A “real” Post about “fake”events that I’m saying “actually” happened and that makes it true because I’m using “air quotes” that can no longer be seen. Anywhere. By Anyone. Trust me.

I, once again, have been off my pace, and now I know why.

I think.

I mean that guy and his fake story about Alice and her whacked-out adventures was lucky he lived when he did. People knew when he was saying one thing and actually meaning another and he did not need dozens of people to appear in town squares, coming to tell folks what the words were really all about.  True Life in those times was so recognizable that people, when confronted with strange times and stranger leaders, had a more immediate grasp of reality. They knew the Emperor was butt-naked and had a good laugh at his Royal Ignorance (even though some commented that he looked more “regal” than ever in his birthday suit, favoring him with the euphemistic nick-name, Lance Alot, except when he had passed by and they were “treated” to an out-sized posterior that took far too long a time to fade into the gaping crowd.)

So far, I’ve succumbed to the accepted practice of using ” ” marks to let you know that the chosen word or phrase might be open to challenge regarding its accuracy or appropriateness, et cetera. But I must tell you that I’m still recuperating from my latest slip-and-fall episode and consequently it is extremely difficult for me to constantly halt my train of thought and hunt for the right keys to execute an explanatory  ” ”  that any intelligent fellow-citizen of mine should be able to fill-in with a sufficient and accurate meaning for themselves. And don’t try that old fake news thing on me either. I know when I’m writing the truth. Trust me. People love me.

Yes, I said slip-and-fall episode, as there was, at the time, sufficient evidence around me to indicate negligence by person or persons unknown that occasioned my mishap. In true patriotic, responsible action, I immediately reached for my phone, not to dial 911 but to take a series of selfies and actual video of the entire, clearly preventable mishap scene. Unfortunately, my phone, along with all the  genuinely litigious photographic proof that could easily have subsidized my meager retirement benefits, disappeared forever.  I fought the loss of consciousness and rubbed away the fogginess of what was surly an incipient stage of “comatose-ness”; {I know, I know, I just liked the imagery and used Quotes}, and symptoms of skull fracture and blinked hard into the burning sun to read the gigantic, gold-plated sign with red neon letters, that stood a hundred and ninety-two feet in the air, proclaiming to all beings for miles around – WELCOME TO ABSURDIA 

Whaaaatt? To myself. I had heard of this place. Have a good friend, Jake, (you may recall a post of mine some time ago about Jake, see:(https://rharding0728.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/jake-jones-designer-drones-and-no-fly-zones/) who had moved here a long time ago seeking the Absurdian Dream but have not heard from him lately and definitely had no desire to visit him.

As I remember, it was not a very nice place. Not far from Bezerkistan as I recall.  The capital city is Ambigua, and the entire population is dependent on the old, corpulent, filthy rich white guys who control the economy and keep a solid lid on who gets paid how much, and who is given housing, and who is allowed to move around in and out of Absurdia. The other 99.9999% of Absurdians are, as they are wont to say, S.O.L. but, they shrug expectantly, ‘We at least have our Absurdian Dream‘.

They used to have a two-party ruling body of Shpin-Barphers … their word meaning — politicians, often shortened in slang to ‘barphies.  Absurdians are free to attempt a run for public office and be elected Shpin-Barphers if:

(1) they have a net worth of 250 million absurdianniaritos ( i.e. approximately 3.5 billion US 2017 dollars); money here is revered as being in direct  proportion to intelligence, honesty, impeccable altruistic behavior, and a singular, outstanding knack for closing a slick deal that benefits Absurdia-First. Period.  Currently, ‘barphies are separated into “A” barphies and “B” barphies, two distinct factions who always agree on every piece of legislation but only after months of paid political advertising and artful deal negotiating and fund-raising rallies. They don’t need much international diplomatic experiennce, since any Deal Adversaries who stubbornly try to get the better of an Absurd Proposition, are routinely cut off from all meaningful commerce and often just have the shit bombed out of them, thus saving both time and valuable Absurdian armed forces, who, currently outnumber the total population of India and The Vatican City State combined, probably because the Nuns, important Clerics, and the Pope  are not counted in the Vatican census;

and: (2) they must have mastered the difficult art (if they were not congenitally so gifted), of being able to speak out of both sides of their mouths at the same time while imparting contradictory information, in multiple languages if so gifted, a practice that often leads to extremely and chronically over-puffed cheeks (facial, that is), that gives the entire professional Shpin-Barpher class a look that has been called by some who would glorify the appearance as, “The Honorable Dizzy Gillespie Facade”, even though not one in a thousand can even play a trumpet, but still the have the added benefit of being able to mesmerize citizens who are so busy waiting for any one Barfiso to faint from lack of oxygen or emit any kind of pleasant sound of escaping air at all, ultimately have no idea what the topic of discussion was and simply agree to their messages out of boredom and frustration that what has been proposed is at least good for Absurdia First, thus making it good for all devout Absurdians  in a sort of trickle-down saliva-sprayed inspiring kind of way.

Honestly, they love the whole tribal experience, especially since they learned to nod agreement in unison and bring their own towels to political meetings.

My recently impaired brain, now throbbing with bad Jake memories and probably experiencing grey-matter hematoma which promised a long, expensive medical treatment should I somehow find my way home, discouraged as I was by my lack of adequate insurance and unjustly deprived of clinical selfie proof by Absurdian fate, began to focus on dozens of what must have been local residents who had materialized around me. Since they all dressed alike, unified in style, substance, and color with no inkling of creativity or individual tastes to be spotted anywhere, I assumed they must be Absurds.

I thought the best approach to be the casual, full throttle Yankee style of greeting, all smiles and no BS grin to spook them… “Hey, dudes, thanks for showing up to give me a hand. I love your country and your total Absurdness. We’ve got nothing like this back home.”

I was totally put-off. Talk about a tough crowd, no one even blinked. A wary voice shot out from somewhere in the solid mass of the ranks before me – “Who the hell are you and why are you here? Followed by a surly murmuring among them, rumbling all together: Silly freakin’ twit, must be lost; Looks like Jimmy Carter grinnin’ at a peanut crop; Lets just bust his tookus for a while and see if he goes away, etc, etc, etc.

Suddenly, I was stunned as a familiar voice rang out; “Yo, rd, that you??”

Good grief.  Now I knew where I was. “Hi, Jake, that you?”

“Yeah, dude. How did you get here”.

“No idea, Jake. Last I knew we were having a presidential election and I was going into a voting booth, sporting a Dems Forever button. I think I slipped and fell and lost consciousness. What am I doing in Absurdia?”

