Friday, May 29, 2009

Just Another Friday

Think about this….. “What will I do when I retire?”

Some of us have lived old enough to contemplate this situation. Some of us have not considered the future in reality.

Many of the boomers have put money aside, like a 401k or bonds or insurance or stock options, the list goes on and on.

But what are we going to do?

Don’t get up every morning and go to the office or classroom or hospital or museum or place where we spend a good portion of our waking hours.

We answer questions, go to meetings, mentor others, write reports, attend more meetings, plan projects, help and overall feel productive. Even annual reviews show we are fine employees doing what the companies or organizations ask of us.

A sense of pride fulfills our being, and a paycheck becomes an accustomed reward.

But what do we really want to do, when that is not there?

I talked to a guy at the bike shop today while Big Blue was getting a new front tube and he said a friend had just taken a disability retirement. He told me the guy loved to tinker with things but due to the disability, he could’t live out his dream, so he reads.

Now that’s not bad. I’m reading more now and enjoying it though it makes my wife nuts because I savior the words instead of rushing though a book to catch the new edition. I did enough speed-reading while working.

So back to the original question, “What do you want to do when you retire?”

Travel? Play with the family? Work on the house? Plant a garden? Write a book?

All those projects you said you were going to do?

What happens if you wind up like my friend John who’s health failed him and he died the first year out?

Some of you have children and that will take a lot of the time. Some of you don’t and may fall into the television pastime.

Look around at the retirement homes. Walkers, televisions, fake exercises and parties where they rush to the liquor tables.

I thought about this after a fun lunch with a buddy at Joe’s Inn, burgers and fries and a lot of writing talk. No outstanding ideas appeared, but a good time had by all.

But my buddy was talking about applying for a minimum wage job, and it made me think how lucky I was to be at the end of a working career, ready to make the big decision.

“What do I want to do now?”

Some friends got me into writing a couple of years ago and though it is not award winning verbiage, it did get out some stress and expanded my mind to thoughts I did not know I had.

And of course, the computer with all the software has given me the opportunity to continue my photo and graphics exploration and discovery.

Then there is the new and re-do music. Taking old songs and recording them or taking old cassettes or tapes to digitize them with a new freshness of ideas and a reminder of the time it was written.

The latest project is to ride the morning route and take photos of trees in the neighborhood. There are some magnificent wood beings still alive in this area and I want to capture them before they are gone.

And sketching in a small notebook of newsprint puts ideas on paper and expands to other projects.

Now think about it.

“What do you want to do when you grow up…… er….. I mean when you RETIRE?”

Monday, May 25, 2009

Another Holiday




But every day is a holiday now. And this one means the rest of the neighborhood goes to the beach or to family reunions or cookouts.

But why call it a holiday? The grocery store is open. Retail shops are open. Restaurants are open. Only the government is closed down.

But think about that. The government. Imagine the guy’s who print the money, fight the wars, write and pass the laws, and tax your money… is SHUT DOWN.

Not really shut down. Suppose they really did. No police. No military. No firemen. I don’t mind not getting a snail mail bill, but no police? It won’t take long for crooks and terrorist to get the idea, May 25 is a holiday.

Think about all that money in the banks and no one there to protect it. Wars would be lost due to the soldiers taking a day off.

But this is a holiday to remember the soldiers who are fighting in pink boxers and flip-flops. 97 faces of the fallen from Virginia embattled against an elusive enemy.
Those boys and girls who volunteered to go into “harms way”. What is that “harms way”? They are exploding bombs under your ride and you are running down the dusty streets in body armor kicking in doors. At least that is what the public sees, since the early days when the media stopped showing dead bodies.

Remember these bullies come from dry countries that have centuries of conflict battled each other for crazy causes. Remember the crusades? That didn’t solve problems in the area either.

So respect the fallen and look at these kid’s faces. Are they from the neighborhood? I don’t see many flags. A few that have been there forever dirty and limp and a few crisp new ones still wrinkled presented for the holiday.

Time to go burn some encased meat sandwiches. Salute to the troops from all those who oppose war.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Take The Challenge




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Last week I challenged myself to try another Sunday route, but opted to go the usual path. So this week, I met the challenge.

Strapping on the black Bell helmet with visor, fingerless woven gloves and Foster Grants shades, even though it was overcast, I walked the big blue bike up the bunny less alley.

“Turn right,” my brain kept saying. So I focused and turned toward the stoplight.

But something was wrong. The gears were skipping as I adjusted my mirror. I stopped to let a jogger pass and examined the settings. The major gear, that’s the one, which keeps the hub in three settings, was out of sync. A quick adjustment on the left handlebar and all was right.

Waiting for the traffic to pass at the light I realized this was going to be a different trip. A white SUV coming south made me pause and then turn left.

I noticed the trees on this side of the street grown further out into the path and must be ducked when the mobile machines are close and there is no space to duck in between the immobile ones.

The ride was pretty steady as I got into a rhythm and rolled down to Willow Lawn drive. The intersection has always been bumpy and this morning was no exception.

Newly paved black pavement lay before. The incline up to Libbie was not as bad as usual, perhaps the sun was not blazing or the traffic was not pressing my space. I even went through the red light at “Kiss and Make-Up” which I can not normally due because the traffic from the fish store and post office.

