Friday, August 30, 2013

"Just What Is It About Dogs?"

Pierre, the Magnificient is how he was named  before he conned us at the dog pound!

What is it about dogs? My cocker spaniel, which is basically bred to sniff out targets like birds, rabbits, squirrels and such, just does really aggravating things. His nose will be the death of him, either by Mother Nature or me!

I'm spraying to kill weeds and yeh, I know it is not good for the environment. All that has happened to me in the last year, has highly influenced my neglect, and now, I am paying for it. When I'm finished with the last of the herbicides, I'll employ a more green approach.

Anyway, Pierre, as wonderful a pup as he is, loves to run all around our five acres, chasing squirrels, rabbits, birds, toads, turtles, chameleons, bullfrogs and herons. There's a large white egret that circles the pond and squawks at him as he chases it until it is totally out of his sight. He loves to stick his nose in everything. Rabbit pellets are a delicacy to him. His hunting instinct, or should I spell it "InStink", demands that he hide his doggy aroma by rolling around in dead things... and sometimes, even dried animal poop.

This dawg's intense.

Four or five days ago, I checked up on my numerous bluebird houses, assuming wrongfully, that lovebird season was coming to a close. When I checked one house, I noticed three or four small bluebirds all snuggled together in a nest of pine needles. I figured it was only gonna be a few more days before they would fledge.

Anyway, this is a story about my goofy dog. So, yesterday I opened the birdhouse to check on the status of the fledglings, and they were gone. Only one pale blue egg was left, and before I could grab and discard it, the egg rolled out of the nest and fell to the ground, right in front of Pierre's nose.

This dog is never too far away from my feet.

It's only natural that a dog that prizes rabbit pellets as a healthy part of his daily requirement would love a rotten egg or two.

It all happened so fast that I never got to see much of the entree, but what was left was a shredded pale blue egg. Pierre, took one sniff and commenced to rolling his recently coiffed body all up in the smelly, rotten mess.

"PIERRE STOP!" I yelled. 

He looked up at me with this "please forgive me innocent doggy look", and as soon as I turned away to finish cleaning out the box, he decided symmetry was a good thing and rolled the other side of his face and ear into the now shredded mess.

He followed me around the property into a poison ivy patch that I found under some small saplings, and stuck his nose into the Round Up filled area.

"PIERRE, get out of here," I yelled in disgust. "Go away!"

You know, I'm convinced that dawgs understand English, but they only understand it, when it is to their advantage. Though it has never been substantiated by animal experts, in all of my years owning dogs, I have observed that the entire canine world, wild and domesticated, never do anything that isn't pleasurable!

Well, guess where he went off to upon my return to put away the herbicide!

You got it...
Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Our Forty-Fifth High School Reunion...

Our high school shoulder/ chest patch...
Well, I don't know how many couples will attend tonight at the Green Acres Country Club in Metairie. We've lost quite a few alumni over the last five years or so, and our graduating class was pretty small. Regardless, Therese and I are gonna get a chance to get away from everything for a few hours and enjoy each other's company. Unlike a lot of married couples who graduated from different schools and go to reunions only to feel like a third wheel, Therese and I first met at our high school, Redemptorist H.S.

Redemptorist no longer exists as a school, but for many years, it was the only Catholic co-ed school in the state of Louisiana. All through our four years, we wore uniforms. The girls all wore dark blue skirts of, supposedly, the same length which was, supposedly, just above the knee. They wore white short sleeved blouses with the above triangular patch just below a breast pocket on the left side.

The guys all wore khaki pants, dress shoes, and a long sleeve khaki shirt with the blue patch on the left shoulder. As part of our uniform, the boys all had to have a black tie which was unusually and haphazardly tied and stuffed inside the shirt just above the third button. Here's a pic from my yearbook that best shows how we had to dress for "success."

We all had to wear these name tags just above the left pocket of the shirt. Many guys, and I assume, girls too, were glad when it got colder so we could hide all of this pseudo-military paraphernalia under our sweaters. I recall that you could be reprimanded or given Saturday school duty for non-compliance.

That never happened to me because I kind of liked the disciplined, military approach to school. I always came to school with a crease on my pants and shirt because I learned how to ironed my own clothes, and it made me feel good. As a kid, I was in a drill team that wore these kind of uniforms when we marched in the Mardi Gras parades during that two week period of "undisciplined partying!"

Of course, that was back then, during the Pleistocene period before "perma-press!"

Anyway, although my letter sweaters no longer fit and my football jacket is rather moth-eaten, I think I'll bring this little patch to the gathering and see how many people still have one hidden in the windmills of the mind!

I bid you adieu by writing our Senior class of 1968 battle cry which is an indication of how we all felt.

"Imma Ram, So What?" 

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III

Saturday, August 17, 2013

"What's That Whine This Early In The Morning?"

Serenading Starbucks clients...
After running some early morning errands, I stopped at a local Starbucks that is situated in an open air shopping mall. I prefer this Starbucks because it isn't as crowded as most and there is no smoking anywhere inside or outside of the coffee shop. I 've met some pretty interesting people here. I always bring my sketchbook because you never know what interesting things will turn up to draw.

