Posted by Alex Pendragon

Welcome to yet ANOTHER episode of The Chronicles of Pendragon Hold, that stay-cation getaway hidden on the outskirts of redneck "civilization". Here it is hot, humid, and drying out as thunderstorms pound the dickens out of everywhere except, you guessed it, Pendragon Hold. I'm not panicking yet, because the gardens are mostly retired for the season, and nothing appears to be all that stressed...yet. Besides, ONE of these soakers should be scoring a direct hit any day now.....the odds dictate it. Unless the odds decide to take a month off, that is.





(Even as I prepare to post this, the sky is darkening and it seems the odds might be heading right for us.....)

I happen to be enjoying my almost two week "stay-cation" here at the Hold, doing nothing much except laundry, meals, sweeping, laundry, feeding animals (inside and out), laundry, repairing fences, moving plants, and the dishes; none of these activities in any particular order. However, we DO have planned a minor getaway to the wondrous Ichnetucknee river, a rather cold, spring fed stream that people pay to float down in inner-tubes and canoes that enterprising people rent to them. The Wife and I visited this pleasant little river shortly after we met, and both of us actually have to carefully consider what we are going to wear. Waistlines are not necessarily static concepts. It's not to far away and shouldn't cost an arm and a leg, so hopefully there will be enough bribery left to enjoy it.

As far as the car is concerned, I think I've narrowed the noise down to the two older tires which appear to have been scalloped, a condition arising from bad suspension parts, which I have just replaced. I really made a good effort to check the wheels for bad wheel bearings, and they do not display any of the classic symptoms other than the noise, which isn't necessarily a bad wheel bearing noise, but more like a bad tire noise. It's hard to type this post with all my fingers crossed, but they are.

Back on the political front, I have included this video of Bill Mayer discussing capitalism and health care and everything else that greedy people like to harness in order to enrich themselves. He truly says it all.

Being a rabid consumer of NPR and PBS, it seems that the news regarding our environment and what we're doing to it only gets worse and worse, and then it gets even worse than the pessimists insisted it was going to get back when things started looking bad. I used to be a glass-half-empty sort of guy. Half of something is better than nothing at all, right? Well, the hell with that. The glass is broke. After the last G-8 summit, it is obvious that the nations of the world will not take global warming seriously enough to do what must be done to stop the slide. So, I have decided to quit worrying about it. Join me if you wish at the Restaurant at the End of the World, where we will feast on the last of the ocean's bounty, the last of the produce to be pollinated by the soon-to-be-extinct honey bee, and whatever else we might get our greedy mouths on before it all goes away and the great hunger begins. Oh, and we'll crank up the air conditioners with the last of the coal-fired electricity and hold out against the heat as long as we can. Can't promise ice cream.......doubt the cows will be around much longer either........

The sunsets should be gorgeous, though...........

Why Ira Flatow got the job at Science Friday, and I didn't.  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

Hello, and welcome to the Friday edition of The Chronicles of Pendragon Hold. Now, just because we had an edition posted this Friday is no real reason to expect it to happen again NEXT Friday, so don't get used to it.

Today's episode involves tires, wheel bearings, plastic ear ring post liners, dead dogs and the buzzards who love them, and of course, goats, and not necessarily in that order. If you actually believe there's rhyme to this reason, you are most charitable.

Driving down the road on my way to somewhere other than The Hold, I had the opportunity to ease my car thru a crowd of carrion lovers, who had happened upon, (as only scavengers can) an unlucky mammal on the side of the road. Now, I know what you are thinking, and I can assure you that this animal was NOT the victim of my still simmering rage against that pair of murdering mutts who killed my friend Lola. No, although I am fairly sure that these remains were canine in character, I have no idea what animal it was and who might have run it over. Whatever, this pack of hungry road-kill cleaners did there job well, and there remains nothing to tell the tale of a dog's life, or rather, sudden lack of it.

Anne, I was tempted to take pictures for you. Only a select few of us know why.

