There is this woman. She is only a couple of years younger than me, but she seems much younger. If i got the math right, she is two years minus seven days younger, but so much younger. Yeh, much younger.

She and i have wandered in and out of each other’s lives for about a half-century. Eventually, we married someone else (or is it “else’s”?) and both marriages are good things as they should be. i have never met her husband, but would like to do so as he has to be a spectacular guy. She has met my wife and they are fast friends. This woman and i have remained friends throughout it all.

i won’t write a lot about her here. i have written a lot about her to her. She is a special friend.

The thing i like about her most (not counting her legs: she has great legs among other things) is she is always fun. She is fun around everyone. i cannot remember not having fun around her. Oh, i’m sure over the years we have had serious discussions, but i remember how much fun she is

She is beautiful, inside and out.

She is from Lookout Mountain and lives in Atlanta. She has many friends, several from her sorority days at Vanderbilt where i met her.

i hope the four of us can get together this year and make our connections. Over dinner someplace, of course.

Susan Butterfield Brooks, i’m sure Mike will take good care of you today. You deserve it.

And we will be thinking of you and all the fun you are.

Happy Birthday.

The Other First Man, a Fable

Once a long, long time ago, there was this man. Initially, he was the only man around his parts. Not that he was really the first, mind you, but this fable isn’t intended to produce another “Adam and Eve” argument; no way, no how. But this other first man existed about that long ago, perhaps even earlier.

His name was Albert.

It didn’t take Albert very long to realize he was a bit different than all of the other animals. It was because he realized he could think, rationalize, figure out things.

So Albert set out to…er, live. His quest to live began with finding water, which was provided by a stream nearby right after Albert realized his thinking was what made him different from the other animals around him. Then he realized, or perhaps not realized, he had curiosity, not like a cat, but Albert was curious because he wanted to know. So he crossed the stream where he drank his water to find out what was over there.

After a while of exploring across the stream, he met Alberta. She didn’t have any makeup on, but by the standards back then, she was good looking compared to all of the other women. But of course, there weren’t any women for comparison. And then again, Albert wouldn’t have been any heart throb to any movie starlets if they had been around then.

So Albert and Alberta hit it off. They went back across the stream and set up house in a dune or small hill where Albert had dug out a room. One evening by the fire he had figured out how to control – yet another thing Albert found different between him and the other animals – Albert put his arm around Alberta, and something between them began to grow. They discovered this growing thing was Albert. They didn’t know where to put it initially but Alberta figured out where to put it. The place to put it was Alberta. They discovered this felt pretty good, so they did this for a bunch of nights by the fire.

Soon Alberta began to get rather large in the mid-section, and they were puzzled. Eventually they figured it out when Alberta gave birth to Albatross. He was a feisty infant and grew fast. He was also a boy and inclined to do stupid things. Then one day, Albatross took on a saber tooth tiger. That was one of the stupid things. It also was Albatross’ last thing of any kind.

Albert and Alberta paid their respects to Albatross by burying his loin cloth, which was about all they could find. As they paid their respects, this large bird flew directly over them, and they decided to honor the slight remains of their son by naming the bird “albatross.”

Still they were intrigued with how good it felt putting Albert’s growth in its proper place. Soon they had a daughter whom they named Albertina. Not too long afterward, they had another boy and named him Alberto.

That’s when Alberta decided she and Albert were having way too much fun, and it made feeding everyone much more difficult. So, being a woman, she told Albert she didn’t want to have fun anymore. Albert didn’t agree, but being able to think, he realized he didn’t have any choice, nodded, and retreated to a solitary spot to alleviate any growth he might experience after that.

Albert, Alberto, Albertina, and Alberto loved animals. They thought they were cute and fluffy. Unless the family needed to eat. Then, the little critters became supper. Not being able to think, the smaller critters took a while to finally figured out they were cuddled and then eaten. That’s when the critters became much harder to find. So Albert, who had met Alberta’s brother, Alvin, teamed up and went hunting for larger game.

Meanwhile Alberta worked around the living spaces with Alvina, Alvin’s new wife. They discovered there were some good tasting berries around. Alberta decided some leafy growths she found on the ground might go well with the meat. So she said to Alvina, “Let us take these home,” and the green leafy plants became known as lettuce. The two women thought the lettuce along with the berries for dessert would go well with the meat the boys brought home.

