Sunday, June 25, 2017

Obamacare is Collapsing

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Extinction Level Event

Everything’s relative
I guess. Losing health
insurance could be
an extinction level event.
Losing a layer of nose
tissue is nowhere
such an event, but
nevertheless concerns me.
I like Owen Wilson’s nose.
Maybe I'll see if the doc
can do that for me.
If the doc says “relax,” my
plan is to say, “Easy for
you to say.”
Airplanes grounded in Phoenix
because of heat is another
thing on my mind these days.
Earthquakes in Yellowstone, some
400 or so in the last few weeks
put me on edge.
We’ve lived in the interval
between ice ages, asteroid
strikes, plagues, world wars, and
global warming. That
the cold war mentality
I grew up with –
duck and cover –
is part of who I am.
I like to think that
none of this is normal,
but perhaps it is.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day Memory - The Typewriter

When I was young,
maybe eight or nine,
I watched my dad
type his sermons and, man,
could he type fast. He pushed
that old Underwood desk
model to its mechanical limits --
there is a point at which
any particular letter key must
strike the page and then
retreat so the next letter key
may then enter the same space.
The timing of that is an art.
And the rat-a-tat of typing
has a rhythm to it like music.
He wasn’t 100% accurate
but it was always readable.
I’m guessing he was
pleased I was watching
him type and that he probably
stepped up the pace a bit
to show off for me.
As a result,
I learned to type
at an early age
and by the time I
took a junior high
typing class, I was
the best in the class.
I think he still used
that Underwood desk model
after new generation
electric typewriters
were available.
Several years ago
I decided to collect
typewriters as a hobby.
There seemed to be
plenty of them still
around and the two
I found at a garage sale
didn’t cost much
more than ten or
fifteen bucks.
One is a Royal and
one is a Smith-Corona.
They are both in
cases which fit so
nicely tight around them
when the carriage
is centered just right,
and both still work.
They were made
in the 1950s I think,
one possibly the 1940s.
I realized early on
after purchasing those two
that would be the extent of
my collection. Although
they are considered
“portable,” they are bulky
and would soon take up
far more space than
I could reliably spare
should my collection expand.
And besides, I likely
would not be able to afford
the more interesting ones.
The two I have
are very cool, though,
and allow one to
type even when the
power is down like it
was for several hours
Friday night.
I might have gotten one
out of my garage
and typed on it, but
my laptop computer
has a battery, and the ribbons
are likely not still good.
The mechanics of
typewriters are intricate
and reliable.
It’s interesting that we
still say we are typing
when we “process” words
on a computer.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Storm

The Storm

I was on the phone talking
with my brother Dave this
evening about the death of
a friend when the weather
sirens went off. Dave knew
him from their love of
bicycling and I knew
him from our neck ties.
We would often compliment
each other on those ties
at church. Blest be
the ties that bind.
Dave and I said
our good-byes and I went
into the bathroom, my
safe zone, an interior room.
A storm was blowing
through town with 80 mph
winds and intense lightning.
The weather sirens
sounded twice
during that 30 minutes.
The storm is now heading
south, and the late
evening sun is
breaking through the
thin clouds.
Electrical service
is still out, and
several neighbors
are standing on their
decks and patios
discussing the storm.
South of the Target store has
electricity one resident says.
Her boyfriend called her
to check she was okay.
The outage covers the
whole neighborhood
someone else says.
Another neighbor was
showing her young daughter
a rainbow to the east.
Distant thunder still rumbles.
I sat on my ground level
patio and enjoyed
the cooler air thinking
about our friend, and random
droplets making their way down
from the two decks
above landed on me
with small cool jolts.
Later, as dark settled in,
I could see the flashes
of the first lightning
bugs of the year.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

My 2013 Ford Focus

My new vehicle goes
about 400 miles
on a smaller tank of gas.
My 2002 Escape went about 250
on a larger tank of gas.
I see the gas station
everyday although
I don't know her name.
When I drive by,
I hear the station
calling out to me:
"Bud, please stop.
Let me fill your tank."
I lower my eyes, embarrassed,
but secretly pleased
at the attention.
Sometimes at night
I go for drives
just for fun to feel the
wind in my hair and
I feel bad for her,
for she lives next door,
just across the street,
and she watches me
as I come and go.
But she'll find someone else
whose tank she can fill.
And sooner or later,
I will pay her a visit.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Nose News is Good News

June 12

The doctor’s office
called today.
Suzie asked if June 29th
would work for my next
nose appointment,
7:30 am.
Skin cancer, basal cell,
the kind of cancer
you want to have if
you have to have skin cancer,
she said.
The least likely to spread,
the slowest growing,
the most likely to be cured,
cured in the sense that they
cut it away in roundish layers,
in this case,
like small potato chips,
until it’s gone.
They look at each slice
through a microscope
and once there are no
more abnormal cells,
those little bastards,
they stop.
“One millimeter, to start,” Suzie said.
I looked around for a
ruler with millimeter markings
to Americanize the thickness
of the slice. It’s about 1/25 an inch.
Ten sheets of paper.
What many of my students
hand in when I assign a
twelve page paper.
Maybe a fifth of the thickness
of a slice of American cheese
you get individually wrapped
and that tastes pretty good
when grilled in a grilled
cheese sandwich.
The "silly millimeter longer"
that Chesterfield cigarettes
used to advertise.
Suzie didn’t say what the
dimensions of the next layer
would be, nor did I ask.
Not because I didn’t want
to know – I just didn’t
think of it. If I smoked,
I'd have a cigarette.
Instead, I'll sip on my
Old Crow.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Summer 2017

Summer 2017

I like to sit on my
small patio in the mornings
and evenings when
it’s not so hot.
In the mornings,
my patio is shaded and
late in the evening,
the sun drops below the
tree line a block west.
In the mornings, I
sip on my coffee.
In the evenings,
I sip on a glass of
bourbon or scotch over ice.
The courtyard swimming pool
often has a few late evening
families enjoying the cool water.
I watch contrails above
as they form and slowly spread.
I deduce the planes are flying
from Denver or Salt Lake City
or Minneapolis or Chicago.
As dusk settles in,
the residents leave the pool,
the contrails disappear into
ever darker sky,
the noises of children
move inside,
replaced by quieter
sounds of evening,
and an orange/yellow
glow in the northwest
fades into the night.

