Go Gators! myspace layouts, myspace codes, glitter graphics 2007 National Champs x 2

Saturday, July 29, 2006

"I'm here to fight for truth, justice, and the American way." ~ Superman, 1978.

Dear Heidi:

Sorry you were so down on your birthday. It is hard when no one around you remembers to wish you a ‘Happy Birthday’ and you are so far from home. I wish we could have talked longer than we did on Friday, but there it is. Some days I call for hours and never get through. Perhaps those are the days the phones and computers are shut down, huh?

Heidi, my favorite Superhero

Last night, the Regiment had their annual end-of-band-camp concert and pot luck dinner. The band sounded fabulous and the flag corps looks marvelous. This year’s halftime program is the music of John Williams ~ movie theme songs from Superman, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, E.T. and Star Wars.

Paula, Karen and Sue made tons of pictures of the band members over the two week camp and we were treated to an entertaining slide show. We even had a surprise performance by a ‘local new band’! There was a great turnout and your sister…

Daron sold almost 20 tickets to the TMA Volleyball Carwash. It was like pulling hen’s teeth to get Mo to walk around and ask people to buy one and she had to have help from some of her dear cronies. That girl. That are we going to do with her? Volleyball tryouts start on Monday and run all week. As soon as tryouts are over, practice begins and so it goes, up until the time the school season ends and club begins and then it starts all over again, like a never ending circle, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning…

E.T. anticipates the day everyone will have his/her own cell phone.

It appears the puppy is here to stay. Like we required another dog. ‘Hector’, so the veterinarian says, is mostly lab and very healthy. Dr. Zern claims we have ‘one fine dog there’ and Hector should make us a devoted, well-behaved pet. I bet he says that about all the orphaned dogs he meets. Hector joins the three other dogs ~ Daphne, Edward and Lucy; three cats ~ Lily, Zoë and Harry Eugene; Sir Hiss, the snake, Atticus the Finch, Liz the gecko and Neptune, the Siamese Fighting Fish. There’s also an elusive white cat skulking around the yard, but until the cat’s gender can be established, he/she has not been named.

What would Superman do?

While looking at M and D’s MySpace recently, I noticed Marsh has old friends coming out of the woodwork (or in some cases, crawling out from under rocks) to reestablish contact with him. Remember that girl who put the cat in the microwave years ago? Yeah, well. She’s still around and apparently still up to her old tricks. A couple of the others are pretty scary looking and it reminds me once again how happy and thankful I am you three are mine.

Speaking of rocks, Allen called here recently for you.



Friday, July 28, 2006

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Open the pod bay doors, HAL." ~ 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Heidi's 25th birthday is this Friday, July 28th. Please send her a birthday email if you can.

A friend of mine at Books for Soldiers.com sent this message today. I have books collected to send and a box big enough to send them. If you have any books you don't need and you would like to donate, please bring them Friday night to the TMA Band Pot Luck Dinner (or any other time you think you might see me) and I shall add your books to the box. Looks like a good cause.

I noticed my booklist looks like too many classics and 'girlie' books. We need some Tom Clancey, World War II, Westerns and mayhem. Stuff getting blown up and all. Books on Christian subjects are great, too!

Hi Bookworm!

I have been writing and sending books to a soldier, Caleb, who is helping establish a 'library'at a remote base camp in Afghanistan. It is Camp Phoenix and there are 1,800 personnel there, mostly men. I wonder if you would be willing to send up a box or two, for their library?

They don't have the best access to the internet, so I thought I would request for them. I believe they are unaware of the "We've Got Books Ready to Ship" section on the BFS board.

Please let me know if you decide to do this, I will post the information in their thread under the Afghanistan posts.


Dear Sandra,

I have the following books to send and may be able to add more within the next few days. Tell the guys, "Books are on their way!"

The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini
Empire of the Ants
The Three Musketeers
My Life: Bill Clinton
Son of the Wilderness: John Muir
London Fields (Amis)
The Club Dumas (mystery)
The Count of Monte Cristo
From Sea to Shining Sea
The Grapes of Wrath
All the Presidents' Pets (Mo Rocca)
In the Lake of the Woods (Tim O'Brien)
McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales (Michael Chabon)
Chasing the Devil's Tail (mystery)
The Fencing Master (mystery)
The Dante Club (NY Times bestseller, mystery)
The Alienist (mystery)
Travels With Charley (Steinbeck)
The Templars (non-fiction)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Bear in the Attic (humorous essays)
Surprised by Joy (C.S. Lewis)
The Purpose Driven Life
A Certain Justice (P.D. James) mystery ~ New York Times Bestseller
L.A. Dead (Stuart Woods) ~ New York Times Bestseller
Frankenstein/Dracula/Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (three novels in one book)

Sandra, I am also sending, free of charge, the cat you see in this picture. I bet the guys will love him and this cat can dig holes in sand like you wouldn't believe.


Monday, July 24, 2006

"Louis, I think this is the beginning
of a beautiful friendship."
~ Casablanca, 1942.