Jumping over the bad repairs to the street in front of the vacant windows overhanging the street where high end women’s clothing used to be sold, but now sits a sign declaring the building was vacant.

A turn up Libbie I passed the “Super Stars” gourmet pizza. “What makes a ‘gourmet pizza’ I asked myself. It’s bread and tomatoes and cheese?”

Turning around at the Westhampton playground where I sang my first rock and roll performance and going away from the hospital I’d frequently too many times, I paused at the stoplight next to the purring hum of the metal monsters. The hardware store being constructed from an old grocery was still vacant.

Rising up Libbie to the Grove was not too bad for me, but it looked bad for the large man in black walking south panting next to what is now a Ukrops’ junior market. I did not have to lower gears. I figured I’d be back here for lunch but it did not happen.

Across Grove and a turn after the Clearwire car passed to right turn onto a down hill slide in front of the impatient white SUV and pass the new metal sign showing a silver telecaster on the roof of “Logos” guitar. It’s nice but very expensive. Just like everything in this area. A box of Cheerios cost a dollar more than at the other grocery stores. Why?

A smooth turn to the right and checking out the outlet to the neighborhoods that buffer the river. They are not the wealthiest houses, but want to appear to be. “That is why they pay a dollar more” I chuckled.

Steady ride pass the little market, which converted, to a high-end and expensive caterer to the seeming rich and not so famous. Even the phone booth is gone.

The “Lock Lane” condos are coming along nicely, even though they have not repaired the entrances and the potholes. This former barrack looking cinder block square buildings with casement windows have been transported to modern high tech living spaces for sale to any up and coming yuppie.

I wonder if this rage to change old apartments into condos is a way to unload bad properties to unsuspecting families who think they are getting great deals with newly polished floors and tin kitchens. What will they look like in three years?

A stop at the elementary school and catch my breath.

Then the slow grind up the hill to Malvern. It’s not a steep path, about a 5 to 6 degree rise, but try to do that on your treadmill. It’s 4 blocks of a climb to the Greek church and the last block rises higher, but Redline is holding her own.

Another stoplight I pause and view the Malvern apartments, which are being changed into condos. Do you see a pattern here? I’m surprised to see that they are building new buildings. Three story buildings with the exact pattern of the former establishments. This is quiet a new plan and seems to be continuing while other ventures in real estate have sputtered to a halt.

Drifting down the hill to the Powhite, I avoided the potholes while keeping an eye on the oncoming traffic. The new challenge is to survive up to where the road tightens from two lanes to one and I make it to the top of the hill without incident.

The ride to Boulevard was uneventful and quiet pleasant.

An entire block of ‘yard sale’ sitting in front of an old synagogue met me as I crossed the four-lane street. Pushing up the hill pass the apartment David and I almost got and the last place John remembered. I hope I don’t have a hospital as my last remembrance.

Past another stoplight and I realized I was on Grove. “This is the wrong street”, I thought.

A turn to the left past a yard full of green and a cool loft about a garage, I found the path.

“Hi!” said the man standing between cars awaiting traffic to pass. “Hi” I replied with a smile. You get that sort of conversation from the street when you ride face-to-face.

Fox school has a huge hole in the west side. A tractor sites in a dirty hole up to the side of the brick. A wooden shelf has been built over the former entrance way. “It was a busy week here” I thought. The rest of the facade was as expected.

Up ahead was a man turning toward me on a bike and a car on my left. I stopped at Strawberry Street to watch the vehicle turn toward the salad tub and the man dismount and place his bike in the back of a pickup truck.

Giving full range to the biker and a jogger, weaving between oncoming traffic I stopped at Lombardy. Looking at the old Bogart’s I noticed it had a new door and had been stripped of paint. “Maybe there will be a new restaurant there”, I wondered.

Around the triangle park to the cheers of gleeful children, I paused for the stoplight. A bearded man who looked one of the Fugs stood across the street with a satchel over his shoulder waiting for something. Maybe he was waiting for a bus? Several couples waited for tables outside of “Kuba Kuba”. As two cyclists passed and the bearded man walked toward me to stand a foot away in the crosswalk, I decided to move on avoiding an awkward conversation.

Where are the boys? I see girls walking their dogs and babies, but no men, except for the few entering the coffee shop.

Stopping at the church, I feel the bumps in old fan roads cracked at every 3-tire rotation, but it is better than the cobblestones underneath. After waiting for the traffic to spread in various directions, I start to climb the bumpy Park Avenue thin street.

Finally, several male types are awake and walking up and down the street in shorts and baggy t-shirts. As if an alarm had gone out, the other species had arrived to the sunshine.

Up to the Boulevard church and into the near west end. This section of town has it’s own road signs…. Blue! Not like the brown Fan street signs (except for one, but that’s another story). The “museum district” it is called now.

Pass the former funeral parlor and gas stations turned into new life, pass the 7-11 and the “CafĂ© Diem” which used to be the first delivery pizza.

A turn left and then right at the laundry mat, and up the familiar path. This street has always been flat and easy to peddle though the horizon was at my eyesight so I knew it had a height of a sloping 4 feet in 5 blocks.

