Bear With Me

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Life is like a road trip. Often, we spend time on a super highway with a very definite destination. At other times we are on a side road through a very dark and dense forest with lots of curves, and the destination is unknown. My life is now on one of those twisty paths where the next mile is unknown, and the destination is unclear, yet the journey consumes life.

My writing has been sparse of late because of the twists and turns of daily living. Many unforeseen incidents have arisen which have taken precedence over the joy of transferring thoughts to paper. A friend with dementia, a child with cancer, a second house that needs preparation for sale, all of these twists have cut me off from the interstate headed for enjoyment.

Perhaps, when this curvy road straightens out, and I return to the super highway, then, Grumpa Joe’s Place will again become a priority. Until that happens, please bear with me.

Girl Number One

Today is a day of recollection. After posting this morning I reread an older post titled From Proms to Dear Johns.That little piece of history concerned my high school love affair. At the end of it I promised to write about Steve Star at some point in the future. Today is the future.

Version 4

Steve Star

My Grandpa Jim lived a solitary life on his little farm. To kill his loneliness and to make some extra beer money he took in a border named Steve Star, except his real name was Csillag Pista. Translated from Hungarian to English Csillag Pista becomes Steve Star. Steve worked doing labor in the pickle canning factory in Coloma near my Grand Father’s farm. Needless to say this is very seasonal work. Steve drove a very old Plymouth coupé, and drank cheap St Julian wine. He was a classic wino. I used his empty bottles piled high in the sand behind the barn for target practice with my 22 ca. rifle. He put them behind the barn to hide them from my mother who was anti-drinking on her watch. Steve was a drunk, stayed a drunk, and died a drunk. My mother had little effect on changing his habits.

After I got my Dear Joe letter in college I wallowed in a rut, and it showed. My friends began doing me favors by fixing me up with every girl that they could find. I resisted at first, but finally succumbed to my roommates tender of a string of dates from his fiance’s nursing school. It all began harmlessly as a series of letters to the girls suggested by friends that Steve Star take on a date. As a huge joke to myself I took the nom de guerre of Steve Star a hopeless cause. The letters became fodder for the school bulletin board, and unbeknownst to me, Steve Star became a mystery man who wrote stupid funny letters to the girls at Saint Anne’s. Eventually, Steve Star’s identity became known when I made a blind date with one of the girls during Christmas break.

It amused me when I sat in the parlor of Saint Anne’s waiting for my date to come down, and a nonchalant string of young nurses paraded through the room to look over Steve Star. The date went well, we had fun, and I got her back before curfew. I dated several more nursing students after that but not one rang Steve Star’s bell.

Later that year in July I had another blind date with a nurse who wanted to experience Steve Star. She was good-looking but not of model beauty. She stood about five-foot-four inches tall with short dark brown hair, and her waist was slightly thicker than the highly sought after women of the time. Her face was average, but she possessed uniquely sparkling dark brown eyes and a captivating smile. Her shapely ankles blended into calves formed like those of an athlete. She was off for the weekend so I picked her up at her home, and met her parents before she demurely descended the stairs.

Steve Star was a cheap skate and went on inexpensive dates, this time he enjoyed a Grant Park Concert on the lawn. The night was balmy, and the sounds of the cars passing by on the Outer Drive muted the precise sounds of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra. We spent the night sitting on that blanket listening but mostly talking about school, and our families. Her father was dying of colon cancer, and she and her mother provided his care. She was the one who finally told me about the scene the Steve Star letters had on the nurses at Saint Anne’s. She had read all of them, as had most of the other girls in her class. A cool breeze drifted in from Lake Michigan as we folded our blanket to leave. I dropped her off and promised to call her at school.

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My luck held out, and I dated another girl named Sabrina. Sabrina had the model beauty men sought after. Slightly taller at five six she had long jet black hair, and big black eyes with heavy mascara and eyeliner above and below the lids. Wow! We went to the movies and a snack.  She confessed to reading Steve Star’s letters, and we kidded about his antics. I dropped her off on the front porch. I said goodnight and turned to leave, but she grabbed my arm and pulled me into the dark foyer for a goodnight kiss. The house was entirely dark and quiet. Steve’s mind shifted to more kissing, but she gently pushed him away and whispered “my parents and six brothers are asleep we don’t want to wake them.” I very quietly got the hell out of there.

Adult-Barb0024

Girl number one

In the meantime, Steve had called his first blind date (Girl number one) and was becoming very comfortable talking with her. She with him as well. We dated again, and the subject of Steve Star dating Sabrina came up. Steve sensed danger and dropped the subject quickly; he got the message.

Steve Star dated Barbara exclusively for the next two years until he married her. He remained faithful “until death do us part.”

