Watching her sleep

Every once in awhile I flash back to a morning in mid-October of last year and a “deja vu moment.” Shelly had been out of the apartment less than an hour. I was on the couch with a cup of coffee and the latest issue of Time magazine.
I was about to wrap up a quick pass thru the magazine. The last page of each issue is usually “X number” of questions for a celebrity. Might be a politician, an actor, an activist, or an athlete.
That day it was 8 questions for an author: Paulo Cohelo.
I’ll admit it: before I started reading I had no idea who “the Brazilian novelist, one of the world’s best-selling authors” was. As I read the piece I did recognize the name of his biggest seller “The Alchemist.”
What grabbed me were the last dozen words of the intro: “…on nostalgia for his hippie days and the forms that love takes.”

As I read the Q&A I found myself nodding in agreement with some of his answers.
Q. 3. “What did your generation fail to understand about society?”
A. 3. “My generation understood that once a hippie, always a hippie. Of course, I could not be a hippie today, sitting comfortably here in Geneva. But my values are still the same: simplify your life, eat healthy, respect women.”

As I read the remainder of that answer some lyrics from my favorite songwriter popped into my head.
Paulo Cohelo’s answer: “My generation understood the mind and our desire to journey–but then it came time to support ourselves. And it became difficult to broker a peace between the two.”

When Jackson Browne sings “The Pretender” I often say: “That was me. I was a pretender.”
His lyric: “I’m gonna be a happy idiot and struggle for the legal tender, Where the ads take aim and lay their claim to the heart and the soul of the spender, And believe in whatever may lie in those things that money can buy…”
Been there. Done that.
-=-=-=-=
The deja vu moment happened as I read his answer to question #6 of 8: “The two have a complicated love for each other in the novel. Have you ever been in love?”

Cohelo said: “I don’t remember not being in love.”
That ain’t me.
I remember the first time I fell in love. I’m in love again now for just the second time. But I do remember when I wasn’t in love with anyone, including myself.

I got a refresher with part of his answer to Q6. “There are very different types of love. There’s Eros, love for another person. There’s Philia, love for wisdom. And there is Pragma, which is love that goes beyond everything.”
-=-=-=-
The last part of the answer had me going “Holy shit…that was me last night!!!”

His answer: “Every time I go to sleep, I look at her and she is already sleeping. And I say to myself, ‘Oh my God, this is the greatest blessing in my life, to have found the person who understands me.’ ”

Shelly is always asleep when I shut down for the night. When we first started sleeping together even the slightest touch would get a flinch. It took awhile, but now I can lightly stroke her butt cheeks or a shoulder w/o startling her.

That night before reading the magazine I had given her a couple of love touches as I settled into our bed.
Then I just watched her sleep for what seemed like a long time. It was probably only two or three minutes. I broke out into a smile. I remember chuckling for a second or 2…she tossed a bit and re-positioned.
I gazed at her some more and thought about how lucky I am.

I thought it again the next morning, Time magazine in hand.
I am a lucky old coot.
But this time I didn’t just chuckle.
I laughed out loud.
Literally.

Woulda/Shoulda/Coulda…1972

I do it often.
I hear somebody say “I wouldn’t have changed anything…” and I think:
What? The. Fuck!!
Really??

I do like to play Woulda/Shoulda/Coulda.
I have no idea how my life would’ve turned out of I had taken different forks in the road.
I am quite happy in 2019. I like the path that I’m on.
But that doesn’t keep me from having reminiscent fantasies.

Shelly gets subjected to me playing W/S/C sometimes, especially when I talk about “what I shoulda done in 2000.” (That is a story for another day…)
Her reply to “w/s/c scenario 2000”: “But we never woulda met.”
Most likely we wouldn’t have.
And it’s all just guess work as to whether or not an executed “coulda or shoulda” woulda been a better choice.
-=-=-=-
So here’s where I was in March, 1972, i.e. at the forks in the road:
Just out of the Army.
Biggest wad of cash I’d ever had in my life from separation pay.
Best physical shape of my life. The four months of basketball had me in shape.
That spring and summer I thought about what to do next. (Mostly I just got high…)
Four of five months later I was in college at southeast mo st in cape girardeau.

If I time travel back to 3/20/72, here’s my W/S/C:
I woulda found a job as a roadie for a band.
At 23 I coulda done some lifting and hauling and traveling.
When I’m dreaming big, I imagine that I am packing it up and tearing it down in 1972 on Jackson Browne’s first national tour.
I never did sleep all that much, and in my 20’s I’d have considered anything over 150 hours of shut-eye a month excessive. I woulda loved being the first to come and the last to leave.
Just think—if I woulda landed on his road crew in 1972 I coulda been rolling cases and lifting amps and one of the guys he was singing about 5 years later when he released “Load out.”

