“Write Drunk, Edit Sober”

Intersting title, no? Many people attribute this quote to Ernest Hemingway, but as far as historians can tell, it’s not true. I love Hemingway, so who cares. It sounds like something he would have said.

It should come as no surprise that I love reading. My favorite contemporary authors now are Clive Cussler, who’s main character Dirk Pitt is a true “Man’s Man”, not to mention the action is pretty much all based on underwater archeology. Stanford has a wonderful FBI team. And Jance hits home with action in Seattle and Brisbee. The novels these folks turn out are wonderful summer reading. They keep you entertained, and you feel like you know the characters on a personal level.

But they aren’t Hemingway, Kerouac, Salinger or Bukowski. Continue reading ““Write Drunk, Edit Sober””

Serenity on the Tree Stand

It’s Friday afternoon and you feel the stress of the whole week hanging on you like the coat of a wet Newfoundland. You get home, cast off the crap of the week and grab your go-to pack and run out the back. Your buddy picks you up and you head to hunting camp. Finally.

Once at the cabin a fire gets started and somehow the best steaks you’ve ever tasted are on plates as everyone settles in for a serious nosh. After dinner and the plates are washed, the cards and whiskey come out.

Stories begin to flow through the cabin like the smoke from the cigars.

Whaddayamean a straight flush don’t beat 2 pair? Yer crazy, man! And on, and on. After I win…well, in my memory at least, we all crawl into our racks. I’m nervous about the morning, but not willing to show it. Continue reading “Serenity on the Tree Stand”

Empathy and Love

Empathy and love is sorely missing from Facebook these days, replaced instead by the constant back and forth of why this political party or that one sucks to the delight of trolls everywhere. Is it just easier to be a troll on social media? Maybe it is. Takes more effort to call someone on the phone, and more guts to talk face-to-face. Thankfully, empathy and love are not dead in the real world.

Last summer Beth took in her second litter of abandoned kittens. As usual, she spent time with the cats, got them socialized, healthy, and ready for adoption. 2 cats didn’t get adopted on the assigned day, so Beth stepped up and adopted them both. Harley, strong willed, large and beautiful, is doing great. She’s a goofball, more dog than cat, to be honest. Davidson, as it turns out, got the short stick of the litter.

Davidson has FIP. At least that’s what the vets and Beth think. There is no real test for it, so diagnosis is all based on symptomology. Bottom line is that Daver (Beth’s nickname for him) is basically going through what a human with ALS goes through. He is losing all motor functions, he cannot eat on his own, but yet he is still alert to all that is going on around him. Continue reading “Empathy and Love”

Home is the Heart

Odd thing tonight. Something I’ve struggled with since I was kid, was answered in an episode of NCIS:LA when a character spoke the “Home is the Heart” line. I’ve lived in a lot of places, but I’ve never really felt what I thought was true home sickness. Why is that? Well, it’s because I’ve subconsciously never felt that home is where the heart is, rather that home is the heart. I carry “home” with me all the time.

I remember when my friend Steve Szili and I used to wear our underwear on the outside and pretend we were Batman and Robin. Continue reading “Home is the Heart”

Old Men, Stories and Beer. Part II

Michael “Sargent Major” Marshall passed away on Jan 3rd at the age of 71 and was laid to rest on Jan 10, 2013. During his time in the military he was awarded over 30 medals and commendations, including the Purple Heart and the Gallantry Cross (Vietnam). One of his personal crowning moments, I believe, was when he was awarded a meritorious service medal by President Obama last year. He carried that picture of the two of them everywhere, never bragging mind you, just damn proud.

Sargent Major exemplified the ideal of ‘gentle strength.’ Built like a pencil thin reed, he would bend when life threw heavy winds his way, yet he managed to support all of those around him. Once the winds passed, he would snap back to full strength, ready to take on the next. Kind and generous, sometimes to a fault, he was still a man you didn’t want to get on the bad side of. A true leader, in every sense of the word. To be honest, all he would have had to do was ask, and I would have followed him anywhere. Continue reading “Old Men, Stories and Beer. Part II”

5 Stages of Grief

I can’t believe this happened, but in the space of just over a week 2 very influential men in my life died. One helped to shape me while I was younger, while the other one affected my life in later years. I’d like to take a moment and share a little of their humor and wisdom if I may.

Uncle Barry, a soft-spoken southern gentleman with a titanium will, passed away a few days after suffering a stroke. If I know him the way I think I do, he probably willed himself to pass on, rather than become a burden to his family. I’m pretty sure the thought of having to be fed, etc. would not have set well with him.

When I was much younger, around 12 or so, Uncle Barry, Aunt Charlotte and cousins Sorrel, Cindy and Benny came to visit our family in Bedford, Ohio, from their home in Gainesville, Florida. One night we decided to have a campfire in our backyard. Continue reading “5 Stages of Grief”

Magical Memory Mayhem

Hang on kids, it could be a long one.

