407. Not… now… Forever…Granpa Wine

Image result for champagne and shrimp picturesThings run their course for one reason or another. What we enjoy and anticipate doing wears off over time. That’s the human condition. We get bored of the same thing over and over no matter how good it is. Call it sedition. Shrimp and champagne were great yesterday but not so soon again today. Steak and beer? Sure. Ice cream and pretzels. Not again. Not right now. Still, some things are eternal.

[My first draft was about this being my last entry, but as I wrote about my feelings, they changed. Like Otis Redding singing, “Stop this pain in my heart”, the more I said and wrote about quitting, the less I wanted to quit. Too much desire on this side of the keyboard to stop, but enough static to think about it.]

Springsteen is great, but not again right now. Santana too. My ears are sound burned, perhaps because my mind is unspunked. Put the records away for now. Marvin, Clapton, Hendrix, give me a rest, just for now. Hmmm, you know Johnny Cash sounded so good near his death. Eternity sang harmony with his rough hewn voice, sanding away any false sentiments. Potent as formaldehyde with a whiskey chaser.

Smoked a pack a day back in the day. Never again. Nicotine is anxiety’s best bad friend.Image result for loose cigarette picturesThirty five years ago my pregnant wife asked me to smoke outside where it was 5o degrees below zero. I smoked one and concluded that the entire habit was stupid. It was one of my top ten decisions in life, below following God, marrying my wife, and having kids, doing therapy, oh, and quitting teaching.

Image result for green pepper plant picturesGardening was once a tender joy for me, watching a pepper plant stand tall and bear fruit once filled me with wonder. I still like gardening, but not as much. The fertile magic diminished as the work increased. Other good things came knocking on the same door, but the man behind it grew tired.

Golf was a cool thing briefly. Maybe I’ll go back to it when I’m retired for the second time. Oh what a fight, though, just to be average. Like chess, you can learn a lot about a buddy over 18 holes. How men handle failure tells you a lot about their character. Golf rewards the man who has efficiently done the least work.Image result for golf pictures

I had a phase when I liked to play with tiles, finding wholeness in broken things. There is untapped potential in a good dumpster, my friends. Finding mosaic beauty is a noble cause. The whole gives meaning to each disparate piece. My writing is similarly mosaic, lacking meaning in the particulars. If you fuzz your mind, you might find some value in the whole. Then again you might find nothing more than rubbish. I guess it depends on what you went looking for.

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Used to run seriously. Seriously, I was slow but steady for 3, 5 or 7 miles. Felt so good and alive to find that runner’s zone of zen outside myself. A body in space obeying gravity and healthy guidelines. But the joints jabbered in pain and my back joined in the chorus.

Then I drew and did water color cards, little pictures that held a  wordless story I somehow needed to tell. When I stopped that practice, I realized it was my way of unloading daily anxiety onto paper with lines and shapes and colors. Each card was a 90 minute journey away from the lion’s jaws.Image result for watercolor paintings

Hunting tickled something in me I did not know was there till it was gone. Primal, visceral, powerful, and essential. You need a license, though, and some planning. After you pull the trigger, it’s all work. Unlikely to go there again.

Chess has always been a faithful friend, however, always fun. Look out retirement village. I’ll be check mating till my foolscap matures into full blown dementia.

Now it’s ballroom dancing with my bride. Maybe the best of all endeavors I’ve ever sampled. The zen of twoness puts a smile on my face when we mirror one another successfully. Mates, take my worn down soles advice: dance with your woman while you both can still move.

Image result for wine bottle picturesBrewing beer or making wine has that same sort of appeal for me, though I’ve never done either. On the way to work this morning I began to ruminate about making figurative “Grandpa Wine”. I was talking to my beloved granddaughter by phone yesterday, promising to nibble her toes off in my dinosaur voice, which she loves to rebuke in her three year old squeal. “No, Granpa. Don’t eat me!”

“Why not?”

“I made my bed.”

“Oh, I’m so proud of you. Good girl.”

“I made mommy and daddy’s bed too.”

“Whoa! You sure are a good big sister.”

“I uh, I uh, uh I want you to be a dinosaur again and chase me.”

“Aarrrgggh.”

“Weeeeee. No, Granpa. don’t eat me.”


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“I can’t, Honey, you are holding mommy’s phone. Just give it to her if you get scared.”

“Okay, be a dinosaur again. EEEEh!!

