Friday, January 31, 2014

House by the side of the road

When in elementary school a couple or so years, or eons, ago, I was required to learn a poem, and, along with the rest of the class, stand in front and recite it.  Written by Sam Walter Foss, it is a nice little ditty about whatever you want it to be about, but it probably has something to do with living and letting live...and trying to do so without being judgmental.  It stuck with me all my life because it had something of a casual romantic flair to it.  It awakened the good neighbor in me.  And I suppose the voyeur as well.  The last verse:

Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish - so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat,
Or hurl the cynic's ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man. 

Well, okay then.  Let's replace the romanticism with some realism.  You see, I live in a house by the side of the road and it is sometimes really difficult not to scorn and be cynical.  On any given day, I can collect a Walmart bag or two of trash from the ditch in front of my pasture, leading me to marvel at the large percentage of human beings who think nothing of rolling down their window and flinging out of it whatever is within reach.  Here's some things I've learned about my fellow man (and woman):

  • McDonald's wins the favorite fast food contest, with Hardee's a close second.
  • Marlboro Lights are the cigarette of choice and it appears that lots of folks manage to fish the last one out of the pack just in front of my house, gifting me with the empty box.
  • Lotto scratch-offs are extremely popular with these Kings and Queens of Litter and there are plenty of losing cards which are apparently scratched off simultaneous to driving (and, most likely, texting).
  • Beer of choice:  why Bud Light of course!  What were you thinking?  Is there any  better brew to enhance the fine, succulent draw of a Marlboro Light?
  • Paper or plastic?  Plastic by a landslide!  I've grown to appreciate the fact that these piglets (my apologies to the porcine community) at least toss Walmart bags out with the rest of their trash.  Failing to do so would require me to trudge up to my house and provide my own Walmart bag in order to collect their treasure trove of trash.
  • Soft drink?  Or "soda" to you northern transplants.  Come on...take a know you know.  It's pretty much a no-brainer.  Got it yet?  Yep...Mountain Dew!  Probably regular Mountain Dew two to one over Diet Mountain Dew.  And the big 20 ouncers at that.  Which begs the question:  why buy 20 ounces when you leave four or five ounces in the non-biodegradable plastic bottle when you toss it in my ditch?  Go for the 16 ounce and save yourself a few cents.  It'll add up and you can upgrade to Zaxby's for lunch sometime.

There's other little treasures also.  Chunks of plastic that only God knows what they came from.  Dead cigarette lighters.  Money order receipts.  Empty cans of "smokeless tobacco."  Found a sock the other day.  Lady's sock...dark blue...looked to be fairly new.  Haven't found any money yet.  Guess spare change goes in the ashtray because I know the butts don't.  They come out the window.

So to my "friends" out there who go by my house daily - be you good, bad, weak, or strong, be you wise or foolish (I'm being kind here giving you a choice), do me a favor.  Don't feed my cynicism any further.  Take my word for it.  If cynicism was gold, I'd be King Midas.  Don't make me lounge carelessly in the scorner's seat.  Just keep your damn window rolled up when you pass my house, resist the urge to be a scourge to society, and wait until you get home and put your trash where it belongs.

On your living room floor.

Update 2/1/2014:  Look out Bud Light...competition moving in.  Congrats, had all the fast food trash in the ditch today except for one Arby's box.  Here's a little photo library of the treasures the classy folks donate.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

To WIlliam Carlos Williams

To William Carlos Williams


you can have

your rainy red wheel


and white chickens


I’ll opt for 

red chairs

against white railing

dampened by

the salty sea.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stubborn Body Fat

This is the time of year where we all try to pay for our gastronomical sins of the past several weeks.  All of the holiday eating and drinking.  All of the attempts to try to make up for the cold, dark days of little daylight.  We are simply copying our ancestors attempts to store up fat for the winter.  Unfortunate for us, our ancestors had to work at things a lot harder than we do, especially on the physical front.  After seeing some product or service advertised as being able to battle "stubborn body fat," I suddenly saw stubborn body fat as this creepy little character that we sometimes take for granted.  And, from that, came this.


Against my better judgement, I got into one heck of an argument last evening.  And against an opponent that I should have known better to take on.  And, no, it wasn’t Geri, though she is certainly a worthy opponent.  

Nope, last evening I decided to get into a little discussion with my Belly Fat, aka Stubborn Belly Fat, which should have tipped me off right away.  The “Stubborn” part.  For the sake of brevity, I’ll refer to that SOB as SBF from this point forward, and let’s not mistake the BF for Best Friend, though the way it hangs around and follows me everywhere I go, you might think he was a really good buddy of mine.  

So the whole thing starts innocently enough when I’m looking in the mirror, something I try to do sparingly, and, noticing the bulk around my middle,  I remark quietly, “You’ve got to go.”