It was a hot one in Seattle today. I know, 89 does not qualify as hot compared to the rest of the country, but for us it’s frickin hot. We are not well equipped here to deal with multiple hot days. A/C is lacking in most places and to be honest, as much as we complain, we love what is our normal weather. Just don’t let that get out.

After the brutal day, much like what this part of the country is known for, we got a wonderful evening. Temps fell and sitting outside became a joy. Clear skies, slight breeze and the smells. Man. Look, I’m being honest here. We have the best smelling air in all of the US. I’m not kidding. When we do go home, part of what I look forward to most is coming back and just smelling the air. It’s clean and crisp, yes, but there is… something else. It’s hard to explain. Most folks that come to visit say something about it, but they never really get it. You live out here for more than a couple of years though, and you can’t live without it. 

So any way, I go outside on our “patio” and just sit. Bug light is on, a pale yellow light is cast over the grill and chairs. I sit. I smell. I start to remember. Boy, do I remember. 

My family comes from back east, PA and OH to be exact. My parents grew up in a small town in PA called Union City. I have so many fond memories of both families, but for this I’m going to talk about my mom’s parents. Meme and BumBee. Actually, I’m not sure of the spelling, but you get the idea. Story goes I couldn’t say Grandma or Grandpa, so Meme and BumBee were ‘born.’ 

My grandfather used to take me fishing out to French Creek. He taught me patience, but more importantly, he taught me to love canned fish and baseball. You know what I’m talking about. Sitting by a small stream, line in the water while you listen to baseball on a radio. Get hungry, you open a tin of sardines and life is good. 

My grandmother taught me…man. She made me who I am today. Which brings me to the point of this post. I remember sitting on Meme’s back porch on summer nights, bug light lit, playing Rummy. Not only did she teach me how to play the game, she taught me about life. She taught me how to be calm. She taught me what it means to say ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I was wrong’ and actually mean it. She taught me right from wrong. And she did all of this under a pale yellow light, sweet smell of slightly damp earth wafting in and treating me like an equal, not a goofy little 10 year old kid. 

My brother Brian was even closer to her than me. Our dad left the family in August, I went into the Navy in September, and Brian was suddenly left alone with our mom. I love our mom, but that was a lot for him to take. Meme stepped in and gave him the anchor he needed. I’m glad to say it worked, because he’s become a man I am more than proud to call my brother.

So, I’ve come in from the patio. Left the bug light behind. But Meme? I felt you there with me tonight. I felt your unconditional love. I felt your joy that I’ve taken your habit of having toast and coffee for breakfast. I felt your disappointment that I didn’t get you a great-grandkid in time. I felt your pride that I recall your stories of being wooed on horse-drawn carriages. I felt that you understood how much in awe I was of you that you went from horses to bikes to cars to planes to seeing a man on the moon. More than anything though, I was reminded of just how much I miss you, and the wisdom you gave while playing a simple game of cards. 

Grumpy out. 

Freedom For All

Freedom Is Not Free. 

I have this tattooed on my arm. I live it. I believe it. I also believe that freedom for some is not freedom for all. This country was founded on the simple idea that all are created equal and we all have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

This has led me down some “Catch-22” situations. What if someone else’s pursuit makes me uncomfortable? What if I don’t agree with it? They have the right to their own opinions, right?

Not if it hurts others. And that’s the rub. I’ve never been able to effectively express that concept. Luckily I don’t have to anymore. A friend of mine, Wayne, wrote a short essay on this very topic, with the Chick-Fil-A controversy as the basis. You can read it on his website here: http://www.owldolatrous.com/?p=288

I urge you to take a moment and read it. You may believe in the words, you may not. That is up to you. As far as I’m concerned though, it’s way past time to stop the hate.

Grumpy

Almost Famous

First off let me thank you all for the kind thoughts about the loss of our friend Gar. Beth, who was a part of Gar’s life from the beginning, took the event rather hard. To be honest, for me it solidified just how much I love this woman. Her compassion and empathy towards animals are one of the reasons why I fell in love with her and remain one of the reasons why I love her more than I am sometimes able to express.

Which leads me to the the reason for this post. Beth and I just finished watching “Almost Famous.” It’s a story about a 15 yr. old kid who goes on the road with a rock band to write a story for Rolling Stone magazine in the early ’70s. Aside from being a totally enjoyable flick, it reminded me of why I fell in love with the written word at an early age. Continue reading “Almost Famous”

Let’s Get This Straight

Okay, look. I don’t know who said that wisdom comes with age, but they lied. The only thing that came when I got older was gray hair and the inability to sleep more than 6 hours in a row without getting up to pee.

I’ve decided to deal with this aging nonsense by keeping a record of my thoughts. Random, grumpy, aching-knee thoughts. It is going to be me being grumpy about getting old. As the hair continues to fall, so will the words.

So renew your AARP card and I’ll meet you at Denny’s where we’ll gripe about kids with more hardware in their ears than a Sears store.

Oh, and get off my lawn!