While the men were away, Alberta and Alvina started talking about how to be prettier, even though it wasn’t needed. There wasn’t a lot of competition, but they were women and wanted to look prettier. Somehow, they decided they would put mud on their faces when they went to sleep at night. They believed the mud would draw out impurities and keep their facial skin soft and without blemishes. So that night after the men had brought meat home, and Alberto and Alvina had prepared their meal of caribou steak and lettuce with berries for dessert, the two women went to their separate dunes where the men had carved out living space (and put the fire in front to keep the space warm and keep off the numerous animal threats at night) turned the dirt they had saved into mud with water they had brought in from the stream, and covered their faces with the dark concoction.

Previously after preparing an earlier meal, Alberta and Alvina left some crushed berries in a depression in a nearby boulder. It sat there for a couple of days until Albert scooped some of it up in his palm to taste. He liked it. It made him feel good. Then he had Alvin try it. They both liked it. So it became part of their evening routine. This evening while the women were applying their mud, Albert and Alvin relaxed after their hunt and the meal, drinking their new found elixir and bragging about who got the biggest caribou. The women had gone to be by the time the men finished the elixir and bragging.

When Albert went to his living space, the fire cast an eerie glow into the dug out room. Slightly tipsy from the elixir, Albert did not see Alberta on the skin on the floor, but saw this very scary creature with a face that looked like some kind of monster. He grabbed his nearby hunting rock above his head and was about to crush the monster’s skull when Alberta woke up and screamed. Her eyes glowing white through the mud, Alberta still scared Albert, but he recognized the scream, which also scared him. When she explained to him what was going on. He was puzzled, but he could think and knew Alberta was a woman who did not think the way he thought. Albert wisely apologized but was very careful when he went to bed at night from then on. He was very, very careful.

And somewhere in those olden times when it rained and made hunting, if not impossible, certainly unlikely for catching any game, Albert would stay home with Alberta and talk about who they were, what they were, and what life really was. They agreed they were different than other animals. They had already realized they could think, be logical, come to conclusions. But they also realized there was something bigger than them. They thought it might be connected to some bigger power in the heavens, perhaps connected to the albatross they had named after their first son. They also thought it might come from within.

This idea of what was right and what was wrong seemed to be something they understood and the other living things did not. They discovered they not only cared for their family but other human beings.

You see, other men and women began to gather at the stream and set up living there. They found they could be much more efficient if they assigned individuals to specific tasks, creating teams for each part of their life in this community, creating much better living than what one family could do on its own.

That’s when the trouble started.

Some men thought the women should be subservient. All of the women and some of the men disagreed, but the women coupled with the men thinking they were subservient were forced to agree with their men, so the men were considered superior.

Then some other folk tried to cross the stream and join the group. These men who thought they knew everything and disregarded the power of good and right and wrong within them and above them feared the newcomers. They chased off the newcomers and set up boundaries around their encampment. They became isolated. These same men began fighting over who would be the chief. They wanted to punish anyone they perceived to be against them and set up tribal sessions where they ruled and punished their competitors, even killing some of them.

It got really ugly.

Albert and Alberta were scared. Alvin, Alvina, and their children had left some time before, wanting to check out what the other side of their world looked like. Now Albert and Alberta, the original occupants in the area, who had realized they were different and not like the animals because they could think logically and knew inside what was wrong, right, and humane, realized many men and women were acting more like animals, specifically lemmings, and were disregarding what was wrong and right.

So one night in the darkness of the wee hours, Albert, Alberta, Albertina, and Alberto snuck away carrying their animal skins, Albert’s hunting rock, and a bota bag made of animal skin holding Albert’s berry concoction.

No one knew where they went, what happened to them. They became legends in the little village. Some people thought they were gods had gone on to a magic place for the dead, and worshipped them. Some thought they had suffered the same fate as Albatross, death by a “streak” of saber tooth tigers, or perhaps more fittingly, an “ambush” of those big cats. But no one really knew.

But the Albert family didn’t die, at least not then. They wandered until they found a cave, suitable for living, a nice piece of real estate, really, with a great view at the foot of a mountain far away. There were no other people there, and Albert and Alberta were glad because they wanted to listen to that inner power, which was also in the heavens and all around them and do the right thing.

