A guy’s gotta dream…part 2

A month or so ago I wrote that I had told Dad my dream of the way he’d pass away. He and I don’t talk about certain things. It’s an unwritten agreement.
One of the things we don’t talk about is what happens when people die. We almost did one time, not that long ago in the grand scheme of things. My Mom had been dead an hour or two, back on 7/1/13. There is a story there. But it’ll have to wait to be told until Dad is gone.

Dad turned 91 a few days ago. I chauffeured him to my sister’s at the lake…a 250 mile drive. The next day it was lunch at his favorite place in Branson, then cake and ice cream back at Paula’s. Today we had breakfast on the southside of town, then it was to the Abbey. I showed Dad and sis the 36 garden boxes. Three of them are mine. I picked a head of iceberg lettuce for him…the first homegrown he’d ever had…and a few onions.  Then on to Doe Run for the two of them.

It was nice to spend time with him; I have lots of “Dad stories.” Some are already written, but nobody will see them until one of us has had a published obituary.
When I wrote about “dying like Leroy Nichols” it was only about the incident itself. In the case of my dream for Dad’s death, I’ve got his entire day planned out. Some of my friends have heard this dream. Shelly has heard it several times. Here goes….

Nothing special. Cereal; a mix with half of the bowl corn flakes and a top layer of “all bran.” I always referred to it as straw. Being regular is very important to my Dad. Some day in the future I’ll be sad that I can’t hear his voice in a sentence that includes the words “my bowels….”
A couple of cookies. Store bought oatmeal ones.
This day there would be a treat: finishing off a can of pears.

Walk down to the creek.
Spot a deer in the woods on the way, and a few fish in the creek. Spend a few minutes checking out the paw-paw tree.
Take a lap of the yard that he mowed yesterday. “The east 40” and “the west forty” to Dad. He mows about an acre and a half of yard, some of it with a push mower.

J. Vernon McGee and “Through the Bible Radio Network” on the radio. Dad has been listening to this on the radio since the early 60’s. The good reverend has a very distinctive voice. He died in 1988. His radio ministry will continue, thanks to people like my Dad who contribute often….including after they die.
Hopefully “the doc” will be in the book of Romans this day. That would be Dad’s favorite.
The lunch menu would include his favorites:
Some braunsweiger on a saltine, with a slice of a sweet onion.
There would be pickles, chips and caffeine free cola.
Desert of a nice bowl of butter pecan ice cream.

A couple of dividend checks in the mail. Neither one worth more than a C note.
A nap. When he would tell me about it later, he would say that he had nodded off for “maybe 15 minutes.” The nap actually was 76 minutes.
A surprise visit by someone from down at the church. They’d stand outside for awhile and talk about how great Dad’s place looked. The garden boxes would get compliments. They’d see some birds and a mother rabbit with 2 little ones.

5:35 pm.
I leave B-307 and head downstairs to rack up some steps in my daily walk-and-talk with Dad. Typical call just over 30 minutes. Dad talks most of it. It’s hard to be sure how much he hears. Some of his responses might just be guesses.
For sure some of mine are. When I’m about to hear a boyhood story of his for the twentieth time, there is a good chance that I go on “auto listen” and toss in an occasional “uh huh.”
Today he’ll have lots of stories and things to talk about.  We’ll both laugh a lot.
After we finish, he’ll eat a snack and watch MASH or Seinfeld or Raymond. He’ll laugh a lot.

6:48 pm.
My sister calls him on her drive from the hospital to the lake. It’s probably a 45 minute drive; worse in season. I hope the call this day is a mix of reminiscing and dreaming and planning a visit.

There is still plenty of light when they finish talking, so Dad decides to take a look around the place.
He likes what he sees. He sees all these things he wants to do. Some of these could involve the use of a ladder. (Fuck Me!!)

As Dad admires his home, he sees a cardinal out of one eye and a fox squirrel out of the other. Dad and I have talked lots and LOTS of basketball over the years. He loves defense, and if I’ve heard this phrase once I’ve heard it 2000 times: “you have to keep one eye on the man and one eye on the ball.”

At that moment, as he admires the cardinal and the squirrel, his heart stops and he collapses onto the lawn. A couple of passing cars witness it and brake hard to get into the driveway. 12 minutes later Dad is dead and on a stretcher.

