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 tag “Nonfiction”

Look! Up In The Sky!

WHAT? WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU. Wait a second until the Blue Angels pass over the house. They are beautiful…and LOUD.

The Navy Blue Angels Aerobatic Team was in town for the 2018 Terre Haute (That’s French for Awesome.”) Air Show.

I love Air Shows. They are a living display of Aviation History, the Present, and a peek into the Future. In the air before your eyes are planes from the World War II era, the aircraft defending this nation today, and the cutting edge technology like the F-22 with Stealth capabilities.

It is a History lesson that should be taught to everyone because our History is the best way to understand and prepare for the future.

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But…But…I Love You

 

HERE I AM SITTING IN A SMALL TOWN when I know that my fame and fortune lies in the Big City with Bright Lights. You know, some place like Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Albuquerque, aside from being the only city with two “Qs” in its name, seems to be a really “Happening” place. After all, wasn’t the hit TV show “Breaking Bad” set there? And so is “Better Call Saul”- my personal favorite. Albuquerque seems to be the place to be. It is also the home of a World Record Holding Crazy Person.

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Look Into My Eyes

YOU KNOW ME. I’m a pretty easy going guy. I really don’t care how you choose to live your life – as long as you don’t scare the dog or foul the footpath. If you want to have blue hair and walk around all day wrapped in aluminum foil like a baked potato I say – Go for it. I’m cool with it as long as you don’t expect me to chip in to help you buy your supply of Reynold’s Wrap.

In my personal opinion, there are too many laws trying to regulate how people want to live their lives. Part of that is because there are too many lawyers, but that is an issue for another day.

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Throwback Thursday from August 2015 – “Our Lady Of The Crosswalk”

Throwback Thursday from August 2015

Our Lady Of The Crosswalk

I THINK I SAW EVIDENCE OF A MIRACLE THIS MORNING.

I was driving down Wabash Avenue, heading toward home after morning services/brewing at St. Arbucks, when I stopped at the red light. It was then that I saw it.

Across the intersection at the crosswalk, leaning up against the light pole, I saw a single aluminum crutch. “Shades of Fatima,” I said to myself. “Right here in Terre Haute (That’s French for “What the heck is that?”).

Nobody would absentmindedly forget that they were using a crutch and just walk away and leave it there. Nobody would think that they didn’t need the crutch and just abandon it at the corner. It has to be a relic of a recent miraculous event.

Picture if you will – an injured, ill, or otherwise disabled soul galumphing down Wabash Avenue using their new aluminum crutch for support. What was it that happened at the corner of Wabash and Brown? There were no reports of miraculous visions, cosmic phenomena or angelic choruses in the area. Whatever happened must have been extremely private.

Our Hobbler got to the corner and had to wait for the green light when something happened that caused him/her to become restored to full bipedal status. Was it a vision, an apparition that delivered a cure or merely a warming glow that entered and told him/her that it was time to ditch the crutch? 

How in the heck would I know?

I saw the crutch leaning up against that pole and I knew that it couldn’t be accidental – no matter how much you’ve been drinking. In fact, the more you would drink the more you would rely upon the crutch to get you home. And besides – I didn’t see any drunken bodies lying there on the sidewalk.

Ergo: It has to be a miracle.

OK – I admit that another possible explanation or two exist but, really… does anyone think that the crutch may have been placed there as a gag? Or was the crutch thrown there from a passing car? If that had happened, the fact that it landed upright, neatly leaning on the pole, would be yet another miracle.

No – the only logical answer is that Divine Intervention took place at the corner of Wabash and Brown today – and the beneficiary of that intervention is toddling around town and doing just fine, thank you.

Miracles like this don’t happen every day, especially at the corner of Wabash and Brown.  If such miracles did happen every day more people would notice and there would be crutches leaning up at almost every intersection.

Of course, what the future holds for that intersection remains to be seen. Who knows if there will be more miraculous events there and that a devout following will turn it into a place of pilgrimages? If that happens the Mobil station at the opposite corner will see their mini-mart business really take off – Soft drinks, snacks and little plastic crutches made in Korea. It could turn into another Fatima or even a Super Target.

