Saturday, July 16, 2016

Moments of Mass Sadness

Moments of mass sadness have started to come back to back to back, hardly giving me the time to comfortably assimilate and deal with the sad event that came before.  As Nasreen Iqbal said in the comment section of my post about the Dallas shooting, it was not just a bad week in the US, it was a bad week in many parts of the planet.  Those bad weeks are coming one after the other.  The World is getting no break from the reports of deaths for no tangible reason other than to kill as many whoevers they can.

She is right of course. The planet seems locked into a negative rhythm these past 10 years, with each new year yielding an escalation of misery on a growing number of regional populations.  There are more displaced persons on the planet at this time than have ever been recorded before.  According to BBC News, there are up to 60 million people forced out of their homes and into the begrudging hands of countries ill equipped to handle the huge influx.

My mind cramps when I try to appreciate all the various reasons folks are forced from their homes.  My mind cramps when I try to understand reasons some groups have for killing people not directly involved in their struggle.  And the fact that the horror of mass deaths are now coming right on top of each other, I have come close to shutting down my empathy and going numb.

Nice, France ..............................

I just do not know what to say.  Words cannot convey the ache I feel for the senseless carnage one sick individual was able to create by simply driving into a crowd.  Helpless comes to mind.  Angry as Hell is right up front also.  What can an average citizen do to fight the assholes who want us dead?

The only thing I can come up with is .......... I refuse to give them my fear.

Later .....................................

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Woman's Touch

First I want to be clear I was a Bernie supporter until it became obvious he had no chance to secure the Democratic Party's nomination.  Hillary is my choice now.

The Old White Guy party, made up of both Democrats and Republicans, has proven over the last 15 years or so, that they will need to make room in those smoke filled rooms for minorities and women.  Their track record for running this country has been spotty at best, and in recent years, abysmal.

America drove home this point when it elected, not once but twice, a black man to be our president.  And I for one, feel Obama did a very good job, given the poisonous political atmosphere in which he had to operate.  The viral hatred aimed at him and his policies were like none I have ever witnessed in my six plus decades on the planet.

Americans are angry.  Right, Left, and in between.  The reasons vary, but the intensity of the country's displeasure with DC seems fairly evenly spread throughout our demographic groups, economic, social, religious.  Electing Obama and the formation of the Tea Party and it's subsequent effort to take over the GOP, are loud indications we want something different from our leaders.

So here we are facing another Presidential election.  Our choices are a woman with a long history of controversial public service and a snake oil salesman with absolutely no public service time in his record.

I understand we are pissed off.  But for me, there is only one logical choice.  Hillary may have her issues, but experience, domestically and internationally is not one of them.  She has shown backbone throughout her long public career and not backed down from making the difficult decisions that came her way.  To Trump's credit, he too has not backed down from making decisions, but it seems to me, his decisions were self serving with no room for the greater good of the business community he operated in.  He is and was a self serving blood sucking jerk.

The two choices we have in front of us are not ideal for any of us.  They rarely are.  And rather than throw out the baby with the bathwater by electing a totally inexperienced sleazy businessman,  maybe we should keep some political continuity with someone who knows their way around the various political pits on the globe.  This time let's elect a woman.

My experience with girls, women, the fair sex over the years has proven to me, they are generally more focused and can make the tough decisions better than men.  Physical domination sucks hind tit to mental toughness and focus every time.  Men throw their weight around, thump their chests, but when push comes to shove, they are more likely to cave or set their feet in the closest pile of clay they can find.  Men are more likely not to act.  Women make their minds up and go for it.

The Old White Guy's Party needs to relinquish their strangle hold on our Future.  It is time for a Woman's Touch.

Later .......................................................

Saturday, July 09, 2016

All Lives Matter

Two more black citizens lose their lives and the fermenting anger locked in our country's soul rises to the surface.  Protests nationwide, while physically peaceful, do not adequately relay the deep seeded fear and mistrust that divides White America from the rest.  Suddenly gun fire erupts in Dallas filling in the clueless White population how much anger and fear really exists in Black America.

White citizens sitting in comfortable chairs in comfortable homes watch on TV, the two Black citizens in their last moments on the planet.  "Oh that is just so sad," or words to that effect.  And then they eat breakfast in their comfortable kitchens, get in their comfortable cars and head out to their comfortable jobs.

Underestimating, or rather totally oblivious of the depth of despair and anger felt by the folks of other colors and ethnic origins, the comfortable White citizens are horrified when five of their own race and protectors of the common good are gunned down by sniper bullets.

"My God, what did they do to deserve being shot in the back?" Hands begin wringing, White anger builds and before anyone can get a handle on it, the powder keg is primed and ready to blow.

