Saturday, June 27, 2009

Next Shade

No-o-o-o ... this is not a political statement. I'm not even in favor of doing away with the kind of road work boxers are said to engage in ... or at least that they once did, in the movies.

It's just one of those signs ... at first glance it appears to be saying one thing ... on second thought it seems to be saying something else ... and probably is.

The Little Red Car and I were cruising along recently ... when we suddenly veered toward one of those stores where everything sells for a dollar ... unless otherwise marked (the natural successor to the Dime Store, I suppose ... and you're older than I thought, if you remember DIME STORES) ... anyway, there was this sign looming suddenly ahead ... well, maybe just a little off to the right.

My first thought: "Why should I end road work ... even if I could?"

On further reflection it occurred to me that the sign was trying to convey a secret message: Beyond that sign, if I were to continue, I would find that there was no more road work going on.

I'll bet. There's road work going on every place these days.

What puzzles me is how the crews know where I'm headed on a given day ... so they can hurry to set up the orange barrels ... or, at the very least, orange cones ... and those huge flashing arrow signs which tell me that, yep, I'm in the WRONG lane again ... and it may be a few days before some thoughtful ... or forgetful ... driver lets me angle back into the lane where traffic is moving.


TODAY'S QUOTE: "My short-term memory is not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my short-term memory is not as sharp as it used to be." - courtesy of WALT (Ohio)


IT WAS A DAY like any day ... pretty much ... except it was 4:30 p.m., hottest part of the day, and LOREE (Kansas) had gone out to gather eggs. She always takes "Psycho Dog" along, so she can get her jollies by fussing with the two long-necked geese, through the welded wire fence.

This was one time she was glad "Psycho Dog" was along. But let's let Loree tell it:

"As I was walking between the house and the shop building, where there is a fridge inside to hold the eggs, a SNAKE slithered across, uncomfortably close to my feet.

"I think I can safely say that I'm not scared of many things ... a short list, really, but SNAKE heads the list!

"I called out to Dixie ("Psycho Dog") and she immediately spotted the snake. One of her favorite games is to play 'crack the snake!' by grabbing it and shaking her head from side to side. That wasn't going to be easy with a snake this large, but she never quit trying.

"The snake kept making headway toward the carport and my truck, and eventually went under the truck's left rear wheel. Dixie didn't let that stop her ... she crawled under there with it! (Isn't she magnificent?!)

"The dust was whirling from beneath the truck, so I ran into the shop and grabbed what I thought would be a lethal weapon ... with me at arm's length ... a garden hoe!"

"Finally, Dixie managed to pull the snake back out from under the truck, and I screamed at her to stop ... she looked at me for just a second, and it was then that I swung the hoe down mid-way on the snake's length, with a fury enhanced by fear.

"I changed the old 'three strikes and you're out' rule to a new 'two strikes and you've cut in half' rule!"


TODAY'S POEM: Phyllis and I prefer walking outdoors, but if the weather is particularly disagreeable, we duck into a shopping mall, or its equivalent, and do our walking there.

We've even done the building-connecting tunnels at Wright State University ... all a part of surviving.

In the hottest part of summer, we adopt another strategy, which allows us to walk outdoors ... and survive.

We call this our "shade hike." We find some place with lots of trees ... and we're blessed with a lot of parks like that in this area ... then we go strolling from shade to shade.

While we're darting ... relatively speaking ... from shade to shade, I often think about this poem, based on childhood memories ... as many of my poems are ... but also a metaphor for dealing with problems:


Once, walking to town,
I complained that it was
too hot, too dusty, far
too far, but Grandma,
who had walked it many
times before, simply
said, "We can make it
to next shade, then
we'll rest. Next shade,
rest," and it became
a game, the next shade
our refuge, drawing
us along like a magnet,
the trip getting easier.
I've thought of that
a lot of times when it
seemed the going had
become too demanding,
and I always found
next shade, some rest,
before pressing on,
her words still making
it easier for me.
© 1999

(originally published in Capper's)

And so it is. We find that "next shade" ... in words of comfort ... a pause ... a summoning of inner strength ... a moment in our own quiet cove ... respite ... before pressing on ... and on.


COMMENT? Feel free ... below, if you like.

