Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Signposts to Afghanistan, two years on....

Today, December 31 of 2008, is the second anniversary of the genesis of my story, 'Signposts to Afghanistan', written in early 2007. That story meant a lot to me at the time, and it still does today. It was the first time I had put down into words my motivations for joining the Army in the time of the Vietnam War, how I recalled my experiences gained during those service years, and how I came to follow the path I did after I was discharged from the Army.

Today, one year after writing that story, I am every bit as distressed over our presence in Iraq, and at the horror we have allowed to continue in Afghanistan, as I was then. After having served a year in Vietnam, I was an Afghanistan Analyst for Military Intelligence at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. I fell in love with the country of Afghanistan, and I dreamed of visiting it one day. But life didn't work out that way.

What is going to happen to the current war veterans and their families of today, what with the stresses of multiple deployments and separation, the interruption of careers. I fear that America is going to pay a fierce price for this war and their service. In this day of the assault on the middle class, and CEOs making billions in bonuses by shipping work off to foreign shores, what opportunities await the foot soldier here in America after three tours in Iraq?

To read the entire story follow the link below.

Signposts to Afghanistan

Laudizen King

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Thought for the Day from Walt Whitman

Sea of stretch'd ground-swells,
Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths,
Sea of the brine of life and of unshovell'd yet always-ready graves,
Howler and scooper of storms, capricious and dainty sea,
I am integral with you, I too am of one phase and of all phases.
-Walt Whitman, poet (1819-1892)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve Drive in California

Shirley and I left downtown Los Angeles on the day before Christmas at 11:00am and headed north. We were driving to the Central Valley town of Modesto for Christmas, about six hours away, and the forecast called for heavy rain in the afternoon. That meant we faced the possibility of snow up in the hills so we needed to get over the mountain passes before the storms came through; snow at the high elevations had stranded thousands of motorists the previous week.

We followed rte 2 north into La Canada, then began our climb into the San Gabriel Mountains. As the road climbed higher, snow began to appear on the side of the pavement. We left the Angeles Crest above 4000' and turned left on the Angeles Forest Highway; this began the long twisting road that snaked through the San Gabriel Mountains before descending the north slope below the town of Palmdale. We often went this way instead of taking the direct route of Interstate 5 over the Grapevine; that stretch of highway could be a high-speed horror show and winter storms often snarled traffic near Tejon Pass.

An hour after leaving our home in LA we pulled onto Highway 14 just as it turned northwards, crossed over a pass, and descended into the Antelope Valley town of Palmdale. We continued north into Lancaster and then across the high desert to the town of Mojave. Here we gassed up and grabbed a quick bite before continuing on our way. A few miles up the road to the north, we exited Highway 14 and turned left onto rte 58 which we now followed west towards Bakersfield.

After we left Mojave, which sits at an elevation near 2700’, the road began a long and gradual climb towards the town of Tehachapi, the highpoint of our travel on rte 58 at an elevation of 4000’. Rain began to patter softly against the windshield and it gradually grew more determined before it turned completely to snow with the gain of elevation. We entered a mean-looking gray cloud and drove for several minutes in a snow-squall of limited visibility and furious wind-driven snow. Near Tehachapi, the snow stopped and we glimpsed blue sky and sunlight, and the mountain vistas all around us were sporting a fresh dusting of white.

We crested the pass and began the 38-mile descent towards Bakersfield. Finally, we could see into the Central Valley itself. After the road had leveled off, I stopped on an an exit ramp on the valley floor and let Shirley drive. I climbed into the passenger seat and quickly dozed off. When I awoke, we were 100 miles north of Bakersfield and driving on Highway 99 through Fresno. To the east, we had intermittent glimpses of snow in the Sierra near Kings Canyon and Yosemite before storm clouds obscured the view. We pulled over for coffee and a rest near the town of Madera, and I took over as driver. In an hour, we were home in Modesto.

California is an incredible state, filled with diversity and wonder at every turn. On our six-hour drive we left the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles, went over and across the San Gabriel Mountains, drove across the Antelope Valley and the high desert of the Mojave, crested another 4000’ pass before descending into the Central Valley, and then watched storm clouds collide with the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

How sweet it all is. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Thinking of Spring - May Camp

Winter has just started in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but here is a story about setting up camp at Dolly Copp in a driving May rainstorm. This should stir your appetite for the spring.

May Camp


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Texas Stadium

Last night on TV, I watched the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens play the last regular season football game in Texas Stadium. I never saw a game there, yet I spent some time in that area of Texas, and I have good memories of the people and things that I saw and did there.

When the stadium opened in 1971, I was still in the Army at Fort Bragg.

On major life changes, I drove past the stadium on 5 occasions as I traveled from coast to coast in ’71, ’72, ’90, ‘94, and ’97.

When I worked for Mitsubishi in the early ‘90s, I met a woman named Marilyn who worked in our warehouse there, and we remained friends.

As I began working with SAP technology, I made several visits to the SAP training center that was located in the area known as Las Colinas, situated close to Texas Stadium.

About ten years ago, I flew to Dallas for an SAP conference. I went early and spent a couple days with Marilyn, and we saw a great concert at Texas Stadium featuring Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart.

Leaving Marilyn, I hooked up with friends from work that arrived for the SAP conference. On our spare time we acted as tourists and did what anyone wanted to do. We went to South Fork to see the set of the TV show "Dallas", we visited the Sixth Floor Museum and Dealey Plaza to experience the Kennedy assassination, had drinks at the Reunion Tower, and tried to find the graves of Bonny and Clyde. I came away from that trip with two shot glasses: one from a Hooters restaurant where we stopped for chicken wings, and one from the Mustang Café in Las Colinas, where we enjoyed a wonderful dinner.

The shot glass from the Mustang Café was a beautiful frosted-glass piece that featured the mustangs seen in the fountain by the Cafe running around the glass; the mustang images on the glass were crystal clear as opposed to frosted, the liquor showing its color through the images of the horses. Jim McCall and I both bought one on that trip.

Jim passed away in 2004, and on occasion since, I would raise the Mustang glass and have a shot in his honor. That glass broke early this year.

So tonight, I’ll raise one for Texas Stadium, Jim, Marilyn and the other friends I met and traveled with during those years of many changes.

The Hooters glass survives.

Friday, December 19, 2008

NBC Programming Schedule

Here is the new TV Programming schedule from NBC

05:00am to 05:00pm The Today Show
05:00pm to 08:00pm NBC Stock Footage and News Shorts
08:00pm to 10:00pm American Dickhead
10:00pm to 12:00am The New Tonight Show
12:00am to 02:00am The Old Tonight Show
02:00am to 04:00am The Old Late Tonight Show
04:00am to 05:00am I Love Lucy

Total NBC Employees: 50

Thursday, December 18, 2008

ChoSun Galbee, Korean BBQ in Los Angeles

A friend at work, Sam Soon Kim, asked my wife and me to join her for dinner at a Korean BBQ restaurant in Los Angeles. Shirley and I accepted, and after Sam told us we were going to the ChoSun Galbee Korean BBQ off Olympic Blvd in Koreatown, I went and looked up some reviews.

Non-Asians (or non-Koreans) did not seem to like the service. Many said it was pricey, and that parking was an issue. Many reviewers loved it. Forewarned and forearmed, Shirley and I met Sam at ChoSun Galbee on Tuesday night.

The restaurant was already busy at 6:30 pm, so I pulled into the small valet-parking lot. We met Sam and were shown to our table. If you want BBQ you get a table with a grill in the center. Sam is Korean so we already had an 'in' as she handled the discussions in Korean as to what was good and fresh that night, and she also ordered drinks. One review that I had read earlier said that the best thing to have with dinner was an ice-cold Hite beer, so I asked Sam to order me one.

We ordered two plates of prime beef to BBQ, one plate marinated and one not. We also ordered Galbee Jjim, a cooked short-rib dish. A plethora of small dishes appeared: kimchi, pickled radish, broccoli with a piquant sauce, and many more. There was rice and seaweed soup as well, and a large green salad with a tasty dressing.

Everything was delicious. The BBQ was exquisite, just take it off the grill in front of you and place it on your salad, and we grilled peppers, garlic, onion and mushrooms along with the meat. As for the Galbee Jjim, it was absolutely the best short-rib dish I have ever tasted, the beef melted in my mouth. The seaweed soup was surprisingly good. We were never rushed, and the wait-staff was not cold and distant as much as they were busy; the place was packed.

The three meat dishes we ordered cost between 26 and 31 dollars each, and valet-parking cost two dollars. I'm not sure about the cost of drinks as Sam picked up the tab. But it was impressive that the restaurant was busy as it was.

If I had to choose between a restaurant that was empty and a busy one with difficult parking, well, I'd take the busy one every time.

We had a wonderful dinner, and we had a great time talking to each other and enjoying the atmosphere.

My review: It was excellent.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NBC is Dead

If they're not, we can only hope that the end of their TV programming comes soon and with as little publicity and reality show advertising as possible.

Republican Senators and the hubris of the South

It's a special sight to see the Republican Senators from the South line up in opposition to the Big-3 Auto bailout proposal because it doesn't eviscerate the auto unions as much as they would like. It was a different tune when deregulation was the word and obscenely-paid CEOs were contributing large sums from their ill-gotten gains (read CEO compensation) to the anti-union and conservative shills in the South.

