Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Gang of 18 - A Close Encounter

Suddenly I was nervous.  Suddenly I was positive I was under scrutiny.  Yanked back by peripheral vision from my world far from here, I stopped typing.   I turned to the window on my left thinking it was just another wee bird stopping by for some bug or taking a moment to tease one of the cats.

It was indeed a bird perched not 3 feet from my window on the edge of the yard cart I left there in what appears to be it's new permanent parking space.   It was not the usual chickadee, cardinal, blue jay or sparrow.  This avian intruder of my space was much larger and it had its head cocked just right so one eye looked right at me.  The eye blinked.  Or winked.  Not sure as the other eye was on the other side.  What that eye might be doing was any one's guess.

What sat on my rusting yard cart not 3 feet from my window was a huge Tom turkey staring me in the eye.  The rest of his gang was busy picking and pecking at whatever it is turkeys pick and peck at when in my yard.   He regarded me.  I regarded him.  We both I am sure were amazed over the short distance that separated us. 

"Good morning Sir Turkey".

His head dipped as only a turkey's can and then another eye blink.

"What brings you to my window this AM?"  I looked past him at his flock romping in the yard.  "A fine brood you have with you this year sir."

Another head dip and then some shuffling of his clawed feet on the edge of the cart as he moved closer to the window.  The wind shifted.  Suddenly the distinct smell of poultry came wafting through the office.  Big Tom turned his head and looked at me with both eyes.  He gobbled once, blinked once and then was silent. 

It was then I noticed Stubby laying in her usual spot under the bushes about six feet away.  She was lost in lala land all stretched out enjoying soft snores and leg tremors as she chased squirrels in her dreams. 

As if on cue, she woke up.  Then all Hell broke loose.  Immediately there were turkeys in the air, turkeys running every which way, with Stubby in the middle of it all barking and having a grand time.  And still the big Tom sat on the yard cart looking at me not moving a muscle.

His flock scattered, I figured I should say something.  "Uh bud, maybe you ought to leave now."

He continued his perching stoically, grandly, just blinking and bobbing his ugly head.    Her job as watch dog having been satisfied, Stubby sat down in the yard and looked back towards my office window. 

Uh oh.  She spotted Big Tom.  Tom's head rotated 180'.  Still he did not move even as Stubby began her charge.  At the last second he turned back to look at me and then in a wonderful display of flight disappeared in an instant.

This happened a couple of weeks ago.  Every day since, the local flock has made my yard part of their daily circuit.  One morning I opened the garage door and the whole gang was circled around my pick up.  This morning, they hung out a few feet from the back door snatching bugs and gobbling loudly.    The brood of younguns are almost full grown now.  They can't fly yet, but damn, they are quick runners.  Stubby has been in dog heaven these past couple of weeks.   And obviously the turkeys don't see her as much of a threat.  Really not what one looks for in a good watch dog.

See Ya..........................

Monday, August 30, 2010

FFF #40 - The Gurgling Voice

This week's FFF was well I just do not know where it came from.  I started it on Friday.  Got busy and left until this morning.  I certainly had no plan when I started it.  The resulting tale is testimony to that.  It certainly did not follow my original idea when I came up with the starter sentence many months ago.  Starter sentence in bold.

The Gurgling Voice

"I heard footsteps on the wet sidewalk and the sound of keys."

"What happened then?"

"Well, a kind of gurgling and then .......a voice."

"What kind of voice?"

"I just told you.  A gurgling voice."

"No, no  you didn't.  You said you heard a gurgling and then a voice."

"Sheesh dude.  I heard a voice.  Can I get back to the dream now?"

"No.  I don't think so."  Benny had his eyes glued to the mirror.  "We gots cops on our tail.  Stash that roach and look straight."

"But Benny, I think you need to hear the rest."

"Stuff the story Jackie til we get through this."

Benny pulled over to the shoulder.  Blue and red flashing lights seemed to bounce off everything -  the wet pavement, the guardrail, the billboard off to the right announcing to everyone within sight Five Oh had another poor slob in their crosshairs.

The cop car pulled in behind Benny's old heap stopping far enough back and out into the highway enough to be the textbook picture of a traffic stop.  Two doors opened and then closed.  Benny began floundering in his glove compartment looking for the registration.  Jackie sat very still looking straight ahead. 

