Sky Destroyed– Film at 11

While walking today, I noticed the sky was not stretching to the horizon. It was Image result for Puddle Pictures freeframed with curving, irregular borders.

The clouds were there but something was a little off. The depth was gone. The sky was only two dimensional. Gulls wheeled in flat circles.

Looking more closely, in a small nod toward depth, someone/something was stuck in the sky. A gnat was drowning in the blue.

As I was leaning in more, drawing nearer to the sky, a monstrously large face appeared….. Mine.

I jerked away, the face vanished, replaced by a giant Nike sole pausing briefly above the sky. I stepped down into the depth of the depthless welkin and everything rippled away.

Great Pumpkin Invasion

The season of the pumpkin is upon us.  From Spice Latte, to pie filling, it permeates smells, tastes and sights. Cool people drink it. Commercials proclaim it.  All bow to the Great Squash.
There’s pumpkin for the whole family– even the dog can have pumpkin infused dog biscuits.
You may not smoke, now, but how can you resist tobacco “imbued with the flavors of pumpkin and the spices that usually accompany it…. a warm comforting blend that can be enjoyed all day long.”
With your pumpkin packed pipe cupped deftly in one hand who could refuse a vodka martini which includes the “sweet pumpkin spices with a warm vanilla finish” that “are sure to dress up any occasion.” No wonder Linus kept anticipating the coming of the Great Pumpkin.
Waiting for you is pumpkin soda, soy milk and tortilla chips.  Perhaps, if you are looking for just a touch of sweetness behind each ear, the “simple, subtle, singular scents” of the pumpkin pie fragrance is just what you have been looking for. Although, if you are looking to attract men, I think a dab of bacon would work better.  However, no fragrance with the main accords of “warm spicy” and “cinnamon” is to be lightly dismissed.
In the cucurbitaceae family there are two branches, squash (including pumpkin) and the gourd which is hard shelled and tastes terrible, but can be used for decorating.  For eating, pass the squash.  To decorate, go for the gourd.
Just drop in a little pumpkin magic and you can have all kinds of pumpkin baked goods that go far beyond the ubiquitous pie. Pick up some yummy pumpkin chewing gum, hummus, potato chips, almonds, beef jerky, M&M’s, pumpkin spice nail polish, marshmallows, burgers and cat shampoo. Does cat shampoo impact the smell of a litter box?
Check with your vet, first, but I have even read that canned pumpkin, not pie filling, can help alleviate the heartbreak of canine flatulence. If the dog eats the canned pumpkin and it stops his gas, you can reward him with a pumpkin dog biscuit.
Part of me resents the spotlight that shines on the pumpkin.  Pecan Pie has been around for a long time. I like it better. It’s discrimination against nuts that keeps us from having pecan pie chewing gum.
For right now,  let’s just enjoy the jack-o-lantern and the creepy glow that spins from its triangular eyes as we wait for the season of the nog.

Never Met A Pizza I Didn’t Like

I know, if Buffet is in the name of the restaurant I should not be grazing there.  But, there I was—at the Pizza Buffet.  And there she was—a little old lady— 70ish.

She bellies up to the pizza bar.  There were 12 varieties of pizza on the bar.  She tells the young man tending the buffet, “Why do all your pizzas have to be so weird?”

She, “They all have so many different kinds of stuff on them.  You’re lucky I come here at all because of my gluten.”

He, feeling blessed, says, “We will make any kind you want and it can be thin, medium or thick crust. Even gluten free!”

She, “What do you mean?”

He, “Really, any kind you want.”

I, as I munched on my thin crust, sweet chili, chicken pizza, believed him.

He described one of his delicacies.  She whined, disapprovingly, until he got to “green pepper,” then she, with force,  said, “I hate green pepper.”

He said, helpfully — maybe hopefully, “I can leave the green pepper off.”

She: “I don’t want you to do that.  It’s too much trouble for you.”

He said, “Tell me what you want on it and we will make it up for you.”

She, “You know you are lucky I even came here because of my gluten.”

He was now edging for the kitchen and escape, but still trying to help.  He started another description and it was going well until he got to “broccoli.”

It sounded good to me. I will order it next time.

You guessed it.  She, feebly, moaned, “I hate broccoli.”

He made the leave-it-off offer.  She declined in full whine — a rich, full-bodied, with a hint of tannin, Muskegon whine, “I don’t want you to do that.  It’s too much trouble for you.”

He escaped. She took pizzas of four or five different varieties came back to her table and said to her sister, “We don’t have to tip at a buffet do we?”

