Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cool Hat

A funny thing happened on the way to the vending machine.

It was such a beautiful day that we had decided to take our walk outdoors at one of our favorite places, a local university which has the distinction of having a first-class series of tunnels for going all across campus ... indoors ... in case of bad weather.

But we were OUTDOORS, just strolling along, enjoying the weekend quiet and the array of autumn leaves. 

The sun was shining. No call for ducking indoors to escape rain on this day. In fact, I was glad my glasses have the ability to darken, effectively turning into sunglasses when I need that.

It was a bit cool, though ... cool enough that a hot drink from one of the vending machines was enticing.

No problem. We were near a building that had a battery of such machines (I have an impeccable memory for such things). We ducked inside and headed down one of the corridors.

Then I spotted a side corridor which would save us a few steps and get us to that hot drink much earlier. 

Natural leader that I am, I was in front ... by maybe half a step ... looking ahead to the lighted doorway way up ahead which, I recalled, was not far removed from the target of our mission.

We went down three steps and were making good progress along the darkened corridor. Oh, I forgot to mention that my glasses had not adjusted yet from being outdoors - and the corridor seemed really dark to me.

No problem. My memory, remember? I had been down this corridor before.

But I had forgotten that we had to go down another set of three steps, then advance, go up a set of three steps, then up another set, before we had arrived safely to the other side.

I took a step ... having forgotten the configuration of that particular corridor ... and it was like stepping into a well ... more like stepping off a cliff. 

My right foot thudded on the edge of one of the lower steps and I don’t think my left foot touched anything until I hit bottom ... after banging my head against the wall and skinning my right hand in three places.

It felt something like doing a cartwheel ... and landing on my head, I imagine. 

Phyllis was understandably shocked by my sudden tumbling and crumpling on the floor, and was immediately ... safely ... beside me, checking for injuries and offering help.

My assessment: Bruises, but no broken bones. How lucky could I get?

The vending machines, you say? Oh, we found them right where I remembered their being ... but the chairs I remembered weren’t there.

Plan B: We went carefully ... hand-in-hand this time ... through one of the tunnels to another building where there were machines ... AND chairs ... AND tables. 

It was my turn to buy, so I fished for coins and inserted them ... and when I heard my change plink down, I retrieved it ... PLUS some 30 cents that someone else had forgotten to retrieve. 

How lucky COULD I get? 

And funny? It’s a lot funnier now than it was the day it happened. 


TODAY’S QUOTE: “I’m becoming so-o-o organized! You know, a place for everything ... and everything in its place. I’m making progress on that part (still a few miles to go) ... but I’m having a little trouble remembering where those places are that I’ve put things.” - Professor Squigglee


TODAY’S POEM: I know, I should throw it away ... at the very least, not wear it in public.

But I can't bear to give it up. It's my hat. We've been together so long, through so many things. It's like a part of me. And there it sits, "like a cabbage leaf on my head."

The poem began, as many poems do, while I was out walking, this time with Phyllis.

Actually, we encountered two young girls, strolling in the other direction. Strangers, but I probably smiled and spoke.

One of them smiled and said something in reply, but I didn't catch what it was.

After we had walked far enough that I thought we were out of earshot of the two, I asked Phyllis: "What did she say?"

"Cool hat," she replied.

"Cool hat?"

"That's right. Cool hat," she assured me.

That's when I had the impulse to toss my hat in the air and do a few dance steps right there. Who says I'm not in touch with the younger generation?

The poem:


It has been
lost and found,
rumpled, crumpled,
laundered until
it cries for mercy,
and it sits like
a cabbage leaf
on my head.

But then she,
a young girl about
half my height,
flashes a smile,
says, "Cool hat!"
and for a moment,
just a heartbeat,
a quickened stride,
I feel like
tossing my hat
in the air
and dancing.

(orignally 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!)


Oh, and if you’d like to see what’s up with my other ... DAILY blog ... here’s a link to it:

Thanks for paying a visit.


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

© 2009  

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It's So Simple

testing. Testing explainer (!)

(Stanback) Stand back. Clear the room(.) (T)his is an experiment and I have no idea how it will turn out.

I’m (getting) kidding. It is an experiment and I really don’t have any idea how it will turn out. But, rather than clearing the room, I would prefer that you move in ... (plus) close to the screen.

I can see already this is not going to be easy. Please! (explainer) (place) Please! Don’t be frightened. 

While I do not recommend that you try this at home, merely watching is not likely to inflict substantial harm. Oh, there may be some brain damage, but that’s always the risk of reading S. and G., otherwise known as Squiggles and Giggles.

(That may explain.) No, let me explain.

The experiment I mentioned (in all this) involves writing this installment of Squiggles without touching the keyboard.

And you thought I’d been doing that all along. Right (question mark).

Actually, my grasp of (you can skip this part ... the scientists for an science out out on on science on how well my grasp of) the science of communication had not progressed that far until recently.

I had been writing (the) Squiggles the old-fashioned way. You know, (what back) the(y) hunt and peck method. Over the years I had gone from a single-finger hunt and peck system and had virtually conquered the (y put finger to finger a W0) two-finger method, which had doubled my productivity.


Are you listening (question)? I have to resist the impulse to ask that because I’m sitting here talking... and it just seems natural that somebody should be listening.

Are you listening?

This experiment involves software, of course. Doesn’t everything these days? Installing that was no problem. There was a slight problem, however, (space) when I clamped on the equipment ... that is, an earpiece and a mouthpiece, both attached to a fairly long cord. After a rather long struggle, I managed to accomplish that. 

Then, when I got up to walk away from my computer, I forgot to take off this combination (hit) headpiece. I got as far away as the (card) cord would allow, and then (it’s really) it threw me to the floor. 

(So and end. And end. And. Space. And each in the. And end. And end. And. In. Space. And and. And and and and and. And)

End of Lesson One.


The whole thing is premised on (the) voice recognition. That is, I simply sit here in front of the screen, talking. Don’t ask me how, but the device ... sometimes (space) ... understands what I’m saying. (T)he words ... and some punctuation ... appear on the screen.

This all came to me recently as a birthday present ... and it promises to be a gift that lasts and lasts and lasts.

I’m still learning the ropes.

And who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? I have no idea. Do you (question) ?

Please bear with me while I try to regain my grip on the trailing edge of technology. Just when I feel I’m about to catch up, something new comes along. And here I am being thrown to the floor again, because I’ve forgotten to take off the (hit) headpiece.


Sspeaking of mistakes or just plain old clumsiness, my apologies to (already that’s at all oh are easy easy) LOREE (Kansas) ... a regular longtime contributor to the conversations that go on here.

She responded promptly, as she generally does, to last week’s installment. I appreciated (your kind words) her kind words, and said I planned to use some of them before this week’s installment. 

The idea, of course, was to try to keep the conversation going between these weekly postings.

But, as is so often the case, good intentions (but) got lost in the shuffle, and by (quote) “shuffle” I’m not referring to my walking style.

I’m sorry, (Laurie) Loree. (I) I’ll try to do better in the future. I really will.

Meanwhile, here are some of those words from (Laurie) LOREE:

“I think I've figured out why we (you and myself) are 'artists'...with words, or whatever.  It's because we are dreamers ... big TIME dreamers!  We don't do anything without throwing ourselves into it ... give it our best shot, not to mention any additional nudging we can manage.

“Like your wonderful description of your own, personalized, made all-by-yourself trading cards, or whatever you decide to call them.  And I was thinking along the very same lines you were....Bob will make a FORTUNE!

“I had that dream once...when I published my book....and sold about 1,000 copies of it, scattered around the entire width and breadth of our country, not to mention some sent to Australia, the UK, etc.  I had visions of being famous (or maybe notorious would better describe it?), but suddenly, the 'market dried up....made me wonder if 1,000 people were the only ones left in the world?

“However, I console myself, by saying, 'You all just wait....for I am the 'Grandma Moses' of poetry writers, except that you all won't realize it, until I am long gone!'”


TODAY’S POEM: "Writing a poem is as simple as pouring a cup of coffee ... "

Oh, do read on. 

Before we're finished, I will have led you down the winding garden path with still another poem about writing. As always, my usual disclaimer: I write about writing, not because I'm expert, but because the process intrigues me so.

As you will see, as you work your way through the poem, I don't think writing a poem ... or writing anything for public consumption, for that matter ... is really a simple matter. Nor need it be so very complicated that only a select few may do it.

But the end product, I think, should give the appearance of having been done with ease ... not flippantly or shallow, but done with a certain polish about it which may intrigue the reader, without getting in the way of the poem itself. 

It should appear to have been easily, naturally written, and none of the hard labor of producing it need show through.

What I'm saying in the poem, I guess, is that a poem should come to the reader with the ease one experiences in simply pouring a cup of coffee.

I hope you'll have a sip ... hope you enjoy it.


Writing a poem is as simple as pouring
a cup of coffee. First, though, you plant

a seed, wait for the sprout, nurture it,
then transplant the seedling, let it mature,

hope that frost doesn't kill the buds,
let the bees pollinate blossoms, wait

for the beans to mature, pick the beans,
dry them, haul them, roast them, transport

them again, package them, grind them,
add water, let them leap as they

percolate and you keep an eye on the clock.
Then you simply pour, sit back and enjoy.

(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!)


Oh, and if you’d like to see what’s up with my other ... DAILY blog ... here’s a link to it:

Thanks for paying a visit.


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


Afterthoughts ...

SATURDAY - Sorry about all the gibberish in this week's posting (even more than usual, right?). I wanted to see how this voice recognition thing would work ... and I wanted you to see the results. Not a pretty sight, of course, but interesting ... interesting ...

SUNDAY - Note from LOREE (Kansas): "So, like any other common, ordinary mad scientist, you just had to risk all of our lives by using that new-fangled contraption! I'm surprised we all lived through it, let alone yourself, with your mouth open and that thing eagerly snatching every word that came out! ... Putting the rest of us at high risk was a bit inconsiderate (but then) I thought, well, if he goes, he wants us ALL to go, so he won't be alone!"

You got it, Loree. (insert mad scientist's evil laugh here).

MONDAY - Note from LOREE (regarding the poem): "I never thought of a poem and perking coffee, hot and steaming, as being relevant to each other. Now that is intriguing! Reading it really got me into it!"

Oh, they do have a lot in common, Loree. In fact, when I'm writing a poem I have to be careful not to slurp!

Loree also admits that she's written a couple of poems about writing poems, too. As a matter of fact, here's a link to one now:

TUESDAY - Am I still using that voice recognition gizmo to make these additions to S&G? I'm no gonna say.

WEDNESDAY - Recent note from Loree (Kansas): "This evening I am chilly (ate some ice cream, so maybe that did it), also sort of sneezing. I don't need to get the flu on top of my other problems ... had my flu shot, but not the H1N1, and it sounds like us old fogies are out of luck anyway ... at least you won't have to wash your hands after reading this e-mail ... "
I'll say ah- ... ah- ... ah-CHOO! to that, Loree ... 

THURSDAY - A couple of days ago I got an e-mail from a poetry-loving friend, inviting me to sit in with a group on Thursday, September 19 ... SEPTEMBER? I didn't even check my calendar to see if I had had a conflict ... I probably had. SEPTEMBER? 

FRIDAY - Already? Can it be? My gosh! I'd better get busy on the next installment of S&G ... 

© 2009   

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shovel? Maybe Later

Sometimes the most casual of comments can set off a new chain of events ... and a whole new world presents itself. 

For example:

We had just finished watching our watercolor teacher, Diane, transform an ordinary green pepper into a work of art ... with colors brushed skillfully onto watercolor paper, of course.

I had sat there watching, thinking that now I had grasped the secret ... that I could do the same on my own paper. But I really hadn’t ... and couldn’t.

What I had produced was a thumbnail watercolor sketch ... on a small sketch pad ... of a green pepper, only remotely resembling what I’d seen Diane do.

And now we were returning to our respective places, to see what we could really do with what we had just learned.

I noticed that Sylvia, a classmate, had taken a quick look at what I’d just done.

“I really hate to waste anything,” I said ... indicating the colors on the mixing area of my watercolor palette ... mixtures left over from previous adventures ... and the teeny-tiny green pepper painting I’d just turned out.

I suppose it would be considered doodling ... but I often try these tiny versions of the day’s lesson ... or maybe something entirely different from what we’re focusing on at the time. It serves to keep my alleged mind occupied ... and it’s good practice, I think. 

Maybe, just maybe, I tell myself, one of my doodles will someday go on to become a full-fledged painting.

“You should look up ACEO,” Sylvia said, indicating that it was an interesting online site ... one that she had visited herself.
Obedient classmate that I am, I wrote the letters ACEO on a scrap of paper, and when I got home ... before I’d forgotten what that mysterious four-letter word was supposed to mean to me ... I looked it up.

A whole new world opened to me.

ACEO stands for “Art Cards, Editions and Originals.” And those cards ... 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches ... I’m told, are the size of trading cards. In fact, it appears that they serve as trading cards ... with a difference.

The difference is that they contain art ... either original works, or prints of the artist’s original ... and in almost any medium: Watercolor, oils, acrylics, colored pencils, pastels ... pen and ink, sketching, collage ... you name it ... each one a collector’s item.

Aha! A solution, at last, to my growing problem of watercolor sketches too small to go out into the world on their own ... and too valued (by me) to be relegated to the shredder.

In no time at all I was rummaging through one of the boxes where I keep these “treasures” I’ve made ... usually during a pause some place along the trail of my daily walk. I actually found one that was the right size ... and I could bear to share with someone.

I’m still learning to share, so that first one ... a wooded scene with sunlight picking its way through ... went to Phyllis.

The others? I could see a huge industry developing in Brimm originals ... these little rascals being traded, first in the neighborhood ... among friends and relatives ... eventually all over the place ... maybe even as far away as Texas and California!

Why, I could make a fortune!

Then reality set in. I remembered the old law of supply and demand ... and I don’t recall it having been repealed. At the moment I’m sure the supply ... even with just this ONE in circulation (and I’m not sure it’s going to circulate) ... far exceeds the demand.

Still, I may pass off a few on unsuspecting individuals ... for birthdays and anniversaries and such ... or for no reason at all. I’ll get rid of that mountain of tiny watercolors yet ... and without doing the (gulp) unthinkable: throwing them away.

And I’m giving you fair warning. If one should come your way ... and be offered to you, take it. If it appears that something is wanted in return, give it careful thought, but make the trade, if it’s within your means ... for someday these little art trading cards ... especially these Brimm originals ... are going to be quite valuable ... or my name isn’t Bob Brimmbrandt.


LOREE (Kansas) got some chuckles out of the adventures of The Little Red Car last week.

“My black pickup, sitting forlornly beneath its very own carport, is so envious of The Little Red Car,” she says. “Blackie thinks I don’t love it any more, as it sits for months at a time, never getting a view of anything except the yellow wall of the shop building in front of it! I suspect that by now it HATES yellow! Even the lattice work, on either side of the back fenders ... covered with beautiful morning glories of assorted colors, can’t seem to cheer it up.

“I do try and remembrer to start it (leave it in park, of course!) now and then, just to see if it will even do that.”

(There are times, I’m sure, Loree, that Little Red is envious of Blackie ... especially when Little Red gets back from another exciting outing of playing bumper tag with the BIG GUYS)


LOREE ALSO shared the following link to her newest page:


TODAY’S POEM: I do hope you don’t mind my repeating myself ... it’s my age, you know ... that rhymes with snow ... and I’ve been thinking of snow recently ... mainly because we seem to have gone from fairly reasonable summer temperatures (though I did find occasion to complain about the heat) ... to really cold temperatures (for this time in October).

My thoughts about snow:

Snow is never funny ... really. It can be beautiful, particularly in the aftermath, but it can be devastating, too.

But funny? I don’t think so.

There was one occasion, though, when I thought the situation ... particularly my reaction to it ... might just bring a smile for the reader who has had the same experience ... and the same reaction I had ... to one snowstorm in particular.

Meanwhile, I’ve just about decided to hibernate this winter. Let the snow come and go (which it will, eventually). And next spring? I’ll probably crawl out, grumpy as a bear.

But for now, the poem:


From door to street
Isn’t all that far,
But with a sleet-
And snow-bound car
Stuck in the drive,
I might just as well
Take another five
And snooze a spell.
(originally published in Mature Living)


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!)


Oh, and if you’d like to see what’s up with my other ... DAILY blog ... here’s a link to it:

Thanks for paying a visit.


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


Afterthoughts ... 

SATURDAY - Mama from France, I thank you for those kind words about my blog ... and the invitation to take a look at ATC SWAP (I did, thank you very much, and I'm quite impressed). Still ... I'm not sure I'm quite ready to make the leap just now. I need time to think it over ... and paint more watercolors of the right size. Maybe then ... 

WEDNESDAY - This just in: A usually reliable source informs me that my poem, "Naming the Fish," is going to be read on "Conrad's Corner," by Conrad Balliet himself, on WYSO radio ... shortly before 8 p.m. this Friday. Hope you can give a listen ... if not at the time it airs, perhaps later in their archives. Let me know, please, if you make contact ... 

© 2009 

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sliding Into Third

Remember Little Red?

The Little Red Car, that is ... our faithful companion over the past several years ... and 120,000-plus miles, now ... always ready to pop a wheelie and be off on some new adventure ... the little car that, no matter how far we strayed from the beaten path, always found a way to get us safely back home.

That’s the one.

Little Red always found a way to share the road with the BIG GUYS ... (some of which had tires bigger than all of Little Red) ... without being overly aggressive. 

Little Red, in fact, was always being passed by somebody ... a semi ... a school bus ... kids on roller skates ... a bicyclist ... certainly a motorcyclist ... because Little Red agreed with me that speed limit signs are just that ... signs that indicate the safe LIMIT ... not a suggested speed ... but a SAFE, LEGAL UPPER LIMIT ... whether in school zones with the amber lights flashing ... or in a quiet neighborhood where kids are about.

And stop signs ... Little Red had become convinced that a certain four-letter word ... S-T-O-P ... meant just that: To cease forward motion ... not to go rolling through while talking on the phone or sipping that morning coffee ... and certainly not just to slow slightly, then zip on through.

I don’t know how many times Little Red almost got rear-ended while in the process of obeying STOP signs ... RED LIGHTS, too.

Oh, Little Red was a stubborn cuss.

I know, I’ve been using the past tense in recounting some of Little Red’s character traits ... as though Little Red weren’t with us any more.

Never fear ... Little Red is still here ... going on 13 now ... approaching those difficult teen years ... but still here.

I recently had some doubts, though.

It began as a sort of hiccup ... you know, a brief, but noticeable interruption ... like a hiccup ... of the engine’s steady hum.

I think I was backing out of a tight parking space when I first noticed it. I didn’t think too much about it ... might have been my unsteady foot on the gas pedal.

But it wasn’t long after that when Little Red started sneezing ... particularly when it was time to bed down Little Red for the night in that magnificent building on the rear portion of Brimm Manor.

Some nights Little Red did an imitation of a bucking bronco as we approached the yawning door to Little Red’s nighttime abode. There were some nights when we wondered if we should just give in and leave Little Red in the driveway.

But we didn’t. Oh, we have, on occasion ... but then we wake up in the wee hours ... remember that we left Little Red out ... and swear to ourselves that we hear Little Red whimpering.

Finally, though, we decided we had to do something ... for Little Red’s peace of mind ... and ours. 

That happened at a traffic light. Remember? Little Red and I stop when the light turns red ... and we don’t resume our forward motion (unless we’re doing one of those ... perfectly legal in Ohio ... right turns on red, after stopping, then checking for oncoming traffic, of course).   

This time we had stopped behind two other cars which were signaling that they were going to turn left ... so we sat and sat, waiting to make our right turn. As the light turned green and we all started moving ... Little Red started wheezing ... and sneezing ... coughing and sputtering like I’d never heard before.

It was a horrible scene.

Just about half way through the turn, we came to a sudden halt ... instrument lights came on ... some of which I don’t believe I’d ever seen before ... I couldn’t turn the steering wheel ... couldn’t do anything. We were dead in the water.

Fortunately, the driver behind me ... also in the process of making a right turn ... was watching ... and he or she managed to avoid running into us ... sat for what seemed an eternity for me, but must have been only a couple of seconds ... while I restarted Little Red and we were all on our way again.

I must say that Little Red had been running fine on the streets and highways ... except at traffic lights and stop signs ... a sure sign of rebellion, I suppose ... but I wasn’t about to start running stop signs and red lights, just to please Little Red and avoid a little rough idling. 

There was a time when I would have gotten out a pocket full of tools and set about solving the problem ... or not. But not this time. We took Little Red in for professional counseling.

Turns out the problem was a hose connecting the gizmo and the central thingamajig. The hose cost about a dollar ... labor? Well, that was about fifty bucks ... but they didn’t charge us for the diagnostics ... this time.

Little Red is running fine now, thank you very much. 

I’m the one who has to adjust. You see, I had gotten into the habit of shifting into neutral at every stop ... and I still do that sometimes now. No problem, really, if I can just remember to shift back into DRIVE before I mash the gas pedal.

Oh, for the good old days of the standard shift and the clutch pedal, right? ... and, of course, the dimmer switch on the floor. 


NOTE from LOREE (Kansas) provides a link to the latest page on her site. The graphic is a photo taken by her middle son, Steve Marler, on one of his hikes into a remote area. He loves doing that with his camera along, Loree adds ... and I think the graphic shows that, too.

The link:


TODAY’S POEM: Don't worry. I'm not about to slide into third base ... or even run the bases, for that matter. Not even slowly. Still, my  imagination which was stirred by the warm spring breezes, the proximity of a playing field, the sun on my back. So here’s the poem, originally published in Potpourri:


when I’m walking past
the empty field,
I’m tempted
to go legging it
around the base paths,
sliding into third,
maybe stealing home,
but then I think
about getting caught
in a run-down
between second
and third, cut down
trying to extend
a beseeching leg
to hook the refuge
of that dusty bag,
and the vision
of that humiliation,
the disgrace of being
the winning run
tagged out, finished,
game over, is more
than I can chance.
Still, on one of my
better days,
I just might try it.


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!)


Oh, and if you’d like to see what’s up with my other ... DAILY blog ... here’s a link to it:

Thanks for paying a visit.


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

© 2009