Saturday, August 28, 2010

Caught on the Brink

BOOK NOOK - Aha! You thought I’d forgotten about this portion of “Squiggles,” didn’t you? 

I’ll admit that things in that department have been a little slow recently ... what with regulars being occupied with other things ... checking to see if the grass needs mowing ... noting the shapes of the clouds ... watching the tube ... maybe even loafing ... too busy, I suppose, to send me a note about their current subject matter.

Still, I know you’re out there ... and you’re still reading (you ARE reading this, aren’t you?) ... but it’s been a while since we shared tidbits about our reading.

I’m still reading, too.

In fact, I have books waiting for me to return to them all over the expanses of Brimm Manor ... even some stacks of magazines that get my attention when they go crashing to the floor (I just recovered ... thank you very much ... from one such avalanche).

But let’s get down to specifics, shall we? 

At present I’m reading ... among others, you understand ... a little volume entitled Memory Fitness Over 40, by Robin West, Ph.D.

That is, I’m reading it a little at a time (don’t want to overload my busy brain, you know) ... when I remember to get back to it ... and when I can remember where I last put it.

I’m just getting started on it ... but I can already tell it’s going to be a big help.

Now what was it we were talking about?


REMEMBER LAST WEEK ... when LOREE, Kansas, was expecting company, and kept waiting ... and waiting? She also talked to them on the phone several times ... first to advise them that they had accidentally gotten on the “scenic route” ... and then to give them suggestions on how to backtrack and get where they really wanted to be ... at Loree’s.

Well, those guests had a great visit with Loree ... and were apparently listening this time when she advised them on which routes to take in order to get back home.

Loree reports: “They called that evening from Cedar Rapids to say (happily, I might add) that they drove all the way with no wrong turns!”

And ... she adds: “Since then, feeling pretty proud of myself, I’ve been checking the want ads daily ... looking for a position as a ‘direction giver’! I think I could handle that nicely ... with the help of Map Quest, though I sometimes tend to disagree slightly with THOSE directions ... and substitute a lesser known highway ... “ 

Way to go, Loree! Professor Squigglee and I love those happy endings!


THIS FROM ... RUTH, Ohio ... Difference ‘tween North and South: North is a direction, South is a way of life.


FROM ... WALT, Ohio ... Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that’s falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?


TODAY’S QUOTE: “Poetry is energy, it is an energy-storing and an energy-releasing device.” - MIROSLAV HOLUB, Poetry Ireland Review, Autumn-Winter 1990


THIS FROM ... HELEN, Florida ... (courtesy of Burma Shave ... remember those signs?)



TODAY’S POEM: Have you ever found yourself in "the twilight zone," that location which lies vaguely somewhere between sleeping like a baby ... and being fully awake?

Well, I have. Many times.

Thank goodness, it has only happened to me a couple of times when I was behind the wheel ... and without serious outcomes in either instance.

Oh, on one of those occasions ... one very dark night ... I was pulled over by a highway patrolman somewhere in Indiana ... but that's another story.

But let me settle into my favorite chair ... with a favorite book ... and it's like I've been given a knockout potion. Soon the words become blurry ... the room seems to melt away ... the book grows heavy ... my eyelids grow heavier.

Whoa! I'm getting ahead of myself here. I'll just step aside and let you glide right into the poem:


Something I had just read
struck a chord with me,
sent sympathetic vibrations
dancing down the corridors
of my mind. I could feel
something stirring deep
within me, a new knowledge
coming like a rescuer's lamp
shooting fingers of light
this way and that,
drawing nearer in the murky
darkness, promising a sip
from the cup of understanding,
a way to come clawing out
of this abyss, into fresh air
and natural light. "Bob!" I
heard the distant voice calling.
"Bob! Put down your book,
take off your glasses, recline
your chair!" It was as though
the Thought Police had me
surrounded. What could I do?
What else? I surrendered.

(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!)


If you’d like to see what’s up with my other, DAILY blog (no, this is not my “Home Page”),  here’s a link to it:

Thanks for paying a visit.


