Tag Archives: movies

Blue Christmas

The Holiday season is wrapping up. New Years Day is just moments away. The excitement, and the hustle and bustle is about to come to an end. And everyone will be gearing up for the oncoming summer.

Peace and Joy still fill the air. And everyone is happy. Or are they?

Funny thing about this time of year. It’s known as the holiday season, and as the dying season. Its dark, as the sun shines briefly during the day. It’s cold. And for many, it’s sad and lonely. Elvis isn’t the only one who thinks about a blue Christmas

People want this season to be happy. And they want their lives to be filled with scenes from so many Christmas movies. Pretty snow. Lots of packages and good food. Festive gatherings of friends and relatives. But when life turns out to be more like the film left on the cutting room floor, and reality sets in, gloom raises its head.

For many, the expectation is that the ideal will not be met. And anticipating this failure causes dismay. For some, it’s more like lets get this season over with already! And they are miserable while they wait.

Me, I always hope for the best and am prepared for less. I love the lights, and the packages, and the spirit of hope and joy. Peace on Earth good will toward man. All that jazz.

But I know that parking lots and highways are still full of angry people. That not everyone gets everything they asked for. And that for some, staying warm and fed for another day is the greatest gift.

When I’m having a blue Christmas, I stay home. On a good day I’ll go out to spread some joy to others. I read something somewhere that that I could be the lighthouse in someone else’s storm. I like that idea. We all need a lighthouse to guide us sometimes.

This has been a good Christmas. My kids are here, and the packages were piled high. I made festive lights glow and was happy. The only blue was the blow mold Santa on my office door. I had put a blue light bulb inside and he looked cold. But he was smiling, and lighting the night.

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


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The Desk That Didn’t Sell

Well, it wasn’t a desk at all. That was the whole issue. It’s a beautiful piece of solid walnut furniture. A fabulous looking mid century modern desk. Flat top, tapered legs, several drawers and really cool hardware. But it’s actually a sewing machine cabinet. Without the sewing machine.

I have it in my antique store. Can’t remember where I found it, or how much I paid for it, but when I saw it I knew I loved it and could sell it in the store.

It’s been sitting there, waiting patiently for a new home, for nearly a year now. So you can imagine how excited I was when the sales clerk called me to tell me that someone was interested, but wanted a better price. What could I do for them?

Under the circumstances I might normally slash the price. Half off! Give the damn thing away! But I knew it was still a very nice piece and was worth more than I was asking for it. Nonetheless, customers in antique stores always like to feel like they are negotiating themselves a great deal, and I’m happy to help with that perception. I told the clerk to give them 25 per cent off. Nice piece. Good for them.

As I reviewed the daily sales I noticed that the “desk” was not listed as sold. Hmmm I thought. Had they wanted me to give them the desk for free? What kind of people were these? The next morning I rode up to the store.

There sat the desk. Unsold.   But every item that had been displayed on it was removed, and scattered randomly throughout the store. What in the world?!!!

Approaching the sales counter, the clerk smiled at me and laughed. She said they had agreed to take the desk at the offered price, but changed their mind when they realized that it was a sewing machine cabinet. The clerk thought it was still a nice piece of furniture that could be used as a desk and didn’t understand the big deal. Obviously the customer didn’t see it that way. And didn’t read the clearly marked tag.

What fascinates me however is not the customer’s change of heart, or their desire to get exactly what they wanted. No, it’s the idea that they removed every item from on top of the piece, set each and every one down somewhere else, and then walked out and left it that way. They must of thought the sales staff had noting better to do than clean up their mess. I know, it’s retail and that’s how customers are.

On other occasions I’ve noticed that people will pick things up and put them down somewhere completely different. Could they have forgotten while they stood there admiring the object, where they had found it?

And why do they bring me their trash? I find stuff all over the store. And yes, we do have a trashcan at the desk. Candy wrappers , soda cans, coffee cups. All left among the antiques. Like I’m not going to notice. More stuff for my staff to clean up. I know, it’s retail and that’s how customers are.

This morning as I scoured the scene, I noticed a grape on the floor. We don’t sell food in the antique store. And we don’t have a lunch counter. The grape came from outside. And one of my treasured retail customers left it for me on the floor.

I spent an hour or so replacing all of the objects which had been on the desk, cleaning up the grape, and tidying up in general. And I can’t wait to see what I find next time.

That’s part of my story, what’s yours?

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Is infinity a quantum physics concept? Something that rocket scientists sit around discussing as they peer into their telescopes and the heavens? Or is it just an idea that is really hard for most of us to wrap our heads around? It’s a big place.

I once has a conversatioin with a customer service representative regarding some issue I was hgavinf, and a s well trained CSR, the person on the other end of the hone line tried to end our conversation by asking if I had any other question.   Of course I have lots of questions, and I asked two: where is the end of the universe? And what is on the other side? After an awkward silence, I heard a very faintly whispered “thank you sir.” Click.

For me, infinity isn’t just a concept. It’s a tangible place.

No, I don’t travel at the speed of light. Nor do I have access to a wormhole to take me to the edge of the universe. I have what some would call a man cave.

