681. Ex One Ration

Image result for classical latin busts picturesLatin exonerare to relieve, free, discharge, from ex- out + onerare to burden, from oner-onus load.  When you put it all together, exoneration is the process of discharging someone from blame or burden. In short, you, the prosecutor drop their, the defendant’s load. So what are we to make of this statement from the Mueller report….Related image

The report “does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Does this mean that in the cross multiplication of negatives that the President still holds the burden? It seems like a nun saying, “I am not not pregnant”. Well, there it is in black and white… the President is not discharged from the burden, the original onus when it comes to obstruction of justice. It will be interesting to find out the rest of the story, i.e., the cover up attempts that appear to be obstruction of a non crime. Are you confused yet? Image result for obstruction pictures

Here’s where I get hooked: why did all of Trump’s horses and all of Trump’s men dissemble and dodge if there was nothing to hide and put back together again? Negative language confuses the brain. Most folks can only process one negative per sentence. For example, “National Security Advisor Michael Flynn lied.” However, when you introduce the second negation, “Michael Flynn did not lie”, that is not exactly equal to “Michael Flynn told the unabridged truth.” Nope, he lied and then lied about his lies…which cannot end in truth.Image result for mike flynn as humpty dumpty pictures

Now I understand that one example does not make a pattern. But thirty six examples of the same thing do.

Let’s try another one. “Jeff Sessions did not meet with the Russians”. Compare that statement with this one, “Jeff Sessions met with the Russians but he forgot about it until he remembered it under political pressure at his Senate confirmation hearings.” The edited version lacks the strength and integrity of an unequivocal “Jeff Sessions never met with the Russians!” So cracks appeared in the foundational truths and values needed by the chief law enforcement officer in our country as his nose grew. Then, when he later recused himself from the Mueller investigation, his lawless boss exploded on him for following the guidelines of the law, choosing the rule of law over the blood oath of loyalty to Don Corrupto.Image result for pictures of sessions with russians

Okay, but surely two do not make a pattern, right? Here again it’s just too easy to find the third, fourth, fifth, sixth example of improper contact and conduct with our country’s chief adversary.

Paul Manafort and Rick Gates…did not just meet with Russians, they worked with and for them to manipulate the Republican platform at the Republican Convention regarding sanctions connected to Russia’s interventions in Ukraine. Now Manafort is convicted of multiple crimes  while Gates continues to work with authorities in order to reveal more corruption in and around Trump World. These guys were gangsta overseas… and ran Trump’s campaign during the critical later months. Trump’s response?  I hardly knew them. Clearly that is a lie.Image result for manafort and gates pictures

So I think we have a pattern now, a spider web of unseemly connections to corruption, deceit, and a common national adversary. What holds the web together, i.e., who is the spider in chief?

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All threads lead back to the Mango Mafia Don.Image result for trump as a spider image

He has not been exonerated. That’s like saying the occupants of a car crash have not been extricated from a crumpled up car. The bodies are still in the wreck. So, it’s not over, folks. We do not have peace at home and security abroad. Bodies are still in need of recovering. Investigation fatigue and subpoena dysfunction have set in, which is very dangerous. Trump World’s tortured verbal torrents of denial, denial, denial, wear our the media and the law. A fifth grader can see Donnie Boy is a fat liar and stands at the nexus of criminal activity, but apparently he is immune in his gross malfeasance.  However, because he is shameless, he flaunts his two year legal base on balls as a grand slam, when it very well might have been a strike out. We’ll have to see when the other closet full of shoes falls.Image result for a shower of shoes gif

Why is truth so important? In the absence of truth we wind up with chaos, deceit, and skulduggery, a favorite word of mine. Order collapses. Gravity pulls the fakes and falsehoods into disintegration. Imagine a false brick wall that is not level or plumb or square, not even real brick. What do you have?  A pile of faux bricks. They cannot be stacked or remain that way.  Calls to mind W.B. Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming”….

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
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Yep, in a world without truth things most certainly fall apart. The center cannot hold nowadays because there is no center, only polar opposites demonizing each other. Such a world is a scary place. In scary places civil liberties are often suspended or ignored. Strong men rise to power offering illusory power to the victims. And as it so often turns out, strong men deceive their followers and everyone else except the military and police. Because such authoritarian regimes are built on fear, the public must always be afraid of some imminent danger, real or imagined. It’s basic bully logic, the oxygen of autocrats.Image result for police in north korea pictures

On the other hand, truth adds up to trust, something in severely short supply in Washington, D.C. and the Nation as a whole. Trust projected into the future is faith. Man, we could use some truth, trust and faith these days. Faith is the opposite of fear. It’s a positive projection into the future that produces unity, whereas fear is a negative suspicious energy that needs a target and produces division. Countless politicians and pundits sell fear for a living. We don’t have to buy it, folks. The burden is yours to pick up or reject.Related image


680. Morocco Polo

Image result for sean connery picturesLong time readers of the blog know that my coffee shop buddy Joel is a world traveler, and when he goes to exotic places, I write envious posts about unlikely outcomes for him. I do combine just a pinch of truth in these exposes. Like the nude spa in Switzerland where he pretended to be Ray Charles; that was partly true. And he did go to Iceland and the River boat cruise in Prague. I took a few liberties with the details of these trips. Then there was the infamous Grand Canyon journey to Phantom Ranch on his beloved mule Sheila. Some things you just can’t make up. There was Hawaii and Bermuda where he recruited gorgeous young girls to come back to central Pennsylvania with him and enroll in the local university. Parts of those stories were true, just not the salacious parts. I inserted them for comic relief and to juice up the narrative. [I will be compiling the best of Joel for a blog book spin off this fall. Stay tuned.]Related image

But I’ve never lost one minute of sleep worrying about the way things might have been, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on a river. However, he is now venturing to Morocco for the Humphrey Bogart look alike contest in Casablanca and I’m justifiably concerned.

You see there has been civil unrest in Morocco recently. Now this may seem a redundant statement when you consider the Arab world since the Arab Spring. But there, I said it. The Middle East seems to never have been at rest, so how can it now be in unrest? Don’t the double negatives cancel each other out?

