Friday, November 29, 2013

Dining With The Outlaws

This is Turkey Day. The day when family gathers to dine together and join in camaraderie that only a family can do. Stories of children and children’s children, tales of ancient members and tales that only members of a clan will know are spread like a tapestry of linage. 
Other families will infiltrate the purity of the original family and additional cultures will combine. Even the turkey day meal may variety from the traditional.
Let me explain.
You have a family. I have a family. We all have a family. A mother and father are necessary to have a family. There may be others in the family. A family sleeps under one roof together. The family eats at the same table. The family has the same last name.
Then there are others in your family who are just a step away. Your mother had brothers and sisters in her family. Now they are part of your family. And her brothers and sisters’ children are also part of your family.
The same is for your father. His brothers become uncles and his sisters become aunts and their children become cousins. Then there are parents of parents who become grandparents. And this is your lawful family.
When you decide it is time to start your own family, you are about to expand your family with in-laws. They are not blood relatives, but seen as family under the governmental descriptions. They only show up for free food at Thanksgiving and ask for presents at Christmas. Be sure to clarify your will because your family by marriage will certainly show up then.
But there is another type of family. I call them the ‘adopted family’. An adopted family is one who has no relationship to you other than being friends with one of the members.  There is no legal connection but they don’t mind you being one of the family.
I call these families “outlaws”.
Today I was invited to dine with an outlaw family. I’ve had a few families that I didn’t marry into, but was invited to join in “family” events without reservation. There may have been some reservations, but I joined in nevertheless.
These are families of different upbringing and different churches and even different schools. I became a ‘friend’ of one or more of the members of this outlaw band and just hung around until invited to participate in a family occasion. I’ve always tried to be polite and use whatever etiquette I’ve learned through the years with my lawful family so as not to interfere with the outlaw gatherings. An outsider invited in.
A comfortable communion with food and drink, pleasant conversation, and football on the big screen was the requirement of the invitation. I should have worn a nametag since I was a temporary family member and looked rather different.
It was an enjoyable afternoon with a pack of outlaws. I don’t think I said anything inappropriate or made any faux pas.
As I packed my pony and said “Farewell” I did feel the warmth of family, even thought they were not my own.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Thanksgiving. This is the day to bring all the family and friends together for hours of warm feelings. A traditional holiday with all the women in the kitchen slaving away over big birds and family home-made potions while the guys sit back, drink and watch football.
The meal is served and everyone indulges too much so the evening retires to naps and unbuckling belts. Thanksgiving is a celebration for opulence and excess. Would you like seconds?
Well I’ve spent many a Thanksgiving in this tradition. Years of dusty of the special carving tools so the father can stand at the head of the table and carve the turkey. The silver platters full of substance for the holiday not prepared in the kitchen but consumed with abandon. 
Even when it was my turn to carve did I follow the tradition of abundance with the tradition in hand? Every variation of cooking the bird in ovens and on fire was experimented with while my wife would prepare all the fixings. Through the years our menu went from the evolvement of the all-American traditional to Chinese influence to Tex-Mex to all veggie variations.
The past couple of years I’ve been on my own for the holiday. I’ve been thankfully invited to other families’ gatherings with much appreciation and gluttony, but once I did the Thanksgiving dinner for myself. The following is the recipe for that once a year meal-for-one.
1 - 8 oz. package of Private Selection Off the Bone Smokehouse Ham deli sliced
1 – 24 oz. Kroger home style mashed potatoes microwavable bowl
1 – 3 oz. bag of Stove Top everyday stuffing mix for turkey with real turkey broth
1 – 17 oz. dozen Sara Lee classic dinner rolls
1 – 8 oz. package of Private Selection Wildflower Honey Turkey Breast deli sliced
1 – 2.8 oz. can of French’s French Fried Onions
1 – 10.5 oz. can of Campbell’s Beef Consommé with gelatin added
1 – 14 oz. Ocean Spray whole berry cranberry sauce
1 – 12 oz. Heinz Home Style roasted turkey gravy
1 - 14.5 oz. Glory sweet traditions fried apples
1 – 14.5 oz. Kroger cut green beans
(Note: Sorry to use brand names but it is easier than just a generic package.)