Passing a train car size container of leftovers from a house, I thought I could use one of those, but it won’t happen.

Two couples quietly passed the day-glow balls over the net at the tennis courts across the street from the newly planted Ellwood Thompson gardens. I used to be good at tennis, and golf, but that was another time. I could have followed the corporate path, but gave it up.

Straight up the road and another view from what I normally see. A reverse view as it was. The other side of trees, lawns, houses and a close up view of scenes that are usually across the street.

Keep pushing though the feeling in the seat is telling me it’s been enough of a ride.

A turn to the right to the store and some relaxing and an afternoon of driving fast and turning left for the holiday.

Hope everyone enjoys the holiday as I do every day now.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

11_Ike and Ginger - Wrightsful Beach

The trio of Ike, Ginger and Jack landed on the empty beach beside the barnacled pilings of Mercer’s pier. Dripping body’s scampered ashore and store in wonderment of the quiet.

Ike looked back at the Dusty Rose wondering if he had done the right thing leaving it there. Then his attention diverted to the old wooden structure stretching out into the waves. He had many memories of walking out over the water and fishing here on his summer vacations.

“Which was do we go, Ike?” Ginger asked shading her eyes against the sun.

“I’ll take you to my pad man, “ Jack interjected with a sly glance to Ginger, “or we could just look around, but I know you won’t find what you are looking for.”

Ike quickly responded to Jack. “What are WE looking for?”

“Dude, you are in search of life, right?”

“It’s really lovely her.” Ginger cooed while ringing out her hair soaking the sand.
“Is Station One still there?”

“You mean the drug store…. yeah?”

Station One was the first stop over the inlet bridge. Then the beach was divided into two paths, each side held wooden two-story beach houses. Decks faced the water, flapping shutters placed to keep out the hurricanes but never succeeding, sand washed windows peppered in the constant wind, and each house painted white. These were not summer homes, but everyday living for people who loved the ocean.

The trio walked down the beach for a distance then turn to the right.

“This is where Lumina was before the years took it away.” Ike said. Turning around and facing the constant flow of waves,” There used to be a movie screen out there…. out in the ocean…. and the dance crowd would take a break and sit in the sand and watch black and white films” He said smiling at the nostalgia.

The trio walked up to the blacktopped ribbon that lead them back to Station One. Cars were parked in garages under the steps leading up to the empty rooms above. Each held a history, but now was being covered in the sandy encroachment of nature.

At Station One standing in front of the open glass door the trio paused.
“Is there any shade here?” Ginger complained wiping her brow.

“Man, it gets a lot cooler when you get inside. Cool tile floors man. Dig?”

Ike stood still, his shirt having dried from the swim then soaked by the sun.
“Any food in there?”
“Dude?”
Ginger hastily stepped into the doorway and disappeared in the darkness.
“Swell.” Ike thought of the impatient whiff of a girl.

The two men followed enjoying the temperature drop and the cool touch of tile on burn feet. The musty sand covered floor stored empty wire racks spinning in the breeze, piles of crumpled paper, ceiling tiles splattered to the floor, a single flip flop, scattered bottles of unopened suntan lotion, reflections of a counter with chrome stools awaiting customers.

Ike bent down and picked up a card. “Welcome to the world’s best family beach” the card, read while the flip side showed families enjoying summer vacations.

“Look what I found” Ginger giggled appearing from the darkness holding a windbreaker. She flipped it over and then pulled it over her head. Shaking her hair and pulling on the sleeves she twirled in a nylon mini-dress and asked, “Does it fit?”

“Super delicious.”

Ike glanced at Jack again as the young man seemed to drool. “Do any of the motor vehicles work?”

“Don’t know man. Never tried them. I’m just into the board and the water. I can walk from my place to the water. That’s all that matters.”

Ike turned and walked back into the baking sunlight. He survived the few cars available walking to a 56 Desoto. He pulled on the massive door and it swung open with an old creak. Leaning over and probing the interior he found the keys were still in the wheel. He swung the backpack he had been carrying with some foodstuff from the Dusty Rose just incase he could be strained onto the wide seat and leapt in beside it. Wiping off the small windows to the dials, Ike eagerly examined each set of needles. Then he turned the key.

The ground shook as the beast came to life blowing black smoke behinds its wings.
Jack and Ginger ran toward the sound of a choking mechanical machine who had not be visited for years.

“Sweet!”

“Climb in and we’ll take a spin,” Ike gleefully answered proud of his new ride.

With the trio together again, the metal monster was placed in gear and slowly began to roll. Pressing down on the pedal and turning the wheel to the left, the purple beast glided onto the bridge and into the forest of Wilmington. Over the inlet that separated the mainland from the beach the three roared onto another vacant road.

Spanish moss hung from the overhanging trees, which soften the view of emptiness.
Ginger and Jack sat pressed to the front seat, hands gripping the head rest, acting like small children on an adventure. Ike firmly gripped the wheel of this sputtering beast. It had been some time since this mobile machine had moved and the gears responded roughly.

