I was going through some old song lyrics the other night when I came upon a song I’d written years ago that I’d totally forgotten about. I wrote it after spending a lot of time in an old silver mining ghost town in Colorado. St. Elmo was its name. No relation to Sesame Street, but it was an incredibly fascinating place in itself. See, when the price of silver dropped in the late 1800s, the folks of St. Elmo just locked their doors and went back down the mountain convinced the price would rise again soon and they’d be back. It never did...and they never returned. So, there were houses still full of furniture, barns that still held wagons and tools, stores that still had some canned goods on the shelves and streets haunted by broken souls with broken silver dreams. The cemetery at St. Elmo was just behind the town hidden in a small grove of Aspens. It wasn’t very big...St. Elmo wasn’t very big. It was however, filled mostly with children. Victims of small pox, mumps, measles and the flu…all deadly to the children of the late 1800s. If the miner’s didn’t strike it rich they moved on. When the miners moved on the storekeepers moved on. And when the price of silver dropped the rest of the town moved on. These children couldn’t move on though. St. Elmo would be their final resting place. I remember standing there among the carved wooden and simple stone markers, some with wrought iron cradles over the graves. One cracked wooden marker caught my eye…Sadie Mullins…Borned May 5, 1879… Passed Dec. 24, 1881. That's all it said. Rest in peace little girl. It was a joy to remember you.
“Sometimes in the evening,
If the wind is blowing right,
You’ll hear the banshee in the canyon,
And she’s crying like a child in the night.”
Sunday, February 26, 2012
In the time that passed from the moment my foot first started slipping on the ice until I found myself firmly deposited on my keester in a most ungraceful manner, I found the number of thoughts and pictures that can pass through one’s brain to be truly amazing. Now, it goes without saying this whole experience starts with some version of “What the (your choice of profanity goes here!).” Quickly moving on to “Stick out your hand and break your fall…no wait…you might break your wrist. You can’t work on the computer with a broken wrist!...Actually I could though…It would just be a little slower...C’mon…think…wait…Can I do a mid-fall adjustment…a midair pirouette if you will…and find something softer to land on?...Hey…I was a jock…once...Nope…This is gonna hurt…Oh man what if I break my butt?...I definitely can’t work with a broken butt…How will I pay the bills?...Will my insurance cover a broken butt?...What about the children?…Gotta call my agent….Oh no…New cell phone’s in my back pocket…Broken butt and broken cell phone…crap!... She was cute though wasn’t she? …That sales associate….and very knowledgeable about cell phone service…Hmmm…Where was I?...Oh right….keester about to meet frozen turf….I wonder if anyone is watching?...Try to look cool…Hey that’s my foot…Way up there…”
Houston…the eagle has landed. And it’s going to leave a mark.
Houston…the eagle has landed. And it’s going to leave a mark.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Casey’s been gone for quite awhile now so I don't know why she's on my mind today, but she is. So, would you indulge me for a moment? She shared our lives for over 16 years. I still carry her name tag on my key chain. Our little, white ball of unconditional love had a pretty good life though. I mean, I can’t speak for the old girl herself, but at least, I think she did. She successfully raised three human children. She kept three different back yards free of marauding squirrels. She devoted years to the neighborhood watch program taking it upon herself to personally warn everyone of the presence of strange dogs out walking their humans. She even did some government work…announcing the daily arrival of the U.S. Mail. As the years went by though, I could see the cataracts in her eyes when she looked at me. I couldn’t help but notice the limp in her step when she’d been lying on her arthritic front leg for too long. In her last few years she seemed to need a little more comforting and reassurance from time to time. And that was just fine. We owed her that much and more after all those years of her loving us. Someone once said, why is it that even though a dog doesn’t get to live very long...it still has to die old? I don’t know. What I do know is that Casey showed us all how to grow old with grace and dignity. And I hope I can do the same and never stop loving…or getting a kick out of chasing that occasional squirrel. I miss you girl.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Last night during dinner the phone rang. I answered with my usual pleasant “Hello”. No response. Another “Hello” and still nothing. Then I heard it. That telltale, telemarketer click. The sound that mass dialing computer makes when it actually gets through. Do you get as annoyed as I do? Well, I had actually prepared a little speech for a moment like this. And it went something like this. “Hello…Yes…excuse me and I’m extremely sorry, but…It’s not your turn to talk to me. It’s dinnertime. It’s my wife’s turn to talk to me. It’s my kid’s turn to talk to me. It’s my dog’s turn to talk to me, but it’s not your turn to talk to me. I’m sure you’re a swell person who’s just trying to do your job, but it’s not your turn to talk to me. I’m sure your product, service, opinion or candidate is wonderful. I’m sure you can save me time, money and heartbreak. I’m sure that what you have to say will change my life forever and get me new windows for half price, but…it’s not your turn to talk to me. So, thank you very much. Good bye. Good luck. Have a nice day.” That was my speech…and a good one too if I do say so myself…but it was dinnertime...so I just hung up on them.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