1 – Open a bottle of wine. Might want to start with a light rosé or white. Everything goes better with a glass of wine.
2 – Open the rolls. Take one out and put it in your mouth. You know you are going to. Put the rest of the bread on a cookie sheet and pop into a warm oven, say 200 degrees.
3 – Open the packages of turkey and ham and place on a platter. You might even mix them up for variety.
4 – Open the turkey gravy and pour into a microwave safe bowl and place into microwave and heat for 3 minutes or until it is steamy and fluid.
5 – Open the can of green beans, drain the liquid in the trash can and put into a microwave safe bowl. After the gravy is heated, take out of the microwave and place the green beans in.
6 – Pour the gravy over the turkey and ham platter.
7 – Open another bottle of wine
8 – When you hear the ding from the microwave, open the mash potatoes. Peel off the plastic cover and put in the microwave after taking out the green beans. Cook for whatever time is on the package.
9 – Put the steaming green beans on a plate and cover with butter and the French onions.
10 - Open the can of cranberry sauce that has been stored in the refrigerator and plop on a saucer.
11 – Open the fried apples, place in a microwave safe bowl and when the mashed potatoes are done replace it with the apples. Cook on high for 3 minutes.
11 – Butter the mashed potatoes then pour the rest of the cooling gravy over them.
12 – When you hear the ding on the microwave, put down your glass of wine, put the apples out and put the platter of meat and gravy in. Heat for about as much time as it takes to open another bottle of wine.
13 – Turn off the oven and pull out the rolls. Butter and place on another platter.
14 – When the microwave tops remove the ham and turkey covered now in nice warm gravy
15 – Place all the plates on the table and turn on the television. If you cook early enough, watch the parade. Otherwise watch the football game while you gorge.

Wash it all down with:
1 – bottle of Rosato rosé wine from Barboursville vineyards
1 – bottle of Simply Red Trump from Monticello Vineyards
1 – bottle of Governor’s White American Riesling from the Williamsburg winery
1 – bottle of Angel Chardonnay from the Chateau Morrisette
1 – bottle of Sweet Muscadine ‘a southern favorite’ from the Chateau Morrisette
1 – bottle of 2012 Two Shilling Red from the Williamsburg Winery

and when you are slipping off into sleepy land, pick up the bag of stuffing you never opened. Well, there is always next year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Love Is Work

Been discussing the “L” word recently and it still makes me ponder how it works. Then I associated it with work and had a light bulb moment.
If you think about it, Love is a lot like Work. Not the emotional stuff but some people love to work and work to love, so I will attempt to explain my thought process here.
When you apply for a job, you fill out an application with intimate details of your life and experiences. You wait for a call back and then prepare for an interview. You clean up and wear your best business like clothing for the face-to-face examination. You wait in a room with other applicants all applying for the same opportunity of employment. When your name is called, you answer questions and try to present yourself in the most favorable light. You intend to convince the interviewer that you have the qualifications and mental fortitude to accomplish the goals set above and beyond the other applicants. Then you wait to find out if you succeeded.
Love is the same process. You see a person you would like to meet. Sometimes a mutual friend introduces you while other times you must step up to the plate and make first contact. You make small talk trying to find common likes and taste to continue the conversation. Perhaps a favor of an unexpected compliment or a libation helps to increase your chances. Phone numbers are exchanged. Then you wait to find out if you succeeded.
If you don’t see my point, go to any local watering hole on a Friday night and watch. They are all playing the game.
Once you are hired, you are assigned your duties and workspace and the requirements of your job. You are given what the expectations of the company are. You may have to compromise your time schedules but if you work hard and impress the boss, there are possible raises in store. You can even become management and have a sense of power.
Are you getting it yet? Love is the same way. Once a relationship is started life changes. The drapes must be replaced, the furniture moved, a new set of dishes and a pet are usually involved. Compromise is the key for maintaining the Love atmosphere. How much each gives and takes in the relationship is a good indicator of how long it will last. Taking out the trash when asked or attending the ballet and pretending to like it may give a possible raise in the future.
Like in every workplace, budgets must be met, innovative changes learned, co-operation from other workers, and frustration from the daily grind occur in relationships too. Money is usually the first obstacle. One person may bring in more than the other person, which gives him or her a power position in the relationship. As the decades pass with changes in fashion, housing, location, transportation and even the onset of children, a couple must adapt. Outside influences of family and in-laws constantly bombard with ideas and suggestions. Most of all the day-by-day-by-day routine can bind on romance and perhaps cause a wandering eye.
Some people with feel confident enough to quit their job and move on to another company. Some people are laid-off without notice. Some people are just out-and-out fired from employment. The same is true with Love.
Workers who are self-employed or telecommute are secure enough in themselves to be single. Freelancers work wherever the opportunity will take them. Some are adventurous enough to work more than one job at a time.
Whether Love is a job or a career, it must be worked at. Like in any workplace, if you become complacent, you will be passed by and forgotten. Most employers will not rehire you after you leave, even if the former has fond memories.
The work you do everyday may not be what you had preferred. Many educational and philosophical teachings may have to be compromised to provide shelter, substance, and safety. The same is true for Love.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Take A Hike