Turning onto Chestnut Street, Ike slowed the vehicle. He looked left at a small brick house, swing on the porch, driveway that led around the back to a rose garden. Then speeding up he headed for the center of town. Pass the small corner grocery with saw dust floors, open produce accompanying flies, small black boys eager to deliver food to elderly women, walls lined with photos of entertainers of another era, thin grey weathered wooded row houses, their tall ceilings and heavy drapes hiding heavy furniture dating back to the civil war and small dirt yards.
Ike stopped the motorcar and opened the door.

“What?” Ginger asked seemly enjoying the ride.

Ike stepped out and stared at the stream of water that broke the plaza. “Bern River” he whispered. “This was the sight where explorers came up, like the James River, but they never really got established like Richmond. The Indians would wipe them out, illness, not a good trading post, but finally they got established. Then they parked this battleship in here” Ike’s voice growing as he viewed the massive grey vessel pointing her aria of guns up and down the river.

“Hey, dude? What to see my place?” Jack cowardly asked.

“You know they sank a floating restaurant bringing that hulk in here.” Ike responded.
“Sure!” Ginger sang to a new adventure.

Ike slowly climbed back into the sputtering machine and said, “Which way?”
“Dude, do a 180 back to the beach. I’m out there.”

“You sure are.” Ike thought as he swung the massive beast around and headed back.
“Turn left after you cross the bridge.”

Rolling to another strip of black molasses the wheels slowed as sinking into tar.

A row of close one-story brick buildings sat shoulder-to-shoulder with names painted on the dusty windows. “Drakes”, “Pirate’s Treasure”, “Cap Sam’s”, and “The Cove”, showed the north end of the beach was adult entertainment.

“Man, we are here.” Jack announced pointing at an unassuming building to the right.

Ike slowed the vehicle then with a flick of the wrist, stopped the movement parking this monster until the next carrier demanded transportation.

The three doors opened emptying the adventurers.

Ike slapped the pack over his shoulder as Jack pointed to the door and welcomed the pair inside.
Ike and Ginger followed the blond surfer into a dark room.

“Wait here” Jack, said moving through the familiar location.

The couple stood in wonderment of what they would find.

Suddenly curtains were drawn back and the sunlight flooded in like spotlights.
“Woo” Ginger turned, avoiding the flash.

“This is my pad dude.” Jack beamed arms outstretch to either side basking in the glow of his worldly good.

Brightly colored posters lined the walls. Pillows filled the floor. A small counter to the right held two wooden stools. A large sliding door window presented the ocean to the room. Sand covered the floor. Papers and magazines piled in a corner and a guitar rested against a black-screened television.

“Where’s the bathroom” Ginger frantically questioned.

Jack looked confused.

“I got to go!!”

“Uh, I just use the beach man. The plumbing doesn’t work so good here.”

Ginger ran toward the beach, pushing back the sliding window and out into the sunlight and sand.

“So what do you eat?” Ike in a disconcerting manner asked.

Jack smiled and walked out to the side of the small building.

“Here is where I live man.”

Jack pointed to a plot of dirt dividing the buildings. Large green stalks were wound in string and ribbon. Below them were red and orange and yellow ground resting vegetables.

“You see man, I’m micro-bionic” Jack answered in pride “I grow my own grub man and the earth has been good to me. I’ve got several of these gardens around here. “

Ike took new appreciation of this man until he said….

“Feel better?”

“Yeah, thanks.” Ginger returned to the group.

“Want a smoke?” Jack changed the conversation.

“What?” Ike jerked around.

“I grow my own man. It’s good stuff. I call it Carolina Crash.”

Ginger smiled.

Stepping back into the carpeted room with drapes of beach towels and posters surrounding the room, Jack directly went to a little cabinet next to a pile of pillows.

The three sat as Jack prepared an engraved silver cigarette contain, but it contained something different.

Placed securely to his lips, Jack struck a wooden match and sucked on the tightly woven paper.
“Try this….(suck)….it’s primo” Jack smiled passing the fire to Ginger.

She eagerly took the lit paper and sucked deep. A smile filled her face and she passed it to Ike.

He slowly looked at the other two and slowly reached out gently reaching the wet paper. Staring at Jack, Ike drew in a puff, then another bringing ashes falling on the floor.

“Way to go dude.” Jack smiled.

Several more rotation sessions were started before Ike looked at his watch and noticed the setting sun.

“We must go.”

“What?” dazed Ginger looked up through drooping eyelids.

“We’ve got to get back to the Dusty Rose.”

“Dude, stay for dinner. I’ve got some yummy mushrooms.” Jack giggled smoke pouring from his mouth.

“We’ve got to go…. Now!”

Ike jumped up and looked down at Ginger. In her sleepy stupor, she managed to stand. Turning toward the door Ike forcefully stepped forward. Ginger looked back wishfully at Jack and said,” You coming?”

Jack sat cross-legged on plush pillows and grinned ear to ear.

Ike and Ginger paused at the doorway and looked back at Jack awaiting an answer.

“No dude, you go on. I’ve found a good place here. Hope you find your answer man.”

“Thanks for the hospitality…dude,” Ginger smiled before being jerked out of the doorway.

The couple paced toward the water’s edge, Ike strapping on his knapsack still full of provisions while Ginger kept looking back at the fading light.

Ike positioned the course to the stranded vessel and dived in the waves with Ginger close at hand.

