my heart is a little broken today

The smallish blonde person in the following photos is Courtney Gale.


I bought my house from Courtney and her friend Lisa.  She’s a very sweet woman and I like her very much. 

Unfortunately, this is what happened to her: 

Officer stabbed while working off duty at supermarket

An Athens-Clarke police officer remained in critical condition at St. Mary’s Hospital on Wednesday night after a man attacked her at Kroger on Alps Road Tuesday, repeatedly stabbing the officer with a kitchen knife until customers intervened.

Sgt. Courtney Gale lost a massive amount of blood, and surgeons operated Tuesday night and three more times Wednesday, according to police.

The 9:30 p.m. attack started when the off-duty officer confronted a suspicious man while working security at the West Athens supermarket, Athens-Clarke police said.

An officer tackled the knife-wielding assailant as he ran through a West Broad Street parking lot about a half mile from the crime scene, according to police.

Steven Anthony Eberhart, 44, of 78 Parkview Homes, was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault and felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer, police said. He is held without bond at the Clarke County Jail.

Officers converged on the hospital and kept vigil.

“Courtney is highly respected and loved very much – she’s family,” Athens-Clarke police Detective Kim Johnson said as she left the hospital Wednesday.

Gale graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in animal science, but joined the Athens-Clarke County Police Department in 1998. She was promoted to sergeant in 2005, and is a supervisor with the Criminal Investigation Division’s robbery/homicide squad.

She was working a side job at Kroger when an employee told her about a man who was acting strangely, pushing a shopping cart filled with suitcases and opening packages of meat, according to police.

Gale was walking toward Eberhart when he lunged, knocked her down, pinned her to the ground and started to stab her, witnesses said.

“It looked like he was trying to keep her from going for her gun or mace,” said one witness, Jeffrey Stovall, a UGA student.

Stovall and his roommate, Andrew Stipe, were about 15 feet away, standing in a checkout line. They thought they were witnessing a murder.

“She turned real pale and there was so much blood, it looked like she was about to die,” Stipe said. “I had to turn away.”

Other customers kicked at Eberhart to make him stop, but Eberhart didn’t run from the store until the manager intervened.

“As soon as I put my hand on him. he turned around and tried to stab me,” manager John Mobley said. “I ran to tell someone to call 911 to report an officer’s down and she’s hurt real bad, and as I came right back, he got off her and ran out the door.”

Even before 911 calls came in, police dispatchers knew an officer was in trouble because Gale managed to push an emergency button on her radio, police said.

A nurse who was shopping at the time probably saved Gale’s life by providing immediate aid, according to police.

“That, and the fact she was so close to the hospital,” Athens-Clarke police Maj. Carter Green said, referring to St. Mary’s Hospital, which is only a few hundred yards away.

The nurse took charge, telling shoppers and employees what first aid supplies to get from store shelves and asking Mobley to use his belt as a tourniquet for Gale, Mobley said.

“She was keeping pressure on to slow the bleeding and telling us to get gauze and other supplies,” the manager said. “To me, there were four to five people who really were the heroes of this whole thing.”

The weapon was a kitchen knife Eberhart stole from Kroger, police said.

“It was a major knife,” said Stipe, who attends Gainesville State College.

Stovall called 911 from his car and helped police follow the attacker as he ran, crossing Alps Road and into the Colonial Promenade Beechwood shopping center then toward an adjoining apartment complex.

An officer tackled Eberhart as he ran in the parking lot of The Omni Club nearby, police said.

Dozens of people concerned about Gale’s condition – from detectives and uniformed officers to Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents and Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ken Mauldin – visited the hospital Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We just want to be here for her and give her whatever she needs,” Johnson said. “It’s a sad, sad day, but Courtney’s a real fighter and we know she’s going to pull through.”

The wounded officer’s mother and sister flew from their home in Maryland to be at Gale’s bedside.

Police Chief Jack Lumpkin said the assault shows how officers put their lives on the line each day.

“Sgt. Gale is an outstanding police officer and has a record of accomplishments with the police department,” Lumpkin said. “The attack on her is a demonstration of the complexities and dangers that are associated with a police officer’s job in Athens-Clarke County where, unfortunately, wanton and vicious attacks occur on our officers too frequently.”

