Category Archives: Lexington-Today

Quisling

A geezer moment.

Remember, on TV, usually in the evening, during the non-prime-time that local stations would set aside for PSA’s (public service announcements, run for free to prove why the station is worthy of their precious license to broadcast), an earnest, usually unfamiliar face would appear on the screen and say; “Hi, I’m (name of unfamiliar face), and today’s WORD FROM UNITY is…” They would state a word and proceed to expound inspirationally on that word. It was an effort to make the viewer think and be better.

I don’t think it was particularly effective.

I don’t remember it continuing for too long.

Why?

Well…the words weren’t really that interesting, truth be told. Of course, at that time, how interesting could they be? There was no internet, no Google. If the word was at all outré, you’d have to go to the library to look it up!

Well, that was then. This is now.

 

Hi, I’m Roger Leasor, and today’s WORD FROM UNITY (whatever UNITY is) is; quisling.

 

Quisling.

Look it up.

Read a bit about the man himself. You already know him and his regime pretty well.

I think the word could be useful in the next few months and, perhaps, years.

A Mindful Day

It has been a mindful day.

Chores were done.

Some weeds have been pulled, and admired for their tenacity. The tiny backyard lagoon has been cleaned and listened to. The vacuuming and dish-washing has been finished and meditated over. Janie cooked and I devoured it with glee.

It rained usefully. The gutters generally performed well, though one downspout commands attention.

Governor Andy reported and twelve Kentuckians lost to covid-19 are mourned. Our green light is shining.

Pretty exciting stuff, huh?

Now I sit in the library with dusty books and bright, insistent screens. The windows are open to the petrichor and the evening sounds.

One of those bright screens is showing the Democratic Party’s Convention.

The roll call’s a snooze, though Kentucky’s Colman Eldridge was quite moving. Presidents Clinton and Carter are ill-served by this virtual format.

But the keynote speech…

…ah, yes-s-s-s-s.

It was parade of young Democratic leaders; a rainbow of races and genders, and a symphony of accents. It sparked a covid-tamped curiosity back to life. This show of diversity reminded me of a hippie innocence that once believed all could be made right and fair and equal for all.

These young people could convince me again.

Pretty exciting stuff…

Tee ‘Em Up

I don’t play golf but I wish I did.

I don’t know enough about golf to be legit in passing judgment about any part of it.

But why let that stop me – eh?

I find it pleasant when I channel-surf and happen across a golf tournament on the tube. The real estate involved is utterly Eden-esque and purrs of renewal and plenty and green, green hope. Shame also creeps in as I watch that the resources that produce such Shangri-La’s for game-players and this TV game-watcher couldn’t produce housing for the homeless.

That was perhaps a bit brusque…but think about it.

Wait…it might be best if you didn’t.

I confess, I perk up when, in the depths of February, promos for the Masters begin to appear. When my ears hear the phrase; “The Masters, a tradition like no other.” My heart hears; “The Masters, azaleas like no other.” It’s weird. And something in me whispers; “Yes Roger, those crocuses you saw when you were walking your dog will become your azaleas in another 3-4 weeks.”  That’s double weird, but I count the days after Super Bowl till those Augusta promos begin to run. It helps get me though winter, being the three-season guy I am.

Nuthin’ wrong with that…if you don’t think about it too hard.

If you don’t think about the corporate tents, the azaleas brought in from outside for the TV cameras, the limos ferrying the players to where they can begin to walk the course, the rented mansions to house the players (all of whom are just thrilled and honored to be included), and of course the inspiring history of diversity and inclusion of the host club itself…no…if you don’t trouble your head too much on niggling voices from your childhood Sunday School and Civics classes…

I wouldn’t think about it too hard.

It might distract from those lush azaleas that frame the 10th green, or that treacherously perfect pond by the green on the par-3, or that shot of the bridge on Ray’s Creek on a late Sunday spring evening.

It’s perfect.

It deserves to be appreciated.

