My Mind

My Mind
This is my mind

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cake you say?

  "I was told there would be cake."
  "And who told you that?"
  "Does it matter?  Do you have cake?"
  "Actually we do."
  "Well then, I would like a slice of cake, please."
  "So sorry.  By invitation only."
  "Are you saying I cannot have a slice of cake?"
  "Yes.  That is exactly what I am saying."
  "But I was told..."
  "Yes but were you given an invitation?"
  "No.  No one said it would require an invitation."
  "Ah, there it tis.  No invite.  No cake."
  "But I've come a long way..."
  "With an invitation?"
  "NO.  I've already told you..."
  "Yes.  you may leave now.  There are guests with invitations waiting to get in.  They were told there would be cake."
  "Uh, yes.  I was told there would be cake."
  "And who told you that?"
  "Does it matter?  Do you have cake?"
  "Actually we do."
  "Well then, I would like a slice of cake, please."
  "So sorry.  By invitation only."
  "Oi! Move yer bleedin' self. We were told there would be cake!  An' we aims to get some!"
  "Sorry, invitation only my good fellows."
  "WE got yer invite roit 'ere mate. Do we get in or do we have to muss yers up?"
  "What's wrong here?"
  "Oh sorry your majesty a bit o' bother.  The rabble here demands cake."
  "Well, it's by invitation only."
  "I've tried to tell them, your Majesty, but they won't have none of it."
  "Well, they shan't eat cake.  Let them eat pie."
  So close and yet not in the history books.
                         Recording found in the desk of an old English Prime Minister.  It was a proper antique.  I was assured it was the voice of Queen Victoria at the end.  Only wanted $5.35 for it.  It's a piece of history I had to share.

Hi Ho Betsy!

Bicycles. I've been thinking about bicycles. My first was a Columbia. For the life of me I cannot remember when I got it. Thinking back all I can remember is being on it, riding. Since I don't remember picking it out I have to believe it was a Christmas present. Or maybe a birthday present. Riding that sturdy two wheeler was a thrill. For a kid it was the first taste of freedom. We never donned a helmet. We never begged for Spandex outer wear. Nor pegs for trouser cuffs. Heck no. We simply ran outside, hopped into the saddle and pedalled away, leaving the house and parents far behind.
The traffic was never so heavy then as now. When a car was coming up behind us we'd cross over into the oncoming lane which was usually free of traffic. Our leisurely rides were a constant sway form one side of the road to the other. Occasionally a horn would blast behind us abruptly if we were daydreaming. As kids daydreams were the activities of the day which on occasion we would be shaken from by a horn blast. If startled too much we would tumble down into a ditch with our bikes on top of us while the car sailed past. "Ding dang the daddratted dim witted dish dickering dope! Kid here!" I'd yell with a few unchild like additions learned from the odd moment my dad would smack his finger with a hammer.
Trips to the ditch were not a frequent occurence but they did happen. Our longest trip for a few years was from home to school. The school was close enough that riding the bus was not necessary. Our B.C. days, before cycling, we hoofed it to the school yard with satchels on our backs. When we got bikes the time of that trip was sliced in half. Of course even that time could be cut when pushing those pedals round became a race.
There was a space at the side of the school yard on the far side of the tennis court that had a line of iron racks we could slide the front wheel into holding our rides upright. We'd come flying through the back gate pumping our legs hard into the pedals. The brakes were hit, the back wheel would slide into the turn and the front wheel would glide into the slot as we balanced on one pedal. A hop and a turn faced us in the direction of the school building, usually as the bell would ring. We marched obediently toward the front door entering into another day of classes and recess and classes.
The bell at the end of the day was a release. The doors flew open and kids scrambled out into the afternoon sun. With my army surplus book laden satchel bouncing on my back I'd run for my trusty steel steed waiting faithfully in the bike rack. I'd slip it from its metal bars, back it up and around, left foot on the pedal pushing off with my right and over the seat and plunk down my bottom. The pedals would be going round as fast as my legs could push. The wheels would answer by kicking a spray of rocks behind me. Off we'd go, my Columbia and me, taking flight through the schoolyard gate and beyond into the world of imagination. I was Jesse James leaning forward on my stallion looking back over my shoulder at the posse on my trail. Leaning to the left my steed would follow and zip into the turn with a loud of dust taking me up the slight incline to the trail ahead. They were close but not for long. Standing on the pedals I gave a sudden burst of speed putting my entire body into the pedal action. Up and over the hill and leaning right the wheels sang as they took the corner.
I was safe behind the stand of trees. With the cover of foliage my escape was complete. Looking back the posse was stopped at the bottom of the hill looking this way and that. Once again Ole Betsy had saved my bacon. I was free to ride the plains. The plains being Riverland Terrace and all the quiet streets it harbored.
A kid on a bike. What was more free than being a kid on a bike in the 50's? Nothing. I can think of nothing. It was grand with playing cards clipped to the frame whirring in the spin of wheel spokes, we would motor off in search of adventure.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It don' matta ta me....

"I don't wanna go!"
"Well, ya gotta."
"I don't wanna go!"
"Well, ya gotta."
"NO! I don't wanna go!"
"Doesn't matter. Ya gotta."
"Oh, Ok. SHOTGUN!"

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's the early bird....

There must be a river of words down below. It's like a pump that must be primed. What does that mean? We used to visit my great grandmother Kicklighter in Georgia oh so many years ago. She had a hand pump on the back porch. It was a lovely screened-in porch with a sink along the outer facing screen. It was situated on the right hand side over the bowl sunk into a long plank that served as a counter. The bowl which was the sink with a pipe leading outside carried the flow of water to the yard. In the early chill of morning echoing the rooster's call to wake to a new day we would take turns with the hand pump to bring water from the well to the stoppered sink. That water was ice cold when splashed into your face. It gave a surprise to sleepy eyes.
However, it was often a challenge to begin that flow of water. Pumping away with a dry air sound coming from piping gave the clue that it must be primed. A bucket of water was always available for that duty. With a pan the water was dipped and poured into the top of the pump while the handle was levered up and down in a rapid motion. The water would provide the suction needed to pull the water from the underground well up through the pipe and into the sink. The flow and splash of water was a happy sound under the ever brightening sky. It was always an adventure in those cool crisp mornings. After a quick brush of the teeth and extra splashing of the cold into the face came a trip to the rest room after a long winter's nap.
The rest room was a small shack behind the house. It was a two holer. The frame was of wood that had aged naturally into a dry gray patina. It stood the test of time in rain and shine. The door had a strap of leather on the inside which hooked over a nail driven into the door frame. This was the latch to give the occupant privacy as he/she took care of his/her business. Privacy was dubious to say the least. The aging boards had shrunk over the years. If the wooden slats had been snug when first built they weren't when I first entered it. There was about an inch of space open between the slats during my young lifetime. It gave added light in addition to the quarter moon shape cut out head high in the door. There was extra ventilation via this openness as well which provided chilly drafts as well as creepy sounds there in the twilght of the tiny room.
Upon entering there was maybe a foot and a half of floor board leading to a bench seat. In that bench seat were two holes cut through. They were side by side. This must have been the equivalent of having two bathrooms at that time. No waiting. Just come on in. There's plenty of Sears catalogue to go around.
The path leading to the little house behind the house was a well worn one. It became familiar even in the dark. A flashlight was necessary then to see inside once the shack had been reached. The creepiness was heightened at that hour and that flashlight was needed to ward off any haints or boogers that might come calling in the darkness. It was always a case of need over coming fear at such times. The light's beam would travel around the inner walls while taking care of business. It always found the spider webs loosely flowing in the night breeze moaning through the cracks. There were small hornet's nests in the highest part of the ceiling. Mud daubers were evident from the dried crusts attached to the walls. They were not active in the dark it's true but they still frightened a kid my size when alone and closed in the tight space of the two holer.
To take my mind off of the things surrounding me in the dark I'd pull the papers from the basket and read the comics in the flashlight's gleam. The Phantom galloped through the jungle. Tarzan swung through the trees of Africa but the two of them never met. Strange to my little mind. Guess the jungles of Africa were bigger than I knew. Mandrake the Magician would gesture hypnotically to save the day. I wished he would gesture hypnotically to relieve my jitters while sitting in this hole. Ripley's Believe It or Not always provided interesting facts of strange things in this world. Strange things my small brain attributed to the confines of that shack. When the funnies were read they were torn into strips to be used to wipe my ask me know questions and I'll tell you no lies. There were some strips that deserved such treatment. For others it was an ignominious ending but necessary in this case, to me at least.
The nights in that little enclosure were scarey enough but the days brought their own frights. In the mornings the visit required a longer stay, one that made a bright red circle around the botton protion of my anantomy. Since I could see so well in the morning's light I would read the comics entirely through, even the strips I had no liking for. Such visits required the need for extra time. For those moments I would pull up the stool to rest my feet. Sitting that long with my feet dangling would cut off the circulation which provided a case of pins and needles and I did not like that feel. I was seated for the long stay this particular morning and became engrossed in the cartoon advenures offered by the Clio News. My concentration was slowly interrupted by an ominous sound below. The bench upon which I sat opened directly to the ground below me. My butt was exposed to the world outside, naked and defenseless. And directly beneath was the sound of scratching accompanied by the low and slow buck buck of a chicken.
I tried to ignore it returning to my comic adventures. The sound of scratching became a little louder. The clucking gained in volume and number. The chickens, filthy creatures, were gathering around the shack. Their gutteral clucks became more numerous. Fights broke out with wild screeches and wing flaps. A thin line of sweat glazed my features as my imagination ran rampant. I saw feathers and movement flash in the second hole to my right. A rooster crow was followed by the sound of scaley feet tipped with talons pounding on the dirt behind me. Clucks compounded upon clucks as the mob of feathered fiends began to surround the back of the shack. I quickly put the comics to good use. My pants were around my waist and belted in record time. I ripped the thong off the nail and threw the door wide leaping from my foot rest into the open spaces. I was halfway to the house when I looked back. I slowed down. I stopped. I walked back.
Where was the army of chickens? Where was the 5 foot rooster? Not behind the house, that was certain. As I edged around to the back of the shack the odor assulted my nose. My eyes were surprised to see two hens scratching the earth away from the opening behind the half moon house. There was a rooster sitting on a limb of a tree looking at me quizzically. I turned away and walked to the house. In my mind I played through the fear fantasy that had clutched hold of me while sunk in the hole to the left.
It was a horde of feathered fowl with evil beady eyes latched on to what they saw poking through the hole before them. I saw their sharp orange beaks wet with drool evoked by their eyes. It had been a mad dash of scaley three-toed feet beating on the dirt in their mad rush. It was early and they were rushing so fast to their prey that collisions of feathered bodies brought on the vicious fights of claw and talon for the prize. Squawks and screams had echoed through the vastness of my fearful imagination that I cut my business short running from the facility with only one thought in mind: "The early bird catches the worm! The early bird catches the worm!"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Christmas Tree

