Final Farewell

It is with sad news that we must report that John has passed on.  The link to the obituary is below.





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Pulling the covers over my head violated one of our unwritten rules. but I had no choice. Why me? Why did they have to plant a full moon street light outside my bedroom window? I retreated under the covers to keep the light out. That was my excuse but my bedroom was in a sort of perpetual twilight where things best left unmentioned might dwell. I don’t scare easily but hiding made me feel better.

All the others had bragging rights to aliens hiding under their beds and impossibly huge hairy monsters lurking behind closed closet doors. I didn’t dare tell them about her and when my turn came I stammered and stumbled over my lies and imaginary beasts. I feared they wouldn’t believe me if I told them the truth and feared they would believe me and make fun of me because my monster was a girl.

Either she finds me (how could she not find the kid with the covers pulled up over his head?), or I find her in the darkest hours of the night. When you sense a monster in your room, turning the lights on almost always makes the cowards run away. But I didn’t want my monster to go anywhere. Because, well, I was in love. She always kissed me but never allowed me to touch her. I never could figure out why she behaved this way.

We touched with lips and voices and hers were so sweet. I wanted to drown in that voice, be forever seduced by those lips. When I would reach for her she danced away laughing. “Soon my young love, soon. Soon I will come out of my closet home to share your bed with you. You won’t be able to resist lover.” Then her laugh changed for an instant sending chills up and down my body, hair standing on end — but the feeling left as soon as it arrived as though that laugh never existed.

That ‘wrong’ laugh was the chink in her armor. I know she didn’t want to warn me ahead of time. Maybe it just slipped out. After that one time I tried not to listen too hard when she spoke because her musical voice mushed my brain. I began to detect a few other oddities as time went on yet I never let on that I knew. It tried hard to sit still for her kisses.

If her voice turned my brain into mashed potatoes, her kisses were the gravy smothering me so I couldn’t think let alone try to peek behind her mask. One night she hit me, let off a screech and disappeared. She never left like that before. I usually fell asleep only to find her gone when I woke up.

“Why can’t I touch you?”

She laughed: “I cannot say.”

“I must see you.” I looked in her direction and pulled the chain, the light switch held in my hand behind my back. I saw her at last, young and beautiful, screaming, holding her hands to her face as her features ran melting like ice cream on a hot July night. Then she was gone. She never came back. Maybe she couldn’t? Maybe it was my fault? I’ll always wonder.

I don’t know why I remember my ingrown toenail, such a silly little thing. I don’t remember the sore toe but I remember sitting all alone in the foot doctor’s office on Chester Avenue and I think it was a rainy day. The AM radio was playing hit songs of the 1950s like “The Green Door” and Arthur Godfrey (howaya, howaya) was touting the merits of Lipton Tea in the background while I sat waiting.

I was ten or eleven years old, maybe twelve? Can’t rememeber but I do remember me as scared of my own shadow and if you looked up shy in the dictionary you might have found my photo.

The problem toe was my big toe on my right foot. The doctor did what he did and wrapped my poor toe up in a bandage that was way too big to fit inside my shoes so I was wearing a sneaker with the toe cut out, giving my bandaged toe plenty of room to wiggle in the air. I think I was wearing a shoe on the other foot. That was kind of dumb. I should have been wearing both sneakers.

I had to wear that sneaker with the hole cut out for my big toe for a couple of weeks. I remember having to serve mass wearing that silly sneaker. Standing there in the quiet church, smell of candles burning, I tried to tell the priest that I had to wear the sneaker because I had an ingrown toenail and couldn’t wear regular shoes until the bandages came off. I was on the verge of tears. Looking back, my condition was obvious. I was wearing that old sneaker on my right foot. My big toe was bandaged and sticking out for all to see. What other explanation was needed? None but I was so self conscious. Maybe I’m remembering the old sneaker and my embarrassment more than the pain of a sore toe.

Funny the kinds of things you remember.


2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Remember Christmas seasons past? I do, especially the special magic of the children and how that magic came into sharp focus, magnified at Christmas time. The anticipation, the belief, the wonder — all part of the magic of Christmas. I loved Christmas then and still do. Children’s magic is contagious and some of that magic rubs off on adults. Hey, it’s magic after all. But we live in the present moment and there comes the time when Christmas has past and the magic packed away in cardboard boxes for another year.

I never liked New Years because it was the day my parents turned off the magic and hid it away in the dark attic until the next year. And if that wasn’t depressing enough, we had to go back to school the next day after a wonderful week of magic, toys, friends and pure play.

School is the antithesis of magic. So is work and when the adults returned to work the little magic that did rub off was gone, magic lights extinguished as we settled into the long dark winter and the desert of days for months on end until the magic of spring and Easter enlivened us once again. I never understood why the new year begins in the middle of the dark winter. The new year should begin at the spring solstice when life renews.

What if we could call up the magic at will? What if we still knew how to play the way all children do? Play is what makes us human. Play is what makes life worth living. Play can transform life into the delicious creative journey that life is meant to be — but only if we remember how to play.

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I suppose I’m a bit of an agnostic because I prefer the company of free range chickens over those ‘other’ chickens, the ones with their nearly religious fanaticism and their sanctimonious know it all, I’m right, you’re wrong attitudes.

Sometimes I’ll stop in to eat with the Redmond chickens amid all the cackling about how neat their yard is but I shut out the noise — I’m here to eat because they do have a great feed selection. They’re not a bad group, just misguided and afraid.

Who doesn’t like a nice apple. I enjoy eating apples but I prefer them cut up and seasoned to suit my tastes and eating habits. I’ve passed by and admired the Apple coops. They are lovely and the feed is tempting but the price of admission is too high in both money and self-respect. Pecking approved feed their way or the highway isn’t for me. When I’m hungry please leave me alone and let me eat in peace, one of the reasons I’d rather be a free range chicken.

The idea for this piece came to me one day while hanging out in the Redmond coop. I snuck my own feed into their lot. Nothing they could do about that. I come in here quite often. I was passing by one day in October last year when I saw an opportunity to gain access to the Redmond coop easily with no admission fee because a new, supposedly better coop, was scheduled for a grand opening down the road.

Sure enough, when I arrived at the old address, I saw chickens leaving the comfortable old coop to join a line that stretched up the road as far as I could see. But when I got closer I realized I was on the wrong side of the road. The line was moving slowly to the new (rumored) Apple coop around the bend in the road. None of those chickens waiting in that line had actually seen the new coop but that didn’t matter to them. They had to get in because the rumored coop would be the best ever.

Meanwhile, I turned and watched some of the Redmond chickens making their way to their new coop on the other side of the road. It almost seemed as though they were sneaking. I noticed some of them shaking their heads and wandering off to find a different rooster on their own. These poor chickens wanted to leave the Redmond coop for years but were afraid they wouldn’t get enough to eat so they stayed, but most of the other chickens who made the move to free range seemed fat and happy. And they didn’t have credit cards clutched in their beaks either. Free range enjoy freedom at a reasonable cost.

I’d rather be a free range chicken even though we have to put up with all the cackling from the know it all chickens in the approved coops. We free range chickens get plenty to eat and (don’t tell the confined chickens) some of our food is better than what they are given to eat. We never toss out perfectly good feed for the sake of change and we’re always willing to help fellow free rangers whenever we can. Yep — I’d rather be a free range chicken. Cackle, cackle.