Sunday, May 15, 2016

there are givers and there are takers

I love to hate the greedy, voracious, comical, agile, obstreperous grey squirrels that come to the feeders we provide for them.

We also feed the birds, a wide variety of birds; cardinals, blue jays, grackles, doves, gold and purple finches, rose breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore Orioles, various sparrows, nuthatches, black capped chickadees, Robins, and, of course the chipmunk who cleans up any mess left on the ground.

Even though we provide a feeder specifically for the squirrels, they think every feeder is theirs to empty. And with their unparalleled appetites, they never stop eating and raiding until all the feeders are empty.  I understand survival of the fittest, and it's there to see with the birds too.  But the aggressive grey warriors are so intimidating to the birds they make otherwise raucous Jay's and grackles seem adorable.  Well maybe not adorable but they gain my sympathy when appearing as the underdogs.  Plus I think blue jays are beautiful.

Having resorted to putting up squirrel proof feeders we now get to enjoy the squirrel's frustrating antics trying to access those feeders.

Monday, May 09, 2016

When your mind is all abuzz

Google photo
Mind all abuzz with disconnected thoughts that give you a floundering feeling of uneasiness?  I find myself in this state all too often; it's disconcerting to say the least.  I feel like I'm drowning.

What to do, what to do?

Not always, but too often this happens to me when I awaken after of few hours sleep, usually with the remnants of a disquieting dream still lingering into consciousness.  Usually I'll lay there, in bed, hoping to drift back to sleep, and occasionally I do.  But when I don't, it's imperative that I get up and find some task to immerse myself in to focus my thoughts:
Clean the apartment.
do a load of laundry
pay some bills
write some drivel
cook breakfast
organize my files and or pictures
trim my finger nails
shine my shoes
etc., etc., etc..

The activity that is always successful for me is listening to music, especially when driving long distances.  You may find that ironic.  Listening to music is a passive activity and easily gives the mind the freedom to wander.  It's a rare song or piece of music that doesn't spur a memory for me to dwell on. Incongruous  that this series of disconnected memories could erase the disquieting feeling of being adrift in a sea of unsettling thoughts.  But that it does.

So every morning when I awaken floundering in a morass of unsettling thoughts, I arise, fix a cup of coffee, go outside, light a cigar,  go to YouTube, and gaze at the heavens.  Without fail the roiling sea of vexing thoughts is settled and peace and a sense of purpose prevails.

The other day at work, one of my co-workers said that her husband doesn't like the radio on while he's driving; he finds it too distracting.  So she reads while he drives.

That got me to thinking; twice a week I drive for 3 hours and 40 minutes to and from my job.
And if it weren't for the radio and the music I'd be a basket case.  At the least, road rage would prevail.  But music, especially with SiriusXM;s variety I keep that peaceful easy feeling.

from this to

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Who's gonna pay?

Who's gonna pay?

We welcomed many guests, from the north, to our Florida home during our winter retreat this year. And because of a miscommunication between Mark and I, we had an overlap on one such visit; The more the merrier, as the saying goes.

We all, Leigh, Karen, Katie, Mark, Tammy, Diane and I, went to lunch at
Farlow's. At the end of a pleasant meal and the bill is presented, Mark asks our waitress to give him the bill. Leigh insists that he wants to pay. Having been in this position many times with Leigh, I explain to Mark how upset Leigh gets when he's not allowed to pay.

While Leigh is completing the transaction with our waitress, (a former professional body builder) he relates to us a story about a time Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wilt Chamberlain, and Andre the giant were having dinner in Mexico City after making a movie, Conan the Destroyer.

Arnold, knowing how generous Andre was, made arrangements with their waiter to take Arnold's credit card before dinner and to not accept Andre's. When Andre discovered that Arnold had paid he went over to Arnold and picked him up out of his chair and said "I always pay!"

Friday, May 06, 2016

Starry starry night

It's a quiet starry night, or morning; however you perceive 3 AM to be. One of those nights similar I suspect to ones Vincent gazed at more than once which in spired his painting, Starry night.