These little moments are super sugar-saturated grapes that drop from life’s vine

Only to be squeezed into wonderful Granpa wine

Sweet whispered breaths and wisps of hair

Giggles and laughs, smiles and smirks we share

All go into the batch

We jump around and flop

on all these things And  try to catch

every dropImage result for wine stomping pictures

Explosions of joy spring out of her soul

While to keep up I crawl

She sings and poses

Bows in the kitchen to pick up imaginary roses

Heavy and plump these grapes on the vineImage result for grape vine pictures

Only to be squeezed into Granpa wine.

Funnel the juice in magnum bottles to the max

Seal with crisp Corks covered in wax

And store horizontally for a long,long timeImage result for wine cellar pictures

Break out a bottle on Thanksgiving

To toast our fun loving and living

Share old times as your eyes shine

And a familiar warmth runs up your spine

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So, Leah,

Before my funeral bells chime

Sip and savor this Granpa wine

Note the bouquet of wild berries and stale Cheetos

And just a hint of nibbled off toes.

It must age as the flavors unfold,

But Granpa wine will never grow old.

 

 

 

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406. Funhogs

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[Disclaimer:  the following did not happen outside my twisted mind. No animals were killed in the filming of this blog entry. By reading further you agree not to file a lawsuit against the author. Furthermore, you agree and assent that reality is a matter of personal perspective and thus cannot be proscribed or prescribed by one party to another.]

She said meaningful intimate things to me, as we walked to our car after a tango lesson at the hillside winery, beneath a full moon.

I had to agree and ignore all the prepositional phrases that would usually constitute a run on sentence, but after decades of teaching and marriage, who cares? Run on like a broken spigot of chianti, I say. To life, to life, la chaim. Run on like a grand symphony or a chocolate fountain.

“What’s not to like? I have a beautiful wife who wants to see me most nights. We’re healthy. Our kids turned out well. We have two awesome grandkids. Many friends. Abundant blessings all around, I’d say.”

“Yes. Knowing how uncertain life is makes it all the more poignant.”

“Are you poignant at me?”

“Yes I am, and your deadly puns.”

“The best puns like scorpions kill, honey…. You know that guy in Lowe’s who told you how beautiful you are on Saturday?”

“Of course. That was different, like weird different. Did it make you jealous?”

“No. I just agree with him. You stagger me worse than a bad pun.”

“You mean like when we are dancing and I try to lead?”

“Sure, there’s that torn rotator cuff, but what a lucky guy I am to be your partner in dance and in life. Not to mention that I’m covered under your Major Medical Blue Cross insurance.”

“I feel the same way.”

“That deserves a kiss as punctuation.”

Schmackk!! Nibble. Cuddle. “Stop! Why must men always grope?”

“I’m not groping; I’m grasping. Besides, one of my favorite heart memories is not grasping at anything, it is watching you dry your hair with the hairdryer while playing fetch with Johnnie and his tennis ball. That’s truly a beautiful image for me.”

“Why on earth do you say that?”

“Well, for the longest time when I’d run the hair dryer, he’d come to me with the tennis ball in his mouth, all excited, you know. He’d drop it and expect me to kick it like you did. But my hair is so not there that I’d be done before he got started.”Image result for bald man with hair dryer pictures

“Really? He’s so smart.”

“Yeah, it took me a while to figure out that you had trained him and the hair dryer was his cue to fun.”

Image result for older couple sitting together at night pictures“What is your cue to come around?”

“Well, let’s see. After you blow the breaker with your hair dryer on maximum, I come to see if it’s working. And to see your beaming face.”

” Not funny that first part. Still, this is the fun part of life. And we are Funhogs.”

“Agreed. It all seems simpler now. You know, the mortgage is paid. Our retirement is fixed. No worries there.”

“It’s more than that, though. We’re over the half way point in our lives now, and the days are richer, I think. Here we are on a Wednesday night, for Goodness sake, dancing and having a glass of wine while the world twinkles off in the distance.”

“Yes. I’d love to freeze this moment, but I’ve said that many times in the past, you know, and here we are thinking this is the most delicious moment of our lives. So maybe we shouldn’t freeze this one; just enjoy it while it’s fresh on our tongues.”

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“Sign me up for that. Maybe we could share a blueberry. Maybe you could peel me a grape.”

………….. After a make over in the living room………

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“I know we aren’t really smarter these days, but we’re wiser, I think. Did you ever think our house could be this pretty?”

