December 10, 2018

KGB In The Alley

He was my best friend growing up...we spent a lot of time together playing, or he just wanted to be where I was...if I was laying down, he’d lay down by my bed, if I went in the basement to listen to music, he’d come down the stairs and lay on a rug...that dog chased me around the brown shingle house we had again and again for years, and wherever I hid from him, he still found me...he had boundless energy...I’d hide behind the evergreens, beneath the big evergreens we had in the front of our house...there was just enough space to crawl between them when I was a kid...sometimes I’d lay there when I was smaller and pretend I was with the KGB and had people walking on the sidewalk, or maybe a neighbor across the street who was working in their front yard under surveillance, but they never did anything illegal or exciting...if they did, they would have been picked up by a black sedan and taken away forever...it was a great spot...you couldn’t be seen...so I’d hide there too, but he’d find me anyway...I’d hide behind the neighbors white fence that was supposed to be part of their garden, but they never planted anything, unless they planted weeds or seeds of weeds because that’s all that there ever was in it...the bitter old lady who lived next door would yell out of the window at me sometimes to get off of the grass...I decided that when I owned a house, I wouldn’t be one of those kind of neighbors...I used to hide behind the old brown and rusty trash barrel in the alley my dad used sometimes to burn leaves, it used to be an old oil barrel I think that he brought home from work...behind the large crabapple tree we had or maybe even up in the tree, behind the pair of pear trees that our neighbor across the alley had, maple trees that screamed gold and red during autumn, behind big bushes we used to separate our back yard from the grass alley that ran behind our property...the alley wasn’t like a city alley that was full of rocks and where people drove to get in their garage...it was always kind of spooky to see a car driving slowly down the alley because almost no one ever did...it had to be a stranger in the neighborhood...what were they driving down the alley for?...maybe they WERE with the KGB and they WERE looking for someone...I used to hide behind the garage, in the garage, mostly from my dog, but sometimes from the KGB...it didn’t matter if I did because my dog would always find me...I’m glad he wasn’t with the KGB...sometimes it took him a little while but he never gave up...then, he got older and it took him a little longer but he still found me...gradually, he couldn’t run much anymore and I didn’t want him straining himself, so we stopped playing hide and seek...I hated to give that up...then one day a few years later, it was my turn to find him, he wasn’t lying under the coffee table, he wasn’t up on the couch with his head laying on his favorite pillow...I finally found him...dead on the basement rug...death spares no one, not even noble dogs...he’s buried in a pet cemetery...some people might think that’s silly, but I don’t...he was a member of the family and I didn’t want him to be incinerated with bodies of unknown animals...I’ve even gone to visit his grave site even though I’ve moved a thousand miles away...it’s out in the country and there’s other dogs and cats, and even a horse buried there...they still keep it up after all these years...it looks better than a lot of human cemeteries...a dog adds so much to your life, and being home without a dog just seems so...empty...people grow old too, but dogs have a much shorter lifespan...that’s why I try to take the dogs I have now to the park, or at least play with them in the backyard I have now as much as I can...you can hide from a lot of things, but like the KGB, death always finds you.

December 7, 2018

Christmas Carols


This is the time of the year when they start playing Christmas carols...for anybody who still listens to the radio anymore...some stations play them 24 hours a day and that’s ok with me...it’s the only time I listen to these stations...they play the old standards and a few new ones that I don’t think will ever be standards...man, some of these songs were old when I was young but now we’re both old and they sound better than I do...Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole...a lot of these people are dead now...and some of them have been for a long time already...remember sitting around the tree when I was little listening to songs and watching the lights twinkle and reflect on the large picture window we had in the living room...usually, nobody sat in there because there wasn’t no TV in there, but at Christmas time, sometimes we’d sit in there...I’d look at the presents for me and wonder what they were...I remember when I thought Santa brought them, but then one time I got up at night and saw my parents putting boxes under the tree...I wasn’t too disappointed...I kinda thought the whole Santa thing was fake once I got to be, oh...five years old...on Christmas Eve, my mother and sister would go to the midnight mass which was like the only time they ever went to church...and they’d join all the other people who only went once a year...I never went, but I remember the Pope came on from the Vatican or somewhere and talked...that came on after the news...by that time my mother and sister had left and my old man was asleep in his chair...we weren’t Catholic but felt like I was supposed to watch--I’d watch a little bit out of curiosity but after getting bored, I’d go back in the living room--I had a little electric tree I used to leave on all night on Christmas Eve...I don’t know why, it just seemed like the thing to do...now the presents I get usually are in bottles and that’s fine with me...my mother is gone, so is my father and my sister...they’re all dead—so it’s just me who remembers that stuff and I’ll be gone one day and there won’t be anyone around to remember what we did...how we celebrated...all the little rituals...it’ll all be gone...sorry, didn’t mean to get so melancholy, but it’s my favorite fruit it seems...think I’ll go listen to some Christmas carols and look at the little tree I put up and the presents I give to myself...I don’t bother wrapping them...they’re just sitting there in brown paper bags and yeah I know what they are, but I pretend that I don’t...with any luck I’ll wake up on Christmas morning and they’ll be some snow on the ground to make it official...I used to get up early to open my presents, but I’m not much for getting up early anymore...I used to stay up late listening to Christmas songs on Christmas Eve...I still do sometimes, and sometimes I’m in a mood when I don’t feel like it...all these commercials to get you to spend hundreds of dollars for Christmas sap all the joy out of it for me...a Lexus for Christmas?...sure why not, I’ll buy one in every color...expensive decorations like somehow that’s gonna make things more fun...I’ll let somebody else do it and I’ll just drive by their house or walk by and stop and look at it for awhile...these stupid inflatable things that dare me to take a knife to them...sure why not?...the real meaning of Christmas was lost to most people a long time ago...Jesus wasn’t even born in December they say...what difference does it make anyway?...the weather outside is frightful, the fire is dying, but let it snow, snow, snow, let it blow, blow, blow, blow snow, just let it go…

December 5, 2018

Small Towns In December


The streets are left alone to keep themselves company and to bask in the peace and quiet and there’s plenty of places to park on this late Sunday early December afternoon...the occasional unfamiliar car driving slowly...might be some people driving through town and around the lake looking for property for sale signs as they look for some lakeside cabin to buy and to spend next summer’s weekends…vacationers and summer only residents are gone, they’ve packed up and left town and won’t be back until next summer...at the lake, most cabins are locked tight for the winter...drain the pipes, put up plastic on the back screen porch to keep the snow out...turn the furnace down...the occasional visit during winter time to make sure everything is alright and that the pipes haven’t frozen...early light snow now piled up and melting on the sides of roads...the pretty red and orange leaves that adorned the trees at the start of fall have fallen and are clogging up storm drains, their colors now faded, now no longer the object of everyone’s gaze...Jets-Raiders game on television from Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Jets winning 10-7 in the second quarter...second helpings of Mom’s famous pot roast and a slice of apple pie with french vanilla ice cream...stores closed downtown except for the corner grocery store that has everything from anchovies to zucchini; but you can’t buy any liquor there on Sunday...state law...the hardware store closed with everything from anchor bolts to zip ties including a portable stereo RCA record player gathering years of dust on a shelf...the local department store closed too with summer fashions on clearance and winter jackets, hats, gloves, and winter boots featured prominently in the windows...old closed for years gas stations with foggy windows and in disrepair with signs advertising gas prices that harken back to yesteryear...an old couple laying flowers at a gravesite in an old cemetery on the edge of town...life goes on...auto parts stores with Champion Spark Plug and Havoline Oil signs in the window along with schedules of the local high school’s basketball team...Central playing Tech Friday night at the Central gym...attending will be the parents of the players and the siblings and the group of middle aged men who still wear their class rings and care a little too much about who wins, all sitting in the bleachers while the innocent looking cheerleaders’ cheers and chants echo off the walls of the gymnasium while the thump, thump, thump of the basketball goes on like a metronome not quite in rhythm...pancake breakfast at the Rotary Club next Saturday morning…all you can eat pancakes but how many can you really eat?...if you’re not up for that, there’s always the town diner where the locals all go and stir their Bunn coffee maker coffee with silver spoons and clink their plates and gossip and talk about the latest grain prices or tractors and farming or what’s going on in the big city...there’s old Leroy who just got himself a new pickup truck, well at least a new old truck...Chevy or Ford?...eggs, bacon, american fries, sausage, and pancakes too...what’s your pleasure?...typical mid-December dreary weather, snow flurries, and the clouds are a palette of grays...nip in the air...life goes on.