I witnessed first hand the violence, hate and discontent that gripped our nation back in the 1960's.  While playing a lacrosse game against St Alban's Prep in high school, the all white squads of both teams watched Washington DC burning.  The game went on even as it appeared the city was being destroyed.  White people were clueless then and apparently they still are.

I hate race card issues.  Matter of fact I hate that there is even a word like "race".  All our lives would be so much simpler if both sides could/would drop the term from our lexicon.  The fact that humans come in different hues is such a piss poor reason to hate each other.  Nobody's life is more important than another's.

All lives matter.

Later .....................................................................

Sunday, June 19, 2016

She's a Fuzzy Woman and .........

BA and the Kid, about 1988 or so
I am a hairy man.

Today being Father's day and all, I decided to screw the pooch and get into whatever struck my fancy at the moment.  As I gleefully squandered my time, I considered what Father's Day was for me.  I have written about my father, "The General".  I considered writing yet another proud papa piece about the Kid.

Thought about both and decided I had been there, done that more than once or twice.  Figured I'd skip memory lane this year and just continue to waste a perfectly good day.

Wasted day or not, I would be going to work naked on Tuesday if I did not at the least do one load of laundry.  So I broke loose of the lazy dog chains I had decided to not fight today and tossed some duds in the washer.

It was when I was removing a load my wife had put in the dryer I came up with the title line of today's Father's Day post.  There is a penalty just shy of death for not cleaning out the lint collector in the dryer.  I forgot once and when my darling snuggle bun saw it, I never did it again.  She can turn on the pissed off machine at the drop of a hat.  So, I was careful to pull the lint collector to clean off the build up of crud that accumulated from the drying cycle my wife's clothes went through.  I noticed once again a preponderance of kleenex flotsam and fuzz from where ever she finds so much fuzz.  I chuckled and said out loud, "You are indeed a fuzzy woman."

When I went to clean out the lint from my load of clothes, I noticed less build up of fuzz and more hair.  Apparently, even with a thinning crop on top, I am still a fairly bushy fellow.  At least judging from the lint collector I am.  And let me tell you, lint collectors do not lie.

So today's Father's Day post is a tip of the hat to my long suffering and hard working wife.  She somehow decided to put up with me these past 35 years even after all the stupid husband shit I pulled over those years.  I really would not be complete without her in my life. ....................

.................. And I would not have become a father without her help.

Later ..........................................................

Friday, June 17, 2016

Irrational Anxiety

Irrational anxiety, already ramped up due to election year stupidity, is reaching into the type of madness that followed 9/11.  Gun stores are selling out of weapons and ammo.  Stupid politicians make claims and place blame that have no basis in reality.  Irrational evangelicals make claims that God did this to punish Gays.  And America falls back into the stifling fear that grips it whenever something no one can control happens.

No matter what we do in the future, whether it be based on common sense or the typical knee jerk over reaction, Isis has won this round.  They did not have to do anything more than tap into the hate that flows under our national skin.  We were too anxious and apparently eager to give them that which they seek ...............  our fear.

Why do so many people seem to enjoy being afraid?  Anger I can understand.  But illogical fear?

Well done America, well done.

Later .............................................

Monday, June 13, 2016

Another Cloud of Sadness Descends

And once again a nation grieves over senseless terror carried out by a radicalized religious zealot.  Before the flags have even been dropped to half mast, various leaders get up on their soap boxes to capitalize on the moment to push their agendas.  Cries for stronger gun control, calls for stricter border controls, the knees jerk all over the map.   And of course, neither will solve the underlying problem that Humans seem to love killing each other.

The media feeds whatever flames they find with irrelevant questions and unsubstantiated rumors, hoping to keep this story at the top of the news cycle for the next few weeks.  They invade the privacy of fresh personal grief of those who lost someone they love and project it over the globe.  And the rubber necking public eats it up.

One thing I noted was it seems important that we all know this was a "gay club".  The emphasis of the word "gay" tells me that for all our inclusive posturing, we as a nation still find it necessary to pigeonhole people based on something considered outside normally accepted behavior.  Yes, it does seem important to know that the club was targeted possibly because it was frequented by gays, but tell us once and move on.  Don't beat that horse every time you mention where this awful incident occurred.

Intolerance of any kind pisses me off.  Homophobic religious fanaticism is at or damn close to the top of my list.  Because both seem to bring out the worst in the people with those views.  It certainly did in Orlando Saturday night.

Later ....................................................................

Friday, June 10, 2016

Trump Moths

In the pucker here in southern Maine, the outside critters pretty much do as they please.  Fur bearing, six legged, slimy or ones with wings have a paradise in which to exist.  Sure we locals of the human kind interrupt their rustic existence with roads, homes and gardens.  Rather than endanger the critters who live outside, we seem to offer them easy pickins that add comfort and guaranteed streams of sustenance.  It's as if  our homes and gardens are like McDonalds, fast and easy with drive by windows of opportunities.

