All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Superior Course Of Study

"Is it lined up ok?"

"Parfaitement. The world is cloudy behind you and  Brazil oozes out your ear."

"Then let's find a different background."

"No, I was kidding. I would never take such a silly picture!"
***I am learning. In retirement, I am learning.***

"I feel so sleepy this afternoon!"

"You went to bed before I did, but got up before 6 a.m., which is very early."

"Geo., that was yesterday."

"Well, that's even earlier then."

***I am learning. I worked 40 years but I still learn.***

"Darcie just wrote me. She's carrying a shotgun outdoors."

"How unlike her. Why?"

"She has bears. Bears in her yard!"

"Wow, they sure have interesting problems upstate."

"But yes! I told her we have only a crazy bearded drunk neighbor stumbling around in our field."
"Ah, give him time, Norma. Give him time."

***Decidedly, I learn anew. Retirement doesn't define who one is, only what one did for a while.*** 


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

'71 VW Tact

Bus:  I feel a presence, Geo., something unfamiliar behind me.

Geo.: You mean back down the lane?

Bus:  Yes, a disturbance in the force.

Geo.: Here, let me adjust your rearview mirror.

Bus: Good heavens! You didn't!
Geo.:  Look, I'm sorry to spring it on you so suddenly but there's no help for it. It had to be done. I needed something with air conditioning.

Bus: Nonsense. Look at it, brand new, frightened and squinting. It looks upset. It looks like it wants to hide in the weeds. Whereas I...

Geo.: I know, you are tall and proud and have served this family over 30 years. You've hauled children safely to and from school and to cities after they grew. You've carried tools, appliances, building materials, landscaping supplies and groceries reliably and without complaint. But your odometer has clocked over a million miles and it's time you joined Norma and me in retirement.

Bus: Soft sawder! I'm just a big ugly box on wheels and you'll probably sell me.

Geo.: You are, always have been and will be an extra room of our home, a magic room with wheels. We would not dream of selling you.

Bus:  I said ugly too.

Geo. :  You'll never be ugly to me, Bus. But now that you mention it, the newcomer is an attractive car.

Bus: I thought as much! Go ahead and say it.

Geo.: What?

Bus: Say it.

Geo.: Ok ok, it's a pretty car and I bought it because... well, even I need to feel pretty sometimes.

Bus: dumme Gans!

Geo. : Ich liebe dich auch.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Brain-Kink Sermon

Sometimes Norma will compose a veggie face from her garden. Here is today's:
It brightens up our sideboard on this disturbingly hot Sunday. My job is to compose the sermon. And I am working on it, though with indifferent success. Nothing I have said to myself today has left any profound feeling behind it. This, and the heat and one thing and another results in brain-kink. I am reminded of gardening.

When I gardened for a living, sometimes my friend Rogelio would drive round and help me with big projects. One day, he was climbing out of the truck and stepped on a flattened aluminum can. Flattened aluminum cans on pavement are different  from littered leaves and paper wrappers. They are deceptive. When stepped on, they will skitter energetically away, bearing any amount of weight --indeed, converting it into horizontal acceleration-- ignoring all protest and this is what happened to Rogelio.

To his credit --or double credit to a man half his age-- he kept upright. One foot remained on the speeding can while all other limbs fought centrifugal, centripetal, gravitational and universal forces, known and unknown, that rule our lives.When he found his way back from whatever unseen distant place he'd slid and managed to dismount at, poor Rogelio was holding his side.

He said,"Iiiieeee! MygoddamnBACK!"

For several weeks I heard this exclamation repeated whenever Rogelio moved wrong. It became a kind of mantra, to which I responded by suggesting we sit down together. He refused to take a break of any sort while I continued working, so I had no other option.

Then I forgot to bring beer. "Are we in trouble?" I asked.

As a gang-mower roared by, I heard,"Es fácil salir...rumble rumble... de algo que...rumble... no está en." I took this to mean one has no difficulty getting out of something one was never in, or something is easy with rumbles, or rumble rumble rumble --which I accepted as a personal axiom that always gives me brain-kink.

