Archive for September, 2012

What was probably going to happen.  Door Matt (DM for short, not his real name) knew in his heart there could be no positive outcome as a result of his ing every piece of paper he called his own from the desk he had occupied for four years at Stone Circus. DM was on a crusade. He was hell-bent on making a point with Simon, (not his real name) his employer, would likely misinterpret anyway. “Still, still a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do,” he said to himself. Into the big box placed desk-side went hundreds — maybe thousands — of articles and clippings he was processing for the museum at the airport. Also newspaper clippings from the past several days Wall Street Journal about aviation but also about record producers (George Martin), songwriters and poets and politics.  DM would sort things out in the coming days at the airport. Into the box went the fire  remaining Elmer’s glue sticks he had purchased  to affix small clippings to clean sides of 8.5 x 11 inch paper he was using for the second time. Into the box went the fork and knife he had brought to the Circus from home for occasional lunches worth the eating. Also the salt shaker, the jar of Jif Extra Crunchy peanut butter, his work lunch served from a butter knife to his tongue at least five days a week for the past few years, and sometimes six. No one would know from what was left behind that Door Matt had ever worked there.He even put his Arcadia Publishing Springfield Aviation books and his books of his own poetry, all the brochures about his reciting and the airplane museum . . . into the damn box.  Every CD he had played on the boom box he had brought to work in 2010 . . . into the damn BOX! Then the boom box itself.

DM had interfaced cordially with his associates who worked for the Circus and the printer next door, through the open hole in the wall behind his desk. He was not fuming, but he was focused. He wasn’t rushed in the final hour before the stroke of 5 pm, but he was deliberate. He didn’t want to miss a thing.

Through the rest of the evening and into the next day at the airport he watched the clock, he imagined what would happen. Simon’s “Number 3” who is usually the first indentured servant to arrive would see no radio on the table behind the desk, the books would be gone. Curious, he would open the drawers at the desk where DM  sits most of the day and find absolutely nothing in two of the drawers, strangely vacant of all traces of Door. And he would keep this to himself.

Simon would arrive soon after, see the same visual tableau before him — especially the missing radio and books (He’s not one to open drawers unless he must.) and wonder what had happened. He might even call DM, especially when it registered that there were no stacks of airplane articles on Door’s desk and the table behind it. Surely Luci — the other part timer who help Tuesdays and Thursdays until DM arrives in mid-afternoon would mention it to Simon.  THEN Simon would call Door and ask< “What is going on. Are you coming into work today?”

Or not.

Perhaps Simon would wait out Door; see if he would appear and punch in at the assigned time. They he would learn what’s going on, and Door would set the record straight: he just wanted to get rid of all the clutter he had created.. He was establishing a new policy that he would carry IN to Stone Circus at the start of his day no more than he intends to carry OUT of Circus at the end of it. If DM could not remember to make a decent lunch in his own house to bring to work every day, that would be simply be “tough beans for Door Matt.”


Simon would explain he thought Door had quit his employment, and based on what Simon seen, Door’s services were no longer required at Stone Circus. .

Yes, that was the downside, and it was a vision in his consciousness like the ghost from Christmas Dickens all de lib long day today. ‘Twas not a happy likelihood. As Door had told a friend at a club meeting the night before, “I have a choice,” he said, out of earshot of others in the room. “I will keep working for Simon, or I will die. The choice is mine.”

It was with that sobering prospect in mind that Door breezed into the showroom at 1:48 today as though nothing unusual was going on, and it was evident, in his conversation with Luci, that nothing WAS! She had not noticed the missing radio/CD player behind the computer chair, had not noticed the missing piles of clippings or the two empty desk drawers or the mysterioux absinth of peanut butter and salt. Neither had Simon, she said.

It was obvious in the two-minute phone conversation with Simon later in the afternoon that the owner had noticed nothing unusual.  He just wanted to know how Door’s day (star of so many movies with Rock Hudson in the 50s, but I digress) had been. “Everything is fine,” said Matt.

And that . . . . . was that.