It is cold today. The chill from last night didn’t warm up this morning. I took a short ride, but it was just too cold so I cut it off and came home. The calendar said I was to get my new eyes today so I decided to walk over to the optometrist.
Zipping up my various layers, I started my litter journey on foot. Not at the 3.5 mph pace I use on the treadmill but just a slow walk in the fall sunshine. The leaves are crunchy now but it may be the last day before the winter storm coming this way. Most of the leaves are down now and all the neighbors hill blown big piles in the street that will be nice and wet and slick when it rains.
At this pace one can really enjoy the changes in seasons. Light traffic, no one else on the streets and even fewer critters. Much like having my own town. My walking pattern is engrained from years and years of practice. I even cross at the same place we used to walk every trip to the store. I probably won’t go to the gym today, but with the sunshine I am working up a sweat.
After a pleasant fitting of my new eyes, I walked over to the mall. A walk through the Staples store I priced some software that I may need to buy if I can’t fix what I got. I even looked at the PC laptops again, but that was last year’s challenge.
Walking down the mall’s sidewalk the stores didn’t seem to have the Christmas rush yet. I passed the Tap House and thought about going in to have lunch, but wasn’t hungry. Not looking for anything or shopping, I did stop in to AC Moore (formally Ben Franklin) just because that was one of her favorite spots. Welcoming me was a large wired bin of soft cotton wraps. It brought a smile for I had a household of them for every critter. I felt the warm and enjoyed the Christmas smell of pinecones and candles. I walked by all the array of decorations knowing none of them would be going home with me. The reams of yarn and needles were passed as I wandered over to the frames. Venturing into the art supplies all wrapped up for the season I had to remind myself of the drawers full at home. Walking out the door my visit was paying homage to a past toy store.
Arriving home for a sit down and rest I check the emails and weather. Looks like the next couple of days will be a rain out, so I decide to go to the grocery store instead of going to the gym. I can rationalize it by my extended walk.
Packing up a bag of coins, my wine bag, and an extra grocery bag I load up my bike and ride the familiar route to the store. The traffic has picked up and there seems to be more zombies than normal for a Monday. I’ve decided to buy a turkey dinner just in case my invitation falls through, so I grab a little basket and join the fray.
I had only taken a few steps when I come to the realization that the cooking season is in full force. Particularly popular was the aisle with the stuffing and gravy. The cook wasn’t the only one shopping. They brought an entourage talking on cell phones and blocking the aisles whenever possible. The zombies got the same message about the weather so with carts full of walkers and canes they explored the hunger forest bewildered by it’s ingredients.
As usual I was not in any hurry so I just wandered around aimlessly in my second home. I even stopped at the adult beverage aisle to discuss wines. With some good recommendations I accomplished the task of buying local and with variety. The cart was overflowing. I was directed to a check out lane that was faster and said, “You just want to get me out of the building.” The price was more than I spend in a week but a pleasant chat with the checkout girl was worth it.
Listing the ingredients for a recipe to come later, I rested from my fall days adventure. It was a nice walk. Time to rest and get ready to be rained in. I guess I’ll find something fun to do. I always do.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Letting Go