The sound they both heard next sent a chill up both spines.......................The sound of footsteps on wet pavement and then............some keys tinkled.  Benny sat up quickly and turned to his side window.  A flashlight blinded him.

"What's wrong officer?  Was I spe.........."

The echoes of the first gunshot had not died when  a second shot tore through Jackie's chest.  The last thing he heard was Benny trying to speak after being shot through the throat.  There it was - the gurgling voice.

"Why?" 

The two cops turned around and walked back to their patrol car.   The driver reached in and grabbed his mic.

"Car 54 here at mile stick 22 on the Old Post Road.  Send a wrecker and a meat wagon.  And strike License number "Alpha Beta One Fiver Niner" off the Polluter List."

~*~*~*~**~*~*~*~**~~*~*~*~*~*~**~*~

Thanks once again to Cormac for keeping this FFF thing going.  It was what got me started and it is still my favorite weekly writing challenge. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ancient Aliens - 100 Words - Lily's Friday Prediction

Charlotte……..Come quick.”

Kneeling in dried bat guano, Charlotte was focusing her brush and trowel on some fossilized remains. “Harry, I’m busy here.”

“No. You need to see this.”

Charlotte sighed and stood up. She headed towards the back of the cave, Harry’s lights illuminated some drawings he found yesterday. Emblazoned on the wall was an oblong object with two faces painted under it. Arrows pointed up.

Charlotte gasped. “Is that Sarah and John?”

“Can you imagine the implication if this gets out?”

“I told you back when we watched them get nominated, they had to be aliens. There’s your proof.”
 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
 
This was prompted by the three words on Lily's Feardom - Drawings, Implication and Charlotte
 
I changed one word from my original piece posted on Lily's Friday Prediction.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thoughts on Symbols

Flag pins on lapels.  30 foot crosses in front yards.  Flaming crosses in fields next to US 301 in 1962 South Carolina.  Swastikas inked into hard skin doing hard time.  The Virgin Mary in thousands of upturned bathtubs on lawns throughout New England.  Pot leaf Tee shirts.  A brassy lady dressed in a drape, blindfolded and holding a scale.  A Bald Eagle grasping arrows and an olive branch.  Flags bearing stars and bars, a hammer and sickle or a crescent and a star - The list of symbols humans covet is endless.

Symbols.  Beacons or warnings.  Standards used to locate, isolate, and dedicate oneself to.  Notifications of one's tendencies, proclivities, and general outlook on the rest of the World.

I have from time to time attempted to incorporate symbols into my lifestyle. I did not have much luck.  I guess I just do not think much of symbols.  Oh, they have their uses, but it seems more often than not, the rabid symbol displayers often lose the intent of the symbol by over the top intense belief that their spin is the only spin on that symbol.  

Often, any offense taken when viewing a symbol is not what its public display was meant to illicit.  Symbols bring with them assumptions.  Assumptions can lead to trouble.

Symbols often create division instead of cohesion.  At least in my lifetime, that seems to be the case.  I think though it has been the case since the first symbol was considered.

Symbols often hide the reality that lurks behind their cheery facade.  

Symbols can confuse when opposing groups claim ownership. 

People would rather feel good waving, wearing  or praying to a symbol than living up to it.

Symbols and their misuse is universal.  It seems that no matter where you go, some group somewhere is abusing the good intentions of a symbol. 

Why is a person's worth based on the symbol they hang or don't hang in public?  I don't hang flags in my yard.  Am I a bad American then?  I don't automatically think of racism and hate for blacks when I see the Stars and Bars flying off some porch.  Does this make me racist?  Because I consider the statue of "blind justice" a crock of shit, does this mean I am not a law abiding citizen?

Martin Luther King once said a man should be measured not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character.  It seems somehow appropriate this week that his words have been hijacked by many who  support activities I am sure King would frown upon.  We have one group lead by a loony toon clown from the small screen who is according to some perverting the intentions of King by sponsoring a protest in DC this weekend.  This weekend that marks an anniversary of King's "I have a Dream" speech. 

This group is lead by folks who would limit freedoms rather than expand them.  They tend to be for fences to keep people out and against religions not bearing crosses.  They advocate division rather than inclusion.  They tend to wear symbols but have no clue what they mean.  They would rather feed the fires of fear than plant the seeds of hope.