You two-faced bastards. You'ld sell the whole country down the drain if it would service your own aims.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Cards

The last batch of Christmas Cards is complete, stamped and addressed, sitting on the counter ready for mailing on Monday. I like to send them and I like to receive them. Even if a contact with someone is a once-a-year event, it keeps the lines open so to speak, and acknowledges that which has gone before.

So this year, like every year, I sat down and filled them out and readied them for mailing in small bunches. Now that I am done, the effort of it feels good.

The number of cards I send seems smaller every year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Riots in Greece

Wither goest thou Greece, in thy anarchist's car in the night?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Barbara Walters Special

Barbara Walters is going to have a special where she interviews the 10 most fascinating people of 2008. What a hollow and self-serving shill she is. What talent or skill did she ever really have, other than the enduring fame she garnered by being skewered for so many years on Saturday Night Live.

Perhaps something else will be on television that night, something not so baseless. Perhaps there is a show on the Gem shopping network, or maybe I can get a free miracle prayer-scarf blessed by some snake-charmer preacher in Tennessee. Or if I'm really lucky, I can learn how the proper and regular use of enemas holds the key to a long and healthy life.

The TV networks are dead, the final insult

Television is dead. I mean, even more than yesterday. My wife and I have cable to enjoy the pay-movie channels and sports. But that is getting hard to tolerate. Two hundred channels for gems, auctions, and hustlers selling everything from Jesus to sex. They pay the cable companies for access, and we subsidize it by paying for cable.

The networks are so bad that they make cable a necessity. The news programs are just shills for their own reality shows, every half-hour of programming has fifteen minutes of commercials, and canned or studio directed laughter still is the most unfunny sound there is.

And now there is a new assault upon the viewer, the final insult for me. Like pop-up windows on the internet, viewers have to endure the images of people and skits superimposed over the program they are watching, filling up a portion of the screen with ads and hype for mind-numbing new series or for future shows. How insulting.

That's it. The days of watching a movie on network are over. I guess I'll have to endure the insult when watching sports.

But I have a message for the television executives.

You suck.

Who is to blame for the big-3 auto debacle

In regards to the big 3-auto meltdown, I’ve heard a lot of talk about the bloated union contracts lately, how the high wages and cost of health and retirement benefits for union autoworkers immediately dooms the American auto industry.

Let’s remember why unions exist in the first place, because of the abuse that the American worker has endured at the hands of management over the years. I see nothing different today.

Corporate executives that make tens of millions a year yet don’t modernize their operations or change with the times. Isn’t that kind of compensation outright larceny? To me it seems like stealing from the shareholders. In addition, all of these CEOs sit on each other’s boards of directors, and always seem ready to approve the highest compensation packages for one another.

Unions? The credit crisis started the downward spiral in the auto industry, and the arrogant CEO-asses show up in Washington in their corporate jets. After they get their hands slapped, they drive back looking for handouts in hybrids. What an act.

What we are watching is an assault on the middle class in America. What place does the American worker occupy in a global economy? None as far as I can see, unless you want to include the fast-food service or lawn-care industries.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Georgia, shame on you

Georgia, shame on you. As if you needed Sarah Palin to make you look this bad.

Saxby Chambliss, Elected but Guilty

As all America looks at the cheaters and swindlers that have brought us to where we are, we ought to take a fresh look at Saxby Chambliss. He is the Republican that accused Max Cleland of failure to defend the Constitution. The three limbs Cleland sacrificed in Vietnam wasn't enough. When it is time to make the CIOs of AIG and other financial institutions that have gone bust accountable for their actions, it is high time to look at this Cretin for the lies and deceit he has spread on the honorable service of others

That the hollow Sarah Palin became a part of this spectacle in Georgia is not surprising. Ambition aside, every time she opens her mouth she reveals the ugly truth about herself: aside from ambition, she offers naught but ignorance and hate.

Real veterans will remember.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sylvian Ofiara

Sylvian Ofiara is an artist and a photographer from Manchester, Connecticut.

Follow the link below to witness the passages of life reflected in the images of four Christmas Cards.

Sylvian Ofiara


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

From Across the Pond

"Thanksgiving ??? Is that some sort of pagan ritual practiced in the colonies ?"

I received the above message this morning in an email from Chris Ellison, a Scottish friend living near Manchester, England. He sent it in reply to a story and message I had emailed to a group of friends earlier.

I first met Chris in New Hampshire in 1985, and we became friends at a Guy Fawkes Day party that November, an English holiday celebrating the discovery and prevention of a plot to blow up Parliament in 1605. During that period, I became friends with many of the British consultants employed at the company I worked for, AIG.

Those were good a fruitful years.

The link below takes you to a story that celebrates those people and that time in my life.

Cheers and Slainte


Friday, November 21, 2008

Killing prejudice and fostering humor

There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor. -George Santayana, philosopher (1863-1952)

Two Thoughts from Henry Miller

And what is the potential man, after all? Is he not the sum of all that is human? Divine, in other words?

Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.

-Henry Miller, writer (1891-1980)

Prayer for Sarah Palin

Early in the Presidential election campaign, a person of strong religious beliefs asked my wife to say a prayer for Sarah Palin.

My wife deferred, yet I decided to give it an earnest go.

Today, anyway, it seems to have been answered. Sarah Palin has disappeared from view, at least for now.

Thank you, God.

Bailout for the credit crisis

The money that was earmarked for easing the credit crisis, where is it? Where the hell is it?

Monday, November 17, 2008

On Hot Dogs and Mountains

If there is one thing that has been slow in coming to the states of the West, it is an appreciation for a great hot dog. When I lived in Connecticut and New Hampshire, there was always a deli counter close by where I could choose between several styles of natural casing dogs from different makers, each spiced a little different and with varying degrees of ‘pop’ from the natural casing, a lining found in the intestines (usually from pigs or sheep). My father was always fond of a good hot dog and he liked to boil them until the casing split, and I imagine that my love for a good dog began with him. In the days of my youth back in New England, I enjoyed wonderful natural casing dogs with names like Schultz, Mucke’s, and Grote & Weigel.

Sixteen years ago, I enjoyed a New England hot dog on the flank of Garnet Peak in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego. To read the story of that memorable afternoon, and to see a natural casing dog, follow the link below.

Dog Day Afternoon in the Laguna Mountains


Friday, November 14, 2008

Two thoughts for our times....

Since when do we have to agree with people to defend them from injustice? -Lillian Hellman, playwright (1905-1984)

Having been unable to strengthen justice, we have justified strength. -Blaise Pascal, philosopher and mathematician (1623-1662)


Thursday, November 13, 2008

This just in from the financial bailout.........

With everything we know about the current state of General Motors, and of their losses, I wonder, can it be true?

Is Tiger Woods really going to bailout Buick?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Off the Shoulder of Orion, a Personal Lament

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

These lines, from a scene in the classic sci-fi film, ‘Blade Runner’, were spoken slowly and eloquently by the replicant Roy Batty (played by Rutger Hauer) just before he died. Revisiting moments that humans could not hope to imagine, he lamented his death, and the incredible memories and experiences that would die with him. These words have taken on a new poignancy with me lately, as I find myself dealing with two bad knees and the resulting loss of mobility. I haven’t been dealing with thoughts of death as such, but rather with the feelings of sadness and regret that arise over the many things I will never see or experience again.

To read the rest of this story, a personal lament on aging, follow the link below.

Off the Shoulder of Orion


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pink vs Faith Hill on NFL Sunday Night, and More

I miss the artist Pink singing the NFL Sunday Night song, she brought more energy and soul to that anthem than Faith Hill could ever wish to. I guess that Pink was to edgy for the staid league, Faith is safe for kiddies, pretty and blond (and white), and from a country-western background as well. Yet for me, her act seems bland and hollow, though not as hollow as the commercials that show her hanging around with the black athletes. Right.

There is one moment during the NFL song where Faith faces the camera and bends forward a bit at the waist with her arms down along her sides; the classic pose that a cheerleader assumes before she is going to "shake the twins". But nothing happens, she never does it. What an awkward moment. Maybe in her dreams.

As for the NFL Monday Night Football song, the NFL persists with Hank Williams Jr who is making a living on his schtick of 'Rowdy Friends' fame. But I don't think that many of his rowdy friends are particularly fond of blacks. I wonder how his anti-American slurs against Obama, remarks made during his many appearances in support of McCain during the 2008 Presidential election, are playing now among the African-American players in the league?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

In the Mind of the Artist

Richard Jaworowski, a friend and sculptor from Connecticut, called me the other day in a state of great excitement; he wanted to share with me a dream he had experienced the night before. In that dream, Shirley and I were visiting his studio in Willimantic, Connecticut. There, we joined Richard and his wife, and the four of us milled about the place drinking wine and talking, discussing the virtues of his various marble sculptures and woodcarvings, laughing and enjoying ourselves. We caressed the sensuous stone pieces with our hands, enjoying both the rough and polished surfaces, taking pleasure from both the look and the feel of the marble stone before us.

Next came the exciting part of his dream, the reason for the phone call. The four of us retired to his ‘private studio’, a studio that doesn’t exist in reality, only in this dream. Marble pieces filled the studio, new works of art as yet uncarved, new pieces with exciting shapes and an unimagined sensual tension.

