Monday, June 28, 2010

The Setback - 250 words

Will Kenney pulled into the parking lot of Jack Gannon's future gas station. Wendel, dozing in the passenger seat since they left the job, rubbed his eyes and wiped the drool off his chin.

"What's up Will? Why you stopping here?"

"Got some planning board business to take care of. Want to make sure Gannon's meeting the setbacks for the fuel tanks."

"No you aren't”, Wendel said. "You been bustin each other’s chops since grade school. Jeezus man, it was a tough day. Take me home first. You can play with Jack later."

"Only be a moment." Will climbed out of the truck. “Could use some help with the tape.”

From the cab of the excavator, Jack shouted, “You get back in your pickup Will. I don’t want you or your loser friend on my property.”

“Easy Jack, just checking the setback on the tanks. Look’s like they may be too close to the wetland marker there in the back. Town Business.”

To Wendel he said, “Run this end of the tape down to the marker there.”

Wendel grabbed the tape and began walking. The excavator began to move. Neither he nor Will paid much attention. Just as Wendel reached the flag and turned around, he shouted, “Hey Will”.

Will turned to watch the bucket of the excavator swivel around and drop hard onto the cab of his pickup.

Will grinned. “Thanks Jack. Now I guess you won’t be getting that liquor license. And I’ll be getting a new truck.”


A note about this story. It was inspired by an actual event that never got this out of hand. The two parties involved in the original incident are two of my favorite local characters. One of whom I call a friend and the other well, let's just say I respect his unique-ness.


It was not until moments ago I realized I made a fairly serious mistake in the previous post, "The Young Professional". The Macrum side of the family I know very little about. It was my Grandfather's wife who came from the milling family in Pennsylvania. Her maiden name was Roberts. The top image above is a photograph taken in 1948 of the pen and ink drawing a 17 year old relative drew in 1892. The flag at the top indicates the mill was built in 1683. So I guess I can trace at least some of my heritage in this country back to Colonial times.

Below are my great-great grandparents Elisabeth Taylor Roberts and Spenser Roberts.

Surrounded these past 30 years by all this family history, I have taken little notice of it. Yeah Life has had a way of keeping my focus narrowed to the here and now. But you would think that in 30 years, I would have shown more interest than the occasional glance at the serious faces who watched me everyday as I stumbled my way through my days.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Young Professional

This is one of the photos passed down to me from my Aunt Helen. One of these fellows is my grandfather. I will leave it up to you to figure out which one.

I know his name was Robert Shuter Macrum. I know he came from an old guard Pennsylvania family who made their mark as millers dating back to the 1700s at least. I have an etching of their grist mill that hangs in the foyer. I know he was a doctor in the Pittsburgh area. I know he had at least 2 brothers. And I know he died in 1912 of a blocked colon. Or maybe it was something else. Aunt Helen and my father were less than forthcoming when the subject came up. They were both small children when he passed. And being from good Anglican stock, family linen was not aired in public. Anything else about him comes from my imagination as I gaze at the handful of Kodak moments I have stashed in the bottom drawer of the Korean cabinet.

I like this photo for several reasons. These young men just exude confidence. They seem impatient to get on with what assuredly will be successful decades in their future. They have not yet been beaten down by Life. They pose as men who will grab Life by the short hairs and bend it to their will.

Obviously in the case of my grandfather, Life won. And it won early.

Old photographs fascinate me. The scenery, the clothing, the rigid poses tell me more about the cultural mindset than often do words written during that period. And here staged in what is obviously a perfect backdrop of the times they were setting off to conquer, these 4 young men seem to barely be able to sit still long enough to have a keepsake photograph snapped of themselves for their moms and future generations to look at in wonder.

Old photos begin thier historical or is it hysterical timeline as new photos. While they speak to current trends when they are taken, more often than not when gazed upon 100 years later, they often become the source of much laughter and derision. So, for your viewing pleasure, a relatively current image of a future grandfather........................


Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Accidental Business Tycoon Vents

The stress of trying to pay Paul with the money I robbed from Peter has tripped the blow off valve in my mind. Last week as I gazed dejectedly at the $2500 worth of bike shop bills almost over due sitting next to my homespun ledger that told me I had taken in a paltry $1800 that week to pay them, frustration and anger boiled over. I picked up my revolving shop stool and tossed it across the room. Thankfully it is one rugged stool. It laughed at me. Later that night I sucked down 3 beers and 4 shots and passed out still angry and frustrated.

