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A Gathering Place


Several weeks ago while in Ireland, Kilkenny city in particular and in the village to be precise we had occasion to enter a pub or two. The family we were being hosted by are old friends with the Henderson family. Father Willie and son Martin own and operate the Harp Bar/Pub.

You can arrive early, have a cup of tea or wait a bit and have a pint of your favorite brew, it’s “LOVELY” as only the Irish can say with a certain inflection.

Next door to the pub is a betting parlor, bookie for us Americans. The Harp has two separate bars with a pass through for the bartender. TV’s on one side carry the hose races while the other side views sporting events such as Soccer, Rugby and the like. Should a patron desire to place a bit, they hop from their stool leaving their pint and money on the bar and dash next door to place a bet. Should a winning bet be placed, the winner will be greeted with “BRILLIANT,”  another Irishism. Is that a real word?

The atmosphere inside the Harp was no different than sitting at the dining room table. Friends and an occasional relative would drop in to chat about this, that, and other things. It was just a nice  warm, casual homey atmosphere.

Today I share with you another story, this one from the Medium. It’s short, so take a minute and enjoy.



The Loneliest Day of the Year

If I owned a bar or restaurant, I would always keep it open both on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Almost everything in Vienna is closed then. But lots of people come here for the holidays and it’s sad walking around town on those two days, seeing the tourists or the lonely looking for any place to eat or hang out while the rest of the city is home doing the traditional thing.

Years ago a friend from out of town and I went for a drink on Christmas Eve. For a while it was creepy and sort of like being in an ominous movie because everything was closed and dark, no one was on the streets, few cars, and the only places open were some Chinese restaurants that were completely empty and iff’y looking at best. Eventually after wandering around for a long time, on a back street we found a small bar that was lit and open. We went in. It was like entering one of those happy beer commercials on television. As soon as we opened the door, everyone inside that packed buzzing place looked at us with big smiling welcoming faces. I think some of them even waved us in, as if we were old friends. Like we were shipwreck victims who, like them, had somehow survived the ferocious Christmas storm by swimming to this shore and now we were all safe. The feeling in that bar was unbelievably warm and…merry. I’ll never forget it. Everyone was buying everyone else drinks. You wanted to hang out there for hours. And we did.

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Merry Christmas to All From the Rooster’s Hutch


The Rooster and the Mrs. want to wish all our friends and followers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Between a trip to Ireland and Connecticut this month we never got to our Card distribution.

This picture above was designed and decorated by the author of the pen and ink print, Julie Urian. Should you wish to have a similar card designed for you, contact me and I’ll forward Julie’s contact information. Thank you Julie Urian.
May Christ come into your lives as we celebrate his Birth.



This, That, and Other Things.

Where in the World?

East Kabul looks over a king's grave on Maranjan hilltop, Afghanistan, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. As some of the areas once destroyed have been rebuilt, people have been returning to Kabul since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2002. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

East Kabul looks over a king’s grave on Maranjan hilltop, Afghanistan, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. As some of the areas once destroyed have been rebuilt, people have been returning to Kabul since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2002. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

El Jefe made it back from Kabul, Afghanistan in one piece. While there and right down the street, the Spanish Embassy was attacked. Just today more attacks broke out at Bagram Airfield and Kabul. Glad to have you back and in one piece my son in-law.

Don’t think I want to vacation there in Kabul.



Just like Family

Cogratulations to Maddie O’Leary and Greg Lesko who graduated from Salisbury University on Saturday, December 19th.


Maddie being congratulated by sister Allie.





Congratulations to Greg Lesko, Bartender of perfection and his family.




OKC Crew

Sam has given birth to Dax Oliver Davies and the child has had his first road trip north and west to Frenchglen, OR. Congratulations to Sam, Zed, Mia and Ana on the new addition to the family. Just a great weather report on Accuweather for their neck of the woods.

Best Christmas present we could ask for. A healthy baby boy. Dax Davies born 5:25, weighing in at 7lbs10oz and 20in long. (Better pictures to follow)


The five and growing.

Mia,Ana Dax

Bringing Dax home.

The newest grandchildren of Stacy and Elaine all gathered on the ranch in Frenchglen awaiting the celebration of the birth of Christ.









The Romspert – Gilsenen Christmas Party, Lewes, DE

Saturday afternoon, December, 19th brought 48 folks, thank goodness the entire clan didn’t show up, for the above gathering that has been going on for at least 50 years in one form or another. Grandparents, great grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, children of, cousins and friends flocked to this beach community for the seasonal event.