Iiiieeee! MygoddamnBRAIN!

Go in peace.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Jumps

                                            [Norma photo of Geo. graphic]

I worked 40 years (Hah, just see if I go do that again!), and for most of them I had to get up before sunrise and never got used to it. This was because I became a gardener early on --it did not require one to be house-trained.  Then, in 2009, I called in old.

In my working life I did nothing particularly right but there was a general and positive momentum toward settling an income in a humane economy. It allowed leisure enough to pursue my lifelong dream of retiring on the prairie to raise hornets. But this essay is not strictly limited to my successes in vespine husbandry. It is about the jumps.

For the purpose of our inquiry, I have included over this essay an x-ray of my head. You are invited to observe the chief mechanical systems of the brain: psychic constructs called conscious and subconscious minds. They are separated, with rather disappointing efficiency, by the nuchal crest.

The nuchal crest is a posterior bump on some human skulls that serves mainly as a head-hook to catch the edges of swimming pools so one might relax the rest of the body and chat with other nuchal crest possessors. People without nuchal crests --like my wife-- try to emulate and join in the fun but unhappily slide off into the depths. Another advantage of this crest is the extra cranial room it makes. As you can see, the x-ray shows a mainspring that has relaxed in some spots and snapped clean in others. With some stabilizing by means of baling wire, the added space effectively accommodates this neurological distemper.

Point is, although 4 years retired, I woke this morning from a dream that I was late for work. In the dream, each time I looked at a clock I was another hour or two later and quite beyond my repertoire of phone-able excuses. I woke with the jumps, and the impossible question: what does time measured on a dreamed clock measure? That is a question left to the conscious mind. It cares.

Subconscious mind doesn't care. It finds no purchase on the pool edge, slips under and hatches more anxious dreams based upon outdated data. Down there, it eludes reason no matter how tightly our net is drawn around it. This gives one the feeling, not of having slept but having spent the night in a Beckett play, proving even retirees work hard for their money.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


I found it necessary to modify an illustration (ok, beyond the little greeting) from the excellent archive, FTIC , because, although it effectively typified  the 19th century standard of bow wow oratory, it lacked  relevance to history as I have imagined it.

The figure above is delivering an impassioned speech against Jeunism, elder-discrimination, and has just begun an attack upon the overprescription of stool-softeners by pointing at a softened stool.

"Ladies and gentleman, how can we condone a heinous compound which, when misapplied by ne'er-do-wells, causes our most experienced pianists to fall off their art and sends skilled saloonists sprawling from their bars?"

The audience was all attention. Interest and indignation had been piqued. They heard more:

"I have the testimony of Macomber Bomby, the man behind Dan Patch, who drove that peerless pacer to break 14  world speed records, finally setting the world's record for the fastest mile by a harness horse in all history. Mr. Bomby confided to me, he said, 'Professor Fustian, I sits a sulky solider than sudden sodden sanity but when I goes for a snort spiked with stool softener --and mind you, it ain't half bad-- I falls right on the floor.'"

The audience indulged in a collective moan of horror.

Professor Fustian continued: "Dear friends of culture and American progress, I shall conclude this chautauqua on a hopeful note.  We have perceived something which warns us we are in the presence of tragedy, that our youth have taken to pharmaceutical offense against us. Like Macomber Bomby, we encounter novelty in the form of stool softener and find ourselves brought back upon our own traces. Who is responsible? If we consult imagination and act upon its suppositions, I believe we'll find ourselves justified in blaming the young.

"In the face of misguided enterprise,  errors of youth we cannot ourselves remember making, we must maintain strong character with an immense capacity for self-restraint. When prescribed stool-softener by younger and younger physicians, we must persevere and pretend to agree. Yes, there will backlash and youthful outrage at our stoppage, but we will prevail. Indeed, we have had extraordinary luck isolating this problem and it will be entirely our own fault if we do not succeed in flushing it out."