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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
Number of posts: 64,881

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Voodoo Child

I stand up next to a mountain
And I chop it down with the edge of my hand
Well, I stand up next to a mountain
I chop it down with the edge of my hand
Well, I pick up all the pieces and make an island
Might even raise a little sand
-- Jimi Hendrix; Voodoo Child

I read "Jimi Hendrix: Starting at Zero (His Own Story)" today. Although the book was published in 2013, it was in the "new books" section at the public library. The book is by Alan Douglass and Peter Neal; however, it consists primarily of Jimi's writings from journals, and answers to interviewers' questions.

There are a few good biographies of Hendrix, and his music holds up very strongly to this day. Still, I agree with my librarian friend who recommended this as a "must read" for those who enjoy Jimi's works.

Like many others of my generation, I have an enormous collection of music by Jimi. This includes what he released; some "live" releases that include Jimi, such as Woodstock; a handful of low-quality releases, where he played a tiny role as a backing player in a studio; three LPs that were released shortly after his death; and some very good CDs his family has released in recent years.

It seems clear that Hendrix was an extremely talented musician. Heck of a show-man, too. And he also was obviously a very sensitive soul, who suffered a good deal throughout his brief life. He had an other-worldliness to him, and a gentleness that allowed the music industry to exploit him.

In this book, Jimi tells about his childhood, his teen years, serving in the military, and being an artist living on the streets of American cities. He describes the years of investment needed to become an "overnight success." Then the joy of making it big, followed by the frustrations of having the media portray him as a "wild man," and a public demand for a burning guitar, rather than his music and message.

Towards the end, his writings document his becoming frazzled by the pace of touring, and the demands of the record company executives. He expresses a desire to move into new directions; a great deal of self-doubt about his talent; and a growing alienation from the culture that he had been part of. His thoughts center on death quite often.

It is an amazing and a tragic story, well worth reading. I'm curious if other DUers have had a chance to read it yet?

H2O Man

Carmen Basilio

An old friend called me yesterday; he said he needed to stop by my house. I put a pot of coffee on, and waited. When he got here, he handed me a beautiful framed picture of Carmen Basilio, the great welterweight and middleweight champion. It was autographed, with a nice message from the Champ.

My friend is a retired carpenter, who still does some work from time to time. He had been cleaning out an old house for a friend, and found the photo in a pile of trash. He said he knew I'd like it, as he associates my family with boxing. And he thought there was some connection that he couldn't remember.

My great uncle had trained Carmen in his early career. In fact, Uncle Pat had promoted Carmen's first five professional bouts in Sherburne, although they do not show up on his "official" record. Old copies of Sherburne's newspapers record the bouts, though, and I talked to Carmen about them. Uncle Pat also co-promoted Carmen's early fights in Binghamton, where his recorded career began.

Carmen was a frequent guest at Uncle Pat's house. Basilio would always give Pat tickets to his fights. The family would travel all over to watch Carmen; this included his most important fight, where he took the middleweight crown from Sugar Ray Robinson.

Carmen worked my brother's corner in his pro debut. My brother-in-law twice fought Carmen's last fighter, heavyweight Greg Sorentino. And Carmen came up into the ring to congratulate me after I won a big amateur tournament. Even when he was old, and not in the best condition, Carmen remembered Uncle Pat.

It's funny: last Friday, my son and I met Floyd Mayweather, Jr. On our ride home, we discussed how Floyd would have done against past greats. All speculation, of course, but a fun mental game. I said that Carmen might well have matched up best against Floyd. We pass through Sherburne on our ride, and we have our own little tradition of stopping for a visit to Pat's grave.

On Saturday, before watching the televised card, we continued our discussion of a dream fight between Carmen and Floyd. And we talked about the times I introduced my son to Carmen, who was one of the nicest, funniest people you could hope to meet.

Two days later, I got this autographed picture. It will be a nice addition to my son's collection!

From Here to Internity

To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?
-- William Shakespeare; Hamlet

This soliloguy from Hamlet was used by Minister Malcolm X in a speech at Harvard University in the last year of his life. It's something that people around the globe are wondering about as violence is breaking out in the Ukraine. And, of course, there's still military conflicts going on within numerous countries.

