"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within."

Ariel Durant

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A good night to be inside.

This is a good night to be inside.  It's not only pitch black outside, but the fog or low clouds have really settled in. I can't even see the security lights on the barn from the porch.  One thing about living on a mountain top, you get this kind of weather a lot.  

Ever so often, a rain shower will pass over the mountain top and rattle on the shake roof.  It must have been a cold front coming through, because the outside temperature has dropped ten degrees. I have a fire  going in the fireplace, just a small one. More for light and atmosphere than for heat.

I'm listening to "The Sinatra Channel" on Sirius/ XM.   It's not just Frank Sinatra, but it's that kind of music from that period.  Interestingly, they call it "the channel night was made for." I guess because it's relaxing music.

My receiver is pretty old, and the docking station is even older. I've replaced the radio once. It's good quality sound, and you can listen to any kind of music. Right now Dean Martin is singing "Left my Heart in San Francisco."  Can't beat that.

To go with the Sinatra channel, you have to have a drink. I have a good bottle of Captain Morgan spiced rum, and that suits the mood.  Sometimes I like it with coke, but tonight just a little ice in the glass is working out nicely.

I rarely drink, and not to excess. I got all that out of my system when I was young.

Now, a good glass of something like rum is a special occasion, and I enjoy it all the more for that. Usually I drink some variant of Southern Comfort, but tonight is more of a rum night.

To go with the drink, you have to have tobacco. I quit smoking decades ago, as far as cigarettes go. But I still smoke a pipe.  I have two racks of good wooden pipes, most of which I got in London on different trips up there while we lived in Italy.

But I also have a collection of Turkish Meerschaum pipes. I worked in Turkey a lot. Two things everybody bought in Turkey were the pipes, and gold jewelry for the wives.

I think I have about twenty of these, with their little cases. Some are really ornate, and others are plain . I have three I smoke.  There was no motif or decoration you couldn't get in Turkey. Surprisingly for a Moslem country, pipes carved in the shape of nude  females were popular.  I bought one as a curiosity.  Turks don't go in for skinny women, they like voluptuous women. So the women on the pipes are all what we would think of as plump.  I never could figure out how they didn't get shut down, because the shop keepers kept them right on the displays and Turkey then was sectarian but still very Moslem.

Buying something in Turkey was a drawn out affair. You had to sit. You had to drink coffee. You had to make small talk. I am not good at that, but to do otherwise was rude. Fortunately, when I went to Turkey I almost always went with a Navy Senior Chief from the staff. He was born to get along in that environment, so he handled the chit chat.  He did most of the bargaining for me too. You never paid the asking price, if you had you'd have been thought retarded. What, ten dollars for a Meerschaum pipe! Outrageous! So Senior Chief Audey haggled and I just sat there awkwardly. Senior Chief Audey was good with languages and he picked up considerable Greek and Turkish. People like it when you speak to them in their own language. He had panache, no denying that.

By the way, they served their coffee or tea in tiny little glass shot glasses, in silver holders. The damn stuff was scalding hot. You couldn't hold it and you couldn't drink it. But the Turks did both. The first time I went to Turkey I scalded my tongue. It hurt like hell, but you had to just smile and talk about how good it was. The Turks have no use for weakness. They are fierce people.

Here's a true thing about Turkey back then. I know no one will believe me but it's true. When you went into the gold sellers street in Izmir, if you saw something you liked but you couldn't make up your mind, the shop keeper would tell you to take it with you, keep it a day, and then come back. If you decided not to buy it, that was OK.

This was pretty shrewd psychologically because I doubt anyone ever came back and didn't buy the item. I never did, and as a consequence my wife has a good bit of gold and turquoise jewelry she never wears. I guess she will pass it on to my daughter .  I never heard of anyone stealing from the shop keepers. The fact that the only way out of Izmir was through the airport may have had something to do with that. I don't think any navy ships ever went in there as a liberty port that  I can remember. But I think really, that when somebody trusts you like that, you don't want to disappoint them, no matter how much of a cad you may be at heart.

Well, time to call it a night. Wasn't a bad day today. Not at all.


  1. Replies
    1. Yes. There are worse things than to sit by a fire, with good music playing, a good drink to hand, and a good smoke. That's when a fellow is in the right mood to think back and enjoy the past.

  2. Dean Martin..... any music of his is tops, and all his stuff goes down smooth. I like his X-Mas music the best.

    Harry his music is good for your blood pressure.

