Friday, July 31, 2009

Storms a comin'

The sky is darkening and the trees dance in the warm breezes. The chimes ring announcing the upcoming rain and wind. It is summer in Virginia and the storms blow through every afternoon. So the electronic communication devices will be shut down and the yard checked for blow away materials. The rain will help clear the humid air until the sun comes out again and steams the jungle. Cody Bear has been fed a can of tuna and he ate the entire thing. Two more trash cans full of forgotten memories and wanted dreams.

But music is a distraction of every day matters. Making a few CDs for tomorrows "Geezer Jam" and seeing if it reflects the thoughts of the day.

The first thought of the day was "fowl mouth". I had a dream about that word, even with a song which I forgot but I remember a noun or an adjective. Funny word.

Well the rain is here, so it's time to shut down before the electricity begins.

Just another day in just another life.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wired Wednesday

Usual wake up call by Buffy at sunrise. Wait a few more minutes. She lays down on my pillow and rest. The thoughts dream but the body twitches.

So finally arise with the sun and feed the puppy and refresh the water, then a bottle of water to watch bad news coverage in the kitchen. Bowl of Cheerios finished by the puppy.

Clean up the litter box and off for my morning ride. I travel a little earlier than usual. There is more traffic before 8, but I adjust.

Take the roads, which have been announced to be resurfaced before the hot asphalt arrives. Just orange cones make the placement of a new and hopefully smooth roadway.

As I ride back and forth I think about working in this heat. Summer has hit Richmond and my shirt is already wet. Summer in the city crosses my mind. Good reason for the water bottles on both bikes. Wonder why Rowlett’s hasn’t called about the request to change the handlebars?

The usual characters cross my path this morning, with young girls and dogs and young girls and baby strollers and the ever-present white trucks.

Missed a few streets because my mind was not in the game.

On return and the cool down, Cody Bear presented me with a baby rabbit. He ate the head.

Two bottles of water and the newspaper, I’m reading the headlines and little else. Most of the news is not important and the newspaper is already two days late in the coverage.

There are five more bags of junk mail, old bills, writings and recordings, boxes, and containers.

A storm is coming, you can smell the rain, and 12 bullets are down.

Thank goodness for music.

Friday, July 24, 2009

In her own words

“When we first started – you jumped every time I got close when you hadn’t seen me first – You said it was a reaction to the violent people you had been hanging around - You started me doing drugs and giving me too much alcohol for my small frame - it did something to me - I felt scared and angry – maybe the years of “Bobby” and the things I went through in my life right from birth – it all just bubbled up and exploded – I should have seen a therapist – I’ve been affected greatly – I’m sorry for taking things out on you – I could not see you thru the anger – I saw only him and I needed to fight back – I wanted to ill him – I should have killed him for what he did to me – Eventually I was able to deal with this anger – Something’s set it off and it surprised me when happens – Lie remember when I got so upset that I couldn’t find my shoes? - Because Bobby would take my shoes and my clothes from me so I couldn’t leave the house – maybe this is why I say “mine”! - And you thin I’m hiding from you - maybe I am - it scared me deeply what I went through – I kicked in one door- because I felt trapped - like before as far as crying neighbors – You were emotionally unavailable to me – In this you didn’t protect me – You a banded me and let them tear me to shreds – They were sharks in the water and I was the injured prey. You weren’t here – I was – Because of my earlier experiences I have been prone to severe anxiety attacks – Space Shuttle exploding – 9/11 – all live on TV – Mary Winn Dying – David dying – Managing Aquatic World alone – my heart attack – where you feel relief at death – I feel extreme grief – we deal with things differently”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Went to Joe's Inn to see if Joe is in?

And he was. With his ever comfortable smile, scraggly beard and frosty hair. A true master of ceremonies.

We chatted over a couple of brews and ordered sandwiches. He talked about his kids and traveling adventures. I talked about writing and digging through stuff at home.

A few smiles and laughs and watching the girl in the short jeans walk by.

Stories of history and perhaps future to tell.

Thanks for dinner.

And Buffy got fed.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bending the Rules

For years and years, I’ve started off Sunday with the newspaper and a cup of coffee, followed by the Today weekend show, the CBS Sunday Morning 90 minutes. Only vacations or conferences kept me from this Sunday routine.

