Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Wanderings

BOOK NOOK ... I’m still reading in my spare time, which is being compressed from all sides, it seems ... but who doesn’t find that true today? Right now I’m finding a few quiet minutes in the evenings to read portions of Poetry and Experience, by Archibald MacLeish. In between other things, daily walks, neglected chores, etc., I’m also taking a look at Art Appreciation Made Simple, by John F. Sedgwick Jr., Ph.D., and Robert Frost - Seasons, with poems by Robert Frost, photographs by Christopher Burkett.

And what’s on your reading table? Or on your electronic “book” gizmo?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Can it be? End of March ... already? Well, practically. Unless I've looked at my calendar wrong, there's one more day in this month.

And then this ... this departure from the usual approach to "Squiggles" ... where I usually cobble something together for a Saturday posting ... then tack things onto the bottom as they occur to me ... or people join the conversation here.

When I rolled out of bed this morning, it occurred to me that that approach might be considered punishment ... having to wade through a lot of old stuff to get to the new.

So here we are ... with the "new" stacked on top. Let me know how you like ... or dislike ... this "plan." As usual, I can't promise how long I can sustain this new approach.

And the photo? Oh, that was taken during one of my rambling days, when the weather was springlike ... and the calendar hadn't caught up yet.

I didn't notice it at the time I took it ... I was focused on the windmill ... and the fence ... but I like the added feature of those contrails that I didn't notice at the time. The contrast of the old and the new, you know.

And that's about it for today. Take care. See ya.


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 ... 


Saturday, March 27, 2010


(Charleston Falls, as it presented itself to us a couple of days ago)

It seems like only yesterday that Phyllis and I were breezing along in Little Red (car, that is) ... dodging chuckholes and other vehicles ... when I was struck by a sudden thought.

Don’t worry. It was a fairly harmless thought ... and I hardly felt a thing as it hit me.

“I don’t have anything for Squiggles,” I said.

Phyllis looked at me. She does that every time I say that I don’t have anything to write about.

“What about Charleston Falls?” she asked.

Hmmmm ... what about Charleston Falls ... ?


So there we were ... a few days before ... 

We were returning to the scene of the ... er, adventure(s). We’ve been there before ... many times. We’ve walked the trails, splashed in the creek when we missed a stepping stone ... sat on the deck in the meadow, listening to the birds. 

It was such a pretty day, how could we resist going back to one of our favorite spots?


We were headed in the direction of the falls ... when I heard rustling sounds in nearby woods, looked and saw a deer ... actually, about all I saw was the white tail, darting away from us. Evidently the deer had seen us first.

We finally arrived at the falls ... and they were pretty much as I remembered them ... several streams of water cascading over the edge of the bluffs and onto the rocks below.


We just had to go exploring.

Our first surprise ... a pleasant one, indeed ... was that the steep, rocky descent to the bottom of the falls had been improved considerably with the installation of wide, sturdy steps with handrails on both sides.

A second surprise was that the steps on the other side of the falls seemed much steeper, going up, than we remembered them.

We were surprised, too, at how the trail ... which wrapped around the bluffs about midway up ... seemed to be much closer to the edge ... and far, far below (much farther than we recalled), all those rocks ... which seemed to be inviting us to take a tumble.

We stayed on our feet, though, found a point at which the trail would take us back at an even higher level ... but not quite as close to the edge. 

We took that trail back ... and found a bench waiting for us in the woods. How relieved early explorers must have felt when they found such a bench waiting for them!

We sat heavily on the bench and enjoyed the view. Before long I was doing a quick sketch.


Sitting there, I was reminded of the bluffs near where I grew up ... not nearly as tall as these, but bluffs ... where I explored nooks and crannies ... and frightened Grandma by leaping from one of bluffs, landing in a pile of leaves ... then rolling and rolling. The rolling, she said, had frightened her even more than my leap.

She thought ... well, she thought the worst. And now? Frankly, I was afraid a misstep might send me tumbling ... I’m far more brittle now, you know.