    1. You're up late. Wonder why so many of the older guys are night hawks. CC is up all the time, and Gorges is a late nighter. Surprised to see you though.

      Yeah, that was real music. I like the forties, but I like the Rat Pack era too. Sirius has a good 1940's channel and the Sinatra Channel. Plus they have a good jazz channel and a smooth jazz channel.

      It is good for my blood pressure. That got way out of hand this past few days. I got the medicine routine reestablished and I'm feeling better now.

      A fire crackling away, a good smoke , and a good drink didn't hurt the mellow mood either.

    2. Yeah, I'm 47, so I'm older than some and younger than others like you and Kymber..... I've fought hard the last 14 years to maintain a "normal" sleep cycle with barely any success to mention. I imagine the reasons vary from person to person. I would imagine that a common reason we all share is we brood about the future late at night and the possibilities of such are enough to keep anyone awake.

      Wife got a promotional deal on her sat radio in her car, so she kept it on for another 6 months. Like you, I don't get off of the property that much so I can't justify paying for it in my truck, although I'm starting to think about getting one for the house. I've got a nice system but poor reception as I can't have outside antennas here ( at least not obvious ones ) due to the covenant laws here in the neighborhood..... funny though, I see several of the small dishes for DIrectv, those are a form of antenna.

      I keep thinking to myself that if they ever dissolve the covenant agreement, then I'll put a big ol' honkin' ham tower up to get me up over the low spot I'm in. Legally, that battle has already been fought here in my state (if memory serves) and I can put one up regardless of any covenant agreements, but I try to get along with my neighbors.

    3. I really enjoy the satellite radio. No advertisements, and there's a channel for every kind of music, plus really good news coverage like BBC World and Radio Canada.

      You can't have an antenna outside your house? Not even a 20 foot whip? I don't think I would do well in a place with a homeowners association. Even thinking about somebody telling me what I can do on my own land pisses me off. That old arrogant Yankee Kunstler was right about one thing. He is always dumping on Southerners for being "hyperindividualistic."

    4. When I lived in Naples, FL, I made the mistake of buying a condo. The rules were stringent, and the association dues came around very regular. I said never again to anything similar. But when I married again, I moved up here to her place, she had a house in a cove that had covenants.

      And it's not too bad generally, although I perceive it as a thorn in my side on occasion.

      I think the rule on antenas was meant with the big cb/ham towers with the big horizontal arrays that have a big footprint. I suspect much of this goes back to the days of the 70's with CB'ers with poorly designed linear amplifiers stomping all over the nearby neighbors tvs/radios and making their light bulbs glow while turned off. Those collective memories sill linger and can affect resale values. Plus when it happens and the standard communications suddenly don't work as well if they work at all, then everyone will be happy to let me do what I want if I can provide news and info to them.

      I could probably get away with a whip antenna or a simple J-pole now, if I placed it right. My brother in law is a big ham radio enthusiast and said this battle has been fought before in the state and the radio operators won against the home owners associations.

      Harry, with my health issues the last several years, it hasn't really been an issue. I've not had the energy to pursue the hobby. Plus if I'm going to be stuck here when things crack up, then I don't want to start off in the hole with these people.

      For now it's the hand I've been played.

    5. C Crane has a bunch of antennas designed to be hidden from view so nobody knows you have a radio system. But I don't know much about them as I have never had to hide anything I was doing here.

      I can see how you want to lay low and not get into hassles with busy bodys and conformist drones in your neighborhood. That can add a lot of stress to life.

  3. these are my favourite kinds of posts from you Harry! i love all of your survival-related information, your book reviews and magazine reviews - but it's these kinds of posts filled with memories of your experiences that i thoroughly enjoy!

    when i was in korean school, at the canadian forces language school, i met another teacher, labibah, who taught egyptian but was from turkey. we became fast friends even though she was 20+some odd years older than me. once we became friends, she made turkish coffee in the mornings in a little urn and served it in the little glasses in fancy silver outer-wrapping things. and in the afternoons she would serve me cay which is turkish tea. it was a very lovely experience for me and she was a lovely woman. i felt honoured as we did this proper turkish ritual every day of the workweek for 2 years. then i went to alert and when i came back she had returned to turkey. i will never forget her!

    i love the idea of being able to take something home with the trust that you will return it if you don't end up buying it.

    please keep telling us your stories about the things that you saw and did while overseas. we can all learn from your experiences.

    sending much love as always! your friend,

    1. Kymber, it's a facet of old age that you spend a lot of time thinking of the past, instead of looking to the future. I try not to be maudlin. I've had a great life though, and can't complain about it.