The front end of our car, a Ford Focus, has an appetite for tires, and finally had worn down the front pair to the point that I had to intervene and retire them before a belt departed that passenger side tire, it was so worn down; all the wear bars showing on the driver's side. Before that I purchased a hydraulic jack and jack stands and got beneath the beast for some serious exploration in search of the nasty noise that was coming from down under. It turns out that a sway bar link had parted on the bottom end and had to be replaced, which, thankfully, with a little research, I figured out how to do myself. Then, yesterday, I visited the tire store and had the two front tires replaced. Now, a troubling rhythmic sound is very evident that the tire guy suggested might be a worn out wheel bearing. I got on the net and researched THAT topic and so far, as best I can discern, there is no CLEAR evidence that the bearing is at fault. SO, I am going to replace the OTHER sway bar link, which probably is about to fail as well anyway, and THEN I will see if that sound is still there, although I have entertained the idea that the sound COULD be coming from one of the old tires in the rear of the car. You see, car sounds seem to always come from someplace OTHER than where they are actually emanating from, making it so easy for auto mechanics to get return business when the obvious remedies turn out to not remedy anything. Hopefully, I will be able to nail down the culprit before something bursts into flames.

Goats.....hmmmm.......why did I mention the goats? Everybody knows I have goats....the goats didn't do anything terrible (today at least).........all three are healthy and hungry as usual.........

Never mind.

I might have reported previously that THE Wife got an extra hole punched in one of her ears. Anyway, she happens to be rather sensitive to nickel, a common contaminant in jewelry, so we had to get her some plastic liners to cover the posts of her ear rings as to keep her ears from swelling up. Hopefully I will be able to get her some pure sterling silver ear rings, perhaps for her birthday, that she isn't allergic to. MAYBE......grin.

The tomato garden has pretty much wound down and there are only a few fruits left to mature. The cucumbers never did produce one decent cuce, and the beans were all buried in an excess of marigolds. The strawberries did just AWFUL this year, and neither the blueberry bush OR the fig tree produced any fruit. Sigh. Next year I'm getting serious and will build some raised beds, which have a proven track record of producing real results in the past. The terrace garden will be restricted to herbs, which it hosts very well.

Just recently I suppose all of you may have heard about the sudden appearance of aggressive squid in the waters off San Diego. These rather nasty creatures normally inhabit waters much deeper and further South, but have now appeared in much shallower waters, in the great numbers they are known to appear in, and have taken to buffet around and man-handle divers. Most divers are leaving these areas to the squid, while others are getting into the thick of it, putting their lives in danger, since these inquisitive and predatory creatures have a habit of trying to rip the masks and hoses off of you. There are plenty of theories as to why this is happening, and none of them are good. But of course, we all know there's no such thing as climate change, now is there?

We are getting regular doses of almost daily rain now, and between that and the stifling heat and humidity, we haven't done much out in the back forty. Once it cools down and dries out a bit, I might try and get that chicken coop built, and have it ready for habitation come next spring.

Well, that's all that's happening here at Pendragon Hold, that acre of sand on the edge of suburbia, where real life trumps fantasy on a regular basis. Be well; I have to put the dragon back in it's cave. If it lets me, that is.

The Momentary Return of BOB, and all THAT entails.....  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

Long time readers of this thing laughingly called a blog might recall the entity "BOB" who on occasion has popped into my life and challenged my grasp on reality. You see, I know that BOB can't be real, yet BOB takes up a definite chunk of my brain's awareness, to the extent that it is very possible that BOB is not only very real, but has actually spoken to me in the manner in which I have recorded in my blog. Having read about the occurrences of false memories in humans, I tend to question those pictures in my mind that might have been figuratively photoshopped rather than recorded verbatim as they seemed to have occurred. Thus it remains to be seen if BOB is nothing more than a figment of my rather colorful imagination, or something all of us needs to get jiggy with if we ever hope to attain nirvana. No, not the band, silly..........

Anyway, I was sitting at my trusty iMac surfing the Apple store in search of the illusive refurbished Mac Mini (the EXACT Mac Mini model that I want to replace this old G-5 with before smoke starts issuing out the back) when all of a sudden the screen goes black, then is replaced by BOB's smiling face. Now, the thing you have to realize when I say "BOB's smiling face" is that no two witnesses out of a pack of 37 would agree as to what Bob's smiling face actually looks like. One moment you think BOB looks something like Bing Crosby, while in the very next breath you'd insist He/She/It is the spitting image of Salma Hyack. BOB simply can't be pigeonholed into being described as looking like anybody in particular, but strangely, you'd know Him/Her/it the second you saw Him/Her/It. I have to assume that's just how deities present themselves to us mortals.

