Die Another Day


Star trek and Star Wars junkies, Elvis fanatics, and die hard Nascar fans move over.  I am missing my Bond, James Bond, my one and only Bond:  Sean Connery.   I am missing the campy movie titles that miraculously passed 1960′s sensorship:  Goldfinger, The Man With the Golden Gun, Moonraker (backdoor Bond), and the legendary Octopussy.  Sean Connery’s Bond was THE 1960′s ladies man –with a twinkle.

Bond movies are famous for their music and double entendre titles coupled with adventure, action, and the debut of a new Bond girl.  The women have gotten “hotter” over the decades, but  the titles like Skyfall, License to Kill, and Live Another Day are tame–like the other Bond men.  Sean Connery is the only one that stirs my martini.  Since I must, I will make an exception for Daniel Craig; he almost takes me to my happy place.




Pussy Galore


Six days of searching for any big cat sign, hunting in the wilderness five hours east of Vancouver, in Canada,  yielded little more than some minor chaffing and disappointment.  My husband was smelling ripe after wearing the same clothes ever since his outpost cabin burned down.  Admittedly, he was jinxed getting a lynx.

On the last day of the hunt, in the last hour, he heard a big Tom screech.  His mind’s eye flickered with a flashback to the old Mercury car commercials….it was the throaty growl of a confident cougar!  High stepping in stealth mode, John stalked it.  When he was within 50 yards, he realized that this old boy was about to mount a female.  Two cougars!

He turned off the safety, gingerly raised the barrel, took aim through the scope, and expertly blew that big Tom right off of the back of his woman.  185 lbs. of muscle and mean collapsed and fell to the ground.  He thought about letting the cat have his fun first, but he thought, “Oh, this cat is screwed already.”  With daylight fading, he really had no choice but to pull the trigger.  BOOM.   John gutted it and flanked the hide over his shoulders for the walk out.

The next morning, he transferred his trophy from the outfitter’s truck to the roof of a rented Alero and headed for the border.  There was six inches of fresh snow on the road and a blowing arctic wind swirled mercilessly with whiteouts; visibility was less than 20 feet and it was pitch-black-out-early.  No moon.  He had lots of luck on this trip, but it was mostly bad.

Now it is one thing to travel internationally with a rifle, a load of bullets, and some raw meat and quite another to do the same without identification, luggage, or money and projecting an aroma much like Pig-Pen’s from the Peanuts Comic Strip.   The fire had reduced all of his worldly possessions to ash.  He had no real shelter, no water, and no  civilization for a week. There were tracks as wide as I-75 in his under britches and his socks smelled of something that died a long time ago.  He was technically destitute in a foreign country and had to prove  he was a U.S. Citizen to the Consulate in Vancouver by knowing the full names, dates of birth, and cities of birth of both of his parents and his wife.  Successful, he was then photographed in his filthy clothing and his sprouting, grey beard.  New Passport in hand, he had what he needed to claim a seat on the next flight home.  I was thankful not to be anywhere on that airplane.

With his usual luck, the next best flight home hopscotched across the country in every direction with three big layovers and four connections lasting two days.  He landed in hot climates wearing his only shirt, a heavy woolen one, which caused beads of sweat to fester between his shoulder blades and roll down into his butt crack.  He soldiered on in his wet pants and heavy boots, arriving in Detroit 20 hours later.  I saw a lady being wheeled out with an oxygen mask and wondered, “Coincidence?”



Memphis Blues


Bette Davis must have been in Memphis when she uttered those famous words:  “What a dump.”  There is no way to sugar coat the neglect and decay that surprised me last month during my first visit to Memphis to see Graceland, Elvis Presley’s estate.  It was on my Bucket List.  There is ONE street in Memphis that is lit up with blues and bars.  That’s it.  Today, bordering the Graceland estate, there are rotting appliance and lotto storefronts with faded “out of business” signs within view of Elvis’ dining room window.  Most of the businesses sport wood where glass used to be.  It reminded me of Clio & Pierson Roads in the Flint, Michigan ghetto.  Yes, “In the Ghetto.”

The business district with its public transportation and it’s unemployed, stumbling with their 40′s clutched in crinkled paper, has assaulted what was once the King of Pop’s safe harbor:   his escape, his peaceful home.

 Since the visit, I’m left with only a before and after. 

