Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Eye Doctor

May 31 The Eye Doctor
I took my mother to the
eye doctor today to follow up
on a laser procedure she had
done on her good eye a couple
of weeks ago. We chatted while
we waited to be escorted in to
an examining room. HGTV
was on across the room,
but the sound was too low to hear.
A family seated on the other
side of the room had a youngster,
2 or 3 on a leash and he was having
a great time playing with his
grandpa’s cane. Another fellow
greeted his escort with an
exuberant “Bon jour, mademoiselle,”
as he left the waiting room and an
equally exuberantly speaking
something in German as he came back.
“That’s some eye treatment,”
I thought.
Once we got into the examining room,
it was: One? or two? One or two?
One? or two? One or two?
One? or two? One or two?
One? or two? One or two?
One? or two? One or two?
One? or two? One or two?
One? or two? One or two?
One? or two? One or two?
One? or two? One or two?
One? or two? One or two?
One? or two? One or two?
One? or two? One or two?
For quite some time,
interrupted by the occasional
Two? or one? Two? or one?
The strange thing about
the whole experience was
that the eye on which she had
a laser treatment showed no
improvement, while her bad eye
was measurably better.
There’s something about the guy who
goes in speaking French and coming out
speaking German that helps to
explain my mother’s treated eye
showing no improvement and the
nearly blind eye suddenly being
able to read the fourth line down
on the eye chart.
But I don’t know what it is.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day

May 30 Memorial Day

Out of town family
visited yesterday.
We like to play cards,
when we get together,
and cook a nice meal.
For dinner, my brother-in-law
and I made a rice, hamburger,
onion concoction held together
with ketchup, and spooned
into bell pepper halves.
My mother made this for
us growing up, sans the onion,
and this was one of our favorite meals.
She joined us yesterday in the
card games and the laughter and the meal.
And we looked at family photos,
told stories of past vacations,
like crossing the Salt Lake desert
in a Buick or Ford Station wagon
pulling the cord on an evaporative
air cooler that mounted in the
passenger side window.
A open-ended cylinder
about 6 or 8 inches of diameter,
and 18 inches long, mounted
in the passenger side window.
Inside it was a mesh which
when you pulled the string,
rotated in water which we needed
to refill at regular intervals,
and through which the moving air
of our car's motion resulted in a
somewhat cooling stream of air
coming in to the
passenger compartment
across that very hot desert.
We also shared the various goings on
in the family: a new grand niece
is due in November, surgical
procedures are scheduled,
new jobs have been had.
We memorialized those who have passed
and enjoyed the company of,
and were sometimes irritated by,
those of us still here.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

To Breakfast or Not To Breakfast

May 27 To Breakfast or Not To Breakfast

A difficult rainy-Saturday-morning
task is breakfast.
It's now 10:20.
I’ve got time on my hands.
I’ve got bags of sausage patties and
hash browns in the freezer, eggs in the
fridge. I’ve got bread, peanut butter,
and grape jelly. I’ve got boxes of
Cocoa Crispies, Nature Valley
Honey Oat Clusters, and Cinnamon
Life in the cupboard.
I’ve got pancake mix and frozen waffles.
But I sit here sipping on coffee,
watching world news.
And so far, I’ve eaten a slice
of white cheddar cheese
and a few M & Ms.
Maybe I’ll have one of
those three remaining
chicken/pork hot dogs
still in the fridge
toward the back
of that lower rack.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Odysseus's Underwear

