Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Have your ever planned an estate?
Granted, it’s one of the least fun things to do, but the experts, say, “Aside from the many legal benefits, planning your estate is truly a selfless act. If you are without a plan, you leave your heirs wondering about your wishes, which can lead to problems and infighting. When you take the time to plan your estate, you remove that burden from them by letting them know exactly what you want.” It doesn’t matter if you’re single, have minimal assets, whatever, and put a plan in writing.
Oh come on now, this is not reality. No matter your amount of wealth and worldly goods when you croak, the remainders of your family and friends are going to scrap over what is left.
You can itemize every item and assign it to a cousin or aunt or brother or sister or son or daughter or maybe a fellow work mate or just some bum on the street, but it will be contested. Unless it is a load of cash, no one wants your leftovers.
That wonderful antique plate you leave to your Goth daughter will have no meaning. The book of poetry to your nephew won’t mean much when they are eyeing the grand piano in the corner. Grandmother’s quilt was assigned to Mary but Susan really wanted it. Heirs become vultures at death.
So why not give everything away before your demise? That way whatever story or important of the piece can be explained to the recipient for future generations. They may cherish it or just take it around the back to the trash, but it is out of your house and doesn’t need to be bothered with anymore.
This works well when someone states interest in a piece of furniture or artwork or item in the household that can be noted and later donated. Does that cut out someone else that might also have been interested in that item but never said anything? First come, first serve.
For after you die and the body is disposed of, the family ravages your belongings from your dirty underwear to your golden wristwatch. Little items you held dear will either be welcomed to a new home or discarded for every item has a story.
Photos are probably the best example of heirlooms. Like family Bibles, photo collections are passed down from generation to generation. It is part of the hierarchy.
Yet after a few generations, no one can remember who Uncle Clifford was or where Aunt Thelma lived. Plus there are all those fuzzy photos of people no one now can remember names or associations. Maybe mom or dad had a story attached to the photo but it was never discussed or written down so they are just strangers.
So with all the lawyers and fees and well-being about writing a will, in the end, there is a feeding frenzy to get your stuff.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Are You Ready To Die?

What kind of fricken question is that? No one is ‘ready’ to die.
Well there are legal professionals who can write up your last wishes to please those you leave behind with your worldly goods and take their cut and there are spiritual professionals who can guide you on your way to a fantasy fulfilled world of faith after their deposit and plenty of medical professionals who can keep you ticking for as long as you pay their fee, but in the end… you and I and everyone we know will die.
From what I’ve read and understand, we the ‘homo sapiens’ are the only creatures on this planet that logically understands there is an end to our life. Even though we don’t want to talk about it, dying is inevitable.
There are charts and graphs and lots of historical data on how long our time will be, but an automobile accident or a war or just bad eating habits can bring about the grim reaper earlier than intended.
We prepare for our own demise by burying pets in the back yard or attending Aunt Betty’s open coffin wake and cry tears for no real reason other than an acceptable ritual.
Entire industries are manufactured around our death. Listings in the local news deliver announce our passing and legacy, for a fee. Long black limousines and silent guys in black suits assist the remaining family and friends through their grief, for a fee. They will even dig a hole in the yard to drop you in, for a price.
Who knew it cost so much to die?
Memorial services can be held to remember the passing of a family member or friend while dividing up their worldly goods for their personal memories or monetary rewards. Precious items held so dear will wind up in the dump for the next generation will not understand their significance.
So with all that reality, are we ready?
Some may ponder the afterlife, if there is one, as a golden existence with forgotten friends and family up in the clouds. We will relieve ourselves with cards of ‘see you on the other side’ or ‘when you cross over the bridge, I’ll be there waiting for you’.
Others may lean on a faith, for that is why we invented it, to be rewarded with eternal bliss for living a good life. If that is the case, it will be pretty lonely up there and pretty crowded down in the gates of hell.
The youth don’t concern themselves about dying because they are invincible and are exploring life’s adventures and should be free to enjoy. Unfortunately, there is no timetable for death and some are taken before realization of the journey. Others may suffer in pain and misery until death is a welcomed end.
As we age and loved ones go to the great beyond before us, we contemplate death. We think back to our parents and grandparents who were laid up in homes of assisted living drinking water out of straws and just waiting to die. There life had gone from a vibrant person to a feeble stumbling forgetful shell where every morning brought another day of struggling to eat or communicate or excrete their bodily fluids in a somewhat dignified manner. Each day and hour is about survival.
Do we prepare for this fate?
Morbid subject? Sure, but to enjoy life, one must understand it is a blessing and appreciate every waking moment. Taking that extra minute to sit in the quiet and feel the sunbeams or listen to the crickets while watching the full moon or just taking a moment to stop and realize where you are and what you are doing. A kind word to a stranger or an affectionate word to a special someone will be worth the time.
My method is fairly simple. My house, as it is, is in somewhat order. I’ve arranged my priorities and if I don’t get to them, it is fine. The next person can handle it. I’ve not instructed the state or city or powers-that-be on my wishes for my property or personal belongings for there is nothing that needs to be said. As far as spiritual, not associated with any formatted religion structure but familiar with the cause, I stop several times a day to just stand still and look around. Listen to the trees and watch the wildlife that shares this land with us. Look up to have the snow wash my face and giggle. Stand in the rain knowing I won’t melt but will dry off. Sweat in the summer’s heat and shiver in the winter’s cold. Watch the moon wanders across the dark sky while the trees dance.
Am I ready to die? Don’t know what I’ll do when eternal darkness arrives but everyday, before my ride, I stop and look at the plot of land I’ve lived on for almost four decades. I look up into the trees and slowly scan the paths and grass and dirt and pause for this is my legacy. This is the same time everyday that I remember those who have gone before and those I still have feelings for. Sentimental mush perhaps, but the yard I saw yesterday is not the yard I see today and possibly I’ll be back to see it different again tomorrow.
At the end of the day, I draw the curtains closed and tell the critters ‘good night guys and I’ll see you tomorrow; Lord willing and the creek don’t rise’. Silly ritual? Sure but if I die before I wake?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