When he awoke, the images of several of these new ‘dream’ pieces remained sharp in his mind. I listened as he related his excitement at this private glimpse into a realm of personal possibility that existed in the mind and soul of a dedicated artist.

What a joy it must be, I thought, to feel so excited about a new and unexplored image from the subconscious working its way to the surface and making itself known to the conscious mind of the artist, especially after all the years of sacrifice and dedication to the craft. I struggled to imagine what that actual process must feel like within the psyche of the artist.

Living a life dedicated to art and marble is a hard path to follow, and Richard has endured many challenges and disappointments over the years. Listening to him today, to hear the joy in his voice as he talked about carving the new images afloat in his mind, I felt envious of his gift.

Follow the link below to visit an online gallery of Richard's work

The Art of Richard Jaworowski


Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Apache Trail - Arizona

Shirley and I recently crossed the Apache Trail by car in Arizona. This 40+ mile ride began east of Phoenix in Apache Junction. It traveled east over a route that was rough at times, but passed through some beautiful country. It traversed an old stagecoach route through the Superstition Mountains and Tonto National Forest, crossed over a rugged height of land, and ended at Roosevelt Dam. We spent about three hours on this road, as we stopped often to enjoy the vistas that changed dramatically throughout the trip

Follow the link below to view the images taken during this trip.

Apache Trail - Arizona


best image from election day.......

For me, the most pleasing and satisfying moment from election night was not seeing McCain give his gracious concession speech, nor was it the image of the stately and composed Obama as he spoke his first public words as President-elect. It was of the joyous assemblage in Grant Park, a crowd made up of people of every age, race, and description. It was heartwarming and emotional to watch as they sang and swayed together to the music coming over the loudspeakers, each person singing the words of the classic blues standard, "Sweet Home Chicago".

To me, that image spoke volumes about what much of America was feeling that night, and about us as a nation.

From the LA Times

a little humor from the Los Angeles Times, that appeared in a blog filled with suggestions of what Sarah Palin should do post-election....

"take your assault weapon back to the moose-blind and wait for Bullwinkle"

Saturday, November 1, 2008

On the Campaign Trail in the Heart of Darkness

There is nothing so mind numbing and desultory as the current spate of television reality shows. Facing questionable judges, one contestant or another survives the ordeal and goes on to grace the covers of the tabloid press. 'American Idol' irritates me the most, yet it also holds up a mirror to how shallow and base the American public has become.

In some wild and unbelievable competition held before addled judges who seem either fawning or abusive, the winner goes on to a recording contract and immediate stardom with appearances on all the late-night talk shows and the booking of concerts around the country. There is no art or experience to it, no creation of a body of work or building of a fan base gained over the years, it is ‘Instant Celebrity’ in its most vile form, of and for itself, propelled onward by a dim-witted and manipulated populace.

Can anyone imagine the Rolling Stones, U2, or Bruce Springsteen existing without the aura and glamour that each has accumulated during the many years that they have spent touring? Let alone the stories and history, and sometimes the tragedy, that go hand in hand with their dedication to the craft and sacrifice of all things personal on the altar of public fame.

Now this ‘Instant Celebrity’ has invaded the world of politics on a national level, here in the 2008 presidential election. Unseen and unknown manipulators have appointed the invisible judges that have selected and thrust Sarah Palin on to the national political stage as a running mate for John McCain. With nothing going for her but a ‘perky’ attitude and the ability to fit within the narrow cookie-cutter template required by the religious right, she has garnered a following of supporters as base and mindless as herself, fawning and servile followers more enamored with form than with substance.

The piece de resistance of this tawdry tale is the fact that Elizabeth Hasselbeck is traveling with Palin on the campaign trail, where she both introduces and speaks in support of the Alaskan governor for the vice presidency. Hasselbeck gained her celebrity status by appearing as a contestant on the CBS reality show ‘Survivor’. After parading out her shapely, sweaty, and scantily clad assets before the educated masses in support of the ‘Survivor’ franchise, she auditioned for a spot on the ABC daily talk show 'The View', and was selected. She has since become become somewhat of a media darling, and has been called “a rising conservative pundit.”

Rising conservative pundit?

These are frightening and dangerous times, indeed. Oh, the horror.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Manchurian Candidate

Special to Swift-Boat-Veterans-for-untruth-and-lies-who-can-utter-any-falsehood-they-want-because-they-use-the-words-veterans-and-truth-in-their-name:

Watch the new 'Manchurian Candidate' starring John McCain as Sgt Raymond Shaw and Sarah Palin as the vile VP candidate John Iselin. Watch as McCain slowly loses his mind as he toys with the queen of diamonds and the evil VP candidate tears at the democratic ideals of the country under the guise of being pro-American.

There is a certain undeniable truth to this parody. McCain seems to be slowly losing control of himself as the election nears; for someone who says 'Country First' and lauds his own heroic service he certainly seems ready to despoil and vilify anything and anybody who gets in his way. And what contempt he has shown the American people with his choice of running mate. What happened to respect and consensus, and caring about what the majority of the country feels?

Rather than 'Country First', the Republican Party motto should be 'Hate and Ambition', for that is how they act out their drama. Their message is "Hate as much as me" and "Revile institutions and individuals as much as me and we can be mutual partners in destroying what is good and decent in government and people."

He is the Manchurian Candidate, and in a way that is far more subterranean and nefarious than the characters envisioned by Richard Condon in his 1959 novel.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cottonwood Canyon Road

Shirley and I recently crossed the Cottonwood Canyon Road in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. We traveled the route from south to north, and the road left north from rte 89 at a point east of Kanab, Utah and west of Page, Arizona. The road crossed the barren Paria Rimrocks before it descended into the Paria River Valley. The road then turned north away from the Paria and followed along the side of Cottonwood Creek as it meandered through the Cottonwood Wash. The wall of the Coxcomb rose above the wash and formed its border to the west. The cottonwoods gave way to cedars as the road gained elevation, and the wash disappeared behind us after we crossed over the height of land and descended into another valley. A side road left right for Grosvenor Arch. After crossing another ridge, we descended into the town of Cannonville on rte 12, east of Bryce Canyon National Park.

Shirley and I spent 3 hours traversing this road. The length of the trip was just over 47 miles, and this included the side trip to the arch.

Follow the link below to view the images taken during this trip.

Cottonwood Canyon Road


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

October 8, 1971, remembering friends

Today is October 8, and that means today is the anniversary of my separation from the US Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 1971. That was truly one of the great days of my life.

Can it really be 37 years ago?

On that day at Fort Bragg, I had two friends with me that also separated from the Army, Dave Reed and Gerald Coley. Dave was from Pheonix, and Gerry was from a town near Chicago.

Later that day, we began a great adventure together by traveling to California. I don't know where they are, but today I hope they are well and remembering me on this important anniversary.

Dave Reed and Gerry Coley, I remember you.

Laudizen King

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Remembering October 5, 1980

Today is October 5, and as is usually the case on this date, my thoughts drift back to 1980, and I revisit a motorcycle accident that I was involved in on that day in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. I was riding with three others, including my friend, Ed Mainville Jr. We had left Manchester, Connecticut earlier that morning, and we were now heading south on route 7 towards Pittsfield after having crossed the crest of the Green Mountains of Vermont on the Arlington-Stratton Road earlier in the day. Up to that point, it had been an uneventful autumn foliage cruise through southeastern New England.

To read the entire story of that fateful fall foliage ride, follow the link below.

October 5, 1980

Laudizen King

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Baseball on my Mind

Now that the Angels are facing the Red Sox in the 2008 ALDS, I remember two stories from my past that center on the Angels and Red Sox. One story centers on Galehead Hut, one of the High Huts of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and the classic baseball battle of the 1986 ALCS.

The other story describes an Angels game in Anaheim in the 1990s when I almost got a foul ball.

Follow the links below to read these stories.

Closing Galehead

Baseball and Coffee


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thank You, Joan Osborne

Last Saturday, September 20, NPR carried an interview on 'All Things Considered' with the pop and blues singer Joan Osborne. In that interview, she talked about her love and appreciation for her adopted home town of New York City, and praised the spirit of the place in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. She also talked about her new album, 'Little Wild One', and her hopes surrounding the album and her musical collaborators.

That interview served as a catalyst for me to review some memories of my own, and to revisit one Joan Osborne concert in particular, one that occurred at Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California in July of 2001.

To read the peice, follow the link below.

Thank you, Joan Osborne

Laudizen King

PS: 9/28 To Mike K.
Thank you for taking the time to comment. Your instincts are correct; she is a unique talent and a true gem, and worthy of your attention. If you read this, comment again and let me know what area of the country you are from. Thanks. LK

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sweeping with George Harrison

I'm alone and down tonight, and I as I relax, I remember the words of George Harrison:

"I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping, still my guitar gently weeps."

Tonight, that is all the release I need, and those few words say what is in my heart.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ryder Cup and Stupid Hats

What is it with these one-size-fits-all baseball-style caps that are so the rage, even among professional athletes? There is not enough hatband material to make it around the head ear-high and make it down to the eyebrow; in the front the band rides up across the forehead and pulls the bill down in an idiotic curve. The hat itself has so little material that it lays flat against the hair, like a beanie that a three-year old might wear. The logo on the hat is lost because the material is plastered down on the head. Even on a rail-thin guy like Furyk, the hat is glued to the head. And if you are anything but rail-thin, forget it; you look like an idiot. I remember Hal Sutton wearing one of these hats a few years ago; let's not go there.