May 26 Odysseus’s Underwear

I went to my sister’s house
today to remove a few more of my
remaining possessions out there,
mostly a lifetime collection of yard tools,
and other assorted things that when you can’t
really find a place to put them in the
house, they end up in the garage:
old golf clubs of no value, rakes, shovels, a moon globe,
a few scraps of wood that I can find uses for.
I managed to find room for them in my
apartment garage where I think I will
do a Craig’s list ad and have a garage sale
one of these summer days,
and try to cash in on some of that
collected stuff.
But that’s not why I’m writing this today.
I’m writing this today because of my underwear.
I bought some new Hanes underwear size L/G, that is,
Large/Grande, on which the label is sewn
onto the right side of the elastic band.
Yes, you heard that right. The right side.
I bought those about a year ago,
and am finally able to write about
the trauma of it.
I like the fit, but that right side label
still perturbs me in the early morning
on occasion. More than once, I’ve lined up
that label like you do on a T-shirt,
for example, at the back, like most people
in most civilized countries would do,
and tried to insert my leg,
and there’s no hole where expected.
Try doing that on one leg
early in the morning.
I wear briefs, not boxers, which may be
more than you want to know, but which
is part of my life narrative, much like
Odysseus trying to get home to Penelope
was his life narrative. Odysseus never
had this problem with underwear.
Because if he had, I’m pretty sure
it would have been put in The Odyssey.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

My Day

May 25 My Day
I started out this morning at
a quarter after seven with
a cup of coffee before heading
over to the Sarpy Metro campus
about eight or so
to grade papers for a couple of hours.
I then drove to my church where I
picked up a dozen or so pieces of art
I was showing there. I sold three
pieces from that: chickens wearing
sunglasses and a couple of flower pics.
After that, I headed to the Metro South campus
and graded the remainder of my papers
while eating a Subway ham and provolone
with all the veggies except
the two hot pepper options
with lite mayo and brown mustard,
entered grades,
and headed home.
After about 3 or 4 trips to the car
unloading the art and rehanging
several in the blank spaces on my
living room and bathroom walls,
I settled in for a chair nap,
watched several episodes of
Better Call Saul, fried some
steak and defrosted some shrimp
for dinner, poured a glass
of Jim Beam, and picked up
Better Call Saul where I left off.
Later, I wrote two poems, including
this one.

Roku Television

May 25

I find that with my new Roku
internet tv arrangement,
including Netflix and AmazonPrime,
and not getting cable anymore,
I tend to watch all the episodes
of particular old tv series, like
Longmire, old Star Trek spin-offs,
Justified, or NCIS
over a period of days and weeks
until every episode of every season
has run. It’s quite different than
my previous channel surfing approach,
catching snippets of lots of stuff
here and there during an
evening at home,
on this channel, and that.
And then after the last
episode of the last season
of the current tv interest,
there’s a feeling of loss
because there are no more episodes
until another series catches my interest
like the current series, Better Call Saul.
And when I finally get to bed,
I often watch old Dragnet episodes
from 1951 for a little variety,
or old sci-fi movies.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Spirit Lake, Iowa

Spirit Lake, Iowa

Too many enchiladas
last night for dinner
at that really good Mexican place
after golf at Emerald Island golf course
in Spirit Lake, Iowa,
led to pretty restless stomach
as I tried to get to sleep,
but eventually, and after
four or five mint-flavored antacids,
my stomach settled down,
and slumber ensued.
Remind me not to eat five
enchiladas and have a large beer
and three glasses of water
late in the evening again.
We played 27 holes today at Brooks
and will order a pizza tonight,
watch a basketball game on tv,
and hope for playable
weather tomorrow before heading
back to Omaha for work on Wednesday.
I disturbed a little black critter,
maybe a small rat,
as I was looking for a golf ball in
some tall grass on one hole,
heard the usual geese and ducks,
and enjoyed the day.
A golf course employee was out
on his mower cutting the grass
while his dog was having a great
time following him in large looping
back and forths
clearly in great dog joy.
And right after I made a birdie putt
on the 26th hole of the day,
we saw lighting to the northwest
but were able to finish just as
rain started. We congratulated ourselves
on our excellent timing.
We've done this golf outing
for many years now, and
I hope to do it for a few more.
I think I made $4.50 on that birdie putt.
That rat, I suspect, hunkered
down in its little rat nest during the storm,
and that dog probably took
a pretty good nap afterward,
as did I.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Robin

The Robin

I saw a robin bathing
in a rain filled pot-hole
on the drive home today.
It seemed quite pleased.

