The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

Don’t get your hopes up.
“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

Today’s free stuff is a musical tip.
But bear in mind that everything has a cost. In this case the cost is your time. I hope that it’s time well spent.

I don’t much go into music on this site. Maybe because it’s such a personal thing. It palpates the emotions. Music is a spiritual thing. For some it’s a religion and as often happens with religion the discussion sometimes becomes fiercely judgmental and defensive. So I often just avoid musical discussion like I avoid religion.

Recently though I got to thinking about music as a topic when I had a short exchange of comments with author/blogger Eden Baylee. Along with her fictional work, she does a weekly piece titled Music Monday, the most recent featuring Bruce Springsteen’s “One Step Up.

I like Springsteen so I looked into Eden’s archives and found a piece that featured Springsteen’s early classic Born to Run, a favorite of mine. I commented to Eden that it was during those early days that Springsteen was touted as “the next Bob Dylan.”

I went on to make the offhand suggestion that maybe Jay Farrar could be the next Bob Dylan.

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The atmospheric river was flowing earlier this week. Atmospheric river; that’s weather reporter speak for a gully washer that slams in from the Pacific. Before the storm hit I put whatever I could in a shed or in the garage. Whatever was left I covered with tarps. The storm crashed in and the tarps flapped and slapped as if they were taking out some anger over being left out in the gale.

It was a good night to be indoors. I had a fire going.  The smell of the fire mixed with the aroma of a meatloaf in the oven and a pan of roasting Brussels sprouts. There was a cast iron skillet brimming with scalloped potatoes sitting on the stove. Cora and I sat on the couch, she in a sweatshirt and muffler and me in a Pendleton shirt, close together in front of the fireplace. I love the Pendletons, they look, feel and speak of cozy winter warmth.

I was buried in a book and Cora was sewing. Lexi, was in a half sleep curled into a hairy black and tan ball on her dog bed in front of the fireplace. But for Lexi’s occasional dream spasms and the crackling fire it was stone quiet. There we were, a living Norman Rockwell, warm and comfy dandy on a winter’s night.

I’m not a fan of winter. Given the choice I’d be sitting in front of the pool with a good book but if we had to go through the seasonal routine I’d take it. It’s warm and spiritual by a fire, sitting with my partner and my dog while outside the wind is slamming sheets of rain against the windows.

At nine-ish Cora toddled off to bed and Lexi followed while I stayed in front of the fire with my book. Jackson came out of his room to ask what all the noise outside was about. I told him that he was probably hearing the tarps being thrashed around by the wind, adding, “If your great grandfather were around he’d say, ‘T’isn’t a fit night out for man nor beast.’”

A little while later and the tarps had blown off the grills they were supposed to protect. I tried to fasten them down but the wind wasn’t having it.
“Fuck this.”
I gathered up the tarps and tossed them in the garage so I wouldn’t have to fetch them from down the street in the morning and went back inside to get dry and warm.

Back to my book. The rain and wind were pummeling the windows and the pool just about to overflow. I went upstairs to check on Cora. She looked up from her reading.
“My god it’s really windy.”
“Yeah….I know. I’m thinking about all those homeless in the camps.”
Back downstairs – throw another log on the fire. Lexi followed and went back to her dog bed and groaned with doggy pleasure, droopy eyes looking lazily into the warmth. Continue reading

The Bay Area awoke to a New Year that was bright, beautiful, crisp and clean. We took a walk at Crissy Field where the Golden Gate Bridge is in full view. During our walk we came upon a beached boat with no apparent owner besides nature to do it’s inevitable work.

I took a few photos of the old vessel (including the banner image, a close up from the bow) but the one that I really wanted was made impossible by the many people walking the shoreline, enjoying a break from politics and pandemics. I loitered hoping for the clean shot that never happened.

As if the weather gods had just given us a one day tease, January 2nd was cold, misty and gray. The image of that boat and the disappointment of the missed shot had stayed with me and the gloomy weather inspired a return to the beach.

The beach was nearly empty and the tide was up – way up. The bridge was shrouded within a misty veil.

As I walked the shoreline dodging the surging bay water I wondered if the boat would still be there or if the risen bay might have snatched the little craft from its sandy berth. About a half mile up the beach lay the boat, unmoved in the wet sand surrounded by puddles. Not a person in sight. I had my shot and the gloomy weather lent what I thought was an extra portion of drama.

I took a number of images, all in color, and edited them into monochrome using different filters.

 

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I never thought the day would come when I would look forward to a shot. Hold on – let me clarify that. I never thought the day would come when I would look forward to an injection. Shots? Many were the times during the working years when a string of time sucking, worthless meetings would have me looking forward to a healthy shot of Maker’s Mark at day’s end – and I didn’t wait four weeks for a second shot.      Continue reading

Today, for only the second time that I can remember I watched a Presidential Inauguration. That wasn’t necessarily by design. This is the first inauguration held since I went into retirement. The other inauguration that I watched was in 2008, the inauguration of Barack Obama, America’s first Black president. I was working that day but the historical moment compelled us all to pause. The office was silent as the staff gazed up at the television and that seminal moment.

