002


I found this image on a Google Image search for "Christmas Eve." Hey! It's got that Christmas Evey kind of feel to it, don't you think? You find the damnest things on Google searches.

Christmas Eve is one of those wannabe holidays. How come you never hear of an Easter Eve or a Thanksgiving Eve or St. Patrick's Day Eve? Well, cause Christmas is BIG man! I mean it's huge! You don't hear people say, "Man, I can't wait until Thanksgiving comes," or "Is it Easter yet?" Yep, Christmas is THE HUMONGO HOLIDAY, enough that the day before Christmas rates a holiday in-and-of itself.

Tradition has it, in some American homes, that one gift is opened on Christmas Eve. Others don't have any gifts under the tree until Santa delivers them early Christmas morning. Still others have even different traditions, some family traditions, some religious traditions, some cultural traditions. I'd like to hear from others out there just to see what your traditions are.

Growing up in the desert Southwest, our tradition was to go to an evening church service, have a huge dinner and then pile into the car to go look at the Christmas lights and luminarios (paper sacks weighted down with sand and filled with a lighted candle). When we got back home, it was permissible to open one gift. I could have skipped church, the dinner and the Christmas light tour and just cut to the chase with opening a gift. I usually picked the one that shaking, feeling and guessing hadn't revealed the contents and it usually tided me over until early Christmas morning.

So, I'm feeling rather reminiscent this morning. Wanda, her girls and their friend Sam all came over last Sunday night and we went out to eat at a Chinese - Japanese restaurant up north in Lebanon, New Hampshire. The kids were bushed by the time we arrived and I couldn't understand why until I realized that they travel an hour to get to my house and then we were on the road another hour north to the restaurant. Why so far? Well, I had a coupon to use and we wanted to see the Christmas lights at La Salette Shrine, which is close to the restaurant in the bordering town of Enfield.

We had a wonderful time that evening and one of the topics of conversation while driving home, was memories of Christmas. The gang thought it was sad that I will be spending Christmas alone, but Wanda came to my rescue telling them that I am used to it and have spent many Christmases alone. So, they all pressed me to open one of their gifts when we got back.

Ah, memories, memories. I can't remember when I've been so happy. We had fun sitting in the living room, Christmas lights glowing, Christmas music playing and laughter resounding throughout a living room that is usually silent. I opened my gifts for all to see....a homemade calendar made in Kori's fifth grade class, a basket filled with all my favorite goodies (even Red Bull!), a plastic ball gun that the cats have grown to despise, a Ralphie tee-shirt titled "Pink Nightmare" of him in his pink bunny suit, Dockers flannel pajama bottoms (with pockets!), a pair of Nike sweat pants and a Nike shirt (picked out by Lisa), and another gift that remains under the tree until Christmas.

What an enjoyable evening it was. I haven't had that much fun in a long time. Sam was forever the gentleman and left a lasting impression on me, hoping for his return. So, here I sit on Christmas Eve, pondering memories. I have many. E-mails have been flocking in from my friends from every corner of the globe today, wishing me a Merry Christmas. That is so, so cool. I'll make it a point to send out my e-Christmas cards tonight sometime.

Got another hit on my Guestmap! Welcome to ......ah, er....Engelbert? A blogger from down under. Now I've finally got that continent covered. Those South Americans don't seem to have a sense of humor......where are they? I've sidelined Engelbert today as his site is reminiscent of the Emberton's wit and humor. Must be that Vegemite! The Aussie's are funny as hell. Hell, I'd have a sense of humor too if I lived on an island brimming with poisonous flora and fauna as well as kicking kangaroos. Welcome mate!

Well, enough for now. Hope you haven't been NAUGHTY!


Saturday, December 21, 2002

Well, good news on the career choice front...

Got an e-mail today from an education nurse manager at a local hospital I've been trying to contract with for a preceptorship. She wants to set up an interview with the nurse manager of a medical unit, in preparation for my clinical practice. Seems there is a hitch though....

They contract with me to sign on as a nurse for a period of time after my license is reinstated. Hummmm. Well, I guess I was a silly boy in thinking that you get something for nothing in this world. Working a medical unit for a year or two wouldn't be that bad. Hell, working shoveling shit for a year at twice my past salary wouldn't be so bad either.