And opposing this group, we have leaders who cannot or will not rise to the challenge their symbols represent.  Political expediency replacing idealistic fortitude just reinforces the other groups contentions and strengthens their accusations.  Neither side even comes close to living up to the ideals their symbols stand for.

So I ask you.  Why the Hell do we even bother creating these symbols we have no intention of living up to?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Spinach Dominion - 100 words

Lily Childs has a weekly or at least semi weekly prompt challenge she runs over at her blog.  Called "Lily's Friday Prediction", it is a 100 word challenge that must incorporate the three words she comes up with.  Just another blogger trying to goose the rest of us into some creative writing.  Anyway, here is my effort for this week.

This week's words-
~Carotid Artery
~Spinach
~Dominion

The Spinach Dominion

Just back from the Spinach Dominion, Esther stepped lively to report in.

“Yo Essie?”

Ester turned to see Phil running towards her.

“What is it Phil?” She continued walking.

Phil caught up and grabbed her arm to make her stop.

“Dammitt Phil, let go. I’m late as it is.”

Phil placed a finger on her carotid artery.

“What the Hell are you doing Phil?”

“Just making sure the Essie we sent to Veggie Ville is the Essie we got back.”

Phil roasted her with his Lazgun.

The whiff of burnt onion made him conclude, no, Essie was now plant food.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Off to my own Veggie Ville ............See Ya......................

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Conversation in an Elevator Far Far Away

"Is the final date for system failure nailed down?"

"Yes, we have dovetailed it nicely with the launch of the new Planet Miner 1000."

"No regs were broken I hope? You know the GPA (Galactic Protective Agency) is all over us for rushing that last planet.  Seems they are all a bunch of  bleeding hearts when it comes to indigenous species. "

"No regs broken sir.  This planet we carefully nurtured.  There is no paper trail, no way it's failure can be traced back to you or the board.  We just gave the locals some rope and then left them to their own devices.  We figured it would take them a millennium to self destruct.  It only took 8oo of their years.  The planned failure was so far ahead of schedule, we had to put a serious push on the Miner 1000 so it would be ready in time.  But we are ready."

"Good.  I finally have some positive news to bring to the next board meeting.   Uh, you are sure the Miner 1000 is ready?"

"Yes sir.  We just finished the trials out in the asteroid belt of their system.  It will latch on and suck the planet dry in less than a month.  And then we'll be gone.  It will be up to the boys over to the Plausible Denial Section to cover any fall out.  But I have been in close contact with them.  They appear to have all the bases covered. "

"So tell me something.  Have you actually been to this planet?  Are the locals as dumb as the reports indicate?  I heard they had fission and fusion but chose instead to continue running things off of carbon based fuel stocks."

"Uh, no sir I have not been there other than the usual viewing from the monitors in our control room.  But my predecessor was.  His report concluded this species was not worth even the time it was going to take for the 1000 year plan.  He pushed for the quick hit and annihilation strategy.  Not very PC given that the Planet Huggers are in power now.  I replaced him several hundred years ago." 

"Good work Cheney.  You keep producing like this and..........Oh, here's my floor.  Tell you what, call me.  We'll do lunch."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I have to thank Demeur and Blog Fodder for the inspiration for this piece.  Demeur planted the seed with his post, An Old Fasioned Kinda Guy and Blog Fodder's comment on that post kicked the story into existence.

I wrote it as a dialog only piece because well, I figure the more dialog I write, the better I will be at it.

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

Sunday, August 22, 2010

FFF #39 - 250 Words - An Elderly Gent in a Blue Smock

This weeks Friday Flash Fiction prompt is by Randal - "She knew time was running out, fast, but opening that door was Pandora's Box all over again."

I can't write in the genre I used last time. I guess the last time I wrote in some kind of crime genre. So whatever this is, here it is.............

She knew time was running out, fast, but opening that door was Pandora's Box all over again. There would be no peeking, no second guessing. Once that door opened, she was committed whether she was ready or not. She would give no quarter. Nor would she expect any.

"Sylvia?"

“Yes John.”

“What the Hell are you doing?”

“Looking for my list.”

“Your list?”

“Yes Dear, my list.”

“You have a list? What the Hell for? I thought we were here just to check things out.”

“Well, I have a list of things to check out.”

“Oh.”

John stepped back and looked at his wife as she struggled elbow deep in her purse looking for the list. Something told him they would not be coming home empty handed.