There’s a recipe for a Presidential Inauguration. It’s a few parts hope; a few parts pride; a large measure of tradition and there’s always a dash of doubt. When it’s all done it’s topped with an icing of celebration; balls, parades, fireworks, speeches and patriotic pomp and ceremony. A lot of that icing was left out of today’s inauguration. A once in a century pandemic had already forced a change in the formula before the violence and insecurity of recent days forced the nation to leave off a lot of the icing. But just as we jerryrig the cake that turns out lopsided or dry and cracked, we work around the difficulty and continue with the business and the tradition of our Democracy.

Over the past two days I’ve experienced something that I haven’t known in four years – optimism. It started yesterday with a ceremony to honor those lost due to the pandemic. Even before taking office, on the day before their swearing in, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris delivered to the nation something it has not seen in four years. In a short, touching and heartfelt ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool the President and Vice President elect honored the 400,000 lives that have been lost in one short and paradoxically interminable year.

We’ve been gutting out four years of a president for the few. Yesterday Joe Biden took the first step in becoming a president for all Americans. Sadly his presidency for all, started with being the man for the departed; those who the outgoing president hardly bothered to acknowledge or mourn.

This nation has passed through four years of a presidency that’s lacked the grace, humanity, compassion and depth of feeling that Americans and people around the world rightfully expect from the President of the United States.

The words of Vice President Elect Kamala Harris echoed in the chill evening air, the cold reality of the past year in which the citizens have almost literally had to go it alone, abandoned by a leader who cared more about his reelection bid and subsequent loss than for the nation in his charge.
“We gather tonight, a nation in mourning, to pay tribute to the lives we lost,” said Ms. Harris. “For many months, we have grieved by ourselves.” She ended with a statement of unity, “Tonight we grieve together.”

President Elect Biden, a man who has known loss and who’s character of compassion has been formed by personal grief, followed with a few brief words, most poignantly, “It’s hard sometimes to remember. But that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation. That’s why we’re here.”
At the conclusion of his remarks 400 lights, each representing 1000 departed Americans, were illuminated along the length of the pool.

I didn’t see the ceremony as it happened. I was on the way to a doctor’s appointment and I listened on the radio. When I heard the words of Kamala Harris, I was overcome by a wave of emotion; sadness and yes, anger. “What a waste,” I said to myself. My anger quickly gave way to cautious hope. On that cold evening I could feel a whisper of warmth in the nation’s capitol.

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For starters, let’s not jump to the conclusion that the title implies I’m giving stuff away. As Milton Friedman liked to say, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” Everything has a price.

The “free” in the title of this piece refers to “free-flowing;” you know, random thoughts, aimless, catch as catch can, spitballing. Remnants that never made it into posts.

And just as the old “free lunch” saying goes this post, like all posts by all bloggers, carries with it a price; your time. I hope it’s well spent. This post is an experiment of sorts.  If Fabulous Friday Free Stuff falls flat (say that 3 times) then this will be a collectors item as the first and last edition.

Getting a poke
A week from today I’ll be getting my first COVID vaccination. California just expanded the eligibility for that coveted nectar to those 65 and over. You see, there is some advantage to getting older, though I’d gladly trade age for a lower spot on the injection hierarchy.
I managed to get my appointment in relatively easy fashion. A friend of mine texted me that he was at the dog park with his dog Jessi. The dog park is our semi-regular meeting place, where we get a chance to chat, tell tall tales and discuss the issues of the day.  And while I have a dog I go to the DP without Lexi, who’s been put on a lifetime ban, by me, from going to the park.
Lexi was a regular at the DP until she got into the habit of sniffing out a spot where she would stop, drop and roll; turning herself into a glob of hair, mud, brambles and brush (and on one occasion – poop). It takes a good hour or more to brush all that crap out of a long haired dog. The only exception to her DP ban is on days when she’s going to get a bath. Below: Portrait of a dog park criminal.

Nothing like a comfortable shoe

When I arrived at the DP yesterday, my friend was on hold with Kaiser (our HMO). He’d been on hold for an hour and a half, listening to a loop of elevator music, Kaiser PSAs and a repeated warning, accentuating the obvious, of “longer than usual hold time.”
He finally got through to a real person. After setting up his own appointment he passed his phone over to me. Got my appointment with zero hold time.
I don’t know whether I’m getting the Moderna shot or the Pfizer. Does anyone out there know which shot has the Bill Gates microchip and which one has the George Soros microchip? And as a follow-up is 5G required for the chips to be activated? Asking for a friend.

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Now what indeed. The January 6th uprising was quelled but America has forever still before it. Where to? How do we get there?

In my previous posts about that dark day (one written as events were unfolding) I declared that I was never afraid for American democracy, as fragile as that democracy now seems after four years of taking a bruising. I’ve no real fear about the future of American democracy. The bruises will heal, maybe not today, not tomorrow and maybe not for months or years to come. The healing depends on a lot of salve; salve applied by the better part of America; Joe Biden, Congress, lawmakers from both parties, state, local and federal governments, law enforcement, the media and that part of the America that isn’t irretrievably lost in a rabbit hole.

