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 – 2019

Archive for the category “Nonfiction”

I’m Putting My Foot Down!

 

SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE! This is just getting out of hand! I’m putting my foot down! Both of them even…otherwise I might fall over and doing that in public makes it hard for me to be taken seriously.

Grrrrr.

What has me worked up into such a lather? It is The Usual Suspects.

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There Is No Time For This

A FEW DAYS AGO I SAW a small news item in the local newspaper about an old building that was being renovated. As they were working on the foundation the workers uncovered a Time Capsule. For those of you with no sense of history let me explain about time capsules.

It used to be the practice when public buildings such as Libraries, Government Buildings, and other large structures were built to place a box into the foundation corner stone. In the box they’d put things about the town, their lives, and times. The box would stay hidden until the building was torn down sometime in the future.

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200…Maybe More

 

I HAVE REALIZED, FINALLY, AT MY ADVANCED AGE that the basis for all life on this planet is not carbon or water or even chocolate. It is coffee. Everything else is window dressing.

I’m sure that the entire universe is put together that way. Not necessarily with coffee as the base, but with the structure of everything resting precariously on a base made of something simple and barely noticeable – until it disappears.

When the Scientists on this planet began to figure out the basic structure of everything they came up with a short list of Electrons, Protons, and Neutrons. As time moved on they started adding things to that short stack of atomic particles. Neutrinos, Quarks, Photons, Bosons, Mesons and Masons…OK that last one isn’t true. I just stuck it in there to see who was paying attention.

So far they have identified over 200 subatomic particles. I think that means that everything – you, me, that raccoon living under your porch – everything is composed of more than 200 different tiny bits stacked up. We are all pieces in a giant game of Jenga. Pull out just one piece and it can all collapse into a pile of junk mail.

The two hundred itty-bitty particles making up your milkshake are the same bits making up that boy or girl you were making time with in high school. Your first car and McDonald’s Special Sauce are the same stuff…except for maybe that secret dye that Mickey D’s uses to make those green milkshakes on St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t know what that stuff is. No one does. Even Albert Einstein would have shaken his head and muttered “Verdammt, wenn ich es verstehe.”

Well, there you are. That’s pretty much the extent of my take on the composition of the universe. I’m not comparing myself to Albert Einstein, but even he knew when it was time to just shrug his shoulders and toss in the 200 plus particles that made up his towel.

As far as earth is concerned I am sticking with my Coffee Theory. I will not delve further into it because I don’t have the Education, Time, or even the Interest to go looking for the Cosmic Glue Stick that holds everything together.

I’m going to go get a refill on my coffee and maybe pick up a bagel – 2 major particles…3 if I get cream cheese.

I’m Not Eating That

I WENT OUT FOR DINNER LAST NIGHT. It was a birthday getogethers for a friend. He was turning 55 or something. It might have been 65, 105, 256…I wasn’t listening all that closely.

I remember my 55th birthday. It was so long ago that I’m a bit hazy on the details, but I know that there were people there. I knew some of them. I’m pretty sure on that, but who they were exactly is a bit fuzzy. Some people took pictures. I’ve seen them so I know that I was there.

The place we gathered the other night was a local spot called “Charlie’s.” Nobody named Charlie has anything to do with the place – at least not for the last fifty years. Back in the day, as they say, Charlie’s was considered a real “Punch Palace” by the local police. It was a kind of “For your fighting and dancing pleasure” kind of joint. Half of the customers had cirrhosis of the liver and the other half had prison records.

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Just Sign These Papers, Please.

“Holy Broom Closet, Batman!”

I wasted a good portion of yesterday with Doctors, Nurses, and Technicians who spent two hours trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube…and I was the toothpaste.

I am not claustrophobic. I’ve been in some pretty tight spots in my life – literally and in a figurative sense so having a CT Scan is no big deal – except that it is a big deal. They don’t shoot people through that gizmo just for fun.

During my last visit to my Doctor’s office, just before taking off for Texas, his minions took about a quart of blood from my “Good” arm for testing and analysis. They never take blood from my “Bad” arm as if it wasn’t connected to the rest of my body. I think it is, but I can’t prove it.

