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”

How Did They Do That Without Fred And Barney?

NO MATTER HOW MUCH I TRY I have trouble relating to things that are 5000 years old. There aren’t a lot of those things around, at least not in my neighborhood. I’m as close as it comes. It was just the other day that my ability to relate to things older than Sophia Loren was put to the test.

One of those places that everyone should visit if you are coming to Ireland is Newgrange. It is a U.N. World Heritage Site and is only about an hour north of Dublin. Once there you will be greeted by something to make your jaw drop. 

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Throwback Thursday From October 2016 – “I’m Glad I’m Not Dave.”

star1THIS MORNING I WENT TO ST. ARBUCKS EARLIER THAN USUAL. I figured I could get some time to write and calmly sneak up on the day.

It didn’t work out that way.

I should have known that things weren’t going to work out for me.

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This Is No Way To Treat A Nervous System

 

IF THERE WAS ONE THING I COULD SAY ABOUT IRISH ROADS IT WOULD BE THAT ONE THING IS NOT ENOUGH. I NEED MORE.

Much like the roads back in the U.S. most roads in Ireland have a number designation, but they also have a Letter attached and that is where the story really gets told.

At the top of the bill are the “M” Roads. The “M11” or the “M7” as an example are super-duper ultra modern divided highways. In Ireland a divided highway is called a “Dual Carriageway.” These roads are in much better condition and better laid out than anything on the American Interstate System.

A slight notch below the “M” Roads are the “N” Highways. These are also excellent roads where you make good time at 120 kph or about 70 mph. They are a good way to travel about the country.

Now, it is on the “R” roads where everything starts to fall apart.

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Rolling After The Rock

MAYBE I AM GETTING OLD, BUT GETTING UP AND WALKING JUST ISN’T AS GRAND AS IT USED TO BE. I had that change pushed in my face this week.

We loaded up the car on a fine Irish morning (That means it wasn’t raining as hard as it was last night.) and headed out from Enniscorthy to play tourist. Our destination was about a 90 minute drive away. We were going to revisit “The Rock of Cashel,” an ancient Royal Castle perched high on a hilltop with a commanding view of the countryside. Anyone with plans of conquest would come around the curve in the road and see that humoungus Fortress Castle up there and think, “Perhaps we should forget this and just go to the beach. We could get a shrimp roll maybe.”

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Connecting All The Way To Disconnect

OH, SWEET JESUS, I DON’T KNOW HOW THEY DID IT. 

Our traveling companions arrived more or less on schedule, but it was a schedule that appears to have been designed by the travel agency of the Marquis de Sade…on a bad day…when his feet hurt.

The “Cousins from Alaska” were coming to Ireland for the first time trusting us and our judgment as to the best way to get from Anchorage, Alaska to Dublin, Ireland without going mad.

No matter how you slice it if you live in Alaska going anywhere takes some serious planning.

For them to get to Dublin their itinerary read something like this: Fly from Anchorage to Seattle. Just about all flights from Anchorage go through Seattle. A layover in Seattle of several hours. Then fly from Seattle to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Several hour layover in Minneapolis. The next leg was the biggie. They then boarded an Aer Lingus plane for the trip nonstop to Dublin overnight. They landed in Dublin at 8:45 AM local time. This made for an amassed time change of NINE HOURS. Their internal alarm clocks must have been screaming by this time.

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Pick Up In Aisle Seven

WE GET ON A PLANE AND FLY ACROSS THE OCEAN to another country where we expect things to be different and they are in many ways. Despite this thought there is a mountain of ways where the differences are merely cosmetic at best.

Back home in HoosierLand (AKA Indiana) when I have the need to go grocery shopping I just hop into the Toyota Stretch Limo and zip down the street to the Kroger Supermarket. In Ireland the differences are minimal. Instead of Kroger we go into the Tesco Supermarket where I can find everything I need. It might take a bit of a search, but I can find it all eventually. I go to Kroger and I leave happy. I go to Tesco and I leave happy.

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We Have Lift Off

WE ARE DOWN TO THE WIRE. We take off tomorrow for a very long day of travel…waiting…more travel and a landing in Dublin at 8:30 AM local time in Ireland. Then comes the not so much fun part of our trip – getting the rental car and relearning to drive on the left side of the road in a car with the wheel on the right side. (There will be moments of screaming for the first twenty minutes.)

Our first destination will be in the town of Enniscorthy. We will have it to ourselves for the first few days until “The Cousins” arrive from anchorage, Alaska. Then we morph into tour guides/relatives. Our first attraction to show them will probably be a Tesco Extra supermarket – a true sight to behold with the 37 different flavors of Potato Chips (Crisps) and to join us in the Applesauce Hide and Seek Treasure Hunt in the store.

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I’m Packing It In

 

WE ARE GOING TO BE HEADING OFF FOR IRELAND IN A FEW DAYS. I think it is time for me to begin deciding what to take and what to leave behind. My wife, the lovely and highly organized, Dawn, started her side of this process in 1973 give or take a day. We tend to operate at different speeds.

I’m not saying that my way is right or hers wrong. No. No. No. I think it is just a difference in the basic structure of our genders.

I have spoken to a number of men and women about this topic of packing for a trip and the answers have been running consistently along gender lines.

The Question is: How and what do you pack for a week-long trip?

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Throwback Thursday From October 2016 – “A Treatise on Lunch”

giphyWHY I THINK OF SUCH THINGS I DO NOT KNOW. I certainly could find a better use for my remaining brain cells. There are days when I worry that my gray matter is slipping away by the cup full. Those days are usually Mondays.

The substance of my obsessive thoughts for today is: Lunch

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I Am Not The Pope

THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY INTERRUPTIONS!

This morning I slid into my usual writing/coffee slurping position at a little ahead of the Big Hand telling me it was 6 AM and before I could take a sip the parade of characters began.

The usual early morning collection of non-entities was not meeting today. Some were out of town. Some were out of their minds and some were out on a limb somewhere. The leftovers decided to come and visit with me “for just a minute or two.” An hour later I have been made privy to their life story and their plans for the weekend.

I don’t care.

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Symbolism

 

WE ARE NOW DEEP INTO THE AUTUMN SEASON.

It is not one of my favorites. The leaves have turned colors and are falling and everywhere are the signs of death. What blossomed in the Spring and Summer are now lying shriveled and dead on the ground.

Well, isn’t all of this a cheerful start to the day?

It’s sad, but it is a true collection of seasonal signs with only the icy cold of another Winter waiting around the corner to cover it all with snow.

I know that I am wallowing in Symbolism here, but, dang it; these things become identifiable symbols for a reason.

Our Civilization is awash with Symbols of all kinds. Every day we speak, learn, and make decisions based on a mountain of Symbols that are, in a very real way, shortcuts of accumulated information and knowledge.

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There’s Something Funny About Him

SOME PEOPLE ARE FUNNY. Of course there are two kinds of “Funny.” There are people who are Funny (Ha! Ha!) And then there are people who are Funny (Uh, Oh). Sometimes it is difficult to tell them apart.

What is it that differentiates these two flavors of Funny? I think it all has to do with their sense of humor. They both have that sense of humor, but it gets displayed differently. An Example:

For Mr. Funny (Ha! Ha!) – A joke. “Why did the Dragon take some Pepto-Bismol?”

“Because he ate someone who disagreed with him.”

That’s it. Simple and to the point. Now that same joke told by Mr. Funny (Uh, Oh)

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Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “What Drives A Person To Do That?”

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “What Drives A Person To Do That?”

 

What Drives A Person To Do That?

A1I HAVE MADE A NEW FRIEND HERE IN TERRE HAUTE, (That’s French for, “Is he housebroken?”). He comes into St. Arbucks almost every morning on his way to work. He is also there whenever I drive past the place. I think he has a cot in the back room and that he actually lives there.

When he says that he is on his way to work and drives off I wonder… what does he really do? He is wearing a uniform that has, in bold letters across the back, “Animal Control.”

I think he is The Dog Catcher.

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When I go to St. Arbucks and he is there reading I sometimes go over to chat with him. We talk about what he is reading – mostly nonfiction, 20th century history – never anything about dogs.

Lately I started asking him about the bat infestation of a local school and what was being done. To me he pleads complete ignorance about it all.

“Not my area of responsibility,” he says. He must be a Specialist. I didn’t know that one could be a Specialist in the Animal Control field. I guess he knows dogs, but bats? Not so much.

Of course, his claims of non-involvement fall on deaf ears when it comes to me. Every day for the last two weeks I have been asking him for “Bat Bulletins,” and he keeps telling me, “Not my area of responsibility.”

I know that I shouldn’t keep after him like that, but – he’s the Dog Catcher – one of the most hated job titles in Post-Renaissance Earth. The Dog Catcher is reviled only slightly less than A7Human Organ Thieves, Schoolyard Drug Dealers, or Members of Congress. You never hear of a kid aspiring to grow up and become the Dog Catcher. Most parents would rather have little Johnnie or Susie announce that they want to become Cannibals or Circus Geeks.

I would never say anything to him about the stigma that goes with being in “Animal Control.” He seems to be a nice guy and I’m sure he’s had to deal with a hostile society. Plus, I don’t want him to key my car in frustration if he can’t find that missing Rottweiler he’s been chasing.

A year or so ago the two dogs who live next door took off for a little doggy “stay-cation” around town. I asked my friend what he would have done to apprehend them.

“Nothing, unless someone complains.”A3

He has got a sweet deal going.

His shirt says “Animal Control” instead of “Dog Catcher.” A wise choice. “Animal Control” is not so obvious a target. It sounds so benign, so soft and cuddly, like the bartender on Noah’s Ark.

I have no idea what he did before the Animal Control phase of his life. Being the Dog Catcher (by any name) is not a career. One doesn’t go to college to become the Dog Catcher.

“Yes, I went to Indiana State University where I majored in Dog Catching, with a minor in Squirrels.”

 Whatever he did before he must have truly hated it. What job is so bad that you would leave it to become the Dog Catcher? Selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door to the Suicidal? Bulletproof Vest Tester? Blogger?

I’m sure that I’ll see him again tomorrow. I’ll have to ask him how they are doing with the bat problem at the school.

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The Game Moves On

 

THIS PAST SPRING AND SUMMER have been somewhat of a disappointment – and this Fall isn’t looking much better.

When it comes to the bits and pieces of Life things have actually gone well. It’s the big stuff that’s got me down. By BIG STUFF I mean the things that get me up in the morning and keep me up late at night.

You know – BASEBALL.

Baseball this year has been a tortuous exercise. It has been even more upsetting because I cheer for the San Francisco Giants and I live three time zones away. That means that more than half of the games don’t even begin until 9 PM or later. That can make for some extremely late nights and my aging body gets it’s revenge the next day. I do not recommend grocery shopping after an extra inning game from the West Coast.

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I’ll Eat It, I Just Don’t Know What It Is.

 

IF YOU’VE DONE ANY TRAVELING IN THE UNITED STATES IN THE LAST TWENTY YEARS I’m sure that you have encountered something redundantly called the “Complimentary Free Breakfast.”

At more and more hotels the Free Breakfast has become almost unavoidable. The big chains, such as Holiday Inn, Marriott, and a dozen others trot out the hot trays every morning to feed their guests between 6 to 9 AM. During those hours you can see the early risers slumped over their plates of eggs, sausage, and potatoes.

While I admit to being among that crowd on most mornings I am doing so for mainly medicinal purposes. Every morning I have my own buffet of medications that I take to stay alive and I am obligated to have something in my tummy to buffer the explosion when the pills kick in. So, I head down to the hotel lobby and the “Complimentary Free Breakfast.”

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You Don’t Have To Be A Druid To Have Rituals

 

WE’RE INTO A TIME OF SEASONAL CHANGE so I have begun to undertake the sacred seasonal rituals. Not wishing to offend the minor gods of calendar page turning I started getting into these rituals today.

I got a haircut.

As I have begun aging from being a responsible adult down the slippery slope into Geezerhood I have noticed that my hair does not grow as quickly as it used to. I also noticed that there are fewer hairs to cut than there were back when. At least the thinning of my cranial forest is evenly distributed. I’m not waking up, looking in the bathroom mirror and seeing a clear cut landing site on my skull. Thank heaven for small favors.

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Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “Do I Have A Roman Nose?”

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “Do I Have A Roman Nose?”

Do I Have A Roman Nose?

rome1

THEY SAY THAT CAESAR’S IMPERIAL ROME had the best system of water delivery in the Ancient World. There was a series of aqueducts, canals, pipes, and fountains that covered hundreds of miles and kept the city of Rome clean and quenched.

I think they could have learned a thing or two if they’d been able to study my sinuses in the morning.

rome3

When I wake up every morning the entire function of my body seems devoted to the movement of fluids. It’s a good thing that I can blow my nose with my left hand clutching a Kleenex while my right hand is assisting me in doing an impression of the Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Is Paris Burning?”) Fire Department.

By the time my initial purge is done I feel five pounds lighter and the Wabash River is three inches closer to Flood Stage. I don’t know where it all comes from. During the night am I transformed into a sponge? Is my body taking moisture from the air like a fern? Am I the “Quicker Picker-Upper?”

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If my first geyser activity was it I could just dismiss it all as, perhaps, Tidal Action – like the Bay of Fundy approaching low tide. The trouble is that this can go on for two or three hours where the only thing missing is a fish ladder. I go through a box of tissues like…like…like a box of tissues.

rome5

When my nose sends the signal to my brain that, “The dam has broken!” I grab the nearest tissue, handkerchief, or (embarrassingly) pancake and brace myself for the flood.

It ain’t Mrs. Butterworth, I’ll tell you that.

Having to deal with this for a couple of hours can be exhausting. I just got up two hours ago and I already feel the need for a nap. My nose is turning red from all of that tissue business, my skull is feeling like a used piñata, and I’m going to have to go buy some more tissues.

First, it’s one nostril. Then, when that one raises the flag of surrender, the valves open on the other. I didn’t know that noses could do that.

I’m impressed as well as depressed. My sinuses can operate as smooth as the locks on the Panama Canal. I guess that makes my upper lip the north coast of Colombia.

rome5

Once I get through this morning ritual the rest of my day can proceed as it will, but until then I can understand how the Egyptian Pharaoh and his Chariots must have felt when he decided to chase Moses and the Israelites into the Red Sea – five minutes too late.

Things could be worse. Despite all of this every morning nonsense when things eventually dry out I still have a nose. I still have sinuses, and my stock in the tissue company continues to go up.

old-faithful-geyser-o

Merge, Merge, Merge

 

“LANE ENDS ONE MILE. GOOD LUCK.”

I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately on our illustrious Interstate Highway System. It’ll really be nice once they are finished with it. It seems that no matter where I go or in which direction I am faced with long slow moving lines of cars all wedged into one lane.

The System was started back in the 1950s. President Eisenhower, a career military man, saw the maze of roads as a way to quickly transport troops across the country in case of an emergency. It’s a good thing that there was no call to do that because, if today’s roadways are any indication, we would be in deep doo-doo (Technical term meaning ‘Uh Oh’).

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Let’s Take Another Look At That

OH, I GET IT! You’re doing your Stevie Wonder impression. No? What happened? Tell me…if it doesn’t involve the Police.

Thus began my morning last Monday as I walked into the Chapel of St. Arbucks.

“Oh, you broke your glasses? That’s why you are wearing sunglasses at 6 AM.”

At least it wasn’t me who had the broken glasses.

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Ch – Ch – Ch – Ch – Changes

 

BRACE YOURSELF – A CHANGE IS ON THE WAY! It is a temporary change to be sure, but a change nonetheless.

Starting in about a week or two…or three you will notice that the Monday through Friday (Excluding Thursday) postings will be coming from Ireland. We are heading off for another excursion to the Land with Forty Shades of Green.

This will be our fifth trip to Ireland since 2006. We will be there for five weeks returning to the States in early November. By that time I will be completely exhausted, chilled to the bone, and not at all in any kind of “Holiday Mood.”

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