Thursday, December 31, 2015


My birth mother (who I thought was my sister – another story) always made Hopping John on New Year’s day.    The southern tradition said that Hopping John on New Year’s would bring you fortune for the rest of the year.    The recipe was simply a mixture of rice, black eye peas and turnip or mustard greens, with bacon sprinkles over the top. 

However, most of us look at New Year’s as the beginning of the really cold winter months – January and February – and a perfect time of soup.

If your idea of mushroom soup is the gelatinous glob made by the Campbell company – a soup my grandmother added to anything to make it exotic – then you need to try this simple recipe. 

Melt ½ stick of butter in the soup pot
1 medium onion chopped
8 ounces of mushrooms chopped
2 tablespoons of dried parsley
When all the water is absorbed add 1 tablespoon of flour – stir in for one minute.
Slowly add two cups of beef broth (I use McKays,)

Return to a boil then remove from heat.
Add 8 ounces of sour cream
Blend with a food processor – I use one of those hand held processors

Dish out and add pepper to taste.   Great with homemade bread and real butter.

This produces about three good size servings. 
the Ol’Buzzard



With the advent of ISIS, the face of terrorism has changed.   It is not that we don’t have to worry about large scale attacks like 9/11, but it seems like the new normal is to motivate ‘lone wolf’ religious nutcases to target places where civilian gather. 

Earlier this year ISIS posted a video of a suicide bomber among the crowd at Time Square.  We have to ask ourselves if this was propaganda to make us fearful, or was it a recruiting tool for radicalized American Moslems willing to commit the greatest sacrifice for Jihad.   

I know that our government leaders say if we change our routines we are giving in to terrorism, but perhaps we are living in a new reality and haven’t yet accepted the truth.    

Regardless of the number of NYC police in Time Square on New Year’s Eve, I don’t see how that scene can be made safe from people willing to die to create chaos and destruction. 

We haven’t decided yet if we will watch the ball drop in Time Square on TV, as we usually do on New Year’s Eve.   I have trepidation.   

At any rate, I will be glad when this night is over.

the Ol’Buzzard

Wednesday, December 30, 2015



What is this that people have to be near other people.   Are we heard animals and feel uncomfortable unless we are a part of a crowd?

Is it just me?  I can't understand why when I go to a restaurant that is almost empty and the waitress or waiter wants to seat me right next to other people.   Or when I am at the movie theater and most of the seats are empty and a group comes in and sits directly behind me or in front of me or in the same row as me.  

Why would anyone want to be in Time Square on New Years eve?   

I don't get it.

the Ol'Buzzard


Nan, in her blog All the Good Names Were Taken wrote about the gloom that accompanies the grey, bleak days of winter.

I love these grey days, when there is snow on the ground, there is no color and the world appears in shades of grey, and the wind is blowing creating a wind chill that makes you want to stay inside.  This is the type of day to set no expectations, but to do whatever feels good in the moment.   It is a day for reading, or watching TV, or sleeping, or cooking, or drinking wine, having sex, taking a nap; or all of the above.    On these days nature rules, and we can stay by the fire and let nature have her way. 

Another thing I like about these days is I don’t have to see people.   I am like the badger in Wind and the Willows: “I hate company.”    Actually, I can tolerate company at short intervals; but I always feel other people around too long are and intrusion.     

 I actually don’t mind being alone.   There are times I have relished being alone in the north woods in the winter time.   I have often hunted alone, camped alone and fished alone – always dreading the encroachment of other humans on my privacy.   Those days of chosen isolation are gone now that I am married, and that is a small thing to give up for the love of a woman.  My wife and I have never been separated more than a few days in thirty-five years.  However, we both hate company and value the alone time we spend together.

And what better alone time than a grey mousy day.

the Ol'Buzzard

Tuesday, December 29, 2015



Snow just beginning outside the kitchen window

I am a winter person and this year I feel slighted.  Here it is the 29th of December and we are having our first significant snow.   

This is the winter world that I love

The day temperatures forecast for the next week are right around freezing, which may mean the snow will remain.   Last year at this time we had snow well over two feet, and that base remained all winter. 

The cats don't know what all the fuss is about.

I was riding my motorcycle on December 25th – unfucking believable.

Scientist say it is the warmest year on record and a product of global warming; but I blame it on Trump.   You can’t have any conversation this age without Trump in it.
the Ol’Buzzard

Saturday, December 26, 2015



My wife and I both quit smoking at the same time – she was thirty-two and I was forty-four.   Between us we were averaging three packs of smokes a day. 