Anyone wanting to help defray Gale’s medical expenses can donate at any SunTrust Bank branch or send donations to SunTrust Bank, Attention: Heidi Spratlin, 1022 Prince Ave., Athens, GA 30606.


Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 121307 

Accidental Poetry entry number…. whatever…

There’s an ongoing topic on a bulletin board at the Electrical Studios site.  The topic is “Little Details from Your Day.”  I only started reading it an hour ago, and this jumped out at me instantly.

I got home about midnight and parked my car down the block. Just in front of where I parked is a distinctive two-story apartment building which I have often admired for its fine late-60s sensibilities.

Tonight, in the big living room windows on each floor, behind nearly identical curtains, a deep red light was flickering, in time, each window synchronized. It took me a moment to realize that both apartments were watching the same channel on tv.

I sat in my car for a minute watching the pleasing, pulsing glow. Then a wave of incredible sadness washed over me.

I lived in Chicago for a year, and so does the fellow who posted this.  I love the way he subtly captures the sadness of people living on top of each other and still not actually sharing their experiences in any meaningful way.  Urban life almost drove me crazy.  I think that’s why.  I was so LONELY.  I am much less lonely living in the country.

Are people really this stupid?

Someone put a freakin’ TV in the breakroom here at work. Since I don’t spend much time in there except to buy Nekots or peanuts from the vending machine, then it hasn’t really affected my life all that much. I don’t have a TV at home, so I am hardly EVER exposed to commercials.

Today, I was buying peanuts, and there was a commercial blaring in my right ear. It was for some SUV or another, and the tagline was “I’d rather be…”

There were voiceovers of people saying “I’d rather be hiking,” and “I’d rather be kayaking,” and “I’d rather be camping…” and then loving shots of this big, shiny SUV tearing down some US Forest Service road alternating with shots of some guy flying off a waterfall in his kayak.

People are smart enough to know that buying a new SUV means that they aren’t going to be spending their time in the woods, right? They know that it means more time spent at work making enough money to pay for the thing, right?

I mean, I used to work in outdoor retail. I know that folks buy outdoor gear to make themselves feel better about spending so much time at work. Go to REI any Saturday and notice that the people who are in REI are there…. ON A SATURDAY.


Most of the people who I know that actually fish, camp, hike and kayak drive vehicles that look like this.

Someone help me out here. Are people really stupid enough to think that buying a new SUV will help them camp more?

Some images that make me happy

Just randomly combing through my images folder today, and finding old pictures.

Here’s one:

That’s Buddha and my wife. He’s being crabby and she’s being sweet. Business as usual.

I miss this place. Best place I ever lived:

Notice the shady oak tree, the lake in the background, happy chow welcoming me home and the garden behind the deer fence. Oh, what a happy place that was.

This is the back porch of that cabin:

There might be some more later…

The Mechanics of Moving On

Oh man, is it expensive to move OUT of the city. We have been checking into our options as far as trucks are concerned, and we are getting quotes of roughly twice what it cost us to move here. And it’s been just one year. Then there’s the whole issue of getting someone to sublet the apartment. This has been quite a challenge.

We were able to get a really good price on a truck that is roughly two thirds the size that we need. So I think that we are going to leave a bunch of stuff here. (Hello, dumpster divers, come now and pick stuff out….)

Any thoughts on cheap ways to move a lot of stuff are hereby requested…

Moving On

Well, today was the last day at work at medicore job number four hundred and something. Hell, I have lost count. We have decided that, with the impending arrival of thousands of out of work stewardesses and baggage losing persons headed for the jobless lines in the city that we live in, we are heading back down south, where we have a cabin we can stay in for a while and some land we can farm behind it.

It’s not that we haven’t loved living here in many ways, it’s that finding a job, keeping a job and living with any dignity here has been more of a task than we have been up to.

Plus it’s about to get very fucking cold. More on these thoughts later.

Check this out. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Ah, ma petite fleur….


I have a great dog, and I love him. He’s been a good guy to have around during some of the more trying events of the past couple of years of my life. But he can be a handful.

He tends to be very protective- sometimes aggressive with strangers, very keen on running off any other animals on his turf.

