Things that survived the move to Mo: Part One (KY jelly and athletic cup)

In early 2011, my marriage of 37 years ended. A few months later I moved back to Missouri…and I was traveling lightly.

I never expected to live in the Show-Me state again. After we left MO over 40 years ago, when we had to pick our first password (probably for an ATM in Corvallis), we chose “misery.” Over the years, when required to change passwords, we went with misery1, misery!1, Mi$ery, etc. I was still using it in 2011.

She might still use a variation of that word. I have no idea.

What I do know is that my heart is still in Oregon; I never want to live in Floriduh again; and I’ve got lots of soft spots for Missouri these days. Lots of them.

I’m not expecting to pick up and move west soon. But then, I’ve never been much of a planner. When I do move again, it will NOT require an 18 wheeler, as 3 of our cross country moves did.
It won’t even require an 18 foot truck.
Ok… a little bit re the 2011 move itself, from Tampa to my sister’s at Table Rock Lake: 1 (one) box with my amplifier, cd changer and turntable came via UPS; my car trunk was packed with the essentials; the only piece of furniture that moved was in my backseat…the kiddie rocking chair my folks got for me when I was 2.

Everything else was shipped via the United States Postal Service. About 30 boxes. Most of it came via the “media” rate: books, cds, vinyl, slides, pictures. There is a story there…but not today.

I travel lightly these days, relatively speaking….compared to most people…and compared to myself 15 or 20 years ago. But there was a lot more stuff moving back to MO in 2011 than had left in 1976, when EVERYTHING fit into my 1976 Beetle, so I haven’t gone full circle.
A couple of recent days were “purging days.” I tossed, recycled and shredded a lot of things those two purging days. But I still have too much stuff.

I came across lots of interesting things during the 2-day purge. Lots. I coulda spent a few hours with each of several of the boxes I sorted thru. I’m sure there are some stories there.

There were some letters I’d like to have the time to read. If I only had the time….

{I haven’t hit a tap since I sold my 2nd and last franchised store back in early 2011…but I never seem to have enough time to get everything done?? What’s up with that?}

And then were the things that are pictured here. I don’t think I ever knew who did the wood carving. I assume that the words were the result of a group effort of several folks on my team. There were lots of memorable times after I transferred to Sarasota. Most of them good. And mostly because of the people.

I was on a few great teams during my years at Arthur Andersen. My roles changed several times over the years, but I don’t think I ever really enjoyed a team more than the State Manager and Tax Director teams who honored me with these plaques.
I have been told that I have a pretty good memory. It, however, is not improving. This is my third time living in Springfield, MO. The first time here, I won first place in a contest for the teenage sunday school class at the largest baptist church in town. I memorized a shitload of bible verses. Lots more than the person who won the red ribbon. Lots more. It wasn’t close.

Today about the only verse I could get right would be John 11:35. I’d have to struggle to tell you what I did last Thursday….and I doubt I could memorize 100 words of dialogue.

So here’s what I remember about the prized possessions pictured here, with my memory distorted by time and a work-hard-play hard history.

I received the first one at the one and only surprise party that was even thrown for me. (That is a separate story….it was my 10th anniversary with AA&Co.)aattg-survival

In the first couple of years that I was in SRQ, I occasionally went to lunch with a fellow who had transferred from Dallas. We would laugh at what a mess the office was organizationally. It was black humor, as the place really was fucked up….especially for the “red-headed, step child”…i.e., my product and teams. He and I would often say that I should have a tube of lube in my credenza along with the fifth of Maker’s Mark.

When Frick or Frack stopped in to say something idiotic, David said that I should just open the credenza door and say “you don’t mind if I have a couple of fingers first and a little jelly before you tell me to bend over again, do you?” (I wrote about Frick & Frack back in October….)

One day David and I had lunch at a new Amish restaurant in town that was in a strip center with a RiteAid. After the obligatory piece of pie and discussion for the continued need for lubricant, we walked into the pharmacy and I purchased a tube of KY.
I never did say, to their faces, what he suggested. But it was close a few times. I did have a few discourse doozies with F&F.

I did pull the tube out to make a point quite a few times when my door was closed. It was always fun to press the button under my desk that released the door, have the person react to the door closing behind them, and then see me reaching inside my credenza.

I’m sure that some of the folks who worked for me in the trenches had that experience. They knew where I kept the KY. And when they presented me with the plaque everyone knew what I was thinking. Later, I often displayed the plaque on a book shelf in my office.
The plaque with the cup was given to me at an office wide holiday meeting/party. I was pretty speechless when I was handed this plaque in front of 250 people.support_the-cup

My team came thru for me more times than I could count. They also knew that I would got to bat for them. They knew that I would not be silent about things that matter. I had to dust myself off sometimes.

