Stealing the Shower!

How many pens do I have?  Oh hell, I don’t have a clue! I pick them up everywhere. Offices, businesses, hotels, restaurants. You name it, I’ll always pick up a pen. Sometimes I feel guilty, like I’m stealing the thing. But the ones I pick up all have some sort of business advertising on them. They are designed to be taken,, Moved around. To spread the word, and fame, of whatever entity has their name inscribed on them. Now a monogrammed pen is a different story!

This weekend I picked up two from the Holiday Inn I stayed in. And I always tale a pad of paper form the room as well. I have to have a place to take notes! Some people are so bold as to take towels and bathrobes from the hotel. But I think most folks would limit themselves to the little bottles of shampoo and conditioner. They are good from travelling.   And if you walk down the hallway while the housekeepers are cleaning rooms you will no doubt seethe cleaning carts filled with dozens of bottles of each.

Two pens, a pad of paper and a bottle of shampoo. Big haul! But what I really wanted to take home from the hotel was… You’ll never guess. Oh wait, the title. Yes, I wanted to take the shower!

It was a little too big to fit into my suitcase. And it would have made a mess ripping the thing out of the wall and pulling out the floor drains. Why in the world would I even think of this you might ask.   The thing is, I’ve been in places where there was no water or bathing, and places where the water wasn’t just cold, it was ice cold! So, when I find a place with nice hot water, and good water pressure, I like to take a long hot shower!

The hotel had a nice big shower stall. All glass and tile and plenty of room to move around. And there was one of those rain style shower heads. Turning it on, the water warmed up quickly. And there was plenty of it coming out! Oh so nice!

My parents had a shower in their house that was anything but luxurious. For nearly forty years I had to put up with this thing whenever I visited. Pink tile. A little tiny shower head. And the hot water only lasted t=for about a minute, then quickly turned cold. And I do mean cold! And worst of all, the water pressure had the water gushing out just like the drip of the Chinese water torture! It was agonizing. Every time. Forty years! They moved now so the shower I get to use at their new place is better.

But I have to give Holiday Inn kudos for their shower. At least in this room. On this morning. Maybe it was a fluke. But for one showers worth, I enjoyed the heck out of it!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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First Ride

As I begin here to describe the warm weather we are experiencing locally, the forecast on the news is that we’re going to have a cold snap. I almost felt guilty describing the warm weather knowing that my fellow citizens north of here are deep into a blizzard. The cold snap will make up for that!

The last few days it’s been cold in the morning but it’s warmed up nicely into the mid 60s in the afternoon. Pretty damn warm for February, even here in Georgia.   And every day I go outside in the afternoon and I think to myself this would be an awesome day to be riding my scooter! But I can’t ride to work because it’s too cold. For me anyway. Unless I bundle up in so many layers of clothing that I can’t move my body!   But it sure is nice scooter weather in the afternoon.

Other than this upcoming cold snap it’ll be warm enough pretty soon so that I’ll be able to start riding all day long. I’ll be able to ride to work in the morning and ride home in the evening.   This past Sunday the weather was beautiful. The sun was out, casting its warming rays freely and the temperature was in the mid 60s. So I pulled the scooter out of its hibernation, put the battery back in and cleaned that sweet bike up a little bit. I put on my scooter riding outfit and I hit the road for the years first ride. It was glorious!

The wind created by zipping along the highways made it feel a little cool, but it felt good. It felt like the freedom I remembered. The freedom I always feel when I’m riding.   I knew I had chosen a good day because I saw other people riding their own bikes. And they all seemed to be happy. Glad to have the warm weather. And we all waved the bikers secret wave as we passed each other and acknowledged the fact that while we all ride different machines, we all love to ride.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Escape from Physics

The sign on the side of the road said, “the dormancy ends in four days.” When I say the side of the road what I mean is the grassy space between the road and the parking lot of the garden center. Of course the true subject of the sign was the dormancy of the plants and grass and trees that had been in hibernation all winter. In four days the sap would begin to rise and the living bodies would begin to show signs of life once again. New buds. And leaves. And flowers.

But while my mind was racing, and processing this idea, another thought occurred to me. The dormancy could be referring to the sleeping locusts. Or zombies. Or some horrid plague on the face of the earth. And in four days we would all be wiped out by this impending doom. No, if that were the case I believe there would have been someone wearing a black robe carrying the sign. Must be the plants being referred to.

But what I really didn’t understand until a little bit later was that the dormancy was my own dormancy. I think it’s finally coming to an end. Physicists and astronomers will tell you that a black hole has such a powerful drawing and ingesting quality that once within the consuming grip, nothing can escape. Everything just gets sucked in and stays there, lost forever.

