Speculation

Tomorrow is the place I’ll be
Two days after yesterday
One day from where I am


Time it seems a cadence has
For what is and for what was
Life a metered stroke

So where do I want to live
Where I was or where I am
Listen to the clock

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Little Things

I recently celebrated my eighty third birthday, celebrated being a subjective thing. I woke up in the morning, anticipating that I would spend my day much as I spend any other. I had decided that I would treat myself to a lunch at a favorite restaurant, and perhaps a trip to the pub for an hour or two to experience a little human interface.

Birthdays aren’t a big thing for me anymore. Having another one is. But the years of hats and horns are gone. Celebration has taken on a whole new meaning. I’m just happy to be here. And, I am not unhappy with my life. It has just evolved.

There was a time when I wanted and needed the hoop-la that is associated with holidays, any holidays. But as time has passed, I have begun to focus more on the occasion then the ceremony surrounding it. Although I salute the milestone, it is important only to me, or so I thought.

Over several days, prior to ‘my day’, I received many cards and calls from friends and family. There are apparently a lot of people out there that want me to know that they care. When I signed on the internet, I found my Facebook friends, all of whom I do really know, had and were sending me birthday wishes as well. I know that Facebook announces your birthday so everyone sees it, but that’s OK. The fact that they took the time to acknowledge the occasion was enough for me. It’s the little things in life, it seems, that have the biggest impact.

All in all, it was a great birthday, exceeding expectations. I came away with a feeling that, although I am older then most of my friends, I am in their thoughts. I felt included, and I couldn’t ask for a better present then that. I went to bed that night not thinking about being a year older, but instead a year richer.

I woke the next morning to a bright new day, and it is comforting to know that I will not experience it alone.

P.S. I’ve decided that I am going to let them do it all again next year.

Posted in Aging, Appreciation, Celebration, Friendship, Generations | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Today

After living yesterday
Where life has now passed away

And time lived was just time spent
Nothing there to save

With a new day, and a new dawn
Discard an old time since withdrawn
Grasp the new or trust the old
What should I believe

Place your faith in the new day
Seek the promise, cast away
Shadows of a time that was
You’ve not been here before

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So, Call Me Stupid

Over the last few years, I have probably consumed more commercials on my TV then the average idiot. Several years ago, I read an article that advised that roughly 20 minutes of every hour of programing is occupied by commercials. I have written about this before and have been reminded (chastised) for not using the latest technology, i.e. CET (Commercial Eliminating Technology). This, I am told can be provided in a plethora of ways.

So, here I am, having kicked out my cable guy while jumping bravely into streaming. I now have everything I would normally watch through Prime and Sling, be it sports or movies, or whatever. I was even able to cancel Netflix because I could get much of the same programming without them. The movies are still good, although I do kind of miss Gabby Hayes and Roy. However, to get my local channels, I had to buy some antennas. And with the antennas came, yup, the local commercials. So I have resigned myself to the fact that there is no escape, only surrender.

But, here’s the deal. I have been through a myriad of “entertainment providers” that have run snakes of cable throughout my home to those that had a wonderful deal, designed specifically for me, that eliminated all of that with a small dish. All I had to do was cut down a couple of trees or allow them to ‘try’ to get a signal from my front lawn. I don’t and didn’t think so.

I bring this up, not because I am commercial intolerant. Nope, I mention it because, unlike old times, when I was told I should “brush my teeth with Pepsodent” or that with Brylcream “a little dab would do me” or “Tide’s In, Dirt’s Out” and let’s not forget “nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven”, that isn’t particularly there anymore..

Today, I am engaged in commercials that are concerned about my health and well being. Products that, although not federally approved, attest to their medicinal expertise. I now know that I should daily, provide my body with powdered fruit and or vegetable capsules, and of course, the ever popular capsules containing beet powder. I am advised that with one a day pills, I can become mentally sharper. I am also now aware that I can fix my own prostrate, eliminate joint pain, remove wrinkles, and increase my hearing, all for just a ‘few dollars a day”. I can also, given a litany of real or assumed physical issues, just “ask my doctor if this is right for me”.