2011 Moroccan protests 1.jpg

I’ve cautioned Joel to disguise himself like Obi Wan Kenobi as he travels through Morocco. Having extra batteries for his K-Mart light saber is just due diligence. Wearing a native hoodie robe will help as well. If he is approached by Al Quaida or ISIS dudes, he can do the Jedi mind trick and tell them, “I am not the anthropoid you are looking for.” It’s not going to be as easy as getting off the pirated cruise ship or out of the nude sauna in one piece. No. And he can’t very well be frozen in a block of ice and FedExed home. Moroccans are famous for… uh, well, marauding, no, actually they are known for mint tea and carpets.Image result for obi wan kenobi

Joel has my phone number. He knows if he should be kidnapped, or eldernapped in this case, we at Coffee Nation cannot pay more than $6.00 in ransom money, plus some local coupons for 10% off of vacuum cleaners. However, we can mount a Liam Neeson or Rambo style rescue mission. Let’s say Joel gets in a kerfuffle in Marakesh over the price of a rug while sipping mint tea and eating falafel balls. In a hot Moroccan second he gets whisked away by two masked men with curved scimitars, which is further redundancy since all scimitars are curved.Related image

Once these desert thieves realize that Joel has no money on his person and had wisely locked up his valuables in the room safe at the Marakesh Motel 6, then the tension firms up like liquid butter on a chilly night.

“Meesah Joel. Money. Get money or we cut your head off like infidel.”

“But, but I’ve told you. I never carry cash or credit cards. I spent my last Traveler’s Check in the bazaar where you kidnapped me.”Related image

“Meesah Joel. You no kid. You old guy. You got money. We want it.”

“Habib is it?”

“Haboob. I was named for sand storm in desert.”

“How unfortunate.”

“Tell my twin sister that.”

“What’s her name?”

“Haboobs, is the feminine form of Haboob. Many, many jokes follow us like biting camel flies.”Image result for haboob pictures

“I’m so sorry, my good man. Have you ever considered a name change? I am a lawyer back in my country, and it would be a real honor for me to help you change your monikers to something more suitable, like Steve or Bob, you know, like those Indian phone jockeys you get when you call Comcast?”

“Do not mistake me, Haboob, for a fool, Messah Joel. How much you charge?”

“I could probably get it done for, let’s see, do you have a calculator?”

“Do you see calculator, Meesah Joel?”Image result for arab assassin pictures

“Haboob, no need to be testy, my good man. Pressure grooms a gentleman and unhinges a thug, and I tell you that with all due respect.”

“Thank you, Meesah Joel. I am gentleman of thieves. Now, how much?”

“Five hundred American dollars.”

“Five hundred dollars to make Haboob into Steve and Haboobs into Bob?”Image result for arab assassin pictures

“Actually, that’s per person. I could do both Haboobs and you for $750.”

“Messah Joel, I must think on this before I keel you.”

“Haboob, you are a kind desert gentleman, it’s obvious to me that you are not the type to shed blood. Besides, I’ll have to be alive to file the paperwork for the name changes.”

“Then I keel you?”

“Yes, once we are all back in Pennsylvania in the district court house, then you can keel me.”Related image

“Oh, very, very good, Meesah Joel.”

“I only have one last wish.”

“You want cigarette?”

“No, I’d like to step across the square to say goodbye to my coffee nation brothers, maybe introduce you and Haboobs to the boys.”

“We will be Bob and Steve by then, Meesah Joel.”

“Precisely, my good man. I’m sure they’d love to meet you and maybe assist in the beheading.”

“Your friends are very honorable, Meesah Joel.”

“Yes, I believe Doug will film it. And brother Steve who wants to be tazed may want to be beheaded also. Perhaps he could go first to test the sharpness of your scimitar.”

“Oh, Meesah Joel, what friends you have!! A man can live whole life in desert and never find camels like these men. What others?”

“Well, there’s Josh. He’ll probably want to shoot you. It’s just a habit he’s trying not to kick. He goes overboard for politics and religion. You know, Haboob, zealots?”

“Yes, like Iranians. How I hate them! Perhaps I start with Josh to behead?”

“Now there’s a thought…but no, I couldn’t entertain that a moment longer. Come on, fellas, let me show you my light saber.”Related image

“When I say Morocco, you say Polo.  Morocco….”

“Polooooooohhhh noooooo.”


679. Shoes and Women

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It has dawned on me before today, but this morning while vacuuming my bedroom I began to count the pairs of shoes and boots and sandals my wife owns. Without conducting an exhaustive inventory I quickly counted 40 pairs. It’s always wondered me why women seem to need so many shoes. When we were first married, I was shocked at the abundance of female footwear. All my life I had owned three or four pairs of shoes– one casual pair, maybe a dress pair, sports shoes, and another casual pair, if that. I grew up with three brothers. None of us had a shoe obsession. We could not afford such a luxury. So when I first encountered all my bride’s shoes at once in one place, I was horrified. And that was long ago when she had maybe a dozen pairs. Now it feels like Imelda Marcos has immigrated to Pennsylvania.Image result for imelda marcos shoes pictures

The truth is that I was simply ignorant. It took years and years and three daughters to educate me. I did not know that a girl/woman buys a pair of cute shoes for a particular outfit, like a pair just for New Year’s Eve. Maybe a pair just for one wedding dress/event or an Easter outfit or a prom. Then there are seasonal adjustments, the ever higher boots as weather gets colder. And who does not like sexy boots? The open toes of spring and summer give way to enclosed shoes in fall.  Not to mention fads and fashions.  Let’s face it, girls, 40 pairs of shoes is barely covering the bases. I mean, there are flats, kitten heels, pumps, platforms, low heels, and of course high heels in a range of materials and colors. This before considering that sports shoes can be dressy or functional and have to match most zingy outfits. It’s the law.Image result for ladies shoes and matching bags on models photos

Meanwhile a man thinks he has winter boots. Check. A pair of athletic shoes. Check. A pair of casuals. Check. A pair of sandals. Check. And a pair of black dress shoes. Check. Beyond that level of coverage is like having 200 television channels, 195 of which you don’t ever watch. To me it feels indulgent to have two pairs of dress black shoes and a pair of brown ones to boot. Three or four pairs of casuals. Good running shoes. Keen sandals for the desert. Hiking boots. Loafers. And more. However, whoa, wait!! come to think of it, my wife has purchased most of these for me. What does this mean? It means that I could have effectively ended the first sentence of this paragraph at “meanwhile a man thinks”. That’s always a mistake.Image result for rodin's thinker picturesIf you think too much, you’ll wind up naked and alone in a park watching pretty women strut by in pretty shoes.

