Today’s post is an “Oldie But A Goodie” from September of 2015. It is one of my personal favorites and, as bizarre as it seems, I assure you that it is completely true.
I WAS CHATTING WITH THE USUAL SUSPECTS the other day when the topic of bank robbery came up. Sometimes they scare me. This bunch of Geezers couldn’t rob the Food Bank, let alone an actual – “Money in the vault, Can I see some ID, please,” type of bank. This group would be called the “Don’t forget to take your meds gang.” Even so, they would be a bigger threat than a person I once knew who really did try to rob a bank.
Lately I have been seeing a lot of things online about people and their collections of this that and the other thing. It seems that if it exists there is someone who collects it. I was never much of a collector. I left all of that to my older brother.
Jimmy was just a little guy when someone gave him some stamps and an album to stick them in. That gift lit the fuse in him and he became a serious stamp collector…or a “Philatelist” as he chose to be called. He kept on collecting for decades and turned his hobby into a significant bankroll.
I saw how much pleasure he got out of his stamp collection so I figured that I’d try it.
I found it to be mind numbingly boring and my collection soon found its way into one of my brother’s albums.
“Stamps: Free to a good home.”
I tried coin collecting. I was a failure at being a Numismatist too. At least the stamps were colorful. The coins were as exciting as dirt.
As the years passed and my brother and I moved on our separate paths his collecting gene kept him accumulating stuff while I went in the other direction and worked hard at getting rid of things. I began to suspect that one of us was adopted. He was dark and muscular. I was pale and flabby, but I had seen our birth certificates so there was no doubt about our lineage.
It was in the 1970s when the next Great Collection Storm began. I started collecting British Sports Cars. I didn’t let it get out of hand. My collection topped out at One. They take up room.
I was living in Cleveland. He was in the suburbs of Washington D.C. It had been awhile since I had driven down there to visit him, his wife and kids. I just assumed that he was still into Stamps. The stamps had become residents in a safe deposit box silently gathering in value. He had started a new collection that gave him both pleasure and the need for additional space.
I was both shocked and mystified when I walked into their den and saw row after row of shelves on
every wall filled with Beer Cans. Empty beer cans.
It had never occurred to me that anyone would collect beer cans. I don’t drink beer. I don’t like beer. I don’t have even one beer can, full or empty, in my life. He had hundreds. Of course I was given a detailed tour informing me about the “vintage” of each can. My brother made a good docent. The tour did not end in a gift shop. I have to admit that his display was both overwhelming and disturbing. Someone had to have chugged all that beer. His wife was nurse and couldn’t show up for work smelling like she hung out with Clydesdales and their daughters were significantly underage.
People love to collect things. They all have their own reasons, much like I have my reasons for not collecting things. My reasons result in a lot less dusting, but who am I to shake my head and go “tsk, tsk.”
I never criticized or belittled my brother’s collection of beer cans. It could have been worse. He could have collected Italian Sports Cars.
I have never seen the “Merchant of Venice,” but that line is part of a famous monologue from that Shakespearean play. It came into my mind recently when I went to get a haircut.
What with all of the disruptions to our lives this year the little things like haircuts have been few and far between. My last ride in the Barber’s Chair was in January of 2020. As I write this the calendar on the wall insists that today is September 9, 2020. That is a long time to go without getting a haircut.
I get haircuts not “Styling,” so I’m not terribly picky about where I get my hair cut. All I ask is that the person doing the cutting has been trained and that they listen to me. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
It was 10 AM when I trundled myself and my nine months worth of increasingly graying hair through the door of the franchise hair cutting place. I hesitate to call it a “Barber Shop.” There was no revolving barber pole by the door. There was no “Barber” in there, just a very nice young lady who looked about 12 years old to me. She was going to cut my hair. I’m sure she has never given anyone a shave…other than her own legs perhaps. I wasn’t there for that. It was my head or nothing.
Whenever I have a new person cutting my hair I always start by telling them that I have a bump on the back of my head. It’s not a tumor. It’s not going to explode. It’s not going to bleed unless you stab it (See quote at the beginning). It is just a reservoir of fat and miscellaneous tissue. My doctors have expressed no concern about it. The only uproar came a few years ago when a newbie haircutter freaked out in mid haircut.
But not today.
The 12 year old reminded me that she was the person who cut my hair in January. At least there would be no screaming today.
When I sat down in her chair she commented on the mountain of hair on my skull.
“Shall I just get out my Sheep Shears?”
