1.7.2022 – cultural despair

cultural despair
loss, grievance anxiety when
feel dislocated

If you want to read a disturbing take on the world today, the writing of Fiona Hill is the writer for you.

You remember Ms. Hill.

She is the American lady with the brit accent who testified in one of the many hearings about important matters that mattered to important people back in the day when everyone was trying to get someone to say something that might get someone else in trouble.

Ms. Hill was an intelligence analyst under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2006 to 2009. She was appointed, in the first quarter of 2017, by President Donald Trump as deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian affairs on his National Security Council staff. (Wikipedia)

Ms. Hill has a command of language and prose and wit that produces wonderful, easy to read and grasp, important books that we all should read but no one will.

In her latest book, commenting on the United States at the beginning of the century, the millennium era, Ms. Hill wrote this.

Cultural despair is the sense of loss, grievance, and anxiety that occurs when people feel dislocated from their communities and broader society as everything and everyone shifts around them.

Especially when the sense of identity that develops from working in a particular job or industry, also recedes or is abruptly removed, people lose their grasp of the familiar.

They can then easily fall prey to those who promise to put things – including jobs, people, or even entire countries – back in “their rightful place.

If what it takes is a sense of loss, grievance as everything and everyone shifts around them, it is safe to say the United States is in a state of cultural despair.

The goofy thing about the THEY in the line that starts, They can then easily fall prey … is that it can apply to either side of our great debates.

Take money.

Rich people are in despair due to a sense of loss, grievance as everything and everyone shifts around them and they fall prey to anyone who says they will return and keep the I in RICH. Back in their rightful place.

Poor people are in despair due to a sense of loss, grievance as everything and everyone shifts around them and they fall prey to anyone who says they will replace the rich people with the poor people. In their rightful place.

The right places are not the same places.

And if someone is right, why would they want to consider another point of view that has to be wrong?

Something for everyone and at the same time nothing for anyone.

Did I leave out the title of Ms. Hill’s latest book?

There is nothing for you here.

11.5.2021 – make ready, lose count

make ready, lose count
of scoops small step of faith
great start but no notes

My day starts the night before around 10:30pm.

At 10:30pm, I get the coffee maker set up to make coffee the next morning.

I am a coffee nut but a strict orthodox coffee nut.

I will enjoy a Starbucks or any other boutique coffee or latte or cafe au lait.

I will put up with the strange arrogance of vente, grande and whatever else I have to say when I want to order a small coffee with milk.

I will go so far as to say that the best cup of coffee I ever ordered was the Ho Chi Minh City at Cafe Amico in Suwanee, Georgia.

Best cup of store bought coffee anyway.

When you get right down to it, it all tastes the same after the third sip.

I have used the kuerig.

I think we have owned several.

But, dog gone it, I want a pot of coffee.

For a real orthodox coffee nut, the test is not the specialty coffees but the daily coffee in the pot at home.

I know I have quoted this before but in the book of short stories that led to the play and movie, “Life with Father,” Clarence Day describes a breakfast with his Dad.

A breakfast with bad coffee.

Mr. Day, Jr., writes:

At breakfast, Father would put down his coffee-cup in disgust and roar:

“Slops! Damn it, slops!

Does she call this confounded mess coffee?

Isn’t there a damned soul in Westchester County who knows how to make coffee but me?

I swear to God I can’t even imagine how she concocts such atrocities.

I come down to this room hungry every morning, and she tries to fill me with slops!

Take it away, I tell you!” he would bellow to the waitress.

“Take this accursed mess away!”

And while she and Delia were frantically hurrying to make a fresh pot, he would savagely devour his omelet and bacon, and declare that his breakfast was ruined.

When I first read this story years and years ago I felt I understood just what Clarence Day, Sr., meant.

If my morning coffee isn’t ‘right’ (no need for the word just here, not ‘just right’ just ‘right’) then the rest of the day is in jeopardy if not gone.

I like to say that God created the heavens and the stars and so separated the Day from the Night so there would be morning.

I like to say that God created morning so there would be coffee.

The Bible says we are created in God’s image.

Therefore it can be said that God must have a nose.

If God has a nose, God can smell.