It brings up tough questions. One of those is, simply, how do we want the United States to respond? The way we answer as a nation is hugely important. Not only that, but how we respond to that question as individuals is mighty significant, too. I include the community at the Democratic Underground, for our individual opinions are as important as any other individual's. (Not as influential as everyone's, of course. And not as politically powerful as those of corporations.)

I'm anti-war. There hasn't been a war in my lifetime that has been in the best interests of American citizens. But I could not say that there has never been a just war. Or that there may not be another, in the future.

A nation's approach is not unlike individuals engaged in, or responding to, threats and other acts of violence. Some national leaders, like Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, act like George Zimmerman in terms of policy. Not that they were ever fighters. Heck, they'd probably want Zimmerman as a body guard
If someone is invading your house, you have the right to stop them. Malcolm used to say that if a robber comes in your house with a gun, and you stop him with a gun, that doesn't make you a robber. In the early years of his adult life, even Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., kept a shotgun in his home.

Why did King eventually get rid of his weapon? A person can believe in non-violent resistance, as a social-political tactic, and still believe in the right to defend one's self and family. Yet King moved beyond this stance. His understanding of the teachings of Jesus and Gandhi led to his change.

My friend Rubin knew both Malcolm and Martin. In the 1960s, he certainly was closer to sharing Malcolm's beliefs, than Martin's. But, in his book "Eye of the Hurricane" (2012), Carter writes that he has come to see that Martin's way was the correct path for reaching that higher ground where violence is rejected in society.

There are, of course, good people who will say that Martin's way is unrealistic, becvause it ignores human nature. This, of course, ignores the example that individuals throughout history have shown ......that it is indeed "human nature" to be peaceful. It is a very real human potential that is available to the world. Yet, it cannot come into being because of "leaders." A Cheney, Bush, or Putin does not have the ability to bring about a peaceful, non-violent resolution to any serious dispute.

This dangerous nonsense in the Ukraine is about the control of resources. It's not because Putin hates us for our freedoms. It is an appeal to the ugliest of human potentials -- and that includes Americans' and well as Russians' -- of greed, fear, and hatred. The "success" of such appeals depends entirely upon the willingness of every day people to be invested in greed, fear, and hatred.

This dangerous nonsense can't be stopped with more negative energy or armies. It can only be ended by people refusing to participate in the negative. The "weapon" of true moral force, as defined by Gandhi and King, offers the only solution. The common folk united, without artificial boundaries.

Is there any other way?

H2O Man


Feb. 28

At Hammond, Ind. (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes): "Boxcino" middleweight tournament quarterfinals (all bouts 6 rounds), Donatas Bondorovas vs. Willie Monroe Jr.; Cerresso Fort vs. Vitalii Kopylenko; Brandon Adams vs. Daniel Edouard; Raymond Gatica vs. Sena Agbeko; Simeon Hardy vs. TBA, 8 rounds, junior middleweights; Donovan Dennis vs. Samuel Coming, 8 rounds, heavyweights; Fidel Navarrete vs. Segio Montes de Oca, 4 rounds, featherweights; Mike Jimenez vs. Jimmy Campbell, 6 rounds, super middleweights; Dimar Ortuz vs. John Moxey, 4 rounds, cruiserweights; Russell Fiore vs. Tim Carrizales, 4 rounds, lightweights

At Verona, N.Y. (Showtime): J'Leon Love vs. Vladine Biosse, 10 rounds, super middleweights; Badou Jack vs. Derek Edwards, 10 rounds, super middleweights; Chris Pearson vs. Lanardo Tyner, 8 rounds, middleweights; Luis Arias vs. Dashon Johnson, 8 rounds, super middleweights; Ronald Gavril vs. Cameron Allen, 8 rounds, junior featherweights; Omontunde Tabiti vs. Dorian Hatcher, 4 rounds, cruiserweights; Ladarius Miller vs. Douglas Rosales, 4 rounds, welterweights; John Franklin vs. Jesus Bayron, 8 rounds, junior featherweights

Good luck to Willie Monroe, Jr., tonight. Willie is a first class gentleman, outside the ring.

I will be at ringside at Verona, with my son Darren. The greatest fighter of this era -- Floyd Mayweather, Jr. -- will be there. It doesn't get any better than that, for this old pug.