I was walking away when Stubborn BF responded with, “What did you just say?”

I stopped and turned back to the mirror.

“You’ve got to go.  I said ‘you’ve got to go.’  I’m not interested in keeping you and you certainly aren’t good for me.”

“Well,” SBF responded, with just a touch of snootiness, “you’ve sure invested a lot of time getting me here.  I mean, you’d think I was some sort of artistic pursuit or something the way you’ve tweaked and groomed me over the past many months. A double cheeseburger here, a couple of extra slices of pizza there.  A few “I’ll have some more of that creamy milk gravy on these three biscuits that I just can’t live without.  And pass the jelly, please.”

“I’m not going to argue with you,” I said.  “Because I can be just as stubborn as you, and  arguing will get us nowhere.”


“You heard me, didn’t you?  I’m not going to let you trap me into some argument I can’t win.”


“Okay,” I said, with just a twinge of exasperation in my voice.  “What does ‘whatever’ mean?”

“I’m just saying that I’m only here because you invited me here.  I’m not exactly a trespasser.  It’s not like I’m a drop-in guest or I take up a lot of room.  Well, maybe a little room.  I noticed that you’ve had to box up the 36 waists and haul them to storage again.”  A hint of a giggle.  “And from the feel of things, the 38s aren’t far behind.”  Now a full laugh.  “Do I hear a bid for 40s?”

“Very funny,” I said.  “How difficult is it to be a comedian and a pain in the rear at the same time?” I asked.  “By the way, you’re stubborn but you’re really not a comedic talent.  Keep your day job.”

“What?  My day job of keeping you short of breath, making your knees hurt when you walk up the stairs, giving you a nice, aged ‘portly’ look like something out of a Charles Dickens novel?  My day job, huh?  How about my night job of supporting your sleep apnea?  Or making you feel like a beached dolphin every time you turn to sleep on your stomach?  Want me to keep that, too?”

“Look,” I lashed out.  “There’s no need to get ugly here.  Keep that up and you’ll be referred to as Nasty, Stubborn Belly Fat.”

“Keep eating like every meal’s your last one and you’ll be referred to as the Michelin Man.  Or you can get a job as a stand-in for Orca at Sea World.”

I cringed a bit.  “ really are one nasty hunk of Belly Fat, aren’t you?”

“No, not really.”

“Yes, you are.  Nasty, cutting, just plain mean old Belly Fat.”

“Nope...not me.”

“Of course you are, you’re...oh, I get it.  You’re doing your “stubborn” schtick.   Well, I’m not going to play your little game anymore.  In fact, I’m heading to the gym first thing in the morning.  Me and Mr. Elliptical have a date.

“Sure thing,” SBF replied.  “Will that be before or after the bacon, egg, and cheese deluxe with hashbrowns?”

“Neither,” I said proudly.  “That will be after the dry wheat toast and before the orange and apple slices.”

“Right, Spare Tire Boy, we’ll see.”

“Oh, we’ll see alright.  In about eight weeks you and I won’t be having this conversation.”

“Yeah?”  SBF had a hint of curiosity in his voice.  “How so?”

“Why, figure it out, Einstein.  You won’t exist anymore.  You’ll be gone...kaput...adios.  Arrivederchi and don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out.”

I could sense the unease that was slipping into SBF’s psyche.  He wanted to bargain.

“Say, listen, pal.  Maybe we could compromise a little.  Maybe if I promised not to be so stubborn.  Maybe if I promised to cooperate with you a little more and maybe even shifted around a little so that I didn’t stay just around your belly.  You’ve got some room in your arms and legs...maybe I could, you know...spread out a little.”  He whispered.  “In fact, you could use a little of me in your rear’re flattening out a little there.”

I had him where I wanted him so I went for the jugular.  

“Pack it up, pal.  It’s over.  You and me, see, just aren’t meant for each other.  I know a million guys who would love to have you.  Well, not really love to have you.  But I know a million guys who would be willing to put up with you and your attitude more than me.  So spend the next few weeks looking around for another sucker to hang on to.  We’re done.”

“You can’t do this to me!” SBF shouted.  “It’s not fair!  You let a guy get all comfortable and such...get him used to stretching the waistbands out a little...putting strain on the shirt buttons...making the pockets hard to get into...and then you kick him to the curb.”

“Yep, well put,” I said.  “I can’t argue with that.  And thanks for making me see even more clearly what I need to do.  So, pack it up and pack it in, SBF...there’s some guy out there with two six-packs of brew and a bag of pork skins looking for some company.  And you’ll do just fine.”  “Look at it this way,” I added.  “You’ll never be totally alone.  The world is full of guys willing to haul you around.”