And they lived happily ever after…

Oh no they didn’t.

Some paleontologists recently have found ancient human stools near the cave and began an intense study of the creatures they named “Albert and family.” They found a crude grave, a mound stones nearby. There wasn’t much left, but these paleontologists determined the remains were of the other first man and woman.

Apparently, daughter Albertina and son Alberto separately wandered off to other places after they reached puberty. The paleontologists determined the two young adults had gone to different cities because they enjoyed the night life and being around other people, right or wrong.

These scientists reached the conclusion Albert and Alberta had died, if not happily, at least satisfied they had try to do the right thing.

And that was enough.

Birthday Boy…well, not quite “boy” anymore

There is this guy who turns 50 today. Makes me feel old.

This guy is a bit goofy. i think that’s why i like him so much.

i met him when he was an aviation boatswainmate airman. i was a commander.

He was on a ship i was once on as staffie: one of my favorite reminisces: lifetime friends, crossing the line to become a shellback, Hong Kong Christmas, Singapore New Year, Papua New Guinea, Olangapo in its finest hour. He was on that ship when she hit a mine in the Persian Gulf.

He’s from Kansas.

He met my daughter when she was staying with us in San Diego for a while in the mid-to-late 80’s (Blythe, you will have to get the dates right: i’m too old to remember exactly). It took the two about ten years to get married.

This was a good thing.

When they got married, in my toast at the reception, i said their love reminded me of the best marriage i had known (not including my last): my parents, Jimmy and Estelle Jewell. Thus far, i think i’m right.

i get downright excited about how much he loves my daughter. i am also thrilled, ebullient about what a great father he is to my grandson Sam.

He’s a keeper. When we are together, we do projects together, we play golf together, we go to bars together. He and Maureen are copacetic. They both are aficionados in wine and cooking.

He is also a manic Kansas City Chiefs fan. Perhaps the Chiefs knew he was turning fifty and decided to get to the Super Bowl for him.

Jason Gander is my son-in-law. i never get to be with him enough. i would like to watch the Super Bowl with him. This is a huge concession for me. i swore off watching the event with the glitz and hyperbole lasting five or six hours. But it would be fun watching him watching his Chiefs about ten days from now.

i can’t express how happy i am he is part of our family.

Thank you, Jason.

i hope the Chiefs win for you.

and Happy 50th Birthday.

(and Blythe, i stole your photo off of Facebook.)

Reflections of an Old Man Turning Seventy-Six

The not so big day is over. Thus far, i have thanked everyone who sent me a social media birthday greeting. If i missed you, i apologize. It has pretty much filled up my day.

i did watch some football. My son-in-law and a dear lady named Linda, who just happens to be married to a complete nut like me, Major Linville, and the son of another of the curmudgeons are huge, some fanatic Kansas City Chiefs fans. And as you would expect many of my friends from back home are fanatic Tennessee Titans fans. So i was ambivalent. When it was obvious the Chiefs had it locked up,  i fast forwarded to confirm the obvious. In the NFC games, since i am on the left coast, i have a number of friends who are 49er fans, and i have other friends and my father who are/was big Packer rooters. So again, i was ambivalent. When that game looked like the home team had it sewed up, i fast forwarded to confirm and finally turned the television off.

Maureen bought a pre-marinated tri-tip from a hoity-toity place in North County for my second birthday dinner. Of course, i had to grill it on my egg knock-off grill.

This was good. Even though the recent rains had dampened the grill, taking longer was a good thing. i took out my computer and put the iTunes control on “genius,” which plays one genre of songs until you change it. Now with my set up, i have rebelled against the unlimited selections from the web “apps” — and “apps” to me sounds like some body parts that need exercise. There is nothing wrong with that. Both of my daughters are experts in such things, and their music selection is excellent with high quality. But i am not a aficionado in music by today’s definition. Not only am i old, i am old school. And my time at sea kept me away from most new fangled stuff after the mid-1970’s. So my iTunes is stuffed with my 45 ‘RPMS, my LP’s (to which i am still converting), and my CD’s. That’s what is on my “genius” playlists.

