Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dead Angle (Blogophilia 19.9)

Twenty men
Pinned by fire behind a small brow
At Dead Angle
Wait in the rain
Hope to take the hill
Blinded by gunsmoke
Choked by flying dust
Comrades dead and bleeding on both sides
In the fight of their lives

Forty eight hours
Sitting in mud and filth
Hidden in plain sight
Ordinance flying over their head
The Illinois Regulars waited
Screams of the fallen echoing below
Everyone ready to rumble
Liking the fast lane to victory

Gray Line finally weakens
Rushing up the hill
Capturing cannon and killing stragglers
Cheatham Hill finally falls
The most important domino
Of Sherman’s bloody dream.

Ooops, forgot the guesses
Topic (fight of their lives)- Liam Liam McKormic
Pic guesses- Needle. There it is, Log in your eye, Still too small, Hairpin

Friday, June 24, 2016

Nixon's Next Project


In the Devil's Quill executive conference room in Arlington VA, Richard Nixon and the top operations directors are having their weekly status meeting.

Richard Nixon: "O.K., folks. Let's settle down and get to business. Marty, can you give us a status report on the new employee recruiting process?

Marty Mammon: "Certainly. Things are better than expected. This new internet tool has been instrumental in capturing even the hardest cases. We've reduced Maker's intake load by 30%, while increasing our call centers capacity by an almost like amount."

Nixon: "Excellent. Beezlebub said you were the best at building tests."

Mammon: "Been at it a long time, Sir. One thing I have always taken to heart was something an old guy told me. 'It ain't over until it's over'"

Nixon: "Ah, Yogi..."

Mammon: "No, Sir. Berra stole that from one of my earliest projects, Job. I thought that guy would never quit. Maker ended up blinking first."

Nixon: "Yeah, I remember that story. It took you guys, what? Twenty years or so?"

Mammon: "About that."

Nixon: "Well, rumor is Maker has another project in the works. The code name is 144K and it is going to take all of your testing skills to meet his specs. You think you're up to that?"

Mammon: "He's restarting that? You were on the other side the last time it was active. We had to stop half way through because we couldn't handle the flow. Having three or four big demons going at once broke the sorter and we still didn't even get any of those desert guys Maker wanted. Of course, the aftermath let you float to the top."

Nixon: "Yeah, the Commie scare played to my strength. Anyway, I've started the preliminaries by getting the lying machine operative with ISIS 2.0 and Brexit. Wrath is handling the physical scare tactics. Very effectively, I might add."

Wrath nods his head, spreading smoke across the table. There is a brief pause while everyone's coughing subsides.

Nixon: "You really need to get that under control, man.We aren't down in the pits."

"Mammon, what we need from you is simple. If anyone falls for any of it, they fail. Maker wants only the ones that can see all the way through the game."

Mammon: "Oh, I have several scripts ready to go. Clarity of vision is the basis of all the QA we do. Anyway, I'll get right on it. Should I let intake know what's coming?"

Nixon: "Mr. Beelzebub would appreciate that, yes. We're done. Keep me posted."

Mammom: "Of course."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

White Lightning (Blogophilia 19.9)

Glistening in the moonlight
Warming your soul like your wedding night
Removing remembrance of time
Replacing it with fire thorn strife
Burning gut and soul
In equal measure
Stand out in the field
If you dare
Take the jar from the old man
And forget the world.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Cake (Blogophilia 17.9)

