Fighting Off Lions and Whales.

“Ahab and anguish lay stretched together in a hammock.” – Herman Melville

I am a great admirer of that sentence. Much less so of the experience.

Yet there I was, “lying stretched together with anguish” in an ambulance cot on the way to a hospital emergency room in Charlotte, NC. more “Fighting Off Lions and Whales.”

Singing like Connie Francis in a poodle skirt.

Her stage name was Wee Bonnie Baker, and she performed primarily throughout the late 1930s and early 1940s. She was a singer with a small voice, a voice that resided somewhere at the top of her throat and behind her nose. It was a child-like voice, but clear and sure; and she was best-known for the song “Oh Johnny, Oh” – with lyrics that made vague promises and was delivered with naughty innocence. more “Singing like Connie Francis in a poodle skirt.”

The shadows of things not seen.

I could see nothing of the flying thing except its shadow.

It was an odd sensation watching the small moving shadow flit in a silent lilting ballet in front of me, almost whispering to me to follow. And yet, looking up and all around me, I could find no butterfly or moth or bird or bee or any kind of winged creature or even a wind-swept blossom or leaf to account for this shadow’s existence. Yet there it was – a well-formed shadow; dark-edged, animated, dancing across the ground, across my path. more “The shadows of things not seen.”

Painting life upside down.

The woman had both hands drenched in paint. She pressed them onto the large canvas in front of her. Working with one hand and then the other, sometimes both together, she smoothed and swirled, stroked and shaped, covered and revealed the image into being. It became a face. more “Painting life upside down.”

The Little Blue Egg

I wondered if you could feel me – you little blue egg – feel my presence, my energy. I could feel yours, just as surely as if I’d been able to see the face and touch the wings within you. I held your warmth, your bit of weight, your smooth oval shape, tucked in the hollow of my hand. And, for some reason, I whispered in your presence, and I hoped you could hear my voice and feel my breath and sense my awe of you. more “The Little Blue Egg”

The Dogwood Tree.

Walter reached up and pulled a branch of the blooming dogwood tree closer; he used his pocketknife to cut off about 12 inches of it. Most men of his time carried such knives – certainly a young man who was working-class and a jack-of-all-trades, especially if he had just a bit of the “bad boy” about him, all of which Walter was and did. He handed the cutting down to the beautiful young woman seated at his feet beneath the tree on his outspread jacket; then he joined her on the ground, leaning next to her against the trunk of the tree. more “The Dogwood Tree.”

The Boots.

“But are my foot­steps silent?
Are they just holes with­in the sand?
Or does an­oth­er hear them, follow,
And find me where I am?”
L.S. Hartfield

I never saw the boots myself. But I can imagine them. Combat boots. Sturdy, durable, high-ankled, “rough-out” boots, standardized in color and style. Boots designed for mud and muck and desert sands and jungle wet. Boots made for war.

more “The Boots.”

Listening without bats.

“It’s hard to listen without bats,” he wrote.

In actuality, the statement written by current-day philosopher-poet Criss Jami said: “It’s hard to listen without bias.” But that’s when my dyslexia kicked in, or my leftover bits of cataracts, or whatever it is that often makes me see words differently than they were written. And so, what I read was, “It’s hard to listen without bats.” more “Listening without bats.”

Saratoga WarHorse Welcomes 600th Participant in Aiken

It seems like no small coincidence that the current average size of a combat battalion is 600 soldiers. And that the historic Charge of the Light Brigade involved 600 warriors, along with their horses, riding into the very “mouth of Hell,” according to Tennyson. And that now, 600 military veterans have come back from the gaping brink of another kind of hell – once again, with the unfailing loyalty of horses at their sides.

On February 9, 2017, the 600th military veteran participated in the Saratoga WarHorse program. It took place at the Aiken, SC, location. more “Saratoga WarHorse Welcomes 600th Participant in Aiken”

The Things Left Behind.

It was like opening a time capsule.

There were 12 plastic-encased audio cassette tapes, mostly by musicians who no longer perform, plus one recording of an old Lux Radio broadcast – a 1940s suspense play. There were road maps and atlases, one dating back to 1979. There was a safety kit in which all the supplies were so crusty with age or degraded by extreme temperatures that they were pitifully beyond any service at all. There was a rusted disposable cigarette lighter, a remnant of days when smoking was still socially acceptable (or in case of the odd rock concert). There were 47 coupons – all expired – for a wide variety of products. Two dog vaccination certificates for two different dogs, both of whom passed away more than five years ago; and one red plastic rain hat that hadn’t been worn since 2010 – probably because it doesn’t actually look good on anyone nor does it protect the wearer from the rain particularly well. One outdated phone book. One compass. One tape measure. One watercolor paint brush. Two pencils. Three pens (none working). One notebook. A Bible. A paper-wrapped plastic drinking straw. A 24-pack of bungee cords. Four pairs of earrings and a gold watch that looked vaguely familiar.

These were just some of the more unexpected finds. more “The Things Left Behind.”