Sunday, April 17, 2011

“High Lonesome”

I wrote this article for A Picture Worth 1000 Words the day before I wrote the entry here at this blog entitled " The HP on Death ".

Just recently I lost a friend. As a matter of fact, a large percentage of those who offer up comments and content over at A Picture Worth 1000 all lost a friend. I took a few moments after visiting the funeral parlor to pen down my thoughts of death in general.

It seems I write about death a lot, either in a romantic or frustrating sense as myself or in a violent and fantasy world in collaboration with my nom de plume, Hilton Stiles. But this picture evokes in me a memory of another death – one that shattered my heart and made me grow up all in a moment.

My best pal Randy and I had a great love for the outdoors, and the Cape Fear River in general. Along with other friends we would camp at some cabins up between Lillington and Fuquay Varina, and fish all night, and drink all day and night. We sand songs, some of us better than others, we cooked bream fresh from the water, we ate pickled eggs, told off color jokes, and just generally do the things that guys do.

We never thought it would end. See that’s the point – the day you realize that yes, it can end, and yes, as a fact it WILL end, that’s when you lose your innocence. It’s not the first time you cop a feel, or even when you got laid in a heart wreckingly embarrassing encounter, nor is it the first time you see your parents for people and not Gods – it’s that moment, that clear understanding that no matter what the indoctrination or lesson, time ends for all men.

Losing my best friend at the age of 24 was devastating – it pretty much made me address questions I had always held quiet, except now out load and in front of the world. I questioned the idea of a Loving God, when one so young and good would be taken. I questioned the logic of a conservative lifestyle, saving frugally for a retirement that one might die 30 years before reaching. It just made me question.

And so angry. Damn I was angry at the world. And depressed, and out of control mentally. I did harmful things to my body; I begged ineffectively to a God I eventually come to realize did not exist to fix it all and make it back the way it was.

Now, more than 10 years later it is hard to address, or even try to mentally recreate that anger and loneliness.

But you know what I can still do? I can still go to the River and smell bacon cooking. And I can remember how when he had just enough to drink to feel tipsy he would take out his contacts and put on his glasses. And I can sit on the porch and listen to a bluegrass CD and know for a fact that he could play that song.

It’s the good things I still have, you see. It’s like the River takes the bad away, and with it flows away the anger, and the hurt. I’m almost afraid to know just how many broken hearts and lonely friend have spilled tears into that River over the hundreds of years – maybe that is why the seas are salty – the tears from those left behind washing out to the oceans.

He would have liked that thought. He always said I had a hell of a way with words.

I miss my buddy.

Happiness ( Orig posted on Pict Worth 1000 Words )


Happiness is a kiss on the forehead,
Holding hands in the parking lot,
And the smell of wood smoke on a fall day.

Happiness is the sound of laughter,
The taste of fresh coffee,
And a favorite work shirt hung out in the sun and breeze.

Happiness is knowing without asking,
Hoping with out worry,
Dancing and not caring who sees.

Happiness in you.
And me.


Beers I have Loved ( Orig to Pict. worth 1000 words )

“Beers I have loved”

Beer, glorious beer. How I love thee. The pint in the picture up there quickens my heart; I can feel the beads of condensation as I touch the glass. I bet it is at proper serving temp too, so that all the intimate secrets hidden within it are roaming free and easy, just waiting on y to savor the labor o the brewer. I’d love to have that beer.

Here are a few of my favorite beers ever:

Best surprise beer: A buddy and I and our oldest sons were standing knee deep in the Cape Fear River after a 2 mile hike across state and private lands. It was hot, and we were joking abut how we should have brought a cooler. About an hour later three guys in a canoe come by, stop and portage their canoe over the falls, and give us a beer before moving on. Best surprise ever.

Best surprise beer, runner up: After working all day in the dry arid hay fields picking up hay and then loading it into the barn, a Miller High Life pony bottle passed to me without a word by my Dad. It was teeth crackingly cold, and I sipped it and made it last. It was delicious, both to drink and to share that moment with my Dad

Fastest beer I ever drank without a funnel – Had just left the 1998 fall Busch Series race in Charlotte with a couple of friends. The husband has his wife pull into a Food Lion and we get a 12 pack of Natural Light. Upon getting in the car he passes me one, which I slammed. I mean I killed it. I gently passed the can back BEFORE WIFE EVER PULLS OUT OF THE PARKING SPOT and say “ Here’s the problem – the don’t put enough in these cans…” Wife was NOT amused. Husband laughed for minutes. ( And fed me another beer, too. )

Fastest beers I ever drank with a funnel – In the small town outside the slightly bigger small town I grew up in there is a University. There were years ago (maybe still, I don’t know ) an “illicit” fraternity known as the Mad Dogs. I was hanging out at one of their houses one night playing darts, and missed the board completely. Guess what hous rule they had? Miss the board, funnel a beer. It went down hill from there….

Wish I could do it again beer : At the outer banks as a young couple, Sweetum’s and I go to a restaurant and get Newcastle Brown Ale for the first time. It was amazing, but interestingly, like cocaine, I have never had one that equaled the first time. I still drink Newcastle, and I brew browns too, but I wish I could go back to that day, sit in that chair, and drink from that keg one more time.