They took my blood and that was it until later in the day when I got a phone call from “Amy Lou” at the Doctor’s Office.

“The results of your blood tests show an abnormality that concerns the Doctor.”

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Throwback Thursday From August 2016 – “Hairs Looking At You, Babe”

Throwback Thursday From August 2016 – “Hairs Looking At You, Babe”

6I’VE BEEN NOTICING SOMETHING RECENTLY – Something that the rest of the world may have been aware of for some time. I can be slow on the pick-up at time.

There seems to be a fad, fashion trend, or style, for men that is news to me. I’m seeing a lot of younger men sporting really long beards. I’m not talking Abraham Lincoln beard, but something closer to the ZZ Top band or the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Under 50 years of age break out your Google).

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There was a fellow, whom I guess to have been about 30, who came into St. Arbucks for the early services/brewing with a neatly trimmed beard (red, no less) that reached to his belly button. The hair on the top of his head was cut short, but his beard was the size of a fuzzy red placemat. He had the moustache to go with it. When he sipped at his coffee he had to use one hand to lift the ‘stache so he could access his mouth.

I would not want to watch him eat a slice of pizza.

A few days ago he came in with a friend. He also had a most prodigious beard (blonde). I don’t think it’s a cult thing – they both looked sane and neatly dressed in a rather Preppie manner. Aside from the beards they could have been part of the “Up With People” cast (Look ‘em up again.).

1When I mentioned this to the collected Usual Suspects (possibly a mistake) they said that it was a style that was considered “Hot” by the current crop of young ladies. There is no way I can personally verify this without risking getting myself slapped, kneed, or called a variety of names. So, I’ll have to take them at their word.

There has been a beard, in one form or another, on my face for close to 50 years. I first grew on for a part I was doing in a play and I kept it. Right now it’s just a short moustache and small lawn on my chin – all gray.

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I’ve never had a long beard like is fashionable now. That would be too much work. Taking care of a beard like that is similar to having a small dog that needs constant grooming. Imagine a Chihuahua that, left unattended, grows up to be an Irish Wolf Hound.

While I get some coffee and go on a short fact-finding mission to learn more about these beards take a look at the slides of my trip to Yellowstone.

Slide One: A picture of a bear. I took the picture.

Slide Two: A picture of me. The bear took the picture.

Slide Three: A picture of me and the bear. I don’t know who took the picture.

{Courtesy of the late Jackie Vernon. Thank you, Funseekers}

During my minimal research on this phenomenon I read an article that called these long beards “Hipster Beards.” Do tell? Hipster?4

I have been seeing these guys carrying around their Shetland Ponies for a good year now. That’s a long time for anything carrying the label of “Hipster.” The 1960s style Carnaby Street Skinny Suits came and went. The “Soul Patch” mini-facial hair stayed around longer because it required no effort or cost, but these Ground Cover Beards might call for the hiring of a Professional Landscape Artist to maintain it.

Hmmmm? I’m wondering…could these guys with the Astro-Turf facial hair be wearing fake beards???

Hipster, indeed – more likely made in North Korea by slave labor!

An intriguing possibility, but, on second thought, unlikely.

These two jokers I see at St. Arbucks look more like runaways from a West Virginia Jug Band than some “Hipsters” from Terre Haute (That’s French for, “There’s something moving in your beard.”).

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Is That Too Much ?

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN. After two weeks in Texas I’m back in Terre Haute (That’s French for “There is nothing in the fridge.”) and trying to sleep through the night again after being in a strange bed.

The luggage hasn’t had the chance to cool off and plans are underway for the next test of my ability to digest the food and water of another part of the globe. This time the passports are aimed at Ireland for a five to six week stay.

Do I enjoy Ireland? Very much. Do I enjoy being away from comfortable and familiar surroundings? Not so much anymore. Somehow I have suddenly become an old man and my adventuresome spirit has dimmed. There was a time when I would go anywhere at any time with less than a moment’s notice. Now I have a need to sit in a chair that knows my shape and sleep in a bed where I can be warm and where I can find my way to the bathroom in the dark.

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Reblog from the Bluebird of Bitterness !!! – Bumper Snickers!

