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Thanks to a persistent, anonymous friend whose recent encouragement inspires this update.

Last June, a long-time friend (I will call him Al) explained he was being evicted from the house where he and family had lived for 11 years. He could not continue repairing damages to my upstairs duplex made by previous residents because they were rushing to find a place to stay. I invited him to occupy the vacant upstairs while looking for another place. I would discount his rent in trade for his contributions with hammer, saw and etc. He agreed and in less than a week moved in, not only to the upstairs, but to my basement which he filled almost to the hilt with 11 years’ accumulation of possessions. I was aghast. I should have invited them to find another place before the week was out. My likely-fatal (to me) error at this early stage was my assumption that Al and (I will call her) Di were employed. As long as I had known them, Al had worked for a living, but he wasn’t working last June. He said he was looking. Given his consistent work history, I anticipated a month — MAX — before he reconnected with a regular paycheck. It didn’t happen. And then Di quit her job!  They also were unable to establish utilities because their name was no good with CWLP the local water and electric company. I would pay for those services. NO ONE was working as winter approached to Al/Di said they were looking for work.  Two months after moving in, their car was re-possessed “by the loan sharks,” they said. I could not — as a man with a humanitarian sense of conscience — FORCE them into the street with winter on the way.  Since they moved in, I have lost more than the discounted rent they promised to pay. I have lost THOUSANDS of dollars in utilities I’ve been forced to pay because I needed a warm upstairs to prevent the water pipes from freezing, bursting, and flooding the house.  Nine months into this debacle, I informed Al/Di that they MUST vacate the premises. I CANNOT AFFORD to pay their utilities and to deal with my many overdue bills without the income previously provided by upstairs residents. After deducting the few hundred dollars they’ve paid me since last June, they still owe me almost $8,000! Their electric bill for January alone was $500! And not a whisper from a dollar to me since mid-January!  I would more productively benefit from farting into the wind than asking them to pay for some of what they have taken from me with sullen impudence. They’re still there. They’re not violating a contract. We HAD NO CONTRACT. They were my friends. We NEEDED no contract. My basement and storage shed are as full of their untouched, unused possessions today as they were last September! I have lost 20 pounds since they moved in, mostly because I spend almost nothing for food.  Lunch is a sandwich and dinner is a can of soup with bread mixed in. I drink coffee, sometimes instant iced tea and often Carlo Rossi Burgundy which I buy by the gallon and it usually lasts a week. I’m not going nuts with boozing. I can’t AFFORD to! Is there any mystery regarding why I can contemplated exiting this excruciating WOE by eating a bullet or drinking poison? I’m a long way from doing either one.

Wheels are in motion with the courts system to repossess my house. But because the way the courts system works, I will not be don’t with Al/Di until late May at the earliest. THIS is why I’m not “the man I used to  be. There’s a shadow hanging  over me.” (Thank you Paul McCartney.)

I  am NOT doing well. I make eye contact and smile and speak with fewer than three people most days. I am not confident this will all work out, but to opt out of the effort is also out of the question. As I told a distant friend a few weeks ago, “I am made of sterner atoms.”




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Bear With Me

I’ve intended to post updates three times since the last one, but promised and therefore expected glimpses of light at the end of my tunnel did not happen. A kick to the heart, hope ground to dust like a smoldering cigarette butt crushed under a thick boot heel.