There is a site that features “song meanings provided by the songwriters themselves.”
They attribute this to Jackson Browne: “”The Load-Out” is a love song to the audience and the crew. I was always tight with certain members of the crew – my manager used to be my crew chief; he used to tune guitars. They always took care of you. Then this one turns into “Stay” – on that, we’re actually asking the audience to stay, because we don’t want to stop playing.”

Just think—it coulda been awesome—or a disaster.
Most likely I woulda been dead before “Running on Empty” was released.
Discipline has never been my strong suit and I do have a tendency toward excess.
I mighta tried to keep up with Warren Zevon slamming back booze.
I coulda been sharing downers with Phyllis Major and ODed too.
Or I coulda been hit by a bus.
-=-=-=
A few Realities:
1. The reality is that I woulda done lots of things differently in Cape Girardeau, but I have absolutely no regrets about that choice. I had good times at SEMO. I have great memories from those days. I have friendships from those days that I cherish.
2. The odds of some guy like me getting a job as a roadie for anybody woulda been slim. The odds of it being for J.B? Not a chance. It’s a nice little fantasy tho.
3. And I’ll always be baffled by people who “wouldn’t have changed anything.” Really??

Scatter me here and yon….

Let’s get this outta the way right up front: we are ALL gonna die.

This is one of several docs that will be in the “Black Audit Bag” after I have said my final “Fuck Me!!”
The “BAB” will include not only legal and financial documents. There will be directives, keepsakes, and copies of some the things that will make their way to this blog…starting with this one.

I recently wrote that Shelly is gonna be spreading my ashes in 5 places. Subject to change, these places (listed in the order that I first stepped foot there) are:

1. Weiss Cemetery, outside Doe Run, MO.
Take Buck Mountain Road south of town; about a quarter mile past the bridge over the creek you take a right on Effin Road. (That is not an F’in joke!)
You’ll see the gate on the right. Drive 150 yards through the field to the gate into the fenced two acres.

A little of me will get buried in the family cemetery.
Shelly will scatter my ashes at the other 4 places.
I need to nail the specific plot in the family cemetery at some point. Close to my folks, but with the appropriate distance.
There will be a headstone. Maybe small, flat to the ground, with only this engraved: Steve Weiss 1948- 20–.
Maybe a stand up stone with more info and an emoji or two.
The ashes that get buried will be in either a Prince Albert pocket size can or my favorite reefer stash box.

2. Cape Perpetua, OR
In 1978 my late mother-in-law called this the most beautiful place she had ever been. The next year a picture from the crest looking south was the cover of the annual Rand McNally road atlas.
It is my favorite place along the Orygun coast….and I’ve driven every foot of the 363 miles of Orygun’s Route 101 numerous times.
Cape Perpetua is about 2 miles south of Yachats on 101. It is a typical PNW headland, forming a high steep bluff above the ocean. At its highest point, the cape rises to over 800 feet above sea level. From its crest, one can see 70 miles of coastline and on a clear day as far as 37 miles out to sea. A great spot for whale viewing.
There are some unique features at Cape Perpetua: Cook’s Chasm, Spouting Horns and Devil’s Churn.
Some of my ashes will get tossed into the latter.
Devil’s Churn is a long, wide crack in the coastal rock that fills with each ocean wave, occasionally exploding as incoming and outgoing waves collide. I can sit there for what seems like forever watching the power of the incoming waves.    

3. Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota, FL
The first time I stepped foot on this beach was in early 1989. I was still in Portland and was on an AA&Co. project….sign-off manager on the tax software for S-corp returns.
The project was a pain in the ass. Things were way fucked up at A-plus Tax.
The beach was everything I’d heard…and more.
A couple of years earlier the “Great International White Sand Beach Challenge” said it had the “whitest and finest sand in the world.”
The sand is 99% pure Quartz. It is soft and cool on the feet. In a word, it is AWESOME.

We moved to Sarasota in May of 1989. Our kids were born at Sarasota Memorial on 12/30/89 and 5/30/91.
During the 7 years that we lived in SRQ we hit every beach between Anna Maria and Marco Island.
Siesta Key was hands down the favorite.
Many weekend mornings found us on the white sands of Siesta from 9 am until noon.
I never expect to have mail delivered to me again anywhere in Floriduh…but I hope to spend time on Siesta Key beach again before my ashes do.  