These early mornings are beginning to take their toll. I wake up. I stumble to the kitchen. I turn on the water for coffee. I look at the clock. It reads 4:30. Even Robin stayed abed this morning. I'm up now. I'll stay up.
I've been thinking about my cousin. His birthday was in October. He was born with a congenital defect. He was never able to walk and spent most of his time in a wheel chair. It never held him back from joining in the fun we had as kids. He was always included in our games. He was always happy. It was contagious.
His hopes for Christmas were just like ours. He had that one big wish for a present. The Spirit of Christmas had a hold on us very year.
One of the many ways we celebrated was through the Christmas Tree at church. It was a gathering of the church members in the meeting hall which was decorated with a large tree. Beneath that tree was a host of presents of all sizes. There was a table against the wall covered with a white table cloth lined with covered dishes each family brought from home. Folding chairs were laid out in rows. As families came into the hall they would place their covered dish on the table. Then the parents would remove their gloves and coats while helping their children with theirs. Once everyone was free of outdoor clothing the parents would shoo the children to a seat. As more and more folks entered the excitement in the children's eyes would increase rapidly. That excitement soon turned to energy which had us up and running around the tree checking packages for names.
When the hall was full the elders would call for quiet and we kids were asked to return to our seats. We listened and sat down with our parents. After the minister blessed the meeting and had welcomed us to this annual celebration he would be interrupted by a loud series of HO HO HO's. From one of the side doors would enter a man dressed in a red suit sporting a white flowing beard down to his belt buckle. All of us kids would shout SANTA! at the top of our lungs as he set his sack down beside the preacher.
"Well hello Santa," the minister would say. "What brings you here?"
"Why the children. I have gifts for them here in my bag. I know you have some under the tree as well. I thought you might like some help handing them out."
"You came all the way from the South Pole to help us?" asked the preacher.
"The North Pole, sonny," said Santa. "I come from the North Pole," he said to gales of laughter. Every kid knew that. Grownups. Whatcha gonna do with 'em?
"Well, wherever you are from, I'd like to welcome you here. How about you kids out there? Can you thank Santa for coming all that way?"
It was pandemonium on a small scale as we all jumped up to yell yay in welcome.
Someone would bring Santa a chair at which time he would begin to call each child by name to come up and recive a gift. Most of us got a box in the form of a book which when opened had rolls of Lifesaver candies. Some received real books or toys. Each one of us received something. It was like Santa knew every kid in the hall. He was the man of the hour for us. It never occurred to us to ask why Santa? He was as much a part of our Christmas as the baby Jesus and the three wise men.
When the gifts were given and Santa begged to depart, we all hooped a holler of thank you. He would exit through the same door through which he arrived. At this point the minister would ask everyone to rise. He would say the blessing. When everyone said Amen the adults lead all of us children to the table. Everyone would fill plates with home cooked offerings and find a place at the table in the back of the room.
The next year I asked my mother if we could take my cousin. She agreed so I ran to tell him about the festivities we were going to. He became as enthused as I was. When I came home I asked my mother, "Do you think Santa will have a toy for my cousin since he doesn't go to our church?"
"I'm sure he will. No need to worry about that. Santa knows."
I didn't have as much faith and began to stew over it. On the day of the Christmas Tree I came up with an idea.
"Mom, why don't I wrap up something for him in case Santa doesn't have anything in his bag. That way he won't be disappointed."
"If you feel so strongly I don't see why not. Do you have something in mind?" asked my mother.
"I do!" I said in triumph. "This derringer of mine. He has always wanted one and it would be something he'd like." It was a cap gun in the shape of a derringer. I'd always let him shoot me with that one while I shot him with my six shooter when we played cowboys and indians. Unbeknownst to me, however, he had folded a piece of paper and wedged it in the barrel. I had never noticed it. Nor did I notice it as I found a box and paper to wrap it for the event in the evening.
We arrived early so we'd have time to get him settled in his chair and find seats before Santa arrived.
I ran up to the tree and placed the package underneath. When I came back the excitement was apparent in his eyes. It was building in the entire room. Before it exploded the minister walked in front of the group.
"Welcome to this year's Christmas Tree everyone, especially all you little girls and boys. If you can control your enthusiasm I think I hear someone..."
"HO HO HO! Where are all those boys and girls!" It was him. He was coming through the side door. Over his shoulder was a large red sack.
"I told you," I said to my cousin. "I told you he'd be coming. And he knows every one of us. He's got something for all of us. He's Santa Claus."
"I don't think he'll have anything for me. I don't go to church here. How would he have something for me?"
"You just wait," I said. "He knows and I'm positive he will have something for you."
The minister opened a folding chair beside the tall tree. Santa sat in the chair which creaked under his weight. He began to lift packages from beneath the tree. He would call the name on the package and pull a "book" of Lifesavers from his sack. When the child went forward to receive his gift Santa would give both items to him or her.
Toward the end when my cousin was turning to me to tell me he was right that Santa wouldn't have anything for him his name was called. The look of surprise on his face was exchanged for a huge smile.
"Want me to go get it for you?" I asked excitedly.
I ran to the front to collect his presents. Santa said, "Merry Christmas, son," as he handed me the gifts.
"Thanks," I said as I grabbed the offerings and ran back to my seat.
"Here it is!" I said in triumph. "Open it! Open it!"
He took it and ripped off the paper and popped off the lid. His eyes got big as he lifted the derringer from its box.
"Look! It's a gun just like the one you always give me when we play cowboys and indians. My very own derringer. How could he know?"
"He's Santa. He knows." I repeated what my folks always said.
"It's amazing how much it's like the one you own. Every detail."
"Yeah, it's a nice one alright."
"I can't get over how much it's like yours.'
He kept inspecting it holding it this way and that with a perplexed look on his face. Then astonishment, "It's exactly like yours."
"Huh?" I asked. "What do you mean?"
"Inside. There's a piece of paper folded up just like the paper I shoved into yours."
"Where? Lemme see."
"Right there. You 're right. He's amazing. I wished for a derringer just like yours and he gave me one exactly like it."
"Yeah, he's amazing," I said.
We smiled at each other and said Merry Christmas. It was a good year.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Red Ryder where are you?

Now it begins, day after day. Needles and pins, time ticking away.... sung to the tune of the big hurt. This is when it began in earnest for us kids. Thanksgiving was over. Crossing off the days with a big black X in each square on the calendar. We'd mark an X and count the days remaining. Then we'd dream of that one wish to be turrned into reality on the big day. Christmas!
We looked at Christmas differently than children today. Today's child can say, "I want that," to his/her mother and they receive it. Not so for us kids in the late 40's and the 50's. Our parents paid their bills before buying those luxury items like toys for children. Day to day finance was the order of the day. There were no plastic cards to pile up debt just to have things. No sirree. A kid's life was filled with imagination and whatever was at hand to fulfill that playtime.
My dad worked on the tugboats for thirty-five cents an hour in the early 50's. It was not easy for a legal alien from England to earn a living just a few years after the war. His experience with the Royal Navy was enough to land a job on the decks of the tugs run by Whitestack those many years ago. He was always searching for a better job and found one at the Armour Star meat packing plant on the corner of Mary and Meeting St. It was directly across the street from its rival, the Swift Meat Packing plant. The pay was a bit higher which eased the financial problems. However, providing a child's every whim was still way down the list of necessities for our family. That is why Christmas was such an important holiday for a child. It was the one time in the year that a child had of receiving his/her biggest want.
The dream gift which was upper most in mind for an entire year. Now that dream gift might change as the months passed but one thing remained constant, whatever that wish was there was a chance it could be received on the big day.
Hints were dropped all year. Those hints came more often once Thanksgiving dinner was consumed. Like Ralphie's, "I want an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred Shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock!" we would drop those subtle hints wherever and whenever we could. Often twice since our parents tended to look at us with blank eyes. We always thought they ignored our most important needs. Yeah, they became needs at this time of the year. Each day we'd wake with the coveted gift in focus. All other thoughts were elbowed out to make room for that primary prize. Yeah, we thought about the true meaning of Christmas when we were at Sunday School. But we were just kids and when the Sunday School doors closed our minds slipped back onto the GIFT.
The suspense would build with each passing day. Would Santa bring us our heart's desire or would we get a bag of switches? It was a possiblility if one's behavior during the year did not meet his standards. The boy next door had received just that, a large bag crammed with switches of every size. He must have been on the bad little boys list. It was a warning I heeded as well as I could.
Well, it was a thrill to wake the folks up at 4:30 on Christmas morn to see if Santa had left what I had yearned for over the preceding months. Sure there were little things from the folks but the message always seemed to get to Santa. I always wondered how my parents passed on that info but not for long.
It would usually be sitting under the limbs of the beautiful cedar tree bedecked with bubbling lights and tinsel. It was always a surprise because it had not been there on the previous day. Obviously Santa had been there during the night and dropped it off though I could never figure how he'd entered the house not having a chimney over a fireplace. Who cared? The thought immediately disappeared along with the paper from around the package. And there it would be after a year of wishing and hoping. The one thing dreamed of would be in my hands. It was a moment of sheer bliss. It was always the best Christmas ever.
I'm sorry the kids of today miss such wonder. They were joyous. Every Christmas was pure magic that was an extention of the glory of the season. The Spirit of Christmas was a part of everyone in their smiles and friendly greetings. Tidings of great joy and good will to men. Truly magical.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Words blowing in the wind?