We were down visiting some of my lovely and talented girlfriend’s family in Indiana for the Thanksgiving holidays. We had been there for a couple of days and my massive and usually territorial dog had been worn down by lovely and talented girlfriend’s mom’s repeated offerings of ham and turkey scraps. (and cheese, and gravy, and a little bit of mashed potatoes….) Mostly he was just lying around snoring and occasionally lifting his round belly off of the floor to go out and have a wazz.

It was on one of these trips to the loo that he started snuffling around like he had scented something. He was hustling around the yard, searching for something that only he could smell. There had been a bag with some turkey parts that had been discarded temporarily by the back door (and I presume forgotten in the heated rush and crush of a large family gathering for the feast), and I figured that maybe the neighborhood cat had been after them before we came out. As the dog neared the bag I thought, “Surely the cat has moved on by now… it wouldn’t just sit there and let itself be backed into a corner.”

The next few seconds were mostly a blur. I heard something (not my dog) hiss as the dog lunged behind the air conditioner. I started over there thinking “Aw, man, he’s going to eat somebody’s cat…” and yet there were no cat-like noises. No howling or any of that nasty low-throated grinding sound that cats make when they are threatened. So, I am scrambling to see what was going on, thinking maybe there was a (really stupid) (mute) cat backed up under the air conditioner hissing at the dog and waiting for him to go away, when I see the twin jets of skunk juice flying out of the corner at my dog. (If you have seen this, it is a very unique site. A skunk can spray that foul, horrifying stuff like a super-soaker up to ten or so feet. Since a skunk has two scent glands under his tail, they come out as twin jets.) I decided to let my old dog settle this one on his own, because at that point there was nothing I could do for him.

Egad, what a horrible smell. I have driven by places in the road where skunks have met their maker beneath the wheels of some car or truck, but this was that compounded ten times. It was the odor of evil. And it was expanding to fill the yard fast. I backed up as far as I could.

My old dog, tough though he may be, has only backed down from confrontations with two animals- once he and a goose beat each other silly while I tried to wedge my way in there and stop them from killing each other. I never realized a goose could raise a welt like that on someone, and apparently, neither did my dog. We both rather ignominously backed out of that confrontation and made a pact never to speak of it again. And the only other time he has ever retreated from a fight was last night, and when he found his way away from that corner where the mustard gas spraying rodent was sequestered, he was clearly beaten. Clearly.

He was drooling and sneezing and his eyes were running and he smelled AWFUL. I made him follow me to the garage, where I locked him in. There was no way he was going back into the house smelling like that. His ride on the leftovers train had just come to a grinding, screeching halt.

I made a run to the grocery store and bought six large cans of tomato juice and a bottle of some sort of enzymatic cleaner that was supposed to help with skunk smell. Washing him was an excercise of will- he wanted no part of a cold weather hose bath in the unheated garage of the house, and I wasn’t going to let him go anywhere until he had at least three baths… (Just to be on the safe side.)

Today he doesn’t REEK like he did yesterday, but he still has a little muskiness to him.

In the future I am hoping that he will know not to chase any cat with white stripes or a French Accent.

Tornadoes and Beverage Technology

My lovely girlfriend and I went to see her parents yesterday in a little college town in a neighboring state. Pretty little town, but there was one hell of a tornado there a few days before, and it was pretty intense in the way that I think only midwestern tornadoes are. There were plenty of trees with all the leaves beaten off and houses without roofs and roofs without houses and houses without houses. It looks like it was a bad one. There were I-beams that had held up signs and roofs for filling stations that were bent (no shit) like linguini. And yet, no one was hurt. No one. Apparently those folks are USED TO IT, and they get in the basement and stay there. How about that? Folks down South, where I am from, are out running around with the camcorder, getting cut in half by flying aluminum siding, hollering “Dammit, Rhonda, grab that other battery, I’m gonna be on TV!!

This morning, I am a wreck. It’s about five a.m. We spent too long waiting for our laundry to dry and then had to drive all night. It took one of those Mountain Dew versions of a Red Bull to get us home alive. You are receiving this note courtesy of that drink, btw. Y’know, most of those drinks taste pretty evil, kind of like carbonated cough medicine- the Mountain Dew version doesn’t taste half bad- it tastes ALL THE WAY bad, kind of like hell’s version of a gatorade/gasoline cocktail, post-bladder-of-satan. Made me want to lick a cinderblock to scrape the taste off my tongue. But it got me up and over the hump to get here alive. Lives have been saved by beverage technology.