But today I woke, had a breakfast bar, 2- bottles of water, put a load of laundry in and it was 8:30. This is my usual time for a ride.

So I put the puppy on her sofa, cleaned up the litter box, and roamed into the cool morning air.

Less traffic because of the earlier time, I enjoyed the smooth easy pace. Pass a couple of early morning cyclist who wave and smile. Cyclists seem to have a gentile wave of acknowledging each other in passing.

The hill up to Libbie wasn’t too bad and the glide down to Patterson wasn’t too swift. My mind still had not kicked in. I was in automatic drive.

An old rusty brown Ford station wagon filled with “stuff” and writing on the side passes me then pulls to the side. I slowly come up to the driver’s window noticing him looking in the side mirror at me. He leaned out the window and I stopped. I didn’t recognize his face as he said, “So you are wearing a helmet now?” I tapped the black plastic with my gloved hand and replied, “ Yes, at least in the mornings.” There was a pause and I check back down the street for traffic. He smiled and gestured for me to ride on. “I thought you were my brother.” I rode on and he sputtered down the avenue.

At the Malvern stoplight, I started waking my mind. I noticed my old house had a new red door and storm door, but the rest looked the same as the 30 years ago I’d lived there.

The music that filled my head was “the Archie’s” probably because I just made a 60’s CD for Joel. Catchy tune that luckily I could quickly forget.

Next to the Robin Inn, I stopped for water and to let trucks go by. The board out front said “Chicken Stroganoff and salad $8.00” I don’t know if that is a good price or not. I don’t get out much. All I remember about the Robin Inn was coming there as a teenage usher at First Baptist Church between services and having a beer.

Stopping by the Kuba-Kuba coffee shop and realized why I take these rides every morning, no matter how routine. I looked across the street at the triangle park. Normally on my Sunday ride it is full of mothers and children playing, but due to the early hour, the park was vacant. Then I looked up to see the birch trees waving in the cool breeze. That is what I suppose to see this morning. That dancing tree clicked my mind on.

Around the corner and back again. People walking in the middle of the street, pass Fox school getting an addition, up to the closed museum, watching the car without the blinker turn as I had expected.

I was aware of my surroundings and the sounds and sights lit up before me.

Even the climb up the hill to Malvern was not as difficult.

Back home passing another couple starting off their Sunday ride and smiling.

And I had time to watch the Walter Cronkite session of Sunday Morning, though I think I liked the turtles the best. Taken it slow.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Suppose you gave your house to someone for 30 years to do whatever she wanted?

And for those I told about this....
You would not believe.

Now it is time to dig out.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009



Ginger reached over to the pillow and found it empty.


Her eyes opened to view the light pouring in from the torn window covering. The sunshine spotlight lit an empty room of pillows, bottles, and half burnt candles.

She sat up and held her head.

Gazing through the haze she spied Newton sitting in the corner. He was slumped over in a pillow chair, a half filled glass of wine in his hand. His eyes were closed, but there was a smile on his face as if he had been watching Ginger all night.

Rolling off the pillow, Ginger stumbled to her feet. Newton grumbled but did not wake. West was nowhere to be found.

Staggering to the window, she saw two silhouette figures on the beach. Taking a long breath and looking back at Newton slumbering quietly, she moved the window covering and slid the glass door to the sun.

She walked up to the couple on the beach and listened to their conversation.

“The water, water seems to be the forgiveness.”

“But what of the land?”

“We stand here and the sun rises and falls and we breathe the air.”

“Life goes on.”

“Exactly… and what will you do?”

“Ike?” Ginger interrupted the conversation.

The two men turned toward the lady slowly pacing toward them in the sand. They both smiled.

Ike turned and gave out an extended arm to welcome her to the conversation.

“You OK?” he quietly asked Ginger with a smile from Dexter.

“Yeah, just a little foggy.”
“So what now?” Dexter asked the couple staring at the rising sun over the concrete barriers lining the beach.

“I’ve got to go.” Ike said, holding Ginger around the waist and looking toward the beach.

“Let me take you home.”