“Okay,” SBF murmured.  “Be that way.  But you’ll miss me.  You’ll see.  And just when you think you’re over me, you’ll relax, you’ll have that second ham sandwich, that double cream pie shake to wash down the chili fries, and, before you know it, I’ll have moved back in.  This isn’t our first rodeo, pal.  We’ve been down this road before.  And you know who always wins, don’t you? got it.  Good old SBF.”

“Because you’re stubborn?” I asked.  “I can be just as stubborn as you. You don’t have the franchise on being stubborn.

“No,” SBF snickered. It’s got nothing to do with you being stubborn.  It’s because you’re weak, pal.”

He winked and before I could scoot out of earshot...he hit me with it again.

“It’s because you’re weak, pal, it’s because you’re weak.”

Monday, January 27, 2014

Shining sea

I suppose I will be a little lazy today and pull something off my Facebook page that I wrote last week.  Geri and I were on a rare trip...this time to the 30A Singer and Songwriter Festival in Santa Rosa Beach...and I was bedazzled by the brilliance of the sunlight flashing off the waves of the Gulf.  Diamonds on turquoise and absolutely beautiful.  Why is it that the simplest things are sometimes the most miraculous?  Or is it simply that our level of appreciation peaks and ebbs and mine was at a peak at this time. Anyway, in an effort to keep that writing promise fresh and alive, I took a quick photo and stuck some words with it.

Sea strewn with diamonds,
Children borrowed from the night,
Splashing, sparkling atop the tide,
Swept into the swirling surf,
Till Dusk appears beyond a swell
And sounds a distant dinner bell,
And opalescent Momma Moon
Tugs them home again.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Friends Fishing

An uncle of mine and his friend decided to try their hand at some pond fishing a few months ago and we captured this photo.  I've been intrigued by its simplicity for some time now, so I thought I would try to capture a single aspect of what it means to me.  Anything I write is a perpetual work in progress.  I'm not sure that a writer ever truly finishes anything...sometimes they just stop polishing it and move on to something new.  Here I was impressed that the day was less about fishing and more about friendship.  Or perhaps it's silly to try to separate the two.  Because what everything is really about is life and squeezing every bit of daylight out of every day.

Friends Fishing

Ambling into daylight fade,
Gear and bait at hand.
Bound not by boyish exhilaration
Rather a learned anticipation,
Holding fast that the magic
Lies not in the catch
But in the cast.
Ahead, the pond’s mirror surface
Captures autumn’s confetti explosion
This day's life current runs rare perfect
Words float easy on unlabored breath
Hopes bob and bump the sun-washed surface
Ripples of memories glint and glean
Before skittering away on dragonfly wing
Murky mysteries are not allowed
To cover this day with threatening cloud
There’s time enough for that in winter
For now it’s really very simple
Friends fishing on a perfect day
Friends fishing on a perfect day.


You've got to start sometime...

Okay, you've got to start sometime.  A blank page is a daunting adversary, however each keystroke diminishes the daunt, up until the point that it no longer exists.  You just have to punch, punch, punch away until that great big ole blank page is filled with letters and words which, if you're lucky, manage to entertain or elucidate or engage someone at some particular time.  Heck, you may even anger them...or hurt their feelings...or bore them to tears.

So, yeah, I'm officially retired from the corporate life and one of my most solid promises to myself is that I will spend more time writing (and reading actually because I don't think you can do one justice without doing the other).  I started with a stack of seven books and I'm through three of them.  I've tried my hand at a smidgen of songwriting, I've penned a poem or two (by the way, you will never see me refer to myself as a poet...I don't even come close to approaching the amount of discipline I believe it takes to be a poet...and I would never deem myself talented in that field).  I suppose what I'm writing is closer to poem form than say - short story - or novel.  Actually, what it boils down to is that while some people like to hear themselves talk, I like to see myself write.

I'll eventually link this blog to something that will allow folks to access it.  At that point it's up to you.  If you want to wade through all the mediocre stuff, you might find something that engages you or touches your proverbial heartstring, or headstring.  I'll also use my poetic license...see there I go leaning toward believing that there's poetry in here create my own words, use adjective as adverbs (basically just leaving off the -ly), making verbs out of nouns - something that everyone seems to like to do these days - plus just kind of put my language out there to be drank, eaten, or vacuumed up by whomever, whenever, wherever.

Yeah, and I doubt if I spell check so let's just go with the fact that there will be ERRORS in my writing.  I've spent 41 years attempting to avoid and correct errors and I don't want to spend another 41 years continuing to do so.

So what we have so far is what I believe is a spiffy little blog title, at least one blank page almost beaten into submission, and the intention (insert road sign which reads, "Hell this way") to actually submit to this blog on a reasonably regular basis.  If you see my other blogs, you'll understand that I've harbored that intention before but "work got in the way."