Either we let these cheap manufacturing companies get away with it, or we ourselves are complicit because we pay for this crap. One would think that for the money being spent on the Ryder Cup, each team member would have a fitted-hat made to their head size, like a baseball player. That way the crown would stand up and proudly present the logo above the bill, and the bill would be of a size that didn't make the whole hat look stupid. There would be enough material on top to provide space for air circulation, and the golfers wouldn't look like they just peeled off a plastic bathing-cap after removing their cover, with the forehead rubbed red and the hair matted down with sweat.

The more I think about it, this hat speaks volumes about what passes for quality and style in America today.


Monday, September 15, 2008

AIG shares fall 45%, oh how the mighty have fallen

I remember when I once worked for American International Group, the world's largest commercial insurer. Oh, how the mighty have fallen, as their share price today is down 45%.

I left the firm in 1990. They were one of the first conglomerates to outsource their IT staff to cheap off-shore labor. My manager back then, Linda Kilcrease, testified before the US Congress for several days concerning the devastation that this action was having on workers, and on the nascent corporate assault on the US middle-class.

She was way ahead of her time in appreciating the impact that these activities would have on American technical workers. I salute her efforts, and I wonder where she is today, and what she feels about the current issues enveloping AIG.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Desert Holly Espresso

This summer, I drove across Death Valley from Beatty, Nevada, on my way to Los Angeles. After driving through Stovepipe Wells on rte 190, I took the Wildrose Road up and over the ridge into the lower Panamint Valley. Following rte 178 south, I crossed over into the Searles Valley and took a break from the heat and the drive in the hardscrabble town of Trona. While there, I found a most unexpected sanctuary, an espresso and food establishment run by Carlos Esparza and his wife, Eileen. To read the story and view images of the trip, follow the link below.

Desert Holly Espresso

Laudizen King

Saturday, September 6, 2008

An Artist's Sentiments

I talked on the phone with Richard Jaworowski and his wife last night, as they were relaxing at home back in Willimantic, Connecticut. He is an artist, a sculptor of marble and a carver of wood, she works a full-time job that doesn’t pay much. The downturn in the economy has been especially tough on Richard and the art world. The town might close up the space he uses as a studio. He is not selling any marbles, and the wood pieces don’t command the same purchase price as stone. To make matters worse, he sold some pieces on installment to generate some income, and the payments from some individuals have been getting smaller.

He told me that last night a friend paid him $50 on the marble piece he took months ago. Richard told me he expected monthly payments of $150 to $200, but things are tough all over and everyone is hurting, yet the $50 did come in handy.

“At least,” he told me in a warm and positive tone, “I have a new bottle of vodka and fresh coffee for the morning.”

Yes, Richard, I hear you; sometimes, that is enough. Get up in the morning and do it again: carve, create, and continue to live and love your life.

In friendship, we celebrated his bounty with a long-distance drink, he in Connecticut and I in Los Angeles. We raised our glasses, each with a shot of vodka, and he said the words of the toast in Polish, “Sto lat", which means "1oo years", or "May you live a hundred years.”

Yes, my friend, I appreciate your sentiments; joy exists in the contentment of life, in the simple things we share with family and friends.

May you live a hundred years.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Ruminations on a long-ago dream, remembering Lindsey and California (and moments of emptiness) a decade ago in Atlanta.


Laudizen King

Sunday, August 31, 2008

On Building Walls, Again

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense. –Robert Frost, poet (1874-1963)

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give a fence. –LK (2008)


Leigh Lake

Leigh Lake is the largest lake in the rugged and beautiful Cabinet Mountain Wilderness of Montana. My trip into the lake with my brother, a three day backpack, almost ended tragically as, on two separate occasions, I narrowly escaped death or serious injury. Luckily, the great granite basin of Leigh Lake did not become my tomb, although it would certainly make a fine and noble one at that. Follow the link below to read the story of my misadventures at Leigh Lake in Montana.

Leigh Lake

Laudizen King

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Remembering a Great Friend and Gifted Artist

Remembering my mom, a member of the Manchester Arts Hall of Fame, she is a great friend and gifted artist in my hometown of Manchester, Connecticut.

To read the story, follow the 'Saint' link below.


Laudizen King

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Thought for the Day, from Andre Gide

It is easier to lead men to combat,
stirring up their passion,
than to restrain them and direct them
toward the patient labors of peace.

Andre Gide, author, Nobel laureate (1869-1951)

Mamma Mia

Shirley and I went to see the movie "Mamma Mia" yesterday. We don't like the large crowds but enjoy the big screen and theater sound, so we had waited a few weeks after the opening and went to an early afternoon showing. There were 25 or 30 people in the theater when the lights went down and the show finally began.

What a laughing good time that film was! The cast was great, there were plenty of laughs, and the music was, well, what can you say but, incredible. I had no idea that the familiar music and songs of ABBA would make such a great motion picture. We both enjoyed it and the movie was over way too soon.

When the movie ended, the sparse crowd erupted into applause, the longest and loudest ovation that I have ever seen from such a small group.

That says it all.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bellicose Boy

First, we he have endured years of thankless military sacrifice in Iraq, a war justified by the George W. Bush administration with lies and deceit. Afghanistan, the initial poster child of the war on terror, was left to wither on the vine, and now the resurgent Taliban launch operations against various targets at will throughout the country.

Then Bush's friend and exemplar of the Administration's foreign policy success, Michel Shashkavilli, decides to go to war on Russia's border and is "shocked" by Russia's swift and crushing military response, and by the failure of the West to come to his aid (about as shocked as Claude Rains in the movie 'Casablanca' when he learns that gambling is going on at Rick's). Bush promptly sends the inept Condi Rice to the area so as to allow the peoples of that region the pleasure of ignoring her. And we follow that act of statesmanship with a treaty with Poland that allows the US to install missiles at Russia's border, further inflaming the attitude of the Russians and daring them to respond.

And in the Saturday morning paper in Los Angeles is an article stating that the US may have to take unilateral action against terrorists in Pakistan, since the new government there seems less responsive to our concerns.

Wait a minute. It is time for Bush to stop acting like the bellicose and petulant twelve-year-old boy that he is. For someone who so openly touts the moral high-ground he certainly has none. His administration has been one long slide downhill, his foreign policy marked by confrontation over statesmanship, decree over consensus, and the result is a growing disregard for the US around the world.

Has Bush accomplished anything? Yes. He abolished the inheritance tax and ushered in faith-based initiatives. Perhaps there is a future for a new inbred aristocracy in America, one modeled on the dark days of Europe, where the royal family was aided and abetted by the state-sponsored church.

It is time for George to take a respite from unilateral actions on the international scene, and to cease his war mongering activities around the globe. It is time for a new administration to take over the reins of foreign relations from this childish lame-duck, and see if they can salvage and rebuild the decimated image of the US around the world.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Signposts to Afghanistan

As our attention turns from the war in Iraq to the conflict in Afghanistan, I revisited this piece that I wrote in 2006. It recalled my Army years when I served as an Afghanistan Intelligence Analyst, and the dreams I had as a young man in the Army and as a new civilian making my way in the world. I also voiced concerns over our Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans, and the challenges they and their families face after returning to the States.

That piece seems even more relevant today, as the country seeks answers and questions what our mission is and ought to be. Follow the 'Signposts' link below to read the entire piece.


Laudizen King

Olympic Equestrian Competition

It is a Sunday morning in Los Angeles, and as I watch the Olympic Team Equestrian Competition on television, I am remembering my father and my roots back in New England.

From my earliest childhood memories on, there was always one special Saturday every September when the entire family would pile into the station wagon and drive north into Massachusetts to attend the Eastern States Exposition, or the 'Big E', in West Springfield. The 'Big E' is billed as the New England State Fair, and it was always big and exciting when I was a kid. We would go through the exhibits housed in the six buildings on the 'Avenue of States' (one for each New England state), and then we would visit the livestock barns and mill around with the weekend crowd.

I enjoyed eating the fried dough and all the other exotic 'once a year' treats, and I eagerly waited for darkness when the midway would be lit and the carnival rides shown like jewels moving in the night.

It was then that my father would leave the kids with mom and grandma and disappear to the Coliseum to watch the horses in whatever event was happening at the time. Every year it was the same.

The Olympics were another source of joy for my dad, as he watched all the equestrian events that were broadcast during the Games, adding an aura to the stern enigma that my father was to me during those childhood years.

I never did learn where that love of equestrian events came from, or what dreams they inspired in this man of few words.

As I watch the equestrian events this morning in Los Angeles, I realize that there is a lot that I don't know about my deceased father, but the fact that I am remembering him today is enough.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Condoleezza Rice in Georgia

Condi in Georgia to broker peace with the Russians will accomplish everything that Cheney could if he were in Compton talking to gang leaders there.

Nobody in either place cares one iota what the visitor has to say.
Her visit is but a stunt organized for news groups and others around the periphery.
All the players know that the visit is a stunt, and they will act accordingly.

