Monday, July 30, 2012

News from the Woods

Just the routine day in the routine land trying to notice the little things that happens. A couple of new fences are going up. That tree branch on Westmoreland is broken and going to fall on something or somebody the next rain. The guy up on the corner of Patterson looks like he is going to build a garage. The house on the corner is gutting the second floor. Saw them move a bunch of stuff out of the house and got a notice from the city they had a building contract. Just doing destruction today with the bathtub and toilet out on the roof. Sure which I knew what they were saying. Probably rain today. Smells like it and the clouds are abundant. And the air is cooler. The folks across Westmoreland are painting and the family with the guy and his daughter who played in the big puddle has moved and another couple moved in. Maybe they will cut down the dead tree out front before it falls over. It will fall over because it is white with no leaves. There is another one down the street that leans into the neighbors yard. It is too deep in the yard for the city to declare it with an orange X, but it will also fall the next big blow. The girl with the two little dogs continues to walk them and wave and smile. Maybe I should stop and talk to her? Others will wave a friendly neighbor unfamiliar wave and some call out my name so I nod back. Don’t want to interrupt the daily trip to see Alphonso and the other food stackers. Perhaps a sandwich today? Perhaps a salad? Perhaps some crappy chicken? Even think about the taste of peanut butter I had the other night in a dream but that would require buying bread then I would have to start making sandwiches and getting meat and cheese and tomatoes and…… no too much trouble. So as I pack up the daily requirements of blueberries, birdseed, and peanuts I listen to the blue shirts gripe and am glad I don’t run a grocery store. Weaving back to the assigned starting point, turning on the window fans and appreciate the quiet of the neighborhood. Luckily there is no heavy metal in the area this week. After spreading out the buffet and cooling before the fan with the first bullet I look at the to-do list. Monday is my schedule day. This is the day assigned to rearrange priorities for the next costly call to an electrician or contractor but I’d rather watch the yard enjoy itself. When it rains peanuts they drop out of the trees like ninja warriors each grabbing one and scrutiny back up to enjoy their crunch lunch. The blue jays will come down and after close examination pick a peanut and fly off. The gray jays are most happy with the abundance of blueberries that they share with the yard boss. The scoters run amuck at 100 mph chasing peanuts and playing bumper cars. The pump tosses what little water is left in the pond for the decisions on the to-do list never seem to get scratched off. Inside the empty room awaits a sander and a paintbrush. The sander is ready and the paint and paintbrush are ready but the motivation isn’t there yet. It’s been three years and a lot has been done but I’m still not ready to motivate. Perhaps when the cold is completely dried up? Perhaps when the weather gets cooler? Perhaps, then again…..?
So turn up the music and watch girls in skimpy outfits run around in the sand and have another bullet and call it just another day in just another life.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Getting sick of getting sick in the summertime

It is like going on a beach vacation and it rains or going to a dance and your date meets her old boyfriend or ...well you get the idea.

I’m not a very good patient or so I’ve been told. When I get sick, I just crawl off to bed and want to be left alone. In the winter you crawl back to bed and climb under a pile of blankets, hot soup and a good movie, but in the summer. It is hot and sweaty and your head is full of snot and with the entire mold and pollen population in the air makes it that much more uncomfortable.

How did I catch a cold? Well I don’t hang around hospitals or schools because that is where all the sick people are and I don’t go near the pharmacy because that is where the sick people go.

Perhaps it was when it rained on me the other day and then I sat down in front of a fan to dry off after the ride as I’ve done every day this summer. I should change my shirt more often.

But what the hey, 3 days coming, 3 days here, and 3 days going. That is what I found about colds.  So I went to the pharmacy today to look for cold medicine. Rows of boxes with weird names all saying they will relieve symptoms of cold and allergies and just feeling bad. So I picked out a couple that seemed like they might help and were not through the roof expensive.