I took care of the bills okay. But it meant I had to dip into the hard won stash of cash I began scraping together back in March for just this type of temporary cash crunch. But my temperament has not really improved. I have turned into a grumpy ole fart who would love to have a dog I hate so I can kick it.


Seems this bad attitude has come earlier these past few seasons. My only solace I guess is I am not alone. Many, if not most of the small retailers in my small slice of the planet are struggling also. It is just a matter of degrees. Enough business to keep the doors open, but not enough to make more than a small dent in the backed up shit pile politely referred to by more competent business folks than me as "my debt load".

I considered whether I should write a post that was full of whining woe is me dribble. No one likes to listen to a whiner. But I forged ahead anyway. I mean this blog to be a true representation of my mindset when I decide to spew forth with what's fermenting inside the cranial void. And maybe some relief....some small putrid puff of the foul fuming mood that is poisoning my summer will vacate the premises.


It sure would be nice........It would sure make me feel less guilt..........If I could place some blame somewhere besides at my own feet. Certainly situations outside my control have in recent years made the struggle tougher. Ultimately though it is up to me to suck it up and deal with it. Or lock the fcuking doors and give it up.


But Mike that would mean chasing a job at age 58 and working for someone else. And with a body worn down by 45 years of manual labor and a mind corrupted early by massive doses of substances that felt good but left me with a face full of deep scars..................


Okay. I've bared some soul. Opened a few wounds to the light of day. As I pursue some bliss or even just a hint of it's scent, I realize this too will pass. But like a kidney stone, it's passing is agonizing and seems to take forever to finally give up some relief.


These tag along photos did the trick. I can't read this post without chuckling.

You know what? None of this shit matters. As cathartic as self pity can be, this post was not. But posing for these ham-fisted self portraits was.

Now I sit rocking out to "Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik". A tough day awaits me tomorrow. Just another tough day in a mind numbing series of tough days to come. But tonight, I found some peace.

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

PS - Once again the magic of digital technology developed by some geek with sweat stains in the pits of his polyester button down plaid shirt has rewarded this dimwit with another excellent, albeit accidental, visual snippet of the beautiful world just beyond my dooryard. The flowers are about the size of a nickel. Thousands grow under the white pine canopy across the road in Mary's Woods.

Like I said, none of the crap I build up in my mind matters. Especially when I see these floral volunteers working so hard to keep the World from becoming too ugly. If they can show up for work year after year, I guess I can too.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

My father has been dead now coming up on 30 years. He is still my father whether he graces us with his presence or now just with his memory. His legacy saturates the home I live in. It was the last house he lived in. It was the house he died in. Fell dead on the kitchen floor in the Fall of 1980 while laughing at some funny remark made by my mom over their morning coffee.

I am typing this in the den turned office he used during his last years on this planet. I sit in the same chair at the same desk he used probably the morning of day he died. Many of his tools I still use. Yes, his memory fills every corner of this house. Books he read. Pictures he took. Furniture he built.

And yet, as the years stretch to decades since he passed, I find myself remembering him less and less. Hence this post. A small reminder to me that what I have, what I have become, and where I am headed are in no small part due to his participation in my life.

Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

News Travels Slow

The other day someone at the shop asked me what I thought about Dennis Hopper's death.

"Huh? Dennis Hopper is dead?"

They looked at me, their eyes showing surprise over this lack of awareness on my part.

"When was the last time you watched the news?"

"Uh, I dunno......maybe day two of the Gulf oil catastrophe.......Uh no, I watched the weather this morning. Does that count?"

They smiled.

So Dennis Hopper and now I understand Gary Coleman are dead. One, an icon of the Silver Screen and the other an icon of the Small Screen. One was older than I and the other was younger. Neither died in spectacular or shady ways. Natural Causes, the guilty culprit.

I am not sure what to think. I will miss Dennis, but Gary was never on my radar. The sitcom he starred in held no interest for me. What gets me is the over the top attention after their deaths. Even though they are dead and buried, their star status carries them into our living rooms and computers as the sordid details of their private lives are laid open for all to see. Why anyone would be interested in the details of someones last days as they struggled against cancer is beyond me. Many if not most of us have lived that nightmare as we watched a loved one or friend live out their last days.

Bottom line is both were actors. Maybe a better way to honor both would be to watch their body of work and appreciate the legacy they left us. Digging into the dark side of their private lives now is low rent and wrong.