Those Sheep Shears might have worked, but I didn’t want to get involved in all the wrestling on the floor I’ve seen in real sheep shearing.
That gal may have been younger than the shirt I was wearing, but she knew her way around a head. She had me shorn and shaped within fifteen minutes. It would have been quicker if I had not had ears that needed navigating around. Fifteen minutes (Van Gogh would have been done in half the time) after I sat down I was feeling the breeze for the first time in months.
I’ll tell you one thing – the next time there is a Pandemic around here I’m going to get my head shaved and start over from scratch.
What with all of the Fooferaw lately about the Postal Service it brought to mind a Blog Post from 2015 about an old friend of mine. So, here is an encore posting of:
“Let’s Play ‘Spot The Flaw In This’.”
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.”
While most of the world has been staying home this year we decided to not let it all tie us down to one place. We are, by nature, people who love to, want to, need to, travel. We are not going to let reality get in the way.
I can’t prove it, but there were rumors in the family that somewhere in the obscure and leafy branches of the Family Tree there were Gypsies. Gypsies who came and went leaving behind the gene responsible for Wanderlust.
It is Wanderlust that has people moving from one part of the world to another. It had some of my ancestors leaving Lithuania and ending up in Cleveland. Wanderlust did that and the fact that my grandfather was a deserter from the Czar’s Army. The Czar frowned on things like that in the 1890s. He didn’t like it when you stole his horse on the way out of town.
I was born with a double dose of Wanderlust and it has had me on the move all my life – and I never stole anyone’s horse (Don’t believe the rumors!).
Dawn’s ancestors must also have had a genetic run-in with those Gypsies somewhere along the line because she can match me Wanderlust for Wanderlust.
Unfortunately, with the current state of the world being a true mess, traveling is not easily done. My wife, the lovely and also Wanderlusty, Dawn and I like to travel a lot. We get to visit family in Texas several times a year and other trips both in the States and abroad have me frequently filling out those “Hold Our Mail” cards at the Post Office.
Not this year. This year we are forced to take mythical vacations.
I know that I posted a blog back a few months ago about this, but we have not slowed down. Our Pilgrimage has continued.
For example: In our minds and online we have traveled to china, Japan, Russia, France, England, and just about everywhere else. I think the only continent we haven’t been to is Antarctica and that’s too cold for me. Don’t believe me? Well, we have pictures to prove it.
Earlier this year we even managed to visit the International Space Station. It has the best views of anyplace.
This doggone Covid-19 virus has brought about some profound changes in our day to day lives. We have all had to make adaptations and this is the one that we have chosen. Putting these pictures together has required itinerary planning, Selecting the right clothing, and scheduling time to take our photos.
As our Around The World Journey has continued we had met some interesting people and seen some glorious sights. It was just a week or so ago when we were in Italy and checked out the Leaning Tower. Its still leaning and so am I at the end of a long day on my feet.
Just the other day we flew off to Argentina because we had the urge to dance the night away and what dance could be better for that than the TANGO!
Who dares to tell me that I have two left feet?
Summer is turning into Autumn but that is not stopping us. We have taken a short breather at the request of some magazine publishers. We are going to appear on a number of popular magazines. That one up at the top, the National Geographic, is pretty nifty looking. Don’t you agree?
Why have we done this? Why have we cut ourselves loose from the insanity around us? Why have we insisted on our Freedom? Here is why. The words of Sojourner Truth.
It wasn’t the Cowardly Lion who said that and we are certainly not in anyone’s Oz. In fact, it seems that we are stuck in an opposite place – “Bitter Reality Land.”
The strange reality of the last month and more has created a new world. I’m not saying that it is one that I enjoy or even understand completely. It is…different – Different in a number of ways that are unfamiliar in my experience and I feel sure is unfamiliar in our collective experience as a nation. It is all rather upsetting. Stores that I like are closed. Restaurants are reduced to drive through lanes and forget it if you need a haircut. And then there are the masks.
“Who was that Masked Man?”
The doors at my bank are locked and you can enter by appointment only. Inside everyone is wearing a mask, including the person who handles mortgages and the like. That masked man is known as The Loan Arranger.
I know that I am not alone when I say that I do not like wearing a mask. I find them uncomfortable and they make my glasses fog up. The Where and When I am supposed to wear such a mask is revealed daily by a variety of contradictory “experts” who can’t seem to agree on anything. They don’t exactly inspire confidence and confidence is what people need right now. I do…and I’m people too. I can prove it. I watched all of Game of Thrones.