So, what do you believe in I was asked. Well, I said, the thing I probably believe in most is that I’m not too sure about what I believe in. We could start with this though. I believe in greed. I see it every day in some of our corporations. I believe in the lust for power. I see that every day in a lot of our politicians. I believe there are a lot of folks who really don’t believe in the things they say they believe in. I believe dandelions can duck…as I’ve talked about in an earlier post. How else do you explain the snowball headed, geezer dandelion standing in the middle of a new mown lawn? I believe old folks aren’t asked their opinion enough. I believe babies know more than they let on. I believe time goes faster as we get older. I believe men should cry a little more often. I believe in my grandchildren’s innocence. I believe my father was a great man. I believe the deer around our place should be taught a lot better how to really look both ways. I believe a broken heart can teach…if allowed. I believe my wife is my best friend. I also believe I’ve said enough for now.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
I was thinking the other day about a time…not so long ago it seems…that my daughter came home from school for a weekend of shopping with Mom, home cooking and free laundry. And when the weekend was over, she was just about to head back to school when she said, “I’m not looking forward to this drive home””. I thought to myself, wait a minute...wait one darned minute here. There is something terribly wrong here. So, I quickly reminded her that where she was standing was home…and where she was going was school. She laughed. A kiss and a hug good bye and she was off...to school. I remember how her words stayed with me though and I found myself wondering…when does home stop being home for them? And what would that feel like for me? Well, that was a few years ago and now they’re all grown and gone. They all call somewhere else home now. And I’m OK with it. I’m OK with it because deep down in my soul I know…this will always be their home.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Now, I’m not quite sure what to make of this. I mean maybe it’s no big deal at all. Then again…is this a historic moment? Has a page turned in this story I call life? I discovered it this morning. Well, I didn’t really discover it…it was sitting right there. Sitting right there, where my rather expensive, icy frost blue, keep me feeling Rocky Mountain fresh for those unexpected moments mouthwash usually sits was…a store brand “mint” mouthwash… with a clearance price tag on it. Ahhh…time out. Has something changed here? Do I no longer need to be Rocky Mountain fresh? Should I quit expecting…unexpected moments? Tomorrow morning will I find Calvin Klein’s Escape replaced with Aqua Velva or worse…Lectric Shave? Is she trying to tell me I have no more buckles to swash? Has my dashingness…dashed? Ok…I know I’m a little rounder than I used to be. There are a few less hairs on the top of my head than in the younger years. OK…quite a few. And maybe every once in awhile I might need a little advance notice for those unexpected moments, but “Mint”…on clearance! Like I said maybe it’s no big deal at all. Maybe she just couldn’t pass up a really good deal. Yeah…that’s it…maybe.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Why is it that so many will look, but only a few will really see? Why is it that so many will listen, but only a few will really hear? Many will touch, but only a few will truly feel. Many will cry, but only a few will ever weep. Many will laugh, but only a few until tears. Many hearts will think they have been broken, but only a few will have had the courage and confidence to have opened their hearts up enough to let love sweetly, deeply wound them. Many are taken with feelings of self importance, but only a few have any conception of worth. Many feel it’s their right to go straight to the front of the line, but only a few will realize that it’s only the kindness and courtesy of others that allow them to do that. So, why is that? Is it that many just don’t care or are they afraid or maybe they were never taught? Or maybe, as Winnie the Pooh might say…maybe they just have a bit of fluff in their eyes…or in their ears….or in their hearts…and we just need to have a little more patience. Hopefully soon a breeze will come along…and blow the fluff away.
