Tag Archives: personal history


Seventy eight million, nine hundred forty seven thousand, two hundred and six. I’m counting the leaves on the ground in my yard. That’s a lot. And far from all of them.  Don’t let me forget where I am.  I’d hate to have to start over!

I’m trying to figure out how to get rid of them. This time of year they fall out of the trees and cover the ground.  Red, yellow, orange, brown.  And the dead ones.  If I leave them there they’ll kill the grass and make for a slippery driveway.  So what do I do with them?

In the past I’d rake them up. It’s good exercise but filling up a lot of plastic garbage bags and sending them off to the landfill does not meet my criteria for a solution. I can put them in paper bags and have them carted off, but again, I don’t like sending stuff to the landfill if I don’t have to. I love recycling!

Many people out here burn them, but I’m afraid of fire. It could somehow spread to the nearby woods causing a disastrous forest fire. It might spread toward my house and burn my house down.  Or somehow I myself might get burned.

Fire is one of my greatest fears. I saw a big one once. It was at the same time awe inspiring and very frightening. A Wal-Mart sized grocery/department store was fully engulfed and totally destroyed.  As the flames rose higher the roof collapsed, the windows blew out, and the walls imploded while the fire continued to burn everything inside. The whole neighborhood came out to watch. It was really quite a sight and I don’t know what caused the fire. Somebody built something there again and today you’d never know anything had happened there.

When I was in the Navy I didn’t get a chance to go to real firefighter’s school but I did go to a damage control school that included some fire fighting. Being on a ship realizing that you either have to beat the fire and the damage or face the possibility of drowning is a very sobering thought.  There’s no place to go except the water.   And when you hear the alarms going off and the sound of iron hatches being dogged shut you find that you can move a whole lot faster than you ever imagined possible. But I digress…

Another solution would be just blowing them off into the woods. That’s OK, but it’s a lot of work!  The leaves blow all around in the air, and they’re just going to blow back later.  Or I could run the lawnmower over the whole thing, grind them up and turn them into little bits of nutrient filled fertilizer for the grass.  I think that’s my choice.  Fast and pretty clean.  I’ll rake when I need some stress relief or inspiration.

So where was I on that count?  Dang, I told you not to let me forget!  Oh well, it doesn’t really matter.  More have fallen while I was telling this story.  And there are plenty more to come…

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

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The Carnival

Colored lights can hypnotize.  They certainly sparkle in my eyes.  And that is what they are designed to do.  Grab your attention.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been captivated by color.  Especially when it takes the form of colored glass or lights.  My home is filled with things made of glass, in every imaginable color.  Useful things like vases, glasses, and pitchers.  And decorative things like stained glass windows and artwork.  Plus fun things like kaleidoscopes.  A whole collection of them.

It’s the color, and the way it sparkles and changes with the varying light that gets me.  Neon signs and flashing movie theater marquees always get me.  So it was no wonder that the other day when I pulled into the parking lot at the mall that I was spellbound.

The fair was in town.  Is it a fair or a carnival?  Its set up in the parking lot with a number of thrill rides, some food and games.  It was daytime so the full effect of the lights didn’t quite hit me.  But I know what it looks like at night.  And I love it.

I grew up within a mile of a permanent amusement park.  Bigger than these little fairs, but smaller than Disney World.  I could walk there, and often did.  At night I could see the glow of the lights over the horizon.  And hear the sounds of the people screaming on the roller coaster.  I loved going there.  Especially in the evening when the sky was dark but the lights on the rides and food stands and penny arcade lit up the night.  Some steady glowing and others flashing.  All vivid and bright.

Many years ago, seems like another lifetime, I ran in the Walt Disney World Marathon.  That’s a long story, but I have a number of very vivid memories of that day.  It started before the crack of dawn.  In the dark.

But we ran through The Magic Kingdom first, and as I remember it, in the dark of the early morning, every single ride was operating.  No riders, but all the lights on and whirring about.  That was a hell of a way to start what would be a long day.  I remember other things too, like being tired, and being rained on.  And seeing some runners take time out to get married at Cinderella’s Castle.  All the parks.  And the end, when I saw my two kids cheering me across the finish line.

And I got a shiny gold medal in the shape of Mickey’s head.  Polished to a brilliant gleam.  More flashy lights.