Or if you prefer e-mail, that's fine, too ... especially for more detailed observations, to

and it helps if you put "Squiggles" or "S&G" ... something like that ... in the subject line (just remember, no religion or politics ... please!)


UNTIL NEXT TIME ... take care ... see ya!


© 2009-

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summertime Blues

I REALLY TRY not to repeat myself ... too much.
But I have to admit that I’ve finally reached the age ... and we’re not saying what that number is, precisely ... when it’s difficult to remember ... that’s right, REMEMBER ... just what I’ve said ... or where I’ve said something before.

One thing is sure, though: Summer has arrived in Ohio.
The thermometer is showing 85 degrees here on a Friday evening as I sit before the sizzling keyboard to start writing. Who knows? It may be even hotter OUTSIDE.
I know ... I KNOW ... there is such a thing as air-conditioning ... but that’s another story, for another time, OK?

What I’m leading up to ... in case you haven’t figured that out yet ... is today’s poem (you may have noticed the title ABOVE ... and ... you’ll find the poem BELOW, WAY BELOW)
MEANWHILE, the word from Kansas is that it’s hot there, too ... and stormy.

LOREE (Kansas) writes:
"The heat is on, or someone turned the heat up, or ... it is just downright HOT!
"After over a week of storms that plagued my dog and subsequently drove me NUTS as I dealt with her paranoia, we’ve had a couple of days off from thunder, lightning, rain, and the ping, ping of hail."
"Night before last was the worst storm of the rash we’ve had lately. Why? Because it wasn’t just the dog that was scared. Picture three adults sitting around my kitchen table, each trying to act braver than the next one.
"Conversation went something like this:
"Wouldja look at the size of those raindrops?" (This as they went SPLAT! On the deck floor timbers.
"Well, at least it’s coming straight down!"
"I think it’s hailing!"
"No way!"
"Yes it is!" in an indignant tone that suggested I couldn’t possibly be wrong. Then, triumphantly, "Hear those pings off the new shed roof?"
"What’s that roar?"
"What roar? I don’t hear anything!"
I jumped up, opened the door behind the neighbor lady, and said, "THAT Roar!" No longer impeded by the door, the sound was easily detected.
"It was constant, never let up at all, but, fortunately, didn’t lead to anything noisier, either.
"The storm built up in a matter of a very short period of time, about eight miles west of us, then developed into area coverage ... then set up housekeeping in a small radius ... and SAT there for almost three hours."
"My police scanner was full of reports, non-stop, of funnel clouds west of my house, then south, then back west. All in all, a scary evening ... and I doubt that anyone could serve up entertainment for a whole evening that would be any more frightening than what we endured here."
LOREE CONCLUDES: "If only I could see to write, I could have made some truly interesting poem fragments as the stormy evening progressed ... including something about the fact that I lost EVERY game of cards. I have to say, though, that my heart just wasn’t in cards that evening ... "
HEY, LOREE, if I sounded like I was complaining about the heat before, I think I’ve changed my mind now ... I can take the heat ... but minus the sound effects of a serious storm, thank you very much.

In a later e-mail, Loree shared a link to her new page online:

Give it a try ... I think you’ll enjoy your visit.

TODAY’S POEM ... As promised, here it comes. I know, some of you may have it memorized by now (I do have a tendency to repeat this one when the eggs start frying on the sidewalk ... and my handkerchief wilts) ... but I hope you don’t mind seeing it just one more time.

It so captures the sudden onset of summer in Ohio ... and my present feelings as I work feverishly to pull another installment of S&G together.
This one was originally published in Capper’s:

I've got those
good for nothin'
summertime blues.
My handkerchief
has wilted,
my shorts have
turned to glue,
my socks have
already melted
and run down
into my shoes.
Oh, I've got 'em bad,
as bad as they can be,
those prickly-pested,
heat infested,
good for nothin'
summertime blues.

COMMENT? Feel free ... below, if you like.
Or if you prefer e-mail, that's fine, too ... especially for more detailed observations, to
... and it helps if you put "Squiggles" or "S&G" ... something like that ... in the subject line (just remember, no religion or politics ... please!)

UNTIL NEXT TIME ... take care ... see ya!
© 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What'll You Have?

WARNING ... It’s approaching the witching hour for pulling S&G together again ... and I have nothing to say.

That means ... of course ... that I’m likely to go on and on ... and on.