This isn’t like those people that see the face of Jesus on their taco or grilled cheese sandwich. This is a real, tangible aluminum crutch standing up at the corner. Those things don’t just walk there all by themselves. Somebody in need had to have gotten that far and then said, “Oh, I suddenly feel better. Aw, screw it. I don’t need no stinking crutch. I’m outta here.” Not poetic or very liturgical, but what do you expect at a busy intersection?

Today – one person leaving a single aluminum crutch.

Tomorrow – a shrine to Our Lady of the Crosswalk.

It could happen.

 

I Have The Key

 

AS I WAS GETTING INTO THE CAR YESTERDAY I accidently dropped my car keys. Five minutes later, as I was straightening up after that long trip to the ground and back, I took a close look at that mass of metal I called my key ring.

I must have had fifteen keys and other junk hanging there. The problem was that I couldn’t identify what half of them were for. What did they open?

For how many years had I been lugging around these chunks of metal that were absolutely useless in my life? Over coffee this morning I decided to try to make some sense of it all.

OK, let’s see…

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It’s Either Time Travel Or Weed Pulling

I WANT SOMETHING. Actually, I want a number of things, but none of them are very big. I want a nice lunch. I want someone to pull up some weeds for me. I wouldn’t mind it if I could figure a way to eliminate stairs.

See, the things I want are simple and don’t require a big honkin’ commitment from somebody else = except maybe for that weed pulling thing. Not everyone is like me. There are some people who want things that call for another person to put it all on the line – even to the point of risking their life in the process.

Kind of like dating a Redhead.

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I Am The Law!

 

BRACE YOURSELF, WORLD! I HAVE BEEN CALLED FOR JURY DUTY.

The notice came in the mail a few days ago. It looks like I am going to be under the judicial thumb for the month of September. I’m cool with that as long as it doesn’t conflict with my scheduled Colonoscopy.

There was a two page questionnaire I had to fill out and mail back. I guess it was designed to determine if I might be a good juror or was I some sort of freakin’ lunatic. I’ll find how I did once I get to the courthouse.

I have never been on a jury. I have been called four or five times, but I guess there is something about me that makes Rusty The Bailiff always show me the way out of the building.

It’s not like I’m standing up in the courtroom screaming, “Hang ‘em! Hang ‘em all!” and the Judge is screaming back at me, “Sit down, Mr. Kraft! This is Traffic Court.”

There must be a glint in my eye or something in my non-stop mumbling that gives them pause. They ask me a question, I answer it and everybody wearing a suit stands up and points to the door.

Some people are just so touchy.

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Has Anybody Seen My Pot Stickers?

WHENEVER WE ARE DOWN IN TEXAS visiting family there is one thing we do as a group – and we do it very well.

We eat. Man, do we eat.

During this currant voyage to the bottom of the State someone suggested that we order “Chinese Food.”

“OK by me!” “Sounds good!” “Let’s eat!” “I want Crab Rangoon!” “Me too!” “Me too!” “Me too!”

I don’t like Crab Rangoon. And Rangoon isn’t in China anyway. So much for authenticity.

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Throwback Thursday from August 2015 – “A Man’s Gotta Do What A Man’s Gotta Do”

Throwback Thursday from August 2015 

A Man’s Gotta Do What A Man’s Gotta Do

Saint ArbucksTHIS MORNING WAS DIFFICULT.

I got up at my usual time – 7 AM-ish and got my act together so I could leave the house without either scaring the neighbors or getting my butt arrested. Up to that point the morning was going along uneventfully.

My wife, the lovely and early rising today, Dawn, was already up and more or less “at ‘em.” She had an 8:30 appointment and set the alarm for some ungodly hour to ensure that she would not be late. I applaud her for that.

It was at this point that things began to go downhill like a Chevy with a faulty parking brake in San Francisco. I had my own appointment to see my Doctor at 11:20 AM.

11:20? 11:bleeping 20? What moron scheduled an appointment for that late in the day? Oh. Never mind. My bad.

The main reason I see this Doctor at all is because I have “Blood Pressure Issues.” That means that, untreated, my blood pressure tends to creep up to rival that of a charging Cape Buffalo. After that my head would explode, I would spontaneously combust and I would hit the ground like an overcooked baked potato.