Note the many verses in the Bible that describe sacrifices making a pleasing aroma.

Grilled lamb or steak with clouds of savory smoke drifting up to Heaven.

If there are pleasing aroma’s in Heaven then they must have coffee there.

I told you I was orthodox in my beliefs.

My day starts then when I get the coffee maker set up the night before.

For such a important part of my day tomorrow I can be cavalier about how I go about preparing the coffee maker.

It would make sense that I have a precise regimen that I follow with exactitude but, being me, I don’t.

The brand of coffee is not carved in stone.

I switch from time to time.

Sometimes just to change.

Sometimes based on price.

Sometimes based on availablity.

Right now I am using Café Bustelo.

I don’t worry about the water.

It doesn’t bother me that it will sit all night.

I guess it’s going to sit all night somewhere.

Here in the low country of South Carolina there are water towers so the city water delivery system IS based on gravity.

But the area is dotted with GRAVITY ASSIST PUMPSTATIONS at ground level to make sure water can make it up and into the multi story apartment buildings.

Then the filter goes in place.

Then I measure out the coffee.

I am making eight cups.

I will have 2 or 3 in the morning following the ‘endless cup’ method of continually warming up a cup of coffee.

My wife will have cup.

And then later that day I will make up a large iced cafe au lait with the leftovers.

There was a time when it was thought I should limit myself to a single cup of coffee.

So I did.

After I went out and bought the biggest cafe au lait mug I could find.

It was like carrying around a punch bowl.

To make eight cups of coffee takes 8 level scoops of Cafe Bustelo.

This is where the fun happens.

With everything that is riding on this simple act I cannot tell how often I lose count.

I hear a noise.

I think of a noise.

I think of something.

I look back at the TV.

Something happens and I am standing there with a scoop in one hand, can of coffee in the other, staring into the coffee maker and wondering … 5 … 7… 3?

I look at the coffee already in the filter and there is really no help to determine mass versus measurement from the size of the pile of coffee.

Then the descision.

Dump it out and start over which is the safe way.

The sane way.

Or roll the dice.

Add another measure or two of coffee and hope for the best.

Even though this has immense bearing on how my day will go this is the usual route that I choose.

I say to myself ‘Well, it is either going to be too strong or too weak, but there it is.”

I close up the coffee maker.

Put the coffee away.

I go to bed wondering, what will I pour out in the morning.

As I type this I think BOY AM I DUMB.

So here is what bothers me.

Once in awhile I make the worst miscalculation and the coffee is weak,

This is the worst.

Slops!

Slops! Damn it, slops!

And it can’t be fixed.

Sometimes the coffee is way to strong.

I stay with the idea that the coffee is strong enough if you dropped a dime into coffee and you can’t see the dime at the bottom of your cup.

Why you would drop a dime into your coffee, well, I digress.

My brother Tim told me that with my coffee, the dime dissolves.

Then there are those mornings.

Those mornings when I know the night before, I messed up and guessed how much coffee to put in.

And the coffee that morning is not too weak, it is not too strong.

The coffee is right.

Just right.

When that happens, my day starts with this thought.

THIS IS JUST RIGHT, BUT HOW MUCH COFFEE DID I USE?

Oh gosh.

5.15.2021 – present is enough

present is enough
to deal with – cannot handle
notion of future

Can I do this on a daily basis?

I am not sure.

Each day is enough for each day.

Do I want to do this?

But here is the point.

For the first time in a long time I can say I miss this.

Maybe its time to try again.

Each day by day.

Biblical teachings abound on the subject.

Guess I will see what happens.

2.16.2021 – wretched but better

wretched but better
in general, than used to be
some progress on earth

As you might have guessed I am talking about instant coffee.

As luck would have it, the Late Great Jim Harrison used these words to describe instant coffee.

Of late I have discovered the foil tubes of Café Bustelo and find that I agree with Mr. Harrison that while still not quite coffee, instant coffee is better than it used to be and shows some progress.

I have long tried all means of making just ONE CUP of coffee.

From instant to the drip funnels that sit on top of a cup to kuerig and while of these had made progress, nothing is as good as I remember the coffee that my Mom’s old Hamilton Beach percolator made.

It might be memory but that is my gold standard and I have tried everything to make that coffee.