As light faded to moon shine, the two were back on deck. Ike lifted the anchor and the deck shuffled then started to drift. He moved back to the captain’s chair and turned the wheel to the open water. The Dusty Rose responded as if asleep awaiting a call.

Ginger’s black eyes looked at Ike in wonderment but nothing was said.

“High tide.” Ike stated, looking at the stars for guidance.

So the Dusty Rose and its crew were off again. Heading north for new answers and more questions.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Terrible Tuesday

And so the cool crisp May Day full of sunshine and promises started with scratches and blood. Breaking at dawn with furry creatures roaming and trying to find a spot of warm and comfort, I pull up my jeans and collect the paper over screams. The cold light of the morning shows little of intelligence or new wisdom in the newsprint. A breakfast of rye toast, soft-boiled eggs, soy bacon, and an orange washed down by water and coffee. They presented a silly group without the red underwear dancer. This is store day so I must get an early start before the buses start delivering the elderly.

Start at Broad and work backwards. It’s early so the TJ students won’t be hanging out looking for rap and finding police cars. Back and forth as with every morning’s ride. Construction on the infrastructure continues up and down the streets with men in bright yellow vest and parked trucks. Young people putting their travel coffee cups on the roofs of the metal vehicle before starting off to work, but I’m the one who is yawning.

Downhill then up hill, then back again.

Early cut to the left due to the markers showing men standing around and looking at marks on the ground and cross the avenue of monuments. I notice the light is flashing, yellow one way and red the other way. A wreck magnate with possible trouble, but I’ll see it many more times today.
Up the hill by the church and notice a gathering of people. Must be something happening today or a group getting ready to do some good religious cause. They seem jovial enough so I drift down the hill and around to the next hill. No construction there, but the speed changes from 5mph to 3mph. The top of the hill brings relief and a chance to adjust my gloves and stretch my fingers. Drifting down the next hill and onto another neighborhood.

Quieter than usual is this early morning ride. School children and their mothers wait for the big yellow buses, waving goodbye.

Finally home again unstrapped, sitting, and drinking a bottle of water in the golden sunshine.
Now the routine starts. Without a watch because time does not mater, the journey begins.

Pass the flashing lights and three blocks up for the left turn to the store. Today, I decide to speed up the processing by using the automatic checkout teller machines. Scan your item. Welcome valued customer. An attendant has been notified. Do you have any coupons?

Yea, get me out of here.

Second trip; pass the flashing lights and two blocks up before the left turn.

Get me out of here.
Third trip; pass the flashing lights and one block up before the left turn. See it pays to create variety.
Roll into the yard and another bottle of water. The only item on the “shopping list” is T-paper, but I’m sure I need to get more.

Fourth trip; pass the flashing lights and one block up but zig zag over to another street and then back again. This time the store is full of grey. The allies are full of walkers, couples, mobile carriers, and slow distracted faces. This trip will take longer. The list contained: Bread, hot dogs, soup, coffee, creamer, and Buffy meat.

Home again, to unpack and eat left over crappy chicken and water, and then inside to watch the news and eat the carrots that bunny did not want, but I forgot the t-paper, so another trip was planned.

I by-passed the flashing lights and went another way. By this time my body was getting weary. A replacement battery for the one I dropped through the deck, OJ, blueberries, t-paper, and beer.

Home again, home again, and back in the dark. Breathe deep and go through emails and messages and start projects. It’s 2:30 and I’m just starting what I want to start.

Going through the cases of cassettes, I pull out several cases, blowing and rubbing the dust off. “Paul Simon” reads one, “Bill Joel” is the title of another; one by one I check the titles. Do I want to save these? Have I listened to them in the past years? I had spent time to make labels for them some 20 years ago, but have I listened to them since they were put up on a shelf?

Into the trash went so many.

Then one called “Mandrake Memorial” was put aside. Going through some Stones and Tom Petty (he really does the same song over and over, but its good), I threw out a bunch of cassettes.

Then back to the “Mandrake Memorial”. I even looked them up online. Joel had introduced me to them after he saw the concert.

So I recorded the entire tape as one consistent song. It was nothing revolutionary, but a good sign of the times.

And as the dark drapes the night onto the travels, it’s PBS and silver bullets.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

10_Ike and Ginger – Onto Shore

Ike slowly climbed back to the deck. He heard giggling and moans. He stopped, took another breath, and then stepped into the sunshine.

Ginger and Jack laughed looking at each other then back at Ike as he climbed back into the captain’s chair moving everyone out of the way.

“Easy dude.” Jack laughed taking another sip of wine. “Did you bring up the bottle?”

Ike gave him a blank glance then view the stars giving the wheel a jerk. “Stupid, didn’t follow the path.”

The Dusty Rose leaned to port and the sail blossomed in the morning wind.

“Wooo.” Jack gleefully responded. “Ride the curl dude.”

“So what happened here? And why are you still ALIVE?” Ike interrupted the joyous moment.

“Me?”

Ginger took another sip of wine and stared at Jack.

“Well, it kinda goes like this man.”

“I’m listening.” Ike growled wrestling with the wheel to turn the vessel back on course.