Once again, Santa/Birthday girl Barbara forgot no one, as a gift emerged for all from under the tree. Thank you Aunt Barb for all you do to enhance family togetherness, December is also the birthday month for many and this day in particular for Aunt Barb,. who is now officially older than this writer.

Below are a few photos of the event.


Aunt Barb, ever the teacher she was for many years, requesting order in the room.


The attentive crowd awaiting their names to be called.


Aunt Bunny making an announcment.


Grandpop Gary holds Prelsey who’s about ready for a long winter’s nap.


Wow, such attention to the moment.


Kate Moore – Krewjewski with newest daughter (#4) Caroline. Welcome to the insanity little one.


Mike telling Baerbara “What are you insane throwing a party like this?”


Happy December Birthday to some of God’s children.














More from Day One, Ireland 2015

As of yesterday some relief has come to the west of Ireland.

claregway grotto pic

Beautiful photo taken by Marie Dempsey at 7pm while saying the Rosary at the Grotto in Claregalway Church.
I completely forgot to mention our landing in Dublin. It seems the country has been experiencing storms of late. During our landing  storm Desmond was blowing the country about with high winds and rain. The west of Ireland had been suffering severe flooding. Some said it was the worst in History, as of this post Galway on the west coast is finally getting a break from the severe weather.

Back to our landing. We had made what must be record time. Normally the flight is listed 6 hours 52 minutes, well not the day we flew. We arrived almost an hour earlier thanks to the Jet Stream. Here’s a neat article on just what that Jet Stream recently accomplished.

As we were landing it was reported that the wind was gusting to 70 MPH. We were on a wind blown adventure that reminded me of young geese long ago on the pond behind our home in a quaint Eastern Shore village. They always provided cheap entertainment on a windy day.

Much like those young geese from years ago, our wings dipped left and right, the plane shuttered and rain was pelting on the windows. We dipped, we rocked and the center overhead storage area swayed with all the movement. The shifting of suitcases added to drama of a difficult landing. Passengers were gripping the arm rests while knuckles turned white.

Flaps were adjusted and the wheels clunked and locked into place. As the runway came into view we were on a left lean, the pilot corrected, our wheels hit the tarmac, we jerked and shuttered a bit as the engines reversed. We were on the ground, rolling smooth now, passengers exhaled and broke out into a rousing applause. I felt like we were on a Southwest flight, not Are Lingus.

Great jobs by an obviously experienced flight deck. All I could think was, they must have been Pensacola trained and made many a carrier landing. Can you say “Great Job?”  I did, and with a exhale of relief. Thank you Lord.

I look to my watch, still on Eastern Standard Time, I move it forward five hours to the local time in Ireland . I’m ready to experience Ireland for the second time. Now to Acclimate.

More to come.

Off to Ireland

Sure Cure to Insomnia: Flight of the Gaels- 150 Laois GAA players ...


Day one seemed to never end, Saturday quickly turned into Sunday, 5 and 6 December to be exact. We were up at our home in Maryland at 0500. Having packed most things a day earlier, taking the dog and cat to the kennel and having a good meal with the Fire Auxiliary prior to our departure sleep, we were in pretty good shape.

In attendance was the Presidente, Jan, Aggie, Susan, Judy, Jo Anne, Betty, Patty, Melissa, Sarah, Miss Sue, Jeff, Your scribe and Mary Agnes. A great meal was had by all.

Mary Agnes was presented a plaque for twenty-five plus years of service to the Fire Dept Auxiliary. A group of members joined together at Vinny’s La Roma Restaurante for the annual Christmas gathering. It was heard that the business has been sold, Vinny was retiring after 30 years and another restaurant exits Salisbury. After the meal, it was home we go, get a good night’s sleep and be off on our trip at wakeup.

Upon awakening on departure day I headed out to our chickens, checked on their welfare and unlatched their door to freedom for the day. Wonderful friends and neighbors would care for their welfare while we took our Ireland holiday. With the car packed, we latched the door and headed out to gather our traveling companion and host. We would be staying in his mother’s home in Kilkenny.

We would pick up our host and Concierge Ed O’Leary shortly before 0800, snap a shot of he and wife Alexis in front of their picture perfect tree and be off for the 4 1/2 hour trip to JFK Airport. Alexis would remain at home this trip to get ready for the college graduation and festivities for daughter Maddie on the 19th. Maddie will graduate from Salisbury University with a degree in Elementary Ed. & Fine Arts.