Things have changed while we are living, and in some cases dying, with this virus business. But change is a nonstop thing and, in time – long or short – we will start to rebuild our daily lives. Like any reconstruction project the target of the restoration will be different than what it was before no matter how hard we try to make it an exact copy.
As we restore our personal lives we will make changes big and small intentional and accidental. My question is how do you think your life will be different – post virus? Will it be better or worse? How do you want it to be different? This is something I think that we, each of us, have to start thinking about now! Think about it now when, like it or not, most of us have plenty of idle time on our hands. I know how I’m going to approach this.
How I intend to plan my life, however long or short that may be, is to carry around a small notebook and a pen so I can jot down my own personal thunderbolts of wisdom. I know that I want there to be changes. There will be changes in the things that I do and there will be changes in how I respond to other things as they affect me. There will probably be some big changes, but most will be so small that I will be the only person who will notice them. I’m cool with that. After all, in the larger scheme of the universe, I am nobody else’s business. I have no desire to control anyone else and I certainly don’t want to be someone else’s android.
I R2 D-etermined to allow that to happen.
I’m going to start planning my new Chez Krafty today. I will not be caught in a New Life without have a set of detailed blueprints. This brush with a planetary scare has made me realize that I have spent most of my life just drifting. I have drifted from one career to another, from one hometown to another, from one relationship to another, and from one set of standards to another. But from now on I will be controlling the tides. Many, if not most of the things and people in my life will remain – but there are going to be changes. If there aren’t any changes it would prove that I just haven’t been paying attention – and trust me –
We are in that awkward transitional time of the year. It’s not really Winter any longer, even though there are mornings when we awaken to find snow on the ground. It is not really Springtime either. There may be a robin or two scouting for worms in the yard, but their red breasts are still shivering in the cold.
This is that spot on the calendar where we don’t know how to dress. Should I put on the old college sweats that have always kept me warm or should I try on that new short sleeve shirt I was given at Christmas?
These are the days when we don’t know which way to turn. What should we do to be comfortable? What makes sense? Don’t ask me.
I find this time of year to be transitional in more ways than just the weather. It is really the start of the time when we make life decisions. It is our Intellectual Springtime as well. Do we make that move to a new job, a new home, a new life? Or do we drag out the old and the comfortable for one more year? Do we try something new or do we postpone everything? For how many years can we mimic the weather patterns of being neither this nor that and being unsatisfied with both? Eventually we either have to make those choices and move on, or we must retreat into our closet and move to the rear where we keep the clothes we can’t bring ourselves to throw out.
The weather outside my window right now is at 51 degrees with a cold wind and showers threatening. Inside it is me in an old sweatshirt wondering what I should do about a dozen different things. Not all of those questions are life altering. Some are, but most are as simple as “What should I have for breakfast?” Coming up with “French Toast” is not as earth shaking a decision as choosing to change careers, become a Parent, or to “Tune In, Turn On, and Drop Out” as many of us considered in the 1960s. Facing the simple questions is easy, but there are some that are soul wrenching.
Whether or not the Weather pleases us is really a temporary situation. No matter what it is like right now outside of my window I won’t have to wait long before it changes. On this planet Winter does give way to Spring and then on to Summer, Autumn, and then back to Winter again. We can choose which season we like the best but we can’t speed up its arrival or slow down its demise. We have to deal with what is in front of us now.
Our Life is different from our place in the flow of the Weather as it transitions through the year. We can be happy with our life or not, but if we are unhappy we can also do a great deal about it. We have Choices. We can choose wisely and enhance our life bringing us joy or we can choose poorly and send our life careening through the years like an out of control car. Often we can’t recognize the wisdom or the errors of our choices until time passes and there is no going back. Life rarely gives us a “Mulligan.” All we can do is think, learn, pray, and do our best when we come to those crossroads.
Whether we live through the Weather of our life enjoying our days, or we grumble and complain about everything is really our Ultimate Choice.
In this world there are Happy People who always seem to have a genuine smile on their face and then there are Unhappy People. Those are the ones who may also have a smile for the world to see, but are never content no matter what their station in life. They could be fabulously wealthy and famous, but they never have “enough.’ These are the people for whom the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
While the Weather outside my window is not to my liking I know that better days are coming and that is what keeps me going. I know for a fact that there will be warmer days when my body will not be so rebellious. The sun will shine and it will put a pleasing glow on my face. All I have to do is be patient and wait for it to arrive. Complaining won’t make it come any sooner. It will get here Whether the Weather today is warm or not.