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


©  2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sudden Thunder

AS YOU KNOW, I always try to start each installment with a bit of big news.

Are you ready? Well, here it is: 

It’s official ... my driver’s license renewal has been approved, and, in fact, I have proof of that in my pocket, even as we speak. And why not win approval? Actually, it was a breeze ... I was up all night the night before, studying for the eye exam.

Of course, this means that the Little Red Car and I will be out there ... legally ... among the BIG GUYS (and there are certainly a lot of them) ... probably infuriating a lot of other drivers because Little Red and I will be poking along at the posted legal speed limit ... coming to a complete stop at STOP signs, etc. Maybe even ... if I can remember to do it ... signaling what I’m INTENDING to do ... as opposed to what I just DID.

Put me behind the wheel, though, and I do seem to go against today’s standard practice(s). So be careful out there ... if you see us coming ... or have the misfortune to end up behind us.   


PROFESSOR SQUIGGLEE, as you may also know, is a stickler for punctuality. This means, of course, that if you take your seat late, you may find him peering over his glasses at you ... and you’re likely to be the next person he calls on.

(The Professor even attempts to practice it himself ... though, admittedly, he’s been known to miss an appointment himself now and then).

But he’s considerate when there are certain circumstances. For example, LOREE, Kansas, was a bit late reading last week’s installment of “Squiggles.” No problem. She had one of the best excuses the Prof has heard in a long time:

“Number one, Saturday was spent in mowing the front and the back yard areas.  Never mind that the grass looked a sickly, pale greenish brown color ... with friends coming to spend a few days, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, it had to be done.

“Number two ... What was left of Saturday was spent in cleaning inside ... I wanted everything in its place, and then the place, itself, shining!  First appearances, you know?!

“Sunday was touch-up day ... straighten a throw rug, the big burgundy cushions on the hearth, twirl an African Violet around on the window sill ... it was leaning dangerously (at least it looked that way) toward the light!

“The hours came, and the hours went ... they were supposed to arrive around 11 a.m.  All they had to do was catch I-35 southwest from KC (where they had camped overnight) to Eldorado, KS, where they were to pick up US-77 and come straight into Winfield.  

“Well, perhaps 'straight' is an exaggeration, since there are some curves!

“Starting about noon, I started receiving phone calls from her, on her cell phone.  First one was a cheerful: 'We're headed your direction ... should be there shortly!'

“An hour later, the next call ... this time I thought I detected a twinge of anxiety, ‘We're getting closer!  When we get to Winfield, I'll call for directions to your new house.’

“I did the last-minute tour of the house, looking for anything out of place ... for about the third time.

“Ring!  Cell phone again ... this time, almost a sound of terror disguised.  Me, ‘Where the heck ARE you?!’  Her ... ‘We just came through Salina, so shouldn't be long now!’

“Me ... ‘What the heck are you doing in Salina?!  That's on I-70, and you are well on your way to Colorado, if you keep going!’

“Her ...’Well, the nice girl we asked, and who said she lives in your area, told us to take I-70!’

“Me ... ‘Go back INTO Salina, and follow signs SOUTH to Wichita!’
For the next couple of hours, I paced the floor, messing up my pretty fuzzy throw rugs!

“Finally the next call ... a more cheerful sounding voice ... 'Okay ... we are in Wichita ... now what?’ 

“I gave them more instructions ... and at 4:30 they drove into Winfield, called for directions and address of my new home, and shortly after that, were pulling into my driveway, behind my pickup.

“Of course, we joked about how they tried to take the scenic route, by way of Denver (had they gone far enough!), which just might have made them a couple of days late getting here :-)

“Anyway, that's my story,” Loree says, “and I'm sticking to it, as to why I didn't answer this week's installment earlier.”


TODAY'S POEM - When my computer stopped working, it seemed so sudden ... Doesn’t it always? ... 

The poem didn’t come immediately to mind ... believe me, I had a lot of other things on my mind ... but later, when a little ray of computer hope presented itself to me ... then, oh, then ... I did think about the poem ... and how I had stood there in the rain, admiring a red, red rose that I would not have seen, had the thunder not caused me to turn and look in its direction.