It’s perfect…

…for so few…

…for a game

…that so few can be part of…

…at a club…

…that so few can join…

…and so few would be welcome if they could join.

No, don’t think about it too hard and certainly don’t listen to me. I’m no expert. I journeyed 18 holes once in my life, driving the drinks golf cart, and played one hole that day (after driving the drinks cart – you noodle on that). I enjoyed my day, but I never did it again. I spent an afternoon on a deck in Hilton Head overlooking the 5th tee of the plantation golf course. The palm trees, the lagoon, the alligators, and the golfers in their Fred Flintstone carts were beautiful and perfect. Then there’s Caddyshack, and the golf scene in Goldfinger where Bond and Goldfinger cheat each other for high stakes while Oddjob caddies. That is my total golf expertise. What the hell do I know?

I hope the Masters goes on forever. It’s beautiful and perfect, and televised.

I just wonder if we couldn’t do more.

A Ghost of Canine Past

Dogs.

We don’t deserve ‘em.

And we can’t forget ‘em.

Before Chloe, the Queen of Facial Debris, bounded, crashed, shook like Southern California, and howled like a banshee into our lives, there was a predecessor.

She left us before this blog commenced. That’s not fair. She should be part of this foolishness.

Please indulge me.

Lilly was a pup of many, mostly odd, parts. From the racing stripe on her nose to the tightly curled tail and in between with the bow legs, bat ears, and a galaxy of speckles – the ingredients invited the constant query; “What kind of dog is she?” Our answer would vary. “She’s a pan-mixian” or “She’s a custom blend”. You get the idea. The answer was simpler when it was just Janie and me and Lilly in the room and the question was posed; “She’s a good dog.” It was a true answer and one that accurately summed the total of Lil’s aspirations.

She was a dog of several titles. She was the Princess-of-Providence-Road, the Bane-of-Lawn-Care-Trailers, the “Great Speckled Pup” (she would roll her eyes in embarrassment) and of course to every child just learning to speak she was the Cute-Little-Doggie (she really hated that one). She even had a stage name, Miss Lillian Smackerbutt, though the actual stage career never materialized – the world’s loss there.

I was lucky enough to be with her at magical times.

One afternoon I unleashed her on the old rugby field at UK and stood amazed as she turned that grassy meadow into the Bonneville Salt Flats. I swear I heard a sonic boom. She was so very fast and so very pleased with herself.

I was with her on many of her epic vole hunts, including the day she made one fly over six feet up in the air. It gave the poor vole a moment of stratospheric (for a vole) glory before it plunged to its doom.

Lil and I had a never-resolved 15-year debate on the subject of what constituted “food” and what was “non-food”. She was radically more liberal and inclusive than I on the subject.

She had strong cinematic opinions (her avocation) and a complete and total devotion to Janie (her official occupation).

I could write a book.

But it’s simpler than that.

She was a good dog and a better friend.

Mission accomplished.

The Busy Bee Club

I like children.

My first job was as a clerk in the Children’s Department of the Lexington Public Library. For three years or so, I shelved, catalogued, read, recommended, and checked-out books by Seuss, Blyton, Kendall, Lofting, and multitudinous others.

I also listened to books…long before audio books were popular.

We would have clubs to spur reading in the kids. I remember the “Busy Bee Club.” Kids would receive credit for every book they read. The credits would translate into little paper bees bearing the child’s name, which would then be placed on a large poster of a bee hive for all the world to see. Of course, the claim of readership would have to be verified to earn each bee. Wouldn’t wanna get stung for a scrap of paper for a child now, would we?

That’s where I came in. I would sit and quiz the child about each book. My interrogation skills were formidable and sharp.

“Tell me about Oobleck.”

“What is this picture of a two-headed animal?”

“Who is Muggles?”

“What would you do if you ran the zoo?”

“If you could really talk to the animals, what excuses could you make for us?”