“Wow, man, that was about five months ago. But don’t worry. You will fit right in here if you want to stay”.

“Not in my plans, Jake. I really want to go back to my normal home in the US Democratic Republic of North America, where any boy or girl, regardless of personal wealth or mafia level connections, can be President. Besides, I think I have a dandy lawsuit to slap on the County.”

“…Well, dude, things have changed back there for sure. Your back-home Dems are out in left field and the home-boy Republicans are really in charge, as long as they keep their noses where the money chute is and keep the voting mushrooms in the dark.”

“Nothing new there, Jake. Your guys do the same thing don’t they?”

“Kind of, rd, but life here is a lot less stressful. Our mushrooms know they survive in up-to-their-ears do-do, so they don’t rock any boats, keep their heads in the clouds and hope the Absurdian Dream of trickle-down prosperity eventually comes true.”

“Good luck with that Jake, but I’ll take my chances back home, where the deer and the antelope play. After all, we are the land of the free and the home of the brave, remember? We’re not done yet with bringing freedom and justice for all those folks we have liberated regardless of race or religion. With Market Share like that, I don’t think our dreams can fail.”

“OK, rd. I don’t want to disillusion your American Dream, but remember, I’m here if you ever need me or want to come live in Absurdia, I will gladly sponsor you for citizenship. Actually, I think you might be closer to living our dream than you realize.”

“Just then my head felt like it was spinning, slowly at first, then with increasing speed, to the point where I could feel my whole body dissolving as it were. like the wicked witch in Oz, and woke up in a cold sweat in my neighborhood ER.

“Well…welcome back to the real world friend”, said the guy in green scrubs. “Glad to see your eyes open. How are you feeling?”

“A little dizzy but otherwise, fine. Is this Absurdia?”

 “Hmmm…. Can’t rightly say sir. You apparently stumbled and hit your head going into your local poling place. They brought you in with a mild concussion. Don’t quite know where Absurdia is, but this right here will have to do for now.”

   “Hmmmm,” to myself…

   “We’ll have your discharge papers and your bill ready as soon as possible.”

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St. Paddy’s Day. Tis All Fake News, Don’cha know.

Like the clock work of local Catholic parish churches everywhere, another St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone – with alarming rise of sales of alka-seltzer and innumerable call-in-sick days everywhere. What gives??

Forget Wikipedia, forget Fox-y and not-so-Briet-bart fake news sources. I’m here to tell you the real scoop.

First off, so as not to anger any sons and daughters of holy mother church and that fine Irishman, Francis, (who to his eternal shame has admitted to liking tequila and the Tango, currently sitting on St.Peters throne in Rome), our Patrick – (please refrain from using the familiar term “Paddy”, unless you can prove direct family decent from that fellow) was in fact an historical figure although he emigrated (get it?)from the European continent to Ireland to convert the lusty Celts to Christianity. Some sources claim that he was a Frenchman but that makes no sense to me, given the Frankish propensity for celebrating their own lusty orientations without regard for race, creed or color. Language barriers never existed for these folk as they historically relied heavily on the old universal technique of body language for scientific as well as more intimate communications, well-recognized and received the world over.

Lucky enough for old Patrick, tradition has it that he likely prepared for his mission in a monastery, where he learned a form of international sign language so he could communicate with any pagan folk, lusty or not, and never wore anything but a head to toe, one piece robe of raw wool which not only made him a poor student in Harp classes but also led to confusion while using his own inadequate, celibate body language which, unfortunately, due to his constant scratching often led to very mixed messages among his viewers.

None the less, he is a factual saint. As he had been such a huge success as a salesman for God and the Church, the Church awarded him his own “saints day” which is celebrated in Irish Catholic churches the world over, especially in New York, Boston, Chicago, and, although with considerably less fanfare, in Saudi Arabia, where green beer and green rivers are simply not tolerated.

Which brings me to a very important, if not culturally sensitive topic. We all are victims of stereotyping in one form or another and the loyal spiritual offspring of Patrick have been victimized more than their share. The celebration of his achievements is universally greeted with excesses of brewed and distilled liquids. Not that that’s a bad thing in itself, mind you, – where would the world be without Messrs. Guinness and Jameson and the likes, – but it borders on sacrilege that so many well-meaning folk, in their desire to honor the great man have mixed up the idea of being imbued with the fine “Irish Spirit” with the practice of being over-imbibed with fine Irish spirits and dash about festooned with cheap green derbies, god-awful green neckties, sweaters, socks. galluses, even shoes, and God forgive them, green-shamrock-ed underwear. Catholic bishops everywhere deplore such wanton, pagan abandonment and urge the true son’s and daughters of Patrick to counter such nonsense by wearing full-length, Kelly green, raw wool robes for eight days before and after March 17th, to support the cause of abstinence and penitential scratching. While this practice was initially greeted with, dare I say a lusty response among Irish celibates everywhere, many Irish lay folk, and the much larger group of “Once a Year Happy Irish Wannabees” and assorted Publicans – Catholic, Protestant, Muslim(only 6 identified themselves) Jews and Bahai’s – all around the world, began toasting Patrick with what was soon to be translated into 214 languages, the wish, “May the road rise up to meet you and lead you unerringly to your nearest pub. One good wooly scratch deserves to another”.

As a newly re-constituted Irish citizen (thanks to granddad Denis and great-granddad Philip, and great-great —-well you get it – I hereby resolve and pledge to celebrate the true spirit of Patrick by toasting a tall glass of Kerry milk along with Galway bangers and mashed, and a slice of Sligo mutton, next March 17th, in the very heart of the auld sod, somewhere in county Cork. And should I find myself in a warm, smiling, singing and dancing sort of Irish pub, I will introduce them to my latest cocktail concoction,               The Wooly Scratch.

And that my friends is the honest truth.  Some things can never be lied about.

Slan….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Path Leads Somewhere But Some Paths Have No End

I have definitely been off my stride for a while now. Being retired does not mean having time to do all those things you said you would accomplish once you no longer had to report to the shop, or desk, or wherever that fiscal harness awaited. I have discovered that concept is a myth. On the other hand, don’t ask me to give a rational accounting of my actual time expenditures. You would not be convinced that I wasn’t goofing off and I would be embarrassed to own up to Richard’s Version of Reality.

Admittedly, I have been put off for the better part of 14 months by having to mentally deal with the incredible, apparent disintegration of the expression of what I had taken to be civility and relative forthrightness of our political process evidenced in our presidential campaign/election. I’ll not go into detail here, as the constant disruption of any semblance of due process and personal integrity by our elected and appointed officials is detail enough and can do without my feeble two-cents worth. (I will add some observations and commentary at the end of this post.)