My memory ain’t what it used to be, but I remember driving home with a plaque riding shotgun, music cranked up to 11, smiling from ear to ear and laughing at my good fortune.

I often have trouble finding the right words. I’m sure that I stammered and stuttered when I received each of these plaques. Heck, I can’t find the right words now…25 years later.

Life was good then. It’s good now. I was fortunate to have worked with lots of good folks. They made my life better. Some of them still do. They gave me lots of good memories.

The test begins now….

This morning I’m thinking about lots of things.

Some of them don’t matter all that much:
…it’s Friday the 13th and the moon is full
…will the ice keep me from attending day 2 of the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions?
…will the omelet I just made taste as good as it looks?
…will Wayne Coyne, front man of The Flaming Lips, have a happy birthday?

Some things matter more. Lots more.

Today a good friend will be in Omaha to bury his father. Tom’s dad’s death was “expected, yet sudden and sad.” He thought he had said goodbye several years ago when his dad no longer knew who he was, but this is an unexpectedly hard goodbye.

When my Mom died in 2013 I heard a phrase that has stuck with me. It was appropriate for me then, as it is now for Tom and Gloria: saddened, but relieved.
Some lyrics from a couple of Flaming Lips songs have been rattling around in my head off and on since Gloria sent me the text about the death of a man who won the Bronze Star while serving in the Airborne in Korea.

“Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round…”

And from “Fight Test”:

“I don’t know where the sun beams end and the star lights begin
It’s all a mystery
And I don’t know how a man decides what right for his own life
It’s all a mystery…”

I have lots and lots of questions. I don’t have many answers. Pretty much everything is a mystery to me.

But I do know this much:

Give lots of hugs.
Tell the people who you love how you feel. Tell them now.
And be.
Just BE.

Me and the Police—Part One

I have had “conversations” with fellows wearing badges three times since moving back to Missouri in 2011. Two of them are a tad bit bizarre. The other was mundane….I was clocked doing 78 in a 60 in Highlandville on our way home from The Rock House. The only story there is what I coulda done with the $217.50 that it cost me…
The most recent event was just three days ago…and will be the subject of Part Two.

What follows is copy-and paste, word-for-word from my journal entries for June 16 & 18, 2013…including spelling errors, incomplete sentences, lack of capitalization, profanities. I did delete the portions of the journal from those dates which don’t relate to my stroll. The words in quotation marks are 99% accurate….
ok. so this story is gonna be a doozy.

I go for a walk on varvera road, and it ends with me having to pull dad from the dinner table with my dying mother to talk with a deputy sheriff.

I had been walking for over 30 minutes, talking on my cell to my uncle john the entire time. Doing “laps” up and down the road. Just racking up steps. Having a really good conversation…talking about our gardens and dad’s garden….talking about the weather….talking about fishing….talking about them selling their business, ways to structure the sale, and tax consequences of the alternatives.

I’m on a lap heading toward the highway when a huge black truck stops and the driver rolls down his window….i ask john to hold on.

“Are you OK?”
“Yeah, i’m just fine.”
“Are you sure you’re OK?”
“Yeah. I’m just taking a walk and talking to my uncle on the phone….my dad lives just down the highway.”
“And you’re sure that you’re OK?”
“Yeah, I am sure that i’m AOK. Thanks for asking.”

They drive off. I start joking with my Uncle John.

“Do I have crazy eyes? Do I look like i’m not Ok? That was strange. If somebody messes with me, I might get crazy eyes!! I’ve got a long fuse, but if somebody messes with me, i’m sure i’ll get the crazy eyes….”

we both laughed and kept talking about the possible sale of their business….

about 15 minutes later the black truck passes again, this time headed south on varvera road. We wave at each other.

A few minutes later i’m almost back to 221 and I spot a sheriff’s car turning onto varvera road. I make some flip comment to john. “well now I guess the sheriff is gonna ask me if i’m ok….jeez.”

the deputy stops, rolls down his window and says “what are you doing?”
“i’m taking a walk and talking to my uncle.” (john is still on the phone)

“you can’t walk on this road.”
“it’s a public road isn’t it?”

“no it’s a private road, and the owner doesn’t want you walking on it.”
“Who are you, and where are you from?”

“i’m visiting my dad. He lives right there. Dad had that house built almost 25 years ago.”
“where do you live?”
“i live in springfield.”

“why are you walking this road?”
I lift my shirt and show him my pedometer hanging on my belt.
“i’m pretty serious about walking. I’ve been walking this road every time I visit him for months now.”