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


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A few years ago I received an email from someone named Annie Pasikov. I didn’t recognize her name, but I sure recognized the first words she wrote: “I used to be afraid of the dark/I needed a light to go through the night.”

I recognized them because they were the first words of a poem I wrote when I was a junior at Springfield High School and shared at the Methodist Youth Fellowship meetings I attended with a terrific group of peers and friends from high schools all over Springfield. The unfamiliar sender of the e’ and rememberer of words I had written almost 50 years ago was a friend and MYF member who attended Feitshans High across town. Her name was Diane Brancato. We had not been close at the time, but we liked each other, and when I started writing poetry relating to our activities at church, Diane and many others liked it. My poem “Afraid of the Dark” was even published in the church bulletin of a Baptist friend, Scott Weber; great fellow. The reception by Pastor George Embry, friends and associates at First Methodist  to a 20 year “run” (sometimes off; sometimes active) of religious poems and songs which I sang at several area District activities gave me my “chops” as a versifier, guitar player and singer. I was impressed with that first e-mail because after decades, she could do something I could not do: recite the poem! 🙂

Today she prefers to be known by the name she called hers soon after college: Annie Pasikov, as she has been known through 40 married yesrs.
She explained she had moved away from Springfield as fast as her two feet could carry her, obtained a degree at Illinois State University and “gone west.” She WAS an intelligent young lady. I should have been half as intelligent. She had been living in Boulder, Colorado and was a stone sculptor. Later she sent some pictures. She is an incredible talent!

She also said her mother “Bertie” who had worked for decades at our downtown church as an administrator, had retired and was living in Springfield. I suggested that if she ever comes back to her home town to visit her mom, now 90, or her younger sister Sue — who was also an MYF member and friend — to call me so we could re-connect. Last week she did, and we met at her mom’s house near the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

Annie Pasikov — September 20, 2012

Annie met me at the front door and introduced me (for the first time in about 50 years) to her mother who I would have recognized today if I ran into her at work upstairs at the corner of Fifth at Capital downtown. We sat at the dining room table and chatted over a light snack about old times. Though Bertie is a little hard of hearing, her mind is as sharp as ever, and it was great to catch up with her life. Then Annie and I sat on the front porch on a beautiful sunny late morning and talked. I was particularly sorry to learn that the youth pastor who had been such an inspiration to us, who was living near Annie was suffering from Alzheimer’s. I cannot overstate how that man at the zenith of his career in the ministry shaped the rest of my life, most of it for the best.

A visitor at AeroKnow Museum had slightly delayed my arrival for the visit, but Annie and I shared what news and reminiscences we wanted to share. I had brought her some things from my museum and promised to bring her my poetry books, which I did in early evening the same day. Gave them to her at the door, and quietly regretted I had never published”Afraid of the Dark” in one of my books of poetry. I know I can find the words somewhere in my keepsakes. When I publish my next book of poetry, “Afraid'” will be the first poem presented . . . . . . . .

Since she and her mom were heading out to lunch and afternoon activity, I bade her all the best for a safe flight back to Boulder.  But first, a last picture.

Job and Annie

It was a mutually affirming visit. In some ways I wished she and I were high school seniors again, connecting in good fellowship every Wednesday night at First Church. She has led an exemplary life of which the saints would be proud. I’m glad we connected.

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

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I don’t know if the words that follow can be called a “poem” by those who consider themselves “poets.” I consider myself a songwriter/folksinger who sometimes succeeds in his quest to call himself a poet. If YOU the reader of this blog consider it a poem, just tell me so in a few words for many. I’m not asking you to LIKE it in a comment here or via Facebook where I will share this post. I am confident many of you would not “LIKE” it for reasons of your own, and that’s okay with me.