Once the inauguration was over and this voyage of the USS Absurdia was launched, I was caught flat-footed as it were and spent hours trying to figure out what happened and why and more importantly, how was I going to order my own life going forward. I think I have worked out a plan of sorts.

Meanwhile…

Much time of 2016 was spent tracing family history, verifying family documents of birth, marriage and death so I could file for what is called Foreign Birth Registration in the Republic of Ireland. (Thanks to my grandfather having been born in Cork city and his son Raymond, my father having successfully generated 4 offspring, among whom I am the youngest, our generation was still eligible under Irish law, to apply for citizenship, no strings attached.) This was no easy feat, considering that, in true Irish-American Catholic tradition, we had very limited factual information who our forebears were, or where they married or died. There were many things adults didn’t share with children in those days. But that’s a whole other tale.

All documents were sent to Dublin for review and approval on June 6, 2016. With nothing important left to do; (mind you, “important” is used in the retiree’s privileged, relative vocabulary and not to be dismissed as “without essence and impact on one’s life and daily duties) we set off for another u-drive-it, 1300+ mile trip to Massachusetts and New Hampshire to visit family. We dillied and dallied and ate foods we hardly ever ate in Florida. Nothing extravagant or extraordinary – just not our usual fare as we like to eat as Romans eat and not upset their sense of healthy consumables. Diets can always come later.

Time dribbled on and eventually we landed back in Florida, picked up our accumulated bundle of mail but alas, Dublin had not been heard from. “Rats!” said I, the system was grinding slowly and surly the fine lads in Dublin’s Foreign Office were doing all they could to honor my request. Privately I was plagued with questions – What did I leave out? Were the documents all authentic, long form, stamped and sealed,??? etc.

Finally, early October, I got a very large envelope in the mail with my citizenship document and all the originals I had sent in nearly four months before. Honestly, I was slightly amazed as I thought that the FBR (Foreign Birth Registration) office might be overloaded, thanks in not small part to Yanks like myself who were answering the Government’s invitation to all who might qualify to submit requests, and the recent Brexit phenom in England.

Too bad, you other folks. I’m in, if not on my way!

Along with the official citizenship document was a very welcome application for a passport, which was already my next question and quest. Off again, along with a few more Euros, went an application to Dublin with the expected turn around time of about 6 weeks.

I should point out that once we were home from New England and the citizenship docs were in hand, we had more pressing and really important business to tend to. Vacation!! Pity the restless retirees. Back in the boring home surroundings we figured out we could still visit Denise’s niece in Texas and get our hands on the cute-as-buttons ten-month old twin boys before they lost their incredible cuteness and antics. Then if we could manage the itinerary carefully, we could still make use of nearly 2 weeks of time-share stuff we had mostly paid for already, so we went up to Myrtle Beach, So Car, and Destin Beach, in the Florida panhandle. We were able to get home with 2 days to spare before we had to fly – yes, had to – to Minneapolis to see 6 1/2 y/o granddaughter Hannah, with her first year’s introduction to ballet solidly behind her, perform in The Nutcracker, appearing once as a snowflake and once as an Angel. That alone was worth the trip but we were treated to one of the coldest days of the year, a brisk -24 degrees and 8-9 inches of snow. Oh, Destin, where are you now???

Then for the first time in almost 20 years we had Christmas day together with daughters Amy and Laura as well as grand kids Hannah and Ethan. Wonderful trip. Our presence at that particular time happened to coincide with Amy’s leaving MN for 5 days in the where?? the Florida Keys ?? go figure. Her partner, Wade, had vacation time and hotel lodgings already paid for on Key Largo and we were there, in St.Paul, to look after their 2 terrific dogs. Grand kids and grand puppies, all in one visit.The stars were certainly aligned. Except Daughter was in the Keys, Puppies were well cared for, fed and played with, but Mom and Dad we still in freezer shock and hoping it would not snow.

Back home in Fl 3 days after Christmas with a cold and sinus infection that would last 10-12 days. Bad enough to be ill but was also trying to brace myself for the installation of President #45 in a few days. Yet…I was truly elated. Jan 19, the day before the inauguration, my beautiful Irish passport arrived by FedEx. That made my day, my week, my month. I never dreamed I would have dual citizenship anywhere, with passport to travel, and the possible cure to any future malignant case of Trumpitis I might develop. The rest of this story waits to be played out. I’ll let you know.

Now, the other story. A couple of years ago, when I decided I needed something to bring a lot of family literature together, mostly written by my father and my oldest brother Ray, both of whom have departed us years ago but left an amazing amount of poetry and short stories and half a dozen novels behind, which, like the family information I had to dig up, were scattered among several family members, in boxes and closets from NE to MN. Besides taking up the challenge of constructing a blog of my own, I now saw a vehicle to bring all those writings out into the open. My father’s vast collection of hand written poems dated all the way back to 1962/63. Thankfully, my mother had typed them all on a small portable typewriter. Most of what  brother Ray had written was typed but in dire need of review and editing. My wife Denise did a great job of typing several thousand of his pages into digital format, along with Dad’s poems. Ray (Jr.) died in 1997.

They needed to be given a voice.

So my plan for the blog was a modest one and my contribution was to be low-key, daily or weekly happenings that caught my interest and whose virtue or significance was to be left to any readers who stumbled up my”Path”. I was not interested in earth-shaking prose or political or religious debate. I wanted to find a mode of interacting with the times that meshed with my belief that being honestly human did not demand super human strength but only an attentiveness to the world around us, human and non human, all matter, all the universe and our desire to honor life wherever we find it.

As I pointed out in my opening remarks today, I have been put-off by the current political events and have spent many hours trying to get a better grip on where to stand today. I have concluded that it is more important to find a functional, personally satisfying response for my future, than to contribute, endlessly to the cries and lies that make up too much of our awareness today. The unleashed forces will work their purposes and the best I can hope for in my remaining years is to live a life of active love and compassion for every person I have contact with. A kind of embrace of life itself that will perhaps bring a sense of “being OK” in a world going berserk.

I am posting a recent article from the blog of my good family friend and incredibly perceptive author, Tony Equale and hope you make time to read more of what he has to say throughout his postings.