I didn’t really ask that last question, but there were days…

These sessions could be wearying and repetitive, but mostly they were just the opposite. These children had discoveries to relate. To them, Walter Farley’s Island Stallion gave them an individual special power of speed that no one had known before. They could feel the wind and heat and freedom of the gallop…with no parents around to urge caution or threaten to sue. It was a little bit scary…but it was only a book. Horton’s defense of the Who’s was exhilarating and noble and yes, a little bit scary, but it was only…a book.

And the bees proliferated and buzzed.

I liked these kids. Their passions about their discoveries were immediate and not premeditated and sometimes politically un-correct. Their instincts bent toward the right thing to do. I flinched at times when they shrank from those good instincts because they had been taught to distrust them. I flinched more often when their instincts cast a revealing light on my own distrusts. We both survived, and I think, were made better. The bees buzzed happily.

I say I liked these kids.

I say I like children.

But…

…I can’t honestly say I like them equally.

There were some children who came prepared for my questions. They were just as passionate about their stories, but they were not un-premeditated. They had been schooled on how to phrase their answers, by their parents…or perhaps, simply by their parents’ expectations. That was okay by me. I still liked them. But they were children being adults as best as they knew how. Bees still buzzed.

Children being adult-ish…nothing wrong with that, I suppose…but a touch…sad.

It’s certainly better than the reverse.

Adults being childish…not so exciting, not so charming, certainly not so helpful.

Complaining about wearing a mask to protect others…childish and cruel. Weren’t we taught as children to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves? We shouldn’t even have to be told.

Judging people by their appearances and then acting against or for those people based on our superficial judgement…childish and cruel. Weren’t we taught to not judge a book by its cover? We shouldn’t even have to be told.

Mocking people who are afflicted…or different…or simply disagree with us…childish and cruel. Weren’t we taught…? We shouldn’t even have to be told.

Isn’t it interesting that in these distracted times, the bees are disappearing?

…more than a little bit scary…

…and it’s not a book.

Snarling Charles and the Case of the Christmas Gas Bag

“Look at the fog!”

Chuck peered out his front window at his first Christmas season in his new neighborhood. After decades of Christmases living under the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, clearing the bougainvillea droppings from his hot tub, and watching reruns of Bing, Rosie, Vera, and Danny thrilling to the snows of White Christmas, coming home to a Bluegrass blurry Christmas was nettlesome.

Bouncing around his ankles, also aspiring to be nettlesome but too wee to succeed was Nigel.

Nigel, Chuck’s fierce and tiny Yorkie was on a biological schedule. “Itstimeitstimeitstime – DadDadDad – letsgoletsgoletsgo – Igottahikemyleg-g-g-g.”

Chuck continued to survey the smudge of a yuletide evening that was far from being “…just like the one I used to know.”

“I haven’t seen fog like this since my first trip to London.”

Early in Chuck’s successful screenwriting career he wrote two most excellent Sherlock Holmes screenplays that also provided an extended stay in London as the “screenwriter-in-residence” on the set of the filming. He had spent much of the residency turning his well-nurtured Anglophilia into full-blown Angl-Oh-h-h-sweet-mystery-of-life.

He savoured (note the spelling) Scotch eggs, marmite, warm beer, and old champagne. He favoured (sic…and sick) cricket over baseball and snooker over pool, though he still couldn’t play any of them.

He adopted a sort of uniform for his post-prandial wanderings through the misty streets of night-time London. He had an ulster-ish coat. He eschewed the arms of the coat and draped it over his shoulders like a cape. He had acquired a billed cloth cap with a hounds-tooth pattern. It wasn’t exactly a deerstalker but in the fog…

He also had a cane.

Not a mere cane for walking assistance, but a cane of hidden menace.

A twist of the handle and voila – a twelve-inch blade!

But wait…there’s more, and I’m not talking Ginsu knives.

With a commanding arch of one eyebrow, a radical lift of lip, and a sideways glance worthy of Sam Elliott, Snarling Charles was born and the city on the Thames trembled.