Friday, February 10, 2012
OK…so here’s how it went down. My wife and I were watching our daughter’s two little boys. The oldest is two and a half and the young one is nine months. Now, the two and half year old is currently an amateur potty trainee. He hasn’t gone pro yet, but he’s close. This however, was a moment of…not that close. He was in the living room coloring when I heard, “Gwampa, I hassa go poop!” I’m quoting verbatim here. So, I hustled him into the small half bath next to the kitchen. Having some experience at this I deftly got his pants and big boy undies down about half way. That’s the point when I realized the “Hassa go” was actually “Hassa went”. So, I held him up and out at arm’s length so as not to spread the joy around. The “Hassa went” immediately deposited itself on the bathroom floor. So, here I am holding this little boy out at arm’s length, poopy pants half way down and no where to put him that won’t complicate the matter. I looked to my wife for a little help here. She’s holding the nine month old …and convulsing in laughter. The two and a half year old decides he’d really like to see what’s so funny and starts twisting around to get a look at what’s going on down below. This is where you have to remember the half way down poopy pants part and the fact that this is a very small half bath. Now, while I did manage to keep any further deposits from a twisty two and a half year old off the wallpaper, towel rack and light switch…in my maneuvers I did manage to step in the “Hassa went” already on the floor. My wife thought this too was quite funny. She finally did stop laughing long enough to put the nine month old down on the kitchen floor and take the two and a half year old off for a thorough sanitization. And there I stood…poopy pants and undies in hand…standing in some ”Hassa went”…sharing a moment with the nine month old. Who I must say seemed totally unfazed by the whole chain of events as he sat there calmly on the kitchen floor…eating the dog’s food. True story.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Jack has two speeds…full and off. He’s a small, whirling, white tornado with one black ear or he’s asleep on the couch. Jack is part Jack Russell and part who knows. He’s cute as hell, smart as a whip and he bounces. We rescued Jack about five years ago and he’s owned us ever since. He also owns our backyard, the neighbor’s backyard, the street we live on and the air space above it all. And he announces that fact every time we let him out. Every time! Let some unsuspecting person, squirrel, bunny, chipmunk, bird or windblown piece of anything enter Jack’s domain and he’ll let those encroachers know, in no uncertain terms, that he is king of this world. Now, Jack wouldn’t hurt a soul although my two and a half year old grandson has told him to stop pushing. He does love the kids. He does have a defining weakness though. He loves a good lap. Offer him one and can actually be quiet…for a while. A nice while. So, that’s our Jack. Our full speed, little bundle of life.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
I had Aunts named Bernice, Dorothy and Marjorie. They…won’t. I remember davenports, ice boxes and cellars. They…won’t. I can recall going places like the five and dime and the soda shoppe. They…won’t. And that’s just fine. In fact, that’s how it should be. I’m old…they’re young. I have my memories and they’ll have theirs. Time does march on. And it only takes our good old days along with it for a while. Today becomes yesterday…yesterday becomes a memory…and memories eventually fade away when there is no one left to remember. And like I said, that’s just fine. That’s the way it should be. It does make me smile though to think about Grandmas with names like Jordan and Whitney. And those future after Thanksgiving dinner conversations about Grandpa’s Xbox, antique laptop and that thing they used to call a smartphone. Nope, they’ll never have an Aunt Bernice or sit on a davenport or spend a quarter at the five and dime. They will recall different things…just as warmly…just as fondly. And that’s the way it should be.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
There was a discussion on the radio this morning about just what this phenomenon we call “Time” really is. Two obviously very intelligent fellows were taking that discourse to places that left my brain in a very boggled state. It reached the point where all I could make out was the occasional reference to Einstein…relativity…space… speed…and the 60 seconds devoted to successful dating on Match.com. The fear of a head explosion began to ease though, when I thought to myself…Hey…I know what time is. And so do you. It’s what there never is enough of in a day. That’s what it is. It’s what flies when you’re having fun. Some of us take it…some of us give it. It’s what heals all. It’s what a lot of us waste too much of…though it can be well spent. It’s what Jim Croce tried to save in a bottle and had too little of here on this planet. It’s what the young ones wish would go faster and us older ones wish would slow down a little. All I know is that whatever this thing called time is…we’ve all been given some of it. And I think the important thing is…what we do with the time we’ve been given.
Friday, February 3, 2012
When I was a younger man, I spent about ten years touring the country as a folk singer. I played a lot east coast colleges, Rocky Mountain ski resorts, fine dining and drinking establishments and more than my share of local pubs with…well…questionable clientele and reputations. In my life, music has always owned my heart. I’ve had the privilege of singing lyrics that can stun the soul. And it has never failed to amaze me how, when in the right hands, words can capture moments in time and save them forever. There are songwriters that can paint scenes and share thoughts and emotions that can take us places we never knew we could go. Words in the right hands. Like Michael Murphy’s…”In the mist and smoke by the twisted oak, we’ll listen to the branches whisper “ from Dancing in the Meadow. You can feel the damp, cool October night air surround you. Or Joni Mitchell’s…”When the wind turns traitor cold and shivering trees are standing in a naked row” from Urge for Goin’. Can you see the frozen, silver moon? Words in the right hands can help us name our own joys and sorrows. Gorden Lightfoot’s…”She walked away into the night, I lost her in the misty streets, a thousand months a thousand years, when other lips will kiss her eyes, a million miles beyond the moon…that’s where she is” from The Last Time I Saw Her Face. A heart…breaking. Or John Sebastian’s…”Floating along with a whimsical twinkling in her strange green eyes” from She’s a Lady. I knew you. Words in the right hands can give us amazing gifts.