For my original blog posting (re-posted last summer) please click the link below.   (https://rharding0728.wordpress.com/2016/07/07/about-off-the-beaten-path/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true)

For Tony Equale’s blog post and comments see:

https://tonyequale.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/an-imperial-people/#comment-4597

Unwittingly, I have been mirroring his conclusions and expectation for the future:

     “If we are to have a future as a species it will have to be characterized by international cooperation, negotiation, and collaboration derived from mutual respect and a sincere esteem for all people as people.  We are never going to stop 63 million people from doing what they think is the best thing for them.  Our only hope going forward … and in the long term … is to help them to understand what the best thing for them really is.  They must begin to think of their well being in terms of humankind itself.  That is the enduring task, there is no alternative.”    Tony Equale, An Imperial People.

How a Rucky Encounter With the U of F Women’s Rugby Team Rescued My Fading “Irish Celebration”

It certainly was a time for celebrating – Friday, 11/18/16 and I received notice in today’s mail that my application for Foreign Birth Registration has been approved and I am now an Irish Citizen. (As of 11/3/16, to be exact).

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Big deal, you say?

Why, yes.Yes it is!

Several years ago I set out to document my personal twig on the Harding family tree. Much of the “planting” and pruning had already been done by my daughter, Laura, but the  finer details of my immediate ancestors have always been a challenge in our limb of the tree. I set out to fill in as many details as I could, not having the foggiest notion of where to begin. I did not realize until a good while later that the Irish government was still offering citizenship to children and grand-children of Irish immigrants, with proper documentation. I’ll spare you all the details of a process that took months and a year or two to assemble that information. The notice of successful culmination was indeed cause for some kind of celebration. As to what kind, I had no idea and was not much engaged in thinking about it.

The Proposition.

That evening, out of nowhere, my wife announced, “I have a proposition for you”.

My ears perked right up.

“A proposition?”

“Or a suggestion”, she continued cautiously, seeming to sense I might be expecting something other that what she intended. ” An idea, proposal, what ever you want to call it. Something to celebrate you new citizenship”

“Such as,???”… says I…

“Tomorrow’s Saturday, we have nothing special to do, how would you like to have lunch at an Irish pub?”

“O.K., but I’m not up to speed on Irish pubs around here.” (No, really, I’m not), and my wife’s expertise in on-line scouting often leaves much to be desired.

“That’s OK. I found one, sounds good, only 6 or 8 miles from here.” She told me the name but it did not register with me. Rather than stare into a gift horse’s mouth before closing the deal, I said fine. Let’s do it. Probably have TV’s all over the place and we can keep an eye on the college football games.

The fantasy.

Against my own familiar cautions of not expecting so much that disappointment ensues, I imagined walking into a welcoming place of happy Irish folk and wanna-be’s, and me casually sitting myself at the bar, engaging the publican himself in friendly chit-chat and tossing out the reason for my being there today. I would proudly wear my souvenir Cork City rugby shirt, even though it’s a bit warm for Florida, but heck, I need to wear it more than just St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe he would be from the same Cork City or county as my grand-father. What a coincidence. Perhaps warrant an extra, free pint or a little heavier pour of the good stuff, don’t ya know. Let the good times roll; Guinness and some lively craic; [pronounced crack,(“Craic is a Gaelic word, with no exact English translation. The closest you get is “fun.” There’s the expression “ceoil agus craic,” meaning “music and fun,” .www.ireland-fun-facts.com/craic.html”]  with a round or two of “Danny Boy”, or “The Wild Colonial Boy”. I had to mentally stop short of picturing them carrying me out to the car, sober of course, singing “It’s a long way to Tipperary.”

“So,”, wife burst my bubble, “what time to you want to leave?”

Fearing a verbal land-mine and relying on years of navigating “time and best routes to take” questions, I suggested, “whatever you think is best – I don’t know exactly where this pub is so we should time it for a little before one o’clock and avoid the early rush lunch crowd and the later after-noon football gawkers.”

“Exactly what I was thinking,” she said. “Sounds good”. (picture here a kind of mental high-five for me.)

The Step Into Reality

I’ve been to enough eating/drinking places to have developed a sense of what lies ahead, and it is usually accurate. Said Pub was easier to find than anticipated and proved to be less than encouraging than my phantasmal pub-encounter. Hmmm, said I to me…quite a large place, even has out-door setting, able to handle large crowds. With only 3 cars in the parking lot, I secretly hoped scores upon scores of lads and lassies were on their way to celebrate with us.

Upon opening the door, still imagining a cavern of fun and rollicking songs, a woman’s voice called out from fifty feet away – “Sit wherever you like. I’ll be right with you.” The shout did not disturb the other 3 folks in the room, one at each length of the u-shaped bar; one glued to a TV, a young woman glued to her I-phone, and a tatted up young fellow who seemed to be glued to the edge of boredom and oblivion. Not a fiddle or a tin whistle to be heard anywhere.

We explored the tantalizing possibilities; to left of the bar was a small seating area and beyond that the huge out-door, not-yet-serving patio section. Neither was enticing and I had fleeting visions of having to leap over from my meal and catch the tattooed-one from falling off his stool.

To the right was a very large room with dozens of long tables, room for a hundred or more but not a customer in sight.

We gazed around in a 360 degree option scan. Let’s sit here. OK.                                              Bar tender/now  waitress appeared. Can we get the Gator’s or Nole’s game on this TV? Hmmm, she said – nope, not on this side. On the other side of the wall you can. OK says we, its a start.

Now we are right back to where we came in, just inside the doorway with nothing between us and the TV game except the entry way, but by now I’m figuring that that will not be an obstruction. If there are no warm welcoming crowds of Irish persons here to greet us, at least we can enjoy a good football game – maybe even the Irish of Notre Dame!

The Soup Gets Stirred

We gave the bartender/waitress our orders and since it was my day to celebrate I asked for a shot of Jameson’s with a little ice. I commented later to my wife that I think I was served a fifth of Jameson’s, as in one fifth whiskey and four fifths water, in a one ounce glass.

Now its about half past one o’clock and another, like us, elderly couple arrived and stood there, gazing from side to side. Knowing the situation and being of good cheer, we both offered that there was only one person on duty, who was waitress and bartender and she must be absent on very important hospitality missions. Please sit anywhere, she’ll be right with you, we said cheerily, feeling like publicans ourselves. They looked a little stunned but walked into the room with the not-so tune-able TV and waited…appearing to be skeptical of the soundness of our advice.

We now have our food and drink and are enjoying portions of the game. Time for celebrating is waning and its getting closer to two o’clock. My huge party crowd seems to have peaked at 7, or eight if you throw in the Serving Staff. As my gaze wandered ever so casually toward the front door, I could see bunches of people milling around, waiting to come in. My little Irish heart shouted, come in, join my fun, …..please.