We were teaching school in an Athabascan Indian village and usually bought cartons of cigarettes at the military base when we would travel to Fairbanks.   At the end of summer, before heading back into the village, we decided we would quit.   I was miserably short of breath and my wife knew smoking wasn’t good for either of us. 

We just quit.   We went into the village without cigarettes (though you could purchase them in the village store for four times what they cost in Fairbanks.)     No patches, no electronic smoke, no nicotine pills – just quit.  

It is not the nicotine you miss; it is the habit of smoking.   What do you do the first thing in the morning?   You light up a cigarette.   What do you do immediately after a meal?   You light up a cigarette.  What do you do while drinking coffee, or playing cards, or driving in the car?  Unconsciously, you light up a cigarette.    And then immediately after sex – what, no cigarette! 
Not smoking leaves a big hole in your daily routine - in the habits that you have acquired over the years - and for a while you feel lost at these times.  But it only takes about two weeks of not smoking until you feel an adjustment and the control. 

Using nicotine substitutes only prolongs the dependency and makes you feel your success depends on pharmaceutical companies to taper you off.   If you are cutting back, using a patch, sucking water vapor, taking pills – looking for a crutch - you are just fooling yourself.  

You just have to put on your big girl’s panties, get rid of the smokes, and quit.   If you do you will get over it sooner than you think – and more permanent.  

If you aren’t serious about quitting, just admit it.  It’s your choice.  
the Ol’Buzzard

Friday, December 25, 2015



I do most of the cooking in our house, and my wife lets me. 

Today I did the best in the world chicken soup; so I thought I would share the recipe.

First, you have to cook a chicken: I cook my chicken in the slow cooker with one and a half lemons stuffed into the cavity along with four garlic cloves – the other half of lemon I squeeze over the breast; then liberally cover the breast with herbs of Provence.  I add one cup of chicken stock (I prefer McKay’s – one teaspoon to a cup of water, and available at our local natural food store.)

After the chicken is done I save the stock.   When I am ready for a soup I scoop about half the chicken fat from the top of the stock (I toss the other half,) put it in the soup pot with some olive oil – enough to cote the bottom of the pot.

I cut up the trinity: half an onion, three stalks of celery and four garlic cloves.   I also thin slice three carrots – add it all to the pot and cook for two to three minutes.

 Next I add the gelatin like stock to the pot and heat until it liquefies, then I add a cup of McKays chicken stock and the juice from half a lemon.   

When this comes to a boil I add the cut up leftover chicken, generous amounts of thyme, marjoram and rosemary, and pepper-to-taste

I simmer this soup about forty-five minutes and then add a cup of no-yoke, wide noodles; cooking for fifteen minutes more until the noodles are tender.   

When I am ready to serve I thin slice up my cheese-of-choice with a vegetable peeler and covet the top of each steaming bowl with thin strips of cheese. 

As you can see I make this in small amounts since it is just the wife and me.   It makes four generous bowls.   

Extra note: in case you didn’t know the best way to clean a cheese knife/slicer/peeler is with cold water – never hot.

This is great with homemade bread with butter and a glass of white wine. 
the Ol’Buzzard  



I have been delinquent this year removing the battery from my motorcycle, which I store every winter under the sink in the bathroom.  But this year has been so unusually warm that, like the grasshopper, I chose to fiddle around and ignore certain winter preparations. 

This morning the temps were forecast to be near fifty degrees, so I plugged the bike onto the charger, and after some chores slipped on my leather jacket (not cold enough for chaps) and fired it up.  

Unfucking believable.   I rode into town and passed two more bikes on the road.   Christmas day on the bike; we should be measuring snow by the foot.

Temps are supposed to drop into the freezing range Saturday night, and for the rest of the week: rain/snow/sleet mix is forecast going into Tuesday, with normal winter temperatures to follow. 

I can put it off one more day, I’ll remove the battery tomorrow.

the Ol’Buzzard



All my adult years I drank whiskey and listened to these guys.  
They sure look god damn old; but then I look in the mirror...

Since you don't have a choice about aging , why not go out in style?    Merl and Willie - my posse. 

Get happy for the New Year.
the Ol'Buzzard


Wednesday, December 23, 2015


I have never been specific about where I live.   Actually I live about three miles from the best small town in Maine.   I have to take a few minutes to brag about it.  

After I retired from the Military my wife and I moved from Brunswick, Maine into an 1832 farm house at the end of a mile-long logging road in one of the most remote areas of Franklin County.  We had no electricity, sewerage and had to carried water from the stream behind the house.   We lived there for four years while we attended the University of Maine at Farmington, some sixteen miles away.    This was one of the best decisions and best time of our lives. 