“well you can’t walk this road. You need to go home.”
WTF?? I need to go home??? this guy is an asshole!!

I walk off. And continue talking to uncle john, who was still on the call.

“did you hear that?”
“sort of…”
“he says it’s a private road…and then tells me I need to go home???”

I start walking east on 221, on the other side of the road from the folks’ house, and walk past their driveway. The deputy is still sitting on varvera road. He can see that i’ve walked past dad’s driveway.

I tell john what i’m doing…that i’m going to walk to the bridge to look at doe run creek…that I can’t get to the creek on dad’s land because the guy who called the sheriff on me has messed everything up so that there is lots of standing water on dad’s land….and the creek is messed up too.

I think about continuing to walk east on 221, but realize that I don’t have my wallet or ID on me, so I cross the road at the bridge and start walking back toward the house.

The deputy pulls onto 221…in front of another car and moves slowly. the asshole is also a bad driver!! I tell john that he is creeping along and say “if he pulls over and hauls me off, it will cost you money because i’ll fill a wrongful detention suit against your county….and i’ll win!!”

the deputy pulls into dad’s driveway, just barely off the road and stops at the gate. He is glaring at me.

“i told you that you needed to go home. Do you live here?”

again with the “go home”???
and i’ve told this guy that i’m visiting my folks.

“this is my dad’s place. I told you that. I told you that I live in springfield. I’m visiting him on Father’s Day.”
not only is he an asshole. he’s as dumb as a box of rocks.

“is that your car?”
“yes. The vehicles in the garage are my dad’s” {my car has florida plates}

I walk off and head into the garage. uncle john is still on the phone.

“one more time with this ‘go home” stuff?? what the fuck? does he think i’m lying and walking into a stranger’s garage.”

I walk to the back of the garage and tell john that the deputy can’t see me back there…
“i bet he drives up here to check on me!!”

and he does. Un-fucking-believable!!!

I tell uncle john that I need to hang up and go get dad.

I open the door. Mom and dad are at the dining room table. Dad is on the phone with paula. I tell him that I need him to come outside and tell the deputy that I am his son and that i’m just going for a walk.

Dad goes out and talks to the deputy. He tells him that I am indeed his son. That paula and I have been walking on this road for quite awhile. The deputy says he needed to check on my story and that I shouldn’t be walking on this ‘private road.’

The deputy leaves. finally.
Text to Shelly on 6/16/13 at 7:53 pm. You won’t believe what i just went thru on my walk…it involves a deputy sheriff. Unbelievable!!

From Shelly on 6/16/13 at 7:54 pm. Oh no! Are you in jail?
To Shelly on 6/16/13 at 7:55 pm. No…but i’m righteously indignant!!
I called Uncle John back. “i only get one call, and i’m using it to call you….” we both laughed.

I told him that I was going to find out if it was a private road. He said that the county commissioners could find out for me, and that one of them goes to his church. He suggested that I contact Patrick Mullins….and I will.

it all comes down to the way the deputy handled it….being gruff, accusatory, and telling me that I needed to go home. WTF??!!

If he had been pleasant and simply said, “it’s a nice day for a walk, but this is a private road and the owner has asked me to tell you that he’d like to walk elsewhere” I would had said ok, walked in and asked Dad if he thought I was a private road…and either way i’d have still followed up to find out.
But the guys attitude, and especially telling me that I “need to go home” did not set well with me. he’s got a badge, a bad attitude…and no brains.
{what follows is from the 6/18/13 journal entries}

it’s almost noon…just got out of the shower. I was sweaty after my long walk…..on varvera road.

Earlier I called and left a message for county commissioner patrick mullins. He was out….they took a message…and he called me back in just a few minutes.

I told him that I was related to john stevens, and that I need to know if varvera is a county or private road. He said he could find out, but that if it was ok with me he would pass this to the commissioner who represents this part of the county. I said “sure…i would like that.”

a couple of minutes later the phone rings and it was the guy in charge of the county road department. He told me that varvera road is public…he also suggested that I speak with the county commissioner based on the way the deputy handled the situation.

He passed me to gay wilkinson, who confirmed that the road is public…and that he was surprised that the deputy didn’t know that. He said I should feel free to walk the road any time I want, and that if anybody said anything that I should have them contact him. He gave me his cell number, and said that either I or the person questioning me could call that number at any time.
While the 2013 journal file was open, so that I could copy-and-paste the above journal entries, I scrolled down a bit. Here’s what I wrote early on the morning of June 30, 2013:

scurrying to hit the road for doe run…
for a family get together. 🙂
and to watch Mom die. 🙁

she died at 1:21 pm on July 1, 2013. I’m sure that she didn’t think it was all that funny to see a sheriff’s car in the driveway.
I didn’t. I still don’t.
Some people who have badges are arrogant assholes. Most aren’t….like the guy I’ll write about in Part II.
This song is about the city cop in Highlandville with the ticket pad….  I can’t have a blog post without some music.

