The Start of a Journey

So it begins
So it begins

I haven’t worked on a jigsaw puzzle in at least a decade, but now we have a table large enough on which we can spread out the pieces. I was against Cindy getting this table at first, especially when I realized I had to maneuver it down the steps into the basement. I wasn’t all that surprised when I got it lodged in the stairwell and had to take down the hand rail in order to get it around the final corner. I don’t believe Cindy was too pleased when I left it lodged in the stairwell for a couple of days before I finished the moving project. I work at my own pace. The same is true when it comes to puzzles. Depending on how engrossed I become, this puzzle could take me anywhere from a few days to a week or more. We’ll see.

***

I was searching for my discharge papers from the army a few days ago, I needed it to get a special deal on a new checking account that I was opening. When it wasn’t in the place where I keep important documents, I started going through file folders in the desk. I am not the most organized person you are likely to meet. Cindy considers it a triumph if I put a scrap of paper in a file folder (though she would rather see it destroyed). My filing system is not the best. I have a few catch-all folders with titles like,  Stuff, Stuff to SortMiscellaneous, and Take Care of Later. It works for me, though I only go through those folders once every year or two.

I was going through a fat folder titled Norm’s Stuff where I found a copy of my DD-214. I also found a document that I had written when Trina was still in high school. It was a short biography.

Backstory: Trina had a friend in school, Nicki, who was in the child welfare system. Trina asked, nay begged, us to take Nicki in as a foster child. After a lot of discussion, and meeting with Nicki’s CASA, Cindy and I decided that we would do it. We were accepted into the program, but we had to take classes in foster parenting and write a short autobiography. That is the document that I found.

I read through the autobiography yesterday, for the first time since I wrote it. There was a format provided for the autobiography, and I followed it. If I had to write it again today, the document would be different.

You may remember that a few days ago I mentioned lies in my post. While there are no lies for which I feel remorse in the autobiography, there are things, that upon reflection, I would not state in quite the same way. Here I am making a distinction between major lies, and what many people would refer to as “little white lies;” or “fibs;” or as I prefer, the more positive “shading the truth.”

I’ll delve into those areas in my next post.

Early morning

Bleak midwinter
Bleak midwinter

A week ago there was a lot more snow on the ground. Now it is cold, overcast, and we’re getting a snow flurry or two.

***

I woke up at 3 a.m. this morning. It is 4 a.m., I’m wide awake, and I’m drafting this portion of the post. Normally when I tell Cindy that I’ve been awake for hours before her alarm goes off she will ask me, “What’s bothering you?”

Then I’ll usually say, “Finances.” Sometimes that’s true. Many times I have no idea why I woke up.

What I do know is that my first clear thoughts are seldom about the beauty in my life, but rather, those thoughts are about moments in my past that I don’t speak about to people. Nor do I write about them. But maybe today I’ll skirt around some of those events and hint at what is behind the opaque spider webs that I’ve spun around specific incidents that I’m ashamed of. Maybe.

Some of these events are truly innocuous, such as blurting out something inappropriate that is heard by a large number of people. Those embarrassments make you want to slink away when you realize what you’ve done. To a person like me, I not only want to do the slinking, but also keep my mouth closed to all conversation for days on end. I still remember one incident that happened when I was in high school. But that type of incident is minor compared to other things for which I feel guilt.

I’ve learned that some clichés haven’t completely lost their original meaning. For instance, there have been two times in my life when I actually couldn’t look at myself in a mirror because of something I had done. It happened the second time because I didn’t learn my lesson the first time. I have it in me to be dumb.

I have lied about events in order to save myself from punishment. This goes beyond the “dog eating my homework” type of lie. They are lies that I’ve told as an adult. They are lies that I have schooled myself to believe at all times except during the early morning awakenings. I could probably fool a polygraph with these lies.

I’m lucky, I guess, because there are only a few things that bother me about my past actions. A long time has passed since the last time I’ve done something for which I am ashamed. I hope that I never add another item to my list. But if I do add another item, you won’t read about it here.

Poetry

Marquis de Lafayette
Marquis de Lafayette

Yes, I was at a loss for a picture to use today, so I snapped this one on my cell phone this morning. I know it is a bad photo! In my defense, I was walking along, trying to take a picture without dropping my coffee cup and walking into other pedestrians. Thus there is a traffic sign in front of the statue. I’ll go back later this year to take a better picture.

***

I went to Barnes & Noble this morning. The book I wanted to buy, with a gift card I received at Christmas, was out of stock, so I spent some time browsing. One of the books I seriously thought about buying was a book of Robert Frost’s poetry. I have been reading a lot of poetry in blogs on the Internet for the past year or so, and I have enjoyed much of it, so I was thinking, “Why not read some by a master?” I haven’t read much by Frost since I left college, so maybe the time was right. At that point reality set in, and I knew that I would start reading, with good intentions, but that I would likely never finish the book. At best I would occasionally open the book to a random page and read whatever was printed there. The last book of poetry that I read from cover to cover was a collection of poetry by William Butler Yeats. His words sing to me.

I have tried writing poems over the years, especially in college, but my mind just doesn’t work in the right way to create good poetry. Instead I will come up with an opening line such as, “Claudia Pike, the Colorado Crumpet.” Where can you go from there except adding some tortuous words that end with the rhyme “strumpet?” It really doesn’t work if you’re trying to impress a coed named Claudia. To make it worse, you use Colorado instead of Crown Point because it doesn’t clank in your ear.

I’ve also had problems with another line. I know that somewhere inside me is a poem that ends with the line “Pork rinds and lemonade.” You have no idea how difficult it is when I fight to keep that poem bottled up inside me. Why would I want to spend time working on a poem like that, and worse, inflicting it on people. No, these bits of rhyming idiocy belong in the file of poems that I wrote in college and refused to share with anyone.

I believe I’ll stick to this blog. And I may go back and buy the book after I’ve considered it for a few days.

Musings

They want in
They want in

We have had quite a bit of snow in the past week. I took this picture with my smart phone the other day when I noticed the birds looking longingly into the bedroom. I give them food, I’m not giving them a room.

***

I’ve noticed over the past few years that most politicians have a standard way of dealing with scandal, or the appearance of scandal, in their official dealings. The more callow of these politicians find someone to fire. The person fired may or may not be responsible for the troubling events, but a firing must happen. The act of firing someone is meant to a) show that the politician is taking things seriously and b) indicate that the politician is taking a firm hand on the reins and acting with determination. In reality, the politician is usually just tying to perform a sleight of hand to draw attention away from the original embarrassing action that made him or her look bad.

Television talking heads and newspaper columnists are not immune to advising politicians to fire someone, anyone, quickly. Consider how many people were calling for the dismissal of Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, when the website for the Affordable Care Act was having troubles. The President had the good sense to ignore those people, and to work on getting the site functioning. While it seems counter-intuitive, this style could come from The Leadership Secrets of Genghis Khan, which may be out of print.

***

I’ve been simplifying my life a bit in the past months. I stopped posting and reading posts on Facebook back in October. More recently, about a month ago, I stopped checking Twitter feeds daily. I look at them once every couple of weeks now. I don’t seem to have missed anything important. It makes me wonder how important social media is. More to the point, I ask what improvement social media has made to our lives? It has replaced face-to-face conversation; it seems to have added to the incivility, the coarseness of discourse; and it is a time waster. I, for one, am better off without going to Facebook and Twitter.

First post of 2014

Winter beauty
Winter beauty

I may have used a picture of this house before; I don’t recall. I had to post this picture today because this house looks so much more beautiful in a winter setting. When this evening gets here, and another eight or so more inches of snow are on the ground, the house should look spectacular.

***

I have been watching the recent Dell Computers ad on TV, and have been tying to identify the singer of This Magic Moment. After about the third viewing I decided that it was Loudon Wainwright III.  But then I Googled it and found out that it is a group named The Felice Brothers. I don’t care, it still sounds like Loudon Wainwright III to me. You know who I mean, father of Rufus and Martha Wainwright, one-time husband of Kate McGarrigle, and singer/songwriter of the song that begins:

   “Crossin’ the highway late last night
   He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right
   He didn’t see the station wagon car
   The skunk got squashed and there you are!”

You know the rest, or if you don’t, find Dead Skunk on YouTube, it’s worth the slight effort. Then tell me that The Felice brothers don’t sound like Mr. Wainwright.

It occurred to me that Dead Skunk would make a good addition to the music I’m planning for my memorial service. I may be able to talk Cindy out of a funeral, but I know she will want some type of service. When I told her that Dead Skunk will be part of the music, she didn’t like the idea. I think Trina will go along with it due to the song title.

***

Maintaining the theme of future death, I’ve noticed that over the past few years I’ve changed my view of collections. In the past I collected stamps, comic books, and recorded music because I enjoyed the concept of owning items that brought me joy. I still feel that way to some extent, but now I also feel a need to maintain the collections as something I can pass on to my grandchildren in hopes that they will grow to appreciate the items as much as I have. The cynic in me says, “They will sell or give the stuff away in a heartbeat,” but the person within me who has hope says, “They will grow to understand and feel the necessity of keeping the items as historical memories of the person I am”…or was…you know what I mean.

Well, that’s the fiction I maintain for myself in order to keep things that Cindy would rather sell. It is all about me.