Driving Miss Drylie

In the hours of darkness, July 6th, 2006, the truck crept at a snail's pace, cautiously and silently, onto the property. Too early in the month for a full moon, the night was inky black as only a country night can be. I say a truck, because most residents in this part of East Orange County own at least one truck and I say he/she came by vehicle because, well I will get to that later…..

The old barn was gloomy, shadowy, and completely dark. After having stood on the north edge of the property for over 75 years, the walls are draped with cobwebs; spiders scatter on the approach, mice hid in their nests. But the perpetrator was undeterred. The job must be done and it must be done tonight. The property owner, known to carry a high-powered deer rifle, and the son of the owner were both away this night on business. Only the women were home tonight, watching the late movie and eating ice cream. Ed was on patrol, but his frantic barks went ignored.

So when the sun rose the next morning, two precious orphaned puppies were found, abandoned in the miserable barn. Forsaken to whatever fate awaited them.

Gigi asked me a few days ago, “Do you think it was an accident the dogs were left in your barn!? God provides what we need even when we are not aware of a need.”

Dooley Boydston of Oviedo, Florida, was born in November, 1997. He passed away on July 18th, 2006. Dooley was the beloved daschund of Mrs. Daphne Boydston, better known as Gigi, mother of Dru Fridsma, grandmother of JT and Andy, and honorary grandmother of the entire Screamin’ Eagle Regiment. Dooley was honorary Band Dog.

Divine Providence, Fate, Destiny, (the scheming of me and Dru) made sure an abandoned puppy and Gigi’s paths crossed. Yes, there was a dog in the band room, but it was only for a few moments. It was love at first sight and Gigi decided the orphaned female puppy should come home with her.

Following in the tradition of everyone in the Boydston Family’s name beginning with a “D”, Daron and I suggested Daisy and Delilah. Both names were turned down having been used years ago for the names of two Boydston family pigs. Someone, and that person will go unnamed, came up with the name “Miss Drylie” and before protest could be made, Miss Wick got a name tag engraved: MISS DRYLIE, BAND DOG. And so it was decided.

Gigi says this about Miss Drylie: “She came home with toys from Aunt Dru and Aunt Sue ~ food, collar and a leash to STAY with me. She lay in my lap and slept until Dru and Andrew came over to spend the night. Miss D played with her toys and let Dru's dog, Zoë, know she was not to be messed with! She went out before going to bed at 11pm, went into her own bed by my bed and never got up until I did at 6am! In the morning, Miss D went out and did “her chores” behind the (Hibiscus) bushes, had breakfast and went out again to finish her chores. She loves the toys and bounces over the floor to get them. She has staked her claim in the corner of the couches and I realize I must take everything off the floor and close the doors as she is interested in all different forms of home decor!”

“I will forever mourn for Dooley and remember his loyalty and strong spirit in facing blindness. He will always be the special little dog that loved me.”

Rest in Peace, Dooley, We Miss You!

Nowadays, Gigi has another little one to hug and tell her troubles to, Miss Drylie.
Life goes on and God is good!

Miss Drylie has a brother, unnamed, needing a good home. He weighs about 20 pounds and is the reason I believe he and his little sister were driven onto the property that fateful, moonless night in early July. There is no way someone lugged both Miss D and this little brick onto our 75.

Still needing and deserving a good home.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

"Here's looking at you, kid." ~ Casablanca, 1942.

Last week, Miss Emily Boutin of Orlando, daughter of proud parents, David and Rheeta Boutin, sister of Tori Boutin, donated 10 inches of her hair to Locks of Love.

This was a REALLY big day for five year old Emily, since she had never had a "real" haircut!

To top it off, it was her idea. Her older sister, Tori, has donated twice and Emily wanted to follow her big sister's example.

Locks of Love is an organization that makes natural hair wigs for children suffering from cancer and are undergoing chemotheraphy or other cancer therapies.

We are very proud of you, too, Emily!

In England today, Tiger Woods won his 11th major title, the first since the death in May of his dad, Earl Woods. Woods is the first repeat British Open Champion since Tom Watson in 1983.

An emotional Woods accepted his third Claret Jug and said about his father, "I wish he could have seen this one last time."

Don't worry, Tiger, he did.

"I'll have what she's having." ~ When Harry Met Sally, 1989.

Pashtun Food

Religious prohibitions prevent the Pashtun (and all Muslims) from eating pork and drinking alcoholic beverages. Staples of the Pashtun diet include bread, rice, vegetables, milk products, meat, eggs, fruits, and tea.

A favorite dish is pulaw, a rice dish flavored with coriander, cinnamon, and cardamom that has many variations.