I’ve been in my own personal black hole for several months now. Not an astro physical galactic black hole, but a mental mess. Somehow, at last, I’m beginning to crawl out of the damn thing! I’m beginning to have the energy and the strength to refocus and to get out. I can’t explain to you what caused my stumbling, or more truthfully, I won’t explain, but I’m beginning to get out. I can think again. Concentrate. Enjoy. One of the most telling signs that I’m on my way is that I can once again listen to music. Maybe the music is curing the savage beast. Or maybe the beast is calm enough to listen again.

Each day is a new beginning. Filled with new opportunities. Bringing new adventures. All very welcome. Lessons learned from the black hole. That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Broken Silence

They say silence is golden.  It seems to me that applies best to colicky babies and mothers in law.  But certainly there are other times when silence indicates that something good is happening.  For instance, my recent silence with blog posting.

It’s been a while since I posted to my blog.  I’m not sure how long exactly.  I could figure it out but that’s not really important.  What is important is why I’ve been silent.  And that is because I’ve been busy writing another book!

It’s finally finished, and published.  Ready to be read by millions.  Even turned into a movie!  Well, we’ll see about that.  But it is finished.

My specialty is, as you might have guessed from the name Personal History Writer, biography.  So no, I don’t expect this newest creation to be a million seller.  But it is an interesting story of a real life.  A life lived in conditions mostly unknown.  It’s called Unspoken History: The Untold Story of the Jackson/Curling Family and Their Lives as Canadian Home Children.

None of that ringing a bell?  Because it’s a mostly untold story!  From the earliest colonial days of the Americas all the way through the 1970’s, the British government was involved in a process by which the excess population of children in England was controlled by exporting them to the British colonies of Australia, South Africa and Canada.  These were children who were the poorest of the poor, orphaned and sometimes homeless.  Many were street urchins, a la Charles Dickens, but many were just poor kids whose families couldn’t afford to feed and clothe them.  And so they were taken from whatever life they had, and shipped off to the colonies to be laborers.  Named Home Children.

The inhabitants of the colonies needed this cheap labor to build the empire.  And the children paid a tremendous price.  Boys were sent to work on farms as farmhands.  Girls went as domestics.  But once there, anything, and everything could and did happen.  Few found happy or lasting places to be and many stories were told of emotional and physical abuse.  Sometimes to the point of death, or suicide.  No one cared.  No one checked on what was going on and over time tens of thousands of these children were sent into the system, many just vanishing from the face of the earth.

Not surprisingly, when the survivors “graduated” and were released from their servitude, they spoke very little of their  experience, if at all.  My client had several older relatives who served as Home Children.  She didn’t know this until she herself was middle aged as none of the relatives spoke of it.  Once she found out, she wanted to know more and began the process of gathering records of her relatives’ journey.  I served as transcriber of original hand written documents, researcher, organizer, photo archivist, editor and publisher.  In the process I learned a great deal about this unknown chapter of world and human history.  Seen through the eyes of several very young children.

Project complete.  The book is on Amazon.  The silence of these children’s lives is broken.  And now, on to the next thing!

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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Just Passing Through!

Sometimes when I go to an estate sale I will notice that the resident of the abode has kept certain things in the same place for a very long time. This may be evident when I pick something up to look at it and notice a clean spot in the dust where the object sat. That’s kind of like my antique booth when nothing is selling! LOL!

One very vivid example of this hit me one day when I went to the second day of an estate sale in a home built in the 1950s and occupied by the same family since then. When I went into the living room the first thing I noticed was the sculpted wall-to-wall orange carpet. Upon closer examination, the striking thing about the color was that there were rectangular and square patterns on the carpet that were of a sharply brighter orange color. These shapes were left by the furniture that once occupied the space. And had protected the carpets original color from being washed out by the sun. The shapes were sharp and crisp and I knew that the very same piece of furniture had rested in that spot, without moving, without replacement, since the 1950s when the home was new. The furniture had all been sold, but I could picture it in my mind.

To me, more so since I’ve started this antique business, things, that is objects, have become much more transient. I used to buy or otherwise acquire things for myself. To own. To point to as mine. Even if they were locked away out of sight.

Now I see things, and people, as transiting through the world on their own journeys, stopping by wherever I am to linger for a while. Sometimes a brief moment. Other times, for a longer time.

Very rarely do I buy something just for me. That doesn’t include things like food or essentials like underwear and toothpaste. I’m talking about objects for display, or utility, that I enjoy for their own sake. Things like glass objects, paintings and sculpture, jewelry, furniture of a certain style. Stuff I like because of how it looks, or works, or what images it calls up in my mind. Mid century modern evokes images of childhood. Ship models send me to visions of life on the high seas as Horatio Hornblower. Other things have other impact, but you get the idea.

I gather these things and hold them for a while to enjoy. And then I pass them along to someone else. Some things I buy just to resell, and enjoy while it’s in my store. Some things I will keep around for a while as an example of something. Until a better example comes along. And some things I will always keep, because of their beauty, but mainly because of their sentimentality. My kids will probably have one hell of an estate sale when I go!