This isn’t like any man cave you have ever seen before though. On the door is a sign, written in Chinese, that says “Captain Matt’s Magical World of Infinite Fantasy.” For short, I call it Infinity. I love Buzz Lightyear you see. And his motto is “to Infinity…and beyond!!!” When I go to my man cave, I say I’m going to infinity.

There is no television. No recliner. No sports memorabilia. It’s filled with the stuff that defines me. Stuff I’ve collected over the years and like to have around me. And the entrance is guarded by two very small, but fierce, Chinese dragons.

I have a mid century swivel rocker. And a rattan chair like Morticia Addams had. And a really cool mid century barber’s chair – so sleek. And it swivels and goes up and down! These chairs surround a large white marble tulip table my mother bought in 1968. And of course there is a bar made of an old mid century record player cabinet.

That’s the seating area. There is also a work area. My office. Here resides a mid century desk, and its chair. There is an old school stereo system with turntable. And old records to play on it.

Here and there you will find book shelves and display shelves filled with the books I enjoy. And the things that remind me of something from my past. Modern sculpture. Asian art. Colored glass items. Movie memorabilia. Ship models. Jars of marbles, because it’s obvious that I’ve lost mine. There are native American artifacts. Nautical treasures. And some fabulous mid century lights – including a red spaghetti lamp. Even a few things that glow in the dark! And of course, Buzz Lightyear.

There is also a workshop area. It’s filled with projects that need to be worked on. And several storage areas. You might guess that these are filled with items awaiting a better place for display or use. And you would be right.

I don’t allow people into infinity. I’m afraid it would blow their mind. But if you ever did get a chance to go inside, you would have a much better understanding of me. And that I really haven’t lost my marbles.

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

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The Dust Cloud

In old western movies if you saw a cloud of dust on the horizon you knew it was one of two things. Making all of that dust was either a troop of cavalry coming to rescue the settlers under attack by evil villains, or a pack of evil villains coming to attack. Either way, it was a bunch of people riding horses. And headed in your direction quickly.

That was old westerns. In my back yard a cloud of dust means my dog is playing fetch. She’s not like that kid Pigpen in the Charlie Brown cartoons who travels around inside his own personal dust cloud, created by his less than civilized personal hygiene habits. She stays pretty clean, although she does shed a lot of hair. All the time and everywhere she goes. No, the dust cloud is exactly that- a cloud of dust created by her rambunctious play.

Whether or not you believe in climate change, this year has been the hottest and driest on record where I live. It’s five days before Thanksgiving and for the first time since May the temperature has dropped below 80 degrees. And no, I don’t live in Hawaii, or California, or Florida. And with all that heat, we’ve also been the fortunate recipients of a fifteen inch rainfall deficit. The water level in the local lakes is down by several feet and the green green grass of home looks more like tumbleweed blowing across the desert.

Back to the dog. She likes to exercise, as any puppy would. Since she is a German Sheppard, she likes to play a lot, and strenuously. Fetch is good. I find a small log in the woods, something maybe eighteen inches long and three or four inches in diameter, and I throw it as hard as I can. As soon as she sees me starting to wind up she takes off at full sprint speed. I think she could take a cheetah in a hundred yard dash.

Since I broke my shoulder a couple of years ago my throwing arm isn’t like it was when I pitched for the sandlot sluggers. The dog is well past where the stick will land by the time it sails through the air. But she happily comes back for it, grabs it with her teeth and brings it back for another toss. I prefer a smaller tree branch to the tree trunks she likes so sometimes we compromise. She will bring a six foot long branch to me which is only two inches across. The damn things are so heavy and cumbersome I can barely throw them but she’s got the thing in her mouth running around with two inches on one side and the rest unbalanced, but firmly held.

Another game she likes to play is biting at my hands and feet. Sometimes it hurts so I’m glad she is just playing. She could probably bite either of my appendages off quite easily. But ten or fifteen tosses of the stick usually satisfies her.

And the dust cloud? As she thunders across the dry grass in the yard she will slam on her brakes when she knows it’s time to catch or pick up the falling stick. She slides across the yard and tears up the grass and stirs up the dust. There are now places in the yard where the loose and bare soil is about three inches deep. When she hits that patch of dirt at full speed and puts on the brakes, a huge cloud of dust erupts. I’m sure the neighbors see the cloud rising above the fence and think I’m using a bulldozer to dig a hole to the center of the Earth.

Oddly enough, having her chase the stick also allows me to give the arid lawn some water. She gets so excited chasing that stupid stick that starts to foam at the mouth. The slobber gets all over the stick, which then gets covered with dust that turns to mud. Globs of slob fly out of her mouth as she runs. Her fur gets covered with the stuff, as does the ground. And the stick. Sometimes that stick is so slobbery that when I throw it I loose my grip and it slips out of my hands. Bad throw daddy she barks. And brings it again.

The cloud of dust makes me laugh. She is silly. And loyal. And playful. But we really do need some rain.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Silk Ear?

