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 “Writing”

I Don’t Need It. The Chickens Don’t Need It

TODAY IS OUR LAST FULL DAY FOOTLOOSE IN IRELAND. Tomorrow we turn in the car and spend the night in a hotel near the Dublin airport. On Sunday morning we climb into the big silver bird and fly back across the ocean. It is also the day when the Christmas shopping madness begins. I don’t think the two are really connected, but you never know. At just the time all of those online bargains appear I am quickly closing in on flat broke, busted, disgusted. My wallet can’t be trusted.

It’s a good thing I had no plans on buying anything more costly than a cheeseburger. No fries.

I am getting inundated with the ads, online and on TV, for all of those wonderful things I have no intention of buying. Sure, I’d like a big and fancy new computer, but I don’t need one. My computer is working just fine and does what I ask it to do. It has been doing so for close to ten years now and as long as it does my simple chores I will not tinker with my financial status quo.

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Looking Out Of The Window Until Spring

WHY DO I FEEL THAT THERE IS A GAP, AN EMPTY SPACE, IN THE WORLD? Oh, yeah, I know why – I’m in Ireland and the World Series is over. I didn’t watch any of it live on TV. It didn’t start until a little after 1 AM and I do need my beauty sleep.

This is the first time in my memory that I have not watched the World Series on TV. Regardless of the teams involved I have always made it “Must see TV” every September/October…and in a few cases dribbling over into November.

This year the two teams battling for the big ugly rings and big trophy were from Washington D.C. and Houston. I didn’t really care all that much who would emerge victorious, but I leaned ever so slightly in favor of Houston. Why? Because I had a couple of Houston players on my Fantasy Baseball team. That was the sum of my “fandom” this year.

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Saving Time For Something

 

EVERYONE SEEMS TO BE IN SUCH A HURRY THESE DAYS – even me who is a retired geezer and has a minimum of deadlines and other important urgencies in my life. Saving that extra three minutes seems to be critical even when the time saving actions have a lowering of quality along with the few saved ticks and tocks.

I’m not saying that saving time is a bad thing. It is just one way to have more time available to, hopefully, enjoy doing something else.

Like breakfast.

When I get up in the morning one of the first things I do is put on a pot of tea for Dawn. After that I head out in search of coffee. Until I have my coffee my day has not officially begun. Before I pour that first cup or two down my gullet everything I do is strictly muscle memory.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2016 – “Going Back For Seconds”

Throwback Thursday From November 2016 – “Going Back For Seconds”

 

turkey1A CRISIS HAS ARISEN. For a number of years we have gone out for the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. With just the three of us doing it all at home seemed to be more trouble than it was worth.

When we dined out we headed to a local hotel that put on a buffet worthy of the Roman Emperor’s Palace. There was enough of everything edible there that it would make the Front Line of the Chicago Bears faint dead away.

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During the course of the day several hundred hungry Hautians (not Haitians) would show up and eat until they embarrassed themselves. I heard that the Chefs and Bakers were on the Weight Watchers hit list. (But that was just a rumor.)

I must admit that we did our part in this Festival of Gluttony. We gave thanks for all of the usual things, plus the fact that it came only once a year. Any more often and they could have just shifted it all to the nearest Emergency Room.

The hotel did put on a buffet for Easter, but it paled in comparison. It was like trying to compare two squirrels fighting over an acorn to World War Two. The hotel Thanksgiving buffet had become a family tradition.

turkey3But now…

The Hotel Corporate gods decided that our hotel needed renovation and expansion. Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Get me some carrot cake.) has a number of really fine hotels. The universities and larger businesses have a lot of people coming in and out of town all the time. In late May there is the Indianapolis 500 auto race and the Terre Haute hotels fill up with racing fans.

With the announcement of the coming hotel renovation our hearts began to flutter. How long will the hotel be closed? What about the buffet? It turned out that it was to be a two year long project. They pared the hotel down to the structural steel skeleton – no buffet.

Time to Panic!

Wherever shall we go? Whatever shall we do?turkey5

For our family the immediate solution was obvious – we got an invitation to dine with friends. That was last year. That invitation won’t be coming again this year. They are out of town, the clever devils.

What are we going to do? The local options are not up to snuff compared to The Buffet.

Some of the possible alternatives that have been discussed are:

  1. The Red Lobster – Thanksgiving must have turkey. Sorry.
  2. Taco Casita – Now, that’s not funny! Sorry.
  3. Bob Evans – I don’t know. I…
  4. Help!