Saxophone Underwater

May 20

I don't know if I could
play a saxophone underwater.
I probably never will know.
But the thought of it is intriguing,
and there is a swimming pool
outside my window
in which I could try.
That possibility is there.
Like many.

Living Fahrenheit in a Centigrade World

May 20

I’m in the center of my little
world this Saturday morning,
sipping coffee, watching tv news,
reading news on my laptop, and
sitting here, writing this.
It’s 52 F outside and the rain
has moved on to the north.
If I say it’s 11 C outside, that
sounds so much colder.
I try to mentally calculate
Fahrenheit to Centigrade,
and wonder if anyone is calculating
the reverse in another country.
You know, someone
living in a Centigrade world
calculating what the temperature
must be in a Fahrenheit world.
I’ve got a few reference points in the
conversion, in that 82 F = 28 C.
I like the number swap mnemonic.
The boiling point at sea level
is 100 C. Water freezes at 0 C.
The conversion formula is:
°C x 9/5 + 32 = °F;
(°F - 32) x 5/9 = °C.
But for me, temperature
has not been internalized
so that I walk outdoors and think,
it must be 25 C out here.
I do walk outdoors and
think, it must be 82 F out here.
To get to Centigrade,
the warmth or coldness
of the air must be processed
intellectually. And I absolutely,
don’t think in Kelvin at all.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


I’m watching “Justified,”
season 5, no. 11, Amazon Prime
on my Roku tv,
sipping some Clan MacGregor
blended scotch whisky.
That’s whisky with no “e” by the way,
and I just noted lightning out the
west window and heard the distant rumble
of the thunder, a gentle tympani,
out there in the symphony
going on at this moment.
I just checked the weather radar
and this system is different than the
other night which was a series of
cells moving toward us from the south.
This one is about the size
of the Ogallala aquifer, extending
from Texas to South Dakota and
appears to be of a gentler nature.
I golfed today with one of my golfing buddies,
and surveyors were measuring the erosion
on the Papio Creek that runs through
The Knolls golf course at 120th and Maple
along its western boundary using
a GPS system of some kind.
A bright orange safety fence has been
erected along the western side of hole #6 where
the creek has eroded more and more
over the years so golfers don't go looking
for an errant shot on that steep weakened slope.
You’d be surprised
the lengths golfers will go to avoid
taking a penalty stroke,
so the safety fence is probably a good idea.
In Florida, and other southern states,
special rules have been promulgated
so that golfer do not approach alligators
to play a shot. Like I said,
you’d be surprised the lengths to which
golfers will try to avoid a penalty stroke.
Season 5, episode 12 of "Justified"
is now running, and my whisky glass is empty,
all in the space of one poem.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sitting on my Patio

May 16 Sitting on my patio

I was sitting on my patio this morning
on the shade side of the building
sipping coffee,
enjoying the blue sky view,
when two mallard ducks flew by,
honking all the way,
heading northwest,
in a hurry, it appeared.
I tried to imagine what the
urgency might be about.
Black Tuesday at the duck mall?
Family emergency?
Late for an appointment?
Or work?
Duck police responding to a call?
I couldn’t come up with a good answer.
Maybe that’s just how ducks are on a
pleasant Tuesday morning.


It looks we are in for storms tonight.
Pea sized hail with the occasional
pearl onion is knocking on my
living room windows right now
like a bird pecking at its reflection.
The radar shows a train of storms
some 300 miles long coming our way
from Kansas about to ride
on its rails through
central and southeast Nebraska.
It can take hours for these
to pass, one cell after another,
in varying intensity.
First you hear the thunder,
a soft rumble for a while,
then it gets louder and sharper,
and wind gusts blast through,
and rain falls heavier and heavier
and then eases.
That cell moves on
and a cooler quiet settles in
for a time and then
you hear that distant thunder rumble
again. Right now, it's quiet again and
I'm watching the radar trying to
determine what's coming next --
listening for the next thunder.