Because of the reckless and unilateral actions taken by the US around the globe, Russia will now act with a renewed sense of animosity, and takes its time doing so. Why should they rush to do our bidding when we are negotiating with Poland over the installation of US missiles there, missiles that would sit at Russia's border?

What arrogance.

On Building Walls

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense. –Robert Frost, poet (1874-1963)

Osama Bin Laden's Driver

Osama Bin Laden's driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, was recently found guilty of supporting terrorism by a military tribunal tasked with prosecuting the Guantanamo prisoners. After all these years, after the threat of terrorism in America and the assault on our personal liberties at home led by Bush and Cheney, we have marched the driver out to face Military Justice.

It has not gone unnoticed that Hitler's driver was not prosecuted at the Nuremberg Trials.

The fact that radical Islam preys on the poor and ignorant (Hamdan is a Yemeni with a fourth grade education) seems to require that he be held in super-secret double-dare detention along with the other "important" and "significant" prisoners in Guantanamo. You never know when he might require waterboarding.

Who else is kept under confinement there? The maid? The gardener? A Catholic?

The word 'justice' (and those responsible for dispensing it) does not seem to carry much honor or importance under the current administration, especially when you acknowledge the debacle at the Justice Department.

When I look at Hamdan, I wonder about what the penalty should be for, example, lying about Iraq trying to purchase "yellowcake" uranium, or having WMDs, or for outing the career intelligence agent Valerie Plame?

Bush and Cheney seem to have it backwards. The things that make America great are not small and petty, and the small and petty things that make them both what they are, well, those things are not great.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The real Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are:

Religion, in the way it fosters, abets and uses the problems above to validate itself

As for religion, I generally believe in the words of HL Mencken.

The Mencken Creed

I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.

I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.

I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon liberty.

I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.

I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech.

I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.

I believe in the reality of progress.

I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.

-HL Mencken, writer, critic, journalist (1880-1956)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Alberto Gonzales - US Hall of Shame

Alberto Gonzales, what a legacy this unethical cretin left in his wake. George W. Bush touted his Latino roots and religious heritage when he nominated Alberto to be the Attorney General of the United States. But Alberto's oath of office meant nothing, he tried to dismantle the justice department and to create in its stead an uber-agency, built to serve the whims of the president, and to create a new litmus test for those who would be federal attorneys, one built upon espousing conservative, evangelical, and Republican values. Under Alberto, the Department of Justice no longer sought the best and the brightest from America's law schools. Over 150 alumni of Pat Robertson's Regent University School of Law became lawyers at the DOJ, including the inexperienced lackey (Monica Goodling) who became Alberto's top aide and played such a prominent role in the politically-motivated firings of the US Attorneys. She promptly took the 5th when called upon to testify.

What does justice mean in Texas? Not much, if people like Alberto served on its Supreme Court.

I consider Alberto a permanent member of the US Hall of Shame.

Bernie Mac dead at 50

With the death of Bernie Mac, the world is a sadder place today. We need to cherish those that make us laugh, and I mourn his passing.




Yes Captain, lost Captain
the quarterdeck is empty
and the unmanned tiller swings
to the tide
amid unseen currents
in a rolling sea
as I on deck
a clear day
and a steady hand
with a weather eye
but my sounding lead
finds shallow sand
and shoal and reef below
as a noisome wind streaks
the waves and
shows the storm
roiling dark and fierce

Friday, August 1, 2008

Foul Ball 2

My brother sent me this account after reading the "Foul Ball" story.

The foul ball story brought to mind our family trips to see the Spokane Indians minor league baseball team, the kids always hoping to catch that foul ball but only finding disappointment. A change in strategy brought better results: we sat behind the bullpen off of left field and Kevin & Chris asked the pitchers, "hey, would you trade a ball for a slice of pizza?" The answer was an abundance of baseballs that continued as long as the pizza kept coming. Perhaps not as memorable as catching that flyball in your mitt but certainly more productive. If I remember, they all signed the ball for two slices of pizza. I used to wonder about the embarrassment if the bullpen was asked to warm up and there were no baseballs available.

Thanks, Bro,


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mt Carrigain Trilogy

Looking back on my hiking trips in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I stood upon the summit of Mt Carrigain six times. Three were solo day hikes, and three hikes were with a companion and involved camping at the summit. The 4680' summit of Mt Carrigain is considered by many to have one of the finest views in all the White Mountains.

To read the story of three ascents of Mt Carrigain by the Signal Ridge Trail, and what camping on the summit was like, follow the link below.

Mt Carrigain Trilogy

Laudizen King

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm Seeing Keith Richards in the Morning

Alas, after a certain age every man is responsible for his face. -Albert Camus, writer and philosopher (1913-1960)

I’m seeing Keith Richards in the morning. No, not the lead guitar player for the Rolling Stones. I’m talking about myself, really, and about my face, as I watch myself age. Keith went through that phase and the whole world got to see it, the progression of time across the features until the last hint of the young man was gone and the face of the old man remained. Today, a different person stares back at me from the mirror in the morning. All of my brown hair is gone, and the glaucoma drops have turned my once bright-colored hazel eyes to a dull brown with the eyelashes grown long and crazy all around them. The nose is different looking now and more hair seems to jut from the nostrils. The forehead is creased and old looking, and the eyebrows sit below it like an unkempt hedge.

Unlike the older riff-master, I have no lucky-charms dangling from my hair, and won’t be rocking a club or going out on tour anytime soon.


PS - to anonymous on 7/29/08: thanks for the comment, the wife and I did Wildrose 5 or 6 years ago before my bad knee injury. What a view, over 9000' down to Furnace Creek! We love the desert, and shake our heads at those who don't get it. Be well. LK

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hollow-cheeked Harlot

"But what is Hope? Nothing but the paint on the face of Existence; the least touch of truth rubs it off, and then we see what a hollow-cheeked harlot we have got hold of." –Lord Byron, poet (1788-1824)

At the current time, for some reason, this quote makes me think of John McCain. He looks old and hollow to me, and terribly made up. He seems stiff when walking, and stands as if he were propped up. And the way he clutches a microphone.......

I laud his service, and salute his honor and patriotism. But I am tired of aged politicians, especially Republicans, when their only spiel is about victory and their main worry involves appeasing religious conservatives.

It's time for McCain to call it a day, before the hollow-cheeked old man inside has his make-up rubbed off.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thinking of Pizza: Pepe's and Sally's of New Haven

I was thinking about a hiking trip I was on many years ago, when I gained the summit of Mt Higby, west of Middletown, Connecticut, and enjoyed the panoramic view from the top. On a clear day, you could see New Haven and Long Island Sound in the south, and Mt Tom in Massachusetts to the north.

As I was thinking about the view of New Haven from the summit, one word came into my mind: pizza! I remembered visiting the two famous pizza restaurants that New Haven is known for around the world, Pepe's and Sally's. Connecticut has always had the best wheel, pie, pizza: whatever you want to call it.

Can it really be 35 years since I was there? I miss it so!

Los Angeles

Sunday, July 20, 2008

On the Garfield Ridge with Jack Kerouac

A recent phone call from Sam Greene in New Hampshire came as a welcome surprise. In discussing the current state of affairs, we rehashed some old trips to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, especially one hiking adventure that involved hiking the Franconia Ridge Trail and the Garfield Ridge Trail. On that trip, we spent one night at Greenleaf Hut on the shoulder of Mt Lafayette, and hiked to Galehead Hut the next day.

We also discussed an old photograph taken in the 1980s by a friend in Jaffrey Center, and that is the connection to Jack Kerouac.

To read the story follow the link below.

On the Garfield Ridge with Jack Kerouac


French Toast in Los Angeles

We made French Toast this morning in Los Angeles. Shirley cooked up some bacon while I prepared the eggs. I remembered the first time I tasted the treat from across the pond; it was back in the early 1960s when I was at a summer camp in Connecticut run by the Boy Scouts. My mother never made this for breakfast and I was quite taken with it.

I like to use a nice thin Ciabatta loaf because the bread itself is light and airy. I cut six slices of the Ciabatta bread about three-quarters of an inch thick. My recipe is this: in a bowl, I whisked up 4 large eggs, half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, an ounce and a half of triple sec, two dashes of nutmeg, and a dash of cinnamon. I poured this egg mixture into a large lasagna dish and placed the cut bread flat down in the liquid, turning it over occasionally until the bread was well soaked and most of the liquid absorbed.

The bread was then fried in the bacon fat until it was crispy around the edges and golden brown. We then served it up with a little butter and real maple syrup.

Il était magnifique.

Laudizen King

The Pope on squandering Earth's resources

On July 17, Pope Benedict XVI said that mankind's "insatiable consumption" has scarred the Earth and squandered its resources.

Is he talking about the sexual abuse perpetrated by the clergy?

What, will there be no more young boys to pleasure the unholy robed and warped 'celibate' elite of the church?


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Foul Ball

Shirley related this story to me last night as we watched the Dodgers beat the Diamond Backs in extra innings.

Desiree, a friend of Shirley's from work, told Shirley about taking her son to his first major league baseball game. The boy was ten at the time, and he was thrilled to death to finally be in the big house and seeing his heroes up close. He would ask her repeatedly if he might catch a ball, and he dreamed about the prospect of catching such a souvenir.

