Tag Archives: real world

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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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 Rental Car

Having a rental car is much like driving a new car. It is, in fact, almost brand new with only 30,000 miles on it. And it has some nice modern features. It’s fast, but don’t tell the rental company I had it over the speed limit. And it handles like a sports car. I want to believe I’m driving a Porsche.

But it’s not like having my truck. Which is in the repair shop. My tuck is full sized. And it has a very strong six cylinder engine. That just so happens to get reasonable gas mileage. And I can fill it up with a lot of stuff. My stuff. Handy stuff. The truck also sits up a tad higher, and so do I when I’m in it. So I can see the world around me. Most of the time.

I would never buy a used vehicle that has a history as a member of a fleet, or as a rental car. People like me, and some much worse, have a tendency to not treat them very well. They drive them fast. And don’t pay attention when they open doors, thus banging them into things. And if the coffee spills on the seat or floor, oh well, someone else will clean it up.   I’m not saying that renters drive the car through mud bogs every day, but the rental is not the same as your own.

That said, I have to admit that I have been very careful with this car. My truck is in the shop because I had a minor collision in it. So, I am being especially aware of the distance between me and the car in front. And of brake lights and stopping distances. I do not want to damage this car, and I am a tad timid about driving at all.

When I get my truck back, I believe that I will continue to be cognizant of my surroundings. And brake lights. And stopping distances.

Having the rental is fun, but mostly very convenient. But I’m looking forward to having my truck back. And filling it up with my stuff.

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

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Light Switches

In the beginning, there was darkness. And in the night sky flashed a light that came to earth as fire. Early humans captured the fire, conquered it, and put it to work for them. This was the dawn of civilization.

With curious experimentation and investigation, trial and error, and dumb luck, humans found that they could make many things burn. And they created torches, candles, oil lamps, kerosene lamps and gas lights to light the night.

With another flash in the sky came the discovery of electricity. and a revolution began. Eventually the incandescent light bulb was created. The electrification of the world began. There were wires hanging everywhere and often a single bare bulb dangled at the end to light a room. With time, the wires were put into the walls and ceilings of buildings, or covered with conduit. Multiple bulbs served a single room. New types, sizes and shapes of bulbs were developed and the light moved outdoors.

Humans had turned night to day.

For every light, there has to be a switch. That thing that you flip to send the electricity from its source to the bulb. The thing that makes the connection to turn the light on. My father is an electrical engineer and he can tell you all about how the technical details work, but from me all you get is flip the switch and it works.

When I look at the walls in my home I see single switches, dual switches, triple switches and even quad switches. In other places I have seen rows and rows of switches all working something. With all these switches, I sometimes have a hard time figuring our what each one operates.

I’ve only lived in my current home for ten months so I’m still sort of experimenting with what the switches work. There are switches indoors that turn on lights outdoors. There are switches upstairs that turn on lights downstairs, and vice versa. And some lights have a switch here, and another there.   Some of the switches turn on lights I can’t see from the switch so they appear to do nothing.

So the other day, out of curiosity, I turned on all the switches. I noted the indoor lights, and then walked around the outside of the house to see what was on. I went back inside and flipped a few switches on and off and walked around the outside again and I think I have it pretty well figured out now. Except that some lights never came on regardless of switch flipping. Those must be burned out.

During the nineteen years I lived in my last house, I never did figure out all the switches. There was a triple switch at the bottom of the staircase . The switch in the middle didn’t seem to do anything. It was either there for feng shui purposes, or it was intended for later use if there was some upgrade in the house. I just don’t know.

Short of labeling every switch in the house, I’m going to have to rely on my trusty memory to figure out what each switch does. If nothing else, I can just flip them on and off until I get the light I want. Or invent something new.

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

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The Phantom Camaro


Early Spring here in Georgia feels much more like mid Summer with temperatures hovering near 80 degrees and the sun shining brightly. Such lovely weather has a way of making people feel like being outdoors to have some fun. Some folks like to walk, others ride bicycles. People put the top down on their convertibles. And me, I go for a ride on my scooter.

Riding always makes me feel free and alive, but this special day for some reason I felt powerful. I’ll admit, my scooter is no Harley Davidson. Not a Honda, Kawasaki, BMW, Triumph, Indian or any other big motorcycle. It’s a scooter. But bigger than those little bitty things you see zipping in and out of traffic in the French and Italian movie scenes.

Full throttle, on a flat stretch of road, I can hit 60 miles per hour. And at that speed this day I felt good. I waved at other riders, always glad to see fellow two wheel enthusiast out enjoying a ride.

I try to keep my eyes on the road ahead, but I do take time to look in the rear view mirrors as well. And that’s where I saw it. It was bright red and it was trying to catch me. Wide and low I could hear it’s engine roaring. You know, the sound that a five million cubic inch engine will make. And it was decked out with air scoops, and air dams, and bright lights. In my rearview mirror it looked like a sinuous wisp of red smoke charging toward me.

But I soon realized that it wasn’t blasting past me at a thousand miles and hour. It wasn’t even getting any closer to me. A red sports car that you can’t drive fast because the police are always looking for any excuse to pull over a red sports car that might drive fast. I was racing a Camaro, and winning!

Shortly thereafter I noticed that the Camaro was slowly inching it’s way toward me. He must had had his pedal to the metal. HaHa! And then, as we rolled along up a slight hill, he cruised very slowly past me. Checking me out. What beast was this that could keep up with his Camaro!

And as he rolled past me and I looked over, fully expecting to see Steve McQueen driving, I took a good look. Funny looking Camaro I thought. Because it turns out it wasn’t a Camaro. Chevrolet yes, Camaro no. It was a Chevrolet Spark! This thing was shorter than my scooter! I was greatly humbled. But went on to enjoy the rest of my ride.

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


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The Portal

Between my world and the real world lay the portal.  Not some high tech, science fiction time machine filled with lights and atomic particle manipulation.  Nope.  Just a tire swing.

Behind my house there was a thick line of tress, barely penetrable.  It separated my home in 1960’s suburbia with its manicured lawn; two point five children, a car and a dog form the “real world.  That is, beyond the tree line lay a huge cornfield.  And beyond that, other neighborhoods, shopping center, schools, and people.  For a five year old, the difference was significant.

In the center of the tree line stood an ancient oak tree.  Tall and wide.  Scarred by the strike of a lightning bolt.  No one knew how old the tree was.  Or when the lighting had struck.  It was too big to wrap my arms around, and even today still is I imagine.  From it’s lowest limb hung a thick hemp rope.  At the end of the rope, the tire.  Just high enough off the ground so it would swing back and forth.  I could sit on top, or in the opening.  Swinging for hours.

When I was young I would just swing, staring out.  Imagining.  As I got older, I pushed the tire aside and stepped through the portal.  Into the world.  Walk to a store here or there.  Build a fort in the cornfield.  Real, and imagined.  Two worlds combined. 

So simple to push the swing aside and walk out.  Like going through any door.  But this door, the portal, took me to a new world.  I don’t know what triggered this memory.  This thought.  I was on the verge of falling asleep in my bed when it hit me.  I had to get up to write it down.  I must be standing at another portal.  Looking out.  Ready to push the door open and step out.

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

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