Where Has This Day Gone?

It’s already 11:30 AM.  What are we going to have for dinner?  What am I going to write about?

Rush, rush, my morning routine to meet an early doctor’s appointment.  Then, the usual hurry up and wait at the doctor’s office.  By then it was mid-morning.  I’m not on a schedule, so why did it matter?

My wife suggested late breakfast.  Since we skipped it earlier, I was famished by then.  A chain restaurant known for pancakes was the answer.

Our daughter is moving today.  We’re too far away to help.  It’s true, moving is a true test of friendship.  We’re with her in spirit.

CONVERSATION WITH A FRIEND

“There seems to be a general decline in the “effimacaciousness” of this blog,” Floyd observed–stroking his chin.

“How you figure?”  I answered his question with a question.

“He who answers a question with a question is a fool,”  Floyd replied.

“Will you get to the point and knock off the pseudo-intellectual shtick.”

“You’re first and foremost, an imaginary character that exists only in my mind.  If it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t be here.”

“Did I hurt your feelings?  Don’t get your shorts in a bunch.  Just listen.”

Floyd was attired for summer–bib overalls and slouchy railroad engineer’s cap.  At least this time he had on a t-shirt.  Customary brown chewing tobacco spittle stained the corners of his mouth.  He expounded homespun philosophy with one foot on the front bumper of his light blue Ford pickup.

“All I was trying to say–is you need to lighten things up a bit,” Floyd answered.  “Most people get &^*$%# tired of hearing the same negative @#%!&^ day after day.”  I failed to mention that Floyd’s vocabulary would make longshoremen blush.

“I glad to see you turned out smarter than your buddy Larry.  He’s “purt near” broke with three ex-wives.  Hasn’t got a pot to (*#$@ in.  He should have had enough &^*%$#%@ sense to quit after wife number two.”

I hadn’t thought about Floyd for a long time.  Something about unshaven, sweaty men in bibs I’d rather avoid–as a general rule.  He was a memorable character.  If one looked past the disheveled, gruff exterior–he always gave good advice.

WHEN THE BIG EASY WASN’T SO EASY

streetcar

Conditions could not have been worse–torrential rains, with thunder and lightning, didn’t let up the entire day.

Interstate highway lane markers were barely visible.  At times, barely creeping along, rooster tails of water from passing trucks engulfed my car.

There were rivulets of water flowing across the parking lot.  What an introduction to the French Quarter and New Orleans, for my visiting friends.  Recently purchased yellow rain ponchos were immediately employed.  After a quick jog across the parking lot splashing through standing water; we reconnoitered inside a nearby mall.

Making day trip plans in advance is a gamble.  It became a day of exploring neighborhoods–people watching, via streetcars and public transportation.  Near the end of the St. Charles line, an inebriated woman, with a bottle of her favorite adult beverage in a paper bag, engaged passers-by in unsolicited, spirited conversations.  A young woman with an umbrella tried to ignore her.

At the same stop was another young lady with a device strapped to her ankle.  My imagination went to work.  She was under house arrest?  Her ankle monitor could was about to go off?  Would the NOPD show up–take her into custody?  My friend, suggested it was probably a physical therapy device.  I was more suspicious–something clandestine had to be going on.

Driving through the French Quarter wasn’t the same as walking through it.  I felt sorry for the homeless people taking shelter in vacant storefronts.  A couple of them were amused by our bright yellow rain ponchos.   We looked like four yellow ducks.  The street performers weren’t out, neither were the colorful mule-drawn carriages.

We met some nice visitors from the New England area.  We joked about parts of the Big Easy being under sea level.  They got off at the Harrah’s casino stop.

Decisions had been influenced by weather conditions the entire day.  The restaurant, near the parking lot, was a pleasant surprise.  The waiter, in my opinion, had a passing resemblance to the actor that portrays the “David Lee” character on “The Good Wife”–minus the cynicism.

Weather conditions weren’t the least bit kind.  The Big Easy, whetted my appetite for another visit; to taste more of what this wonderful city has to offer.  And, the barbecued shrimp entree, (which I’d never tried before), was delightful.

ROCKIN’ WITH OLD JAKE

fishing 1

I remember this one time, when my best friend Dave and me, drove out to Jake Murphy’s before the sun came up.  Jake’s coon dog’s were raising ten kinds of hell, soon as we drove down the dirt driveway.  “I hope Jake remembered that he promised to go fishing with us this morning,”  Dave said.  “He knows, now,” I answered when the lights came on.

Trust, honesty, and fear, went along with knocking on someone’s door at five in the morning.  Jake answered the door, half-asleep; pulling on his bib overalls.  He didn’t have an undershirt on.  Neither Dave, nor myself, wanted to know, if anything else was missing.  Jake grumbled something unintelligible, stumbled across the porch; sat on the steps; put on socks and shoes.

“Good morning sunshine,” I greeted.  “I knew it was you guys when I seen them headlights,” Jake bristled in defense.  He tossed his fishing gear and cooler in the pickup bed.  Jake’s slouchy railroad conductor’s cap barely covered his wild gray hair.

Jake, secured himself in the window seat, closed the door.  It was a good thing, it was summer, and the truck windows were down.  Because the stench of musk cologne was overpowering.  It almost made up for Jake’s poor hygiene habits.