I had been wrestling with indecision over whether or not to attend a poetry open mic downtown last night. I’ve become disenchanted with the event for reasons of my own. I hasten to add that the gatherings are competently emceed by a long-time friend and I encourage all central Illinois poets (friends and enemas) to attend them every third Wednesday of the month from 6 to 8 pm at Robbie’s Restaurant on Adams street on the south side of the Old State Capitol (Building) Mall in unrhymed downtown Springfield. In an earlier discussion with my friend, she wisely advised me that in the interest of improving my outlook on LIFE as a whole, I SHOULD CIRCULATE; get OUT more and SOCIALIZE. After all, I always find redemption and validation where I share my poetry and that outcome is the meat, potatoes, cauliflower with cheese sauce and tempered inebriation that I savor on my table when I am right with the world. But these days I am NOT right with the world for reasons of my own.  STILL, I promised to attend the evening, told another friend I would be attending, and as a gesture of friendship confirmed, I attended; sat with a respected physician friend from Jacksonville and enjoyed the early part of the event.

When I was introduced, invited to the microphone, I asked the audience to choose my poem about MORALITY or my poem about REVERIE. I would read one of the two (along with two others) I intended to share. The response seemed 50/50, but in my state of mind, knowing (but not revealing to the audience) this would likely be my final appearance with them at a third Thursday gathering . . . . and knowing  that a light-weight poem — one not likely to “weigh” heavily on the minds of those upon whom a poem is inflicted — is welcome anytime, is appropriate anytime, but the MORALITY poem was more important for me to unleash, I chose that poem last night, the second of the three I would share.

I wrote the poem August 17, 2005 when my mind was very occupied with Iraq and the president of the USA whose name I will never speak or write. When I wrote it, I wsa trying to understand the growing malaise that permeates our world; wanted to say, “This is how it looks to me.” I shared the poem one time with an internet poetry critiquing group (not connected to central Illinois) and it was incredibly well received. Last night — I believe — was the first time a read it aloud.

The Moral Way to Kill
by Job Conger

There was a lesson worth remembering
when Cain killed Abel.

If you believe that humanity
proved its imperfection
with a shared apple,
but still, you chasten our race
as though you are God
and not of the tarnished tribes,
you should understand
how the fallibility of the fallen
is not only my woeful shortcoming;
it is ours.

Every society has murdered,
raped, plundered, spoken unwholesome slang,
and made fun of other people.
It has been part of our humanity
since we walked out of Eden.
It isn’t right;
it is inevitable.

The self-sanctified pedants
who claim the higher moral ground
and consider their pee “perfume,”
wage a war against God’s own teaching.
From one side of their mouths, they say
“perfection in life leads to perfection in heaven,”
but the right kind of the right kind
should not worry
because their god forgives all sins.
From the other side of their mouths
they promise earnest seekers of truths —
seekers who don’t eat meat on Fridays,
who don’t use birth control,
who believe that planet Earth is the center of the universe
(Galileo took that one on the chin pretty hard.)
and consider immutable
the teachings of their church,
those special people will reap salvation for their sacrifice.

The knowing few
understand how
no matter what pain and injustice
we suffer in this life,
our souls will live forever,
with or without 100 temporary virgins
or without 100 clones of Omar Shariff.
Salvation will come not by deeds alone;
it will come by grace, the ultimate gift
which I cannot buy
with faith or murder.

God doesn’t promise that life will be easy.
He says life will be
and will not be.

We are taught that the right kind of the right kind —
mostly our kind
and a few of the other kinds
because the other kinds
are not as perfect as our kind, can say
“Whistle at my wife, and I will kill you.”
They also say
“It’s okay
to kill an innocent human being by lethal injection
because it’s more righteous to reap vengeance
for those left behind, even if an innocent
is swept into the hereafter with our vengeance.
Besides God will ultimately sort things out,
and there will be no blood on our hands.”

Christ said, “Turn the other cheek.”
Is that how the right kind
of the right kind
They fight as though they  love to fight,
as though the aroma of the blood of their opposers
intoxicates them, redeems them.
It’s the incomparable turn-on of getting even.
Do not muddle their minds with Christ.

We have lost the moral imperative
to demonstrate our understanding
of the lessons
proven true
through the ages.

Even the gazelle puts up a fight
when tussling with a hungry lion.

Self-preservation matters
when reacting to a death threat
that is real, that is not bluster, not a lie.
I don’t understand why you want to kill me,
but I want to live,
and if you insist on trying to kill me,
I will try to kill you first.
As there is self-preservation for humans,
there is self-preservation for nations of humans as well.

Truth is the key.
Without truth,
the fabricators of lies
who drive nations to war
earn themselves
a special place in hell.

The threatened demise
of my family, or my neighbor
threatens me also
and I am bound
in the interest of self-preservation
to defend my neighbor, my family
and myself.

How do we know the truth when we hear it?
We know it because it stands alone
and doesn’t take sides,
not even when a side takes it.

Declaring, “Going to war with Iraq is wrong!”:
is as true from the mouth of a Republican,
as it is true from the mouth of a Democrat,
as it is true from the mouth of a Samoan,
as it is true from the mouth of a Belgian.

The Nazi soldier
was no guiltier
for killing an innocent
than the American or Brit
who did the same.

The Moslem who lies to his nation
is no more deserving of a hangman’s noose
than the right kind of the right kind
of Christian
who considers him
of the privilege
of seeing tomorrow’s sun.

Truth is seldom considered
when politics  signs the paychecks.
Pledge your allegiance to the truth
and you will learn you must starve
for your devotion.

If we, in our humanity,
banished from Eden,
have any attribute worthy
of God’s salvation
it is the consistence and sincerity
of our efforts
to know the truth,
unsullied by politics;
to know it uncut
and un-mutated
by passing circumstance
and to stand for it,
whether or not there is a virgin
or a sweet-talking, bridge-playing pirate of luv;
no matter what uncaring multitudes say.
This is the way
by which will may or may not find
Nirvana in this life
and beyond.

= = = = = = =

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

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I want to die the way Elvis died. I know this is not the way most H & Q readers would choose, so let me give you my perspective, and maybe you will agree.

My fondest hope is to die in pleasant surroundings. I am pleasantly surrounded in my home’s bathroom. There is always the aroma of bar soap on the little shelf in the shower. Recently, I came to the end of an almost three-year experience with a soap called Safeguard. I remembered it fondly from my 20s, but I discovered after I purchased NINE BARS it that the soap had changed in shape, scent, and satisfaction. The new version (current version, I believe, so buyer beware) disappointed me with every shower. So last week, I replaced it with the new Dial for MEN bar soap, I like the new soap a lot. I purchased it ONLY because no matter where I shop for groceries, I cannot find my all-time FAVORITE soap which disappeared from the supermarkets I shop and resulted in three years of ho-hum new Safeguard, I am looking high and low and cannot find Lifebouy in the BLUE BAR.  THAT, my friends, second only to the original Safeguard, was a terrific bar soap. If you know where I can purchase more of it, please let me know. . . . . . but I digress . . . . .

As I was saying. my bathroom is a pleasant place.  Only the scent of an affectionate woman could make it any more pleasant. Even so, often the aroma of a still-wet towel from the Saturday shower soothes me like the fragrance of old-old paper rising from newly opened old-old books. I suspect Elvis felt the same about his.

I do not want to be drug-addled as Elvis was if I die in my bathroom. The way he died appeals to me. He was having a hard time letting go, so to speak. If he had taken a laxative, Elvis might be alive today.  Using his lower abdominal muscles to “force the issue,” as they say, the increase in blood pressure in his head caused a brain aneurism. He likely experienced a searing headache leaned forward, fell off the “throne” and came to rest in a semi-sitting pose on his side with trousers still around his ankles.

While writing this post, I searched the Web for details of his death, and I must confess, a brain aneurism isn’t mentioned in any of what I read. Constipation was a factor. This affliction is something I would have to develop because I think I was 11 years old the most recent time it was an issue. And with friends like mine, who needs enemas?

Still, a brain aneurism would not be a bad way to go. So Elvis or no Elvis,  I’m stickin’ to that demise scenario in my bathroom.

It appeals because the end would come quickly. Even if I vomited as Elvis did (they found him in a small pool of vomit which experts in the vomit field diagnosed as having come from the inner workings of “the king of rock’n’roll.” Knowing I would not have to awaken later in the mess, as I went, I would not begrudge myself leaving a little on the floor on the way “out.” By the time anyone would find me in my home’s bathroom, with doors locked from the inside as they usually are, considering my social life. Suggesting the term “near nil” to describe it is gross grandiosely flattering HY-freaking-PERBOLE), considering how it would probably take three months for enough conventional mail to accumulate in my front porch mailbox for the postman to consider calling the police and coroner, I think the bile and foody bits would be long-since dried; but my body . . . not so much. As a man who hates to go more than a few days between showers, I would hate to encounter me on my bathroom floor two months after my last one!

Another positive about being single — not that you asked — is that any kind of serious distress I encounter at home — away from playing and singing my songs, away from poetry readings and Vachel Lindsay recitations, away from my aviation museum and my employer — is likely to be my last serious distress. I won’t be “clinging to life” in an ICU at hospital — not that anyone would admit me after they examine my financial health.

Dying like Elvis simply seems a tidy way to go — not that it’s part of my “to do list” for awhile. Still, as my hero Ringo Starr once wrote, “tomorrow never knows.”

Don’t give this post a second thought, It was a humorous idea when I began writing it. Now . . . not so much.

Live looooooooooooooong . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and proper.

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From an article I read recently — “The antique classic is reportedly one of only two in existence today.” I metaphorically squirmed. I chafed.

 f am a writer.  I carry a dictionary. I carry logic in a side pocket of my brain.

The statement that made me wish I had powdered more between my left and right was a short way of saying, “There may be more of these old cars out in the world somewhere: in a barn in Idaho; the upper floor of a downtown Stuttgart building abandoned in 1945, a freighter that went to Davey Jones’ (not the Monkee; the sailor) 347 miles east of Nova Scotia, the loser in a combat with an uncharted iceberg; it is hard to know for certain, but it is REPORTEDLY one of only acknowledged in resources available to the author of this photo caption by which to suggest the sum total in the universe as we understand it today.

Here’s a hot flash for writers: It is almost always hard to know for certain.
 “A witness reportedly said there was a blue convertible across the street when the bank was robbed.” What a LOAD. There is no “reportedly” involved! The witness said it. Maybe the “reportedly” goes with the blue car. More nonsense. The witness said it was a BLUE CAR. What else could it be? What if the sun partially blinded the witness who in different light would have recognized the color as “turquoise?” That possibility is not a factor in what should have been the simpler sentence: “The witness said there was a blue convertible across the street from the bank when the bank was robbed.”

It is acceptable journalism to report what we know without suggesting doubt where, by the standards of our day, no doubt should be reasonably expected.
“The sun will rep0rtedly come up tomorrow, metaphorically speaking.” We all know the sun is not moving in the context of our cozy little solar system. We all know our eastern horizon will be moving down, relative to the stationary sun. But we don’t think twice when we  say “The sun will come up tomorrow.” This is acceptable in the context of American communication.

Next week, I may read about the discovery of a 1912 Stutz Bearcat discovered in a barn near Mahomet, Illinois, and I might tell you about it by saying “One of only three Stutz Bearcats, the one discovered yesterday in a barn near Mahomet, Illinois will be raffled over the Christmas holidays by the Jones family who recently purchased the farm. ”  I say what I know.

Many years ago, the most brilliant “scientists” of a popular religious faith knew that the sun and all the stars in the heavens revolve around planet earth and especially those who love Jesus. Times changed: Copernicus, Galileo, Carl Sagan . . . . and the facts changed, though it wasn’t easy.

Journalists are okay when we say what we know. There should be no warning labels on newspaper. ATTENTION: The information shared in these pages should be considered FACTUAL only to the extent of our reporters’ ability to determine its factuality, and all information must be considered subject to change without public notice.”

I suggest we banish “reportedly” from our lexicon. What do you say?

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

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Before I began my series of 31 consecutive posts as my 65th birthday approached,  I swore that I would not spend my 65th working for the employer I was working for on the day I puked that prediction. Technically speaking, my prediction was correct. But don’t call me Kreskin. I was given the day off. I returned to the employer September  6 and have been here since. Three events over the last week have led me to reconsider my priorities and my talent for predicting, of which I have none. The conclusion is this: As long as I am employed here at the stone fabricator’s showroom, I will not attempt to earn another dime as a journalist.

As Jack Benny said at the start of his first radio show, “There will be a slight pause now, for those of you listening to say, ‘Who cares?'”

Now that I’ve shared the conclusion, I share a consideration of the events that led to it.

Two weeks ago, a friend I worked with as we prepared for Springfield Air Rendezvous over the course of about 11 years that concluded with the final event in 2006,  who had not once visited my aviation museum over the last two and a half years I’ve been developing it, walked into my office at the airport. I’ll call her Joan, not her real name. Joan explained that a friend of hers, performing an excellent aerobatic routine these days  at air shows all over the USA was coming to Springfield to spend of few days before leaving for her next performance engagement. I’ll call her Patty, not her real name.

Before I could show Joan much of the museum, she received a call that Patty was on the ground and taxiing in, to park her aircraft in one of the hangars. We exited onto the ramp, and I photographed Patty’s arrival; later several pictures of her, her airplane, and Joan. It had been a long travel day for the pilot, and she was ready for some rest and relaxation. She intended to practice her routine during her planned eight-day visit with Joan, and she also promised me a ride in her airshow aircraft, a two seater. I promised lots of pictures and looked forward to showing her AeroKnow Museum. I also promised to convince my Springfield Business Journal publisher or Illinois Times publisher to allow me to write about Patty, Joan and looking back on Springfield Air Rendezvous. IT’s publisher gave me a green light eventually.

For the next three days, I kept Joan informed of when I would be in my museum office so she and Patty could visit at most any convenient time. Joan wrote back that plans were hard to figure, and she would call me when they wanted to come by. In the meantime, I obtained a “maybe” from SBJ and a “yes” from Illinois Times.  At the end of 14 days I have not heard from Joan or Patty. There will be no article and no tour of AeroKnow Museum with the women.

There will be a short pause, now, for th0se of you listening to say “Who cares?”

I did, but I don’t care anymore.

Last week, the SBJ publisher, who had declined the offer re Patty and the airshow gave me what he said would be a headline story, but he didn’t give me a deadline. Usually he does, but I didn’t worry since the big DUE DATE falls during the final week before the new month begins.  This Tuesday, I learned I assumed too much. I have two short work days during the week at my part-time employer who is half a month behind in paying me what I have earned. Learning that the deadline I had not anticipated would give me only ONE short work day to prepare the story — to do interviews over the phone and in person, take some pictures, and write the story over the weekend before what I wrongly anticipated would be the September 24 deadline, I e-mailed publisher the unhappy news that I could not produce the story. Better to let him know early than lie about my circumstance until it was too late for him to assign the story to another writer who did not owe his or her soul to a granite fabricator. In my note to him, I apologized for causing him significant inconvenience. I also said that if I never receive another story assignment from him, I will understand why.

I have not heard or read word one from him since Tuesday, and I believe I will never hear or read from him again. My response from IT, what was offered in terms of word count allocation and pay for the story I had in mind, that the publisher was offering me charity compensation for a story that meant almost nothing to him. I would have written a charity-pay story for him if Joan and Patty had called as they promised, even without an airplane ride. But since their response proved as meaningful as their words, it doesn’t really matter to anyone.

I have been a journalist only because I love journalism and because up until now, I have enjoyed a circumstance that allowed me to commit time to that profession. It’s no longer the way with the stone man. The woman who has been working five hours a day Tuesdays and Thursdays, allowing me time for writing and for AeroKnow Museum is proving as dependable as . . . . . . let’s just say she is not as dependable as hoped. I cannot set appointments for interviews at what should be predictably available times when there is always a chance I’ll have to cancel the interviews. I will not be as erratic with those who I commit my writing talent and the integrity of my word to as those with whom I work at my only other employer allow themselves to be.

I am surrendering my “journalism card,”

Damn it!

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

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During my day away from the blogosphere, I savored 13 hours at the airport, my perspective regarding my zenith in the bell curve we call LIFE buoyed by more best wishes from Facebook friends than I cared to count.  Since making the decision to share those three little words (“Happy birthday, Job.” is 95% of the effort that goes into the process of sharing a “best withes” sentiment, I was floored by how many good people took that time to share those three words and the many who shared more. I was also floored to receive a birthday card in my conventional mail box, waiting for me when I returned home September 4, and today, I received a salutation and invitation to lunch sometime. As I told that person “and wag” in my response, my birthday is now officially adjourned until next year. I can’t think of a better time to adjourn because no salutation means more to me than the final one and the depth of friendship residing in that invitation.

I won’t be posting every day now, but I will be more inclined to post on a whim than I was in the past. My “Approaching 65” series of 31 consecutive posts brought several new “Likes” and some “Followers” to Honey & Quinine. I am warmed by that response as well.

Some mornings when I awaken early — before 3 am — I nod in and out of sleep, conscious long enough to stare at the clock radio for ten minutes, find another pose suitable for sleep, drifting off and returning to sentience 20 minutes later. I had time to burn before 3 today because I would not be working at the museum a little after 5 a as I have done most of the last week. I had to stretch until 7:30 so I could arise, deposit a few checks in the bank which doesn’t open until 8 and then drive to the museum. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I tolerated this drifting in and out action about an hour and a half before rolling out of the sack and into productive action.

For the last few years, I’ve let idle detritus lie. My livingroom table where I had gone on a tear before last Thanksgiving, pulling articles, poems and cartoons I wanted to harvest after three or four years of subscribing to The New Yorker before quitting last April because I have no time to savor each issue . . . the table was essentially untouched since October last. A few pieces of paper had been added, a few things removed over the months , but the scissors and Scotch Tape from October were still there.

Is it obvious I don’t host visitors at home the way I used to?

This morning I cleared it: pitched many grocery store receipts, unopened junk mail, the odd poem of mine that somehow found its way there. CLEARED it. Even the salt shaker, the Kraft Catalina and Wishbone “Green Garden” (or something like that), the half-consumed jug of Carlo Rossi Burgundy — Those essentials were moved to a small end table to the right of my recliner chair.

The same treatment was given my home office where I spend so little time my home office printer is unplugged. I haven’t touched it for at least two years.

Then came the kitchen. I had neither coffee nor iced tea for the first time in a place where I live. Just had not been to the grocer in time for more tea.  I absolutely refuse to buy my Lipton iced tea mix at Shop ‘N’ Save there I buy the rest of my vittles because they don’t stock the larger “king size” cans of it. I see this as a crime against good people less fortunate than I. The leadership at S’N’S knows many of their customers have no choice but to buy the smaller containers which collectively over the course of a summer provide more profit to the business than the larger sizes.  I resent Shop’N’Save for what I consider larceny, but I still shop the store. Cheeses, I will drink water with ice before I buy their frikking iced tea mix.

And I took my time with the kitchen, cleaning every counter, the top of the stove, starting a new bag of garbage and setting the full one aside to bring to the dumpster at my employer (with his permission). I went looking for dishes in the office, my bedroom, in the parlor where I expected to find none and found none. When I return home tonight about 7 with my new traditional “birthdays only” meal of Kentucky Fried Chicken with side dishes, which I expect to consume over the next two or three days, I will return to a house in considerably better shape than it was during my solitary- and-house-in- natural-disarray birthday. The house tonight will reflect a significantly improved home-made possible with friendships shared September 5, my 65th birthday.  

It will reflect a significantly improved impression of myself, as well.

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

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