I find myself a shady spot to park and turn off the ignition, but I hear this slight whine coming from somewhere in the car. Thinking it wasn't the engine, I turned my ear to the radio and turn it up to hear the high pitched whine, but there was no whine to be heard on the sports talk radio show, so I turned the radio completely off and still heard that sound. I attempt to perform a "walk around" to see where the sound was emanating from and when I opened the door, I see this man standing on the lawn, directly in front of me, with his cup of coffee placed neatly at his feet, playing a bagpipe.

Now, I'm not a big proponent of the windy Celtic instrument, but I have to admit that it was really cool to have someone serenade so early in the morning. I waved my cellphone at him indicating that I wanted permission to take his picture. He nodded in the affirmative, as he continued to play some unrecognizable tune. I took this picture, smiled, gave him a thumbs up and started to walk away. I did not want him to stop and interrupt his groove.

He nodded again though I don't know if he heard me say as I sauntered away,"Great way to start the day, man... Laissez les bon temp roulet!"

I said it knowing, full well, that the bagpipe isn't a French instrument. His first cup early morning spirit overtook my better judgement!

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III

Monday, August 12, 2013

"How To Enjoy A Flounder Without Getting Hurt!"

and, obviously... After

My studio AC wasn't working for me, so I had done my research on a bigger unit. Therese and I searched all over the southern portion of Louisiana to find the one I approved. It was all the way south of New Orleans in a petro-chemical town called Norco. Tee said, "Do you really wanna drive that far to go get it?"
I said, "Of course, it is too hot to work in the studio without one and we can take I-55 there, purchase the air conditioner and then... stop in Manchac for a bite at Middendorf's on the return trip.

"Well, she said, what are we waiting for? That appliance store closes by 3 pm!"

So, we drove through a massive afternoon thunderstorm and picked up the air conditioner. Although, the thought of shoving that one hundred pound, 14,000 btu machine into my studio window occurred in head, the only thing that really stuck in my mind was the shellfish and seafood at Middendorf's in the little swamp town of Manchac.

Once out of the steamy swamp weather and into the cool of the restaurant, we sat down and placed our order. Therese had the stuff filet of flounder and I had this monster with crab topping! It was an early start to our 41st wedding anniversary, which is today! But any excuse was fine with me!

Of course, there's really no wrong way to dine on flounder, but if you don't want a mouthful of tiny bones, I suggest this! Once you've finished the main filet part of the fish, use the fork to separate the rest of the flesh from the ribs of the spine by following the length of the ribs with your fork and not across the ribs. Once you've eaten all from the top side, gently with the one hand lift the front part of the spine as you use the fork with the other hand to extract the spine from the back side of the fish. Pull all the way to the tail and put the spine with ribs and tail attached off to the side. 

Now, you are ready to eat the back side of the fish being careful to not disturb the small bones from the fins that surround both sides of the fish. If you are really savvy, when you have finished with the flesh from the back side of the flounder and haven't disturbed the fin bones, which are numerous and tiny, you can extract whatever meat there is from those fin bones by using the side edge of your fork and gently pull away the meat in the direction of the bones and, once again, not across.

Having completed that task, you can have another beer to celebrate. You now qualify as an expert flounder "yat" or, even a... Cajun!

Bon Appetit!

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"I Went Through All Kinds Of Changes, Took A Look At Myself And Said, "That's Not Me!"

Change is good?

I'm told, by a friend, that today is Andy Warhol's birthday. Every time I think of him I think of two things... besides his art, of course. One is when Hurricane Gustav barrelled down on Louisiana and we grabbed mom and headed north. Well, actually, more east than north and "refugeed" in Troy, Alabama. It is a cute, little college town with not much going on except an Andy Warhol retrospective of his print works.

It was actually a very good show at a really nice museum/ art gallery.

The other, was when I went to New York, years ago, to attend a wedding and visit friends. I went through great lengths to track down one of my teachers from ACCD, and when I found him, we went to a SoHo restaurant for dinner. The odd part was that his normal black hair was white and combed like Warhol's. He always seemed to wear black, so that wasn't a big deal. What was kinda disturbing was that he looked a lot like Andy... especially from a distance.

We had a great time together just catching up, but I remember thinking as I returned to LA...

"Why can't artists just be normal and let their art speak for themselves!"

It's a very conservative and uneducated statement. I remember kinda losing myself in my seventh semester. I just felt I was a runaway train going nowhere. I needed an anchor, of sorts. I kinda always have needed one. I remember when I was in grade school, on picture day, we all had to wear suits and ties. Something about getting all dressed up made me feel special, important and "professional."

Even as a kid. It made me a more attentive student... I never knew why, but it did, if only for one day!

So, I decided to come to an illustrative class dressed up sans the tie. I also combed my red hair with a part to the side. In the class, who knows what my classmates thought, but Penelope Gottleib remarked about it.

"How come you've combed your hair differently?"she asked.

"I searching for who I really was or wanted to be. I didn't care to go into all of the ramifications of my psyche with Penny, so I replied that I felt I needed to change my direction.

Then I asked her, " What'dya think? You like it?"

She replied," I don't know... it IS a bit different!"

And that's how I felt when I visited Baron and that's what I think of whenever I think of Andy Warhol. Funny, how the mind works!
Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III