Junked out lawn mowers, an old wheelbarrow, an old green pickup truck bed–converted into a trailer, and other miscellaneous junk, leaned against Jake’s old garage.  Inside, his trusty Mercury Marquis, sported a crude, hand-brushed, dark blue repaint job.

When he wanted to work, Jake did odd jobs around town.  But, mostly, when he needed more whiskey.  He was a better house painter half-drunk, than most people were, when sober.  Most people avoided him.  They thought he was odd–a little too strange.  He wasn’t “funny strange” or anything like that.  He just wasn’t sociable.

That wasn’t why we invited him to come along.  Jake Murphy was a “fish witcher.”  It was spooky how good he was.  He could read water ripples like pages in a book.  “Throw over yonder–by that stump,”  He’d say.  “There’s a big bass waitin’ to strike.”  And sure enough, he’d be right.

We stayed all day at Jake’s favorite fishing hole.  Caught a few keepers.  The sun went down, day gave way to darkness–cricket chirps, and bellowing bullfrogs.  An ambiance that called for a roaring campfire.  The mosquitoes were hungry–we were too. Jake and I whittled points on sticks to roast hot dogs.

None of us thought to bring hot dog buns.  It was too late to do anything about it–so we did without.  “That’s enough to keep us from starving–I reckon,” Jake said.  “I would sure liked to have had some beans to go with ’em.  I’m going to stay up here for a bit–take a smoke break.  You fellas go ahead and fish some more.”

“I’ll bet Jake eats lots of beans,” I said.  “That’s probably why he farts so much,” Dave joked.  “I’ve heard that he survives on beans and peanut butter.”  Neither of us knew for sure.  On the opposite side of the pond Jake’s cigarette tip glowed bright orange. Campfire light glinted off his raised whiskey bottle.

The catfish didn’t cooperate, we landed a monster snapping turtle, instead.  It was an ugly, moss-covered creature, not one bit happy about being caught by two teenage boys.  “You want to keep it?” I asked, looking over at Dave.  “Naw,” He answered,  “Let’s cut it loose.”

Jake sat in an old rocking chair on the dock–nursed a bottle of “Heaven Hill” bourbon whiskey.  He sang some nondescript  old country song.  The drunker he got–the louder he sang.  It was more like, wailing from tortured souls in hell, than singing. Nobody was around to complain.

None of us knew exactly how it happened.  Jake might have leaned over too far?  In his inebriated state–who could really tell? Somehow, Jake rocked himself off the dock into the water.  He didn’t really holler much–it was more of a moan.

Dave and me jumped in, pulled Jake out–wet overalls and all. Almost drowning sobered him up pretty quick.  He began dancing, jumping, and hollering around the campfire to dry out.  Jake’s “war dance” was hilarious.  Jake laughed, checked his pockets for fish.  What else could he do at that point?

People around town joked about, old Jake rocking off the dock, for a long time after that.  The story got twisted into, “While everybody else was rocking ’round the clock, Old Jake, was rocking off the dock.”  The joke was really on them–because they missed the big dance!  When Jake was drunk, things could get pretty weird.

“You Put Things in the Strangest Places”

From the initial frightening moments of my wife’s accident, we’ve transitioned to scenes of amusing awkwardness.  Her two-week check-up went well–except for some light-headedness during the X-Ray session.  I was amazed at the amount of hardware, pins, and screws.

I’m thankful for the assistance of caring friends and neighbors.  A friend brought over some yummy, home-cooked, black-eyed peas and soda bread.  Yesterday, Mrs. “P,” from across the street, helped me do much-needed house cleaning.  She cleaned the bathrooms.  I cleaned the kitchen and vacuumed the floors.

It’s surprising the amount of damage, a few boil-overs and microwave explosions can do.  On a positive note, this second string chef was on a winning streak, until yesterday; when my macaroni and tomatoes didn’t have enough sugar.  It had something to do with acidity, and was, apparently important.  Also, I’m sure the space shuttle could have been built, in the time it took to peel my boiled eggs.

Laundry is going swimmingly.  Dark clothes, light clothes–never the twain shall meet.  I knew that from college dorm days, and don’t need to go into further details.  Grocery shopping is better, with my bride nearby–to oversee selection of necessary victuals.  Surprise of surprises–I was informed that I wasn’t aggressive enough in the supermarket.  That’s why other shoppers were cutting me off.  I was advised to emulate Chicago rush hour drivers.

It was good to have help and not end up with odd surprise items; that looked good to me in the store, but not so good at home.  Who knew there were so many different kinds of potatoes and onions?  Did you know that russet potatoes aren’t really red?  It shook up my entire belief system.

Being a personal valet has been a source of amusement.  My slightly off-kilter mind needs no help in wandering astray.  I wondered whether other people might stare at my wife and think–“Gee, your husband sure dresses you funny.”  I’m sure they’d be too polite to say it out loud–even if they were thinking it.  I’ve been tempted to pull up her stretch pants right up to her chest–“old man style,”  but thought the better of it.  She’s still got one good arm–that cast could do some damage against the side of my head.

My wife is much neater and more organized, than I’ll ever be.  That’s why I keep hearing, “You put things in the strangest places.”  She doesn’t understand or appreciate my impatience.  This morning, while emptying the dishwasher, I asked, “Honey, where does this mini-radar beacon go?”  It turned out, that it was a small strainer, and not a radar device at all.

Rinse, lather, repeat; rinse, lather, repeat; condition, moisturize–please don’t mention the whole hairdressing scenario.  Keep it on the DL.