And she was like a starry night
Like a Ferris wheel, full of blue-green eyes
And a heart of steel, always on her own 
Almost never real 
Lazy morning light projected shadows diagonally across the grey hairs of his chest. Noise of a hand mixer and punk rock music had finally woken Bart. As he rubbed his eyes he wondered, when was the last time it had been used? Before Amy’s last chemo, he guessed. This roller coaster ride was real. Everything seemed renewed, even though he knew would end sooner or later. With a prayer of gratitude, he slipped on a robe and went to the kitchen.
She didn’t hear him pad in. Cream cheese wrappers were lined up like solders on the counter. The sugar canister was open and he could feel the heat of the oven. Her back was to him, totally focused on the task at hand. The tattered flower apron accentuated her thinness, but he didn’t care. The bird like features of the face more than made up for it. This place was a home again. 
Reaching around her waist, he placed a light kiss on her collarbone. 
“Hey, Babe. What’cha cookin?’
Giggling, she swatted his hand away. “Baklava Cheesecake. It’s for the building women’s club tomorrow.” Turning off the mixer, she ejected beaters and set them on the newspaper she had spread to catch the mess. “If you’re a good boy, I’ll let you have the bowl.”
Picking up a wide spatula, she began to scrape the mixture down the sides of the bowl. Pale, veined hands strained against the thick batter. Holding the bowl still was rewarded with an appreciative smile. One the far corner of the counter, phyllo sheets sat stacked and waiting. 
“Baklava and Cheesecake? Bending the rules, ain’t it? With that much sugar, you’re going to keep the diabetes doctors in business.” With a grin, he added “The biddies in the building jealous?” 
“Oh, one or two.” Holly grinned. “That Mrs. Donohue got on my nerves last week with all the bragging on how much weight she’s lost. The least I could do is fatten her up.”
They both laughed.
“Yeah, Amy couldn’t stand her either. Said she was nothing but a home wrecker. She never made a move towards me, though. I think she was scared.” Pouring coffee, he places Holly’s on the counter next to the bowl. “It was just the aggressive attitude. Been a widow so long I think she’s forgotten basic civility.”
“She’s probably lonely.” 
Taking a spatula, she began folding the thick mass out of the bowl into the waiting spring form pan. Suddenly he could see Amy making the Chess Pie. The raven curls tied back to keep them out of the mix as she made the layers, Bart always holding the pan steady. They would play Rochambeau like a couple of little kids to see who got the beaters and bowl. But it didn’t matter, they always shared. Bart sensed soft pressure on his shoulders and knew the spirit was still with them. 
The process involved a lot of primping and wiping. With a flat surface of a spoon, the top of the batter quickly resembled a tabletop. Then she stacked the thin pastry sheets one at a time, putting a thin stream of honey and chopped nuts between each layer. Finally everything met her satisfaction and she quickly put it on the top rack of the oven. 
Then she turned and placed the batter coated spoon gently into Bart’s mouth. Then she replaced it with her lips. For a full thirty seconds they shared. Pulling back with a sigh, she looked deep in his eyes. 
“Happy, now?”
“Mmmm.... Yeah. You taste better than the cake.”
“You’re just saying that. I taste like Chemo.”
“As if that was new to me?” Bart frowned. “If it is the same to you, I would rather taste that than nothing at all”
“Oh, I know.” Holly sighed as she sat in the other chair. “I’m just amazed I have as much energy as I do.”
“So much like my Amy.” Smiling, Bart took a sip from his cup. “She used to quote ‘to give anything less than your best was to sacrifice the gift.’ You have that same spirit within you.”
“Steve Prefontaine.” A slow smile came to Holly’s lips. “My one and only good boyfriend was a runner and used to say it all the time. I wish I had listened. That was such a long time ago.” 
She stopped and and placed her hand on his, garnet ring reflecting the morning sun.
“Wait a minute. What should we call us? I mean after the last month, I’m really not sure...”
Bart kissed her forehead.
“Two people God wanted to heal.” 
She sat in his lap and began to rub the balding head
“And when it is all over?”
“Oh, I’ll cry when you go over the bridge.” The smile became bigger. “But for right now, I thank Him for this. And you should, too”

Topic- Tyler Myrth
Pic-Rutger Siskens
Pic guesses: Bridge (in blog), Sine wave, Open water, Narrows, Oscillating, Other Side, Nessie, Krakken, Point, sea snake.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


A horrible night.
A horrible weekend.
Anger and powerlessness lashing out
Against the even more powerless.

The bleating starts.
They had it coming!
Truly they are sinners!
The wages of sin are death!
But death indeed comes to us all.

