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 – 2020

Archive for the tag “Writing”

Meat Me In Terre Haute

Everything is up to date in Indiana. If there is a Trend, Fad, or Fashion floating around it will eventually bob to the surface of the Wabash River in Terre Haute. It may take awhile to get there, but it will. The latest example of this is – Fanfare Please – A Vegan Restaurant.

The only reason that most people in this town might look into a Vegan Restaurant is to see if the diners are using utensils or are they just grazing? I wish the owners of this new eatery success, but let’s be honest, Terre Haute is “Carnivore Country.” 

And I am a Carnivore. Thank you. Thank you very much.

It was just recently, in the middle of all of this stay home and don’t even think of going anywhere  business, that my wife, the lovely Texas Carnivore, Dawn, discovered “The Boulevard of Beef, The Highway of Heifers, and The Supernova of Steak.” Sitting in our mailbox was an ad trumpeting the glories of The butchers at Omaha Steaks.

We had seen ads for Omaha Steaks for years, decades even, touting really expensive meat. Their prices were so high that it would have been cheaper to buy a cow, keep it in the backyard, and slaughter it in the garage. Then a couple of months ago things changed  when we got that Virus Season advertising brochure. Included in the ad was a hefty coupon that lowered the prices into a range that wouldn’t make our wallets explode.

We ordered. We ate. We smiled. We decided that we wanted more. One thing that those folks in Omaha knew how to do was to lure us into becoming repeat customers. Offer us a lot of really good Carnivore Candy – Sirloins, Strip Steaks, Filets, and everything but the hoofs, and you have our attention.

So, for the last month or two we have been eating well and enjoying every bite. I grant that looking forward to a Friday Night Meat Feast is not everybody’s idea of Heaven but they didn’t have a barrel of A-1 beside them like I did. Dawn and I were enjoying every bite.

One thing we learned very quickly was that once we placed an order for a bunch of stuff it was like we had erected a billboard with our mailing address on it. We have been getting ads from every meat maven in the country offering us steaks often at ridiculously low prices. Some are such apparently good deals that I have my doubts about their origin. Did this Sirloin come from a cow or some other miscellaneous creature? I don’t want a steak with tire tread marks on it or a burger that died a natural death.

Like  I said, we are happy and enjoying this Carnivore Carnival. If it isn’t your thing and you are someone who thinks “Meat is Murder” then go ahead and drop into Terre Haute’s new Vegan restaurant and have an Eggplant Burger with a side of French Fennel Fries.

A Guest Post From “So, Here’s The Deal”

I followed this Blogger’s work for years and now I am following her awesome new Blog – 

“So, Here’s The Deal.”

https://soheresthedealblog.wordpress.com/2020/06/15/risk-vs-retreat/

 

Risk vs. Retreat

So, here’s the deal… The subject of risk came up in our house the other night. It was stuck within a discussion on vulnerability. (Boy, is that a fraught with fear topic!) As with most weighty topics, it planted like a seed in my brain and has been running around ever since. What are we willing to risk in our lives? What will we do to avoid that risk? Or any risk? What are the “sure things” that populate our days and our brains? And what are the imagined absolutes we’re inclined to place in jeopardy? (Bonus points if you can list the “sure things” in your life.)

If you play the stock market, you take certain financial risks. Hopefully, you go into that with your eyes wide open, having done a little research, and never put more into a purchase than you can afford to completely lose. Over the course of our lives, we have seen some stocks go wildly up that green line and others tank to the point they no longer exist. Such is the name of the game. You have to know exactly what you are willing to risk.

I suppose the same can be said for playing the lottery and going to the casino. We’ve done both. I once won $40 playing the lottery and I admit to occasionally purchasing a PowerBall ticket when the pot is over $100M. We laugh about the $2 we spend as being a risk against our retirement funds. We really aren’t taking much risk on a lottery ticket. Not much at a casino either. We view casinos as “entertainment” and amazing opportunities for “people watching”. The amount we are willing to blow at the casino is strictly an entertainment fee, usually something along the lines of $20 / day. (Of course, we haven’t been to the casino in quite a while, so we might up it to $25, adjusting for inflation.)

Over the course of my parenting life, I’ve taken risks in what to concentrate on and what to let go when raising a child with autism. Looking back over the last 35 years, I think most of those risks have paid off. A few have not, including table manners, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Over the course of my life, I’ve taken risks on clothing and shoe purchases. Some have paid off big time. Some have been huge mistakes that became paint rags and chew toys. Then again, I rarely make risk vs. reward decisions in that department.