About sixteen years ago we moved back.

Our town has not change greatly from the early days – the same buildings now house our local stores. 


 Our main celebration is Chester Greenwood day – he is the Farmington resident that invented the ear muffs.

 Farmington is clean, and retains the atmosphere of an earlier New England village.   We have great local stores, small eateries and a multiplex theater where my wife can see movies for four dollars each and a medium popcorn and two small cokes cost five dollars.  We are within twenty miles of a major ski resort, a thousand miles of snowmobile trails connects just behind my house and a pristine river runs through our town with a swimming beach, trout fishing, kayak and canoeing.   

We have town amenities and yet occasionally moose and deer walk through our yard.    

Farmington is a clean and vibrant little village, and the heart of the town in the university.  

 From the mid eighteen hundreds Farmington has been primarily a teacher’s college and as a result the female population has always outnumbered the males.   Perhaps this is why the college is such a healthy, happy and productive place.   There have never been any problems from the Farmington students.   The most controversial incident was the year when some of the young women decided to go topless around town.     This drove our local religious nut case crazy, but other than that it was uneventful

 The full time community loves the college students and the students are a vibrant part of our community.   Our local movie multiplex offers university students $2.50 admission every Wednesday night.   Many of our students work in the local stores and restaurants and volunteer at a number of schools and community organizations in the area.

The University of Maine at Farmington has been designated one of the best small colleges in the United States for ten years running.   If you have children or grandchildren looking for a safe and productive place to attend college, you could do worse than check into our university.  And if you are looking for a great place to retire and don’t mind four seasons, come on up.

The Ol'Buzzard

Friday, December 18, 2015


Last week my wife and I saw the movie Krampus.  

I have to admit that we had never heard of Krampus until we watched an episode of Grimm where the horned devil of Christmas made an appearance.

We both love the season of lights and trees and decorations but we prefer to celebrate the winter solstice as nature moves us from fall to winter, instead of the religious fable and commercial overkill that marks the Christmas holiday. 

I love a good scary story, so how I missed the tales of Krampus all these years is a mystery.

It is quite possible the story of Krampus predates Christianity, and there has been speculation that Krampus represents the horned god of early Paganism.    At the very least Krampus has been a part of Christmas celebrations in Germanic countries since the thirteenth century.    Krampus has been the antithesis of Saint Nickolas.   Where Saint Nick would leave the good children treats, Krampus would whip bad children with a switch.   Especially bad children would end up in his bag or basket and be taken away to never be seen again – I love it. 

And then there is a Christmas Horror Story yet to be seen.

Krampus: could make me like Christmas almost as much ah Halloween.

the Ol’Buzzard


the Ol'Buzzard

Thursday, December 17, 2015


In this era of  cellphone cameras we are able to document the extent of police overreach and overreaction.  

There is a problem with police departments across the nation.

There is a Dirty Harry attitude of be tough and shoot first – a closed rank society that sees all civilians as outsiders, and black civilians as the potential enemy to be intimidated and controlled –there is an attitude of superiority and power over the masses. 

  This persona is not only endemic in police departments, but also attracts the wrong type of people to its ranks.

 There needs to be nationwide regulation on use of force by police officers, and cowboy cops removed from the ranks.   

 There needs to be a higher bar set for police recruitment, including academic excellence and community service as a prerequisite.

 With the exception of SWAT, any police officer involved in the death of an individual, justified or otherwise, should be permanently removed from police duties - and if not charged offered transfer to some other public service department or given some determined separation pay.  

In the military I served for two years as base police at three different bases, and in Florida worked with the Clay County Sheriff's Department as a volunteer diver.   I know the feeling of authority the pistol and badge confers; and the feeling of camaraderie with the local civilian police officers in their attitude toward the public.  It is too easy to get caught up in the macho bullshit of the police culture.   In retrospect I too often overreacted as a thug with a badge and a gun.   

the Ol'Buzzard  


I am not a conspiracy theorist (well maybe I am,) but it seems to me that of the six defendants, the Baltimore police officer that was picked to be tried first was the least likely to be convicted. 
Here we have a black man being tried for the death of a black man – less controversial than a white officer, so less chance of sparking violent demonstrations… I don’t know – I’m just asking?