Desiree, on the other hand, was eight months pregnant with her second child, and was almost ready to cancel. But she wanted her son to enjoy the experience of a big league baseball game, so she gathered up her resolve and they went to the game together. They had seats down the right field line in the outfield, several rows up from the playing field.

As luck would have it, the game went into extra innings. Desiree was uncomfortable and tired, but she stayed on for the enjoyment of the boy, whose interest and enthusiasm had not abated during the long contest.

In the 14th inning, a ball was hit down the right field line but landed foul. Desiree sat in the hard stadium chair, her thoughts elsewhere. As the ball rolled down the foul territory and onto the grass in front of their seats it happened: her son bolted from his seat, ran down the steps, and vaulted over the railing. Out on the field, as the crowd cheered, the little guy ran and grabbed the ball and returned to the rail, where he was assisted over the barrier with the help of the fans seated nearby. He then ran back to his mom and sat down excitedly, the great prize held tight in the little hands. It had all happened so fast; Desiree sat stunned.

Then the security guards came walking down the aisles to arrive together at their seats.

As her son sat quiet and frightened, Desiree began to cry; she had visions of police stations and uncomfortable hours spent in unfriendly places with her boy and unborn child. They were asked to leave their seats, and the guards escorted them up the aisle as Desiree's condition was now evident to all.

At the security office it was a different story. They could not ignore people going out on the field, and their response showed they were serious about enforcing that ban, but everyone appreciated the pregnant mom who stayed at the game for 14 innings so her son could enjoy the experience.

As for the ball? The boy was allowed to keep it. It was a memorable day at the ballpark, in more ways than one.

Laudizen King

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mt Garfield Dream

In the mid-1980s, Bob and I were once again off on a May adventure. In a solid rain, we hiked in on the Wilderness Trail, located off the Kancamaugus Highway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, until we reached the Franconia Brook Trail, and then continued north to the 13 Falls Campsite. We made camp and hoped for good weather to ascend to the Garfield Ridge Trail, and later climb the cone of Mt Garfield until we reached the shelter at Garfield Spring. The weather did not cooperate; instead, it got worse. After two days at 13 Falls, we climbed Mt Garfield in a blizzard, a hike that had its own challenges. Read the story at the link below.

Mt Garfield Dream


Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Icon Guild of Coeur d'Alene

The history and technique surrounding the creation of authentic Byzantine icons is alive and well in Northern Idaho, thanks, in part, to the efforts of Dianne Nolan.

This long practiced art form, from the preparation of the board and the application of gesso to the egg tempera painting, continues today in the north of Idaho as the art of iconography and the writing of icons lives on in a new generation of artists.

Dianne has also been involved with the creation of Prairie Virtue Dolls, and has illustrated a book of children's stories, "A Prairie Heart".

Follow the link below for the complete story.

The Icon Guild of Coeur d'Alene


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Capitalism in Hanoi Today

Harold Meyerson, political cartoonist and columnist-at-large, has been a regular op-ed columnist at the Washington Post since 2003. A friend sent me his column from July 9, a piece about American businesses in China and Vietnam, and it really upset me. I am not upset at his words, for they carry the ring of truth, what really upset me is the apparent disregard that American Capitalism has for anything that America supposedly stands for.

The short story is this: as wages go up in China, American business is searching out repressive regimes that have low wages with no unions or free speech, or any other unpleasantness associated with democracy; next stop, Hanoi.

As a Vietnam veteran, I am disheartened over these developing relationships, and the negative impact that they have on the establishment of democratic values in these emerging nations.

I also fear for those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan today, because their loyal service and sacrifice is not about American values, but about a future bottom line in a global economy that they will not be a part of, and an America that will not do justice to their service.

Follow the link below to read Harold Meyerson's article for yourself.

Why Were We In Vietnam


Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Riddle of New Hampshire

New Hampshire's own Sphinx, the great stone face of The Old Man of the Mountain, once gazed out at the state from his perch on the side of Cannon Mountain, high above the floor of Franconia Notch.

For years, I struggled to answer the riddle posed by the granite face of the Old Man and hidden in the 1972 AMC White Mountain Guide, but to no avail. The riddle, as originally posed, involved Mt Moosilauke and Mt Carrigain.

If you are an experienced hiker, and familiar with the many summits of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, you may have your own answer to this vexing conundrum; yet this is a riddle for a very few.

Follow this link: Riddle of New Hampshire

Laudizen King

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Early Despair

Old and new feelings of angst over the start of school back at the Bowers Elementary School in Manchester, Connecticut.

Follow this link: September, 1959

Laudizen King

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Phil Mickelson at the US Open 2008 (3rd Round)

Phil Mickelson, it seems that the US Open will not be yours this year. People question your 'Driver Strategy', and point to your 'meltdown' at the 13th hole. It was your candor and humor in the interview after the round that reminded me how much I love and appreciate your game, as well as how you deal with us, the fans.

When asked if you have ever had a 9 at the 13th hole, you replied that, yes, you had, but you were only 8 years old at the time.

Hang in there Lefty, and make us proud. You have great days ahead.


Yosemite: Tioga Road and the Valley

On the day after Memorial Day, (May 27, 2008) Shirley and I took a drive through Yosemite National Park. The weather was unsettled, and we had periods of rain, hail, snow, and sleet. But the Tioga Road remained open and we traveled through Tioga Pass (at 9943' the highest pass crossed by public road in California) and down the impressive slope of the Eastern Sierra. After lunch in Lee Vining on rte 395, we headed back through the park and stopped in Yosemite Valley to view the falls.

We had views of Tuolumne Meadows, Dana Meadows, Cathedral Peak, Emery Lake, the Coxcomb, Unicorn Peak, El Capitan, Cathedral Rock, Yosemite Valley, and Yosemite Falls.

The link below will take you to a three-page image gallery describing the trip.

Yosemite Drive

Laudizen King

Franconia Ridge

Here is an image gallery comprised of some old pictures that I recently scanned at home here in California. These photos were taken back in the years when I enjoyed the trails of the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

This trip covers a traverse of the Franconia Ridge, high above Cannon Mountain and Franconia Notch. We ascended the Falling Waters Trail to the ridge; to the south rose Mt Liberty and Mt Flume. We went across the ridge from Little Haystack to Mt Lincoln, and then to Mt Lafayette. We then descended the Greenleaf Trail to Greenleaf Hut; from there we finished the trip on the Old Bridle Path.

The photos are old, but you can understand why this is considered one of the best loop hikes in the White Mountains.

Franconia Ridge

Laudizen King

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mt San Gorgonio

In 1992 and 1993, I made two attempts on Mt San Gorgonio, or Old Grayback as it is also known. At 11,500', it is the highest summit in Southern California. One attempt was successful and one a failure, yet both were memorable and exciting.

From Dollar Saddle at 10,000', we could see Dollar Lake below us. We followed the trail around Charlton Peak to Dry Lake View, and we could see a sliver of Dry Lake in the distance. Mt Jepson towered above us. From there, we made our way to the summit.

To read the story of the two hikes, and view an image gallery of the successful climb, follow the links below.

Mt San Gorgonio

Mt San Gorgonio Image Gallery

Laudizen King

Sentinel Dome in Yosemite

In 1999, Brian Illari visited me in California and I took him to Yosemite for some October hiking. While there, we parked on the Glacier Point Road and climbed to Sentinel Dome where we were rewarded with spectacular views of Half Dome and Little Yosemite Valley. We could also see that a storm was approaching. Nevertheless, we continued on the trail down to Glacier Point. On the return, we were caught in a blizzard on the way to Taft Point and found ourselves lost in a blizzard in the forest high above Yosemite Valley. To read the story of the hike, and view some images from that adventure on the trail, follow the link below.

Sentinel Dome Snow

Laudizen King

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Queen City - Manchester, New Hampshire

The Queen City

Remembering Manchester in the Granite State 1985-1990

For over five years, I called the Queen City home. I lived on Mammoth Road in Hookset, (just over the town line from Manchester, New Hampshire) from August of 1985 through December of 1990, and worked for a company situated in Manchester. I was recently searching the internet on the Queen City and was struck by the fact that the Manchester of today seems about as dreary as the Manchester that I remember living and working in during those years. Oh yes, Velcro was developed there, along with Habitant Pea Soup. Whoop-de-freaking-doo.

Even though the area touts its many schools and colleges, there doesn’t seem to be any grace, ‘soul’, or spirit to the area, unless of course you are a conservative pundit, white, and established. In my eyes, New Hampshire seems a place that you move to, buy property, and live after you have made your mark, and it is not a land of opportunity. When I lived there, much of the population of southern New Hampshire worked in Massachusetts.

I don’t recall anything proud or decent about the local paper, the Union Leader, or its matriarch, ‘Nackey’ Loeb. The only thing I recall the Manchester area actually being proud of in those days was the fact that the state continued in its dogged refusal to acknowledge Martin Luther King’s birthday as a holiday. The state finally acquiesced in 1999 when it became the last state to do so, sixteen years after the legislation was passed by Congress and Ronald Reagan had signed it into law.

In those years I worked for AIG (American International Group), the corporate insurance conglomerate headquartered in New York City. AIG maintained a data processing development center in Manchester, for tax reasons I imagine. We were located on the west side of the river in an innocuous modern brick building, and there was a large contingent of consultants from Great Britain that worked at AIG as well. Working with, and getting to know them, was one of the highlights of my time there.

