Sometimes Things Go Astray

Since last weekend, I’ve had muscle spasms in my back. Today, at least, the pain moderated. That was, until someone parked too close, at the gym. Crawling across the front seats from the passenger side, didn’t help matters.

A windshield rock chip was repaired this afternoon. That also occurred unexpectedly last weekend.

Tuesday, I noticed something on one of the car’s back tires, upon retrieving trash bins from the curb.

It was a large galvanized nail, bent over, but the business end was stuck in the tire. It was discovered before my dog’s trip to the vet for annual shots and checkup.

I was sweating raindrops, until we got back home. The tire held air until I made it the repair shop. Of course, the tire was unrepairable.  I was out the expense of a new tire.

Every day is a new day. Sometimes things just go wrong.

First Impressions

Aussies were friendly. Fascinated by American accents–especially Southern dialects. My wife has a mild Southern accent.  Victoria had a varied topographical mixture–flatland, rolling hills and valleys, mountains, seacoast. The Mornington Peninsula, where our daughter resides, reminded me of Southern California.  Ballarat, a gold rush town, the Grampian mountains, reminded me of scenes from the American West.

Had the route from Melbourne airport memorized.  Or so, I thought.  The last freeway change threw me off course.  I wanted the M11 Mornington Peninsular Freeway.  I took the Frankston freeway instead, which soon ran out.  Who knew, the proper exit was to a place called Portsea?  My response, during the heat of battle, “I’m not going to any unfamiliar destination.”  Those words came back to haunt me.  In retrospect, those were a lot of letters to squeeze on one highway sign.

My spouse and co-pilot didn’t hesitate to remind of speed limits at every opportunity.  “Speed limit’s 100 KPH, not 110.”  “Yes Dear, I’m doing the best I can.”  It was even more difficult to drive 80KPH.  Australia used speed enforcement cameras.  Highway tolls were automatically assigned from cameras on overpasses.

Before getting completely lost, I asked a friendly Australian chap shopping at a petrol station/convenience store for help with directions.  He stayed just ahead of us as we departed, pointed out a right turn at the third roundabout–which led to the esplanade and our destination.  My spouse amused, because my jacket, previously secured to my waist, dangled behind like a dragon’s tail.  That day my entertainment skills exceeded my sense of direction.

As time went on, got lost a few more times–even with GPS.  Misguided, looking for a winery, took the worst washboard dirt road I’ve ever experienced.  Amazingly, the rental car remained intact.  Aussies were always helpful–even a surfer dude visiting from Adelaide.

Directional signaling with the windshield wipers, as the controls were reversed and unfamiliar, happened several times.  Somthing I had to unlearn upon my return stateside.  A two-day drive along the beautiful Great Ocean Road, cemented left-side driving techniques. I learned to look right, then left at intersections.

Talking the talk: Aussies liked abbreviations–McDonalds fast-food restaurants christened, “Mackers.”  The Aussie Woolworths giant food chain, shortened to “Woolies.”  Trade workers were,”tradies.”  Truck drivers, “truckies.”  Special occasions/events, “speckies.”  Heard G’Day and G’Day Mate frequently.

It began with the Qantas flight out, when I misheard the flight attendant announce breakfast choices.  “Eggs are free,” instead of what she meant–“Eggs or fruit?”  Of course, I opted for eggs, since they were free.  Incidentally, Aussies shortened breakfast to “brekky” or “brekkers.”



January Thaw

It’s the time of year when Mother Nature can’t make up her mind. It goes from warm to cold and back again.

That was one of the unpleasant things about living in the Midwest. In late winter, the freeze/thaw cycle. Frozen ground, one day, and the next day, mud. There was nothing beautiful about dirty snow.

Other unpleasant things: Being attacked by pieces of blanket fuzz. Blanket fuzz went straight for the eyes or nose. Which brought up another subject–nicknames.

One of my grade school friends was called “Fuzz” or “Fuzzy.” Did you have a nickname when growing up? Perhaps, an unflattering one, that you’d just as soon forget?

In my town there was “Punk” Dowland, who was short in stature. “Peachy” Leach–the nickname, an obvious play on words. Other nicknames seemed strange without knowing the history behind them, for example “Push” Banks, and “Slats” Rands.

Of course there were those blessed with common nicknames–“Buzz,” “Butch,” “Red,” “Dutch,” “Moose,” “Rabbit.” Who could forget “Hot Rod” Conroy?

I wanted a cool nickname, never had one.  Shortened versions of my given name, like Billy, Bill, Willy, or Will didn’t count.  There were two unflattering ones–“Shaky,” and “Ice Blue.”

To those nicknamed “Skippy” I hold no grudges.  Pardon me, but, I always hated that name.

Mighty Lightning Struck Out–Again

Began and ended

With sloppy sentimentalists

Duds fell with dull thuds

Hung on words with frayed threads

Whispered down wishing wells

Stayed so long as the chips fell in May

Skipped town till the bitter end

Nine-to-five fools focused

Annoyed at random, shunned attention

Those were old ploys, floogies with floy-floys

Which kids didn’t care much about these days

After adulthood weren’t much in the mood

Waited till humanity fell in the fall

Didn’t that really just beat all?

Non-participatory trophy wives clubbed

Staged no excuses barred grudge matches

With Herbalist the love bug

And Bradley love you bunches



If You Were Paying Attention This Week

Baby, baby, baby–where’s the giraffe baby?  Baby, baby, oh baby–next week, maybe? The same giraffe’s been pregnant since 2015–what?

A giant chicken is allegedly scaring folks all over the world-wide web.  Who’s afraid of the big bad rooster?  Not I, said the Little Red Hen.

The “human Ken doll” guy had a few more surgeries.  What’s a few more, when there have already been so many?

Wonder Woman’s new edition was up to her armpits in controversy.  Had she, or hadn’t she?  Couldn’t wrap my head around that one.

Some countries cared how their rivers flowed; granted them the same rights as humans.  If this was to prevent pollution–then, I’m for it.  The cynic in me wondered if they would be subjected to taxation.

Flip or Flop TV stars had more problems.  Meanwhile, it was announced which of our favorite shows would flip into next season–which ones flopped.

My favorite TV mechanic, Edd China, from Velocity’s “Wheeler Dealers” is leaving the show.  Saddest news since Jeremy Clarkson & Company left “Top Gear.”

Shaq’s world wasn’t flat.  That was just a joke.



What You Needed To Know (Stream of Consciousness)

Curtain rose, then fell

Magazine covers

Wrinkled, torn

Inside passages

“I’m Joe’s Liver”

“Why can’t Johnny read?”

Asked, then answered

For those that believed

Cautioned, stern warnings

Kudzu clan was on the loose

Worst earthquakes

Were yet to come

Best to plan ahead

Dream queens, dream screams

Worst mistakes, “they” ever made

Why we dreamed–what dreams meant

Baby bumps, career bump-ups

Deflated balloons departed

Decorated trees in festive mylar

Get well, good luck!

Don’t give up–too soon!

Uncanny caring

Unconscious staring

Big sales, slips and flops

Ubiquitous, unorthodox shops

Favorable phases of the moon

Back to basics, think smaller

How to look taller

Luck, lack of luck?

Hidden gold mines

Could work this time?

You didn’t know

How lucky you were




Make It Happen

Pluto, perennial pipsqueak of the planets, could be reinstated by the International Astronomical Union to full planet status–as some NASA scientists are proposing.

Pluto was called a planet from 1930 to 2006… Pluto’s demotion angered some scientists who are still fighting for Pluto to be reinstated as a planet, including Alan Stern, the lead scientist with NASA’s New Horizon’s mission to Pluto.

Stern recently submitted a proposal to the International Astronomical Union to make Pluto a full-fledged planet.

In the mind of the public, the word ‘planet’ carries a significance lacking in other words used to describe planetary bodies, according to the proposal.  In the decades following the supposed ‘demotion’ of Pluto by the International Astronomical Union, many members of the public, in our experience, assume that alleged ‘non-planets’ cease to be interesting enough to warrant scientific exploration.

A planet is a sub-stellar mass body that has never undergone nuclear fusion and that has sufficient self-gravitation to assume a spheroidal shape adequately described by a triaxial ellipsoid regardless of its orbital parameters, the proposal continued.

Who besides the IAU cares whether or not Pluto is smaller than earth’s moon?  It meets all other criteria necessary for planet hood.  Vote it in–make it happen.  Now, that’s a cause we can all get behind!


–Science & Health,–

The War Within

Idle minds were trouble’s workshop

Nothing good happened after 2 am

Extreme cold kept a lid on crime

Extreme heat caused crime to rise

If only everybody thought the same on every subject?

Wouldn’t living in snow globes be perfect?

Orchestrated micro-worlds, decorated with red ribbons

Swiss chalets and chopping woodmen–human-sized mini castles

Gingerbread cottages, carefully planned

to please the terminally nostalgic

Everything the same, every day for ever and ever

Nothing else seemed to work

Most wouldn’t  notice differences at first

They’d be too busy with Holiday activities

Condensed calcite fell in faux snowstorms

as if by magic–timed for every Holiday season

Until, shaken snow globe earthquakes became more frequent

More earthquakes, more and more snow

“It was efflorescence, not snow!”

“It wasn’t cold enough to snow!”

Skeptics shouted, wizened to their controlled environment

loathed the falseness–Holidays became an insipid joke

Outside celebrations forbidden

Escapes inevitable, although futile

Freedom zones were anything but free







“It’s like a legendary gourmet cook making mud sandwiches.  The adoring audience cheers, ‘Bravo’–but, it’s still mud.”

My local refuse collection company in a recent letter, referred to customers as “refuse generators.”  Why not “subscribers” or “consumers?”  I’m not feeling the love.