Our homes hold items of memories that remind us of people and places. Some we know and some are just history. Then the time comes when we must sort through all these memories and start letting go.
If you’ve ever cleaned out your parent’s house you get an idea but don’t understand. A perfumed letter stuffed I a cardboard box signed by a person no one knows. A sepia tone of a pretty girl at the beach smiling at the photographer stuffed under the mattress. His father’s watch put away in a drawer and never worn but held as a treasure. Report cards and letters from teachers on how good or bad her son was in school wrapped in a ribbon. That special dress bagged and stuffed back in the closet, worn but to never be worn again. A tuxedo jacket from decades of smoke filled rooms and laughter hanging on a wooden hanger.
These are things that have a special meaning and just can’t be thrown away. Now look around in your house. Particularly this time of year with all the decorations and lights and memories brought down from the attic or up from the basement and dusted off to help make the holidays a occasion, then be stuffed back into their hibernation for another 11 months.
Having never been a parent, I can only relay the stories of others when their first child goes to college, or gets married, or dies. Yes, death is the ultimate letting go.
Those who die let go without a choice perhaps but I’ll not know until I get there. For everyone else, the experience becomes a lasting memory. Like the white tux coat or the perfumed letter, death is stored away to be remembered on holidays or anniversaries or just when there is a certain sound or smell that reminds you of the one who is gone from the daily activity of life.
The remains that will be cleaned out by you or your heirs may continue in a family vault of memories or become trash out of necessary. It is a difficult and sometimes timely process but sooner or later it must be done. Some things just can’t be past down from generation to generation without becoming faded and moldy.
We’ve all had to let go of our favorite t-shirt that just didn’t fit and got too full of holes or that favorite jacket that was too tight and out of style or even that automobile that brought the two of you together but was now full of rust. The puppy that your dad said ran away but was probably run over had to be let go. Your girlfriend who was going to be the ‘one’ but went off with another boy had to be let go.
They are never forgotten because they are a weave of our character but the emotional attachment must be let go to move on. Last night I was trying to explain my late wife to a person who never met her. I realized I was creating this bizarre picture of a woman possessed, but it was much more than that.
I’m sitting here watching football in freezing temperatures. I’m listening to the Rolling Stones earmuff headphones and washing down a pizza with Colorado water. I’m wrapped in a white blanket smelling of mothballs. This handmade blanket was brought home on a hot summer day. At the first Folk Festival our city ever had, we attended as a couple. Wandering from stage to stage of various music only breaking for a brief munchies and cool beverage, we follow the stream of bodies past craft tents. Like most crowded events I wanted to continue moving until we could find a spot to breath, but she found something. She discussed with the artesian the fabric of her curiosity. I stood still and watch the crowds crawl slowly by. She came to me and said we must buy this white blanket. She said it cost $100.  Not one to be quickly swayed to hand out the bucks but appreciate the arts, I thought of the number of blankets and spreads we already had. Besides it must be 100 degrees out here and we don’t need a wool blanket. She gave me the look and I parted with the Franklin and carried the weight for the rest of the day.
The blanket is handmade and is very warm and comfortable. It was probably a very good bargain. With those years without heat it did let us sleep under it and stay warm. Now it keeps my legs warm just like some stadium cover. The mothball smell will dissipate through the cold season and then it will be put back in the cedar box awaiting another request.
Memories of days at the beach or picnics or walks in the park or those nights of just sitting under the new trees in the yard with a glass of cheap wine and a constant smile will always be wrapped up in this blanket. Some things are hard to let go.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

But Wait....