I do lots of lights for Christmas, and have lights up on my porch for night time relaxation.  There are strings of colored martini glass lights in my garage, and pink flamingo lights in the closet.  I need a place for them… And in my office, my man cave if you will, I have lava lights, salt lights, red lights, fluorescent lights, black lights, and even an incandescent bulb or two.

I’m an advertisers dream.  Flash some bright lights at me and I’ll come running like a moth to a flame.  Just don’t expect me to buy anything.  Unless it’s a light.

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

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Boat Parade

On the approach, the new Mercedes Benz stadium was clearly visible. Unlike the path that the crow flies, the road system I was travelling did not go straight to my destination. I could see a nearby landmark, but not the road I needed to take.

And so, as is common to my travels, I took a wrong turn. The GPS rerouted and sent me on a new path so it was no major disaster. But it threw off my concentration. And I missed another turn.

Ending up in a parking lot full of nothing but boat trailers, I knew I was in the right area. But I couldn’t park there. The blue lot was my destination. There was a gate guard at the main entrance to the trailer lot so I stopped to ask him where I needed to go to reach my goal. He seemed a bit surprised that I came from within the trailer lot, but very kindly gave me the directions. It was just a around the corner and I was there in no time. Pretty good for me!

The boat show promised to provide the mother lode of boats to examine. I would like to buy a boat, but it’s hard to go to every dealership to look around. And even worse to have to face the scrutiny of hungry salesmen on the small stage of a single dealership. This big show was sure to be somewhat more relaxed. And would allow me to look at vessels I would not normally see at my local showroom.

The exhibit hall at the World Congress Center did not disappoint. It was huge. And filled with hundreds of boats of all sizes and shapes.  Long lines to get onto and explore the biggest and fancies yachts.

Actually buying a boat here was not in my mind at all. That would be way too impulsive. But as I walked around I did see signs on several boats indicating that they were indeed sold.

My goal was to clarify in my mind what type of boat I really wanted. Or more precisely, which type I should actually buy. I had three options in mind. In no particular order, they were sailboat, pontoon boat, and runabout boat.

Each type comes in many sizes and styles, but it wasn’t within these categories that I needed to decide, but rather between them.

I have had two sailboats and I enjoy drifting silently across the water powered by only a nice breeze. But there are places that sailboats can’t go, like close in to a shoreline. The pontoon will go anywhere I want it to go, carries a good number of people, and is easy to drive. But somehow it seems a tad boring. Now the runabout, a classic vintage one, is to me just the coolest thing ever. Lapstraked hull and curved windshield with that 35 horsepower engine. OMG! Not like the big offshore boat I saw with three 300 horsepower engines strapped on to is after end. But I didn’t expect to see an antique boat at this show. And quite honestly, I think I’d be afraid to drive it lest it get a scratch.

Row after row I looked, and climbed aboard several. The sales folks seemed to ignore you unless you sat on their boat for more than ten minutes. And very strangely, I noticed that every one of the people I spoke with had their hands and mouths full of food. Boring show?

There were several food and beverage options available at the show. Including beer and wine. Oh lord, a drunken sailor! And it wasn’t just boats on display. There were people selling lakefront real estate. And patio furniture. Skin lotions and clothing. Anything and everything that had even the slightest connection to outdoor and water oriented recreation. That part of the show I breezed through.

In all of my researching here I did discover one thing. While I love all three types of boats that I’ve mentioned, the pontoon is most practical for my desires.

It took a while, but I finally found an example of a pontoon boat that fit my needs. Especially in the price category. I don’t have six figures for a boat. Basic is what I want. Low budget. Not too big. Plenty of seating. And enough of a go fast device to go just fast enough.

But I won’t be buying one of these fancy new boats. Still out of my budget. I should say out of my will to pay. Instead, I’ll find an experienced boat, one well travelled and a little broken down. Just like me.

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

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The Museum

My father and I have always been on separate pages. His was math and science, mine was history and art. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a brilliant man. A real rocket scientist who is responsible for a great deal of the technology that we take for granted today. And I , well, I’m different from all that.

He had great plans for me. And spent a great deal of time telling me what they were and how I could achieve them. What a letdown I was. At one point he was convinced that I was, in his words in the 1970’s, retarded. Until he had me take an IQ test. Same as his.

