Archive for November, 2008

I’m savoring the final hours of the most productive four days at the home and home office I’ve had this year, maybe longer. Friday I was into the office at 5 a and was there most of the day. Saturday was spent mostly in the basement, straightening things, putting away things for the winter I’ve not touched in six years. And I didn’t get cold, and I didn’t get hungry or thirsty, and I didn’t miss Carlo Rossi’s ymmy gallon jug Burgundy for three of the four days.

It’s the longest stretch I’ve had to engage, in depth, tasks that have waited for my attention too long, and none of it will seem logical to someone who’s not a librarian or poet. I’ve caught up with past-due correspondence (not all, but most of it) enjoyed model airplane building in the workshop and lots of peace and quiet. I don’t need a radio on as I used to. A lot of what I need to “hear” seems to come from the outside through the inside, so to speak.

I even wrapped up the last Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association newsletter I intend to produce. That took most of Sunday, and that’s okay. I like to write and lay out newsletters. I will not miss the obligation I’ve engaged for 10 of the 12 years the association has existed, but given the growing disenchantment with the leadership, even though no one wanted to take one step forward, I had to take one step back.

Tonight for dinner, about 8 p, I will have the last of the sliced Thanksgiving turkey on which I’ve dined for one of my two meals each day, the second can of candied yams with melted mini-marshmallows, and probably the last of the butter pecan ice cream. It’s okay, all that premium chow was for premium time. Monday I return to “normal programming” with Ramen noodles, packaged lunchmeat and probably more Burgundy from my friend Carlo. That’s okay. Pennies will matter again starting Monday, and proof positive will be the austerity-mode-adjusted thermostat and water heater. That’s okay. It’s life as it should be lived under my circumstances.

I’m trying to shake off my growing apathy to the world politic. Most of the news on the heels of a nation-wide process in which almost all of “my people” won (Franken came SOOOOO close.) is what’s GOING TO HAPPEN.  YAAAAAAAAAWN. I want to be the right kind of citizen re the daily news conferences by Barack Obama, but honestly sports fans so much of it hits me as so much PREamble. Awaken moi when the AMBLE begins.  I mean BRAVO the man’s (and the team’s)  decisive foundation building, but he seems to be moving from leader to celebrity. Who does Barack Obama think he is, grabbing all the media time; Britney Spears? EEEEUW! <– I’m kidding with the Britney reference, but I’d be more impressed if I heard less about Barack so soon after the election. I ALMOST didn’t watch Meet the Press and This Week with George Stephanopoulus this week. Both programs had first class guests and astute questioning and commentaries,  so I’m glad I tuned in. But I must admit, I read the Sunday State Journal-Register during the commercials. Hell, during the commercials, I could have read half of Tolstoy’s War and Peace!

Monday, good Lord willin’ and the creeks don’t rise, I will be back again at Rock City with reduced hours, and that will be okay for the first week of it. Then I’m going to have to find a real employer. Stay tuned muchachos y muchachas y mucha-cha-chas. The dank has only jezbegun..

Live long , , , , , , , and proper.

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Throughout the year — which arbitrarily begins in January, but it might, for some, begin in March or September — we plant intentions and actions that sometimes mature to yield rewarding harvest or slumber, reviled, regretted or forgotten, forever.

To be truly balanced about life, we should set aside a day for regrets. The occasion might be called Up Your Stew Day so we don’t offend the tyke-minds with Up Yours Too Day. It would be celebrated by every observer wandering into a public meadow and having a private interface with the Omniscient Spirit (Yahweh, Heavenly Father, God, your call here) while sipping unsweetened lemon juice and munching vinegar-flavored Pringles. I will never speak in favor of such a day because I feel the future of humanity is tied to gratitude first.

Most important in my life are the people who I am privileged to know who have have enhanced my life. Everything else is collateral:

Mark Russillo, Kevin Panting,  George Jaworski, Thea Chesley, Patti Long, Darley Copp, Fred Russillo, Bridget Ingebrightsen, Fletcher Ferrar, Roland Klose, George Tinkham, “I’mThirtyWHAT?” Donna Aschenbrenner,  Jennie Battles, Melissa Hendricker, Gayle Norton, Angie Dunfee, Sonia Lang, the excellent people at Arcadia Publishing,  David Barringer, Dee Nelson.