So, you see our dilemma. I suppose we could put together a very nice Thanksgiving dinner at home. After all, we are bright, creative, and fully capable people, but it just wouldn’t be the same. After all, the hotel buffet has become our tradition.

I’m going to put on my Thinking Cap and investigate further.

If anyone has any ideas, short of going out and shooting a turkey, they would be appreciated. We do want to have our family dinner – and Marie Callender is not part of the family.

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It Warms My Soul…And My Knees

I’M NOT TERRIBLY SURE THAT I HAVE A VIABLE SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM. Then again I’m not sure if it is really a problem that needs to be solved or just a condition that must be endured.

I’m cold. I have been cold ever since we landed in Ireland and now that we are heading home soon I don’t see a change in the offing. We are returning to November. November does not hold much promise as a time of warm weather. It’s just not part of its makeup. That looks to be the prognosis until, at the earliest, late March/early April. And I’m putting a rosy glow on that idea.

Right now my backbone feels like it is made of permafrost, tundra, and out of work Snowmen. I have tried standing in front of open fires and all that has done is singe my sweatshirt. My spine remains icy cold.

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Farkle!

GAMES – THEY CAN GET BLOODTHIRSTY AND GO ON FOR DAYS. Like those poker games that show up in the movies every so often.

Poker, Blackjack, Farkle, they’re all the same.

We are here on the Northwestern coast of Ireland along the “Wild Atlantic Way.” So what are we doing?

We are playing Farkle. And we are doing it until we are seeing spots in our eyes and losing the ability to do Third Grade Math.

For those of you unfamiliar with the noble game of Farkle – let me give you a thumbnail sketch so you can fully appreciate it, or understand what you’ve gotten yourself into.

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Let There Be Lights, Dang It.

IT’S SATURDAY MORNING. IT’S STILL DARK OUTSIDE, BUT, “HEY?” IT’S DARK INSIDE TOO. I flipped the switch on the bedside lamp…nothing. The power is out.

THE POWER IS OUT!

Oh, Man, what’s next – a plague of locusts?

Never before on our four previous trips to Ireland have we had this many Snafus, Breakdowns, and Fubars. Over the earlier visits to this island with forty shades of green things had gone smoothly and we were able to relax in comfort. This trip? No way, Paddy. On this five week trek back and forth across this beautiful country we have had little irritations (The neighbor’s cats getting into our house and not wanting to leave), to maddening annoyances (A slow moving toilet that needed 20 minutes to be ready to go), up to the Wrath of God blowing in off the ocean knocking out the power to our whole neighborhood. All of that was just the opening act for our fourth and final rented house.

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WELL, AREN’T YOU A SIGHT TO SEE?

 

 

WE ARE NOW IN OUR FOURTH HOUSE AND OUR FOURTH AND FIFTH WEEKS IN IRELAND. After this week we will begin the process of closing the book on Ireland and begin to get our thoughts on heading home.

For the first three weeks we were tourists and tour guides. We were blessed to have our “Alaskan Cousins” with us. They had never been here before and we wanted them to see the parts of this island that has brought us back time and time again. We may have run them a bit ragged, but with us they saw more than those tourists who saw the country from inside a rolling tour bus.

Before we left Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Guinness does go well with chocolate.”) our itinerary would have had us on the go about 36 hours a day. We’ve done it before and we thought we could do it again. Reality threw a pie in our faces on that idea. The first time I came here I was 60 years old and Dawn was…a mere yute. This trip has defied my experiments with time travel and tore too many pages off our Calendar. When we all landed in Dublin the age range of our group went from 73 years down to 62. We were not being mistaken for Hostelling Students on Holiday.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2016 – “It Is Time To Cut The Cord”

 

Throwback Thursday From November 2016 –

“It Is Time To Cut The Cord”

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RIGHT NOW I AM BEING STRANGLED BY A BUNCH OF SNAKES. At least that is how it feels. There are power cords, headphone cords, charging cords, HDMI cords, and they’re coming for me! AIEEEEEEGH!

I’m beginning to feel like Samuel L. Jackson in that movie “Snakes On A Plane,” – which is, by the way, one of the funniest dramatic films ever made. I don’t think they planned it to be that, it just turned out that way.

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My current situation is that the high-tech monster needs constant feeding. Everything needs to be plugged in somewhere. They are all on life support. Laptops, Netbooks, tablets, Kindles, Nooks, Cellular phones, and a few things I can’t even identify are reaching out with their snakelike cords to be fed. And what do they all need to be plugged into? A Power Strip which itself needs to be plugged into a wall socket.