Reblog Time at Down the Hall…

New post on bluebird of bitterness

Bumper snickers

by bluebird of bitterness

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Whose Hot Idea Was This?

 

SWEET DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS, IT’S HOT! I haven’t been this hot since my junior year of high school and this girl from…never mind.

It has been in the mid 90s and above since what seems like the day after Christmas. I like warm weather, hot even, but this hot spell has pushed my limits right off the table.

I love it when the Weather Bunnies on TV say things like, “It is 96 degrees, but the Heat Index is 187,” or whatever number they toss out. After “96 degrees” the rest is as relevant as chocolate sprinkles on a Hershey Bar. It doesn’t change anything, add anything, or make it any better. When life has been reduced to sticking your head in a pizza oven to cool off something like “Heat Index” is not all that important.

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On This August Occasion

My Name Was Augustus. My Finger Hurts.

HOW IN THE WORLD DID IT GET TO BE AUGUST ALREADY? I just got the Christmas decorations down and now I have to start shopping for Halloween candy. I’m certainly not going to give any of it away to those grubby little kids who’ll come knocking on my door, but if you want to get any of the really good candy you’d better start shopping early.

August is one of those “in-between” kinds of months. It doesn’t have any big holidays to speak of. Oh, sure, the third of August is “National Grab Some Nuts Day” and on the 8th we all celebrate “National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day,” but Hallmark doesn’t put out a line of special cards for either holiday, do they?

In July the whole country goes up in smoke with the 4th of July shindigs and in September kids go back to school and millions of parents celebrate until they get so smashed that they make little brothers and sisters for the kids who are already in school. August just doesn’t have anything to compare to that.

I rest my case.

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Throwback Thursday From August 2016 – “Leave The Gun, Take The Donuts”

Throwback Thursday From August 2016 –

“Leave The Gun, Take The Donuts”

donut1

WHEN I GET UP EVERY MORNING one of the first things I do is turn on the TV to catch the Weather and local news. The Weather helps me to decide on how to dress and the News either confirms or dispels my decision to get out of bed at all.

One day a week or so ago the lovely Dana Winklepleck (Anchorwoman) ran a story that grabbed my attention like a hungry pit bull on a pork chop.

Dateline: New Albany, Indiana.

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Dana Winklepleck

New Albany, Indiana is not so close as to be in the “I can see my house from here,” category, but it does qualify as “Local.” The gist of the story is as follows –

A man and his wife woke up from their night’s slumber, much like we all do I suppose. The wife then expressed her yearning for some donuts. Since there were no donuts in the house she sent her loving hubby-bubby out on a mission to get her some donuts and return. She told him exactly what she wanted and sent him on his way.

This is the point where things began to go sour.

The husband went to his wife’s favorite donut shop and placed his order.

“I’m sorry sir, but we’re all out of those donuts until tomorrow.”

Uh-Oh.

With trepidation in his heart, but no donuts in his hand, he returned home. Wifey did not take it well. She launched into a monologue of her opinion of hubby’s abilities as a shopper and potential father. Hubby did not take this well.

Tired of being verbally worked over by his wife, he tried to leave the house (Not a bad idea, if you ask me.). He tried, but she wasn’t finished with him and blocked his way to the door. It was

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at this point that the failed Donut Quixote lost his temper and tried to push his angry Aldonza out of the way.

I guess that she had assumed that this physical altercation was going to stay one-sided. When he pushed her, this seriously intense donut fan escalated things and stabbed her husband in the chest with a Grill Fork. I assume that while he was out looking for her donuts she decided to cook up some bacon or, given her temper, the neighbor’s dog.

donut fork

Not to be intimidated by mere stab wounds, he pulled the fork out of his chest and made his escape from the house. He may have gotten outside, but it seems that she followed him down the street continuing to say nasty things about him.

Someone eventually called the police, who found the husband sitting on the ground holding his chest. They took him to the hospital. They took her to the jail.

Of course, criminal justice being what it is, they are both facing criminal charges – her for that impetuous forking, and him for shoving her in an attempt to escape.

I’m thinking that he has a better chance of being able to go out for donuts sooner than she does. And I hope that he buys what he wants and she can go pound a cruller.