4. The Rock House, Reeds Spring, MO
Several of my ramblings and reminisces center around this place.
I’m not a “things happen for a reason” thinker. I’m in the “things happen, that’s all they ever do” camp.
But I do believe that sometimes a place, and the people there, can change ones life.
My life certainly changed because of The Rock House.
2011 was a helluva year for me. In the depths for much of it. My life really started to change for the positive after the first house concert I ever attended: Three Penny Acre at The Rock House on October 8, 2011.

We’re all gonna die, but unless we self-annihilate we don’t know when that will be.
Maybe Bruce & Jeanette will have moved to Baja for winters and Oregon for summers by the time Shelly is “Sprinkling Steve from coast to coast.” A new owner might not want my ashes scattered there.
Maybe this special place won’t be a receptacle for my dust…or for my wake (the details of that party will be one of the directives in the BAB).
That would be a shame.

5. Leadville, Colorado
I used to tease Shelly about her thinking that Colorado is the center of the universe. It was a toss-up between Leadville and Golden as to which was the true center.
The first time I was in the highest incorporated city in the United States (at 10,142 ft) was July 28, 2015.
I just read my journal entries from those 3 days in 2015.
My favorite afternoon there, on 7/30/15, included flash fried brussel sprouts at Tennessee Pass Cafe, beer on the deck at the Pastime Bar, a “george thorogood trio” at the Scarlet Tavern and this line from my journal: “We staggered back to the hotel. (“we” meaning me…)”

Shelly had bragged often about Leadville before our first visit, and not just about her favorite pizza in the world from High Mountain Pie.
The experiences in Leadville exceeded the lofty expectations. (So did the pizza…)
We’re spending her birthday this year in Leadville. I’m looking forward to it.  

There are legal restrictions regarding scattering ashes. Not in water. Not on private land. Yada Yada Yada.
I don’t care.
My ashes won’t care.
Shelly, the urn is in your court….

Things that survived the move to MO: Part Two

 

I’ve been doing some spring cleaning. I’m calling it “packing to move.” I don’t plan on going anywhere soon, but I wanta get a head start for when that day does come.

On Wednesday I went through the 2 drawers of my nightstand. I shredded or recycled about a foot-and-a-half tall stack of stuff.
I came across quite a few gems. Mostly cards with notes in them, several letters and some thought-provoking goodies that will continue to move with me, whenever and wherever that might be.
One of the goodies was credit-card sized. It has moved cross country three times since 1996. It reminded me of why I left AATT-whatever.
I loved most of my time at Arthur Andersen & Co.
I hated some of it.
But “Core Values” was taking it too far.
More on that later….


Friday I went through my closet. I’m not a big “shoe guy” but 9 pair will have new owners soon.
I’ve used the “reverse hanger” approach the past few years. Almost everything left in my closet after adopting this annual exercise is something I wear often, or which falls into the “I could never get rid of that…let me tell you a story” category.
The shirt that I wore the day that I surprised my boss in Sarasota with an out-of-nowhere resignation hasn’t been worn since 1996. It falls into the latter bucket.

Paula (my ex) knew that I planned to give notice at my weekly one-on-one with the office managing partner. She sorta freaked when she saw what I put on that morning: the red, white and blue recruiting shirt for what was then called “Arthur Andersen Technology Solutions”…proudly displayed on the shirt. (“AATT-whatever” had gone thru several name changes in the 7 years that I had been in Floriduh.)

The other verbiage on the shirt: “Make the right choice.”

Her: “You can’t have that on when you tell him that you’re quitting! What the heck??”
I told her:
1. He won’t even pick up on it.
2. Plus I’ve already got an answer, but I don’t expect to get the opportunity to use it. (I didn’t.)

Her: “Yeah? So what are you gonna say when he comments on the shirt and the slogan?”
“It’ll be short. Direct. And accurate.”

The reply in my head: “Good things come in threes, Rodger. I made the right choice when I accepted the offer to come to work for Andersen in 1982. I made the right choice to accept the transfer to Sarasota in 1989. And now I’m making the right choice for me and my family.”

I honestly don’t remember much of the conversation after I dropped the bomb. I didn’t have a job lined up. I had a resume on the street, and had even had a long-shot interview (there is a story there).
He offered to help me with my job search. He did. I ended up with a couple of options that would have kept me at Andersen. But I knew that 14+ years was enough.
-=-=-=-
Those “Core Values” just didn’t ring true. I was expected to be the evangelist to 150 people…selling what was on the credit card. Couldn’t do it.
The 5 components: Integrity; Commitment to quality results; Balance; Initiative; Interdependence.
Who could argue with those 5?
Me. Bigly.

