Friday, November 15, 2013

Road To Redemption


If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?
And, accordingly, can a life be redeemed
If you divorce yourself from the forces that  thrive,
On opening old wounds?

Having spent a lifetime contemplating old sins,
Can one finally declare "enough!" 
And live for today and tomorrow
And say I am done with reliving ancient nightmares?

Can one life be redeemed and any kindnesses extended
Be met with the purity of motive?
Or must we bear a cross of guilt, a crown of thorns
And peace comes only in the grave?

When the vindictive brew is prepared by others
Who must destroy your peace to achieve theirs
Can one find a peaceful harbor
To lay by until the storm has passed?

When all the sincere "mea culpas"
Have been offered and accepted or rejected
How much longer must one pay for a past
In a world where one no longer dwells?

Can one then sail once more on calm and peaceful waters
And wake each day with a freshening wind in our face
Or must we wear the mask of "ogre"
Assigned to us by others long ago?

Having, regrettably, baptized myself in fire and pain
At this age, can I finally immerse myself in cool and healing waters
Can I finally deny those who would adorn me forever in mourning clothes
Or have I, at last, earned the right to redemption?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What Are You Reading?


Since I no longer have cable, I miss C-Spans's Book TV.  They always have great author interviews and they covered book festivals all over the country, but my favorite feature was a little doing called "What Are You Reading"...C-Span would query public figures and ask what they were reading these days.  The answers were all an eclectic collection of books.

So, I thought I'd ask my readers what they have been reading lately, what they liked and didn't like, and why.

I've been busy with my Kindle e-reader all year.  Of late my reading selections have been all over the place.  I have been borrowing Ian Fleming's James Bond books and re-visiting the summer of my 16th year when I read all of the Bond books while waiting anxiously for Sean Connery to appear in the next Bond blockbuster in theaters.  The books have proven to be fun reads even today.

I've also read David McCullough's "In the Course of Human Events", a fascinating recounting of our founding fathers working their way through firming up a form of government that has lasted for two hundred plus years.  McCullough also scored big with "The Greater Journey, Americans in Paris, a fascinating study of famous and not so famous people journeying to Paris in the early 19th century, their impressions of the most civilized and most glorious city on earth.  

Bill Bryson has another "non-travel" book out this summer.  Titled "One Summer" we have Bryson reminding us of the eventful year of 1927, when Babe Ruth set the Home Run record that some argue still stands, Lindbergh's crossing the Atlantic in The Spirit of St. Louis, as well as other tumultuous events, to include the stock market boom that would come crashing down a couple of years later.  Bryson always makes for interesting reading but I'm still waiting for him to get off his aging ass and write another one of those travel books where he's stumbling around the great unknown...he's the only author today who can make me laugh out loud with his humor.

I've also read all three of the Robert B. Parker "legacy authors" who are carrying on with Parker's Spencer and Jesse Stone characters.  Most deserving of high praise is Ace Atkins who has nailed Parker's sparkling dialogue and sense of plot.

I also plowed through about a dozen of Amazon's "free" books, some good, none great and a few being a total waste of time.

Just now I am wrapping up another Bond book and will be reading the new Johnny Carson bio by his former financial advisor, Henry Bushkin.

So, what are you reading, folks?  Got any recommendations for me?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Up On The Housetop, Ruff, Ruff, Ruff"


I got my annual 10% off holiday Petco coupon in the mail yesterday...and since my Chi's are going to be my only companions this Christmas I ought to buy "the kids" something or other for Christmas, lest they too flit off to a ski lodge in Vail or a week on the beach at Rocky Point for Christmas week.

One of the things I enjoy about owning dogs is you can screw em up real good, train them into near retardation and, unlike children, you won't be "owning"your mistakes by having them live with you into your Social Security years.   I mean, after all, you drive a dog into total wackiness, ya got em for ten years or so, they wander over the Rainbow Bridge, and you can bring in two more puppies to wack out at your leisure.

Of course some of the dog's "uniqueness" has nothing at all to do with you.  We learned quite by accident that my dear Rocky, now passed, loved to sing...and did whenever prompted.  His favorites were "Happy Birthday", and strangely, the Neil Diamond tune "Song Sung Blue".  Our old girl Ginger is by nature a grand thief, has no qualms about eating our supper if she has access to it, and loves her coffee and cream in the morning, a practice no longer allowed since half a cup gives her the jitters so profoundly she looks (pardon me please this bit of cruelty) like Michael J. Fox an hour late on his medicine.