Whenever I get up from my chair to cross the room these snakes reach out to trip me. They loop themselves around my ankles hoping that I’ll hit the ground so that they can pull a Burmese Python move on me. I have to be very careful. I tell you – I think that technology is out to get me. I’m almost afraid to go to sleep lest they come for me while I am sawing logs.

When computers began to appear in our offices and homes in the mid – 1980s the prediction snake4was that they would relieve us from many tasks, giving us more free time to take up ballroom dancing or whatever. In the same way that we were all going to have “Paperless Offices”

That didn’t happen either, did it?

The reality is that in most offices the need for copies of any report expands to meet the capacity of printers and copiers to produce them. Offices are buried under an avalanche of paper – 90% of it pointless duplications of out of date information.

But I digress.

What can I do to solve my very personal Samuel L. Jackson situation?

I need to be fed, but so do the array of gizmos. I can understand that part of it. But I don’t need to be attached to my food by some long cord. I can take my food with me and devour it snake6wherever and whenever I wish.

While doing some browsing on a technology website, hoping to find an answer, I saw that there are now “Charging Stations” where you just plop your gizmo onto the Charging Station – no cords – except for the cord coming out of the Charging Station itself. It’s not a complete answer, but it’s a start.

I’m hoping that someday soon all of our electronic thingys can operate while cordless and be rechargeable the same way. If things can progress to that state it will eliminate miles of cords that snarl and tangle their way around our feet. I’ll tell you – that day cannot come soon enough for me because I’m getting tired of all these *#$$@&&ing cords on this *#$$@&&ing floor.

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It Was Not A Close Shave

 

SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO DO THINGS STRICTLY BECAUSE THEY NEED DOING. Things that are not fun. Things that are more of a bother or inconvenience than anything difficult.

Like shaving.

I have had a beard for most of my adult life. I grew it the first time while I was still in college. We’re talking the late 1960s here. I grew it for a play I was in. I forget which one. All that’s important is that I was brilliant and the beard was scruffy looking.

Over the years, decades now, the beard has come and gone with fashion, day job rules and what show was being cast. Now that I’m pretty much a retired geezer the beard is there out of habit and as a way to cut down on the need to shave. If I didn’t have a beard I would have to shave at least twice a week. Otherwise I’d look like Yasser Arafat the late Palestinian terrorist leader. Not a good look for me. It wasn’t for him either, but he always looked like it was Day #3 on his face. I don’t know how he did it. But he’s dead. Moving on.

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ALDI La La La

 

I LEARNED THE IMPORTANT THINGS AT MY MOTHER’S KNEE. Unfortunately, I am currently in Ireland and my Mother’s knee was Lithuanian. That uh-oh of geography has left me in a quandary when it comes to grocery shopping in the Emerald Isle. What works in Terre Haute, Indiana (That’s French for “Don’t put the ice cream on the Hob.”) does not necessarily work in Portshannon, County Clare, Republic of Ireland.

We are staying here in this house for two weeks and since we have become accustomed to eating we must also go grocery shopping, but trying to do that in this wide spot in the road village is futile we have to saddle up the old Kia SUV and go to a wider spot in the road.

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I Am A Creature And I Want My Comforts

SOMETIMES HAVING THINGS DIFFERENT IS GOOD…SOMETIMES NOT SO GOOD.

I’m a person who likes his creature comforts. I like being warm when it’s cold outside. I like to take a shower with hot water. I want to have the toilet flush when I push the handle. Am I asking too much?

I am in much of Ireland it seems.

It looks like there are different standards of expected comfort. In every place we have stayed in Ireland, not just on this trip, but over the last 13 years of my personal experience.

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What? That Makes No Sense.

IF THERE IS ONE THING I CAN SAY ABOUT IRELAND IT IS: “WHAT? THAT MAKES NO SENSE.”

I don’t mean that as any kind of insult or disrespect. I would never do that because I am a quarter Irish myself and if I did say something insulting I know too many Irish folks who would bury me in the peat bog.

No; when I say, “What? That makes no sense,” I am reacting to something looks out of place. Incongruity is something I find very entertaining. It is the bedrock of Comedy in my not so humble opinion.

The “What? That makes no sense,” in this particular Irish case is strictly horticultural.

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Throwback Thursday From October 2016 – “Trick Or Treat!”

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HALLOWEEN IS HARD UPON US and five times a day people are asking me what I’m doing for Halloween. They don’t like it when I tell them.