By scheduling an appointment for that late in the morning it meant one very significant and overriding thing: I wouldn’t be able to have my morning coffee until after the appointment.

Dear God! Whatever will I do? Wherever will I go?

If I go ahead and drop by St. Arbucks for my morning coffee my blood pressure will spike like Vlad The Impaler on a bad day. I had doomed myself to a morning without my coffee. Sheesh!

My solution to this self-inflicted wound was to nurse along a cup of Decaf and hope that it wouldn’t rat on me when they wrapped that cuff on my arm.

I know what you are thinking –“Decaf?” That is just like kissing your sister. It is technically a kiss, but it’s not the same. It’s not like the Real Thing.

So, bowing my head in shame, I ordered the coffee that isn’t coffee and I skulked to my chair in the corner. The barista got a bit teary, The Usual Suspects – The Brotherhood of the Cup, stared and whispered to each other. Even the flies moved to the far side of the store, ashamed to be seen near me.

I sat there waiting for it to be time to leave. I sipped at the dark liquid, wondering what do they do to make it taste like that – and why, for Heaven’s sake. Why?

Deep in my heart I knew that I had a good reason for doing what I was doing. It was my health, my very life, which was in the balance. With my meds I had the blood pressure of an adult human male of my age. Without my meds no one within splatter range was safe. I was like a human paint ball. I didn’t want to mislead the Doctor with a BP reading that would be artificially goosed up by my cup of real coffee.

Some days you just have to take one for the team. Some days you have to lean in to the fastball.  If I had to pretend that the stuff in my cup was really coffee I would do it. I would hope that the stress of making this sacrifice would not, in itself, raise my blood pressure, but I would do it.

I had to think of my family, man!

I want them to be proud of me. I want them to see me happy. I want them to see me above ground.

They Are All Disappearing

I SAW A NEWS STORY THE OTHER DAY that made me get all misty-eyed and nostalgic. A wonderful piece of my life was disappearing and there was nothing I could do about it.

I got my first VCR back in the early 1980s in the days of my callow middle-age. I wanted a quality machine so I bought a really nice Betamax VCR. After I got it hooked up to my Sylvania SuperSet I had everything I needed for countless hours of cinematic pleasure…except for one thing. That was where I had to fire up the car and head out to – BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO!

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Tubular Meats

 

“TUBULAR MEATS” IS NOT A PHRASE YOU HEAR VERY OFTEN. It might even be rarely heard. You just have to be in the right place at the wrong time.

Let me first define the term.

Tubular Meats: “A Classification of a certain style or configuration of foods such as hot Dogs, Sausage Links, Kielbasa, and even the often neglected Vienna Sausages. Pigs in a Blanket are not included unless the blankets are removed.”

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Beware Of The Gaboon Viper

I LOVE TO TRAVEL. I JUST DON’T LIKE GOING PLACES ALL THE TIME. A luxury trip to see the Taj Mahal is one thing. Going to the Dollar Store is something else.

That I can do without.

We are down in Texas, home of the Alamo, the Houston Space Flight Center, and lots of good Barbeque, but am I penciled in for a trip to any of these places? No. I’m being scheduled to be a Bearer on a safari to the Dollar Store.

This whole thing is being presented to me as something special, something once in a lifetime. Really? Yes – because this is the BIGGEST Dollar Tree Store in existence. That must mean that it has Two Aisles with Party Favors and Unknown Brands of Chili Con Carne. That’s my first thought anyway.

Let me compare and contrast my options.

  1. I could go out in the 97°/94% humidity and walk around the largest Dollar Store on Earth – or
  2. I can stay inside with a cool beverage and either get some writing done – or
  3. Sleep

The jury has returned with a verdict!

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“This Is Not Raleigh”

 

I BLAME IT ALL ON THE AIR CONDITIONING. Going from 97 degrees outside into a nice hyper-chilled building makes the brain transform into a head of lettuce. Spend some time in an Airport and watch it all turn into the Produce Section.