Monday, May 15, 2017


May 15
As I drove north on 36th street the
other day by the Field Club
Elementary School,
I heard the children on the play ground
enjoying their recess.
And I noticed how green
all the trees looked and how much
less I could see with all
those leaves filling the spaces.
They arched
over the street from both sides
and almost touched in the middle,
almost held hands as children do
in a game of London Bridge.
Later in the summer those
children will be gone
and those branches
will droop and sag from the weight of
the summer heat.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Black Squirrel

A black squirrel scampered up
one of the maple trees
lining Cary Street outside
my bedroom window as I
walked by today heading to my
garage to look again for a grinding wheel
I need to do some repair work on a
rusting metal door at my church.
I finally found it in a tool box,
about the tenth one I looked through.
It scampered up to the first branches
about six feet off the ground and
clung to the bark like they do
and eyed me as I walked by.
I wonder if it thought I couldn’t see it.
I was about four feet away
and adjusted slightly as I passed to keep
more of the tree between it and me.
A genetic mutation
causing the black fur,
these squirrels are a “melanistic” subgroup
of Eastern gray squirrels, the most common
squirrel in the Midwest,
according to Wikipedia and
are not nearly as numerous as their
gray/brown cousins.
Evolutionary theory says the mutation
developed to give the squirrels
more protection in the dark, dense,
forests which at one time covered much of
the eastern US.
The coloration doesn't help much in Papillion, Nebraska.
I looked up into the branches
of the several trees on my street
but didn’t see a nest.
It might have out on a
squirrel walk-about though.
There’s a park about a block away
and I’ll see if I can locate its nest there

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Turkey Vulture

May 12 The Turkey Vulture

I saw a turkey vulture at Benson Park
municipal golf course today.
It was up in the sky,
not that high, 200 feet maybe,
riding the day’s slight breezes
along the tree lined creeks on
the course before heading east
into a neighborhood.
I’d estimate its wingspan at about 6 feet or so,
and there was another smaller black bird flying along
with it, darting and pestering the larger bird.
Turkey vultures are not at all rare around here,
but it is still fun to see one in the city.
More often, I see hawks and an occasional bald eagle.
Two Baltimore Orioles were engaged in
spring time dalliance on another part of the
course before heading off to consummate
their bird love, I suspect.
Ash trees with large blue Xs marked on them
still stood in certain areas along one of the creeks.
But a number of ash trees have been removed
already due to the Emerald ash borer
leaving only the stumps.
We noticed one pine tree not doing well
on hole #18. The needles on its entire western half
are brown. We call that Bob’s Tree because
he has hit his drives into that tree more than
a few times. I’m guessing tens of thousands of golf
balls have crashed into those branches,
perhaps causing it great harm.
One of these times, Bob’s tree
will be gone, too.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Golf Shot