As i cleaned and greased the grill, i listened to Julian Bream and Andrea Bocelli. Then i hit the “genius” again, and that old genius boy turned it into country. So while i watched the grill heat to 500 degrees and then grilled the steak, i drank wine and listened to Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Bobby Bare, Roy Acuff, and the Sons of the Pioneers among others, shuffling my feet as if dancing like i used to, singing along and not caring if neighbors might be listening and laughing.

The tri-tip was superb. Maureen’s succotash, tomatoes, and potatoes were excellent, as usual, and the wine was just right.

But as i grilled outside, i looked up my hill to the flag, not well lit but enough to meet flag regulations, i saw one light in the sky. It was Venus, bright enough to burn through the onsetting evening clouds. She was a light in the mist, a point off the starboard bow of the flag on the hill.

A signal? An omen? Of what?

i don’t know. i am old enough to not jump to conclusions. Yet i couldn’t think but consider this was a good sign.

Another year. Perhaps it will be as good as the seventy-five past. Perhaps there will be more connections and reconnections with friends and family. Perhaps not.

But old Venus, she knows, and she ain’t telling.

That’s okay. It’s a new beginning. And the new beginning might have an ending sooner than expected. But you know what? That’s okay too.

Goodnight, Venus.

Tough Day

Nah, not because i’m old today. There’s a certain joy in getting past three quarters of a century. Of course, being old, i’m not too sure what that joy is.

Thus far, it has been wonderful. Maureen and Sarah took me to Bleu Boheme last night, one of our favorite French restaurants. We sat at the bar as we prefer. i perused the menu and went right back to Moules Frites au Saffron (mussels and fries) as i usually do. Being old, i refrained from my Bombay Sapphire Martini up with an olive as i have ordered in the past. After all, i’m old. Don’t feel it. But there are enough aches, pains, and doctor checkups to make me admit it. Maureen and Sarah were wonderful. i did miss Blythe and Jason and Sam but there’s a distance problem you see for someone who landed in the Southwest corner. Still is was as good as it could be.

Bleu Boheme even gave me a card with their entrance on the front page:

And my view from my seat at the bar was pretty cool:

It is a comfortable spot and except for my inability to pronounce French correctly (at least that is what my fluent wife tells me), they make you feel at home.




And i really like what they do with their candles.




But the thrill of it was being with these two:

That’s my birthday “cake” from Bleu Boheme in front of me.

And then we came home. Sarah gave me her gift. She knows me well. That pier, that Pacific Tugboat place is one of my favorite places to go.. The harbor smells, the old creosote wood pier (one, if not the only one still operating on San Diego Bay) takes me back to a wonderful existence i had for twenty-two years.

Let the big day begin. i’ll be working. Home projects. Like this being old.

The tough part is i made a promise to reply to each birthday greeting from everyone. Thus far, i have done that, but it’s getting tougher. i’ll keep at it, but thank all of you for your well wishes…just in case.

Something Old, Something New

After supper tonight, my wife and daughter expelled me from the family room because i am not real fond of movies of this age and i landed in the “living room.”

This is akin to B’rer Rabbit being thrown into the briar patch by B’rer Fox and B’rer Bear.

i lit a fire, sat in the sitting chair (a good thing) next to the fire i just lit in the hearth, put my ear buds in, turned my iTunes on my music to listen to J.J. Cale, Mose Allison, Jimmy Smith, and Dvorak if i can stay awake that long.

i am in heaven. The world is good.

Yesterday, i began a series of posts about how i think about things with the intention of continuing along that line. But before i closed the books on last night, i went to a book i referenced to John Moriarty, a good man and one hell of an expert on whiskey which is intrinsically related to John being a wonderful Irish man. John had commented on a photo i posted of my aunt and infant me in a black and white photograph. i recommended to John a photographic book i acquired back in the late ’60’s because i was a devoted William Faulkner reader.

Before coming to what i should post next, i went back to that book, long after i should have gone to bed last night, because after all i had to get up before most humans to get to my tee time for golf in the rain. In the late night after everyone had gone to bed, i went through the book with incredible photo of the good and bad of how life was in my South.

Martin J. Dain’s Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County captures that good and bad of times past. The photos are pure art. Dain took quotes from Faulkner to consider on most of the pages.

As i read late into the night, i recognized something in me i had forgotten. i even wrote a poem (sort of) about my recognition of where many of my beliefs are based. But i had forgot until i read Willy’s quotes accompanying the photos.

