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 – 2017

Archive for the tag “Writing”

Let’s Hear It For Gluttony

THERE AIN’T NUTHIN’ LIKE A GOOD BURGER. It doesn’t have to be fancy (and probably shouldn’t be). It doesn’t have to be expensive. It sure doesn’t have to be in some high class restaurant. But it has to be prepared with gluttony in mind.

About a five minute drive or twenty minute crawl from home is a small neighborhood joint (that’s the only appropriate word) that does a burger right.

This particular watering hole has been around for about two million years. It is on its third or fourth owners now and doing well. It is probably also on the Hit List of the American Heart Association.

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Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

REAL LIFE CAN BE QUITE PREDICTABLE. It’s Fiction that always throws me a curve sending me off in a direction I never anticipated.

Most people are creatures of habit, like cats, they like to follow predictable patterns. Knowing what to expect gives people comfort and lowers anxiety. That doesn’t work in fiction. There we have to continually throw banana peels in our characters way. The expected has to fail to appear and one roadblock after another has to necessitate countless detours and perils.

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Fiction Saturday- from Guest Blogger -The Bluebird of Bitterness

Fiction Saturday  – Guest Posting from the blog “Bluebird of Bitterness.”

 

https://bluebirdofbitterness.com/

Summertime classic: Letter from summer camp

Dear Mom and Dad,

We’re having a great time here at Lake Typhoid! Scoutmaster Webb is making us all write to our parents in case you saw the flood on TV and got worried. We are okay. Only 1 of our tents and 2 sleeping bags got washed away. Luckily, none of us got drowned because we were all up on the mountain looking for Chad when it happened. Please call Chad’s parents and tell them he’s okay. He can’t write to them because of the cast.

We never would have found him in the dark if it hadn’t been for all the lightning. Scoutmaster Webb got mad at Chad for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Chad said he did tell him, but it was during the fire so he probably didn’t hear him. Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas can will blow up? The wet wood still didn’t burn, but one of our tents did. Also some of our clothes. John is going to look weird until his hair grows back.

We’ll be home on Saturday if Scoutmaster Webb gets the car fixed. It wasn’t his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked okay when we left. Scoutmaster Webb said with a car that old you have to expect things to break down. That’s probably why he can’t get insurance on it. We think it’s a neat car. He doesn’t care if we get it dirty, and if it’s hot, he lets us ride on the tailgate. Don’t worry, he’s a good driver. He’s even teaching Terry how to drive. But he only lets him drive on the mountain roads where there isn’t any traffic. All we ever see up there are logging trucks.

This morning all of the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming in the lake. I didn’t go because I can’t swim, and Chad was afraid he would sink because of his cast, so Scoutmaster Webb let us take the canoe across the lake. It was great. Scoutmaster Webb isn’t crabby like some scoutmasters. He didn’t even get mad that we didn’t wear life jackets.

Guess what? We all passed our first aid merit badges! When Dave jumped in the lake and cut his arm on the rocks, we got to see how a tourniquet works. Wade and I threw up, but Scoutmaster Webb said it probably was just food poisoning from the leftover chicken. He said they got sick that way with food they ate in prison.

I have to go now. We’re going into town to mail our letters and buy bullets. Don’t worry about anything. We are fine.

Love,

Billy

P.S. How long has it been since I had a tetanus shot?

A Territorial Dispute

LIKE MOST PEOPLE I AM A CREATURE OF HABIT. I tend to want to do today what I did yesterday and I don’t like anybody to mess with that – and by extension – me. His morning I was faced with such a situation

Just about every day I start my conscious activities down the street at St. Arbucks. I get my coffee, as usual, and then I stumble to my table in the corner, as usual. Sip coffee. Take meds. Plug in phone. Write. That’s it – nothing fancy, but critical nonetheless.

Today everything was moving along swimmingly until I turned the corner and prepared myself to hunker down in the corner.

THERE WERE PEOPLE SITTING AT MY TABLE!

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – Let’s Play, “Spot The Flaw In This!”

Throwback Thursday from July 2015

Let’s Play, “Spot The Flaw In This!”

inverted JennyABOUT EVERY SIX MONTHS or so we get a piece of mail from the Postal Service touting their “Stamps by Mail” service.

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.”

Back Home Again In Indiana

“LUCY, I’M HOME”

OK, so I don’t really know anybody named Lucy, but we are home – back in lovely Terre Haute (That’s French for “You don’t have an accent anymore.”)

After about ten days in the deep south we have crawled our way back north, into the land of, if not milk and honey, then Half and Half and Sweet n’ Low.

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It’s Just A Game To Me

PICKLE BALL? I’VE HEARD OF IT. I’ve never played it. I have no desire to play it. It sounds strenuous and I don’t do strenuous any more. I’ve seen pictures of people playing Pickle Ball and at first glance it looks like a combination of Tennis – Ping Pong – and Cardiac Arrest.