Quabili Pulaw Dampukht (Rice with Carrots and Raisins)


2 to 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pound lean beef stew meat
2 cups water
½ teaspoon each cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and cardamom
2 medium carrots, cut into small, match-stick-sized pieces
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup seedless raisins
pinch of saffron
2 Tablespoons blanched almonds
2 Tablespoons blanched pistachios
2 to 3 cups rice, cooked in broth from cooking meat

Cooking Directions:

Heat oil and brown onion. Add beef stew meat
and brown on all sides.
Add water and spices.
Cover pan and simmer mixture until meat is tender (about one hour).
Remove meat and set aside. Save the broth to use for cooking rice.
Heat small amount of oil in a small pot and add carrots and almonds.
Cook until carrots and almonds are lightly browned. Remove carrots and almonds, and add them to the meat.
Put raisins in the saucepan with about ¼ cup water.
Simmer for 5 minutes until raisins are puffy.
Remove raisins and add them to the meat mixture.
Cook the rice according to package directions, using the broth from step 3 for the liquid, adding more water if necessary.

Combine all ingredients and mix.
Place mixture in a large casserole and bake at 300°F for 20 to 30 minutes.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as I plan on bringing it to the TMA Band Pot Luck Supper on Friday night if Paula Maxey lets me.

Bon Appétit

Saturday, July 22, 2006

“How do you live? I steal.” ~ I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang, 1932.

Willy the Cat Burglar Steals Gardening Gloves


PELHAM, N.Y. (July 20) - A pink-and-white gardening glove was missing Thursday morning from Jeannine Goche's front porch. But there was absolutely no mystery about who had taken it. Willy, the cat who loves gloves, had struck again."It has to be him," said Goche, an attorney. "I've heard about him."

As if the gardeners of Pelham don't have enough to worry about, with the rocky soil and the slugs and the big trees casting too much shade, a feline felon has been sneaking into their back yards and carrying off gardening gloves. Goche's flower-patterned number may soon take its place on the clothesline that's strung across the front fence at Willy's home, which he shares with Jennifer and Dan Pifer, their 19-month-old son Hudson and a mutt named Peanut Chew. Above the line is a sign that says, in words and pictures, "Our cat is a glove snatcher. Please take these if yours."

Julie Jacobson, AP (photo)

On Thursday morning, nine pairs of gardening gloves and five singles were strung up, nicely framed by the Pifers' flourishing tomato and basil plants. Willy, looking innocent, was playing with a beetle under the Subaru in the driveway and occasionally dashing after Hudson.

"This all started about the time people began working in their gardens, I guess March or April," Jennifer Pifer said. "Willy would just show up with a glove, or we'd see them on the front steps. I guess it's better than if he was bringing home dead birds." A friend, Claudia Bonci, said she was in the Pifers' kitchen recently and had noticed a single gardening glove on the sidewalk.” Jennifer was telling me all about how Willy was bringing home all these gloves, and there was a small pile of them outside the door, and then here comes the cat with a glove in its mouth, proud as could be, like he was giving me a gift."

Some of the gloves really are gift-worthy. "A lot of these looked brand new," said Pifer. "Some of them are really nice." She doesn't know how far afield Willy goes to find a glove, but she has learned it takes him two trips to bring home a matched pair.

Willy, born to a stray last spring and taken in by the Pifers as a newborn, stays out some nights but seems to assemble his collection in daytime raids. "Mostly it happens on weekends, I guess when people are out gardening," Pifer said. "Can't you just imagine people saying, `The gloves were right here, where'd they go?"'

John Cassone, who lives and gardens across the street, said he isn't missing any gloves. He uses "the big, heavy leather kind" and figures Willy, a wiry type, isn't strong enough to drag them away.

Guess again: There's a pair of the big, heavy leather kind among Willy's trophies.
Willy couldn't care less about the gloves after they're captured. On Thursday he could not be enticed into a grab-the-glove game.

In winter, when gardening gloves are hard to find, Willy switches to his off-season prey, dirty socks, which he brings from the laundry room. "We find them in the hallway, on the stairs," she said. "I used to think, `Oh, I must have dropped it on the way down.' But now I know better."

Despite his criminal nature, neighbors get a kick out of Willy. Cassone said the cat likes to accompany the mailman up and down the block, all the way to each front door. Willy also likes to climb trees and bat at the heads of people below.

Since Pifer grows flowers and vegetables and herbs herself, isn't she tempted to make use of the endless supply of garden gloves that arrive at her doorstep free, shipping included?

"No," she said, a bit sadly. "I do a lot of gardening but I don't use gloves."

Friday, July 21, 2006

"Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain't heard nothin' yet!"
~ The Jazz Singer, 1927.
Wide World of Pashtun Sports

Naiza bazi, a game involving riding horses and throwing spears, is a sport enjoyed among the Pashtun. Some Pashtun also have rock-throwing competitions. Of course, this is a sport popular with politicians in this country. Pashtun in the northern regions of Afghanistan enjoy buzkashi, or "goat pulling," a game in which men on horseback compete for possession of a dead goat or calf. (Wikipedia)

Buzkashi was played to celebrate the election of Parliment

Okay. Let’s hold it right there.

When I first read this, I needed some clarification so I googled Buzkashi (pronounced just like it looks) and got some good information from Middle East Travel Guides "BootsnAll"

Mr Ginger writes:

The Game of Buzkashi
"Buzkashi" is an ancient game played in Afghanistan and dates back to the days of Ghengis Khan (called Chingiz Khan in Afghanistan). The Mongols who originally played it on the steppe, lived and died in the saddle. It is played mostly in the north of Afghanistan in the provinces of Maimana, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Kataghan. As a rule, women are not allowed to watch. (Oh? And I wonder why?)