Well folks, here are many of them, which are oh so wonderfully better than anything i could express:

What i perceived the Wilson County Courthouse to be on the Lebanon square before they tore in down and turned it into a parking lot and ruined the aura and history of the square:

…a Square, the courthouse in its grove the center, quadrangular around it, the stores… school and church and tavern and bank and jail in its ordered place… 

But above all, the courthouse: the center, the focus, the hub; sitting looming in the center of the county’s circumference like a single cloud…musing, brooding, symbolic and ponderable, tall as a cloud, solid as a rock, dominating all: protector of the weak, judiciate and curb of the passions and lusts, repository and guardian of the aspirations and hopes..


That was the danger, what a man had to watch against: once you laid flat on the ground, right away the earth started to draw you back down into it.


Father…said time is dead as long as it is being ticked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.


…I’d have wasted a lot of time and trouble before I learned that the best way to take all people, black or white, is to take them for what they think they are, then leave them alone. (i have great reservations about the rest of this quote because of the sensitivity of what we now perceive as politically correct, but folks, this is in my mind, is in no way a negative comment on race, but a confirmation of how we are all human; and i don’t think of the word as being confined to folks with a skin tone darker than mine; i think of it as a lazy abomination of the correct pronunciation and the word itself being applicable to people of all skin tones; and i am sad so many people regard the word as terrible when it is the thought, the meaning of the person invoking the word that should be despised or accepted based on the intended meaning of the word; no, not the word; and i am a minority in this sense; but i won’t use the word because folks will immediately and wrongfully label this boy from the South as a racist, which i am not but have had this kind of prejudice used against me more than once; and i am old, so deal with it) That is when i realized that a nigger is not a person so much as a form of behavior; a sort of reflection of the white people he lives among.


Man ain’t really evil, he jest aint got no sense.


Only a few of us know that only from homogeneity comes anything of a people or for a people do durable and lasting value — the literature, the art, the science, the minimum of government and police which is the meaning of freedom and liberty, and perhaps the most valuable of all a national character worth anything in a crisis — that crisis we shall face someday when we meet an enemy with as many men as we have and as much material as we have and — who knows? — who can even brag and boast as we brag and boast.


Years ago, we in the South made our women into ladies, Then the War came and made the ladies into ghosts. So what else can we do, being gentlemen, but listen to them being ghosts?


I think man tries to be better than he thinks he will be. I think that is immortality, that he wants to be better, he wants to be braver, he wants to be more honest than he thinks he will be and sometimes he’s not, but suddenly to his own astonishment he is.


Yes, the thought, between grief and nothing, i will take grief.

and, the last for tonight as i am into Dvorak now, but more later:

It is not man in the mass who can will save Man. It is Man himself, created in the image of God so that he shall have the power and the will to choose right from wrong and so be able to save himself because he is worth saving.

Thank you, Mister Faulkner.

it is the latter part of the evening and ai am too old and too cite the sources of Faulkner’s quotes. They are listed Dain’s book. 

But tonight, Anton and i are going to spend my last waking moments  together.

Have a good night.

The Age of My Innocence Lost

In two days, i will hit number seventy-six. That is one more than three-quarters of a century. i plan to give up any political or religious posts, a plan to which i am likely not to adhere. i will have lots more to write, but my plan is for the writing to be from my experience with the hope someone might profit from my tales, either for learning what to do or what not to do when they are confronted with a similar situation.

So i am going to try and attempt some thoughts i have about life that do include some of my thoughts about religion and politics…and a couple of other things involved in living.

Bear with me. i am now certifiably an old man. 

The Age of My Innocence Lost

All of the requests i receive, primarily on Facebook, for prayers for someone’s family member or loved one ailing obviously are heartfelt, people reaching out for support in a time of anguish and need. i usually reply with some short comment, also heartfelt, with a response like “My thoughts and prayers are with you.” If i there is a personal connection, i usually add something to show i am connected, and my “thoughts and prayers” are real. i hope it gives the sender and their ailing family or friend some succor.

Such requests bring up several thoughts in my mind.

One is to wonder just how heartfelt those other responses are. Is it a quick dash of a reply, almost automatic? Am i being cynical? Perhaps. That is for each responder to decide.