If I was nine years old today I would do what I did then in 1955. I’d rub some burnt cork on my face for a beard, make an eyepatch from a piece of fabric from my mother’s sewing supplies, and tie a red bandana around my hear – Instant Pirate!, and then I’d go annoy everyone in the neighborhood for some candy.

But I’m not nine years old, so my plans are different.

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Our American Cousins…Kinda, Sort Of

THEY WERE HERE A MINUTE AGO…BUT NOW THEY’RE GONE. For the last three weeks we were a quartet, but now we are duet. Our Cousins from Alaska have left for home. They have abandoned Mountshannon, Ireland for the balmy weather of Anchorage, Alaska.

They were only going to be with us here for three weeks anyway, but it seemed to fly by. I’ve had weekends that lasted longer than their time with us. Dawn and I will spend these last two weeks in this house before we too pack up our bags and fly home.

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Notes On Cliffs

 

YOU WOULD THINK….AT LEAST YOU WOULD…I MIGHT NOT about what would be the biggest tourist attraction in all of Ireland. When I was asked that question the other day by one of the Alaskan cousins I had to stop and do what passes for thinking in my world.

“What is the biggest tourist attraction in all of Ireland, Cousin Krafty?”

Knowing these people as I do I immediately became suspicious. Was this a trick question? Was there a gag hidden in there somewhere?

“Biggest?” Did they mean the physically biggest attraction?

“Biggest Tourist?” Did they mean the attraction that would appeal to tourist who is the biggest? What would appeal to that 600 pound guy I’ve seen on TV?

“In all of Ireland?” Are they trying to trick me with world “All” in there? Do they mean the Republic of Ireland or are they trying to slip one past me by using “all” to include the counties of Northern Ireland?

Do you see my problem here? They are family and because of that I am almost obligated to be suspicious of them.

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I Got It! I Got It!…I Ain’t Got It.

I’LL ADMIT IT – I’M EASILY CONFUSED. If it involves mathematics of some sort I am almost assuredly baffled. It doesn’t have to be Inter-Galactic Hypersomnambulistic Digital Train Schedules or anything. Grocery store coupons tie me in a knot. Going from Metric to Whatever it is we use might as well be done in a dark room wearing a blindfold while listening to chalk on a blackboard, naked.

And then there is Daylight Savings Time. Uhhhhh. OK.

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Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Nineteen – The Conclusion

 

Part 19 – The Conclusion

This was always the best part of any movie. The climax where the bad guy and the good guy stare each other down. Gary Cooper in “High Noon,” Jimmy Cagney in any number of gangster movies, or even Marshall Dillon on “Gunsmoke” every week on TV. Those were fiction of course and nobody really got hurt. This was different. Nate was coming to kill me and I was going to kill him unless cooler heads could prevail, but there were no cooler heads.

Nate was outside and inside was me, Rocky the shifty lawyer, Nate’s weasely little spy the Jockey, and Hailey, the receptionist on what was her first and probably her last day on the job. Matt Dillon at least had Chester, his gimpy deputy, to back him up. I was as alone as I could be.

A lot of people had already died for no good reason. Actually, they had died as a distraction for a cockamamie reason that made less than zero sense. And now I’m roped into the middle of it all as the only person who fought back. More than the Middle – I was there at the Beginning back there in the Mall where I shot Timmy Whathisname, I’m not even sure anymore. I was held hostage by the Middle when that lovely, damaged, girl with a horror movie life, ended hers in my kitchen. Now this was going to be The End, the Third Act, before the last commercials aired.

I looked out of the window toward the van that Nate had used as his firing platform. He was standing by the rear door. He’d left the rifle behind and was carrying two heavy looking pistols – something straight out of a “Dirty Harry” movie.

“Do you feel lucky, Punk?”

I haven’t felt lucky since I was booted off the Force without being indicted.

The others in the reception area saw him too. Rocky tried to go back through the shattered door into his office, but I grabbed him by the collar.

“You’re not going anywhere, Chester. You’re going to try to convince him to turn himself in or die trying.”

The Jockey had crawled into a far corner behind a little makeshift fortress of aluminum and plastic chairs trying to make himself invisible.

The only one who wasn’t trying to hide was Hailey, the receptionist. She had moved back to her desk, sitting there with her bag in her lap. She had a determined look on her face. I imagined that she had lost a number of jobs before and after this one her choices were going to get even poorer. She was not going to make it easy for Rocky, Nate, or me. She was rooting through her bag like she was looking for a way out. She’s the only one I felt sorry for. All she wanted was a job, not playing anybody for anything.

