There are piles of books in the Messeder residence, as the Resident Home Decorator often reminds me, especially when she enters my atelier – which is a French word for “studio,” itself a fancified substitute for “office,” which, to me, sounds too darned, well, officious. I’d much rather sit in my studio with a drink and my books, and maybe … But I digress.
“Operator, will you help me place this call.” The opening line of a Jim Croce song reminds me of the days when my aunt was a Bell telephone operator – one of those women without whose assistance one could not make a telephone call to a town 15 miles away. Telephone operators in those early days had their fingers on the pulse – and the actual wires carrying the conversations – within their domains.
A friend last week told me of an intriguing encounter. She was walking in Gettysburg’s Lincoln Square when a homeless gentleman complimented her on the coat she was wearing.
The gunman was said to have been armed with a rifle and a handgun when he took control of a classroom in the Texas elementary school Tuesday.
“He shot and killed, horrifically, incomprehensibly, 14 students and killed a teacher,” (Texas Gov. Greg Abbott) was quoted in published reports later that day.
Occasionally I peruse columns I’ve written to see whether I have changed my mind. For instance, I have not changed my opinion that too many Big Media reporters cloak their reporting with an emperor’s robe of non-information as they all seem to read from the same press release, and turn phrases of one into clichés of the other.
Repeatedly, for instance, we heard emphasized how much gasoline prices had increased “from the previous year,” with no mention that the “previous year” had sent gas prices plummeting when people stopped vacationing and commuting during the early years of the pandemic.
The events in eastern Europe over the past week (or 16 years) compare eerily with an episode of the popular television series, “Yellowstone.” Of particular note are the responses from several of our politicians who have pronounced their admiration for the biker club leader, er, Vladimir Putin.
In the TV story, a passing motorcycle gang cuts a barbed wire fence and moves into the pasture to build a fire and drink some beer. They are having a grand time when a couple of hands from the ranch stop to advise the intruders they were on private land and should leave. A fight ensues and the bikers leave rather than be buried in the pasture.
Reading a book this week about Mother trees, I felt a need to find a picture of the author. I do that a lot. It is part of my relationship with the storyteller.
Sometimes I dig a little deeper into her background. Mostly I learn of her life from the story she tells, but my mind always wants to see her face.
Sidney Poitier left us last week, after my deadline for submitting my weekly wanderings. The myriad of TV accolades almost uniformly left out one of the most memorable of his scenes – at least to a certain young man then only two years out of high school.
The thing I remember most about Christmas was Dad waking us kids up as he stood outside us kids’ bedroom windows, shouting at Santa.
“Wait! Stop! DON’T GO! My kids want to meet you.”
An event this week moved me to repeat a column I wrote in August 2001. Most of it, anyway. Here, slightly edited for length and modernization, …
OK. If a kid shot one of my grandkids, I’d get testy and hard to get along with. If another kid merely picked on one of my grandkids, school administration would be wondering whether I had a cot in the principal’s office.
Ask my kids. Their schools were used to seeing Dad in the corridors, chatting with teachers and administrators.
He found the old man under the grape arbor, silently rearranging vines that were not in obvious need of being rearranged. Clearly, something needed said. He was not certain what.
Finally, the old man spoke.
“You’re getting married soon,” he said. “You won’t be coming home on vacations anymore.”
Morning Glory flowers have segued into their final stage: seeds for next year. Each former flower has become a pod with five tiny black seeds perfectly fitted. Outside my window, a Cardinal, a woodpecker and a Mockingbird have been devouring the bright red dogwood berries. That avian affinity for seeds is how we got the marvelous Morning Glory wall on our front porch rail.
Being a tourist in distant countries has been an eye-opener.
I was stationed in Rota, Spain with the U.S. Navy. It was a six-month deployment with my Jacksonville, Florida-based patrol squadron, during which time we flew patrols to keep track of what the Russian navy was doing in and near the Mediterranean Sea.
Submitted for your consideration: a new television offering.
“The Chair” is a dramedy – part drama, part comedy – on Netflix starring Sandra Oh as the first woman chair of the English Department at a small liberal arts college.
Our withdrawal from Afghanistan has been seasoned with descriptions of Taliban treatment of women. As I listened to the stories, I harkened back to a time when policies across this nation were not as different as we would like to believe.
Much of what follows was a column I wrote 20 years ago, almost to the week. My then-newly declared life partner and I had returned from a celebratory cruise around the Caribbean. We had visited the Yucatan Peninsula, Grand Cayman Island, and Jamaica, and spent a couple of days at sea, being waited on. Not a bad life – for a week.
At almost the same time the verdict in the George Floyd murder trial was being announced, a 15-year-old girl was shot by police in Toledo, Ohio. In the weeks leading to the verdict declaring Officer Chauvin guilty of murder, a young man was killed by an officer who claims to have mistakenly drawn her pistol when she intended using her Taser. And a 13-year-old boy, his empty hands in the air, was killed by an officer who made the “split-second decision.
All my writing life, I have been hammered with rules such as “the subject and the predicate must match.” So imagine my confusion when Granddaughter commenced telling a story one night this week in which she reported, “Sally said they did not feel safe.”
At the site of a battle that began the end of a war to decide whether any men should be allowed to own other men, we still concentrate on the battle rather than its meaning. The people over whom all that blood and treasure was shed remain largely ignored.
Events of the past few months have been weighing heavily on many of us, I fear. The pandemic some of us knew was coming has kept us cooped up in our homes, if for no other reason than most places we would like to go – places we would meet for breakfast, parks where we would jog and picnic, or cubicles where we would work – have been closed.