God’s Kisses


Spring day

Warm misty air

After a morning rain

Taking a walk in the woods

Damp earth, fresh smells, so good

Stomping in puddles, making mud splatter

Your young and it doesn’t really matter

Drinking it in, every sight and sound

Showing Mom everything you found

No question is too unimportant or silly

Mom, do Buttercups have real butter–really?

Picking bouquets of flowers

Walking around for hours

From the Master, an impressionist painting

Heaven’s blessing after a winter of waiting

Something so simple and so much fun to do

Mother Nature won’t mind if we take a few

Shhh! Come here, I’ll tell you a secret if you listen

Because spring flowers are really God’s kisses.

My Supermarket Adventure

I don’t enjoy supermarket shopping.  Rarely do I go unless I’m on vacation.  Recently, I was reminded why I hate it so much.  Was it my imagination?  I perceived that my wife went into s-l-o-w-w m-o-t-i-o-n.  It was like watching the final losing Super Bowl play over and over again.  Supermarkets have a sort of cruelty about them.  It ends at the check out line as I stand with head down staring at the floor.  Wouldn’t want to get caught looking at tabloid headlines.  …Other shoppers personal items would be worse.

We went through the aisles, then back through the same aisles in reverse.  It was like instant replay.  As a puzzled newlywed I asked my bride, “Honey, why do you go through all the aisles and not buy anything?” “I don’t know Sweetie, that’s the way I’ve always done it.  “That way I don’t forget anything.” It still didn’t make sense to me.  I instead concentrated on being a serious-minded shopping cart operator.  Why did she lead me down the narrowest, most crowded aisles and suddenly change directions?  She had the uncanny ability to disappear in milliseconds.  Didn’t she understand that I had a reputation to uphold.  …Now to turn this rig around.

“Honey, we need some potatoes.” “I saw them on aisle 27, Pumpkin.” “Yes, Dear.” I replied faithfully.  The supermarket was such a scary place!  Evil lurked around every corner.  You never knew when another grocery cart would suddenly pop out and collide with yours.   My mind wandered.  The calm octogenarian gentleman slowly pushing his cart toward me could be a total maniac.  …Using his cart as a weapon…The culmination of years living on a fixed income.  His eyes narrow slits. …face frozen with determination… waiting for the exact moment to prey on the unsuspecting.  If there was a God, let a yuppie shopper with a shopping cart full of gourmet foods and designer water suddenly appear.  That would be my cue to escape his evil game.

“Sweetheart, did you get the potatoes?” “Yes, Dear.” I replied proudly.  “Sweetie, those are red potatoes, I wanted russet potatoes.”  I was confused, didn’t the word “russet” mean red?  It turned out that russet potatoes were actually white.  We made our way back to aisle 27.  “Russet potatoes are better for baking.” “Oh” I said.  “Sorry” “It’s OK Hon, you just didn’t know.  “Look, they have twelve kinds of beef jerky.” “That’s nice, Dear.” “Let’s go to the check out.”

Cart pushers and sudden stops were invitations for disaster–especially if you had long objects in your cart.  Cart thieves were the lowest form of life.  Too lazy to get theirs from the front of the store, they’d seize yours.  Spend too long perusing the frozen food section and it could happen to you.  Your carefully selected items tossed aside as the thief made a clean getaway.  There should be special punishment for cart thieves, just like there was for horse thieves in the Old West.

Maybe I should look at supermarket shopping differently?  It could be a whole new realm of competition.  Discounted canned goods sans labels could lead to an exciting party game.  “What’s in the can?”  Guess creamed corn and it could be pickled beets.  Of course losers would have to eat the contents of their can.  It has the makings of a new “Reality TV” show.  Eat your heart out “Fear Factor.”  Next trip go to the end of the aisle where sale items are carefully stacked in a pyramid.  Select an item from near the bottom of the stack and carefully pull it out.  This game is similar to “Jenga,” losers collapse the stack.  Public humiliation would follow with the “clean-up on aisle three” announcement.

Perhaps the most spine-tingling challenge for shoppers happens when they enter and leave the facility.  It’s a thrilling game of “chicken” as motorists challenge pedestrians to cross.  Cross-walk markings seem to be there only as a suggestion.  Runaway shopping carts in the parking lot provide plenty of thrills.  “Attention thrill seekers!” “Step right up!” “Place your bets!” “I’ve got fifty dollars on the blue Toyota.” “Watch out, that cart is heading right for your car!”

Where Were You on 9-11-01?

It was a beautiful, clear, cool late summer morning.  My first reaction was one of disbelief, then anger that someone was bold enough to attack our country on our own soil.  Wasn’t our country the only one on earth that ever used atomic weapons?  Were we on the road to war?  After the events that surrounded the Vietnam conflict, I hoped our country would have the guts to do what needed to be done.  If this was the beginning of war, I would volunteer to defend my country.  I was fifty-two and would go if they would have me.  I found it hard to concentrate on my work and noticed the strange silence as there was no air traffic.  Any planes in the air would have been regarded as a potential threat.

My next repair job was at a state correctional facility in Central Illinois.  While repairing communication equipment in one of the residential units, the inmates intently watched television coverage of events as they unfolded.  My background was different, but we were all of one accord.  Our country had been violently and deliberately attacked by forces then unknown.  This called for a resounding and clear response in defense of our nation.  Several inmates remarked they would be willing to go and fight.  To me, this was a reminder that “Freedom isn’t free.” There will always be forces in the world that don’t like what we stand for.  We have to remain strong in defense of our nation–to think otherwise is naivety.  To quote the late, great broadcaster, Paul Harvey, “It is not one world.”

The Good Old Days

Were the “good old days” really that good? It’s the hottest part of summer and I’m sitting comfortably in my air-conditioned house. Nobody had air-conditioning when I was growing up. Half the residents in my small town didn’t have indoor plumbing. Yet somehow we survived. I could buy a bag of candy for a quarter. Gasoline was around twenty cents a gallon–less during “gas wars.” During “gas wars” stations would lower prices to drive their competitors out of business. Food and durable goods were also less expensive. To keep things in perspective, wages were lower. People of that era were accustomed to the status quo. Would I want to go back? The answer is a resounding no! I wouldn’t want to go through the years of teenage angst. I would like to recover some of the time wasted over things that I now know are not important.  While working in the unrelenting summer heat and humidity, I long for the “good old days” four months ago when I was on vacation in Hawaii.  It’s a “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” thing.  My depression-era parents had a different outlook.  Their “when I was your age” speeches were warnings to appreciate the comforts of life because they could be taken away.  Like the lyrics to the Carly Simon tune, “Anticipation,” I believe “These are the Good Old Days.”

Cynical Observation

As a former Illinois resident, I find it odd that the “Welcome to Illinois” signs encountered upon crossing the state line no longer have the name of the current governor.   Could it be because the two previous governors are serving time in the penitentiary?  …because budgetary constraints don’t allow for sudden changes in occupancy of the governor’s mansion?

Underachiever’s Notebook

These are the opinions of an itinerant ne’er-do-well.  This blog is dedicated to average people everywhere.  My heroes are poets, paupers, braggarts and bandits, dime-store psychologists and barracks lawyers.  Franchised heroes are boring.  Give me a story with quirky imperfect characters everytime.  I like to quote song lyrics. I offer this thought, from the “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkle, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls.”

Hello world!

I am a retired baby boomer with solid small town Midwestern roots.  I’ve found out in roughly the last decade that I enjoy writing.  This is in contrast to my younger days in English Composition when the right words just didn’t seem to come together.  Maybe it was because I was too self-absorbed to feel strongly about anything.  The ancient Greek philosophers lived in caves and commented on the human condition.  My purpose is to make some sense of this ever-changing crazy world we live in.  Sometimes I find the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The more digital widgets we have the more we seem to have become slaves to them.  This is one of the absurdities of life I will address.  This will be my view of the world as I see it.