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.

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:
Bar food
Music by friends
Music with friends
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”

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.

“We’re all gonna die….”

On Saturday, March 18, 2017 I spent a few hours at the viewing for my late Uncle Joe, dead too soon at only 77. He survived the “widow maker heart attack” (which has a 90% kill rate) for about 30 years. It took three decades for a complete closure of the left anterior descending coronary artery to kill him. Still not long enough…

To attend the viewing, I did an “over-and-back” to the county where my Mom’s family has lived almost their entire lives. If it wasn’t for the military in the case of her three brothers, she would’ve been the only member of her immediate family to ever receive mail someplace other than St. Francois county, MO.

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My life is Bountiful

I’m not sure when I started doing it. I think it was after Shelly and I moved in together in 2013, but it might have been before then.

I read (or more accurately “skim”) the local paper most mornings in the lobby. I will sometimes send Shelly a text of her horoscope, and sometimes I will include mine. I don’t give much credence to them…or to weather forecasts either…but sometimes I find the former interesting.

Today mine read: “It’s one of those days when you find it easy to appreciate your bountiful life.”

My life is indeed bountiful. I have lots of things to be thankful for.  Where to start? Here’s a list. Not prioritized. Some are “little.” Some aren’t. It’s not an exhaustive list. It’s just a list. A short list. I could go on and on, but I won’t now…
As I write this I have a tray of beets roasting in the oven. Sweet.

A bit ago I talked to my 90 year old dad. Almost every day I call him and we have a walk-n-talk. I walk. Tissel talks. I rack up steps and he and I reminisce, or catch up, or tell tales. Some day I won’t be able to make that call.

Tomorrow I will harvest my last crops of the season when I pick brussel sprouts. That will wrap up the 2016 gardening season. I started harvesting lettuce back in early April. Fresh veggies from the garden for 8 months is a nice bounty.

A year ago I hadn’t been out of the hospital very long, after blood clots in my lungs put me in the hospital for only the third time in my life. That experience makes you think. And appreciate the little things; and the things that aren’t or that aren’t little.

I have more friends today than I did a year ago. Not just acquaintances. Friends.

I live with someone who loves me. I love her. We make a good team. We’re different in lots of ways. Mostly we’re on the same page, especially when it comes to what matters. We like to be together. We like to be alone. We like to be alone together.

Shelly doesn’t complain about my caterwauling, whether it be in the apartment or the car. She doesn’t complain when I play the same cut over and over and over. And sing along each and every time. (Sometimes she has had more than enough of Bob Dylan or Neil Young though….)

Most recently a number of songs by Amos Lee have been on repeat. This one helps me appreciate my bountiful life.

Trifecta Tuesday: 2/9/16

Yesterday was a True Trifecta: (1) a life event; (2) a first time tune; and, (3) a song “on repeat.”

Back when I was working guy, I remember that there were these things called “life events” from an HR perspective. And probably all of us have seen a “life stress test” or two. Their separate lists have some things in common: marriage, divorce, birth, death.

Tuesday’s Life Event was the most joyous item from the above list: the birth of Shelly’s sixth grandchild. Eric, her youngest, and his partner Ashton became parents of a baby girl early yesterday afternoon. Jacob will be one heckuva big brother to Emilia Rose. This little angel is an adorable addition to a wonderful, young family.Emelia Rose

Shelly and Jacob, who both played hooky on Tuesday, headed to the hospital mid-afternoon to see Emilia and her proud parents. I stayed behind…two is company, three’s a crowd…and put on a couple of CDs that I had just checked out from the library. I’m not doing very well with a couple of my “pledges” for 2016 (exercise?! Yuck….), but I am doing very well at one of them: listening to new (to me) CDs.

I was in the process of sending Jib Jab cards to Eric and Ashton, when a song off a new CD caught my attention. I had never listened to any of the songs on Kacey Musgraves’ “Pageant Material” so they were all new to me. I was listening while I jib-jabbed, but it wasn’t until the 9th cut that I really Heard.

I have no idea how my memory is gonna perform in the future, but if it’s anything at all like it is now, epsecially when it comes to First Time Tunes, I expect to remember everything about this latest FTT. It’ll be helped by having this document. I can always re-read this….assuming I don’t forget that this piece even exists. 😉

As with most of my FTTs, it was the lyrics that caught my attention. Specifically it was this line: “…Before we get to heaven, baby let’s give ’em hell…”

I stopped what I was doing and listened to the rest of “Die fun.”

The last line of the song is “We can’t do it over.”

When I heard that, I replied out loud (to an empty apartment): “This…is one thing that I can do over!”

I pressed the repeat button on my CD changer.

I stood in front of our glass sliding doors, with the sun beating down, gazing at the courtyard…and thinking about life and life events.

Repeat. Then another time. And again.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who puts songs, or at times an entire album, on repeat. Over the years I’ve had a looooong list of songs (and albums) that I listen to over-and-over-and-over-again.

The majority of the songs that I put “on repeat” are ones that have lyrics that say something to me…

I imagine that sometimes it gets on people’s nerves when I put a song “on repeat.” And I’m sure it can be annoying if i’m singing along. Too bad. By about the 10th time that I had listened to “Die Fun” yesterday, I still hadn’t had enough. I subjected Shelly to “Die fun” when she got home. Fortunately, she is very tolerant of most of my behaviors…and is more aware of my “on repeat” songs than anyone.

For an incorrigible adolescent like me, the beginning of my my new FTT is perfect: “Do we really have to grow up, if we never do then so what?”

So is this line: “They say it’s now or never and all we’re ever gettin’ is older…”

Compared to the alternative, getting’ older is a great gig. But that does NOT mean that I have to grow up! Being “an adult” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be….

The refrain to this song says it all: “…We don’t know when it’s done, So let’s love hard, Let’s stay young, Let’s love hard, live fast, die fun…”

There are lots of things that “we can’t do over.” But for now I can put this song on repeat, I can smile at the thought of Emelia Rose, I can get warm standing in front of the plate glass windows, I can think about life and life events, and I can love hard, live fast and die fun.

Casedy & Crayons

“For you, being creative isn’t just something to do. It’s an actual survival impulse.” That was Shelly’s horoscope per the local paper one day last week.

That not only applies to Shelly, but also to her oldest grand-child. Eight year old Casedy accompanied us to the Wichita suburbs over the weekend as we visited Shelly’s oldest of three children, and their soon to be 2 year old, Cecily.

The two cousins had some fun together, and Casedy entertained all of us with her creative writing. (If only I could be so creative!!)

With a box of crayons and several sheets of paper, each sheet written in the color of the signatory, what follows are Casedy’s creations. Admittedly I have helped a bit with the spelling, but everything that follows is her’s. I like all of them, but the last one is my favorite.


dear casedy,

it’s me purple crayon. i love that i’m your favorite color. but start making sense. stop coloring outside the lines.

yours truly,

purple crayon.


dear casedy,

we need to talk.

everybody knows that I’m the true color of the sun. not yellow. she is mad.

the true color of the sun,

orange crayon.


dear casedy,

everybody knows that i’m the color of the sun.

everybody knows that!

tell orange she’s out of her mind.

the real color of the sun,

yellow crayon


dear casedy,

the blue crayon thinks he is better than me.

please tell him he’s not. then I will be happy.

yours truly,

light blue crayon



tell light blue that he is not more important than me.

then i’ll be happy!!!!

yours truly,

real blue crayon


dear casedy,

why did you peel my paper off?

why casedy.


your naked friend,

green crayon