It the right moment, I can smell it.

From what I have read, trying to match anything to a memory is a losing game.

But I try.

Why is it so hard to get a hot, rich single cup of coffee at home with a minimum of fuss.

As I started to write this, I tried to remember how and when it was that I started drinking coffee.

Coffee from the a percolator at our house was only made on the occasion of guests in the house.

At some point the coffee maker showed up and we got one of those but I had been drinking coffee long before that.

I know I was heavily influenced by my reading.

In the book, The Good Shephard, which by the way is a REALLY good book and I wish Tom Hanks had had a chance to read it before he made a movie supposedly based on it, the hero, Captain Krause, is a coffee nut.

Captain Krause drinks not cup after cup, but pot after pot of strong hot BLACK coffee.

Late in the book with some coffee still in the pot, he offers a cup to the officer of deck.

The OD pours a cup and then adds cream and sugar to “reveal the type of man he was.”

Then there were the Hornblower Books.

A series of novels on the life of Horatio Hornblower, a British naval officer during the wars with Napoleon.

Coffee is a theme throughout the 11 books from Hornblower’s first taste as a mishipman to complaining how the late the coffee was brought it his office when he was an Admiral.

Hornblower thought just too hot to drink was not hot enough and he sweetened his coffee to a syrup with cream and spoons of sugar.

The odd aspect to these literary pictures of how to drink coffee is that both of them were written by C. S. Forestor.

Somewhere along the line for some reason, I started drinking coffee.

About that time Maxim freeze dried coffee came on the market and my Dad starting having it around the house.

My Dad also was in on the search for a good single cup of coffee but he was primarily a tea drinker but had many a conversation of one cup coffee makers.

The google says Maxim came out in the 70’s so I must have started drinking it when I was 12 or 13.

And from time to time I would have a cup of coffee.

With lots of sugar and some milk for color but that is when it started.

That’s also when my Dad noticed an odd phenomena.

One Sunday afternoon when I was getting on everyone’s nerves just being more or less myself, my Dad called me into the kitchen.

He had made me a cup of coffee and he told me to sit down and drink it.

My Mom watched this and then gestured my Dad into the next room.

I could hear them talking and the gist of it was that my Mom wanted to know what in the world Dad was doing getting caffeine into my system when I was already driving everyone nuts.

Dad told Mom to just watch me.

He said he wasn’t sure why but he had noticed that when I drank coffee, I calmed down a bit.

He said maybe it was just that it was so hot that I had to be careful (when I was 9 I had managed to spill a tea kettle of boiling water all over my legs but that is another story) and being careful I calmed down.

Or that I would usually prop a book up in front me while I drank and that always seemed to slow me down for a bit as I ventured off into other worlds.

For some reason, my Dad said, it worked.

And it did.

Even though I heard them and knew I was being played, I still drank the coffee and for whatever reason I was better for it.

Often after that, both my parents recommended I take a time out for coffee now and then.

That may even have been the reason we got a Mr. Coffee at home now that I think about it.

So began my coffee habit.

For a good part of my life, I had a pot of coffee in the morning and another at lunch and another after dinner.

Over the years I have had to cut back and now I am down to 2 or 3 cups to start my day and the random cup of instant in the afternoon.

As the Devine One, Sarah Vaughn sang:

I walk the floor and watch the door
And in between I drink
Black coffee.

Sarah Vaughn was once asked why she was called the Devine One.

“Ella Fitzgerald said so,” was the reply and as they say, nuff said.

So me and coffee.

Waiter, Waiter, percolator.

The search for a single good cup of hot coffee at home continues.

It is still wretched but in general better.

There is some progress in the world.

As a post script, years later our first son started Kindergarten.

At his first conference, the teacher described him as well you know, one of those kids with an ‘active bottom.’

He was always in motion.

We talked with the teacher about whether or not he needed something like well, what was it called, Ritalin?

The teacher did not want to make and calls or judgments but she gave us this tip.

The next time he was really really active, try giving him the soda pop called Mountain Dew she said.

With most kids, the caffine would rev them right up.

But, she said, a kid who might be a Ritalin candidate, the caffeine in the pop will calm them right down.

I didn’t say anything at the time.

