“Murphy’s Law”

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Murphy’s Second Corollary: Everything takes longer than you think.
Goofy guy’s recent appendix to Murphy’s Second Corollary: And if this thing is driving through Los Angeles (north or south) then it takes exponentially longer.

Walk with an Old Man

i am winding down, light-headed from a near five-hour drive from Santa Barbara to the Southwest corner, feeling like i had just come off a fourteen-foot “Aluma” craft after fishing all night for striped bass on Center Hill Lake with my father, something i haven’t felt for a while, or at least something of which i haven’t made that connection.

i was going to write of the magic trip to see Alan and Maren Hicks with the bonus of their daughter Eleanor joining us for the Fourth. i will later. Tonight, i am tired.

i will not watch the All-Star game, just as i didn’t watch the home run derby last night. Hype, marketing, not, NOT baseball. When they get another selection process, i might watch, but not this one with fans stuffing the electronic voting box with their favorites. But that’s another rant. If i can pull myself from this infernal machine, a tough task for me, i will read a bit and go to bed early.

But on the wham-diddly (i sorta made that up) boring but tense insanity of today’s drive, i thought of something i wanted to write:

Walk with an Old Man

the old man wasn’t stooped yet,
he could tell he soon would be
he requested his grandson join him
for a week or so
in his home where he recently moved back
his request was accepted
the young man came east
the two went to sports events,
golfed, fished, shopped, played games,
his and the young man’s games,
laughed a lot,
and of course,
the old man told stories, lots and lots of stories.

as the visit was nearing an end,
the old man took the boy into the nearby city,
not to the museums, or shopping, or the big events,
down into a rather shabby, run down section
where the old man liked to go to visit the bars
to talk to the old timers, down and out,
listening to their stories,
better understanding humanity,
even at his advanced age;
now he didn’t take the young man
into the bars, walking the street around sundown,
feeling the grit, the humility,
the strength of the people who abided there,
living in their forbearance with dignity;
as they walked, the old man spoke to the young man:

son, when you have lived as long as i have,
you will learn the things i have learned,
only they will be different then:
you live in a different world, with different, if not more,
things to learn
i’m a thinking if i tell you some of those things i’ve learned
you may not have to learn them again;
after all, if i had learned them earlier,
i might have avoided some of the worse things that happened;
maybe, maybe not
there are a couple of things i think are pretty important:
it ain’t how much money you get, earn, or just have;
it’s how you use it.
it ain’t how much you are loved;
it’s how you love.
it ain’t how much religion you have
(and boy, i can tell you there are all sorts of religions
that claim to know, even the atheists, who just believe,
i envy them for knowing so much;
i guess they are smarter than me,)

that’s beside the point);
it’s how you practice your religious belief.
it ain’t how powerful or popular you are;
it’s how you handle any power or popularity that may come your way;
and finally,
it ain’t what you’ve achieved in your job; in your politics, in your life;
it’s the way you treat other people face-to-face;
if you are ever in a fix about what you should do,
just do the right thing:
you’ll be all right.

there’s a heck of a lot more i would like to tell you;
i have a lot more stories, know a lot more fishing holes,
a few more golf courses, maybe even go to museum;
i know a couple of good un’s;
some more good places to eat
you gotta go home tomorrow
continue to grow up;
let’s go get a malted milk.

A Sports Perspective and More

Garrison Keillor is publishing his “Writer’s Almanac” again. i’m not a big fan of his but i read the “Almanac” every day until it went away for a while. Today’s entry,
included a poem by Mick Cochrane, originally published in The Southern Review. Cochrane’s poem captures my idea of great baseball the way it should be played.

i have copied the poem here and hope i have not violated any copyrights. i do this in appreciation of Cochrane, Keillor, and the almanac, and obviously not doing it for money.

How to Sacrifice
by Mick Cochrane

Pivot in the box. Square up.
Surrender to the pitcher.

Slide your top hand up the barrel,
don’t squeeze, keep your hands

soft, bend your knees.
You need to keep your balance.

Let the ball come to you––
be patient. Don’t stab at it.

Point your bat, absorb the shock,
and hope the ball stays fair.

Afterwards expect no high-fives,
no headlines, no contract

extension. No one bunts
himself onto an all-star team.

You do it because that runner
on first, he needs to come home.

He’s your teammate,
he’s your brother, he’s your son,

and you, you’re the guy who still
knows how to lay one down.