I suppose there’s a lesson of some sort in there ... some place ... but I’ll leave that to you.

Meanwhile, the poem:


I was going along,
immersed in thought,
when a nearby
crash of thunder
wheeled me around
and I was looking
down a long driveway
toward a red, red rose
that was leaning
and straightening
beside a dark
gray fence.

For the longest
moment I remained
rooted, letting
the rain trickle
down my neck,
drip from my
fingers, puzzling
over this flower
that had drawn me
to it with this
clash of cymbals,
brittle song
of thunder.

(originally published in Kaleidoscope; included in my first collection, Chance of Rain, published by Finishing Line Press, 2003, read on Marion Roach's program on Sirius Radio, June, 2006)


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!)


If you’d like to see what’s up with my other, DAILY blog (no, this is not my “Home Page”),  here’s a link to it:

Thanks for paying a visit.


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


©  2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Don't Dance on My Toes

(Today's art was prepared by our grandson, Thomas ... at an early age)

Many years ago, when I was about half as old as I am now - and in a job that was slowly driving me crazy - I thought I might find some “escape” by signing up for an evening class at the community college.

But what should I take?

I’d been out of school for a long time, long enough, it seemed to me, to have forgotten most of what I’d learned. So I needed something easy, you know, something to dip my toe into before taking the full plunge.

A careful examination of course offerings turned up what appeared to be the one logical choice for me: calligraphy, that is, hand-lettering. After all, how hard could that be? 

Believe me, it can be pretty hard, even with the expert, caring instructor I was lucky to have. I even ended up enjoying the course, and getting a passing grade.

I also ended up with some supplies left over.

You know me, of course: I learned something early on from another expert, my Grandpa, who preached that we should never throw anything away. He even saved bent nails, because he knew he would have a need for them someday ... then he’d straighten them and put them to use. 

So I ended up with a supply of ink ... a bit in a bottle, and quite a bit in the form of cartridges for the special pen that we used in class, and some points ... “nibs,” I believe we called them.

But I didn’t seem to have that special pen.

I started by searching the attic, where everything seems to end up. No luck. I tried under the roof (lots of stuff there, mostly Christmas stuff). No luck. I tried the study, the first floor closet, the basement. I even went back to the attic and searched again. Still no luck.

I couldn’t throw away all that ink. 

Last resort ... I started looking in earnest at all the stores we duck into on cold and stormy days ... or on boiling hot days like we’ve been having. I’ll spare you the list of stores, for it was a long one.

Finally, we stopped in a huge arts and crafts store which we hadn’t visited for years ... found our way to the right aisle, spotted what appeared to be the right kind of pen ... found our way, without having to hire a guide, back to the checkout ... and hurried home.

On the way home, I commented to Phyllis that, now that I have a new pen for those cartridges, I’ll probably find the original. She just gave me one of those looks.

However, those old ink cartridges did fit the new pen ... with  a problem or two ... so I still felt that I had ended up "saving money" by making that purchase. 

I didn’t remember exactly how to install the ink cartridges. Quite by accident I had picked out a red ink cartridge to try first. The result: My hands ended up looking like they were bleeding badly ... and I ended up throwing THAT cartridge away (horrors!).

The next try went better, and I was back in business.

That evening, as I was tidying up ... I’m always tidying up ... mainly because stacks of things keep toppling, despite all my efforts to bring order out of the chaos ... and, as I was placing a newly-found sketchpad on top of a stack of previously-found sketchpads, I noticed a strange object inserted into the spiral binding of one low in the stack.

Eureka! I had found that old pen! So now I have three of them. And don’t you dare ask me how one and one make THREE. That’s an entirely different story ... and we don’t have time for that here.


REMEMBER Little Red and the saga of the turned-on brake  lights? 

Well, we’ve had something of a repeat performance. This time, though, the battery didn’t go dead. 

One of our good neighbors reported to us one evening that Little Red seemed to be glaring at her from our driveway. Sure enough, that was the case.

This called for immediate action. Phyllis pulled Little Red into the garage and I ... with, oh, maybe three or four trips to the house to get the right tool ... disconnected the battery.