8:12 pm.
Paula calls. She had just received the notification call that our Dad is gone.

For almost everyone I’d wish for a day and a death like this.
The last day: doing things they enjoy.
The death: dying quickly and painlessly.

Be. Just BE. And don’t be stingy with the hugs!!

I was a troll…

Sgt. Joe Friday apparently never said it, but this piece will be the Jack Webb version: “Just the facts, ma’am.”
{Apparently he did often say: “All we want are the facts, ma’am”and sometimes “All we know are the facts ma’am”}

It was the years 2000 and 2001.
It was the years of the presidential election that was decided by the SCOTUS.
I had a new job.
It was my last W-2 job.
I received mail in Tampa.
I reported to two people: one in Virginia Beach; the other in Parsippany.
When I wasn’t in one of those two cities, I was sleeping in a hotel somewhere in the lower 48, unless I was lucky enough to be working from my home office.
I was racking up LOTS of frequent flyer miles and hotel points.
I had lots of “alone time” in hotel rooms.

The job required me to be on my laptop, in a meeting or on the phone…or a combination of the three…six days a week…minimum.
I’m pretty sure that I’ve written that I used to “work hard and play hard.”
This new job required a significant amount of the former.
The Yahoo message boards provided much of the latter, i.e. play.

Long before 1996 when Warren Zevon sang “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” that was my lifestyle.
Up with the sun…or before.
Seldom in bed before midnight; usually not until 1 or 2.

Lots of those nights in 2000 and 2001 I was online for work purposes until god knows when.
There is a good chance that I would also be having some evening and nighttime fun, anonymously jousting at the “fact-free droolers.”
By 9 o’clock every evening, sitting in a hotel room or on those nights when I was lucky enough to be home, I became “Wet Willie” online.

Pretty much everyone on the message boards was anonymous.
One of the most obnoxious, and fact-free, regulars went by the moniker “Labrat.”
Like many of those online today, the Labrat and many others were prone to spew “alternative facts.”

I have always had some pet peeves, with bald faced lies, hypocrisy and willful ignorance at the top of the list.
When I caught the Labrat in a blatant lie about his military service, allegedly serving in a unit that wasn’t even in existence when he claimed it was and was never assigned to the base that he claimed, I pounced.
My online moniker changed from Wet Willie to “Labrat_the_Liar.”
Many an evening I gave the cretin hell, with a link proving that he was a Liar.
He wasn’t the only one to get nailed by one of my profiles for posting lies and bullshit.

The Internet has changed a LOT in the last 17 years.
Read “Why we’re losing the Internet to the culture of hate.”
The “online disinhibition effect” has unleashed hatred.
Today’s trolls say they’re doing it for “lulz” which often goes beyond poking and jousting to threats and harassments.

I said I was living in Florida at the time, right.
It was my second time living in that flat, humid, critter infested, loony tune electing swamp land.
{Floriduh does have some great beaches…winter beaches.}
It was like living in the Northwest back in 1980, and once again people who didn’t live there made “when is it gonna blow?” part of the conversation.

2017 looks like a powder-keg to me.
Too bad there aren’t do overs.
I understood why someone would not vote for Hillary Clinton.
I will NEVER understand why anyone thought that he who shall go down in history as 45 would make a good president?!?

What is even more puzzling is why people still support him?
They’d get Pence out of the closet and into the Oval Office with both the House and Senate jettisoning the thin-skinned, incompetent G&S in Chief.
That’s “Grifter-and Snowflake in Chief.”

In 2000-2001 I was more of a pest than a troll.
Today I’m still a bit of a pest.
Sometimes I do cross the line…and I feel awful when I realize that I had spewed (and probably started a firestorm) on a friend’s thread, rather than on a news feed.
When I started this blog a friend told me (and I’m sure that other friends hoped it): “please don’t get all political!?”
Well, my friend didn’t get her wish…

Hang on.
It’s gonna be a wild ride.

Until then: Be. Just BE.

Deviled eggs

I just spent several minutes searching for an entry in my first journal. Well not actually my “first” journal, but the first one that has continued for any length of time. Sixteen hundred seventy seven days. Whodda thought I’d ever develop such discipline?