Nate was walking across the parking lot on a beeline to our front door. He cut between the cars ignoring the moving ones, his eyes locked on us, me really, behind the glass. When he got to the last line of cars he stopped, raised both of his elephant guns and fired. The glass panes, weakened, finally shattered and crashed to the ground leaving just air between us now.

“Ellis!” he yelled. I could hear him just fine, even over the screams of some of the shoppers who heard the loud report of his guns and the crash of the panes of glass. “Ellis, you have screwed up everything. You took away my childhood when you took away my Father. When he was dragged away my mother walked away and I was put in an orphanage. An orphanage! I was the only kid there who still had both parents, but that didn’t matter to you, did it?”

“No, Nate, it didn’t. It really didn’t. Your Father would have killed me if he could have and your Mother…well, that happens more often than you’d think, but I didn’t tell her to …” He squeezed off two more rounds. Plaster board wall panels got ripped apart. He still wasn’t aiming. Off in the distance I could hear some sirens. It was about time. I turned to Rocky. “Why are the cops just coming now? This shooting match has been going on for quite a while.”

He shrugged. “It’s a bad neighborhood. Nobody wants to get involved.”

Nate held his weapons down at his side as he crossed the last bit of pavement and stepped through the hole that once held a floor to ceiling pane of glass. We were now all together, the Jockey, the Lawyer, the Receptionist, the Ex-con looking for blood, and me, the guy with a history of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I was seriously outgunned in any way you wanted to look at it.

What we had there was the world’s worst “High Noon” showdown. We were no more than ten feet apart. If he hit me with one of those huge lead slugs it would rip me apart. If I hit him first he would go down like a rag doll. Either way it was going to be ugly. We stared at each other, waiting for some visible signal that one or the other was going to move. Nobody made a sound and I swear I could hear everyone’s heart beating.

“Draw!”

That startled us into action. It came from the corner behind the nest of chairs. The Jockey. Without taking his eyes off of my eyes Nate lifted the gun in his left hand and fired. That ended their friendship. That damned jockey was trying to get us to kill each other yelling out like that.

The silence that followed included a ringing in my ears.

We stood there waiting for the other one to make the first move. It was probably no more than ten seconds, but it felt like an hour. Then it happened.

“Enough!”

A single gunshot. It wasn’t mine. It wasn’t Nate’s. He couldn’t miss me being as close as he was. Whoever fired didn’t miss either. I saw the fatal surprise on his face as his brain made room for the piece of fast moving lead that had entered above his left temple.

Where? Who? It wasn’t me. It didn’t come from outside. The Jockey was out of the picture. Rocky hadn’t moved in minutes. A voice spoke up. It was Hailey. Still sitting at her desk she had a Smith & Wesson chromed pistol in her hand. A tuna sandwich wasn’t the only thing she had in that bag. She looked at me standing there with my mouth open.

“I’m sorry Mister, but I wasn’t going to let him or anyone mess things up for me anymore. I’ve had to deal with his type ever since I was sixteen. They don’t think about anybody or anything that isn’t them.” Turning her focus to a stunned Rocky, she pleaded, “Boss, please don’t fire me. I really need this job.”

All Rocky could do was nod.

This young woman, who’d gotten dragged into this picture in the last reel, took charge when the rest of us stood there looking at each other afraid to move. That’s the way these things go. Everybody knows that if they make that first, expected, move that they are likely to die in the process. It is the person who sees that their reality, their life, has been placed in jeopardy who says, “Enough!” and ends the nonsense. Hailey has been fighting all her life and she saw that today could be her last day on earth through no real fault of her own.

“Enough!”

That gal is my hero.

Three up and now three down. No more killing. No more terror.

No more.

Outside the broken windows three Black &Whites pulled up. When seconds counted they were just minutes away.

The End

(Next Week we will be taking a break until…?)

How To Spot A Pregnant Sheep

SHEEP! THERE ARE SHEEP EVERYWHERE. There are more sheep than people on this island.

And the sheep know it.

As we drive along the Irish country roads we have to be alert because around any curve of the road we might be met by a sheep, ten Sheep, or fifty Sheep. They might be crossing the road or, more likely, walking down the road stopping to graze on roadside grasses. As they are doing this they will take an occasional in our direction – not with any animosity, but to send us a message.

“We were here first, so chill.”

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Throwback Thursday From October 2016 – “I’ve Decided To Not Think”

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PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS ASKING ME what I think.

“What do you think about the election?”

“What do you think about the Baseball Playoffs?”

“What do you think of this, that, and the other thing?”

I don’t answer those questions directly. I have become very adept at giving non-answer answers.

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