It’s a short list. If I can last until spring, I believe my list will be longer next November, not that it should be. I am lucky to know these people. I am also lucky to know some dozens more wafting in and out of my life like robins alighting on my front lawn, flying away and returning again.

This is a solitary but reverent Thanksgiving for me. No unhappiness in this home as I consider the harvested satisfaction of this year.

I was into action at 9 this morning after sleeping about five hours with the thermostat set to provide comfortable heat for the long weekend. No hands between my legs to stay warm; they’re fine. So fine that I’m spending hours in the basement where it’s not WARM, but I am warmed by the satisfaction that I am doing something CONSTRUCTIVE.  I have discovered over the years that when I am doing something I believe I should be doing, am meant to be doing, the temperature around me doesn’t matter. When I decide in July that it IS TIME to mow the lawn, I don’t feel the heat.  I write articles for Springfield Business Journal and I don’t notice my hands. I improve the model displays and files downstairs, and I don’t mind the Fahrenheit because I’m on point, on mission. That said, when I am in between the projects, it’s nice, it is supremely satisfying to be not cold.

Later today, I will commemorate my harvest home with sliced turkey (custom cut at the Schnuck’s deli Wednesday late afternoon) on toasted Bunny Whole Wheat with melted Colby and Hellman’s mayonnaise; canned candied yams with melted mini marshmallows (I forgot the Brussel sprouts, dang it) eased down the hatch with some Burgundy and crowned with all the Butter Pecan ice cream I want for dessert. Following a nap with the white noise of a football game on TV, I shall return to normal programming. I have a lot of work to do with AeroKnow, and I will engage that action, thankful that I have been permitted by Fate and some mighty terrific people to know today. Earlier this year I would not have bet I would be here today,

Whoever you are, I hope your Thanksgiving is satisfying and reverent as you desire it to be. Thanks for reading this posting at Honey & Quinine.

Live long . . . . . and graciously.

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Street Legal Again

My friend Tina who, with her man Ike, shepherded your obedient blogger home last wacky Friday night, offered to drive me to the license bureau Monday. But when I told my friend Kevin of my plight and why, he told me the bureau is closed Mondays, and he would be glad to fix my tail lights AND taxi moi to the license facility Tuesday, I graciously accepted his offer and e’d T with the good news.

Monday morning, George at Rock CIty sent an associate to pick me up on his way into work. Al did so per his boss’s advisory: neither glad to or put out by the slight variation in the daily sashay to the edge of the world where we work..Al, whose role there seems to be shop foreman, has the brains and the attitude for the work and he’s about 30 years older than the guys who do most of the fabricating and heavy lifting. As a lifetime residents of this town, we share memories of a lot of the local turf and events. I had a fine day at work, but had to take a taxi home. Happy circumstance found me with cash in the pocket, and since Al, George and the rest of the crew would not be back from a major project in Bloomington until 9-ish, the cab was the fastest ticket home. I called Lincoln Cab, and I’m glad I did.

The last time I rode in a cab was about 1973. I was impressed with the larger. van-ish vehicle and riding in the passenger seat, chatting with the 45-ish woman who grew up in Devereaux Heights (extreme northeast Springfield) who had been driving for Lincoln 19 years. After I rushed through closing down the showroom and locking up, we had a conversation that began as we pulled out of the parking lot and ended only when I paid for the ride in the driveway. Early into it, I explained my circumstance with the expired license and my concern I would not be able to drive to work as I have in the past for fear of being caught breaking the restriction I didn’t even know about. She told me exactly how to save money in the future by taking cabs from Rock City to the nearest city bus stop and where the bus stop nearest my home is. She gave me the number of Springfield Mass Transit I could call to learn what bus to take to where, etc. I was awed by her encyclopaedic knowledge, and it was a fascinating ride. She takes pride in knowing the fastest way and the least-costly routes to a destination. She assumed I wanted the latter. We didn’t even discuss it as we started to roll; I discovered this as we chatted.