The search was a washout. A dud.

But, more accurately, the journal entry from that day is lame. That’s the only way to describe it. An event that has become a story that I’ve told repeatedly, a story that makes me laugh each and every time I tell it, did not make the journal. No mention.

Not even a hint of it in my 11/28/12 journal entry. WTF?!?
How could I have not written at least two words: “Deviled eggs?!?!?”
There are entries on 11/28/12 and 12/1….but the twenty-ninth and thirtieth are two days with no journal entries.

We had Sunday dinner at Shelly’s good friends on the 28th. I was still auditioning for friend approval. I guess all of us were. The last line of the journal entry for that date says: “Time to get ready to go meet patty and robert….game on.”

The next journal entry, posted on December first, comes in at just under two thousand words. That’s a lot for one of my journal entries.
We had spent a couple of nights in Branson, and had seen The Hillbenders at The Rock House. It was one of our first hotel stays. A good time was had by all. Enough said about that 12/1 journal entry…
So here’s the story from November 28, 2012 that I have told numerous times.

Prior to that November night in two-thousand-twelve, Shelly and I had probably talked about eggs two dozen times during the 7 weeks we had known each other….almost always while having breakfast together.

I had heard numerous times that “I don’t eat eggs. I don’t like them.”
Not an omelet? Nope.
How about a souffle? Ugh.
You gotta like quiche though, don’t you? I hate quiche.
Cheesy scrambled? No way.
How about a fried egg on a burger with Canadian bacon? Yuck!!

Well, I don’t remember what else was sitting on Patty & Robert’s dining room table, on the first time I was ever in their house. But it do remember immediately noticing the large tray of deviled eggs, and hearing an excited Shelly: “Oh my favorite! I absolutely love deviled eggs!”

If there hadn’t have been a small child in the room I’m pretty certain that I woulda dropped a couple of F-bombs in one of my pet phrases, or at least an “are you shittin’ me?”

I was floored. How can you not eat eggs, yet love deviled eggs?
I don’t know.
It doesn’t matter.
But it does make for a good story…
I love the story. But what I really love is reading through those times in my journal, back before we were exclusive.

We met via OkCupid. One of our profiles included this: “So, at this point in my life I cannot be your one and only… However, I am not opposed to falling madly in love.”
The others profile was looking for someone to have fun with…“a playmate.”

Reading through those early journal entries, I’m a little surprised that I didn’t include a tidbit about the deviled eggs revelation. But there was a lot going on at that time.

I was witnessing my Mom’s steady decline. My marriage had been over for awhile…but it wasn’t yet over from a legal viewpoint. I was listening to more new music and seeing more live music than I had in years.
And I was falling in love…something I never expected to happen.
My journal mentions that I had three songs “on repeat” the week before that Sunday dinner.

George Strait singing “I ain’t here for a long time, I’m here for a good time…”

Brandi Carlile singing “The story.” I had never listened to her before Shelly sent me a link. Certain of the lyrics really hit home with me in 2012.
“…So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to…”

And of course there was a song by Jackson Browne.
“…Love won’t come near me, she don’t even hear me
She walks past my vacancy sign
Love needs a heart, trusting and blind
I wish that heart was mine…”
Lately this song by Amos Lee has been on repeat.
“My heart is a flower
That blooms every hour
I believe in the power…”

I do believe in the power of love.
I do believe in having a good time….that “it’s half full, not a half empty glass, Every day I wake up knowing it could be my last…”
I do believe that stories are better when you’ve got someone to tell them to…
I do believe that “Love can change the world in a moment, But what do I know?”
I do believe in enjoying every bite of every sandwich.

Be. Just BE.

“What was your favorite thing this weekend?”

It is right up there on my list of favorite “questions from Shelly.” There have been some doozies. The one at the top of the list has been there since our first date. (What’s said in the Corolla on 10/13/12, with The Rainmakers album “25 on” playing, stays in the Corolla….)

When she asked the latest question, at a little after 2 on Sunday afternoon 5/7/17, a bunch of things flew through my head at high speed. It had been an awesome weekend.

The subject of this piece isn’t the question she’d asked a minute earlier on Sunday: “You’re awfully quiet. What’s wrong?”
That answer was quick and easy: “Nothing is wrong. So many things are right. Everything is right….”