“Yes, I did. I never believed it would cost this much, but that’s something else. In the end we don’t remember what something cost; we remember what it’s worth. Yup, yup. That’s what I thahnk, Jenn nay. Worth every Penn nay. That’s what Momma always sayed.”

“So, Mr.Forrest Gump Clairvoyant, how did you know it would end up so lovely?”

Birth of Venus by Botticelli“Simple: you are beautiful, and where you tread needs to show that. Remember Venus on the Half Shell by Botticelli? Wherever she stepped, in mythology anyway, spring broke out beneath her feet. So, it’s like that, my goddess. Beauty erupts at your toenails’ approach.”

” It’s The Birth of Venus. She’s not an oyster, you know. You are so full of Irish baloney.”

“True, and it’s a fine buttery blend of blushing beasts, so it is. Made from ground squirrels, ground hogs, ground possums, and a young pheasant for texture.”

“What am I going to do with you?”

“Hug me, squeeze me, tease me… just for a start.”

“You didn’t get enough attention when you were a kid, did you?”

“Perhaps. Perhaps not. As Shakespeare said, “Some men are born great; some achieve greatness; and others have greatness thrust upon them.”

“You must be a ‘thrust upon guy’ cuz you sure weren’t born great and you haven’t achieved much.”

“True. Indisputably true. The thimple truth isth thometimes I’m just thilly with these thingsth. Thay! Isth that a new hairsthyle you’re sthportin?”Image result for daffy duck images

“So you devolve into Daffy Duck when things get therious? Theriously?”

“Yesth. It’sth a coping sthrategy I useth in sthticky thituationsth.”

“Sthtop or I’ll thscream.”

“Okay, enough of that routine. We need one more vignette for this blog post, my Dearie. What is your fondest, not fondlest, memory of me?”

“That’s hard.”

“Because there are so many to choose from?”

“No, that’s not it. Let’s see, um… it’s a repetitive memory of a repetitive experience. When we dance, you know, and you are supposed to lead, and I lean back waiting to be swept off my feet, and then I look in your eyes and realize that behind your blue eyes is an ocean of Play Doh, and then I lead and tell you what to do next, which is why I tore your rotator cuff last spring…”

“Uh hum, that is a run on sentence, Sweets.”

“And you will drink it down like free chianti.”

“As your champion, I will gladly wear the wounds of love’s many battles, my Lady. Mostht thertainly.”

Image result for kneeling knight in front of h is ladyThis never happened. As the three long time readers of this blog can attest, rarely is reality accurately depicted here. It’s mostly verbal Jello that fails to set up due to a lack of integral pectinosity. Do not eat this. Do not step off the top paragraph. Do not print this on a plastic bag and wrap it around your head as it could cause asphyxiation and/or death. Do not take seriously or brain damage may result.

 

 

 

 

 

405. Static Electricity Explained

Image result for static electricity imagesEveryone has pulled off a sweater on a dry winter night and seen tiny greenish yellow sparks fly. Do not worry, kids. It’s harmless static electricity jumping about from one fabric to the other. This results from the imbalance of positive and negative atomic charges. Let me explain for the layman reader:

if a proton goes shopping and runs up his Visa card balance on a bunch of electronics, like a big screen t.v. and a new cell phone, when the bill comes in the mail, his neutron partner will explode all over him for his ridiculous irresponsibility and selfishness. Image result for man in an electronics store

She will defend the integrity of the atom to the fissionable end, even threatening to take the baby electrons with her in a nasty divorce if her protean husband does not take all that crap back to Best Buy right now. Now, the proton, being maleish, refuses to repent and return his new toys. He cites the literature about imminent domain, the 14th amendment, and male authoritarian leadership of the family dynasty. He pouts and says things that make no sense, simply fueling the neutron to further rain down sulfuric hell fire balls on him.

Image result for pouty faced peyton manning imagesRest assured, kids, sparks not only fly in the atomic marital gaps (like a huge welding shop on a federal contract.Pow!!) but it can become an electrical storm of a fireworks finale on the 4th of July. Frighteningly Frilling.

Each illuminated static electric pinprick is actually an electronic syllable as the proton is beaten down by the neutron at a rate of 18 to 1, roughly the exchange rate between the Honduran Lempira and the U.S. dollar. Whoops! in the time it took to Google that fact, the rate jumped to 23 to 1. It’s not a fair match, mind you. No, more like a mugging by Muhammad Ali versus the pre-sparkle gloved Michael Jackson.

Image result for muhammad ali and michael jackson picture togetherNow I know it’s not right to mix metaphors and use entangled analogies, but that’s where the fun is, Momma. If you stay on the beaten path, sure, people get your message in a safe, efficient manner; however, if you run through the brambles, you get all cut up and might find some fresh raspberries while the path plodders apply layers of Deep Woods Off. As you forge a new path, the safe ones roll on in their antiseptic hamster ball of protection. I don’t know what that means, but I like how it sounds. However, at some core planet in your inner universe also coexists a form of static– the pops and sizzles of different synapses pounding out novel neural pathways, i.e., the static in the attic.

Image result for man and woman arguing pictureBack to the other static. In the real world mental static can build up inside the brains of arguing marital partners. When really it’s just an imbalance of positive and negative atomic charges. Take the husband, for example. No, put him back. The husband may make some innocuous comment about the price of milk, for instance. Only to be met by a flurry of leading questions from the wife. “What do you know about food prices? When was the last time you went shopping. You don’t even drink milk. Why don’t you drink more water? Do you want to die of dehydration and leave me a young but unmarriageable widow?”

Image result for picture of man drinking waterWhat do you do with that?  First, take a long, slow drink of water. Then deconstruct the mosquito swarm of interrogation with a cleverly relevant compliment. “Honey, you’d be more marriageable than Elizabeth Taylor if I should die of my stupid lack of hydration because I know nothing about shopping or milk. I am not worthy of your tender concern.”

Well, that’s unlikely to be uttered. But, if like a neutral cotton shirt grounds a charged polyester sweater in 8% relative humidity, the clever husband did utter such balderdash and calmed his long suffering wife, this would be an example of harmless grounding of static. Perhaps there would be a slight zap when either party reached for a bedroom doorknob, but that’s a better outcome than the nuclear option.

You see there are actually at least two forces that hold together neutrons and protons in atoms. I don’t expect you to believe me. I don’t believe myself, so I Googled again.

Opposites attract, likes repelAs my chart makes clear, a proton and an electron will attract each other. The closer they are together, the stronger this attraction will be. Two protons (or two electrons) will repel each other. And again, the closer together they are, the stronger the repulsion. Now the nucleus of an atom is positively charged, while electrons are negatively charged. As a result, a nucleus will attract electrons. These electrons will swarm around the nucleus, and the result is an atom.

Image result for nuclear fission imagesHopefully by now it is becoming clear to the reader that men tend to run away from the nucleus while women hold it together with overwhelming nuclear energy known by physicists as quarky charm. The trick involves how many electrons (children) a couple has between them. Studies show that if a man has more than ten children with a neutron partner, he is just too tired to leave. He cannot break through the static bond created by ten kids swirling all around day and night. He’s gonna be exhausted by brunch. The negative charge of the children cancels the positive charge of the proton dad, thus defaulting to the core nucleus being run by the supercharged neutron mom.

And that’s static electricity. Next time I will explain gravity. Till then, I’m goin’ to Jackson…

We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout,
We’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson, ever since the fire went out.
I’m goin’ to Jackson, I’m gonna mess around,
Yeah, I’m goin’ to Jackson,
Look out Jackson town.

But they’ll laugh at you in Jackson, and I’ll be dancin’ on a Pony Keg.
They’ll lead you ’round town like a scalded hound,
With your tail tucked between your legs,
Yeah, go to Jackson, you big-talkin’ man.
And I’ll be waitin’ in Jackson, behind my Jaypan Fan,

404. Born to be Mild

Joel has been on the lam for the past three weeks or so. Could be a month. It’s been a social and intellectual drought in his absence. However, time is sketchy. At our age time is measured in sinus infections and colonoscopies. The sky won’t rain; the chickens won’t lay; and the cows will not come home. I don’t really want the cows to come home, mind you, but that leads right into one of Joel’s favorite movies, City Slickers.Image result for city slickers 1 pictures

If you recall, several rather impotent midlife crisis New York men go out west to a real working ranch to find and flex their manhood. Despite many challenges and setbacks, Billy Crystal transforms from some sort of fragile wimpy dud Dad insurance salesman into a true cowboy hero. He brings in the herd after the real cowboy leader (Jack Palance) dies. Crystal observes, “What did you expect?  He ate bacon three meals a day.” Let this be a warning to you lard inhaling bacon lovers. Do you want this epithet on your tombstone? “Killed by nitrates seared in salty pork fat.”Image result for city slickers 1 pictures

Similarly noted in Coffee Nation, “Sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” That virile (or is it viral?) spirit led our mild mannered Joel out of Turtle Town onto a world class motorcycle trip into the Ozarks with several other biker dudes from around the world. You see, he recently purchased a three wheeled Spyder motorcycle, which is worthy of much envy. But our local roads could not contain nor constrain his Steppenwolf heart that beats beneath a sharp new leather vest, bursting with high test testosterone.Image result for steppenwolf band pictures

“Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway

Lookin for adventure and whatever comes our way

Yeah Darlin’, go make it happen Take the world in a love embrace

Fire all of your guns at once and explode into space.

I like smoke and lightning  heavy metal thunder

Racin’ with the wind and this feelin’ that I’m under

Yeah Darlin’, go make it happen  Take the world in a love embrace

Fire all of your guns at once and explode into space.

Like a true nature’s child  we were born, born to be mild

We can climb so high  never want to die.

Born to be mild.”

Before he left for his journey, I managed to wheedle him into a napkin will, where it was clearly stated in his inky hand, that in the event of his untimely death on the Tail of the Dragon trail, I would receive the Spyder, if it survived unscathed. I had the napkin notarized by Shirley, who calls me various men’s names and occasionally gets the right one. I was torn, however, between wanting to hear Joel’s road warrior tales and driving my new Spyder cycle. Come on, you would too.Image result for spyder motorcycles images

So, Joel has returned intact with a certain swagger that comes from deep immersion in the hot springs of masculinity. His jaw seems more square and his posture post modern, beyond framing. He announced in  his purple checked shirt that he had to leave for a meeting in Shippensburg, and thus he could not attend Coffee Nation. Wow! Just Wow! We moved out to the noisy sidewalk to do our suddenly less important business, but Peter Fonda’s stunt double remained inside, finishing something epic on his Ipad.  Eventually he emerged and put on that leather vest, a funky helmet and away he road on that Spyder, like Harry Potter… into a world we mortals could only imagine.Image result for pictures of faces of abandonment

I was left without any tales of Brave Joelysses or my much coveted Spyder cycle. I felt robbed twice, as if someone stole my wallet from the guy who stole my wallet. It hurt in an abstract sort of way if you thought about it long enough. Somewhere Shakespeare’s lines on mercy seemed reversed–

“Envy is twice cursed. Like gasoline stinks on the pumper and the pumped.

It curses he who covets and he who is immersed.

Leaving both as empty as a wheel barrow dumped.”Image result for gas pump picturesUnlike Billy Crystal Joel did not return with a calf named Norman. That would have been special, by Golly. Norman on the back seat roaring through Turtle Town.Image result for cow on a motorcycle picturesBut he did return with a huge mildewed heart. Being mild is okay, my blog warts. It allows for a comfortable move forward, while remaining grounded, safe, and homogenous. The highest state of mild is “to become the dew of mildness, also known as mildew.” Wild is for crazy risk takers who don’t wear helmets. In salsa sales mild is by far the leader, not medium or hot. Know why? You can always increase the kick of mild, but you cannot unwild the hot stuff. A jalapeno without a fever is a fake pepper and will never become a gastronomical dictator.

And that is Joel. For sixty some years he has been building up to this zippiness. Aging well like old amontillado wine. He is enjoying life uncorked now since accepting Social Security and AARP benefits. Rockin it, too.Image result for amontilladoAnd I am trying really hard not to be envious, but I am failing miserably. He has taken on mythic stature in his semi-demi-god retirement. Image result for zeus on a harley davidson images Could it be that the Sermon on the Mount passed over the mild because their inheritance was too materialistic?  “Blessed are the mild, for they shall inherit the cool cycle, hang with Motor head dudes, tame the Dragon Trail in the Ozarks, and walk as giants among measly mortals.”

Image result for walter mitty imagesTom Petty told us “If you never slow down, you never grow old”, which is a nice lyric but a very hard trick to pull off into your seventies and eighties.

In any event… I guess it’s okay to have Joel back on his Spyder. He’s the man, the myth, a giant among dwarves. All the men of Coffee Nation stood a little taller that day as he gunned the Spyder and whirled away dervishly.

“You’re a savage gift on a wayward bus,

But you stepped down and you sang to us.”

So Joan Baez glorified Bob Dylan, and so we salute you, Joel. Born to be mild.

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