Now when I used to get sick, my mom always took care of me. She’d take my temperature and make me drink gallons of orange juice and chicken noodle soup. When things were bloody like getting bitten by a dog or falling off my bike, she’d take me to the ER for stitches. When ole Doc Page was called, I’d get a shot or a trip to the hospital to cut me open and take something out. The one time I had the flu and could not move, she came over to the house and kept us hydrated and fed. When my back went out years ago, my wife took over for my mother. Many of these occasions I could have (and maybe should have died), but I came through and went back to the normal day-to-day doldrums of sleeping, eating watching TV and surfing the Internet.

So taking some of the medications that are suppose to break up the snot (there is probably a rule about mixing meds, but what the hey) spent a day sneezing, coughing, blowing my nose then repeat. By 8 o’clock I was exhausted so I decided to slather myself with vapor rub and go to sleep to a long night of strange dreams.

Today I feel a little better but it is still breaking up (along with my bathroom floor) so I solider on and will make it through this and fall will come sooner or later and I’ll still have to paint and scrap and get more work done but I will feel better for it.

So like mom said, “Take your medicine, keep hydrated, and get lots of rest.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2012



We like to eat.

We must because we do it all the time. We go to others houses taking food and then eat. We come home from work and eat. We go on vacation and eat. We wake up in the morning and eat. We eat when we date. We eat when we go to funerals. We eat all the time.

Travel experts advertise the wonderful eating-places in foreign locations to lure us. Restaurants on every corner offer us a variety of cuisines to please our palettes. Television offers us a stream of cooking shows interwoven with commercials on every fast food stop to wet your whistle.

We designate a single room in our house to prepare and another room to eat. We eat three meals a day and then some. We have an eating triangle to show the proper foods we should be eating. We take additional medications to supplement our lack of eating right.

Every day eating demands bombards us. We store more food than we can possibly eat and the farmers and producers make more for those who can afford it.

Our obsession with eating brings out thousands, maybe millions of cookbooks to force us to experiment with more ingredients than our mothers taught us. Utensils and appliances and other gadgets sparkle at us tempting us to fill the drawers of our cabinets.

But are we hungry?

Yes, we must consume substance to maintain a life and we have been trained on certain taste we desire, but when were you really hungry. Stomach growling and dizzyingly head hungry. Hungry for something that wasn’t prepared by someone else in paper. Hungry for what your body really needs.
So why do I care?

Shopping, as I have said, and cooking isn’t the most important aspect of my life. I know how to do it, I have the utensils and the space, but it is just boring. I can taste the flavors and even if prepared by someone else am not surprised.

My question is “Can we train ourselves to stop or at least slow down eating?”

Gotta go and have lunch now.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Listening to the radio due that the audio/digital converter for the television died, I become fascinated by the stories.

Let me clarify. I listen to National Public Radio exclusively. The music is varied and the news is concise and balanced and the programming brings some great storytellers.

Radio presents the conversation of a speaking voice without any flash and graphics to distract from the message. It is like having a conversation with a person one-on-one without being interrupted by the glance at a cell phone.

Books and movies and songs and some television shows are like this too. They are relating a story in their own media. Some are deeply descriptive while others keep your attention with sudden surprises, but in the end they are all trying to tell a story.

As much as the research about a new washing machine or automobile or travel alternatives, do we study the information that is provided for us?

Book and movie reviews can give a certain point-of-view from a professional journalist or just the guy down the street opinion. The cover or trailer may appear attractive like the girl in the clinging red dress but we all know what happens next.

Drama, adventure, emotion, fear, inspiration… the list goes on and on for what we devour in our effort to be entertained and perhaps informed.

My family was not one to relate its history. Both grandparents on one side were gone by the time I would have understood and only my grandmother on the other side talked of times but they were when we were surrounded by dozens of cousins, aunts, brothers and sisters and the confusion clouded the conversation.

Sitting among friends today, the most interesting conversation is the storytelling. It is what we do. We replay the son’s baseball game or the daughter’s ballet or even that time long ago in college when we made some bad decisions but survived.