I tried. Really I did. A doctor. Sure, I can do it. Not. Lawyer, scientist, architect, same thing.   Even the business world was a little challenging with micro and macro economics, statistics and accounting. Yes, it makes sense, but only if you don’t ask questions. And I’m full of questions.

So, with great trepidation I entered the field of anthropology. Trepidation because as a college student I was certain that my financial stream would be dammed up. But he allowed it, only because my mother was an artist. She convinced him that anthropology was not totally worthless.

It’s always been like that between he and I. I’m a disappointment and have never lived up to his dreams. For the longest time I busted my ass to either satisfy, or surpass him. But somehow he was always better.

I published a book. But he had always written a journal and poetry and if only I did this like him I would be a better writer. I ran marathons. He ran to work as a young man and if only I would extend my legs a little further I could be an Olympian. Never. It even went so far as I had debilitating back pain caused by structural damage (too much damn running). Surgically repaired twice, but not corrected. But at age 93 he had back pain too. Much worse than mine. Give me a break!!!

So it was with extreme nervousness that I prepared myself for a visit from him. I go north to see him probably twice a year. I combine this visit with an antique shopping adventure through the Carolinas and Virginia. But he hasn’t come to see me since, well, I don’t remember.

He was coming to see my new home. My new home in the country. Would it match up to the place he had lived in for thirty eight years? I didn’t care. This was my house and I like it.

What did make me nervous though was my man-cave. I call it infinity. It’s full of the things that I love. Like mid century modern furniture. Asian art. Nautical artifacts. And no TV. It’s a real fantasy land.

I decided I would just show it to him and hope for the best.   I was surprised.

In this space he found things that he recognized from his own past. Sculptures he had created. Items that he and my mother had collected. Things he had never seen before that the thought were his. Some things never change.

But the thing was that he was very impressed. He loved it and spent quite a while in there looking at everything.

The biggest surprise was yet to come. He called me up one day and asked if I had any pictures from my infinity. I said no, but I could take some. What came next blew my mind.

He wanted the pictures. He said that the items housed in my man cave were museum quality. Wow!! Museum quality.

My mother worked in an art museum. I had studied at the Smithsonian. Surely my little stuff was not equal to that. But he’s a smart guy. And had learned a lot from my mother. And the stuff I have collected is good stuff. Ok. My man-cave is a museum – the Alexander museum of decorative arts.

I thought about this for a few moments and decided that if he wanted a few pictures, I would do him one better. Not just a few pictures, but a museum exhibit catalog. With me as curator. Dream come true!!!

Thus, the book was born. Thirty six pages with over one hundred photos of the items I keep at Infinity. The collection is ever changing but as of today, this is a sample. And I’ll give it to him so that he can remember history as he does.

It’s my museum. I love it. And it changes as I see fit. Museum quality. You said it dude, and you know you are always right!!!

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

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New Truck

It’s a time of transformation. I wrecked my truck and sent it to the repair shop, after having stripped it of everything that made it MY truck. Nothing personal or personalizing left. When it came back to me, it was barely recognizable.

The dents, the blown airbag and the broken bits and pieces had been removed and repaired and replaced. But the shop had given the whole thing a bath. And shined it all up. It looked almost brand new!

So, with a “brand new” truck, what could I do to personalize it? The front license plate had been destroyed. My initials in nautical flags had resided there since the day I got the truck. And on two other vehicles before. What now?

The dashboard had my special GPS system. When I was lost, or unsure of my direction, I would ask a small figurine of a Chinese Wiseman. He would direct me to look into the kaleidoscope for direction. That done, a turtle figure would carry me on it’s back in the right direction. And all the while a glass bluebird of happiness would tag along to make sure everyone was feeling good. I have never not gotten to where I was going.

And hula girl figures adorned the dash and the rear window ledge. They were just for company.

The tailgate had a green peace sign magnet. Now cracked.

And hanging from the rear view mirror was a clear crystal. Powerful. And a dream catcher hung from the hanging hook in the rear of the cab.

It would have been easy to just put it all back like it was. But for some reason I didn’t. Was it a lack of time to do so? Or was there a deeper significance to the hesitation?

As in my life, change happens. And sometimes we have to sit tight and see what is going to happen, and where the new path takes us. That’s where I am in life. Newly retired. Looking into the future that is shorter than the past. What do I still want to accomplish? How do I want to enjoy myself?