Judge Bunning of Kentucky

Judge Bunning is the conservative son of a conservative Republican, former US Senator, Jim Bunning.  I remember Jim Bunning, the father of Judge David Bunning, because I had his baseball card
back in the 50’s. He is a baseball hall-of-famer who threw a perfect game.
In case your head has been buried in the sand, Judge Bunning, is the one who jailed the county clerk (Kim Davis, Rowan County) who wouldn’t issue a marriage license to the gay couple in Kentucky.  That’s right— a conservative judge did that.  Here’s what excerpts from the Washington Post say about him.
“Bunning would charge Davis with contempt and sentence her to jail time, rather than fines that she could potentially pay without complying with the court’s order. Her deputy clerks would also have 30 minutes to decide whether they would comply or face jail time themselves.”
The Post says Bunning is a “devout Catholic… the first U.S. judge to issue a jail sentence to enforce the Supreme Court’s ruling that made gay marriage legal across the country.”
“Personal opinions, including my own, are not relevant to today,” Bunning, a federal district judge, told Davis and the courtroom Thursday. “The idea of natural law superseding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed.”
“But throughout Davis’s months-long legal battle, David Bunning has made it clear that he knew his decision to force the Rowan County clerk to follow the law put him at odds with the deeply held personal beliefs of a lot of Americans, himself included.”
“Our form of government will not survive unless we, as a society, agree to respect the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions, regardless of our personal opinions,” Bunning wrote last month in his decision ordering Davis to begin issuing marriage licenses. “Davis is certainly free to disagree with the court’s opinion, as many Americans likely do, but that does not excuse her from complying with it. To hold otherwise would set a dangerous precedent.”
Bunning’s mom said,  “David is an honest person. He doesn’t agree with the Supreme Court but has to obey the law.”
Mark Guilfoyle, a Kentucky attorney and Democrat who grew up with Bunning, told the newspaper that his old friend “leaves his political views at home.”
A democratic attorney, Phil Taliaferro,  in Kentucky was quoted in the Post article,  “He has guts. He will do the right thing, regardless. That’s the reason he has such great respect. … He’ll follow the law, and I know this sounds funny, but he will fight for justice.”
What a concept!  Whether you like it or not, whether I like it or not, whether the judge likes it or not— he’s following the law.


Soybeans, Soil and Scattering

I never lived on a farm.  I did live among farms. Some of the farmers hired me Dirty Beanswhen I was a teenager to feed the pigs, bale hay, drive a tractor and shell corn. One drove his cattle to market in the kind of trailer you have seen on the highway.  It was full of cattle doing things that cattle do. I shoveled it out after the sadly empty trailer returned sans steer.
Every year during my precocious teens, I went out to the soybean fields.  My name is Tim and I carried a hoe ( given the way the word ho, hoe is used today let me explain).  A hoe was a long handled, 5-6 foot piece of wood, with a 2 1/2 ” diameter, to which was attached, at right angle, a sharpened piece of steel. So it has been established that I was carrying that kind of hoe– not any other kind.
I marched forth because the soybeans were under attack.  You Tofu eaters should sing my praises.  Riding, well… walking, forth each day, I was a knight of the soybean table— my lance a hoe.  I, Don Quix…., no Tim, the hoe-wielding soybean warrior, went to slash pigweed and smart weed and other noxious weeds that were supplanting the bean, and depriving mankind, of the 719,711,717 products all derived from the noble soybean.  That’s me — St. Soybean.
Now, these soybean fields were big — over a hundred acres. When I walked one direction, I strolled the slight downhill rows.  But when I came back the same hills were climbed as cruel inclines.  At the end of the day it was uphill in both directions.
Most of the land was as flat and black as fresh-laid asphalt.  The top of the hills was much lighter than the rest of the field, gradiating to a top of pasty gray. The hilltop topsoil was thinner than the rest of the field.  The soybeans were dense & green, for the most part, but sparse and yellow at the top.
Wind and rain eroded the hills.
Erosion has taken its toll on the hills of my life. Life bumps into me at those knolls. Hills appear, interestingly, at both my strongest and weakest points.  Rain flushes away and wind scatters the precious soil.  The topsoil grows thin and the, newly, graying soil just isn’t what it used to be.
It is not surprising that life attacks where we are weakest.  For instance, we don’t make decisions well so the wind blows there.  We don’t evaluate our options. The wrong choice is made– consequences occur– a price, often very steep, is paid.  Top soil erodes and productivity diminishes.
Now, let’s suppose our strength is making friends very easily. We have lots of top soil here. No problems? Well, yes we do, since life wears us down at our strongest and weakest points.  It works this way.  Having many friends is exhilarating.  We accumulate them like precious coins.
Careful.  Friends take time.  Productivity declines.
Having friends is intoxicating.  The wind blows. The soil scatters. It is difficult to drive a straight course when inebriated by your own popularity.  The richest vein of topsoil in you thins.
And, responsibility is required in any friendship.  It is easy to take advantage of friends– especially when your chemistry with them focuses on your gain.  Money– easy to pick a friend’s pocket.  Morality— easiest to choose a wrong path with a friend.  A friendship can become one-sided— all about you.
 It’s great to be able to develop friendships.  That gift left unstewarded, will erode who you are and, left unbridled, will leave you, ironically, friendless.
I hesitate to say, “Now, that I am old.”.
The reply, “You are not old,” causes me to wonder, “How many other ways do you lie to me?”
When I say, “Now, that I am old,” and there is no reply, the silence suggests you agree. I don’t particularly like that.  Perhaps, I should stop saying, “Now, that I am old.”
One more time, now that I am old, I take fearful and hesitant looks at the field of my life.  The snapshot gives instant feedback.  There is so much gray.  So much erosion.  There has been, planting, cultivation and harvest.  Weeds have been hoed.  Missed some.
But there is so much gray.  So much of me is gone.
All sorts of room for moralizing here and I, certainly, love to do that, but …….
Be noble, gracious and responsible where you are strong.
Get help and improve where you are weak.
Then— when you are old, there will be less gray.

Baseball, Parenting and a Neanderthal

Several weeks ago, I was watching baseball in one of its purest forms. Ten year olds dropped fly balls, let grounders dribble through wicket legs, threw balls to the wrong base, and ran amok. It was wonderful.

Amidst all that, was the relief when the fly ball dropped into the glove of the staggering outfielder, the joy over the sharp ping when the aluminum bat squarely connected, the ecstasy when the runner bunny hopped home with a run scored. That was wonderful, too.
Parents….well they tried hard, paid attention, listened to the coach and to them I say, “Way to go, Mommy. Nice effort, Daddy.”
While the parents tried, they couldn’t keep the kid in the cocoon when the ball was pitched.  The bubble wrap had to come off when the soft liner was hit toward their little darlin’. Despite all the parenting classes they couldn’t control the outcomes.
Then, after the game, three, smudge faced, grass stained, shirt tail hanging outside of their uniform pants, kids ran toward the treat dispensing parents. The boys —- Josh, Trevor and Kyle,  knew, even though no one kept score, they were the victors and were about to appropriate the spoils of whatever gluten free, low sugar, healthy-this-week, organic, natural, supplementary food (snack) was being offered.
Over on the other side, the losers…wait… the ones who, unofficially, did not score as many runs were getting about the same treats.
Our three sweaty little heroes approached Josh’s parents. Josh asked, “Mom, can Trevor sleep over tonight? He brought extra clothes.”
Mom: “Did you ask Kyle to come too?”
Josh, with all the natural cluelessness of a kid, replies, “No, we didn’t want him to come over.”
Mom: “Ok.”
Kyle looked ready to barf up his soybean derivative, or cry, or run away, or, maybe, choose all of the above.
So what kind of cocoon protects Kyle from that? Where does one get that kind of bubble wrap?
Where were Kyle’s irresponsible parents?
Who’s the bully here?
I suppose the curriculum in our school system should prevent this? Maybe it’s just something that only happens in the United States. How do the Japanese ward off this problem? I bet the Europeans have the answer.
Or maybe this is just something that might build character and grow adults.  Then, again, you just might need to get me into some remedial program to correct my aberrant Neanderthal thinking.

The Stages of Life

1. All the major leaguers are older that me.
2. Most of the pro ball players are about my age.
3. Those boys on the field are young enough to be my sons.
4. The third baseman greets me with, “Hi gramps.”
5. What’s baseball?
6. Remember the Bible’s opening words, “In the big inning.”

A Star is Born

I was recently reminded of how a woman, I never met, caused me such embarrassment. A stop light flashed red, and while I considered sneaking through, I didn’t.  It might have been the music that sliced the edge off my aggressive driving.

I stopped.  I was in the middle of three east bound lanes. The lane to my left turned north.  The lane to my right required a choice of east or south.  My lane was the only one without a choice.  I had to go east.

The three cars, side by side, for just about 90 seconds on a sunny day with windows rolled down were about to share a special moment in time.  My radio, as always, was on.  The music was up and I was singing.  My head was back. My hand was beating. My head was bobbing and I was singing. Loudly.
Oblivious to my highway  partners, the three teens to my right and the woman about my age to the left, I sung until the song stopped about 5 seconds before the light changed. No one moved.
The woman was giving me a thumbs up and the teens were laughing and applauding. They were impressed, no doubt, that I could, “Feel Like a Natural Woman.  WOMAN! “.  She turned left. The kids turned right and I floored it.
But for those few moments, on that sunny day, Carol King, the co-writer of the song, who received the Gershwin Award, helped me get a little red in the face.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything because for 90 seconds, I was the star of the sixteenth street traffic light.

Sidewalks and Pez

If Pez spit out square pieces and not rectangular, if it were concrete and not candy, and large and heavy …… not tiny and light, you would think a giant Pez dispenser laid the sidewalk along my street.  4′ x 4′,  the concrete squares parade in frozen formation down my perfect road.  But.. wait a minute….hold on now– they are not quite perfect and not, really, frozen.

Citizens unite! We can’t can’t let the freeze/thaw cycles that heave the concrete out of its formation endanger our community.  At irregular intervals down the  sidewalk, one slab rises higher than the slab next to it, creating something upon which we might stub our toes. It’s a trip and fall hazard. Ride over it on your bike and you will get a discomforting bump.  To make matters worse, the rise might be as much as two inches higher on the north side of the slab than on the south side and, often, it is the south side that is higher. It’s consistently inconsistent.
We are not defenseless.  City workers deployed with a “big old grinding machine” attack the non compliant slabs and scrape them into conformity.  Things are smoother now. Once again, the “path of the righteous is level.”
I walk down the sidewalk, proudly and safely, but my eye is offended.  The path is smooth.. the trip potential is diminished but those grinder marks are ugly. It’s time for a committee— a petition—……