So I present this: She stands barefoot by the waters edge. The sun is rising breaking the silence of the pines and awakening their inhabitants. The water is dark but ripples as she tosses rose petals. A slinky black cat rubs up against her long velvet dress then darts into the darkness. The moon lights her eyes as she turns to the sound.

Tell me the story?

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Stranger in the House

Footsteps down the hall. They were not there yesterday. A door is opened that should be closed. There is a distant voice in the air that is vaguely familiar.

There is a stranger in the house.

Someone you do not know has invaded your private space. Your most intimate items are accessible to a stranger.

There is some anxiety, which is natural and a bit of fear. Your natural environment is out of place. The normal routine of the day is disrupted. Things are out of control.

In case of a person who you have hired to perform a task and invited into your space there is a deadline before they will be gone and the boring daily routine can start its grind again. If it is a guest there is still an apprehension of what they will notice or suggest or change about how you live your life.

Then is the one you bring into your life with free will to adjust your previous life into a different world?

Relationships are like that, but he or she is still a stranger in the house.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The One That Got Away


A well known phrase to fishermen yet also to people who don’t know what they’ve got until its gone.

Relationships, like fishing, are the lure and the give and take, the challenge seeking an unknown reward or possibility an embarrassing and humiliating failure. Whatever the attraction between two might be as simple as a random selection out of a group or as complicated as a flirty look. The following adventure is the cat and mouse game of association, desire, and possibly commitment.

Some are merely emotions of the moment and then they are gone with names forgotten. Some might last through certain periods of time or age and seem appropriate until they fade into the vastness of experience. Some come and go so fast there is not a chance to hang on. Some are unaware.

A relationship may be formulated by elders and seem a proper match for a lifetime of misery. A relationship may be a passion turned into a mistake that will last a lifetime. A relationship may be a one-sided effort thrust upon an unknown future.

And in years later, just like the green grass in your neighbors yard, some seem better than the one that is there. The thought of being a pubescent teen with a horde of testosterone running through your body may make a former name or time seem ultimately possible.

So as you sit comfortable with your significant other, do you ever wonder what that smile and pause when they hear a song or see a sunset or taste a special meal or check off a date on the calendar means?

It’s the one that got away.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Last Supper

Have YOU ever thought what YOU would want for YOUR “Last Supper”?

Well the folks going to end-it-all under the penal code have to make this decision.

So what would YOU choose?

The reason I bring this up is the past year I have tried every type of food group. I thought about everything I have ever liked to eat and sampled each.

To my surprise all were not what I expected. Steak, chicken, pork, even veggies cooked in every style did not entice me. The taste was good but not desirable.

So now going through the grocery store as I do everyday, I look at the shelves with all the cans and boxes and wrappers and try to taste each invitation. It is easy.

Walk by the fruit and veggies and imagine a salad. Taste the sweetness of blueberries and strawberries and the juice of a ripe tomato or the crispy of a carrot. The bakery, if it is baking, may smell good but all the cakes and cookies and breads are either covered with too much sugar or just too thick. Down the canned staples isle the labels do not offer much enticement or perhaps you know the taste of reprocessed veggies is rather bland. The frozen foods not much better and you wonder when was that really cooked?

I walk around the store and look at the row after row of what farmers and plants arrange for us to eat to stay alive imaging each flavor and aroma. I have all the utensils to prepare any combinations of starch and proteins and all the stuff needed to maintain but the process means I will have lots of utensils to clean and a mound of food to consume.

This is probably just living alone or what was tasty years ago has worn off. I know what to each from the diet prepared from a heart attack victim and follow most of the rules (except for alcohol – my bad, but we make choices about what we put in our bodies) and vary the daily recipes to fruit, veggies, beans, oatmeal and soups with small amounts of pasta, breads, pastries and pizzas.

So what would be MY last supper?






Monday, July 9, 2012

This Old House

Again inspired by “This American Life” I sit down to write.

A long sleepless night of sweat, I decided to get up and go to the store early while it was still somewhat cool and comply with the rules of the game then came back and provided sustenance for the critters who also view this space has home.