Over the course of that same life, I’ve taken those more daring risks when it comes to interpersonal relationships. These may be the most intense risks we can take. Risk, when it comes to relationships, are often weighed based on our experiences and history. We build a metric over time against which we measure almost everything.

Hormones can kick in and blow that whole risk vs reward thing. Your brain is stuck in that reward mode and risk seems impossible to grasp. Of course, if it all blows up in your face, the results go into that experience and history box. Good luck using that information if it all kicks in again.

But sometimes, a person comes along – whether a potential friend or partner – and your risk vs reward meter starts ticking, measuring the possibilities. (That meter is not infallible, but it sure is handy and you should keep it in working order.) And then, you have to decide – leap or not. If you’re of a certain age, failure is certainly an option. If you’re a kid, failure isn’t in your vocabulary.

That risk-o-meter is an interesting gadget running around in your brain somewhere. It leans toward failure and a determination that risk just isn’t worth the potential pain, but somewhere, I hope, in the back of your mind is a little voice that’s whispering, “You might not fall, ya know. You might grab the brass ring and soar!”

It’s a good voice and maybe we should listen to it. (Can’t hurt to pack a parachute either.)

May you fly on wings of eagles!

When You Gotta Go

How long has it been since you could go anywhere on a vacation? It may be months but it feels like years, decades even. I’m beginning to understand how Robinson Crusoe must have felt stranded on that desert island. But unlike Robinson Crusoe I have access to the internet. I also have a very clever and creative wife who knows how to make a computer do things Bill Gates never dreamed of.

Because we are unable to travel anywhere like we usually do we have had to find an alternative way to satisfy our Wanderlust.

One of the most important and well liked things about traveling are vacation pictures – and, boy, do we have some great vacation pictures.

One night, a couple of weeks after this virus business began, we decided that we just had to get out of town for a while. We grabbed our passports and headed off on our “Corona Grand Tour – 2020!”

Our first stop was London where we dropped in on our old friend Queen Liz and her family.

Yes we were dressed a little casual but they didn’t seem to mind. Dawn was able to borrow a nice hat but I turned down the offer to borrow one of Prince Charles’ fancy outfits.

After a few days of slumming with the Queen over tea and crumpets we moved onto the Continent to visit another old

friend. Francis has some pretty fancy digs in Rome and he took us out onto his balcony so we could get


a really nice view of his compound. I did spruce up a bit for this visit. I wore my baseball cap. Francis was wearing his cap so I thought it was OK. I hate committing those fashion faux pas. They can be so embarrassing.
We had a good time in Rome but we soon felt the need to move on so we headed south to visit another lifelong friend and a landmark spot in North Africa.

Casablanca.

We could have gone anywhere, but with all the gin joints in all the world we knew that we’d have to walk into Rick’s. Everybody goes to Rick’s. Dawn and I have always enjoyed dropping by Rick’s. You never knew who you might run into because for years everybody who was anybody stopped by for a drink. We liked to visit Rick’s to hear Sam play the piano. As time goes by it just doesn’t get any better.

Listening to all of the great music reminded us of the time we spent in Hollywood working with the stars. Our favorite was the time when Dawn and I taught John Travolta all of those fantastic Disco moves that he used in “Saturday Night Fever.”

He was really a very good student

Traveling, even when you are having a good time, can be exhausting. When that happens to us we like to stop by and visit some old friends who live in Florida. We decided to take the bus down South and it turned into quite an adventure.

After all our travels last month we had a wonderful relaxing time with some of our friends in Orlando even though some of them could be a little Goofy, but we love them all.

My Playlist For Tomorrow

Over the past few months we have all been pushed into an opportunity to move forward or to retreat backward. Moving forward is the smart thing to do, but going backward is much easier. After all, the easiest thing to do at any time is Nothing. Don’t believe me? Just ask a writer.

What have I been doing during this forced isolation? Not much.

That’s not completely true.

I have resumed churning out this Blog, but at a reduced rate. For five years it was Monday through Saturday. Now you have to put a gun to my head to have it ready once a week. It’s still cheap at the price you’re paying.

One thing that I have started doing that is wholeheartedly a move forward is adding some new singers into my personal playlist. I knew that I needed to expand and update the music coming out of the speakers in the car and the earbuds in my…ears. It really dawned on me when I realized that my “New Artist” was Jimmy Buffett and he is my age.

So, in spite of other seemingly more important things in the world, I began to go on a digital safari looking to bag some new performers for my Personal Playlist. With the sound of faraway drums laying down a good rhythm I started out trekking through the dense undergrowth of really bad music and deadly singers armed with less than minimal talent.

