Good Grief?

After experiencing grief for nineteen years it is my conclusion that there is nothing good about it. My lovely, beautiful, caring, adoring wife Barbara died on this day nineteen years ago. I write this at three hours past the time she expired in 2003. Over the last few years this day has not crossed my mind as sharply as it has this year. All I know is that suddenly, like the piercing pain that shot down my back last week I am laden with depression. This phenomenon is not new to me. For years after she died I would fall into depression at the beginning of July and be miserable for the next two months. The first day of July, 2003 is when she went into the hospital with peritonitis, and never returned. The memory of her last days has faded over the years except, this year it is as sharp and clear as it has ever been.

My writing frequency has diminished over the last two months, and I am now beginning to believe that it is because of my depression. Usually, once I realize why I’m not able to think of anything to write about I attribute it to depression. One way I can dig myself out of the hole is to express my feelings to the ether of the internet. Once they are out of my mind my soul is once again free to soar.

A friend who writes the Just Cruising blog is currently going through a similar change. The writer is taking time off to rethink why he has a blog in the first place. I too have to remember why I began this journey. I know for fact that my original goal was to promote the benefits of positive thinking. I have strayed from that path and instead immersed myself in the idiocy of trying to persuade people to my conservative ideas. That was fun for a while but after achieving failure, I switched to just plain story telling; find a subject and tell the story about how that topic came into my life. I must have run out of topics because that no longer amuses me. So now, I find myself writing about myself and my depression triggered by grief.

In the days after Barb died, on a scale of one to ten, with ten being maximum unbearable pain, my grief was at a hundred. Slowly, ever so slowly over the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years it softened to where I would place it at about a four. Then 2022 hit me right square between the eyes and I am back to ten. I thank God it is no longer at one hundred.

One way I coped with grief was to remarry. I found a beautiful lady who was also a widow. She totally understood my emotions as she experienced them also. We were happy for fifteen years together. Our shared grief was mild, but still present. Unfortunately, after ten years she contracted a disease that caused her to forget who I was. We were faithful lovers and friends to the end.

Grief didn’t hit me as hard the second time, but it was certainly there. I think the first round hardened my soul to resist the emotion. Now that I think about it, my current depression began around late June, which is when she died three years ago. Add that to the first grief beginning in July and I wonder why I am having trouble? I am experiencing a super nova of grief. Maybe it is because of the way the planets are aligned and the moon is circling.

At this point of my tome of over 600 words I realize that I am embarking on the very first session of blogging therapy which no doubt will begin digging me out of the trench in which I landed. That my friends is why I probably have been doing this for so many years, it is a form of therapy for me.

Have You Ever?

Have you ever gotten in a mood when you have to force yourself to compose something? A BLOG is a diary of sorts, and the word BLOG is an acronym for Weblog. When you own a blog it infers that you write something nearly everyday. There are times when I can post three or four pieces in the same day, and then there are times when I don’t do anything for two weeks. I’m in that zone right now where writing is a royal pain in the keester. On days like this I force my self to begin keying words, sometimes they are just that, words. Not sentences that are put into paragraphs in an attempt to convey information or personal thoughts.

Maybe it is because I just returned from shoveling snow off my driveway and I’m dead tired, but the words, and ideas are stuck somewhere in my cranium. I hate a drive topped with four inches of the white fluffy stuff. My drive has to show concrete not deep, groovy white tire tracks. Most times I test the snow with a shovel to decide if I do it by hand, or if I pull out my handy Honda snow-blower. Today, the blower lost the game and I won the chance to compete with my two shovels. I took my time and spent an hour pushing the stuff around.

When I sit in my sun-room and view the backyard garden covered in snow I see a space of beauty. There is nothing prettier than new fallen snow on trees, shrubs, and lawns. The whiteness of it all conveys a purity of vision and thoughts that can be over-whelming. By tomorrow the back lawn will resemble a school playground with foot prints leading to everywhere. Mostly rabbit and squirrel tracks., but today it is still pristine, smooth, and white.

Into the Spotlight

COVID BEAR- Judy Gale Roberts Pattern

If I could jump into a time machine and transport back to nineteen fifty-two I would. There has been a question the answer to which has bothered me ever since I took a test to determine what profession I was suited for. I was registering for high school. The particular school had several college directed curriculums. I chose to go into pre-engineering. The guidance counselor told me that my scores did not indicate that I would become successful in that kind of career. Being strong-minded and strong willed I rejected their advice and began an education that eventually yielded a career in engineering. What I would like to know is what my test scores actually pointed me toward. No one would ever tell me. So for the past sixty-nine years I have lived in the dark abut whether I made a mistake by pursuing engineering.