The only reason I’m looking at it at all is that I know someone who is into Pickle Ball in a big way. He is always heading off to play here in Terre Haute (That’s French for “I’d like a Gherkin, please.”) or to take part in some National Championship tournament.

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The Sounds Of Silence

LAST NIGHT I WAS SITTING AND READING when out of nowhere nothing happened. It startled me. Everything was quiet. For the first time this month I didn’t hear anybody shooting off fireworks in the neighborhood. I got up and stepped outside. Nothing. No fireworks, no dogs, no traffic. I pinched myself to see if I was dreaming.

I am so used to the noise of life in the city that the quiet is a bit unnerving. I snapped my fingers just to make sure that I hadn’t suddenly gone deaf.

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Shouts And Murmurs 

Fiction Saturday

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

I’m

How I Met My Wife

by Jack Winter

The New Yorker, July 25, 1994 P. 82

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

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

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

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

 

Throwback Thursday from July 2015

Throwback Thursday from July 2015

I Can Smell Them

theater in the roundA FEW DAYS AGO I got into a discussion with an acquaintance about what it is like doing a play in “The Round.”

Theater in the Round is where the stage and the actors are completely surrounded by the audience. There is no formal stage separation with the audience sitting “out there” beyond the footlights. Such an arrangement can create problems for both the performers and the audience members.

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I – 24 Bingo!

IT’S RATHER COMMON TO HAVE UNUSUAL THINGS HAPPEN while driving. The world seems to push things to the edge of the road all the time. I’ve been on the road a lot lately. I-24 in Tennessee has risen to the top of my list of fun roads to drive.

I-24 goes through Nashville which may, or may not be relevant. But one thing for sure – Nashville is a city that has outgrown its roads.

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What Are You Gonna Do? 

DURING OUR STAY IN DEMOREST, GEORGIA, on the campus of Piedmont College I must laud high praise on the facilities and the very helpful staff – but I do have one minor, teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy complaint. I say this knowing that I may be the only person here who cares about it. Excuse my reiteration.

In all of the literature from the college, bent on luring us all to come here, they gleefully state that there is a “Starbucks right on the campus,” in the “Commons” building by the bookstore.

Technically they have told the truth.

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Adventures In Tire Land

TRAVEL IS ADVENTURE! OK, I’M COOL WITH THAT – UP TO A POINT. Once that point is reached it ceases to be adventure and becomes a serious pain in the Gluteus Maximus.

Tuesday and Wednesday were travel, and I guess, a bit of high adventure. But on Friday and Saturday it all became a pain in my Levi’s.

Friday Morning: I came out to the Toyota to transport my wife, the lovely and officially present, Dawn, and friends Carol and Martin, to a meeting where I was blissfully not needed. En route a sensor light came on telling me that I had a tire in need of air. We took a short detour to a nearby gas station and, for a buck we got the offending tire nice and plump again.

Come Saturday morning I took a peek at the car and I could see the tire in question was looking flabby again. It was time to have the tire repaired or replaced.

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Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Conclusion

Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Conclusion

 

Things were going sour. Guns were out and something ugly was bound to happen. I left my observation post and quickly headed back toward the door. I drew my .38 and checked the wheel for a full load.

Inside the door it was dark, but there was light pouring out at the end of the hallway. I tried to get closer as quickly and quietly as I could. I didn’t see the toolbox on the floor until I kicked it. Before I got my footing Regis was standing two feet in front of me with the dirty semi-automatic pointed at my forehead.

“Well, look who’s here? C’mon, Mr. Private Eye, and join the party.”

He marched me the rest of the way down the hall and into the light.

“Forty Ounce” looked at me, but spoke to Sunny Boggs.

“I thought I told you to come alone? Can’t you follow a simple command?”

“I didn’t know he was here. I swear it. I fired him.” Her voice sounded panicky. Instead of being the hero here I was the fifth wheel, and I was flat now that Regis had my .38 in his left hand. “Forty Ounce” looked at me like I had just ruined his day. Well, mine wasn’t going too great either.

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Look Out! She Has A Clipboard.

I THINK I LIKE IT HERE. I have made a friend in the cafeteria. For two days now when I have gone to have lunch with my wife, the lovely and officially present, Dawn, I have selected what I wanted for lunch and I have dutifully marched up to the cashier. That is where the magic happens.

Dawn, as an official part of this Gathering, has her meals included. I, as a mere spectator, do not. That’s understandable.

However…

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “Randall The Candle”

Throwback Thursday from July 2015

Randall The Candle

candleIN 1997 THERE WAS AN EPISODE of “Law And Order” (An American Cops and Robbers TV show set in New York City) that had a character, an arsonist, who went by the moniker of “Randall the Candle.”

Cut to 2015 in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Change the battery in your smoke alarm.”) and a conversation with one of the “Usual Suspects” during services at the Chapel of St. Arbucks.

The “Suspect” – a former resident of New York City and the son of an NYPD Detective and I were discussing the recent fire at a café across the street from St. Arbucks that destroyed the place within 24 hours of their “Grand Opening.” He hinted that it looked a little suspicious and that maybe “Randall the Candle” was in town.