So here I am staring at my computer screen, the one that's been hijacked by good old BOB, and that strange and comforting sense of peace descends over me, a phenomenon I attribute to being in the presence of divinity, and I smile and say, "Well hello there, stranger; long time no see!"

"Stranger?" He says, looking somewhat alarmed, "Stranger than WHO, might I ask?"

"Oh, Bob, you funny, as always.....what can I do for you, sport?"

"You know, Michael....oh wait, excuse me; it's THE Michael nowadays, right? Well, anyway, I simply love how disrespectful you get in the presence of the most utterly powerful THING in all of existence, even tho I could turn your head into a giant turnip if I wanted to. How are YOU doing these days, my wayward child?"

I glance sideways at this appirition/halucination/visitation/whateverthefuckitis, never knowing exactly when to take he/she/it seriously, or when to quake in my boots, which I'm not inclined to do anyway, hellfire or no. I just don't deal with authority figures very well.

"I'm doing as well as can be expected, considering fate and fortune. I'd ask how YOU are doing, but we all know how YOU are doing, don't we? Splendidly comes to mind......."

"Now, now, Michael, let's not make assumptions here. I CAN have a bad day, believe it or not. Why, just last week, a WONDERFUL planet full of the best sentient beings you could ever hope to meet got fried by it's own sun. I hate it when that happens......"

"And you did NOTHING to stop it? Gods, you are one cold muther fu........"

He raised one finger to his lips and I instinctively knew to shut up. "Michael, I created a chaotic universe that creates and destroys amazing things every second of every day and on balance, it's all good. I made up a set of rules that are so complicated, so balanced, so nuanced that that there's no way I could intervene on the side of sweetness and light and not throw the entire thing out of whack. Believe you me, it did NOT take six days to create this universe, and no, one day is not enough rest after a feat like that, believe you me!

"OK then Bob, explain to me if you can how all told, a whole planet of nice people getting cooked is "all good"? Would you be so nonchalant if WE got blow-torched tomorrow? Or do you care?

He shook his head and seemed sorrowful. "I'm gonna let you in on a secret, Michael, not because you deserve to know before your time, but because I like you. There is actually something BETTER than any heaven any human could imagine awaiting all of you, even your dogs, cats, guppies, and hamsters. No matter how or when you die, or how you lived your life, you bring something back to the grand scheme of things; lessons learned, experiences both good and bad, and each very special thing that makes any and all of you so special, so unique. You think all this energy generated by the wellspring of life doesn't amount to anything? Let me tell you, bub, all the suns and quasars and black holes in this universe can't hold a candle to the power all those heartbeats produce! All that emotion, all that love, hate, fury, jealousy, empathy; all that music, all that art, it's one amazing dynamo that powers a realm that all of you sense somehow but can never describe. So, no, although I hate to witness pain and death, especially of innocents, I know that in the end it is not a waste. If feeds something I can only describe as wonderful, and even that comes no where near close enough to doing it justice. Imagine something so fucking far out that you can't even imagine it....that's as close to understanding it as you will ever get, so long as you inhabit that mangy body of yours."

"Well, thanks for the pep talk, BOB, but honestly, did you expect that to make me feel better, especially about all the shit that happens to good people every day, for no good reason? And why can't you just come out and PROVE to these fundamentalist ass-holes that there's no God like they imagine and let us all live in peace for a change? It's all this uncertainty that has us at each other's throats like we are...you could go a long way towards putting an end to THAT excuse for killing each other.

"Michael, you've never been sure that I'm not a figment of YOUR imagination; what's to convince all of mankind? No, I don't do miracles; like I said, I wrote a delicate set of laws that I tinker with at my own peril. Just shooting the shit with you is as harmless an interaction as I can afford; sucking up enough energy from everything needed to actually PROVE to ALL mankind that I am what I am would cost dearly in ways you don't even want to know about....so it's out of the question. Believe me, it's a lot more fun this way.

"You and your fucking "mysterious ways". It's getting pretty old, ya know?"