Like an action thriller in slow motion, the show unfolded in front of me.  Much to my horror, the fate of the hero was not going to be pleasant.  When I opened the door to the truck, I saw the lamp roll off the seat and out the door.  S l o w l  y it fell the foot or so to the ground.  It hit the ground with the tinkling sound of breaking glass, rolled over, and was no more.

There was no pause button.  No rewind.  Time was not going to go backwards.  It was broken.  And ruined.  Today is my daughter’s birthday and I had bought it for her at an estate sale.  Mid century.  Covered on both its body and shade with gold stars.  Just the right size for her apartment.  I was devastated.

Why hadn’t I secured it better in the seat?  Could I have been any more cavalier in throwing open the door to the truck?  I should have paid more attention at baseball camp to learn to catch better.  Oh, I was mad at myself.  Mad at  the world.  Brooding.

Then it hit me.  The only part that broke was the glass body.  The shade was still intact.  And by itself worth more than what I’d paid for the whole thing.  The hardware was all there and functional.  But it was sooo cool!  Can’t be repaired.  No going back.  But I can make it better!

All I need is some kind of new body for it.  Has to be correct for the time period.  And needs to be super cool to go with the stars.  But I can make it better than it was.  Might take a while.  And it’s a lot more involved than just sticking the original on the shelf, ready to light the room.  But I can make it better.  I’m creative like that. 

And so the silk purse, rendered a sows ear by an unfortunate accident, will once again become a silk purse.  Or at least a silken ear.  That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?  www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Movies versus Memories

There was a day when movies were actually on film.  We’d go to the theater and when we saw the suitcase like boxes in the lobby we knew that there was either a new movie arriving, or there would be soon to replace that one that was leaving.  Now they are all on CDs I guess.   Or in some other new fangled format.

In any format, I love movies.  So much so that when I was a youngster I would tell my mother that I was sick so I could stay home form school to watch some movie I knew was going to be on TV.  Usually an old one.  Gangsters.  Westerns.  Comedies.  Army movies.  And yes, musicals.  I know a lot about old movies.  Not so much about contemporary ones.  Can’t stay home from work to go to the movies.

Lately we’ve been watching a lot of home movies when we go to the lake.  All the old 8 mm films converted to VHS, and then to DVD.  It’s fun to watch all of those old films.  Our family history captured in time.  And history.  But I can only take so much.  I usually get sad because I miss those days.

There are movies that only exist in my head.  These are memories of the past.  Sometimes these are as crystal clear as the images on a brand new CD.  I see my younger brother now.  He went though a cowboy phase as a little kid.  Every day he’d wear a straw cowboy hat.  Black.  And matching black leather cowboy boots.  He had jeans and a neckerchief and gloves with a leather fringe on the cuff.  The best part was the shirt though. He had a blue ne and a red one.  Both with a small checked pattern and white piping across the chest.  Long sleeved.  All the buttons were pearl.

Indoors he rode an appaloosa rocking horse.  Outdoors it was the swing set.  Back and forth.  For hours on end.  He was a cowboy ridin’ the range.  A man and his horse.  I can relate.

There are no movies of this.  Just the one in my head.  It’s probably a compilation of a number of scenes.  But it’s crystal clear and it reminds me of my brother.  With time the movies and the memories will fade.  Until then, the memory I can call up any time.  The movie requires technology.  The memory makes me smile.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?  www.personalhistorywriter.com

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There are a number of thoughts on the concept of time.  How does it progress?  What is the best way to measure time?  And why do we measure time at all?  On a cosmic scale, is the time we are able to comprehend, and measure, really of any significance?  Of course, we don’t typically live our lives on a cosmic scale.  We fit into all of that realm somewhere, but we live on a human scale.

I see time moving in a manner similar to a motion picture.  There are endless still shots, all strung together into a segment of time.  Perhaps just a moment, or perhaps a lifetime.  When we were kids we would make crude movies by drawing pictures on the pages of a book, each drawing just a little different from the last so that when you flipped through the pages it seemed like the image was in motion.  Capturing a moment in time may be like grabbing just one of those images.

I’ve restarted my photographic endeavors and I’m about to drive thirty miles to take a picture.  One shot.  One image of a subject that interests me.  I saw the basic image while driving down the road one day, but didn’t have the camera.  So, I have to go back.  Among photographers there are those who think that they create shots, which they indeed do by posing people and objects, and those who believe that they just capture an image that is already there for the taking.  More of an observer. I’m of the latter school of thought, just taking pictures of things that are there.  My creative skills come into play by how I analyse what I’ve captured.

My youngest child will soon be off to college and I’ve been taking pictuers of events surrounding that occassion.  Many small steps leading to a momentous event.  Life changing for all of us.  High school graduation.  College orientation.  The upcoming move-in day.  And the good byes.  It’s all unfolding in front of me and I’m trying to capture the time and events.  A young life, but filled with important milestones.  All worth saving.

That’s what I do as a personal history writer.  Instead of just photos, I use words to capture a moment.  A human moment or a cosmic moment.  Let me be your personal history writer so I can capture your moments for you to remember, and for future generations to appreciate as well.  www.personalhistorywriter.com

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