But I am afraid. My immediate fear is over the final days of the Trump Administration and the inauguration. An FBI bulletin has been issued warning of armed protests, possible uprisings and threats to lawmakers, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Continue reading

I’d originally planned to post this after a final edit on January 6th. The events of that day compelled me to focus on a more pressing topic (see posts January 6th 2021. Insurrection in America  and Cut by the Knife of Corruption. )

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
― Edith Lovejoy Pierce

New Year’s Day 2021. In “normal” times I’d start the year off with a morning glimpse of the Rose Parade in Pasadena. After getting my fill of bands, floats and hackneyed commentary delivered by “B” list celebs, desperate for a gig, any gig, I’d move to football where I would stay through the day and into the evening.

In this house I’m the first one to see the light of the new year. In this house I’m the first one to see the light every day of every year. I’m the early riser; the morning coffee brewer, furnace starter and dog feeder. I like being the first one up; being able to get a quiet, solitary jump on the day. I recognize sleep as necessary but it’s almost an evil one.  Sleep is a subject of debate in this house.
“I love to sleep,” says Cora.
“It’s nice,” I respond, “but it’s a waste of time.”

Years ago, when we hosted New Years Eve parties, being the early riser lost some of its appeal when the New Years Day groggies descended at about halftime of the Rose Bowl Game.  Those New Year’s Eve parties ran into the early morning hours with a few of those affairs greeting the early flickering of dawn. What seems like a good idea in the wee hours loses some of its shine with the onset of a woozy daze.

With the coming of older age, wisdom and, well, turning into dull people, Cora and I rarely stay up until midnight. That doesn’t mean that we don’t greet the new year. At the stroke of midnight we’re usually awakened by the booming of the illegal fireworks.
“Ugh. Dumbasses better not set the dry grass on the hill on fire.”
“Happy New Year dear”
“Yeah, happy New Year dear. Go back to sleep.”

This year we watched Wonder Woman 84, a film that our son tried to warn us away from. Our daughter chimed in,
“Everyone says it’s no good.” Even though she hasn’t seen it.
Cora does that same “Everyone says…,” thing.
Donald Trump also does it, (“Everyone tells me I’m the best president since Lincoln, maybe better.”) which is as good a reason as any to avoid “Everyone says…”

WW84 isn’t a bad movie. It’s action packed, angst free entertainment. I don’t watch a superhero movie with the same expectations as I would American History X or Fences or Selma.  Sometimes you just go into a movie with the intention of being entertained without being left despondent over world affairs or depressed by the state of the human condition. Wonder Woman took us to 11, an hour before the end of an ironically forgettable and yet unforgettable year. Cora went straight to bed and I read for a short while before going to bed. At midnight the illegal fireworks went off.
“Ugh. Dumbasses better not set the dry grass on the hill on fire.”
“Happy New Year dear.”
“Yeah, happy New Year dear. Go back to sleep.”    Continue reading

Mumblypeg ~ A playground game where boys stand with their feet shoulder width apart whilst throwing a pocket knife point down between their own feet. The boy who gets closest wins. Getting the knife in your foot is an automatic win.

It’s over, but it’s not. It won’t take days or weeks or months for the final speck of dust from the insurrection attempt of January 6th, 2021 to settle. Years at the very least.

I posted a piece that day; a post overflowing with the anger that consumed me as I watched events unfold. There were moments of sadness. There were moments when tears welled up. There was concern for those who were inside and under siege. What I never felt was fear that the insurrection would succeed. I was certain that in the end the mob would fail.

That January 6th post was filled with so much rage that I considered just trashing it and writing a post at a later time when I could present something in more measured tones. In the end I published my fury, albeit somewhat toned down. This site is my own story, a journal of sorts and it only seemed appropriate to publish a post that honestly reflected my feelings on one of America’s darkest days.

Today, January 9th, the fear that I didn’t feel three days ago is starting to percolate. I’m finding myself in a dark cold shadow of foreboding as details of what happened on that day of infamy become clearer with reports of five dead and many others injured. Apparently the mayhem that characterized January 6th may not be over as threats of what might come on inauguration day are being revealed.

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I was ready to publish a light post to start the New Year. An attempted coup in America has compelled a more serious post.

Today started out as a civics lesson; both houses of Congress convene and officially count the Electoral College ballots, a ceremonial final act in America’s drawn out electoral play. In normal times a simple governmental ritual. But we all know how that normalcy thing has played out lately.

Just as the civics lesson on ceremony was beginning, the votes of only Alabama and Alaska having been counted and those of Arizona challenged, the lesson on ceremony turned to one on insurrection.

The Capital of the United States of America was stormed by Trump supporters, protesting the outcome of an election that was held over two months ago, upheld by the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice and sixty times in various courts.

By the time this post is read, the events of the day will be well known so there’s no point in a review here.

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