Yesterday, my Very Good Friend -- known on this forum as "malaise" from Jamaica -- posted an article about Dr. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. The article told how Carter, the former middleweight boxer who was incarcerated for 20 years for a crime he did not commit, is in the final days of his life. Though battling cancer, Rubin's primary focus remains his attempt to get justice for David McCallum.

In the near future, I will post more about David's case. I hope that some from the DU community will take an interest -- an active interest, at that -- in this case of injustice. Until then, people can either "google," or, better yet, get a copy of Rubin's 2011 book, "Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom." It contains a great deal of information on David's case, as well as a foreword by Nelson Mandela.

When I was a little boy, my two older brothers introduced me to the sport of boxing. The first bout I watched on television was the Hurricane knocking welterweight champion Emile Griffith -- who had just been named "Fighter of the Year" -- out in one round.

My family was dirt poor; we knew poverty in ways that few people in this country actually do. About the only "recreation" we could afford was arguing and fighting. And, as we lived on a small farm, the work we did each and every day prepared us for fighting! Now, being the youngest of five kids (two brothers and two sisters), the hand-me-down hand-me-downs I wore to school made me the target of other children's often cruel jokes. Plus, as a result of being poor, I had lost a lot of teeth to an infection, and couldn't talk right, those few times I did try to speak.

Now, you take a strong kid, wearing worn-out, way out of style clothes, who can't talk, but can fight, and who doesn't like being picked on .....and, you guessed it: in my childhood, I got into lots of fights outside of just boxing.

By the time I was 13, I was good enough that Lee Kerr, a British writer for Boxing Illustrated, did a feature article on me, predicting that I was a sure bet to win a world's title when I was in my twenties. Now, I was still a poor kid, and unable to wash that distinct smell of "farm" from my clothing. And although I got very good grades in school, my anti-social circle of friends were what could best be described as inhabiting the margins. But no one picked on me, at least not to my face.

about Rubin Carter's case always interested me. It just didn't make sense that he would have committed the crimes he had been convicted of. This was, of course, long before the internet -- in fact, it was before he published his first book, "The Sixteenth Round," which would gain the interest and support of Bob Dylan, Muhammad Ali, and many other celebrities. Thus, there wasn't a lot of information available on Carter.

So what is a poor farm boy to do? What else: I wrote to Carter, and told him that I thought he was innocent. I figured that I could get him released, and, in return, he could manage my professional boxing career. This made perfect sense to me at the time.

He wrote back. And soon, we were writing to each other frequently. I have all of the letters, cassette tapes, photographs, and documents that he sent me. In time, Rubin convinced to to quit boxing, and go to college. I was a volunteer worker with his defense committee. And since his eventual release, we have remained good friends. I'm proud to say that all four of my children know Rubin.

I've known about the cancer for a long time now. It had been his choice to keep it private. Rubin doesn't want anyone feeling sorry for him -- he's not that way. On one hand, I had hoped that somehow, this most powerful of men would pull through. On the other hand, I know that in order to advance in our knowledge of life, we must learn to die.

Over the 40-plus years I've known Rubin, we've had some amazing experiences. Maybe I'll write some more about them sometime soon. But for now, I'm looking through some of the letters and court documents that I've collected over the years.

H2O Man

We Can Work It Out

"Life is very short
And there's no time
For fussing and fighting, my friend
"I have always thought
That it's a crime
So I will ask you once again
"Try to see it my way
Only time will tell
If I am right or I am wrong"
The Beatles; We Can Work It Out

One area where much of the most intense acrimony between men and women is found is in the family court system. Hence, I have been a bit surprised that this specific topic hasn't been brought up much, if at all, in the DU:GD threads on sexism et al. Indeed, the hostility between men and women ripens within the legal system.

I reside in New York State. For many years, there was nothing approaching a level playing field in cases involving custody and support here. The laws began to change under the leadership of Nelson Rockefeller in the early 1970s. The governorr actually began advocating for such changes, when his top body guard was separating from his wife. I'm familiar with that, because the body guard was my uncle.

In the late 1980s, my first wife sought a divorce. We had two wee-little boys, ages six and three. At first, we had equal, shared custody. She got the house, and the two more expensive of our three vehicles. More, I had to pay her support -- even though I had the boys as much as her, and she had a larger income.

