Friday Fraternization

  1. My wife was on her coffee clatch Zoom call in the other room. That’s what they call it; I adhere to their will. I could close the door, but I eavesdrop. They mostly talk about books and politics. Those are subjects that I enjoy. So I’m writing, but I’m distracted. Eventually, I put in my ear buds and listen to coffee shop noises.
  2. Bob Hoesch recommended that I try the coffee shop noises recorded on youtube. It’s an uneven experience. While the recording fulfills the coffee shop sounds, I’m lacking visual stimulation, and the smells. My mind likes all of these when I write. They’re not distractions but aids, as long as I’m not personally involved. Odd how the mind works, innit?
  3. My wife raved about the books The Stanger Diaries, Don’t Leave Me, and Squeezed on the call.
  4. The Baltimore Ravens were due to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving. That game was delayed until Sunday due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among the Ravens. They traced the source to a trainer. He’d tested positive but didn’t tell the organization, and didn’t always mask as required. Lackadaisical practices within the organization caused problems with contact tracing as players and staff didn’t wear the tracking devices as required. The episode demonstrates the fragility of the safeguards, and how utterly dependent they are on everyone following the protocols, and the impact when they’re not followed. The Ravens’ season isn’t going as well as they’d hoped (and many expected), and these additional challenges just add to their mounting issues. It all does have a sort of ‘my kingdom for a nail’ ring to it.
  5. This just in: The Ravens-Steelers game has been moved to Tuesday.
  6. We were on a Friendsgiving Zoom with the people we usually do T-day with last night, a two-hour cocktail visit. They’re all intelligent and fun people, and the visit was a welcome interlude from the normal processes and routines.
  7. Tucker enjoys the Zoom calls. Exercise, coffee, whatever, he’s right there, a black and white long-haired feline who pays no attention to the people on the call admiring him. He seems to like the voices.
  8. Opposite of Tucker is Boo, the bedroom pantera, who hides from the voices. He wants no part of all those voices. As it was in the upper twenties and the sun was hiding, I didn’t want him out. I put him in the master suite with all the usual accoutrements. He hid in the corner of the closet, as expected, and stayed there until silence reigned.
  9. Papi (aka Meep, Youngblood, and the Ginger Blade) is the oddest of our cats when it comes to Zoom. He doesn’t like Mary B’s voice. It’s like he owes her money. “Oh, no, there’s Mary! I’m out of here.” As soon as Mary is off the call, he settles down in a comfy place and goes to sleep, even if others are talking.
  10. I’m struggling to keep up with my reading. See, priority-wise, outside of biological needs and relationship obligations with my wife, and cat stuff, writing is my highest priority. It’s a reward for putting in twenty years in the military and then almost another twenty in civilian employment, delaying my writing dream. I figure I owe myself. Outside of writing and the other matters, exercise is a high priority. I like getting twelve miles a day via walking/running.
  11. That keeps me from reading as much as I can. I attempt to read while running in place. That does work but proficiency in both decline and its dissatisfying. Don’t know what I’m going to do to resolve this. I like my reading.
  12. Now, lunch is done. That is, I’ve made it and eaten it. Time to get some coffee and return to writing like crazy, at least one more time. To quote an NFL player, “Stay positive, test negative.” Yeah, and wear masks, okay?

Thanksgiving’s Theme Music

Welcome to Thanksgiving in America. It’s not the shiny spectacle that we strive to create in the United States. In a lot of ways, today is like flipping back through history pages, and seeing an ugly time, and wondering, how did those people get through that?

Yes, Thanksgiving is a holiday, innit? My holiday vibe is a bit subdued today. I tried being upbeat, but, yes, I’m a little weary. A little pandemic’d out. A little elections exhausted, blended with hues of a little tarnished life syndrome. Gosh, this wasn’t how it was supposed to be, was it? No, not for this snowflake. As an average white American male, we’re not supposed to know shit like this. That’s for other people. Guess I have a tiny inkling about what those others endured.

Not really. No abusive parents. No food insecurities. No wondering if anyone, police or otherwise, are going to shoot me. No worrying about paying the rent or getting a job, or so much other shit that’s heaped on people through the sperm lottery. (Should the sperm lottery be called a spottery? It seems spotty, doesn’t it, hit and miss, about who has what.)

I don’t have COVID-19. I’m aging and male, so I cope with some enlarged prostate, some BHP. (I think that’s the proper letter combos.) I broke an arm in July, leaving me to rehab that arm, hand, wrist, and shoulder. (Yeah, it continues to improve…I think…) I have a lifelong pre-existing condition, hypertension, that I deal with. I’m a hopeful novelist, so I have all the angst, hope, and collective feelings associated with that.

Compiling the bottom line, I have a lot to be thankful for. Yet the blues have me today.

As it’s a holiday, I’m indulging myself with a blues favorite. Yes, it’s a repeat song, from a few years ago. Nothing like the blues to lift you, right?

Here’s Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble with “Cold Shot”. It’s a video of a live performing, as I wish he was, back when I was young.