And I find the same thing happening with people. They come and go. Sometimes staying for a long time as a good friend. Or bursting on to the scene, making a big splash, and vanishing. Nonetheless leaving quite an impression. The leaving used to bother me. But now I see it as each encounter has its reason and value. And when its mission is accomplished, it ends. Perhaps to be reborn later.

People aren’t like things, but they all come and go. And leave their mark.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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It was intended as a sign of respect. A nod to the fact that I am mature. Perhaps he even referred to his own beloved father in that manner. And of course, the description does fit. Depending on how you look at it. And me. He called me Pops.

For dinner we went to my favorite pizza place. The guy taking our order was young enough to be my kid. He was in his twenties I’d say. And I do have two children of my own. Grown children.

To him my wife was Ma’am, my daughter was Miss, and I was Pops. To tell the truth, I didn’t really hear what he called me. Hearing loss form a lifetime of a loud world. My wife said it was Pops. I remember that my father called his father “Pop.” So Pop is OK. But Pops?

Oh hell, he called me an old man. Whippersnapper! In our youth we try to look older. And as we get older we try to look young. Teens with cigarettes. Bald men with toupees.

I have been blessed with good genes. I have my own hair. Even if it is turning a little gray. And my face looks at least ten years, maybe fifteen, younger than I am. Always had that baby face.

Dean Martin plays on my radio, but so does a lot of contemporary music. I keep up with it to some extent. Because I enjoy it. I can speak some of the “hip” lingo without sounding like an idiot. Gosh, my daughter tells me her friends think I’m a cool hipster. Must be my eyeglasses.

But it hit me one day last week that I’m not as young as I used to be. I was in the bathroom, pondering old men’s plumbing issues and I said to myself something like Damn! You’re not forty anymore!!!

And now, Pops! Good Lord. Next thing you know I’m gonna be sitting on the porch, in my rocker, wearing a pair of pants with its waist at my armpits. Held up by suspenders. And my teeth in a glass on the table next to me. Just like that. Overnight.

Maybe my hair has stayed put and my face has looked young because I was too stubborn to recognize that I was getting older. Now, with my eyes cracked open to that fact, it’s all gonna collapse. Tomorrow I’ll wake up and my pillow will be covered with hair. And my head will be bald!

Getting old comes with its ups and downs. Can’t stop the aging process. Yet. So I might as well enjoy it. I’m still gonna do my thang the way I do it and enjoy the ride.

But I might not go back to that restaurant!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Gassed Up Adventure!

A full tank of gas promises unlimited adventure. An empty tank promises another kind of adventure. A kind that is more like orienteering your way through an alligator infested swamp than meandering through museums in Manhattan.

The gas gauge on my scooter isn’t always real accurate. Much like the speedometer. To know how much fuel I have takes a little bit of mental math. How many trips have I made since I filled up, and how long were they? It’s generally not too hard and I pretty much know how to interpret the gauge. And how far I can push my luck. If I open the cap of the tank and look in only to see that it’s bone dry, I put gas in it. On the other hand, if I can see even a drop I know I’m good for a few miles. Hadn’t thought about it much until the other day.

It was Tuesday and my regular day to go to my antique shop. Nice day, I’ll take the scooter. I looked at the gauge and it read full. I knew I’d made a trip or two. Short ones. I wasn’t worried. In a rush to get there I rode with the throttle wide open all the way. Burning fuel like there was no tomorrow. It was one of those rides where I pretend I’m riding a space ship.

Driving along I watched as the fuel gauge moved. Fast, and a lot. Dang. How far had those two trips been? Oh. Two round trips to work. Gulp.

By the time I got to the shop the gauge was looking like a quarter tank. That will get me home. It better. There are no gas stations between here and there. I poked around at the shop and finally got ready to ride home. I looked into the tank. A drop was visible. But I couldn’t remember going this far on that drop before.

All the way I took my time. A leisurely ride, more like a slow boat to China. You get a different feel for the road at a slower speed. And you can spend more time looking around at the scenery. I seemed to be the only one on the road so going slow was ok.

The gauge dropped into the red zone when I was still about ten miles out. This is where I knew I could go five miles. But what about ten? The traffic was picking up. I was having visions of running out of gas and having to push the bike to the house or a gas station. Even worse, I had visions of running out of gas and getting run over by a car as the scooter came to a sudden dead stop. Pushing was a better vision, but not up hill.

Finally I arrived at an intersection with two gas stations. Getting to one required a left turn across a busy intersection. The other was on my right. If I ran out of gas in the intersection making the left turn it could get messy. I took the chance and rolled into the station and up to a pump. When I opened the cap of the tank, yeah, right, bone dry.

Gassed up and ready to roll I was off on a new adventure. The rocket ride! That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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