Tonight, now that he thought of it, all those ingredients were still in his possession…and the fog…and the dog…

“Alright Nigel, you silly bugger, let’s venture forth.”

“Charlie! Wait. I have something for Nigel if you’re going out.”

Chuck’s Lovely Wife Julieanne (she was contemplating a legal change of name to “Lovely Wife” but had not yet committed) ran up waving a plastic straw. It was one of those light sticks that, when violently bent and twisted, emitted a sickly green chemical glow. She wrapped it around Nigel’s neck (twice – tiny bugger that he was). Nigel bounced; “nownownownownow!”

Cap, cape, cane, canine, and sneer all in place, Snarling Charles and his noble beast were on the street and on the prowl. Thomas Burke would have approved.

Alas, there were no ill-lit shops inhabited by Quong Lee, no lamplights, no hansoms, no foghorns or chimes, no newsstands, no blind match-sellers; just prim, new residences hunkering down in the murk. Even the murk was marred by blobs of harsh light bobbing on the lawns.

There were blob reindeer, and blob Santas, and blob angels, and blob snowmen. They were inflatable plastic yard decorations, garishly lit from the inside, and staked to the earth to limit their contagion. At least that’s how Snarling Charles thought of them.

“Nailing‘em to one place is good for a start, but I can think of a more permanent cure for this infestation. I’ll nail them gas bags fer good!”

He approached a six foot high snowman doing a handstand. The sheer fantasy physics of a glowing snowman cavorting on his hands was maddening.

“How would his hat stay on?”

Charles gave his cane a twist and voila!

“I should name this little sword ‘Voila!’” He thought.

He hovered in front of the offending balloon. Nigel bounced about in triumph; “LooklooklookDad! It’s a quality poop, just like they promise on TV! Pickitup-pickitup-pickitup! We’ll add it to the collection!” Nigel had long been convinced that somewhere there was a gallery of The Poops of Nigel, the Silly Bugger.

Just then, the front door of the house to whom the prancing abomination belonged, opened and a man’s voice bellowed; “Ay! What’re you doin’ out there?”

Snarling Charles bristled at the tone, but maintained a civil front.

“I’m simply admiring your yard…art.”

“Well, you just admire it from the sidewalk and get offa my lawn!”

There was a final duet of a door slam and a vocalized “Pervert!”

Charles was left in a silent fog, the darkness broken by a radiant upside down snowman and a bouncing Chernobyl green glow stick.

No…it wasn’t London.

No…it wasn’t the snowman’s fault.

But someone must be made to pay.

He sheathed his sword and left the poop.

And by the light of his good dog Nigel, he wended his way home.

Full Day

I’ve had a full day.

My never-ending scrimmage with the trumpet-vine hedge that shelters and intimidates our back yard continues; with blade and badinage. I’m holding my own, but I sense the trumpet is initiating a new aerial assault. Five feet over my head, it now reaches for a trio of overhead wires running to the house. Unfortunately, ladders and I have a more dubious relationship since my recent bicycle face-plant, but I’ll have to respond somehow. Mere wit will not deter this charming and well-connected vine.

I completed a second covid-19 test this afternoon. It was another grueling five minutes and a sneeze to prepare for a regular medical procedure next week. By the way, if you haven’t been tested, quit being a child and do so. It’s free, it’s quick, and it’s the next right thing to do.

And yes, I wore a mask. If you’re not wearing one, quit being a child and do so. You don’t need a governor to tell you it’s the next right thing to do. Sheesh! Does he have to tell you to brush your teeth or to look both ways before you cross?

Speaking of my bicycle disaster, the stitches are out and my face mostly healed (I’ll show you my Heidelberg Scar!), and now my new eyeglasses have arrived. I’m very excited. I can again read all the signs and chyrons, and pick out the stars and planets……and once more see exactly how lucky I am in marriage. The things you miss…

Our day-lilies are beginning to shout; “Rum Red!”, “Wild One!”, “Raspberry Pixie!”, “Stella d’Oro!”