I asked the few people I could speak with through my mask from six feet away, “What current popular singers do you like?” The answers I got back were all pretty much the same, “Mmmoph ang da Sluhphmmp.”

I needed a new approach.

Googling can be both productive and confusing on a good day. I was doing it without the foggiest notion of what to look for. Eventually I typed in, “Who are the best singers performing today?”

To my surprise I got a list of performers to check out. I spent two days listening to a long parade of singers. Most of them were never going to make it onto my jump drives and hard discs. I just can’t relate to a sixteen year old who sounds like a chipmunk with asthma.

But there were a few.

Now, remember these were people who struck a responsive chord with me. Your mileage may vary.

Maren Morris – a 30 year old quasi, semi, kinda Country singer. Here is a link to a live performance. The gal has soul. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x50utV55RQo

The Shires – The Shires are a British “Country” duo who don’t sound Country to me. They have been around for a while but are new to me. I really like this song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=At8HCMxMils

Dua Lipa – “Dua Lipa (/ˈduːə ˈliːpə/; Albanian pronunciation: [ˈdua ˈlipa]; born 22 August 1995) is an English singer, songwriter, and model. After working as a model, she signed with Warner Music Group in 2015 and released her self-titled debut album in 2017” Go Figure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oygrmJFKYZY

Everything But the Girl – OK, so they aren’t new but I haven’t listened to them in a long time. Let’s call them “Recycled.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsRnVtIeLyg

This last addition to My Playlist is an Irish singer who has a voice and performance skill that makes me shiver with envy.

Mary Black – a live performance of a most incredible number https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ao7-X-xqoA

Now if you see me rolling down the road and I am smiling and singing you’ll know why.

Hey! It’s Time For Some Fun Fiction!!

Please Note ! This piece was originally written in the 1980s to be performed live onstage. I did it a few times in bookstore readings and Story Telling events. They had no idea what to make of it.

Imagine this scene as a part of an old Humphrey Bogart movie or some Film Noir epic. Lots of shadows and sinister music. The only difference is that my detective is not the hard-boiled type. He is closer to  “Poached.”

This was the first episode of a series called “The Henway Chronicles.”

***

The Coffee Shop

A steady drizzle was falling – giving the dark city streets a sugar glaze that hid the bitterness of the late night.

As I walked into the coffee shop the red plastic counter stools gleamed a promise of hot coffee and maybe something to fill the void inside me.

A flash of green caught the corner of my eye. Sitting in the last booth next to the aging Wurlitzer Jukebox was, perhaps, the best looking woman these eyes had ever seen. And these eyes have seen everything and not liked most of it. Dark red hair the color of Irish heartbreak fell to her shoulders, a cup of coffee, half gone, sat in front of the lady who was completely gone.

The flash of green was a crisp $100 bill that she was spinning on the Formica tabletop.

I told the guy behind the counter, an old friend I’d never met before, to give the lady a refill – on me. He just grunted. He’d played this scene a hundred times before.

Déjà Vu on a damp night.

“HI, Doll. My name’s Henway. I’m a Dick – head of the best P.I. outfit in town.”

She looked up at me with two green eyes that flashed more than the Century Note and gave me a look that said both, “Hold my hand,” and “Go hold your own.”

I sat down and waited until our cups were filled the hot inky coffee and my old pal went back to his station by the cake dish.

“Tell me about it,” I said. “Maybe I can help.”

Those two emerald colored eyes looked over at me and her two too red lips parted. “Raaazzz,” was all she said. I used a napkin to clean my glasses.

“I think I understand,” I said with a nod.

“Your guy’s been two-timing you and tonight he got a little too rough when you called him on it. You ran out of the house in tears and now you’re here at 3 in the AM, afraid to go home. All dressed up and no place to go – right? And the hundred? You keep that pinned to your slip for emergencies. It’s enough to get you bus fare back home, right? Your name is Lily, you’re a Taurus, and you think men in pointy shoes are a turn-off, right? You had fried clams and a Valium for dinner and you think Barry Manilow sucks like a Hoover. Right, Dollface?”

They don’t make paper napkins like they used to.

It was obvious that the lady had a problem staring her in the face. I got up from the booth.

“I guess I hit too close to home, huh kid? Well maybe you just need to be alone to work it all out, right?”

I tossed a dime onto the table and it rolled a lazy figure eight around two crumpled napkins and came to rest in a pile of sugar next to her spoon.