"Got it". Sylvia held up a crumpled envelope. She studied it and then carefully tore it in half. She turned to her husband and handed him a half.

"We've only got a few moments. You take this part of the list and ...................."

Massive glass doors began to split and slide to the side. The crowd gathered poured through the opening, shoving, jostling and stepping on each other's heels. A blue smocked elderly gent looked very frightened as the crowd bore down on him.

He straightened his shoulders and managed a weak smile.  His voice was barely above a whisper.

"Welcome to your new Super Walmart."

And then the elderly gent was down. Sylvia stepped on his stomach as she passed over him.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As always, any comment is welcome.  Especially those of the critical kind.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Finding the Edges

Oh.............Uh, wait a minute.  Not quite ready.  Where's my coffee?

Ah............That first cup is always the best one.   Now we're good to go.

When I was young, oh pretty much any time before I was thirty or so, I often hurt myself trying to push some limit I had no business pushing.  I fell out of so many trees, a parental ban on tree climbing was instituted.  I fell off of ledges, rode into moving vehicles, and generally pushed every limit I could.  By the time I hit my twenties, I had received over 100 stitiches scattered over my noggin, knees, and torso.  Not sure why I was so reckless.  I guess I just needed to find the edges.

Okay.  So I grew up and embraced a saner and safer path.  Afterall, I had responsibilities.  A family, a job, a life others relied on to varying degrees.  I stopped being reckless and stupid.

Yeah right.

Little boys may grow up physically but we never stop being little boys.  At least in my case this seems to be true.  I still fell, only not from trees, but from scalfolding, roofs, or ladders.  I still clocked my noggin, only it was usually because of some work related hole I found myself in.  I still hurt myself but at least I was being paid for the pain.

Then I discovered mountain bikes in the early 1980s.  The fun of being stupid and reckless came flooding back.  Overstepping my skill set was no problem for me in those first years on a mountain bike.  I had no skill set.  It seemed every ride ended with me, the bike, or both coming home dinged and dented.  Broken collar bones, 5 or 6 smashed helmets, and yeah, more stitiches once again became the norm.

My riding skills improved.  I stopped crashing so much.  What do I do?  I push past the levels I had attained and began crashing again.  More dings and dents and visits to the doctor.  Then another injury free period would begin and again I would push hard and ..........the circle is never ending it seems.

"This makes three in a row now."

I looked at Keith and grinned.  His recent rides had been tough.  This last one was brutal and both he and his bike took it hard.  

"Yeah right.  They always come in threes.  I should be all set now."

Both of us were hanging out behind the bike shop watching Dash Jim wash everyone's bike.  Dash Jim was gimping over a recent foot injury when he face planted in a stream bed.  Keith of course had been slammed hard on his last three rides.  I wondered if this last one had not left him with a slight concussion.  I was sitting there pain free wondering if it was my turn now.

The three of us in our 50s were nursing injuries that children usually come home with.  I sat there and thought about why.  What is the draw of pushing physical limits past the point of sanity?  Because we can?  No.  I think it is that the male gender is basically brain dead.  Or maybe we never lost the ability to switch off the sanity switch.  Caution signs can mean fun coming.  A yellow light becomes a challenge.  And as long as we rise to meet the challenge, whatever happens after is unimportant.  We are programmed for battle.

Yeah right.

No, we are just born numb and many if not most of us never grow out of it.

See ya.........................................................................

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dying

He wondered why here.  Why now.
He knew it didn't matter.
He puzzled over it anyway
As his life's blood trickled down rock faces

Crumpled and twisted oddly he could only see one tree
Off in the distance as a bird floated by
Any moment he was sure
His life would also wander by

He thought it might be getting dark
Even though the sun rode high in the skies

His breathing slowed down

And he closed his eyes

What had once been a full life
Was now but an empty dream

________________________________

Image from http://s172.photobucket.com/home/CrimsonMoonFire




Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Southern Man

Music has had its effect on my life.  It has brought me joy.  It has reminded me to be sad.  It has lifted me up and then often brought me down again.  From the moments of my earliest memories, there is music mixed into the replays.

Music has always been there to represent the moments and flow of my time on this planet.  Show tunes, Classical tunes, Patsy Cline, and Hank Williams filled my infant years.  Soon the Rock and Folk my older brothers tuned the radio to began crowd my playlist.  By the time I had 50 cents extra in my pocket I was down to the local record shop once a week purchasing the latest top ten 45 to come out.  It didn't take long to learn to ignore, "Turn that crap down!" 