Still, much of the strange and quirky behavior stems from my own personal torturing and teasing.  For instance, I've learned that, while washing my face with a wash cloth in the morning, if I slide it up on my head to look a little silly my two dogs upon seeing it will both join in a cacophony of wild barking.  I can achieve that same effect by covering my face with the clear plastic salad spinner bowl and peering at them through it....even a stare through the slats of a spatula sends them into delirious mayhem.  

And both Chi's can be half asleep on their day bed, ready for slumberland, and if I, in crossing the room, do a little side jig with my feet they are instantly on their feet in pursuit of the offending feet.
One of my Chi's hates the vacuum cleaner and will disappear under a bed in the furthest room as soon as I fire up the vacuum...the other will sleep right through the commotion.

Rosie, the young Chi is quite the hunter, having learned early that my backyard quail leave their eggs in the Texas Sage where Rosie seeks them out like a kid at Easter.  When she first started hunting them she would bring the quail eggs in whole, not sure of the texture and not decided on what she wanted to do with it.  When she would bring on in I would work it out of her mouth and return it to the nest.  Rosie soon learned to "eat out", crunching those quail eggs when found and eating the yolk on the spot.  Ginger is not, nor has never been much of a hunter, tending instead to stand guard on the food bowl, often shoving it around the room until she's got my attention, then ruefully demanding a refill.

Now, anyone who owns dogs knows that none of this is special; every dog exhibits their own unique set of talents and displays of craziness.  My Uncle Floyd once had a mixed breed spaniel who would sit at the end of the couch on his back haunches like a human, watch tv, and if you favored him with a lit cigarette he would hold it in his mouth until it was but a stub.  Another Uncle Floyd canine prodigy was taught to pursue and bite you if he thought anyone was making fun of his "manhood". ..he was the canine version of the "socks in the crotch" crowd of the 1990's.

So the dogs and I, and all their quirks, will be hanging around together for the holidays.  It's just too bad that my dear troubadour, Rocky, is no longer with us...if he were still around perhaps i could learn him a round or two of "Up On The Housetop"....:)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Christmas Trivia Treasure, Pt 1


When I was a kid I had a little wagon that I had rescued from the garbage heap.  I used it to sometimes pull my little brother around, would once in a while tote my sister's dolls once around the yard...mostly it was used to pull up and down the street to retrieve pop bottles, to be redeemed for candy at the Norcross Grocery.

But I never had a Radio Flyer...the Cadillac of little red wagons.  My folks were so poor even I knew enough not to wish, or ask for such a marvelous thing.  I might ask for Roy Rogers guns and holsters but nothing so fine as a Radio Flyer.   I had come across a few Radio Flyers in my childhood and could only stand frozen in awe as one rolled by.  Radio Flyers were incredibly strong, had solid rubber rimmed wheels and a pulling tongue serious about hauling a load.  You could put three six year olds in that wagon, lift that tongue and you knew the Radio Flyer was ready to roll, handling the load with ease, wheels spinning smoothly and quietly.

There were two toys that one dreamed would be under the Christmas tree some fantastic morning; a Lionel Train set or a Radio Flyer...but only in your wildest didn't dare even contemplate owning either in the stark reality of daytime.  

And wonder of wonders!..the Radio Flyer was probably the first "unitoy", an equal opportunity toy lusted after by both girls and boys!  I once saw a little girl coming down the sidewalk, her Radio Flyer hauling her entire doll collection...and I nearly cried at the waste of such a fine conveyance.  

A kid could head out on a Saturday morning, Radio Flyer equipped, and come home that afternoon with interesting rocks, scraps of balsa wood from a toy airplane, broken roller skates whose wheels would work on your home made box scooter, a bunch of purple violets to placate abject apology for sticky fingers from the lingerings of a Sugar Daddy and a pack of Neccos.  Or, for a nickel, you could haul the old ladies trash to the alley with that trusty Radio Flyer.

Nowadays, kids don't spend much time outside.  They are too busy exploring Star Wars on a gaming machine to explore the grand world outside.  Radio Flyers have now been jazzed up with digital consoles and bright whirligigs to attract the easily bored.  That seems incredibly sad to me.

Most of the Radio Flyers I see these days are in some elderly fellow's antique toy collection...or in some old lady's back yard where she uses it to move her potted plants from here to there.  

But hope lingers...last Christmas I sent my grandson a little red wagon, along with a book about little read wagons...and the reliable word came back that he was thrilled with it....

Life is good..and even better as Christmas early Merry Christmas to all!