“Here, call a cab and go home,” I said. “It’s late and a swell looking dame like you shouldn’t be out alone on the streets in this neighborhood. Nothing but Freaks, Geeks, and Low-lifes out there this time of night.”

I turned to leave, my thoughts already focusing on the last piece of German chocolate Cake I’d seen sitting under the plastic dome on the counter.

“Hey, Mister?” I heard her say in a voice like white silk.

“Hey, Mister?”

I stopped  and turned.

“Yeah, Dollface?”

“Raazzzzzze.”

Some people just ain’t got no class.

 

It Is Time

TIME PASSES. TIME ALSO ARRIVES. AND TIME HAS ARRIVED HERE.

This blog has been going since November of 2014 with well over 1500 postings of varying quality and meaning to be sure.

But now I feel that it is time to pull the plug. Today will be the last day for this blog.

I am tired. My mind is tired and my body is not as cooperative as it used to be. I feel unable to sharply observe the world around me and I don’t really have anything left to say.

To those of you who have been with me on this excursion from the early days – I thank you for your mysterious loyalty and the countless comments you have launched in my direction.

So, as I wrap up this chapter of my life, I urge you to love one another.Tell people that you love them. Hug them often. Don’t let them feel lonely.

Thank You and Goodbye.

John

The Habit Of Love

IN ANSWER TO A NUMBER OF REQUESTS FROM READERS WHO WANTED TO READ THIS ONE MORE TIME. 

FROM JULY 3OTH 2019

 

THE HABIT OF LOVE

I WAS IN A DISCUSSION THE OTHER DAY ABOUT GOOD HEALTHY HABITS. There was talk about eating the right things, seeing your Doctor regularly, and getting enough exercise. I can’t really argue with any of those things. They all come under the heading of “Duh!”

As this discussion went back and forth with people offering up their own special dietary favorites and exercise routines I sat on the sidelines. I was taking it all in, but not offering anything of my own. I was thinking. That can take some time. My brain has to warm up first. Trying to come up with an idea too soon and I could pull a lobe.

While I stood by listening to the others I noticed that all of their “Healthy Habits” had to do with the heath of their physical bodies, but none for their spirit or soul. That concerned me. My physical habits are generally pretty crappy so I try to take care of my Soul/Spirit/Being – whatever you want to call it.

Read more…

Survivors!

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.

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Throwback Thursday From December 2016 – “I Have Not Done This Well”

new2OK, WE HAVE CHRISTMAS OUT OF THE WAY. The eggnog has been thankfully disposed of until next year. Christmas carols are over until Thanksgiving – except on the Hallmark Channel. New Year’s Day kind of takes care of itself with football, aspirin and drawn shades. I guess our next societal obligation is the making of New Year’s Resolutions. I suggest doing that before going out on New Year’s Eve. Doing it after that carries the danger of it being a product of desperation, shame, and physical pain.

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We’ve Made It This Far

 

OH, MY GOODNESS! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

It’s Christmas Eve already? The calendar says so, but I never completely trust those calendars anyway. Those are the crazy things that claim that March 21st is the First Day of Spring and I can usually look out of any window and see a foot of snow.

No, I realize that this is Christmas Eve by looking around this old house in Texas and seeing all of these people (half of them kids) gathered about awash in gifts and wrapping paper. That, not a calendar, tells me that it is Christmas Eve in Texas.

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“Gramma’s House.”

 

WE ARE BACK IN TEXAS AGAIN. We come down here every Christmas as the entire family gathers at the Family homestead.

Everyone calls it “Gramma’s House.” Married in 1941 just before the start of the Second World War the house finally got built in 1947 when the chaos subsided. It was a small house, but when the first baby arrived it was obvious that expansion was needed. When babies #2 and #3 showed up in 1949 and 1954 it became time for some serious additions to the original floor plan.

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Feuding And Fussing

FAMILY FEUD? OH, YEAH, LET ME GET ON THAT ONE FOLKS. Heh, Heh, Heh. I’d make Steve Harvey lose control of his… Oh, never mind. It ain’t gonna ever happen. It sure wouldn’t be a pretty picture.

I remember when that show first appeared on the scene with Richard Dawson as the Host. He was a British Actor/Comedian best known in the country from his regular stint on “The Match Game” (another game show) and the TV show “Hogan’s FAMILY Heroes.” For you younger readers “Hogan’s Heroes was a rollicking Sitcom set in a Nazi Prisoner of War Camp – a place always known for its laughs.

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Throwback Thursday From December 2016 – “Welcome To Whine Country”

giphy-3IF THERE IS ONE THING THAT REALLY TICKS ME OFF about my fellow human beings it is listening to them whine.

