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 category “Uncategorized”

It’s A Fine Line

 

WE HAVE BEEN WATCHING A LOT OF THE OLYMPICS LATELY. Well, not a lot – “some” would be more accurate. “Some” of the Olympics, the part that involves watching people slip, slide, and fall over. I can do that, but nobody offers to give me a Gold Medal.

I’m lucky if I can get a helping hand to get up from the ground. When I slip, slide, and fall over people either laugh and point or pretend to ignore me. I have yet to hear anyone say, “That will cost him at least one and a half points.” I’m just thankful it doesn’t cost me a broken hip. At my age when you break a hip the world starts to measure you for a pine box. Maybe I’d get more respect if I started to wear some Spandex and too much Make-up.

Maybe a little glitter.

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A Milestone

By the way…

Today’s posting is number 1000 here at Down the Hall on Your Left.

A Question


DON’T YOU JUST LOVE FACEBOOK? It has enabled anyone and everyone to speak their mind – regardless of how ill informed, mistaken, or just plain dim they may be.

These are my people.

This morning I saw a posting that read, “If we are descended from monkeys why are there still monkeys?”

That’s a fair question even though it is a lot like, “If my grandfather was an only child and my father didn’t like to eat chicken, why do I still wear a wristwatch?” There’s a lot going on there.

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

 

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued

 

 

Haight Street

by

John Kraft

 

 

 

She slept through the rest of the night deeply and motionless. When she awoke, the morning sun was coming over the treetops in Buena Vista Park across the street from 1298 Haight Street. Apartment Number 6 was warm and this newcomer to the California Dream knew that there were things to do, memories to be created.

The floors in San Francisco are as hard as anywhere else. One night sleeping on the whiskey colored wood was enough to establish the purchase of a bed as priority number one.

The next night she would sleep on crisp white sheets with soft new pillows and warm blankets to enhance her peaceful dreams.

Her alarm clock on her second morning on Haight Street was a chorus of sharp cries and squawks from outside the bay window. She opened her eyes and slowly focused on the world just in time to see streaks of red, green and blue flash across her field of vision.

She learned later that, years ago, no one remembers exactly when, a number of parrots kept as pets either escaped their cages or were abandoned by shortsighted owners. These parrots soared into the palm and eucalyptus trees of San Francisco and sired new flocks throughout the city. In the mornings and at sunset they spread pallets of color in the air as they soared and glided across the urban landscape. St. Francis would be pleased.

With the morning sun washing through her windows, Marlee drifted lazily in that creamy pool between asleep and awake. Dreaming still, but becoming aware of the world around her. Sounds and motions incorporated into those last minute dreams and cozy never felt so good. The transition from the one world to the other became a luxurious slide of absolute sensory perfection where everything was as it should be and there was no need to hurry.

1298 Haight Street was an old building by San Francisco standards. Built just before the 1906 earthquake and fire that redrew the city map, the pale pink stucco and terra cotta tiled roof made an imposing presence on the corner of Haight and Central. Four stories tall it dominated the corner of Haight and Central. It marked the start of the commercial section of the Upper Haight neighborhood. For the next seven blocks there were shops and galleries that catered to the tourists who were looking for traces of The Summer of Love to take back home to where that Summer was only 1967.

Inside apartment #6, standing in front of the long mirror hung over the bathroom door, Marlee combed out her hair. She had let it grow out to shoulder length, straight and pale blonde, almost white. When taken with her translucent skin it made people think that she was Swedish, but her ancestry was Welsh. Welsh, with some Viking invader blood 1000 years old in the mix. Her eyes were green, almost the shade of the ocean just before it drops off into the deep.

5’8” tall and slim, “boyish” her 10th grade Phys. Ed. teacher had called her. It was never a figure that made men turn their heads as she walked by. Her fine blonde hair and the music in her hips did that.

Her wardrobe was distinctly Midwest Rust Belt plain. It was excessively Earth-toned for a young attractive blonde in California, but she perked up her look with a vibrant scarf and some jewelry. It would do, she thought, as she opened the front gate, set to meet her new neighborhood.

Taking her time, not wanting to miss anything, Marlee window-shopped and ambled into the eclectic commerce of Haight Street.