I have slowly put a few things back into the truck. Really important things that define me. And identify the truck as mine. The GPS and dream catcher have returned. A new peace symbol is on the bumper. And I’m working on a new front license plate. New design. The rest may just be fluff that’s enjoyed it’s run, but can move on.

New things are coming. Only time will tell what’s next. In wide eyed wonder I look for the blue skies of the coming days.

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

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I’ll Take Mine Black

Black coffee has a strong taste, not to everyone’s liking. The stronger the better I say. Of course, you can doctor up the black coffee with all kinds of things. It can be sweetened with sugar, honey and artificial sweeteners. You can load it up with cream, half and half, milk and even ice cream. Some folks like it all steamed up and frothy. And some folks like to add a touch of bourbon. I like it black.

If I go to a fancy restaurant I might splurge on the coffee. I’ll wait for it to cool to the perfect temperature and add a single teaspoon of sugar and a dash of real cream. Just enough to lighten the color. But usually I drink it hot, and black. This is an old habit from the Navy where I really learned to rely on coffee for it’s ability to keep me awake.

The Senior Chief Mess Specialist always had a few gallons of coffee on the burner. Sometimes it was fresh and tasted pretty good. Even black. Other times it had been cooking away for several hours and had the composition, and taste, of motor oil. And it was hot. Delicious.

I drink a lot of coffee. And it has lost it’s ability to keep me awake. I can drink a cup at midnight and be asleep by 12:01 AM. And I prefer it black. Because that’s the way it comes out of the pot.

Some of my sophisticated acquaintances have a hard time believing that someone with such an interest in the arts, like myself, is not a foodie. I like food the way I like my coffee. Not black, but either the way the chef prepared it, or just plain and simple. Lettuce and tomato on a hamburger is fancy for me.

For me food is fuel. It’s not an art form. I can appreciate a pretty plate full of food, but it’s not something I need. And I never make any comments regarding the chef’s skills, other than to say it’s delicious.

Everyone has their own taste, and so many people think of themselves as experts and critics. We all like things different. And that’s what it is, different. Not better or worse.

I like to eat. And there is very little I won’t eat. Some things I am allergic to, having learned that the hard way, and I won’t eat them. Some things, upon tasting, are unpleasant to my palette. And I don’t eat them. But I’ll eat ugly things, and stinky things. As long as that’s how the chef intended it.

Maybe I’m boring with my food choices. Or maybe I’m just too lazy to add anything to what’s placed in front of me. Or maybe I just believe that the food was made the way it was for a reason, and maybe I should be satisfied with that.

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

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Thanksgiving Theory

This one is a no brainer. On Thanksgiving we write about the things we are thankful for. And this year I have a long, long list. But I’m not gonna go into all of that for you, dear reader, because that’s not what you came here to read. Instead, I’ll just hit a few highlights, and a few concepts on things I’m thankful for.

This year, I’ve come to see things in a new light. I’m thankful for my mediocre health. It’s better than it could be. I’m thankful for being retired. Going out on disability wasn’t how I envisioned it, and I’d rather be working to tell you the truth, but my career has always taken it’s own twists and turns. It’s better than it could be.

I’m always thankful for my family. And how well they are doing. Not as well as some I know, but better than it could be all around. They are happy. And so am I.

I have a new house this year. New to me anyway. And I’m thankful that it is one story, and that I live in the country now. After a long stint in the suburbs, it’s better than it could be.

But mostly I’m thankful for a new way of looking at things. I’ve found a new way of thinking about the way the universe works. You can call it what you want, but it works for me. In this new vision, great spirits and ancestors inhabit the world around me, and if I ask for their wisdom, they will share it. The wisdom of centuries of being.

I don’t ask for money or power or objects. What I am searching for, and asking for help with, is finding my happiness. I’ve opened my ears and my soul to listening for the wisdom that is out there. Wisdom on how to find what makes me happy, to surround my self with people who make me happy, and to know when I’ve found the right path to that happiness. I’ve also asked that I have a kind thought for myself. Forget the negative thoughts of the past and concentrate on the possibilities of the future.

Life is too short to be miserable. I live with physical pain. And I’m still working to shake off many great mental burdens. But I’ve opened myself to hearing new wisdom, and I’m finding that with the right mindset, I hear the voices of the wise. Happy to share.

There is a lot to be thankful for. And with an open heart, I find more and more.

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

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