Back to the trip. Travel became a bit sluggish due to construction at the twin bridges leading from Delaware to New Jersey and the turnpike north. We changed course, went north to Pennsylvania and crossed over the Commodore Barry bridge to New Jersey, ran parallel to the turnpike and rejoined it at Exit 7.  The rest of the trip was uneventful and we arrived at JFK in exactly 4 1/2 hours. Knowledge of existing roadways proved valuable for the detour.

Without precedent we obtained a parking spot directly next to the shuttle train to the terminal and were whisked quickly to our Aer Lingus gate area. This will never happen again in my lifetime I assure you.  “The Luck of the Irish” was with us for the start of the trip. We can only hope the Leprechauns will stay with our coattails throughout the trip.


Ticketing and baggage check-in went smoothly, no overweight baggage here, we were within normal limits, the anticipated stress relieved. We now could travel to the TSA nightmare to gain access to the gate area. Just like a baby’s behind, this also proved a smooth transition. Gotta love those Leprechauns.

Elliott Erwitt

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer pats down Elliott Erwitt as he works his way through security at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

I must mention an attractive lady who I engaged in conversation, I’ve never been shy, so talk I do. She was from Dublin and had spent the last week in greater NYC shopping and attending an Art exhibit in NJ.  She mentioned it was quite expensive. I mentioned we were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, not a gold one, but a green one.

I was questioned about the priestly looking man, dressed in black with white socks (Nerdy I might add) I explained that was Father Edmund our traveling companion and Concierge on this trip. I also explained we were staying in Kilkenny with the Mother of our Priestly companion. She thought that should things go bad during the flight he would be a comforting source.

We loaded into our seats on time and settled in. Our push from the gate was uneventful and in short time we were airborne and heading east to Ireland. Actually this is a misnomer, we were headed north to Labrador then south of Iceland and east to the Emerald Isle. The flight was actually short as the Jet Stream blew us across the Atlantic, we arrived in less than 5 hours. I got up and walked a bit, no blood clots on this writes legs.

Can you believe it was raining when we arrived?


Father Edmund, having returned home many times previously, guided us through customs and on to Budget rental car. It was 0500 Ireland time. An hour and a half later, after driving on the wrong side of the road we arrived in Kilkenny. Our hostess was awake and awaiting on us with an Irish breakfast of  ham, sausage links, sausage patties. We also had a geriatric Pomeranian named Jack greet us. More about Jack later on.



I’ll take a break, take a nap, Jet Lag you know, and get back with episode two later. Sleep well my readers, that’s what I’m doing.




Surviving, will you be one who does?

I’m quite sure if your reading this, you more than likely do not live on the street. Although I have seen the homeless in the Library on a computer, I guess you could be one of them. Have you ever asked yourself if you could become one of those people? There is an old saying, “Never say Never.” Just in Maryland alone there are almost 8,000 persons homeless. Maryland’s most recent overview of the Homeless in the state.

However, we live in a different world today from what I grew up in during the 50s and 60s. Especially after 9/11, things changed dramatically for all of us. How much more things will change for us, we do not know. Every day seems to become a new awakening. First there was Paris and now San Bernardino.

Almost every town in America and I suspect around the world, have their homeless. In our geographical area we have three very active and full shelters. One shelter is behind our main grocery store which is part of a strip mall. There is not a day I don’t see a homeless man or women when sent to the store with my Honey Do list.

I’ve been a follower if ITS Tactical for a few years now. My son is good friends with the site owner and contributes his expertise to the site from time to time. He also participates in and teaches at the ITS Tactical yearly Muster down in Texas. I get some great stories passed on after those ventures.

Just prior to Thanksgiving, the below article was posted on the ITS Tactical site. It’s worth a read. or better yet, make a copy, start a Surviving file and put this in it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Red Sate or Blue State follower. Surviving is good for all of us.

For 14 cents a day, become a member of the ITS community. Follow, read, learn, it may just help you live one day.

As I started to write these words, thousands in the state of Oklahoma were without power. It can happen to all of us, Be Prepared.

Life on the Streets: 10 Lessons I Learned From the Homeless

by November 23, 2015

I’ve discovered that the people who happen to be homeless have some knowledge and experience that’s useful to learning to survive the “mean streets.” After many conversations with those living on the streets and quite a bit of observation time, I’ve come up with a list of lessons that are useful when evading danger and surviving in a Darwinian world. Here are 10 of my favorites.