“Man, I don’t know all the details. I’ve been surfing down here for about 5 years. There was this money thing going on but I didn’t worry about it ‘cause I didn’t have any. I saw it on the tube man, but who cares about that stuff, dig? Well all the folks went crazy and started to tear down the establishment. Then the power went out so I turned to the water. It is always there.”

“What happened to everyone? And when did this happened?” Ike gruffly replied still pulling at the wheel as the bow pointed to the white sand.

“Man, I don’t know the answer to your questions.”

“When did this all happen?” Ike insisted.

“I don’t know, “ Jack stammered, “around 2009 I reckon.”

“So what is the year now!” Ike pressed.

“Dude! It must be 2020 by now. I don’t have a calendar but it’s been a while.”

“Twenty-twenty?”

“And a strange thing seems to happen. I don’t grow old.” Jack disclosed.

“Where is everyone else?” Ike yelled.

“Dude! I don’t know. They started roaming through the streets and then thinned out and man they were all gone.”

“What do you mean ‘all gone’?’”

“They all just disappeared.”

“Disappeared?”

“Yeah man, like they were here one day and the next they were gone. No cars, no cats, no kids. Just gone.”

“Ike we are getting close to the pier.” Ginger broke in.

“Where did they go? Why did they leave?”

“Man I don’t know?”

“And why did you stay??”

“Ike…. Ike the dock.”

A sudden lunge and the Dusty Rose suddenly stopped. Grounded on a sandbar with a sail waving back and forth trying to find a direction.

“Damn, we’ve run around. Lower the sail.” Ike ordered, breaking his focus to the survival of the vessel he commanded.

Ike, Ginger and Jack jumped up to release lines. The huge pink sheet dropped down to the deck releasing the pressure on the hull. Ike pointed and instructed the others on how to wrap the sail and secure the boom. He checked the rudder and picked up his spilled glass of wine.

“Man, that was boss.”

Ike responded, “ We’ve landed. Drop the anchor and we’ll swim ashore.”

The sun was a full bloom and high overhead with sweat stirring heat. Ike checked the deck and lead the three in diving into the water toward the beach.

9_Ike and Ginger – On To Wilmington

The night chill covered the Dusty Rose. The water was calm and the wind was constant. A gentle tug on the sail and a check of the stars kept the course straight.

Ike scanned the water white caps lit by the full moon. In the distance he could see a lime green glow just under the water. “Is it seaweed or some microorganisms still alive under the sea?” he pondered. “Could the oceans survive whatever happened here? Protected by the depths of life’s origin?”

“Want a cup of coffee?” came the break in the thought process from down below.

“Just black for me.” He replied.

In an instant, Ginger wrapped in a wool sweater sat next to Ike, both cuddling cups of warmth in the night air.

“It’s so quiet out here.” Ginger whispered looking up at the giant sail full of the night’s breeze.

“Too quiet.”

“Found this sweater down below. It’s an interesting weave. Nicely done, but I could do better. I don’t understand the pattern yet”

Ike stood and pointed to Ginger to hold the wheel. “Keep her steady. Follow that star two degrees of starboard.”

Ducking the boom, Ike managed his way to the bow. Face down on the deck, Ike dipped his hand into the water as it rushed pass. Shifting left then right the craft cut a swap through the churning highway. Bringing his hand back to his face, he looked at the small puddle in his palm. With only moonlight to light his examination, he studied the swirling pond. It was alive with creatures.

“There is life here.” Ike said to his hand. “We are not the only ones.”

“What?”

“We are not Adam and Eve. There is life in the water.”

“What are you talking about?”

Ike poured the contents of his hand back into their home, wiped the remaining moister on his pants leg and crawled back to the wheel.

“I remembered those sharks. The ocean is alive. Whatever has happened here has not affected the oceans.” Ike smiled.

“Yet!”

“Thanks for raining on my parade.”

“Take the wheel, I’m going below. It’s cold out here and I’m tired.”

“I guess so.” Ike smiled a bigger smile.

Ginger gave Ike a gesture and climbed down the steps to the glowing room below. “Sweet dreams.” She said as she faded into the dark of the forward rooms.

A few more sips of hot liquid and refocus on the horizon. Ike became one with the wood, sail, wind, water.

As the horizon started to wake the clouds with an orange glow, the shoreline became a pencil thin line in the distance. Pointing the bow to port, the Dusty Rose responded with a jump and let the waves push her forward. Ike tied off the wheel with the new course and stepped down the slick walkway to the galley.

Looking down the hall to the darkness, he smiled knowing Ginger was asleep and dreaming sweet dreams in the rocking cradle. Ike prepared another cup of coffee and climbed back to the wheel.

The sun had broken the plain of the horizon and lit the sky with beams of yellow and red rays. As the vessel grew closer to shore, the dark black line blossomed into a green and yellow mass of vegetation.

Ike turned the wheel to run parallel with the coastline. “Where there no buildings?”

Turning back toward the shore, Ike spotted a blip in the water. Rubbing his eyes, he looked back at the speck bobbing in the waves. He turned the wheel to rendezvous with the object and kept a close watch.

The white sand cut a line on the coast against the same jungle Ike had been watching. Tacking back and forth to avoid sandbars, the Dusty Rose crept closer to the mysterious shape.

“It is a man!” Ike’s eyes widen. He stomped three times on the deck to awaken Ginger then stood, almost being wiped out by the boom swinging back with the fresh wind.