He wanted to know what lead to my decision. We talked about a few specifics regarding how the words on the credit card meshed (or didn’t!) with the reality at AATT-whatever. I’m not sure if we talked about all 5.
We did focus on 2 of them.

I started with Integrity. “We say what we think and we do what we say.”
Arthur Andersen founded the firm in 1913. The motto “Think straight, talk straight” was taught to him by his mother.
I was on the periphery as the “Core Values” were developed. My position when I was asked to comment: this definition is ridiculous…it should simply be “think straight, talk straight.” I lost.
I told him that I was was leaving because: politics is one thing; back-stabbing is another. Saying one thing and doing another, especially by “leaders” was unacceptable. It had turned cut throat, and I was getting out.

Then we talked Balance: “We balance multiple demands on our lives, including personal and work, individual and team, current and future opportunities.”
What total Fucking bullshit that was.
Teamwork for the last year or so had been merely lip-service….and I didn’t see that changing.
Personal life? What a novel freaking concept.
Our kids were 5 and 6. I was working 80 hour weeks. Too much road warrior time. And then all the war inside the building?
Adi-fucking-os.
I was gonna find some balance.

I got lucky. I found it at a company that got me back to Orygun for four years.
Earlier I wrote about an epiphany that lead me to walk away from that position too.

Above I wrote that I hated some of my time at Andersen, and I did. But I learned a lot, and two things I learned: don’t let heavy inertia win; don’t let a job make your life miserable.
Change it; live with it; or leave it.

I like what Dawes says in “Quitter”:
“Quit wasting my time because pretty soon you’ll find
It’s the only thing of value that we own
You’re gonna have to quit everything, until you find one thing you won’t…”

 

We’re all gonna die

Sometime in the late 90’s I started looking at the online edition of the St. Francois County Daily Journal several times a week. Mostly I just look at the obituaries.
The D.J. is the only daily in the county where I was born, where my 92-year old dad lives today and where he has lived the vast majority of his life. My Mom had 4 brothers and 2 sisters. If you don’t count time in the military, none of her siblings ever lived outside the county. The total population of St. Francois County, MO is about 65K.
I know very few people there. I went to grade school and junior college county. After dropping out of school, I got drunk most days. I broke several other laws for most of the next 18 months until I was drafted. I haven’t lived there in almost 50 years. But I skim the obits daily.
The county has 2 Wal-Mart Supercenters. If on a busy Saturday I should camp out at each store for 4 hours, on one of the benches by an exit, I doubt that the number of people I’d recognize, or who would recognize me, would reach double digits. Especially if you don’t count blood relatives. And I’m not sure that my 2nd cousins and I would even notice each other.

These days, and for the past 12 or 15 years, I check out the obits almost every day.
Why?
Primarily for conversation fodder.
And sometimes to feel grateful.

Today the conversations that the 10 or so obits elicit begin with me saying either : “Dad I see that __ __ died. She was 88….” or “Dad, did you know Frankie Weiss? Her dad was Les Weiss.”
Sometimes his answer will take up a good portion of our daily half-hour, give or take.
Other times, question and answer don’t combine for more than a minute.
Some times we’ve got other things to talk about and the topic of who died never comes up…especially during March when it’s basketball tournament time.

My Mom died July 1, 2013. She was 88. I miss her every day. But there were times when calling her could be a huge downer.
If a 16-ounce glass contained 8 ounces of liquid, mom wouldn’t call it half-full…she’d have it verging on being bone dry, especially the last 8 or 9 years.
She did have some health issues. A couple of heart attacks and bypass surgery. But Mom became a whiner…bigly. She could suck the air out of the room that I was calling from a thousand miles away and in a new york minute. “I don’t know why the Lord has done this to me? Why, oh why, oh why??
Mom didn’t have cancer; she wasn’t on dialysis; she didn’t liver failure. Her primary complaint was her back.
I became very good at starting phone calls with a word other than “how.”
Never “How are you?”
No “How are things in Doe Run?”

I decided that the obits would help the conversations become more enjoyable.
I’m a data driven dude. And this data would be fodder. The percentages.
Even after I started every call with something other than the “how” word, Mom would manage to bring up how awful God was treating her. I would quickly say something like this: “I looked at the 10 obituaries in the Journal earlier today, and only 1 of those people was older than you!”
Sometimes she would be older than all 10. It was rare that more than 30% of the 10 were older than her.