If they have responded in earnest. Then, i believe they are following the guidance my brother, Joe Jewell, described in his book The Elements of Prayer: Learning to Pray in Real Life. If you have not read Joe’s book, you should. It strikes at the heart of our reason to pray and how to do it in a meaningful way.

i also thought about a moment in my youth around nine or ten. i was in our living room, the center of our activity until Mother and Daddy added on the den, breakfast room, and their upstairs bedroom (then the den and breakfast room became the normal place for us to spend our time). But that Sunday afternoon, i was alone in the living room with the small black and white television in one corner. i had been ill, probably bronchitis, the curse of my youth, and i was miserable. Oral Roberts came on the television. i’m not sure why i kept the television on, but it was probably because there was only one channel and television was a novelty at that time in our world.

Oral gave his sermon, to which i did not even listen. Then he started calling down the ill and the afflicted and put his hands on them and prayed furiously, invoking the crowd to pray with him. And miracles of miracles with a great deal of shaking and convulsions, the afflicted were healed; the blind could see; the crippled could walk; the deaf could hear. After this miraculous display, Oral turned to the camera and invited the listening TV audience who were afflicted to be healed. He instructed us to touch the television screen and pray with him for the healing powers to possess our souls or some such entreaty. A bit skeptical, even if it is difficult to imagine a nine or ten-year old to be skeptical, i approached the small screen and placed my hand on it and prayed, or thought i was praying, along with Oral Roberts incantations.

Didn’t work.

i was still sick.

I didn’t lose my faith, but i pretty much gave up on Oral Roberts and those like him.

I have other doses of reality change my views on religion, and although i have criticized formal religion for many sins i think i see, i have always retained my faith.

It is my faith, customized, not likely duplicated; but my faith does not disparage those who practice their religions in a more formal manner, even the atheists, who claim their belief is the only right answer. No, sometimes i even envy those who “know” what is right for everyone. i have even more respect for those who believe, have faith in their spiritual being…as long as either the knowing or the believing does not tread upon the beliefs of others.

And i pray. And when i pray, i try to follow Joe’s guidelines. And i pray in earnest, and when i respond to requests for prayers, those responses are heartfelt, earnest, and sincere.

And i believe.

A Lost Art

Yesterday morning, the newspaper was tossed into the driveway by the nice old delivery man out of his late model car.

For a change, there was no plastic bag. Holding the paper together was a rubber band. The plastic is used in the Southwest corner to keep the paper dry from morning dew and ocean mist mostly. Sometimes it is used to keep out the rain and double bagged. But it’s been dry a couple of days. i guess they decided to save some plastic — a rare nod to conservation — this morning.

It reminded me of a long time ago in a land far away. For a brief time, about six months as i recall, i was a paperboy back home. Some boys made some pretty good money plying that trade through high school. As with nearly all things, other things, usually sports or girls distracted me, and i moved on from any real money making deal.

But for six months, i would rise early, probably around 4:30 and ride my bike east across the square and up East Main to a shack, literally, on the east side with no glass in the windows and a bunch of tables in the one or two rooms. The truck from Nashville would arrive, dump its load of The Tennessean’s off and return to Nashville for its afternoon run with The Banner.

The paperboys would get the allotted shares of the paper for their routes, stand at the tables and fold the newspapers into triangles, tucking one side into the fold to hold it together . We would put the papers in a canvas bag and most of us would put the bag in our bicycle baskets hanging in front of the handlebars.

A couple of the newsboys had mopeds or the equivalent. i think they had larger routes but no longer recall for sure. Regardless, they always finished early. For the non-motorized variety, and we were the large majority, we would pedal away to our routes.

My route was North Tarver, perhaps Braden and North Tarver, including West Main and Hill Street in between. i would pedal as fast as i could on my Schwinn, reach into the bag in the basket, grab a triangle by the corner and spin it in the air with the goal of making it to the porch, the front steps, or the sidewalk immediately below the steps. That was a success to me, and i would pedal on. More frequently than i care to admit, my twirling deliverable would land in bushes or yard. i would stop, retrieve it and put it in its proper place.

There were some old coots who demanded their papers were in front of the door on the porch. This required stopping and hurrying up to the porch, depositing the news in front of the door before continuing the route. This and the missed targets were time consuming and frustrating.