“What?” came the muffled sound from below?

“Get your pretty little butt up here. There is someone I want you to meet.”

“What….. who…..” a crash of chair, a stack of books and a bottle echoed through the hole.

Ginger struggled up the steps squinting into the new morning sunlight. Ike’s frozen star pointed the observation in the distance.

“What is that?” Ginger whipped her eyes in wonderment.

The silhouette of a human form lifted an arm and waved back and forth.

Ike steered toward the form, the shaking boat responding to the captain’s every request.

Bouncing on the waves, straddling a surfboard was a blond young man. Bare chest, long hair and a beaming smile.

“Dude!” he called out waving friendly. “Been a while since I’ve seen someone else.”

Ike released the sail to slow the vessel as it came along side of the surfer. Ginger eagerly went to the portside and offered a hand to the young man. The lad grabbed her arm and almost pulled her into the drink.

Dripping on the deck, the smiling visitor presented himself to the amazed couple saying, “Dude. Where have you been?”

There was a pause as Ginger and Ike starred at the bare chest young man with bright color jams and then to each other.

“Hey man, you got anything to drink? “

“Ah…yes, welcome aboard the Dusty Rose. Currently the skipper is Ike Patterson.” Placing out his hand. They met in a firm handshake.

“Will wine do?” Ginger asked slyly.

“Sure babe!” the new passenger grinned still firmly grasps checking out the female physic. “Nice chick.” The grasp became firmer.

Ginger lowered into the hole constantly smiling at the tanned young man.

“So WHO ARE YOU?” Ike interrupted the scene.

Hair flipped as the young man’s head turned away from his vision to a stern face. “Dude, I’m Jack.”

“Jack?”

“Yeah man, nice ride you have here.” Rubbing his hand over the rails.

“Jack, where did you come from? We haven’t seen any life in….”

“Hey man, me neither.”

“So why did we find you outside of what should be Wilmington?”

“Man,” the boy said pointing to the shore, “Wilmington is there.”

Ike looked at the shore as it crept closer and saw a pier on the white broad beach.

“That’s Johnny Mercers.”

Ike smiled remembering the years of surfing between the barnacled pilings as a youth.

“Red OK?” Ginger asked bringing up two glasses of wine from below.

“Cool.”

Ike looked at the couple as they clinked their glasses and wondered where his glass was?

“The bottle is down there.” Ginger smiled staring at the blond surfer with a knowing smile.

A moment of silence was broken with Ike looking at Jack saying, “Do you know how to steer this thing?” His face grimaced with a grin.

“Sure dude,” came the crusty reply, “ me and the ole lady can handle it.”

Ike released the wheel and slid down the stairway. Entering the galley he found the wine and an empty glass. He slugged a swallow from the bottle, and then wiping his lips filled the glass. “Who is this guy?”

A Cold Sunday Ride

Just back from a quick trip to Block Buster to deliver 6 videos. Yes, I know you can get them delivered and order on line and download and all that stuff, but it would have removed the dark venture into the night of no traffic and a couple walking their dog.

So let me begin….

The leaves were dripping from the night rain as I separated the bikes on the porch. Resorting the order for the days ride.

Having finished an instant coffee with powdered cream and substitute sugar in the garden in North Carolina. Zip up the sweatshirt and walk to the end of the alley.


Now I have to make the first decision of the day. Should go the regular routine route or turn right and start backwards. A light mist fills the air as I map out the route of Patterson up past the library, then turn up Libbie, both hard climbs.

I turn left and started to get my breathing in tune with the bicycle.

Turn past the peace flag and breathe through my nose, the moisture sparkling on my sunglasses. I tighten up my blue windbreaker and get into the rhythm.

The streets are quiet as I turn onto Grove. A young woman jogs by wired to a listening device. The soundtrack for today is the rustle of spring leaves in the morning breeze. My favorite part of “Blow Up” was the quiet natural soundtrack. You don’t need earphones for that.

And there is a lot of traffic today. I slow then maneuver around a car quickly exiting a side street. She is in a hurry and eager to enter the traffic flow. What are you late for? She was not dress up for church. An almost frantic look peppered her face as her black hair framed the saga. Had she just commented a crime and I was a witness? After the steel silver vehicle sped off I continued my journey.

Another stop at the bottom of the hill to allow traffic to pass as I waited for passenger’s of a freshly parked mobile to be released from its frame. A young school aged girl exited the passenger’s side and stared at me as she swung a knapsack over her shoulder. She looked as she was ready to attend class, but this was Sunday.

Carefully around the dark shiny mass of metal checking the mirror to insure room from oncoming motion, I ascended the hill. Not too bad today. Maybe the cool weather stirred me on.

Then the decent to Patterson, gently breaking realizing I’m a bit wobbly today. Perhaps the late night clouds my balance.

10:53. Turning onto new black smooth payment I coast down the avenue glancing at signs and watching a woman fill her mobile machine at the pumping station. Pass vacant buildings with real estate signs offering space but no takers.

Down to the light, gently breaking again to dodge the manhole covers. The next hill isn’t bad either, though I have to duck under overhanging branches because the intense traffic leaves very little variation of my path. Up to the light at my starting point and stop to catch my breath and notice the misty rain has stopped.