I had a really good golf shot Tuesday.
It's a rare thing for amateurs like me
to hit a really good golf shot.
Now, "golf shot" is a term of art in golf.
It's not just any ordinary good drive,
or iron shot, or chip.
It's a specialty shot to get around trouble
or obstacles of a high degree on the official golf shot
degree of difficulty scale.
It's a skilled shot that requires a degree
of accuracy and coordination
equivalent to a black belt brain surgeon
like Buckaroo Banzai,
or the guy in the pit at Jiffy Lube.
So what was this great "golf shot" you ask?
Well, I hit my drive on hole 18 into the wrong fairway.
Not a great golf shot that, you are thinking.
But then I had to hit around and over some high trees,
a sand bunker in front of the green,
from about 170 yards,
with the possibility of winning $1.50 on that hole.
Talk about pressure.
So I took my stance, espied the target
through a sightline gap in the
forest of death wall in front of me,
swung mightily, like Casey at bat, heard the
perfect click of the golf ball
on the club face of my #3 hybrid, and then watched.
My "golf shot" rose like a phoenix from the ashes,
soared like an eagle, maybe a hawk,
around and over those high trees,
gently curving onto the green, bouncing
twice or thrice, and settled to rest
where I then two-putted for a par
from about 40 feet.
The spin on the ball has to be done just right
or the ball will move left to right
or right to left not enough or too much.
Why so pleased with yourself about a shot
that lands 40 feet from the hole you ask?
Well, first you try it and let me know how you do.
Ok, that was a bit snarky. I'll tell you.
Just because sometimes it's a shot like that
makes your round and
stops you from throwing your clubs
into the local pond
and compels you to try again next week.
It's Plato's ideal shot of the good,
it's Robin Hood firing an arrow
into an arrow and splitting it
down the center of the shaft,
it's perfection, truth, and beauty
on a Grecian urn.
It's a moment of unity with the universe,
a zen thing,
a shot that would make the Buddha smile,
a Summa Theologica of dufferhood,
a transcendentalism of the 5 handicapper.
It's a golf shot heard round the world.
It's the shot God would have made
on the seventh day if God had
had the sense to golf.
My cart partner Bob was appreciative
having hit his shot to six inches on the
previous par three hole and was having his
own epiphanic experience and
was the only one of our foursome
to see the shot, as my other two partners
were hitting and cursing their way to the green
in our usual ordinary manner
and weren't even watching me.
I told them all about it several times though
as we debriefed our rounds and settled up the bets.
I will tell them again at the earliest opportunity.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Home is where the heart is..........

May 7 Home
They say home is where the heart is.
Home is also where your stuff is.
Your tv, your pots and pans, your couch.
It’s usually where you sleep, eat, defecate,
My art studio is on the dining room table.
My gallery is my living room.
My library is behind me to my left
in a seven and a half foot tall and six foot wide
bookcase I’ve had for 40 years
in six houses and 2 apartments.
A quick glance shows Renoir: My Father, Gravity’s Lens,
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,
a Russian language textbook, several dictionaries,
my blue and white paperweight I made at Crystal Forge,
and about 400 other books.
My motorcycle is in the garage I
rent from the apartment about a three minute walk
from where my heart is.
And I park my car in the other direction in the south parking lot.
I live across the street from the Papillion post office.
And there’s a gas station next to that, a daycare center,
although I don’t need one anymore, a car wash,
a Texaco express oil change place
and an Applebee’s just a short walk from here.
The Papillion Senior Center is nearby.
I suppose my heart is here. I mean,
seriously, my heart is beating as we speak in
my chest as I sit in my Barca Lounger watching
an old Star Trek movie, after transcribing
Nights in White Satin from alto to tenor saxophone,
practicing Wooly bully and Tequila
all while sipping some Jim Beam whiskey.
Hard to beat that with a stick.


May 5
There’s a big old mangy muskrat
living on the shore of Carter Lake
right by the #2 Green
at Shoreline golf course.
Once called Saratoga Bend
on the Missouri River,
the oxbow lake is now about
a mile from the Missouri
and is part of the State of Iowa
even though it is on the west side
of the river.
The railroad tie retaining wall
on the lake side of the green has washed out a bit
and I looked down in the
empty space where the dirt used to be
and that old muskrat
was there again today.
I saw it near there last week.
He, well, maybe she, looked up at me
and then crawled through a gap in that retaining wall
down onto the 6 feet of sand and mud left
on the edges of the lake
where the water had receded a bit
over the last couple of weeks
and went about his/her business.
Being a muskrat is not a glamorous life, I imagine.
As long as you can find food
and not get eaten by a hawk or a fox
living on the inside shore of Carter Lake
on the edge of the golf course seems
like a pretty good gig for a muskrat.