I can remember when ladies appearing on late night TV wore a veil of sorts across their chest if their cleavage was too pronounced. Yesterday, I saw a commercial where a lady was hyping a cream that made your butt crack smell good for up to 5 hours. I don’t know why anyone would rank this anywhere near eye drops, or mouthwash, but apparently someone out there needs this. In my elder ignorance, I always assumed that was what baths or showers were for, but, hey, what do I know. And, of course, let’s not forget the male gender who can enhance their male prowess with a pink pill. Just call this number,etc.

So, to all of you out there that have managed to watch TV, without being subjected to any commercial interruptions, don’t feel sorry for me. Actually, I feel sorry for you. You are paying to isolate yourself from the greatest form of entertainment that exists on your TV/tablet/phone. The laughable trash that companies pay big bucks to make me chuckle. It is in a way, it’s own form of entertainment.

Someone once said “It’s only real if you believe it”. I think it was me.

Posted in Artificial Intel, Humor, Perspective, Reflection | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Bend, Stretch, Groan

I don’t know if it is age, or if I am just atrophying, but, for the last couple of months, I have been experiencing some tightness in my left leg. Actually, it is slightly greater then tightness. It is a sensation that, when I swing out of bed (I don’t actually swing. I just kind of tentatively place my feet on the floor, say a short prayer, and stand up). If, that being successful, I will venture to take a step, and, depending how that works out, maybe a couple more.

Now, I realize that I am four days away from eighty three, but that, at least in my mind, should not be a factor. This was not the norm when I was, say, sixty days away. Something has changed and I want to figure it out. I therefore, did what any normal citizen would do. I sought professional help. I Googled it because you know, on Google, you are never alone. Someone, somewhere has had similar symptoms, and they “were saved”. Can I hear an Amen?

I was not wrong. For every malady, there are a plethora of solutions. However, some of them seemed a little, I don’t know, questionable, like wrapping my leg in wet corn cobs, or smearing the painful area with a combination of diet cola and embalming fluid, Hey, I am not by nature a nay-Sayer, but I was really thinking more along the lines of Ben-Gay.

Anyway, I recently had my semi annual physical and my doctor, after pronouncing me healthy, asked if there was anything else I would like to talk about, so, I confessed that, every morning my left leg and I were not communicating, at least initially and after reading about my condition, I had decided that amputation was in my best interest. However, my doctor disagreed and scheduled an appointment with a physical therapist. Google never even mentioned one of those, so I was a little skeptical. I mean, if you don’t come up on Google, can I really trust you? But I acquiesced, mostly in an effort to help my doctor save face.

This morning I had my first appointment and, given any improvement or death, there will be another six. After a liturgy of questions he asked me to lie on my back on his table, after which he started to move my legs into positions they had never been in before. He asked if I was in pain, to which I answered “not up until now”. That is when he prescribed a series of exercises, each designed to elicit extreme levels of discomfort under the guise of “determining the source “. Since I now felt a little less comfortable then I had when I walked in, I kind of thought I had already determined that, but what do I know.

So, here I am tonight, looking over the exercises that I will begin tomorrow morning. I hurt, just looking at the pictures, but I will soldier on. Tonight, at his suggestion, I will sleep in another bed. A process of elimination he said. More sheets to wash I said. Plus, Kramer, my Pekinese, is not going to be happy. I/we are going from a queen to a twin. My guess is, I will be relegated to a fetal position on one edge of the bed, listening to him snore. Tomorrow morning I will fall out of bed, literally, grab my exercise pictures and do them while taking advantage of lying on the floor. I just hope they work. It would take me easily eight minutes to crawl to the bathroom.

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Worth A Second Look

I can’t tell you how many times over the years that I have made a snap decision based on my values and my views. I always felt that that is what they were for. Allowing me to quickly form an opinion based on what I already thought, what I already believed, and where I sat at the moment. Boom!!! You are already in my book, chapter and verse, without, in many cases,ever having exchanged a word.

In retrospect, I can’t say I am proud of that. There are a lot of assumptions attached to that philosophy. I am reminded of the old story of the automobile mechanic that was working on the car of a heart surgeon. When the doctor showed up to retrieve his car, the mechanic said :Hey Doc, you and I are kind of in the same business right? I mean, ‘our patient’ has a problem and we, so to speak, both open the hood and diagnose the issue. And then we fix it”. The Dr. shook his head affirmatively. Then, the mechanic continued, “then why do you make so much more money then I do”? The Dr. replied “I guess it’s because I do it with the engine running”.