Egads!

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We’re Having Such Funnel

WE HAVE ARRIVED. We are now in the Megalopolis of Demorest, Georgia. It is a town that is bigger than a breadbox, but smaller than Tokyo.

Our accommodations are in the dorms of Piedmont College and I’ll tell you – these dorms are nicer than some apartments I’ve had. The furnishings are a bit “IKEA,” but better than stuff rescued from a curbside or dumpster that I have had in my younger days. This dorm has a recreation room with a big screen TV and a Pool Table/Ping Pong Table. There are laundry facilities that are FREE! And each dorm room has a private bath. None of this trotting down the hall to take a shower business. And, may I add, a very nice kitchen. If it had a stove I would consider moving in.

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Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part Four

Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part Four

It was a little after 8 AM when the phone finally rang and woke me. It’s never good news at 8 AM. It was Regis alright and he told me that “Forty Ounce” said “No” to me bringing the money for the dog. It had to be The Lady – alone – or the dog was history.

There was no way I was going to go along with that, but I had no choice but to agree to tell “The Lady.” She would go along with any of their cockeyed plans if she thought it would get her dog back. She was the Perfect Victim.

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It’s Been A Long Time Coming 

Don’t get all excited, but…I have a birthday coming up soon. If I make it to that date I will then be the oldest I have ever been in my entire life. I’m quite proud of that.

Getting old is not for sissies. It takes a lot of work – very time consuming work. Sometime I have to spend most of the day sleeping just to keep at it.

One tidbit of personal information – data, if you will, is that I have outlived every male in the family going back three generations – except for one uncle.

My Uncle Tony didn’t smoke. He didn’t drink. He didn’t run around with wild women. He lived until he was 90. We’re just not sure why.

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Throwback Thursday -from 2015 “When Furniture Attacks!”

Throwback Thursday – from 2015 

When Furniture Attacks!

Chair 2SOME PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED ANYWHERE NEAR A MANUFACTURING PLANT. They have an idea and they find some stooge to put up some cash, backing their endeavor. The end result is a product that, in a civilized society, would be outlawed immediately.

Case in Point –

Recently, my wife, the lovely and temporarily monoplaned, Dawn, and I stayed in someone’s Chair3home for a few days and they insisted on showing us their latest purchase – a “Massage Chair” that was guaranteed to relieve all your aches and pains leaving you refreshed, invigorated, and halfway on the road to being the next Dalai Lama.

Our hosts raved about the chair to the point that I thought they were going to consider adoption.

They finally talked me into giving a try.

Big mistake, bordering on criminal. I should have followed my instincts and not gotten within ten feet of The Chair, let alone into it.

First of all it looked like a Modern, Hipster, Steampunk version of something left over from the Spanish Inquisition. One should never trust a chair that has control buttons, dials and flashing lights. The only thing missing was a telephone on a nearby wall in case the Governor called with a last minute reprieve.

chairASitting on a chair should be a relatively easy thing to do, since our knees control which direction our legs fold, chairs should be an object where form follows function. You stand up. You sit down. Easy. Not with this “Massage Chair.” It took me three minutes to be “properly seated” according to the instruction book.

A chair with an instruction book.

Once in the chair “properly” and with all of the buttons and dials set, we plugged it in and hit the Launch button. It took me about three seconds to realize that I had just made a major life error.

The first thing it did was deliver a punch to the back of my head. That hurts. I don’t know why the chairchair4attacked, but after a nasty kidney punch it started pummeling my spine from top to bottom. If I didn’t know better I would have thought that I was being mugged.

“Isn’t that great? Can’t you just feel the tension slipping away?” asked the owner/keeper of The Chair.

The only thing I could feel slipping away were a couple of my lumbar vertebrae. I was beginning to know what it must be like to take part in a British soccer riot.chair1

 Eventually my screaming and cursing convinced somebody to; literally, pull the plug on this adventure. They had to help me out of The Chair. I sank to the floor and kissed the ground. If they hadn’t rescued me when they did I would have followed through with my thought to file Assault and Battery charges against that piece of the Devil’s Furniture.

Our host swears by that thing – that it makes him feel like a million bucks. At that moment I felt like about $3.25 in coins. I checked my wallet just to make sure everything was still there. I was pretty sure that, at one point, I felt The Chair trying to pick my pocket.

After a mouthful of Excedrin and some time in an overstuffed chair I was able to calmly express myself about The Chair.

“I don’t like it. I don’t want one. I think it is a tool of Satan.”

I offered to get rid of it for them – if they didn’t mind their house being destroyed in the process. They declined my offer.

I don’t think I’ll be buying a Massage Chair any time soon.

I think that I would prefer a cushy recliner that comes with a cup holder, remote control rack, and a built-in refrigerator (with freezer). That kind of a chair makes me feel better just thinking about it. 
chair6

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