The direction could have been any number of directions which might have been easier to come by. I was always tinkering with mechanical things, so I could have chosen to become a mechanic, or maintenance man. In between building model airplanes and sniffing a lot of glue I was always doodling artistically, and loved doing artsy things. I learned that I was a natural at mechanical drawing and had a strong ability to view three dimensional things and being able draw them in two dimensions from many different views, and vice versa. Printing and lettering by hand came almost as easily as cursive writing in the Palmer method. I hated all things like social science so that would have been out. Yet, today I seem to have a penchant for political science, and history. What did the test scores say? Should I have skipped going to college in favor of barber school like my dad recommended? What?

In high school, I learned that I loved to write stories, but hated grammar, sentence diagraming, and punctuation. Skip all the Shakespeare stuff along with all things to do with English literature. In college I definitely loved calculus, solid geometry, and art history. What a combination that is, art and math. I struggled through the many physics and high level math courses, but eventually succeeded in getting my Bachelors in Science, Mechanical Engineering (B.S.M.E.)

Horn Man-Original

In my aged wisdom I have concluded that what my real direction could have been doesn’t matter anymore, because my chosen career was my passion, and I succeeded in making a living, raising a family, and putting three kids through college and into careers in science.

For the last twenty-five years i have been dabbling in an art form called Intarsia. I like it because it incorporates art, with the use of my hands, and skill with wood cutting tools. I began with simple projects and slowly, ever so slowly my skill level has been improving. The early projects were all based on another artist’s vision of things like fish, teddy bears, and flowers. I bought patterns and used them to make pictures from wood. In the last ten years I have decided to develop the art form into something more. I go beyond two dimensional forms pieced together from different colors of woods with some minimal shaping to original designs based on photographs. I convert a photograph into a pattern then shape it into wood sculpture. The very first work I did I called “Horn Man.” It is based on a photo of my grandson Dan practicing with his trumpet. I felt so proud of this work that I have gone in this direction since. Today, I only use pre-made patterns when I like the subject. In fact I will take a pre-made pattern depicting something natural, and then add something special to make it mine. My second attempt at doing this combined a Judy Gale Roberts pattern of two blue jays drinking at a bird bath with my vision of the bird bath in an endless green lawn which has a single dandelion growing at the base of the bird bath. I call it “An Almost Perfect Lawn.”

A year ago, pre-covid era, I entered an arts and crafts show. I priced the pieces so high they would never sell. I needed to learn if anyone else besides me liked any of these works. Although no one bought anything I learned that my works have some appeal. One visitor told me that I was at the wrong show, and that my work should be exhibited at the Frankfort Fine Arts Show. Then COVID hit. All shows were cancelled.

Last month I decided to enter a couple of pieces into a show titled “Emerging Perspectives” at the Tall Grass Arts Association Gallery in Park Forest, IL. Still unsure of myself, I labeled the pieces NFS meaning not for sale. Since then, I have decided to enter as many shows as I can just to give my work some exposure. This morning I completed the entry for my piece titled “Three Roses,” into the Frankfort Arts Association Member Exhibition “Into the Light.” I love the show names, they really pump me up. Anyway, all this excitement about showing my art has raised the question I posed above, did my career interest test indicate that I should have pursued art as a profession? I’ll never know and I really don’t care any more, I like what I am doing: blogging to practice my writing, and using my wood working skills to produce some interesting art.

Three Roses-Original
An Almost Perfect Lawn-Judy Gale Roberts Pattern, Embellished

Cecil-Original

It Is Pun Time Again

Liars Write Fiction

How big and how many lies can I tell in this post? Typically, I write the truth about my life and embellish the truth with opinion. Sometimes the opinion proves to be accurate; sometimes it is not, when it is not it is a lie. With that in mind let me tell a story about my Friday night without a date night. I had spent the day by myself trying to make it productive but failing miserably. By 4:30 I was hungry and put together a supper consisting of a frozen pizza. Two nights ago I opened a thin crust sausage pizza, and decided not to let it go to waste. To stay KETO I cut the pizza in half while still frozen. Therefore, I had half of a pizza still frozen. Not wanting to cook anything special I took the easy way out. It was perfect, but here I was at six p.m. dishes done and nothing to do. I read a few chapters of a book I borrowed from the library and decided that Friday night is date night and I should not be reading a book. For me it turns out to be Friday night without a date night. Take a walk, I said to myself. It’ll be the second walk of the day, but it is free, easy, and in the dark no one will know I am walking.