We just got back from another one of our visits to Family in Texas. The average temperature down there was a little cooler than molten lava. Of course it wasn’t much different than Indiana/Kilauea. Our flight from Indy to Houston took off during what I like to call “Lunchtime.” That is anytime after breakfast and before supper. I hate eating on an airplane and my attempt to do so on this latest flight didn’t change my opinion. 

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Throwback Thursday from August 2015 – “If You Don’t Hear From Me – It’s The Moles”

 

Throwback Thursday from August 2015 

If You Don’t Hear From Me – It’s The Moles

20150729_114750IT HAS BEEN A QUIET MORNING.

After stumbling through the process of making tea and doing the crossword puzzle in the newspaper I felt that I was sufficiently conscious to drive to St. Arbucks.

“Oh, great nectar from the mountains of Abyssinia, you awaken my mind and soul to all the wonders and possibilities of God’s creation.” 

— From the Gospel of St. Arbucks, Patron Saint of Jittery people.

This afternoon, however, is a different story.

As I stepped out of the back door I was made immediately aware that things were happening – big time.

First of all my ears were assaulted by the cacophony of a million Cicadas nestled high in the treetops. There is no other sound quite like the half buzz, half whine of the ugliest insect around. I don’t know if these are the 5-year, 7-year or the 17-year Cicadas that seem to like this part of the country, but they are noisy. When they are going full blast it can make earplugs a nice accessory.

After regaining my equilibrium from the aural assault I headed to the car, but I stopped when I saw what is in the picture displayed above.

We had a bit of rain overnight and I think it inflated the mushroom that has been growing by the tree near the car. I have put a book into the picture to give you some idea of the size. It first popped up about three years ago and has somehow survived some truly bitter winters. Now it looks poised to take over the whole yard.

I’ve seen squirrels nibble at it and birds too, but I’d be afraid to sample it for fear that it might bite back. I have no idea what kind of mushroom it is other than Honking Big.

After snapping the picture of the Mega-Shroom I walked around to the driver’s side of the car and noticed yet another sign of activity.

We have either a collection of moles living in/under the backyard or the city is putting in a new subway tunnel, which would surprise the heck out of me because Terre Haute (That’s French for “Mama don’t ‘low no subways around here.”) doesn’t have a subway system. It barely has bus lines. I don’t think they’d want to dig too deep around here anyway – you never know who you might bring up.

It must be moles – lots of them. It looks like they’ve all been drinking too. None of the little raised piles of dirt go in a straight line for more than six inches.

Then again, maybe the moles haven’t been drinking. They might be disoriented from sampling that giant Magic Mushroom over by the tree.

Or maybe it’s those darn Cicadas. They make enough noise to drive me crazy – just imagine what they could do to the nervous system of a mole.

Wait a minute…

Did I just compare myself to a mole?

If someone else said that to me I would ask them to step outside, but under the circumstances I would find myself out there alone. Then what?

Besides, it’s too hot and muggy today, so I’ll just stay inside and give myself a stern talking to.

I will continue to monitor the activity in the backyard and report on any significant changes.

If you don’t hear from me – it’s the moles.

“Chopper”

 

I DON’T HAVE A GOOD MEMORY FOR NAMES. I just don’t. My mother wore a name tag until I was twelve – just so I‘d know who that woman was. And then there are some people I won’t ever forget.

His name was “Chopper.”

“Chopper” wasn’t his real name of course. It was a name that he earned in the Military. I knew him after his Army days, but I heard the stories – a few from him directly, but most from his brother. “Chopper” himself was somewhat reticent to talk about his time in Southeast Asia.

“Chopper” was a young Irish boy from Cleveland. He came from a family of Firefighters who lived life like it was a nonstop wedding reception. If something was worth doing – it was worth doing at full speed.

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It’s In The Bag

 

LET’S SEE – SOCKS: TWO PER DAY. Nicey-Niceys: One per day barring unforeseen circumstances. Hawaiian shirts: One per day with extras for any formal occasions that might pop up. Pants. That should cover it. Boots and metal-free cheap airport friendly travel shoes are a given.

I travel light. If I do it right my suitcase will weigh about six pounds. My Carry-on might come in at seventy pounds, but the main bag will be like a feather.

Point of Order! Point of Order!