How easy it is to decide the validity of something based, not necessarily on knowledge, but instead assumptions. The human eye, not unlike a camera, is the lens through which we first focus on virtually anything. Our mind stores a snapshot of what we see. That becomes our foundation of everything and anything we observe thereafter, and therein lies the problem.. The original assumptions, based on that snapshot, tend to morph into fact. So, we decide to accept or discard any new data based on the original perception,

I have had times in my life when I have intentionally distanced myself from someone without knowing anything about them, beyond my initial impression. If age has provided me with anything except aching muscles and gray hair, I believe it is the wisdom to take the time to meet strangers with an open mind. To take the time, if you would, to investigate something/someone new with the purpose of gaining both knowledge and, hopefully a new friend. I may still not like them, but in the least, I have given our relationship a chance.

Today, I am old and perhaps a little grumpy. I blame age for that. So, accepting new people and opinions is a little harder for me. But, I have learned that, it is no longer enough to expect others to embrace my beliefs and my opinions without question just because I have been there and done that. That is not good enough, and I know that. It really comes down to listening to their opinions if they will listen to mine. So, I will try to keep an open mind. Take a second look, if you would.

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Home

Last night, I went to bed with the windows cracked open. This morning I woke up to a rather chilly dawn, and I loved it. To me, it said that my favorite time of the year was just around the corner.

The thing I love about Maine is that you get to experience the best and the worst that Mother Nature has to offer. It kind of speaks of life in general. It can be cold or provide more heat then you are comfortable with. It creates hardships, but also provides us with the reason that we want to be here, the quality of life in general.

I had the good fortune, in my youth, to be stationed here while in the military, during which time I fell in love with this environment. I arrived in January, at a base close to the Canadian border. Not exactly the states best face, but not so damning that I mentally wrote it off. And, as the months wore on, and the snow melted, and the flora once again took control, I started to see a different world, a different Maine.

However, once again on my own, I moved away to pursue my fortune where jobs were more plentiful and purportedly, more lucrative. I spent years living in places I had never been before, or had a desire to be. But it turned out that was to my advantage, my prize so to speak. I got to see the beauty that is my country. City or farm or forest. I had a chance to sample the homelands of others. Began to understand why people cleave to their perception of home.

This is mine. My wife and I lived here when first married and she shared my desire to return here if at all possible. She worried, over the years, that we would never experience it, given the tides of life. But we did, and, it was, and is, exactly as we envisioned. Rural for sure, but with a touch of urban. Backwoods, sure. People still sign contracts with a handshake here. A sense of trust still exists. Unmanned farm stands still leave their produce at the curb, with a box for you to throw your payment in. Credit may be no more then a note in a cash drawer that I owe them some amount of money ‘the next time I am in the village’. I recently saw a man struggling to unload a sofa from his truck at the transfer station (dump) and before I could offer help, two other ‘strangers’ had arrived to assist. At my local auto repair shop I once had my car in for a smell that existed whenever the car heated up. It was determined that chipmunks had been storing their acorns in my engine. Vacuuming them out was a little difficult due to their location, so I held the flashlight while the mechanic removed them. When I got my bill it said “labor charge credit, $30.00. Thanks for holding the light”. Random acts of kindness, although not unique to Maine, are certainly alive and well.

You may say that this is America. Somewhere, everyday these things happen. I won’t argue. You are right. There beats within the hearts of Americans the desire to step forward when they can make a difference. Little things. Small steps. Often going unnoticed. Performed for no other reason then that it is the neighborly thing to do. This is why people cleave to their perception of home. Where assistance is a part of life, either giving or receiving. Their is an unspoken sense of family. A comfort that says this is where I belong. This is my home. Always will be. I hope you have found yours. I found mine in Maine.

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The Prince

He ran off the front porch, lunch box and back pack bouncing as he hurried down the front walk. This was everything to him. This was a day that couldn’t have come too soon. It was the first day of school.