We drove through streets in northeast S’field I didn’t know existed. Three minutes into the ride I almost didn’t know west from UP. Five minutes later we came out close to the Schnuck’s I had visited last Friday before my gross encounter of the state police kind. We drove town the side streets of a railroad right-of-way. We turned into parking lots and drove from one lot to another going south in the heart of downtown, avoiding stop lights and getting a view of my city I could not have duplicated on a bicycle, I don’t think. We drove down no alleys. She wasn’t reckless of much faster than the speed limit but her technique kept us away from a lot of required stop lights. She explained many women passengers get nervous with passing through unfamiliar internal vistas of the city, afraid they were going to be charged extra, concerned for safety if the cab broke down in these areas. Not so much with the men. We pulled into my driveway in fine shape about 20 minutes after leaving Rock City. The fare was $12.35, and I apologized for a tight-fisted tip when I told her to keep the 65 cents change. She didn’t complain.

I was early out of the starting gate this morning to put the finishing touch on my articles for the December Springfield Business Journal. I had spent most of my time at Rock City tweaking what I had written Sunday after the news shows, but you know, it’s not enough to dress an article by throwing a “shirt of style” over it with a second draft; one must allign both sides in the center and button it. That’s what I did Monday at work. Tuesday was a fast catch of a neglected button on the right sleeve. DONE!

My friend Kevin showed up at my place on time as usual. We had the morning and talked aviation, model building and family over coffee before heading to the license bureau. I was as nervous over the required incipient ordeal as I am in heavy traffic driving home from work at night. There was no reason to be. The wait for the eye test and then the picture for the new license was not long, and the staff were smiling and patient. I read line five on the visual test okay, and asked the woman behind the counter, was there ANY WAY we could remove the restriction that prohibits me from driving at night? I had to drive home from work in the dark. She asked me to place my head against the visual apparatus again and apparently gave me a peripheral vision test with blinking lights to my left and right extreme fields. And I apparently PASSED! RESTRICTION LIFTED.

HA LE FRIKKING LEW YAH though I didn’t say so at the time.

The picture for my new license is one of the best portraits I’ve ever had taken. I wish I could order reprints and enlargements! And there was no driving test! Kevin had volunteered his car for that in case they required it, but they did not. WOW!

Getting replacement bulbs and installing them was a breeze. For the first time in most of a year, ALL my rear lights came on when engaged; even the license plate light!

I can’t tell you how much better I feel about life, now that I don’t feel like a sulking criminal, knowingly disobeying the law which I had disobeyed only by indulging, nay PREFERRING for some unfathomable reason,  my lazy procrastination.

With that in mind, I did not wait until the last day (which would have been this Friday) to renew my license plate sticker slated to expire at the end of November. I savored a leisurely lunch of soup, bread and iced tea while watching the repeat broadcast of Charlie Rose’ sparkling interview with Vernon Jordan. What a complete, exquisite countenance that American icon is! I could have watched three hours of Jordan interview. THEN I picked up my license sticker. Another breeze.

I have replaced most of my reasons to be darkly nervous about life with resolution. There is still a long list of things to fix about my circumstance and attitudes toward a myriad of other concerns, but this day has been a respectable start in the right direction.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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The news from the State Police officer was not good. Not only were my tail lights not functioning at all while only one brake light worked, I was driving with a license that had expired in September.

But wait, there was more.

My drivers license had a restriction on it that stated I was not to drive after dark!

“Sir, the expired license is my own stupidity, but this is the first time I was aware that I could not drive at night!”

“I think you did know about the restriction,” he replied. “Regardless, I can’t allow you to continue driving this car. You’re going to have to call someone to drive it home.”

“Actually, I’m going to have to walk,” I said.

I was given warning tickets for the bad lights and a ticket with a court date for driving with an expired license. Two of he three tickets I’ve received after turning 21 were for driving with an expired license. The other was for driving without a current car insurance card in my car. That one I picked up last summer. And all have been avoidable. I am smart enough to know when my license expires and when to carry my insurance card from the envelope in which it arrived at my home to my glove compartment.

The most embarassing aspect to the ordeal was simply sitting calmly in the pulsating glare of the rotating red and white lights that flooded my car until the officer returned to his vehicle and drove away. I felt an astronomer on a distant planet could see that glare light years from now and would wonder what kind of a dork was stupid enough to be pulled over in the heart of a downtown street. Self-absorbed was I? You bet. CRUSHED by my childish failure to be more of the adult most strangers assume me to be at first glance? You BET.