"I know, Michael.....it's as old as eternity."

"just one question, though, if you can. Does it really matter if I try and live a good life, or does it really make a difference in the end? Will I get ANY cosmic brownie points for the effort?

"What does you gut tell you, my friend? I designed that too, you know."

Sigh.........

The image faded to black and I was left sitting in front of my computer, thinking that perhaps once again I had nodded off into some sort of weird day dream, and that once again I should treat this as just another episode of mild mental illness. Thankfully, I never take these "things" seriously, because life is not kind to prophets, and deep inside I know that BOB has never intended for me to run around the streets making a fool of myself in yet another failed attempt to spread the word. No, Bob has never had anything to do with your typical street corner prophet. Maybe some other off-the-wall deity, but not BOB. But, it makes great blog material, so I guess we both get what we want, without the mess.

Blessed be.

The Day After  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

It was a day like any other day, the sixth of July, 2009, except for the untimely deaths of Michael Jackson, my cat Lola, and any sense of ease I might have entered this 9th annual forty-fifth birthday with. Yes, nine years ago I decided that forty-five was a fine age to be, and so forty-five I remain, year after year. Why get older? Nothing good comes of it. AARP constantly harassing you, Social Security keeps sending you these notices concerning how much you'd have gotten if the Government didn't overhaul the entire program the year before you become eligible for it....why worry? I take care of seventy year plus patients every day I work and it's not pretty....being seventy plus, that is. Things start breaking down, your mind wonders off on tangents, and our society devalues you, charges you more for living, and takes every opportunity to rip you off, counting on an outdated sense of honor that this society lost a long time ago. Yep, forty-five suits me just fine, tyvm!

I have this sad fascination with the news, that phenomenon that promises to INFORM us while simply spinning whatever happened according to the political whims of those reporting it. A whole lot of people are sending Michael off in a grand fashion, overwhelmingly devastated by the sudden death of a pop icon, while conservative "good-old-boys" lament the attention that "perverts" get so much of by the media. The press is also milking the Palin melt-down for all it's worth, as if the very survival of the human race impinges on what this ditzy dame does. Riots in China, blatantly rigged "elections" in Iran, the list of human foibles goes on and on and none of it surprises me or amazes me; human kind is capable of incredibly wonderful and stupid things. Then, along comes a meteor, and what does it matter?

The Pope doesn't like pagans. He thinks we "subjugate" ourselves to "occult influences". Boy, is THIS guy ironic! People kiss this guys ring, and good Catholic women find that their proper place is in submission to men in THIS, the only straight ticket to heaven. Does anybody really think there are any major differences between Christianity in all it's insane variations and Islam, in all IT'S insane variations? I consider myself a priest of my path, and you will never catch ME wearing a pointy hat. Yea, I wear a robe, but there's not once ounce of gold woven into it's fabric. Yea, OK, fine, Pope, my religion is not as valid as yours, thus I don't get to join your heavenly club, which, incidentally, I don't even believe exists to join even if I bought the bullshit it took to join it. I don't believe in your devil, and I don't "subjugate" myself to ANY divine entity, for I AM divine, and thus have no need to. No, I do not consider nature to be more important than human life, because human life is merely one thread woven into the fabric of Gaia, thus I do not need to elevate my species above any other. I might be superior in my ability to manipulate my environment, but thanks to the brain that evolution built for me, I do not need to destroy that environment in order to make myself feel better, unlike most of my unenlightened breathren.

Goodbye, Michael. You have departed one fucked-up world, and I think overall you left it better than you found it. Goodbye, Lola; I don't know why you choose US to be your guardians, but I thank you for the trust, and I beg your forgiveness for failing you in the end. And Goodbye, innocence, it was good while it lasted. There's a price to pay for growing up. Sometimes a deadly one.

Murder Most Foul on the Fourth of July  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

Today's post was meant to be published ON the Fourth of July, but I did work this holiday weekend, and I wanted to spend a bit more time polishing up this post, as it includes news which is painfully personal. It is several days late and in two parts.

Part One; Patriotic Pablum........