All of this also reminded me of a painting I had done of Charleston Falls ... long, long ago. I remembered how I had included the long arm/limb of the sycamore tree ... as though beckoning the viewer to move closer for a better look.


The question now: Where was that painting?

I lost track of how long I looked for it ... high and low ... until, finally, Phyllis joined the search and ... AHA! ... there it was, right there on an old easel, where it had been all along, and I had gone racing frantically past it ... many, many times.

Oh, and here it is now:


And that’s the way it goes ... when I have nothing to write about.


TODAY’S POEM - Memories! How we cherish the good ones, make them forever ours, polish them, enhance them, store them away, pull them out to comfort us in our old age.

Such is this memory of our grandson, now becoming a young man, but barely a toddler then.

How proud I felt, watching him go to that window, pointing and pronouncing that word with all the authority he could muster: "Outside!"

I just had to write a poem about it. I know ... I know ... it would embarrass the life out of him, if he were to find out that I had posted it here.

You won't tell, will you? Promise? Then here it is:


"Outside!" he says,
tiny finger folding
as it touches the glass
of our dining room
window. "Outside!"

It carries the tone
of discovery, that ancient
"Eureka!" still echoing,
an air of possession.

He runs repeatedly
to the window, pointing
and exclaiming, savoring
this, another horizon
beckoning, a romance
budding, perhaps growing
until he's my age
and beyond, this love
of the outside world.

(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!)


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!


©  2010

AFTERTHOUGHTS ... LOREE, Kansas, is the winner again of the coveted, mystical, mythical Gold Star for being the first to respond to this week's posting of "Squiggles": "Don't you just love it when you think you have nothing to write about, and Phyllis shakes the tree a bit, and bingo! ... suddenly the topic is hitting you in the head!

(I do love it, Loree ... and I've loved it all these years that Phyllis has been doing it. I'm amazed. Without her, I'd probably just be sitting, staring into space)

I'm amazed, too, that Loree found time to dash off an e-mail to Professor Squigglee and me. She said, in part:

"I've been busy the past week or so ... I have 30 years of accumulation that has to be eliminated, given away, or moved with me ... in short order.

"Two large grain truck loads found their way to the county landfill ... at least HALF of it stuff I thought I couldn't live without, but now it's buried under someone else's 'luggage.'

"I'm DOWNSIZING, so that ought to be easy, right? One only takes what is necessary to try and live a somewhat normal life after they move. WRONG!

"There's no cutoff or place to draw the line ... 

" ... nights are filled with nightmares of what to take, what to leave behind, and has me wishing all I had to take with me are my dogs and one suitcase full of clothing!"

Loree, you see, is moving from a farm to the city ... and her downsizing has included tons of tools, riding lawnmower, metal utility trailer, huge dog house, rear tine tiller, radial arm saw ... and many, many others ... including some to which she had a very personal attachment, like antique glass jars and insulators for old telephone poles. But her new location appears promising, and we wish her well as she settles in.

Do stay in touch, Loree. 


MONDAY MUSINGS ... courtesy of WALT, Ohio ... An old gentleman lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work ... the ground was so hard.

His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:

Dear Vincent,
I am feeling pretty sad, because it looks like I won't be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I'm just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.

A few days later he received a letter from his son ...

Dear Pop,
Don't dig up that garden. That's where the bodies are buried.

At 4 a.m. the next day, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area ... without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left.

That same day the old man received another letter from his son ...

Dear Pop,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That's the best I could do under the circumstances.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Escaping Gravity

Did I hear someone say it’s Friday already? And not just Friday ... but Friday night?

Oh, no! 

People will be sitting up all night ... all across this vast continent .... waiting for rooster crow ... and the posting of “Squiggles ... and Giggles” online. 

I need to get started. But I’m not going to start ... as I believe Professor Squigglee recently suggested he might ... in the middle, and work in both directions from there.

Not me.

From now on ... at least for the next few minutes ... I’m going to approach things in an orderly fashion (forget that starting in the middle stuff) ... one thing at a time for me.

The only question is, which one thing? Maybe I should start by selecting which LIST of things I should look at ... from which year ... or decade, for that matter.