You are what you listen too….Part 2

I’ve written about my “addiction” to music before.

I am prone to have a song, or an artist, “on repeat.” Looking back at my Facebook posts during 2016, I shared links to youtubes of 19 songs that I had listened to over-and-over-and-over-again during the year.

Some of them were by artists that I was going to see soon, or who I had seen recently. Some were songs that I have been listening to for years. Some were from my “desert island” artists: Jackson Browne, Dylan, The Boss, Neil Young, The Rainmakers. There was quite a bit of variety, but it always came back to lyrics.
In addition to being compulsive about listening to music, I read a lot. Not books so much anymore. I subscribe to lots of magazines and probably spend too much time online reading a variety of things.

One of the best things I read during 2016 was a piece called “My life in six songs.

Well, I’m not gonna even try that exercise….but if I could audit Natalie’s MTHP 200 Psychology of Music course I think it would be a blast!!

What I am gonna do is pick the six songs from my 2016 Facebook “on repeat” posts whose lyrics have been played the most in the apartment, in the car and in my head.

It’s easy to pick the first of the six. Here’s what I wrote on July 18, a couple of weeks after I saw them at the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland on July 1: “I didn’t run to the city in 2011, but the first few lines describe how I was feeling back then: ‘…I was running from the past, My heart was bleeding, And it hurt my bones to laugh…’ ”

I continue to be mesmerized by the tune, whether I’m watching a video of Derek Trucks making the slide guitar sing and cry or listening to Susan Tedeschi belt it out.

We will be seeing them at The Ryman on March 2. It will be awesome….

The second song has got to be this one by the Bottle Rockets. We saw them twice in 2016; the first time at a house concert on August 26.

I detest the stars&bars; I LOVE this song. “Heritage” my ass…..the word has four letters and it does start with an H….

“That good ol’ boy’s waving
The stars & bars
It’s a red, white & blue flag
But it ain’t ours

Wave that flag hoss, wave it high
Do you know what it means?
Do you know why?
Maybe being a Rebel ain’t no big deal
But if somebody owned your ass
How would you feel?”

The halfway point of my half dozen songs from 2016 is one whose lyrics baffle me a bit, but it’s a song that I can’t shake.

Here’s what I wrote at 10:31 pm the night of my birthday:
“What’s on your mind?”
I got two things on my mind right now:

1. Why can’t I get this song outta my head?
2. WTF did he find in the drawer??

If I was in Dr. Wlodarczyk’s class, there is no doubt that one of my six songs would be by Jackson Browne. Hell….they might all be by him.

The one that I’m gonna pick for 2016 wasn’t even written by him…but this one has some lyrics that hit home during 2016…and in 2017 too!

“Ever since the world’s existed
There’s one thing that is certain
There are those who build walls
And those who open doors…”

And then there is this line: “There can be freedom only when nobody owns it…”

Enough said about politics in these United (?) States….


My last two songs of 2016 are by a fellow who I hadn’t listened to much until a couple of months ago. Man-o-man have I been missing out. You have been too if you have never listened to Amos Lee.

I’m picking two songs of his with very, very different sentiments. This first one has one of the best break-up lines I’ve ever heard.

“If you feel a chill in the air
It’s my spirit hanging somewhere
and if you ever get scared
Look on the bright side
You got a new life…”


I heard this last song for the first time 6 or 7 weeks ago. I’m sure that I have heard it 100 times since then. And I’m probably just getting started. The song starts like this:

“My heart is a flower
That blooms every hour
I believe in the power
Of love…”

I do believe in the power of love. And I love this line from “Flower”:
“Tomorrow’s coming and yesterday’s gone…”


This “pick only six songs” is a tough assignment. I could easily have picked several other songs:

“Stay ahead of the Wolves” by Bob Walkenhorst and Jeff Porter. On 10/28 my FB status: “I needed to hear something like this 5 years ago….there were wolves everywhere I looked back then. Five years on, this is one of their many songs that play in my head often.”
Bob & Jeff played it the next night to a packed house at The Rock House. I tear up everytime I think of it…

On Valentine’s Day I posted a link to “Late to the party” by Kacey Musgraves. “…who needs a crowd when you’re happy at a party for two?”

The Strumbella’s released a catchy tune titled “Spirits” with this line: “I just want to be alive while I’m here…”

Nothing makes me feel more alive than music.

Be. Just BE.