      I hope things are going very well with the pup. By now she should be settling down some. My dogs were on pins and needles last night, they don't like the fog at all.

      So today I'll have to take a long nap!

    2. Hey Kymber,


      I had a few friends like that over the years.

      As per coffee ritual goes. Folgers instant coffee with a mess of sugar and that stuff will put hair on your chest its so strong. The only good coffee I like is coffee from Mcdonalds. I tried that weird designer coffee that all them yuppies like in them boutique coffee shops that stuff is knarly and expensive.

      I drink enough coffee to gag a maggot off a gut wagon!

      By the way, I hate Starbucks like Harry hates Walmart and Amazon.

      When someone's coffee costs more ammo, somethings wrong.

      I gotta go. I am having a hamburger for breakfast. When your a bachelor. You get to do all kinds of stuff.

      By the way Kymber. We want to hear about your puppy stories with that sled dog you got.

    3. captain - if you had friends like labibah then you are a lucky man indeed! your coffee ritual sounds completely disgusting - bleck! but that is coming from a woman who drank 2pots a day when well as colleauges bringing me coffee from all of the different coffee shops! i stopped drinking coffee when i retired and now if i have only a few sips i get the shakes and headaches and need to lay down.

      captain - you must have a drone with a camera flying over our house! that dog is growing every single day! and her paws are huge! she is a good girl, tho, and learning all of her commands. and yes, jambaloney is building her a sled and she is taking us on sled rides all winter long - bhahaha!

      sending much love captain! your friend,

  4. What a beautiful post and how true is every thing about Turky . i was there too 20 years ago. I miss smoking ciggaretes so much after 3 years of not smoking.

    1. Yael, you don't smoke at all? Then you are doing better than me. I quit cigarettes in the mid seventies, but I never gave up tobacco. I like the calming effect it has. Especially if I am really mad about something, then smoking a pipe helps me shake it off. I know it's not good for me, but at my age something is going to get me anyway.

      Turkey was a great place. I don't know what it's like now. I was stationed in Naples, Italy from 1982-1985, and worked a lot in Greece and Turkey. They were both wonderful countries. Now, things have changed I guess.

  5. Hey Harry,


    Yeah' im up alright.

    I slept for about two hours in the hottest part of the afternoon. I have hurricane shutters that block out all the light so I can crash in the cool of the refrigerated a/c.

    I will be up for quite awhile tonight.

    Now I gotta respond with a touch of humor about how you would put out 'teller mines and concentina wire' out in the water of a surf spot.
    Surfers are watermen. We are also divers and know a few tricks. Some of us are former UDT's. Quite a few surfers are veterans. We also thrive on mischief and we would be 'highly motivated' to circumvent beach security:)

    Now I gotta say that yeah' your right. Marines need a beach to train at. Maybe a system could have been worked out at 'Trestles beach' to allow surfers to surf on some days and Marines to train on others in retrospect.

    When I was in Turkey I did not buy anything. If I knew what I know now. I would have bought some gold coins (if I had any money) E-3 at the time, all I did was buy beer and act stupid like everyone else my age. Part of youth I guess.

    back when I was in the Navy I knew one aircrewman that killed a fifth of Captain Morgan by 0100 and be in the aircraft on flightline by 0600. Don't ask me how. I could not do it. I was never a hard or heavy drinker, especially if I had to work the next day.
    I had to function somehow and I cant function with the 'brown bottle flu'

    Back to the Turks. a thought just came up. if the Turks had not use for weakness. I wonder what the think of our president and our foreign policy?

    One more thing On my beach thing yesterday. I took the Kymber with me and I with all the extra salt blowing in the air, I unloaded the pistol and 'nuked it' with Remlube.
    I know everyone has different ideas on gun lubrication etc, etc. I just spray the thing all over with the slide open and let it drip dry on a rag. Tomorrow I will wipe it the down and then reload and Im good to go.

    No rust, no corrosion, no problems. I gotta use the Remlube frequently and it does dry out quick but if used often it works for me.

    I know there may be better methods but when your five feet for the Gulf of Mexico and the wind is blowing salt in the air and your truck covered in salt. Copious amounts of Remlube works well for me.

    1. That's a good a way as any of keeping a weapon salt free. I use "break free" on my guns if I am not about to fire them. You can wipe them down and the oil stays on the weapon and doesn't evaporate. I think it all works fine if you just keep the gun lubricated.