As the yellow bus arrived, he moved forward, along with the other kids gathered at the curb. Most of them were a little bigger then he was, but to him, it made no difference As they pushed toward the door, he stepped aside, waiting for a chance to enter. Reaching the stairs, he turned, smiling and waving at his Mom, still watching him from the porch. He was so excited to be going to school. His mother was not so sure.

Tyler was her first born. It was a troubled birth. Complications escalated to warnings from his pediatric surgeon. Specifically, he had 21 chromosomes. The name for that is Down Syndrome. She was advised that he would always be ‘challenged’.

She was devastated. This pregnancy had been difficult enough without the disclosure that her child would not be normal. She struggled with the reality of the information. She cried. She went through a period of denial. “They could be wrong” she thought. “They don’t know for sure”. “But what if they are right?”

As it turned out, they were. She gave birth to her beautiful little boy who, although born with the issues facing him, looked at her and smiled. As her heart melted, she knew that she had not been deprived, but blessed with the good fortune to have this loving child, who needed her as much as she needed him.

It was not easy to provide for his needs. Teaching him basic skills was tenuous at best. Often after he had been put to bed, she would curl up on the couch, exhausted. That’s when the tears would come. Being the single mom of a special needs child was a tremendous responsibility and she often questioned her abilities. Her love was strong, but was it enough. And then there were the other people who, for whatever reason, isolated him. Some didn’t want him to play with their children while others looked on him with pity. But, as he grew, she realized that he possessed a perspective on life that only recognized the good in people She came to realize that he was not deprived, but instead, he had a gift. He knew how to love.

So it was, on this morning as he made his way to school. She didn’t know what would happen and she would not be there to protect him. She felt so vulnerable. She prayed he would not be hurt emotionally and that he would experience some degree of acceptance. This, it would turn out, would be the longest day of her life. She paced constantly, thoughts of him never leaving her mind. She started watching for the school bus long before she knew it would arrive. She braced herself for what she may face, they may face, upon his return.

At last she saw the flashing lights of the bus and rushed to the curb to meet it. She waited patiently while the children, in animated conversations, exited. Finally, as the last one off the bus, he stopped to say goodbye to the bus driver, who gave him a high five. Then he turned to his mom and, with a beaming smile, walked with her to the house, going on about his day. He said he liked his teacher. She had started their day by going around the room and asking each one to tell everyone their name and something about themselves. When he came his turn, he sprang to his feet and said “My name is Tyler and my mom says I am a Prince.” He said that all the kids started laughing and her heart immediately sank. Her deepest fears had been recognized. But Tyler didn’t see it quite that way. He then said “they laughed mom. I made them laugh. That means I made them happy.

She slept a little better that night knowing that sometimes it is a blessing to fail to recognize the obvious. Tyler it seems had been born with that gift. He only saw the positive, the good in other people. She knew he would live with the shortsightedness of people all his life, and yes, he would make many people laugh. She just prayed that he would continue to see it as making them happy. She allowed herself a smile as she turned off the light. Yes, she thought, he is definitely a Prince.

Kind People Are My Kinda People
Courtesy of ’21 Pineapples

21 Pineapples is a charitable organization whose CEO is Nate Simon, a 22 year old entrepreneur with Down Syndrome who, through his shirt company, provides support to Down Syndrome organizations throughout the world. In their own words, the organization states “When coming up with 21 Pineapples, we wanted something bold. Something that represents CEO Nate Simon’s spunk and moxie. We chose 21 Pineapples as the number 21 represents the 21st chromosome. Our friends with Down Syndrome have an extra 21st chromosome and this is what makes them magical. Why pineapples you may ask? Not only are pineapples an expression of friendship and welcoming hospitality, but this beautiful fruit is adorned by its own exquisite crown. After all, don’t we all deserve to wear a crown? We want to change the way others perceive people with Down Syndrome & other special abilities one Hawaiian Shirt at a time. Where some see a disability, we see endless abilities.

Posted in Compassion, Coping, Friendship, Gifts, Insight, Perspective, Reflection, Relationships, Self Esteem, Short Story | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Me

And after all is said and done
When everything that was begun
When all the battles lost or won
Are left for me to live

And after all the stress and strife
When all the things that touch my life
When acts of violence run rife
I still choose to love

And after all the answers say
What you have is what you gave
What you believe is who you are
Am I who I should be

And after all the things I’ve done
When my mistakes I can’t outrun
When good and bad is overdone
I’m who I want to be

Posted in Journey, Life, Perspective, Poetry, Random Thoughts, Reflection | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Checkmate

“The problem” he said, “is that no one is listening”.