I've been reading Stephen King's newest novel, 11/22/63. The premise sounded interesting so I pre-ordered it from Amazon even though reading his last few works became a chore to finish. Often I never finished them but put them aside, one of those books that if you ever put it down then you never pick it up again. Wading through his long winded, let's face it his last few hardly saw a editor, books became work not pleasure. After all, who's going to tell Stephen King that he needs to trim his tomes? I have often wondered if his publishers signed a contract to pay him by the word.
At any rate, I first read King in the 70's. It wasn't Carrie. It was The Shining. I was in my mid thirties when I started reading that book. After a few pages I was hooked. It became an obsession that started to keep me reading til the wee hours of the night. My eyes were glued to those pages. It was deep into the morning when the world sleeps and the quiet is unearthly. I began to hear noises foreign to my ears. When I did look up from the pages I sensed things beyond the lamp's ring of light just outside my peripheral vison. Either his words were conjuring up strange things that go bump in the night or they had some subconscious effect upon my mind that it was releasing the eery from my own village of horror. I closed that book, slipped under the covers completely, holding them tightly over my head. Sleep was a long time coming as the shades of things going bump in the night slipped back to wherever they came from.
The next morning I just laughed at my foolishness but swore I'd never read another page of The Shining after sundown. I kept that promise until I finished it. I don't remember a book bringing on the fears and chills that visit in the dark like The Shining. It was my most visceral read ever. I wanted to dive into his other works hoping to repeat that involvement. Nothing ever recreated that sense of foreboding. Everything after that just seemed long and tedious. Needless to say I struglled to get through most of them. I finished Thinning and one other whose title escapes me now. I had to force myself to get to the last page of those two. Any others I chucked to a table top. They either remain there or have been moved because I never lifted them again.
His newest 11/22/63 when offered for pre-order I decided OK I'll give it a shot. A chance to go back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination? Who wouldn't want to find out how he planned to do that. When I first started to read it was like wading through treacle. So many words to say this and that. I began to think, Oh no, I've just bought into another doorstop. I'll never finish. I dropped it on a desk and it lay there for several days. Finally, I decided to give it another try. Somewhere, like Mother Mcree's Medicated Hemorrhoid Rectal Rockets, it caught and engaged. I was totally involved. Each day, because I am a slow reader, I wake up to slide back into the time frame of the late 50's and early 60's with a mission to stop that assassination. He has sucked me into the time of innocence.
I'm a little over half way. My only concern is that his ending will not be satisfying. The other two that I was able to finish, besides The Shining, let me down with the final page. I can only hope this one will not. I think, barring a poor ending, this is the best novel to come from his pen or typewriter or computer. His best has arrived. I recommend it highly at this point. I'll let you know how I feel after reading The End.
I don't know why I don't feel comfortable in his books. Especially after wading through this blog entry. So many words to say something so simple. Read 11/22/63. You'll enjoy it. I could have saved so much time if I'd written that at the outset.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mrs. Smith makes a mighty fine pie...

Maybe I was wrong. Seems I do have more to say after reading my friend Doug's Thanksgiving blog.
I've written about our Thanksgivings when I was young several times over the years. It was always at my mother's mother's house. Eating was made official when the words "and bless the little cook," were said. Everyone would crowd around that table array of meats and vegetables, potatoes and gravy, along with pies and cakes on a separate table. The moaning afterward accompanied by snores of napping elders added to the TV's football game.
Long after those days my kids would meet at my mother's house to feast on turkey, macaroni and cheese and a host of other delectble morsels, one being pumkin pie.
Pumkin pie is a favorite of my son's. One Thanksgiving my mother did not have time to bake her homemade pie and bought a Mrs. Smith's pumkin pie. Out of the wrapper and into the oven it went and came out a golden brown smelling of spices. It was placed amongst the other desserts.
After the meal my son jumped up and headed straight for the pie. He cut a large wedge and sat to enjoy.
"Oh man! This is really good this year," he said with the look of rapture on his face. While he savored each mouthful he would exclaim how much he was enjoying this pie.
"It has to be the best pumkin pie you have ever made."
His praise was ongoing. Each time he expounded on the wonderful pie my mother's smile faded ever so slightly.
He finished and cut another slice. Again, with each bite he would sing his praises. After the last bite he pushed his plate aside, looked at his granmother and said, "You have never made a better pumkin pie than that one. Did you do something different?" he asked finally.
She looked at him with sad eyes. Her response came after a moment of reflection. Finally, speaking slowly she said, "It's a Mrs. Smith's."
Derek's face turned bright crimson. Mentally his feet were backing up as he tried to say something.
"That was really good for a store bought pie but I bet next year yours will top that," he said defending himself.
"Why should I bother?" his grandmother said with tears rimming her eyes. "I wouldn't want to force one of my pies on you when it will be so easy to cook one out of a box."
He filled the air with apologies. If he'd had a shovel the apologies would have been waist high in seconds.
My mother finally laughed along with the rest of us. She got him. A rare thing with my son. he is hard to fool but his grandmother was more pleased to have told him it was Mrs. Smith's than to care about any hurt feelings. She thought it was hilarious. We all did and to this day have to assure him that the pumkin pie is not Mrs. Smith's whether it is or not. Each year his blush is just as bright.

Golden Brown Turkey Thursday...

What more can be said?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It was a dark and stormy night....

It has been a long time. Nothing is coming. My mind is a blank. More so than usual. There are times when the words flow. They may not hang together well, but they flow. During November several years ago they came like Niagra when I wanted to prove to myself I could write 50,000 of them to be a part of the NaNoWriMo phenomenon. That is no easy feat. I did complete a little more than 50,000 to get my certificate of completion.
The idea is to write a novel in 50,000 words in that time period. A novel? Did I complete a novel? Not exactly. I provided some activity for several characters. It took place in a frame of time. But a novel? Nope. When I got to the word requirement I simply stopped. My characters were in the process of descending a circular stairway. They had torches in hand above their heads. The stone walls were wet with condensation. It poured down onto the stone steps. And there I left them. Action? If you call moving them from one cardboard place to another action, well then, yes. Were the characters well defined? Mmmm, not so much. Was there a specific goal to be reached? I don't even remember so it could not have been tugging me along. In the end it became a race to complete a set number of words in a set time period. Story be hanged.
I still have it sitting locked away in my computer. I tried reading through it one year. It was pretty much drivel. There were some parts I thought quite good. Not only that but I was surprised I had written something that I liked, meaning those parts just mentioned.
I learned quite a bit. One must have a beginning, a middle and an end. Some can just write one sentence and go onto the next and end up with a novel, but I'm not one of them. I learned that I would need a plan. An outline would be a good tool to set down that plan. When I tried to come up with a story that could be outlined, my mind became as vacant as ..., well as vacant as that. Plan? Characters? A reason these characters have to exist? Not easy questions. What is life? That question is just as easy for me to answer.
Though I have been around for 65 years, I am not as bright as I used to believe myself to be. I caught on to things quickly in school. Memorization and logic, to a certin extent, saved me on many occasion during those days. I could always parrot ideas, but an individual thought born of my mind filled with facts? Not so much. With age and experience I still find my mind's ability to come up with a new idea merely the rehash of old. I'm not sure where new and refreshing ideas come from.
For me I wonder if the time for that is past. It's like the question, What is life? We ask that in our youth thinking we can provide an answer. After decades that question still lingers with no real answer. I always said that at death the answer would be evident immediately. If there is an afterlife we will know then. If not, it makes no (know) difference.
I've meandered in my beliefs throughout my life's journey. I have gone from childhood belief to atheist to agnostic without adhering to any for long. My childhood belief wins over all because I cannot believe that this world we live in can come from nothing. So? Was it magic that brought something from nothing? What we call magic would be God's domain of creativity.
If someone from the dark ages were to visit our world, everything around him would have resulted from magic in his mind. He would have no other explanation. In similar fashion we have attempted explanations for something that is beyond our minds. We simply don't know by rational thought. The more we learn the more complicated things become. How does it all fit together and continue to function? Who amongst us has a brain that can ever take it all in and explain it? It's a mystery.
I like what Jesus said. Our Father in heaven. A loving Father. How to explain the mayhem and destruction? I cannot. How to describe the beauty and wonder of this world? I can only do so on my knees. It is so overwhelming and so wonderful there can never be an explanation in human terms.
Write a story? I try. I haven't succeeded thus far. It's a matter of faith. In myself. In my God. When that faith is stronger than fear of failure, perhaps then I will be free enough to write a cohesive story.
As Mrs. Seabrook, my Latin teacher, said: If at first you don't succeed, suck corn.
Let me begin... It was a dark and stormy night. Agnes threw the Walther PPK .038 into the Atlantic. Then she lifted the body over the side. The splash was not heard due to the howling winds.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The times, they were a.....