Cities have abundant offerings if you know where to find them. There are places to get a free meal and opportunities to acquire resources for manufacturing gear and tools. Finding a soup kitchen or service that provides meals to the homeless is an educational experience. In America, anyone on the street who is asking for money for food is not necessarily in need of the money for food. “Ted,” a resident of the streets who became one resource for information, told me that there are free meals available at several private and government-run soup kitchens in his area. One place in Santa Monica gives out bag lunches to anyone who comes by. Another shelter has indoor sit-down meals.

In a crunch, these can be useful for getting caloric needs met under normal conditions. If surviving on the streets, constructing a tool kit and gathering resources to make gear should be a high and ongoing priority. Being able to manufacture needed gear will require raw materials. “Dave,” another homeless mentor showed me an awesome shelter location in a field of tall grass. He had made a rocket stove out of discarded tin cans. His shelter was made from heavy waxed cardboard. He made a hammock from a piece of a tarp; it was ingenious and creative. It was very well hidden, rainproof and had a great stove and a decent bed. Alleys and dumpsters are sources for things of value to someone on the street. Most people would be surprised at how resource rich the city is for the “MacGyver-minded.”

Lock Picks

One of the most essential skills/tools for urban survival is a good lock pick set and the skills to use it. This gives you access to many places that may not otherwise be available. Students of mine once found refuge in an abandoned factory. The door was locked with a chain and padlock, which was picked and then reversed with the lock on the inside for security sake. Dumpsters in the city are often locked, making dumpster diving a challenge.

Being able to open the locks and access the contents of a dumpster is very helpful. “Ted” said he used lock picks routinely, but did not carry the picks with him because he was afraid of how that would look if he were to be stopped by police. He had them cached near his shelter, so he could used them to open a lock on a fence that allowed him access to his hidden shelter.

Police Interaction


Police spend a great deal of time dealing with homeless people who may be addicted to drugs and alcohol, or are mentally ill. Most of those interactions are not positive from the police officer’s perspective. Therefore, you can count on them eyeing anyone who does not appear to have a place to live with suspicion. Dave’s recommendation is to avoid placing yourself in a situation where interaction is possible.

Students have been roused from sleep locations that were known to the police on more than one occasion. Not enough care was taken in hide selection. Once you are in this situation, you are at the mercy of their discretion in deciding what actions to take. Avoidance is the best policy. Not doing things that raise suspicion is the best strategy. Make a habit of mentally noting observers, cameras and good observation points without drawing attention to yourself and the movements of your head.

Food is Tricky


Any homeless person going hungry is not taking advantage of the available resources. “Michael” gave one student a tour around Santa Monica, CA. He took him past a convenience store that places food in the dumpster that’s past the freshness standards for the store, but not food that is dangerously old. Michael showed him a dumpster behind a grocery store where less-than-fresh produce was discarded. Again, not spoiled, but not up to the store standard. He also found cans of food where the “Best if used by” date had passed. None of the cans were spoiled, they just could no longer be sold.

My teenage son once said that every time you open the fridge to look for something to eat, your standards for acceptable food drops. The same thing is true with missing meals. I would caution against lowering your standards unnecessarily. Under normal circumstances in America and other developed nations, there is abundant food available without having to resort to eating scraps from the garbage can. One student, who was a vegan, ate vegan food by raiding the dumpster behind a health food store. The dumpster was locked, but he gained access and found many healthy opportunities to eat.

Hygiene is Essential


One of the things observed in interaction with homeless people is that taking care of one’s body is often a low priority. Poor hygiene leads to complications later, like fungal infections, rashes and sores. I witnessed paramedics removing the socks of a homeless man and the top layer of his skin came off both feet. Another individual told me he refuses to go to shelters for fear of acquiring a drug resistant strain of Tuberculosis. Good hygiene is critical to good health and “crotch rot” is definitely something you want to avoid in any environment.

“Bob” was on the street simply because he had lost a job, gotten evicted and had nowhere else to go. A shelter wasn’t an option because he had a dog. Bob slept on the street every night, but other than that, you wouldn’t know he was homeless. He had a part-time job and that allowed him to take better care of himself. He got up, groomed himself, went to work, came back to the street, where he foraged for food and then eventually went to sleep in a very original hide location. He washed in restrooms using a wash cloth to take a sponge bath. He used deodorant, brushed his teeth and generally took care of his hygiene. He washed his clothes in a sink and line dried them. It was very hard to peg him as homeless.