Sure enough four or five young women in t-shirts and shorts  came in and did the “where the heck is everybody” stare. Denise and I are by now very familiar with the format and instructed them, “Sit anywhere, there’s only a waitress/bartender and she will be right with you” thing. “Try that big room right there… TV’s lousy but there are plenty  of tables. No, we’re not the owners but go ahead anyway. Enjoy!!

Now the crowd at the door is moving inside and I can see beyond the open door more and more groups of 6 or 7, athletic looking and fittingly dressed, young women are pressing into the pub. I can no longer count the number of celebration attendees. I should have sold tickets. What a day!

By now our waitress is bounding around, grabbing menu’s trying to keep up with all the people whom we have recommended be seated in the other room as well as a growing crowd, standing right near our table discussing what is to be done next. It seems the besought waitress has warned them that Saturday’s kitchen staff only comes in at 3 pm and all she can guarantee for the next 50 minutes will be sandwiches.

Correcting The Seasoning

By this time, beside immensely enjoying myself that so many people have come to join my celebration, and nursing my celebratory Guinness since the busy one arm paper hanger posing as Pub staff may never be able to fill a second one, an unknown gentleman has struck up a conversation with me and explained that these are women from the University of Florida Rugby team and he either has something to do with the team or his daughter was in the crowd of thirty or forty who seemed to be reaching critical mass of hunger about now and making plans to go somewhere else before returning here by three pm. I never did figure out who he was. Continue reading How a Rucky Encounter With the U of F Women’s Rugby Team Rescued My Fading “Irish Celebration”

Same Path. Different Perspectives

Same path, different perspectives.

 

In keeping with an earnest desire to find meaning in an otherwise lackluster universe, I  set out this week to walk my local path, (as I reported on last week), only tweaking it slightly by starting out in a different direction, adding about 10 minutes to my over-all journey.

I should point out that I live in a condominium complex (what else?) in Florida, one that is not high-rise and does not number thousands of “Units”(the places within a Complex where humans actually dwell). The entire Subdivision is separated into two distinct areas, I presume for marketing purposes, so one section could be sold while the second was under construction. The buildings are essentially the same size and style in each area, with no unit above two stories in either.

I’ll call the first area section A. While the buildings are essentially the same in both areas, those in section A, along with two story “duplex” and “?four-plexes”(my word), also includes single story “Villas”(a Florida favorite) not available in section B, and section A has a more spacious allotment of grass-to-concrete ratios plus a very limited boat launch and floating dock access to a 5 acre lake that section B shares but only indirectly. i.e after a walk of at least six minutes.

I live in section B but prefer to spend more of my walking time in section A, sort of where “the other half” live. Not that that amounts to anything. While A people may brag about landscaping and genuine Lake Front property,(see last week’s post re: FL lake front property; Paths and Turns Without Compass Envy, we B people gloat that we excel in humanoid density and vehicular parking space that assures that no matter how many residents, party animals, week-end visitors, etc. may be “on-site” at any given time, no one will have to walk more than 2.77 minutes to their abode. And should you be wondering about personal safety/security, each Section has an iron gate with individual unit code clicker for one’s auto that deters unwelcome stragglers with their potentially evil intentions from simply walking in and disturbing us. I must admit, however, that teen-age children easily by-pass such security with relative ease using the walk around or up and over method on foot, and vehicles that have no electronic access can still tail-gate an owner if they time it correctly and drive on in, and have, on more than one occasion, by-passed the tail-gating maneuver by carefully aligning the front end of their vehicle with the gate and steadily pushing on the gate. (Just flat-out ramming it also works, if the driver so chooses).

Now you have more information than you probably need, but I’m a firm believer in placing information in its proper context.                                                                                                      “Info, sans context, is confusing and useless”, rdh, 3/30/1976.

As I was saying, my ten minutes walk introduction was almost over when I came across a neighbor, Mister X (for our purposes here). [adding background for context, get it?]…We have lived here for four yrs, eight mos., more or less, and Mr. X lives in the next building over. We see each other occasionally, driving by, putting out trash containers, rare neighborhood get-togethers, etc.  My first thought was – “Oh no, he’s going to go on endlessly, usually complaining about living conditions in our complex Complex life here.” But then, in a kind of Zen, Be here, Be now moment, I decided to engage in a word exchange.

“Hi, ******”, I said. I remembered his name and the fact that his little dog that he was walking was quite tame and mild-mannered. Mr. X, not recognizing me, assured me that the dog doesn’t bite – but I already knew that.

Mr. X wondered did I live here. “Yep, right here behind us, second floor.” Not adding that his building was about 30 feet to the left of ours. “Been here almost five years.”

“Oh”, said he. “I’ve been here seven or eight. Hate it here. Don’t like being told what I can or cannot do on my own property. People always moving in or out. Four or five in the last few months. They all say ‘We’ll stay in touch’, and they never do. I own two other places, one a few miles east of here and another in the next town north of here. The only reason I stay here is my wife wants to be closer to the grand-kids.”

I should point out that both the areas that he mentioned are probably no more than five or ten miles from where we were standing, causing me to wonder just how close the Mrs. needed to be to the grand-kids. I know her to be both ambulatory and capable of driving her own car. But then, its only a fact, not a subject for my personal evaluation,(I’m trying to stay only in the here and now.)

I was not tempted to ask too many questions about Mr. X’s past or present and figured we both had our fill of self-disclosure for today. I remarked that I should be off, as I needed to complete my 30 minute walk somewhat on schedule.

“So add five minutes of conversation time to your schedule and you’ll be fine”, he helpfully observed.

“Exactly,” I said. I extended my hand and said, “Good seeing you, ******.” He shook my hand and said, “you even know my name” I refrained from a rude “Duhh” (no Zen in that) but I had seen him enough to wave to and  call out Hi ****, how are you. In reply I simply said I had a knack for faces and names, and would see him around.

During this departure exercise, ****** was busy winding little dog’s leash of some 20 0r 30 feet by my estimate, around his palm and elbow, such as one would coil up a length of garden hose or bow line of a boat. This is very interesting, as our HOA by-laws stipulate that ALL dogs must be on no more than an 8 ft leash and owners are to pick up all solid residue that their pets leave on common grounds. Most owners are compliant and in five years I’ve seen wandering dogs maybe once or twice and rarely have to avoid doggie doo-doo residue. But in keeping with ******’s dislike for unreasonable regulations, his 8 foot leash now consists of 2 or 3 eight ft lengths clipped together and always connected to the dog but usually not to the owner. My wife has cogently observed that he walks his dog on a leash – one that is trailed along behind the dog and the owner is somewhat compliant – and who could argue? The dog is on a leash.