The game is played thus:
The carcass of a calf is soaked in cold water for 24 hours before the game so that it may be tough enough for the horsemen. Usually, a calf is beheaded, its four legs are cut off from the knee, and its insides emptied before soaking. Sand is sometimes packed inside for extra bulk. When there is no calf available, a goat is used in the same manner. A hole is dug just so deep and the calf put in it so that it is level with the ground. Nearby a circle is drawn with quicklime - this is called hallal, which means "circle of justice" in Turkomen. To the right of the hallal is a pole and to the left another. There is no set distance for these poles but the spectators would not want the action to be too far away to see. (I feel this way at a baseball game, so I can relate). In olden days, the game was played on the steppe and riders would gallop all day, however modern day rules restrict the size of the field (maybe a mile apart). The riders would encircle the pit containing the calf and on a given signal, would attempt to grab it and gallop away around one post then the other before depositing it in the "circle of justice". Meanwhile the other riders try to prevent that by attacking the rider and trying to steal the calf. The rider who deposits the boz (the calf) into the "circle of justice" is considered to be the winner - he may not have circled either post and may have stolen the boz a few yards from the "circle of justice", but anything goes in this sport.

The riders, or chopendoz, wear high leather boots, a quilted (padded) jacket over a long chapan and a fur hat traditionally made of fox or wolf skin. They carry short whips which are made up of a handle attached to a piece of wood about a foot long encased in leather. The chopendoz not only whip their horses (this would never be acceptable in the US, but also the other riders (this would) - especially the one carrying the boz. In olden days the whips were different and were made up of a handle attached to thongs tied to balls of lead (a bit like a cat-o-nine-tails used in the British Navy in the days of sailing ships). The chopendoz of old also carried a knife and sometimes stabbed an opponent's horse or even its rider when attempting to steal the boz. It was not unknown for chopendoz to be killed in a fiercely competitive game. Nowadays it is a little more civilized (but not much, there is still the goat carcass) and riders still get hurt, but they are a tough breed of men. Often a chopendoz will get one arm or leg broken and mount their horses as soon as the fractures are bandaged. An injury does not stop the horsemen from continuing the game (Tell this to NFL players).

The Buzkashi horses (the true heroes of the game) possess special qualities. For instance, when the rider falls off the horse, it waits there for the horseman to mount it again. Some of these horses gallop with a terrific speed as soon as the horseman snatches the carcass of a calf as they have already learned the tricks. Those who train Buzkashi horses feed them special food such as eggs and butter at regular intervals as well as their normal feed of oats and barley. When the horse gets too fat, they have to undergo the kantar which means standing in the sun for hours, bridled and saddled every day for weeks. The sun not only burns away the fat but teaches the horse patience. (Sounds a little like band camp).

According to unwritten rules of the game, nobody can tie the carcass to his saddle (that would be cheating) or hit his opponent on the hand to snatch the calf (that would also be cheating). Like-wise, tripping the opponent by using the rope is forbidden; however, these rules are not strictly observed in local matches (cheating is often overlooked). A player who is thrown can use a riderless horse to continue the game. When horsemen are carried away by their excitement, they ride their horses into the crowd to beat their opponents but they are still chased by other riders. Sometimes, they choose a site for a pitch near a river and a few horsemen conspire to get their opponents drowned (I am not certain, but I don't think we have any American sport that includes drowning unless it is golf).

Winners (if anyone is still left) are awarded prizes of chapan, turbans, cash or rifles. Not all horsemen may own their horses - actually, most of the Buzkashi horses belong to rich men who can afford to buy them and hire trainers (these men are too smart to actually ride these horses). Horses can sell for as much as $US 2,500. Usually, the owner of the horse also awards the horseman a prize, as his horse gains much fame in this manner. A chopendoz is treated with great respect and considered to be an honored member of Afghan society. His fox fur hat is the highest honor for a player. Serious Buzkashi players (and I think you would need to be very serious) train intensively for years and many of the masters (called chapandaz) are over forty years old. Playing well also requires specially trained horses that know to stop still when a rider is thrown, and to gallop forcefully when their rider gets hold of the calf/goat.

Thank you, Mr. Ginger, it is all perfectly clear now.

Hold your horses right there, if you will excuse the poor pun. If you have never heard of Buzkashi, don’t blame Hollywood.

•A game of Buzkashi is featured in an early scene of Rambo III.
• The game is the core and subject of a novel by French Novelist Joseph Kessel titled Les Cavaliers (aka Horsemen) as well as of the film of the same title featuring Omar Sharif.
• The game is also a key element in the book Caravans by James Michener and the film of the same name starring Anthony Quinn. A scene from the film featuring the King of Afghanistan watching a game is in fact Mohammed Zahir Shah. The whole sequence of the game being witnessed by the king was filmed on the Kabul Golf course where the national championships were played at the time the film was made.