That woman has the worst eating disorder I’ve ever heard of – short of that scene from “The Godfather.”

“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

donut2

Digging My Way Out Of Kolaches

 

I’M GETTING INTO A RUT. SOME PEOPLE MIGHT SAY, “KRAFTY, YOU ARE GETTING TO BE AS DULL AS DIRT.”

They’re probably right.

It was just yesterday (if you actually read yesterday’s blog) that I highlighted (highlit?) my day with safari into deepest, darkest Dollar General in search of the Wild Parmesan Cheese. How could anything be less exciting than that?

Quite easily if you are me.

This morning, after dream-filled night fraught with images of me walking in circles and the more I walked the farther away I got from everything, At a couple of minutes after 6 AM I popped into semi-consciousness. With only one lobe plugged in and operating I dressed myself, staggered down the stairs and made a pot of tea…all without any injury or embarrassing fashion faux pas. That gave me hope that things might be on the upswing.

I should have known better.

As I sat there slumped over my mug of tea like an early-morning barstool cowboy my wandering (read: unfocusing) eyes lit upon a shopping list note propped up within my field of vision.

Small Bottle of Bleach

Pepto Bismol

I don’t care what fad diet you may be following in your pursuit of skinny jeans, there is no way in Rochester, Minnesota that mixing Bleach and Pepto Bismol can be a good thing. Just seeing that list at that hour made my tummy-tum-tum do a triple back flip. I tried to ignore it as I submerged myself into my tea. It didn’t work

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The Habit Of Love

I WAS IN A DISCUSSION THE OTHER DAY ABOUT GOOD HEALTHY HABITS. There was talk about eating the right things, seeing your Doctor regularly, and getting enough exercise. I can’t really argue with any of those things. They all come under the heading of “Duh!”

As this discussion went back and forth with people offering up their own special dietary favorites and exercise routines I sat on the sidelines. I was taking it all in, but not offering anything of my own. I was thinking. That can take some time. My brain has to warm up first. Trying to come up with an idea too soon and I could pull a lobe.

While I stood by listening to the others I noticed that all of their “Healthy Habits” had to do with the heath of their physical bodies, but none for their spirit or soul. That concerned me. My physical habits are generally pretty crappy so I try to take care of my Soul/Spirit/Being – whatever you want to call it.

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It Is Not As Easy As It Looks

 

SEND OUT THE SEARCH DOGS I THINK I’M LOST. My surroundings look familiar, but different. Nothing is where I know it should be. I have never been as disoriented as I am on this trip into an unfamiliar supermarket. Help me!

I am so comfortable in my own personal Kroger store. I could find my way through that store blindfolded, but when we are down south in Texas I am sent figuratively naked and afraid into the Terra Incognita of the local H.E.B grocery store.

(For those of you residing outside of Texas – “H.E.B.” are the initials of the founder of the chain of stores strewn across the state. They don’t stand for anything like “Hellaciously Evil Brotherhood.”)

Trying to find my favorite bagels or canned soup in the H.E.B. is beyond my ability. The odds are somewhere on the side favoring me finding the Ark of the Covenant first. It can’t be done. They don’t carry the brand of bagels that I like anyway and in the soup aisle nothing looks like anything I want in my favorite Hopalong Cassidy bowl at lunchtime.

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Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Six

 

Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” 

Part Six

Technically and legally I have no direct access to police records. When I left The Force, or rather it left me, I lost my key to the door that opened on a world of information, but I hadn’t lost Tim O’Shea. At least I hoped not.

Tim O’Shea had been on the force longer than me and because of a couple of injuries in the line of duty he had been moved to desk duty. He had shown a knack for the technical side of the badge and after some retraining he was put in the IT Department as a clerk. He was a quick learner and within a year he became “Tim The Computer Guy” who everyone turned to when they needed to track a suspect’s path via the world of Bits, Bytes, and Mega-Whatevers. If a Person Of Interest had ever so much as played an online video game Tim O’Shea could track him down and tell you what he had for lunch. I was counting on that level of investigation.

Rather than go back downtown and through the front door again and face running into anyone who might not appreciate me doing their job for them – and doing it better, I parked a block away from the HQ building and came through the City Offices entrance. A visit to the Building Code Enforcement offices on the lower level provided a quiet backdoor access to the Police IT section of the basement.

O’Shea had his own office filled with more electronic gear than that Gates guy in Seattle. He was down in the building’s basement where it was always cooler than the rest of the joint thanks to the ancient A/C system. No matter what the setting the top floors were too hot and as you went down everything got cooler. Down in the basement it was like a picnic cooler in Winter. Lettuce could sit on a desk down there and stay fresh until Spring.

O’Shea’s domain was different. He had set up his own environmental sphere – temperature and humidity controlled 24 hours a day with multiple backups for every system. Nothing was being left to chance or political interference.

Yeah, Tim O’Shea was the right man to see…that is if he’ll let me through the door.

The O’Shea Problem

The hard feelings between us go back a number of years and like all too many long standing problems – there was a woman involved.

I left the police ten years ago, partly at the urging of the powers that be, partly by the sadness in my troubled heart, and partly because of a woman named Josinda – Josie for short.

Josie was a civilian clerk in the City offices that shared some floor space in our building and I didn’t know, I swear, that she and Tim were a number. Apparently it was a bigger number in his mind than in hers because she said “Yes” when I asked her out for a drink. Tim did not take that very well. In his eye I was, I think his phrase was “Claim jumping” to let me know how he felt. I didn’t know how he felt about her. She didn’t either. She broke it all off with Tim and me both. It was no big deal to me, but to O’Shea I had ruined his life. I tried to explain it to him, but he didn’t, wouldn’t, or couldn’t believe me and a good working relationship crashed and burned. That hurt more than not getting closer to Josie. I was over her in about an hour and a half, but having Tim O’Shea shooting daggers at me everyday hurt.

All of this was a long time ago in the past as far as I’m concerned, but friends still in Blue tell me that Tim still gets somewhat icy when my name comes up.

I feel like I really don’t have a viable second choice. If I want to dig into these three killers it’s got to be Tim O’Shea or nobody and Nobody stopped talking to me a long time ago. 

***

What a lopsided triangle that was: Me, Tim, and Josie. I innocently asker her out – for a drink and nothing more, I swear. She said “Yes” and before I knew what was happening Tim got PO’d at me. Then Tim got PO’d with Josie. She got PO’d at both of us, saying, loudly, that she was not going to be the prize at a Police Turkey Shoot. She called us both “Cop Bastards” and walked away. When she told off Tim in the office in front of everyone it all really hit the fan.

He blamed me for everything. I tried to tell him that I wasn’t cutting in on his turf – claim jumping – and that I was the only innocent leg of the triangle. He didn’t buy that at all. Nobody bought it and all of a sudden I am being cast as an evil and sneaky SOB.

I may have been innocent in that mess, but I got laid more in the six months after I got tagged as “The Bad Guy” than I had in the previous years. Some women just like the Bad Guy who’d steal another man’s woman. I didn’t put up much of a protest. Nothing I could say would overturn the rumor machine and, anyway, I was having a real good time of it. I considered it a payback for my reputation being sullied.

After that six months of fun and games things calmed down. My Groupies figured out that I wasn’t such a scumbag after all, and once Josie was out of the picture and stopped feeding the rumor mill, everybody took a breath – except for Tim O’Shea. To him I was still the Devil incarnate – a combination of a Casanova in a blue uniform and the actor Richard Burton. Well, let me tell you, Josie was no Elizabeth Taylor.

The sign on the door should have been enough to stop me from going any farther.

“Knock, Phone, Email, or send a Postcard, but DO NOT just walk in.”

I figured that since I was already on his “Least favorite persons” list I had nowhere to go but up. I twisted the doorknob and pushed open the door. Without even turning around in his chair to see who was violating his space, O’Shea yelled, “Can’t you read?”

“Not very well, Tim.”

Reblog From “A Teacher’s Reflection” – “Mason And The Rainbow Song”

It is a distinct pleasure to Reblog “Mason And The Rainbow Song” from “A Teacher’s Reflection.” by Jennie Fitzkee

 

Mason and the Rainbow Song

Mason and the Rainbow Song

by Jennie

Yesterday I filled-in at my school’s summer camp.  When I arrived at noon, children were at lunch.  After all the hugs and hollers, they begged for a ‘Jennie Story’, especially Mason. Interestingly, Mason has never been in my class. He was a kindergartner this past year. Like many children, he has heard my Jennie Stories through the school grapevine.

Later in the day, I was in the bathroom with Mason as he changed out of his wet bathing suit.  Bear in mind that the mind of a child is far more brilliant and fascinating than we realize.  The recall of a moment or a story or a song can be spontaneous.  And that’s exactly what happened in the bathroom with Mason.

The conversation went something like this:

“Jennie, I wish we could sing the rainbow song at camp.”

“What is the rainbow song?  Can you sing some of it for me?”

“Okay.”

Then Mason sang a few words, “Red and yellow and…”

“Mason, I know that song!  I love that song.  You sang it at your kindergarten graduation.  I remember.  Can you sing it again for me?”

“Yes!”

Mason puffed up his chest with pride.  Yet, he had a somewhat worried look.  I could tell he was missing kindergarten and this song, and he wanted to be able to sing it to me.

“Mason, can I sing along with you?”

He smiled and nodded at the same time.

Together we sang “I Can Sing a Rainbow.”  It was joyous.  Mason was terrible. I was worse. We barely remembered the words.  But, that didn’t matter at all. Mason needed to sing and remember, and I was lucky to tag along and be there for him.

After singing, we smiled and headed out to the playground.  Mason stopped.

“I love you, Jennie.”

“I love you, too, Mason.”

And that was that.  Five minutes in the bathroom can be the best teaching, and an even better giving.

Jennie

Throwback Thursday From July 2016 – “When I Grow Up I Want To Be…”

Throwback Thursday From July 2016 –

When I Grow Up I Want To Be…

lid1WHEN WE WERE CHILDREN we all had fantasies about what we wanted to be when we “grew up.” I wanted to be a cowboy. Dawn wanted to be a Playwright – a rather precocious child. My brother wanted to be a baseball player. In one of my father’s high school yearbooks he listed that his career ambition was to become a “Traveling Silk Stocking Salesman.” I’m sure his mother was thrilled when she saw that. He ended up as a Roofer.

 

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Look! Up In The Sky!

WHEN YOU GOTTA GO…

Half of the Internet, it seems to me, is filled with photos and video clips of the most extraordinary things: mysterious creatures that look a lot like ET, time traveling people from the future all using cell phones in 1920 and UFOs here, there, and everywhere. I look at these things and I am filled with enough doubt to float Judge Judy. Seeing all of this nonsense makes it really difficult when I – me – myself see something that makes me say to myself, “What in the name of Robert Stack is going on here?”

I am currently down in Texas (AKA The Surface of the Sun) lollygagging about in the 99+ degree heat with humidity somewhere above 700%. Conditions like that can easily induce a Trance-Like State (Other than Nevada) where you might see things that aren’t really there. Such is the situation where I find myself these sunlit and heat distorted days.

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Reblog From The Bluebird Of Bitterness – Face Time:Fun With Food

It is our pleasure to present a Reblog from the wonderfully clever mind of The Bluebird of Bitterness!

Reblog Day At “Down The Hall On Your Left”

 

Face time: fun with food edition

by bluebird of bitterness

bluebird of bitterness | July 11, 2019 at 8:34 am | Tags: faces | Categories: simple pleasures | URL: https://wp.me/p1lW7W-ePF

Here’s Looking At You, Kid!

A Mistake On The Lake No More

THINGS CHANGE OVER FORTY YEARS. Me? I know that I’ve changed.  I’m more handsome – Dashing even. Of course, my eyesight has deteriorated a bit over the years as well. I must rely on the opinions and observations of others…mainly family, friends, and people who are paid to say flattering things; barbers, tailors, and car dealers.

Cities also change. I moved out of Cleveland in 1978 and my recent visit proved to be like going to a city I’ve never seen before. I recognized street names, but in the intervening decades those streets have been rerouted, shortened, lengthened, and built up beyond my ability to remember anything at all.

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