Weaving in and out of park metal to allow the faster moving monster pass I keep pace.

Another stoplight. Another stop.

Down pass the church that opens on Saturday and another stoplight. I am not in the zone today.

Continue on and another stoplight. Since there is no rush I can stop and enjoy the scenery. Pass the new gardens by the fire station.

The ride by the school is flat and easy. The ceramic tiles on the roof remind me that all my schooling was made of tiles. I guess it was easier to clean.

Ride straight then left and right and up to another stoplight. Pause to check the people talking on the corner. They were dressed for the big brick church across the street, which I attended for many years until the politics got in the way. God can play some nasty deals.

Another stop at Robinson, and another chance for me to catch a view. The girl across the street in the little red vehicle waited impatiently as slow traffic impeded her movement. She looked at me in wonder as I spotted the difference of a detail on the face of the Robin Inn. Someone had carved some intricate details into the wood over the windows. But the left window was missing the internal carving probably due to birds. I stood listening to the motor machines putt their mechanics into the sky and looked north for the television tower. It wasn’t there. I had already passed it. Richmond’s own Eiffel tower, like on the morning fear feast of going up to the clouds. No thanks; I’ll stay on the bumpy ground ahead.

The light turns green and I bounce over ribbons of tar covering repairs to an age-old street as the passing confused vehicles give me little room. Bumpity, bumpity, bumpity, bump up to Strawberry Street I bounce. What was it called before the “fan” got so chic with names and brown street signs? Three young men stroll across my path looking they were stepping out of a late night themselves. Knowing the position of each other they did not speak but attended to their parked vehicles.

Another stoplight. To my right a perfect spring view of the “fan”. Row houses with small flower gardens crunched in together to take advantage of every inch of space. Turn the opposite direction and see row houses with real estate signs lining up the yards. A sales opportunity or a sign of the economy?

Up pass the triangle plot and pass the normally singing church.

Next stoplight smelled of early morning cooking and coffee. The small shop had its doors open to release the cooking aromas to the world. Little cross traffic, but I waited for the green.

The children’s park was unoccupied, probably due to the dampness as I turn the corner and head west.

Another stoplight and another chance for me to view the row house described by a little lady as having a lot of painting and sex. It gave me pause.

Allowing traffic to make their decisions I push on.

Up pass the school where the principle had an affair with my first-wife.

And another stoplight breaks my concentration.

A black man in baggy jeans and backwards baseball cap saunters by. He is no particular hurry to go anywhere. Just rambling down Robinson.

The light changes and I slowly watch the dance of these metal monsters move in an awkward pattern as if searching for a direction. Over to the left and I watch a blond girl climb into a car. With the door opened she is searching for something. I recognize her for a previous trip but do not acknowledge her existence.

Another stoplight and I see two men walking by the abortion clinic. There are no protesters there, just two men, one in shorts and one in long trousers. Having a conversation and smiling with broad gestures. What they talking about? Was the conversation the game or race or television show or the river feast from the previous day or a pretty face? The people in the automobile waiting for the light to change take no notice.

I wait the traffic to clear the cross streets until I pass the museum, only to stop again to let more traffic pass.

Enjoying a smooth ride to the next stoplight, passing the young couple waiting on the confederate church porch. Were they waiting for a guided tour or just getting some of the Richmond history? I wonder why these places still exist and why does this town want to celebrate the slave trade next to a proposed baseball stadium with no team?

Up another block and whoa! Yet another impatient driver is shooting out from Tilden where I had witnessed a wreck on that night walking a dog. Swerve around and continue down the path to another stoplight.

A woman ran across the intermittent traffic flow as if in Times Square.

Taking another breathe I pushed pass that special romantic street and stopped at another light.

I paused and glanced at the Windsor where my brother said my grandfather died, but I don’t remember him coming to Richmond to die.

Another vehicle jumps out from a side street so I take the message and move inland to continue pass the huge RV and the house of trains. This slope is mild and the traffic has thinned out. Over the ridge and down to the Mercedes parked in the center of the street, its hooded driver facing a house from the sidewalk, hands on her butt. Turn right and pass the divided street.

Another black Mercedes was coming at me, so I turned up my street and avoided a confrontation. I noticed the manufactures of the silver, black, grey and blue metal machines sitting on either side of me. Toyotas, Volkswagens, Hyundai’s, Hondas and other foreign models stood in patient wait for their owners or lenders to come gas them up for another worthless waste of energy. When this neighborhood was constructed it was lined with Fords, Chevys, Oldsmobiles, and Pontiacs.

Then I remember the Quaker church on the corner is in session and these are the wagons of the quiet.

Up the slight hill and check the raised crooked name painted in red on the fence.

There is a truck parked out front. I’ll hear about that. It’s the owner of the abode doing some maintenance or checking for ants or whatever you do when you are paying for a vacant house. Big red sound on the door now says “For Sale by Owner”. Maybe I’ll buy it and put him out of my misery. It could be a home away from home. Ha! Might be better than living in a drafty shed?

So park the bike, eat the pasta salad, go to the grocery store, watch the “Big Blue” several times (man that’s a long movie), then type this stuff up.

See you later….