Peach 03 T-StrapHere’s what’s really weird: Over time I have begun to notice women’s shoes and how they fit a certain look and communicate authority, playfulness, confidence, etc. It still feels unnatural for me to compliment a woman on her cute shoes, but I must admit it’s getting easier. “Oh those are fun!” “How cute!” “OOOhh, stilettos. Dangerous.” These are my semi-gay man words now. What’s happening to me? Perhaps estrogen levels are rising in me with my advanced age. I’ve heard that men become more feminine with age, like cheese we ferment and crumble. Young men are like cheap, oil drenched, stringy mozzarella sticks, but older dudes are dessicated hard Parmesan, strong and fragrant and expensive. Old guys can concede that women’s shoes are wonderful and necessary accessories. They have outlived pretense.Image result for crumbling parmesan cheese pictures

Man does not live by bread or cheese or loafers alone, but on the words of the women in his life. There is something communal and intimate that I see occurring among my daughters and wife and grand daughter when it comes to clothes. It’s a female thing. I rarely discuss clothing choices with my guy friends. Occasionally a guy will tell me he likes my shirt or a tie that is interesting. That’s about it. We don’t go into details about where we bought our accessories or how much we paid. These fashion taboos are guardrails that protect us from crashing over the cliffs of androgynous exposure. I get a bit squeamish when I hear my guy friends say too much about their clothes or offer me fashion pointers. “Thanks, Steve, but I don’t know what to do with that advice.” But women!!! Oohs and ahhs erupt as skirts and blouses and sundresses are swished about for scrutiny and, more likely, approval. “Oh, I love it!! It’s your color, and the fabric is so feminine and delightful!! It feels like heaven.”Image result for women complimenting each other on fashion pictures

I’m sorry. I can’t tell another man how awesome his tweed jacket feels or the spell his  burgundy cardigan casts on me. I can’t. It feels like petting sharks at an unregulated Sea World exhibit. Blood will spill and no one will be held accountable. I don’t want to die that way.Image result for sharks at sea world pictures

On the other hand I believe I could die watching a pair of high heels slip down the sidewalk, listening to the clickety clack, as I stopped to check my heartbeat. Aye Carumba!  She is here, stepping out in a catwalk on the concrete. It’s not a fetish; it’s an acquired taste. Yes, it took decades for me to get here, but I made it, Jimmy Choo.Related image

678. Debatable

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At the risk of repeating a previous post, I am offering this old memory from back in my middle school English teacher days. It was later in the academic year, maybe March or April. I know because that was when we covered the debate unit. The unit was half research and half dramatic tricks on stage, and one more half that involved working in a group. (I know, impossibly improper fraction; it was not math class.)

Image result for middle school debate teams picturesSome kids were quite adept at faking it on stage with clever gimmicks. One such unforgettable trick totally intimidated the opposing team. Team A came onto stage dressed up, holding their opening statements for the occasion. That wasn’t the gimmick.  Once the other team came out, Team A lugged in a stack of paper that might have contained 2,000 pages– 1,997 of which were blank. Two boys, probably politicians by now, dropped the bundle on their table with an audible thud. It reverberated like Gideon’s trumpet in the Midianites’ camp. Team B bought the trick and visibly shrank into their seats. Yep, they were deceived and intimidated by 1,997 blank sheets of paper delivered with a certain level of swagger. Before one verbal shot was even fired, they surrendered. Related image

It’s not so much what is real that disturbs men and children; it’s what they interpret reality to mean, i.e., their beliefs or expectations of available “evidence”. Scared, angry folks often jump to defensive conclusions. Just recall the Red Scare of the 1950’s and early 60’s. Communists, supposedly, were everywhere– at universities, the State Department, Hollywood, labor unions, etc. All you had to do was ask a scared or angry person like Joe McCarthy or Dick Nixon. The House Un-American Activities Committee gave the accusers great power and fame even if a lot of their accusations were rubbish. Sound familiar?Image result for the house un american activities committee

It was not until television journalist Edward R. Murrow called out their nonsense that the tide turned away from their witch hunt. Even then, Joe McCarthy accused Murrow of being a communist or fellow traveler without any supporting evidence. Murrow’s words resonate today with relevance…

This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

In our current times it looks like we’ve deserted freedom at home and abroad in the name of some nativist greed grab. Insert Trumpublican talking points here… the Wall, welfare, voter fraud, socialism, fake news, the press is the enemy of the people, the system is rigged, etc.

Not ironically, there is a direct line from rabid Joe McCarthy to perverse Roy Cohn to Tricky Richard Nixon to Jolly Roger Stone to Rotten Rupert Murdoch to, yep, you guessed it, Delirious Donald J. Trump. Why, there’s Don and Roy together in 1984.

Cohn, who had been an aide to Senator Joe McCarthy, in the nineteen-fifties, was a political fixer and lawyer who represented New York power brokers, from the Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to the mob boss Carlo Gambino. Trump was one of his favorite clients; before Cohn’s death, of aids-related complications, in 1986, the two men talked up to five times a day and partied together at Studio 54 and other night clubs. “Roy was brutal, but he was a very loyal guy,” Trump told the writer Tim O’Brien, in 2005. “He brutalized for you.”  [The New Yorker, April 14, 2017]

Cohn’s frequent phone pals included Nancy Reagan and the former C.I.A. director William Casey, who “called Roy almost daily during [Reagan’s] 1st election.” Cohn also enlisted his friend and the owner of the New York Post, Rupert Murdoch, to help bring down Geraldine Ferraro’s campaign: “Whenever Roy wanted a story stopped or item put in, or story exploited, i.e Ferraro—and her family, Roy called Murdoch.” Cohn killed stories that would hurt his friends. When he found out that “60 Minutes” was about to do a negative story about Reagan’s potential Vice-President, Senator Paul Laxalt, of Nevada, “Roy called the producer of 60 Minutes and asked him to take it off the schedule.” The longtime “60 Minutes” producer Lowell Bergman, who didn’t talk to Cohn himself, confirms that the story never aired amid pressure from lawyers, including Cohn. [The New Yorker]Image result for roy cohn pictures

A truly charming fellow.

What’s amazing is that the same Cohn recipe still works in 2019.