Offsetting the constant battle to retain supremacy of the lands we have chopped out of the woods, is the beauty that pops in and then out on a daily basis.  Birds, fur bearing critters, and our outrageous numbers of Moths, Dragonflies, and Beetles all add a smile on my face whenever I happen upon one of them dressed up like they were headed out to party.

The moth above is fairly common around here.  I see them often.  Don't know what their scientific nerd name is, but I have decided to call them "Trump Moths" from here on out.  While most moths seem to mind their own business, some will eat the clothes off your back if you give them a chance.  I am guessing this moth is one of them.  Seduce me with his golden locks and pursed lips and the next thing you know, that last sweater Aunt Helen knitted me is history.

Happy Trails ............................................................

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Still Numb as a Pounded Thumb After All These Years

The other day I mentioned I was no linger able to burn the candle at both ends.  Apparently my recent version of burning the candle as long as the sun is out is also more of a bite than I can chew now.  Guess there is another skill I need to get a handle on.  When the exhaustion continues after I wake up, then I guess I need to make some adjustments.

The concept of pacing myself has always eluded me.   Full tilt boogie only worked when I was younger and numm-er.

Today, Thursday, I sit in the bike shop so beat I couldn't find a clue if someone handed it to me.  There are repairs sitting un-repaired, paperwork ignored, and orders still pending that should have gone in yesterday.  Topping it off, I am breaking my one cardinal, hard rule regarding the separation of blog and work.  No blogging while on duty.  But what else can I do?  Apparently not much.  ........
................ Uh, could you hand me my coffee cup?  It's just out of reach.

Later Gator ...............................................

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fix It Guy Enthusiasm

The last 2 weeks have found me busier than a two headed, ......... uh, well, let's just say that between the bike shop and a yard that I have determined to maybe not tame, but at least put up the good fight and beat back what jungle I can, there has been little energy for any of my more sedentary activities like pumping words into this computer.  With the sun not dropping over the edge before 8:30 PM or so, I am using as much of it as I can to make a difference.  Of course that means when I finally gimp in from my day, I eat, sit on the couch and pass out.  I haven't seen 10 O'clock PM in quite awhile.

The down side, ......... yeah once again those pesky checks and balances, yings and yangs, ups and downs ....... the downside to passing out just as the Sun goes black is I wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed at 3:30 or 4:00 AM.

There is no room for burning candles at both ends in my life anymore.  There used to be, but not anymore.  I go until I get tired and look for the first soft spot to park my butt.  It is actually beginning to piss off my wife.  I have left things unfinished or unclosed and she then becomes responsible to make sure I closed the garage door, rolled up my car windows, put yard tools away, etc.  But hey, when tired comes, I need to lay down pronto.

It seems every year about this time I am hard into convincing myself that this year it will be different,  This year I will carry my yard man and fix it guy enthusiasm through until snow flies.  I again told myself year.  And it seems I am still fooling myself I might just live up to my promise.  But in the back of my mind, my record of past failures keeps me from feeling secure that this year it will be different.  What usually happens is I get the one big weird project done and the basic yard and house duties start out gangbusters and then by the end of July all I want to do is go swimming in Horn Pond There is no romance in mowing, pruning, and hacking at the pucker.  And the satisfaction derived when hard at it in May, gets lost somewhere down the line.

But I will say that this year there is one big difference.  Back a couple of decades or so, I decided that I would not mow my lawn before June 1st.  This year I have mowed not only 3 times already, but I bagged the green crap up and dumped it in the back forty.  Maybe this year will be different ...........
Nah, probably not.

Later ........................................................

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Kitty Litter

Kitty litter helps to keep me grounded.

Hmm. ........ I wrote that opening sentence a couple of weeks ago and then put the post on the bench.  Guess I needed to ponder just what I meant when I wrote it. ...............

I seem to recollect a meaningful and thought provoking deep narrative about the special place in my heart I store the notion of kitty litter.  Of course by the time I sat down in front of this screen, all I could spit up was that opening line.  So I let it simmer, hoping my short term memory would make a brief comeback.   While I think I have retrieved some of that original thought, I am sure what will follow will not be quite on it's original target.

I have always enjoyed the company of cats and dogs.  So, when I was able to, I invited them into my life and me into theirs.  Five dogs since the 1980s and well, I am guessing here, but at least 30 to 40 cats have passed through our doors in that time.  The high number of cats, the result of more than a few litters we dealt with as volunteers for a nearby shelter.  But at one point there were 9 full timing little bastards running amok in our house and yard.

I figure I have scooped at the least a couple of tons of kitty litter over the years.   During that time, I have learned a thing or two about scooping poops.