Confession: I can be a asshole with my words. I have been called “direct” and foul-mouthed. (Note: I have mellowed and lightened up with age. People will attest to that too.)
Sometimes at my worst (and her whiny worst too) I might spew: “Mom, 9 of the 10 people who are being covered with dirt were younger than you, and not one of them died from chronic back pain….”
But I always continued “…and we need to be thankful for and enjoy every day.”
After 2004, most of the times I said “we gotta enjoy every sandwich Mom…or every piece of pie that you bake!”
Mom would agree. We’d laugh. We’d say “I love you…talk to you tomorrow.”

So that’s the conversation element of checking out the obits.

The gratitude was two fold.
1. I was grateful that I could talk to my folks every day.
2. I was especially grateful when my comeback to Mom’s whining was “….and 4 of the people on the list of 10 were younger than me Mom!!”
Keep in mind that I started doing this many years ago. I wasn’t old enough to draw social security. And some of the 10 who had stopped breathing were younger than me.
I’d often just sit and think about the percentages.
Think.
And give thanks.

The local paper here in Springfield runs a grid most days of those who aren’t having a full “display obituary” published.
The data: Name, Age, Town/State, Death Date, Arrangements.
Today’s grid has 34 names.
My Dad is 92. 7 were older than him. 20.6%
I’m 70. 11 were younger than me. 32.4%
That makes me think. The percentages.
And give thanks.

There are countless songs about death and dying.
The title of this song by one of my favorite bands gets right to the point. The last four lines sum it all up:
“So try not to get upset
Everything is fine
Hey, it’s not that big a deal
We’re all gonna die”

Until then, you know what to do.
Enjoy the sandwich. Give lots of hugs. Lots & Lots of hugs.
And be Kind.

Sing it: we are all Somebody!

The precise order of events:
1. I saw a five word reply to a FB post : “Somebody needs to do something!”
2. A few minutes later, on a different thread in a different group, I saw almost the exact same words.
3. At that very same moment the song that was playing: “Somebody to love” by Queen
4. I do a search on my hard-drive for song titles that include the word “somebody”

Do NOT ask me why I did that search. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
I learned that I have 28 songs on my laptop with the word “somebody” in the title.
Here are my “Favorite Somebody Seven” in the order they were released, with a few favorite lyrics.

1. “Somebody to Love” was written by Darby Slick, Grace’s brother-in-law. Jefferson Airplane covered it on their second album, and their first with Grace. “Surrealistic pillow” was released in early 1967.
“Tears are running down and down and down your breast
And your friends, baby they treat you like a guest
Don’t you want somebody to love
Don’t you need somebody to love…”

2. “Somebody to Love” was released by Queen in 1976 on their “Day at the races” album.
“I get down on my knees and I start to pray
‘Til the tears run down from my eyes
Lord, somebody (somebody), ooh somebody
(Please) can anybody find me somebody to love?”

3. My favorite singer-songwriter wrote the highest charting single of his career for the movie “Fast times at ridgemont high” in 1982. The first time “Somebody’s baby” was released on an album was 15 years later when “The next voice you hear” hit the streets.
My daughter was only when that CD was released. I doubt she remembers, but whenever that song played I would sing along and tell her that the song was written for her….
“I try to shut my eyes, but I can’t get her outta my sight….
…Yeah, she’s gonna be somebody’s only light”
4. This song always gave me dancing feet, ever since I first saw this video in the fairly early days of MTV, back when they played music. It got mixed reviews when it was released in 1987…and won a Grammy. Go figure.
“Oh, I wanna dance with somebody
I wanna feel the heat with somebody
Yeah, I wanna dance with somebody
With somebody who loves me…”

5. I’ve written about this song before. It is one of my “First Time Tunes.” It’s the fourth track on “Only by the Night.” Released in December, 2008 by some of my favorite preacher’s kids. This is one of my absolute favorite songs.
“You know that I could use somebody
Someone like you, and all you know, and how you speak…”

6. This song was released by Gotye after my marriage was over. I had been back in MO for several months when it came out in late 2011. “Somebody that I used to know” resonated.
“Now and then I think of when we were together…
…Now you’re just somebody that I used to know”

7. Jack Antonoff wrote this one about the loss of his sister when he was only 18. Bleachers released the album “Gone now” in 2017. I’ve listened to this album a lot. It includes a song that is on my “play it at my wake” list.
This is not that song, and “Everybody lost somebody” is not my favorite song on the album.
But everybody has lost somebody. And that is gonna keep happening….
“I know that I’m lost
Lost in a world without you
And there’s a reason I wake up alone in strange places…
…Knowing everybody lost somebody”

Let it grow. Or not…

Yesterday I made “an announcement” to 3 friends as we traveled the back roads from Pittsburg, KS to Springfield. Maybe only 2 of them heard me; Bruce mighta been snoozing at the time.
We were coming home after a fantastic house concert by Paul Thorn at the Coda Concert House in Joplin and a fabulous Sunday morning brunch whipped up by Rob&Carol at their place.
The 6 of us met for a bite before the show, had a drink after at a hipster bar, and then sat around until past the witching hour telling yarns.
The vittles; the tunes; the libations; the conversation; the drive.
Smile and Smile again and again.

My “announcement”?

It was a resolution based on something that popped into my head right after Paul Thorn sang my favorite song (“you might be wrong”)…and I wasn’t sure if I would even share my thinking with Shelly. But as we looked for the camel farm (Jeanette swears it’s somewhere out there in western Missouri….someday we’ll find it!!) the thought popped into my head again, and my internal conversation was: “if I keep this idea to myself, I’ll never carry through!”
Right then and there I decided to share it with my blue highways chums.

Now I’m going public…with the exception of one detail.
That detail is political. Some people who I love will judge me for it. I understand that. (Listen to Paul Thorn’s “I don’t like half the people I love.”)
So I’m keeping that detail on a “need to know” basis….

My “resolution”?

It’s all about my hair….and when to cut it.
I have never been all that fond of barber shops or clip joints. (And that was even before I lost a LOT of money in a hair cutting franchise, which included a legal battle with the Faux Cowboy Franchisor….)

In the past couple of weeks a few people have commented on the length of my locks.
My next door neighbor: “this is the longest your hair has been since I’ve known you.”
My Dad: “your Mom and I didn’t care about how long you boys let you hair grow as long as you kept it clean.” (My memory of those pre- and post-Army conversations re my hair length are a tad bit different. Just sayin’)
Another friend in the building: “I think you’re about ready for a ponytail. My son has one.”
None of the comments came across as complaints…

Keeping an electronic journal has some advantages, e.g. I know that I got my last haircut at 2 pm on Wednesday, March 15 at the Supercuts at 1306 E. Battlefield from my “regular stylist” Whitney. She has given me my last 3 cuts. Before 3/25/17 she took the shears to me in May of 2017 and April of 2016. (I really don’t like barber chairs….)

So here’s my announcement/resolution:
I am not getting a haircut until either:
(1) my hair is long enough to donate to Locks of Love without having to get a buzz cut, or
(2) a certain event takes place.

Re the latter, I did say that it is political…and I will say this much: it has nothing to do with someone else sitting behind the desk in the oval office. (That will be cause for letting my hair down, for celebrating and for partying like mad….but it is not the condition that will result in me finding out if Whitney is still wielding the tools of her trade.)

I’m expecting to have my first ponytail sometime in 2019.
Shelly is talking about me wearing a man bun.
So far nobody has said anything about me getting dreads.

I’m at 348 days and counting.

Bucket List Update

Man-oh-man do I need to get busy or what??
I have been a total sluggard since I posted my bucket list just a bit short of two years ago, mid-march of ’17. Yet somehow I was diagnosed with fatigue on my birthday last September and advised to slow down…
And I had TOTALLY forgotten about the “My ultimate bucket list” book that I had snatched from the bargain bin…which has been ignored.

The first 8 items on my bucket list from 12/3/12 are still there. Untouched. Many not even thought about. Maybe I need to do something about that, at least for a few of them.
I also need to add one:
“Go up in a single engine plane with Dad and Wayne.” (Short version: I won a 2 hour flight at a silent auction fundraiser. That was back in late 2017. We haven’t been able to make Dad and Wayne’s schedules mesh.
I have never seen Wayne. We have exchanged several texts. We’ve chatted on the phone some. Wayne has offered to fly to Farmington where we’d pick up/drop off Tissell*. That would depend on whether Dad was coming over to stay with my sister, or if he was heading home to Doe Run. Dad would love flying across the state.
We’d take the longer, scenic, southern route with Dad in the plane. That trip would take a lot more than 2 hours. Wayne didn’t have to offer this.
I had heard that he was a fine guy the night that I stole the flight, valued at $800, for only $180 bucks. Without even laying eyes on Wayne I’m positive that he is a helluva guy. I expect Tissell* to feel the same way. Now I just need to get Wayne, me and the 92+ year old up in the air!!)

Back to my B.L.
I did get to the Rock-n-Roll HOF in 2013. But we were only there for a few hours. Not nearly long enough. I need to get back there. 2019 seems like it would be a good year to visit Cleveland….and Wooster.
This time I need to plan my trip so that I can knock off the next item on the list. And the one before too. I’m thinking I will be able to experience weightlessness on some of the 17 roller coasters at Cedar Point…tied for second most in the world.