1. Create an atmosphere of raw, irrational fear.

2. Fertilize it.

3. Bring to a boil on state news (Fox).

4. Serve piping hot so it burns the mouths of consumers.

5. And then focus that fear and pain on the target–> liberals, foreigners, gays, Blacks, Muslims, Jews. Pick one or a combo. Tucker Carlson can demonstrate for you on any given night.Related image

Corruption and abuse of power is not news. However, a straight line of their succession from the 1950’s to now is a bit unusual. Unlike a Trumpian conspiracy theory, these players are all real overlapping cast members who have indisputably operated outside and above the law for decades. No magic elixir is needed to tie these con men together. Just read the researched articles, though intuitively you probably already knew the outcome.  Why? Because you just know a vulture when you meet one. They smell of death.Image result for vultures pictures

Oh yes, back to the debates. If you can distract your audience with fear and anger, as DJT did in the 2016 campaign, you can turn the demonizer beam on anyone and burn them up for your gain.  In the top ten targets of Trump’s rage we see a pattern that befits any good dictator…

Things Trump Has Insulted on Twitter more than Putin (a partial list):
Amazon, i.e. The Washington Post, free press
NFL players who kneel,  S.O.B. Black men who exercise first amendment privilege
Judges, i.e. the coequal branch of government        
Robert De Niro, New York Hollywood celebrity who can’t be intimidated
Harley Davidson, American iconic company opposed to Trump’s tariff wars
Mitch McConnell, an elderly frog from Kentucky
The Red Hen, a restaurant that evicted Sarah Sanders
Jeff Sessions, an elderly demented supporter of Trump
UCLA basketball players, Black athletes who didn’t appreciate Massah Trump
Oprah, Black billionaire who rejects Trump
Maxine Waters, Black Congresswoman opposed to Trump
[Chris Cilizza, July 2018, CNN]
Just the facts, ma’am. No debate.Image result for detective joe friday pictures


677. Sleep

Image result for image of sleeping manSometimes I struggle with sleep and wake up unrested after nine hours of unconsciousness. Coffee or tea late in the day can unsettle my sleep, preventing deep REM sleep. At other times I may be overtired and unable to stay asleep after falling off quickly. I never look at the mocking clock. I don’t want to input more data to consider while I am trying to fall back into the arms of Morpheus, Somnus, and Hypnos. Instead of thinking random thoughts, I count backwards from 100 with each breath I take, so that I have a mind/body connection that is anything but stimulating. My goal is the shrinkage of stimulation. Usually by the number 75, I am elsewhere, paddling down a river in the unconscious again. Still, when I wake up unrefreshed, I wonder what’s up down there.

Last week my gitter done wife downloaded a sleep app for my cell phone. It’s amazingly simple to use. I’ve set it up to listen to my breathing all night long. It seems to do exactly that as well as providing statistics that seem real. I can see a graph of my alpine sleep valleys and peaks every morning. And there is a minute total of my snoring along with the actual snore recordings– greatest gags, huffs, wheezes, and snits of all time. It’s amazing but not so helpful. I still wake up tired and a bit paranoid that the FBI is listening to the Russians listening to me snore.Image result for spy vs spy cartoons

“Boris, he is usink Morse code, with breaths for dots and snores for dashes.”

“Vhat does he say now, Vlad?”

“Uhhmm, he is sayink, ‘My nose hurts my feet’.

“Vlad, that is total vitch hunt. Nonsense. It makes no collusion.”

“Boris, his code may be in code. Think!! comrade. Theese is very clever American sleeper cell.”

“Vlad, have you read his blog? Is nonsense. He is vorse liar than Putin.”

“Boris, you are so naiveskay. Even his blog is in code. He eees very deep state operative.”

“Vell, ve vill see. Vhat does dis blog code say?”

“Ve must vait for ze report from Mueller. It vill all be clear den. Everythink vill make sense.”

Image result for hugh hefner in silk robe picturesThat was just one dream that was picked up by the phone recorder.  In another I am smoking a pipe in an abandoned Playboy mansion. I’m wearing Hugh Hefner’s silk robe and wondering what in the world is going on. My smoke trails become Playboy models who vanish after I write a series of checks to Michael Cohen. As the smoke clears, I see I am not alone. I am naked in front of the House Oversight Committee and what a sight they are seeing. A bunch of angry Democrats are looking at me suspiciously until I demurely cross my legs as I lower the pipe. Image result for kamala harris pictures

Suddenly giggling Kamala Harris wants to know what brand of tobacco I smoke.

“Prince Albert cherry vanilla in a pouch”, I reply.

Amy Klobuchar inquires if I drink beer.

“No. The carbonation bothers my acid reflux.”Image result for house oversight committee members candid pictures

Jim Jordan challenges me, “You want to wrestle, right here and now like real men?!!”

“No, Jim. Uh, Congressman, I forgot to pack my singlet.”

Jordan, “We’ll go Greco-Roman with just extra virgin olive oil. Whadya say?”

“On the advice of counsel and my trauma counselor, Congressman, I must pass.”

“Sissy, queer, commie, socialist, Democrat, traitor….I got a can of Whoop Ass here that’s just dyyyyin’ to meet ya.”Related image

A chill passes over me. My wife must have kicked the covers off my feet again. It’s a nightly Goldie Locks struggle from too warm to too cold to just right. My brain waves prove the internal weather raging in my unconscious mind. Definitely a cold front.  I sit up in bed ready to kick Jim Jordan in his sweaty tights only to realize that it was just another bad dream. Insomnia seems like a good choice for the rest of the night. It also sounds like a good name for 100 proof bourbon. Image result for insomnia liquor label pictures

99, 98, 97, 96, 95, 94… down the silent spiral stairs again I step with each breath cycle. Debussy’s Claire de Lune starts to plink in my unconscious mind, drawing me deeper into the moonlight beneath my eyelids. Enchanting. I wander across a moonlit forest floor, picking up bread crumbs on the pale gray path to Hansel and Gretel’s house. I must be hungry, too hungry to recall that the kids left those crumbs as a trail back to civilization. The kids, a boy and a girl, well, I know they’re my precious grandchildren who are moving away, far away soon. There is no witch or oven or cage to fatten them up for eating. No, just a slumbering grandpa whose smoldering brain is firing off all sorts of emotionally charged visuals. I arrive at the end of the trail at a gingerbread house and begin eating the door. Once inside I see the fire is out and the place is abandoned. Hugh Hefner’s silk smoking jacket and still warm pipe are on a chair by the fireplace. “I must have just missed him”, I say to myself.Related image

Suddenly, Boris and Vlad burst in behind me, blocking the only exit from this cookie jar house. Image result for marx brothers  pictures

“Ve have been trackink you, Burrito Boy, recordink every yawn and snottle. Ve vill have zee truth vith or vithout Comrade Mueller’s report.”

“Yes, Boris. Give it to heeem. Make heem vish he had stayed in dream vith Jim Jordan.”

BS, “You must be Vlad since you called him Boris.”