It is impossible to ignore a litter tray forever.  There are other must do chores I can walk around and leave for significant periods of time.  Dishes, grass growing in my yard, dirty car,vacuuming, and dusting shelves are a few of the many chores I can ignore with the best of them.  Kitty litter however is not one of them, especially in a multi-cat household like ours.  Skip a day and immediately the litter is out of control and it can be days before order to the odor is restored.

The must do aspect of kitty litter has a silver lining.  Because I cannot ignore it, dealing with it has forced me to include some basic structure to my daily flow.  Scooping litter may be mindless, unpleasant work,  but it gives me a moment every day to let my mind focus on nothing while my hands go automatic.

Kitty litter is a metaphor for Life.  Shit happens in every life.  And dealing with it is the only sane thing to do.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ...............................................

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Protect Me from What I Want

I don't often look forward to having a beer after work anymore.  Yesterday's almost manic pace at the bike shop however, found me thinking I ought to crack a beer when I got home.  My mind was wound tight.  My body was wound down.  A beer seemed just the right medicine to bring my mind in tune with my body.

I get home and damn!  No beer.  What to do?  I considered a run to the Acton Trading Post for a six pack, but decided no.  Instead, I opened the liquor cabinet where a dusty collection of hooch sat patiently waiting for me to remember they existed.  Yeah, that's a good idea.  I'll have a Jameson with a cool cube in the middle.  One drink will do it.

There was maybe one and a half fingers of the famous Irish whiskey left in the bottle.  Not enough for a decent drink.  So when I finished off the Jameson, I cracked the seal on the bottle of scotch I bought several years ago.  .......................... And then it was off to the races.

I gave up drinking hard liquor for about 20 years.  I consciously stopped because when I was younger and got into the Demon Rum,  I often did not stop drinking it until there was nothing left in the bottle or bottles.  When I sobered up, many missing hours would haunt me like a bad dream.  Friends would tell me of my antics, funny and sad.  Bridges would be burned.  And I would be totally unaware of what happened.  ........... I liked my hard stuff too much.  So I quit.

A few years ago I decided it was okay to drink again.  I was older, wiser, and figured I could handle it.  So far, this has been the case.  A six pack will last me a month sometimes.  A bottle of whiskey will last me years.

Well, last night, I got schnockered, shitfaced drunk.  It snuck up on me.  I was not falling down drunk, but only a shot or two away by the time I collapsed on the couch about 10:00PM.

Which leads me to today as I sit here painfully using the few brain cells I have left to write this post.  When my eyes opened at their usual 4:30 AM, the first thought that passed through my mind was, "Oh yeah.  There's another reason I quit drinking.  Waking up feeling this bad really, really sucks."

Some lessons need to be repeated to protect us from what we want.

Later ..................................................

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Ironical and Tyrannical Paul LePage

A reality show on the "Animal Planet" channel located somewhere in the guts of most cable TV collections is called "North Woods Law".  It follows the exciting and edge of your seat exploits of the Maine Game Warden Service as they attempt to chase down drunks on ATV's, drunks on snow mobiles.  catch drinking fishermen with or without a license and oh yeah, they also go after illegal hunting of all kinds.

I view it as a kind of Yankee version of dumb Red Necks caught being stupid.  Fun to watch on occasion, but hardly thought provoking.  Just another mediocre show in a huge field of mediocre shows.

Apparently our grand and wonderful governor, Paul Lepage finds the show insulting and demeaning to the residents of Maine.  He contends it serves up a bad example of Maine to the rest of the country.

Hmm  ........................ I repeat,  Hmm............ Can you taste the irony?

Sorry Paul, but that horse left the barn the day you stepped into Blaine House the first time 2 elections ago.  You have single handedly set up the worse example for Maine since I first came to the state as child to visit my aunt and uncle in the 1950's.  There is no worse example than your very existence in a position of power.  You are hand's down, the worse thing to happen to my state ever.

And BTW - what's up with their dress uniforms?  Looks like they are wannabe Mounties from Canada.  At least they don't look like gestapo cops like the Massachusetts state cops do.

Later ....................................................

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hep Free

There is always an Upside tied to the hip of a Downside.  There is always a Right when there is a Left.  Seems no matter where I look or how I feel, the grass is either greener over there or a barren landscape devoid of hope and goodwill.  Balancing it all appears to be the best road to travel.  But no matter the road we choose, all of us end up in the same place.  The pain in finding the end of our road depends on what baggage we choose to fly with.

The other day's sad sack post was my explanation for being MIA for a few weeks.  It was my admission that I do have a problem with depression and will most likely have to deal with it the rest of my days.  At least as long as I refuse the chemical help being shoved at me by the health industry.

More than 30 years ago, after many negative run in's with doctors and their belief pharmaceuticals solve all ills, I decided I was safer self medicating than allowing the medical world do it for me.  Then in 2002, I was talked into the Interferon treatment for my Hepatitis.  That negative experience made me vow to never again allow a doctor to write me script for something I did not understand.

