From the vault for National Squirrel Appreciation Day

From the vault for National Squirrel Appreciation Day

I’m thinkin’ not too many folks know that today is “National Squirrel Appreciation Day!” Yes, that’s for real!

In honor of the occasion, here’s a piece I wrote quite a long time ago for my first (now dormant) blog site; I ran it here in May of 2016.

Enjoy The Squirrel and the Spiritual Experience!

I had just dropped off a fare in my taxi and i decided to stop in at
a fast food place in Altamonte Springs for a quick bite. If you do
know the territory, Backyard Burgers is a better-than average
burger drive-through in an Old Checkers location. It’s quite popular
with the locals.

It’s pretty popular with some furry critters up there too! I got
my “Black and Bleu” burger, an extremely yummy burger featuring
black angus beef and bleu cheese, and proceeded to make short work
of it. It truly was as good a burger as this dog had ever put into
his jaws!

Just as I was about to toss the last morsel down, this very tame
squirrel began to make her way over to the patio table where I was
enjoying this late lunch. (At Backyard Burgers, there is no indoor
seating.)

As she got a little closer, I became transfixed at the sight of her
approach and could not eat that last bit until I knew what she was
up to. In pretty short order she hopped right up on the bench next
to me and reared up on her hind legs. By now she was only about six
inches from me–from me and the last few crumbs of what had been the
best lunch I’d had in quite a while…

As I extended my hand in her direction, she actually put her little
claws right on my first finger and clasped my hand very gently
with a measured and seemingly purposeful pressure. I was quite
surprised to say the least. What I had expected her to do was to
reach for the bite o’ burger and scamper away like a bandit.

For a moment or two she just stayed there clasping my hand and
looking me right in the eye. Then, with consummate timing, she took
the morsel in her mouth and ate it in two or three bites all while
maintaining her eye contact with me, her very flabbergasted
benefactor.

Then she turned away, paused for just a moment and scampered
away towards a towering oak on the edge of the patio.

I suppose it’s a routine she’s quite comfortable with. I have not
been back to Backyard Burgers since but I’m thinking that she
probably has a regular stable of folks who share the last bite of
their lunches with her. I’ve even wanted to get back up there to see
if she’s still around, looking for humans who want to share their
grub with her, but I don’t get that far away from downtown
Orlando in my cab very often.

As I cruised back towards my preferred territory a little closer to
home, I could not get the image of her pausing with her paws on my
hand out of my mind… She seemed to be saying, “Thanks for sharing
your lunch with me! I hope you’ll come back and see me again” or
some such thing in her non-verbal squirrel language which humans may
be graced to understand just once in a while…

The memory of my shared lunch with my furry mistress comes back to
me often; especially when I’m passing any burger joint or when I see
squirrels scampering up and down our majestic oaks and through our
many parks. I would surely love to have a “Black and Bleu” burger
again. And you know I’d save the last bite for my new lunch
companion!

 

Bulldog Ben, respecting all of my

furry friends today just a bit more…

 

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Headed Back to Tosohatchee Next Saturday

Headed Back to Tosohatchee Next Saturday

The Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area is, by far, the closest of Florida’s WMA’s to my neck of the woods. I loved the afternoon I spent there back on January 4th and so I was happy to see that our FWC is planning an event at Tosohatchee in about a week’s time to give the nature lovers among us a chance to see one of our WMA’s up close!

Hunting and fishing are two activities that happen a lot on our WMA’s here in the Sunshine State but hikers, campers and birders love them, too. And if you get a chance to come out next Saturday, the 27th, Rangers and other staff with the Fish and Wildlife Commission can get you up to speed on all the reasons to visit Tosohatchee or any one of Florida’s WMA’s.

To see the PR release from Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission about this free and family-friendly event, just follow this handy link.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Bulldog Was So Happy When He Realized

Bulldog Was So Happy When He Realized

Well, you see, I was up a bit after midnight last night. Oops, that would be a bit after midnight this morning, to be more accurate. Up baking scratch cornbread muffins.

And it made me so frickin’ happy when I realized that the shoe box-size leftover container that I sometimes use to store cutlery is the perfect size for six muffins when you bust ’em out of the muffin pan!

Not at all sure what that means about my thoroughly mundane life, but it was just about two steps short of complete ecstasy when I realized that and starting tossing the still-warm muffins in, thereby fulfilling their obvious destiny!

Doesn’t take much to make me happy these days! I guess that’s not a bad thing…

 

Still smiling in Orlando, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

Dreamers, the Federal Budget and the Goals of the GOP

A dear friend of mine recently posted on Facebook about how unfortunate it is that DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has not been renewed yet and how sad it is that families are continuing to be broken up as the result.

It got me to thinking about how the stalemate over renewing DACA relates to other larger issues and I wrote quite a tome about that. That is, about the larger issues and what’s really going on in Washington right now over DACA and passing a budget to keep the government operating. The budget part comes to a head on Friday. Yes, the day after tomorrow.

