Monthly Archives: January 2013

Into the Library

My dad loves books.  Everywhere he goes he looks at books.  For what seems like hours.  Go to an antique shop and he’s straight into the book section.  He has a huge collection.  Some of it is housed at my house.  I think he’s in competition with the Library of Congress.

When I was a kid he always liked to take my sister and me to the library on Saturday morning.  I liked going to the library, but not for the books.  There were lots of places to wander around.  In between the stacks.  Around the reading tables and into the seating areas with the winged back chairs.  I could look in the card catalog.  Just browsing.  And I could pull out a book here and there.

A lot of the books seemed dusty and musty.  Some had good pictures.  Some, exciting stories.  Others were as dry as the dust collecting on them.  It seemed to me that books should be written for people to enjoy.  Reference, text, science, even math.  Doesn’t matter.  There has to be a way to make them relevant, meaningful and enjoyable.

That’s what I try to do with my writing.  Make it enjoyable and informative.  Some people seem to like it.  But I never really thought about my book being included with those found in a library.  But damn if it didn’t happen!  It’s awesome.  Very exciting.  But then again, it is my book.

I found out the other day, just by chance, that my book, Southern Sailor, is now safely housed in a University special collections library.  It’s also in their on-line database.  Whoa!

The University of Georgia has a serious library system.  There are no less than three buildings on campus dedicated as libraries.  My book lives in the Hargrett Rare Books and Manuscript Library.  It’s even in a special room.  The Georgia Room.  It’s part of a special collection of books about Georgia and Georgians.  Never in my wildest dreams…

That will teach me.  Go ahead, dream big!

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


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Walk This Way

It’s all in the words.  Which ones we choose to use in order to convey a thought.  Or paint a picture.  The attractive young lady says, “Walk this way” and then swishes off down the hall.  What makes it funny is how the Three Stooges respond literally by following behind, swishing away.  She could have said, “follow me” and there would be no humor there.  All in the words.

So it is that “walk this way” takes on a special meaning for me.  Sure, I was in college when Aerosmith and Steven Tyler sang it: Walk this way!  But that’s not it.  At that same time in my life someone described to me how I walked.  I had never thought of it before.  I wasn’t doing anything new or different.  And I’ve never intentionally changed it.  It’s just how I roll.  What the woman told me was, “you don’t walk, you float.”

A kind of animal grace I guess.  Slow and smooth.  Weightless.  People complain that I sneak up on them.  I just walk softly.  A pet peeve of mine- people who clomp when they walk.  Especially on the stairs.  They clomp up and down the stairs.  I ascend and descend.  Effortlessly.  But that’s just me.

The thing is, I don’t do that so much anymore.  I still kinda float, but I’m not silent anymore.  I don’t do any kind of distance well.  And I will unintentionally let everyone know by moaning and groaning, letting out a few cuss words under my breath, and by the little bit of a clip clop from a limp.

I’ve had two back surgeries to relieve a number of conditions that all ganged up on me to make it damn near impossible to stand let alone walk.  In that regard, I’m much improved.  But as with many fixes, other things break when tweaked.  I now have constant pain in my back, walk    v e r y   s l o w l y,   and make those funny sounds.  Early in the day I can still sneak up on you though.

I don’t want to walk this way.  And I would never encourage anyone else to “walk this way. “ I just tell them, “Follow me please.”

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

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Secrets in the Surprise

I don’t like surprises.  But I do like it when good things come my way.  Yesterday was a good day.  And kind of a surprise.  The temperature was seventy-five degrees.  In January!  And I’m not talking Hawaii.

This is Georgia.  The weatherman says it’s not too unusual to have a few warm days in January, but this one seemed like a fluke.  It was the one I’ve been waiting for.  Might have been a warm front moving in.  Or a cold front moving out.  Global warming?  I leave the hows and whys to the weatherman.  I just knew it was a good day to get out on the scooter for a ride in the country.

