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.

Word of the Day

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.

Let’s Do Something Wild and Crazy

ZZ Top Eliminator at the Rock and Roll Hall of...

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Four years ago, Grandma Peggy and I wintered in the Phoenix area. We wanted to do something wild and crazy to make us feel young again. The following story is a letter I wrote to our  kids about the adventure. I hope it gives you a giggle. We still talk about it.


ZZ TOP Concert 18 April 2007

I have definitely learned the lesson that I can’t relive my youth. In my quest to be young again I tried an experiment in the name of entertainment. When Peggy and I arrived in Arizona in January, I read an ad for a concert to be held in April. I thought to myself that I’d like to go to hear this group. Over the years, I listened to some of their music and thought it was cool. The selections that I heard were limited to those played by popular disc jockeys of the day. No doubt the music selections rang true with many people, which is why they played them. I was also enamored by their album jacket photos of a yellow 34 Ford roadster. The group is ZZ Top.

Last Wednesday, as I read the morning newspaper, I came across the same ad. I asked Peggy, if she would like to go to a concert tonight. Being a dutiful wife, she responded “sure.” She never even asked what the event was about. Within a couple of hours, I had tickets for the main floor. Wow, I got main floor tickets to one of my favorite groups. How lucky can one get?

We drove to the Dodge Theater in downtown Phoenix using the GPS to guide us. The computer took us right to the front door. Not only that, there was a parking garage immediately across the street. “This was meant to be,” I thought.

The tickets were at the will call window, and there was no line because we were an hour early. I looked around to survey the crowd. Not too many young people, I thought. I guess I’ve known this group longer than I remember. Anyway, Peggy and I were not the oldest people waiting to get in. There was a very distinguished looking white haired and wrinkled lady ahead of us. She was with her kids, who also had white hair.

We grabbed a sandwich from the concession stand inside. There were several beer stands set up across the lobby. Strange, I thought, selling beer at a concert in downtown Phoenix.

We found our seats and waited for the concert to begin. Peggy was dressed smartly, in a white blouse under a black jacket, and plaid slacks. I wore my best slacks and carried my sport coat. Since the theater was still relatively empty, I wore the jacket to fend off the cold breeze falling on us from the aircon. It turned out to be the only sport coat in the theater. Most of the other attendees wore tee shirts and shorts.

The theater filled slowly. “This group must not be popular anymore, they don’t appear to be sold out,” I told Peg. The lights dimmed, and four very young men appeared, dressed in tee shirts without sleeves. Heavy chains with loads of keys hung from their waists. They wore blue jeans with holes at the knees, and across the seat. The pants looked as though they would fall off at any moment. Perhaps they were pinned to the guitars hanging from their shoulders. Their hair was long and dirty looking, certainly unkempt. Disgusting tattoos covered their arms. This was the warm up band. They called themselves BBB, which stood for Bang, Bang, Bang, or Bang, Bang, Boys. (Be careful when you search for them by those names, some very strange sites turn up.)

The concert began to a crowd that was about fifty percent of capacity. My trained ear told me that the drummer was the most talented musician on the dais. The three guitarists were seemingly into their music. Expressions of ecstasy or pain, I couldn’t tell the difference, grimaced on their faces. The bass notes pushed into our chests with the volume. The high notes pierced our ears, causing my normal tinitus to amplify. The skinniest of the three guitarists also shouted lyrics into the microphone. None of the words were intelligible, or at least I couldn’t make out any of it because my ears were ringing so loudly. As the number of songs progressed, more and more people continued to trickle in to fill the seats around us. They must be experienced concertgoers, I thought to myself. They knew this awful group would play first.

I often told myself that I can live through 24 hours of anything life throws at me, but this group was changing my mind. I lost count at six numbers. The songs sounded somewhat different, but the same. It was just organized noise. After thirty minutes of this torture, the group finally left the stage to some weak applause. What a relief, we will enjoy the quiet of an intermission. Wrong, the ringing in my ears was deafening.

Peggy looked me in the eye and said, “If being here doesn’t prove that I love you, nothing does.”

“It will be better when the real group comes on,” I said.

“I hope so,” she replied.

A youngish couple in their forties sat in front of us. Their son, about twelve, was with his friend. They had a typical Yuppie appearance. The kid fascinated me.  I had the greatest urge to slap him in the head. He wore a baseball hat with a flat bill over his left ear. Why would a nice young white kid want to look like a rapper? The two boys had cell phones. The son’s flipped open to reveal a keypad for text messaging. He was texting as we sat waiting for the concert to begin. When he closed the phone, it opened a second way to reveal a regular cell phone. His father makes entirely too much money, I thought to myself. He just spent two hundred and fifty dollars to attend this concert with his family. He gives his twelve year old son a three hundred dollar phone, and he lets him dress like s _ _ t.

ZZ Top came on stage with a theatrical flair. “Much better,” I said to myself. The three of them dressed in sequined sport coats, (I guess I wasn’t the only one.) A giant light curtain behind them changed colors as they played. The drums were lit up with the band’s logo. The microphone stands were decorated with glittery stuff, the crowd stood up and cheered. Peggy and I remained seated. Two banks of giant speakers flanked the players on stage. Ten-foot high bass speakers hung from each side. Large floodlights aimed at the audience, flashed on and off, and blinded us. (Nothing like wrecking the eyes as well as the ears for enjoyment.) I finally stood up from my sixty-dollar seat to see the spectacle. Peg remained sitting. She was the only one who did (maybe it hurt her ears less to do so.) The sounds reverberated into my chest so I could feel the pulses pressing into my heart. The ringing in my ears increased in volume with the guitars. I expected the crowd to sit down, it didn’t. Why would all these morons pay sixty bucks for a seat they don’t use, I asked myself?

During the opening act, both Peggy and I had empty seats next to us. As the people began to come in those seats filled up too. First, a very large young lady plopped into the seat next to Peggy. The armrest thrust sideways into Peggy’s side as she sat down. I laughed, then two guys the size of a mountain squeezed by us to fill the seats next to me. The armrest on my side moved toward me. The man spilled over his seat into mine. He folded his arms on his chest to keep them from crushing me.

The girl next to Peggy had a boy friend in the seat behind her. They weren’t lucky enough to get seats side by side. The girl twisted sideways to talk to him.  As she did, her jeans stressed downward revealing the crease of her butt to Peggy just short of a moon. When the band came on stage, the crowd stood up. The boyfriend eased his way forward to stand next to his girlfriend. That put him into the aisle. He felt conspicuous in the aisle so he kept pushing her sideways. Eventually, Peggy was looking directly into the ass of the girlfriend.

The ZZ Top noise was just a tad better organized than the Bang Bang Boys, but it was just as loud. The song lyrics were still unintelligible, and the standing crowd was getting rowdier. The two guys next to me politely asked to pass by to exit. Thank God, I thought, at least I lasted longer then they did.  A few minutes later they returned holding beers the size of a bucket, only to squeeze past us again.

All the while, ZZ Top did not play a single song that I recognized. I looked at my watch. We had survived forty minutes. I leaned down and told Peggy to stand up, because in five minutes we would quietly go for a beer.  In thirty seconds she asked if the five minutes were up yet.

My ears are still ringing. I have chalked it up to “been there, done that,” and now I’ll move on to the next “Wild and Crazy Thing.”


Grumpa Joe

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