The three walked to the walkways and gathered their packs. Dexter picked up a book from the sandy steps and led the group to the beach.

The sun rained heat upon the heads of the three, as they walked pass empty shops and sidewalks. Turning right on the beach they headed back through their tracks from the previous day.

Walking pass empty towers of personal pleasure the group watch the pier grow closer. To the right they saw the Neptune statue approach. To the left, bobbing in the wave was the Dusty Rose.

“This is where I leave you” Dexter announced and sat down in the sand with his book.

Ike looked at Dexter, then Ginger and took his pack off. He left the group and slugged through the sand to the boardwalk. Disappearing for a moment, he appeared with a floatation devise.

“Let’s make this easy.” Ike smiled. Dexter smiled in return.

Ike placed both Ike’s and Ginger’s packs on the floatation tube and dragged it to the water.

“Ready to go?” Ike asked Ginger as she paused noticing Dexter quiet demeanor.

Ginger turned and walked to the water’s edge.

“Thank you for your hospitality” she said to Dexter, who gently smiled.

The pair pushed the floating packing into the water and kicked out into the waves.

A short time later the pair were on board and drying off from the salty water. They lifted the packs and spread out their bounty upon the shifting deck.

“So where to now?” Ginger asked shaking off her hair and pulling through her pack of t-shirts and lotions

“Maine!” Ike quickly responded.

“Maine? Why Maine?”

“You will see.” Ike smiled.

Ike raised the anchor and lowered the sail. The Dusty Rose responded and turned to the north.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Taken it slow

The usual Sunday ride after Sunday morning was full of bicycles and babies.

Since I start this ride later than my normal 8:30 a.m., it is warmer. A summer July day with couples airing out their babies, ladies walking their pups, and lots of bikes. This might be catching on. At a turn I notice a young lady with her grey haired dad, taking it slow.

It is Sunday, so there is no rush.

And “taken it slow” is the theme for today.

The usual sights with some changes. The tree in front of my old house has been cut down and ground to dust at the bus stop. Little more stops than expected with more stoplights and a few phone calls.

Perhaps it’s the summer air or the strange week, but my pace was slower.

Past the house of the Florida girl who’s mother called me this week? Past the “Patterson Express” corner store across from the Laundromat where I traded a Farfisa organ for a Fender ’66 Strat. Then going through red lights, which I normally wait for pausing to catch a breath and a drink of water.

But today, like every other day is different. A new experience presents itself to each of us who wake up in the morning.

My brother and I talked about “to-do” list at lunch today. We both picked up the habit somewhere along the way. Like our good manners and etiquette, we learned something right during our youth.

So my “to-do” list has 8 items. There are so many to-dos, I decided to take little steps and accomplish 8 things at a time. Scratch each off and when that list is done, start a new list.

So gather up the yarn, bagged projects started but never finished. Fill boxes of needles and hooks and plastic and wooden and metal things that mean something to yarn people but have no idea what they are.

Feed the puppy that continues to look for her mommy and clean the fallen bottles of medicine and animal products on the dusty floor.

That’s the “to-do” list today, then home to “How I Won The War” on PBS. I’ve wanted to watch this for some time so there is a message here.

Switchblade in my pocket for some reason and Dot on the phone, I say goodnight to another day and hope the rain comes.

But it’s just another day in just another life.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lady of the Dawn

My wife was a very, very private person so she would not like this, but many of you have asked about a memorial, so I will tell you something about the woman I spent 28 years with.

I know very little about her life before I met her. She mentioned vacations in Callao and her drunken father and tormenting brother. She was an orphan and knew nothing of her mother including health issues. She told me about her first time with a boy who turned gay and running naked along the train tracks after sex waving at the passengers.

She also told me brief stories of her previous love/boyfriend. A married man who had sex with this babysitter as his wife prepared to go out. A man who would use and abuse her and yet she stayed with him. I never met this guy, which was a good thing for both of us, because I had offered to have him eliminated if she wished. The first 5 years she was haunted by his thoughts.

We met on a blind date. I had been separated / divorced (I thought) for a few years when a person from work said there was a girl who wanted to meet me. I said a few friends would be at a local pub and they should come by. It was that casual.