I say quiet, yet is nature ever really quiet?  There is no wind, no perceivable breeze or air movement.  The earth seems to be asleep. But concentrating my eyes on heaven's light show my old ears hear the subdued sounds of mother nature's gentle breathing; frogs and toads subdued snoring, a cricket changes position moving it's violin bow legs against each other, and a muted bird chirp pricks the silence.

These nights, though not rare, are not a common  occurrence either.  On nights like this where nature trumps social media hands down I revel in memories of a time decades ago when John Pauly and I lay under just such a night sky.

We were stationed together at the 11th Evacuation hospital, Hialeah Compound, in Pusan (now Busan) South Korea. A 4 day weekend off prompted us to explore the rural countryside.  Neither of us spoke more than a few words of Korean in a part of Korea where the locals spoke little to no English.  With a map and the kindness of the people we encountered we bussed and hiked our way to an area near Taegu where there was a ancient Bhuddist monastery at the base of a mountain.  We hiked up the trail behind the temple for what was probably four hours or so.  Enough so that when we stopped to eat we were sweaty and tired.
the pause that refreshes; John cooling off in the stream half way up the mountain.

The trail up followed a mountain stream and our stopping to rest and eat was encouraged by the pristine pool of water under a waterfall.  So inviting was it that we couldn't resist shedding our clothes and plunging naked into the the icy refreshment, mindful to not let any of the water get in our mouths; Army warnings of the danger of liver flukes paramount in our medical minds.

I've met my God but a few times during my journey here on our planet and this was certainly one of those times.  A feeling of peace and serenity filled me to over flowing as I floated on my back looking up, as if in a volcano, at the cloudless, sapphire blue sky.  In all my 70+ years I don't recall having the sense of awe and transcendence than at that time, not even in the village churches or cathedrals of France.

Of course we chose to camp beside the pool of water for the night. We had neither sleeping bags nor tents.  We must have spread some kind of ground cover on the pebbly shore for I was comfortable. However I couldn't sleep, John couldn't either but only a few words were exchanged between us as we gorged our senses on the beauty of a Star filled night, the lullaby of water falling over rocks and splashing into the pool water, and the belief that we were being granted a sneak preview of heaven hidden away here in this forested Eden. Like Goldilocks's porridge, the night air wasn't too hot nor too cold but just right. No mosquitos or other pesky biters found us. No street lights, no sounds whirring motors or rumbling tires, no cell phones, only us and God. I must have fallen asleep because the dawn sunlight peeking into our retreat awakened me and found me refreshed; body and soul, so to speak.

And so tonight, sitting on my porch at 3 in the morning staring up at the uncountable stars, listening to the sounds of silence, memories helped blot out the mercury vapor lamps, the flickering blue light from late night TVs reflecting through neighbors windows and the highway rumble a half mile away letting  me recapture that  overwhelming sense of grace and wellbeing I'd touched so many, many nights ago.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The man from Nantucket

Lately I've been writing more poetry than prose.  The limerick form has been creeping in more and more even as I practice penning sonnet.  And that reminds me of a story.  If you've heard it I'm  sorry, but I'm sure I've never written it here.

Years ago, I've been doing this gig as an anesthetist for a lot of years so I'm entitled to start with "years ago,"  before political correctness and perceived sexual harassment made a travesty of human interactions, I routinely had student nurses come to my spot at the head of the OR bed to "observe" a surgical operation.  While the majority of their time was devoted to advancing their knowledge of nursing, surgery, anatomy and physiology it was also not uncommon for the conversation to take on a more colloquial tone.

On one particular occasion, as the surgery was nearing completion, I asked a student: did you ever hear the story about the man from Nantucket?  She demurely replied, "no, I've not heard it."
Feeling duty bound to widen her knowledge I recited;
"There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
His daughter named Nan
Ran off with a man,
And the Cash? Nan tucket."

She faced me with a serious stare said, "that's not the way I heard it!"

The limerick invaded my head
With two students at the surgical bed:
their minds all supple and bare
While watching the surgery there.
It was jokes I offered instead.