Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the month “January, 2018”

We Can Rebuild Him…

I KNOW THAT I’VE BEEN WRITING a lot about my cataract surgery lately. Some people tell me that they have found it somewhat interesting. Others have called it all rather “yucky.”

And they are both correct.

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Everything Old Is New Again

I KNOW PROGRESS WHEN I SEE IT and a thunderbolt of Progress has struck in Terre Haute (That’s French for “You three guys – into the trunk!”)

As I was sipping my coffee this morning I decided to check the local news site to see what was happening here in the Wabash Valley. My heart skipped a beat

Who cares that the local Macy’s store is closing other than the people who go there to ride the only escalator in town? Who cares that the Indiana state University basketball team is not doing very well…again? Who cares that the new Starbucks “Blonde Espresso” tastes like 10W-40 Pennzoil Motor Oil? Who cares about any of that stuff when the real news is that a brand spanking new Drive-in Theater is going to open up in town this Summer?

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Clean Living

 

EATING LAUNDRY DETERGENT? YEAH, THAT’S A GOOD IDEA. Maybe wash it down with a little motor oil. This is proof that some people should not be allowed near power tools or to breed.

When I first saw the stories in the news that some young, hip, and “with it” people are swallowing Tide Detergent Pods – on purpose, I thought, “Nah, this must be some gag article on CNN or someplace.”

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Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued – Part Two 

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued

 

 

Haight Street

by

John Kraft

 

 

 

“I think it’s white wine with tuna noodle, isn’t it.”

Marlee took the plates and utensils from his hands and headed into the kitchen. They filled their plates and adjourned to the still sunny space by the Bay window.

In the early evening, with the sun dropping off the edge into the Pacific Ocean, a golden light washed over The Haight. It gave everyone out on the street a healthy “only in California” patina. It looked like Shangri-la.

The warmth and the unreal light made Marlee feel – awake and alive. It was her first addictive taste of California.

“These are the best seats in the house. You must know somebody,” her guest teased.

“I know the chef.”

“I hear that he’s wonderful – and cute too.”

They bantered back and forth as they ate and enjoyed the Napa Valley ‘Table White’ wine.

Dennis Thayer sipped at his glass, nursing it for almost an hour. Over the casserole Marlee learned a little more about this genial stranger who lived up the stairs.

“I work for a housecleaning service – ‘Manly Maids.’ It’s a job, hardly a career. What about you?” he asked.

“I’m a classical musician. I play the cello. I’m in between jobs right now, but I do have an audition coming up soon – I hope.”

“Aren’t we all between jobs, really? I fancy myself a Photographer. More wine, Marlee? May I call you Marlee?”

“Of course, Dennis. We are neighbors. You know, I want to thank you for making me feel welcome. My first full day in my own place in San Francisco and I get a home cooked meal. Is everyone so friendly here?”

“Not by a long shot, sister. Under the icing on this cake is a dirty spoon. So, pick your way carefully. This is a tough and dangerous city and The Haight can be one of its toughest neighborhoods.”

“Really? What about all that, ‘Peace, Love and Patchouli’?”

“Honey, that’s all flummery. Always has been. The tourists come here looking for ‘The Summer of Love’ and end up with some junkie poking a knife in their bellies.”

This was the first dark cloud on Marlee’s sunny view of her new hometown.

“The whole ‘hippie’ thing is really just a kind of nostalgia for things that never were.”

He saw that the smile had disappeared from her face and that her eyes were lazily focused on the last rays of light still hiding on the Pacific horizon.

“Oh, now look what I’ve done. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bum you out. It’s not as bad as I paint it, really. I’m just a cynic. You’ll love it here.

“Tomorrow you get out of this apartment and explore the neighborhood. Waste some money on trinkets and beads. Get a tattoo. Just remember, not all the people in The Haight are as nice as me. If they were you’d be up to your hips in tuna noodle casserole.”

 As the sun set Marlee flipped on the overhead lights. With no curtains or blinds on the windows yet she felt like they were on display, exposed.

“Dennis, I want to thank you for making me feel welcome here. It’s been fun, but I have had a long day and I think that I need to just collapse and get some sleep.”

“Of course. I’ve talked your ears off and fed you like a fatted calf.” He started gathering up the dishes. She moved to help him, but he protested.

“I’m the ‘Manly Maid’ here. Let me do this. I’m a professional. You want to help? Here – go put the wine away in your fridge for another day. Go, play wine stewardess while I bus this station.”

“Dennis, you are a real gem. As soon as I get set up I’ll have you down for brunch. I insist.”

“Fabulous, Miss Marlee! You just rap on the ceiling when the eggs are ready.”

“It may be a couple of weeks or so. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to make this place a home.”

“Whenever.”

Marlee took the wine into the kitchen. She had had a thoroughly delightful time with her new neighbor. The wine bottle would be the first thing in her new, ancient, fridge.

In the other room, Dennis scooped up everything in his tablecloth, one big bundle to be sorted out later. As he headed toward the door he walked past the cardboard boxes filled with books waiting to be unpacked. He smiled as he picked up her slim paperback copy of “Leaves of Grass” and slipped it silently into his shirt.

Rules Are Rules

IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU CAN SAY ABOUT ME it is that I’m pretty open minded when it comes to how people want to live their lives. As long as you don’t scare the horses or foul the footpath I’m not going to complain. I’m not saying that I might not shake my head or chuckle a bit, but that’s what I do six days a week.

I actively disapprove of few things. If you are an adult and have the sense God gave a ham sandwich go ahead and live your life. I won’t try to stop you. I won’t try to stop you from making a fool of yourself either. There is an entertainment factor that I find quite valuable in the wacky behavior of others.

Which brings me to today’s excursion down “You gotta be kiddin’ me Boulevard.”

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Throwback Thursday from 2016 – “Flying To Texas Can Be Fun”

 

Throwback Thursday from 2016 – “Flying To Texas Can Be Fun”

monorail catA LONG TIME AGO in a galaxy far, far away I grew up in Western Pennsylvania on the edges of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Most people refer to them as the Amish. That is an oversimplification of course. There are a large variety of “Amish” communities and sects – each with their own set of rules.

The date of the community’s founding determines some of the rules. Many will not use a technology that came about after the founding date. That is why some groups will not use motorized vehicles while other will. Some will use telephones, others will not.

Last week while we flew to Texas I saw something new. Passing through the Indianapolis airport I saw an Amish family heading toward baggage claim. This was the first time I had heard of Amish flying. “Must be a new community.”

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Taking It Slow

 

BOY! THOSE ROADS ARE SLICK OUT THERE THIS MORNING! We had a couple of inches of that dry and fluffy snow last night and that has made driving a bit of an adventure. I’m fine because I am a perfect driver (Stop snickering!). It is the rest of those idiots out there that made things ugly.

This is Indiana in January. Are all of those other drivers imported from Southern Arizona where it never really snows? It’s like watching someone on ice skates for the first time only now they are piloting tons of steel on wheels.

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You Want Me To Stick That Where ?

I BEG YOUR PARDON. DID I HEAR THAT RIGHT?

Ear Candling? Yes, I did hear you correctly. You were asking me about Ear Candling. Someone I know was asking whether or not they should try Ear Candling.

For those of you who are already completely lost, let me explain.

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Get Me Out Of Jail

MY MIND IS IN JAIL. At least that is how it feels. Right now, with one cataract gone and one still to be dealt with, I have two totally different eyes with totally different focus points and even totally different color perceptions. That all makes reading very difficult.

Taking away my ability to pick up a book or my Kindle and comfortably read is like lashing me to a chair, putting a paper bag over my head, and closing all the drapes. The World has disappeared.

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Fiction Saturday — “Haight Street” – Part One

 

 

 

Fiction Saturday —

“Haight Street” – Part One

 

 

Today is the beginning of an experiment for me and, by proxy, for you as well as I start posting a new/unfinished novel as it is being written. This is a First Draft of

Haight Street

by

John Kraft

It couldn’t have been more different for Marlee Owens. There had always been someone to turn to. There had always been Phillip. He was the kind of man who could hold her hand and go for a quiet walk on a busy street. Now she had to rely on herself.

Now that Phillip was dead.

Aside from her music, her world had revolved around him. Until one night, walking back to their car after a Wednesday “date night” movie,  a sixteen year-old addict stepped out of the shadows, decided that Phillip had “looked at me funny” and put four inches of tempered steel into Phillip’s left ventricle. He might as well have put the knife into Marlee’s heart as well.

Her parents and friends tried to comfort and help her, but they had no real idea of what to do. If it had been a divorce they could have managed something, but how do you comfort a woman who has had her husband butchered before her eyes? What do you say to a young widow who had so much blood on her that night that the paramedics thought that she had also been stabbed?

Marlee was drowning in Cleveland.

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Beep! Beep!

I WOKE UP EARLY THIS MORNING. I’m still wearing my plastic semi-hockey mask to sleep in for a few more days and it’s not all that comfortable – so I was up at the crack of still dark outside.

The local morning news starts at 5:30 AM and, unless there was a big basketball game in the area, there is not much to talk about at that hour.

Today’s headline lead story was about coyotes.

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Throwback Thursday from Jan. 2016 – “I’m Not As Dumb As Some People”

 

Throwback Thursday from Jan. 2016 – “I’m Not As Dumb As Some People”

 

MY BRAIN IS UP ON BLOCKS. The weather is dreary – rain with a promise of Arctic temperatures by Sunday, and it is still a month before Baseball Spring Training begins. Everything is gray. Even my Green Tea looks dusty.

About the only thing going on around town this week is that three Jiffy Mart gas stations have been robbed. Two on one evening – ten minutes apart, and the third one got knocked over last night.

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Am I Nervous?

 

I MAY HAVE HAD AN 8:15 AM APPOINTMENT, but that doesn’t mean I was ready to go at 8:15. It was a good thing that Dawn was driving. I was in no mood for having to deal with this whole surgery thing.

We were on time, checked in, and led back into one of those little curtained off areas where I was handed a hospital gown. I did not expect that. The Nurse, Techie, or Head Patient Wrangler told me that they were going to hook me up to a heart monitor and put a port into a vein – just in case.

Whatever. I was resigned to my fate.

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Look Into My Eyes

DRIP. DRIP. DRIP. Three drops for three days, but only in my left eye. My right eye is on its own – at least for the next two weeks. At that point it becomes Drip, Drip, Drip in the right eye.

By this time tomorrow I will have a brand spankin’ new lens in my left eye. Then for the next two weeks I will see better in that eye and still see crappy in the other. 

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Wrapping Up The Holidays.

 

   TO PARAPHRASE DOUGLAS MACARTHUR, “We have returned”…from Texas that is, and we are now going to reconquer Terre Haute (That’s French for “Hey! This ain’t the Philippines.”).

Christmas and New Years in South Texas (Sinton – Population about 5500) should be relatively warm – mid 70s or so, but not this year. There were days in the 30s and 40s and always damp. It felt like we were living inside a Styrofoam beer cooler. Then we had to return to Indiana to be greeted with minus 9° degrees. I haven’t been warm since July.

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Saturday Fiction Encore  – “Sluggo, Peeto, And No-Face Charlie” – Conclusion

This piece was originally created as a performance piece. It was presented on several stages in the San Francisco Bay Area. Try to imagine it that way.

Saturday Fiction – “Sluggo, Peeto, And No-Face Charlie” – Conclusion

 

They found a spot near the rear of the lot and backed in so that they could survey the scene. Moments after they pulled in, a group of about four or five boys wearing jackets sporting large orange appliqué footballs and high school letters, swaggered up to the car, smelling of “Wild Irish Rose” and telegraphing danger like a gun that wants to go off.

“Hey guys.  How’s it hangin’?”

“Just great, Tony.  Hey, check out what we got in the back seat.”

The biggest of the jacketed boys leaned through the window.  Charlie lifted his bottle in a toast of greeting.

“Oh, Jesus Christ.  How’s it hangin’ Charlie?

“Whatcha gonna do with him?” whispered one of the other jacketed boys.

“I got some ideas… stay close”, said the driver.

The jackets left but Charlie didn’t notice the leaving, only his empty bottle of Iron City.  After a moment of quietly scanning the scene the boy in the driver’s seat turned and faced Charlie.

“Well, Charlie, this is ‘Hank’s’.  Pretty neat, huh?”

Charlie said nothing out loud, but his eyes said that Hank’s ­was­ “neat”, the neatest spot on the face of the Earth.

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Doctor, I Have Question

 

IT SEEMS THAT EVERY OTHER COMMERCIAL I SEE ON TV is for some new medicine with a name composed entirely of letters that have high point value in Scrabble. “Try new Xyzzzqwizl!” (773 points).

At the end of these ads they always stick in a disclaimer, “Ask your physician before starting any new medications.” Aren’t these new meds all by prescription only? I would assume that you cannot get these drugs by hanging out in the Seven-Eleven parking lot after midnight and befriending some guy named “Lucky.” Your doctor should have to write a prescription for a real pharmacy to fill. I’m not going to start popping some “Xyzzzqwizl!” with my Dr. Pepper and feel I’ve done my part.

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Throwback Thursday from Jan. – “Memories Are Made Of This”

Throwback Thursday from Jan. – “Memories Are Made Of This”

ONE OF THE MOST PRECIOUS THINGS that we, as humans, have is a memory. memory 1Our memory can keep the span of our entire lives and bring back to us people and moments long past. We have our memories, but how we remember something or someone may vary from the long-past reality. Our memory of time spent with a particular person may tell us that things were better or worse than they actually were.

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To Quote Cary Grant, “Jedi, Jedi, Jedi.”

 

WE HAVE FALLEN INTO LOCKSTEP with millions of other people and there was nothing I could do about it. We went and saw the new Star Wars movie…Episode MDCXXVII of a planned IX Episode saga. I might be wrong on that number, but not by much.

In this latest picture most of the cast is either dead or looking like they just came out of their XXIII attempt at Detox. In my opinion the Special Effects are not so special looking anymore, but then again, I have cataracts and my glasses were dirty.

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Alexa: The Singing Hockey Puck 

 

THERE’S A STRANGER IN OUR HOME. Her name is Alexa. She is not very big – maybe about the size of a hockey puck. And she never shuts up.

I do admit that Alexa only speaks if you address her by name, but once she starts she likes to hear the sound of her own voice, synthetic though it may be.

Alexa is an “A.I.” – an Artificial Intelligence persona created by Amazon that verbally connects you to the Internet. I’m not yet completely convinced that this is a good idea. Why? Because…

Alexa is a “Know-it-All.”

And we all know how much fun those people can be to have around, Artificial or not.

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