Which may not be hazardous to your health, but could make your ears ring. If they do ... ring, that is ... don’t answer. It’s probably me ... and you don’t want that, do you?


PROFESSOR SQUIGGLEE is giving me one of those looks. He seems to be doing that a lot lately.

I know what this one means, though ... "Nothing to say, but talking on and on ... you ought to be in politics."

He knows I can’t do that, though. Squiggles and Politics just don’t mix. I can’t have both, so I’ll just stick to Squiggles ... with maybe a few suppressed Giggles along the way.


UH-OH! I just noticed that this is Saturday the Thirteenth ... and we know what that means, right?

Oh, no ... it’s FRIDAY the Thirteenth that we have to watch out for.

Sorry about that.


TODAY’S QUOTE: "I can’t believe how HUGE the vehicles are out there these days. I mean, REALLY HUGE. It’s gotten so I hardly ever look into my rear-view mirror when I’m stopped at a red light. There’s always this HUGE vehicle ... right on my rear bumper ... staring DOWN at me. It’s almost like I’d heard someone call my name ... stood up ... turned around ... and there I am, facing directly into someone’s knees." - PROFESSOR SQUIGGLEE


RECEIVED AN SOS from HELEN (Florida) ... she’d tried to take a look at CHOSEN WORDS ... and, I presume, SQUIGGLES ... but hadn’t been able to reach them.

Well! We can’t leave anyone stranded like that ... Professor Squigglee and I immediately extended an electronic lifeline to Helen. Happy ending (we hope).

Anybody else? Let’s have ... Oh, I guess a show of hands won’t work ... If you can’t reach S&G, you obviously won’t be reading this now ... but if you are reading it now, you don’t need help ... or do you?

Maybe ... if you’re reading S&G ... you REALLY need help.

Or am I just totally confused ... or (horrors) just rambling on and on?


"GOOD MORNING" ... began a recent e-mail from LOREE (Kansas) ... "Just to show you how you rate around here, I overslept this morning, but the first thought that popped into my head (now that there is more and more space there) ... was this annoying voice saying, ‘S&G, S&G’ ... over and over.

"At first ... while rubbing the last remnants of sleep from my eyes ... I thought ‘Stop and Go, Stop and Go.’ But I didn’t have to be an Einstein to realize that S&G could not possibly mean ‘Stop and Go’ in my case ... since I rarely drive any more.

"On the other hand ... since my day starts with turning the computer on, letting it happily hum, bump and grind, as it gets revved up for one more day, I saw this desktop icon ... almost winking at me, with an aura of light around it, like it was/is so special ...

"I grabbed my magnifying glass, zeroed in on it ... Aha! There it was beckoning to me ... S&G in oversized letters (thanks to my ‘Big Shot’ program for enlarging text and anything else on the computer!)"

Oh ... and (blush-blush) she liked the poem.


"I BELIEVE ... two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different." - courtesy of RUTH (Florida/Ohio)


"FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS! ... except that one where you’re naked in church." - courtesy of WALT (Ohio)


"THE IRONY of life is that, by the time you’re old enough to know your way around, you’re not going anywhere." - courtesy of TIL (Illinois)


"THOUGHT FOR THE DAY ... If there’s no chocolate in Heaven, I’m not going." - courtesy of HELEN (Florida)


TODAY’S POEM ... As many of you know, I write about ordinary subjects ... but try to view them "with new eyes" ... as though seeing them for the first time ... in a new way ... to impart some bit of information ... a thought, perhaps ... not previously associated with the subject.

I was thinking about that process, probably, when I wrote today’s poem, a long, long time ago:


Poems, lady?
What would you like?
I have these
written in the nights
of my despair,
a few over there
when I felt better.
A love poem?
Not much in demand
these days, but I may
be able to find one
somewhere on the shelf.
No picks among these?
I have more written,
on the back racks,
aging a bit
before they travel,
and, of course,
stacks and stacks
teetering recklessly
in the backroom
of my mind.
(originally published in ByLine Magazine)


COMMENT? Feel free ... below, if you like.
Or if you prefer e-mail, that's fine, too ... especially for more detailed observations, to ...

and it helps if you put "Squiggles" or "S&G" ... something like that ... in the subject line (just remember, no religion or politics ... please!)


UNTIL NEXT TIME ... take care ... see ya!


© 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Treacherous (achoo!) Dust

WHEN I GLANCED out my window this morning ... that’s right, THIS morning (we only bring you the very latest here at S&G, right?) ... I saw a squirrel sitting there ... apparently in deep thought.

I imagined he was thinking about that big meal he had last night ... how he had tossed and turned while trying to digest it ... or lay awake mulling over something he had seen on TV ... or maybe he was trying to come up with some prank that would top all his others.

Maybe ... if he spotted me looking at him ... he was simply wondering what I was thinking about ... like that big meal ... something on TV ... or ...

I can tell you now, I was trying to come up with a big prank ... but I was drawing a blank ... an absolute blank.


MY ACHING BACK! If you’re anywhere near my age bracket ... or know someone who might be ... you’ve probably heard someone use the term to express doubt ... or consternation ... over something they had just heard.

Well, when you’ve reached my age ... and I’m not going to respond to any wild guesses about what THAT is ... the term takes on a more literal aspect.

Yes, I do have an honest-to-goodness ACHING BACK.

While I find little enjoyment in that distinction, I do find some comfort in knowing that I am a pain in the neck to some people. But that’s another story entirely.

All of this is intended to bring into focus a topic I’ve broached before ... becoming organized ... or becoming less disorganized, if you will ... in hopes that condition might ease my aching back ... or might even make me less of a pain in the neck to others.

I’ve tried everything.

I’ve tried "sprinting" ... that is, engaging in concentrated effort ... not literally running, mind you (I gave that up years ago) ... but focusing on a project for a short time ... 15 minutes, for example ... then easing up ... then returning to sprinting mode ... easing up ... etc.

Now I’m trying the sandwich approach ... or "layering," if you’d prefer, because "sandwich" makes you hungry.

I’m trying ... really trying ... to work on one project for a while ... like going through papers that I should’ve tossed years ago ... then turning my attention to another project ... then to another ... and another ... all of which I try to do before I get one of those urgent-URGENT messages from my back ... a message telling me that a reasonable person would call it a day about mid-morning and then kick back for the rest of the day.

Don’t let me forget to tell you how this comes out. Oh ... and forgetting? Well, that’s another topic for another day.


THIS JUST IN! (recently) ... from LOREE (Kansas): "When I went to the cemetery on Saturday before Memorial Day, I noticed a new headstone very near to my own (just waiting for a date), that was lavishly decorated ... so, out of curiosity, I walked over to see it.

"Imagine my surprise when I saw that it was the final resting place of one of my classmates ... there were only 14 of us back in May of 1953, and that was the beginning of each of our unique journeys through life.

"This girl was a bit different, bless her heart. Her father worked at that time in the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, where he made BIG bucks, for that day and age. She never made any effort to be a good friend to the rest of us girls, but gave the impression that she was a cut above us, God bless her.

"I say this now ... with no ill will at all ... but the fact that she now lies at rest at my FEET ... and one plot to the north of me ... is a shocker. Somehow, knowing her, I can’t believe that if she had a choice that would have happened.

"Like I said, no ill will meant at all ... heck, maybe she and I will be great friends in the future."


SPEAKING OF class reunions ... LOREE has those covered with a new poem on her site ... and here’s the link:

Enjoy your visit (there are lots of things to see there ... and good listening, too) ... but don’t forget to come back.The welcome mat is always out here, too, you know.


TODAY’S POEM ... When was the last time you dusted? I hasten to add that you needn’t answer ... I wouldn’t want to get involved in comparing notes ... since the last time that comes to mind for me was when I was in military service ... which was, well, that’s another story, too ...

Actually, the reason I asked has more to do with the NEXT time you dust, rather than the previous engagement with those rascally little particles.

I’d like you to notice what’s really happening as you and the dust cloth swing into action ... see if it isn’t something like I describe in the following poem:


Resting at will,
but never sleeping,
it rises lazily
ahead of the cloth,
starts settling
back on everything
the very minute
your back's turned.

(originally published in Capper’s)


COMMENT? Feel free ... below, if you like.
Or if you prefer e-mail, that's fine, too ... especially for more detailed observations, to and it helps if you put "Squiggles" or "S&G" ... something like that ... in the subject line (just remember, no religion or politics ... please!)


UNTIL NEXT TIME ... take care ... see ya!

© 2009