Omygosh! It's the 22nd. I was in class this day 48 years ago. The announcement came over the PA system. Principal Kizer announced that President Kennedy had been shot. The next moment, I regretfully report, the air was filled with the shout of HOORAY!
I know that is shocking. It is something of which I am utterly ashamed. The ignorance of this southern boy was astounding. Did I rejoice at the killing of the leader of the free world, our president? I did. I was deeply ingrained with the southern milieu of the time. Was I a bigot? Absolutely. Was my speech sprinkled liberally with epithets of the white southern boy? Completely. Was I capable of original thinking? I am afraid not.
Were all southerners rednecks, you ask. I don't really know. I don't think so. A couple of my friends seemed to reflect thoughts outside the Mason-Dixon box. I looked at them with confusion. I accepted the general air of our time without question. My Southern heritage was seated deeply within. Our history classes in high school ended at the Civil War. We never even covered Reconstruction much less WWI and WWII. And Viet Nam? It never entered our vocabulary.
Even at the College of Charleston my Freshman year we attended mandatory chapel services at which we turned facing the South to repeat the Lord's Prayer. So you see we were an isolated group of youngsters who never questioned where we came from or where we were going. My mind was enclosed with a fence of knowledge memorized and accepted without thought.
A lot of time has passed since that day so long ago. Sometimes I wonder if I've learned anything. Perhaps. Since remorse fills my heart when I look back at that day, perhaps. I've been married and had children who have grown into a world liberated from the stigma of prejudice. Their ideas are more open to the changes rapidly occurring in the world. There are no chains to the past holding them back. For me, and my generation, those ideas entrenched in our psyches still linger as shadows in our thoughts. They come and I have to reject them with a tiny bit of thought. The fact that their ghost still lingers is something I have to deal with, my children don't. It is gratifying to see that. My children will never know the spirit of the old ways playing with their minds. They still tug at my sleeve on occasion.
They call it the New South. The Old South still faintly rules this old codger but it is no longer the deeply embedded Zeitgeist of long ago when I stood and yelled Hooray!
Today I yell Hooray for the new generation taking charge in this time of change.

Halt! Who goes there!

There was a loud squeak in the screen door as I let the dogs out this morning. It was more a grinding of metal against metal in a harsh and wavering scraping. It reminded me of an old radio show from tender years of long ago. Our evenings were taken up by the large wooden box lighted by a bar of glass covering a strip of paper marked off with vertical lines. Each line had a number in the middle and there was an orange bar which was moved back and forth by means of a big round wooden knob to the right of the glass. We called this the tuner. We tuned into the various stations which offered us music, plays and commercials. The knob to the left controlled the volume. Below that was a decoration carved into the face of the box which enclosed a large speaker. It was a nice piece of furniture, the only level surface not cluttered by odds and ends tossed atop it.
The afternoons would find us sitting in front of this 'nice piece of furniture" to listen to the entertainment offered through the tuner. Our minds were engaged by voices playing rolls in half hour plays. The Shadow, Gangbusters, Jack Benny, Fibber McGee and Molly, Tarzan, Superman filled the air during those evenings. Our sightless eyes gazed spellbound at the light of the tuner while in our minds came images produced by the words and sound effects emanating from that box.
I think these "plays of the mind" engaged us more fully than passively watching a moving picture accompanied by sound.
When the Shadow laughed maniacally, we were there in the room with the poor sap who had commited the crime. Our mind fleshed out the words creating images behind our eyes. We were a part of the creative process. In the middle of Gangbusters we'd duck when the rat-a-tat-tat of tommie guns filled the air. We would grab a vine and swing through the trees aa hearts raced to the call of the ape man. We were more closely attuned to the perils of our heroes. Those voices produced worlds in our minds. It's a similar thing to reading a book. We were lost in another world carried to us through sound. Our minds created the "visual" aspects to complete the tales. We happily gave in to the entertainments offered.
It seems funny now to picture a family sitting in front of a bit of furniture staring at its facade. Those glazed eyes might have seemed vacant but behind them was the magic of endless worlds brought to life through that modern age miracle. I still remember the image produced when Fibber would go to his closet while all the characters yelled "No! Not the closet!" The door would creak and out would come its contents tumbling, crashing for close to a minute. We sat anticipating this moment each week and we were gratified when every item packed into that confined space poured out into the room. We would laugh hysterically each time. Well, perhaps I laughed hysterically each time. That was a gag a kid would find extremely funny. I was always too caught up in that laughter to check out my parent's reaction.
When Jack Benny went to his vault to get a couple of bucks for gas it became a journey of sound effects. Creaking stairs, creaking doors, creaking floor boards, the water splash of the moat, and the opening of the huge iron door lead him to the desk of the grey haired old man who was in charge of the vault. "Halt! Who goes there!" he'd exclaim.
"it's me, Jack Benny," came the answer.
"Got ID?"
"It's me! Your boss, Jack Benny."
"Oh yeah? What's the pass word?"
"Don't be silly. I don't need the pass word. I'm your boss."
"How do I know it's really you? I haven't seen anyone down her in a long time."
"I come down here all the time. You know me."
"OK. When's the last time you came down?"
"Hmmm. Who was president? Umm, I think Roosevelt was voted in."
"What? Hoover isn't president anymore? What year is it?"
"1952. You know that."
"1952? I missed Christmas again?"
"Not really. Don't you remember last year when I brought you that slice of fruitcake?"
"Oh yeah. Hello Mr. Benny."
And on it would go. The routines were repetitive but awaited each week. We were easily amused in those days. The humour was clean with risque moments that children would not catch.
A creaking door brought these old memories tumbling out like the contents of Fibber's closet. It was a simpler time. Even the commercials were slipped into the content of the show without such interruption as we see today.
These old shows are availble free online these days. I'm sure it's the older generation that listens to them with real appreciation. I wonder if the younger generation would feel the same magic that we did. Some how I don't think so. That magic was real to our generation.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My country tis of thee....

How about that. For the first time I have nothing to say. Something usually comes out after a few minutes but not so far. Writing about not have anything to write about... Would that be considered a non sequitur? I'm not sure. Definitions get a little fuzzy as I get older.
I'm not saying that I could provide an unequivocal definition if asked on my best day in the past. I might have been able to stammer a few unintelligible explanations as to what a word meant to me. Such "definitions" would show the clarity of my mind which has never been pinpoint accurate.
Take the word 'ILLEGAL." Simply put it it means not legal. If an activity is illegal, it is an activity that is not legal. If not legal it is against the law to participate in such activity. Thus an illegal alien is not in the country legally which means he or she is breaking the law and thus would be considered a criminal.
It's a sore spot for me. Each year until I was 22 years old I had to fill out a registration card to report that I was not a citizen of the U.S. who resided here. That card provided the government of my status and gave me another year of legal residency. Without sending that card in annually I would have been here under the cloud of deportation. It was quite the stimulus to mail my card in. After I turned 22 I applied for citizenship, took the test alone in front of a local judge and was sworn in on the day Bobby Kennedy was killed, June 5, 1968.
No longer did the threat of deportation come with New Year's. I was free to join the USAF and attend Officer's Training School since I was a naturalised citizen. I now had all the privileges of a natural born citizen. It was all legal and above board. It was all through the law of the land.
So each time I read about illegal aliens flaunting the laws of this country I get a little hot under the collar. I know that each case probably should be weighed in the courts and in instances there may be good reason to allow them to stay and apply for citizenship. It wrankles, though, that there are so many who slip into the country and share all the privileges without sanction of the law. We are a land of laws. I think that we also provide mercy that waves the law for good reason in certain cases. Does this mean we should accept the actions of those who come complaining about their treatment when they are breaking the laws? To be illegal is to be breaking the law from the very start.
It's a very complex issue I know. I also know there is a right way to do it. I am a full supporter of those who are here through legal means. I see no other country that would tolerate the behavior of illegal aliens within their borders. Why do we have other countries interfering in our dealing with this very serious problem?
I'm sorry. I have a very soft spot in my heart for this country. I don't have a soft spot for trespassers. I've gotten too political here. It was spurred on by the Post and Courier's front page story--LAW ON ILLEGALS ASSAILED.
I might add Sirhan Sirhan, who was proved guilty of the murder of Bobby Kennedy, was an alien who was here legally. He had all the privileges of the U.S. which included a fair trial. His trial ended in his being incarcerated under the death penalty. The death penalty was removed and he is now serving a life sentence. His sentence is under appeal because there is evidence which could prove him innocent. There you have it. A citizen of Jordan lived in the U.S. through legal immigration. He shared the privileges of this country. He chose the wrong path. He was tried, not summarily shot as he probably would have been in Jordan. He never chose to become an American citizen. He is now given all his needs by the U.S. government but he was never deported. He was not an illegal alien. Perhaps in his case he should have been even though legal. Maybe it is too complicated.
All of which leads me to say, "Is this a great country or what?"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Now that's a leaf of a different color.....