Nixon Resigns

June 9 Nixon Resigns

It was during the summer of 1974
that Richard Nixon resigned as
President of the United States.
The Watergate burglary cover-up
was orchestrated by the worst cast
of characters ever to inhabit the
White House (until now, that is).
Carl Bernstein and Robert Woodward’s
reporting led to Nixon’s resignation.
This morning, I was watching Bob Woodward
compare fired FBI Director James Comey
to Watergate’s Deep Throat,
FBI Associate Director Mark Felt.
Woodward admired
that James Comey has gone public
rather than talk in the shadows of
a parking garage.
It was August 8, 1974
that Nixon resigned.
I was at Stinson Beach, CA,
just north of San Francisco
watching the report on a small
black and white television
at the beachfront motel where
we stayed that year
on a family vacation.
Secret tapes, loyalty oaths,
obstruction of justice: it all sounds
eerily familiar. Perhaps
August 2017 will bring good news.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

A Bad Day

June 7 - A Bad Day on the Golf Course

While I was having a
pretty good day
on the golf course,
eventually shooting a
two under par seventy,
at Shoreline Golf Course,
in Carter Lake, Iowa,
on Tuesday afternoon,
we noticed a pile
of downy feathers
at one spot on a
fairway where
a hawk, perhaps an eagle
or an owl, coyote,
or fox
must have
enjoyed a nice meal.
My golfing buddies
lost a few dollars,
but that leftover
pile of feathers
had a worse day.

Monday, June 05, 2017


I like oceans and lakes and rivers.
Who doesn't?
There's something about
bodies of water that
take us back to other times,
childhood memories of Diamond Lake,
in Washington State, or Stinson Beach
north of San Francisco,
or of fishing trips
with my friend Dan, and other good times.
Anyway, I noticed about an hour ago
that when the sun is
in the right position in the western sky,
and my blinds are partially open just enough,
I can see the ripples
from the swimming pool in the
courtyard of my apartment reflected
on my living room ceiling.
Pretty nice.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Sisterhood and Brotherhood of Skin Cancer

Apparently, a sisterhood/brotherhood
of skin cancer survivors exists
of which I was heretofore unaware.
I inspected several noses today
shared by former recipients
of the lance and Mohs procedures,
and heard of foreheads, and
shoulders and arms and hands,
skin grafts, and large bandages.
As a newer member of the
basal cell carcinoma club,
I appreciated all the outreach.
The sermon today included mention
of Edie, a church friend, who survived
bouts of far more serious cancers
for several years before
gracefully succumbing.
Groucho Marx once said he
didn't want to be a member
of a club that would have someone
like him as a member.
I don't share that sentiment
in this instance.
However, I don't want to be
a member of any more of these clubs
unless the alternative is worse.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

June 3 - The Evening Western Sky

June 3 The Evening Western Sky

I was sitting on the patio a bit ago
looking at the western sky,
sipping on some Windsor Canadian whiskey,
watching the airplanes traverse the sky,
and their contrails slowly spread.
I could see the airplanes
brightly illuminated by the setting sun
as they flew west and east.
Then I noticed a bright speck
moving east to west
at about the same apparent speed,
but with no contrail.
I'm guessing it was a satellite.
I think it was just the right
combination of sunlight
and reflective surface
which made it visible -- one of
those right place
at the right time moments,
which life often is.

Friday, June 02, 2017


June 2 Geese

A single file string of a dozen geese
slowly walked across the #2 tee box
at Tara Hills golf course
today as we were preparing to
tee off, on the way to a small
pond just to our east near
the #5 tee box. They looked
irritated that we were there.
Geese are fairly common
on golf courses, and are
pretty successful in urban areas.
These were Canadian geese
and have an entire country to our
north, for which they are named,
and if they liked, where they
could walk in single file
all day long and as much
as they wanted to.
But we waited patiently,
those several seconds,
maybe a bit amused at their
obliviousness to human
intrusion on their domain,
teed off, and went on
our way.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

My Nose

June 1 My Nose

I’ve grown attached to my nose
over the years. It’s always there
to greet me in the morning when
I take that first look into the
bathroom mirror through
my saggy, baggy, early
morning eyes.
It’s not a great nose
like Jimmy Durante’s,
or Barbra Streisand’s,
or Karl Malden's,
but it is a good nose,
an average nose,
and serves its purpose of
having a place for nostrils
that won't get rained in.
It usually works pretty well for breathing,
smelling, and picking,
but not always. Certain allergens
render it quite useless.
I go see a dermatologist later today
about a pesky sore that won’t heal
right on the top of said nose.
I’m thinking they’ll likely
excavate some of that spot
as though digging a foundation
for a new home
that won't be built. Friends
used the words “cauterize,” “scrape,”
“excise,” “freeze,” and “slice”
when describing various treatments.
None of those appeal to me
all that much.
I am a bit anxious as I
contemplate this visit and
wonder just what my new profile
will be and what nose will greet me
in my bathroom mirror
through those saggy, baggy,
early morning eyes.