Even though the presidential primary season in Manchester was stultifying and tedious, there were riotous moments as well. Some of my co-workers would volunteer in one capacity or another during the weekends in primary season, and we would listen to them swap stories at work on Monday about their hobnobbing with the political elite. One morning there was a general assembly gathered in the break-room in preparation for a message that was forthcoming from our COO. One young woman, MB, who dabbled in political activism, was asked what she had been up to over the weekend, and she proudly announced to the collected gathering, “I drove the head of Bob Dole’s staff!” After a pregnant pause, the entire room erupted into laughter.

There are two reasons why I enjoyed those years in Manchester, the people and the land. I met some wonderful people in the years I called Manchester home, people who were loving and kind, and I remain close friends with some. Together, we enjoyed the mountains, lakes, and winter countryside. The land itself was glorious, from the rolling hills of southern New Hampshire to the mountains of the north; I enjoyed and loved it all. Hiking, camping, snowshoeing, motorcycling, swimming, and canoeing, the Granite State is certainly a place where a person can relax and have fun in the great outdoors. Anyone who has read my stories is familiar with my love for the White Mountains of New Hampshire. During those years, the enduring image of New Hampshire, the great stone face of the old man of the mountain, still gazed out at the state from his perch located on the side of Cannon Mountain, high above Franconia Notch.

I endured my share of hardships during those years in Manchester. I developed a back problem that led to major surgery and a year out of work, and I amassed a mountain of debt keeping the apartment going and paying the bills. That was a trying time and I had my share of dark days during that year. Yet I got by with the help and support of so many friends, friends who put a smile on my face when I needed it most. Prior to my surgery, Brock Anderson and Helen Jalbert threw a party for me and invited some friends to spend the night at their farmhouse in Warner. They made a roast turkey with stuffing and all the fixings, and after dinner we all drank too much and wore stupid hats and sang songs from ‘West Side Story’ and other Broadway shows. After surgery, I lived with my friend Suzanne Cashman for several weeks, and she got me through a time when I was depressed, vulnerable, and fragile.

I can remember a few favorite places after these many years. There were the lamb specials at the Athens Restaurant, and the Easter kielbasa from Golomb’s Market. We went to Happy Hour at the BTC, or Boston Trading Company. The owner John was an active guy, and he would sponsor golf tournaments and fishing trips. The Merrimack River flowed through the town and once powered the mills that sit high above its banks. It is a beautiful thing, the river, and I enjoyed many a lunch along its banks watching the water flow south towards the sea.

The music scene was great, from local groups at small cafes to the big acts that would occasionally roll into town. There was a small area on the Merrimack River called Riverfront Park that hosted concerts during those years. It was a hot place in the summer, what with the heat of the asphalt and the brick buildings all around, and it was located below the old Notre Dame Bridge (if I recall the name correctly), a bridge that sported a beautiful green steel arch on either side of the roadway. In 1986, the Moody Blues played a great concert at Riverfront in support of their new album, and one of my favorite bands from that era, the Fixx, was the opening act. Neil Young played a gig at Riverfront in ’87, and he did the first half of the concert as a solo acoustic show. The first song was a quiet haunting version of ‘Hey hey, my my’, and the last song was a full volume electric-romp version of the same song played by Neil and his band, Crazy Horse. One of the highlights of that show, on a beautiful summer night by the Merrimack, was a memorable rendition of ‘Down by the River’. In 1988, I saw David Lee Roth perform with his band, a group that featured Steve Vai on guitars. That show was a rocking-good concert that included some wonderful moments, such as when a dozen or so high school girls, three or four cheerleaders per squad from the local schools, appeared on stage in their school’s cheerleader outfits to form a kind of high-kicking chorus line while Roth sang ‘California Girls’. It was beautiful and sexy, the girls were flaunting it and the crowd went wild; I smile to this day every time the memory of that night comes around.

In December of 1990, I left New Hampshire for the West and a new start in California. There were storm clouds on the horizon for my friends and co-workers at AIG in Manchester. AIG was one of the first corporations to abuse the H-1B visa program by firing its homegrown Information Technology staff and replacing them with cheaper foreign workers, even though AIG’s profits were soaring. In a few years, it was all over for the little development center in Manchester, and everyone was let go. One of my last managers at AIG, Linda Kilcrease, testified before Congress about what was happening at AIG and at other companies, but her warnings, which were salient and prescient, were basically ignored. She stands out in my mind as the first person who publicly voiced her outrage over outsourcing and offshore IT staffs and worked tirelessly to do something about it; in that regard she was way ahead of her time. Over the years, the assault on the middleclass continued. Now we have major data centers in India supporting companies in the United States while the CEOs of these bastions of capitalism continue to pocket obscene amounts of compensation.

Now I live in California and look back on my years in New Hampshire with fondness and gratitude. I remember warmly the friends I made in those years, and the things I experienced. In addition, I am grateful to have endured dark times and gotten on with my life as best I could, although I am glad that I chose to move on. I hope that my stated observation above is wrong, that the Manchester of today is a vibrant place, and that it offers its young residents the kind of opportunities they require in order to make their lives full. If Manchester is a dreary mill city, then others will need to move on as well. As far as my career is concerned, the assault on those that work in the field of Information Technology continues, and I am glad that my working days in IT are drawing to an end.

Today, almost twenty years on, I remember Manchester warmly. I have forgotten most of the pain, and wish everyone in the Queen City all the best.

Laudizen King
Los Angeles, California
June 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

Burial Detail

Here is a Memorial Day story that recalls a time when, at Fort Bragg, I served on a Military Funeral Detail as part of the Honor Guard. The year was 1971, and the actual experience was totally different than anything I had expected.

To read the story of that Burial Detail, follow the link below.

Burial Detail

Laudizen King
Memorial Day, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Blood Mountain and the AT in North Georgia

Discovering the North Georgia Mountains

In 1994, I relocated to Georgia and began to explore the North Georgia Mountains; soon I discovered Blood Mountain, the highest point reached by the Appalachian Trail (AT) in Georgia. I also reconnected with my New England roots by hiking once again on the the Appalachian Trail.

This mountain became an important part of my life, and because of it I spent three wonderful and rich years in Georgia. I became friends with the regular crew at Mountain Crossings at the Walasi-Yi in Neels Gap. The Walasi-Yi is located right where the AT crosses the road after descending from Blood, and the trail goes right through a gate on the building as it heads north.

To read the story follow the link below.

Blood Mountain

Laudizen King

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Sphinx and Deborah Jeane Palfrey

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the DC Madam, took her own life on May 1, 2008 in Tarpon Springs, Florida. She was free awaiting sentencing in July for a conviction on a money laundering charge, the conviction coming as the result of running an escort service for the purposes of prostitution, an escort service that catered to well-heeled Washington DC clients.

To read the story of the Sphinx and Deborah Jeane Palfrey, follow the link below.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Phil Mickelson and Exxon

Phil Mickelson, I guess its not enough that your a great golfer, loved and respected by your fans for your honesty and how you have conducted yourself. Why did you attach yourself to the Exxon teat? I have seen commercial after commercial at The Master's touting how science and math teachers are going to benefit from your and Amy's involvement with Exxon.

They have ravaged the American people for billions in unexplainable and unconscionable profits during war time, and now you'll get your share as Exxon throws us a bone.

It makes me ill, and you should be ashamed.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tennessee, Stanford, and my Dad

I'm watching the women's collegiate basketball championship tonight on TV, and thinking of my Dad, who died last year. My father was way ahead of the rest of the nation in his love for women's basketball. He liked the movement of the game, the give and go, and the hustle. He hated the men's game, the in-your-face attitude, slam dunks, and the worship of self that seemed to dominate the men's contests.

Let's hope that the women's game remains the beautiful show that so many around the country have come to love.

I have my doubts.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Morongo Casino in Cabazon, California

Shirley and I were looking for a one night getaway, so we decided to head for the Morongo Casino. I booked a Saturday night at an inexpensive motel in Banning, and we drove out there late Saturday morning.

Morongo Casino and Hotel is located in Cabazon, about 20 minutes west of Palm Springs. It stands just off Interstate 10, and the snow-capped summit of 10,804' Mt San Jacinto dominates the skyline to the southeast. The Hotel-Casino is a large, tall structure with the Casino at ground level, a hotel above, and a lounge and steakhouse above the hotel up on the 26th and 27th floors. We tried to get a room in the hotel, but a one night stay (especially on Saturday night only) was way too expensive. From Los Angeles it is about a 2 hour drive east on I-10. After finding the casino, we drove to Banning to locate our motel. Then we went back to Morongo and found easy parking in the casino parking garage. I noticed large parking lots extending out behind the parking structure, but they were empty.

We took the elevator down and it exited right into the casino. The first thing I noticed, especially in California, is that they allow smoking because it is on an Indian reservation. I still don't understand why they would subject their employees to that. Our first stop was the food court, 2 slices of average pizza and 2 small bottles of water came in at over sixteen dollars.