A Child to Love

She was beautiful when she was born. Of course, i suspect nearly every parent thinks their child is beautiful at the infant stage. But she truly was beautiful.

She has grown up well. She is a successful career woman, She is one of the two best parents my grandson could possibly have. She cares for people and animals.

i was going to wax poetic, or as poetic as i can wax and started a long piece about her growth from those first beautiful days until the current beautiful days. But i decided she wouldn’t appreciate that, and i could always make an error.

So here are some of my memories of my beautiful (inside and out) daughter:

Uncle Snooks loved her.
She loved Snooks of Joy.









Her mother loved and still loves her with no bounds.
Her dad stills has an unconditional love for her.
They went to Hawaii








They went to the Petrified Forest.
She flew to Seattle to vacation with her dad (one of his best times ever).
She met her other mother and went sailing in the Southwest corner.









Then she got married to the best father my grandson could ever have.
Then she gave birth to the most wonderful grandson a papa could have.
And she loves her mother.
And they live a good life in Austin.
And she still makes me happy like she always did, only in different ways now.

Happy 47th Birthday, my dear Blythe.


















Jewell’s, a Family

i began this last Sunday. But we changed our schedule and drove north for the Independence Day parade in Sonoma with our good friends, Alan and Maren Hicks. The driving was a mix of bad (Los Angeles and San Jose) and good (the rest of it). The stop in Paso Robles was enchanting and the Hick’s remodeled home is even better than the original i loved. 

The Fourth of July is always very poignant for me because it is symbolic of our freedom and quest for equality, no matter how many times we stumble backward in that quest. Hopefully, i will post some more comments on  the travel, our wonderful time here, and Independence Day. For now, i wish to express joy and sadness about families close.

i’ve been intending to write something about a significant family loss last week. But i found it difficult and kept putting it off. Couldn’t find the words. Perhaps it was because i wanted so much to travel to North Carolina to honor her with my presence.

She was my cousin, one of the three daughters of Jesse and Alice Jewell. They took care of me when needed from my birth until i was six or seven. Myrtle and Joann got me into high school plays as the little kid. Shirley was the anointed “baby sitter.” But they all, including Aunt Alice made sure i was okay, which was sometimes tough like when i locked myself in their bathroom on what i remember as Wilson Street, a block or two northeast of the old Lebanon High School football stadium. Shirley had to crawl through the high window above the tub to rescue me. It remains a family legend of Shirley’s rescue and my…er, not so smart move.

As things happen, especially with Jewell men, the close knit family of five brothers and two sisters wandered apart as they married women who were close to their own families. One, Aunt Virda, died in her twenties. Wesley and his wife Barbara moved west seeking better living. Uncle Jesse, Aunt Naomi (known as “Aunt Noni” in the family) and her husband Uncle George stayed close. Uncle Jesse, the plumber, and Uncle George, the electrician, teamed with my father Jimmy to fish and boat on the river together. But they too went their own ways with employment and family.

They remained close. Their families though remote remained close as well with the center of that closeness being my parents and Uncle Huffman, the youngest of the siblings, and his wife Aunt Louise who remained in Lebanon, the family home.

The two older sisters of Uncle Jesse, Myrtle and Joann each married members of the Lumbee tribe, a Carolina tribe with origins from the Tuscarora, Siouan, and Algonquian Native Americans. Then the Jimmy Jewell children got itchy feet. Sister Martha moved to Colorado, then New Mexico, and then back to Chattanooga. Brother Joe went to New England and stayed there. The oldest, some goofy guy, smelled newsprint and the sea and ended up in the Southwest corner.  The next generations splattered across the country: California, Florida, Vermont, Boston, Arkansas, and North Carolina. i’m sure there are some of those next generations in other states as well.

i sometimes wonder what Mama and Grandpa Jewell would have thought of this had it been possible to project the future when they moved from the hamlet of Statesville to Lebanon in 1898.

The closeness remained.

Joann Jewell Jacobs passed away in Charlotte, North Carolina almost two weeks ago after a long battle with dementia. She was one of the most beautiful women i have ever known inside and out. She remained close. Joann and her daughter Jamie were one of the last Jewell family members to be with my father, visiting him and my mother the day before he passed away five years ago. From that moment, i kept planning to go see her, but failed. i regret that.