Today I am taking a break from studying. Yes, I feel a little guilty about it, but my bamn drain is fried. I'm moving along at a pretty good pace anyway, finishing up module four of a twelve module packet, with an immense amount of reading. For encouragement yesterday, I surfed the state employment site, looking at entry level nursing salaries.

I am psyched.


Thursday, December 19, 2002

Dave's back at it, this time with a vengeance, on"So bad it's Good." Must be his food subjects that are drawing a rather small herd of roaches to his site. I've heard of computer bugs, but this is an infestation.

In one short article he lists the ingredients found on a shopping list that was found lying on a shelf at the local supermarket. Now that's human curiosity for you. I know I've done it, picked up someone's shopping list left in a grocery cart and read it. Now what do you suppose the interest is there? Can you tell much about a person from their grocery list? It's rather anonymous don't you think? Do you think this qualifies with other personal invasions such as peeping or eaves dropping?

The list included VEGEMITE....

Well, I'm no Sherlock Holmes, but Vegemite is definitely Australian. So, one could assume.....oh hell, we all know Dave's from Australia so that's no big Whoop. But seeing the name "VEGEMITE" brought back a very vivid and noxious memory for me.

I once worked at a treatment center with a real, authentic, Australian lady. She was attractive, rather earthy and very, very in shape. After days of watching her spread the dark brown jam-like substance on an english muffin, I finally could not contain my curiosity any longer and asked what it was. "Vegemite Mate!" she said, (Dave also expounds on this phenomenon in his December 9th posting) and offered me some. I only ended up taking a tidbit on the end of a spoon because I couldn't seem to get my nose past the smell. It was simply awful.

That ausie woman didn't remain employed for very long as she lost her job for sleeping on duty, but I'll never forget the Vegemite experience. I suppose wherever you go, each region has a famous delicacy that outsiders cannot stomach. Mine, from the Texas - Mexico border, is Menudo. It's a tripe soup that is famed to be a hangover cure. It's actually quite delicious but most people can't seem to get past what's in it, to try it. An acquired taste I suppose.

If you want to learn a bit more about VEGEMITE from another perspective, go HERE.

Well, I was up late last night, blogging away like a madman, so it's time to go study. Make sure to check out Dave's new and improved site!



Have you seen it?



God! She is sooooo cute!!!!

For those of you who haven't been following the EXCITING events lately, Annie of "My Secret Garden" fame, has bent to pressure and uploaded a picture of herself on RBJ. But you GOTTA see the picture! Oh gosh she's a cutie! The face any mother could love. Not quite what I expected Annie, but definitely a show stopper!!!

Well, if you haven't checked out the site, you just gotta....even if it's just to see Annie's picture!

Around ten this morning I got a call. It's Annie, speaking into my message machine, "Hi Jim, this is Anne...are you at home but not really?" She knows how I screen my calls because of all the telemarketers (and bill collectors). We had a nice conversation (meaning I talked her ear off) and eventually the truth came out...she had seen my blog and had called to tell me the pressure was just too much, so she had uploaded her picture on RBJ and before all those pleading e-mails had come in too!

Ha! Well, besides all that, naturally we talked about food, travel, and the weather - It's about 25 degrees Celsius there (close to 80 Fahrenheit) to our minus 12 Celsius (around 10 degrees Fahrenheit) and I felt myself getting homesick for Asia. I miss it, I really do. I don't miss the oppressive humidity but I do miss being in Asia. Annie is going on holiday come Friday and according to her recent blogging and e-mailing, it sounds as if it is a much needed break.

Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season to you Annie!


Once in a Blue Moon...

Recently, a person I care about, relapsed. Turns out (so the story goes) that he had been drinking and was hitting the crack pipe for the last few months. This is only second or third hand information, but he IS in treatment and that, at least, is a good thing. This news gave me a jolt and turned out to be a good dose of reality for me.

Lately, away from the substance abuse field of work, I've gotten into living more of a normal life without anything to remind me of where I came from and what my past was like. The shocking news of someone I care about having relapsed, brought me right back there to just how easy it is. It's just a thought away. Several events lead up to the thought, the thought comes, you dwell on it....remembering the euphoria, the release, the temporary peace from the wrenching pain of reality, then......

"Scuse me while I kiss the sky."

I know how he feels right now, or better yet, how he felt in the subsequent hours after the last time he used. It sounds like such a minor thing, to just understand. You see we humans, especially us guys, seem to want to DO something. All I can offer now, is my understanding. For me, I know that having been right where he is right now, if I would have known that people just understood, it would have meant the world to me. For me, it was all too easy to get wrapped up in how people perceived me as a failure or how once again, I had let both myself and others, down.