Of the six defendants there was a white Lieutenant and a black female sergeant present at the time; so why try the lowly patrolman first?
Is this a case of collusion between the prosecutor’s office and the city government looking to keep a lid on the backlash?   Was charging the black patrolman first a conscious choice orchestrated by city officials

Maybe I'm wrong...
the Ol'Buzzard

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


It has been raining all day today and is forecast to rain all day tomorrow.   The rain doesn’t bother me – I actually like being in the house with the rain drumming on our metal roof while I read, sleep or use the computer (retirement is a tough act.)   But the thing that does bother me is the warm temperatures.

   Last year at this time we had day temperatures in the teens and twenties with two feet of snow on the ground and snow events happening about once every week or ten days.   This year there is no snow and the temps have been ten to fifteen degrees above normal all month and the next fifteen-day forecast is predicting more of the same.   When the temperatures are high thirties to mid-forties it is too warm to use the wood stove and so we are using expensive oil to keep house temperatures comfortable.

I miss the snow: I love the snow.   We live in western Maine because we like the four seasons.   We are willing to endure mud season and bug season because we know fall season and winter season are to follow. 

We lived in Florida for a couple of years and there were no markers to changing seasons – I much preferred the twenty-four hours of daylight and twenty-four hours of darkness in arctic Alaska to the monotony of the never ending summer time of Florida weather. 

This is a crazy weather pattern and I hope it doesn't become the norm.

the Ol'Buzzard


Saturday, December 12, 2015


I was having some trouble viewing some videos yesterday and thought that my internet provider might not be supplying me with the speed I am paying for.   

I called the trouble number about one-o-clock this morning and while talking to a technician  he supplied me with a web sight that allows me to check my internet connection speed.  

The web address is:

the Ol'Buzzard

Friday, December 11, 2015


A new species, Homo Naledi, found in a cave in South Africa may be the transition from Australopithecus (upright walking ape) to the genus Homo (man.) 

Even more interesting is the manner in which the sight was explored.  

Two cavers found bones in an unexplored, almost inaccessible chamber of a cave near Johannesburg, South Africa.   
After traversing from a major chamber to a second chamber through a crawl space so small that it could only be entered with one arm in front of you and one at your side (called the Superman Crawl) the cavers entered what was believed to be the final chamber. 

One of the cavers happened to find a hidden chimney near the ceiling of the cave, barely large enough for his body to fit into.   The chimney dropped forty feet to a small chamber full of what appeared to be human bones.

The access to the chamber was so small that the paleoanthropologist and his usual team could not enter the sight. 

In order for the paleoanthropologist to document the find he advertised on Facebook for extremely small scientist, unafraid to work in tight spaces.   Of the people that responded he picked six small women, most doctoral candidates.

The bravery of these women and their determination to access and catalog the sight is worth the time to watch.    

This Nova production runs just under two hours, but is fascinating.      The video begins with a first dig near Johannesburg that introduces an earlier find, but after about one hour it focuses on the Naledi cave find.

Human evolution has always fascinated me, so I am including the Youtube video above, and also the link below. 

the Ol’Buzzard


We had a California terrorist attack by two radicalized Muslims and the U.S is outraged.   Even members of the Republican Congress were so concerned they stated they would pray for the families of the dead.

We had a terrorist attack at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic by a radicalized Christian.   Most Democrats were outraged – the Republicans spoke against abortion providers and said we need better mental health treatment; but not even a prayer for the dead.  

This is nothing new.  Racism and religious intolerance has always been a part of the American makeup.   Now it has pretty much congealed in  the Republican Party.   When we say that this is not what American values are, we are fooling ourselves.    

the Ol'Buzzard

Sunday, December 6, 2015


MRMacrum (Lost in the Bozone) posted about the violence in American society today.

I have witnessed a cultural change over the last sixty years that has brought us to the dysfunctional chaos that is twenty-first century America.

I was raised in the south during the 1950 by my grandmother.  I owned and hunted with a shotgun and a 22 rifle throughout my teen years.   Every boy in my school owned guns and every man I knew owned guns and hunted.   But, in that era the idea of shooting up a school, or public venue, or mass killing wasn't even imaginable.   When some violent crime occurred it was immediately denounced and people were horrified.

Today gun violence, shootings and even mass shootings are so commonplace that we talk of them for a few days and then move on.   We are a more violent society today then we were sixty years ago.  We are a different society, a people and with different value, and the ready availability of military type weapons  has unleashed a dark place in our psyche.

I don't glorify 'the old days' for there were many social injustices and the world as a whole was still fucked up; but we didn't live in fear of our neighbors.

Back then I thought the human race would become smarter into the future; but that doesn't seem to fit the trend.

the Ol'Buzzard