      Young fellows on liberty in a foreign port are not apt to be thinking about investments. By the time it's your turn to get off the ship you just want to get away from it and everybody on it. At least, that's how I felt. I used to get a room in a hotel or bed and breakfast and stay away from the ship overnight if I could.

      There's Onslow beach at Lejeune, and Pendleton has a beach but I don't know the name of it. The only time I really spent at Pendleton was three weeks as a reservist, and a week staying with my brother who was stationed there. It was on the way to Japan.

  6. I listen to that channel in my Jeep, and it's great.

    Sounds like you had an almost perfect evening!

    1. My daughter gets Sirius XM in the Commander, but my Cherokee doesn't have a satellite radio in it. I guess I could put one in but the subscription costs more than the radio over time. The Sinatra channel is great, it's really relaxing.

      Last night was pretty calm alright. Didn't get much sleep because the dogs were all jumpy in the fog, but I'll take a nap today.

  7. I like Kymber love post like these from you. We had a nice and needed down pour here,. I love Rum. My dad makes a really mean rum cake. It is so potent you can smell it from across the room.
    I like rum and coke too, but lately my favorite has been taking the V8 Tropical juice, and mixing it with some good rum. Good and deadly. Even Senior can agree to that. I look at it as getting all my daily vitamins with a kick to it! ha ha.

    My mother in law being British got me in to the afternoon Tea routine. I don't do it as much anymore...every time I do though I think of her. : )

    1. I drink tea sometimes in the evening. A good cup of hot tea has a lot to recommend it at the end of a long day.

      I keep a good amount of alcohol in the storeroom for trading, but I buy good quality like Captain Morgan for myself. I figure if things get down to barter no one is going to be too picky about their booze.

  8. Just want to say thanks for posting the paintings of the deep woods cabins. Makes me want one even more!

    1. It's a good way to live. Get way off in the woods, build your place, and you have everything you need to be comfortable. It's a lot more tranquil than living in a suburb or town.

  9. Swedes go to Turkey a lot, but I've never been. I love the idea of being given gold items to try out. Like the Sinatra songs and time. life seems to have been so much simpler then. Propbably wasn't, but still....

    1. Oh, I'm sure it was simpler. Technology wise, a lot of the things that are around now weren't then. So you didn't have to deal with all of it. Sometimes I think people mistakenly believe that the more technology we have, the better our lives are.

      If you were in Sweden right now Inger, you wouldn't have to go to Turkey. Turkey would be coming to you. Sweden is being rushed by the immigrants in a big way. I saw on the news last night that the Danish police have been told not to interfere with migrants trying to come through Denmark to get to Sweden, because the Danes don't want them staying in Denmark. Can't say I blame them. But when all this started back in April, I saw the Prime Minister of Sweden on tv. She was making a big speech about how Sweden welcomed anyone who wanted to come there. I wonder what she's saying now. If you go back to Sweden some day you will have to learn Arabic and some African dialect like Hausa. If they let you come back in.........

  10. Great post. I am 48 but love Sinatra's music. We had a kareoke machine at one of our Sheriffs dept. Christmas parties and someone started singing NY NY and sounded just like Sinatra. I was blown away. Enjoyed the Turkey stories. Did 22 years active and reserve Air Force and enjoyed most of my travels.

    1. One of the best things about the military was seeing the world, although I freely admit there were parts of the world I would have been happy to forgo.

      That kind of music is real music. Someone put a lot of thought into each song. Not like the squalling, screaming stuff they put out today.

  11. One of my Czech friends who sold Brno / CZ firearms had much the same philosophy in selling his wares, he would offer to ship the item to you and then you decide if you wanted to keep it. Showed he had faith in the quality of the items sent - I doubt if he rarely had to go pick up an item, just the check. L^)

    1. The Czech's have been selling Brno weapons for decades. I expect they have the drill down pretty well. With their reputation for quality, you could hardly go wrong with trusting CZ, and I'm sure his customers were well pleased with his wares. I love my CZ-24 and CZ1898 rifles.

  12. It would seriously kill me if I had to sit and chit chat every time I wanted to buy something. I don't like shopping anyhow so I am always trying to get in and out as efficiently as possible.

    1. I just don't have people skills, so I never was comfortable with socializing. But in some countries, like Turkey, it's really rude to just walk in, plump down your money, and walk out. Also, they won't respect you if you pay asking price, and they are insulted if you don't haggle because it implies you are saying you are so rich you can't be bothered. It's a strange world out there.