You see, that's all anybody really wants. To be understood, respected, accepted and loved. I understand him, respect him and accept him. Can't say I LOVE the dude, but hey, three out of four ain't bad! People who don't suffer the malady, "earth people" I call them, can't understand, no matter how hard they try. They have an excuse. What erks the hell out of me, is the very people who DO understand, condemning someone who relapses. Go figure.

Yes, it's a sad time for my buddy, but it's also a new beginning. A beginning of better times to come. These days in detox will serve to remind him of just how easy it is and no matter how damn strong we think we are or how much we accomplish in life, we are still vulnerable. Life (and shit) happens. Hopefully he will grow from this and move on. He's one of those really great guys that only come along once in a blue moon.

Stand strong my man!


Wednesday, December 18, 2002

My good friend and fellow blogette, Anne Charmaine of the famed "My Secret Garden" has achieved RBJ fame, sans fortune. Actually, this happened some time ago, but slow guy that I am lately, I have eventually managed to get around to telling all you fellow bloggers and bloggettes.

Yep, Annie made the Malaysian list on Rice Bowl Journals! She is official now, listed on page 7, ID #1368. But wait! What's this? No picture? Awww, come on Annie! The world wants to see YOU!

I think everyone should e-mail Annie and insist she put her photo up on the site. You can catch her e-mail link on her site by clicking HERE or following the link above, or by finding her sideline link on this blog under "My Secret Garden." We can all call it "Campaigning" if she asks what is up.

Oh, and by the way, I never suggested this....


Monday, December 16, 2002


Movie Trivia

Many have referred to me as the "A Christmas Story" guru.

I'm not sure if I can live up to that title, but I can say that I have seen the movie quite a few times, at least over fifty times easily. I recently got my drawers in a pinch when my girl Wanda posed a trivia question about the movie which I could not answer. So, today I set out on a fact finding tour of the movie that aired on TBS at 2:00 p.m.

So, after finding the answer to Wanda's trivia question, I got the idea to post some of my own trivia questions on this blog, to see if there are any other Christmas Story fans out there. If you are stumped, TNT is airing another twenty-four hour marathon of the show beginning Christmas Eve, so you'll have plenty of time to take notes.

If you chose, post your answers in an e-mail to me later and we'll see how you did.

1. What was the name of the magazine Ralphie stuck the BB gun advertisement into?
2. Name of the Lone Rangers Nephew's Horse, according to Ralphie's mom.
3. Name Ralphie gave his rifle in his fantasy of protecting his family from "Creeping marauders."
4. Name of the boxed product on the sink in the kitchen.
5. What was the name of Ralphie's teacher?
6. What did the kids have to give up to the teacher that she kept in her lower drawer?
7. What was the bully's name?
8. What was the name of the bully's toadie?
9. What was Ralphie and Randy's last name?
10. What time did the radio program come on that Ralphie wanted to listen to?
11. What song did the family sing when they were coming home from buying the Christmas tree?
12. What was Ralphie's preference in soaps when he had to eat soap for talking dirty?
13. Who did Ralphie blame for the four-letter word he said while helping his father change the tire?
14. Who stuck his tongue to the flagpole on a Triple Dog dare?
15. Who dared him?
16. How far did the kid that made the Triple Dog dare live from Ralphie and Randy?
17. Who countersigned Ralphie's certificate from Little Orphan Annie?
18. What was Ralphie's mom doing when the lamp broke?
19. What did Ralphie's dad eventually do with the broken lamp when it couldn't be fixed?
20. What grade did Ralphie get on his class theme about what he wanted for Christmas?
21. What color was Ralphie's theme?
22. What did the sign on the garage say at the site where Ralphie gets into a fight?
23. What color is Ralphie's eyes?
24. After Ralphie gets into the fight, where does Randy hide?
25. What did Ralphie say to the Wicked Witch when he was in line at the Department Store?
26. What smell did Santa hate?
27. What color were the bully's eyes?
28. What was the name of Ralphie's school?
29. Who gave Ralphie the bunny suit?
30. What did Ralphie's dad say he looked like in the bunny suit?
31. What was the name of the Chinese Restaurant?
32. What was the restaurant next to?
33. What does the head waiter do with the ducks head after he cuts it off?
34. What is the name and state of the fictitious town where this all takes place?
35. Jean Shepherd, the author, makes a cameo appearance in the movie...where?
36. What is the name of the department store where Santa is located?
37. What rhyme does Randy say when eating meatloaf?
38. What was moving in the teachers bottom drawer?
39. What is the name of the head "Creeping marauder?"
40. Who's dogs ate the turkey?

