Saturday, August 23, 2014

The North Pond Hermit

Good writing...

"Solitude did increase my perception. But here's the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn't even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

10 Wonderful Years

We don't like Face Book. Too impersonal and, at the same time, too profoundly personal. Too competitive. Too vulnerable to scammers, hackers, stalkers, too revealing and grabby for our privacy. So why do I post a blog? Good question. Sometimes I stop posting for weeks on end. And, recently, all the blogs have been plagued by spammers using the platform to post their pharmaceuticals, sex toys, performance enhancers. It's enough to make me want to shut it all down.

And then I remember why I blog. Because I like to write and tell the stories for those who matter to me and for those yet to be born; stories of our little lives, unimportant to the Face Book crowd and the online advertisers. I would have loved to read about how my mother and father or their families lived and loved and thought through the generations. And my fairly innocuous and benign little blog is only read by those who seek it out, presumably caring friends and family. That's my justification... at least for now.

My bride and I celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary last week. The occasion of this day always provides me an opportunity to tell a story that Connie is sooo sick of hearing... but I can't help myself. It brings me too much joy. The story is true. Only the number of anniversary years change.

I awake at first light on our anniversary morn and gaze at my sleeping bride. When she stirs I say,

"Happy anniversary, darlin."

She smiles, still sorta sleeping. I say;

"It's been 10 wonderful years..."

Her eyes pop open, a confused look on her face.

"10 years? But we've been married 38 years?" she mumbles.

"Yes, but only 10 have been wonderful" I reply.

She is fully awake now and ponders silently for a few moments. Am I kidding or am I serious...

"Which 10?" she asks.

"Oh, half hour here, 10 minutes there. It adds up." I snort, unable to keep my composure any longer.

She knows I'm teasing her now and lashes out with a well aimed leg kick. "You weirdo!" she laughs.

Maybe I'll give this joke a rest... just like my Ezra and Martha jokes. Time for some new material.

It's truly been 38 amazing, wonderful years, honey. I adore you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


First direct evidence of cosmic inflation

 "Researchers from the BICEP2 telescope collaboration announced Monday the first direct evidence for cosmic inflation."

"The inflation theory posits that almost 14 billion years ago, the universe we inhabit burst into existence in an extraordinary event that initiated the Big Bang. In the first fleeting fraction of a second, the universe expanded exponentially, stretching far beyond the current view of our best telescopes."

Amazing... The Universe "burst into existence". Mankind's science has got us all the way back to the beginning of everything. So what caused this "extraordinary event"? Suppose it was just random? Or was it the result of some "extraordinary force"?

hmmm... "Curiouser and curiouser", cried Alice.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

From Saturdays Brunswick News

Thief steals man's pants
after assalt

* 5700 Block of Altama Avenue, Glynn County:
A man reported being struck on his head, neck and face by a male suspect Feb 10. 
The male suspect took the man's pants after assaulting him with a gun.


Monday, February 17, 2014

A Love Story at the Dog Show

Her name is Mary, but he called her Maria, a pet name for the love of his life.

We sat with Mary at the Saint Simon's Island 3rd Annual West Marigold Dog Show on Sunday and watched the colorful parade of costumed humans and canines as they vied for bragging rights in the categories of Best Over-all Cuteness, Best Talent and Best-In-Show. Sampson and Delilah were not entered this year having won both Best Talent and Best-In-Show two years ago. Wisely, they retired at the top of their game... before the deafness, the seizures, the exquisite exhaustion of 14 years of a lives well lived. Still, they were graciously recognized as this year's Grand Marshals and lead the parade around the block, prancing proudly in tandem at the head of the pack of 40 dogs entered in this year's  show.

To paraphrase the Wizard of Oz, it was a veritable "clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous" canines. Spectacular!

The judges awarded the prizes and the Best-In Show trophy (all local talent this year, no Yankee Dog spoilers...) and we were finally able to turn our attention to Mary.

Her intense blue eyes evidenced no sign of confusion or fatigue, despite the long and chilly day. At the age of 88, she was entirely engaged and she wanted to talk... about the love of her life, Jerry.

She remembered their first meeting. She was a 16 year old freshman at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia attending a dance at Mercer College in 1942. Jerry was a uniformed, commissioned officer in the Army Air Corp. She said she remembered looking at him and thinking "If I was older, maybe I would know how to get him. He was tall and handsome and the moment I saw him, it was like electricity went through me. And I got him!"

Jerry and Mary were engaged before he left for B17 Bomber pilot training in North Dakota. She stopped dating other guys and he focused on preparing to fly bombing runs in Germany. They wrote a million letters.

Jerry flew 24 missions over Germany, 70% more than the average number of missions flown by other WWII B17 bomber pilots. He was shot down on one mission, but managed to fly back over Allied occupied territory in France before bailing out of his fatally damaged airplane. His silk parachute was ripped in the process and the Supply Sargent  informed Jerry that it would have to be destroyed. Jerry received permission to keep the chute and mailed it back to Mary. She and her mother used the parachute that had saved Jerry's life to sew a wedding dress.

Mary told story after remarkable story about a man who went out of his way to spare civilians, to drop warning leaflets, to avoid churches in his bombing runs, a man who survived the war and returned to marry her. He attended the University of Florida and became an architect. He and Mary moved to Saint Simons Island and he worked on Sea Island building beautiful, amazing homes. Mary told us about her historic home in the Village which Jerry had disassembled board by board, numbered, and reassembled in it's current location. She spoke of her two children, both girls, and how every day when Jerry returned from work, he would rush to her and embrace her and that the two girls would then join in by each hugging one leg of their father and one of their mother creating a circle hug of family love.

She lamented on the tragic death of her pregnant 30 year old daughter and how she named the unborn son Will so that he would not be forgotten.

She said " I can't begin to tell you how much I loved that man... and still do." They were married 63 years. Six years ago Jerry succumbed to dementia and Mary was forced to place him in a nursing home. Although he did not recognize her and was no longer speaking, she would arrive at Magnolia Manor each morning before he awoke to read the paper and drink her coffee sitting on the end of his bed and would stay until he slept each evening. She was counciled to spare herself the effort, the exhaustion, but she refused.

Jerry died in 2008. She said one morning he awakened, spread his arms wide, smiled and spoke his final words, " Come to me, my Maria."

A love story at the West Marigold Dog Show...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Spyro Gyra

As I write this little blog, my headphones are plugged into my favorite Pandora station, Spyro Gyra Radio. I've been a jazzophile for the past 40 years. Don't know much about the history or the artists or the mechanics of jazz, much to my musician son's disgust, but I have always known what I liked... and I have always liked Spyro Gyra.

Shortly after we were married in 1976, after countless hours researching Consumer Reports, we purchased a Pioneer rack system and a pair of Acoustic Research, AR 17 speakers. It was either that system or a reel to reel tape system and the budget simply wouldn't support that... thankfully. The reel to reel technology quickly followed the path of the 8 track tape systems, into the audio technology trash bin. I remember the first vinyl record I purchased was Boston by Boston and we rattled the windows as we wore the grooves off the disk. 

An audiophile friend (with no budget constraints... God bless those trust fund babies) had decided to convert his entire record collection into the latest and greatest new technology... cassette tapes. He was scrapping his records and I was more that pleased to scoop them up. And thus my introduction to jazz began. I began listening to amazing new music, music I had never experienced, certainly nothing that was ever played on FM radio in Central Maine; Stanley Turrentine, Michael Brecker, Gary Burton, Lionell Hampton, Pat Metheney, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Grover Washington and, my favorite, Spyro Gyra. I was captivated.

The music was a welcomed reprieve from the hectic daily life of a new house, a new job and a new family. Our newborn twin sons were weaned on these albums right along with me. I remember when we treated the boys to roller skating lessons when they were 4 or 5 (winters are long in Maine). The instructor asked them to which kind of music they would like to skate. Eric looked up thoughtfully and said, “Do you have any jazz?”

And when they chose band instruments in junior high, they both chose saxophones, joined jazz band, went on to attend jazz camp at the University of Maine and were ultimately selected for the State Jazz band. Ryan has maintained a lifelong passion for his music playing around Maine and New England whenever his busy career and family life allows. Eric took his sax with him to Australia and formed a jazz band at Melbourne University. Music was a big part of his life to the very end and I'm sure he will be blowing his horn at heaven's gate when it's my turn to follow. And when it was Katie's turn, she played sax, too.

On my 40th birthday, Connie planned to give me the ultimate birthday present. My loving wife had obtained front row seats to a Spyro Gyra concert! She arranged for her sisters to come down from Brewer to our home in Waterville to watch the kids and she was driving me to the concert so that I could relax from my stressful job and enjoy some birthday libations. It was a great ride an hour down the interstate to Portland and we arrived before the show started with a half hour to spare ... to an empty parking lot. She was perplexed and a little fearful as she asked the venue box office where the Spyro Gyra concert was to be held. The answer made her nauseous... Orono!... a 3 hour drive north.

It was a sweet mistake. There was no malice in it... only love. As the busy mother of three kids, running our big house and all their activities, and trying to support her overworked husband, she has missed one small, but significant detail. It took awhile for us to get our sense of humor back. I remember the crack in the gloom. Connie was crying and going on about how we needed to go to the airport and rent a plane or some such thing. “I am going to stop this car and lay in the road and you are going to drive over me!” she wailed. I knew I had to soften the mood.

“Honey, honey, stop. That's enough. No more beating yourself up, please. Let's get this thing in perspective. Nothing terrible has happened. Yes, Spyro Gyra is my favorite group and, no doubt, it would have been a fantastic concert. But it would have been a sweet but short lived enjoyment. What you have given me is so much more lasting... a story I can tell and we can laugh about for the rest of our lives!

And we have...but someday... Spyro Gyra is definitely on the bucket list.