Finding sources for water is straightforward. Finding water that is safe to drink may be a bit harder. I watched a homeless person lower his face into a fountain on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica and drink deeply. His system might handle that, but most of us wouldn’t fare well. Bob showed me a water faucet Sillcock Key he carried that allowed him to turn on faucets with the handles removed. This very small and inexpensive piece of gear became a part of my everyday carry.

Discarded water bottles make good canteens. After I drink a 32oz Gatorade, I save the bottle. Otherwise, I would have to sterilize any bottle I found.

Safety in Numbers


I require students of some classes to sleep in a group of three and have a watch during the night. In LA, it’s sufficiently dangerous to sleep on the street at night that many choose to wander the city at night and sleep during the day. There is a large amount of predation among the homeless population. Individuals outside the norms of society are often seen as easier targets and more isolated from assistance. We encountered a group of five guys who had formed a team. Every night, they met up and went together to an improvised shelter area. They did not keep watch, as they found it less necessary with the size of their group.

In the book Defiance, author Nachama Tec describes a Jewish refugee camp hidden in the forests of the Ukraine during WWII. To avoid being sent to German death or slave camps, three Bielsky brothers hid 1,200 Jews. They discovered in the process that their larger camp fared better than the other smaller ones, which tended to be overrun and struggled to provide necessities. The Bielsky camps benefited from economy of scale that succeeded in making survival and protection easier in their time and place. Anywhere in the world, the appearance of vulnerability invites aggression. Consider forming a small team to increase the odds of personal safety.

Cache Locations


Unless you want to be one of the homeless guys who pushes a shopping cart loaded with treasures, you’ll need to become an expert at caching your belongings. One team in a class spent the day gathering resources for their night in the city. They had cardboard, cans and food. They placed their supplies in a cache while they continued to gather. When they returned, all of their stuff, including the shopping cart was gone. They saw the cart later, with their collection, being pushed by another homeless guy. Their cache location was so obvious that every homeless person knew where to look.

“If it seems like a good cache location, someone else probably knows about it,” Ted explained. Ted showed the class members a perfect cache location, but it required them to pick a lock. He showed them several other locations, but explained that he had seen other people’s stuff in every one of them. Losing your gear because you were too lazy to secure it is a royal pain. Take the time.



One of the most important concepts is creating a secure shelter. I have seen some truly outstanding shelters. One class found a park with some great trees, lush with foliage for concealment and high branches. They made hammocks out of tarps and slung them 30 feet up in a tree. Of course, we had safety lines attached to the students so they couldn’t fall out of the trees, but these trees were a perfect clandestine location. The tarps were brown and blended in well and people infrequently look up.

One student found a great shelter on top of a utility shed next to a high-rise. He was protected from view by trees and a parapet around the shed. Once in place, he was literally invisible. He had to climb a nearby tree to drop onto the rooftop, so no one else bothered him. It was the exception to the team of three rule because the location was so secure. Finding a secluded place to rest is not only essential to your security, it’s important for your health.

Panhandling Sucks


One of the hardest things most homeless people report to us is the difficulty and futility of panhandling. It’s the only means of support for many of them, so they do it, but they don’t like it. To complete the experience and overcome a wide range of challenges and inhibitions, advanced class students are required to ask for money. One student described how this brought about a fundamental paradigm shift for him. Up until then, all of the activities in class seemed more or less just practical exercises.

However, getting to the point where he had to ask others for money was transformational for him. He learned empathy and understanding of the level of humiliation required to stand like a homeless person and ask strangers for money. That, he said, made everything very real. He struggled with the exercise, but he understood why it was important. It helps students appreciate that taking action and building survival skills is better than panhandling. The bottom line is, if you’re at the point where you have to panhandle, you’ve failed as a survivalist. You should be able to make it without money or do something in exchange for money (i.e. work.) Panhandling and being dependent on the charity of others is its own stress.

The homeless who live on the street are survivors. They have acquired skills and strategies to stay alive in hostile environments. They can be a very valuable resource and we can learn from their successes and their failures. You’ll probably learn that you do not want to put yourself in a position to have to beg. Keep the initiative. Keep moving.

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Kevin Reeve is the founder of onPoint Tactical, training professionals and select civilians in urban escape & evasion, urban survival, wilderness survival, tracking and scout skills. I’ve personally taken onPoint Tactical’s Urban Escape & Evasion class and highly recommend it as a resource!

(Thanks to ITS Tactical for permission to reprint)