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.

Image result for artistic mosaic tiles images

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

Image result for smiling three year old girl face

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

Image result for couple dancing under the moon pictures free

[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.

 

 

 

 

 

119. Too Bad Aboutcha’

You know your biological clock is run down when you begin talking to your alarm clock as if it had a brain and a soul…”Just ten more minutes. Please! I beg you.” The cat is meowing and the dog is whimpering because they obey their biological clocks. ‘It’s time to eat and pee outside, the normal routine with or without a time keeping device.’ They don’t say this but I’m sure they think it in their puny mammalian brains. It is light outside uncurtained windows, but back in my bedroom, under layers of heat-keeping covers it is not yet 7 o’clock, and dark and warm, toasty, deliriously delicious….mmmmmmm.

“MEeeeoooowwwlllll.”

“Hymmmm, hymmmm, hymmm.”

Drat their circadian rhythms anyway. I’ve made my bed, now I should be able to lie in it. Or is it “I’ve lain in my bed, now I should be able to make it”? Who says “lain” anyway? British guys on the telly who say “shall” and “shan’t”. Why do I think of stupid things like this when all I want to do is fall back asleep? Yes, Sleep, the opiated captain of my queen-sized submarine bed, the SS Ambien sinking through warm turquoise Carribean waters….  down into the darkening groggy aquamarine….mmmmmmmm.

“Meeeoooowwwwlllll.”

“Hymmmm, hymmmmm, hymmmmm.”

Oh dog gone it. I might as well just get up. “Out with you, both of you. Roam the great 1/8th acre of  landscaped wilderness.”  Now as I climb the stairs to our kitchen for the coffee ritual, I know Johnnie the dog will bark twice to be let back in for his morning food ritual. If I don’t respond quickly, he will repeat the two bark drill. The cat will sneak in with him if she cares to. Why? Because he’s a good dog and it’s a misdemeanor to kill a domesticated cat. Plus, Johnnie is protective of the cat, Annie. He attributes super powers to her and she allows the myth to continue. Well, I’m not sure of this last bit, but it’s a theory I’m working on.

Okay, coffee in the basket; water; push the button. The day has begun with or without my permission. Gonna be 57 soon. My body reminds me of broken bones and ripped muscles earlier in life. They come along with you in the form of aches and pains when you have not slept well or maintained proper hydration. Check with PiperWellness.Com for more depressing news about being alive. Gary can’t eat nuts in his cream of wheat without worrying about excess calories, high blood sugar levels, cholesterol, weight gain, obesity, morbid obesity and then stroke or cardiac arrest followed by a most awful death. And yet he remains cheerful in his pursuit of healthy living. It’s annoying like a smiling funeral director who knows he’s gotcha.

Okay, direction and purpose for the blog post. I need to get into something meaningful, which means I’ll likely just run down a tangent until it collapses under the weight of global bombast. The grandchild is due tomorrow. Wow, life as we have known it is going to change again into something even richer. I remember getting married 33 years ago. Life switched powerfully in a new direction. Getting a dog was a small adjustment later on. But having our first child was like having an identity reassignment surgery. Boom, nothing was the same. And then again, complexity grew with each additional child.

Something is hugely different with this new step, though. I suppose that is because the work and responsibility do not fall on me and my wife. The expectations of love and joy, amazing amusement, and a fascinating adventure lie ahead of us. I can’t imagine the downside. Another season of life has come without trepidation. I actually feel ready, calm, and sure. I suppose most grandparents do. All my friends who are blessed with grandkids love it. I think I’ll be no exception. The little girl’s little name is Leah. I’ve been singing Roy Orbison’s song since getting the news. Mind you, I am not blessed with the vocal range or humility of Roy Orbison, so my version sounds like a cow being branded while tap dancing on thin ice above great arctic killer sharks. It brings terror to the trapped listeners. But it brings me some mild anticipatory pleasure, thinking of rocking her smiling face to sleep.

Maybe that’s the missing link with the animals in the morning– I am not their kin and I know it. When they whimper or meow, it does not resonate deeply in my limbic brain. (I am reading about this lately so I am both reinforcing new knowledge and showing off here.) In any event I suspect that I’ll be ready to leap up to the meow of my new grandchild and comfort her little whimpers when they come at any hour. There is no other option. I never knew my grandparents, and I want her to know me deeply and love me just as deeply as I love her. I can’t wait. Amen.