At some point around those prepubescent years, I discovered Blues, then Jazz, and Rock that would morph into Punk, Metal, and Glam.  One of the recurring and enduring artists from this period was Neil Young.  I first ran into him as a member of Buffalo Springfield.   

I didn't pay any attention really to Neil.  He was a member of the band.  The individual members meant little to me then.  The music was a group grope and Neil was but a part of the total result.

Then Neil popped up with Crosby, Stills and Nash, turning them into Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.  Many would argue that he was not needed.  The original group was good enough.  But no one can argue I think, that they lost anything with him coming on.  As always, I considered him less as an individual, and just a member of the band. 

I did notice though that he did seem to have a sizable chip on his shoulder.  Hate and discontent did not bother him.  He actually seemed to stir it up on purpose sometimes.  Neil was a nose tweaker.  I liked that.

I liked it then.  I like it even more now that I plopped down $20 for his Best of CD.  Running through his greatest hits as a solo act, I realize his music evolved in much the same way I did over the years.  Still tweaking noses but now we both understand it doesn't make much of a dent.  The Universe will do what the Universe will do.  All we can do is hold on as long as we can.

Keep it 'tween the Ditches..............................

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Followup of Sorts

Okay.  I thought I had the whole mosque in NYC thing out of my system.

Guess not.

About 8 years ago I guess, someone bought the 100 acre parcel directly behind me.  They cut down the 100 year old pines, excavated the land to baby bottom smooth and planted a huge suburban style McMansion not 150 yards behind my house.

Add in the fact that I was kicked off their property by the missus when I was found wandering up their drive oggling the new landscape they had created, it would be reasonable to expect that I was not happy with my new neighbors. 

I sucked it up.  I respected their rights.  I learned to live next to them but not interact with them.  They went their way.  I went mine.

Fast forward to sometime earlier this summer.

I am coming home from the bike shop one evening before the Sun actually was down.  Seldom do I even look down the driveway of my neighbor, but this nght I did.  What do I see? 

A forty foot wooden cross has materialized in their dooryard overnight.  The cross is huge, brown and obviously meant to relay to any who care their deep faith in the Christian god.

Being a card carrying heathen, I was at a loss trying to understand why such a huge reminder of their faith was needed twenty feet from their front door.  I imagined a 50 pound bible sitting on the kitchen counter open to Mark, Luke or John while the missus recites the Lord's Prayer as she joyously prepares sumptious and scrumptious Hambuger Helper meals to serve on holy plates painted with Jesus dragging the cross across their lily white suface.

And I laughed.  I chuckled deep.  What else could an American heathen do?

Get mad?  Be Sad?  Shit, there's too much going on in my own life for me to worry about what my neighnor erects in his dooryard. 

Maybe the tight asses upset over the mosque in NYC ought to do the same thing.

NOW

Before I get accused of having no empathy, sympathy or ability to understand the emotions surrounding the huge loss of life on 9/11, let me say this.

I sat dumfounded  in the waiting room of Goodall Hospital, the morning of 9/11 and watched the second plane hit.  And I cried.  Deep embarrassing sorrowful, shock filled and angry tears.  To this day I cannot look at any image of that carnage.

I cannot know the immediate and personal grief of having lost a loved one.  No one close to me lost their life that day.  But like the day JFK was shot, 9/11 is emblazoned in my mind with every detail cast in stone. 

But America needs to move on.  We should not be so petty that we cast our own principles in the shitter just because we are still grieving or worse for political gain.  We are supposed to represent possibilities and freedom.  To me that is the least we can do in honor of those who innocently died on 9/11. 

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

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's Not the Right - It's Not the Left - It's the Media

An odd combination of incidents and noticed oddities have caused me to step back from my moratorium on political commentary.  I have been actively ducking mainstream media's attempt to fill me with fear and dread.  It seems all of them run everything through "Chicken Little" filters before they distribute the tripe they call the news.  Their only goal of late is to keep the fires of hate and discontent stoked.  It matters little which side they fire up as long as they keep folks on edge.  Do these clowns ever step back and try to evaluate their part in creating the messes they report on?