My day has begun. Though it be dark. Though it be early. Though I be sleepy. There be dragons here. There be dragon breath would be more accurate. Enough goofin' with the bees. Tell me what you sees...
What catches my eye on days invaded by the cold nip of the season is the leaves when we are graced with the changing of green to red and gold. In the cold of yesterday's morning I saw leaves of brilliant yellow dancing in the breeze. A blanket of crimson lay across my driveway when I turned in from the street. As those leaves scattered in the air currents created by my car's approach, I drifted into a child's search for all manner of colored leaves in a past school assignment.
Our second grade teacher sat at her desk while we colored pictures of Jack Frost and pumpkins. She was looking out the classroom windows up into the trees that surrounded the school when her eyes snapped to the rows of desks before her.
"Attention children," she said.
We looked up from our crayons. My attention was immediately taken by the pigtail of the girl sitting in front of me. I reached slowly for it. Just one pull on that rope of hair. She always yelled ouch when I yanked on it. Almost within reach of my chubby fingers, I sat upright with the words, "Let go Janie's pigtail, Rickey. Now I want you all to listen because I have decided on your homework assignment."
The groans were thick amongst us.
"But it's Thanksgiving, teacher. We won't have time for homework. We're going to grandma's. Dad's taking us to Georgia." The excuses piled up in response to the dreaded word homework. It was third grade. We were just kids. We had more important things to do than memorize times tables or Presidents or states and capitals.
"Yes, it will be a long weekend for Thanksgiving but you'll like this homework."
The groans that always followed her use of that word filled the classroom again.
"What I want you to do is collect as many leaves of differnt colors as you can. One of each color. Then write the name of the tree it came from. It'll be something you can do outside while you are playing. The trees are giving a bounty of color this year since we had that early cold snap. We should take it in and enjoy it since it happens so seldom here in the south." She smiled at us. She looked at me. I almost had Janie's pigtail in my grasp.
I jumped in my seat.
"OK. Go back to your crayons until the bell sounds. And remember as many different colors as you can find."
When the bell rang it was noon on Wednesday before Thanksgiving day. School was out for four and a half days. The school buses were ready for thier passengers. Those who walked were streaming out the gates. Those with bikes met at the rack. We slung our satchels onto our backs, old army surplus bags carried with straps draped over our shoulders.
Richard was there raking his Schwinn out of the parallel bars holding it upright. I grabbed the handlebars of my Columbia and yanked it back releasing the front wheel.
"What do you think of the homework, Rich?"
"Can't be that much to it. Look at all the trees. Lots of leaves. Lots of colors. Shouldn't take too long to find a bunch." He hopped on his bike.
"Hey, wait up!" I yelled as I climbed aboard mine and began to pedal in the soft sand. I caught up at the back gate.
Bikes were wonderful things. So much freedom. So much road covered so quickly. And the wind blowing on your face with the forward motion, it was a kid's dream. On cool days like today our cheeks responded to the cold wind by flowering into a rosy red.
Richard was right. All the trees lining the streets rang riot with color. It'll be a cinch, I thought. Dismissing it thusly I began to pull ahead of Richard. He responded with a burst of speed that took him far ahead of me. His laughter faded into the distance as I turned onto my street. I waved. He waved back. "See ya after Thanksgiving!" I hollered.
His response was lost to me.
The rest of the day was taken up with important things of childhood.
Thursday morning brought with it aromas of the coming feast. These mouthwatering smells were coming from my mother's contributions to that feast at my grandmother's later that day. It was such a pleasant way to be awakened in the early morning.
This was the day of family. The big family of cousins and aunts and uncles came together every year on this day. There were lots of kids. There was lots of noise in our playing. There was quiet when my granddad requested it as he stood in the doorway. We would all bow our heads. When he said, "And bless the little cook," we jumped up to get in line, plate in hand.
We ate. We watched the football games. We ate. We played chase. We ate. We watched more football. We finally circled the round table stacked with pies, cakes and puddings. We ate. We asked for seconds. We ate. We moaned with stomachs tight enough to bounce quarters. We napped. When we awoke we began the cycle again.
Thursday night was spent in oblivion. Friday was spent digesting food from the previous day. Saturday I spent with friends at the Big Oak. Sunday we went to Sunday School. Back home we returned to my grandmother's for final leftovers. I still couldn't look at food. In the evening it came to me. LEAVES! I hadn't collected my leaves! I ran to the door. The sun had already set.
"Gotta go!" I yelled through the slam of the door. Frantically I jumped at limbs to grab a red one and a yellow one. That was two. As the sun continued to diminish I ran from tree to tree trying to distinguish colors. Along the golf course I searched the ground under every tree. Finally I just grabbed a handful of grey leaves and ran home to put them under the light.
The next day as we racked our bikes I asked Richard, "Did you remember to get some leaves?"
"Yeah, wait til you see. I got a rainbow of leaves. It was fun. How about you?"
"I forgot. I got two pretty ones but the rest just turned out brown. I forgot til it was too late."
We all showed our leaves coloered by Jack Frost telling which tree had which color. I think I was the only one who forgot. My red one and yellow one followed by a brown one were not the stellar collection expected of me. Richard had a brilliant showcase of color.
So any autumn that brings an early coldsnap is one in which I take notice of the colors. I take in the richness of mother nature's palette thinking to myself, I will enjoy this in the light of day before the sun settles beyond the western horizon. The kid in me stops and looks too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Beware, thin ice

It' a might cold. It's cold inside because I hate using heat. I have complained for years about turning on the heat because it is cold outside. It dries out the air which dries out the mucous membranes of my nasal cavity leaving me open to any number of viruses and bacteria. Without the natural mucous barrier these little stinkers find ways through tiny cracks in the dry skin. It's like painting a welcome sign in verese or bacteriese saying come aboard, herein lies a walking petrie dish. Lots o' room and lots o' nutrition. A free ride for 7 days or more. So I don't like the heat unless it is unbearably cold.
When it is cold enough to freeze salt water I would be willing to flip that switch no questions asked. It happened once when my boy, Derek, was a vary young child. There is an inlet from the Stono that runs directly past my mother's house which on this occasion froze completely from the top down to the mud bedding. It was an unexpected phenomenon never seen before or since. It was deep enough to skate on if we Southerners owned ice skates. The neighborhood kids were trying their luck with walking on the surface and naturally my son wanted to give it a shot. When i saw him venturing out I yelled at him, "Get off that! you might fall through!"
It was one of my worst fathering days. Why couldn't I let him enjoy the moment without frightening him? I had no idea that there was not just a crustof ice there. It was completely solid. And what would it have mattered if he had fallen through? It isn't like he would have dropped into a watery grave with no way out. The worst that would have happened is his feet would get wet, freezing wet. I would have pulled him free of the ice trap, carried him into the warm house, and dried him off. So what if the shock of the cold could have weakened his immune system inviting in a cold or worse pneumonia. So what if he spent a month in the hospital hooked up to IV bags. So what if... Well, that was how my mind floundered about in those early days of fathering, protective to the point of smothering.
What a stupid way to see that moment. What a stupid thing to yell at a young boy full of curiosity. What a poor decision to steal such a fun adventure to a small boy who only wanted to experience the slippery surface. I robbed my boy of a once in a lifetime moment. It was one of those things that stick with me. Worst father of the year, should read a trophy atop my mantle piece. I don't know that my boy remembers that but I carry it like a Kodak moment of fatherly shame. My over blown sense of protectiveness snatched a joyous moment right out of the life of a little boy.
I will always regret those words. I will always see that look of sad disappointment on his face. Pardon me, please, while I go kick my own...
Anyway, that was a time that the heater hummed away inside the house keeping us warm and cozy. A humidifier helped. Such a simple solution.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Outta my way! I don't drive with my horn!

Friday. Woke up at 1:30. Fell back asleep around quarter of four. Got up at 5:45. Is it the 13th? Well I go forth into the day, or wee hours, to take care of important stuff. It would be nice if I will be able to stay awake while driving. I write this to advise you all to stay off the road for the next couple of hours. I'll be weaving my way through traffic. It would be best if you all gave me room iffen you want to keep your car intact.
Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

To the Batcave Robin

It must have rained last night. Some lightning and thunder must have accompanied that rain. There are people who are forewarned through their lumbago or, perhaps, an old wound. I have an akita. That's a rather large dog of Japanese descent who has become part of my family. She knows when there is a thunderstorm approaching before the TV weatherman.
On a quiet evening while watching TV she will come slinking into the room and attempt to hide behind a chair. She would have all 110 pounds squeeze beneath a lazyboy recliner while it's occupant holds on to avert tipping over backwards. She doesn't make a sound. She just forces her way into the recesses of the space beneath that chair. And there she remains with eyes closed and ears bent back along the top of her head panting heavily.
The vet prescribed Ativan for her. Give 1 hour before storm read the instructions. Which is pretty much impossible when her face is buried beneath a lazyboy jammed into a corner. Ever tried to pull a 110 pound dog from under a chair by her hind leg? If you feel brave let me know and I'll have you come over to do that. It would be somewhat like pulling a bear from its cave during hibernation season. Nakita is very determined to stay there.
Recently she has begun to slip into her crate. Mind you her crate is the last place she wanted to go in the past. As hard as it is to coax her from beneath the lazyboy, it used to be twice that difficult to get her into the crate. Ever try to force a 110 pound dog into a crate when she did not want to go? You could put your back into her rump and push with all your leg's might but her four paws would engage the edge of the opening and push just as determinedly against you. Usually she proved the stronger. A few of her favorite treats would sometimes, and I say sometimes, get her to venture in. For her to go into the "cave" of her crate for a thunderstorm event says something.
At any rate, she must have heard thunder last night because her paws sounded in the hallway as she came running. She gallumphed to a screeching halt within the crate beside the bed. I never heard thunder so I'm thinking that the rain on the roof and windows had alerted her to the possibility of thunder and lightning.
It might be funny that such a large dog who throws fear into the occasional FedEx man would quiver and shake during a recurring event of nature. I always feel sorry for her since there is nothing I can do to reassure her out of those shivering quakes. Ativan only makes her into a flaccid zombie which is worse in my opinion.
So I have my very own weather predicter when it comes to thunderstorms. She is right 100% of the time. Eat your heart out Bill Walsh.
As an after thought, Robin has never shown the slightest interest in the claps of thunder that send Nakita into a frantic fraidy cat. Robin just watches her. That's laughter in her eyes when she does, I'm sure of it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

To Di for....

Wow.  Waiting for an appliance guy to come look at a broken down WH is long and drawn out ain't it?  His schedule had to match with mine first of all.  Then there is the window given for his arrival.  It's given me time to clean up half the house.  Maybe I should be thankful for the long wait.  I got to clean, whereas, otherwise I probably would have left it for another day like so many other things in retirement.
  So cleaning means getting hot and sweaty on a warm humid day such as today.  Then after the guy gets here and  makes an estimate he will make another appointment to deliver and install the new WH.  Another day gone away.  But at least then I will have the benefit of a shower in other than frigid water.
  I know Prince Charles had to shower under ice cold water when he was young and in school.  He could stand to endure a little hardship seeing as he has enough wealth to buy the island of Great Britain.  Plus he's ugly and he was married to a Princess.  The Princess!  Di.  It's no wonder the population of England doesn't want him on the throne.  He hasn't the sense God gave a common pond frog.  Then to marry ole horse face was a corroboration of his intelligence.  Princess Di for goodness sake.  What guy in his right mind wouldn't have loved to....   Uh, I got carried away.
  Yup, I'm still waiting.  Maybe before sundown which comes earlier due to DST.  Any number of things to aggravate one.  Hope you have a good day.  Mine is going loverly thus far.  Princess Di for heaven's sake.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Water, water everywhere....

Time for a new water heater.  Mine sprang multiple leaks last night.  Pipes going in and pipes going out were beginning to ooze a steady stream that trickled down into the pan beneath the heater itself which is a good thing or the floor would have been flooded.  So I am waiting til 8:30 to call the SCE&G folks to see if they can provide another deal on a WH plus installation and warranty.  They did it last time and it lasted near 20 years.  Another 20 years would be sufficient I believe.
  When I was about five, I remember being awakened in the early morning hours by a house rattling boom.  That, followed by water hissing through broken pipes, scared the fire out of me.  I was sitting bolt upright screaming when my mother came in to calm me down.  A string of harsh words were flying through the air from the vicinity of the WH as my dad worked as quickly as he could to stop the water flow and relieve the pressure in the tank.  He was blistering our ears with the heated words rising to the rafters much like the old man in A Christmas Story.
  It was a mop up family moment there in the early hours of the morn.  My mother with a mop, my dad with a wrench and me with soaking towels moving along the surface of the floor.  The water rippled away from the saturated towels as I scooted along the linoleum laughing at those ripples playing out ahead of me.  My dad couldn't see the humour in the situation at all.  My mother tried to explain to him the amusement a five year old would have in a wading pool that was our house at the moment.  He shook his head and went back to his tool box for a larger wrench.
  The difference in perspective in this case was an age thing.  Without responsibility it was a watery adventure after the initial scare of the explosion.  With the heavy mantle of responsibility  resting heavily on his shoulders my dad had no time for the wonder of it, his was the action of necessity.  Is it any wonder that the days of childhood are looked back upon with a nostalgia?  The time of no responsibility beckons with bitter sweet memory.
 Now I have become much like my dad.  It's easier to understand why he was the way he was.  It was tough providing for a family.  He did the best he could for us.  I'm sorry I couldn't understand that then.  I often wonder if I gave him the respect and appreciation he deserved.  I hope he felt that I did.
  He had a difficult time while growing up.  A legal immigrant who never had the chance to complete his schooling because he had to work.  His parents couldn't provide enough so he quit school to help with the family income.  He worked odd jobs until the war.  Even though he worked in the coal mines which guaranteed exempt status, he joined the Royal Navy to do his duty.  Why the Navy?  Because he didn't want to have to fire a gun at someone. He didn't want to have to kill.  Plus, by joining the navy he figured no one would find them on a small ship in the huge expanse of ocean.  He was wrong there.  The Gerries found them.  Three different times on three different ships.
  In the battle of Salerno his ship was hit by one of the first guided missiles which punched through the deck and those below and through the hull, exploding beneath the ship.  It went  right through the engine room where dad was working.  Some repair was done in Malta after which she, the HMS Uganda, limped across the Atlantic to Charleston, SC.  Dad stayed here with his ship for a year, which was very fortunate for me since he met my mother during that time.
  The navy floats on water.  The memory floats back on water from a leaking water heater.  Funny how the mind works.  Excuse me while I go get a glass of water.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Grandma! Grandma? Oh, Grandma....

Gosh, I don't have a clue as to how to fill this space today. What to say? What to say? Hmmmm....
There is Christmas music on the radio. It's my wish that Christmas music be played starting AFTER Thanksgiving. It reminds me of the days when I was growing up. I'm 5 and a half years old. I'm six and a half years old. I'm seven and a half years old. I'll be sixteen in three months. I only have a couple of weeks until I'm eighteen. I was always rushing through life to a goal. That's how the retailers rush us through the last three months of the year.
The one major day of the year lingers at the latter part of December. It was THE most important day of the year for us kids the 50's and 60's. Christmas! It was nothing like today. It was a mixture of the Sacred and the secular. Sacred because of it's true meaning which we felt in our bones. Jesus' birthday. He wasn't an after thought.
I don't know when the Holidays became the most important shopping days. A plastic holiday in every way. Plastic displays paid for with plastic cards swiped with plastic smiles. It's our modern age bereft of miracles. The greatest miracle of the Savior's birth began to fade. The sound of carols over shadowed by more secular melodies.
The merchant's sales pitch interspersed by poorly sung holiday songs. I cringe when I hear Mariah Carey's annoying attempts to inject the scales into her holiday fair. Then, the epitome of the new song expressing the holiday's best, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. When I first heard this I knew it was gone. The magic of the season, the wonder of it all, is but a shadow of memory from long ago.
Though the radio has begun to play it's holiday songfest I will try to look forward to Thanksgiving in its rightful place and wait to embrace Christmas in its rightful time. In addition I will reach back in time and memory to reclaim the wonder of its miraculous origin.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shhh, we're hunting wabbits....

I'm goin' shootin' today.
My son invited me along with him and his friends to pop away at targets. His friend has an assortment of weapons from which to choose.
Way far away on 17 there is an open range with a covered area facing a wide open slice of land with numerous targets at its end. With a choice of rifle or handgun we can point and aim sending high powered destruction to any number of things at the far end. The targets range from cardboard boxes to empty propane bottles. I saw a couple of mannikins last time I was invited along.
I'm curious to see what firearms will be on the table this time. There were two that I enjoyed shootin' on that trip. A shot gun, which obliterated any target hit, and an English field rifle, which had a hell of a kick, provided some well needed relief to pent up energy. I would hate to call that energy anger but it was cathartic imagining those targets to be..., uh, well, let's say to pour that much energy into a tiny piece of lead impacting a solid bit of matter a few yards away had a satisfying effect. That was back before I was retired. I don't have so much anger buried in this short fat frame now. I wonder if it will be that calming of an experience since leaving the job behind.
No matter. A chance to spend some time with my son is always a day that is enjoyable.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Now I need a cover...

On another subject:  the Kindle.
  I've ordered a Kindle from Amazon.  I had balked at such a device for years.  It took the lowering of the price with the new Kindle offerings that made me reconsider.  My house is covered in books.  Every level surface has a stack or three piled to teetering levels.  Just brushing one of these stacks while passing could bring on a scattering of paperbacks and hardbacks over the entire room.  The domino theory lives in my stacks.  Not to mention the presence of so much paper.  It could be considered a fire hazard.  The need for more book shelves is more than evident.  Accomplishing that would, however, open up those level surfaces for more books.  So you see the dilemma.
  To carry the equivalent of that library around in a single device would be a boon, a convenience of great magnitude to a bibliophile.
  One of the reasons not to make the purchase for so long was it's presence as a board in the hand.  The feel of a real book is a pleasure.  The space it inhabits gives a sense of volume and promise only that weight and feel can convey.  Just the fact of pages to be turned enhances the reading.  The feel of paper between the fingers and the fragrance of the stirred air upon the turning of said pages evoke two of the senses as a part of the pleasure of reading.  A book is a wondrous companion.
  I will always prefer the presence of an actual book ,yet, the convenience of a Kindle will provide another kind of experience that will bring its own pleasures I'm sure.  Convenience is a major selling point.  A bookstore right in one's hand with the ability to browse the shelves in one's own easy chair.  Amazon gives the opportunity to read the first chapter which is part of the searching enjoyment.  Find one you particularly like?  Download it in 60 seconds and it is yours to read in toto.  A book browse at your finger tips, what more could the book lover ask?
  So the possibility of having 30, 000 books in the palm of your hand is a modern wonder, don't you think?  Of course you do.  So I succumbed.  My new Kindle will be coming by the end of the month.  I'm a little excited.

It's a mystery...