Shirley went to play slots, I went to the poker room. The poker room is non-smoking, but a lot of smoke comes in the front door. I played $1-$3 blind no-limit holdem, ($40 minimum buy-in, $100 maximum buy-in) , and it was a good game with plenty of action. I booked a small win after playing for 6 hours, and had a good time doing it. There are about 25 tables in the room, the room has its own bathrooms as well, which means you don't have to deal with crowds in the smoky casino when you need to make a pit-stop. They had a dozen or so tables going when I got there, and the place was in full gear when I left. They were sitting several levels of limit holdem, no-limit holdem, and Omaha. All and all, the poker room gets a high grade from me. Cocktails were expensive, even for players. A guy playing at my table had a few imported beers and they cost more than $4 each.

Shirley quickly lost her slot money. In Vegas, they seem to feed it back to you at a better rate than these Indian places, so you can play longer. I believe this, I don't care what anyone says. We talked to plenty of people and there were no stories of any decent paybacks.

We had dinner sitting at the sushi bar, and they had fun sushi chefs and great sushi. I had the usual before-dinner drink, a Bombay Sapphire Martini with a club soda back, and Shirley had an ice cold Sauvignon Blanc, and both were delicious. We met a great girl making sushi rolls at the bar, her name was Rachel, or Ray for short. She gave us a spicy tuna roll made for another customer who left before it was delivered, then we ordered a teriyaki shrimp roll. The spicy tuna was blazing hot, delicious! A spare rib appetizer followed, and it was wonderful (but small for two people). We ordered a crispy noodle pork dish to share, and it wasn't very good. We said so, and they took it away and returned with an orange beef and vegetable plate that, although small, was very tasty. I, too, had a Sauvignon Blanc with dinner. Ray sent us out a passion fruit creme brulee on the house to make amends for the bad experience at dinner, and I had to fight Shirley to get a spoon in. The bill, even with a free tuna roll and dessert, $82 with tip.

That's how gaming is these days, they want it all. Time was when the money going into the casino led to bargains in other areas, but not anymore.

They have two concert venues, and both had shows that night. There was a Mexican Diva in one, the old rock band Great White was in the other. I don't know if they had multiple shows on Saturday night or what, but the place was an absolute jammed madhouse when we left about 10:30pm, and the smoke was incredible. It was a relief to get out of the elevator in the parking garage. The once empty overflow parking lots in back were full.

It was a pleasure to get back to the room and get undressed and horizontal. Shirley slept and I watched TV while lying in bed enjoying an inexpensive nightcap. Ah, the simple pleasures.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Spring, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Spring is here in Los Angeles, but I am thinking back to those years in New Hampshire when spring came late to the White Mountains. I'm haunted by the names still: the AMC, Crawford Notch, Franconia Notch, Franconia Ridge, Mt Bond, Mt Washington, New Hampshire, North Twin, South Twin, Pinkham Notch, Presidential Range, White Mountains, and all the other places I visited and the ghosts I traveled with. For eighteen years I plied the trails of New Hampshire, and I cherish the memories of it all.

The link below takes you to a story describing those years.

AMC White Mountain Guide

Laudizen King

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Paper and Fire in Manchester, Connecticut

Another flashback to the Manchester of my youth. Remembering a fire at Lydall and Foulds in 1960, when I was a kid and attended the Bowers Elementary School in Manchester, Connecticut.
To read the story follow the link below.

Paper and Fire

Laudizen King

PS: A Thank You to RJS for his comment. LK 3/31

Friday, March 28, 2008

Manchester: two more from Bowers

I received some nice comments after making two blog posts about the old hometown of Manchester, Connecticut. In the 'Manchester Redux' story, I included a long list of names: names of people that I knew, names of people that played a part during those early years of my life in Manchester. Ironically, I have reconnected with someone on that list, someone that I have not spoken with since high school, and that has been most gratifying and rewarding.

I want to thank all who contacted me.

Below are links to two short stories, stories related by memories from the 3rd grade at the Bowers Elementary School. In one, I learn about the power of symbol and the Holocaust. In the other, I capture an image that comes back to me in Los Angeles many years on.

Power of Symbol


Laudizen King

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Richard Jaworowski and Carlton Fisk

This Easter weekend has been a surprisingly busy one for Shirley and me. We had the great trip into the San Gabriel Mountains yesterday. On the way home, we bought a ham and some yams, so it looks like a traditional Easter dinner for us.

I worked late into the night on Saturday as I busied myself with the digital pictures I had taken during the day. There was editing, cropping, resizing, and building the gallery pages for my motorcycle website. After that came publishing and troubleshooting.

I posted my story about ordering the special holiday Kielbasa when I lived in New Hampshire, and celebrating my Polish heritage when I lived there. I sent this on to my Polish uncle who enjoyed the old connection.

And this morning as I lounged in bed, I got a phone call from the great Willimantic sculptor, Richard Jaworowski. He called to wish me a happy Easter, and I related the New Hampshire Easter kielbasa story. He let me know that he was on his way to Newington for a Polish Easter festival, and rattled off a list of the famous polish delights that he expected to feast on.

I've known Richard since 1974. In 1975 I was watching the famous Game 6 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Big Red Machine (the Cincinnati Reds) when my TV went out. I was living in rural Coventry at the time, and I was alone. Driven by an ineffable urge, I ended up breaking into Richard's house to watch the game on their TV, a house he shared with a girl named Rosie. In some strange way, that event has led to a lasting friendship that has withstood the test of time and distance. Yes, and a big thank you to Carlton Fisk.

Follow the link below if you are interested in the whole story.

With Carlton Fisk, Forever

Happy Easter to all!

Laudizen King
Easter 2008

Signposts to Afghanistan, one year on.....

"It is December 31, 2006, and on this morning in Los Angeles, on the last day of the year, I am enjoying a good cup of coffee while reading the Los Angeles Times. I read the articles on Iraq and Afghanistan with concern for the military men and women serving there, and for what they all must experience and endure. There is one article in particular that catches my attention. It describes in some detail the Ring Road, a road shaped like a circle that lies within the borders of Afghanistan and connects the major towns and cities. I read the article with some interest; there was a time when the country of Afghanistan played a major role in my daily life. That was many years ago when I was a young man in uniform, serving in turbulent times, while an unpopular war was polarizing the country. However, today is, after all, the day for the remembrance of things past, so I sit back and relax and let my thoughts drift back in time."

Above is the opening paragraph of my story, 'Signposts to Afghanistan', written in early 2007. That story meant a lot to me at the time, it still does today. It was the first time I had put down into words my motivations for joining the Army in the time of the Vietnam War, how I recalled my experiences gained during those service years, and how I came to follow the path I did after I was discharged from the Army.

Today, one year after writing that story, I am every bit as distressed over our presence in Iraq, and at the horror we have allowed to continue in Afghanistan, as I was then. After having served a year in Vietnam, I was an Afghanistan Analyst for Military Intelligence at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. I fell in love with the country of Afghanistan, and I dreamed of visiting it one day. But life didn't work out that way.

What is going to happen to the current war veterans and their families of today, what with the stresses of multiple deployments and separation, the interruption of careers. I fear that America is going to pay a fierce price for this war and their service. In this day of the assault on the middle class, and CEOs making billions in bonuses by shipping work off to foreign shores, what opportunities await the foot soldier here in America after three tours in Iraq?

To read the entire story follow the link below.

Signposts to Afghanistan

Laudizen King

Easter in Manchester, New Hampshire

I lived near Manchester, New Hampshire for five years (1985-1990). When I look back at those times and try to remember how I celebrated Easter in those days, one thing comes to mind: Golombs Market. About a month before Easter, I would place my order at Golombs for their Easter Kielbasa, a special holiday treat with a different preparation from their standard Polish sausage.

I would cook it with cabbage, onion, potato, and carrot. I would also have crusty bread and butter, and some red wine, along with the holiday treat. There would also be plenty of sharp mustard. The apartment smelled like heaven, and friends came by to eat or to share a drink.

I remembered my mother, as well as my uncle and grandparents, and all of the fine things that came to me from the Polish side of the family.

I'll remember all of that today, since today is Easter Sunday, March 23, 2008. Here in Los Angeles, California, I'll think of Golombs and New Hampshire, as well as my Polish roots, as Shirley and I cook an Easter ham.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Newcomb's Ranch, Angeles Crest, March 2008

It is the first Saturday of Spring in 2008, and Shirley and I took a ride up into the San Gabriel Mountains to visit a little restaurant up on the Angeles Crest Highway called Newcomb's Ranch. As is usually the case on a beautiful Saturday, the place was a beehive of activity as campers, bikers and hikers from all over the Southland descended on Newcomb's for food and camaraderie. The restaurant, only forty miles from downtown LA, sits at just under 5000' of elevation on busy Rte 2. There was some snow on the side of the road, and quite a bit more up on the north facing slopes of the higher peaks.

I talked with several bikers as Shirley mulled about and took in the sights. There was one cherry '67 BMW on the lot that the owner was understandably proud of. I took pictures and talked, then we enjoyed lunch.

Inside the restaurant, some were talking of making a spring ski trip to Mammoth Mountain. Mammoth is a four hour ride up Rte 395 along the eastern Sierra. The road is called the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway and once you make Lone Pine it is scenic indeed.

I love California and the west.

If you want to see today's galleries, or a past story and gallery about Newcomb's, follow the link below.

2 Wheel Muse

Laudizen King