Several friends, male and female, were sitting in a booth at Joe’s Inn when the pair entered and walked passed us, getting seats in the back of the room. Instinctively, I gather the group and joined them at their table. Another round of beers lead to a brief conversation. A few laughs and another round of beers. One by one the others left leaving a visibly tipsy girl in a summer dress and two strange men. Gauntly we offered her a ride home and the three of us delivered her to an apartment a block away from where I lived for the past three years. She climbed the stairway to the second story deck as we waited in the alley to insure her safety.

A week later I passed her in the hallway at work and mention a few friends would be at a local watering hole if she wished to join us.

As the group sat on the outside patio ordering rounds of drinks and laughing, this vision in a pastel blowing spring dress appeared with an apprehensive face. She had been wearing jeans so she must have gone home and changed. Sitting quietly she sat and listened to the stories passed around which she had never heard.

Another friend offered a ride, so I turned and asked if she would like to have dinner. We left the sunken patio at Poor Richards and returned to Joe’s Inn.

A table for two, a meal and drink order, and then the conversation that captured me followed. She spoke of her former relationship and the abuse. I was shocked and overwhelmed. I had never heard or thought of anything like this. I was angry yet very protective.
That’s when I realized I was a caretaker.

On the walk home she stopped me in the Virginia Museum parking lot and kissed me. A warm passionate kiss, but I did not know anything about this girl on a warm July night. We continued to walk and talk up the street where I lived. As we came to my house I pointed it out and she asked if she could come in. It was very innocent. I opened my “bachelor” pad to her, with nude paintings; stain glass penis window, and the music room. At the end of my tour I pointed out the bedroom. When I turned around she had dropped her spring dress and stood before me completely naked. A night of hot summer passion followed.

The next day she had to go to work at the newspaper, so she left, but she came back after getting off work. I was assembling a sofa and pushed her away. But I could not stop thinking about her.

So, as the story goes, we met again, more passion, and being so close to my house may access very easy.

After several months, she complained about her landlords who would enter her apartment at any time. Again I was enraged, so I offered my house.

And thus started 28 years of being together every day and every night.

Now Linda, who was her name, wanted to change some things around, but I did not mind. The music room became the bedroom with two bed stacked on top of each other. The living room moved two or three times.

But it was the kitchen, which surprised me.

One weekend I was away on a conference and when I returned I walked into the kitchen and ALL the cabinets were gone. They had been ripped off the walls and floor and thrown out into the backyard. She did not like them.

Another weekend and the entire house were painted white.

I accepted the changes.

The lady had passion for her beliefs.

She studied cooking and gathered receipts testing all the ingredients and cooking methods. She learned knitting from my mother and crochet from my grandmother. She worked at the greenhouse and brought home every kind of plant and greenery. She worked at the pet shop and brought home 13 fish tanks of every variety of species.

And she taught me to pay attention to nature. She showed me the flora and fauna. She could walk by a field of clover and find a four leaf one for me to put in my wallet. She would stop to exam robin’s egg or dig up moss off the sidewalk to take home.

Then she went landscaping.

I came home from work one day and found half of the front yard had all the grass removed down to the dirt. The next day the other side matched the dirt. Then holes were dug. Then the backyard was processed the same way with no grass or bushes or trees, just dirt and holes.

To keep the weeds out, black plastic covered the yard and was pinned down by an ingenious system of wire pins. She had mapped it out in her head.

The next year was mulch, timbers, digging, and sticks for trees. I’m sure the neighborhood thought we had gone nuts with this moonscape.

Then it started to grow being nurtured by constant water and care by this Mother Nature’s child. And I learned that digging in the dirt release stress and gave a sense of accomplishment that no office job could achieve.

And through the years the willows would dance, the beau-beaus (chipmunks) and peteies (squirrels) would run amok, as the goldfish swam in the ditch pond. The trees grew and provided shade and fruit for the creatures.

Several times a day, she would provide the yard with plates of peanut butter sandwiches cut into small pieces, orange juice, apples, and sunflower seed. She reveled in the return every spring of Gray Jays from Florida.