The downtown area pulls me toward it nine times out of ten, and it did again. Instead of walking the sidewalks I stuck my neck out and walked the street defying drivers to miss me as they passed by. I made it to town without injury and had to decide which tavern to settle in. My latest favorite is the bowling alley. It was open. I climbed the twenty-six stairs and strolled into a crowded bar. I spotted Sam a friend, and headed toward him. He in turn walked me to the bar and introduced me to some of his acquaintances there. The people were totally friendly and made space for me to sit with them at the bar. Needless to say there was no social distancing being practiced here unless you wanted to stand away from the bar. I chose the dangerous one, and sat. A State Farm agent Ken introduced me to his wife and four of their friends. We hit if off right away. He noticed my baseball cap and said “thank You for your Service.” The hat is dark blue with an American Flag embroidered on it. Across the flag is an eagle. Many people mistake it for a service corps hat. “I was never in the service,” I told him, but I am a patriot. “That’s okay” he said “what would you like to drink?”

Mari the bar owner was tending, and took my order for a Coors light. It’s one of the beers I will occasionally drink because it is low in carbs, almost KETO I lied to myself. The conversation drifted towards people we know and then toward the election results. Election results have become the most popular topic of the week. I didn’t really want to discuss the possibility of a new president, I thanked him for the beer, excused myself and walked back to Sam who I met on the way in. He was also engaged in discussing the election, so I reversed and went back to the bar.

Ken had drifted to the end of the bar and gave his seat to his wife. She was worth getting to know. A hottie about forty, five foot eight, fabulous legs, torso, and boobs. She also had a nice face. To stay cool on her walk to the bar she wore shorts and a tank top which is why I noticed her shapely legs. Her name is Anne with an “e” at the end. She told me how grateful she was to have their business in Tinley Park a neighboring town. During the shutdown they were super helpful to us by sending business our way. She told me she graduated from Tinley Park High School. “Oh,” I said “I worked right across the street from you. That is the high school no one knows about. Most times kids will tell me they graduated from Sandburg or Andrews, but rarely do they mention Tinley.”

“I loved it there,” she said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it was so private being surrounded by forest preserves and there were no local hangouts for the kids to congregate at. We all got on a bus and went home, no time for shenanigans.”

I leaned in close to her face to hear her better, and just as Anne and I were getting into each other’s history, I got bumped pretty hard from the back. I turned to see who it was, and got punched in the face by a stranger. My reaction was to swivel and unload a fist full of knuckles into his jaw. He was more caught off guard than I was. He spun around falling to the floor. “Fight, fight,” Is all I heard as I lunged at him on the floor and straddled his body. I started pummeling him about the head when someone grabbed me from the back and yanked me off. His face was pretty bloody and people were helping him to get up too.

“What was that all about?” I asked him.

“I can’t stand it when an old geezer like you is hitting on my best friend’s wife.”

“Well, I can’t stand being cold cocked for nothing.”

Frankfort’s finest men in blue arrived on the scene and restrained us with hand-cuffs. Officer Darrien walked me to a squad car. A paramedic attended to my attacker’s bleeding nose before he too was locked into a squad. Eventually, we were both arrested for causing a public disturbance and transported to jail.

In the morning, I was allowed to make my phone call. I called my daughter since I didn’t know any lawyers who could help me get out. In the meantime, I served time in the solitude of a cell crowded with drunks and addicts. Interesting people, all of them. Each had a story to tell. By far I was the oldest in the lot.

“Hello Joanie, this is Dad. I’m in jail, you have to help get me out of here.”

“WHAT? WHERE? WHY?”

“Frankfort, by the high school. I was arrested for fighting in a bar.”

“Fighting, about what?”

“A guy punched me in the face for nothing, and I defended myself”

“John and I will be there as quick as we can.”

It was noon Saturday before my Friday night without a date night finally ended.

Believe it or not.