Virda left us in the 1920’s. Grandfather Hiram Culley departed in the late 1930’s. Mama Jewell passed away in the early 1950’s. Of the next generation only Aunt Louis remains with us. Jesse, Alice, Wesley, Barbara, Naomi, George, Huffman, Jimmy, and Estelle are gone. Uncle Jesse and Aunt Alice’s daughters have joined them. The daughters’ generation, including me, is slowly moving on, slimming down the numbers.

But there are others like Jamie and Jewell and Lori and Kelley who still hold that Jewell family closeness in their souls. i can feel it.

i don’t think i can express it better than this photo with Joann, Jamie, Jimmy, and Estelle a couple of years before their last visit.










i’m missing you, Joann.

“Murphy’s Law”

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Grandpa Charnock’s Law: You never learn to swear until you learn to drive.
Goofy guy’s contradiction to Grandpa Charnock’s Law: This law does not apply to sailors as they have developed  swearing into an art form.

Vandy Boys

i have tried to stay low key. Not get excited. Not get nervous. Ignore my superstitious gremlin attempting to overtake me.

None of this actually happened, of course: i was higher than a kite, sometimes too excited to talk (and we know that is really, really excited). And nervous. Lord, was i nervous through the Super Regionals and the entire College World Series. i watched nearly all of the nine games my team played live, a rare occurrence for me. i usually record sports and watch to fast forward through the talking heads and commercials, but this, this was too important.

Along the way, old friends from college and high school kept growing in my correspondence about the CWS. It was fun to reconnect with so many but a little scary. That former sports writer stuff on my work list seemed to make me an expert of some sorts. i doubt it, but the title, even though it was long ago, apparently bears some weight. So that seemed to add a bit more responsibility. And then one of those friends has been spreading rumors that my previous optimism brought on a curse for our team, so i adopted a cynic’s pessimistic stance. After our team’s first win, i became concerned that such a stance might create a double-cross and have the opposite curse of its own.

But tonight, the Vandy Boys won it all. i sat in my chair and soaked it in, feeling a glow. A glow of what?

Yeh, my team, Vanderbilt won their second national championship in baseball. Their reputation as a power house in the sport is established. And winners beget winners. More championships are possible, difficult to obtain, but possible. And they deserved it. They outplayed the best teams in the country. The story lines and yes, the ironies are many.

For a little while i was giddy just like the fans in the stands in Omaha, just like the fans on Hawkins Field, Vanderbilt’s home stadium sporting the Fred Russell press box, and inside Memorial Gymnasium, and two dozen homes literally in every part of this country where my friends reside, and many more.

For me, there was something even better. Vanderbilt did it the right way, or as David Williams, who passed away within a week of retiring from his post as Vanderbilt’s Vice-Chancellor of Athletics would say, “The Vanderbilt Way.”

Coach Tim Corbin, whom his freshman phenom and outstanding player of the CWS, Kumar Rocker, called the “Sabin of college baseball,” epitomizes Williams’ idea of doing it right. They were a great fit together, and i believe Corbin has influenced other Vanderbilt coaches to approach their sports with the goal of doing it the right way, the Vandy way.

What is the Vandy way? Williams preached college athletics should be about developing an athlete to be a complete person, giving him or her the opportunity to succeed in the sport in which they competed while also giving them an education to maximize their success in their sports or in another area of their interest if athletic success failed to materialize. The Vandy way is to help the student-athlete develop into a mature, adjusted, responsible adult capable of success and capable of dealing with failure.

Many college athletic programs use such ideas as a hood ornament while recruiting athletes to win. Period. The athletes from those programs may move on to succeed in their sport, but the lack of emphasis on education (such as the many “one and done” basketball schools) leaves those athletes short in development as a human being.

Yeh, it’s not perfect at Vanderbilt. Never is. But they keep working hard to meet Williams’ idea of the Vandy way. And what i’ve seen so far, William’s replacement, Malcolm Turner is focused on getting more success done the Vandy way.

Tim Corbin and the Vandy Boys showed how it works. i’m proud of them.

And it is now late, well past midnight on the East Coast, past my bed time. i sit here in this glow, absorbing what i just saw.

i’m pretty sure somewhere up there David Williams is smiling.

And tomorrow morning, i will shave. It’s been a while.

“Murphy’s Law”

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Tischmann’s Paradox: A pipe gives a wise man time to think and a fool something to stick in his mouth.
Goofy guy’s amplification of Trischmann’s Paradox: And in my day, the latter of these two smoked cherry blend tobacco. Ugh.