Archive for the ‘aviation’ Category

Following the January 17 surgery required to re-attach my upper quad tendons to my kneecaps,   I enjoyed more activity with more friendly, educated and lucid people than I’d experienced in my life. Along with visits from several friends and acquaintances, some of whom I’ve not seen since being discharged January 27, the medical and  housekeeping personnel at Memorial Medical Center  (MMC) were absolutely GOLD in their interfacing with me. I was blessed with several friends who rearranged my living room to that it would be my primary living space — close to the kitchen and front door with my bed relocated so I could watch TV from bed or chair, work at a nearby table, etc. Not knowing how long  it would be before  I could return to work at my employer, these friends and a few more had  packed my refrigerator and cupboards with an amazing array of food. By the evening of the 27th, there was more food in the house than there had been in any previous MONTH. (I am a man of modest means,) Another friend arranged to have a hot meal brought to the house by volunteer cooks/deliverers who visited every three or four days and almost always called before delivering to be sure their timing was good. Some friends volunteered/delivered food more than once: home-made chili, spaghetti sauce and more. For most of a month, it was a minor Eden (minus the Eve, dang it, but I never went naked for an entire day). Every other day for about a month I was visited by Visiting physical and occupational therapists from MMC who changed my dressings, took blood pressure, respiration and pulse. In late February, the staples, which had held me “together” along the incisions (59 on the right leg, 64 on the left) were removed by a nurse who came to my home at my surgeon’s direction. I was amazed by how clean everything looked.

The first “milestone” during what has evolved into a rather LOOOOOOOOOOONG recovery came with my first ride to my new “physician of record” at the county health clinic where we “charity” patients go. It was my first ride on Springfield’s minibus transportation service for disabled  people. I can go anywhere in town for $2.50 per ride to destination. That amounts to $5 per “there and back” round trip, but it is a wonderful arrangement; much more affordable than cabs.  Since that visit, I have returned to work part-time, typically five or six hours a day and 5 days a week. I’ve also returned to my AeroKnow Museum at the airport where I volunteer two or three morning every week (7:30 to 11 am) before riding another Access minibus to work and then home. Since Access does not operate on Sundays, it has been a real challenge to recruit friends who will drive me out at say 8:30 or 9 and come back to take me home about 5 or so. One friend has come through for me every week since I started Sundays at  the museum in late February, and I HOPE I can find another friend or two to share the burden. In the meantime, I am gradually spending more time working on museum tasks at home.  My next door neighbor has been a Godsend, taking me to the barber, grocer, office supply store and more. Again I WISH I knew more than one person, because sometimes my needs and the person’s schedule do not coincide. In the meantime, I’m happy to be blessed by the help at hand.

The one unexpected lesson of this process has been my outlook on life as influenced (with my permission) by my employer. I KNOW I’m lucky to be working at all and that’s why I’m still working there, but the deletable expletive BEFORE my fall is the same deletable expletive AFTER my fall only now I experience it with full-extension leg braces. Every day I work, the joy of life, drains from me like air from a tire going flat. Some evenings I wait an hour for the arrival of the Access minibus after we close, so since I’m the one who “locks up the store” I sit in a dark showroom and listen to the nearby grandfather clock chime every 15 minutes watching the sun go down and drag myself through my front door at 6:40 or so, This routine has nearly drained the creative incentive from me. I’ve not written a poem longer than four lines since I was sleeping at the hospital. This is the first Honey & Quinine I’ve posted in too darn long! I must rise above all this, and in these words we see the first step. I’ve decided my story is a story that should be shared with friends and innocent strangers. I am alive . . . . still.

I write, therefore I am!

Live long . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »

Since January, I have stopped being a poet so that I could pour my heart and soul into a major project at AeroKnow Museum. Most readers will laugh and then sigh as I explain the obsession has been the consolidation of less-than-whole page (8.5 x 11 inch) scraps of information into single-page amalgams of information. I finished the project last Thursday.

Last January I started pulling scraps from every file in the museum’s Research Room: — 15 file cabinets — filling 12 (case-of-reams-of-office-copy-paper-size) boxes with them, and then setting them aside in the Intake Room to be further processed through two of the three requisite tasks leading to the return of the information removed back to the Research Room. In the meantime, too much of the rest of my life as ceased to exist.

The task was time-consuming to be sure, but it was made easier, thanks to my almost completely walking away from good people in this community whom I have known and appreciated for years. Most of this walking away has occurred since last August when I  started coming to grips with the angst of my frail mortality as I approached my 65th birthday. I’ve attended far fewer poetry and visual arts events than I attended before launching AeroKnow Museum at the airport.

I have completely walked away from Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site. For almost three years, I had been inviting the site director — who, through her occupation connection to history might have (logically) enjoyed seeing it — to visit AeroKnow MUSEUM. Until August I invited her every time I attended an event at the Lindsay landmark. Until November, I had renewed my membership in the Vachel Lindsay Association and attended the annual meetings. Not any more. I have not walked away from my appreciation of Vachel Lindsay and his poetry. I will continue sharing my Vachel Lindsay program and reciting his poems for anyone who will have me. My profound disappointment with the  “Lindsay elite” would be harder if my treasured Lindsay scholar and friend Dennis had not taken his own life about a year ago as Vachel’s birthday approached. The positive outcome of all this is that I better understand what I believe Vachel was experiencing before he took his own life in early December 1931. Springfield killed the poet pretty deliberately and well. The people of my own hometown Springfield (“this, the city of my discontent” — Vachel Lindsay from his poem “Springfield Magical”) killed my friend Dennis pretty well. I will not allow myself the incapacity to live, an incapacity I have felt looming in their company. They will not kill me.

The last poem I wrote this year was inspired by a painting displayed at a gallery in October. I was delighted to have had the opportunity to write the poem “We Wander” and delighted to share it with an attentive audience, excellent people who delighted in hearing it — and other fine poems from poets inspired by other fine paintings. I WANT to be writing more poetry. People who read it, like it. So why the HELL have I not thrown myself into the pursuit of becoming the next Rod McKuen or Henry Gibson? Because I reap more direct reward from aviation and the few friends I have come to know from that on a daily basis than I have reaped from the SEVERAL (but not many) friends I have come to know, since about 1989 with my poetry and songwriting/performing. The  poetry connecting — now that I must work Saturdays for an employer whose last paycheck was given t me almost two months ago — comes once a month TOPS. Sometimes not even that. The aviation affirmation comes every day of my life.

Meanwhile, back at the airport, since last spring this year, at least two or three days a week, I arrive at the museum office between 5 (when the host business opens for the day) and 5:30 two or three times a week, and darn near every day but Sunday before 7. On Sunday, I sleep late and arrive by 9 without fail.  My consciousness is what I call “water seeking its own level.”

I am wrapped up in the web of what I call “syncopated sunshine” — a rhythm of life that is inconsistent and hard to swing to.

On days I shower, I roll out of bed at 4, and arrive at the museum at 5, sometimes a few minutes before, and eight of 10 times, the early arriver is already there at the occasional 4:55 and the building’s front door is unlocked. Other times, I am out of the sack at 4:30, teeth brushed, (no time for coffee) dressed and out to the museum by 5 or close to it.

In theory, I should be able to do this consistently by hitting the hay by 9, if not 8:30. I need no more sleep than six and a half hours’ worth. In reality, I am ALLOWING  the travails of my workplace to figuratively “tie one hand behind my back.”  I leave work at 5 — and go directly to the museum until 6:30 to avoid the rush hour traffic going home. I ALWAYS find something to work on. No big surprise there.  But, if I’ve had a really rotten day at work,  I go by to see if there is a Wall Street Journal I can have. The FBO that provides fuel and maintenance to local and transiting aircraft receives a State Journal-Register and three Wall Street Journals daily. Pilots and passengers departing the FBO after landing to refuel may take a WSJ to read about their airplanes in transit elsewhere. If there are any left when I arrive after work, the counter crew may approve me taking one or they may indicate a few more flights are scheduled for the evening, and all WSJs on hand need to stay until those flights have come and gone. THEN they will slide one under my office door.  WSJs are important to the museum because I read every issue I get and clip anything related to aviation so I can file it upstairs.

On a good night I’m home by 7, but if the day at work was better than typical, and my outlook is good, I will work at the museum until 8, sometimes until 9 and on really good days until 10. They close at 11 pm.

On a good night, I’m eating dinner by 7:15 and washing it down the hatch with cheap Burgundy. I am trying to drink more iced tea and less burgundy, but it’s not working out very well. Regardless, even with iced tea, I am exhausted from semi-combat at my employer. I am often asleep in my recliner by 7:40, and awaken most frequently around 11 when I turn off the lights and go bed, but even that isn’t easy. Late night radio before midnight totally stinks. Last night it was so bad, I listened to a “sports radio” station as my head hit the pillow, not because I’m a sports fan but because the only other two stations I can receive clearly in the bedroom are right-wing diatribe and financial advice (two separate radio stations). At least I’m not offended by sports radio.  Getting to sleep is easy. I don’t drink more wine when I wander in after the early evening “nap” because I’m already half asleep.

Getting back to sleep after AWAKENING at 2 am is the problem! It is pure, freaking purgatory. I DON’T want to get up and do something. What the hell is there to do in my house?  I have begun to work on AeroKnow tasks at home just to stay awake after dinner. Sometimes I delay dinner because I know I won’t go to sleep before I eat.  I REALLY want to confine museum work to the museum and my employer who doesn’t complain if he sees aviation material on my showroom desk because he knows my FIRST PRIORITY while I am there is MY EMPLOYER. That’s as it should be.  I am HAPPY to earn my pay  . . . whenever . . . he decides . . . . to pay me.

My home computer is an old laptop I purchased about two years ago with a small screen. I cannot work with the small screen, even with a full-size keyboard plugged into it. Sooooooo I am committing my resources to a new desktop computer for HOME this Christmas, but not before. In fact I will  go shopping for one AFTER Christmas because I expect prices to be lower then.

With the desktop computer at home I HOPE to sleep solidly for at least six consecutive  hours a night by not napping. If I’m tired after dinner with or without wine, I will to to the frikking bedroom after turning off the lights and the thermostat to 55. Then I will use the time from whenever the hell I do awaken to write poetry or songs or whatever, even AeroKnow Museum tasks.

The real hard part? Holding onto things until January. That will be the hard part.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »

Story in a box.

The picture of the gentleman in the dapper hat (upper left) sat on his wife’s bedside reading lamp table when John Thornton Walker was serving as a liaison pilot with the U.S. Army in Italy.  It had been taken at a Springfield, Illinois studio but had moved with Gerri (Geraldine) Walker when she returned to her home town in Indiana.  It came back to Springfield almost a month ago.

For the better part of the past week, I have engaged what promises to be a long task of transforming the story of a World War II hero from Springfield, Illinois from a box of photographs, newspaper clippings, two pilot’s log books, documents, and certificates into a book which I believe people will purchase and read and cherish. The book will describe the life of Gerri’s husband who attended Springfield High School, whose father was a Springfield firefighter,  who learned how to fly as Springfield Commercial Airport (re-named Southwest Airport in 1947), joined the Illinois Army National Guard before Pearl Harbor was attacked and flew artillery spotting and forward liaison planes (commonly known as “grasshoppers”) . . . . and never came home.

The box of memorabilia and a remarkable, restored, 65 pound brass plaque which used to greet visitors to Walker Army Airstrip, Virginia (dedicated to her husband in 1951)  were donated to AeroKnow Museum by the Walkers’ daughter Connie and her husband Richard Strouse.

Left to right: Richard Strouse, Job Conger, Connie Walker Strouse.

John Thornton Walker seldom signed  his full name or even “J. Thornton.”  As Thornton Walker he wrote aviation column for the Illinois State Journal.  His friends called him T. Through most of the book I’m writing about him and through most of my “Book Reports” here at Honey & Quinine, I will call him “JTW.” Some of JTW’s story was shared in my book Springfield Aviation produced by Arcadia Publishing and available everywhere 

Last week I started transcribing the information he recorded in his two log books: every flight he made that begins with his first flight as a student pilot April 7, 1937 and ends in his second log book, October 11, 1942 when he was training to be a liaison pilot with the US Army at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.

Here are my transcription from the first flights recorded in his second log book. He was 26 years old when he started it. . . .

11-8 – Decatur to Springfieldd – Taylorcraft BC — NC21221 —  :33 – picked up Dr. Turley’s plane
11-6 – Springfield to Springfield —  Fleet – NC726V —  :16 – took Gerrie for a ride
12-4 –– Springfield to Springfield  — Fleet – NC726V – 21 – vertical turns
12-16 — Springfield to Springfield – Taylorcraft BL —  NC21218  —  :05 – hop in new Lycoming 50 craft
12-17 — Springfield to Springfield –  Taylorcraft BL – NC21218 —  :08 – hop in new Lycoming 50 craft
12-24 — Springfield to Springfield – Taylorcraft 40  — NC19655 —  :15 – flying from right side
12-24 — Springfield to Springfield – Taylorcraft BC – NC21221  —  :04 —  hop with Metz
                                                                                                                  _____ 78:07
We know that he flew hardly at all during November, especially compared with 12 flights in April that year. Weather may have been a problem in November; perhaps a heavy work schedule or busy social life. We do know he was having fun in the air, picking up a friend’s airplane on the 8th, flying with his wife and later with a friend named Metz. He took many friends up for “hops” most lasting 15 minutes or less in the air.  He was also honing his new skills, practicing vertical turns, getting to know the new 50 hp Taylorcraft, but spending most of his time since his first lesson in 40 hp Taylorcraft. Before supper on Christmas Eve, 1938 he had logged 78 hours and seven minutes in control of a flying machine.

I don’t know for sure that I will include this transcription of when and where he flew, often the purpose of each flight, in what airplane and  its registration number, and how long he was in the air each time he flew as a student or pilot in command of the airplane. I believe JTW’s experience is typical of all Americans who learned to fly as civilians before World War II, and that is why I am inclined to include the transcription. I’m already laying it out in an appendix at the end of the book. I know that I will include pictures of most of the airplanes he flew, thanks to him being an avid photographer and to his family donating many pictures to AeroKnow Museum.

Every fact I have today was provided by a member of the Walker family. When Rich and Connie Strouse visited Springfield, they also visited Walker’s former home at 614 1/2 S. Douglas Avenue. I have contacted an employee of the State Journal-Register (modern version of the Illinois State Journal of Walker’s time, but was advised that their preserved newspapers (on microfilm I’m guessing) are not available to the  public at large, of which I am a member.  If  YOU know anything about the family of John Thornton Walker I cordially invite you to contact me by way of AeroKnow Museum or via my home telephone. The number is in the white pages.

FINALLY, I invite you who want to know more about JTW and his family — or have information and photos of the old airport, airplanes and pilots who flew from there to visit my AeroKnow Museum blog — http://aeroknow.wordpress.com  and my AeroKnow Museum Gallery of Flight blog — http://akmgallery.wordpress.com

I think when the book now in process comes off the press, we will have a record of a remarkable citizen of Illinois’ capital city who has been unknown or forgotten by almost everyone alive in Springfield today. What do you think?

Live long . . . . . .  . and proper.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

While looking for another poem/song lyric for practicing, I re-discovered the following poem I wrote about three years ago.  I was not yet 61. It was something of a memo to myself. All of this was a year before I was invited to set up things at the airport

Mandate 61
by Job Conger
written 11:42 pm, Friday, March 13, 2009

You’re getting old.
Make friends.

Many of that old gang you knew,
when you were young have died.
Your first love has forgotten your name
though hers you will never forget.

Time is no longer infinite.
Your tabula is no longer rasa.
You may die wearing the shoes
that are on your feet today.

People who really matter
are those you like and love at this moment.
Give them cause to delight in you,
reasons to remember.

You’re running out of second chances.
Make life; not woe.
There’s no more time to hate.
Avoid brainless fly catchers for sanity’s sake:
yours and theirs.

Offer nothing half-baked.
Don you now, comfortable apparel.
Wear purple if you can gain from it.
Go the extra mile
for those who matter.

You’re getting old.
Make friends.

— The poem was written just more than a year before I started moving my aviation history collection out to the airport. My life since the move and getting really serious about this project has become almost totally focused on the museum. If I had opportunities to play guitar and sing, I would make time for that; also for reciting Vachel Lindsay’s poems and the story of his life . . . and my own poetry. The opportunity to share creates the time to share; not the other way around. I have no time for “friends” now, and — I say with regret, I have no time to be a friend. I want to have more time to be a friend.

Here’s another poem . . .

What the Middle-Aged Guy Said
by Job Conger
written February 1, 2005

When I am old, I shall wear people.

People who fit me like a glove
I shall wear on my hand.
People I take to the dance,
I shall wear on my arm.
People I love,
I shall wear on my heart.

People whose lives do not harmonize with mine,
but who like me,
I shall wear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . at arms’ length.

Those whose minds move
to the beat of the drummers
whose rhythms also inspire me,
I shall wear in sympatico syncopation.

Wonderful conversationalists
I shall wear on my ears.

Lovers and friends lost to the passing years
I shall wear in my memory,
ready, at the drop of a hat,
for me to pull them out
and recall the colors of their lives
to lovers and friends today

People whose physicality
is a beautiful symphony
I shall wear on my eyes.

People who live in perpetual solemnity
I will not bother to remove
from the hooked, triangular
wire apparati in my closet
from which they hang.

People who grate on my nerves
I shall wear thin.

Consenting women
for whom I feel rapturous affection
I shall wear on my lips as often as possible.

People who have turned my hope to anguish
one time too many
I will wear on the bottoms
of the soles
of my unpolished shoes.

When I am old, I shall wear people
as I wear them today and am worn in return.
If the reader things that “wearing people”
is a simple, idle, whimsy; a milkweed, a Whiffle ball
struck with a plastic  bat into the infield of philosophy,
that’s okay with me.

After all,
I was only putting you on.

— Yes, the woman’s poem about wearing purple inspired this, written in good humor, in hopes of generating a chuckle or two. The third of the four poems is a song lyric.  I’ve sung it twice. I will sing it again at Gallery II this coming Friday downtown. The final poem is also a song lyric I intend to sing Friday as well, I think, for the second time, but first. . . .

Thanks for your attention to any and all of the past 31 posts leading to my birthday Wednesday. I doubt that I’ve told you anything you don’t already know about LIFE — folks who like me are usually well set from the get go — but I believe I have given you a better idea of the person I am. And WHY?
Is it vanity? Yes. But I think it’s part of the human spirit to want to be known and remembered by others. If I have succeeded as I hope, you will remember me. And when I resume more occasional Honey & Quinine posts, you will read me again.

Balland of the Nearly Resolved
by Job Conger
written March 12, 2006

I’ve had me some sweethearts
Who said they thought me wise,
Traded love for some
Bountiful baskets of lies,
It was so mercantile, and I never knew why.
It seems I was born to be a lonely guy.

My delirious romances
They all ended in a huff.
I haven’t loved often,
Or even enough,
But I’m done with the fool’s game of wondering why.
It seems I was born to be a lonely guy.

There were no greater thrills, passions more fine
Than lusty tussles, lips sweeter than wine,
But those were yester-years’ joys. Now I contemplate
Life savoring different dreams as master of my fate.

Companion forever hopes,
Duets in the sun,
I had my chances,
And I blew every one.
I’m done will fooling myself. It’s folly to try.,
It seems I was born to be a lonely guy.

No more quilt and antique shopping.
There’s more room to stretch in bed.
I don’t have to pretend to like her friends;
I just have to pretend to lie my friends, instead.
I’ve not vacuumed my house since last Fourth of July.
It seems I was born to be a lonely guy.
— oh my —
It seems I was born to be a lonely guy.

. . .

September 5
by Job Conger
written October 1, 2006

One morning I awoke confused,
Turned suddenly 59 and mused:
Why had I survived so well and long?
Perhaps to write this poem/song.
I cursed my solitary mode:
Faint footprints down life’s rocky road
And ghostly visages of fall
So glad to see the coming fall!

There is no wisdom in replays
Of ancient dreams and loving ways.
I sigh too much for yesterdays
and do not laugh enough.

My hometown streets of misspent youth
Where I sought neither love nor truth
Are avenues of reveries
And hearty sunshine melodies.
Today, dark hues life’s canvass frames:
Stark, scathing strokes from lingering shames
And for what good? Brave hearts all know
You can’t repaint the status quo.

There is no wisdom in replays
Of ancient dreams and loving ways.
I sigh too much for yesterdays
and do not laugh enough.

Each day imprints an empty page.
We move the plot in peace or rage
With warm embrace or tart contempt —
The manicured and gross unkempt
And we who count down days to doom
With fading hopes mired in the gloom
Should celebrate each gifted dawn
An pledge anew to carry on!

There is no wisdom in replays
Of ancient dreams and loving ways.
I sigh too much for yesterdays
and do not laugh enough.


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

Read Full Post »

I’m approaching the end of three fine days of arriving at the airport museum no later than 5:20 am and leaving just before dusk on two of them. The exception was last night when a friend — webmaster and publications editor for the American Aviation Historical Society, returning to California from a major aviation event in Iowa that even I attended  t w e n t y – o n e  . . . y e a r s . . . a g o, bought me dinner after an unhurried tour of the museum. I have had a taste of marathon days out here, labor that brings me an incredible satisfaction. I would gladly do this work as long as I can stand, total immersion in my little airport dog and pony show. Tuesday, I’ll work at “Stone Circus” until 5 and return to this museum for another few hours.  In the 8.5 hours at “employer,” I will be off my feet, seated longer than I’ve been over these three fine days.

When I return here tomorrow, I’m also going to practice guitar with the office door closed. That’s because I’ve been invited to perform at an art gallery reception this Friday, and I want to practice. Practice is what I do to be confident about what I sing. I’m going home a little early tonight because I intend to practice at home with another guitar.

The older I get, the simpler I become, I think, though I really don’t believe it.

Thinking but not believing, accepting but not engaging consideration of what I say I think is the new “easy concession card” these days.  I think the house of cards will stand, will survive the winds of circumstance which is not to say fortune (implying what is deserved), which is not to say fate (implying that my morality and the morality of an omniscient entity don’t play a part of the outcome) because what I cannot understand delivers the wind that blows me to a point of view called a conclusion. Life that is beyond my understanding I surrender to what is beyond my concern.

So it is in politics. Bob Dylan wrote (and I will sing Friday night) “Come mothers and fathers throughout the land./And don’t criticize what you can’t understand.” What separates me from so many is that I will not let someone do my understanding FOR ME. Winston Churchill said “It is better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Woo woo woo.” — thank you Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »

A visitor from California by way of Blakesburg, Iowa is due about the time I usually wrote my A’ching 65 posts, so I’ve just finished my lunch (Payday candy bar, my only certain “payday” in too long) after a morning of SOLID focus in the Research Room upstairs, a friendly conversation with a husband and wife flight crew with NetJets, and some logging of digital images on CDs. It’s cool here in the ground floor office, thanks to the air conditioning, but honestly, I was okay with the temperature upstairs — had to be 85 with 99% humidity; sure felt like it.  I think, as I approach 65, I’m becoming more Zen in my take on life. It’s the acceptance of minor trifles, an attitude of what some residents of the USA would call “What will be, sera.” Take my bathroom sink — please!

Before my friend David Tabb moved to Indianapolis, he talked me through the process of changing the faucet washer (something like that) in my bathroom. He had purchased a small box of these rubber things at Ace Hardware for something like $1.23, and that box, minus ONE, is still in the sink-back medicine cabinet where I put it in 2006 or so when David last visited. Less than a year after replaced the washer, I started having to apply real pressure to prevent the drip action from the hot water side of the sink. Last year, the cold water side began to drip. Unfortunately, David was happy in Indy and I wasn’t going to call a plumber to fix dripping faucets.

Then about last January, I surrendered to the water trifle when I turned both faucets so hard OFF that I they dripped nothing and I left them that way. My toilet is similarly afflicted. As long as I keep the heavy porcelain top off the water tank, I can hear and see no water flowing after the tank has refilled from a flush. The top has decorated my bathroom floor, instead of the top of my toilet, since about last October. Nobody ever visits me at home, these days, but if Jack Frost starts working his magic in Hell and someone does, I will graciously return tank top to is rightful location and loosen the faucet handles  so the little room can accommodate all comers . . . and goers.

It’s not as much an inconvenience as you may think. I brush my teeth at the kitchen sink. On the rare three to six days between showers when I need to wash my face, I do it in the kitchen. My wash cloth and towel hang on the handle I use to open the oven. I might just as well make a linen closet out of the inside of the oven because I have not used the oven since Gore ran for president, maybe before that.

If it weren’t for the shower, I’d hardly ever use my own bathroom. About 90% of the time, the public restrooms at my employer and at the airport suffice. These are times I appreciate living alone. I would not dare require this kind of compromise with another hummin’ bean in the house. I’m too nice for that . . . and I’m sure it would be tolerated just one time before I heard the cacophony of bags being packed for hasty changing of address.

The sum total of the circumstance suggests about “a D-minus life,” and I’m okay with that. I’m Zen with that. I like Zen. If I were afraid of Zen, I’d be Zenophobic, and I would never be that.  At least not to a legal citizen of the United Snakes of America.

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

Read Full Post »

I procrastinate. Most of the work I do is done to avoid doing something else. Still procrastination pays dividends.  I used to often find  myself delaying attention to my lawn, often on nice cool days only to finally wheel out the lawnmower on the hottest day of the week . . . . and enjoy cutting the grass, not paying particular attention to the temperature! Same thing with journalism. I had two and a half weeks to produce my story about local food trucks for the September Springfield Business Journal. Absolutely critical (which is like saying “each and every”) to my stories are the photographs; interviews less so.  Just as I know I will cut the grass, I know I will write the assignment. There is never any doubt of this. Still I procrastinate and wallow, for days, in the self-imposed SHAME that I manufacture for myself from the process. By the time I must put words into play, I’m comfortable. The words come easily as apples from the low branches of a tree.

So it is, as well at the airport museum where I’ve been since 5:30 this morning. I’ve been on a “marathon,” on my feet filing away in the Research Room, fully focused for easily 11 of the 12.5 hours I will have been here when I leave at 6p. I had no breakfast, nor lunch, nor snack during this time  because I didn’t have a penny in my pocket, I”m running low on checks, I didn’t want to leave the museum to drive home where I have food, and equally importantly, I knew food would slow my pace, and today, I was pushing myself. I liked the challenge, and I knew I would have all the food I wanted later.  I was grateful for the coffee and water I’ve consumed during short breaks to check e-mail and Facebook — about every hour and a half.

Bombardier CRJ of United Express takes off from Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, Springfield, Illinois, September 1, 2012.

So I’m going to head upstairs and close a door, turn off some lights and head home.

The day has been good to me, and I have been good to the day.

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

Once, as I was filing I noticed a United Express Bombardier CRJ airliner taxiing to the end of a runway, realized it would be passing nearby as he rose from the runway, and was where I needed to bne for some decent pictures I posted on Fb within minutes.  That kind of diversion made a lot of the fatique disappear, and the afternoon has whizzed by.
I’m savoring, as I write these words, the contentment that comes from knowing when I have posted this installment of the “Approaching” blog and posted notice of it at Facebook, all I have to do is go upstairs and turn off the fan and lights and close one door to be done with the day.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »