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Old Dogs of War

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1Thursday morning arrived a bit late for me after a restless night.  I began a planned withdrawal from the NSAID’s I have been taking for years to relieve a rotator cuff injury.  It seems that my old pal Ibuprophen® is very bad for me, and if I don’t want to destroy my kidneys before go naked in a nursing home, I had better go cold turkey on them.

Without them, I itched. I ached. I lay there wide awake until I finally just got up and indulged my news addiction.  That’s not very conducive to a night’s rest either.  I see no peaceful way out of the North Korea mess.  It should have been handled in 1948, but the US was war weary and just wanted that horror to go away.  But I am too old for war, and someone else will pay the price for our inability to face uncomfortable truths until terror lands on our shore.

And so I sip my late morning coffee while Snook patters about on her morning chores and the day warms up from the 40’s to the 70’s.  Today, one of Linda’s co-workers may be coming by to look at my pickup.  I am reluctantly selling it.  I doubt that I will ever use it again and it is an expensive ornament now.  But a man without a pickup loses a large chunk of his masculinity down here, and I very reluctantly await its sale.

Not that I mind aging so much.  I am weary.  Though I still hear the drums and bugles calling me to ride out with each new team at Fort Hood deploying, the blood no longer runs so hotly in my veins.  Like an old dog on the porch, I watch the parade go by, then drop my head on my paws and go back to sleep.  War, valor, impregnating females and winning at poker are just pleasant memories now.  Mostly fond memories, but regrets … I got a few.

… but the coffee cup is empty and needs refilling. The time is passing, and I have chores.

Good morning!


Gaslighting the Muse

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FrownI had about an hour to kill before Shabbat dinner, and I had updated my facebook pages, read the blogsites, checked the newsfeeds, adjusted the thermostat and had taken a little nap. I had not done any serious writing in awhile, and reflexively clicked on the word processor icon.

And there she was, casually sitting in the arm chair with her arms stretched along the back cushions, knees crossed ever so casually, looking like she had all the time in the world to listen to me.

“I saw you intently hunched over the keyboard, but no words were forthcoming. Do you care to talk about it?”

I think I knew where she was going with this, but I didn’t want to stick my neck out, and replied, “Keyboard? That wasn’t a keyboard. It is a controller for a sim.”

“Really? You were sure intent with it.”

I knew she had me, but I wasn’t going to act like I was unfaithful.

“It is just a game I’m playing.”

“You’ve been playing that ‘game’ for a week now, and you have hardly touched me.”

“It’s just a harmless simulation. A railroad simulation. I play a few games with the boys. Nothing serious.”

“Why don’t you just come out and admit it? You’ve found someone else.”

“It is just a fling. A toy. I don’t know what you are getting all upset about.”

“A fling? You have been out every night with your ‘toy’. You reek of diesel.”

“How can I reek of diesel, it is just a railroad simulation‽”

“You used to sit with me in the mornings while you drank your coffee. Some mornings stretched out into the entire day. But now, you spend your mornings with ‘it’.”

“I work the Bakersfield yard in the morning, getting trains ready for the other members. It is important to them, and I committed to it.”

“You used to be committed to me!”

I reached out to comfort her, saying, “Aw baby. I’ll never leave you. Things are just a little hectic now. I’ll be back with you in no time!”

“Don’t touch me!”

This wasn’t working. Maybe I should go on the offense, and gaslight[i] her. “Besides, you haven’t been all that responsive yourself lately! Maybe if you made yourself more attractive and tried to help with the flow of things, I would be spending all my time playing a computer simulation!”

“Oh! Now you are going to blame me for your roving eye! Oh no you don’t mister “engineer”. Well, from now on let’s just see how you get along without me!”

I should have felt bad about chipping on her, but all I could think about was now I have all the time I want to play on the sim.

[i] gas·light



gerund or present participle: gaslighting

  1. manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

“in the first episode, Karen Valentine is being gaslighted by her husband”


There aint much gold in that thar stardust.

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101914_1729_Somedays1.jpgDawn arrived at 6:30 on the tick tock machine with a gentle breeze and a cool 63° (17C). Jenna, the big white something-or-the-other was outside barking at the kids walking to the school bus stop. Annie was curled up on my daybed in the studio. And Snookums was valiantly attempting to sleep in, but that isn’t going to last long when all the mutts are up.

I was off my writing schedule for a short time, though I did try to bang out a few paragraphs each day, I didn’t journal them. I think that sort of qualifies as writing. I think.

Snook sets up the coffee pot for brewing the day before, so all I need to do on those mornings where I rise early is flip the toggle button on the brewer, do my morning ablutions, pour a cup and stagger back to the studio carefully balancing the precious cargo on its way to its perch on the desk.

For the last few years God has been teaching me in the interstice between sleep and wakefulness. I suppose that is the only quiet time he can find in my fevered brain. Those little vignettes become the source of a greater understanding of my relationship with him, and unsettling revelations of just how far we have fallen from the ideal.

I was one of those fools who put his whole soul into the promise of the 60’s. I honestly believed that man had finally arrived, and my generation would finally bring peace and love into existence. Yeah, such colossal hubris, I know. But we believed it, and worked towards it. As I pen this, Joni Mitchells refrain from Woodstock (song) runs through my head.

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Joni probably had no idea of how just the opposite was true. Or maybe she did.  Poets will lie to you, I once discovered.  But to continue.  We might be stardust when our constituent parts eventually break back down into dust, but there aint much gold in that thar stardust.

And as for the Garden. There are these two really fierce thingies with flaming swords that guard that gate, and a puny pile of bleeding dust isn’t going to find its way past them. Mankind is a beast. An animal. And his fate is the same fate of that other animals.

Unless, of course, a really unusual thing happens to him. But that is another tale for another day.

Trite Offerings and Preparation Day

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101914_1729_Somedays1.jpg… got around to writing a little late this morning.  I am in an interesting conversation with a friend concerning the Great Flood and Tower of Babel myths in so many cultures. I’ll leave it to others to debate the veracity of the myths, but the cross-cultural similarities are an interesting topic, and for the sake of debate, I treat them as factual prehistory.

But like an old mentor and poormans sage once told me, if the philosophy doesn’t get you to work in the mornings, it is just speculation.  Well, you would have to know Dell and had to have been there to understand the profundity of that statement …

I had ordered a replacement device for my hearing aids that will allow them to connect to my cellphone a few months ago, and they were backordered. Last week, I left a message at the audiologists asking for an update on the order.  I waited for a return call, and didn’t get one, so this week I called back, and politely but firmly berated the secretary for not calling back.  She said she had called back and left two messages because I didn’t answer the phone.  I checked, and discovered that I hadn’t unmuted the phone after services last Saturday, and there were indeed two messages in my inbox.

I humbly apologized, and she graciously accepted the apology. But I suspect that she told her coworkers what a #%!! head I was.  I go in Monday to get the device paired to my hearing aids, and get a checkup hearing test. I am thinking of getting a candy basket as a peace offering to her. One offends the secretary at their own peril.

It is brisk outside, and your humble hero forgot to set the heat on last night, so the house was a bit beyond chilly this morning. I am surprised to not find a frozen parakeet in my studio this morning. I turned on a small heater by Kippur da Budgie’s cage, and was rewarded with scolding. I guess I did deserve it, however. I wasn’t innocent.

The day is deceptively sunny. When you step out in it, it sucks the heat right out of you. But the plants seem to thrive in the coolness after a long hot summer. Trees grow rapidly down here because of the mild springs and falls provide two growing seasons.  Quite often we won’t have a killing freeze until January, though they can happen early in December.

Today is preparation day, so lunch is often late since we don’t set the Shabbat meal until six in the evening. Snookums has done her morning chores of coffee brewing, feeding dogs and birds, exercising dogs, and bird-bath filling, and is now facebooking and game playing on her PC. Soon she’ll rouse and feed me breakfast. We fervently hope.

But we’ll write, muse and sip coffee ‘til she is ready to do so.

Good morning!

Drug and dragged, kicking and screaming

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Thou shalt write each and every day. The profound, and the banal, thou shalt write of it.

101914_1729_Somedays1.jpgWednesday dawns with bright blue skies and a brilliant yellow sunrise that sends its streaks across the sparkling grasses, and backlights the pecan and acacia tree in greens and golds.  A pot filled with sweet alyssums shows its tiny blooms on the stoop.  The rumble of a 50-gallon trash barrel being dragged* out to the lane by Snookums interrupts the idyll. Yep. Wednesday is trash day.

Little routines like that are the only marks of passage of time for me now. Sunday is brunch day, Monday is Snooks shopping day, Tuesday Snooks volunteers at a local food bank, Wednesday is trash day, Thursday is my shopping day, Friday is preparation day.  And … Saturday is Shabbat.

And so goes the little reminders that time has not ceased yet.

The news feeds are full of hidden references to Fusion GPS and the political machinations around it. I am still not clear on who the players are, but given the climate of confusion and political counterstrikes, truth has become subjective. I suppose in time it will all play out. When I automatically assume that they are all lying to me, I get less worked up. Evil is good and good is evil is the meme. Trust no one.

But for the moment, a cottony softness surrounds me.  Snooks talk radio natters off in the distance.  Anonymous banks and bumps remind me that this is a home full of pets going on about their day. Kippur da Budgie nags me for noise, but I don’t want to turn the radio on yet.

I just wanna sip coffee in silence, and pound out my 250 words for the day.

Good morning!

* I prefer trash barrel being drug out to … but I can hear my old English teacher, Mrs. Ginder, primly telling me that drug is not a verb, but rather a noun. Dragged is the preferred word.
But drug just feels better. Damned yankiesms anyway …



… and a time to cast away stones.

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It has warmed from a frigid 43° to a balmy 53° this morning.  The humidity falls out of the skies at these temperatures, and a winters bright blue sky peeks through the greenery while a weak but bright yellow sun valiant strives to warm the dewy fields.  Eventually it will succeed later in the day as it climbs back up to 84°

Monday is Snooks grocery day, but she has her morning chores of dressing, feeding dogs, cleaning the bird cage, throwing the ball for the dogs and feeding the old man before she can leave. I, on the other hand, have discovered delivered groceries. We grocer shop separately because I can’t live with her pantry system. When I plan to serve green beans, it messes up my whole day if there isn’t any and I have to serve creamed corn instead.

I have spent the last few months learning how to cook from scratch via meal kits, but now that I am cooking without them, I have discovered why God created canned and instant foods. I don’t find a lot of joy in cooking. I find it to be a very inconvenient way to transfer food from its natural state into my belly. Why snap string beans at $1.28 a pound and wash, string and cut them before cooking them, when a can of string beans cost 79¢ and you just nuke it?

OK!. OK!. … I have seared taste buds. So sue me.

We finally made services after a long hiatus from the congregation. We really missed them, and even though I couldn’t sit through the entire service or stay for the meal afterwards, I did enjoy being around them. I hope my health holds out enough to do at least that much each week.

We are at a place where it is time to cast off stones. Our stuff has stuff. The weed burner, most of the pistols, the bicycles, even the pickup truck all go unused. Snooks has been slowly tossing unused clothing. And I am ready to do with less stuff. I just need something to read, maybe a game to play, something to write on, and email to stay in touch with family and friends.

But as always, the first chore of the day is to empty the coffee pot.

Good morning!

Another Bat Kol

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1Sunday starts the first day of the week.  Again.  Just as it has from the time we first began counting the weeks. The sun set, the sun rose, and a silent click marks one more step until the last one. Everything’s time is numbered, and an eternal clock ticks of that number, no matter what its allotted time is measured in.

One day, I do believe that clock will make its last click for itself, just as it will make its last click for my allotted time.  Some time ago, I actually heard that click. A solemn voice said, “We shall not pass this way again”. I think I know what that voice was referring to, but since it didn’t seem to be a message for anyone in particular, I stored up the voice and the accompanying vision.

Since then I have closely watched the seasons pass by with ever ever-increasing rhythm. World events began unfolding with that same increasing tempo. Political boundaries have expanded and retracted. Mighty kingdoms have arisen, only to fall again. Ancient kingdoms that disappeared have arisen, some even with their former names.

And a people have appeared that don’t remember the former times, nor the lessons they spawned, and they too will make the same tragic errors that their ancestors made, and they know it not. Mankind, with his mighty intellect has increased in knowledge, but grown weaker in his wisdom.

And I don’t have the power to say “Stop! Don’t you see where you are going? Is it that hard to discern?”

But to them, I am just a cranky old man who sits on his porch and remembers the old days.  And they are right.

The bat kol continues to wake me night after night, with simple words packed with images and meanings that are unutterable, so I remain mute, except to tell you I heard the click of a clock that was marking the passing of time.