For me this puts the phrase "I got your goat" in an entirely new light.

(No goats were injured in the making of this blog)

"Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue."
~ Airplane! 1980

Where the Wild Pigs Are ~ Part Three

Dad is putting $7.50 worth of corn, per day, in the trap. In my estimation, multiply that times the over two months he has been feeding them, and we are dangerously close to the price of a round-trip ticket to Italy. Something’s gotta give here and I mean real soon.

The Big Guy has had to increase their daily ration to keep them out of the nursery and off the plants. I would say this has only been about half successful and I am starting to worry. Each day the porcine pests are closer and closer to the house. I mean, give me a break! We already share the front yard with the deer. Is there no end??

The really big one (that’s him in the middle staring Dad down and knowing what’s up) is a wild boar hog weighing in at about 150-200 pounds. He’s ‘new to the area’ having just dropped in recently and made himself at home. The little ones keep out of his way and give him first dibs on the corn. Mother Pig is close by, though you don’t see her.

Anyway, I called the butcher at Publix and he says pork is currently at $ 2.99 per pound. I figure we could get maybe $ 600 for him, since after all, this IS organic pork we have here. No additives, no preservatives, just fresh sunshine and corn feed, practically hand-fed. Maybe even cash in on the ‘fresh from Christmas angle’ Dad is always harping about. At present I figure we could just about recoup our ‘investment’ with the right buyer, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Seems there is a National Pork Board which collects tax on every hog sold in the country so we will need to keep the transaction on the sly.

The plan was for Dad to ‘spring the trap door’ Thursday afternoon (while Mo, Eileen and I were gone. You know how I feel about hunting on the property even if it is for profit). Jim says he assembled with Dad, Sam, Andy, Kathy, Kathy’s son and his friends (the proposed butchers). A veritable Pig Party!

You have GOT to be kidding me. Guess how long they stayed crouching in the pig blind the entire horde of them? TWO HOURS! Like I don’t even like PORK and I could have told you no self respecting pig was going to show up with a gang of onlookers ready for the carnage. I mean really? The cigarette smoke alone should have given them all away.

Your dad just slays me some days.

More Pig Trivia.

Pigs in Music
"Piggy Pig Pig" from Procol Harum's album Home
"Pigs on the Wing" and "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" (only metaphorically pigs) in Pink Floyd's album Animals
The "Pink Floyd pig"
The metaphorical "War Pigs" in Black Sabbath's protest song
"Pig" from Steve Vai's album Sex and Religion
Still more metaphorical pigs in The Beatles' song "Piggies"
March of the Pigs and Piggy by Nine Inch Nails
(I have a feeling none of these songs made the "Hit Parade", I could be wrong)

Pigs in History
In 1859, an unnamed British-owned pig wandered into Lyman Cutlar's potato patch on San Juan Island and was shot, thus setting off a (small) cold war.

Big Bill, a 2,552 lb (1,158 kg) pig, who stood 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) at the shoulder, was considered the largest pig on record.

The Tamworth Two: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Pig, two ginger-haired pigs, who spent a week on the run in January 1998, in Wiltshire, southwest England.

Pigasus, a tongue-in-cheek candidate for President of the United States run by the Yippie at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Hogzilla, enormous feral hog killed in Alapaha, Georgia once thought to be a hoax. Exhumed by researches in 2005 who estimated it at 7.5 to 8 feet in length and weighing 800 lbs.

Pigs in Video Games
Incendiary Pigs from the real-time strategy game Rome: Total War
Pigma Dengar from the Nintendo game Star Fox
Wizpig from the Nintendo/Rareware game Diddy Kong Racing
The Porkalator in HeXen. The pigs in Hogs Of War (Playstation), voiced by Rick Mayall.

Other Pigs
Piggly Wiggly, supermarket chain which features a pig as its mascot
Pig 'N' Whistle restaurants

Part Four ~ Success or Failure

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"My mama always said, 'Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get'” ~ Forrest Gump, 1994.

You Too Can Speak Pashtu

After receiving, finally, some pictures of the precious Afghan children and the soldiers Heidi cares about and sees every day, I wanted to do a little research on 'her' part of Afghanistan. On more than one occasion, Heidi has tried to teach me a word or two of Pashtu (or Dari or Farsi, I am so confused), but I am hopeless.

Mohandas Gandhi once said, "Be the change that you want to see in the world." If I want to help change the world, or change myself for that matter, I have to understand it first. Today's blog is my small attempt to try to understand one part of the world's family of people.

Pashtun (pronounced PASH-toon) are the people of Southeastern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan (Not to be confused with Pashtu, the language). Also called Pushtun, Pakhtun, Pathan, Pashtoon and Afghan, they are one of the largest ethnic groups in Afghanistan with between 8-9 million people in the region (Afghan is the people, Afghani is the currency). Islam was introduced in the eighth century and most Pashtun are Sunni Muslim. Pashtun are considered Muslims, followers of Islam, at birth. When a baby is born, Pashtun whisper the call for prayer in the baby's ear. According to archaeological evidence, the Pashtuns were more than likely Buddhist, Pagan, Zoroastrian, Hindus and even Jews prior to the arrival of Muslim Arabs in the 8th century.