She considered the latest Rave fashions on the rack at “Housewares”, all to the driving techno-beat from the in-house disc jockey. The iguanas sunning themselves in the window didn’t seem to mind.

She laughed out loud as she looked through the Anarchist Collective Bookstore. Their display of pamphlets and political screeds loudly denounced the capitalism at which they were so dismally failing. Signs trumpeting a “Half-Price Sale” and “Clearance” were everywhere, alerting the three lost-looking teenage browsers that they too could join the Revolution at a discount.

Showing that The Haight sold more than recycled bad ideas and hipster fads, there was “Kids Only.” A sunlight filled shop that catered to the families in the neighborhood with plush toys and dolls sweet enough to melt the heart of any six year-old and probably Mommy and Daddy too.

Marlee also saw the casualties of The Haight’s decades long war with the mythology of drugs. Young men and women, some of them really children yet, stumbled up and down the sidewalks with tombstones in their eyes.

“Spare change” was their mantra. Most were runaways or throwaways living on the street or in nearby Golden Gate Park. Their daily objective being to get the cash to buy a slice of pizza and a sufficient dose of heroin or crack or crystal meth to get them through another fearful day and night. If the money was tight the pizza would wait until tomorrow.

This part of her new neighborhood bothered her, but she knew that her spare change would only end up, eventually, in a zippered body bag.

She quickly adopted the long-time resident’s defensive stare that set her apart from the more vulnerable tourists. “See the young druggies, but do so with disdain.” Today was to be a day for happy exploration. She decided to not be drawn into anything that would ruin that idea.

At the “Haight Street Grocers” a sidewalk display of fruits and vegetables fanned out with colors as vivid as any tie-dye in the window of the nearby T-shirt shop.

Passing on her many opportunities to buy shiny black leather and metal studded clothing; she ended up at Stanyan Street. Here the urban gave way to the bucolic wonder of Golden Gate Park, a horticultural masterpiece of nature-defying greenery that extended all the way to the ocean.

Marlee crossed from the world of the hip, the hopeless and the California Dreamers and entered a more gentle land where manicured lawns, rhododendron groves, and lawn bowlers dressed in white, lowered the adrenaline level of life.

She was enjoying the feel of the sun on her face. She knew that she would be pink in minutes. Sunscreen was added to her mental shopping list.

In a city of surprises she was getting used to the unexpected. Just a two minute walk from one of the busiest streets in the city she found herself sitting on a wooden park bench listening to children squeal with delight as they swooped down a corkscrew sliding board and scaled a three-dimensional plastic maze.

The centerpiece of the playground was a carousel with hand carved and painted fantastic animals going around and around to the tinny music that comes from only the best carousels. It was a glorious piece of 19th century America still enchanting the children of the 21st. Marlee hugged the slender neck of the grinning giraffe as she whirled inside an eddy of flashing lights and laughing babies. This was starting out to be a very good day.

 

It’s A Good Day To Play It Safe

HAPPY GROUNDHOG DAY!

Unless you live in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania today is just another Friday. If you do live in Punxutawney, Pennsylvania then this is the one day in the year that anyone gives a hedgehog’s patoot about your town. Today is the day when the Network Morning Shows will give you a 90 second live cutaway to see the annual Groundhog ceremony…and then that’s it until next year.

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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 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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“Hi! This is Elizabeth from the Resort Rewards Center!”

SOME PROBLEMS SEEM TO BE IMPOSSIBLE TO SOLVE. I’m not talking about some mathematical Gordian Knots and things like Time Travel or Pauley Shore’s career. No, I mean those everyday things that tend to drive us all slightly bonkers. There are problems and if we use our collective imagination we can find solutions.

Problem #1: Those pesky phone calls from “Hi! This is Elizabeth from the Resort Rewards Center!”

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The Choices Are Almost Endless, Unfortunately

WHENEVER I AM DRIVING AROUND TOWN lately I’m seeing something that makes me wonder a bit. Not a lot, just a bit. What I’m seeing are those stick figure decals on the rear windows of cars. In the beginning these decals or stickers were showing just your basic nuclear family: Mommy, Daddy, and a couple of kids.

It didn’t take long before someone added the family dog to the lineup. After that the floodgates were opened. More kids, Granny and Grandpa. If there had been a divorce the decal would show a space with a Vacancy sign.

