Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Final Voyage of the HMS Empire (demo)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Greens Feed Store - a Diffle County Story

Here in Pennsyltucky local politics boil on the front burner. Folks here proudly wear the American flag, agree on everything wrong with the State and Federal government, and then use political officials and public meetings to tenderize and roast their neighbors. We celebrate a rich history, dating back to the original European settlers, of in-your-face politics, behind-your-back planning, and stab-you-in-the-eye at the most perfect moment in front of the gossip hounds that will surely proclaim your demise to everyone they know. This isn't for the weak-of-mind or faint-of-heart. If you can't handle the heat, get out of the dutch oven.

I was young and had just been hired by an elected Board of Supervisors to help out with their zoning. Their officer, Frank Selense had broken his hip when he was pushed over a wall by an angry property owner named Robert Depue Jr. Frank had refused to issue a permit for a wall DePue had already built without permits. Perhaps there was a way to resolve the issue without lawyers and Hearings, Perhaps in California, I don't really know. But not in Pennsyltucky. In this state, we go to war. Zoning officer Frank Selense was bound and determined to make Robert Depue's life miserable.

According to Ruth May, our local historian on all matters having to do with local families- the zoning officer's Great Uncle Bill (on his father's side) had impregnated DePue's Great Aunt Ada (on his mother's side). She was fifteen years old at the time. There was a shotgun wedding and later a nasty divorce and custody battle. All of this occurred before Mr. Depue and Mr.Selense were born. But the seeds had been sown and the two families have been feuding ever since.

Robert told Frank that the township could kiss his farmer butt before he would ever get a permit for a wall. Frank pulled out a citation book and threatened to fine Robert a thousand dollars. Robert told Frank where to stick that citation. Frank told Robert to take a flying leap through the hole of a rolling doughnut (clearly someone in Frank's family had read Kurt Vonnegut Jr.). Robert responded by making certain that Frank the Zoning Officer took a flying leap off his illegal wall. The following week I was hired to "run things till Frank returned" and "don't piss anyone off".

A week or two later, one of our elected officials, Bob Branson- a tall and lanky man with a huge tuft of thick blonde hair, angrily told me that some troublemaker opened a Feed Store without any permits. I printed up a few "Stop Work Orders" and raced over to "Green's Feed and Eggs Farm Store" that was an empty barn the last time I had driven past it. The property was owned by Old man Barker, a crotchety, opinionated, argumentative farmer with an unusual gait and deep, haractersdeep pockets. I plastered the building with notices.

I went inside and I told the cashier to close the store. I told her "if Barker wants a store he will have to get permits for it", A few weeks passed by and still the store was open. I then called Barker and threatened to file charges against him in our local court. He hung up on me.

At the next township meeting, the entire room was filled with the local farmers, old man Barker, and a nice fellow from the PA Department of Agriculture. At a public meeting, in front of a packed room, I was schooled on a small, arcane section of the state zoning law, a section that was added a few years later, buried deep in a budget law. The new law read something like this: "Farm stores are legally exempt from the law and local agencies may not issue permits or deny permits for farm stores."

At the meeting, one farmer after another hounded, pounded, beat my soul and body down, while old man Barker sat in the back row and laughed out loud. The next day I drove to Greens Feed and I took down the notices, my tail hanging between my legs, I also bought a dozen eggs. They were the best eggs I have ever eaten,

Welcome to Diffle County, friends.

All characters are fictional and not intended to be confused with real people anywhere in the world.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Happy Birthday My Love

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
                                                   Happy Birthday Crazy lady
                                                        Happy birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
You love me more than I love you
no wait...I got that one backwards

You love social media
you love our dogs more than I do
ok..that's not really true 

OMG our dog's drowning.
Happy birthday to you.

Happy birthday to you
Red Mill burgers taste good
(though you are eating an onion ring or fries)

Happy birthday to you

I'm blessed because you love me 

Happy birthday to you !!!!!!!!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

DIFFLE COUNTY UPDATE: East Greenville Sues East Greenville and Wins!

Historian Randall O'Rourke 
I really don’t enjoy flying in jet airplanes.  They are crowded, the air conditioning  is turned off when you sit in the terminal, your seat is broken or your tray is broken, and every cough you make is akin to spreading  a super virus that will kill everyone on the plane.

Flying is the antithesis of The Three Musketeers famous saying “All For one and one for All.” On an airplane it is “Every man for himself  and everyone all together”  If you’ve ever  had to stow your bag overhead one row behind your seat, you understand this sentence. Once the plane has landed and with every person pushing forward past you - good luck getting to that bag.  Yet we are all in it together if the plane takes a nose dive.

When Tracey Morgan’s limo bus was tapped in the rear and rolled over in a six vehicle accident, many more people lived than died.   If his plane rolled over,  they wouldn’t call for an ambulance and a tow truck to come pick him up.

Enough about the luxury of  flying.  At 39,000 feet I am reminded that I haven’t written on the blog in a very long time and a lot has happened in Diffle County since my last update.  I  think now would be a good time to catch everybody up.


East Greenville  held a referendum on the city name after their Town Constable, Johnny “Bearhug” Bartlesky made an amazing discovery. He was driving to Quakertown to pick up a prisoner from the county prison when he got lost, with the help a gas station attendant or two.   He ended up in East Greenville- in Montgomery County!    When he returned home with this revelation, the Town Council was furious and wrote a letter to the imposter East Greenville demanding they change their name.
Since the Montgomery County town was established over one hundred years before the Diffle County town, there was no way they were changing their name.  Instead East Greenville, Montgomery County sued East Greenville, Diffle County to force a name change.

In the course of discovery, it was revealed  that a significant number of tax bills were being sent to the wrong town by an incompetent US Postal Service.  Since the homes in Montgomery County were much higher in value, Diffle County’s general fund greatly benefited.

   “You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”,  testified Diffle County Chief Tax Assessor Randall O’Rourke.    

That was a sticking point with State Judge Anthony Grube, a former Montgomery County Prosecutor who ruled that East Greenville, Diffle County must be audited, the monies returned, and a referendum on their new name must be held.  The court order made the referendum a binding resolution and the record was sealed.

A local Diffle County committee was formed and three names were chosen:  Greenvale, PA ;  East Greenvale, PA , and Westgreen, PA.   The third name was chosen when it was pointed out to the Committee  by the town historian, Randall O’Rourke that the town resides on the West side of the creek, and not the East side as previously thought.

The winning vote was East Greenvale.  There were a few write-ins that gained traction but fell a few votes short. The top write-in three vote-getters   East Greensucksville;  Gruberville,  and West Easterly.
West Easterly actually won the most votes, if you count the two absentee ballots sent in by the Sean and Maggie O’Rourke. They were vacationing in Ireland at the time of election, and asked their son Randall to drop their absentee ballot off at the post office.   He forgot.

In other news -  Barry Stettler was plowing part-time for Grinold Township when he fell and broke his leg.

 Last October,  Barry put up a shed right on the property line and his neighbor Jim Catinera filed a complaint with the zoning office.   Barry had to rent a skid-steer to move the shed five feet beck from the line and it cost him a hundred and seventy five dollars to rent the machine and pay the permit fee.  He was not happy.

When winter arrived and it came time to plow the roads, Barry was assigned to plow Caterina’s street.  Big Don warned Barry beforehand.   “Don’t even think about doing damage to Catinera’s mailbox. “  Big Don said.

After four sweeps of the street, each time pushing snow closer and closer to the mailbox, finally Barry took one last swipe.  The heavy, wet snow flew, the post cracked, but the mailbox did not fall over.  Furious at this, Barry drove for a fifth run at the mailbox, opened the truck door and gave the box a good hard kick. Then helost his grip on the steering wheel and fell out of the truck.  His leg hit the step rail awkwardly, then his weight snapped the bone in his leg like a twig.

The Truck continued on plowing without him, as it rolled down an embankment and pinned itself between two pine trees.  Big Don had to rent a crane to remove the fully-loaded salt truck  from its woodland perch.  Barry was fired and Jim Cantinera received a brand new mailbox and half a pound of  deer sausage.

Three weeks later,  Barry’s shed blew up. “Must have been Meth lab!” Big Don said with a big-ol’ grin.  Breaking bad right here in Diffle County.  You just never know.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Diffle County Update: How to Catch a Killer in Diffle County - Chapter 4

Family History

They were third cousins once removed when they met at a family reunion in Dalton, Georgia- spittin' distance from Tennessee's southern border.   She was a fifteen year old raven-haired beauty with a wide mischievous smile, a small pointy nose that gave her mouth an even larger exposure. Her teeth were perfect in order, perfect in placement, and perfectly white.  She was tall for her age, standing flat footed at five feet, ten inches, small-breasted and slim- which made her head seem slightly too large for her body.  She perfectly coiffed her hair to provide a maximum amount of wavy coverage down the small of her back. She was the girl next door, with a bit of an edge because she was also an All-American brat.

Her parents were convinced that she would be a big star one day. In the Spring of her 15th year they packed up and moved to Los Angeles, California- land of swimming pools and movie stars- and pushed her towards their destiny and million dollar paychecks.  With summer smog in the L.A. basin reaching critical levels, she and her mother drove back to Georgia to stay with family for the season.. Her father remained behind to manage the blossoming career of Linda Malone.

He fell in love with her at first sight.   He was twenty-seven at the time, unemployed and high on pot every day from breakfast to bedtime.  He was tall and lanky, his straight brown hair pulled back into a pony-tail, with a few stray whiskers on his face staking claim as a mustache.  He looked younger than his age and he often acted that way too.

He had a few other faults.  He was raised in the North by his mother and step-father - a harsh, bitter man who never liked him and sold him on that truth every drunken day. When he was younger and more impressionable, his mother- Maria was her name-  insisted he take his step-father's name and he did so, but deeply regretted that decision later.  Between the age of twelve and eighteen, he was beaten and spit on more times than he could remember As soon as he turned legal age, exactly 12 hours after his 18th birthday, Mark Westin Jones left home and moved to the Southern side of the Mason-Dixon line. He landed a job in the maintenance shop of a  West Virginia Strip Mine.

He had never met his biological father but he had heard the stories.  Three dead in a  hotel room in Knoxville and his father found guilty of the crime. The crime scene was one of the "worst I've ever seen in my 25 years on the force" said the homicide investigator at the trial.   

Tequilla and LSD will do that to a man if he isn't careful.  They executed his father on an antique electric chair. It took five shots of current and 18 minutes to completely kill him. Johnathan Matthew Marcus Jones, on the morning of his execution, shouted a few short comments for the press.  "We come from a proud family of righteous killers!"  was one comment.  "I wish I had taken out a few more of them cowardly Coles!" Then he swore long and loud making sure everyone would hear him long after he died.  

His last statement was hard to understand with a his head covered in a hood and foam filling his mouth, but some witnesses insist they heard him say, "Make me proud son!"  Johnathan Matthew Marcus Jones knew long before he was removed from Earth that his son was the apple that dropped near the tree.

A Summer Affair

And so they met, at a picnic table with all the fixin's, burgers, dogs, chips, rolls, soda, and her priceless, emerald eyes.  Before long, they were united in purpose as they shared a mocking view of their families, shared a hamburger, shared a joint behind an old Beech tree, shared a soft kiss along the nature trail, and then shared their bodies in a field of high grass.  

The cousins met every day after that and made love, small talk, and future plans.  They found their common bond, the cruel world was against them because of his age, her age, their shared family history, and anything else that didn't seem fair or inconvenient.   It was the greatest summer of his life.  By the time she was packing to return to Los Angeles, his love had evolved into obsession.

Back in L.A. after a torrid summer with her older cousin, Linda Malone soon found friends and work to keep herself occupied and by November her love letters to Mark had dwindled down to one of two a month. Meanwhile he had built a shrine to honor his lover and prayed for her safety and deliverance to him.