Yep, some of these are tough! You'll have to watch the movie for most of them, unless you're an old pro at the movie. I'll post the winner, or should I say the one who comes the closest to getting the most right, the quickest. Have FUN!!!


Friday, December 13, 2002




Christmas, for me, has always been a wondrous time. Aside from a quote-unquote "dysfunctional" upbringing, Christmas always seemed to somehow come together and it represented a very happy time for me when I was young. My parents seemed to call a truce during the Christmas holidays and the focus was mainly on me. I couldn't wait for Christmas to come.

I was a sickly child while growing up, burdened with asthma and severe allergies, necessitating a "fake" Christmas tree, lest I break out in hives or go into a coughing fit. I hated both being sickly and having a fake tree. To me, Christmas just wasn't Christmas unless you had a real Christmas tree, but I learned to enjoy Christmas all the same. Rather than a fake GREEN Christmas tree, to make matters worse my mother had purchased one of those aluminum jobs, starkly silver with a multi-colored, revolving light trained on the tree.

Eventually, I got over the asthma and the allergies and managed to make getting a real tree a major priority during Christmas. I moved out of my home at seventeen and every Christmas I had a tree....real, green, pine smelling and replete with falling needles. Hell, I loved Christmas.

My most memorable Christmas was in Seattle, Washington in 1977. Typically, I was alone during Christmas but had managed to get a real tree and drag it into my dark, dingy basement apartment on seventh and Spring street on Capitol Hill in Seattle. I was working at Providence Medical Center and during my rounds of the floors, making deliveries for the pharmacy one day, a friendly nurse on one of the floors who was always pleasant to me, asked me to join her family for Christmas.

I had turned down her offer at Thanksgiving and this time she wouldn't take no for an answer. She knew, from previous conversations, that I was alone and away from my family. So, eventually I consented and on Christmas eve, I showed up to her home on Mercer Island bearing a small gift that she had requested I bring: An ornament inscribed with the date and my name to hang on their tree. I remember being nervous and typically overdressing for the occasion. I've never been the social type.

I arrived early and upon being greeted and ushered inside, I was suddenly awestruck at the first sight of their Christmas tree. It wasn't any bigger than most, it was just the fact that you could hardly see the tree for all of the ornaments! So, winter coat taken off and glass of eggnog in hand, I was left to survey their tree while my hosts busied themselves in the kitchen.

Each ornament was dated and bore the name of the person or persons who gave the ornament as a gift.

I spent the better part of an hour looking through ornaments that dated back to the thirties and forties. Some of the ornaments were homemade, others were store bought, but all were inscribed....

"Mike and Betty - Christmas '69"

"Merry Christmas 1935 - Tookie & Sugar"

....and so on. I was amazed. In the first three hours I was there, family showed up to the house who had flown in from Florida, Nebraska, California, Mississippi, and other states all over the U.S. This was tradition at it's finest. Members of the family welcomed me and we all sang Christmas carols. Instruments came out from hiding and members of the family pieced a band together and played all night long. We drank eggnog, laughed, told stories, sang, played and ate good food. Then finally came the major event....

We each added our ornaments to the tree.

My ornament, a brass Cartoon Cat with a red ribbon around it's neck, was inscribed with a Christmas greeting, my name and the date. It hung there on that tree, amidst relatives, friends and acquaintances representing over fifty years of tradition. Not a Christmas goes by that I don't think of that ornament hanging on their tree, wondering if anybody asks, "Who is Jim Anderson?"

For the last four or five years I have not celebrated Christmas much. No tree, no decorations, no lights. It has been a sad time for me in most cases, in and out of relationships, going through bad times, feeling alone. The last of my true family died in 1989. I have no children. Christmas, to say the least, hasn't been what I would have wanted it to be.

This holiday season, Christmas was brought to me. Wanda showed up, Santa hat on her head, Christmas tree jammed into the back seat of her little car, decorations and lights overflowing their box. I didn't know what to say but I could feel that sprit inside of me, welling up and filling me with joy. I wanted to cry but guys aren't supposed to do that.