Vlad, “You are very good, Comrade. I vill hate to keeel you.”

BS, “That’s just it, Vlad. You don’t have to. I have something you want and you have something I want.”

Vlad, “Vhat vould dat be, Comrade?”

BS, “The Code, of course.”

Vlad, “Vell, ve could use such help, but ve must steel keeel you.”Image result for marx brothers  pictures

BS, “No, if I give you the code and you give me a head start back through the woods to the spiral stair case, then you will have the code and I will wake up with another sleep record. It’s a win-win.”

Vlad, “Yes, so vhat did you mean in code vhen you said, ‘My nose hurts my feet’?”

BS, “I am going to write down the decoded message which will unlock the entire Mueller report for you. I’ll leave it on a scroll of papyrus just down the trail. When you read it, I’ll head back up the stairs, counting to 100 up to my bed. Deal?”

Vlad, “Deal. Like blackjack: dreamer alvays vins.”

BS, “Good, let me just scribble this down here… the subject was actually feet not nose. The message means ‘my feet stink’. And that is all, Comrade.”

Vlad, “But the report, vhat do ve make of it?”

BS, “Something stinks. Read the dossier. Something is rotten in Moscow, Comrades. Follow the money. Bye.”Image result for marx brothers  pictures

676. March Madness

Image result for final four 2018 picturesMany things in the month of March can initiate madness. College basketball’s NCAA tournament is just a recent addition to the list. After playing twenty five or more games since November, winning a league title, or else proving themselves to be spectacular, 68 teams are selected to battle it out for the National Championship at the Final Four.  The tournament seems to get bigger every year, but that’s everything in modern life. Bigger, better, faster, greater, richer, more analyzed and detailed. Yep, that madness is a marketing masterpiece that sells trucks and beer, insurance, diet plans and vacations. But there are other masterpieces in the month of Mars, named for the Roman war god.Image result for picture of mars the war god

Spring obviously kicks into gear in the month of March along with the absurd daylight savings time in most of the U.S.A. Homeowners begin the laborious tasks of raking up the debris of winter and sweeping away the grit and mess of snow days. Good riddance. Baseball season begins… in Japan? Maddening, huh? It’s more of an exhibition game in Tokyo on March 20. The full schedule starts a week later in the U.S. Marketing madness in another sport. Gotta sell more!!Image result for professional baseball in Tokyo pictures

Early blooming bulbs will begin popping up– crocuses, primrose, daffodils, and tulips, followed by the flowering fruit trees. All together these pollen laden flowers will beckon honey bees back into action. Which may wonder you…. Don’t Google it. I have this.

Image result for honey bees huddling in hive picturesHoney bees can be found all across America, even in winter. Honey bees neither migrate nor hibernate during the winter. However, they aren’t buzzing around either. They stay active until outdoor temperatures drop to 50 degrees or lower. Once the cold weather moves in, they all return to the hive and do a “winter cluster,” which means they all huddle together and shiver to provide warmth. The queen is at the center of this cluster where the workers cluster and shiver together to maintain the center temperature at 80 degrees. The outside edges are around 46 to 48 degrees so the worker bees do rotate much like penguins do to survive the cold. During the winter the workers will consume up to 30 pounds of stored honey to maintain body temperature and energy in order to keep the queen toasty warm. 

Crazy mad fact. Yes, you do learn so much in this blog. You’re welcome.

Image result for nazis invade czechoslovakia picturesMad, mad, mad. In the northern hemisphere March has been a good time for invasions. Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia in March. I imagine the weather has something to do with the timing of when successful armies roll out to conquer their neighbors. The sap rises in trees and in men, I believe. They get chippy and belligerent, thinking “We can be in Prague in two weeks. Piece of cake.” Like the honeybees, I guess, they get tired of shivering and eating up their honey supplies. March is the time to get out and get after someone else’s pollen, whether you are a human or an insect drone.Image result for nazis invade czechoslovakia pictures

On the other end of the spectrum spring is the season of regeneration. Our pair of mallards are back on the fish pond where they have raised a family during each of the past few years. Robins are madly gobbling up whatever is left on trees as they wait for the worms to wriggle up out of the thawing ground. Soon they will weave their nest on the crossbeam that supports my upper deck. Like the ducks on the pond, they know when, where, and how to do their regeneration. Sure, there is some brief twitterpation in their mating dances, but once they calm down, life is pretty serene and domesticated in the back yard. (My girls loved that word from Bambi, twitterpated. It’s fun to say and is an example of partial onomatopoeia. [You remember the poetry unit from ninth grade English class, right?]  Right up there with blue footed boobies.) Bunnies hop, ducklings flop, and robins drop out of their nests one day.Image result for twitterpated gif

Ah, but the beauty, innocence and reassurances of fun, sports, and nature cycling forward into the future can be interrupted by hate speech like rapid gunfire in a mosque, church, or synagogue. The thankful devout prostrate themselves in worship of their god, not realizing they are fish in a barrel or ducks on a pond. They feel safe together physically and spiritually, their targeted backs to the door. They huddle together as one body.

Members of a family react outside the mosque. Photo: ReutersIn Squirrel Hill, Charlottesville,  Charleston, London, and now New Zealand of all places… the invasion of super-heated hate reappears. A kettle of hate is left boiling, inflamed by extremists online. Irresponsible internet provocateurs turn the propaganda gas to full throttle. Under the influence of intense loathing, the hater narrows his vision until he only sees confirmation of his hateful beliefs in the world outside his fevered brain. He squints to obscure any contradictory evidence. It’s all fake news anyway. In his silo of madness he is king, emperor, Messiah. In a grotesque psychosis he morphs into an anti-savior, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Fatherland except through me.” He makes himself the white robed judge of all life.AFP AFP_1AD5DT A AOT CLJ USA PA

When words turn to bullets, it’s over. No more annoying bee sting syllables here and there. No more righteous anger and vicious speech. No. The lead bullets burst and whiz and zing in their symphony of destruction, writing deadly hymns to onomatopoeia in houses of worship. Thud, splat, splash, gurgle, poof. Forty nine lives snuffed out, one ton of human flesh slain on their altars of faith. The chief priest of Satan only desires more carnage, more blood. An ocean of blood to please the God of War.Related image

DEIMOS & PHOBOS The twin gods of terror and fear were close companions of Ares/Mars. They drove the god’s chariot and assisted him on the battlefield.

ERIS  The goddess of strife, hatred and war was sometimes called sister of Ares/Mars and was always described as his close companion. She drove his chariot, riding beside him into battle and raging amongst the hosts of the battlefield.