We have all heard this on those constant info-commercials. The product that is so unbelievable than no one in his or her right mind could not purchase yet before we can pull out the credit card the commercial sweetens the deal by offering two-for-the-price-of-one (excluding shipping and handling). What a great deal! Two items we probably will never use or may not work as well as publicized for the price of one.
Have you ever been to a state fair? That was the first time I saw this. A barker’s constant chatter pulling in the curious to view a demonstration of some remarkable gadget that will change your life was only to sell a product. It is a remarkable experience to see a true salesman practicing their craft in front of a crowd of skeptic viewers only to entice them to purchase the item. A demonstration was made of this of unbelievable accomplishments for only a few coins.
I’m not sorry for the con. I worked in the industry.
You have a toaster. It works fine. It burns bread just like you like it. It pops the burnt bread up just when you want it. When it is not needed, it just sits there on the counter.
Then comes along the new, better, fashionable toaster. This new XL version has knobs and dials and is shiny and all the neighbors are buying them. Nothing can burn bread like the new XL.
But wait….
If you buy it today, even at the totally fantastic reduced price, this company is so monogamous to offer you a second product, almost free, with all the features and aspirations of the first only to ask for a few penances for shipping and handling.
Did you really want the NEW, EXCITING, MOST-POPULAR, AND FLASHY version when the old one worked just fine? Were you afraid that at the next cocktail party someone would notice you didn’t have the XL? Perhaps there is scuttlebutt at work was going around that you and your family were below admiration because you had not conformed with the rest of society and purchase the new XL version.
Seems simple when you think about it. Whenever some company flashes the latest upgrade or sleeker model, we all rush out to buy it. Shoot! That is what consumerism is all about. It keeps the economy going.
The question is: “How does that affect our relationships?” No, they don’t offer a two-for-one.
A relationship, particularly in a contract like marriage, means you have the latest model and you are happy and satisfied and content to continue till time everlasting. I mean the vows we pronounce before all assembled state until death do us part.
There is always a new model around the corner that is sleeker and has more attractions than the model you have. Are you happy with the old model that burns toast just the way you are accustomed to or do you get the newer model?
Life is an adventure. Enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fine Print

On every contract and official document there is fine print. Those little details that lawyers put in to make sure every possibility is covered. When we rent a car or get a loan for a house or order online there is fine print. We skip past it and sign our name or give out our financial information without a second thought.
But what about that fine print on your birth certificate. No it is not the stuff on the front. That just lists your name, your mother and father, the date and location of your birth. You never turned it over and saw all that fine print?
Each one is different so you have to read it all closely. Some are short because there is a death certificate attached. Some are long with multiple paragraphs describing what this life is to hold. If it was only that simple, but I is not?
The fine print would tell you about becoming overweight. It was tell you about acne, early baldness, and being short. Read closely about getting the measles, first day of school jitters and being bullied. Not being chosen for the prom queen or star quarterback and buying your first car and having it wrecked by your sister is all in the fine print.
Your first kiss is in the fine print. Often followed up by your first broken heart. The fine print also covers failing a class and being grounded. It also states how you cheated on your finals but never got caught. In that small type is your police record and the many times of coming home inebriated.
The fine type will state the happiness of another smile and the despair of a death in the family. It will tell you why you named your first-born and why you looked the other way. Not getting the raise you had hoped for in a job that became a career you were not educated for, or even wanted, will be described in the fine print. Hobbies, accidents, vacations, moving and removing, and paying taxes are all in find print.
If we only took the time to read it, we would have been prepared for what is to come. Or maybe that is the adventure of life.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Mom Wasn’t A Very Good Cook