Back in March I made the conscious choice to change my lifestyle. Staying tuned into what was going on outside my small corner of Maine was not helping my frame of mind. So I made the decision to not stay tuned in. It was not turning me on and all I had was a feeling of total impotency regarding my ability to sway events beyond my own world. Take care of me and mine and the rest will work out. Or it won't. Either way, I needed to stop worrying about the NASDAQ, the banks, the oil spill, the illegals in Arizona.

Certainly events outside my area were affecting me. The economic meltdown for sure had cut through our area with a vengeance. The nationwide political animosity had recently exhibited itself in the acrimonious and hateful turn of events leading up to a local town election. All of a sudden I heard terms like "Us & Them", "elitist", etc. come from the mouths of good ole boys who never speak openly about politics. And though the election on June 8th resolved some of the controversy, it did not smooth out the hard feelings on either side. People all over have decided that everything is personal now. This is not a good sign.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Winger's With Woodies - Part ll

Leave this blog for a few weeks and what happens? I open up my dashboard and there's 35 or so comments on older posts I have to accept or reject. Most were the usual anonymous spam type comments trying to entice me to visit a certain site or sites to be amazed by the products or services offered.

One comment however caught my attention. The unnamed commenter took exception to my post, "Wingers with Woodies". A soft blow criticism of Ms. Perino's(Bush ll's Press Secretary -2nd term) comment that no act of terrorism had happened during Bush's "reign".

I did not post the comment because the commenter was not man/woman enough to sign their name. Essentially it said the photo was a fake. The commenter was positive Ms Perino obviously meant no attacks had occurred the second term (although in the initial interview on Fox, she made no mention of this). And with a final flourish, the commenter ended with, "You are a douche bag."

Of course I chuckled. Tell me something I don't know ferchrisakes. Douche-baggery has been a go to mentality of mine for as long as I can remember. Thanks for pointing out the obvious.

Of course one man's douche bag is another man's hero. Or in this case, their heroine.

Instead of letting my mind wander back into the dark places where I stashed my political will, I considered the words and intent of "You are a Douche Bag." The derogatory term has been around for at least the 58 years I have been around. And for at least 50 of those years I have had no clue as to what exactly it means other than it's a kinder way of calling one an Asshole.

Which then begs the question of just what is a Douche Bag? Apparently it is someone we probably have no interest in getting to know better.

Jerk Wad, Asshole, Douche Bag, Dip Shit, Loser - the list is endless. Words that drop their literal meaning when used to convey our opinion of someone else's opinion or actions. We flounder to find just the right word to convey our low opinion of a person and what comes out? "You are a Douche Bag."

Yes. Yes I am. And so is Ms Perino. Next question.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Guardian of the Peony

Some things we seem able to blow off for periods of time and when we come back to them after a lengthy layoff, we pick up right where we left off. No stumbling, no hesitation - it was as if we were never gone. Other things, well, like this blog seem strange and new again now that I have been off the Internets for a few weeks.

Shifting gears from the insistent mundaniety of my real life to the exciting world of Blogdom is like changing buses. Same shit, different audience. But never let it be said I am one to ignore the chance to be boorish with folks I have never met.

For the last week or so as I toiled at the shop, struggled to keep the jungle here at home at bay, or was driving or riding my way from there to here and back again, I anguished over the fact that I have been gone from my blog for an unacceptable period of time. So today instead of using the computer for business purposes, I am posting a new post just to get my feet wet again. I miss sharing my thoughts, rants, and observations. I miss the interaction.

The picture at the top is one I took a couple of days ago. My father planted the Peonies 43 years ago along the old stone wall in the dooryard. 20 years ago I transplanted a bunch to a sunnier location along the same wall. The explosion of color the next year was just awesome. Apparently the peony loves the sun. And apparently a certain brand of spider loves the Peony. That little lady with the bee firmly clamped in her jaws has been showing up every year since I moved the plants.

Yeah, I am sure it is not the same spider, but I would guess this years Guardian of the Peony is of the same royal blood as the first one who took up residence in these beautiful flowers.

This image of Death amidst overwhelming Beauty conjures up all sorts of notions, considerations, and conclusions. And as I sat and drank my coffee, more than a few passed through my mind. Allegories, Analogies, and even some Fables popped up while I sat and stared at this image. What really stood out however is Beauty is wonderful to behold. Just do not get caught admiring it for too long.

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