There is nothing to say
No one will learn
No one will hear
All that can be done
Is offer succor for the grief
And prayers to the violators
Knowing their hearts are not changed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Starting Over (Blogophilia 16.9)

It had to happen, I know. I actually missed a deadline. 
Oh, it could have been much worse. I could still be in the hospital with a 5” incision up my right side and couple of drains and all that. But, damn it, I had a story about a third done and I can’t type worth a crap on the phone. Saving the string would have required the desktop. Now, alas, the string is dead. Long Live The String! 
So, let’s look back. I wrote my first entry in the summer of 2007. Between then and now is about 470 weeks (thank you, Siri) and I managed to submit entries on every one of those weeks. About 155 reside in my notes here on Facebook, but I switched over to http://anothergovernmentemployee.blogspot.com/... 2010 because of the more flexible format. Sure, some of them were complete phone-ins, a few recycles on weeks where life was too crazy. But you folks are important.
I guess the best way to start over is to bring you fully up to date, Monday night after supper I began to have very sharp pains in on my upper right side. “Gallbladder” I thought. Great, but I’ve dealt with that before and it should resolve itself in a day or so. So after a fitful night of sleep, I did my chores Tuesday and got the crockpot setup for pulled pork. 
As the day wore on, the pain got worse. Mind you, I have a very high tolerance for pain, but this was getting ridiculous. My wife asked me to call my sister (a retired nurse) and get her opinion. Her first reaction was “Gallbladder”, but since it had been going on for 24 hours, it was time to get it checked out. So, I let everyone finish their dinner and I had my younger son to drive me up to the emergency room. (For those of you who are new, my wife does not drive because of medical issues and frankly she is the last person to be handed decision making in a medical emergency). 
Walking in the lobby, I looked like a smoker with end stage COPD (only without the breathing tubes). My son said the right shoulder was almost 2 inches lower than the left. The Triage nurse looked at me a bit funny, wondering if was someone scamming drugs, but she kept a civil tongue and in due time I limped back to the treatment room. Things went pretty quickly from there in ER time and I was thrown into a CT scan in about hour. Now, this is where the really loooooggg waits happen, but again things moved quickly. The ER resident on call (who looked impossibly young),came in and said I had a really ugly picture, a perforated appendix and my whole lower abdomen was quite inflamed. A GI surgeon was summoned and said I would get admitted for at least 2-3 days (turned out to be 4) for fluids, antibiotics and observation. No surgery, yet. To do it now, would be a much bigger issue with a much longer recovery time.
(Oh, as an aside, the CT DID find two gallstones that will need to be dealt with later)
Well, when they admit you, you become a piece of inventory. Now my barcode and SKU numbers were issued by the snarky Triage nurse, so I was already in stock. ANY transaction, they scan you and you have confirm your name and date of birth. Yeah, I know. It’s supposed to cut down on mistakes, but it isn’t always easy to repeat when it is 4:30 in morning with a bunch of Dilaudid in your system. 
Ah, yes, Snarky Nurse. They let me have as much as I needed. 
But it doesn’t lead to The Big Sleep. Not in a hospital. Every couple of hours, somebody is poking, prodding and scanning your code (Christopher H Mitchell 11/30/1958). And whoever designed the beds should be forced to sleep in them. I’m normally a side sleeper. You can’t do that in a hospital bed. Between my IV line and bed frame, it was difficult to find a comfortable position. Shift one way, the IV line would occlude. Shift the other way, the knife blade in my side twisted. The room did have a chair that worked much better, so I spent most of my time over there. 
Oh, and that lovely IV pump. Snnnrriiik.... plop... Snnnnnnrriiiikk plop. It sounded like my inkjet printer in a really long job. And when the pump is laying next to your ear, it gets really old. Plus it would spit out alarms when it need to be refilled and such. Of course, it also acts like a leash. So, when I would venture out of the room to walk around (a good way to help the healing process), I have to drag the stupid thing with me. 
The staff I dealt with were excellent. It can’t be easy to deal with a cranky person in the early hours to get vitals. The Nutrition lady was like talking to my grandmother and she wanted to make sure I did the best with whatever liquid I was on. I could have been in worse places.
So where to now? Well, I still have a 10 day batch of antibiotics and a follow up appointment with the GI folks. Best guess is appendix surgery will be in July sometime (which we hope can be done outpatient) and probably the gallbladder at a later day. 
A takeaway from all this? Even if you are hurting, it helps to keep a sense of humor about the absurdity of your situation. Don’t think about whether it is fair or not. That doesn’t matter. It is just what is happening now. Just one step in front of the other until you get to the end of this section of path. It was where you were supposed to go anyway.

Pic guesses: Hardboiled, Femme Fatale, That Woman, Warhol, L.A. Baby, Moll, Trouble, Maneater