“Later”, I said, and wandered off, mulling over the challenges of neighbor-acceptance and the  wisdom of “live and let live”.

I continued my usual path through section A, over to the boat launch – all was as it should be – the only boat I’ve ever seen launched was not a boat but a sizeable sea-doo or PWC, personal water craft, coming back from a test ride with a young couple aboard, who were visiting relatives, they said. (Personal observation- this was a craft that belongs on the Gulf of Mexico, not on this quaint little lake.) But then, least you think I’m too old and retired to appreciate things modern, I never complained openly about the fact that two-hundred yards from where I stood, someone used to commute from his real lake-front home with a sea-plane.  Ommmm.

Back up to my sidewalk stroll, where again, I almost walked into the Crane family, all four, feasting again on unseen live things under the dirt, only six or eight feet from where they were two days ago. Chow-on my friends.

Sure enough I soon came across the Barbados fellows power washing driveways with care and concentration. Father and son this time. I inquired of the father, who obviously was enjoying his role of supervisor while son buffed away on the concrete, were they indeed from Barbados or was that just a touristy license plate on the front of their truck.

“Yes. Been here since 1982. Going back for Christmas this year, first time in over twenty years.”

“Wonderful,” I observed. “Great time to be in Barbados”

Then,seizing upon the opportunity to clarify a sticky pronunciation problem I’ve had, ever since I heard someone of English extraction pronounce the island name as BARbados, I discreetly inquired if that was the proper pronunciation, or was it truly, BarBAdos.

I suspect he too suppressed a “duhh” urge and said,

“BarBAdos. Its BarBAdos.”

“Of course,” I said, and quickly put the blame squarely on the Brit that should have know better.

“Have a  great day, and thanks. Safe trip to BarBAdos.” And off I went, thinking I was having a very informed kind of zen experience today. Little did I know what awaited me!

A few minutes later I realized that I had used up most of my allotted time and most of my mileage. As I rounded the corner of the last building I would pass within section A and progressed  beyond some shrubs, I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the missing Calico Kitty walking near a water-retention area. “Hello, Calico Kitty,” I said quietly, trying to not frighten her away. Then I saw a second cat, a black and white Tuxedo cat near to building, and there, big as life but not so tall, behind the screen door was the little old owner lady from the other day.

I waved to her and she apparently recognized me and beckoned me to come over.

-Aha, to my self.- A chance to explain my dilemma about what to do if I should spy her missing calico, apologize for my lack of clarity and to seize upon another Zen moment. What a day I was having.

Yes, she said, the kitty had come back and joined her Tuxedo friend and a third family member who, being perpetually shy, was in the bedroom, under the bed and not likely to show up. A happy three cat family.  Come in and sit she said. I was a little reluctant at first, being by history somewhat of the “under the bed” kind of animal, but my subconscious Zen thing kicked in, arguing, Why not, the poor lady is probably starving for a little human conversation.

“Thank you. I will sit for a minute”. She pointed to a chair and stepped into her home for a minute. She returned quickly and I stood and shook hands. “I’m Richard,” I said. She introduced herself as ****. (I thought about using her name here but in the interest of safety I choose not to, as it may become possible for some disgruntled NSA laid-off hacker to track down her location and presume upon her to part with some of the diamond accessories that weighed down her hand.)

We proceeded to have a lengthy chat – I was correct to assume she would love to chat with someone who said more than Meow and purred and slept a lot. I hardly ever meow.

In short order I learned the Calico often wandered about; the Tuxedo was rescued shortly after being born and abandoned and (I’ll call her Lill, (as in Diamond Lill I guess) was taken by kayak by my hostess to a vet and nurtured to a full life.

Infering in good investigative style that she must have an interesting past, I said,”By Kayak, you said…where was that,” I questioned.”

“I was living in the Keys then.” she ventured. Before that, my (now deceased)husband and I lived in North Carolina. Then we moved to Florida, (the next county north of here) and several other places in this county.

I was realizing that I could be in for a long haul as they say. Besides moving around a lot, we have many things is common – my wife’s French-Canadian lineage – Lill is from the Provence de Quebec; my younger daughter once owned a Tuxedo cat, and we had rescued a cat from a pound in NH, which cat, oh happy day, promptly delivered several darling kitties when we got her home. Lill has an adult daughter living nearby, sans children, and a son living in California, sans spouse. Endless opportunities were presenting themselves for further discussion, but I felt my Zen impulse waning and my “let’s have lunch” urge twisting at my stomach.

I moved the discussion to an apt close by saying how happy I was that her feline family was still in tact, but warned her that my wife had reported seeing a calico cat on her building’s roof, which she could hardly believe and immediately proclaimed with just, motherly contempt, it wasn’t her cat, and advised her that Missy Calico had better keep her distance from the woodsy area out back and not offer snacking occasions for ‘gators.

At the mention of alligators on the premises Lill’s eye’s opened wide in disbelief. I wondered to myself how someone so acquainted with Florida life could be in denial of gator reality in her back yard.

“Oh yes,” I assured her,” but they usually stay in the local ponds, but its best not to temp their appetites.”

She was grateful for the information and thanked me for stopping and chatting. “You must bring your wife sometime” she graciously offered.

I took my hungry feet back to the sidewalk, waved good-bye to a charming lady with lots of history and a chronic, residual back pain from having experienced a case of shingles, and headed for the little footbridge to take me back to section B.

Had I looked back, I imagine I might have seen at least one “kitty” staring after me with something of an evil eye.

Chill, kitty, I may have impaired your freedom to roam but could have,  inadvertently,saved at least one of  your nine lives.

Just another day with perhaps a small dose of Zen awareness.

Peace.

rdh

 

Paths and Turns Without Compass Envy

Paths, of course, can be real or metaphorical. My reconnoitering on my little Off the Beaten Path blog belongs in the latter category. But then you probably know that. Its meant to offer reflection, not guidance, and certainly not solutions. But I write to re-assure myself that no matter how wandering or insignificant my thought train may seem it does touch upon occasional gritty stuff, stuff of relative value that others may appreciate and take some encouragement from… that all that is grand and important and of lasting value is often cloaked in metaphor and neither readily understood nor easily absorbed by our rascally minds.One of life’s difficult lessons is that we become prone to looking but not seeing, listening but not hearing, holding but not touching, caring but not loving.