I spent most of a quarter hour doing extensive research into this and about all I learned was that some people have incredibly bad taste.

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I, The Jury

EARLY THIS MORNING I WAS QUIETLY SLUMPED OVER MY COFFEE when I overheard a conversation from the next table. It seems that one of the men sitting there had been called for Jury Duty. My ears began to twitch and I inched a little closer.

The gentleman said that he reported to the County Courthouse the day before anxious and willing to do his civic duty. Apparently that was when things began to fall apart.

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It’s Better Than A Gooey Tongue

THE OTHER DAY SOMEONE SUGGESTED that I needed a hobby. A Hobby? Like Stamp Collecting or Pickle Ball? I’ve had people tell me that I am their hobby. I’m not sure, but I think they meant that as a compliment. I suppose it could have been a diagnosis.

If I was to get a hobby of some sort I would want it to be something a little different, nothing mundane or unworthy of blogging about. It must have blogiosity.

I’ve spent most of yesterday and today doing some research into some things that I might consider taking up as a hobby. Here are a few of the things I have moved over to my “short list.”

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I’m Making Myself Hungry

LABOR DAY IS ONE OF THE DAYS THAT’S A HOLIDAY NOBODY KNOWS WHAT TO DO WITH. It doesn’t celebrate any specific event or individual. It just is. I know that it is nominally supposed to be a day to honor those who labor. So how do we do that? We take the day off.

Personally, I’m always in favor of taking the day off. Now that I am retired I celebrate Labor Day almost every day and I’m getting good at it.

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I Heard What You Said

I WISH TO MAKE A CONFESSION. I am an eavesdropper. I may look like I’m totally focused on the book in front of me or this blank page as I write, but I also have an ear turned to the world around me. I listen in on what other people are saying and I hear some incredibly inane interesting things sometimes.

Listening in is how I am able to do blog posts like that one from last week about the Real Estate mavens at the next table. I should be ashamed, but I’m not. I’m a “Listening Tom.”

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Shouts And Murmurs 

Fiction Saturday

One of the best playing around with the Language pieces I have ever read.

I’m

How I Met My Wife

by Jack Winter

The New Yorker, July 25, 1994 P. 82

SHOUTS AND MURMURS: a column about a man who describes meeting his wife at a party. In his description, he drops many prefixes.

It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate. I was furling my wieldy umbrella for the coat check when I saw her standing alone in a corner. She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was kempt, her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way. I wanted desperately to meet her, but I knew I’d have to make bones about it, since I was travelling cognito.

Beknownst to me, the hostess, whom I could see both hide and hair of, was very proper, so it would be skin off my nose if anything bad happened. And even though I had only swerving loyalty to her, my manners couldn’t be peccable. Only toward and heard-of behavior would do. Fortunately, the embarrassment that my maculate appearance might cause was evitable. There were two ways about it, but the chances that someone as flappable as I would be ept enough to become persona grata or sung hero were slim. I was, after all, something to sneeze at, someone you could easily hold a candle to, someone who usually aroused bridled passion. So I decided not to rush it.

But then, all at once, for some apparent reason, she looked in my direction and smiled in a way that I could make heads or tails of. So, after a terminable delay, I acted with mitigated gall and made my way through the ruly crowd with strong givings. Nevertheless, since this was all new hat to me and I had no time to prepare a promptu speech, I was petuous. She responded well, and I was mayed that she considered me a savory character who was up to some good. She told me who she was. “What a perfect nomer,” I said, advertently. The conversation became more and more choate, and we spoke at length to much avail. But I was defatigable, so I had to leave at a godly hour. I asked if she wanted to come with me. To my delight, she was committal. We left the party together and have been together ever since. I have given her my love, and she has requited it.

 

Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part Three

Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part Three

 

“Well, Mr. Detective Man, I hear you’ve been looking for me. Curious about a dog, are we? You look more like a Poodle man to me rather than a Doberman sort.”

I explained to him that I was just a man doing a job and that the only dogs I liked were running at the Greyhound track. He laughed and pushed an envelope across the bar to me.