You know what I don't understand?  Besides women.  How Herman Cain's popularity has dropped since some allegations of inappropriate sex advances have come up.  It only surfaced when his popularity began to pass that of the other GOP hopefuls.  Have the reports actually been true?  Have these women brought forth evidence or witnesses to corroborate these accusations?  Or have they now begun to fade into the background since his reputation has been besmirched?
  Remember Bill Clinton?  His campaign trail was littered with women who were not only approached but fell under him smiling in eager anticipation.  He was quite the rake while governor, while running for president and while in the White House.  Should we play the race card with this?  After all, it was fine for our gray-haired red nosed Good old boy Clinton.  He's revered now!
  That I thought had to be mentioned, but it doesn't answer the question.  Why was this brought up now?  Who found these women who thought it absolutely necessary to come out in the press?  It seems so suspicious to me.  The mystery hangs.  Was it the GOP boys who were jealous of his ascendancy?  Or was it the Jackasses, sorry Donkeys, who were afraid Cain could knock their sad choice out of the presidency?  It makes me wonder.  Does it make you wonder?
  One more thing.  Why would the women who supported Cain before not support him now?  Did they support Clinton after his high school antics in the oval office or on the campaign trail?  As I said, I don't understand politics or women.

Friday, November 11, 2011


For those of you who gave of your life to your country let me be the first to say, THANK YOU. I worked for a local hospital for over 25 years. The only time I received thanks for serving my country was after complaining for 3 years straight that the only veterans on the payroll in my department were two of us who were scheduled every year to be working Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. The third year I wrote the head honcho a letter about this. That was the year I, and my fellow veteran, were offered thanks, grudgingly.
It's a pet peave of mine, and most veterans, that the days set to commemorate veterans pass without much thought to men and women who have spent time in uniform. Those men and women deserve the nation's thanks. They heeded the call, whether by draft or by volunteering. It's a call all citizens should feel a duty to be shared.
I'm in favor of the draft if it could be set up for those called to be used where needed. Not everyone would have to be a part of a shooting war. Some could serve in the cities where a helping hand is needed.
From the age of 18 to 26 the young could use a hand in their struggle to know themselves and what they want to do with their lives. A stint of 2 years during this time in every person's life would provide some well needed discipline. To focus that raw energy into a channel of action would prove invaluable. I've seen the kids of today floundering in their lives. The fact that they have been born in the USA is not appreciated. A piece of their lives in the service of this great country could give them a chance to feel that they have made a contribution of import. Two years, minimum, to strengthen this country in arms and in service.
We need a unifying faction. Our country has zipped off in all directions. We were once the melting pot. Now we are petty little groups who complain about our rights being violated. E pluribus unum has very little meaning these days. When I was young people flocked to this country legally and became citizens as quickly as possible to call themselves Americans. Now they sneak in illegally to chant against unfareness. Every ethnic group has begun to extoll its importance over simply joining the population of this country as a unified nation.
I guess the schools have stopped teaching civics. I'm sure the history books do not fill the students heads with stories of the heroes who founded this country. It's evident since all those stories are debunked and the heroes shown to be men and women with feet of clay just like any real person. They made mistakes but they built a strong nation that has lasted for over 200 years.
We need to reunify our country. For me one way to do that is to ask each citizen to offer up at least 2 years of his/her life to the service, in one way or another, of our nation. To belong to a group of individuals who were united for a specific time as true citizens in service to one nation under God with liberty and justice to all. We would then give genuine thanks to our veterans, a citizenry of veterans who have shared that service.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's a long way to Tipperary...

They marched to the tune of It's a Long Way to Tipperary. They marched into the hell of no man's land. A place of blood and mire pocked with blast craters filled with rain and soaking dead. An area that was fenced off on both sides by barbed wire and land mines. Wifred Owen saw thusly:

No Man's Land is pocketmarked like the body of foulest disease and its odour is the breath of cancer...No Man's Land under snow is like the face of the moon, chaotic, crater-ridden, uninhabitable, awful, the abode of madness.
Hideous landscapes, vile noises....everything unnatural, broken, blastered; the distortion of the dead, whose unburiable bodies sit outside the dug-outs all day, all night, the most execrable sights on earth.

The war to end all wars. The Great War until 21 years later a greater war over shadowed it. 1914 to 1918 the world was locked in that epic strugle. The European powers jumped into another clashing battle that spread into a world wide conflict. Smiling faces marched into recruiting offices to sign up. They wanted their chance to show the other guy how wrong he was to pick this fight. With high expectation and the thrill of adventure they trained for their moment in history as part of the great cause. They were positive the altercation would be over by Christmas.
Those hopes were completely obliterated. The modern age had surpassed the pettiness of men's quarrels. Machine guns raked the lines of soldiers marching to their deaths. Shells of great weight were lobbed into enemy lines. Gas was released liquifying the lungs. Bodies were shattered, limbs thrown far and wide.
The fabric of society was ripped asunder.

God is in His heaven and all is right with the world.

The spirit of the world was flayed.
It would be over by Christmas. It was over before Christmas but near four years intervened. A generation of young men and women was decimated. The flower of youth it was said. Then in the eleventh month on the eleventh day at the eleventh hour the armistice was signed to end the Great War. Some say it was only a pause in the conflict which heated up again in 1939. So the war to end all wars only spawned WWII.
It is true, then, there will always be wars and rumors of wars. Funny, I read that in the Bible.
11-11-11 should be remembered as it is each November. Veterean's Day here in America. Remembrance Day in what was once the British Commonwealth. A day to wear a red poppy showing one remembers the broken bleeding bodies planted in fields across Europe. A remembrance of the horrors of war in hopes that remembering will encourage an end to conflicts.
John McCrae said it best:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow                          
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dawn of the....

Breakfast is over. Coffee is drunk. Guilt sets in for leaving Julia behind a plate glass window that separates her from...well let's return for part 6...

Oh my gosh! Pushing through to the folks at Danny's is like stepping through a barrier of gelatin. I'm here as the wall of imagination fwoops back into it's protective position. It was a difficult passage but I'm here now and...
Something isn't right. There's a darkness unlike before. The streets are deserted. Newspapers sweep across those deserted streets like tumbleweeds. The sky is a dark roiling mass with an oppressive rain falling.
Danny's is dark. There are motionless people inside.. Let me go in...
The lights are out. There's broken glass on the floor. Pancakes are stuck everywhere. Grey masses sticky with genuine Canadian imitation maple syrup. But this is no time for humour. There are bodies in the booths. The counter is covered in heads shattered laying in dried blood.
How long was I gone? Julia is collapsed against the window with a butter knife wedged into her chest. There's a pistol in her lifeless hand drawn from the concealed holster strapped to her thigh whch is exposed beyond her hip. Her flesh is grey and still. Looking in the direction of the gun's muzzle I see holes in the wall. Looking over the counter I spy Joe, who bought Danny's. He is still.
In the space of an hour Joe must have snapped. There was a butcher knife in his right hand caked with blood. In his left a stack of pancakes laced with more dried blood.
It's a scene out of a nightmare. I'm getting out of here. It's no place to be on a sunny day out there in the real world.
Shuffling sounds begin to waft into my ear. Scratching sounds come from behind the kitchen door. It's locked. Movement comes slowly toward me. I turn and it's...
NO! It can't be. Julia is sidling towards me dragging one leg behind. Her crooked taloned hands are reaching towards me... There's Joe and... Joe. They are slowly stumbling in my direction. Groans are drifting from their closed mouths. And there's Gabe slowly pushing on the door. Joe's fist is pounding into his slab of a hand as he creeps forward. Joe, behind the counter has grabbed at the counter pulling himself up from the pool of dried blood that had been his bed. Their eyes... their eyes... they are cold and dead reflecting only me within.
Julia has a slight bend at the corner of her lips, That same cruel touch of a smile she carried in life. Her mouth is opening showing strong teeth. They are all closing in mouths open with gluey strings of saliva connecting upper and lower teeth. Those grusome mouths begin a biting and churning motion intent on the rosy warm flesh before them. Joe and Joe shuffle closer. Gabe incehes in to my left. Julia comes straight on in that slow jerky gate and the sound of teeth clacking together along with the scratching at the locked door echoing amongst the low creeping moans coming from their dry throats. I could swear they are saying brains...

What the... Sorry. I must have fallen asleep while typing. Creepy. Enough of that.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

Like I said, this DST is hittin' me hard. Sitting here waiting for the kettle to boil. I need that boiling water to pour into my cup filled with instant coffee beads. Yeah, I'm no connoisseur of deep rich coffees brewed from freshly ground beans. I'm a caffeine addict who gets his kick quick. Not so quick this morning. I think DST has altered the law of physics or is that one of the sublaws of thermodynamics...let's see thermo, temprature, along with dynamics which is close enough to dynamite for such an early morning. So, blowing up with heat could pretty much describe boiling water. Ever watch it? It's like little explosions continually through absorption of heat. Not bad for a mind chockablock with spider webs and grey stuff. This old spooky attic, addict?, has lots of shimmering spectres still haunting after 60 years. Those shades from half learned ideas of childhood slip through the cracks on occasion. It doesn't have to be Halloween. It just takes early early mornings when the ego or superego, is that the one with the cape?, hold closed the door to the room containing the id, or is that IT? Whatever it is when that door opens the monsters, the skeletons and the shades come out. When the shades are drawn the eery light of that sub world is kept below.
Maybe that's when I picked up that pencil as a child and began to draw. It was super heroes to ward off the monsters. And there were monsters. I know there were. They stayed in the room at the back of the house next to the bathroom. The door was always locked. I seemed to be the only one who heard the stirrings in that room. It's a frighting thing for a child of 4 or 5 sitting on the porcelain throne with feet dangling to hear a scritch, scritch at that door. A young imagination can provide all manner of scarey critters come to gather him up with his shorts around his ankles. To be pulled under the door into the dark of the dusty cluttered space beyond.
Excuse me. I had to sit up straight and shake my head. Those ghosties and ghoulies need to go back to the underbrain and clear out of my every day world. HA HA. That was a short trip into the netherness of my dark and scary mind cellar. Wonder what the coffee drinkers at Danny's are doing.
...Part 5 of a continuing story.

