It's be awhile since I last wrote... a fair amount of things going on in both my personal and paycheck lives- to quote David Bowie, "ch, ch, ch, changes..."; some changes- ok, some changes- not so ok and, to be frank, some changes I'm having a very difficult time supporting (most of those dealing with the paycheck life). But I won't bore all of you with the details; it has, after all, nothing to do with collecting.
Though I haven't written, I have steadily posted images to my galleries. A great deal of the items have been items already in the collections but there have been a few new items... I recently had the good fortune of acquiring a couple of fairly rare RPR (Romanian) pieces: a very early, numbered Border Guard badge and an early, numbered Honoured Radioman badge. Also picked up a couple of Soviet long service medals for the KGB (the variants with the Roman numerals on the front)- I also have a 20 year Georgian MOOP medal on the way. And, as usual, I was able to score a few more PMR (Transnistrian) awards. I believe my collection in this realm might be the most complete anywhere; don't know for sure, though.
Having a little challenge with the CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation) end of things. I look at what's offered on Molotuk, ru. but, as I live in the States, I can't deal there. Been trying to talk some of my dealers in that neighborhood into getting the items I want but, because they are relatively inexpensive, I don't think they want to be bothered with them. The thing is, I collect items that appeal to me... if they are valuable, great! If not, they still appeal to me and have a place in the collection. I'm really not motivated by the value so much as the enjoyment of what I (we) do. Maybe that's why I'm not a seller, per se.
Looking down the barrel at 58... it will be here on the 28th. Hmmmmm, never thought I'd make it this far. Almost didn't (Beirut '83). For those who haven't made it that far yet, I have one thing to say (and remember this), "Getting old ain't for sissies!!!". You have got to be nail-chewing tough to take the ass whippin' old age deals out; almost on a daily basis. And friends, this is the absolute truth. When you look in the mirror to shave in the morning and you see your Grandfather looking back at you, and you remember all those things he told you which you wrote off as some old geezer's crap well, friends, the chickens have come home to roost! Payback is indeed what they say it is...
OK, I'm done ranting at that which cannot be changed. Will write more later...
Hmmmm... Spring has, apparently, "sprung" here in beautiful metropolitan Ferncliff, Virginia where our one traffic light continues to blink red one way and yellow in the other direction. The horses are snorting (probably because of all the pollen), the cows are lowing and the "little birdies machen melodies"- much to the amusement of my cats. The possum (or possums- not sure I'm always looking at the same one) has come out of that weird partial hibernation and has joined the cats for meals. My stone-deaf Border Collie, Roger, takes it all in stride and has taken to staying outside longer and eating his food leisurely- one morsel at a time- and just surveying his turf.
I'm back to mowing... changed the blades, oil, oil filter and fuel filter on the 48" Husqvarna and have had her out for the initial cut... whew. Using the mower as a "bush hog"- rough going but got it done. Am going to take a friend's advice this year and cut at 3 1/2" instead of 2 1/2"- hoping that the grass will, eventually, choke out the weeds. I'll have to cut more often but the cutting should go quickly.
Barreling toward May, when I'll have some meaningful vacation EXCEPT I'm having to work the 4th, 5th and 6th which, as luck would have it, is my 40th Class Reunion at Fork Union Military Academy. Damn, damn, damn... I would like to go to that- at least for the parade on the 6th. In the letter they sent, 12 of my classmates have died, which is why they opted for a 40th reunion instead of the more traditional 50th- in case the rest of us dropped dead. Oh well, "no one expects the Spanish Inquisition". I'm going to continue to try to get that day off.
Have added a book to the library, "Checka- Soviet Secret Police Awards 1917-1995" by Cdr. Robert Pandis. A very informative work- especially about the various "egg" badges associated with the Soviet Internal Ministry. I recommend it to all. Have also added a few items to my ever growing PMR collection... a 20th Anniversary of the Armed Forces medal and a couple of Bendery UVD badges. Also managed to find a Romanian "For Militia Merit" badge from the RPR (1947-1965) period. These have been added to my galleries here- have a look. Oh, by the way, does anyone, other than me, know what the "PMR" is? This may be a good topic for a future blog entry.
I guess that's all for now as I have to prepare for work tomorrow.
Still on vacation :-)!!! Got a few things done today around the house (it's been quite wet lately which has severely inhibited outside work). Also (dammit, dammit) went out and bought a new cell phone to replace the one I LOST within a 20 yard area- inside the house- I absolutely can not find the damned thing. I HATE getting old and senile :-( ! Can't see anymore; can't hear anymore and wet weather really settles on my joints. CRAP! OK, I'm ranting again... On the up side, I found a new dvd I had been wanting, "Company 9"- it's about the earlier war in Afghanistan from a Soviet perspective. Will watch and review.
Just finished putting my last Bulgarian medal into the gallery; still have several badges to add, but the big work is finished for that gallery. Please have a look if you get the chance. Most of the medals are not rare, but Bulgaria had a certain flare for engraving and some of the pieces are quite beautiful- even the lower medals.
