Saturday, November 28, 2009

Autumn Crossing

Thursday was such a beautiful day ... cloudy, windy, raining ... yes, all that ... but it wasn’t freezing rain, and the only swirling snow we saw had been in the forecast the night before.

So we hopped into The Little Red Car and headed out on the longest journey I’ve taken ... by car, with me at the wheel ... in years.

We drove all the way to Indianapolis, taking care to take the back roads all the way ... and some even farther back than that.

Little Red seemed to enjoy the trip ... especially those parts where we went slowly through small towns ... taking care to observe all the rules of the road, as though we were being watched carefully by someone in one of those specially marked ... or unmarked ... cars, of which there seemed to be more of an abundance than usual.

The journey ... and it was a journey, believe me ... took a little over three hours, thanks, in part, to my navigation system (all in my head ... none of this fancy GPS stuff for me).

I had done some map study a few days before ... had it all, as I said, in my head (tons of unused memory in there) ... and things went pretty well ... slowly, but pretty well ... until we were almost there.

I turned off on the correct street, though it looked like an alley with parking on one side, mind you ... and I didn’t know it would only go a block in our direction before ending abruptly. 

As we sat at the STOP sign studying our options, we noted that our street resumed a few hundred feet to our RIGHT. The street we had to cross to get to it, however, was a one-way street to our LEFT.

So we took the scenic route ... finally got back to OUR street ... enjoyed it until ... about two blocks later ... it ended again. 

I had no idea where I was then ... so I turned left ... again ... and drove on, as though I knew exactly where I was.

Then, quite suddenly, I discovered I had stumbled ... er, steered ...  back onto OUR street ... now a lovely four-lane thoroughfare on which traffic was proceeding in a very orderly fashion ... with the usual one or two exceptions, of course.

To make a long story short, we arrived at our destination on the same day that we set out ... much to everyone’s surprise ... enjoyed the traditional humongous meal ... conversations ... the joy of watching the children playing together.

I even managed to sneak away, find an unoccupied upstairs bed, and spend half an hour or so in deep meditation while the festivities continued below.

The trip home? Oh, we took the Interstate all the way home ... took about a couple of hours, instead of three. I felt Little Red was relaxed now, rested after that long, arduous drive over, and seemed to be enjoying sharing the highway with all those other, much bigger vehicles which went sizzling past in a cloud of spray. 

Me? I wasn’t nearly as relaxed as Little Red seemed to be. I thought someone was going to have to pry my hands loose from the steering wheel when we got home ... but I managed that with almost no assistance at all.

And today (Friday)? Oh, I’m getting some feeling back in my fingers, and I expect ... in a few days or so ... to have them all straightened out again ... and flexing ... or almost so.  


TODAY’S QUOTE - “Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.” - Victor Borge (courtesy of WALT, Ohio)


“I FOUND OUT one thing yesterday,” writes LOREE, Kansas ... “After delivering the meals on wheels with my brother-in-law, we drove back to Winfield and went to the Co-Op, where I bought enough chicken feed to run me until NEXT year!”

How much did you buy, Loree?

“ ... I bought 800 pounds ... which equates to sixteen 50-pound sacks. I was able to match, sack for sack, my brother-in-law’s efforts, and still had energy, air, and was raring to go. Why, I could have unloaded ALL of it myself, had he not insisted on helping me.”

At this point, folks, it helps to know that Loree has a Pacemaker ... and is ... “feeling better than I have felt for over two months. It is a great feeling, once again, to want to WORK!”

But FIFTY pounds? It hasn’t been very long since I was struggling to unload a FORTY-pound bag of something (might even have been just THIRTY) from the trunk of my car. And where was Professor Squigglee when I needed him? Hiding in the library, probably.


NOTE from HELEN, Florida ... enduring a slow and painful recovery from major fractures ... includes a photo of a house that’s really decked out for Christmas ... has all kinds of lights and figures ... probably has appropriate music going. And next door there’s a smaller house with a single set of lights which spells out “DITTO.” 