As the cooking season is here and my adventures in the kitchen continue, I looked back on what kind of food was prepared for me growing up.  As a 50’s family the kitchen was my mother’s domain even though she didn’t like it. It was the role of a housekeeper and stay-at-home mom to clean, take care of the kids and cook.
Always wearing an apron with pockets full of tissues and cigarettes, my mom would sit in the kitchen and fix three meals a day for family. The radio was always on until she got a little television to keep her entertained while baking coffee and trying to vary out dietary requirements.
None of the meals were memorable, but we all sat down to the dining table day after day with our mannered etiquette consuming whatever came out of the kitchen. Some meals were simple while others required frequent trips back and forth for extra helpings until out came the pots and pans.
My mother left home when she was young and maybe didn’t get the homemade recipes from her mother. She came from a big family and I don’t know how they fed all, but my grandmother always seemed to be comfortable in the kitchen. No matter how many people were around for meals, my grandmother always had another helping for us. The kitchen was the most popular room at her house and she reveled in the task, but that was my grandmother.
My mother was not so much. She knew it was her responsibility but never had the interest or desire to cook. She had gone from small town family living to the high life of living in hotels and being served in restaurants and clubs. When she had to settle into motherhood requirements, she might have been disappointed.
So here I am reflecting on the meals I grew up with. There was no measure of food groups or healthy balance to our menu. It was the 50’s with meat and potato being the main course. Vegetables came out of cans and were over cooked. Chicken was fried.  Eggs were scrambled and dry. Bacon was greasy from the iron skillet. Meatloaf was a dry and about as appealing as fruitcake. Fish sticks had to be soaked in Worcestershire sauce. There were grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. There was chicken noodle soup when you got sick. There was Ginger ale and crackers when you were sick. Pancakes and French toast could be tolerated with lots of butter and syrup. We had milk delivered but our real daily product was butter. Butter made everything taste better.
Special holidays meant special meals. Cooking became entertaining and the silver came out to impress.
Now I will add this point. My dad was the manager of a club and had access to large professional kitchens, chefs and abundance of food. I never asked if he paid for it or it was just a perk of the job, but every holiday meal was brought home on stainless steel platters wrapped in tinfoil. Fully cooked turkeys with all the fixings, veggie platters, loads of bread, and platters of deserts were arranged in the kitchen and placed on fine china by my mother who was constantly talking between puffs on a cigarette. Even with only being required to heat up the prepared feast, she still walked around carrying her coffee cup and wearing an apron.
The kitchen had all the latest appliances and shelves of pots and pans, but I didn’t have any interest in cooking for myself. In college I worked for a vending machine company so I had all the sandwiches wrapped in plastic and canned soups I could eat. Junk food was becoming popular, but I never had enough money to eat out. Instead I would reach in my mom’s refrigerator, pull out a rib-eye steak, drop it in a skillet (with butter), and slap it on a piece of bread for a sandwich. I thought everyone ate that way.
My first wife, as I recall, wasn’t much of a cook either. She did bake me a tuna casserole that blew my mind. I had never eaten tuna fish or a casserole. Other than that I remember we went through a fondue period because it was the early seventies and that was what was popular. Quickly found out how long it takes to heat up a little piece of stuff on a sticker and you could starve waiting for it to cook. Bought a hibachi and burned some burgers on a cramped porch, but for the most part I remember we ate soups and sandwiches. We did go through a wine period where we invited our friends over to taste a selection of sample bottles then we realized everyone just wanted to get drunk.
My second wife was a bit more intense. She explored every aspect of life with fervor most cannot imagine. She explored oriental cuisine, down home southern cooking, vegetarian and everything in between. The shelves were full of cookbooks, appliances, utensils, plates, bowls, spices, pots and pans. I was the willing guinea pig for her experiments and was always bewildered at the new taste she presented. This was not my mother’s cooking.
After tearing out the kitchen, we went through a period of delivery. Cooking became too difficult so cardboard boxes holding food prepared by others was our regular nightly meal. Then she built a workspace for culinary experimentation and we were off again increasing our palate. Every unique devise that did some special technique was purchased. Like an artist experimenting with different paints of watercolors or oils, she tested the skills of baking, broiling, steaming, frying, and every other method to prepare a meal. She examined all the ingredients making notes and menus to taste. This was not my mother’s kitchen.
Today I cook for one. I have given away so many of the appliances and spices and cookbooks for I know I will not go there. I have all the cookware and knowledge, but little interest to prepare food to feed myself.
Mom never taught me any cooking skills, but she did teach me one thing about the kitchen. ALWAYS have sharp knives.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


History is the study of the past. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about these events. The term includes cosmic, geologic, and organic history, but is often generically implied to mean human history.
We all have some history. Some of it we have written down for posterity and some we have shared. Some of the history will never be known.
We can research our history and our ancestries but may never understand what made them tick. We know dates and locations and property of record but never know what they liked or felt or their own secrets.
We celebrate some important dates in history and others are forgotten. An interesting aspect of history is it never goes away. And we remember birthdays of those who have gone before. Elvis would be 78 now and Henry VIII would be 522.
She would have been 56 today. Happy Birthday.

Monday, November 11, 2013

So What Is The Topic Of Conversation

Of course, as usual, the Sunday thought pattern began with “This American Life” program and a cup of coffee. Today’s topic was subjects that should not be discussed at a dinner party.
Presented by the mother of one of the programs announcers, she stated her case about the improper topics that should not be use in polite conversation: Your health, your period, how you sleep, your diet, your dreams, how you travel, and money. Her stoic position was no one cares about hearing any of these subjects.
It was an interesting program, but then I thought what the heck do we talk about. Other than telling you that the clothing you are wearing is hideous and trying to avoid a punch, we only can talk about what is familiar to each other.
Old friends who we have not seen for some time have only remembrance of a time gone by. New associations must be built on whatever subjects both approve of. Why speak Latin if you only know Greek?
Recently a far off friend came by to share some of his creative wonder. We chattered for a few minutes as he installed the artwork on the window and then we sat on the porch for a chat. Where do we go from here?
How is your family? How is your health? How is your work? Is that a new car? Is that a new jacket? What the heck is we suppose to talk about?
The topic of conversation is started from shared experiences, but so much has changed since then. The hot items of politics and religion will usually be avoided for small talk about weather and activities of children. Just looks what is posted on social media.
Looking at the previous list I can’t say anything about my period. I’ve heard too much on that subject but cannot tell any personal tales. Health is always a subject for conversation, especially in old age when things start breaking down and everyone can share their woes. How you sleep usually means you bought a new bed or your wife kicked you to the coach. Either way, it is probably not a good subject of conversation. Neither is whatever else you do in the bedroom. The bedroom and the bathroom are probably two places you should never discuss. A diet discussion is only comfortable with someone else who is on a diet. Like the subject health, diet talk is probably best not discussed at a dinner party. The subject of children and grandchildren should only be a topic when everyone has children or grandchildren. We may all be interested or even curious but should be impose our marriage arrangements or our breeding techniques with others? Routes and problems of traveling from point-to-point is an anonymous subject with little to offend unless someone in the group sold you a travel ticket to a trip gone wrong or is working repairing roadways. And money can be realized without talking about it. The autos, houses, clothing all tell each other’s wealth or lack thereof.
There seemed a time when conversations were deep. We talked of motivations, desires, and dreams before they happened. There were no question of any subjects brought up in a group and all shared in. There was no topic that could not be breached.
Perhaps it was the age or the environment or the affects of shared substances, but every word was important. There was also plenty of goofing and funning and silliness to go along with the mystical moments of life changing conversation.
Today, the giggles are still there due to a few drinks but the conversations are as cardboard as politically correct will allow. Unless we share experiences to relate a polite conversation may just fluff over the events of the moments.
Maybe the lady with the restrictions on proper etiquette had a point.  There are a lot of things we shouldn’t talk about, so just keep it simple. Don’t step on anybody’s toes or smear an opinion. Don’t delve into waters you shouldn’t go.
Well “How are you today?” WRONG! “How are you feeling?” WRONG! “Did you have any trouble getting here?” WRONG! “You got any money?” WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!!!
So the next time someone says, “Let’s talk.” Don’t do it.

Sunday, November 10, 2013



She asks me why
I'm just a hairy guy
I'm hairy noon and night
Hair that's a fright
I'm hairy high and low
Don't ask me why
Don't know
It's not for lack of bread
Like the Grateful Dead

Gimme head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

Let it fly in the breeze
And get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas in my hair
A home for fleas
A hive for bees
A nest for birds
There ain't no words
For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder
Of my...

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy
Shining, gleaming, streaming
Flaxen, waxen
Knotted, polka-dotted
Twisted, beaded, braided
Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!

Oh say can you see
My eyes if you can
Then my hair's too short

Down to here
Down to there
Down to where
It stops by itself

They'll be ga ga at the go go
When they see me in my toga
My toga made of blond
Biblical hair

My hair like Jesus wore it
Hallelujah I adore it
Hallelujah Mary loved her son
Why don't my mother love me?