The Pashtun are traditionally nomads with a tribal organization divided into clans, sub clans and patriarchal families. Each tribe occupies its own territory. Pashtun society is largely communal (group-oriented) and attaches great importance to an unwritten code, called Pashtunwalli. This code defines the way members should behave to keep the tribe together. Hospitality (milmastia) is important, as is the use of the tribal council (jirga) to resolve conflicts and make decisions. Other Pashtun virtues include courage (tureh); taking revenge (badal); and protecting one's honor (ghayrat). Another part of the Pashtun code of conduct is nanawati, a way of resolving differences through the group's elders.

The eldest male holds complete authority over the extended family. Married sons live in their fathers' households, rather than establishing homes of their own. The household normally consists of a man and his wife, his unmarried children, and his married sons and their wives and children. When young women marry, they join their husbands' households and transfer their loyalty to their husbands' families. Economically, the Pashtun family is a single unit. Wealthy family members contribute to the support of those who are poorer. Old people depend on their children for care and support.

Traditional male dress is qmis, a loose-fitting shirt that reaches to the knees, and shalwar, full trousers tied at the waist with a string (Heidi is having one fitted for herself by a local seamstress). A vest is usually worn over the shirt. Footwear consists of chaplay, thick leather shoes. Most Pashtun adult males wear pagray, turbans. Long strips of cotton cloth are wound around the head, leaving the forehead exposed because it is touched during prayer. The turban is fastened so that one end dangles. The loose end is used as a type of washcloth for wiping the face. Usually men also wear a long, wide piece of cloth called a chadar on their shoulders. The Pashtun living in the city sew unique designs on their clothes and wear small hats made of silk. Rural women wear baggy black or colored trousers, a long shirt belted with a sash, and a length of cotton over the head. City women wear the same type of trousers, a qmis (long shirt), and a cotton cloth to cover their heads. Over their clothing, they also usually wear a burqa—a veil that covers them from the head to below the knees.

Social get-togethers are the major form of Pashtun entertainment. Choral singing is part of the culture and a folk song tradition that includes special songs for marriages and funerals. Atan is a famous group folk dance of the Pashtun. In recent times, Pashto literature has received increased patronage, but due to relatively high illiteracy rates, many Pashtuns continue to rely upon the oral tradition. Pashtun males meet at chai khaanas or tea cafes to listen and relate various oral tales of valor and history. Folktales involving reverence for Pashtun mothers and matriarchs are common and are passed down from parent to child, as is most Pashtun heritage, through a rich oral tradition that has survived the ravages of time.

Information from: Ali, Sharifah Enayat. Cultures of the World: Afghanistan. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1995.

Poems known as ghazal are very popular.

A Ghazal (Persian Poetry) by Hamza Shinwari

You may feel the blaze of thy checks in my heart's fire.
The blaze, which can't be caught from any other fire.

Why my smile reflects on thy forehead,
The essence of the mirror is embarrassed and perplexed.

Undoubtedly, the mirror has the quality of expression,
But it never discloses the mystery of one to another.

Since his amazement has a long wait for thee in the mirror,
The host will surely sacrifice his life for the reflection.

O' Humza! Since I ask for a mirror, we are undeniably apart,
(We'll be united) if our faces reflect into one another.

Next Time:

Wide World of Pashtun Sports, "Buzkashi ~ Goat Tossing Gets a Bad Name"

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"That'll do, pig. That'll do.” ~ Babe, 1995.

Where the Wild Pigs Are – Part Two

Famous Pigs You Might Have Known

Name all the famous pigs that come to mind ~ pigs in movies, pigs on television, pigs in literature, pigs in music, pigs in history. I would guess there are pigs in art. There are even pigs in video games. While the wheels are spinning in your head and you are thumbing through the filing cabinets of your brain for everything you might know or have ever known about pigs, I will catch you up on the latest about the Wild Pigs of Christmas, Florida.

There is no latest. Dad took me out yet again last evening to try to take some pictures of our little porcine friends, but as before, they were elusive. I mean, the mother pig came out and snorted and I could see some smaller pigs in the distance, but the corn buffet was spread, the invitations sent out and no one showed up. Dad says all the pigs in this part of east Orange county are now living on our 75.

Therefore, we are shall be forced to deal with Pig Trivia. Today, Pigs in Film, Pigs on Television and Pigs in Literature.

Pigs in Film
Babe in Babe and Babe: Pig in the City. I love this movie. Those singing mice slay me.
Hamton J. Pig from Tiny Toon Adventures (That music is so annoying)
Hen Wen from Disney's The Black Cauldron
Petunia Pig, Porky Pig's girlfriend. She's much too good for him.
Piggy, Merrie Melodies character
Piglet, from the Disney animated version of Winnie the Pooh (I don’t think a stuttering animal is PC anymore, do you?)
Porky Pig (Not the sharpest tool in the shed and also a stutterer).
The Three Little Pigs Silly Symphonies characters
Porco Rosso, title character from Hayao Miyazaki's anime film (Marsh says Miyazaki is anime god)

Pigs on Television
Arnold Ziffel in the sitcom Green Acres. Unfortunately, you are too young to remember this show. It’s a pity. At the time, it was one of the best things on television.