Now i’m an old coot, but i’ll never ask the paper man to get out of his car and put the newspaper at my door.

Yep, Nice old man. Late model car, not a moped or a bike. His route is probably gigantic, not two or three blocks. And it’s probably his job to supplement his social security so he can get by. And he not only gets tips at Christmas time; he asks for them with an envelope enclosed.

It made me a little lonely to think paperboys are no longer around, at least not here in the Southwest corner. So i decided to play paperboy, if only just for a moment.

i did this with bridge watches once quite a while ago. It was in the middle of the night when i was going through a divorce. i wanted to get away, go to sea. So i got up and grabbed two bricks and tied them to a cord (someone else told a joke about this and i thought it might make my effort feel more real). i made some coffee. i moved a bit of furniture so i could stand right at the front window. Then i put a cup of coffee on the window ledge, put the bricks around my neck as if they were a set of binoculars, called the sheep dog. Then old Snooker sat and i stood at the window for about fifteen minutes gazing out into the dark as if we were looking for contacts. i really did this.

It didn’t work, of course, but it did make me tired enough to get some sleep. i have never tried it again.

But yesterday morning, i wanted to be a paperboy again. i took the paper into the breakfast room. i removed the rubber band. Then, i tried to fold it into that triangle. Couldn’t do it. i tried every angle. Just couldn’t remember. Being this day and age, i did a google search. All i got was some kind of origami instructions.

This morning, the old man delivered the newspaper in the usual plastic bag. i didn’t try to figure out the triangle fold this morning. But i will. Yes, i will.

Some folks think i’m crazy.

The old paper man probably thinks so, too.

i think they are half-right.

A Good Day

Today was a good day.

Sarah and i actually got all of the big decorations put away. This is not a small task in the fake Christmas tree weighs a ton in its box and it is stored in the garage attic.

i took care of a lot of things i usually pass over for a lot more important things to do…i think.

Tonight, Maureen went to a memorial service for a friend who worked with her at Parron Hall. After a simple dinner, Sarah left for an evening with her friends.

i poured a glass of wine, started a fire in the hearth, put my old iPod with my music on “shuffle” and sat down to read. Jimmy Reed, Duke Ellington, Harry Connick, Jimmy Smith, Jessie Colin Young, Rachmaninov, Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, The Ink Spots, Bob Seger, Paul Desmond, Nina Simone, Flatt and Scruggs, Johnny Cash, and Roy Rogers, among others, entertained me.

Seems about right…except i didn’t read. i played some games on my laptop, just listened to the music, and didn’t think. i just didn’t think.

And then i thought about a nice part of the day. Elmer is the basset hound who lives next door. Elmer has perplexed Regina, our neighbor since he arrived. He is capable of escaping the back yard in spite of Regina’s best efforts. So, of course, Elmer has become the darling of the neighborhood. When their grandchildren are visiting, grandparents take those grandkids out with the hope of seeing Elmer and giggling with delight.

Elmer and i have become good friends. Since i am next door, he visits often on his escapades. i take him back, open the gate to his backyard. His buddy, the old, black Labrador, and the two outdoor cats greet him like a long lost friend.

This has become a routine. When i hear Elmer bark and it sounds as if Houdini has made it out again, i go out front. When Elmer sees me, regardless of where he is, including in the middle of the street, he lays down and waits for me to come up to him. When i reach down to him, i rub those wonderful gigantic ears, and then Elmer rolls over for me to scratch his stomach. Once the ritual has been completed, i walk toward the gate while Elmer barks, rubs against me until i open the gate and he bounds inside without a care.

Elmer may be a bit goofy, but he often makes my day by reminding me of what is really important.

Post Script

By the time we became freshman “goobers’ at Castle Heights, Mike Gannaway, Jim Gamble, and i had become close friends as well as teammates and classmates.

One day in early autumn 1958, we cloistered ourselves in Mike’s bedroom on the south side of the modest single story house about midway on the east side of Hammond Avenue. Mike had purloined a 33 1/3 LP album from his brother. It was the Kingston Trio’s “Live from the Hungry I” album. We spent the afternoon just listening.

As usual, we were goofing off, laughing, talking about girls and sports. When the second track on the second side began to play, we fell silent. We listened quietly to “They Call the Wind Maria.”


Go with the wind, Maria.