Happy holidays. Yeah, and wear a mask, please. Time to go get some coffee cake and coffee. My wife made the coffee cake last night for today. Yeah, life’s not so bad here. Cheers

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble – Cold Shot (Live From Austin, TX) – YouTube

Friday’s Free-Ranging

  1. Some people still believe COVID-19 is a hoax. Even as they’re hospitalized and intubated, they can’t believe they have COVID-19, according to nurses in several states, because COVID-19 is a hoax. Surreal.
  2. But it’s getting real. For many people, it doesn’t become real until a family member, close friend, or celebrity has it. Well, read the news. Another Pentagon official is positive, and another U.S. senator. Actor Ben Platt was positive. Do a net search and you’ll discover more. NFL teams are experiencing it at an increasing tempo. The Vegas Raiders have at least eight defensive starters on the COVID-19 list. The Steelers have several, while several others passed the protocol and can practice and play again. The Denver Broncos announced, no more fans in the stands after this Sunday. The NFL said that all teams must use intense COVID-19 protocols. That includes masks, distancing, limiting occupancy, and using Zoom for meetings.
  3. The fatality rate and positivity rates are both climbing. A NYTimes article points out that there’s not a single U.S. state or territory where COVID-19 is declining. We now experience over two hundred thousand new case a day, and it’s increasing fast. More governors are ordering mandatory masks, shutting down activities, and limiting gatherings. Except, in South Dakota, of course, home of Sturgis. Although they’re facing the nation’s highest positivity rate and fatality rate, and has become one of the nation’s most intense COVID-19 hotspots, the governor still dismisses taking any actions.
  4. And superspreader events still take place across the nation. As a for instance tale, there was a wedding in Ohio on October 31st. Of eighty-three guests, half are now positive for COVID-19, including the bride and groom. Three of their grandparents tested positive, with two grandparents ending up in the ER. Yeah, I understand that you want a special day for your wedding. It’s a celebration, but c’mon, man, have some sense. They did try, providing masks and hand sanitizer liquid, but as the bride was walking down the aisle, she realized nobody was wearing a mask.
  5. Meanwhile, out in hard-hit El Paso, they’re trying to find workers for the many temporary morgues that they’ve set up. They were using convicts for the job.
  6. Writing continues to entertain and satisfy me, so hurrah for me, right? Yeah, that’s my little ray of sunshine.
  7. Some days, I just cannot write fast enough. A scene takes maybe a minute to enter my head and bloom. Dialogue, setting, action, characters, it’s all there. It takes twenty to thirty minutes to type up such scenes, trying to get all the moments right.
  8. Getting the moments right means finding the words. I often just hammer it out, then return, correcting pacing and tenses, adding and refining details, and aligning the arc. That’s about the only way to put it.
  9. Thanksgiving in the United States is coming upon us, and we’re preparing. It’ll be the two of us at home, a huge break from the last several years. Good friends have been including us in their celebration. It’s always a good time. There will be a Zoom Thanksgiving cocktail party this year. It’s better than nothing, right?
  10. For food, we’re doing an early Sunday morning Trader Joe’s raid. Many options were investigated before deciding on this path. TJ’s ‘vulnerable shoppers’ time begins at 8 AM. We plan to be there by 8:15 with our list in hand.
  11. Contemplating our plans fires Thanksgiving memories. I was in Basic Training in 1974. Fortunately, my Uncle and his family lived nearby. I was authorized to go spend Thanksgiving with them, and watched the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions play. For Wright-Patt in Ohio, in ’75, we drove home and visited with family. When I was serving unaccompanied in the Philippines in 1976, my co-workers invited me to their house, and I had a great time. Paying it back, my wife and I often included single or unaccompanied personnel in our T-day celebrations.
  12. Memories stack up by bases and countries: Onizuka in California, Kadena on Okinawa, Rhein-Main in Germany, Osan in Korea, Randolph in Texas. When we were stationed at Shaw AFB in South Carolina in 1985, we headed north three hundred miles to my wife’s family in WV. A few hundred more miles, and we were at my mother’s place in Pittsburgh, PA. When I retired and we lived in Half Moon Bay, we joined in large Friendsgiving celebrations, just as we’ve mostly done here in Ashland.
  13. All of these places and years are memorable, though; all of them. They were different places, different people, and different experiences, but all enriched my existence.
  14. Need more coffee, as it’s time to write like crazy, at least one more time. Have four scenes circling in my head. Time for them to land on a page. Have a better one, and please wear a mask.

Friday’s Theme Music

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. Good friends, casual friends, and new friends were there.

During one point in the evening, I remarked, “Times are changed, times are strange.” Then I thought, wait a minute, those are song lyrics? What’s the song?

The song noodled in and out of my thinking stream through dinner and into after-dinner conversation until, eureka, yes, that’s from Ozzy Osbourne, “Mama, I’m Coming Home” (1991). After remembering that, the song stayed in my head through the night and into the morning.

So, here it is. I could be right, I could be wrong, but I think this is a good Friday theme song.

Thursday’s Theme Music

It’s Thanksgiving in the United States today, a holiday imbued with myths and traditions, and many memories for someone like me.

I have some wonderful Thanksgiving memories. Mom worked hard to make holidays a success — except Mother’s Day (yeah, d’uh, she took the day off, didn’t she?) — and Thanksgiving was always terrific at her house. Later, in the military, my wife took on the same role. Overseas, she coordinated and orchestrated Thanksgiving dinner among several families, and we always invited the single people to come over so they felt less alone.

I benefited from that, too. My Uncle and his family had me over for Thanksgiving when I was in basic training, saving me from a chowhall dinner. I had a great time with them. There were other Thanksgivings with co-workers’ families a few times when I was stationed overseas on temporary unaccompanied duty, like the time with Tony’s family in the Philippines. There were also a couple chowhall Thanksgivings, though.

All that brought the Alan Parsons Project song, “Time” (1981). It came out the year that we reported for duty in Germany. We lived off based that first year, and it was one of the times when it was just my wife and I. It was still memorable.

Why “Time”? Because of the lines, “But time keeps flowing like a river, to the sea.”

Yep, although it does make me think, there’s a sea of time out there, somewhere.

Corny Thanks

Sitting down at the coffee shop to write on this Thanksgiving Day in America, I pause to give thanks for how lucky I’ve been. I frequently complain but most of these are first world blues or the general venting against how the world functions in this life-experience-reality-existence.

I could enumerate the many ways that I’ve been lucky, but I don’t think that’s needed. Little of it has been within my control. I’m thankful for the strokes of luck that made and keep me fortunate. That doesn’t mean that I’ve not had bad times, but that I’ve always been able to recover. I wish others the same sort of luck, and that you have the security and health to pursue your dreams.

Now, I have my coffee. With that brief word of thanks, it’s time to write and edit like crazy, at least one more time. Sure, it’s a holiday, but the muses gotta write.

Not Reminding You Not to Overeat

I thought I’d post a reminder to myself not to overeat, and share it with you, telling you not to overeat, if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving this Thursday. But I hear people think that’s body-shaming, so I’m going to refrain.

I was reminding myself not to overeat because it’s not good for my general physical disposition. As I’m in my sixties and know my family history on Dad’s side, cardiovascular problems challenge the males. Overeating doesn’t help, especially when it’s food that I enjoy, like cheese and buttery mashed potatoes, washed down with wine, followed by pie with ice cream and whip cream. Dad is still alive and doing well at eighty-five, but I lost a cousin to a heart-attack when he was forty-three, an uncle has had several bypasses and stents (starting in his mid-thirties), and Grandpa died of a massive coronary when he was sixty-five.

But I don’t want to body-shame anyone, especially myself, so I’m not going to remind you or me not to overeat this Thanksgiving. Of course, the one accused of body-shaming, Sarah Michelle Gellar, added a throwback lingerie shot of herself with her reminder. I’m not going to post such a photo, because I don’t have any decent shots of myself in lingerie. Something goes horribly awry with the camera whenever I take one. I don’t know why. I guess it’s fate.

I will also not mention how I grimace with guilt and sadness when I think of our Thanksgiving traditions of over-indulgence in a world and country where so many are starving and suffering, or that we’re giving thanks for being safe when so many are displaced by war and natural disasters.

Whether you overeat or not, or celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I hope you’re not one of those suffering, and you have a wonderful day today and Thursday, and hell, let’s go for broke and wish you a great life. I also hope that you don’t suffer from being body-shamed, and that you realize that you’re more than your body.

This has not been a public service announcement.

Floofgiving

Floofgiving (floofinition) – an observance to show affectation and gratitude to housepet(s).

In use: “Every morning when he got up, again when he returned home, and again before going to bed, he showered his pets with kisses, and gave them treats, making everyday Floofgiving in his home.”

The Pirates’ Thanksgiving Dream

To begin, it’s Thanksgiving. I’ve volunteered to feed the pirates a Thanksgiving meal.

Setting: a modern port city. I don’t know its name. The pirates are not a baseball or football team. They’re not a social organization. They’re pirates on sailing ships.

My offer to feed the pirates pleases them. I set about getting the ingredients. It all comes together. Strangely, though, I’ve put the meal in someplace that turns out to be a toilet, and the meal is gone when I automatically flush.

It’s freak out time. OMG, the food is gone. OMG, why’d I put it in the toilet? Why’d I flush? Well, did the flushing part matter? I mean, once it’s in the toilet….

Panic time. Find replacement food. I scurry about, reaching out and begging for help. Promises are exchanged but time is growing short. Thanksgiving is almost here, it’s almost time for the meal – but there’s also a storm coming.

People are fleeing the storm. The sky is darkening. Storm surge waves are growing larger and more powerful. I’m on a plaza by a hotel, and the waves are half of the hotel’s height.

But strangely, on that plaza, I’m in sunlight. I know the storm is coming. but the waves and wind don’t touch me. I’m less worried about the storm than I worry about feeding the pirates. I know my opportunity is slipping away. People have evacuated. Ships are sailing away. I’m not certain of the pirates’ location now, but I’m certain that I won’t be able to feed them a Thanksgiving meal, and I’m sad.

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