Over a several year period, she brought me to court twelve times. I never filed any case against her. In time, both boys came to live with me full-time. Their mother, on her own and without my asking, had my support ended, and began to pay me what she believed was a fair amount. I think that this went a long way in reducing the hostility between us.

As I write this, I remember something that struck me as odd: the boys' mother called me from her family's farm on the morning her mother died. I had a good relationship with my former mother-in-law; she would at times drop in my home to visit her grandsons and I. Even though my "ex" had re-married, I was the first person she called that morning.( I wouldn't go so far as to call us close friends these days, but we had Thanksgiving together at our sons' house in 2013.)

In my first few years as a single parent, a couple of friends and I organized an informal "support group" for men experiencing separation and divorce. Our focus was two-fold: fathers' rights, and fathers' responsibilities. I kept and handful of journals then, and have been flipping through some of them recently. We had about thirty guys who participated. Most were in their late 20s to early 50s. All of them were working class.

There was a wide spectrum for such a small group, in the context of the opinions on rights and responsibilities. There were guys who really believed that their lives were over, that they simply could not live without their ex-girlfriend or wife. And there were guys who were seething with hatred, intent upon causing as much pain and suffering as they possibly could. There were men who would do anything and everything to enrich their children's lives. And there were males who seemed emotionally unattached to their own children
One fellow, who I had worked with many years before, simply walked out of his children's lives. Even though he lived rather close to them, he simply stopped seeing them at all. Not surprisingly, he frequently "fell behind" on paying support. As it turned out, his father had walked out on his family when he was a youngster. But I have seen other males do that same thing, even though they were raised in intact, seemingly normal, middle-class families.

Likewise, I know a lot of women who have been divorced, who make up an equally wide spectrum as parents. Some are really good, and some are inadequate in character.

It seems to me, both as a human being and as a father of two sons and two daughters, that our society's views and behaviors -- in terms of the opposite sex -- are largely rooted in our experiences in families. Our family of origin, of course, plays a primary role here. Did that family assign rigid roles based upon sex? Was violence used to "settle" disagreements? Were men and women respected?

Considering that a significant percentage of marriages will end in divorce, family court will remain an arena for warfare between the sexes. I suspect that this general arena could provide us with an area where we could -- as the DU Community -- engage in meaningful discussions on topics including parents' rights and responsibilities. I expect that, if such a discussion caught on, there would be a few people that might express bitterness more than insight. But that is okay .....in fact, it can be a good thing, so long as people approach this with open minds.

What do you think? Is it a valid topic for rationale discussion? Thank you for your consideration.

H2O Man

Cassius X & The Beatles

There are times when events in the worlds of music and/or sports have great cultural influence. Last night, for example, I went to a public library to watch a documentary film about The Beatles invading America. The friend who invited me works as a librarian there; I told her that I was curious to see if the film would include The Beatles visit to the Miami training camp of a young man people knew as Cassius Clay. It did not.

Today marks 50 years since Cassius scored one of the biggest upsets in sports' history. I've been reading through an old scrapbook of newspaper and magazine articles leading up to the bout, as well as a mint-condition copy of The Ring magazine published three weeks earlier. Very few members of the boxing community gave Cassius any chance of winning. In fact, the majority of "experts" were sure that Liston would flatten the young challenger in one round.

I still have my copy of an album released by Cassius Clay, titled, "I am the Greatest!" It features 15 "rounds" of Cassius's poetry, which was a big part of his getting the public's attention. I would speculate that this album was likely what caught The Beatles' attention. There are numerous photographs that document the initial meeting between these five young men who would, quite literally, change the world.

My favorite part of this curious encounter came when Cassius was exchanging verbal jabs with The Beatles. Older DUers will remember that, a half-century ago, athletes and musicians were expected to be humble when talking to the press. Especially black athletes. The only exception to this unwritten rule was the man who held the heavyweight title 50 years earlier, the great Jack Johnson.

Cassius had as fast a tongue as he did a jab. Reporters found him fun to interview, because one never knew what this kid might say. After Paul and George traded some good-natured insults with Cassius, he sai, "You ain't as dumb as you look!" John deadpanned: "No, but you are."