Never say Never.

Last year, after constant nagging by my main doctor, I was talked into trying one of the new Hep C treatments.  He assured me of two things.  The pain would be minimal at worse and might not even mess with me.  He also claimed the treatment would be only be for either 12 weeks or maybe 20 weeks, depending on which drug I was able to score the cheapest.

I chose to seek out Harvoni if possible.  One pill for 12 weeks.  Of course once I spent 5 minutes looking into the cost, I had my doubts I could swing Harvoni.  Between $1100 and $1200 per pill.  Without figuring the exact math, even with the 75% payout by my insurance, the cost would be prohibitive.  At $1100 per pill for 84 days that was $92,400.  Deduct the 75% pay out by my insurance company, that left me owing around $23,000 for the meds.  No way, I thought.

I was ready to give it up and just live with Hep C the rest of my days.  A last ditch effort suggested by someone who I cannot remember, found me finding the Harvoni website.  On the main page, a come hither suck you in claim that I could score a coupon from Harvoni that would cover all but $5 on the treatment.

Yeah right.

What the Hell.  Can't hurt to go through the registration process I thought.  One thing led to another and in the end I did actually only pay $5 for the pills.  Far Fucking out!  The lack of serious side affects were as advertised.  I carried a slight headache the first week and might have been slightly more run down than I was used to, but other than that, it was a cake walk.

The expense came with all the damn blood tests I had to have and the 2 more I still have to have, one at 6 months and the last one 12 months after I finished the regimen.  While it is nice being Hep free, it is even better that my opinion of the health industry has been boosted a tad.

My experience has also reinforced that the the health industry is a scam, a rip off, and all they really want to do is pick our pockets.  But at least this time, I found a way to work the system.

For any of the folks who stop by here at the BoZone who may have Hep, I would say check out Harvoni.  Finding ways around the costs are available, you just need to dig for it.  One thing though, stop smoking Pot at least 30 days before your first blood test.  Apparently, THC in your system is the go to refusal most Insurance company's use.

Anyway, that is what was on my mind this AM.  Now I can forget it and move onto the next thing in the quiver.

Later ......................................

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Dark Sands & Going Manic

Depression crept up behind him and slithered in unnoticed.  Like sand in a hour glass, the dark grains accumulated in the bottom of his soul.  After 62 years on the planet, his soul could hold no more.

He had not left his house in weeks.  His wife walked around him and sadness filled their home of 35 years.  No one called.  No one stopped by.  He was no longer part of the world that had no problem leaving him behind.

He did not feel sad.  He had passed sad many floors ago.  He felt guilt and shame.  Guilt for what, he was not exactly sure.  Shame for letting himself and everyone else down.  But guilt and shame was all he had now, so he wrapped himself in the guilt and strapped it on tight with his shame.  The longer he wore them, the more comfortable they felt.  He felt his soul imploding, shrinking, trying to hide from itself.  And he did not care any more.

Sure he was nearing the tipping point, he began to make plans.  Complicated plans.  Simple plans.  And many different plans in between.  He tried to plan recoveries.  He tried to plan a variety of ends.  But try as he might, he just couldn't get off his ass to implement a single one of them.  Instead, he slow cooked in his misery and discontent, hoping some day he might find some relief.


I wrote the above a couple of years ago during one of the accumulating low moments in my life.

I figured that since Depression seems to be a day to day possibility for me now and in lieu of soul draining meds, I figured I might as well share and maybe purge some of the guilt and shame I live with when in the pit.

What follows is some history and maybe a newer, fresher perspective. ................ and maybe not.


Going Manic

Before the year 2000, I never thought about Depression.  I knew folks suffered from it.  I watched both of my parents deal with it as they approached the end of their run on the planet.  Before 2000, I had not yet felt the crush as the dark pit wrapped itself around me.

Then in, I guess about 2001 or 2002, I was talked into being part of the first run of Interferon based therapy for Hepatitis.  Painful injections and pills made me feel about as shitty as a human can feel.

Seems of all the nasty side affects, down at the bottom of the list in print so small, I had to read it with a magnifying glass, there it was.  11% of the trial patients experienced suicidal ideation.  Of course, I did not find this out until I had already attempted suicide.  Of course, being a rookie, a NooB, an inexperienced suicide hobbyist, I failed.  Half ass attempt for sure, but it certainly scared the shit out of me.  I dropped out of the program.

Ever since my run in with bad pharmaceuticals,  I have had to deal with on again, off again bouts of depression.

The up side........ yeah, there is actually an upside I think .............. The upside is that now as if to balance my life's rhythms,  The low notes are offset by wonderful high notes.  I get to experience the joy of mania.  Up is often really up ...... I'm flying ...... thoughts move so quickly, I have trouble getting a handle on them.  But when I am able to grab one, my focus is impressive.  I guess even bad medicine can have a silver lining.