Beer I regret and don’t regret the most –July 4th 1994. Yes, I got on the road. Yes I had been drinking. Yes I was underage. And Yes, I went through a traffic stop. Luckily the officer knew both 1) where I was coming from 2) whom I was going to see and where I was going and 3) That I was not over the limit. He did lecture me, he scared the shit out of me actually, he did threaten to come check and see that I was where I claimed to be going, but let me slide. Scared me enough for a lifetime. Now, more than one, hey, you drive, or I’m staying here. But I ain’t driving nowhere. Taught me a lifetime’s lesson sitting in the back of that car, blowing into that alco-sensor.

Beer I wish I could have back to drink again – The last one I had with my best friend Randy before he died. I’d draw it out for hours, days if I could. All I’m going to say about that.

Most extroverted beer I ever drank – ok, it was Neer Beer, so technically, I don’t know if it counts. I took a can to school and drank it with my lunch when I was a sophomore, right in the middle of the lunch room. It was stupid – a hey look at me thing – that went totally un noticed outside of my table.

Best Budweiser I ever had – Atlanta, October 1994 at the race. I was employed by Ford Motor, and went to the races with pit passes and infield credentials. Budweiser gave us free little disposable coolers and filled them with beer. It was so good under that Atlanta sun, crisp, and clean. I’m no huge Bud fan, but they saved the good stuff for us that day.

Beer mass produced once but gone now beer that I miss : The “Red” Miller. It was out in 1994-1995. Had a red label with an eagle. I loved it. Apparently though I was the only one. It disappeared after about 18 months.

Best Malt Liquor in the world – Champlae. And you cannot get it here in the south. Still looking for a connection in Chicago or Maryland who can hook me up on a semi regular basis.

Best beer I have brewed thus far- I think my Imperial Pale Ale, which was a kit from Brewer’s Best. It is just dammit tasty.

And lastly, the beer I look forward to th most – The next one. But just like tomorrow never gets here, the next one does not either, because while I may love and savor the one at hand, I know, somewhere out there, is one just a little bit colder. Or warmer. Or hoppier. Or maltier. And that my friends, is a great thing to know.

Cheers – I think I’m going to go grab me one right now.

Other Blogs

So, you come here and you read my ramblings and insane leanings, but maybe you just want some fiction.

Remember to check out WASTED TYPEFACE , my fiction blog.

And there is BLUE COLLAR FOOD CRITIC, which gets sporadic postings of my views on solitary dining experiences around the state.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Charity Work - It makes you feel good

This year, on new years day, I made only one resolution - to live my life in a way that parralleled the Jason Mraz song "Live High". I hope Mr. Mraz will not be too upset if I quote a bit of it here:

Glory God, oh God is peeking through the blinds
Are we all here standing naked
Taking guesses at the actual date and time
Oh my, justifying reasons why
Is an absolutely insane resolution to live by

Live high
Live mighty
Live righteously
Taking it easy
Live high, live mighty
Live righteously

Try to picture the man
To always have an open hand
See him as a giving tree
See him as matter
Matter fact he's not a beast
No not the devil either
Always a good deed doer
And it's laughter that we're making after all

The call of the wild is still an ordination why
And the order of the primates
All our politics are too late
Oh my, the congregation in my mind
Is this assembly singing gratitude
Practicing their loving for you

Now, I am a publically avowed agnostic, but I do want to live life as a good person. I decided upon reflection that while I was not a "bad" person, I was not doing enough to be a "good" person. I had made a personal decision to do more charity work, for groups with causes I could relate to or empathize with.

Then Gabrielle, our lovely and eccentric leader at A Picture Worth 1000 Words had a small social and said " Let's raise funds for St. Baldric's Foundation - a research foundation that battles children's cancer issues." This was EXACTLY what I needed! Motivated to do good, and to raise money for faceless kids, I threw myself into it - raising $3,600 in 60 days. Should there be pride in charity work? Probably not - but if I did not tell you how proud I was of our team, I would be a liar. We raised more than any other team, and a quarter of the overall total for the entire event. You can watch Gabby and Me get our heads shaved on YouTube.
It brought me much joy.
RIght on the heels of that, on the spur of the moment I commited to walk in the MS Walk in Raleigh, and did not "solicit" donations - rather I posted my team mates links - I don't know if it helped them or not, but Ashley won a "Gold Ring" prize for her Donations, and Nick and Chris both did very respectable amounts as well. I simply posted this morning that I was at $0 and if folks could contibute please do. Three hours later and $185 for MS - wow. I walked in honor of Nick's mom, who has MS. It was a great day to walk 5 miles ( the longer of three choices ) and turnout was great. I plan to make sure that next year we knock the bottom out of that one!

SO now, I want you to get in on the action. A Picture Worth 1000 Words will soon be forming a Bike Team to ride in the 2011 Bike MS event - a two day bike ride in New Bern NC. I have been blessed with a bike from a rider in NY who basically gave it to me due to the charitable nature of my needs.

I want to put together a big enough team that we can ride in each class - 30, 50, 75 and 100 miles. We're gonna need riders. We're gonna need donations. And I am going to try to team with A Picture Worth 1000 Words for some team products. So please, if you are interested in riding, let us know. If you have a business and would like to sponsor the team and get your name on our shirts, let us know. If you want to donate, let us know.

We will have a team tent with water and a few snacks as a place to decompress. I will make sure that there is a keg of celebratory hand crafted ale for the evening bull sessions.

We will expect riders to provide their own bikes, and required safety and assundry materials. We will try as a group to secure a low priced accommodations arrangement, that ( unless a sponsor picks up the tab ) each member will be responsible for.

I promise you - it will make you feel good. Feeling good helping people - nothing better in this crazy old world - The HP guarantees it.