Julia sat sipping her coffee. Her seat was by the window opening onto the street. The parade of humanity going to and fro in the world always amused her. Beyond that glass a world of men to be manipulated, cajoled and generally humiliated slipped past. She smiled when one of her toadies came to view. Upon recognition they would melt into obsequious gelatin before her eyes. It was all she could do to hold back a high pitched cackle much like the witch from Oz.
Joe, who bought Danny's, approached.
"Yes, Danny?" Julia turned toward him.
"It's Joe. Don't any of you people know that yet?" He threw his arms up into the air staring at the ceiling.
"If you were to change the name of this place it would avoid all the confusion. Have you though to of that?" Julia's exasperation was very evident.
Meanwhile just outside the window stood.....

Well, I don't know who stood outside and it's time to figure out breakfast.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Secret ingredient?

This DST is a butt kicker. Going by the clock for the next few days will cause me to go to bed later and wake at the same time though the clock's face is different. Probably the coffee consumption will increase for a week or so before my body accepts the new time without thinking "what the real time is." That's the experience of looking at the clock and measuring what the body thinks the time is opposed to what the eyes show you. It takes a while for me to adjust.
Today is the day I pick up my bike from Mike's. It's a Giant Via 1. I haven't ridden a bicycle in 40 years. I decided I need to add excercise to my repertoire. Well, I just need to do something to get my blood moving on occasion. Anyway, I felt comfortable on my last bike of 40 years ago, a Raleigh 3 speed and this was the closest thing I could find to it.
It'll be an adventure. And speaking of adventures I think I hear a part 4 to the continuing story coming forward....chock full of cliches and weary story lines....

"Whereas in silks my Julia goes, Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows, that liquefaction of her clothes." It was the first line of Robert Herrick's poem that came to mind as Julia, and it happened her name was Julia, approached from the alley across the street. His mind drifted at such times as he saw her. It never occurred to ask what she had been doing in that alley. Others would have thought the worst when she dressed as she did on this occasion.
Silks were her favorite. The royal blue accentuated the ice blue eyes that bored through a man. Her crimson lips beckoned even the toughest whom she could bend to her every whim. Hair of the deepest chestnut, almost black, cascaded over her shoulders in thick voluminous curls. Her face was the smoothest porcelain with the chill of alabaster. His eyes traveled down the tightly wrapped figure that moved with an elegance never matched by any other woman he had known. He was captivated. If she asked, he fell over himself to make it happen. When in her presence he was owned body and soul. Mostly soul since she would not comply with his carnal desires.
She commanded with her eyes. He obeyed with his life. She was perfectly content with the arrangement. He never thought. He just complied.
"Hello, Julia," he said as she approached.
"It's Miss Stern," she said. Ice crackled in the words. "Have you seen that Palooka guy?"
"yeah. He was here earlier with Gabe. I never would have taken them to be such good friends."
"What? Where'd they go?" she slid into a booth signalling to the man behind the counter.
Perplexed, Sam asked, "Huh? You want me to find him for you? I'd be happy to find him."
Joe, who bought Danny's, showed up with pad and pencil ready to take a pancake order. "Pancakes?" he asked.
"Danny, how many times have I told you no Pancakes?" Fire emerged through the eyes of ice.
"Uh, it's Joe. I tell you that every time too."
"Then why is the place still called Danny's?"
It was a continual topic. Joe heard the same thing from everyone coming in. It was adding to his slowly simmering anger.
"Whadaya want?" rasped Joe. She told him coffee and dismissed him with a flick of her hair.
Turning to Sam, who was completely overwhelmed by her perfume a pleasant fragrance that hinted at roses, she smiled and spoke slowly. It was honey in the air to Sam. He heard the tones but not the words. As he sat like a puppy entranced her face slowly changed from a warm loving facade to the darkness of an approaching storm. Sam didn't notice simply being happy in her nearness.
Julia's mind raced through such rapid changes in emotion. It happened to her all the time. Men just fell over themselves to be close. They were so stupid, she thought. She had learned at an early age how easily men could be manipulated. It was complete instinct when very young. The instinct grew to complete understanding after she had grown into the beauty she saw in the mirror each morning. A smile crept over her face. She'd found out what boys wanted in the 8th grade. When they had studied the topic of slavery she had understood. It took so little to enslave these weak minded idiots. She honed her skills over the years. A twitch of an eyebrow could open doors for her that remained closed to anyone else. Julia, Julia how simple the world was. Men ruled it. She, and any woman of physical beauty and exceptional inteligence, ruled them, whether they knew it or not. Simplicity itself.
But right now she needed Joe Palooka to tell her about Gabe. It had been a simple request of a simple mind in a powerhouse frame. Just a little punch or two here and there. Get the money or break something. That was all she had asked. So why was he still walking?
"I want you to find Palooka and get him back here to me. Do you understand?" The words were solid ice fracturing Sam's reveree. He sat bolt upright.
"Get out there now. Don't come back without him," she leaned into the corner of the booth. Joe sidled up to the table and slipped the coffee cup onto the table. She pulled it to her inhaling the aroma. Joe had added his secret flavoring as before for Gabe and Joe. She smiled at him then sipped the hot brew. "Nice," she said to Joe. He smiled, his eyes darker than before.
Sam ran out the door. He hesitated on the sidewalk looking in all directions. One way as good as another he set out to accomplish Julia's wish. Julia settled into the booth and sipped her coffee. Her smile a knowing comment men.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


The clock says 5:00. My mind says 4:00. It's still dark out. What happened? Daylight Savings Time. Who are they kidding? That concept is so outmoded. I know it takes at least half a year off your life. I never feel good after it happens. For at least a week after the fall back or spring forward my mind is constantly saying it's really 6 or it's really 5 when it's...well you get the idea.
I was ready to write a full history of the origin of DST this morning. Then I woke up too early. My mind isn't ready for in depth anything at this time of the morning so whoever cares can simply go to the Wikipedia breakdown and read it for themselves. For me, I could do without it. It's purpose is to aid business with no thought to the human beings that have to change clocks and rouse themselves earlier or later depending on the two seasons affected. Why do we simply change clocks and sleeping habits because someone out there says, "This is the way it is. Do it."
Enough of that. No rebellious ranting. It's too early though it's later than yesterday or is that earlier. It's so damn confusing for aging minds.
So what's gabe up to?

Joe Spinsky had taken over Danny's two years ago. His childhood had been a happy one. His mother had kept him happy every morning with a stack of pancakes interspersed with slabs of butter and a heavy hand with the syrup pitcher. Heavy handed isn't the right term but to say that she glazed over every time she tipped the pitcher above his stack o' flapjacks would be more accurate.
Joe...we're talking about Joe that took over Danny's not the Palooka guy...never realized his momma had a medical problem, petit mal or simply a short attention span. He equated griddle cakes, butter and syrup with love. Later in life he was overcome with his love for humanity and scraped together enough money to buy Danny's. Danny was overjoyed to sell since his love of humanity had been lost over the years becoming acquainted with jackasses who took their anger out on business men who took their money for what they considered inferior service and edibles. Danny took Joe's money and ran. They were both happy.
"How about some pancakes?" asked Joe.
Joe looked up at Joe and said, "No thanks. Just two cups o' Joe, Joe."
Gabe seemed confused. "I thought your name was Danny."
"No, gabe. It's Joe. Just like Joe here. How long have you been coming in for coffee and pie?"
"I don't know. Maybe 2 years."
"That's when I took over. Two years ago."
"So why do you still call it Danny's?"
"Well, it takes about two years to break even. I didn't have enough to change the sign. Besides everyone around here seemed comfortable with the name. I got plans though. Next year I'm changing it." He got a far away look in his eye. Gabe and Joe noticed that he seemed to go into a trance and his hand conformed to an imaginary pitcher that remained in a pouring position.
"Yeah, we're happy for you. How about that Joe, Joe." Gabe pointed his index finger into a circular motion next to his temple as his eyes rose to the ceiling. Joe, the owner of Danny's, shook his head quickly as he came back to life, asked, "How 'bout some of my Johhny cakes. Got a special on the blueberry chocolate chip strawberry ones."
"Don't want no effin' pancakes, Danny. Just coffee, black with cream."
"You got it," said Joe who owned Danny's. "I'll be right back."
He poured the two cups of coffee from the urn and spit into each cup. His desire to serve humanity over the last two years had dimmed somewhat. He carried the laced coffees to the table. Once more he asked, "Pancakes and syrup?"
"HELL NO!" shouted Gabe and Joe.
Joe, who now was beginning to regret his decision to buy Danny's, walked away from the two. Every day he offered his lovely stacks of pancakes, six to a stack for the price of three with a full pitcher of genuine Canadian imitation maple syrup and a wheel of butter produced from his very own churn in the kitchen. Every day he was told no. One can only take so many rejections. Pancakes, butter and syrup were love to Joe, who bought Danny's. Joe who punched faces couldn't care less about pancakes, or love for that matter.
"Best coffee in town," said Joe, the puncher, as he slurped in a mouthful. "Robust and hot."
"I don't know," said Gabe. "It's got a distinct twang I don't particularly relish."
They drank their coffee and spoke of maybe Gabe getting a loan to pay the boss. As they were speaking the picture in my mind began to fade. I reckon it'll be tomorrow that their story will begin to reappear.
"How about some pancakes?" I distinctly heard that as Joe, Joe and Gabe's world began to recede into whereever they came from.