Inside the envelope was a small photograph. It looked more like a photo of a photo, but it was clear enough. It was a picture of a Doberman. Whether it was “Peaches” or not I couldn’t tell, but the collar on the dog was a match for the one in the picture Sunny Boggs showed me over beer and cookies. No dognapper is going to go to the trouble of making a copy of the collar. This must be a picture of “Peaches.”

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Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part Two

Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part Two

 

The address was in a part of town where I didn’t go very often. I’m just not comfortable going places where there are steel security gates and armed guards. I’m never quite certain if they are there to keep people out or in.

When I pulled my car up to their Checkpoint Charlie a uniformed guard carrying a clipboard stepped out of a little stucco shelter. She was a real beauty. She looked like her last job had been as a guard in a women’s prison. She jotted down my plate number and mimed for me to roll down my window. I bet myself a beer that she had an accent.

“Guten Abend, Sir.” I won myself a beer.

When I told her who I was there to see and showed her my I.D. she gave me a half-hearted salute and waved me through. I bet myself another beer that I could have gotten a full salute, complete with a heel click, if I’d been driving a Mercedes.

If there was ever a job that I’d never hire myself out for, no matter how hungry I got, it would be to act as somebody’s butler. I don’t do well taking orders from anyone. That’s part of why I’m no longer a cop or married. So when a guy in a monkey suit answered the front door I just knew that it wasn’t his door. And he knew that I knew it. Neither of us looked all that comfortable.

I told him I was there to see his lady boss. I don’t think he liked the way I said that, but he was a good little flunky and let me in. The redhead with all the money and the legs was in the room the butler called “The Library.” There were a lot of books in there, but I wasn’t there to read. Looking at me, Sunny Boggs told her flunky to fetch us a couple of drinks. Hers came in a crystal glass. Mine came in a mug. By the way she spoke to him, “Judah,” she called him; I could tell she probably liked her dogs better.

She took a polite sip of her whatever it was and asked me for an update on my search for “Peaches.” I still had foam on my lip.

“Have you found him yet? “ She asked me that less than eight hours after walking into my office. ‘Impatient little checkbook,’ I thought.

“Why haven’t you found him? You’ve had all day. Who took him? Where is my ‘Peaches?’?”

Four questions in less than five seconds. The more time I was spending with her the more I was imagining impolite things. I answered her questions in reverse order. Three “I don’t knows,” and one plain “No,” and then I took a long, slow pull on my beer. She didn’t seem to like my answers.

“That’s not acceptable. People said you were a good detective. I’m beginning to harbor some doubts about that.”

I couldn’t help it. I laughed out loud at her attitude. While she steamed I turned to Judah, the butler, and asked him for another beer. He grinned and gave me a thumbs up as he started for the door.

“I’m sorry if I was short with you. Please forgive me,” she said with half a cup of artificial sweetener all over it and then snapped at Judah to bring back some cookies along with my beer. She turned it off and on like a hot water tap.

I put down my mug and then gave her a real update for her four hundred dollars. I told her what information I had bought from my new friend at the Dog Pound. She didn’t like it when I advised her that if she hadn’t gotten a ransom note by now chances are she never would – that whoever snatched her dog wanted the dog and not her money. Facts are facts. Reality is reality – and they are both subject to change.

The way she reacted you would have thought I’d said that her “Peaches” had been taken to Tijuana, painted with zebra stripes and was now part of a nasty nightclub act. I didn’t really know. It could be, I suppose.

“I want you to keep looking. I don’t care what it costs. I want my ‘Peaches’ home with me. I need him.”

The drive back to my side of town was uncomfortable. The $500 in cash that she handed me made my wallet feel like I had a box turtle in my pants pocket.

I went back to my office. The IRS audit was tomorrow and I had to get my paperwork together. “Peaches” could wait. He could have been out there having the time of his life; running until he dropped, chasing Chihuahuas, and making puppies. I figured a couple of days being a Dog and not just an ornament wouldn’t hurt him. And if I wasn’t ready for my audit I might be out there hanging with “Peaches.”

***

“Thank you for coming in today so we can go over some of your previous tax returns.” Like I had a choice.  I nodded, but kept my mouth shut.

“I hope that you’ve brought in the records that we requested.” I nodded again.

“I see that you have two shopping bags with you. What’s in them?