NOTE from CATHY, Illinois ... mentions that she won a turkey on a radio program, for naming 10 tunes that the host played ... all of them “Golden Oldies.”

Oh, how I envy someone who can do that ... I have trouble coming up with the title when I hear ONE tune that sounds familiar. I can’t imagine coming up with TEN!


NOTE from JOHN, Florida ... says he’s looking forward to next February 4, when he will be 90 ... because that figure looks more impressive in a newspaper item than a mere 89.

Hey, let’s all celebrate that milestone, John ... then shoot for the perfect 100. 


TODAY’S POEM - Autumn is one of my favorite seasons ... largely because I tire of blazing hot weather ... thank you very much ... and start looking forward to cooler nights ... good sleeping weather ... the fall colors, which I always enjoy ... the sight of leaves sifting gently to the earth ... the sounds and the feel of them as I go kicking through on my daily walk.

This poem was written on a bus, of all places. We were humming along northward, somewhere in Ohio.

The highway seemed to be an endless ribbon unspooling toward us ... but there on both sides ... oh, there was something to watch! The autumn trees were at their absolute peak, as though they were expecting us ... expecting "company."

And there we were.

I was struck by how the colors seemed to be parting, then closing behind us ... something like the parting of the Red Sea in those old movies.

Naturally, I dug out a scrap of paper and began writing ... and here's the result:


A sea of color
rages ahead,
parting for us
with the soft
hum of miles
falling away,
gently washing
back into place,
cloaking all
traces of our
safe crossing.
© 1997
(Originally published in The American Scholar)


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, November 21, 2009


I had a doctor’s appointment Friday moning.

Don’t worry. I wasn’t sick. Just routine. One of those pit stops I make regularly before I get back out there in the human race.

I don’t know about you, but my appointment always includes a blood pressure check. Bad news. Traffic is always so bad ... people tailgating me ... passing me in school zones where the speed limit lights are flashing ... cutting in front of me with inches to spare ... then suddenly hitting their brakes and making a right turn into a fast food place.

I don’t have to put the cuff on to know that my blood pressure is up ... way up ... by the time I hop out of Little Red and go hot-footing into my favorite doctor’s office.

But this Friday morning? I don’t know what was different about it, except I made it all the way to the vicinity of the doctor’s office without having a run-in with somebody ... oh, there were a couple of close calls (there always are, right?) ... but I arrived as calm as a cucumber.

I was making that last turn into the parking lot in front of the medical facilities ... and a few other commercial ventures. 

I really hadn’t noticed a vehicle turning ahead of me, but there it was as I turned in ... and it was stopping in a Fire Lane (no parking there, right?) ... and it was parking. 

Just as I started to go around, the driver’s side door opened in my path.

I hit the brakes ... and Little Red responded like a pro, thank goodness, for the driver ... who obviously hadn’t looked before opening his door ... or hopping out ... hopped out in my path, smiled in my direction and strode off.

I think I needn’t say what my blood pressure reading was minutes later.


LIFE, writes LOREE (Kansas), at least for the adult years, is a combination of three major things ... with a lot of subdivisions:

“We spend our time in 'panic mode' ... ‘blast off’ ... and once in a while, 'cruise control.' 

“Blast off consists of when we hit the floor running, thanks to an alarm clock.  

“Panic mode was when that same clock kept telling us that we couldn't possibly get kids ready for school, beds made, lunches packed, and make it to our own job on time, looking unruffled and fresh as a daisy.  

“Cruise control was on those rare days when everything clicked, fell together, and nothing went wrong. 

“Those days were so rare, that now I can barely remember ANY of those, at all!

“Somehow, I spent my last five years of working, alternating between counting the days off on a calendar as the countdown to retirement progressed, and mistakenly thinking that when that day arrived, it would resolve the panic mode, and do away with the blast off.  And cruise control would be all that was needed! 

“How naive can one foolish person be, and make it to MY age?  Well, I'm living proof that we never get far from the 'roots' we grew during our working years! 

“I still blast off on days when I have a doctor's appointment, or have to pay the bills ... panic mode is when I look at the calendar and see that it is REALLY Monday, when I would have sworn it was only Saturday.

“Cruise control?  Forget it or scratch it ... either way, it is as rare now, as it was seven or eight years ago!”


TODAY’S POEM: I've often said that I can't rhyme worth a dime ... but here I go again.

I keep trying. For me it's something like trying to leap over a high picket fence ... uphill ... and on a slippery slope, at that. I have trouble maintaining any kind of a rhyme scheme while trying to tell a story ... if, indeed, I have a story to tell.

I keep promising that I won't, but I do ... keep trying, that is. It's simply the challenge, I guess.

The result? Today's poem ... a double-edged blunt blade, if you will ... a poem about the difficulty ... at least the difficulty I have ... with keeping promises, especially to myself ... and it's a poem in rhyme:


I begin my year
With high resolve,
But my plans, I fear,
Start to dissolve
As the new wears off
The leaf I've turned
And the flames flare off
Bridges I've burned.

(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!

© 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hot Pursuit

We all react if someone yells “FIRE!” ... right? We stop what we’re doing ... we look around ... decide which way to run ... either to lend a hand ... or to save our own hides.

Equally galvanizing ... for me, at least ... is the quietly spoken phrase: “Company’s coming.”

I know exactly what that means ... and what I must do. I start shifting those teetering stacks of things in the study ... tidy up my portion(s) of the basement ... 

But mostly I’ve learned just to stay out of the way while Phyllis attends to the details ... occasionally, perhaps, pointing out some other way in which I might help.


LOREE (Kansas) recently got word that company was coming in her direction ... in the form of a couple of e-mail friends who, after corresponding for a few years, decided they had to make the pilgrimage to meet their poet friend. 

“Of course, that threw me into high-level panic mode,” Loree says. (Having known Loree myself ... via e-mail, for a few years ... I know that she was kidding about “panic” ... I see it more like moving into high gear).

Fortunately, Loree continues, “My daughter bought me a lighter weight vacuum sweeper for my birthday, which just happened to be two days before the company arrived.” (Belated Happy Birthday, Loree).

And ... “this sweeper has no need for those hard-to-install paper bags. Nosiree, Bob! It had this spotlessly clean canister in it” ... none of those mysterious clangs and bangs as things are sucked into a hidden paper bag ... everything is going to be in full view.

“Well, we get the sweeper in my big living room ... it’s plugged in and I’m ready to ROLL! But there ensues a tug-of-war ... with my daughter saying, ‘Let ME do it!’ and me hanging on ... I WANT to try this out!”

“The back and forth is short,” Loree reports, since her daughter is in much better physical shape than she is.

The scene shifts as Loree concedes and leaves the room ... then, in short order, hears her daughter saying, “Oh, MY GAWD!”

Loree quickly returns ... finds her daughter pointing to the canister ... and, nope, she hadn’t sucked Loree’s “Psycho Dog” into the canister ... but there is a white swirling mass in the canister, which had filled in record time.

“Good suction, evidently,” Loree observed.

“Do you realize what that is in there?” her daughter responded. At that point she shut off the machine ... and they emptied the canister ... of DOG HAIR!

Evidently it’s from her daughter’s canine friend, Sammi, who comes and goes now, but, as a puppy a few years ago, developed a taste for sleeping inside at night at Loree’s ... 

None of the just scooped-up hair had been visible to anyone ... but it appears that not one hair escaped the vacuum ... beneath the sofa and loveseat cushions, along the baseboards ... and the dark depths of the carpet.

“The carpet feels like it HASN’T felt in years,” Loree reports, adding that she got to try out her present after her daughter went home ... “and I have to admit it has a lot more zip and grip than the old (now retired) Hoover.”


SPEAKING OF FEAR ... that’s the best way to describe the reaction I got from Professor Squigglee when I showed him how Loree’s e-mail concluded.

“In fact,” Loree said, “I was wondering what might happen if I put on that wand attachment and stood close to Professor Squigglee. It would probably suck that thing on top of his head (no, not his eyeglasses) off at ten yards. Whatcha think?”

Well, I think I just saw Professor Squigglee slipping out of the room.


TODAY’S POEM ... It may not be the perfect match ... or even a good match ... for Loree’s account of her introduction to that new vacuum ... but it came to mind ... mainly a reminder of my own reaction to those motivating words: “Company’s coming.” 


I go tramping
the echoing stairs
of this old house
pursuing things
forgotten here,
remembered there,
getting exercise
enough for two.

(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!)


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, November 7, 2009

After Summer

Would you believe that this was another of those weeks when nothing ... absolutely nothing ... happened here?

Well, it was ... unless, of course, I wasn’t paying attention and missed everything. Guess I’ll just have to wait for the security tapes to be played again.

Meanwhile, I’ll be brief ... with this one exception: An exchange of thoughts between Professor Squigglee and me ... unusual, because ... as you may already know ... some people think that he and I are the same person (based, I assume, on our never being seen in the same room together ... or talking to each other).

Rest assured, the following did take place ... though I’m not at liberty to say precisely where or when it occurred ...   


I think I startled Professor Squigglee when I nudged him (his interlude of deep meditation had descended to the snoring stage, and I felt I had to get his attention).

“What ... what? Are we there yet?” he said, while fumbling around, trying to find his glasses ... which, as it turned out, were resting on his forehead ... high forehead, that is.

“Yes, we’re there,” I replied. “It’s Friday evening ... and I’m sure throngs of people are setting their alarms for early Saturday morning so they’ll be among the first to discover what we have to say in this installment of S&G.”


“Yes, you know ... Squiggles and ... “

“I know ... I know ... Squiggles and Giggles. How could I forget? I was just a bit startled that it had come up so suddenly.”

“It always does.”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, it does seem to. Well, at the moment I don’t have anything to contribute.”


“Oh, we might remind everybody to do their homework. One of these days there will be a test, you know.”

“No, I didn’t know that.”

“Oh, yes. There’s always a test lurking down the line. That’s why I keep urging everyone to pay attention ... even when they’re nodding off ... especially when they’re nodding off in the middle of one of your poems.”

“Are you kidding? Who would do that?”

“I’m not going to mention any names ... even though I’ve made little checkmarks beside some of them. I have to admit, too, that my own eyelids have gotten heavy a couple of times.”

“I thought that was a sign of deep thought.”

“You could say that ... but it wouldn’t be true.”

“Well, Professor ... I guess it’s up to me, if YOU don’t have anything to say. As a matter of fact, I don’t have anything either. Are you sure ... ?”

“Oh, you might ... on my behalf ... suggest that members of the class ... when and if they show up ... address their questions directly to me, rather than talking among themselves in hopes of stumbling onto the correct answers for some of life’s riddles.”

“Okay, I’ll ... “

“Oh, and please remind them ... no snapping of their fingers in an effort to get my attention. I HATE that!”

“No snapping ... right. By the way, when do you expect them to show up again?”

“Any day now, I suppose. I’m a patient person. I can wait. Now, may I just leave a wake-up call?”

“Right, Professor. Right.”


TODAY’S POEM: In keeping with my promise to be brief, I’ve selected a short poem to share today. 

I’ve written a lot of those. Oh, have I ever. Has something to do with writer’s cramp ... or writer’s block ... or maybe attention span. But that’s another story.

Briefly speaking, though, I see now that it might have been just a line or two longer ... in order to incorporate the chorus of leaf blowers (which are providing background music as I write this) ... and then I could have mentioned the dreaded snow blowers.

Did I really say I was going to be brief?

The poem? Here ‘tis:


Comes autumn,
when the mighty
chorus of mowers
ceases singing,
an intermission
too soon followed
by a chorale
of snow blowers.

(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!)


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