The mosque in NYC is a perfect example.  I cannot even remember which hired gun on the tube said it, but they blamed Obama for why this became such a big deal.   They contended that the mosque was but a local issue for New Yorkers until Obama turned it into a national debate.  The media completely ignores the fact that it was their insistent baiting of pols and others with questions like "How do you feel about a mosque being set up so close to Ground Zero" that fed the fire and built this molehill into something more resembling a mountain of shit.

The mouthpieces on the Right seized the story and have added it to their arsenal of stupid tricks to make Obama look as bad as possible.  And because the leadership of the Left has no balls, they are beginning to run scared.

One of the statements passed out by the big mouths on the Right is that Obama is turning his back on Middle America with stands like his support of "Freedom of Religion".  I find this ironical on several planes.

Much of the base of the Right is made up of conservative Christians who feel persecuted for their faith.  Yet, they allow their leadership to spew rhetoric that advocates restricting another religion's right to practice their own brand of idolatry. 

The Right is chock full of self proclaimed "Constitutionalists" and yet they allow their leadership to advocate practices and policies that blatantly run counter to many of the basic rights spelled out in their most sacred of documents.

And where is the media in all of this?  Does the media do anything more than throw softballs when when obvious contradictions scream for hardball questions?  No, they put the tough questions at the back of the bus and play both sides against the middle while facts and truth get tossed under the bus.

But let's look at what Obama said.  His statement made no mention of whether he thought it was a good idea to build a mosque so close to Ground Zero.  He correctly pointed out that it was a local matter.  What he said was he supported the right spelled out in the Constitution that allows us to pray to any god we want.  One of the true founding principles of this nation, Freedom of Religion does not mean only Christianity. 

It was the right thing to do.   How can we even pretend to own any moral highground if we begin spitting on our own Constitution?

And this claim that somehow the Right is the voice of Middle America really pisses me off.  This claim comes from guys in wingtips and power ties who gladly suck the toes of the rich and powerful and they somehow know what Middle America is.  Hell, I am a card carrying Middle American and I do not even know what the Hell "Middle America" is.  I certainly do not think Obama has turned his back on me.  But I am sure the leadership of the Right and Left have.  And for this I blame the Media.  They no longer report news, they create it.

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

Friday, August 13, 2010

Damn Insurance Companies

It is foggy this morning.  Inside and out.  I know I probably slept last night, but the haze and dust still floating around my brain makes me question if what I experienced was sleep or something that plays sleep on TV. 

Fast forward to the period when I finally opened my email window. 

Now the fog has lifted.  Now the fires are no longer smouldering.  They have been stoked and poked into a roaring blaze of anger. 

Damn Insurance companies.  Damn them all to Hell.

A customer was riding his bike legally and minding his own business when he was plowed into from behind by some fellow who claimed "the Sun was in my eyes". 

Okay fine.  Accidents happen.  The man was a responsible citizen and set all the proper machines he had power over in motion.  The customer went to the hospital unconscious and does not remember the accident.  The customer had no medical insurance, but was patched up and sent home once he woke up.  His bill came the other day.

His bike took it hard.  He loved that bike.  It was nothing special in the scheme of high end gee whiz bikes pedaling around now days, but it was his and he loved it.  It was also his only way to work.

His wife brought it in the afternoon of the accident and told me to get back to her with an estimate.  And please make it as cheap as possible.  They did not have a pot to piss in.  Once I found out how the accident happened, I informed her she needed to contact a lawyer.  This accident was a no brainer.  Car was completely at fault.  She wasn't sure, but she followed through and discovered that yes, her husband had some choices to pursue.

Not wanting to milk this past the immediate costs of medical bills, a couple days of lost wages, and fixing his bike, what they were asking for was a pittance.  I wrote up the estimate to fix the bike for under $500.

You'd think the insurance company would jump at the chance to get out of this as cheaply as possible and continue stealing money from the rest of us..............But no.  The insurance assholes are jacking this poor couple around while he has to beg rides to work because his commuting machine is in pieces in my shop's basement.

So I get this email this morning from the insurance company wanting documentation about the original cost of the bike and what the replacement cost would be today.  Seems simple enough I guess, but I see it as just another stalling tactic used by these jerks to try and wear down the poor slobs they have by the short hairs. 

I was polite and business like in my reply.  But inside with each polite and businesslike word I typed, I could feel the anger rising until I finally just had to .........................................

I sure hope no one tries to sell me any insurance today.