A friend asked me a few years back what did Depression feel like.  I am sure everyone has their own notion of what it is or isn't.  But I told him that for me it was non-existence with my eyes open.  Nothing matters.  Nobody cares, least of all me.  The out there world is a fantasy land that is maybe or maybe not just a fig-newton of my imagination.

As always, I will endeavor to Keep it 'tween the ditches ........................................

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Body Snatchers Re-visited

Forward - Disclaimer - Whatever
This is some fiction I wrote over 3 years ago and never posted.  It was tied to a writing site, now defunct, called "Thinking Ten".  It was my last effort with Thinking Ten.  Figures I would pick "Capstone Sunday" to give it another whirl.  The Idea is to take the offered daily prompt and write for ten minutes.  Stop and then read what you have written.  Sunday's prompt is to use every prompt from the previous week.  Spit and polish it up and then submit.  I was maybe 200 words into the rough first draft when 10 minutes was up.  Decided to finish the thought no matter where or how long it took me.  Took me awhile.
So without further comment - 
"I can do it myself", Jackson hollered back at his wife of 45 years as he climbed up and into the bed of his 1976 GMC pick up.  Last night's snow storm had finally filled the back of it.  Jackson's rule was never shovel more than he  had to.  He always waited until Winter had filled the bed before he took care of it.  

Squinting against the bright sun, he cussed and fumed every shovel full over the side.  His old fart back complained with every scoop.  And this last storm had turned the snow into igloo snow.  Heavy and packed, he had to add chopping it up first to the already painful scoop and toss motion.  

Monday, April 11, 2016

Looking Back

My existence owes a debt of gratitude to a rowdy cocktail party sometime in the summer of 1951.  I found out or surmised all this when connecting dots while sifting through important papers after my father died in 1980.  My parents at the time were both single.  They hurriedly married a few months before I was born.  I confronted my mom after my dad passed with my Eureka moment and all she said was, "It certainly took you long enough to figure that one out."  Or words to that effect.

I was not shocked nor shamed.  Shit happens.  Especially unplanned pregnancies in the 1950s.  The realization however that I was conceived out of wedlock filled in many missing pieces regarding my interactions with extended family members, especially on my mom's side.  I never felt comfortable as a child nor as an adult at family gatherings.  I felt shunned.  When I became an adult, I reciprocated and cut them out of my life.

While I was not shocked nor shamed, I did get pissed off.  My anger at not being let in on the secret when I was younger was short lived.  I decided that as a child I would have been poorly equipped to deal with information so sensitive.  And I realized, just how does one tell their kid, they are a mistake and the result of socially unacceptable passion.  Now days it would be easy.  In the 1950s and 1960s, not so much.

I am grateful my mother chose to carry me full term.  But at what price?  I grew up in a house with no love in it.  Or not much anyway.  I will always wonder if my mere existence created the misery my parents bestowed on each other while I was growing up.  I don't stay up nights worrying about it.  But I do wonder.

All this brings me to my very convoluted and conflicting opinions surrounding the hot topic of abortion.  Prior to knowing how I came into the world, I was a hard core advocate of the right to abort.  Once I realized that I had once been a prime candidate for the procedure and dodged the bullet, my view has softened.  I am still strongly pro-choice.  But if asked my advice, I would do what I could to help the prospective mother carry her child to term.

This may seem hypocritical or sitting on the fence, or I don't know what.  The right of the individual to dictate what happens in their own body supersedes my opinion that Abortion should be the last tool used to resolve an unwanted pregnancy.  The State and organized religion should stay the Hell out of it.  First and foremost, I am for individual rights.  Supporting the mother without judgement is the best thing I can do I think.

Later ......................................

Sunday, April 10, 2016

My Sunday Morning Window

The Sun is streaming in through my Sunday morning window.  It is teasing me, giving me that come hither look to bolt outside into the warm embrace of an early Spring Day.  I look at the thermometer strategically placed next to my Sunday morning window.  It tells me the Sun is offering up nothing but false hope, pulling a prank, hoping to entice me to take part in it's cruel joke.  There will be no warm embrace, no warming of my cheeks as I step out into the Sun.  It will be just the evil chuckle of a chill as it travels down my spine when the frozen wind hits me in the face instead.

So, I sit on the inside looking out and imagine a warm day unfolding beyond the glass of my Sunday morning window.  And though I know deep down I am only fooling myself, I also know that if I wait for the robins to step down from their roosts, I will know then the day unfolding outside of my Sunday morning window will at least be cordial.

Later Gator, I have a bike ride to enjoy ...................................................