But I sure did think about it over my next cup of coffee.

2.10.2021 – defend those you love

defend those you love
fearlessly for life is full
of imagined monsters

Standing on a cliff, I was shoved from behind and I yelled.

Woke up in bed and once again my dear wife had shaken my shoulder as it seemed from all my murmuring I was having another bad dream.

Where do bad dreams come from?

Charles Dickens writes in The Christmas Carol that Ebenezer Scrooge doubts his senses that the ghost of Jacob Marley is real.

Marley’s ghost asks Scrooge, “Why do you doubt your senses?”

Scrooge replies, “Because a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”

Mr. Dicken’s adds that, “The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for the spectre’s voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones.”

My dream didn’t happen but did that make my feelings didn’t happen?

Bad dreams are the stuff dream are made of.

As Big Bill wrote in Hamlet (Act 3, Scene 1);

To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come.

Dreams don’t happen or the stuff in dreams anyway but does that make feelings any less real?

Life is full of monsters both real and imaginary.

Mr. Twain said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

Imagined worries.

Imagined monsters.

Real worries.

Real monsters.

I worry for myself and my monsters.

I worry for my wife and her monsters.

I worry for my children and their monsters.

Do we all feel this way?

If we all feel this way, how do we help each other?

It occurs to me that if these monsters are imaginary monsters and these dreams are just dreams we can wade into battle against them fearlessly.

Often maybe just knowing I am not in the battle alone would be enough.

Often maybe just some words of encouragement or words in my defense would be enough.

Often maybe all I want is expressed in the play Harvey.

In the play the eminent psychiatrist Dr. Chumley describes what he would do if only he could.

Dr. Chumley relates that he would go to a trailer park in Akron and sit with a beautiful woman who would hold his hand.

“Then I would tell her things.
Things that I’ve never told to anyone.
Things that are locked – deep in here.
And as I talked to her, I would want her to hold out a soft white hand and say ‘Poor thing. You poor, poor thing.'”

Somehow, the older I get, the better that sounds.

2.2.2021 – waiting, tomorrow

waiting, tomorrow
tomorrow and tomorrow
creeps this petty pace

I was not thinking of Ground Hog Day until I noticed the date when I started typing this note into wordpress.

According to wikipedia the tradition of Ground Hog day as a prediction on winter’s length can be traced back to the 16th century.

In my lifetime, Ground Hog Day has also taken on the modern folklore of an repeating cycle of days due to the 1993 movie Ground Hog Day.

I never liked the movie of at least maybe never liked the role played by Andie MacDowell or maybe I just don’t care for Andie MacDowell.

I was bit shocked to read in wikipedia that, “In the years since its release, the film has grown in esteem and is often considered to be among the greatest films of the 1990s and one of the greatest comedy movies ever. “

Maybe being considered one of the great movies of the 1990’s is more of a comment on the ’90s than on the movie itself.

According to Rolling Stone Magazine, the top ten movies of the decade of the 90’s is:

Good fellas
Hoop Dreams
Safe
The Silence of the Lambs
Pulp Fiction
Close-Up
Slacker
Malcolm X
Chungking Express
The Piano

Such a list reminds me that the Academy Awards make a Best Picture each year no matter what.

I love to compare the list of nominated movies for any given year.

Take 1939, considered the greatest year in the history of Hollywood.

These movies were nominated for BEST PICTURE.

Gone with the Wind
Dark Victory
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Love Affair
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Ninotchka
Of Mice and Men
Stagecoach
The Wizard of Oz
Wuthering Heights

Then take 2010 and this list of movies.

The King’s Speech
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

I mean someone has to win and with 10 movies to vote for, win with 11% of the vote.

But I digress.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

In the 1993 movie, the hero’s day replays itself over and over until he gets it right and wins the girl.

As Yogi Berra would say Deja Vu all over again.

My Haiku is taken from the famous speech in the play Macbeth, written by William Shaekspeare.

Big Bill has his villain Macbeth review all his problems and he come out with one of the great “GEE WHIZ BUT WHATS IT ALL ABOUT” laments of all time.

Over and over and over again and for what?

Waiting and waiting and waiting for change.

Waiting for that next shoe to drop.