Today is the day that we, the citizens of these United States, celebrate the most precious thing we possess.....our freedom. Yes, in many ways, we are not free, and never will be, in the strictest sense of the word, for THAT kind of freedom requires that each and every person possess common sense and a kind, loving heart. Many, if not most of us, do not possess these things, although, again, many of us think we do. However, thanks to the remarkable foresight and critical thinking skills of a select group of 18th century insurgents, we have a document that has provided us with a blueprint from which to build the freest and most powerful nation this Earth has ever known. This document is figuratively stained in the blood of selfless men and women who answered the call, again and again, to risk the greatest sacrifice, and again and again, paid that most dear price for our freedom.

Every four or eight years, one political party or another will attempt to tamper with this document, usually in the name of morality or safety, and in doing so threaten the very foundation of all our freedoms, for the sake of knee-jerk righteousness. These are the enemies within, which we who take our oaths swear to defend ourselves against. They usually rally us around some perceived threat from without, and in the fog of our fear profit mightily at the expense of our sons and daughters, until such a time that even our friends wonder what we've become.

And so on this day, I ask all of you who deem yourselves the guardians, as well as the beneficiaries of this great republic, to remain ever vigilant against those who would use fear, intolerance, and greed to undo what generations of Americans have endured to build a more perfect union, for all these two centuries and more.

Tell them to move to Russia, where the press keeps it's mouth shut, or else. Or Iran, where the state tells you who and how to worship. Or Somalia, where no one pays taxes except passing ships.


Part Two; Murder Most Foul........



This July Fourth has not been very festive here at Pendragon Hold, for yet another tragedy has befallen us. Our dearly confused yet loving and loyal outside cat, the not so male feline we named LOLA, has been..........for lack of any better description......

Murdered.

THE Wife called me at work to inform me that she had just gotten sick having watched two neighborhood stray dogs attack and kill our cat, cornering her near our neighbors house across the lane. They then took her body with them and wondered on back down the road towards their own homes. Of course THE Wife was to afraid to follow them or try to intervene, as vicious as these two somewhat large dogs had proven they could be.

While I had to remain at work, fuming, THE local daughter came over and together they managed to backtrack and hunt down Lola's remains with the help of a lady living near where the dogs apparently lived.

While fireworks painted the skies all around the Hold, we placed our friend on a huge mound of brush and limbs we had already collected for a bonfire and sent her /him on his/her way to Summerland, where nobody expects you to catch mice or explain your gender or share your litter box with other cats. Of course, we played the song "Lola", by the Kinks, her namesake song.

Monday I will call animal control, and I will either get satisfaction through them, or I will get satisfaction, period. These creatures will NOT kill again if I can help it. I've heard to many horror stories of young children being attacked by dogs this way, and it won't happen on MY watch.

One morning, over twelve years ago, when THE Wife and I were living in another of a long succession of apartments (as rents would go up, we would be forced "on down the road" into cheaper and less desirable digs), I opened the front door and in walked a black and white long haired cat, pretty as you please, as if to announce, " hello, I'm living here now, you can feed me if you like..". This cat had a definitive feminine air about it, and it wasn't until we took it to the vet that we discovered that it had an open wound on it's belly, a broken tail, and yes, balls. So, we had her sewn up, vaccinated, and we named him/her LOLA, after the star of the Kinks greatest hit.

LOLA reigned as queen of our households, including the Hold, until the fateful day that we adopted Shiloh and LOLA rebelled, refusing to share HER/HIS domain with a CANINE of all creatures and peeing all over the house. Out she went, and LOLA, former prima-donna of the Pendragon Clan, became our outside cat. We fed her and she remained close, perhaps wondering across the lane to the neighbors yard on occasion, but she never lost the sense that this was home. As she/he grew older, LOLA became something of a ragamuffin, thin, scruffy, and lazy as all get out, lazing stretched out on the sand without a care in the world, ready to react on a moment's notice to pounce on any squirrel my deadly pellet gun might dispatch, yet was never the kind of cat to expend that much energy hunting on her own. In so many ways, LOLA was a rather worthless cat, but she was OUR worthless cat, or rather we were HER loving people, to the very tragic end of his/her life. We will miss him/her/whatever.

Blessed be you all.


P.S. For those of you that are new to The Chronicles, and those who forgot, LOLA was the cat with the starring role in the header of "Dances with Leaves", which you can visit and view via the link at the top of this blog.