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

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not Looking Back Yet

I am beginning to get that nasty feeling I have gotten every August for that last 19 years or so.  The discomforting knot that seems to grow as August moves towards September.  Another Maine summer is beginning to wind down.  Come Labor day, the tourists will be gone, the punks will be back in school, and my shop will once again begin accumulating cobwebs.

I love and hate this time coming up.  The dramatic drop in revenue creates apprehensions.  The uptick in free time creates choices.  September is when I evaluate my year, personally and from a business standpoint.  Am I better off than this time last year?  Did I reach any of the lofty goals I set back when icicles hung and frozen winds blew? 

As it is August I am not answering any of these questions yet.  But their weight is beginning to be felt.  Again I will be faced with decisions that I would rather walk around and ignore like some panhandler with nasty teeth.  I am ignoring these questions based on the notion that all my efforts, meager as they may be, must be focused on squeezing as much business out of the next 3 weeks as possible.  I am still looking forward, but thinking of looking back.

Keep it 'Tween the ditches........................................

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

You Can't Get There From Here

I find myself once again not able to pay this blog and others the time they deserve.  I hope to get back into this again on a more regular basis in the near future.  The bike shop has taken a new twist and needs more of my time.  Make that, it needs all of my time.

For your perusal, I offer this piece of flash I wrote over at Thinking Ten.  The flash prompt was "Anywhere but here."  I trimmed the piece down to 250 words after my initial posting at Thinking Ten.

You Can't Get There From Here

Everyone who swings by always asks the same question. With crumpled map in hand, they stab a finger at some compass point near the fold. It is always miles away from here. Everything is miles away from here.


I can tell they are frustrated. Their reaction is always the same. Dad behind the wheel looking flustered. Mom sitting next to him stiff, arms crossed and with a satisfied look on her face,

" See, I told you to stop and ask for directions miles ago. But no. Big Man with the plan has to find his own way."

I will stop rocking on the porch and slowly make my way down next to their Beemer, Jag or latest Lexus to come down the pike. I will listen attentively to how they will lose that hotel room by the sea if they do not get to Kennebunkport before five.

I will always smile. Always. Smiling puts them at ease. I will then say the same thing I always say.

"You can't get there from here. As a matter of fact folks, you will not get there from here. Here is the end of the line."

Astonished looks. Anger crosses Dad’s mug. Mom usually goes quiet. She senses I am not just another yokel on the side of the road. When I pull my scythe out and pull up my hood it finally dawns on them.

They will not get there from here. But always, they want to be anywhere but here.

~*~*~***~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

See Ya......................................

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Languished Moments

Languished moments fall  overboard to become part of my wake.  They float with the seafoam churned up by my oars catching crabs.  My gumption and drive sputter then die, leaving me dead in the water.  Without the necessary backup or another shouder to lean into the oars, I will try to gladly but lately it seems, more sadly, waste a few ticks of the clock.

Frustrating obligations gather dust in the hold and other unfulfilled promises stand tapping their toes impatiently on future shores while I take time to just sit.  Sometimes I just need to sit.  Sometimes I need a space of time that passes without my involvement other than drawing that next breath.  These moments will often return some clarity, some focus on the next bend in the river, the next compass point to aim for.  And even if these slacker instants don't reel me back in, taking a time out  seems to allow me to re-locate again saner speeds and safer trajectories.

For Life can become quite choppy as it moves downstream.  Inconvenient boulders, rude branches, and small snags hide in the frenzied tide.  Navigating through the jumbled chop tossed up by others passing by upstream or down makes for a tough boat to row. 

I sometimes wish I had a motor.  Sometimes the notion of Hi octane four barrel carbs forcing my engine to redline has some appeal........................................Until of course I run out of gas.

Then I sit whether I want to or not.

Over the years I have found, discovered more than a few things about myself.  This tendency of mine to shut down completely began years ago but went unoticed.  Actually I am sure I noticed I had become somewhat detached.  It was not until my beard had gone white and my chest had sunk to my belly that I took the time to really analyze these growing periods of just sitting.

I retraced my steps that led me to this emotional couch and realized  the contrast from where I am now becalmed and without hope of a freshening breeze, is only because my previous efforts had pushed me out of the prevailing winds my life's sail was meant to travel on.  I had gotten ahead of myself.  I was too far in front of the situations and interactions and had to wait for the rest of the world to catch up.