Fred and Doris Ziffle's son, Arnold (Fred and Doris are humans)

Miss Piggy, Capt. Link Hogthrob and Professor Strangepork in Jim Henson's The Muppet Show (You loved the Muppet Show. We never missed an episode.)
Oolong in the Dragon Ball series
Sir Oinksalot, the mascot of Springfield A&M in The Simpsons.
Fluffy, Cartman's pot-bellied pig from South Park
Abner from Hey Arnold!
Huxley Pig, a daydreaming pig, who is friends with a seagull and a hamster
Mayor Pig and Dumpling in the animated show 101 Dalmatians
Treat Heart Pig, a Care Bear cousin. I shall use the fact you loved the Care Bears to blackmail you one day.
Mr. Wu's pigs in the TV series Deadwood, used mainly for disposing of dead bodies (Dad loves this grisly show).
The pig on Invader Zim. Gir, Zim's robot, rides the pig which is really a Voot Carrier disguised as a pig. Okay, maybe its not a real pig, but it looks like a pig and since IZ is my favorite cartoon and this is my blog, it counts.

Miss Piggy as Jan Van Eyck saw her
(there ARE pigs in art)

Pigs in Literature

Ace, great-grandson of Babe in Ace, the Very Important Pig by Dick King-Smith
Babe in The Sheep Pig by Dick King-Smith (filmed as the movie, Babe)
Dean in Frank Cho's comic strip Liberty Meadows
The "Dickery, dickery, dare" pig who flew up in the air, nursery rhyme
The Empress of Blandings, created by P. G. Wodehouse
The fat pig, buying of which was reason to go to market, nursery rhyme
Freddy the Pig, in 26 different books by Walter R. Brooks.Piglet, doing what others dare not do.

Gaston and Joséphine, the young traveling pigs of Georges Duplaix's children's books of the same name, illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky
Gub-Gub, from Hugh Lofting's Dr. Dolittle book series (I liked Gub, Gub. Remember when I read Dr. D to Mrs. Gilchrist's class?)
Habeas Corpus, Monk's pet in the Doc Savage adventures
Hen-Wen (the fortune-telling pig) in the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
Jodie, the phantom black pig with red eyes in The Amityville Horror
The market-going little pig and his brethren in the nursery rhyme, who variously had roast beef or didn't, etc.
Napoleon, Snowball, Squealer and Old Major in Animal Farm by George Orwell
Orson from the Jim Davis comic strip U.S. Acres
Peter Porkchops/Pig Iron in DC Comics' Funny Stuff and Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew
Pig from Stephan Pastis' comic strip Pearls Before Swine
Pig is the eponymous subject of a poem by Roald Dahl.
Pig is also the title of a grisly, very creepy short story by the same author.
The pigs and swine of the "Birds of a feather" nursery rhyme
Piglet in A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories (Still my favorite, stuttering pig)
The Tale of Pigling Bland; also his mother Aunt Pettitoes; his brothers Alexander, Chin-chin and Stumpy; his sisters Cross-patch, Suck-suck, Yock-yock and Spot; and his girl friend Pig-wig .
Positive Pig in the Sweet Pickles book series by Ruth Lerner Perle, Jacquelyn Reinach, Richard Hefter.

Gir rides the Pig.

Precocious Piggy, of Thomas Hood's poem by that name.
Salome, the Yokum family's pet pig in Al Capp's comic strip Li'l Abner.
Sam Pig, in the Sam Pig novels by Alison Uttley, also his siblings Bill, Tom and Amy
Spanky Ham in the Comedy Central series Drawn Together
Squigley in Tatsuya Ishida's webcomic Sinfest
Rasher, from the British comic strip
Dennis the Menace
Little Pig Robinson of Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Little Pig Robinson; also his aunts Miss Dorcas and Miss Porcas, and his cousin Tom Pigg
The Three Little Pigs
The Transcendent Pig, in the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane
Wilbur in Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
Zhu Bajie, from Journey to the West
The pigs in Lord of the Flies, William Golding (Marsh thought of this one)
Olivia by Ian Falconer (Daron thought of this one. It's one of my favs).

Olivia has her own MySpace

Next Time ~ Part Three

The Wild Pigs of Christmas Are Found

Monday, July 17, 2006

'To Infinity and Beyond!" ~ Toy Story, 1995.


The shuttle Discovery has landed safely.

In fact, if my calculations are correct, it flew right over the house.

From the Associated Press:
Discovery glided down through an overcast sky onto the Kennedy Space Center runway at 9:14 a.m., allowing NASA to declare total victory for the first time since before the 2003 Columbia disaster.

It was so cloudy, shuttle commander Steven Lindsey couldn't spot the runway until about a minute before landing.