On new year’s eve, at an event called First Night Springfield, a celebration of arts and performing arts in lyrical downtown Springfield, I recited three of my poems and two of Vachel Lindsay’s poems at Hoagland Center For the Arts: Serenading the Wind,  Guns And Drugs, Send in the Cows, plus Vachel’s On the Building of Springfield and his What the Sexton Said.  It was my best “performance” of any poems in more than a year. After the event which lasted an hour and included other good poets who read their creations very well — they were top echelon local talent — I  decided to savor a drink and snack in the Hoagland’s lobby/bar. Since First Night is a non-alcoholic event (no booze available from participating venues) I had a cup of hot chocolate and a Reese’s double Peanut Butter Cup.  As I sat on a stool at an elevated table for two in this area, a woman who has shared her poetry at other venues on other nights, came up. introduced herself (I vaguely remembered her and her solid talent as a fine poet and excellent reciter) and joined me. We talked about poetry.  She pulled a small chap book (she had published) from her purse and read a poem she had written about her watching ME recite a few years ago. I was truly touched by the poem.  It was clear we were of one mutually respectful, appreciative mind regarding sharing poetry via spoken words.  I recited, at the table, reasonably quietly to avoid bothering others at tables nearby, a Vachel Lindsay poem and one of my own, and I gave her one of my poetry books (Confluence of Legends: Vachel Lindsay and Johnny Appleseed) which she did not have. As great a thrill as it had been to have recited, darn near flawlessly, poetry in a gallery room on the third floor of The Hoagland, I was thrilled twice as much to have shared time with a COMPETENT RECITER of HER POETRY in the ground floor lobby who remembered and appreciated ME. We bade each other fond goodbyes,  I returned to my vehicle on a bitterly cold and windy new year’s even, drove home on almost-traffic-less Springfield streets and talked into my house at 6:57, less than an hour after the third floor event at the Hoagland had concluded.

I’m not a heavy boozer, but my heart was awash in fond appreciation for what had just transpired downtown. On my most recent birthday (I hesitate to say “my last birthday” though I believe it was — more about that in a future post –) I had a birthday party for myself and invited friends at my home. A friend I had met on Facebook, who had visited me at my airport museum and had videotaped me singing some of my songs and posted them on the Internet, came to the party, arrived early and gave me a bottle of premium-quality red wine. “GREAT,” I said. “I’ll share it later with the guests.”. . . “Don’t,” he suggested. “Save it for yourself, later.” And I did. I had briefly considered deinking it Christmas eve or day, but I didn’t . I drank part  of a gallon jug of Carlo Rossi Burgundy, and I was fine with that: appropriate for my ultra-modest special day. So on this special night after a life-altering experience downtown, I drank the excellent red my friend Matthew Penning had given me last September. . . . . . I resolved to send him a note of thanks for the excellent gift, and I kept procrastinating, not taking time to say THANKS.

Two days ago I learned Matthew Penning had just died. It was sudden, no hint of it coming in his Facebook posts.  I was FLOORED,  CRUSHED. I posted my memory of his giving me the birthday wine that I drank new year’s eve.

What I didn’t post was this: Between Christmas and new year’s eve I was INCREDIBLY DESPONDENT. I shared a fraction of my woe on Facebook indicating my genuine intention of checking out of this thing called LIFE. Only one person responded tot hat post. At the time I had 120 friends at my “arts presence” name of Conger Job. He was the only one brave enough, considerate enough, kind enough to respond.

He wrote “Please don’t.”

And I didn’t. The day before new year’s eve at the Hoagland, I decided to make the most of my strictly enforced 10 minute slot at First Night (thus allowing other poets to share for 10 minutes; nothing wrong with that) by PRACTICING what I intended to recite. I knew it would be a major opportunity to connect with people who has not see/heard me recite. I was confident going into the event – not so hog-tied by worries about exceeding the STRICTLY ENFORCED time limits — and I decided what even if I didn’t get to recite the eight poems I practiced, I would DEMONSTRATE MY HAPPINESS at being allowed to share whatever I was given time to share.  And  I was.

Life the first week of 2018 went incredibly well in ways I’ll explain in a future post. Since the end of the first week I’ve felt a moderating “return to earth”. . . . . no joy, but no bitterness and moderate anxiety.  I’m okay with that.  I’ll catch up with you in a week or two with details.

Thanks for reading this post.

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

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Late Late Update

An anonymous friend shared some positive feedback a few days ago: said my poems and observations about my life are missed, hoped I would resume posting after the hiatus of three months. The comments revived me. I promised I’d post an update here by December 31. At the time I promised, I was expecting some positive news from friends: renters upstairs who had promised me a partial payment of the thousands of dollars I have lived without because of their dire circumstances. That payment — might have been $20, might have been $100 — surely no more than that —  would have improved my attitude toward my future. The promised payment didn’t come. It may come in the next few days — Heck, I  even wished him a “happy birthday” a few days ago. I’m determined not to be a grouch over the $5,000 he owes me for rent and utilities.

my pantry of jars
of dreams that motivate me
will soon be empty

I wrote and posted the three lines above a few days ago on Facebook. Not ONE reader responded in any way. True, it’s a glum prediction.  What were people going to say? “Gee, sorry you’re feeling sad. I hope things  get better.” I was happy with the creation, the words shared, the  metaphor, the originality.  I’m was aware that the point — the message — was not “RAH RAH RAH” but I posted it because I wanted readers to know how I was feeling.  Songs are written for that reason. They are called blues. What the hey did I  do that was offensive? I put those who know me into an uncomfortable corner from which they could offer no encouragement (as Honey &  Quinine commenter did a few days ago) so, not bearing witness to those three lines took them out of the “scene” and allowed those who contributed to it to say “I know about the car crash at 5th Street and Vine, but I wasn’t there when  my friend was hurled out of his car’s open door and into the tree. If  I had been I might have been able to help.  My point here is that I feel no  rancor to anyone I know about my present circumstance.

I am 99 percent estranged from poetry and the arts.  As recently as five years ago I considered myself a friend or supportive acquaintance of more than 10 Springfield area painters, poets and musicians. My focus on the aviation museum I was developing at the airport led to me neglecting the arts. A monthly “open mic (microphone)” event downtown has been my ONLY interface with anyone in the  arts scene for years, and that has become such a challenge and  disappointment for me as an  artists that I  probably won’t return for this January’s event.  The actions of others involved with the monthly gathering have not been the prime source of my irritation and growing  resignation. My hearing  is an issue.  I can’t hear most of those who share behind the “mic.” Wearing my hearing aids doesn’t help.  I don’t even wear them more than a day or two in a month because I get by almost as well without them as with. I don’t maintain them as instructed by the hearing aid doctor on my city’s way west side.  If I really cared, I’d try harder. This whole estrangement saddens me. I THOUGHT I WAS  a BETTER POET THAN THIS!  And as the days go on (not necessarily “dwindle down”) I  am less inclined to try to prove I am.

The aviation museum has no heat, and it’s not likely to have a future because the airport administration is going to tear down the building and replace it in 2018. My museum will not be part of the future there.  When the weather warms into the 20s again, my small space heater will permit me to engage tasks in my office and welcome visitors.  In the meantime, there is no rent to pay. I visit once a day in the mornings to take aviation projects to work on at my part time employer and to  work on at home when I’m not so depressed that I do nothing constructive after dinner.

So now my life is a routine of days without saying more than five words at a time in the course of the day to anyone. There are some two or three days in a good week when I do converse with strangers and acquaintances. It’s not that I’m hiding in a dark room and not answering the phone. I post often in Facebook banter and news.

That’s my status report for this last day of 2017. I will TRY to post more often in 2018. Best wishes to you for reading this ramble. I hope you are blessed with a  satisfying year.

Live long . . . . and proper.


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It’s This or Go Nuts

I turned 70 September 5. It was an important day for me. Probably my last “milestone” event if you don’t count my death, and I don’t expect to count my death.I am a pathetically lonely married mother’s lucky son. I see and talk with at least six people every day but I’m still lonely. I interface with the people I encounter the way I interface with the nice barn I see when driving 55 over to Jacksonville. I see them, maybe I say eight words or so to most of them, and life goes on.

In recent moths, and with increasing frequency since my 70th birthday, I’ve come home tired, durn-near shuffling-my-feet exhausted, from a day  at the airport where I’m developing a small aviation museum, then from  a part-time employer and perhaps three or four more hours at the museum. I eat a light dinner and nap. Often  I pirouette from my computer in my bedroom to my bed, and fall asleep in then minutes. I awaken, usually between 2:30 and 4:00, and spend an hour or two in silence, sometimes reading aviation history, trying to get back to sleep.  Tonight I drank two beers to help me get sleepy, but though it took the edge off my anxiety, it hasn’t helped me or motivated me to return to sleep. The last of the two I started about 4 am today will be finished when I conclude this post, turn off the computer, pirouette and return to bed.  I have thought about resuming regular posts here on Honey & Quinine, and that appears to be where I’m going.

A few weeks before my birthday party at my home I recognized alcohol “is not my friend,” and vowed not to keep any in my house. It was a noble idea and I stayed true to it about a week and a half, then found a way to be “true” to the vow on a technicality.  I began bringing home two “tall cans” of beer, one night a week and consuming every drop before going to bed, thus to “consume” without “keeping.”  There were benefits. Surfing the internet porn sites ceased without regret or frustration. I didn’t crave it when drinking beer, didn’t need it, and I felt better about myself as a result. For my birthday party, I purchased 48 cans of 12 oz beer, and the night of the party, guests drank four of them. They were “wine people;” not “beer people.” I am a wine person when I can afford it, but I’ve become a beer person since the party. I’ve consumed all but two of the 44 since the party, two or four every evening, usually two with dinner and the other two in the early morning hours as I’ve done this morning. I’ll finish the last two  Wednesday night after a model club meeting, and I won’t buy any more beer or wine to keep in the house.

I’m going to TRY to blog more regularly to induce sleep. I have a lot to say “for the record and to no one in particular.” Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. But the way I feel tonight at 5:10 am Wednesday morning, it’s either this or go nuts.

Live long . . . . . and proper.


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Seventy Status Report

About a month ago, I reached out to people I consider “friends” in a way that most people I know would probably consider illogical and hare-brained. On my Facebook account I invited those friends to a party I would have at my home on my 70th birthday. Because I am not a cook, I announced I would by the Kentucky Fried Chicken, beer, plates and plastic cups and forks. I suggested that all who wanted to share a dish at the party were welcome to bring something.

My current way of living limited my invitation to people I like and respect via Facebook. I have ZILCH social life except for my appearances at poetry “open mics”
and the art gallery receptions. I’m on friendly terms with many people I encounter beyond Fb, but I rarely see them, and all are, at best, benign, respected acquaintances.

In the month before the party, things which hadn’t mattered to me for TEN YEARS, suddenly mattered very much because people I like were going to visit my house (!!!), and I was determined to not let them see the empty, neglectful, shell of a man I had become. For the first time  in probably 20 years, I vacuumed my house. The upright vacuum I had bought ten years ago was broken (it was broken when I bought it from a low-life acquaintance, but I didn’t realize the beater brush had ceased to function until September 2, so I cleaned the carpets, loose debris in kitchen and bathroom on hands and knees with a small hand vac with a long power cord. I trimmed branches . . . took junk that had accumulated under by back porch deck and in a distant corner beyond the line of sight to my  storage shed to my employer’s dumpster and deposited it there with his permission . . . cleaned up the basement, washed walls, doors, most of the dribbled liquid stains from walls of stove, refrigerator and kitchen cabinets. I didn’t get to all the dribbles cleanup. Somehow I thought it “in-authentic” of me to give the impression that I was/am a better housekeeper than I really am. If a few people deduced that I was having a hard time with life, that’s what I WANTED them to think, and if  they didn’t that was okay too.

The party exceeded my hopes. I didn’t drink a lot of beer and wine, I enjoyed talking with everyone. I recited some of my favorite Vachel Lindsay poems and sang a few of my songs — fewer than most folkss might have expected. This was no night for serious performing; not a “concert night” which would have arrested the repartee in motion. Many friends attended, those who did not because of unforeseen circumstances : well, that was okay. Those who made it showed me what I wanted to know. That I AM a man with some redeeming qualities, and good people, treasured friends, cared enough to demonstrate their shared affinity for me, at a time when dire circumstances, which I shan’t describe now,  impede my own affinity for me.

And on balance, this is a much better start to my new year than the hellish anquish that visited this house in early September, 2016. Fiends (I call them The OINKS) had vacated the upstairs duplex, stolen significant possessions of mine in the process, damaged the living quarters so there was no way I could rent it to new residents without major, EXPENSIVE  RENOVATION.  They left behind deep ruts in the front yard they promised to repair but  did not,  a basement full of household trash that I disposed of over months this past spring. For the first time in my ownership of my home, I endured a winter with no income from renters. The blistering disappointment from The OINKS was worse than any aftermath from any former residents. My standard of living and outlook on life in general, which had been “going south” over the past three YEARS began to improve as the weather warmed.

For the first time in years, I don’t have to carry jugs of tap water from my bathroom to my kitchen sink when I need to wash dishes. For the first time in years, my bathroom toilet can be FLUSHED. (I’ll spare you details, but it was not a pretty picture.) A 70th birthday party here last week would have been OUT OF THE QUESTION without a flushing toilet!  It appears I’m rising from a horrible run OF YEARS into a better future.

The party will take awhile to pay for with some help with a home equity loan from the bank. . . . . but it  was NECESSARY to, at least, delay an undesirable inevitability.
I am determined, and focused, as never before, to get my nose above the stench of yesterdays and into air where I will never find myself  immobilized in de-facto catatonia.  I feel mentally heathy — nobody’s out to “get me.” Unlike many, I speak and  write frequently with  forethought and complete sentences. I feel I am in almost-amazingly good physical health.

As the dust from the 70th birthday party continues to settle, I intend to post more frequently here at Honey & Quinine and write poetry  and songs more often. We shall see . . . .

Thanks for reading this post.

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


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I’m not going to shoot myself.  I don’t own a gun. If I did own a gun, I would not have lived so long. I don’t intend to buy a gun.

Four days ago I lost my prescription eyeglasses, and though I can “get by” without wearing them, I have engaged a precarious balancing act as I lurch along dealing with my incapacity to afford replacement glasses. My eye doctor has explained my sight malady is not correctable with better glasses offering more magnification. The condition is macular degeneration. The most I  can do to delay further dimunition of my sight is to take an over-the-counter “vitamin,” which I’ve been taking twice a day for the past year, and it is sustaining sight. I recently passed my eye exam, and am “street legal” for driving day and night.  But pervading my life for four days is an “overtone” like a constant ringing in my ears (though my ears don’t ring) of shame for losing the glasses and failing, over the passing of the days looking everywhere under the sun for them and not finding them. And with that overtone has come growing incapacity to think rationally and positively. This blog post is an example that, I feel, confirms my incapacity for  rational thought.

Over the weekend I metaphorically shot myself in “the future” as I departed an arts fundraising event in which I had been a featured, named, participant. It was an event which I thought, at first, would be a long-hoped for boost for my efforts (over the past 20 years) to earn significant recognition. I believed, as the event concluded, that I would have come home more satisfied with myself and the support shared by the few acquaintances I knew at this event, if I had performed one hundred forward somersaults in fast succession on the lawn at the event. As a result of my disappointment there, I  walked away from a new acquaintance, a professional, positive thinker whose friendship I had earlier vowed (to myself) to nurture. In doing so, I wrote the “death sentence” to my 20 years of aspirations and the likely end of my efforts to recite my favorite poems written by internationally acclaimed poet Vachel Lindsay.  Leading up to that “shot,”  for a full half an hour, I pondered my  intention to go home sadder, more disappointed with that person,  than I imagined I would leave, literally an hour earlier.  I understood that I had the power to leave bitter or affirmed. I could “board the peace train” or I could hurl myself onto the tracks as it departed, and leave the bloody mess of my wrong decision on the tracks for all to see as I dove home.

In the brief face-to-face with new acquaintance — no harsh language, no gestures with arm or finger, no raised voices  — for the duration of the encounter, I shot myself in the future.

I drove home with no rushing, used my turn signals even for lane changes, even though traffic was sparse at 9:05 in the evening. I didn’t lurch the vehicle into turns, and I didn’t slam the door after I entered my living room from my front porch.

This morning I awoke with my mind and heart awash in a tempest of sorrow.

I considered my options, probably could have found a way to “leave the shambles” if I had thought that was what I should do. There was some wine left from last night, but I’ve not touched it; don’t intend to touch it this evening when I return home from a day at the airport.

What comes next I don’t know. I am determined to spend time productively at the airport museum today. The “closed” sign will be posted in the lobby of the business which hosts it so I can concentrate on making the day worthwhile. I believe my time with Lindsay is over. So is my “arts presence” on Facebook. Anything I share about the arts with be shared here at Honey and Quinine.

Life goes on.
Live long . . . . . . and proper.


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No Next of Kin

I’m feeling as low as I’ve felt in my life. Every thing is about dollars that I don’t have. Because I’m not mad at those whose conduct — misconduct is more correct — I have allowed to steer me to this, I’m not going to describe that misconduct, and I’m not naming anyone; not even with a pseudonym. I’m going to describe what I’m doing and how I feel.

A few days ago, I visited  the eye  doctor I’ve been checking in with every six months since my cataract surgery a few years ago.  He was not the surgeon; he’s the follow-up fellow. The reason I’ve been seeing him periodically — not the usual routine following cataract removal — is that an evolving  degradation of visual acuity was discovered soon after my first followup:  It’s a force that I can’t keep at bay with eye glasses, even eye glasses with  prescriptions updated periodically. The condition is macular degeneration.  Every year information about symptoms I experience (allergies, broken bones. medications) is updated. When I visited last week, I was asked to update my information, and I was doing okay until two  questions lit a fire in my  head and heart that simmers as I write this.  Question 1. “Who is to be notified in case of emergency?”  “That’s easy,” I said to the receptionist. “Notify the coroner!”
I blurted a bitter “Ha-ha!” and continued to question 2. Next of kin? I didn’t have a snappy response. I  wrote “none” on the blank space.

Probably my most unexpected short-fall at my age is that I  am close to no one. It’s been three years since I’ve had “friends” or acquaintances to my home for conversation, a meal and drinks. I’ve walked away from everyone who might have considered me a friend, people I truly considered my friends for years. Now I’m at arms’ length with everyone I know. I KNOW a LOT of PEOPLE.  Many of that “lot” are friendly.  We get along okay for the perhaps 30 seconds of exchange over exceptionally rare phone conversations and short exchanges of typed text over Facebook .  I have no romance. One must have money to sustain the possibility, though even rarer, the POSSIBILITY, of a kiss or better. Yet I fall for pretty faces and dreams almost as often as I used to, just to prove to myself that I’m not becoming a better recluse,  though it sure as hell SEEMS that I am.

Some days, I am curious about how people who have no next of kin are dealt with when they die.  My sister has distanced herself, vowed never to speak to me for the rest of her life because of “slights” I committed against her storybook-perfect family.  I came along 12 years after she was born. I don’t even know if she’s alive. I hope she is. I adored her. Always did until she “lowered the boom” on my our relationship. My younger brother died about five years ago.  We were starting to reconcile after decades of estrangement

A barely functioning “gutter denizen” who begs in the street for food and wine, who finally dies in a dark alley from congestive heart failure or liver poisoning is no further distant from a better fate (What boyhood dream might he have as he exhales a final sigh and does not INhale?) than I am as I live, simply to prove I do not want to die.

I have no interest in burial.  What happens to the body (my own) where I will cease to “be,” is of no  concern to me.

So for now I consider myself lucky to sustain my breathing. I’m engaging activities and tasks I want to engage and ignoring MANY tasks that cause me anguish. When a person in deep water starts behaving as though there is no tomorrow, odds are good that as he plays the blubbering iconoclast, he has given up swimming. He believes he will never reach the shore line. He will never transit from the storm-tossed sea — in which he treads water — to the firmament of resolution beneath his feet and sunshine to warm his future.

“What’s the use of worrying?
What’s the use of scurrying?
What’s the use of anything?””

Live long . . . . . . and proper



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