The fight was almost called off, when the press began reporting that Malcolm X was hanging out with Clay's camp. What these reporters didn't know was that Cassius was already a member of the Nation of Islam. In fact, he had already taken the name "Cassius X" weeks before the fight. The promoter had struck a deal with Angelo Dundee, Cassius's trainer, to have Malcolm stay fully out of sight.
Malcolm was, of course, suspended from the NOI at that time. This was officially due to Malcolm's comments to reporters after President Kennedy was murdered. Looking back, today we know that there was much more to Malcolm's suspension.
Elijah Mohammad, the leader of the NOI, found Cassius an interesting character, but did not want to be associated with him before the Liston bout. Elijah believed that Sonny would humiliate Cassius in the ring.

Among the very few people who favored Cassius were Malcolm, former heavyweight champion Jersey Joe Walcott, and a young reporter named Howard Cosell. They knew that Sonny had actually reached his peak a couple of years before he won the title. In recent years, Liston had devastated his opponents quickly. While that was impressive enough to have most boxing writers compare him with the great Joe Louis, it meant that he could have difficulties in any bout that went beyond two or three rounds.

Liston was a physically imposing man. He was the biggest heavyweight champion in many years (only Jess Willard and Primo Carnera had been bigger, but neither of them were considered to be great fighters), What people didn't realize was that Cassius was actually larger than Sonny.

At the weigh-in on the morning of the fight, Cassius worked himself into a frenzy. The doctor said Clay's blood pressure was far too high, and wanted to call off the bout. An hour later, the doctor was surprised to find Cassius's bllod pressure had returned to normal. He told Malcolm that he knew the only thing Sonny might be afraid of was a crazy man; hence, he acted crazy.

During the day, away from reporters, Liston was on the phone with 15-year old Timothy Smith. The boy was dying of muscular dystrophy. Although the press rarely reported on this side of "the Bear," Liston loved children, and frequently visited children's hospitals. He had spent a significant amount of money since winning the title, to make sure sick and poor children had good Christmases and birthdays.

Malcolm would sit in seat #7 in the 7th row for the fight. He believed this confirmed that Cassius would win the fight in seven rounds. He would visit the challenger in his dressing room a half-hour before the bout, and tell him that this bout was far bigger than boxing: it was the Cross versus the Crescent, being telecast around the globe.

The fight itself remains one of boxing's greatest. Cassius won by TKO when Sonny failed to come out for round seven. But it so surprised the "experts," that few journalists understood the true significance of what they had just witnessed.

The following morning, the new champion told reporters that he was a member of the NOI. He said his name was now "Cassius X." Within the next 48 hours, Elijah Mohammad would give him the name Muhammad Ali. What is in a name? In this case, it signaled that Ali had decided to stay with the NOI, rather than join Malcolm in the new organization he was planning. Had Ali stuck with Malcolm, his life would have taken a very different course.

Note: the next time that Lennon and Ali would be seen together would be at President Jimmy Carter's inauguration party.

Ali and The Beatles would play significant roles in the decade of the sixties. All five of these men would make the world a better place to live, and their influence on culture went far beyond the ring, the stage, or the recording studio.

H2O Man


My younger son and I just visited my oldest brother. Years ago, he was highly respected in his community. He ran a volunteer program that appealed to "at risk" youth and teens; his program was more successful at preventing these kids having "trouble" at home, in school, and in the community, than any other I've seen as a social worker. He was also a professional boxer, who took too many punches, and caught the Irish Flu after retiring.

Now in his 60s, he is a shut-in, spending most of each day in a wheel chair. There are times when his brain doesn't function very well, and others -- like tonight -- where things click.

My son is a student at SUNY-Binghamton, and works part-time in human services. He is currently taking fascinating courses in sociology, anthropology, and political science. So much of our discussion centered on these topics. Interestingly, at least for me, a large part of our conversation covered some of the topics that divide parts of the DU community on GD.

One of the points he made was that, in his life-time, the only really good politicians have been democrats. And the most corrupt, repulsive politicians have been republicans. In this way he differs from our other brother, who lives on the west coast, and believes there needs to be more third-party, pro-environment candidates.

We also discussed some of the female politicians of the past half-century. He and I are old enough to remember the power of Shirley Chisholm. My brother said that these days, he considers Gabby Giffords to be the most outstanding role model. He noted that in terms of "tough," there is no stronger person in the country. And he made a few jokes that compared this lady's intelligence to that of the leading republicans. His contempt for the "republican elite" remains strong and pure.

It's definitely fun to discuss and debate various issues on DU. I believe that, at times, these internet conversations are important. I'm also convinced that it is equally fun and potentially important to discuss these same issues with othr people in our lives. The chances of us all agreeing on everything are remote; yet it is among people of good will that we are most likely to reach the answers that our society desperately needs.

H2O Man


"We must seek out spiritual people because only that is going to help us survive. We have a great force -- a great brotherhood. This brotherhood involves all living things.And that, of course, includes us all. We are talking about the natural world, the natural force, all the trees, everything that grows, the water. That is part of our force.

"But when you gather spiritual force in one place, you also gather the negative force. We begin to perceive the enemy now, the power and presence of the negative force.

"There is a great battle coming."
-- Onondaga Chief Oren Lyons

As I read DU:GD lately, I am reminded of this quote from Oren. It's from the 1980s. But I think that it holds equally true today.
There are good people who participate on this forum that might find the quote to be offensive. For example, many intelligent people are not religious, and may not consider themselves to be spiritual. Yet they almost certainly share many of the same values as Oren, which he defines as spiritual. Values such as respect for the environment, treating people with respect, and having compassion for those who are suffering.

Still others may take offense to the use of the word "brotherhood." I have a couple "live" recordings of John Lennon performing his song "Imagine," where he added "sisterhood" to the line about "a brotherhood of man."

It would be easy for me to dismiss some of the nonsense in the on-going "battle of the sexists" on DU:GD as simply being the product of bitterness. Certainly, the hostility we witness here all too frequently is the power and presence of the negative force. Yet, if I simply dismiss the concerns of that segment of the DU community, or make mean-spirited replies, then I, too, am adding to that force.

There are about a half-dozen people here who, for many years, I had at least a casual internet friendship with. I opt to avoid speaking with them these days, because I think they have betrayed what little sense of trust I consider necessary for such internet friendships. Without doubt, they feel the same about me.

Still, I do not question either the sincerity of their agenda, nor do I think they should be limited in their ability to promote their beliefs. It is what it is.

At risk of sounding a bit preachy here, I would suggest that others consider how they respond to others here, whom they may strongly disagree with. It may be that doing so could reduce some of the meaningless quarrels that have been taking up quite a lot of space here lately.

H2O Man

White Nights

Last night, I went for a long walk with one of my dogs, Kelly. It was pleasant: there was almost complete silence as we ventured through the woods, and across a large field. At one point, we could hear some people riding snowmobiles in the distance. (I don't mind if people walk on my property, but have asked the local club not to ride their snowmobiles on my property. Most of them respect that.)

Kelly is a great friend. He's mostly boxer, but looks very different from his parents and siblings. His body looks like a Lab; his head is square; and he is white, with light blue spots. His tail wags faster than the speed of light.

Kelly is medium-sized (extra-medium, perhaps), and so the snow in the field came up over his shoulders. When he ran into the many snow drifts, his head would disappear from sight, then pop out on the other side.

We came across several spots where deer have nested under the apple trees in our old orchard. I think it's been a harsh winter for the deer: most mornings, I see where they have come close to my house, to eat any left-over cat or dog food. They also have been trimming my rose bushes for me.

The blowing snow has covered most of the other animal tracks that we usually see in the field this time of year. Kelly still dug his head into the snow a hundred times, probably sniffing where a mouse had been hours earlier.

My pond, fire pit, and sweat lodge were all covered by deep snow. If I didn't know they were there, I wouldn't have even noticed anything different from the rest of the field/edge of the woods. Kelly did, though -- he plunged down where one of the springs runs into the pond.

Every so often, Kelly would stop whatever he was doing, and come over in front of me, and put his front paws on my legs. I'd kneel down, and pet him, until he was ready for us to be on our way.

Like everyone around these parts, I've had my fill of winter. Can't wait for spring. But, since that is still a way's off, I try to enjoy what is real, now.

H2O Man
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