She was passionate about having her own space, so through the years, I was moved outside to Mansland for football and music while she continued in her projects. Add power tools and a Lowes credit card and construction began. Nooks and crannies is how she explained the additional rooms nailed with two by fours and wallboard.

We became a couple of separate people, but I empowered her dreams with whatever she wanted.

Art supplies, including books, easels, paints, pencils, pastels, brushes; sewing supplies, including 5 sewing machines, buttons, books, instructional DVDs, pins, needles, threads, and material; growing supplies, including a yard and all the mulch and greenery my paycheck could provide, cooking supplies, including bread maker, blenders, every size and shape of bowl, plate, fork, and pan; and pet supplies; including fish, ferrets, cats, chipmunks, squirrels, and a dog.

Six years ago I received a call from St. Mary’s Hospital saying she was in the emergency room. An endless trip to the hospital discovered a heart attack. She was helpless in the intensive care unit with tubes and monitors.

After a week and months of rehab, her slowing motion tuned up and she seemed better. A new bike and walking every night seemed to help.

But the bike brought a mugging and a late morning walk brought a shooting, so she retired to the home. She covered the windows and watched DVDs and read books.

Vampires, magic, witches, sewing, knitting, and cooking took her attention. She was happy watching 8-year series of “Charmed” and “True Blood”. Even with glasses, she read endlessly.

Her schedule would be slow in the morning, watching television and drinking coffee. By noon, she would start on the colas, watching “The View”, “Jeopardy”, and then soap operas on Channel 8. “General Hospital” was her favorite. During this time there was planting, knitting, writing notes, and cooking. She enjoyed her own space.

Her projects included knitting scarf’s and hats for the homeless, caps for newborns, and lap blankets for amputees of the wars. She cared.

Some days she would take a nap in the afternoon, and then stay up all evening. Other nights she tried to sleep on a regular schedule, but there was always the reminder if she had taken her heart pills.

So July 4, she rolled over on the floor and it was too late.

I keep looking for her to walk down the path, but she does not come. I’ll keep feeding the Gray Jays, peteies, beau-beaus, and bunnies in the yard.

Rest well my Lady of the Dawn.

Lady of the Dawn,
you opened up my sleeping eyes,
I never knew that I was born.

Well. I like you for your body,
but I love 'cause you're wise,
I am your prisoner,
Oh my Lady of the Dawn.

You are the dealer,
In this strange, uncertain game,
Take my cards and deal again,
I can feel my life is changing.

Now you taught me how to learn,
Teach me to earn
The love you give to me,
The love you give to me.

Lady of the Dawn,
you opened up my sleeping eyes,
I never knew that I was born.
Well. I like you for your body,
but I love 'cause you're wise,
I am your prisoner,
Oh my Lady of the Dawn.

I was waiting
In the darkness of the night,
Only now I see the light
Softly shining in the silence.

If you really hold the key,
Turn it for me,
And help me understand,
And help me understand.

Lady of the Dawn,
you opened up my sleeping eyes,
I never knew that I was born.
Well. I like you for your body,
but I love 'cause you're wise,
I am your prisoner,
Oh my Lady of the Dawn.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Legend is Gone

Check this out

Black Dog is dead

A matted chow who ruled my neighborhood for years. He was the "King of Strays". People in the neighborhood would walk in the street to give him room on the sidewalk. A regal dog with dirty locks wandering through a West End neighborhood of Richmond.

No one knew where he came from, but we all respected his grace. His noble step would turn any other animal and amaze any human.

My dog when walking around Mary Munford School would stop and face him. There was a genuine respect for this black scruffy dog gentle soul.

Never angry or agressive, Black Dog walked with a wisdom of a life who was as survivor.

Neighbors of mine would feed him and he relaxed in their yards, but he was a wanderer.

Groups in the neighborhood even made t-shirts with his image. There kids would squeal when they saw Black Dog.

A true hero of the near West End, it is hard to see his passing.

But he was given the respected burial of a pup who ruled my neighborhood for over 20 years.

He was laid to rest in the most prestigious neighborhood of the city, Windsor Farms, by children who loved him.

He will remain a legend of a soul who did his own thing.

I can't stop crying.

Goodbye Black Dog and thank you for showing us what life is all about.