We all ... except Little Red, of course ... slept fitfully that night (Little Red always seems to sleep well), wondering what tomorrow would bring.

Well, with the battery re-connected ... and the brake lights glaring all the way  ... we made a rather uneventful trip to our favorite repair shop and ... about 20 minutes and 44 dollars later ... Little Red was as good as new again.

And I don’t really blame Little Red for all of this recent behavior. That’s just the way teenagers are sometimes.


TODAY’S QUOTE: “How did Saturday come so quickly? If it has been seven days, I’ll eat my hat! (Another old saying, like putting one’s pants on ... one leg at a time!) ... I think I’ll have sugar and cream on the hat, thank you.” - LOREE (Kansas)


THIS ... from HELEN (Florida): A grandmother, not sure whether her young granddaughter had learned colors yet, decided to test her. She would point to something and ask what color it was. The little girl would tell her ... and was always correct. Grandma was enjoying it, and kept going. Finally, the granddaughter headed for the door, saying, “Grandma, I think you should try to figure out some of these yourself.”


THIS ... from WALT (Ohio): Why do banks charge a fee on “insufficient funds” when they already know there is not enough money?


REMEMBER last week, when my pants outsmarted me and threw me against the door facing (among other things)? LOREE (Kansas) says that has happened to her, too (I’ve taken an oath of silence in regard to how many times).

Ah, but Loree has a solution: Nowadays, she says, when she feels that the one leg at a time bit might be putting her deliberately in harm’s way ... “I’ve found that lying on my back, extending my legs into the air (AFTER inserting both feet first) works very well, thank you ... one of those dark, well-hidden secrets that I had never divulged to anyone before, about the disasters caused when one foot gets hung up and there is nowhere to go but down.”


I’M ASSUMING, of course, that the lying on the back is done on the bed; otherwise, it might take three people ... at least ... to get me back on my feet. At least it sounds better than trying to do a one-legged dance ... especially to a non-dancer.


TODAY’S POEM: Phyllis and I were on a day-trip, visiting Chillicothe, Ohio, and the magnificent, neighboring Adena.

Among those at our table during lunch were some couples who enjoy line dancing ... oh, do they ever. Their enthusiasm was catching ... almost.

I say almost, because my early experience with dancing was ... well, catastrophic. I must have been in fifth or sixth grade ... we were giving a demonstration of some kind of historic dance for a school assembly.

Afterward, I was thinking that it had gone fairly well. But then my partner complained that I had stepped on her toes ... several times, I believe she said.

I suppose that first ... and last ... dance led me, eventually, to the writing of today's poem:


I don't care
if you’ve got rhythm
and grace galore,
don't dance on my toes.

I don't care
if you're wild as a daisy,
sweet as a rose,
just, please,
don't dance on my toes. 

I don't care
if you're rich, smart,
and stuff like that -
don't dance on my toes.

'Cause, brother,
I've got troubles
and pain galore,
and I just
don't need any more.

(originally published in Art Times)


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!)


If you’d like to see what’s up with my other, DAILY blog (no, this is not my “Home Page”),  here’s a link to it:

Thanks for paying a visit.


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


©  2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

This Summer Day


“Hah! He puts his pants on like everybody else - one leg at a time.”

I don’t know when I first heard it, but it was probably at an early age ... when I would sit quietly in the evening ... near the adults, and so quietly that they’d forget I was there ... taking it all in ... soaking it up like a blotter.

The first time I heard it, I thought it was simply funny, because it was so obvious. Later, much later, probably, it struck me that it had a bit more meaning ... an indication that the person being discussed was nothing special, that, despite his high opinion of himself, he was just like the rest of us ... fallible.

Well, I can tell you this ... based on recent experience ... putting on your pants may seem easy, simple, routine, something to be done in a prescribed manner ... but it isn’t necessarily so.

The other morning, for example. 

I hadn’t given it a lot of thought. That didn’t seem at all necessary. I’ve done it hundreds ... thousands ... maybe millions of times, and I had become quite expert at it. I didn’t have to think about it. I just did it, and got about the other business of the day.