We decorated the whole living room, set up the tree with blinking, itchy lights, and hung ornaments. Each of the ornaments had significance and each was explained as we listened to Christmas music and my Christmas spirit was finally rekindled.

We all need to have times like that I think, special memories that make us want to cry because the feeling is so good, warm & secure. I'm very thankful this Christmas season and sentimental fool that I am, I'm thankful for all the memories that I have to cherish.


Thursday, December 12, 2002


Alias: Professor Quartermass, Zebulon Mysterioso and many other fine, North Irish names. No doubt you will be making many resolutions on this fine day....after a few pints of Guinness of course!

For your birthday Chris, I've dug up some famous events that have happened on your special day.....

On this day in 1719 - The Aurora Borealis was first recorded.

On this day in 1804 - Spain declared war on Britain.

On this day in 1863 - Edvard Munch, Norwegian painter famous for The Scream was born.

On this day in 1896 - Guglielmo Marconi gave the first public demonstration of wireless communication in London. On the same day in 1901 he made the first transatlantic radio transmission from Cornwall to Newfoundland.

On this day in 1911 - My adopted mother, Marie Opal Sharp, was born.

On this day in 1913 - The painting Mona Lisa was recovered in Florence, in a Florence hotel bedroom, after having been stolen from the Louvre two years earlier.

On this day in 1928 - The House of Lords approved a bill to make driving tests compulsory.

On this day in 1936 - Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek declared war on Japan.

On this day in 1941 - the song, "Two In Love" by Tommy Dorsey is released.

On this day in 1964 - the song, "She's A Woman" by The Beatles is released.

On this day in 1966 - Pink Floyd played their first gig, an Oxfam benefit concert, at the Royal Albert Hall.

On this day in 1984 - The group known as Band Aid -- 38 of Britain’s top rock musicians -- recorded Do They Know This is Christmas? for Ethiopian famine victims.

On this day in 1999 - Pub-goers were to be able to drink round the clock under Government plans to shake up the licensing laws.

On this day in 2001 - Irish police and Customs officers today seized up to 80 million cigarettes from a ship in the borderside port of Dundalk, valued at IR£13 million.

Lá Breithe Shona Chris
Sláinte agus saol agat!

Your friend,

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Ahhhhh. Unless nobody picked it up, I need to print my first retraction.

That's it, Jim's quiet musings...has been up and running over a year now and already things are going to crap. Yesterday I said it was minus twenty degrees Fahrenheit here. Well, that was a mistake. I must be hanging online with too many foreigners as I was reading the Celsius scale on my outside thermometer and not the Fahrenheit scale.

It was minus four degrees Fahrenheit here, which it turns out is minus twenty Celsius. Sorry for the mistake. I just know there was somebody out there who was horrified and sent aid to our freezing state. We're into a big warming trend here now has warmed up to twenty above. My pipes were frozen this morning, so no shower for me. Of course that wasn't a problem since I haven't been showering a lot lately anyway. Finally got them unfrozen late this afternoon.

Well, I would have blogged a bit more tonight, but I really need to catch up with my studying as I wasted some valuable time today with a hair dryer in my hand. I hope to get as much written down as possible before they come and yank the telephone lines out.


Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Crazy as a shithouse rat

This unemployed thing is for the birds. Especially when no money is coming in. For all those who care and are concerned.....SEND MONEY!. For all who only have a mild interest in my exploits, read on.

I'm done with module two of a twelve module theoretical review and moving on to module three. Hours of reading, reviewing, writing and doing practice tests is causing me to go crazy as a shithouse rat. I can't go anywhere cause I haven't got the money to purchase petrol and besides, it's too cold out.

Minus twenty degrees Fahrenheit at eight o'clock this morning (that's minus twenty-eight Celsius to the rest of ya'll). The static electricity around here could power this house. I've grown accustomed to zapping myself, discharging the remnants of my electric personality before sitting down to touch my computer keyboard and grounding myself before I touch a light switch. I don't care for electricity except when it's needed.

Zooey is getting along very well and getting quite friendly with me, following me all about the house and trying to help wherever she can. She won't know what to do if I ever go back to work again. Zippy seems happier with a companion now, albeit a bit worn out with all of Zooey's energy.

Well, not much to report here. Things are pretty boring....just sitting around waiting for the U.S. to go to war with Iraq, making chicken soup and studying, studying, eviction notices yet.

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