BEFORE, Graceland had evoked images to me of an American pastoral with 100 year old sycamore trees, flower gardens, and room to run.  The AFTER leaves me scratching my head.  Graceland’s perimeter stone wall is her only defense against a city that long ago tried to capitalize on her fame.

People still shuffle in from around the world to visit Graceland.  The set up for visitor parking, restrooms, and ticket sales has been mismanaged into a hodgepodge of side show attractions and awkwardness.  There is a collection of misfit souvenir shops stuccoed together to create a discordant strip mall.  Within that mall is a mix of cliche southern BBQ  restaurants.


The Mansion is purposefully dated and preserved just the way Elvis left it in 1977.  It sits on 36 acres with a shooting range, horse corrals and barns, and a pool.  Sadly, the acreage is surrounded by cascades of drooping telephone wires and a forgotten subdivision with 1950′s atomic ranch homes, most in disrepair.  Directly across the five lane busy street from Graceland’s noisy  front gate is Elvis’ auto museum and Elvis’ two jets:  The Lisa Marie and HoundDog 2.  The jets have not weathered well for the past 40 years in the intense, southern sun.   Within walking distance is the Heartbreak Hotel.  It all screams Wisconsin Dells or Gatlinburg, TN main street carnival–after a heartbreak.

One of the things that Priscilla and Lisa Marie excelled at was displaying Elvis’ private collections, gold records, and awards.  His Aloha from Hawaii concert was the first time in television history that a program was seen around the world via satellite.  Many of his recognizable jumpsuits were nicely displayed as well as his wedding tuxedo and Priscilla’s gown. 








He and his parents are buried there and I made sure I sent my thanks skyward for Elvis, his music, and for the opportunity to tour his home.  This writer has been hard on the town of Memphis, but the actual trip to Graceland has redeeming qualities.  It is a small “big home” by today’s standards, but it is beautiful.


My favorite Elvis song you ask?  Hands down, Such a Night.





Borrowed Underwear


I’m curious to find out if he comes home with whitey-tighties or silky boxers.  Just what do our friends in the great north wear under their Mackinaws?  My destitute husband is living in borrowed underwear and outerwear ever since his spike camp burned to the ground in Canada while he was hunting a Lynx.  In a very Theodore Roosevelt kind of way, he has soldiered on.

He and his guide were five hours north of Vancouver, off grid, in the bush, spotting cats and killing time.  Then all hell broke loose.  Over the ridge, in a valley, blue smoke belched skyward.  Their horses spooked.  Nervous energy filled their lungs.  The two men split up.  John stayed in the mountains, glassing sheep and cat hunting, while the guide circled back to camp.  An hour later, the truth came riding back with just a sad look.   Up in smoke went the tales:  his worn Pendleton merino-wool shirt with the shoulder repair after a near miss with a wolverine, the spare boots that saved his life in the arctic circle after he went all Chuck Norris on a polar bear with a roundhouse kick to the jaw, and gone, sadly, is his lucky rabbit’s foot whose luck, obviously, ran out.

So far, as he tells it, he is getting by by the skin of his teeth.  They are trapping their meals and doing everything short of going all “Brokeback Mountain” to stay warm.   He has a smart horse this time, which is about the only good thing that has happened.

There will be no more word from him until Monday, January 4, 2015.



Sugar Momma

Last time he went out, he slept in a cave. So a simple fire should be a piece of cake.

Ever since his wallet filled with identification, cash, and pictures of his wife burned to the ground in an outpost cabin in Canada along with his U.S. Passport, I’ve been making calls to the United States Consulate in Vancouver to figure out how to get my husband back into the States.  I’m kind of thinking about leaving him there, but someone has to take out the garbage on Wednesdays.

What I learned from the agents is that I am married to a man who is technically destitute.  They have a label for people overseas who have lost their passports and money and now John has been labeled destitute.  He doesn’t know this yet.  When he gets out of the bush and heads to the U.S. Consulate in the rental car that (I hope!) is full of gas, he will learn the ugly truth.  He will have to stand in the “destitute” line:  I can’t get enough of that word –and he will figure out real quick who his Sugar Momma is.

Yes, I’m laughing.   In hindsight, he probably should have paid more attention to the American Express slogan, “Never leave home without it.”  Hopefully the outfitter he is with is still feeding him and will probably fill up his car with gas and give him lunch money and tell him not to talk to strangers.   Sugar Momma is working the deal on this end, and somehow, this big swamp buck hunter will get home in one piece.  No fear.

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