The decadent hibiscus murmurs.

The begonias persistently party on, disregarding all social distancing.

The knockouts are giddy.

The hummers continue to criticize every recipe I concoct for them.

The frogs croak, the squirrels scold, the tupelos continue to silently amass power (to what eventual end…I shudder to think), the rabbits tease the hawks and are sometimes summarily punished for their sauciness…

Yes…

…a full day…

…full of nothing in the face of the aches of the world.

…full of nothing in the aches of Mr. Floyd, Ms. Taylor, and Mr. Arbery.

…full of nothing in the shadow of Trump and McConnell and Putin.

But it’s my day. A day I’ve striven for…a full day.

But not really full. There’s something missing.

You.

All of you.

Every one of you. Every color, tint, and shade. Every gender. Every flavor. Every size. Every accent.

Until everyone has a path to their full day, and feels physically safe in pursuing that day…my full day can never quite be.

Obviously the work is not done.

My full day…is not…

Full.

What’s the next right thing I must do?

Bobble Head Day

The last two or three years I worked were a strange mix.

I traveled a lot. I hated the travel, but was quite intrigued with the places to which I traveled…when I rarely got to actually see them.

The buttes of Scottsdale, Arizona were novel to see…through the sliding panel of my hotel room as I marched from meeting to meeting. The stunted, green-deprived palette of the desert ditto…through the rental car windshield on my way to and from the airport.

The fierce mountains looming over Anchorage, Alaska didn’t intimidate me as much as navigating the dust and gravel-strewn intersections of sections of town where no cab nor cruise ship bravely went.

Streaking between the hurricane-scraped concrete slabs of Biloxi and the white, featureless sands of the Gulf to get to the Mecca of the local casino for a conference was a mite disheartening.

Boston, a week after their two biggest snowstorms in 20 years was…white.

Edmonton, Alberta in February was……not……Biloxi.

And getting home was no picnic either.

  • Days lost to never-ending red-eye flights from Seward’s Folly.
  • Landing on less-than-the-prudent number of wheels in the midst of flashing red lights and sirens in Chicago after circling for two hours to consume our fuel.
  • Flight returning to Atlanta after midnight because the runway in Lexington was considered a touch too short for the pilot’s liking that evening.
  • Luggage too often scheduling an itinerary of its own…

…no, no picnic.

The assignments in various parts Kentucky were mostly delightful.

I enjoyed the city council meetings I attended in Danville and Bowling Green and Hurstbourne and, of course Louisville and Lexington. I found them to be mostly validating in their local expressions of democracy.

There were the odd exceptions.

One night, I found myself in an obviously expensive house in Louisville surrounded by dark suits and dead animals. Big game trophies jutted their deceased faces and horns from every wall. I did a quick check to be sure Marlin Perkins was not in attendance. He was not.

One of our major political candidates running for re-election at the time was.

He looked pitiful and small. His handshake was pitiful and small.

I felt pitiful and small.

A year or so later, I was invited to an afternoon meeting with another of our major political candidates running for re-election at that time.

There were about 50 dark suits there, no dead animals, two suits were female, none were other than white as far as I could determine. And, except for me, everyone’s head bobbled…for real.

The candidate’s curly head cocked and bobbled as he pretended to be discovering for the first time the same points he had been making for two years. The dark suits’ heads bobbled in agreement.

It wasn’t that he was sounding crazy, but the bobbling heads were pretty funny.

And the big eyes on the younger members of the throng…you know what I mean…those big rookie baseball player eyes that say; “Ah’m jes’ glad to be here an’ I hope I can help the team win some games.”

It was when the candidate had responded to a question with an implication that after a “welfare mother” had birthed two or three young’uns that maybe she shouldn’t be birthin’ anymore…I surveyed the room to see all those dark suits still a’bobbin’ those heads.

Folks…

…dead animals, dead handshakes, dead ideas…

We are flying in the dead of night, with less than optimum equipment, consuming our fuel.

We can surely do better than this.

