Hell of a Guy
Chance favors the prepared mind - Louis Pasteur

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Art of Doing Nothing…


Since my glorious ride into the sunset when my retirement took effect back in November, countless people have asked me what I am doing these days with my time.  I am not sure what they want to hear, but I sure as hell know exactly what I am doing.  The answer is nothing, as in not much, nada, very little, for sure, damn little.

I have made an art of doing nothing, and when people ask me about what I do with “all my extra time.” I just have to smile and answer them with a big “nothing at all.”  The follow-up question is typically something along the lines of what would I like to do, and the answer is still the same…nothing.  Do I do stuff?  Of course I do stuff, but not much stuff.  I no longer have to do anything…and, if I might add, I love not having to do stuff unless I choose to do stuff.

My days still begin relatively early even now.  I suppose I am destined to arise before Sol lifts her sunny face over the mountain, though I would dearly love to open my eyes in the morning and see daylight streaming through the bedroom windows.  Getting up has never been a chore for me, I have been an early riser as long as I can remember, especially Saturday mornings in the fifties.  Hopalong Cassidy movies came on at seven, and I couldn’t miss them, and back in the days of 13” TV screens broadcasting in black and white we couldn’t hit a record button to watch a show later.  Fast forward sixty years…now after getting out of the bed my day begins by getting a pot of coffee going and fetching clean water for the cat (she immediately goes to her bowl, sits and stares at me then her at water bowl verbally expressing her need until I refill it with fresh water).  Once these strenuous chores are completed I head for the family room and my chair and the morning news, and there I sit until it is time to make the first attempt to get The Nancy moving.

Waking The Nancy is about the toughest chore I have each day.  Is my job to make sure she is up, showered, dressed, and fed and to work on time, which is the easy part once I have tormented her until she rolls out of rem stage and slides out of the bed.  It really is the only responsibility I have these days.  Basically, once The Nancy is in her office my day is officially done.

Officially done may be a stretch, though not a big one.  The Nancy gone off to earn money to keep me living in a manner to which I have become accustomed, I return to my chair to plan the rest of my day.  I grab a pen and a pad and I hold the pen in my left hand (lefthanders are supposed to be creative) as I begin to make a mental list of all I might like to do to fill the seemingly endless hours until The Nancy returns.  The problem resides somewhere between my rapidly atrophying medulla oblongata and the nerves and muscles in my writing hand.  The list has yet to be codified, so therefore nothing of great measure gets done, and thus is the alpha and omega of my The Best of Day Ever.

Please know this; doing nothing is and truly an art and this Hell of a Guy has completed an outstanding collection using this medium.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Garden, Circa 2012


It is already that time of the year to plan the 2012 version of the vegetable garden, my 16’X48’ torture pit, and I am deep into the planning phase.

A friend reminded me just last week how each year I begin the garden process with great anticipation only to cuss the hell out of it as the spring moves into summer…but this year will be different.  What that difference might be is unknown at this juncture, but the season is young.

For my birthday my dear wife got me a four-foot grow light just so I can get a head start planting seeds indoors.  I can visualize helicopters flying overhead inspecting the source of the heat signature just prior to the SWAT team knocking down the doors of the house when they raid it only to find 36 tomato and 24 pepper seedlings bathing in light and warmth of the lamp.  I will keep you posted.

This year I bought seeds from a catalog house rather than Lowes, Home Depot or Food Lion.  I have found these purveyors cannot always be trusted to put out fresh seeds.  I have been told ordering from a seed catalog pretty much insures the purchase of fresh seeds – if that is the proper term for them.  Anyway, I have almost $50.00 worth of “fresh” seeds, and a 1000 seeds more than I can conceivably plant, even if I had an acre or two tilled and ready.  I will just count them as spares, just in case.

Yesterday, since the weather here in Beautiful Downtown Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, population 711 was 35,000 degrees above normal, I fired up the tiller, another one of those contraptions I never would have thought I would own, and worked over the soil in the garden space.  If you have never operated a garden tiller, you should.  It is a definite experience of a certain “je ne sais quoi.”  By the time I was done every bone in my body ached, every mussel stretched and sore.  I thought when I bought the damn thing all I needed to do was to guide it.  I really missed the mark on that one.

Most of this past winter’s bio-degradable, compostable waste is now turned under in the garden plot.  Hopefully it will add nutrients to the soil and grow the crap out of some whatever I end up planting there. In addition to the tomatoes and peppers I have several kinds of beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, squash, chard, beets and a host of other stuff.  One item I am excited to plant just to see if I can get them to grow is hops.  Yes, hops, as in beer, and I am very excited about them. I love me some beer.

I promise not to get grumpy (as in bitch) about the garden when the weeds attempt to take it over in June.  I won’t complain about the amount of hours I have in it or the money I spent on seeds, peat moss or any equipment or supplies purchased when the rain doesn’t come in July and everything dries up and rots on the vine.  Won’t do it!

And that is all I have to say about that…

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ugly Women and Pit Bulls…


Don’t pay a lot of attention to the title, it really has nothing to do with what this piece is about, and at this point neither do I.  So, from this point on, this will be a study in stupid BS.

The title: The other day I was driving from Beautiful Downtown Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, population 711 to Hershey, Pennsylvania, the chocolate capital of the universe, to work an educators’ conference for my former company as a “consultant,” which is how we old-timers describe being paid for doing some part-time work.  Along the way I made a brief stop in Chambersburg, PA to visit a home-brewing supply store that I found out about on the internet.  The shop would not to be opening until 11:30am and it was just 11when I got there, so lunch seemed like a plausible means to kill the thirty minutes, and there just so happened to be a Brother’s Pizza (as in hand-tossed by scruffy-looking guy of Italian descent – though he may have been Hispanic for all I know) just across the street from the brew shop.  I dropped in and ordered one.

Pizza consumed, brewing shop visited, I continued my journey, just to make a long story endless,  I headed back toward the interstate through Chambersburg and was stopped at a traffic light awaiting it to change; a lady crossed the street being led by an ugly dog, a very ugly dog.  Did you ever hear that at some point dog owners begin to assume an appearance much like their pets?  Bingo!  Both she and her dog were howlers and thus the source of this title.  This part of the post is over, ‘nough said and the end of this inane explanation.

The conference: I haven’t always enjoyed attending conferences where I had to stand in a booth for hours on end.  These things can be more than boring, and very quickly reach that point.  Time passes very, very slowly as you stand there pretending to be visible to an unseeing public.  The longer the conference the slower time passes, sort of like time-lapse photography, especially if the people passing by view you as invisible, and they do.  Fortunately, as a retired person working PT, I have nothing to lose by ignoring them back.

This time I didn’t get to ignore anyone.  The people came.  They still did not stop, but at least they saw me.  I was eye candy for the masses, and I had fun.  I must have had fun.  I weighed in this morning at home, as The Nancy and I do every Friday, and the scale shouted back letting me know I was 2.8 pounds heavier since my last confession just seven days ago. 

I should have known my waistline expansion was forthcoming as I consumed my entire mass in beer, loaded nachos saturated with a ton cheesy goodness and other junk, and several truckloads of French fries, all in a 48-hour period, and I enjoyed every morsel and drop and topped them all off with some of Milton Hershey’s finest. 

I have suddenly developed a sweet tooth.  Well, not really suddenly.  It has always been there, but prior to retirement I had a modicum of control over it.  Now, not so much, I have succumbed to weakness of the palate. 

I suppose the suddenly part is merely because I don’t care as much these days. At 68 I have no one to impress with my collection of abs (I only have one), my biceps have atrophied – one doesn’t need them for 12-ounce glasses of brewed delights – and jalapenos don’t stink up your breath like garlic.

The moral of this part of the story is simply this; I should have stuck to ugly women and dogs.

And that I all I have to say about that…

Saturday, March 03, 2012

“The Social Animal”...


I am presently totally involved in “The Social Animal” by David Brooks, another must read.  It is the story of “how success happens… told through the lives of one composite American couple.”  As I read about the adolescence of Harold, I could not help but take a short nostalgia ride back to my own junior high schools days.  Growing up for me was an easy ride but there were some bumps along the way, nothing horrible, just bumps.

Growing up was not tough for me.  I had loving, though not demonstrative, parents and a good, happy home life.  My parents and four siblings made up what I believe is the typical American family, and we all grew up to be healthy and happy in our own way.

Harold and I are similar in many ways, and while reading about his growth in his formative years, I got to thinking about my own.  It is kind of funny to me how the mind works.  I was doing my daily routine on the treadmill and got totally lost in thoughts about my year in the ninth grade (1958).  Now that was a year I would redo in a heartbeat.  Loved it…well, I love it now, it was totally embarrassing then.

I can only refer to it as the year of the boner, as in erection; I was 15, and apparently going through more than normal hormonal changes that left me unable to control the rise and fall of genitalia, as if we guys ever have control of it.  These erections occurred many times every day that year, mostly at inopportune times, and mostly right before the bell rang ending a class.  These unwanted, untimely products of male adolescence nearly drove me insane.  These inconvenient moments actually forced me to purchase the largest binder I could find that year to use as a shield to disguise the malformation below my beltline as I made my way through the hallways of Hamilton Junior High School to the next class.  Awkward, you bet, but these moments of involuntary stimulation allowed me to hone my skill of blending in a crowd getting as close the middle of a group as I could manage.

I cannot imagine I was alone in this predicament (no pun intended).  Others had to share this bodily awakening as I did.  I wonder if those of the female persuasion had any kind of similar sexual awakening.  If they did, they never let on to it or exhibited it.

Now I don’t want to convey the idea this condition was perpetual.  It was not, though at the time it sure seemed to be.  I made it through the year nearly unscathed and a tad more mature, at least physiologically.  I moved on to high school the next year and the problem was abated, but then it was an all-male high school.  I still had a lot of growing up to do and I am not so sure I ever did.  Now that I am an official senior citizen and getting ever closer to the big 70, and recognizing changes in my bodily behavior patterns, desires and functions, I miss the crap out of the good old days.

I sincerely hope I have not offended anyone with this post.  If you are a guy you probably understand, if a female, oops, now you know.

And that is all I have to say about that…