Waiting to get on with it.

Is there a better speech for today?

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.
Out, out, brief candle!
Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.

1.24.2021 – sublimate under

sublimate under
homogeneity our
diverse inclusion

E Pluribus Unam so it still says on our money.

I haven’t carried coins in so long I had to check to make sure.

One country with many many sources and origins.

I ran across this use of words today in a sentence describing the United States.

Writing on the concept of E Pluribus Unam and ‘the inclusion of the excluded’, Jorge Castañeda Gutman in his book, America through Foreign Eyes, writes that “This homogeneity sublimated an underlying diversity.”

Feeding the phrase word by word in the Google I can reconstruct this as saying:

The quality or state of being all the same or all of the same kind diverted or modified into a culturally higher or socially more acceptable activity as a cause or basis for the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds.

Say that three times fast.

I think it boils down to the duck analogy.

Gliding along the surface, paddling like hell underneath.

Mr. Gutnam was writing how foreign observers have both historically and recently came away with a feeling that the United States is all so much the same place with same quality of sameness.

Mr. Gutnam quotes the eminent Jean-Paul Satre (showing my own ignorance of his value, I have to observe that had Jean-Paul’s first name been Butch, his work would not be talked about today … but I digress) when Satre wrote about America:

Life is so standardized here that I found no significant difference between the menus of luxury restaurants and the canteens. In restaurants, you pay mostly for cutlery, the service, and the atmosphere, but no matter where you go you find, whether it is in the “Automats” or the dining room of the great hotels, the same green peas whose color is so garish that you think they were hand-painted, the same unsalted white beans which are served in little dishes, the same brown and odd looking gravy; it is semi-sweet, semi salty, and they spread it on a refrigerated piece of beef. To finish up, the worker, just like his boss, eats a big piece of sponge cake with cream or an “ice cream”. They drink the same chlorinated ice water and the same bad coffee.”

The text I am quoting notes that the word “Ice Cream” is in ENGLISH is Satre’s original French essay.

A couple of things here.

One, this essay was written in the middle of World War 2 when all restaurant fare was on the down side.

Two, that being understood, I will agree with the essay for the most part.

The CHAIN or FRANCHISE restaurant has insured that a steak or hamburger or southern-fried-chicken is the same whether you are in a KFC in Duluth, Minnesota or Duluth, Georgia.

I remember a conversation with a friend years ago who pointed out that you drive down the street and see all these different restaurants and varieties of food and then drive down the alley behind the restaurants and the same Gordon Foods or Sysco truck is delivering to all of them.

Third, I find it fascinating that Mr. Satre focused on food.

Where is America more diverse that at its dining room table?

And we all to have eat.

Somewhere along the line as my wife and I built a family of seven adopted kids I asked one of many social workers if they had any advice.

“Love them through their stomachs,” was the reply.

I have always been fascinated by food.

I tell folks who are interested and those who aren’t but are stuck talking with me, that I was starting in school I would somehow develop of course of study on food through history.

The taste of honey from day one to today.

Flavour, texture, cooking and the Boston School of Measurement.

Much as I loved how in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Beethoven wanders into a music store in a mall and immediately adapts to an electronic keyboard, I want to see Thomas Jefferson in a modern kitchen.

Look at cookbooks!

I have a long history of working in bookstores, libraries and publishing.

When all else fails, bring out a cookbook.

I have seen and read so many cookbooks I finally came up with MIKES LAW OF COOKBOOKS.

For a cookbook to be a good cookbook it must have ONE good recipe you have made more than once.

Want to know something?

There are a lot of BAD cookbooks out there.

Diversity.

Kind of a scary word and a dangerous one and maybe even a misunderstood one.

Lets just use to look at our food.

When I moved south I embraced southern cooking and learned that Southern Cooking down here was what we called Soul Food up North.

I learned how to cook collards (kinda, my daughter Lauren does them better) black eyed peas (with hog jowls at New Years for good luck) and the best biscuits ever.

I try and try but I just don’t like grits.

As a fringe benefit of the NEW south, living in Atlanta we also added Korean Bulgari Beef and Romanian Mici to the recipe list.

Now we are in the Low Country.