What I did not expect was that in reality my efforts to paint the prettier picture was only hiding the truth.  My languished moments were more often than not, dark moments experienced because I was sure the World had passed me by.  And catching up with no fuel in the tank was not going to happen.

So I sit.  And sit.  Until finally some kind stranger or fed up friend floats up and restocks my fuel supplies so that I can once again join the human race. 

*~*~**~*~*

This post started with me in a good mood.  I dropped it unfinished when I felt the need to "sit" and then finished it once I found my legs again.

Later.........................................
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Image from the Porter Family site

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Third Tier

Not sure what I was thinking or if I was even thinking, I punched up a certain blog list to see what the Third Tier was up to.  The Third Tier is my group of blogs I call up when the starting line up has been  pulled from the game and all the of the blogs riding the pine have already been tapped to pinch hit. 

Mixing it up with this motley crew of droolers, foolers, and scalawags is always an interesting journey into the land of odd.  Often, but never two times in a row, some even make some sense.  On rare occaisions when the moon has gone blue and after that fifth shot, they all strike a chord that might be considered music to my ears as I  leer, fear, and jeer.


"Right on Bro"

"You Go Girl"

"Oh Dude, that is just plain rude, crude and lewd.  You ain't supposed to eat that."

Good ole boys who collect chainsaws and then post their latest score, that 1954 Homelite double bladed topping saw.  Though I have never seen the guardian of this blog, I imagine him to be light on dental work, but flush with a full closet of overalls.

More than few rabid voices from the fringes of the political/religious wilderness will reinforce my ongoing decision to desperately continue clinging to the wishy washy center.  Like scavengers in the dark distance hills yipping and nipping at the heels of unlucky strangers who make the mistake to happen by, these zealots go for imaginary jugglers and invisible bogeymen who I am told by all of them are going to one day send us down a black hole.

A sportsman who is positive that the reason Tom Brady is so charmed is because he sold his soul one day when out on a collegiate stroll.  Lucifer seduced him with an autographed football and a case of Valley Forge Brew.

Then there's Yardman guy.  His collection of over 300  almost antique Yardman tractors and lawn mowers is supposed to be the most envied collection of said machines in the known universe.  And most likely envied in a few unknown ones.

There's the blog dedicated to wife swapping, fluids freely exchanging electronically with pictures and arrows just to make sure we get it right.  I always feel guilty over my voyeurism on this blog, but hey at least I don't have to give out my credit card number.  And the woman who pens the words is a pretty damn good writer.  I like her kiss my butt, there's a piece of misteltoe on my coattails attitude.

I would gladly link them here in my blog if I didn't already feel wierd enough as it is.


Monday, August 02, 2010

The Escape - 250 words

And yet another attempt to break into that exclusive club over to Clarity of Night falls short of the goal line.  I was not going to post this, but hey I spent so much time on it what with all the spit polish and soft rags, I figured it should be up somewhere.  Not sure what to think of this.  It was fiction based on a real life character who fought the Brits during the mid 1800s.

The Escape

Manu watched the cannon bursts devastate her homeland. Every flash, every horrific boom made her young shoulders tremble. Tears filled her eyes. Pain found her heart. Behind her Raka cleared his throat.

“We must leave soon Manu.”

“My people………….they die for me. How can I………….”

“You must leave. You are our Rani, our beacon. Who will continue the fight if you do not? Now please. We must go.”

The shelling ceased at ten o’clock. Some thousand yards from the palace, a hidden door was forced open. Five figures cloaked in the coarse cloth of the lower castes emerged. Winding their way through rubble, fire and death, they soon came to a guard post.

“Manu, please wait here. I will go ahead. I have the jewels he wants. If I do not come back, flee to the north.”

Some moments passed. Raka returned. “We must hurry. We have only a few minutes.”

Manu turned for one last look at her scorched and barren kingdom. Her back stiffened. “I will make them pay.”

A British officer met them at the guard post. He bowed. “May your Highness have a safe journey.”

“I am forever in your debt kind sir.” Manu stared him down.

He stepped aside and followed them with cold eyes as they passed by.

~*~

“Is that how your Grandfather made his fortune in India?”

“No. It was my fortune he made. Months later in a Calcutta alley, Grandfather’s throat was cut. But not before he sent the jewels home.”
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