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In The Good Old Summertime

 

IT MAY BE MID-SUMMER AND WE ARE MORE THAN HALFWAY THROUGH THE YEAR. But it’s no big deal. It just makes things a little herky-jerky for the world. Not the whole world.

Actually, it’s only me.

The midpoint of summer comes around the end of July, early August. But the real midpoint, astronomically, is at the start of summer – since then the hours of sunlight get shorter by a few minutes each day. That is not a good sign.

In Baseball, the All Star Game is considered the halfway point of the season. It’s not. That came with Game #81 which was played a couple of weeks ago.

It’s like telling a person who is 55 years old that they are “Middle Aged.” Sure they are – if they have plans of making it to 110 candles on their cake.

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Life Is Full Of Dusty Buttons

SOME THINGS ARE BETTER LEFT ALONE. That’s another way of saying my personal motto: “Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean that you should.”

Would you pick up a stick of Dynamite with a short lit fuse? You could I suppose, but it wouldn’t be a good idea. Would you go up to every stray dog on the street and try to pet it? You could, but again – not a good idea.

“Oh, look, Harvey, he has foam all around his mouth. He must have been getting a shave.”

Yeah, right.

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Throwback Thursday From July 2015 – “18 For Lunch”

Throwback Thursday From July 2015 – “18 For Lunch”

18 For Lunch

phone booth crowdedIT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO CARRY ON A CONVERSATION over lunch when there are 18 people huddled around the table. It can be hard enough when there are only two people, but the additional sixteen can really throw a monkey wrench into the process.

It ends up sounding something like this:

“So, how have you…seen my green beans, they…flew in last Thursday on…your Aunt Martha just before she…slid into third base.”

Eighteen was the headcount at our Family lunch down in Texas last week. Six orders of Catfish, Four Chicken Fried Steaks, Two Fried Shrimp, Five Fried chicken and one Salad Bar.

Somebody had to keep the cholesterol count down.

When you get together with the family it can be a real crowd and, while they are a lovely bunch, I grew up in a different set of familial circumstances.

My father was an only child and his father was an only child as well. That fact right there seriously cut into my count of cousins, aunts and uncles. I was one of two children and my brother had two daughters.

The Norman Rockwell picture around the Thanksgiving table is turning into a snapshot at the lunch counter.

On my mother’s side of the family they were more fertile. She had three sisters and one brother who made it to adulthood. My Uncle Tony was a great guy who was never married except to his job selling cold cuts at the Central Market and golf. Aunt Nellie was married to Uncle Paul and I think one of the conditions of the Potsdam Conference was that they never have children.

For a next generation on that side of the family we must turn to Aunt Annette and Aunt Anne. They both had two kids each. Of those four only one – Cousin Florence got into the baby production game. She had, if I recall, five or six kids. The other three cousins had a grand of one and even that is more or less an apocryphal child. Nobody has seen that cousin for thirty years, so there is no concrete proof like fingerprints, wanted posters or an appearance on “America’s Most Wanted.

You put all of this together, and the knowledge that those kids are scattered from California, to Ohio, to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and you can see that getting 18 around the table for lunch would necessitate hiring some extras to sit in for dessert.

So, you can see why I relish the blessing of squeezing around the table with them. I have married into this family that has accepted me and welcomed me – even though I see them sneak a peek at me every so often with that look that whispers, “There’s something funny about that boy”

By marrying into the family I have become a Texan-in-law and I think that has some kind of real legal status. It’s not on my Driver’s License or anything, but I know that it does entitle me to swagger on certain holidays. Of course, with my limp and galumphing stride, any swagger I have could easily be mistaken for an attempt to walk while under the influence.

 

Patent # 3, 387, 396

 

SOME PEOPLE LABOR ON IN OBSCURITY while others bask in the spotlight of eternal glory. And then there is the guy who mixed both into a legendary invisibility: Edward Walker – The Inventor of the Lava Lamp.

The Official History of Eddie and the Lava Lamp goes back to the mid-1960s. When else could it be, eh?

The other night we were out with some friends having a burger when, out of the blue, someone asked if anyone still had a Lava Lamp at home. What gave birth to that question I don’t know and I don’t want to know.

To end the suspense – none of our group fessed up to still having a Lava Lamp in their pad.

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