A part of South Carolina and Georgia known for being barely above sea level.

So guess what, with a focus on sea food.

Never have I had so much shrimp, scallops, gumbo and hush puppies.

Celebrate diversity!

Celebrate this homogeneity sublimated an underlying diversity of FOOD.

Celebrate the quality or state of being all the same or all of the same kind diverted or modified into a culturally higher or socially more acceptable activity as a cause or basis for the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds with food!

Being diverse together.

Love this country and its people through our stomachs.

And pass that Louisiana Remoulade sauce for the Maryland crab cakes.

1.22.2021 – its in the morning

its in the morning
when I feel my age, slowly
so slowly to wake up

I have never, so long at least that I can remember, been a morning person.

Getting up for me has never been easy.

When I came across Larry McMurtry’s, in his worth-the-while to read book, “Lonesome Dove”, description of how Captain Woodrow Call felt when he got up writing thusly, “Getting up early and feeling awake was the one skill he had never truly perfected – he got up, of course, but it never felt natural.”, I felt I knew just what Mr. McMurtry meant.

Am I a night owl?

A night hawk?

Maybe so.

Feed MORNING PERSON into the Google and you learn from wikipedia that:

A lark, early bird, morning person or, in Scandinavian countries, an A-person, is a person who usually gets up early in the morning and goes to bed early in the evening. The lark (bird) starts its day very early, which explains the choice of the word lark for people who may sleep from around 10 p.m. to 5 or 6 a.m. or earlier. Human “larks” tend to feel most energetic just after they get up in the morning. They are thus well-suited for working the day shift.

The opposite of the lark is the owl, often awake at night. A person called a night owl is someone who usually stays up late and may feel most awake in the evening and at night. Researchers have traditionally used the terms morningness and eveningness to describe these two phenotypes.

Morningness and eveningness?

I have to say I have not run into those two terms before.

I also have the predisposition of eveningness to look down on and even RESENT those who have Morningness.

When I am having trouble waking up I often recall that my sister Janet would tell a story of how one of her college roommates would start each singing GOOD MORNING MR ZIP ZIP ZIP.

Just on thinking about the title of the song and NEVER EVER experiencing it first hand I want to shoot the roommate.

I haven’t thought about this in years but realizing that with the Google at my fingertips I could search for the song

So I did.

Good gracious, worse than I thought.

Also now this song is my head.

Oh just shoot me.

Night time.

Late night time.

The greatest painting in the world for me, if you want to talk about something that moves something deep in my soul is Ed Hopper’s Night Hawks.

And just the title of Hemingway’s A Clean Well Lighted Place and the bells ring down in my toes.

Mr. Hemingway writes, “”I am of those who like to stay late at the cafe,” the older waiter said. “With all those who do not want to go to bed. With all those who need a light for the night.”

This is a clean and pleasant cafe. It is well lighted. The light is very good
and also, now, there are shadows of the leaves.””

But life dealt me a hand that called on me to up and up early.

The last couple of days I have been dealing with a head cold as well.

Its a hole I am finding it hard to dig myself out of.

I get and shower and the coffee is ready when I walk into the kitchen.

I pour myself a big cup of coffee and sit down with the morning papers.

And I sigh.

Then I remember.

I remember that going back the last dozen years I got up a whole lot earlier.

And was in an even bigger funk in the morning.

Waiting for the caffeine hit to kick so I could somehow, someway, get into a car and drive myself into downtown Atlanta.

I know I did this.

From this angle I cannot imagine how I did this.

Moreover, how did I ever except that this was normal?

It was insanity in a harness.

It is the morning, trying to wake up, trying to come to life, that I feel my age.

Slowly so slowly I become awake.

Achy, eyes and joints filled with glue.

Thick cobwebs in my brain.

Is this what being 60 feels like?

Some days I climb out of this morning hole.

Other days I feel I am in the bucket and am content to be winched out slowly.

Either I do get out and up.

Or as the US Marine Corp might say OFF AND ON!

Off my butt and on my feet.

I’ll get there.

1.10.2021 – state, inclination

state, inclination
of the day, we judge by
the sky’s complexion

Adapted from William Shakespeare from his play, Richard II.