My piece is long. It’s strident. And it’s dead-on accurate. Bulldog is barking this afternoon. Here goes:

 

In response to my friend’s post about deportations of Dreamers, I wrote:

Sad to say, there is no resolution to be found. The #PoserPrez demands funding of his accursed and very expensive boarder wall before he’ll get on-board with a renewal of DACA. I’m proud to say that the leadership of the Democratic Party will not agree to this.

What you may not have known is that tRump and the Republicans are in perfect lock step that Democrats must agree to fund the border wall in order for them to negotiate about DACA but ALSO for them to talk about passing a budget.

So the government WILL shutdown on Friday because tRump demands everyone get on board with the border wall and authorize immediate funding to the tune of many billions of dollars before anything else can get done in Washington.

All of this is being done against the backdrop of our treasury being perpetually short of funds moving forward because of the just-passed tax cuts. (Well, it wasn’t actually just a matter of cutting taxes; the bill is a complete restructuring of America’s tax code. But I digress.)

Rethuglicans say we can’t renew CHIP and have health insurance for kids who otherwise would be going to America’s Emergency Rooms. We can’t afford Medicare and Medicaid as they exist now, because of the same tax cuts, so now they “have to” start cutting these vital programs but… wait for it… WE CAN AFFORD THIS ACCURSED WALL!

This is how the fight about renewing DACA fits into the larger picture. It’s NOT about any individual program, or passing a spending bill or any of that; it’s about conservatives finally having a chance to kill the Federal Government we’ve known since the New Deal was put in place after the Great Depression. They want to have a Federal government that can fund the military and pay the light bill for Federal buildings, a few salaries and other bare essentials and then let the rest of it, literally, just go away.

GOP thinker and shaker and mover Grover Norquist summed up this concept of how a government should function with his infamous remark that conservatives needed to cut the Federal government down to the size “where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub“. Maybe you guys missed that remark from many years ago or have forgotten it; I remember it very well. Republicans repeat it often.

This is NOT about fifty or sixty different issues or tasks that congress needs to get done in this session. It’s about Republicans and tRump enacting this extreme agenda and remaking the government in a way that makes Mr. Norquist and Steve Bannon smile. In a way that would make Ayn Rand proud.

This explains why tRump, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan already have in place proposed legislation to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid even though all three of them said during the election that they’d NEVER TOUCH THOSE PROGRAMS! They were lying. They lie all the time. Drastic cuts to those programs have been a part of the conservative agenda for over 30 years and they’ve said so hundreds of times!

People who don’t understand the larger issues involved here can “both sides” this all day and all night, but this is really about the extreme tRump/Repug agenda to gut all programs that help individual Americans so rich people and corps can pay little or no taxes.

Trump and his trumper minions get an expanded military that was already way bigger and badder than what we actually need to defend us and our NATO allies, their fucking wall that’s mostly about symbolism, constant “incentives” and tax breaks (i.e. giveaways) for major corps that are already showing record profits, uber-low taxes for people in the upper brackets and NO FUNDING AT ALL for things that benefit ordinary Americans or people who are actually struggling.

So it’s about renewing DACA, funding the government and much, much more. If this wasn’t clear to you, you’ve bought all the Repug talking points and you have no idea what’s actually going on.

It’s urgent that Americans who care about the direction of our country see that each fight in Washington is not a separate “thing” but that there are big-picture reasons why these battles are going on right now in the age of tRump.

If you’d like to know more about DACA and why the Dreamers and so many other Americans want so urgently to have The Dream Act reauthorized, click here.

If Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are going to be there for folks who’ll be needing them in the next 20 to 30 years, we’ve got to raise holy hell over Republican attempts to gut them. For more on how to safeguard these vital programs while the current regime is trying to drastically curtail or privatize them, follow this link.

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Grits and Bacon Bits! A Marriage Made in Heaven!

Grits and Bacon Bits! A Marriage Made in Heaven!

Am I the only guy who throws some bacon bits into his grits just before plating ’em?

It’s a very cool trick I discovered while camping last winter and it works just as well in the kitchen, folks!

Of course, I don’t mean bacon bits take the place of the coarsely-ground pepper or the pound of butter you must thrown on there, too!

Speaking of camping: I’m hoping to get back to Trimble Park in Tangerine soon. We’ll see if I can make that work. Should be going back to a four day work week soon; that’ll help.

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Bulldog Barks in This Quick Product Review

Bulldog Barks in This Quick Product Review

Today’s subject is Liqueurs; and I’m dead-set on doing something I almost never do!

Telling everyone I know to avoid a product at all cost!

Please know that I am deadly serious when I say “do not drink this stuff! Don’t ever, ever drink O’Donnell’s Irish Cream!”

I thought it would be a lower priced Bailey’s Irish Cream sort of product, but it’s just awful!

Tastes like soap! Really! Safeguard, if you must know.

If you’re thinking of opting for this nasty stuff because of price, call me! I’ll come over with a bottle of tried-and-true Bailey’s and everything will be fine!

My takeaway: for some things, you just gotta stick with the original!

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile