.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Three score and ten or more

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Well, my natural bent toward procrastination that has been exacerbated by age and infirmity was at least partially overcome. I actually filed my tax return before midnight on the fifteenth. The last five tax returns were filed after an automatic extension (read time to lose or misfile everything that is important.) I am not sure whether the so-called rebate was the biggest incentive or that I really plan to be traveling in August but it is done.

There is that in me that is relatively convinced that I could have saved my self about seven hundred bucks if I had filed it at a more leisurely pace a couple of weeks ago, but that would mean I had to give up procrastination completely. (Is there such a thing as a procrastiholic?) I have a little business making puppets and dolls, doing puppet shows, and workshops in theatre and/or puppetry with school children. Last year, between illness and moving and illness and remodeling etc., I turned down all the work that was offered and just didn't do a dang thing about it.

I found that Turbo Tax, a thing I have loved over the years because I have always done my own taxes, though my good friend whose funeral was last week had bet me(not FOR anything, just bet me) that he could save me money this year (he was a tax preparer) and it just added to my confusion that I had really planned to take him up on the bet, but I really have no complaints against Turbo Tax. My only real complaint is that as I get older I get less organized so it takes me longer to sort, hunt, etc. the stuff I need. But I am going to bed with the tax return done and my native dread of the Ides of August is now over.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I love that word. I know about six different English Language definitions for it, and don't have a clue as to what it means in the original language, but I have seen it used for (or as an excuse for) almost any short version(s) of what one would like to say (Assuming one doesn't want to write or present a long version- which technically should exist if some of the definitions I know are correct)

I went to my friends funeral today, and it was- - - a remarkable experience. I will write about it someday soon when I have come down from it. I was impressed most by the love shown by members of three different faiths who participated. Not now though.

While waiting for my Boston Butt roast to brine out (a new technique for me, I have brined turkeys but this was my first brined pork) , I picked up a book to read. It is one that my wife bought several months ago at a used book sale sponsored by one of the service organizations in the area. I suspect that someone had used it as a text for one of the courses in the University History Department. I haven't finished it, but it has caught me up completely. (I hate to talk about books that teach me things I never suspected, because Patrick at Born Again Redneck has always read those things years before, and makes me feel silly for having reached the three score and ten plus some age without having read it before).

The title of the book is KING LEOPOLD'S GHOST. It is, as far as I can tell, a remarkable well documented story of the discovery (by Europeans) development and rape of Black Africa. My only really impressive experience with that place and that time was my reading of Joseph Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS, which I really only read because I had read his LORD JIM as a teenager and loved it so I looked up his other books and read HEART OF DARKNESS at a youthful enough age that I didn't really comprehend the depths of it. I began to realize that my reading of it was a bit superficial as Janet began using it with her AP English classes where they read, dissected, digested and really got into Conrad's work. Just being around her at those times made me recognize that perhaps I had not fully read what I had read.

At this point, I am convinced that Adam Hochschild's KING LEOPOLD'S GHOST is a book that every thinking human being, especially those who are of Black African descent or those who associate with, or love, or hate them. (or are considering one of their descendants as potential President of the United States.)

I have done a lot of reading, over the years about the Aztec, Inca, Toltec and other civilizations in the America's, and have always been astonished, once one got past of obvious and most publicized aspects of those civilizations how rich and complex they were.

Just reading the preface of this remarkable volume hit me the same way. I just had no concept of the complexities of pre-European discovery African societies. I suspect that I has a superficial picture of the Zulu and Ubangi, and of the existence of Pygmy societies from SHAKA ZULU, and a variety of books and movies from TARZAN on up, but I feel like my eyes have been opened. The stories of ManiKongo (king) Nzinga Mbemba Affonso and his relationship and the Kings of Portugal are enough to tear your heart out.

Likewise I have become aware of the true mendacity and corruption of both black and white societies that extended beyond the slave trade to African,European and American politics, to "upright businesses"and "businessmen" well into the twentieth century who showed so little conscious care of simple humanity in order to do what they wanted to do.

I'll finish the book and see if I still feel the same way at the end. Certainly I have a different picture of King Leopold II of Belgium and an awareness that the killing grounds of Nazi Germany, Cambodia, or modern Africa seem at this moment, to pale in comparison to killing fields of nineteenth century Equatorial Africa.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Getting away from the funeral (which will be on Saturday, and I am providing a roasted Boston Butt which is the same thing I provided for a family meal when my friend's wife passed away a few months ago) to some general coot stuff (My brother prefers geezer in this case.)

As a male grows up he has the gender advantage in the method of waste elimination from the body. A large percentage of his waste elimation can be done standing, sometimes in a bathroom, sometimes behind a tree, sometime alone in a snowy waste where he can draw pictures with his liquid elimination. Most girls would be amazed and discusted by the method and practices of most little boys in the elmination business. It is not the boys fault that he has been favored in his natural plumbing.

As boys grow up, they are taught by their mothers to lift the lid on the toilet before "going". This is done because boys are sometimes inaccurate when they "go", whether accidentally or on purpose, and girls resent having to suffer the indignities of their natural plumbing while sitting in a place that has been naturally baptized by the favored boy.

The problem with lifting the lid is that, for adequate service to others it must be lowered as well.
Probably the most common complaint heard by the male of the species who has to share the facilities with the female is that "You didn't put the lid down."

Like most males my instinctive reaction to this complaint (though usually unspoken, because a female of any age can make the male life miserable if such is desired)was always the inner thought "If I must lift the lid, why can't you be responsible for noticing that it is lifted and put it down yourself, why yell at me?"

One of the things young men don't consider in this thought is that when coothood or geezerhood comes along, it is often accompanies by certain physiological changes. These do not mean that the old practice of standing elimination becomes impossible, or uncomfortable, it just means that sometimes it becomes embarrassing. It is amazing how fluid that used to just whiz out to the receptical now, on occasion runs down the outside or inside surface of the leg and causes bystanders to snicker or point as one walks through the supermarket. It also means that as coothood or geezerhood progresses, the frequency of the elimination process increased exponentially.

This is the long way of saying that sometimes a geezer, if he is practical, chooses to sit, rather than stand in this formerly casual process.

I now have two of my adult sons working with me in my house to finish remodelling, building my studio, and things like that. These sons, like their father, sometimes forget to PUT THE LID DOWN, and I have discovered in the last few weeks why my wife, my sisters, and all the other females with whom I have shared accomodations in my life were so darn ticky about this put the lid down business. If any of my sons reads this, in fact if any of my male progeny read this may I use this moment to encourage them to PUT THE LID DOWN WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED. The feel of cold porcelain when one is distressed and in a hurry anyway is neither comfortable or fun. I used to go in a house where the matron of the household had a sign over the commode which said " DAMMIT, AIM OR SIT." I now understand her feelings.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


I haven't been able to focus on an idea and write for awhile. Thoughts came to me but by the time I fidgeted and fulminated the thought was gone. I think this began last week when I attended another friend's funeral. This was a lady in her late eighties, and I have known her for quite awhile. I used to spend a little time in her home almost every month, not a lot, but enough to be fond of her.

She was a member of our church and we were given the opportunity to make some food to serve to her family following the funeral. It happened at a time when Janet was having a lot of pain in her feet and legs, and was still concerned with her broken wrist, so I decided that I wouldn't bother her. I actually cooked a turkey, but decided that it would be better appreciated by my family since Jan hasn’t really been able to cook for a while and both of my local sons have been down with colds or flue.

I finally put together a casserole that I like, and took it to the person who was organizing the dinner, but missed her, so I ended up carrying this massive penne pasta casserole thirty miles to the funeral then passing it off to be provided for a family group meal. Somehow I wasn't organized and though it was a very nice funeral (as funerals go) I went home that forenoon with a disquieting feeling, and was a bit fidgety all day.

The next day, I sat at the computer and organized the way I would like my final arrangements to be organized. I am not kidding, I picked the songs and those whom I would like to sing, and did all the rest of the funeral and burial stuff. I know it sounds morbid as it can be, but it wasn't that way. It was a bit shocking for my kin when I gave copies of what I had done to my wife and two of my sons and asked if they approved, or would make suggestions, but they, sort of, got into it, and now I have a signed, witnessed document (which of course, they can all ignore when the time comes, if they wish) and for some reason I felt like I had accomplished something worth while. I could have been repairing the dead Dodge Caravan in the back yard, or finishing the hook-up on the hot tub, or shampooing the carpets, all of which would have made Janet's life happier, but I did my morbid little thing.

When you are an old coot, strange things affect you. I find myself reading the obituaries, and being pleased when all of the participants are: 1. older than I am, and 2. not people I know. But I really am emotional right now. I just got a phone call letting me know that one of my best friends had just been over to another best friend's house, and had discovered him (the second friend) lying dead there. He had just come home from Atlanta where he had been baby sitting some of his grandchildren while his son and daughter in law were out in Utah looking for a new home (His son is a computer geek and had taken a new job for some outfit in Utah). He had just come back home, and I was looking forward to seeing him this weekend, and now he is gone.

He was just a little older than I, and from all appearances, a lot healthier. His wife was one of the three ladies in our local congregation that all passed away within two weeks, a few months ago. I had performed the marriage ceremony for him and his wife on Valentine's day about twenty or thirty years ago. And we had worked together very closely in both our church lives and in other mutual interests. I am just stunned. I have been weeping on and off for two or three hours, shuffling through very pleasant memories. (I am not really sure why I am weeping at pleasant memories, but I am, in fact I am dribbling a little bit on my keyboard.). Death is a companion to coots. I used to fear death a little.

I have climbed four story ladders to wander around in what theatre folks call the "fly" up above the stage completely without fear, and climbed staging(platforms) to work on both bricks and steel, but when I was climbing poles -some pretty high- to attach wires for Railroad Communication systems, and jumping out of airplanes training for what ended up an aborted career as a smoke jumper, and stuff like that, I often just knew that I was going to die and didn't want to.

Now, I am more concerned that I must finish saying the things I need to say to my children and grandchildren, make sure that our housing situation is solved (owning two houses, one of which is empty is a pain- one that I share with my youngest son but he's paying on both mortgages and I'm just paying, well, one and a half). I want to finish a memoir that I began ten years ago (You folks who read this have read quite a bit from that memoir), not that I expect anyone but my descendents to read it, but I want the feeling of haunting those who don't read it. Other than the fact that I don't want to go till I have finished a lot of that stuff, I no longer fear death. I really expect it to be just one of those transitions that always come along a foul up our plans.

Even though I feel this way, I am still weeping- the tears have stopped since I started writing- but inside I am still weeping for my friend. I am confident that he is in a better place, holding his wife's hand as she no longer suffers so much pain, but somehow, the tears are still at the back of my eyes, probably to seep through as I have finished the page.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Silly Stuff.

First, I don't know how many of you have heard the latest thing about google, but if you can click on or otherwise access the link http://www.google.com/tisp/ you will find that google offers, for free, a beta version of their new FREE I say again Broadband access service.

I got the link from Kim Komando, clicked on it and giggled myself silly. This is a broad band link that is accessible by fiber optic line (furnished by Google) through your toilet connecting with your city sewer. (Septic tank users like me may not apply). The only really irritating thing about it, other than my lack of eligibility is that in their explanation, they use up most of the good puns about it. "Now the statement that there is a lot of crap on the internet can be factually verified" and stuff like that. They inform you that this is a beta version because when things go wrong in the sewer, they can go "really" wrong.

I am filled with imaginary web pages appearing on the toilet paper, with the possibility of urinating directly on my least favorite web page (I will not identify it other than to verify that it is a political page.) with my modem leaking all over the floor, or??????????????

Other silly stuff. Have you read that "education experts" doubt the truth of the third grade mafia in Georgia that set out to attack their teacher, lock her in handcuffs and abuse her with a broken steak knife (I know that this is scary, and if true shows precocious gangsters, and if the education experts are right, the teacher was in no danger.) I must write about the Pearl Harbor Club made up of students from my school, who met in the field across from my elementary school, dug an amazing bunch of tunnels in the vacant lot, camouflaged them, then used them to play "You show me yours and I'll show you mine". It really happened, IN 1942. Kids can be amazing, and experts don't know everything. I know, I used to be one. (Kid and Expert)

One of the anchors for Air America (I can't remember the name, I only listened to Air America once, and was bored by Al Franken with wit that approached his ultimate humor, (his book title something like RUSH LIMBAUGH IS A BIG FAT MORON ). Any way this lady anchor stood up at a political fund raiser sponsored by Air America to raise money for the Democratic Party, and referred to Hilary Clinton as a F*****ing Whore. She was equally impolitic about Geraldine Ferraro, but I can't remember the label. I understand that she was suspended by Air America, which may or may not be noticed by any living people.
(I am not going to get back into political posting, but this struck me as SO silly I had to mention it.)

Not so silly, especially if it goes national, but independent truckers going in an out of the Savannah Port are parking their rigs because they can't pay expenses with diesel at over $4.00 a gallon, and the companies paying 90 cents a mile for freight. I wrote a while ago about unintended consequences and the variety of consequences unintended and intended if this goes national are mind boggling. You get bothered about four and five dollar milk, wait till the prices on everything imported or shipped by truck double and triple. (Frankly I am in sympathy with the truckers, but I have no solutions. )