A few things


I was lucky enough last week to have lunch with one of my favorite people, Kathryn. We don’t get to see each other nearly often enough, but I wanted to give her a birthday present from Cindy and me in person. As you can see in this picture, the present was a watercolor by one of our favorite artists, our granddaughter Macey. It was a great time, although we had to cut it short so that Kathryn could return to work. I’m already wanting to set a time to see her again.


Here’s an update on To beard or not to beard. Only two readers gave me feedback on whether I should grow a beard, and they were both positive. Outside of the Classical Gasbag readership I had three other positive comments and none that were negative. But here’s the thing, I don’t want to grow a full beard because keeping one trimmed can be very time consuming. But so is shaving to keep a smooth shining face. What’s a guy to do? I am compromising and plan to keep the grizzled look for the time being. It is actually easier and less time consuming to trim the grizzle a couple of times each week.


The Thumper Challenge. Remaining silent rather than say negative things is not as easy as it sounds. I was able to do it for approximately forty hours, with around twelve hours of the 40 in sleep mode. Then I lost control while watching a politician being interviewed on television. Since then it has been a struggle. I believe, however, that being aware of each infraction makes it easier to maintain in the long run. I started the challenge afresh this morning and have been able to maintain my silence.

I am wondering though if I am suppressing too much of what makes me the person who I am. Should I be allowed to say those nasty things aloud when only Cindy is with me? Or is it better for myself and the world at large if I curb my tongue? I honestly don’t know.


Finally, I was thinking late last night that maybe I would write a volume of short stories. My problem is that I tend to write the title first, and then try to create a suitable story to go with it. In fact, I started jotting down story titles without a clue as to what the story should be. Here is my list:

  1. Sage Advice from Barnacle Bill
  2. Mellisandre Visits Ancient Persia
  3. Beware the Hedgehog
  4. Calliope Green’s Magic Turtle
  5. While Crossing Illinois
  6. Lady Caroline’s Conundrum
  7. Whist for the Unwary
  8. A Popsicle for Petey
  9. Gertrude the Ravishing
  10. Simpering Sam’s Sophisticated Serenade

By the way, the volume of stories would be titled The Locust Tales. If any of you would like to use one or more of these titles, feel free. All I ask is that you send me a copy of the story so that I can see how your imagery. You can reach me at houseman@comcast.net

The Thumper Challenge

Early spring
Early spring

I took this picture back in early April, but never used it. Since I haven’t taken any photos recently (with one exception that is already in a Draft post) I decided to go back and pull this from my archived pictures. I hope that you like it.


I found myself awake at 4 a.m. today. None of the things that normally help me get back to sleep were working, and I found myself thinking about a situation that has been bothering Cindy. I won’t describe the situation because it really isn’t relevant, but it involved people saying unkind things about other people. That stirred my thoughts. For some reason Thumper, from the Disney film Bambi came to mind. Thumper’s father told him, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

Those who know me are aware that I am not an overly friendly person, and that I have said unkind things about others. I can have a very sharp tongue and have been known to use it. I know that I have written cruel things about other people. It is a fault that I am aware of. I want to be a better person; but I know that I am weak.

We live in a society where it feels that saying cruel, hurtful things is the norm rather than the exception. When we look around us we see prosecuting lawyers who make careers by telling juries how bad a defendant is. Lawyers in civil cases cast aspersions on people (remember, corporations are people too) who are the other side of the case.

Since most politicians are lawyers, is it any wonder that there is so much negativity in the political realm? Yes I know that I just said an unkind thing about politicians. It is a particular habit that is harder to break than smoking.

We also see it in entertainment. Every day on television there are people who are claiming that someone else is not a worthy person. It is on the news, on “reality” television programming, and even in drama and comedy presentations. Heck, Don Rickles built his career insulting people. And we laugh…even I laugh.

I am not saying that everyone should get a free pass from criticism. That is not practical, nor is it wise. But surely the level of negative speech can diminished without harm to society. Not every fault needs to openly discussed ad nauseam. It often demeans us.

So here is my strategy for working to become a better person. I am setting a challenge for myself. I call it The Thumper Challenge because I am setting the small goal of not saying anything negative about anybody for twenty-four hours. If I am successful I will try to go a further twenty-four hours, and so on. If I can’t do it for a full day, I’ll try again the next day. I know that it is going to be difficult; doubly so since it is a presidential election year.

I hope that you’ll consider taking the challenge as well. If you do take the challenge. please let me know how you do. You can come back and leave a comment, or send me an email at houseman@comcast.net. Good luck.

To beard or not to beard

The grizzled look

As you can see from this picture, I am not currently clean-shaven. It has been two and a half or three weeks since I last shaved. The other day, out of nowhere, Cindy said, “I don’t mind if you grow a beard.

That doesn’t surprise me, because I had a full beard when we got married, and she stayed with me through the twenty years that I kept it. She actually liked my beard, which is more than I can say for my parents. When I first grew my original beard I had black hair with the exception of a couple of gray patches on either side. By the time that I shaved it off it was totally gray…one might even say white.

Anyway, when Cindy gave me permission to grow a new beard I told her that I didn’t necessarily want to grow a beard. It was just that I didn’t feel like shaving. For me, shaving is a hassle. If you spend any time with me you must know that I never look truly clean-shaven. Even on days when I shave, I know that I don’t do a great job. Part of the trouble is due to the macro degeneration in my left eye. I can’t get a clear look at the left side of my face in the mirror. Yes, I rub my hand over that side of my face, but parts of it always feel hairy even when it looks smooth.

My face is now hairy enough that I have to decide whether to shave, or whether to let it grow out and try to keep it trimmed. If I let it go, I’ll soon once again start resembling George “Gabby” Hayes.

What do you think? Shall I shave or not? You can leave a comment for all of the world to see, or you can use the form below to let me know privately. In either case, let me know soon. A decision must be made. Thanks.