I Wish….

Woooo! What was that?
Woke up to a blinding light this morning as if someone was doing some sort of sci-fi special effect light show through my window, but it was only sunlight.
Good morning.
So another day starts with a typical routine of putting on a sweater, welcoming the day ritual, a couple of cups of dirty sweet water and dusting off yesterday’s wear. A brush of yesterdays remains then out into the world.
A breakfast for the bunnies and a brief observance of the morning repose before facing the early chill.
A quick turn and with legs pumping getting a feel for a new day and watching the changes from the previous day, my ride begins. The long tall drink of water brunette beauty in black hot pants and tight white sweater was one. Didn’t expect that. Thank you God! Typical neighbors walking their pets or pushing their babies or cutting their grass instead of attending worship were my peers for the day.
A big blue sky with soft drifting white clouds brought back thoughts of last nights dreams and my thought for the day was forming. The tummy temple seemed pretty much the same from yesterday but nothing appealed to my palette so it was just the feed for the yard and my medicine. Rather than the rush-thru line, I waited my turn for Katy and contemplation.
So today’s theme is “I wish….”
Have you ever lay on your back at night and stared up at the stars? You pick a star and say the familiar phrase:
“Star light, Star bright, the first star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight.”

So what would you wish for?

I wish…. I’d followed my dreams?

That is a good wish, but I didn’t have any dreams. I had no desire to become an astronaut or a teacher or bureaucrat or a scientist or computer programmer or librarian or even cowboy. I just went with the flow and when the powers that be asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I answered, “Do I have to grow up?”

I wish…. I could have been famous?
Yes, that sounds good too. You could be on all the magazine covers with wealth and paparazzi and glam and all that fake stuff, but. There is always a ‘but’.
What appears to be wonderful is much more work than most of us can endure. I did try to be a rock and roll star but the business and traveling and lack of monetary rewards and personal conflicts got in the way. Every ‘star’ seems to fade and another takes over.

I wish…. I’d taken a different career path?

Some of that is education and some of that is desire. I could have followed my father’s advice and taken advantage of a semi-famous name to promote myself into an industry of fakery and misguided wealth. Flatulent fame does not achieve self-realization.
As it was, I did it my way and it worked out all right.

I wish…. I could have found God?

First I never knew he was missing, but I think this is the wish most everyone wants. It is not so much about religion. It is a wish to find the meaning of life.
Scientist has tried to explain the evolution but we want more. Why am I here? Does it really matter?
In the end, we write our own answer.

I wish…  I had told her?
Oh I could go down that road many a time. I think our biggest regrets are not saying what we should have said at the time.
In reflection, what did we know? How much experience did we have communicating or understanding our emotions?
So we fumble into relationships and then stumbled and bumbled along for years trying to find that compromise platform to exist with another person.
Then there was that emotional thing? How do you explain you missed that class?
With all the passion and physical connection how do you tell her she cannot bore your child because she is married to Peter Pan?

Yet there are no regrets.

With some luck and the right decisions for all the wrong reasons, life goes on.
Anyone can look back and wonder, but that is not what life is about. We do what we do at the time that we do it and wishing for more is a fantasy.
Age and wisdom do not give us more options, only an experience with a variance of ideas and outcomes. Besides, it is history now.
So the end of the day brings great 45 hits of flip sides that are long gone and many never heard and tomorrow will hopefully bring another light show.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Kick-Starter from Procrastination

Life presents many projects to do, but when you don’t have a deadline the projects can wait.
Well this weekend, the projects couldn’t wait.
A few friends, comrades from the high school years, invaded my space to check off some projects. Maybe not invaded, for they were invited, but there were many people jammed in a small space disturbing the silence of normal.
A gathering of the tribe was a good thought and much logistics were made but the weather was not cooperating. After a week of soaking rain and cooler temperatures for this time of year, the party moved inside.
First, there was the crucial assemblage of materials and the most important improper dietary foodies plus adult beverages.
A trio gathered and documented the projects of the day, materials required, and schedule to accomplishment the goals.
Off down past dead generals and into the cement floors of the vast toy warehouse with list in hand the adventure started. A cart filled with sticks and pans and rollers and stuff rolled back and forth, but there were not the cheering I’m used to entering this hall of remodeling. A nice Goth red-haired girl rang up the score and we moved on to the tummy temple.
Returning to the tune of Dixie and past former family houses, the trio found another shelter from the rain. Crackers, cheese, fruit, and lots and lots of alcohol filled the cart along with a huge umbrella and a heavy cast iron umbrella stand that would not fit on the back of a bike. Priorities. It pays to have friends with cars. Check off the to-do list.
One project done with four hands and a flashlight and now I miss my beep. Another project was somehow completed with Marx Brothers antics and mechanical engineering minds. Sanding went must faster than anticipated and the work was done. Cough.
A respite to sit on the misty porch washing down the dust and telling tales of years gone by the clueless crew rested before the quality manager reviewed today’s task without receiving the seal of approval. 
An early start of the day to move some furniture and arrange others under a tent of plastic while laying out newspaper and wiping cloths of old sweatshirts. By assembly time I was already exhausted.
It had been agreed upon to start painting the next morning. One by one the body of compatriots assembled and grabbed their weapon of choice to begin their labor when suddenly the processed halted. “This paint is too soggy”, said one. “This paint is too mushy”, said another. “This paint is too old”, said yet another. “There are too many bumps on the wall”, complained the last. Talk went in every direction and options were formulated as part of the team struck off back to the home of home supplies.
More sanding and more complaining and we began all over again. “You take the ceiling and you do the walls and you stand there and complain”. Everyone had an assignment and some did it better than others. “I got paint on my shirt” to “Paint chips on my roller” to “This really ought be sanded down more” to “We are running out of paint” to “I’m taking a break” continued until the rough walls were slapped in every direction in a white wet coating.
Could any of the migrant workers comprehend this as an art project and we were just gesso the canvas?
With enough manpower and tools and complaining, the immediate task was done. The sun welcomed the whiners to cheese and crackers and more beverages. If I had wanted all this noise I would have married them.
Boys will be boys so the topics of conversation continued to discuss dissemination of genitals. One was very boisterous until his wife and daughter-in-law showed up for a secret spy eye on the goings on. Another just sort of wandered back and forth between silence and pontifications. The other two seemed confused by the distance they had lived and the hand signals of a few who had staged contact but had just lost it in the fog.
Old and getting older comrades in arms had conquered the walls and ceiling and now continued to catch up on years with strange tales and laughs of ancient relationships and times gone by. Truth or fiction didn’t matter for this motley crew had started what had been stopped years ago. Now it will be up to me to continue the task at hand. Will I or won’t I? Time will tell. First check their pockets for wristwatches and loose change.
Breaking for a dinner reservation, I checked the disaster that had been my living room, dining room and hallway. “Not bad” I thought, but another coat will be required. That will be my job for the purpose of the kick-starter was to get me motivated.
Still being fairly early, I ventured out to the tummy temple and got some fresh air and worked different muscles from standing, then rehydrate. After feeding a forgotten yard life started to settle down again. The hot shower felt especially good getting the cake of baked on dust off.
Arriving at the destination, through some strange Yuppie double-parking techniques, I set up the payment schedule to a very pretty smiling face. Two tables were pushed together to reward the working crew with food and drink. Once assembled with special guest all appear no worst for the wear and rather proud of our accomplishments of the past two days, gorging on cheese and fruit and breads and libations.
Home again without an incident with a clown, get into the comfier and soak up the remainders while prepare for the next adventure.
Break of dawn and the President of Pittsville map in hand, this brave driver of a motorized metal monster machine, captured me and slung me down a cement ribbon to parts unknown. Once engaged in conversation we challenged the forgotten instructions and got lost. Yet these were brave explorers determined to find their destination with constant calls of assistance to the co-pilot. 
Upon arriving, with much relief, we shifted gears to an adventure on the water, and an adventure it was.
Absolutely perfect weather, clear sky, soft breeze and calm waters, the captain accepted a novice crew upon his vessel. With some coaching and prompting and a few words not to be used by children, Capt. got us underway. A few more cranks and pulls and tugs and shifts and more pulls and…. Well you get the idea, the jib came full and a crew of three were sailing.
Yes, sailing like on the water and wind and seagulls and a flashback to memories the other two did not know. To break the inexperience sailors, we mutinied and ate fried chicken and rolls while landlubbers were amazed at the visions of lighthouses and the path that ventures have taken for eons. If we go south and turn starboard, there is Florida?
The Capt. is a pro and we backed into the dock without destroying anything or anyone, though he had his doubts. A 40-foot sailboat takes a bunch of work to secure but I think we got everything done to his instructions. Wonder what that plug below deck was for?
A comfortable afternoon of sunshine, phone calls, relaxing, phone calls, drinks, more phone calls, a tour of the town and then a seafood dinner that was more than enough.
Another break of dawn and another early start, the crew of the Pauper’s Paradise returned back to reality through the morning dew. Following the correct directions and without incident, the speed of light emptied me back at a familiar yard of ivy and tree monkeys.
Once back in the confines of the normal another look around. Where to start? What next?
If it is broken it must be fixed and that is a priority. If it is bruised then how will it take to mend?
So the ‘to-do’ list is reassembled with putting a bed frame together, stripping the kitchen ceiling, sanding and painting the back door and steps, putting up the medicine cabinet and painting the bathroom, sanding the music room after moving a bunch of guitars to another location to make room to move, move the cassettes cases from the bedroom, find some place to put two drawing boards while sanding and painting the art room, hook up the stereo, hang frames and other artwork…..
That is such a distance dream at this point but I’ve been kick-started.
Maybe there will be another invasion weekend from a bunch of grumpy ole men but time is short for Geezers.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

And when she says, "NO!"

It is not what you expected?
Everything was planned right down to the perfectly designed ring and the most romantic setting and the agonized but well rehearsed question but not the unexpected answer.
Now I will format this statement broadly by saying, being a guy, we try to set things up for our own expectations of accomplishing a goal. A shot at the hoop, a boast to eat more wings, or to drive to the end of the street faster than anyone else are what guys do to prove they are guys.
A proposal is the same thing. It is not in a “guys” DNA to get all that emotional stuff out in the open where someone else can hear it. Sure in the dark room guys will say anything to…. Well you know. But to make a public display of affection or even worst a acknowledgement that this other person means more than life itself and the guy is going to crumble to ask for eternal connection with this other being.
I’m not saying we are hopeless louts. The flash of an eye or the flick of the hair easily crazes us. Shoot, you ladies are well trained on how to capture us. History proves this.
But when it gets serious, you know, really serious and our “guy mind” is all befuddled, we start to get all goofy.
It is not a bad thing and it is probably in our natural makeup but we don’t know it. Guys are trained to hammer nails and catch footballs and beat on our chest to show our dominance over our surroundings. Look at what we did to the gentle guitar by putting electricity into it to make heavy metal.
So for a guy to throw off all that masculinity he lives on and become the tender person who will ask “you” to become more than just a date is a monumental moment.
Sweat on the brow, palpitations in the chest, and a deep sinking feeling as the question is asked. All the preparations have been made for this “yes” or “no” response.
And if she says, “No!”?
If you want to see a guy, a big burly guy standing tall and strong crumble, just say, “No”.
Sure we have all those emotions like everyone else, but have been trained to suppress them. Once you shatter this belief, a guy has to rationalize his failure. Some recover and some don’t.
So ladies, be gentle on us. Take a second look at the shiny bling he is offering because that took a lot of effort to make and take a listen to his quivering voice and realize how difficult this is to ask and think about the period of time together you have agreed to being a couple.
To clarify these previous statements, I am not expert on the female mystique, but I do know how to reach over to an empty pillow. *

*Repeat from a ReadWave post in England circa 2014. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Alone With Your Thoughts

Riding a bicycle is an exceptional experience. There is the peddling to keep going forward and the wide-eyed attention to details of potholes, open doors and passing traffic but there is so much more.
Once into the cadence of the travel the outside world turns off and you are alone with your thoughts. I think the same thing happens when riding a horse or long road trips without the radio on.
The mind clears itself and gets into the rhythm of the present. The heart beats different. The breathing is fuller. The senses become more aware of the surroundings. 
The road is ever changing and the shadows and light lead the way for every revolution is another adventure.
So without distractions your mind is left alone with your thoughts.
All those personal things you would never tell anyone else can be contemplated with no need for a solution. Strange thoughts that only venture in dreams can be reviewed with a wonder of where they come from.
Subjects like: “Who thought of that?” may fill the mind. As you press one foot down and then another, you ponder issues seen on the Internet or comments made or just questions with no answers.
Today’s subject brought on the “Who thought of that?” It started with an announcement of a death. Some guy who produced or directed or created the Veg-a-matic or Rondo products or something like that had died. Of course, I couldn’t find it again, but it made me remember ‘Infro-mercials’. Those strange half hour programs between sports and bad sitcoms with some guy showing the wonders of the creative minds to sell to America.
Not the normal newspaper ads with coupons or a brief TV or radio spot trying to capture your dollar, this was a spot in time that became entertainment asking for your money.
Much of these had to do with food preparation, so I must assume their direct audience was marketed for women. A comfortable white guy in an apron sliced and diced and cut and steamed and used some sort of appliance or utensil that must be purchased to make the dining experience even better.
Then I broadened the range of thoughts.
Who thought of aluminum siding? Who thought of the transistor? Who the heck thought we could type on machines that did not require paper to communicate?
So I think of what history I know and what became of it.
After the war, yes, the second one, a bunch of horny guys came back alive and were told by the church to get married before sex. Well, babies happened so homes had to be built and suburbia was created. So all these guys who were not shooting a nips or nazies, went off to war as teens and had to be trained to work. Luckily the US had thrown itself into the war production and could easily train someone with little education how to convert a parachute manufacture to making off-the-rack suits or move the tank manufacture to build classy automobiles or hire a bunch of teachers to fill the ever expanding schools. As our incomes started to prosper with our celebration of survival, new ideas appeared that were attainable. A president who wanted a pathway for troops to be able to quickly respond to the cold war threat created the highway systems. This winding roads lead to the expansion of the automobile traveling to visit grandma and then a whole industry of vacations. When it was too slow to drive the flight industry increased and all was fuels by oil. Appliances like refrigerators, microwaves, color televisions became mandatory for all family status. Aluminum siding covered up all the old classical architecture and someone invented double knit. Then someone created the transistor and everything started getting faster and smaller and portable.
This are just a few examples of someone or a few out there who came up with an idea and crafted it to sell to a bank or someone with investment qualities to manufacture and market until all the rest of us had to have it. Some succeeded. Some failed. 
Then you notice the rain is coming and it is time to get home and feed the bunnies before going inside and being alone again…
..With your thoughts.