Loading soaking clothes in the laundry and looking at the to-do list that is getting yellowed and gray under the spider web, I sit in front of a window fan blowing triple digit air over me as I drink a frosty beer that is sweating more than I am.

The topic was about “This Old House”. As examined on the radio program about a son’s relationship with his father’s old house I thought at first it reminded me of a couple in Penn State who are trying to revive their son’s house. Then I looked out the window at the place I call home.

At first the house was just an escape to shelter. A small space with asbestos siding shingled roof and small rooms but more than enough space for one. Then there were possibilities of painting the walls or buying furniture or artwork on the walls. After a few years the house was a comfortable come home to place but never exciting. A few scattered deck chairs in case anyone came over, a place to watch television and listen to music, a cozy kitchen where everything worked, and a bathroom with running water. Outside the yard was a massive green spread that had to be mowed to keep up with the neighbors. As the usual homeowner does a hose was purchased and the grass and bushes were watered but there was no idea of changing or planting. Guys don’t think like that.

Then she joined the household. She saw possibilities I could not image and did not have the funds to produce, but she found a way.

Now I look at trees that are dying due to shade or vines or dryness or lack of constant attention or interest.

The house itself, which a few years ago presented itself with a different vision of a pallet of artistic adventure but has settled, as has the body, into an old structure that is falling apart.

Seems like old houses, like old people, are maintained and patched and keep going as long as there are funds. One wakes up in the middle of the night and hears the creaks and moans of lumber cut before being born. After years of sharing space with this structure one knows the flaws and insurrections this place has gone through and worries will it last until the end?

She has served me well and I keep placing patches on it but know full well it will not survive. A simple home with small rooms but enough space to live then again, you’ve got to live somewhere.

So now as two guys are tearing down the ceiling and putting up another one I wonder do those guys in Penn state realize what they are getting into? Then again it is for family.

When you think of all the places you have lived through the years there are memories of fixer-uppers and learning how to repair or install or hire to keep all the appliances going or plumbing from leaking or electricity from shocking. Those are things guys think about. Guys are supposed to know how to fix this stuff by learning from our dads who pass down these DIY skills. And us who don’t buy all the how-to-do books and then buy all the tools and after hitting our thumbs or cracking a wall or spending hours with no solution, we hire a professional who has experience doing the repair on your most expensive purchase.

So as long as the money holds out and the basics are maintained I will survive here. I wasn’t sure this morning when I had to move all the furniture and a bunch of records in an hour to prepare for the workmen, then again I have an open beamed living room?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hey babe,


It is hot here. It’s been hot and it will be hot some more but I can’t complain because I still have power for the fans and actually the weather has been pretty good. Mild winter and the only snow came and went in a day. Spring was wonderful and now it is summer again. But you know me; I just slow down and sweat.

If I slow down any more I’ll be moving backwards. Did get some storm doors installed but am waiting for the living room ceiling to be replaced. Came in one day and the patch job I did wasn’t working and a large plaster piece fell on a chair that I usually watch television in. Luckily I wasn’t it in. A few days latter, a few more sections of the ceiling fell so I guess I’ll get the whole thing replaced. He is supposed to be here Monday.

It is kind a hard to do get engaged with projects when there is a big hole in the living room, but he is also going to patch and vinyl the bathroom floor. After that I’ll call to get some more electrical work done and then THE KITCHEN!

Speaking of the kitchen, I tried cooking everything I thought I’d like. Even bought a charcoal grill to cook hot dogs and hamburgers, but I think I have lost my hunger. Steaks, seafood, veggies and even fruit have lost its appeal. For Thanksgiving I cooked a turkey breast, made gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, stuffing and rolls. I now know when I cook all this food, somebody has to eat it and that somebody is I. So I have gotten into the habit of picking up something at the deli, a sandwich or a salad and having one meal a day. I’ve just lost my appetite.

You trained me well for I do go to the grocery everyday buying the same menu of blueberries, seed, p-nuts, and the occasional strawberries and sunflower seeds. The buffet is put out everyday about noon and once the p-nuts fly, they all come out. I think the yard is still a safe nursery because I see the young ones dine after the parents. I’ve counted about a dozen or so monkeys, at least four grey jays, a half a dozen blue jays, grackles, cardinals, and even crows filling the yard and enjoying the four feeding areas. And the beau-beaus (now called scooters) are too numerous to count. They come up to the porch when I put out p-nuts and stand by my shoes. Might get down to hand feeding them soon. And also the yard boss enjoys her blueberries and seed. She understands her name when I call her and is not scared of me. It is very special.

Let’s see what else has been happening. Well last year about this time all the bikes were stolen. Some one or ones came into the yard and totted them out pulling the gate in the wrong direction. So your Bianchi is somewhere else now. Sorry I didn’t lock them up but it was my bad. Since then I keep the lights on and lock all the doors. Got two more bikes from Rowlett’s and then they went out of business. And the white pickup trucks still roll up and down the alleys looking for forget-me-nots.

Bought a couple of more toys but don’t go shopping very often. Actually I don’t go out much at all. I did meet some kids (which is probably why I shouldn’t go out much) and they took me to the races. Not the horses that you knew how to choose but the noisy car races. I just think they wanted me to buy them beer. And no I haven’t ventured onto those “meet a friend” sites. Just not interested in getting involved with someone else now.

Think I’ve always been like that. I gave you your space and you gave me my space. I gave you your toys and you let me have my toys. Probably not the recipe for a good marriage, but it lasted us over two decades.

I did go to the beach. The Spencers have a place in OBX and the Dexters and I went down for a weekend. Four hour ride down and a ride back was enlightening especially with the motorcycle accompaniment. So I decided to make it an event and took all the rings and offer them to the ocean. I’m sure you were there.

So how do I fill my days? I make coffee in the morning, instant is fine, and a bottle of water, while checking a few e-mails and Facebook comments then it is off to the store. It takes about 30 minutes to go and come and then I scatter the buffet out and call the critters, then settle in beside the fan and have my meal of the day while watching black and white TV. And of course I stay hydrated. Another check of e-mails, which are usually, empty and then bed. I don’t sleep very well. I listen to the NPR at night and have gotten a smaller bed in Buffy’s room. I toss and turn every night no matter how many bullets I have for a few hours of troubled sleep. But I guess again you knew that.  

So I guess I’ll go until next year. Wonder what will come out of the ceiling next week. Maybe that bag of pot you hide so long ago?

Monday, July 2, 2012

In Heat


Now that summer is here for real, not that wimpy hot for a few minutes and then the cool breeze brakes the anticipation of sweat, but day after day of over 90 degree temperatures. We are soaking in the sun and it’s majesty that we fuss about at this time of year but would really miss the warmth.

Now that mid summer has hit, we start to change our schedules. Everyone rides around with his or her windows rolled up but I sure it is hot in there. Do they care? No! Because in a few days they will all go to some festive celebration and consume too much alcohol and be overcome by explosions.

Now as the trees have fallen and electricity has vanished we panic and scramble whoever has ice available to provide relief to the overwhelming food that is rotting in our freezers. And we complain about the heat.

What was it like before there was air conditioning?

Being one who experienced the southern heat and humidity I understand the need to sweat. It is the body’s reaction to more heat than it can handle so it pours water through our skin to cool us off.

Sitting through too many summer school classes with only open windows and maybe a box fan while the teacher in his soaked shirt tried to keep our interest  I gained appreciation on the southern folk who would rock on the front porch with a cool glass of lemonade waiting for the next breeze.

I’ve been lucky so far this year to maintain power for a few fans and the local provider keeps the bullets cool.

But there was a time, when being in heat meant an entirely different meaning. When the mind wanders into places unknown and carries the body with it, sometimes to faithful conclusions.
So sit back and relax. It is summer and it will be hot and in a couple of months you will be complaining about the cold.