Big Bill writes in Act II Scene 3;

Men judge by the complexion of the sky
The state and inclination of the day:

Jesus said, recorded in Matthew 16:2-3:

When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’

The old rhyme in my head goes:

Red Sky at Night
Sailor’s Delight
Red Sky in the Morning
Sailor take warning

Of course to be complete I have to include:

Red Sky at Night
Sailor’s Delight
Red Sky in the Morning
Your Barn’s On Fire!

Jesus went on to add, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”

I have very pleasent memories of the many, many meteoroligiists that I had the pleasure of working with in 20 years of online news.

When most most folks see Allison Chinchar now on CNN they see a top notch Meteorologist.

I think of how Allie would burst into my office and empty a bag of Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter cups on my desk before she asked for something she needed online.

I think of Paul Ossmann one time when I was chatting with the weather team at WXIA in Atlanta.

Paul was hunched over his computer and kept muttering profanity.

I asked what was up?

Paulie responded that no matter what model he ran, Atlanta was smack dab in the middle of an upcoming massive snow storm.

His alarm was real.

The storm he saw coming is now known as the Blizzard of January 2011.

I never got out of the house for the next week.

They are a hard working dedicated bunch of scientists and broadcasters who enjoy their role and embrace the public trust in their masthead to inform their audience.

But still, as folks say, everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.

How often do they get it right?

How often do they get it wrong.

And yet Jesus said that we DO know how to interpret the appearance of the sky.

So we got weather forecasting right.

And we know that record.

How can we every expect to even imagine we might be able to get anything in the future right.

Or as Sir Humphrey Appleby said (In Yes Minister) about unforeseen problems, “If I could foresee them, they wouldn’t be unforeseen.”

Lucky for us Jesus still has the anwser.

It is in Matthew 6:34 that Jesus says this:

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

It was a clear white sunny morning today in the Low Country.

No sailors need to take warning.

My barn isn’t on fire.

Heading to the beach.

Tomorrow is scheduled to arrive in 24 hours.

8.26.2020 – when coffee not work

when coffee not work
thank goodness for back up plan
those smoothies at dawn

Some mornings I don’t drink coffee so much as I pour into my stomach and wait for the caffine to kick in.

No thought for the taste, aroma or the smooth liquid brown warmth that starts my day.

Its the kick.

The kick in the head.

The kick in the head that starts me up and off past all other complaints and concerns and gets me in a place to start my day.

Some days it isn’t there in the cup.

Then what?

The back up plan.

I get up and go to work on the kitchen counter.

I work there as the coffee usually goes to work.

And on the days that I go to work and the coffee doesn’t?

Well …

On those days,

I have Ellington.

Ellington is my son who is also stuck at home and working his way through his senior year in high school.

He is starting is day.

His day starts with a fruit smoothie.

A concoction that requires about about 10 kinds of fruit, fresh or frozen, that he puts into his smoothie maker.

A smoothie maker might have been called a blender but for one slight diffference.

I am not awake.

Not fully awake anyway.

And the mornings I need a real kick to get going are not my best mornings.

Sickly.

Headachy.

Thick headed.

Slow.

Then Ellington turns on the smoothie maker.

It doesn’t turn on as much as it goes off.

It goes off like a bomb.

Like a bomb three feet from my ears.

Like a shrieking siren.

Like a shrieking siren three feet from my ears.

I have never stood next to an F-16 fighter jet when it takes off.

But I would be surprised if its louder and produces a higher pitched squeal than that smoothie maker,

It wakes me up.

It wakes up the people in the next apartment I am sure.

Maybe the whole building.

It gets me going for a lot of reasons.

In the short story, Something to Say, James Thurber writes of Elliot Vereker, “Vereker always liked to have an electric fan going while he talked and he would stick a folded newspaper into the fan so that the revolving blades scuttered against it, making,a noise like the rattle of machine gun fire. This exhilarated him and exhilarated me, too, but I suppose that it exhilarated him more than it did me.”

I know just the point Thurber was after when Ellington hits the on switch on that smoothie maker.

Except that I am sure if the sound exhilarated Ellington and exhilarated me, too, I suppose that it exhilarated ME more than it did him.

My backup plan.

It’s good to have a plan.

It gets me back up.