Tag Archives: personal history

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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The Falling Leaf

In the gentle breeze a single oak leaf drifted down from the sky as my dog watched. Her intention of course was to eat the leaf before it hit the ground. And so she did. What an idyllic scene. Norman Rockwell would have loved the whole atmosphere.

One leaf. From an oak tree. How serene!

Taking the time to watch over the next couple of weeks, I will be treated to this sight millions of times. Does anyone know how many leaves the average oak tree has? Not me. And I’m not about to think about it. Some of those leaves fall in the forest. And some fall into my grassy yard. The latter have to be moved. That is, blown, raked or mulched. That’s my job.

I certainly won’t be lacking things to do over the next few weeks. One leaf is lovely. As is one oak tree. So I am abundantly fortunate to live on three acres with dozens of trees. Each one contributing a full compliment of spring, summer and fall leaves to the pile I anticipate.

Not all of my trees are oaks. There are also sweet gums, which also drop their spiny gumballs to the ground. There are maples, sassafras, crepe myrtle, dogwood, and a few evergreens.

Leaves that fall into the woods I can simply enjoy the sight of, allowing them to finish out their life cycle as nature intended. Unless they blow into the yard. There they would join the legions of leaves waiting for me to move them. The grass could use one more haircut with the lawnmower, which will mulch the leaves and grass and return it all to the soil. My leaf blower can huff and puff and push them down the hill into the ravine where the creek flows. And the mulcher can suck them up and grind them into mincemeat. If I’m really feeling vigorous, I will break out the old rake.

Most of the leaves will fall soon. And some will wait until the spring when new growth will force them off of the trees. The outdoors around me is filled with wonders. And I embrace them all.

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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