Barb0027

October 14, 1961

Barb0036

circa August 17, 2003

Cars, Cars, Cars, and More Cars

This has been an awful summer for me. The 2013 Monet Vision escaped being photographed, Peggy and I did not leave home for anything,, and I failed to visit a single Cruise Night in Frankfort. Maybe it was latent grief creeping out on the tenth anniversary of Barb’s death, or maybe it was a lower back pain that wouldn’t quit, or maybe learning that I suffer from Low T, or maybe it is simply because I reached middle age, whatever, the summer blues took over my mind and body.

Today, a good friend sent me a video link, that cheered me and picked me up beyond my expectations. I only wish he could have done it earlier, like in June. The video features a very large car show in Minnesota, touted as the largest in the world. The cars are amazing and beautiful. If you grew up in the fifties like I did, this video was like traveling back in time. Take a peek and enjoy these mobile works of art.

I Love Learning New Words

An increase in energy level from E 1 to E 2 re...

An increase in energy level from E 1 to E 2 resulting from absorption of a photon represented by the red squiggly arrow, and whose energy = h (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Low energy is one of the symptoms of low-T. My T must be very low because my energy level is near zero. Sometimes, when I get this way I take a walk to get the blood moving. Three miles is what I stepped off this afternoon, but it drained me further. I’ll rehydrate to see if that works. Even typing drains me. I came across a new word in an e-mail from a friend. It says it all.

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Truly, A Shovel Ready Job

President Barack Obama pauses after laying a w...

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Today, I experienced  what most people do not want, another funeral. In my last report, I posted a poem written by Anon Ymous which I read at a friend’s funeral a week ago. Today, I sat as a distant relative-friend, a lady of many years (96), went to her final resting place. I knew little about this fine lady until recently. We often invited her to our parties, and when we met at Peggy ‘s daughter’s house. I knew she raised five kids, four boys and one daughter. She outlived two of her sons. She drank a Vodga martini every day.  Until a few weeks ago, she drove to get around, her husband’s eyesight is too poor for driving. She loved her husband, her kids, her grandkids, and her great grandkids. What else should a mother be remembered for? She died from a complication of having her appendix removed at age twenty-two.

The funeral mass reminded me of my origins and how I will eventually return to the same dust God used to create me. Ever since my Barbara died, funerals have affected me in a pronounced way. The music especially brings home the message. I am overcome by a sadness for the family. In this case the husband of seventy plus years who now goes home to an empty house, his mate left so coldly in the ground.

The funeral ended at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery near Elwood, Illinois. The widower being a vet has the right to bury his widow in his gravesite. Her name engraved on the backside of the gravestone. The  front side awaits his arrival sometime in the future.

My sick sense of humor began to consume my thoughts as the Federal employee consoled the Christian family without any mention of God in her scripted message. I looked around at the thousands of  precisely placed gravestones marking those who sacrificed to preserve “one nation under God” and thought, this and all the other National cemeteries in America are the only places that truly have “shovel ready jobs.”

Peggy and I finished the day with a visit to her husband Ron’s grave.

Death is Like the Flying of a Great Plane

I rarely post other people’s work, but today I had the pleasure of doing a reading at my buddy’s funeral.

The piece is absolutely mind-boggling in that it is simple, yet loaded with meaning. I had to read it several times before I understood it fully. Time takes a toll on an aged mind.

Death is like the flying of a great plane.

by Anon Ymous

As the plane prepared to depart,

friends and loved ones call out

tearful goodbyes, waving

and throwing kisses.

And, at the exact moment

they are saying, “Look there he goes!”

another group of family and

loved ones takes up the glad shout.

“Look here he comes!”

As he lands into a new city –

the city of God – that is more beautiful

than can be imagined.

He knows immediately

that he is truly home.

The 2011 Monet Vision. Is This Heaven?

I Lost, I Miss, I Will, I Must

A Canada Goose flying at Burnaby Lake Regional...

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Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Sometime during this past summer I lost the drive, the will, the dreams, the fantasies of living. I must recover all of it. How? With hard work, and relentless determination. With endless lists of goals, to do’s, and dreams. If I don’t, I’ll just fade away and melt into the couch while playing solitaire and listening to reality shows.

I miss the walks while shuffling my feet through piles of crinkly leaves. I miss the sights, sounds, and scents of the fresh cool air of autumn. I miss the unscheduled jaunts through the countryside burning gas, just to visit places I’ve seen so many times before. I miss driving a hundred miles to Jasper-Pulaski to spy on the Sand Hill Cranes in migration, or to the Horicon Marsh to wonder at the amazing Canada geese congregating by the thousands in preparation for their long journey south. I miss the colors of trees changing before their winter sleep. I miss hiking the horse trails of Palos. I miss writing about experiences that so affect my psyche.

I will begin the rebirth by making a list of all the things I miss so much. I will schedule regular early morning walks during the sun rise. I will pray. I will meditate. I will refresh my mind with novels. I will talk with friends. I will work my lists, and flood my mind with positive affirmations. I will chronicle the transformation.

I will. No, I must succeed, or I am Freddie the Leaf gone to fade into the earth.

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