She smiled. Said that made her happy. She smiled that smile again…and then she asked: “What was your favorite thing this weekend?”
Between the time we headed downtown for the Gillioz on Thursday and Shelly’s Sunday afternoon question, I had enjoyed lots of things. It had been a stellar 66 hours. It coulda been a tough question; it wasn’t.
In no particular order I flashed on all of these and a few more before I replied:

…the Jason Isbell concert at the Gillioz on Thursday.
Chatting with friends at Dublins Pass before heading to our seats.
A great show.
An earworm; six days later and I’m still listening to and caterwauling along with “Codeine.”
…the first ever solo visit of Shelly’s firstborn, Amber.
It has always been either Jordie and her, or lately it has been the three of them crashing at our place. (Cecily is their 3 year old.)
…Amber hung out with us on Friday evening, first at Lindberg’s then at the wine bar 3 doors east.
Then it was just the two of us, as Shelly had to get to bed.
…the rickshaw story.
…spending time with several friends at Lindbergs…starting with Ginger, who is responsible for me meeting all the others.
had a variation of “the george thorogood trio”….rather than the usual one bourbon, one scotch and one beer I had one tequila, another tequila and a PBR.
…harvested green onions and lettuce; planted two tomatoes
…a Cinco de Mayo plus one party at Ginger’s
met some new folks there and spent time with Bruce & Jeanette.
experienced an unknown number of frogs drowning out the conversation of a deck full of humans.
…spinning the “mix CDs” from the last couple of years of live music we’ve seen….good memories….good tunes….good times.
Here’s how I answered Shelly.
The answer was short and sweet: “Bob.”

Friday, May 5, 2017 at Lindberg’s Tavern was the first time I’ve ever seen Bob Walkenhorst solo. I’ve written lots on here about his music. There’s the first time I saw Bob & Jeff at The Rock House. There’s our first date. There will be the 13th annual Rock Summer Festival on June 3rd….the Rainmakers are the headliners.
A few things made this evening special, beginning with a song I’ve loved since the first time I heard it. It was 2011, and I was in transition. My marriage was over. The relationship with 2 kids was complicated. And I heard this:
If I go down, I’m gonna go down swinging
If I grow old it won’t be gracefully
I’m gonna trip and fall
And pass it off as dancing
I’m gonna croak and moan
Say it‘s a new kind of singing
I’m gonna go down swinging..”

Then I heard:
Given time I’ll get it, let me go around
Let me go around, let me go around again”

As I drove home that first night back in 2011, after hearing Bob&Jeff the first time, I played “Go down swinging”, “Given time” and “Like Dogs” a few times each.
After Bob’s soundcheck last Friday, I made a request, asking him for “something by Dylan.” Bob asked if I had any song in mind. I didn’t. We’ve only managed to see Bob&Friends on a Wednesday at the Record Bar in KC three times. I’m pretty sure he snuck in a Dylan tune each time. It always made me smile.

If I had to pick only 8 Dylan songs it would be tough. The song Bob picked would be on my Dylan DIDL (desert island disk list). From the first time I heard the last verse of “Positively 4th Street” the song has been one of my favorites. Is there a better way to say “Fuck you” than this?

“I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment I could be you
Yes, I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes
You’d know what a drag it is to see you”

The song starts with a jab at a lot of greedheads walking around wearing flags on their lapels but not giving a shit about much more than money and power:
“You’ve got a lotta nerve to say you are my friend,
When I was down you just stood there grinnin,’
You’ve got a lotta nerve to say you got a helping hand to lend,
You just want to be on the side that’s winnin’”

Bob’s song choice was Perfect.

Then Bob made it better by playing a song (“Small circles”) that I had requested when he and Jeff played The Rock House 10/29/16.
There was no dancing on 5/5/17. Unless you count “table dancing.”

I damned near cried in happiness.
In a room with music and friends and a singing poet.
Listening to our song.
My arms around a woman who loves me.
My arms around a woman I love.

Thanks Bob.
Thanks Ginger.
Thanks Bruce & Jeanette.
Thanks Shelly.

Thanks. Just Thanks.
Be. Just BE.