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?

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Flying The Crazy Skies

I FLEW BACK FROM FLORIDA YESTERDAY…and, boy are my arms tired. Not from flapping them like wings, but from dealing with a crazy person on the plane.

For some strange reason Southwest Airlines figured out that it would be good business to have a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Indianapolis at 6:30 AM. What??? I don’t get it either. At that time of day you are only going to have customers who have been drinking all night, an assortment of crazy people, and a few folks who are so strung out they don’t know what planet they are on. Oh, yeah, and then there was me just trying to get back to Terre Haute (That’s French for, “That woman is crazy.”)

A 6:30 AM flight boards at 6:00 AM. I had to return my rental car so push back my arrival time at the airport another half hour. We are now talking about Official Werewolf Time. Why do I do these things to myself? For a ticket that is half the cost of the flight at 9:30 AM that’s why.

So here I am at Gate A-4 at about 5:30 AM. Looking about I can see three other people; the Southwest Agent at the desk, and two young women who are getting ready to open up the Starbucks on the other side of the empty concourse. I’m the only one who looks like I’m planning on going anywhere.

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Are You Being Served?

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN. We are now in the throes of the Christmas Shopping Season. The online vendors are doing business at an astounding level and Shopping Malls are hanging on by a slender thread.

The Retail World is changing…Again.

For thousands of years the individual merchant did business one customer at a time, one sale at a time. The customer went to the merchant’s shop to find what they needed. Then in the late 19th Century we saw (Well, not me personally) the rise of the Department Store.

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Searching For High Quality Trash

 

HOW SOON AFTER GETTING UP IS IT ALLOWABLE TO TAKE A NAP? I think I may be pushing it a bit, but I got up at 7:30 this morning. It is now 11:10 AM and I’m seriously considering a little nappy-poo. I know that sounds nasty but…I don’t care.

It is now 3:37 PM.

It was a good little nap. I agree with you. A four and a half nap does border on a coma, but I felt it was also somewhat medicinal. Take a pill or two; lay down for just a minute…BOOM! Its late afternoon. I had plans. So much for them.

It is time to go on to Plan B. Get up, put on pants, and go buy a couple of souvenir T shirts. It’s obligatory in Florida. There is probably a law on the books here, “Don’t buy a cheap T shirt and we feed you to the gators.” People disappear all the time down here. They vanish forever or just show up at the Mayo Clinic. “I was standing in the buffet line when, all of a sudden, I blacked out and woke up in Minnesota.”

I’m going out to hunt for cheap T Shirts. Wish me luck.

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Those Days Are Coming

 

ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS I DID ONCE I LANDED IN FLORIDA was to locate the nearest Starbucks. No matter where I am I gotta have my morning coffee. My afternoon and evening coffee too, but that should be obvious. The closest Chapel of St. Arbucks to my lodging is about two miles away. I can live with that. I have to. But all Starbucks are not the same.

While the buildings vary little from state to state, country to country, but the clientele is unique to each store. On a college campus most of the customers will have just finished puberty, while in Midtown Manhattan the majority of the sippers will have high blood pressure and be paying child support. This week I am in sunny South Florida.

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Throwback Thursday From December 2016 – “The Name Game”

f0bf7e046eb40ca7200c68cb9f6c806bI TOOK MYSELF ON A LITTLE FACT FINDING MISSION the other day. It was inspired by seeing a picture of the actress Tuesday Weld. Most men my age remember her from the TV show, “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” She played the gorgeous blonde Thalia Menninger. After she left the show nobody cared about it any longer.

My research topic had little to do with the lovely Thalia, but more to do with Tuesday – and Wednesday and Thursday, etc.

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By The Sea, By The Sea

 

GUESS WHERE I’M AT? NO. NO. NO, NOT THERE EITHER. I AM IN FLORIDA -The Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Area. What am I doing down there when there is a perfectly good winter going on in Indiana without me? Well, for at least a few days, that is the idea.

Ever since our five week visit to Ireland I have been cold – freezing even. I needed to do something or I was afraid that I would not survive to see another Springtime. The cold feeling exhausted me. I was empty Physically, Emotionally, Creatively, and even Socially. I felt like I was an empty shell with freezer burn. I hated feeling like that and I don’t think I was very good company for anybody. I was either silent or snapping at everyone – and that’s just not like me. Going to where it was still warm so I could thaw myself was the solution. So here I am in Florida.

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Taxes On The Spin Cycle

 

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.

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