I left my groceries where I had put them almost an hour before and started walking home. I’d take the brightest streets: south to Adams, to Sixth and wouth to Lawrence. Then a straight shot to Pasfield and south to Vine. The town seemed to be deserted. It was depressing as hell to see RMD Gallery,  Andiamo’s and Trout Lily Cafe DARK. Three steps past Trout, the epiphany hit me “like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist!” (Thank you Firesign Theater) My friends Ike and Tina (not their real names) were sure to be in the crowd at Robbie’s on Adams where they have live jazz, excellent food and fine fellowship every Friday night. So that’s where I went.

The greeter knew them by name; told me they were halfway back on might right, and that’s where I found them.  I was greeted warmly by a table full of friends/acquaintances, all glad (and surprised as hell, no doubt) to see me. I explained what had just happened and that I was looking for someone to drive my car and me home. Ike and Tina were naturals since Ike lives across the street from me, and Tina’s been a cherished friend for 15 years. Together, they have saved my skin two or three times in recent years. If I am alive today — and sometimes this is a matter of some considerable conjecture — I am alive because of their kindnesses, period, end of story.

But wait, there’s more.

An acquaintance of some many years, Careen (not her real name) invited me to grab a chair and permit her to buy me a glass of wine. Robbies was packed, but I found a chair — with Robbie’s help — and headed back for my friends.

As I approached, I heard a female calling my name, turned to see a face I had last savored when we attended Black Hawk Elementary School about 1958! Her name was Pattie Long (her real name). It was an incredible reunion. She introduced me to her husband, a nice bloke in his own right, and some friends they had been chatting wtih at the bar. It was an incredibly focused seven or eight minutes as I’ve shared with any former school friend, and after a good-bye hug (her request) I returned to the 21st century and my waiting friends.
Careen wanted to buy me dinner, but I declined. I wasn’t hungry after the flashing lights interlude and besides I felt like something of an orphan wandered in from a storm. I felt “dinner” would be charity. She’s happily married too. But despite our common interests in literature and poetry she has always been just beyond arms’ reach to me, never engaging me in more than transiting chit with no time for chat. I explained, reaching for a pretzel, that if she wanted to nourish me, feed me her excellent intellect in future conversations where we shared the same room in opposite corners.  She didn’t argue or affirm. Only the wine had extracted her natural humanity from the place of its retreat most times we’ve encountered each other. And I was glad for that wine. If you have to be under the influence to be nice to me, your next drink is on MY tab; small price to pay for what I get in return.  She did buy me more wine, and I was okay with that.

Some people will always remain just beyond arm’s length from me. Springfield is full of those people. On the other hand, there was Patti who opened her arms and restored part of my soul.

Ike and Tina are two more of Patti’s pedigree. And it was with those two that I rose, concluding a festive and deeply affirming interlude at Robbie’s.   Ike was parked less than a block away, and it was a short reciprocal drive  back to my car. Tina and I followed him home. I was surprised to see so little illumination from bulbs. It was obvious what had attracted the state trooper’s attention. As I said when we arrived at my “Poet’s Castle,” I told them that if I had seen me driving the “Blue Goose” a/k/a Ford in that condition, I’d have given me a ticket too.

After thanks a plenty, I took the groceries in and had dinner. I was not about to eat part of my fresh baked chicken after what I had gone through. It deserved a better night which came late Saturday. Instead I dined on peanut butter sandwiches, Pringles and all the Burgundy I wanted. I was so becalmed by that delayed repast that I napped through Charlie Rose and awoke in time to savor two consecutive episodes of Sex and the City, fast becoming my favorite commercial network TV show. I retired to the Sealy Posturepedic about 2:00 with my faith in the future and desire to be there when it happened, fully restored, poured like honey/sesame seed dressing over the shards of my rattled consciousness.

God bless you Sara Jessica Parker, wherever you are!

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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As the days move more quickly into night following the return of Central Standard Time to central Illinois, I’ve gradually lengthened my lingering at Rock City to almost an hour after I should be homeward bound. My car’s brakes, whose sub-nominal state has turned what should be an everyday painless commute into a hyper-cautious, anguishing ADVENTURE now act in grim collusion with my growing distaste for other traffic, especially strings of vehicles coming toward me as I feel my way home, their glare penetrating my discomfort zone so deeply that last Friday the 21st I had begun to think my discomfort more than annoyance and symptomatic of a more serious impairment.

As has become a habit made possible through the beneficence of my employer, I stopped by Schnuck’s for a baked chicken and a few other provisions to carry men through the week ahead until Thanksgiving. I’ll shop Wednesday for big day delicasies including a pile of deli sliced turkey breast, canned yams, mini marshmallows for the yams, brussel sprouts, Colby cheese and premium Neapolitan ice cream.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’ve known I’ve had a brake light burned out for the past six months. The car seems to burn through left side brake light bulbs the way I go through a can of Pringles: too frequently. Every trip after sundown, I’ve planned my route to include quiet streets that don’t pass by the city and county police stations where I figure odds favor my being caught. I also know my negligence re brakes and brake light bulbs makes the saftey of others at risk when I’m in motion beyond my driveway. It was a little after 6 p as I entered downtown Springfield on 7th Street, a city with (I anticipated) little traffic in the hour between five and the arrival of most of the dinner crowd for some of the area’s finest restaurants and bars. But among the few cars in motion as I pulled up to Jefferson was an Illinois State Police car. I recognized the rooftop light rack direcly behind me as we waited for the light to change.

My first reaction was to stay calm and not to look into my rear view mirror again, to keep my hands at the 10 after 10 position (or 1:50 if you prefer) on the wheel, and not move my head much. A nanosecond after the light turned green, the rooftop light rack lit up the sky as we pulled into motion, and a nanosecond after that, I hit my right turn signal for a gentle entry into the empty first curbside parking space.

The officer approached my car in a business-like manner. Nobody driving a 1986 Ford Escort is running guns and drugs, and I believe he understood this. He asked me if I knew that a brake light was out and that I had absolutely no functioning TAIL lights. I told him someone at a hardware store parking lot a few days ago had called my non-working brake light to my attention, but the other tail lights being out was a complete surprise. He took my license, registration and proof of insurance card to his car, he advised me to stay in my car. With his cruiser inches away from my rear bumper, I was not inclined to quibble. I was sitting in probably the safest car seat in Springfield, Illinois. And thus began what seemed a half hour wait for him to return to my car. In the meantime, I was worried to blazes that my insurance had expired. In the meantime, I tried to find different things to do with my hands and head position that would convey my utter harmlessness to the officer and the innocent populace of the city. I had a sense that a television camera was focused on my every move. Like Santa Claus only much worse. It was the longest time I spent behind the wheel without picking my nose since the last time I went on a date, and that was years ago. I didn’t even dare to push up my sleeve to look at my watch because I knew time would pass more slowly if I did. I also remembered that the worst way to make time pass quickly was to want it to pass quickly. I consciously but silently declared time to be irrelevant under the circumstances. It worked. The next time I glanced furtively at my outside rear view mirrow, he was already out of his car and in motion toward the quaking amalgam of fear and loafing that is me. He was not smiling. I tried to see what made his resolute countenance different from my dad’s during the last 30 seconds before he (for the last time in our lives) administered “the belt” to me when I was a ninth grader at Ben Franklin Junior High.

There was no difference.

To be continued . . . . .

L l . . . . . a p.

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About four years ago, my friend Barry Tempest of Kings Cliff, England sent me the facts shared here. Barry’s involved with the aviation bidness with the national government in the hinterland; hence his popular moniker “LimeyFed.” I’m transcribing the info to here so I can lessen the clutter here in the office.

1. The words “racecar,” “kayak” and level are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left. They are palindromes.

2.”Stewardesses” is the longest word typed wtih only the left hand. Lollipop is the longest word typed only with the right hand.

3. No word in the English language rhymes with “month,” “silver,” “purple” and “orange.”

4. Our eyes are the same size from our natural birth, but our ears and nose never stop growing.

5. “Dreamt” is the only word in the English language that ends in “mt.”

6. The sentence “The quick brown fox jums over the lazy dog.” uses every letter of our alphabet.

7. Only four words in the English language end in “dous.” They are “horrendous,” “tremendous,” “hazardous” and “stupendous.”

8. Two words in the English language share all five vowels in order: “abstemious” and “facetious.”

9. “Typewriter” is the longest word that can be typed using only one row of the keyboard.

10. A goldfish’s memory goes back no more than three seconds.

11. A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

12. By definition, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second.

13. A snail can sleep for three years. (And after some Saturday nights, so can I — blogger’s observation).

14. Almonds are members of the peach family.

15. An  ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain. (Insert your own observation about #43 here. — blogger’s suggestion)

16. February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

17. No new animals have been domesticated for the past 4,000 years.

18. If the population walked past you eight abreast, the line would never end because of the nation’s rate of reproduction.

19. Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

20. Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.

21. Rubber bands last longer when they are refrigerated.

22. The average person’s left hand does 56% of the typing.

23. The cruise liner QE2 moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel fuel it burns.

24. The microwave oven was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar in his pocket melted.

25 The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.

26. There are more chickens i this world than people.

27. Winston Churchill was born in a ladies’ room during a dance.

28. Women blink nearly twice as often as men.

You’re welcome.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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One would imagine that with the gas reconnected and the warm satisfaction resulting therefrom, I’ve spent the past week in “Paradise.” Not true. It’s been a week of throwing myself into magazine index transcribing for AeroKnow while holding down the front office for my employer on the edge of the world. I’m often so focused on the transcribing, usually with the radio off so I can better concentrate, that if one of the fabrication crew comes into the showroom to punch in or out or shoot the stuff, I don’t even notice him until he speaks . . . . and then I”m so startled sometimes I almost jump out of my chair. It’s been a week of “hand-of-Fate-on-my-shoulder duress” as I anticipate the return of the recuperating office manager in early December. I am cramming this AeroKnow action while I’m being paid for something else because I know I will be too bleeping bummed out — when she returns and I’m home more — to work so hard at a task which, itself, will likely continue for at least three more months. The work week culminated in an event I probably won’t explain in this post but will later this weekend. Looking back, Thursday night was a brush with the iceberg which seemed, accurately as the next day would prove, to be the prelude to an undesired voyage in a lifeboat.

I share my clothes washer and dryer with the resident and kids living upstairs whom I will call Trudy and the Crew — not their real names. In the early days of their living here we decided they could do laundry anytime during the week, but weekends for laundry were mine. They’d just have to call me so I could unlock the deadbolt, and I’d lock it again in the evening after Charlie Rose or when I discovered no clothes in the washer or dryer. It didn’t last long, and that’s okay. When I’d take a load of mine down and discover their laundry still in a machine, I’d just delay mine until they removed theirs, usually in a day or two, but sometimes, not for most of a week. That’s when I began removing whatever of theirs was in a machine, doing my laundry, and replacing theirs where I had found it. Nobody complained.

Thursday I decided to get my sheets together with pillow cases and make two loads instead of my regular one about every 10 days. I decided it was time for me not only to sleep warm, but to sleep clean.

I have three pillows with a case for each. The number never mattered until about 2:00 am Friday morning after I awakened from a short winter’s nap in the easy chair and toddled off to bed. That was when I realized I had forgotten to “dress the bed” after pulling things out of the dryer and replacing Trudy and the Crew’s cold, dried whatever. As glum as I have been this week (Charlie Brown on the pitcher’s mound at the bottom of the ninth and the visiting team is ahead, 13 to O) I was not glum enough to sleep in my street clothes on a naked mattress and naked pillows.

I could feel myself drifting off to sleep as I pulled things from the basket and “made the bed.” But when it was time to do the pillows, I came up short one! DANG! So I sorted the laundry, looking for the case errant. Nothing. Returned to the dryer and looked for a white or blue pillow case (you’d think I’d remember what color, but I don’t) in what Trudy and the Crew had. No luck. So where was the case? and why am I trying to make something Federal out of it? Beats the pants off me! I can live with not remembering my pillow case colors, and I can live without a pillow case. I’ll just have one fewer pillow for company, and Kay SaRAH SaRAH as Joni James used to sing (if memory serves).  As long as I continue to awaken, I’m really not going to worry about a frikking pillow case.

Live long . . . . . . . and proper

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For the benefit of readers who have not lived from late March to mid-November without a shower, a description of what I learned this year . . .

My re-immersion into the 21st century began with the return of two stainless steel mixing bowls from the bathroom to the kitchen. The smaller of the two had been used since April to dip water from a large pot of water (heated on the stove and carried to the room appropriate for bathing) and poured into the larger bowl where cold tap water was added. The process added volume to the water used  and brought the temperature of the almost boiling portion to “optimum warm.”

When Dick Rutan and Jeanna Yeager flew around the world without refuelling in 1986, they shared a cockpit equipped with a pilot’s seat, a little room for maneuvering bodies beside it and a long shelf extending to the rear behind the single seat. During the entire flight, when one was flying the Voyager  the other was reclining on the shelf — not unlike the shelf behind the rear-seat passengers in your 1959 Buick Electra — and it was on that shelf that resting and personal hygene took place. In their book about the flight, the intrepid duo relate how Jeanna (no relation to Charles Yeager) paid more attention to the latter than Rutan. The latter admits that he kept his t-shirt on during most of the week-long flight and confined most of the cleaning to “the groinal area.”

Funny isn’t it, how some phrases stay with you? 

My voyage through 7.5 months of sponge action was more thorough than Dick Rutan’s but not much, extending to the arm and body junction and occasionally the whole enchilada standing in the tub with extra agua carried in for the special occasions, about once every two weeks. Until the final month of my odyssey, my scalp received more attention than the rest of me put together. By that time, hygene-wise, I was near delerium, also known as the “oh screwdriver the whole frikking world” stage.  No sweat-ee; no bathe-ee.

Let me tell you what the body does in 7.5 months as revealed during a long shower on a Wednesday morning. (There will be no naughty bits described here.)  Dead skin accumulates on the body the way flakes accumulate on your sidewalk during a gentle snowfall. You don’t notice it until warm water penetrates the layer, and you find you can scratch the layer away as though it was icing on a cake, scraped off by your fingernails. I discovered this on my right arm at first: scratched most of it off leaving the undercoat red as a beet, but not painful at all. Then I discovered it on my lower legs, especially below my knees. Above the knees had received regular focused attention over the months. The negative outcome of casual sponging really became obvious around my feet. The accumulation came off not so much like dead skin cells, but like bark. I gave all this as much attention as I could during the rush to get to work on time, and I accomplished a lot.

A big benefit  encountered in transit is that I don’t have to work so hard to lift my feet when I’m walking.

I REALLY need a good soak in the tub with the water about as hot as I can stand.  Maybe tonight. For sure: soon.

Had I known what I would learn at the end of my little adventure, I would have found a way to check into a cheap hotel once a month, especially in the summer when I could have appreciated the air conditioning, and give periodic and thorough once-overs to my entire booooody.  If you’re in the sponge mode, I recommend you consider it.

I am also resolved to watching my thermostat as never before, closing doors to rooms I’m not occupying, closing heat vents to rooms seldom occupied and without plumbing, and still using the afghan when I’m watching TV. And I’m sure I’ll be using the space heaters when the weather gets COLD cold. Bottom line: no more adventures in gasless living for me.

Live long . . . . and proper.

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My phone request to Ameren made Monday at 1:30 connected. I was told a service person would visit me today and would try to make it before lunch as I requested.

I’ve been working as much as mon boss would allow me, but there was no hesitation in announcing I would not be in the showroom for the entire day since Ameren can’t promise when I’ll be reconnected. I would use the rest of the day to connect with my roofing contractor to whom I am DEEPLY indebted for the new roof installed when I thought I’d be professionally employed forever. I’ve promised to produce and maintain a web site for him. I promised him a web site, photography and writing to help pay him starting about four years ago, and annually since, but he declined every time with his non-response. He called me about a month ago saying I had stalled enough, and he wanted some kind of compensation that would include my promised web site help and a mutual accord re how much money I still owe him. He wanted to get this unhappy thorn in his side (and mine) behind him. Since I will be working fewer hours when Diane (not her real name)  returns to the showroom following her recovery from a traffic accident some months ago, I figured I would have time to devote to the new web action. But Diane has not returned as fast as suggested two weeks ago by mon boss.

Even so, mon boss is further behind paying me than usual, and my faith in his EVER paying me what he owes me diminishes every day I go in. Typically he pays me half what he owes me. If that typical payment amount is made this week, it won’t cover half what he owe for my labors completed; it will cover a third; maybe less than that if I have to wait much longer. So you can see how my devotion to this fellow is less than it used to be and why I don’t mind taking a full day away from one of the nicest places to work (in terms of good people and good customers) I’ve ever known — out on the edge of the world though it may be.

The Ameren reconnecting fellow came about 10:20 this morning and was on his way to the next customer in less than half an hour. He was a nice fellow; not even an Ameren customer. He lives in the country and heats with propane. The bill for his last propane refill was more than $900! I consider myself lucky. . . . because I am.

The difference in the house was apparent in five minutes. I could inhale the heat coursing into my body via the duct/veins emanating from the basement furnace! A short 45 minutes later, I washed my hands in the first warm water created in this house since last March. I will shower for the first time since last March before heading back to “Rock City.”

In the meantime, in case you’re curious, my thermostat is set at a blistering 55 degrees. I am happy as a happy clam with that, though I know I’ll crank it up when the sun goes down.

I await the phone call from the roofing contractor’s secretary re a meeting today.

HEAT! It’s so nice to have you back where you belong!

Live long . . . . . and right good.

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Until today, my dad’s earnest efforts to convince me to wear hats “fed om dep ees” as Buckwheat might have said. For the first time in my life today and about 14 years too late to thank him for his wisdom and persistence, I decided to pay attention to him.

The occasion was a visit from someone I’ve forgotten since we attended Lawrence Elementary school in the mid 50s. Cindi Bilyeu was a year behind me, but she explained she remembered me during a phone call Friday. She said a teacher I don’t remember, but who told her she taught me remembered me as well. The teacher’s name is Claudine Mander, now in her 90s. When Mrs. Mander read the superb local print media coverage of my book Springfield Aviation, she contacted Cindi who bought a copy for her, for her own family and for her employer, the Illinois Association of School Boards, a private enterprise. During our Friday phone conversation, she asked if I would autograph them if she brought them over Sunday, and of course I said “SURE!” For the first time in weeks, maybe months, I had nothing on my calendar for today besides catching up with AeroKnow and the house in general. When she called me this morning, I decided it was the perfect time to rake at least part of my front lawn for the first time, and to be visible outside when Cindi came by.

Because I was grateful for Cindi’s buying my books and what seems to be the start of a new chapter of my life, I decided to begin that chapter wearing a cap that I had purchased years ago, hand-made from multi-colored hues of corduroy  from a coffee house called Terrapin Station on Wabash. I used to play guitar, share my songs and poetry there and emcee a poetry open mic before they went out of business. I’ve always treasured the cap, more a beret. But I’ve seldom worn it. Springfield is not a beret kind of city, and if the cap didn’t grab me for other reasons, I would not have worn it today. The panoply of colors, combined with the panoply of fallen leaves and bright November sun, made it a natural.

Cindi and her husband pulled up to the curb about three minutes after I had begun raking. She remembered me from my voice, the then-voice of a second or third grader. My mind (what’s left of it) drew a blank. She could have told me she was Donna Parks if she had a British accent, whom I do remember, (then recently arrived from the UK; sat in front of me in Miss Kessberger’s third grade class), and I would have believed her. During our convivial chat as I signed the three books, I asked for and was given permission, to take a few pictures of her for my AeroKnow web site home page where I will post one early this week.

Then, bouyed by the happy good fortune of that warming encounter, I raked the half of my front yard between sidwalk and street. I had planned half an hour, but it was so much fun, and I was so determined to do all of that area, I spent a little more than an hour, doing the rake thing. The rest will be easy if we have decent weather next weekend.

The Terrapin Station cap helped. The heat I could feel trapped between scalp and the lining of the cap seemed to radiate down through me. I knew I didn’t have to work fast, that I could work at a natural pace that would be easier in the long haul, and what I set out to do I would do completely.

And I did, thanks in part to following dad’s timely advice. Throughout the tempest of knowing him, especially as a adult, he accused me of not doing things for no other reason than to intentionally go contrary to his words. I didn’t buy his complaint for the 44 years in which I consciously knew who he was, but I’m beginning to think he was correct. I know I’ll be more of a “hat guy” this winter than before (though I’ve always been a “hood guy”). I believe that wearing a hat makes sense, and if your father has been telling you the same thing, don’t wait 14 years after he’s departed with no forwarding address to act on that good advice.

Wear a hat. Not because your dad told you to if you want to be like me. Wear it because it will improve your life.

Live long . . . . and warmly.

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