On this particular morning, though, I put my right foot through first ... probably my own form of rebellion, after the fact, of being yelled at during basic training: “Yer LEFT, yer LEFT, yer LEFT, right, LEFT” ... and that went well.

Mind you, I’m standing all this time ... teetering a bit, but standing. Then it was the left foot’s turn. No problem. I’ve done that ... well, an equal amount of times, with seemingly little, if any, problem.

This time, though, there was a problem. (I haven’t reviewed the tapes, so I don’t know precisely what the problem was). Perhaps my left foot has grown larger than my right. I don’t know.

What I do know is that my left foot somehow became lodged in the trouser leg. At that moment the world seemed to tilt ... suddenly ... and this threw me into the door facing, then into the video cabinet ... and finally, fortunately, into a chair, which kept me from collapsing in a heap on the floor.

First, I checked to see if I had broken anything ... a rare vase, a family heirloom, a window ... you know the routine after a big fall. Nothing broken, it appeared, but I was bruised ... in places that don’t usually get bruised, even when sledding.   

Phyllis, ever alert for signs ... or sounds ... of trouble, was immediately on the scene, saw me trying to regain my footing ... still struggling with one leg in, one leg out of my pants ... and offered a bit of advice: “Why don’t you sit down to put them on?”

I’d never thought of that. The next day, when I was sure I wasn’t being watched, I tried it. It works! But it’s just not the same as hopping around on one foot while trying to get the other leg properly dressed. 

Still, I might try it again sometime. I could probably get used to doing it that way. It might even become habit. Sitting ... hmmm ... what a concept.


LOREE (Kansas), as many of you know, moved to town recently, as did the two canine members of her household ... then discovered, despite the previous owner’s asserting that he had a dog, the house had no doggie door in it.

You can imagine what followed. Loree reports: “I ran a few pounds off in a hurry, almost record time, just going to that patio door, and making sure I was out of their way when I opened it. Probably 50 times per day, and the last thing at night, before I retired.”

Well, every problem has a solution ... or so I like to think.

In this case it was a patio door “extender,” which Loree found online. I’m not sure exactly what it looks like, but it apparently has a small flap-like door through which the pets can come and go at will. 

“It took about three days of coaxing,” Loree says, “and sort of opening the flap over the doggie door to get my ‘kids’ so they realized it wasn’t going to bite them. They now have exiting and entering down to a fine art.!” 

(And I presume Loree is able to get a bit of rest now)


This from HELEN (Florida): After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair. As she heard the children getting more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin. Finally, she threw a towel around her head and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she left the room, she heard the three-year-old say, with a trembling voice, ”Who was THAT?”


TODAY’S QUOTE: “Last week, I stated this woman was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. I have since been visited by her sister, and now wish to withdraw that statement.” - Mark Twain (courtesy of WALT, Ohio)


TODAY’S POEM: I haven't looked up the birth date of today's poem, but I'm sure it was written back in the days when my writing was done in an attic space ... a great portion of the house where there was always a feeling of quiet ... away from the phones and other distractions.

It was a beautiful nook ... even had a view of the city ... but it was subject to temperature extremes ... HOT in the summer ... and finger-numbing COLD in the winter.

Got the scene?

I may have forgotten the date on which today's poem was written ... but I do recall sitting there barefoot at the keyboard as I wrote:


It's five-thirty in the morning,
and in a nearby yard a dog
is barking for his breakfast.

A cardinal serenades
the dew-draped maple,
an unidentified singer
in a neighboring tree
provides counterpoint,
and I'm sitting barefoot,
ready for the steam.

A captive fan bestows
an artificial breeze,
one for me to remember
as the temperatures
and humidity blast off.

I may have to dig up
memories of last winter,
stored in the root cellar
of my mind for such a day.

Even the crows are out,
cawing: "Hot, hot, HOT!"

(originally published in The Christian Science Monitor)


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!)


If you’d like to see what’s up with my other, DAILY blog (no, this is not my “Home Page”),  here’s a link to it:

Thanks for paying a visit.


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


©  2010