"Welcome back Discovery and congratulations on a great mission," Mission Control told Lindsey after Discovery rolled to a stop.

"It was a great mission. A really great mission," Lindsey replied.

The shuttle came in from the south, swooping over the Pacific, Yucatan Peninsula, Gulf of Mexico and across Florida to cap a 5.3 million-mile journey that began on the Fourth of July. A last-minute buildup of clouds prompted NASA to switch the shuttle's direction for landing.At touchdown, hoots and whistles came from the few hundred astronaut relatives and space center workers watching the landing.

I am very happy Discovery is home safe. It is important the Space Program continue as we may all end up in space if we can't get along here on earth. What's left of earth, after we've blown it all up, polluted the water and air and killed all the animal and plant life.

Okay, lighten up, Mom. NASA has said for years the 'average Joe' may one day fly in the Space Shuttle (or something like it) and space travel will be commonplace. Probably not in my lifetime.

I am waiting for a ride like this one.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

“Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads.”
~ Back to the Future, 1985.

Happy 25th Anniversary, Dan and Dru

You remember Dan and Dru Fridsma don’t you? Fellow band parents extraordinaire. If I say, ‘the Fridsmas sent me my favorite Christmas card of all time bar none’, well then, you know how much esteem I have for them. Perhaps you will remember Dru from that picture I sent to you of her at her birthday party (wink, wink). Okay, yeah, you remember her…..

Apparently, Dan and Dru’s idea of the perfect way to spend their 25th wedding anniversary was a hiking trip to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Sedona.

Now I like Sedona like anyone else, but I prefer the quaint gift shops, first-rate art galleries, charming B & Bs and the tasteful dining. Oh, and the breathtaking scenery viewed from the comfort of my rental car.

Nevertheless, it takes all kinds to make the world go round. Dru and Dan being two of my most favorite people in the entire world, I want to share a few of their fabulous anniversary trip pictures with you.

I told Dan your pictures of Afghan mountains are much better than his mountains. He wants you to put your money where your mouth is and send us some to prove it.

Please protect the family honor and email me some quickly.

"I think that man might be totally nuts."

Thank you, Dan and Dru. You “rock”.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." ~ Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986

You are not going to believe how much they have grown. One minute they are babies and the next minute it's quantum physics, I swear.

Eileen, Mo, Jamie and I met Aunt Diana, Dec and Natalie at the Marriott this past Friday for a wonderful brunch at Citron and a float down the
Lazy River.

Why they call it the "Lazy River"

You know the place. It's where they always stay and we come out to meet them. Dec said he couldn't remember ever having been there before, but I think he was pulling my leg. Gary couldn't come as he is working and we missed his company; however, Dec and Natalie kept us busy and a good time was had by all.

When asked what he wanted to be when he grows up, Dec had a lot to say. Apparently, he has quite a list including doctor and chef. He's not really concerned with his future profession as much as he is with the San Francisco Giants' season. Dec states, "I used to be a Dodgers fan (LA), but my dad talked me into being a Giants fan." (Hopefully, I have these teams correct not being a baseball aficionado). Declan, who as you know loves baseball, said he would not be apposed to playing for SF, that is, if they were to offer him a contract.
Natalie, decked out completely in pink, is leaving her options open regarding her future. At the present, she is more concerned with marshmellows, anything pink, chocolate, green shoes and hanging out with her cousin, Miss K, currently of G'ville.

I still see a future in the performing arts for Miss Nat.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." ~ To Kill A Mockingbird, 1962.

Heidi would like to send a very, VERY BIG thank you, thank you, to all our friends and family at home who have been so generous to give school supplies, soccer balls, volleyballs, candy, toys and make donations to the children of Afghanistan. Our family will never forget how you opened your hearts to these children and contributed to "Heidi's Project".

Mary Lee, Becca and Ed Carter
Mike, Ann and Emily Allen
The Larry Tobin Family
Jim, Tami and Jamie Nelson
Mrs. Rowland's Sixth and Seventh Grade Classes
The Thomas Settle Family
Mrs. Judi Tome
Dr. Harris and The Athletic Department of the Master's Academy
The Dean Taylor Family
The Garrett Gordon Family
Dick and Mary Andrews
The William Daniels Family
Dear Band Families Who Dropped Off Anonymous Gifts
The Dan Fridsma Family
My sister's friend, Charles Caplan, who sent the big bag of stuffed animals

Heidi took these pictures of the children she meets on her missions. She has promised more to come very soon.

Donations continue to come in. The Army Reserves may be able to transport some of our HA, Humanitarian Aid, in the future, which would be a tremendous help. The weather in Afghanistan turns cold soon and school is recessed for a few months starting in November.

Heidi and I would be remiss if we didn't thank Marsh and Daron for the hours they stood in line at the post office, the assistance they gave in packing and hauling dozens and dozens of boxes and the patience they have shown when Mom was sorting crayons and sharpening pencils instead of making dinner.

And finally, thanks and hugs to Dad, whose tough exterior hides the most generous of all the hearts in the world......