The great thing about these galleries is that it's also helping in my cataloging the items I have which, should something happen to me, will help my wife in deciding what to do with all of this. Something to think about, especially when one is "getting on" in years or has a high-risk job, or both. A friend died very suddenly several years ago (I was one of his pall-bearers); he left his wife in debt; he had amassed an incredible collection of artifacts from the American Civil War (had his own museum of sorts); left no information for his wife to go on and, before any of us knew, the "big guys" from up north came down in trucks, offered her pennies on the dollar and hauled it all away. She was in a state of bereavement and debt- she did what she thought she had to do at the time BECAUSE there was no advanced planning. I'm not going to let that happen if I can help it. Nor should you.
Hopefully it will be a better day tomorrow and I can take a few photos...
I'm in kind of a "bitchy" mood today; on the two days I've had off, I had to go to meetings at the joint on both days. These people have meetings to decide when to have more meetings!!! Nothing is ever accomplished during said meetings except to expose how education deprived the speakers are. In the 8 years I spent in the Navy, we trotted all over the Far East, Central America, shot through the Panama Canal, went through Grenada, blasted the crap out of Beirut- all without meetings. Amazing! OK, I'm going to calm down now... breathe... slow down. OK, I'm better now.
Earlier today, I posted three new PMR (Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic) awards to my PMR Gallery. A couple are fairly interesting; there's a 20 Years of the Customs Service medal and an Honoured Official of the Justice Ministry that bears a look if you have time. The customs medal is one of the nicest deep relief medals I've seen, especially the reverse. Add to this the fact that PMR Customs awards are VERY difficult to come by. The Justice Ministry badge is, currently, the highest award issued by that ministry. It has a "rayed" background that is handled in a way reminiscent of the early Soviet MVD "egg" badges, although the badge is one-piece. The overall quality of PMR items has improved of late. One reason is that, apparently, they have settled on one supplier (I'm seeing a new level of consistency that was not there before). Also, the country as a whole seems to be going through the motions of settling into itself... elections, a new President, an enhanced program of diplomacy. We'll see...
Still looking for a reasonable source for CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation) items; I only need about 3 to 4 pieces to complete the collection. If you have, or know someone who has, access to Molotok.ru please let me know.
One last item, and to me it's a BIG one, I've been given the honour of designation as "Old Contemptible". I guess I have arrived, and I'm very proud of this. Thanks to all who made this possible; it's quite a rush.
Ha! Completed mowing today (it takes me longer than most because of my skin is beyond white- almost ghostly- I cannot tan at all, so I have to wait for overcast or near sundown), managed to get a haircut (I seem to grow hair thicker and faster in my old age- weird), and photographed my USSR "Capture of..." medals for the gallery. Will work on those tonight and, hopefully post later or tomorrow. Finished the PMR gallery as I had planned and have been furiously working on the USSR gallery (have a look). I'm enjoying it all but it does take time, the one commodity I find I have decidedly less of these days (and the one you don't get back and cannot replace).
Another weirdness about me (for anyone who cares); I'm a news junkie. If I watch nothing else on T.V., I will watch the news (I'm probably far more boring than I think I am). Anyway, the primary news shows I watch are, in order:
-RT (formerly Russia Today)
Occasionally, I'll watch DW (Deutsche Welle), EuroNews (from Spain) and NHK (Japan), but I watch the top three I listed at least twice a day. So I guess other than working for a paycheck, being a husband and caring for animals, my life boils down to: politics, collecting, making music, watching the news, art/photography and watching movies/series. Hmmmm, actually not bad in the scheme of things.
Finally, at long last, thought it would never come... I'm on vacation! Yep, 11 days of paid unemployment. Began with, what else, some photos to update a gallery- the DDR gallery to be precise. Came up with an idea of "ganging" series medals, much as I did with a few of the Hungarian medals a little while ago. A bit easier on the photographer (me) and, I feel, more interesting than if you had to look at a separate image for each. Take a look. Thinking of knocking the Stasi shield collection down to one image as well- more on that later.
Heading up to Northern Virginia during this time to visit my mother; may drop by the "occupation"... I participated in the late '60's-early '70's. Long hair... on my face as well, guitar, protest songs, take a drag of whatever is being passed around, "hell no, we won't go"... join the Navy four years later. Oh well... Anyway, the unions have joined in (I'm a member of one of those) and a certain political party of which I'm a member (betcha can't guess which one) has joined in the fray, so there will be friendly faces awaiting.
Also want to enter a couple more images in the contest (that should bring a smile to Mervyn). All this and what I have to do around the house as winter approaches should keep me more than occupied so that when I return to work, I should be suitably exhausted.
The weather has turned a bit cooler over a relatively short time (90's to 60's), and I'm beginning to get that sinking feeling that goes along with winter. Crap! As I have not relocated to sunnier climes, I have only myself to blame.
On the work front, the audit we were going through is now over and yes, we've been accredited yet again. Whew! Like a weight has been lifted. Our warden has moved on to much greener pastures (a promotion $$$), and we are now left wondering who's next... I have now been through 3 wardens. Had it out with my unit manager (sort of a "mini warden" for a single housing unit) and wondering how that will take shape. It was pretty bad, but it had been brewing for some time. I just "blew"... oh well, "no one expects the Spanish inquisition!". Also, and on the very down side of things, a good friend I worked with took his life last Friday. We shared the "Navy experience", had much in common, and I always looked forward to seeing him. I will miss him.
Off this weekend. Have been working on my galleries. I did get a chance to submit 4 images for the competition; hope to shoot more over the next two days, between the "must do's" here at home. More later.