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Mr. Mike, Can You Put Gas in My Tire

A bike shop that existed in 1900 not 50 feet from my shop today
Next door to the bike shop sits the Bradford Block, the oldest commercial building still standing on Main St. in Springvale.  It beats out my building by maybe 5 years or so.  Both were constructed and put into play in the 1870's.  In my building there are 4 tenants, two commercial at street level and two residential up stairs.  The Bradford Block next door houses one restaurant and a family of 7 who inhabit the huge apartment above the restaurant.

B and his wife bought the building I guess 4 years ago when he retired from the Army.  At the time there was just he, his pregnant wife holding an infant and a rugrat already breathing and running around..  While they were renovating the building, they lived with his father and mother somewhere near by.  The building was completely gutted and rebuilt on the inside.  B installed a brick wood fired pizza oven, an all new stainless kitchen, walk in freezer and a brand new apartment upstairs for he and his bride to begin the next chapter in their lives.

Then B got busy making more babies.  His wife has been pregnant for at least 3 of the 4 years I have been acquainted with them.  I only point this out because in today's America, a family with 5 kids is not the norm.

From the back door of my shop, I have had the distinct pleasure of watching these little tackers begin to get a tentative grip on the world around them.  It has been a hoot.  I have always enjoyed watching children at play.  I have always enjoyed interacting with them.  Yeah, I think kids are very cool.  Their laughter, screams of delight or anger, whatever noise they come up with is music to my ears.

The oldest three call me Mr. Mike.  Not sure which parent came up with that, but I hazard a guess it was Dad.  When the three oldest come home from St Thomas school in the afternoon, they all seem to be carrying their latest school child effort in their hands.  Images on paper scrawled in colorful disarray, or paper-mache sculptures carelessly dangling from stubby hands.

During a brief warm period a couple of weeks ago, the second oldest, J, was out back messing with his bike.  I think he was waiting for me to make an appearance at my back door.  As soon as he saw me, he began to squeeze his rear tire with exaggerated intensity.  "Mr. Mike, can you put gas in my tire?"  All the while he continues to squeeze that tire hard with his small hands as if to make sure I understood his dilemma.

"J, I tell you what.  You wheel that beast over here and I'll fix you right up."

J stops squeezing his tires.  He looks at his bike and then looks at me.  "Mr Mike, this is not a beast, this is my bike."

I smile at his literal world.  Nuance has yet to make an entrance.  "Are you sure?"

Now I have him guessing.  He looks at his bike, squeezes the rear tire again and looks at me.  "No, it is my bike.  It needs gas."  He was not going to be detoured from his original mission.

"Wheel it on over and we'll get some gas in it for you."

He just looks at me.  I assume he is mulling over just what the term "wheel it on over" means.  He resolves his dilemma I guess based on my hand gesture beckoning him in my direction.  J grabs the bike by the rear wheel and drags it out of the bike rack near their back door.  He gets turned around and bears down on the handlebars to push it in my direction.

Inside the shop, I take over.  I place the little 12 inched wheeled beauty near the air hose next to my bench.  As I reach for the air hose I realize now why he wanted "gas" for his tire.  In his short time on this planet filled with something new everyday, he was finally starting to organize the repetitive actions he had become accustomed to.  Mom or Dad would pull into a gas station, get out and put a pump nozzle into the gas tank opening.  J had also watched me many times use an air hose to put air in bike tires.  The two must be related.  What Dad put in the car must be the same thing I put in bike tires.  Both used hoses with really cool looking doodads on the ends.  The funny thing is, J is not wrong.  I do put gas in bike tires, just not the same kind of gas his parents pump into their vehicles.

I remove the valve cap of the flat tire and hand it to J.  "Hold this.  Don't drop it."

J cradles that valve cap carefully in two hands and keeps his eye on it.  I knew that valve cap was in capable hands.  I put air in the soft tire and asked for the cap back.  J carefully handed it to me.  I screwed it back on the tube.  I then removed the valve cap on the front tire and handed it to J.  No further instruction was needed.  He took his valve cap care seriously and again cradled it in both hands.  After I filled up the front tire, instead of reaching for the valve cap, I said, "Would you like to put the valve cap on yourself?"

I made that kid's day.   His face lit up and he smiled, "Really Mr. Mike?"

"Yeah, go for it".

Watching him struggle and then succeed with something as simple as screwing on a valve cap made me realize that as an adult I often fall into there is nothing new under the Sun mentality.  Yet, right here in front of me was something new under the Sun.  That had to be the very first valve cap J would ever screw onto a tube and I got to be part of it.

That made my day.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ..............................................

Friday, April 08, 2016

Beauty is Only Skin Deep

I was watching TV awhile back. Or rather I had it on. More for the noise than anything else while I attended to minor chores.  One of those tabloid shows was on.  The hostess with the perfect coiffure and the perfect teeth behind the perfect smile introduced a woman who was addicted to cosmetic surgery.  The lead in and my first and only look let me know all I wanted to hear and see.  I went back to whatever chore I was dealing with, hoping to work the horrific image out of my mind.

But I could not get the picture of her out of my mind. She had had so much skin pulled, tucked, inflated and re-arranged, she looked like a claymation figure.  The more I considered her image, the more absurd and further from reality it became.  I could not imagine what waking up next to her would be like.

I finished my chores and immediately fired up the computer.  Apparently there is a medical definition for addiction to cosmetic surgery.  It is known as "body dysmorphic disorder".  What is it with the medical folk that they insist on labeling every problem with a name that normal folk cannot understand?  Couldn't they just label it "addiction to cosmetic surgery" and be done with it?  Whatever.  I guess somebody has to keep a breath of life in a dead language.  Might as well be doctors.

With the unfortunate woman's face still fresh in my mind, I stopped in front of the bathroom mirror and considered what might be needed to give me twenty years back.

Hmm ......... No double chin yet. That's good I guess. My face is slightly larger now, but there's still almost a full head of hair on top.   My nose is still small and inconspicuous. Again, a good thing I guess.   But I'll tell you what.  A small nose brings with it some real disadvantages.  Because of it, I was never able to learn how to properly pick it.  Even as a wee one, hangin with my buds at the playground slide, I could never plunge even a knuckle deep to get at the good stuff like my peers.  At the time I was sure they thought less of me because of my lack of talent at nose mining.  But we all have to live with physical challenges and I have learned to deal with mine.

Once I had recognized the unfairness of a small nose, my eyes moved to my eyes obscured by glasses looking back at me in the mirror.  I removed my glasses and leaned in hard to bring my face back into focus.  What's this under my eyes? Are those water balloons? I am packing some serious eye baggage.  Looks like someone stuffed a tennis ball under each eye. And the crow's feet at the corners of my eyes look like Big Foot stomped on my face.  Add in the scars I had accumulated from years of launching myself head first into almost everything I did, well, I have to say maybe that woman didn't look so bad after all.

I considered my previous horror upon viewing her for the first time while checking out my 63 year old mug.  The face that stared back at me with just a little make up, maybe a highlight here or some shadow over there, could land me an extra spot on "Walking Dead".   At least I did not have to pay one red cent to grow this ugly.  No sense paying for something you can do yourself.

Later ..................................................

An addendum to this post - For some reason the comments were turned off for this post.  Not sure what I did, but I must have pissed off the Internet gods or something.

Odd.  Very Odd.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Willy's Ale Room

I ignored Willy's Ale Room for the longest time after it opened over 15 years ago.  Drove by it almost everyday on my way to the bike shop.  I told myself roadhouses in the sticks  were nothing but trouble with a capital T.  Evil entities lurked there just waiting to smite me down with demon rum and other sinful spirits.  Nothing ever good happened in a gin joint, honky tonk, whatever the local label might be.

My avoidance had nothing to do with fearing God or his holier than thou army.  My avoidance was because I have in the past, while visiting these dens of inequity, been lured into less than civil behavior and held accountable by the local constabulary for I swear, the stuff someone else pulled.  Besides the over the top bar bills that set me up for trouble in the first place combined with the court costs that resulted, finally made me see the light.  It was damn expensive getting into trouble as an adult.

Of course it has been well over 35 years since I  was last involved in bar chaos resulting from over indulgence.   And though I may not remember the fun that got me into trouble, I do remember the aftermaths.  I realized back then if I had any hope of making it past 40, I had better leave roadhouses alone.  My character was not strong enough to keep me sane when exposed to walls of liquor and a row of 5 pull draft handles.  Add in some good music and on occasion I had to be poured into my car after last call.  It was a public safety issue and proof even a dumass can smarten up once in awhile.

I have established my sordid past relationship with bars found in the rural outbacks of this land.  I have admitted to being weak when faced with Temptation.  All in an effort to explain  why I might have recently decided to lift my self imposed lifetime ban on honky tonks and visit Willy's Ale Room, located a short mile from my dooryard.

It's Jim's fault.  Want to make that plain right at the get go.  Had he not insinuated that Willy's provided a good chewy thin crust with their pizzas, I would have never broken that oath I made so many years ago.  He was right though.  Their crust is thin and chewy and their pizzas are definitely better than the average pizza pie in this part of the country. 

So here I am now with at least 60 pizzas under my belt.  Since I have always gotten them to go, my encounters with evil liquid seductresses have been in, out, thank you ma'am,  I'll take my pizza to go if you don't mind ...... but while I am waiting, draw me a Newcastle from the tank in the dungeon.  One beer, occasionally two and I'm outta there.

As it turns out, Willy's is more of a local spot where families could go and not feel they would need to run interference from bad influences.  Good bar food, friendly and welcoming folks, and oh yeah, they have Newcastle on draft.

Keep it 'tween the ditches .....................................