Pandemic Ponderings

Janie and I take Covid-19 seriously.

We are of the “most-vulnerable” contingent because of age. That’s worrisome.

My mom ditto, but she’s an obstinate cuss who won’t let just anybody into her house, especially someone named “Coronavirus.” (I can hear her now; “I don’t know anyone named that…what kind of name IS that? …mutter, mutter, mutter…”)

Janie and I light up green every night, order our groceries for pickup, wear our masks (made by Janie, of course), tip the food delivery folks, and pine to see our friends.

We also watch Governor Andy Beshear’s daily update…every day.

Every day.

We’re proud of our state for responding with vigor to the challenges of sheltering-at-home. We’re pleased the response seems to have reduced (so far) the damage other states and countries have suffered.

I’m not ashamed to admit I weep for our fatalities and I cheer for our recoveries.

I now practice sign language. That alone makes me a better person.

These sessions with Governor Andy are useful and inspirational. I applaud the local TV stations for carrying them in their entirety.

Tonight, I was arrested by three things Gov. Beshear said.

  • “The truth is always the best answer.” – I think I first learned this at about the age of three under direct interrogation from my parents. Practicing it has produced the best results ever since.
  • “We need to do better.” – There has never been a day in my life when this has not been true. Not one…but I still hope.
  • “This is our chance.” – Damn straight! Our chance to be exceptional. Our chance to show some justifiable pride. Our chance to value and sustain all of our neighbors; red, blue, white, black, young, old, left, right, east, or west. Our chance. Our neighbors. All of ‘em.

These are all part of my growing up in Kentucky.

Why would I not be moved by them now?

Why do I not expect to hear any of them from our current president?

We will get through this.

We will get through this…together.

Ourselves.

What If They Don’t Come Back?

Our recently acquired tree frog is in rare voice this evening.

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

I’m reminded of a description I once heard of the “Om-m-m” chant. This is my memory of that description.

It’s a four-syllable chant;

  1. It begins with an aspirant release of breath that almost has an “H” in it, framing the “O” to come. It prepares the way.
  2. The “O” ascends from your diaphragm, through the aspirant to the parted lips. It is powerful and inevitable.
  3. The parted lips close, turning the “O” to an “M-M-M-M-M.” It roils and is eternal until;
  4. The air is gone. The aspirant, the “O”, and the “M” are gone into silence. The silence is the final syllable. The silence is the final……

until;

  1. It begins again and again……

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

As if on cue, the frog pierces the evening outside my window.

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

Every amphibious aria lasts for about eight seconds.

I’m grateful and strangely renewed by each one.

It’s good to find renewal in this year of the plague, in this presidential term of dissolution, in this week of having mortality painted on your mirror as indelibly as icy swim trunks on a stormy late summer afternoon. Thank you, E. B. White for that thought.

It’s good to be encouraged, to be renewed, and to be turned forward to anticipate a “new normal.”

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-m-m-m-m-MMMMMMM-M-M-M-m-m-m-m…………..

I look forward to the new normal and speculate endlessly on what it might look like, what it might contain.

Today, in particular, I’ve been dwelling on a generation shifting notion.

What if, when work and shops open up for future business, folks in their early sixties, who have worked their asses off their whole adult life, decide not to do that anymore, decide the health risk is not worth it, decide this time off at home they’ve experienced is worth more than the eternal carrot on the stick and they should have realized that decades ago and……maybe they did know that long ago…but forgot it…or ignored it?

What if…they don’t come back?

Perhaps un- and under-employment issues would fade as younger people stepped into those abandoned positions.

Perhaps nose-to-the-grindstone people who have never felt rich in dollars would find themselves rich in time; time to think, time to listen, time do one thing at a time and do it well, time to tell their story, time to;

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-m-m-m-m-MMMMMMM-M-M-M-m-m-m-m…………..

Time to take a chance.

Time to take a chant.

Time to face that mirror and not flinch.

Just a notion.

…just askin’ for a friend…