THIS IS GETTING RIGHT DOWN TO THE WIRE. Today and Tomorrow and that’s it – a new year and a new decade.
2020? That doesn’t even look real. It looks like a date out of a bad Science Fiction movie.
“It was 2020 on the Third Moon of Zoltar.”
It may sound and look cheesy, but it is real and I’m sure it will take me until Mid-May before I stop writing 2019 on checks and other things. I tend to be a little behind the curve on those things. It will finally start to register in my brain when I start getting complaints from my bank.
2020? Doesn’t it seem like it was just last week that we were fussing and fuming about “Y2K” and how
the world was going to shut down? That didn’t happen, did it? I’m not sure.
2020? I’m not sure that I’m ready for it. 2020 sounds so…permanent, like it means business and isn’t going to take any more guff from people like me.
2020 sounds like a date doesn’t even need a New Year’s Eve to get people ready for the change. If you are not fully prepared for it 2020 will slap you around until you quit whining.
2020 sounds like a Mixed Martial Arts kind of a year – anything goes and you better protect yourself against those kicks to the groin. It reeks of, “I’m rough. I’m tough and I have a secret Sleeper Hold if you get out of line.”
If we can get through 2020 we will then bump into 2021. That year, on the other hand, sounds like a misstep, a stumble on a crack in the sidewalk. 2021 will just fill up a space in time. It’s 2020 we have to watch out for.
The term 20/20 also has a meaning referring to supposedly ideal vision. Since my cataract surgery two years ago I now have 20/20 vision, but it is far from ideal. I can now see more clearly the things that I cannot afford to have.
2020 is different things to different people. I have already received a new 2020 calendar and within thirty seconds it gave me a nasty paper cut.
I can take a hint.
WELL, I’M GOING TO ASSUME THAT, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, YOU ARE STILL ALIVE. In some cases I know that that may be a bit of a stretch, but it does look as if you made it through another Christmas.
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Christmas Dinner – and then there is a day of Christmas Leftovers and Batteries not included. That seems to be the Order of Battle
For me that day after Christmas usually involves multiple trips to the supermarket for a can of this or that and a Dollar Store Safari for batteries of the size I failed to buy before Christmas. How was I to know that nothing uses “D” size batteries anymore? If you ever find that you need some “D” batteries let me know because I have a boxcar load of them out in the garage. Most of them may be thirty years old, but they can be yours at a reasonable price.
When I hear a grown person whining about anything I just want to walk right up to them and slap them silly. That would give them something to really whine about.
I know I can’t do that, but I can dream can’t I?
THE WORLD IS MADE OF PEOPLE, THINGS, AND EVENTS. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell one from another. Which is it? Am I reacting to the person, what I am seeing, or what is going down? I guess the reality is that, in most cases, it is a combination of the three.
Such is one unusual thing that happened to me in, of all places, the neighborhood laundromat. The laundromat is not my usual haunt. I don’t think I have any “usual” haunts just a bunch of verifiably “Unusual” ones.
It may be 33 degrees outside, but I am roasty-toasty warm inside. The furnace is on. I’m wearing three layers (not chickens) and I have my electric throw plugged in and I have a Hunter’s Hand Warmer in my pants. I’m warm and I like it.
I would never have been a great Arctic explorer. Amundsen and Byrd would have pushed me overboard when they caught me trying to convince the crew that Miami was close enough to the Pole.
“Let’s all stop here and have a hot toddy.”
When the thermometer begins its slide into the range that causes talk of things like “Wind Chill” and “Antifreeze,” I break out my Thermal Thongs.
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.
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)
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.
IT WASN’T THAT LONG AGO when I had those dreams about what I wanted to be when I grew up. At least it seems that it wasn’t all that far in the past. But, now when I look at with a calendar in my hand I realize that it was the better part of a century ago.
My God, where have those years gone?
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.
TODAY IS A DAY THAT HAS BECOME WRAPPED IN SADNESS.
I can understand how that can be, but I choose to not give in to that. There is enough sadness in the other 364 days, more than enough to make anything on this date – excuse the expression – overkill.
Instead of spending today in what has become a sort of morose celebration I have made a personal decision to take the memory of the events and aftermath of 2001 and put them all into a long term perspective. A very long term perspective.
Things happen in Time. Time has been going on for quite awhile now – long before you or I showed up on the scene. God willing and the Creek don’t rise, it will continue on for a few years longer. We may not be around until the bitter end of Time, but Time doesn’t care.