Wander with me for a few moments while I weave today’s long over-due path-detour. I’ve been trying to walk 30-40 minutes every day since returning from a quick visit to west Texas in the Concho River Valley area, where we were welcomed by Denise’s niece and her husband and were totally enchanted by their 4 y/o daughter and almost 1 y/o twin boys. Our first hands-on contact with the family in well over a year. I won’t go into grand-father-like raving about these kiddos and their outstanding parents, but it was a very happy twist in our daily path hacking that we will not soon forget. Even their parents invited us to dinner and shared stories with us as though we were close relatives who just happened to have been busy elsewhere for the last 7 or 8 years. We have fond memories of their kindness and are proud to be included in their family circle.

Needless to say, flying to Texas, sitting is mandatory, as in sitting for airport hours, in-plane hours, rental car and hotel waiting hours, etc. and back again, traveling hours on end, we were sort of butt-bound by the time we got home late in the evening, 4 full days later, and taking a walk the next morning  was just a few degrees north of a chore, but a much-needed exercise.

So after 3 days of one mile or so walks in the a.m. (otherwise they often don’t happen), I decided today to not walk a quick pace but simply walk and observe my surroundings, as one should do daily and appreciate the beauty of the world that has been given to us.

The Sidewalk Path

The run-off or overflow pipe beside the sidewalk was dried up and without any water to speak of and the sometime resident baby gator was nowhere to be seen. Ten steps later I noticed a long piece of what I thought was an invading vine in a six-foot tall bush turned out to be only a piece of twine that fed back into the bush and disappeared. It wasn’t fishing line, and reminded me of a thin version of a pull cord that might be found on a lawn-mower or outboard motor. A few quick tugs didn’t start anything except the other side of the bush into bending back and forth. No noise, no excitement, the little boy in me said forget it, this ain’t worth my time.

Not far along I met an elderly lady who stopped and asked me if I had seen her “calico kitty” who had wandered off – not the first time. No, I said, but would keep an eye out, and we both continued our walking. Moments later I realized that I had no idea who the lady was or which building she lived in and if I did see her kitty what should I do with it. (Not being completely in the moment there, Dick.)

A brief check of the dock at the lake revealed no fish or heron or any bird activity at all. (Check off lake as being ok.) Up the boat ramp and back on the sidewalk I became a little lost in my thoughts until I nearly bumped into a family of Sand Hill Cranes, too busy feeding off grubs or ants or whatever to be alarmed by my presence. They were all about the same size and coloration so I knew they were 2 adults and 2 juveniles. Large birds. When they stand erect and scan the surroundings with necks extended, their beaks could do some major damage to a person’s  face or head. Thankfully they could not care less about me even though I was within 3-4 feet of them. (Check. Family of 4, intact and happy. Pairs mate for life and often lose one or both of the young to predators before they reach full size. Good to see four together – good day for cranes).

Farther along, a few late migrating warblers chattering about in the trees, gators and mallards no longer lounging around in the water-front property (a particularly Florida real estate phrase for houses that border rain and aquifer collectors…they are retention ponds folks.)  Still, an interesting place unless you went out and bought a lot of beach chairs and umbrella tables. A few more steps and  a human with a phone to his ear dragged his dog along the other sideaof the street; we have no idea about who either of us were or if it mattered A woman walked past me  and appeared to be deaf as I gave a clear “good morning” in her direction and she marched right on by, with no ear-buds for an excuse. (Check bathroom stuff and expiration date on that antiperspirants. It could be my fault)

Fifty yards more, a young man with what looked like a floor buffing machine, spraying water on a driveway and swinging it back and forth just like a buffer (I have personal knowledge of the motion), clearing away the oil,grease,dirt etc.that besmirches our home parking places. (Floridians take great pride in their pristine cement driveways). I waved to him and he nodded back. I remembered him (rather his truck, his machine, and apparently his father, who I’d passed before on my walks. Their truck, with a trailer loaded with a water vat and I guess some chemicals and a compressor to drive the water/buffer gizmos, proclaimed a Power Wash business,(Floridians, in keeping with their pristine driveways also demand their vinyl siding not offend neighbor or visitor with dirt, grime, cobwebs or such, and be neat and clean all year round. As if torrential rain and hurricane force winds weren’t enough. The decorative license-plate displayed on the front seemed to say they were from Barbados… or maybe it was just their favorite soccer team.

Nearly back to where I started, the nice elderly lady was gone, so I did not have to tell her that her kitty was nowhere to be seen and probably eaten by an alligator, since they dearly love to snack on kitties and small dogs and she should remember to close her doors and windows in the future. (My wife told me later that she had walked  past that building and had seen a cat sitting on the roof.) I thought maybe I would have to go back and tell the lady that she should add red-shoulder and broad-wing hawks to her list of suspects. Nah. Too much info and probably too late. Then again, elderly or young, folks are not always receptive to suggestions concerning the harshness of possible realities. I secretly hoped that Kitty was home safe and she and her caretaker were securely locked in their happy domicile.

So there it was. Just a walk around the neighborhood. Not a quick pace. Not trying to make X number of miles in X amount of time. Just trying to see what I’m already living in and sometimes missing. Goals are good and necessary part of living. But I believe that it is equally important to focus on and enjoy the steps to that goal. We can’t control the end result but we can attend to and enjoy the steps along the way.

We make the road as we go”*, and the best paths come without GPS or compass. I’ll choose the non-beaten path whenever I can. It may be dull and boring; it may be a grand adventure.  I’ll find satisfaction in the fact that it is my path and relish the outcome.

Thanks for walking with me.

  • “…Caminante no hay camino …Se hace camino al andar…”         
  •  Antonio  Machado…“Proverbios y cantares” in Campos de CastRDHilla.

rdh 11/10/16

An Ode of Sorts

{Another “late find”. Just when we thought we had all existing pages of poetry under control, we found additional pages in Phil’s Fairhaven attic. As with most other items we have no idea about what point in his life this was written, but similar to his poem “Pails”,[https://rharding0728.wordpress.com/pails/] he recounts a number of life-phases that he remembers with rather mixed emotions and a sense of fatalism that made good ground for reflective metaphor. Hope you find it enjoyable.}

Raymond J. Harding

Pepperell, MA 01463

An Ode of Sorts

Somewhere between puberty and senility,

Something came unglued.

It seems there were a lot of things that happened.

Some of them, like breathing, eating, and making love,

Were nice.

Someone once told me that in the great card game of life,

God holds all the cards.