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

So the time has come to see if I will follow up on my statement to shake things up. Man up or shut up.
I rode over to the mall yesterday preparing for the big event but the place I went to last time I got a trim was now a sandwich shop. Since I figured a hair cutter place was on every block like fingernail and phone places I rode to the end of the mall searching for another place to be shorn.
There were yogurt places and smoothie’s places and massage places and spa places but no little shops with revolving chairs and big mirrors. Now what genius? I could just not go through with my plan and blame it on not finding someone with scissors.
I will not be defeated in my mission. On a slow ride back I looked across the street and saw a place named ‘Sports Cuts’. That would be my destination for tomorrow. But tomorrow is Sunday. Are they open on Sunday?
Rather than guess, I rode over and checked out the hours on the door. Sunday 12 – 5. Perfect! Then I went to the gym and found out I had forgotten how to swim.
The day comes and it is warm and beautiful. Happy Birthday to me. The usual coffee, water, email check and radio show. Nothing else really to do except get dressed and tie my hair back. Rode my usual route to clear my head then headed to the head-shop.
I had forgotten since it had been more than four years since I had been to a place with a striped pole how some require reservations or you sit like in a hospital waiting room. “Do you take walk-ins”, I asked to a charming young woman behind a short counter. “Sure” she smiled back pushing a registration form in front of me. I filled out my name, rank and serial number and sat down.
There was a longhaired blond kid sitting with his father, a guy looking at football announcers on a big screen and a woman on the phone. I couldn’t see where the sheering was taking place so I didn’t know how many barbers there were. It didn’t matter how long the wait for I had nothing else to do but watch football and eat cake and ice cream. The young kid was called in and his father and the woman on the phone followed. It looked like his first hair cut. “Zak?” was called in soon after.
“Cliff?” I stood up and answered the call. A cute raven-haired beauty presented herself as ‘Amy’ and walked me to the back. “What are we going to do?” she asked while covering me in a black sheet. “Well Amy, I want you to cut off the ponytail at the tie. I’m going to donate the hair. And then cut everything else short.”
After a brief hesitation, I explained it was my birthday and I was going to do something different. She picked up her scissors and clipped off the ponytail, laying it on the counter like a dead bird. The she professionally trimmed the rest of the mop.
After a discussion of children, schools, jobs, towns and sports Amy asked, “How do you like this?” I put my glasses on since I can’t see diddley-squat without them and said, “Shorter.”
So she buzzed it. “Like this?” I thought before view the blur in the mirror “ If not, what are you going to do? Glue the hair back on?”
“Yes!” I said at my new baldness.
Since I was a new customer she was going to give me the VIP package. We stepped over the clippings that looked like remains of spring yard work to another room. I was seated in a dark room in a chair with my legs raised. The chair was vibrating. She asked me to lay my head back and then put a warm towel on my face. Since all the hair was gone there was much to shampoo but she gave me a remarkable head massage. I sat back down in the barber’s chair and she massaged my back with another vibrator.
Not bad for the price and a little tip, I left relaxed and transformed and bald. I immediately ran into a friend who talked to me but said she didn’t immediately recognize me. “That is the idea,” I said, “The police will never find me.”
So this winter will be a bit colder than I’m used to and my face is bare for the first time in 35 years, it just seemed like something different to do. If I don’t like it, it will grow back.
I’ll post some selfies to show the results. Oh sorry, I have a stupid phone so they might be a little rough.

I almost cut my hair
'Twas just the other day
It was gettin' kinda long
I could-a said, it was in my way
But I didn't and I wonder why
I want to let my freak flag fly
And I feel like I owe it to someone

Must be because I had the flu for Christmas
And I'm not feelin' up to par
It increases my paranoia
Like lookin' at my mirror and seein' a lit up police car
But I'm not givin' in an inch to fear
I promised myself this year
I feel like I owe it to someone

When I finally get myself together
Get down in some sunny southern weather
Find a place inside to laugh
Separate the wheat from the chaff
'Cause I feel like I owe it to someone
D. Crosby