Truly this is March madness.

675. Snow Travels

Image result for snow blizzard pictures of d.c. 1966Way back in the winters of the 1960’s, blizzards hit a time or two in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Not sure which year it was when snow drifted up the side of our house, eight or nine feet high. 1966, maybe?  Wind and snow transformed our drab lower middle class neighborhood into a fantasy world of frigid white sugar drifts. Nature carved intricate sculptures in an otherwise artless community. Dads struggled to get out of the door and then shovel a deep, narrow path out to their cars at the curbside. There were no snowblowers. Everyone simply waited for the county snow plows to clear a path in the streets, and for the sun to melt down the rest. Geographically we were below the Mason Dixon line, but weather was not as reliable as human politics had been one hundred years earlier. Humans can draw a line on a map and declare no slavery north of that line. Weather ignores such silliness, bringing equal injustice to all.

Image result for snow blizzard pictures of d.c. 1966Purity is what comes to my mind with those snowstorms. When at last the skies cleared, the vibrant blue that shone above the white landscape could take your breath away and make you cry for joy. One brilliant sun. One endless azure expanse above. One blinding blanket of white below. Over time the black ink outlines of trees and telephone poles appeared. Eventually the black streets re-emerged. For days only those four colors existed outside, until the melt began and gray overrode it all.Image result for brilliant blue skies over snowy fields photos

Our mothers would try to keep us boys inside until the snow stopped blowing. After that, forget it! We were on our sleds slamming down Dorset Drive and rattling further on the slanting icy grooves of Berkshire Drive. The houses on Berkshire were built into the terraced hillside, leaving the yards with two terraces each. At the break in the woods where the stream ran through, one yard in particular drew us like migratory birds. We would rush off the top of the hill and wildly catch air off the first terrace, plunk down briefly and catch air off the second terrace before crashing near the sidewalk below. Each bump could knock the breath out of your lungs if you weren’t ready to rise and fall with it. That was some crazy kamikaze sledding. Of course we wore no protective gear.Image result for sledding on a terraced hillside photos

The Parkway hill was the best ride, however. It swerved in a lazy S and deposited sledders on a long slow incline that could run over a third of a mile, all the way down to Telegraph Road. The walk back to the top was tough, though, if  you did not wipe out on the steep S. Some daredevils would try to veer sharply right onto Berkshire Drive and save themselves the long walk back. It rarely worked out so well at that juncture since it was where sledders achieved maximum speed. A few lucky individuals made it but only a few. Proving the old adage “there is safety in numbers”, large groups of boys and a few courageous girls would make a snake of ten or more sleds and glide down the Parkway hill as a controlled unit. Those safe rides provided a group high that I can still taste and smell as if  it were an icicle from a hemlock bough. Image result for sledding in virginia hills virginia photos

Tracking animals in the woods was a much quieter adventure. Once you found a deer track or a fox’s footprints, away you went as far as you could, hoping to meet the animal in person. We never did. Instead, we’d get distracted by another set of tracks, rabbits, squirrels, or winter birds. At other times we’d track one another in a daylight hide and seek game of predator and prey. Walking through a creek was a great way to throw off the tracker, or to walk across a downed tree without leaving a trace. The ultimate trickery, though, was to walk backwards in the snow, leading your pursuer away from you if he did not know the trick. Every now and then you might find a set of tracks from other boys with a similar gait. Stepping along in those prints was like being invisible.

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Of course we made and threw snowballs until it felt like our arms would fall off. We had rules more or less. You could not throw at someone’s face. You could not throw with an ice ball or with rocks embedded in your snowball. You could not be too close. It was not so much safety that drove our restraint. You see, if you hurt someone, then you lost your target for the time of their recovery. Game over. Pounding the other guy regularly within the scope of the rules was preferable to really wiping him out only once beyond the pale of the rules. However, if it was getting late in the day or you had to go home for lunch, rules might get temporarily suspended. Related image

Kids were expendable and we knew it! Most families had three, four, five kids in them. Parents weren’t so much helicopter parents as bulldozers then. “Go outside and play!” was a common command. Forget supervision or safety concerns. You knew to come back early only if you needed stitches or a cast. Sensitivities were lacking all around. The era of brand name clothes and foods had not gotten much traction. Beer and cigarette brands had their loyal followers among adults. Such indulgence was not so common in a world flush with excess kids but just enough resources.Image result for bulldozer demolition gif

So snow associations linger decades later, just as clear as the sensations of cutting grass in summer or swimming at the highly chlorinated community pool in July; the earthy smell of leaf mold in our underground fall forts; or the sound of spring peepers in late spring. Every detail is like a paint dab point in a pointillist’s  painting. Millions and millions of dab points overlap and intersect to illumine a life long ago. Amen.

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674. The Angle

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Joel, “I’ve spent my life looking for the angle, the easiest and fastest way to get the job done. In the mandatory continuing ed classes, you simply click the mouse every 15 seconds or so to prove that you are still in front of the computer. That’s it. No test or evaluation. The state bar checks a box and off you go. A monkey could be trained to do it. Silly stuff.”

BS, “Joel, I’m not shocked or surprised at your self disclosure. I expected nothing less from you. My on-line classes are equally ridiculous. I print off the final quiz page and rapid read for the answers, which are verbatim passages lifted from the text. Once you have all the answers filled in, you check off your answers against the computer and voila! A magic 100% of nothing learned. An intellectual black hole.”Image result for black hole in space images

Joel, “It’s insulting, really. I learned the material fifty years ago. The Magna Carta and the Constitution have not changed. Basic law is still basic.”

BS, “Yep, we are two misunderstood geniuses.”

Joel, “I wouldn’t go that far.”

BS, “You are right. I am a misunderstood genius who was being too polite to his helper serf.”Image result for einstein photos

Joel, “There you go again! Why do I bother?”

BS, “Well, since I am the only other person in the coffee shop today, your options are me or the chair.”

Joel, “I could just read my tablet. I’m getting quite proficient with Amazon. I ordered a recliner to be delivered to my house. Can you believe that? “Image result for fedex truck pictures

BS, “I believe anything, Joel. I believe one day Amazon will deliver swimming pools to our back yards… I mean Olympic size, in ground pools with water slides with a Finnish life guard named Arvi.”

Joel, “No, seriously. It’s a marvel what we can orchestrate from the comfort of our cozy living rooms. Why, I ordered a pair of extra long shoe laces the other day.”Skechers Relaxed Fit Braver Ralson Shoe

BS, “I’m speechless, Joel.”