I have good intentions. I really do. That’s why I make lists (well, OK, I also make lists because I have a poor memory). But sometimes I lose them. Sometimes I can’t figure out what it is that I’ve scribbled on a particular list. 

Sometimes ... glory be ... things on the list have, over time, taken care of themselves.

Not so with “Squiggles.” Oh, it does get a lot of help from its friends. They send me tidbits from time to time that help to keep it going (unless, of course, I forget which stack I put the printout on/in) ... and I do rely on those gentle hands in the small of my back to keep pushing me along.

Still, bottom line, “Squiggles” depends on me to start stringing words together ... Friday night at the latest ... so there will be something to post for Saturday ... even if it’s just some random gabbing like this.


Who was it who used to say: “And that’s the way it is ... “? Some guy on television, as I recall ... but you know what trouble I have with names. Maybe you can help me with this one.

Well ... that’s the way it is ... on a quiet Friday evening when I sit down at the keyboard ... and have nothing to write about. I could go on and on like this.

But I won’t. I promise. 


TODAY’S POEM: Spring! It was a time of celebration, a time of emerging, at last, from the cold of winter into the beginnings of warmth, a time when kites were tugging at their strings, pleading for more ... when jackets were left lying on the school grounds ... when we gave in to the call of the hills in which we were growing up ... and went galloping down them.

And gallop we did ... a few "no brakes" strides and a leap ... strides ... leap ... strides ... all the way to the bottom sometimes.

Other times we'd fall to the softening turf well before reaching bottom, and lie there, laughing at the picture we must have made, long legs carrying us careening down the slope, with little hope of reaching the bottom still standing.

It was as if we could ... if we tried hard enough ... defy gravity, that if we gained enough speed we might fly. The descent felt like flying. The air seemed to be trying to lift us. And those leaps! They were almost like flying.

Even as we lay there, laughing, our run completed, finally rolling over to look at the clouds, we still felt we might somehow break free of gravity ... next time ...

We had been so close to doing it this time!

In selecting the poem's title, "Escaping Gravity," I wanted it to serve double duty ... to say something about running down the hill, yes ... but also about the need to take our minds off the seriousness of life, even if only briefly.

We all need to do that sometimes.

The poem:


How we challenged gravity's pull then,
our lanky legs held captive so long
by the dull gray of winter months, but now
freed, carrying us in ever lengthening
leaps until we finally fell, exhausted,
on the wet, green softness of earth,
laughing, pained with the joy of what
we had done, resting, trying again,
each new leap seeming to take us
ever so near that unreachable dream.

(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!)


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!


©  2010

AFTERTHOUGHTS ... This from LOREE (Kansas): Hi, Bob ... what a great poem ... 

(Oh, blush-blush, thank you, Loree ... please continue) ...

... few were as agile as my sister and myself ... for we practiced those leaps, not just in the early warmth of a warm spring sun, but year 'round ... over the cow piles in the pasture, the barn aisles, where some cows routinely missed the gutters designed to hold their offerings, but everywhere and all the time.

It was the ONLY way to 'go' :-)

Why, we even used dry cow piles in the pasture for our spur of the moment softball games. Neighbor kids, our Dad and the two of us could lay out a ball diamond with cow piles as the bases in record time. 

The one cardinal and unwritten rule, though, was that one never SLID into a base. If you forgot, you did so at your own risk!


MONDAY MUSING ... from HELEN, Florida: Bumper sticker seen on a car in Wisconsin ... How many inches of Global Warming did you shovel this winter?


TUESDAY TOODLE-OO ... courtesy of WALT, Ohio (Professor Squigglee and I apologize for being late with this posting, but it took us quite a while to figure out how to do it; do scroll down to the lines below the picture):

... "A friend is someone who fills our lives with beauty, joy, and grace."


WEDNESDAY WANDERING ... courtesy of RUTH, Ohio:

As we get older we sometimes begin to doubt our ability of "make a difference" in the world. It is at these times that our hopes are boosted by the remarkable achievements of other "seniors" who have found the courage to take on challenges.

George ________ (not his real name, of course) is such a person.

He says: I've often been asked, "What do you old folks do now that you're retired?"

"Well ... I'm fortunate to have a chemical engineering background, and one of the things I enjoy most is turning beer, wine, Scotch and margaritas into urine."


THURSDAY'S backward glance ... (this from the Monday, Sept. 1, 2003, issue of the e-mailed version of S&G): "Welcome, Alabama! Actually, let's have a round of applause for Roy, who's from Alabama ... and has just joined the S&G circle, this small gathering which is well on its way to having at least one reader from each state in the Nifty Fifty."

I believe the actual count showed readers from 13 states ... but I had hopes ... high hopes ...


FRIDAY quote: "I try to view each day as a new beginning. Forget the backlog of things to be done. It will always be there. Forget yesterday's setbacks. Viewed in this new light, they may not be setbacks at all, but opportunities for accomplishment. Today, this fresh new day, right now ... begin." - Professor Squigglee (and I hope to see all of you back here ... in your seats ... tomorrow, Monday at the latest)


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tulsa or Bust

BOOK NOOK - courtesy of CATHY, Illinois: There's a new book out by Southern Illinois author Jeff Biggers. Reckoning at Eagle Creek tells about his growing up years in the Harrisburg-Shawneetown area. He came from a coal mining family, and currently lives in Macomb, but the story he has to tell about what strip mining has done to Southern Illinois is well researched and told. A reviewer in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the book made him "uncomfortable." I was glad it did, as the issues he researched are the truth, and I think that was part of Biggers' purpose in writing the book.


MONDAY MUSINGS - courtesy of LOREE, Kansas: I'd like to have a nickel for every time I've wanted to write "Wash Me" on something ... all the way from one of my boys' mud-covered faces to, much more recently, my brother-in-law's windows that make up three sides of his sun porch!

Bless his heart ... he is a "go'er and a do'er" ... for any and all, to the point that things like cleaning those windows are far from a priority.

But last week he told me proudly that he had washed the INSIDE windows on the west end of the sun porch. So, Friday when I was up there he called my attention to his efforts ...

Even with my bad eyesight, there was no denying that a vast improvement had been made.

Unfortunately, that only served to draw my attention to the remaining windows ... still fogged over with the grime of probably three or four years!

That made me think of just how much is accomplished with something as simple as a bucket of water ... with a bit of vinegar in it ... and some rags.

But I admit I had to fight myself from moving to the next window and writing "PLEASE ... will you WASH ME?!" in flowing finger script.

Never mind that I felt a twinge of guilt, thinking of my own windows.


SUNDAY SIZZLER - "While everybody else is fiddling with the clocks twice a year, my stomach runs on Daylight Saving Time the whole year long; meanwhile, my mind seems to keep shuffling along on Standard Time - and in a later time zone at that." - Professor Squigglee


I NEEDN’T TELL YOU to look at the calendar. I know you do ... perhaps as often as I do.

I just looked at mine ... and, unless I’m badly mistaken, we just had a close call. Today, you may note, is SATURDAY ... Saturday the thirteenth, in fact. 

We came just THAT close to having a FRIDAY the THIRTEENTH!

And what a difference that would’ve made, eh?


But here I sit, safely, wishing I were somewhere in the stacks of a quiet, well-lighted, well-stocked library, with all the time in the world to do some reading.

Instead, I’m sitting in this corner of Brimm Manor which has been designated as “the study” ... and I’m being threatened by the teetering, tottering, totally intimidating ... not to mention incriminating ... stacks of things I should’ve done something about a long time ago. If I had just found time.


SPEAKING OF TIME, I think some of you may have heard that I’m now a “sprinter.” No, I’m not exploding out of the starting blocks and crunch-crunch-crunching down the track.

I’m racing the clock. In fact, I have one of those windup timer things dangling from my neck right now ... to remind me that I should back away from the keyboard at the end of 15 minutes.

That’s about all the time I can take these days, without getting a major complaint from my back. Don’t worry about that, though. Nothing serious. It’s just that my back has finally found out that it is as old as the rest of my body. I wish it would just give me a gentle nudge, though, instead of complaining so.


SPEAKING OF TIME, though, it was during the previous century that my abode was Out West (of here) ... in Illinois, as a matter of fact.

In that time and place ... I regularly got two calls a year from one of my neighbors. He knew it was time to change the clocks ... but he was always unsure of what direction.

I would patiently impart all the knowledge I had about the matter, and, by the end of our conversation ... a half hour or so later ... he would have me so confused that I would almost swear that, yes, in the matter of Daylight Saving Time, we were supposed to FALL FORWARD ... and SPRING BACKWARD.


EVEN THEN I was convinced that Daylight Saving Time ... drat it all ... was just a scheme devised by the all-knowing politicians to give farmers more time to play golf, instead of plowing and mowing ... and doing other things that farmers normally do.


The coveted mystical, mythical, magical GOLD STAR once again goes on the record of LOREE (Kansas) ... for being the first to respond to last week’s installment of “Squiggles” ... and this despite the fact that she waited (impatiently, of course, she says) for Walt, Ruth, or someone, to “pull the trigger on their computer FIRST.”


LOREE SAYS her first inclination is to write an immediate reply to “Squiggles” ... lest she forget. (Oh, that would be bad ... I’d be left sitting here waiting ... and waiting ... and forgetting why I was sitting here).

Loree provides insight on forgetfulness: “It can creep up on one so slowly that we don’t realize it is HERE ... NOW!”

“There comes a day,” she says, “when it can no longer be ignored ... I rush the length of the house, intent on acting on a thought I had, then reach the back door ... wondering why I am here ... what it was that BROUGHT me here.” 

(Oh, I’ve been there, too, Loree ... maybe not all the way to the back door ... but somewhere in Brimm Manor ... wondering the same thing).


ALL OF WHICH reminds me ... I think my timer has gone off, signalling the end of this sprint. Actually, unless memory fails me, I believe it went off about 20 minutes ago ... so here I go ... beep ... beep ... beep! ... backing away from the keyboard.


I’M BACK ... and I’m still “sprinting.” We have indications that a thunderstorm may come sliding through here soon, and the last thing I want to do is to be sitting here at the keyboard ... and have a randomly-tossed thunderbolt hit my computer.

Wouldn’t THAT make my eyes light up? 

Instead, let’s just shuffle along to:  

TODAY’S POEM: I've written about finding a broken pencil with only a few words left in it ... the frantic search for a scrap of paper ... any tiny piece will do ... to write down an idea before it flits away ... the hurdles, the barriers, the great feeling of success. All about writing.

It's not that I consider myself an expert on writing. Far from it. I continue to be mystified by the process ... curious about how ... and why ... poems sometimes come sneaking up on me of their own free will (I suppose that’s why I write “free verse” almost exclusively) ... but not baffled ... no, I would not say baffled ... not completely, any way.

"Tulsa or Bust" is also about writing.

As you may note, writing about writing sometimes takes some strange turns on the road to completion and eventual publication, in this instance in ByLine Magazine:


The paper's dry,
drier than
my driest poems,
to shatter,
turn to dust,
so I must write
quickly, softly,
choosing only
fluffy, light
subjects like
a "Wash Me"
written large
on the back
of a truck
toward Tulsa.


OH ... AND DON’T FORGET ... tonight ... tomorrow morning at the very latest ... set your clocks AHEAD one hour. Unless, of course, you’ve done that before you get this final warning from me. In that case, you might find yourself an EXTRA HOUR ahead of all the rest of us.

ON THE OTHER HAND ... minute hand, that is ... maybe you’d like to compromise ... and just set your clocks ahead, um, say 20 minutes ... or half an hour. But don’t blame me if that makes you late for your golf date. 

Meanwhile, you may have noticed that I’m tick-tick-ticked off about this silly business of setting our clocks back and fourth like this. 

Oh, well ...


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!)


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!


©  2010

AFTERTHOUGHTS ... Thank you, Anonymous, for stopping by to visit. I'm glad you enjoyed the interlude ... hope you'll find time to drop by again soon.