“Oh, get over yourself” she said. “Of course they’re listening. They’re just not demonstrative.”

‘That’s not all they’re not. They aren’t particularly interested in anyone else’s opinion either. “They are comfortable with their knowledge and, anything you can say isn’t going to change a thing.”

“Now, why would you say that” she replied a little huffily. “Why else would they be here if they weren’t interested”?

“Well, for one thing, they are here to impress. They think they already have all the answers. And of course, the snacks are free”.

“I think you’re being a little cynical. If you really believe that, then why are you here”.

“Well” he said smiling, “although I am impressive, I think I too am here for the snacks.”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t say that you particularly impress me” she said. You’re a little too full of yourself. You think you have already won the evening, but I beg to differ. I for one am going to pick, as my partner, the most accomplished participant in the room. And you?”

“I, on the other hand, plan to select the attractive lady by the fireplace that keeps looking over here and smiling”.

“You can’t be serious. That is how you are going to select a partner? This is not a singles party. We are here because of our minds, not our body’s. Sometimes, you disgust me” she said while walking to the front of the room.

“Good Evening” she said. “Welcome to another evening of mental stimulation and, I suspect, an opportunity to exhibit your agility at capturing the king”. (soft laughter). We are pleased to host some of the finest practitioners of the art of the chessboard. I would now ask you to each please take a seat opposite your partner of choice. This is a round robin, with the winner of each match moving on to the next round, until only one participant remains.”

“He quickly moved across the room until he was standing in front of the lady that had caught his attention earlier. “Good evening” he said. My name is Roger. I have not seen you here before, but, if I may say so, I am pleased that you have chosen to join us. I must warn you however, that the competition here is rather intense. In fact, I myself am a master.”

She smiled and said “I’m pleased to meet you. My name is Carolyn. However, I’m not sure I should be here. I mean, I am a student of the game, but I certainly don’t think I should waste the time of a master”.

Nonsense” he said. “The best way to learn is to challenge yourself. I would be honored if you would be my partner”.

Well, if you’re sure. I don’t want to waste your time or, worse, ruin your evening.”

“Rest assured fair lady, that there is no way that you could ruin my evening. On the contrary, you have already provided the promise of an evening well enjoyed”. Taking her hand, he led her to an empty table. After both were seated, he picked up a black and a white pawn, placing his hands in his lap out of her line of sight. He then presented both hands to her with the pawns concealed inside. She selected his right hand and he revealed the white pawn. “It would appear that the first move is yours” he said, smiling slightly.

As she made her moves, he studied her face. “She is beautiful” he thought. As the game progressed, he became quite taken with Carolyn and wished to know more about her. She had a throaty voice and a quick, inquisitive smile, almost as if she were studying him. He liked that and prided himself that she apparently found him attractive as well. He had to know more, much more about her. He became fascinated.

Throughout their game, he asked her several questions, attempting to draw her out and establish a rapport. He was hoping to ask her to stay after their game until he completed his additional competitions and could perhaps encourage her to share a drink with him. “Do you live in the city” he inquired. “No” she said. “I’m originally from Denver but I live in Denmark now”. “Are you on vacation, or might this be a business trip” he inquired. “A pleasure trip actually. I am here in part because of my love of chess and this opportunity to watch the best. I have not had the opportunity to observe players of your caliber, much less sit opposite them”. Then, demurely, she said “I think I have said too much.

Now Roger was intrigued. “Ah, a lady of mystery. I guess I will have to choose my questions, and my moves, carefully” he said with a chuckle. “Or, perhaps there are other things that you may be willing to share with me, perhaps later” he said with a warm smile.

She stared at him for a moment. Smiling she replied, “well, there is one thing that I guess I should probably tell you. She leaned forward slightly as if preparing to impart a secret. Instead, she selected a chess piece and quietly said “Checkmate”.

The drum makes a great fuss because it is empty

Posted in Fiction, Integrity, Relationships, Short Story, Vanity, Wisdom | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment