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 – 2017

Archive for the category “Nonfiction”

That’s My Cue

BE WARNED. I’VE GOT ON MY THINKING CAP.

When that happens the dogs howl, babies cry and milk goes bad on the “Best if used by…” date. And I usually end up with my neck in a wringer.

What triggered my lobes into action was a feeling, a nostalgia, perhaps. I got an email from a local theater group that is holding auditions for their next production. I have no interest in that particular play, but it hit a responsive chord in my heart.

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Throwback Thursday from August 2015

Throwback Thursday from August 2015

Take My Sermon, Please

PulpitJUST ABOUT EVERY SATURDAY my wife, the lovely and officially Reverend, Dawn, sits down and writes her sermon for Sunday’s services. She starts planning each sermon days or even weeks ahead of time, but does the actual typing on Saturday. It is a lot of work. She doesn’t get up there and wing it on Sunday morning. It takes her a lot of preparation time and it shows in her sermons. Just ask anybody who hears her.

This past Saturday she was busy working on her sermon when I announced that I was heading out to St. Arbucks to work on this blog.

“I’m going to attempt to be somewhat creative,” I said.

“Me too,” she answered. “I’ll tell you what – how about it if I do your blog and you do my sermon?”

In the past I have volunteered to write a sermon for her, but her better judgment stepped in and said, “No way, Bucko.” I guess she was afraid that I would hand her a sermon that was a cross between St. Paul and Daffy Duck.

“Jesus and the twelve apostles walk into a bar. The bartender asks, ‘What’ll you have?’ Jesus says, ‘Water for everybody,’ and St. Peter moans and says, ‘Here we go again.’”

I must admit that my writing style is a bit different from Dawn’s. Her sermons rely on Scripture and Theological Philosophy while my sermons would tend more toward what I saw at Kroger’s and “Knock-Knock jokes.”

“Knock, knock”

“Who’s there?”

“God”

“God who?”

“God, the Father, who gave his only begotten son…”

Most people know that verse from looking in the endzone at any NFL football game.

I’m still in the market for some inexpensive Biblical bobblehead dolls to use as visual aids. I think that if I could just illustrate the Christmas story with bobbleheads or some sort of Action Figures it would reach out to people in a whole new way. I mean, really, if they can market Jimi Hendrix and Travis Bickle Action Figures at Toys-R-Us I don’t see why they can’t carry the Holy Family or the Three Wise Men (Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh accessories sold separately).

I think that my wife is afraid that I might step over any number of lines of propriety and say or do something offensive. I would never do that. Just because I have a background of working in saloons, comedy clubs and assorted dives it doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to behave in polite society. I’ve even made presentations in front of Kiwanis Clubs and if you can do that and get out alive you can do anything.

If I were the guest sermonizer one Sunday I would get the audience’s, er…congregation’s, attention by being interesting, making my words relevant to their everyday lives, and by requiring a two think minimum.

There is no doubt that Jesus had a sense of humor – just look at the people He chose to pal around with – a bunch of misfits, some “outdoorsmen” worthy of their own show on the Weather Channel, and a tax collector. And one of that crew turned on him.

It was so hard to get good help in those days.

I’ll be the first to admit it – Dawn does better sermons than I could ever do. She has “the calling” for that work. The only “calling” I ever got was trying to get me to refill a nonexistent prescription with a Canadian pharmacy.

If Dawn ever decides that she would like a Sunday off I would be more than happy to step up and knock one out of the park.

I think there is room enough for both of us in the pulpit.

Well, maybe not.

I Want All Or Nothing

THERE IS GOING TO BE AN ECLIPSE in this part of the world soon. I plan to skip the event. Why? Because here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “My eyes! My eyes!”) it is not going to be a Total Eclipse. The TV says that it will be 85% here. In my book 85% is a “C” – OK, maybe a “B” if you’re grading on the curve and you have a room full of Bozos. If I am going to go through the trouble of getting those special dark glasses I want the Full Monty – so to speak. I don’t think I’m asking too much.

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Cracker!

THE OTHER DAY A FRIEND MENTIONED TO ME that she had a decision to make. It seems that she has a jar that she has used to hold crackers and, for reasons unknown to me, she has evicted the crackers and now fills the jar with cat treats. The decision part of this is whether or not she should tell anyone. It seems that one member of the family is a regular customer of the Cracker Jar.

I don’t make up these things. I don’t have to.

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A Day Like No Other Day

EVERY DAY I GET AN EMAIL telling me what “National Day” it is. For example – two days ago (8/9) was “National Book Day.” A fine and admirable thing in my opinion. I like books. I read books. I’ve even written a few and I find them handy in the event of a wobbly table leg.

Not content to leave well enough alone the people who keep track of such things advised me that Wednesday was also “National Veep Day.” Like I care. Like anyone who is a Veep actually cares to be reminded. It’s not the kind of thing one brags about.

“Hello, I’m a Veep. I don’t get any respect. I don’t even get called ‘Vice-President.’ All I get is ‘Veep.’”

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Throwback Thursday from August 2015

Throwback Thursday from August 2015

When It Comes To Wasting Time I Am Self-Taught

Kite with keyWHILE HANGING TEN OFF MY KEYBOARD today I bumped into a tidbit of info that is, perhaps, the most Obvious, Redundant, and Dumb As a Sackful of Hammers thing I’ve seen in quite a while.

The University of Pennsylvania, Department of English, is offering a course with the title of, “Wasting Time On The Internet.”

Well, yeah. And your point is…?

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Picture If You Will. ..

TO PARAPHRASE DOUGLAS MACARTHUR (Under 40? Look him up.), “I have returned from Texas.”

A visit with the Family is now checked off our summer “to-do” list and, like most trip to Texas it exceeded our quota of Airline Weirdness.

It seems that every time we fly to Texas the airline (it doesn’t matter which one – Southwest this time) manages to slip over into The Twilight Zone. This time they outdid themselves.

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Idioms, Idiots – Something Like That

SO, THESE ARE WHAT THEY CALL THE “DOG DAYS OF SUMMER.” Never having ever been a dog I cannot personally vouch for much beyond that statement. Unlike dogs, I can and do sweat, but instead of “like a dog” I sweat like a pig. Not pretty.

At least, that is the phrase – “He sweats like a pig.” I have to take that as truth because I have not managed to ever get all that close to a pig – sweating or otherwise, and I have no plans for the future in that area. Evidently though, someone at some time did get up close and personal with a pig, a sweaty one and told people about it.

“SWEAT LIKE A PIG” – “A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS” – “CUT THE MUSTARD” – “STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH” – “AT THE DROP OF A HAT”

These strange phrases come from somewhere. They don’t just show up in the mail.

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Do You Know The Muffin Man ?

THE TIMER IS COUNTING DOWN. Tension fills the air. The crowds are a-buzz with antici…….pation. I am on Muffin Watch.

It is Saturday morning at Gramma’s House. We have all had our tea so our hearts are once again beating.

My wife, the lovely and culinarily adept, Dawn, has put some muffins in the oven and handed me the responsibility of keeping watch on them. Everyone seems to be a bit nervous – no – they are scared. They are fearful that I will drop the ball on this and instead of hot steamy muffins dripping butter or jam we will have charcoal briquettes. I mean – really now! I am a college graduate.

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One Thousand And Counting

FOR REASONS UNKNOWN TO ME this blog is closing in on a milestone of sorts. It won’t be long (later this year) before I will upload blog post number 1000. I have no idea how it got that far. The closest analogy I can come up with is that “Down the Hall on Your Left” is like a runaway train being run by monkeys.

There are much bigger blogs out there. I know of several that have thirty thousand followers. Numbers like that would make me dizzy. For this blog, if I count all sources, it comes  to a little under one thousand. And I’ll be honest with you – even that number surprises me. Those blogs with the huge number of followers are usually about Cooking, Make-up, or Fashion. I am certainly not in any of those categories. This blog is more about “Stuff,” and that sort of limits things. There are so many subcategories of Stuff that it’s difficult to corral those large numbers. Maybe if I started throwing in some recipes or tips on where to buy Hawaiian Shirts. Nah – that’s just not me.

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Throwback Thursday from August 2015

Throwback Thursday from August 2015

Chainsaws And Britney Spears At 8 AM

britneySOMETIMES THE WORLD PLAYS TRICKS on me – Which is only fair because sometimes I play tricks on it. But this morning the world really had me flummoxed.

At about 8 AM I started hearing one of our neighbors firing up a chain saw. It would whine for a minute, stop, and then start up again.

“What is he doing over there,” I mumbled to myself? “It must be important for him to start that noise this early.”

I had not had my coffee yet, so my unfueled brain began to speculate about his motives. The fact that I’ve been reading a lot of Mystery Novels lately might have played into it as well.

I finally narrowed it down to two possible motives:

  1. He is cutting down a tree three inches at a time.

Or

  1. He is cutting up and disposing of a corpse.

What else could it be?

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A Basket Of Brisket

WELL, HERE WE GO – OFF TO TEXAS! Surprisingly our flights were uneventful – which is what you want. Eventful airplane flights make the news and that is never a good thing. Things even went smoothly in our dealings with the TSA aerobic organisms. I think they were having an “On-The Job Slumber Party. They were just waving people through without even looking at them. I bet I could have walked through there toting a Howitzer and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It always makes me feel so safe.

Once we got to our ultimate destination (Corpus Christi) we did what any sensible person would do – we stopped for lunch at Whataburger. It’s a tradition that goes back to the days of the Alamo and Davy Crockett I think. A Family thing, you know.

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Moving On

I CHECKED MY EMAIL THIS MORNING and among the spam and other stuff was a blog posting from a man who was just starting retirement – and he wasn’t happy about it.

“It’s Retirement Day and I finally understand that I mean no more to them than the corner trash can.”

That stopped me in my tracks.

This was a statement from a man who is feeling lost.

From the power of his words I would guess that he was forced to retire, either by circumstances such as health or by a mandatory retirement policy. Either way his world has just been turned upside down. He is being made to enter a new and, it seems, frightening period of his life.

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Bad Juju

THERE MUST BE SOME BAD JUJU FLOATING IN THE AIR TODAY. Everybody seems to be complaining about something wherever I go. I’m getting my coffee and the person in front of me in line is moaning about the weather.

“It’s going to be hot all week. I don’t like hot weather. I just don’t like it.”

Well, Lady, it is summertime in the Midwest and it is supposed to be only 88° today and 93° tomorrow. I would call that warm, maybe bordering on hot, but it ain’t Death Valley.

See? Now she’s got me doing it. I’m complaining about her complaining.

 Bad juju.

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I Am In The Upright And Locked Position

HERE WE GO AGAIN. We are barely home from our trip to Georgia and we are packing up for a visit with the family in Texas.

By the time this moves to the head of the queue we will probably be back in Terre Haute (That’s French for “We left the TV on.”). Such is the miracle of scheduling the posting of blog entries ahead of time.

There is a time difference to deal with when we go to Texas – it will be 1 PM in Indiana, but it will be High Noon in the Furnaces of Hell in South Texas. It gets HOT there in July. I like things on the warm side, but when we go to Texas in July I don’t feel like I’m sweating. It’s more like I’m being basted.

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Throwback Thursday from July 2016 – One Man’s Treasure…

Throwback Thursday from July 2016

One Man’s Treasure…

sale4THE SUN IS SHINING. THE SKY IS BLUE. THE SIGNS ARE ON EVERY POLE.

The other morning while driving the short distance to St. Arbucks I saw four large signs tacked to poles and trees.

“Huge Rummage Sale Today!”

A person can’t have enough rummage I always say…or maybe it was somebody else. I don’t sale9remember.

I looked for an actual definition of “Rummage” and this is what I found”

“To search thoroughly or actively through (a place, receptacle, etc.), especially by moving around, turning over, or looking through contents.”

Kinda sounds like either a scavenger hunt or Spring Cleaning to me.

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Be Nice And Bring Money

IT TAKES A LOT TO MAKE ME LAUGH OUT LOUD. If you want to sit in a room that is really quiet just be there with 50 comedians who are listening to another comedian perform. Those 50 comedians will be nodding their heads or looking around the room, but they won’t be laughing. They are sitting there analyzing what they are hearing – tearing it apart down to the last molecule of wit. I’m kind of like that too. I’m not THAT bad, but something really has to set off an alarm to get me to guffaw and chortle. It is even harder to do if it is something in print. Then I’m really a tough audience.

I laughed out loud this morning.

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Let’s Hear It For Gluttony

THERE AIN’T NUTHIN’ LIKE A GOOD BURGER. It doesn’t have to be fancy (and probably shouldn’t be). It doesn’t have to be expensive. It sure doesn’t have to be in some high class restaurant. But it has to be prepared with gluttony in mind.

About a five minute drive or twenty minute crawl from home is a small neighborhood joint (that’s the only appropriate word) that does a burger right.

This particular watering hole has been around for about two million years. It is on its third or fourth owners now and doing well. It is probably also on the Hit List of the American Heart Association.

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A Territorial Dispute

LIKE MOST PEOPLE I AM A CREATURE OF HABIT. I tend to want to do today what I did yesterday and I don’t like anybody to mess with that – and by extension – me. His morning I was faced with such a situation

Just about every day I start my conscious activities down the street at St. Arbucks. I get my coffee, as usual, and then I stumble to my table in the corner, as usual. Sip coffee. Take meds. Plug in phone. Write. That’s it – nothing fancy, but critical nonetheless.

Today everything was moving along swimmingly until I turned the corner and prepared myself to hunker down in the corner.

THERE WERE PEOPLE SITTING AT MY TABLE!

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – Let’s Play, “Spot The Flaw In This!”

Throwback Thursday from July 2015

Let’s Play, “Spot The Flaw In This!”

inverted JennyABOUT EVERY SIX MONTHS or so we get a piece of mail from the Postal Service touting their “Stamps by Mail” service.

This Postal Service program supposedly can save us time and gasoline by sending postage stamps directly to our mailbox on the front porch. There would be no need for us to get out of our jammies and drive all the way (four blocks) to the Post Office to buy stamps.

OK, I get the concept, but with the advent of the internet there are now millions of people paying their bills online, communicating with friends and family online, and sending birthday cards, etc. online. Currently I write an average of two checks per month that require me to use postage stamps.

I’d wager that since the demise of the Columbia Record Club (look it up) that the number of stamp bearing mail items has diminished greatly. Almost all of the mail that we get is catalogs and other pointless junk mail – and virtually all of that is metered mail with no stamps at all.

We still get the “Stamps by Mail” advertising thing, but let me tell you the real reason we don’t bother signing up.

About a year ago an old friend told me this story and I believe him.

He runs a small business and thought that the “Stamps by Mail” thing might be a good time saver for him. So- he signed up and anxiously awaited the delivery of his first load of postage stamps from Benjamin Franklin’s favorite government service.

A week or so later when my friend toddled out to his mailbox he discovered one of those little pink slips of paper telling him that there was a parcel waiting for him to pick up down at the Post Office.

He told me that this was not unusual, so he got out of his jammies, put on some adult clothing and fired up his car to go get his parcel.

Of course, when he got there he had to wait in line behind the usual collection of people sending sweaters to their grandchildren in Florida and manuscripts off to publishers who will never read them or will just slide them under a table leg to take care of that annoying wobble.

He had to wait about fifteen minutes to get to the head of the line. He presented the pink slip to the clerk who then disappeared into “The Back” for another five minutes. When the Postal Service clerk returned he handed my friend an envelope which would have easily fit inside the mailbox at his home. He took the envelope over to the empty counter out by the P.O. Boxes and tore it open. Inside was another envelope proudly announcing that it contained his delivery of “Stamps by Mail!”

What a time saver.

When my friend first told me about this I too was skeptical. It was just too – too – Post Office for even the Post Office to do.

He swears that it is a true story and as time passes and I read of other Masterpieces of Governmental Ineptitude my skepticism fades into a head-shaking “I’m surprised they didn’t send it to him “postage due.”

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