I explained that the bags were my records. He nodded. I gave him the five cent tour. Each bag held six months worth of last year’s paperwork. The farther back in the year you want to go, the deeper into the bag you go. Simple, right?

The IRS guy didn’t nod that time.

“What about your records for the rest of the seven years we asked you to bring? I nodded. I invited him down to my car to help me carry up the rest of the shopping bags.

The audit went better than I had expected. Twenty minutes and I was out of there.

***

I suppose I could have taken a short vacation to Vegas and report back that I wasn’t any closer to finding her evil looking mutt, but I am plagued with some inconvenient scruples. That dog might be anywhere, Tijuana or the Vatican, but unless he could learn to dial a telephone and call me, I doubted that I’d ever locate him.

I was able to pay a few more bills and square my tab with two of my favorite pubs. I had realistic priorities.

The morning after my meet and eat with Sunny Boggs I got a call, a message really, from the creep at the Dog Pound. He had something to show me, he said. That could be good or it could be taking me down the wrong street altogether.

As it turned out it was a little bit of both.

I drove back by the Pound. The lovely Regis was on duty behind the reception desk.

“I been askin’ around about your missing Dobey, but subtle like and I met a guy who knew a guy.”

I offered him a couple of smokes – one for now, one for later, and he began to fill in the blanks.

“I told a few people about you looking for a snatched Dobey and they pointed me to “Forty Ounce.” Why, I don’t know. I don’t know him. He don’t know me. The guy told me to ‘Let the nosy detective know.’ That’s you, right? Then he gives me a fifty dollar bill. He called it a ‘finder’s fee.’ Go figure, I ain’t found nothing other than him.”

Regis, the retired dognapper, working at the pound, had given me a bit of a name to follow up on. “Forty Ounce” was all the man was known by and he hung out at a joint on the edge of downtown – an area filled with transient hotels, hard drinking bars, and very few straight answers. And he, it seemed, had “Peaches.”

“Forty Ounce” was not an easy person to locate. He liked to move from barstool to barstool and when I did finally sit down next to him I realized that I’d seen him three times already. I was looking for him, but he had been watching me.

“Well, Mr. Detective Man, I hear you’ve been looking for me. Curious about a dog, are we? You look more like a Poodle man to me rather than a Doberman sort.”

Do You Believe In Miracles?

A SATURDAY MORNING IN THE RAIN. While you are reading this on a Tuesday I wrote it a couple of weeks ago. And it’s raining again. We could seriously use a miracle.

The past two weeks have been very wet here along the Banks of the Wabash – and those banks are a lot closer than they were before all of this rain. We have had over 7” of rain in the last week or so. Everyone and everything are waterlogged. All I can say in a positive sense is – At least it’s not snow.

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Yearning To Return

LAST YEAR WAS A TIME OF TRAVEL FOR US. Our seven weeks in Ireland was followed by about 10 days in Detroit, then a week in Texas. That was all squeezed into the period from early April to early July.

This year promises to be more sedate, but hardly comatose. We’ve already done one trip to Texas with another booked for Mid-July. In between there will be another 10 day sojourn, this time to Georgia near Atlanta. After that the calendar looks empty as far as travel is concerned – until the Holidays late in the year.

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Call Me Mr. President 

IDLE HANDS ARE THE DEVIL’S WORKSHOP or so I’ve heard. I have been officially retired for about six years now and I’m thinking that maybe I should get a part-time job – just to keep active you understand.

On the front page of the local daily birdcage liner I saw a very detailed Want Ad announcing a job opening that looks right up my alley.

It seems that the President of the Indiana State University is retiring. I could do that job in my sleep. I bet that the person who gets that job gets free pens and some ISU sweatshirts anytime they desire and I say that you can never have too many of either item.

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You Gonna Eat That?

“FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!” WE CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT and, all too often we can’t live with it. We eat too much. We eat the wrong stuff and there are people who eat, yet are starving.

We have TV shows featuring the lives of people who have hit 600#, making themselves into virtual prisoners in their homes. Following that show will be another about Anorexia. In between there will be ad after ad for dubious products to help us slim down or bulk up. I can’t keep it all straight in my feeble head. I need to think about food on a small scale.

No matter what I might donate to help feed the starving it would never be enough. I have to start with myself

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