I love my scooter.  It goes fast.  It gives me freedom.  It confuses people because it’s not a little scooter, but it’s not really a motorcycle.  Suits me well.  I like to get out on it and ride the country roads.  Get lost in my thoughts.  Lost on the roads too.  But you can’t get too lost.  No GPS, just a natural concept of which way to go.  In reality, if you don’t have a specific destination, it doesn’t matter which way you go.  That’s mainly how I ride.

My path took me over forty miles.  All paved roads this time.  One lane sometimes, but paved.  I know my way around most of these roads because I’ve ridden them all before, but I did find one new place.  I had seen the turnoff before, but I never realized it was actually a road.  It looked like it went to the parking lot of the recycling center.  But when I turned off the main road, I noticed that the road split, with one fork going to the recycling center, and the other going behind it to who knows where.

It turned out to be just a little loop of a road that came back to the main road.  But I saw houses, farms and fields I never knew were there.  And a little cemetery.  I didn’t stop this time because it looked like it was on someone’s private property.  There couldn’t have been more than ten or fifteen markers.  It was starting to be grown over.  Exploring there is for another day.

Its gonna get cold again soon and I won’t have another opportunity to ride for a while.  But I learned once again that we have to take advantage of opportunities when they appear to us.  And that in doing so, we may be surprised, pleasantly, by what we can find.

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

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Striking it rich! Not!

Whirrrrrr.  Griiiind.  Cobble-clunk.  OUCH!!!  It didn’t really hurt.  My mouth was too numbed up to actually feel any pain.  What I felt was the vibration of the grinder.  And of course I could hear the sounds.  It startled me when the dentist struck gold.

This takes some explaining.  Long ago I had a problem with one of my molar teeth.  I was a poor college student and what I needed done was expensive.  So, enterprising as I am, I found a kind of discount dentist. 

Don’t get me wrong.  This wasn’t some back alley hack with a bottle of whiskey and a pair of pliers.  It was a student enrolled in the dental school of a very prestigious American university.  I was to be his practical project in big ass gold on lays.  And he would be watched over by his professor.

He must have gotten an A on this project and gone on to private practice somewhere in the Chicago area.  The work he did was beautiful.  Since that time I have yet to go to a dentist who didn’t comment on the exquisiteness of the work.  And it has never given me a problem.  Until now.

But it wasn’t the dental student’s fault.  It was mine.  For the past thirty years I have not been religious about brushing carefully and flossing daily.  My bad.  So, of course, some nasty bacteria got behind the tooth and worked it’s way between the tooth and the gold.  Rotting the tooth.

The dentist I go to now, who I’ve been with for nearly 25 years, told me the bad news.  “The tooth will die unless we act to save I now, “ he said.  “The gold has to come off and I’ll grind out the bad part of the tooth.  Then we can do a real nice tooth colored crown!”  And it only costs about a thousand bucks!  That’s more than five times what the original work cost.  Including that mother load nugget of gold.

What he didn’t tell me was that there was no way to get the gold off without cutting it off the tooth.  With the dentist’s version of a chain saw!  He’s always been real good about making my mouth numb.  That’s why I go there.  Can’t feel any pain.  But the sounds!  Good Lord.  How do you spell the sounds of grinding and whirring and vibrations of metal on tooth and metal on gold? 

I was ok with the regular grinding.  It had a certain sound and feel.  But the grinder slipped and hit the gold.  Totally different sound and feel.  A much deeper, richer tone.  I just knew he was going through my skull.  He apologized and switched to a smaller grinder.   How does this grinder, his two hands and the hand and tools of his assistant applying suction to my mouth all fit in there?

He finally got the whole thing off.  In two pieces.  The assistant said it looked like a couple of pounds worth.  I’m thinking to myself, “Let’s see, gold sells for about a bundle per ounce, so I’m gonna be rich!”  Eighteen carets to boot!

He busts my bubble by telling me its just scrap and I might get a hundred bucks.  Maybe I could have it made into some kind of jewelry.  I told him I’d had it for a long time and felt kinda attached to it.  I’ll just keep it.  The assistant put it in this real cute plastic box in the shape of a tooth.  She had to use the extra large size box.

The new crown won’t be the same as the old gold mine.  But I still have the nugget to look at.  I still don’t like the dentist.  That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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