The item “Take a road trip thru the lower 48” lacks precision. I think it would be very cool to take one roadtrip that did get you into all 48, but I’m not sure that is what I had in mind. I have taken a road trip or 3 since 12/3/12, and will be taking more. As for now, I’d like to cross off the remaining 18 that I haven’t been in since then. Visiting 30 so far is not all that shabby…

Of the last 12 B.L. items, I .can only cross off two of them, both music related: we’ve seen 3 shows at Red Rocks; and Jackson Browne 4 times.
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My 12/3/12 Bucket List has 24 items.
I have been able to cross off only 4. (and that includes a favorable interpretation of the roadtrip item…)
That is pretty pathetic.
And unless I win lotto, unexpectedly inherit a huge chunck of change or become friends with someone like Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie) I most likely won’t cross off many of the other items on the list, although they aren’t really all that spendy.
That’s OK, because if I wrote the list today a bunch of earlier items wouldn’t make the list. They’d be replaced with things like this:
Take a road trip that includes: seeing old friends; visiting new venues; eating something delicious with old friends; making plans to see each other again.

Venues would have a separate list:
9:30 Club in D.C.
The Tower Theatre in Upper Darby
Stubbs in Austin
…just to name a few

So would artists:
Adele
War on Drugs
Don Henley
…and more. LOTS more.

Someday soon I need to finally take that spin thru the bargain bin b.l. book. I’ll leave it here beside my laptop for awhile and see what happens….

NOTE:
*Tissell is my dad’s abbreviated nickname.
Melvin’s full moniker: Melviney You-Tissell You-Bertel You-Tom-Tom Bud Fartner
There is story there.
That’s for another time.
Be.

2018 Christmas Letter & JibJab

The dreaded letter (reproduced below if you dare) will get sent to some folks via e-mail.  They’ll also get this link to the JibJab: https://www.jibjab.com/view/make/disco_christmas/b079887c-1399-46b3-99d9-734253cdf3e0

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Hope your 2018 has been a good year. Mine was a dandy. Saw more live music than ever. It was Awesome.

Crossed several artists off my “bucket list”…a bunch of old coots like me: Moody Blues, Steve Winwood, Poco, Dave Mason, Judy Collins, Bruce Hornsby, Todd Rundgren, Gordon Lightfoot.
One of my bucket list shows was the best show I saw in 2018….and I saw a LOT. The concert on June 8 at The Peabody in STL was an absolute Spectacle. Hard to describe. And unforgettable. David Byrne ROCKS!!
One bucket list artist was terrible. Thankfully sweet Judy blue eyes played and sang with Stephen Stills. He sux. It made me sad. She can still sing. And she can still rock it in heels.

I stalked a couple of folks in 2018….twice I saw 3 shows in a 4 day span.
I saw Neil Young’s solo acoustic tour in STL, and then in Chicago twice. Killer. (Plus I got to spend time with my bestie from my first college experiences. Charlie babysat me often when I was hitting the sauce….Thanks!)
Shelly and I saw the Wheels of Soul tour in STL, and twice at Red Rocks. The show was the Tedeschi Trucks Band, with the Drive-by Truckers and Marcus King opening. Three great nights.

Had an absolute blast at Folk Alliance in KC in February. I shoulda let Jeanette talk me into this years ago!! Music, music, music. Not many zzzzz’s while at FAI.
She also talked me into square dancing at the Rock House. Do-si-do Mofo!!!

I made a solo trip to Orygun. Saw several friends. Stayed in some interesting places: the Bad Boy room at The White Eagle in PDX; the lighthouse room at a small property in Yachats; a tent on the banks of the Metolius River. Crossed another artist off my list when I saw Amos Lee twice in 6 days. Both times with friends.
A friend who I hadn’t seen in 51 years fixed us breakfast in Bend. We coulda talked longer. Next time.

There were a few lowlights too.
1. My garden was disappointing. I’ll blame it on the weather. It was hot. And dry. Then it turned cool and wet. Then the cycle started all over again. It was unpredictable, even for this schizophrenic state.
Had luck with a couple of crops: radishes and green beans. Two of my favorites were slim pickens: tomatoes and brussel sprouts. The latter were abysmal. WTF?
2. On my birthday I was diagnosed with “Fatigue”…and I have the document from the doc to prove it. That’s what I get for burning the candle at both ends for too long. So I slowed down…a little, for a little while. I don’t ever expect to “act my age”…why the heck would I want to do that? But moderation in some things, more sleep, and more H20 might be smart.
3. I gave a house full of people a “do you remember the Thanksgiving when” story, but I did learn a new word: if you wanta get the details of my syncope event go to:  http://slw913.com/life-events/isnt-it-ironic-or-not/

The highlight of my 2018 was the first weekend of October.
I threw myself a party to celebrate completing 70 trips around the sun. The 25,590 Day Shindig took place at The Rock House in Reeds Spring 23 days after my birthday. The timing was driven by the schedules of the bands out of KC, and by my own concert schedule.
The party was Epic. Family, friends, music, food, more music, a pie auction and a silent auction of items by some artist and musician friends to benefit one of my favorite non-profits: The Rock House Center for the Arts. Then there was more music.
Some of the guests traveled from Floriduh, Hotlanta, Chicago, or the other side of MO. We took over the Shady Acre motel in Branson West for the entire weekend, and spilled over into another motel.
Damn…I’m a lucky old coot.

One more highlight ahead of us in 2018: Shelly and I will be making our “Third Annual” trip to Gulf Shores, AL at the end of December. This time we booked for 10 days at the beach.
We don’t do much while we’re there….and we love that. We watch the sunrise over the gulf in the morning; go for a morning walk; have brunch and mimosas on the balcony; take a nap; take another walk; watch sunset on the gulf; binge watch DVDs that we pack for the trip. Repeat.
Year 3 of our Christmas at the beach is gonna have a couple of special treats: guests after Christmas. Bruce&Jeanette (they ARE The Rock House) will be crashing in the condo’s second bedroom for a few nights after visiting her folks and family in Nashville. Tom&Gloria will be coming down from Cumming, GA and will be at the same property. There will probably be a picture and a story or two.

I’ve never been much on planning. More about just being. But I do have a few things I wanta do in 2019:
1. See more live music than I saw this year. That won’t be easy. I’m off to a good start with 5 concert and 2 festival tickets in hand already for events in 2019.
2. Get to Orygun in late August or early September for at least a week.
3. Get to Colorado in July…for longer than we did this year. That will make both of us happy.
4. Take a road trip “back east” after the 15th Annual Music Festival. Check off a few bucket list items…and spend time with friends in several cites&states….some who I haven’t seen in double-digit years.
A 3 week trip for me; 1 week for Shelly. Not sure where her flight will land. Shelly will mark several states off her bucket list, and I’ll get to Vermont for the first time and round out the lower 48.
I wanta ride some roller coasters at Cedar Point. I wanta spend more time at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I wanta see Niagara Falls. I wanta see live music in several cities and venues. This roadtrip is a bit of a BHAG. Stay tuned.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Happy New Year. All the best. Keep in touch. Hug the people you love. Be. Just Be.

steve

Love is The Answer

It’s short. It’s simple. It’s true. Love trumps hate. Period.

The 33rd Imagine Concert was the last “large venue” concert of the year for me, unless something unforeseen happens. I saw LOTS of large venue shows in 2018.
12/8/18 was a great evening in too many ways to list….but I’ll try:
Friends
Bar food
Music
Music by friends
Music with friends
Pie
All of it with the person I love, and who loves me.
Damn, I’m a lucky old coot.

Today started with brunch in a hotel here in town. Got the room for a steal in a silent auction for a good cause. Got stuck in an elevator on the way down to eat. Could see the front desk across the atrium as we called for help. The person who caught it after we were on the elevator seemed to be having a bad day. Laughing woulda made it better for her.
It did for me.
Just sayin’.

Came home and listened to The White Album. I’m getting ready to spin disc 1 again.
Earlier, Shelly and I sat on the couch and listened to the album that I heard for the very first time just over fifty years ago.
A couple of years ago I wrote about “first time tunes”…FTTs. Songs, often with places attached, that are indelibly stored on my body’s hardrive. I used over 200 words to describe the first time I heard the White Album….in KC…in 1968.

The magic of music…and memories

As we listened to “While my guitar gently weeps,” I hummed and caterwauled along.
And thought:
about the lyrics;
about yesterday;
about John Lennon;
about my life today;
about my past;
about the future;
about being.

Just then the CD changer moved to the next disc: one that I burned of songs by many of the artists who I saw in 2018.
The first song that plays off my “mix tape” is by a guy who I finally crossed off my bucket list last year, seeing him twice in a six day stretch. Both times with friends from my first time living in Orygun.
Friends, music, pie…heaven.

I’ll be seeing Amos Lee again in just over 100 days in KC.
Damn, I’m a lucky old coot.
I expect him to sing this song on 3/26/19, which summarizes what I was thinking as I listened to the Fab 4 this morning and contemplated the meaning of being.

“I believe in the power
Of love, love, of love”