Joel, “I bought a pair of Gotu hiking shoes for my trip to Scotland, but the laces were so short that I could not double knot them, so they kept coming undone.”

BS, “Double nots are not permitted in proper English, Joel. Your mother taught you that. Your boots can’t have been made in an English speaking country.”

Joel, “I’m ignoring you. Anyway, I went to the Gotu shoe website and found the very laces in orange and black or beige and a midnight blue or a cranberry and taupe combination…”Image result for project runway host pictures

BS, “Fascinating. Are we on Project Runway now? And you’re Tim Gunn?”

Joel, “I was just saying that it was amazing how precise things are. We order with a click and the next day, the very next day FedEx delivers it to our doors. Amazing.”

BS, “Not really.”

Joel, “I knew you would undermine my joy. How is this not a modern miracle?”

BS, “Your father was a milk man, right?”Image result for old milkman delivery pictures

Joel, “Yes, what’s the point?”

BS, “Every morning before sunrise he delivered gallons of milk to his customers without the guidance of any computers or websites, and he took the empties with him. Now that was impressive… fresh milk and recycled glass.”

Joel, “I…really… hate.. to . agree with you. But on my saintly father’s grave, I will just this once. You are right.”

BS, “Was that so hard, Joel?”

Joel, “Excruciating.”

BS, “So Bezos is basically a glorified milkman who went rogue.”Image result for jeff bezos picture

Joel, “I am ignoring you again, though that last statement may have been profound. So, did you know that artificial intelligence can craft ads specifically for what I have clicked on? Now I am bombarded with shoe and shoelace ads. Some are quite alluring.”Image result for sexy shoe laces

BS, “Oh yes, of course. I know they know and they know I know that they know, but I pretend I don’t know that they know.”

Joel, “One ad was an Asian woman wearing only several discretely placed shoelaces.”

BS, “Did you report that to Google?”Image result for shoe lace advertisements

Joel, “Of course not. I saved it in Favorites.”

BS, “So you really are The Online Wizard?  The Online Wizard, there has to be a twist. The Online Wizard’s got such a supple wrist.

Joel, “Stop. Someone will hear you and I’ll be embarrassed.”

BS, [louder] “How do you think he does it? I don’t know. What makes him so good? He aint got no distractions. Can’t hear those buzzers and bells. Don’t see the lights a flashin’, plays by sense of smell….”Image result for the who photos

Joel, “Did you take your medication today?”

BS, “All of it. I began by telling Alexa to play The Who. Then the Stones. Followed by Hendrix. Rock n Roll, hootchie coo. Lordy Mama, like I dooooo.”

Joel, “I see. Perhaps I should get my tuba for tomorrow’s Coffee Nation Summit. It’s very soothing.”

BS, “Why not? We could transcribe all the lead guitar riffs into tuba solos. That would revolutionize rock music forever, dude!”

Joel, “I don’t follow rock much, as you know. I prefer classical tuba pieces such as Ralph Vaughn Williams wrote.”Image result for vaughn williams photos

BS, “But, but, Joel. Hear me out. We could put you out in front of a Cream tribute band instead of Clapton, and you could blow your lungs out on “White Room”… bump, bump, bump, bump, [breathe] bump, bump, bump, bump, [breathe] bump, bump, bump, bump. In my white room with black curtains at the station…”

Joel, “I’m having trouble conceptualizing this.”

BS, “Or the Stones “Paint It Black”. Bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, [breathe] bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump. I see a red door and I want it painted black. No colors anymore I want them to turn blaaack.”Image result for stones paint it black gif

Joel, “You are oversimplifying things again. This is not like ordering shoelaces on the internet. One has to feel the rising vibrato of the brass beast, barely domesticated, like a trumpeting Indian elephant. Majestic yet restrained in service to mankind.”Image result for Indian elephant photos

BS, “If Vaughn Williams were here right now, he’d tell you to let it rip, to bump and grind with that elephant.

Joel, “You are truly a sick man.”

BS, “I know, but let’s get to the unknown stuff.”

Joel, “Very well, perhaps in a Speedo, I could lead with bump, bump, bump, bump….”


673. Time Passes Through Us…

Image result for bridge photosIn the midst of thanking my Facebook folks for their birthday wishes, it occurred to me that age is simply time passing through our minds, bodies, and spirits as we pass through time. I have no idea what this means, but I like how it sounds– mystical, like cryptic wisdom hidden inside a shroud of wispy sandalwood smoke. Think of the first astronauts wondering about infinity and space while their space capsule orbited the earth– with no guarantee of return. Time passed through them as they passed through time. [The Dali melting watch is just cool not relevant really, unless, of course, it is to you.] Related image

Like a tunnel or a bridge, our bodies channel daily life traffic for decades and slowly break down from the burdens. We work and play and plan and hopefully remain resolute about living. In our youth we are all powerful and shiny new, sleek, even photogenic. In late youth and the middle years we settle down and firm up. We save up and consider death’s approach. The traffic of our lives gets so furious that we delay maintenance and upgrades. Skip the gym. There are kids to raise and bills to pay. Stress cracks emerge like wrinkles on one’s face and show up as gray hairs. Meanwhile the public bond offering to build our bridge bodies is paid off with interest just like a house mortgage. We are debt free but old and not free from time’s effects. In this decades long process we become part of the skyline and landscape, taken for granted in a solid, dependable manner. “That? Oh, that’s the Key Bridge into Georgetown. Yep, it’s always been there.”

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If you recognize familiar landmarks, then you know where you are geographically anyway. Such knowledge yields security and comfort.

“Call Dad. He’ll know…understand…help.”

“I’ll call Grandpa. He’ll listen and give me good advice.”

“My father-in-law is the guy to consult. He told me a similar story once. He gets it.”

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I hope those thoughts go through my loved ones’ minds. I want to be a bridge for them to get from where they started in life to where their dreams lead them– their promised land. I see many folks in my life who manage to give to their spouses, kids, and grand kids what they never received. Folks who were abused by cold, angry parents manage to find a spring of kindness and humanity to share with their thirsty loved ones. My one buddy used to hunt with his dad in the last days of his dad’s life. Image result for holy grail images

They kept a mason jar in a hollow tree deep in the woods near a spring. To hear him talk about the magic of that image, sharing pure water with an old broken down father was deeply satisfying for me, like the Holy Grail story. Only the pure of heart need apply. Whatever animosity had existed between them was extinguished by long swallows of living water. The jar, as far as I know, remains in that hollow tree as an anonymous memory box for someone else to discover and maybe repeat the holy act of intimately sharing life’s water and forgiveness together. They taste the same, I think.

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Bridge people don’t live under bridges like trolls. Not in my book anyway. Instead, I see these transitional folks stretch themselves intentionally in faithful surrender to make a way across abysses of turmoil and terror, of want and need. Love is the power that fuels their sacrificial stretch. Many refugees and immigrants cross terrifying boundaries for their children’s and grand children’s benefit. The pain of their sacrifice is paid for by the safety and joy of their progeny, who walk across the back of a parent or grand parent into tomorrow. It’s a supplicating stretch of faith.

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For the spiritual human being bridges I believe it is God’s touch that strengthens their backs and dulls their pain. It is the joy of faith in all circumstances that allows such self emptying endurance. Whether the human pillar is a soldier, a minister, an immigrant, a single parent, or the adult child of an alcoholic, he/she becomes the exit passage for the next generation….Image result for marines holding buckets of water endurance photos

Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” hit this same theme right on the head.

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all (all)
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me downImage result for beautiful bridge  photos

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shineImage result for psychedelic paintings

As my daughter makes plans to return to Arizona with the grand kids, her hubs, and Kermit the dog, I’m hit with a familiar ache that comes from distance multiplied by time away from these deeply loved ones. My wife and I moved away from our families in our twenties and never moved back to the maddening lifestyle of Washington, D.C., a mere ninety minute/ninety mile drive.  Tucson, Arizona on the other hand, is two thousand miles away after we drive to BWI airport. No matter, no worries… we have to live in the world we are in, not the world of shoulds and oughts. Funny how this family relocation busyness works like gypsies some times, rolling along in wagons or boats, never truly settling.Image result for gypsies photos

We are determined, however, to know and be known by our grands as they grow up so rapidly. So for now we will gather up all the hugs and kisses and snuggles we can. Gratitude helps turn those ethereal moments into liquid memories we will drink from a mason jar in a hollow tree one day. What a holy act it is to share life intimately across generations. Only the pure of heart need apply.Related image

672. Sixty Three

Related imageYep, the year has come around again to my day of birth. It’s an easy one to remember– 03/04/56. I think I was in third grade when I realized that the abbreviated form of March 4, 1956 was a sequence of single numbers. Okay, I’m not a math brain, but I did not leave math; math left me. She was a taskmistress and I was a wild, unbridled horse who stomped out numbers in the dust. I lacked the patience needed to sit with math until the lights came on. I had the same experience with all things mechanical, just a general lack of proper attitude and modeling of the fun involved in problem solving. Not sure if the instruction was not given or if I was too impatient for them. Either way, it turns out the same.Image result for 3456 sequence images

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I recall the Beatles singing “When I’m Sixty-four” back in 1966, when I was 10 years old. It seemed odd to me that such young super hero guys would sing about their old age.

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty four?
Image result for male pattern baldness imagesWell, that time is upon me as I enter my 64th year. I have lost a lot of hair and the rest is silver/white. My scalp is drifting apart like continents of hair, leaving male pattern baldness in its wake. The wine and Valentine are still in place, however. I have not intentionally seen quarter to three (a.m.) in decades, so there is no need to lock the door, my dears. Having married well, I am still needed and fed by my beloved. In fact, life is about as sweet as I could hope for.
Related imageSo  yesterday we had a little family gathering for my birthday before the snow came down hard. My precious and precocious granddaughter Leah had my gift wrapped inside her home made card of green construction paper. It was taped shut with 12 pieces of Scotch tape. Finally I got it open and saw a printed message on the right side, opposite a human figure on the left. I read the message aloud with some help from her. Then I looked at the human figure.
“Is that me, Leah?”
“Yes, grandpa.”
“What is that extra leg? Is it a tail?”
“No, it’s a cane, grandpa.”
A cane?  I turned to her mother, Grace. “You don’t edit or censor your child’s handiwork?”
“Nope, first amendment rights. It was all her, Dad.”
Image result for gherkin pickles picturesWhat a pickle butt!! I laughed and snuggled her anyway. We don’t get to interpret or define how our grandkids see us. We are simply blessed to be seen at all.
Image result for Where the Wild Things AreThe last time they visited it was my grandson Max who made the big impression. After blowing in the house like twin dervishes, they settled down to play with the treasured doll house for Leah and the pirate ship for Max. Without much overlap in figurines, they played for over an hour peacefully. Then Max rolled his pirate ship into the living room where the adults were gathered. He continued to play quietly in the midst of six adults. Until his sister sneaked in and started to move his pirates around. He turned on her and started to grab whatever toy figure was in her hand. A death struggle ensued. That’s when my daughter intervened, “Max, Max! Use your words and manners. Tell Sissy what you want.”
Max almost succeeded. He looked at Leah and said, “Leah, may I please, would you, um… GIVE ME MY TOYS!!” We all fell out laughing at his near success. He ran to her doll house to seek revenge. Not quite there yet with the ‘use your words’ thing.special effects explosion GIF
Later that day he snuzzled in next to me on the couch and softly asked me, “Granpa, do you have a penis?” Keep in mind that he is two and half years old.
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“Yeah, Buddy, I have one.”
“Me too”, he told me in a conspiratorial tone and attitude. “Daddy has a penis too.”
“Good to know, Buddy.”
“Mommy doesn’t, and Leah doesn’t.”
“Okay, bud, you’ve done your research.”
“How about Grandma and Aunt Jess?”
“No, I don’t think either of them was issued a penis.”
“What about Uncle Zach?”
“I’ll ask him, but I think he has one.”
And that was that. He was in the club and trying to set the parameters for who was in and who was out. His pure innocence was serious and precious, and, of course, hilarious.Image result for grandson snuggling with grandfather pictures
Back to the Beatles…
Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight, if it’s not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck and Dave
Yeah, it’s a lovely phase of life to have the grandkids on your knee.  It was just two years ago that they were living with us every day as Max learned to walk and talk, and Leah talked to my stocking feet, Carl and Paul, nightly, and we cuddled under a blanket in the Snuggle Zoo of her invisible friends on Saturday mornings when she was cranky. We evicted Miss Bossy Pants from our house that same year, and she has been hiding in the back yard ever since. Image result for girl playing in backyard photos
You don’t get these days back. There is nothing of greater value than seeing and being seen by the children of  your children. You can truly caress the tender face of the future in each moment spent together.
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?
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