I looked around once and found

That He

Wasn’t

Even

In

The

Game

Down

At

the

Junkyard where they keep the chrome-plated

Symbols

Of yesterday’s dream-status,

Old Willie, the one-legged Ahab of the Detroit wailing fleet

Plies his long-shafted ratchet in search of the perfect part,

Submerged deep in a red, rust sea,

Long waiting for its resurrection.

Good Man, Willie!  Harpoon me a carburetor for a 1928

Worn out, worn down, screwed-up and degenerated

Humanoid-six.

That’s me, Willie; they don’t make ‘em like they used to,

In fact, they never did.

So, I put too much of my life looking at things

As if they were real.

Fame and fortune hung out on gossamer threads for me,

And I watched them sparkle with dew in an early morning sun

That was never really there.

Those thin threads were woven by spiders whose venom is in

The touch.

Be a poet, my father said.

Look at life through eyes that see

The beauty beyond the garbage.

He forgot to tell me how thick the garbage was.

Mother was more practical

Down-to-earth they used to call it.

Be a plumber, she said.

So I read Lanier

And he un-hinged my mind a little further

With his music and his visions

Fluting his way to immortality,

But then he was what lurked beneath the surface. . .

Boy, did I find things beneath the surface!

Better look there first

And maybe keep your sanity.

I remember Mary Ann Glynn

It was either a long time ago

Or very late last night

And I had taken Mary Ann Glynn to the senior prom,

A one-night bride on a lilac-choked evening.

We wander off into the sea-stars

And away from the music, playing—(any old song

That you can think of that will jog memories out of the

Dusty corners and fire off the neurons that bring back

Full moons, perfumed hair, warm, summer night air

And the salt smell of the sea.)

Somehow, we had wandered off to the edge of the world,

Hand in hot hand

Down to the edge of Sid’s Marsh

Where the great flood tide was filling the channels

In symbolic sex,

And we were somewhere near the spot

Where Jim Dickey wrestled his hammerhead to a draw,

And it was dark,

And when I tried to kiss Mary Ann Glynn,

All that I could see of her, and all I remember of her

Is the soft curve under her hair

Where the smooth, white skin of her neck

Blended into her shoulder

Because I was watching beyond her

At the strange lines traced on the surface of the water,

And the flash and the silver glimmer of something deeper,

Beyond the reach of the music,

Beyond scent,

Beyond memory,

Beyond anything that Mary Ann Glynn could do

For me,

Or to me,

Or with me,

And it frightened me.

So, I never looked very closely at Mary Ann Glynn,

Or perhaps I looked too closely,

But I never looked close enough at life, or love. . .

There is something deeper there,

And it frightens me.

An interruption now for exerpts from an address

To the 53rd graduating Class

Of the Berkshire Seminary for Young Men.

(BS for Young Men couldn’t afford a Kennedy, or a Nixon,

Or a Ford,

Or a Kissinger.

So they settled for the world’s greatest unpublished poet,

Elbert W.  who went to school with me and was the class wimp.

Elbert gave me permission to use this only because

I threatened to break his nose if he didn’t.)

“Do not read Poe!

Find yourself a good bottle of bourbon,

Stay up late at night fighting sleep,

Never play with talking crows,

Don’t bury your sister—don’t bury anybody,

In fact, until they’re dead.

(Don’t laugh, we do it all the time,

and no one seems to notice.)

Don’t date girls named Lenore,

And don’t visit old friends who live in cracked

houses.

Other than that, love well,

Do what you will,

And the world will be your oyster.”

(For what oysters are worth on today’s market!)

Now, as for me, I would like to have met

Old Edgar Allen Poet.

What should I have called you?

Would I have called you Ed?

Maybe Al?

I would have liked to call you friend.

We could have split the cost of a stand-up

Bourbon buffet,

Talked of dark-eyed houses whose windows reflect

Dark lakes,

And we could have swapped stories

Far into the night,

Of lost loves

And girls whose names were Lenore.

And keep in mind the old “Deliverance” Man

Delivered me right out of the 19th Century,

And helped ruin my senior prom.

Somewhere between “Shark’s Parlor” and Vinnie Lombardo

He left me wondering if he knew the answers.

All I ever had were the questions.

And somewhere between WW.II (The Big One!)

And all the small-scale shit that blossomed from it,

Like strange, sharp-smelling fungi,

That old devil, Walt Whitman took what was left of my soul,

Cataloged it, shoved it right in my face, and showed me my self.

Walter, Walter, where did we go wrong?

Well, me anyhow.

All you got was a little recognition

Measured against a lot of grief.

War, whores, and homosexuals,

They all hammered out a man

Too big for life,

And now I can’t shake you,

Or Sandburg, Or Frost,

Or. . .

You are the monkey on my back.

Heroin would be easier to shake!

I thought of you when I took that dead—end job.

I found a job

And a red Indian motorcycle

In a Detroit warehouse.

I tinkered the Indian together with a solar screwdriver,

And a rusty pair of pliers,

Headed east, picking up speed

All the way.

I blew by a pack of chopped Angels, west bound on I-80,

Wearing red bandanas under German helmets, and leather jackets

Emblazoned:

“If it ain’t a Harley, it ain’t shit!”  heading west,

Into the sunset.

Not me, mon ami, I’m east-bound all the way.

Gonna get up momentum for the leap of the century.

Needed more weight on the back of the saddle,

And I should have swung by Chicago to pick up the Swede,

But there was no way I was going to lose all that velocity now.

Going to be the great Lindburg leap!

Somewhere between Altoona and Philly, I got all the weight

I needed when I felt old Walt clawing into my leathers,

Yelling into my right ear:

“Screw Manhattan; go for Montauk!”

And while he chanted a litany of all the things

That had happened to Adam’s sons and daughter

Since the Fall,

We hit that ramp just right

For the big, quantum leap into obscurity,

Into that great, wide sea of things that used-to-be,

Me, Walt, and that old, red Indian.

I suppose, now, you think I’m bitter?

Hell, no!

Old Willie in that junkyard might still come up

With the parts I need,

Or God might just decide to sit in on one more game,

And deal up a decent hand

For a change.

If not,

Well, I’ll just pull my old, leaky sailboat

Out from under the wharf

Where it got jammed in the ’55 hurricane,

Set the worn, patched mainsail,

Run up the brand-new, American-made Genoa,

And sloop on out of Cape Cod Bay,

Slipping out past the in-coming draggers,

Counting their catch, counting their money,

Buying thin dreams with cold, hard cash.

Mine are more expensive,

And I don’t know the way to Bora  Bora,

But if the wind is right,

And the dreams keep faith with the memories,

It doesn’t matter. . .

Does it.