Category Archives: Lexington-Today

Feel So Near

Dougie MacLean tells of an island in Scotland; small, barren, isolated to the lack-o-mercies of the winds.

<<< You’ll find me sitting at this table with my friend Finn and my friend John…we may take a glass together. The whisky makes it all so clear. I feel so near to the howling of the wind – feel so near to the crashing of the waves – feel so near to the flowers in the field – feel so near. >>>

Janie and I live in a green bubble, mostly sheltered from crashings and howlings, yet the song resonates.

I farm a lot these days.

That’s a joke that only Janie and I know.

Sorry.

I dead-head and seasonally prune roses. I think it helps.

I whack and wreak violence on the trumpet vine. I think it helps.

I water the petunias, begonias, bougainvillea, impatiens, and coleus. I know that helps.

I kneel and crawl and claw at pyramid-scheme grasses that try to drain the resource bank accounts of Janie’s day-lilies.

I croon encouragement to the robust efforts of the cleome, sedum, shiso, and bronze fennel gifted to me by Becky Johnson. I keenly feel that responsibility.

I harvest and return the errant game balls of various sizes that have evaded the best efforts of the six-year-old that lives behind us. Sometimes I launch a sphere towards the youngster’s goal. Calipari has not yet called.

Yes, I farm, but far from diligently.

What I do diligently is take plentiful breaks. The kitten (a sworn but un-diligent killer of critters that stumble into her maw) and I sit, still and attentive.

Cardinals scold. Frogs croak, bark, and squeak. Sirens wail. Cicadas ratchet. Hummers whir-r-r. Copters whirl.

We feel so near…

<<< The old man looks out to the island. He says this place is endless here. There’s no real distance here to mention… There’s no distance to the spirits of the living – no distance to spirits of the dead.

I feel so near to the howling of the wind – feel so near to the crashing of the waves – feel so near to the flowers in the field – feel so near. >>>

I feel so near.

Sh-h-h-h-h.

Sometimes It’s Jes’ Real Good

I enjoy Twitter and I generally find it more useful than not. Two sites I find consistently entertaining are those of Miss Punnypenny and Rex Chapman. Miss Punnypenny gives me my Scots word of the day and besides, I have a thing for redheads (ask Janie). Rex Chapman is Rex Chapman of the UK Wildcats…and he really likes and understands dogs.

Mr. Chapman recently posted a street cam video of a fellow faking an accident of a car striking him. It reminded me…

One day in my work life with Liquor Barn I received a notice from our insurance company that an action had been initiated by a customer who claimed that he had been assaulted by one of our cashiers with a shopping cart, knocked to the floor, and presumably damaged for life.

I looked at the date of the alleged occurrence. To no surprise, it was exactly 51 weeks before the filing of the complaint. There is a one-year window for such complaints. Many are filed just prior to the deadline. Funny how that is…

I pulled and reviewed the video for the alleged date, noting that this was gonna be hours of my life I was never gonna get back. I found the incident. The video clearly showed the customer being refused for attempting to purchase alcohol for the clearly under-aged companion, clearly standing off to the side of the transaction. When the cashier turned their back to remove the controversial merchandise from snatch-and-grab range, the customer clearly reached out and snatched a nearby shopping cart instead, and proceeded to kneel and then roll on the floor in distress. His young friend leapt to his assistance and they skipped out the door arguing with each other.

I smirked (a verb of which I am not proud) and filed the tape away with others on my that’s-the-last-I’ll-hear-of-this shelf.

I was wrong.

Within the hour, I received a phone call. It was from the complainant.

Caller; “This is John Diver.” (Names have been changed to protect the despicable).

Me; “Yes, Mr. Diver. What can I do for you?”

“Do you know who I am?”

“I do.”

“I’m suing you for damages.”

“I know.”

“What’re you gonna do about it?”

“…Nuthin’…”

“Don’t you wanna stay outta court?”

“I do.”

“Well, that’s where we’re goin’.”

“Okay.”

Here, there was a long, thoughtful pause. Then, he continued.

“You got video in that store?”

“Mr. Diver, I don’t have to answer your questions. Whether I have video or not will be established in the court in which you seem so anxious to be. When we are in that court, I’ll have to answer your questions and I think I can promise you a level of public embarrassment and perhaps, legal liability that Ripley wouldn’t believe. Until then…”

I never heard from Mr. Diver again.

  • Call their bluff.
  • Shine lights on their lies.
  • Shame their families.
  • Don’t imitate their mistakes.
  • If, in the past you have imitated their mistakes, resign and let someone unpolluted fix things.

Otherwise, as Miss Punnypennie might say, “Wheesht.”

Beauty is in the Eye…

I s’poz I should reassure my friends and declare myself safe from the hurricane.

Chloe my pup, AKA the Queen of Debris (QoD) and I have just returned from our afternoon ramble, this time through the eye of what’s left of Hurricane Ida.

I noticed on the weather radar that Lexington was currently nestled in a spot clear of rain. We hastened to don our journeying attire (no, no pith helmets…sigh) and bravely went forth where no man has gone before…at least in the last fifteen minutes or so.

The wind roared along at a brisk zephyr-ish clip as we left the house, passing the fish pond.

We scrambled the frog army from their lily pad perches where they’ve been partying like it was the deluge. They abandoned their “Bud-wei-serrr” keg temporarily, but we turned a blind eye in the nostalgic hope that Louie might crash the gala when it reassembled.

We negotiated (le mot juste) a path that allowed the QoD to venture near, but not in the excavations of home improvement projects in our neighborhood. Janie would not be pleased if I returned with a muddier pooch than that with which I set out.

It was a short walk, but we managed to cross various streets five times within a couple of blocks…always satisfying. Street crossing is especially important to this hound’o’mine. On a cellular level, she believes that both sides of every street are hers…at the same time. She believes she can have momentum, and be mired and admired in the present moment…all at the same time! She believes if she were Schrödinger’s Dog, she would be alive and dead, within or without the box…at the same goddam time!!

Whaddyadoo with a critter like that?

You get out of her way, but keep a tight hold on her leash.

And you walk her in the eye of a hurricane.

Army Times

I’m building an army.

It was not my intention, but I confess I am intrigued by the non-military exercise.

Janie and I have a small, decorative pond. It’s about 20 years old now and a well-established eco-system. It’s lagoon-like; deep and darkish, surrounded by holly and bougainvillea and petunias and begonias. It has a sedate fountain that doubles as a bird bath that has hosted robins, cardinals, squirrels, hawks, finches, various black birds, and one befuddled heron. The lagoon has been home for 20-40 fish who perform their languid song and dance routine to the endless fascination of Sprite the Cat.

…and frogs…

We always have an adult frog or two serenading us with their croaks and groans and barks. We usually have several tadpoles that grow into small, giddy little froglets during each summer who squeak and scramble at our approach. Rainstorms come and go and so do the frogs. Residents drift away, transients from elsewhere appear. The population numbers vary. Redistricting is a challenge.

But this year…

A few weeks ago, I came home to find the pond slimed as thoroughly as a Ghostbuster. Thick, translucent slime covered the surface of the water and the moisture pooled on many of the lily pads. The lily pads were peppered with thousands of black dots. Over the next few days, the black dots became black dashes. The dashes began to wriggle and dart, and upon close examination, tiny tails could be seen emerging. The slime dwindled, the dashes disappeared.

This week, I was sitting by the pond, enjoying a serene respite from this season’s rains. I noticed the drops sporadically breaking the water’s surface. We’ve had so much rain this summer it took a moment for me to register the drops were not drops at all. The breaks in the surface were coming from below. Those dark dashes have now become miniscule (1/4 inch), chubby tadpoles. There are hundreds of them.

Thus, the current frog population of our dark lagoon is two croaking adults, six squeaking juveniles, and over a hundred pinging hatchlings.

An army.

I’m not sure what to do next.

  1. Should I notify Sam Elliott he may be needed?
  2. Should I contact the local restaurants to give them a chance to adjust their fall menus?

Janie wants to name them all.

This I Don’t Believe

I recall a public radio series; “This I Believe.”

I liked the series. It was a variety of individuals relating the motivating impulses in their lives and why they were important to the individual. The audio essays were usually moving, and usually nudged this listener towards a better business plan for the next day.

Unfortunately, in these days, I find myself bombarded with messages I don’t believe. I suppose these messages have been there my whole life, but I’m finding myself less amenable to their content.

For example;

  • I don’t believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Great Pumpkin, the Tooth Fairy, the Seven Golden Cities of Cibola, or snipe.
  • I don’t believe Caspar Guttman ever obtained the real Maltese Falcon and I don’t believe any cowboy was ever injured by a bullet-depleted pistol hurled backwards from a galloping horse.
  • I don’t believe the Fountain of Youth ever existed, nor do I believe Miracle Spring Water is effective for anything other than streaming a current of cash to some preacher’s pocket.
  • I don’t believe in “The Give Back Benefit.”

There are a large number of other dubious concepts in my purview, but those are not so clearly clear to this purview-er that I would want to raise the issue and lower the curtain on acquaintances I would otherwise admire.

Because this I do believe.

I believe it is a challenge and an opportunity to arise every day……but we’re never sure which.

It’s both.

I believe we know so little about the struggles and joys of the people we encounter each day, it’s unfair to assume we know more.

We don’t.

Look for the opportunities.

Face the challenges.

Help with the struggles.

Embrace the joys.

Give with no expectation of a “Give Back Benefit.”

The giving is the benefit.

This I believe.

A Great Blessing

There was so much right on so many levels tonight at the Opera House in Lexington.

Literally…

  • Every level of seating in the Opera House seemed to be populated fully as far as I could see.
  • The orchestra level was raised to stage level, effectively social-distancing the audience from the musicians and singers.

And figuratively…

  • The tickets were cyber-tix. I bought my tickets on-line, they were delivered on-line, and they were executed on-line. I had to show the bar code on my phone and the ticket-taker scanned my bar code and let me proceed. I fretted in anticipation when I learned of this arrangement. I envisioned a major patron jam of geezers fiddling fruitlessly with our phones while the orchestra initiated their warning warm-ups. I envisioned the major geezer obstacle being me, patron saint of the clumsy thumbs. Thankfully, Janie (Our Lady of Fer-Gods-Sake-Get-a-Hold-of-Yerself) schooled me this afternoon and I was prepared. Wonder of wonders, so was everyone else! Folks were admitted and seated with their self-respect intact, and the show started on time.
  • Dr. Everett McCorvey walked out on stage with Dr. Sandy Archer (president of OperaLex). Applause, relief, and release filled the venue. Everyone breathed…maybe for the first time in over a year. Dr. McCorvey’s organic ebullience on the stage was roared back at him at the same level by a Lexington audience in their historic performing venue; a venue that had “…been through some good times, been through some bad times, but my dear, I’m still here.” –Stephen Sondheim.

The show itself was lovely.

  • I confess I wept during the opening number; “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” But frankly, I would have wept if they had sang the phone book (remember those?). Hearing these powerful young voices singing live on stage…… It was a religious moment.
  • Seeing and hearing the growth of Houston Tyrrell and Jessica Bayne…a joy.
  • “Why We Build the Wall”, from HADESTOWN was, as it always has been for me, a breath-suspending experience. Nathaniel E. Thompson should be congratulated for attempting this signature moment and thanked for nailing it. Then, of course, the rest of us must go home a think about it…a lot.
  • Michael Preacely…”The Impossible Dream.” Encouraging, instructive, powerful, and melodic. This was great blessing.

Michael had the line that summed up the whole evening for me;

“The world will be better for this.”

I know I was.

Frettin’ ‘Bout Normalcy

Giddy.

There’s no denyin’.

That’s how I felt…

…giddy.

Janie and I, being fully vaccinated, felt secure enough to accept impromptu invitations to gather with old friends (fully vaccinated) and some long-missed acquaintances (fully vaccinated) three different evenings this week. There were wines and margaritas and tales…all potent, but non-infectious. We gathered around outdoor flames, and we gathered with rain on the roof. It was all fine.

The last year has been so tough for so many. And yes, Janie and I have seen death and the threat of death in our family. But we have hunkered down for a year with each other, and not “discovered” each other, but reveled in each other, and that’s been rich.

But this last week of jet-setting within a few blocks of our house spurred giddiness.

Giddiness is not my forte, fretting is.

This week we celebrated and discussed birthdays, surprise weddings, artistic achievements, job interviews, pet antics, current books being read, and Casa Amigos Reposado. What was missing from all of these world-renewing conversations was any mention of Trump. It was as if he never happened.

But he did…and still does.

Covid happened…and still does.

There is infection in our country and in our world. We seem to be holding it at bay, but it lurks and festers.

We must inoculate ourselves with vaccines and alertness and facts…

…and our friends.

National Public Despair

I drove to Louisville today…and back…all in one day.

That sounds silly to those that don’t know me.

Those that do know me, know I’ve become a hermit who strives to not strive to be more than a Frisbee toss from the UK campus. A much-admired friend told me 20 years ago; “My wife and I realized that 90% of what we wanted in the world was within a one-mile radius of UK. We see no reason to live outside that.” He then chuckled to show me he was kidding. His eyes and a quick sip from his drink suggested he was ardently not.

The opera, the Guignol Theatre, the dry cleaners, the grocery store, Josie’s, the pharmacy, three wine shops, the bank, an art museum, football/baseball/softball/soccer/basketball, a library branch, Starbuck’s, pizza, pad thai, burritos, hot chicken, cheddar-burgers, reubens, omelets, hot browns……and vaccinations…are all my neighbors. The only things missing are an ocean and a major league baseball team.

But today I drove to Louisville and I anticipated a lovely day. It was sunny and cool. Traffic was light. I eagerly tuned the radio to NPR.

When I was driving all over Kentucky the last three years I worked, NPR was a joy; bright and positive, not yet sucked into the 24/7/365 reality show of the Trump debacle. Now, with Trump festering in relative silence in Mar-a-Lago (Florida’s iteration of Elba), I anticipated an afternoon drive listening to new books, new plays, new songwriters…who knows?

Instead, I got an earful of assisted suicide (legal and not so), stats on how many Kentuckians are currently hospitalized and clinging to survival on respirators, protest machinations in Myanmar, ecoside (what words we invent to soften, distract from, and just plain avoid saying climate change), royal racism, and the increase in the deportation of Haitians.

At least there was no mention of Trump or Dr. Seuss, though a few couplets from IF I RAN THE CIRCUS might have perked up things as I zipped past Waddy/Peytona.

I’m thinkin’ the nation may yet be in recovery.

A Martian Dune Buggy

Today, after toting it for six months over 290 million miles, we parked a dune buggy on the surface of Mars.

A dune buggy!

I expected the first pictures transmitted would show Arch Hall Junior racing and bouncing over a red terrain rescuing Marilyn Manning from the clutches of Eegah while playing a Strata-Caster and chanting in various mismatched keys. I admit to a little disappointment when the first two snapshots showed a bleak, guitar-less, Richard Kiel-less horizon broken sporadically by a few solar-wind-blasted pavers.

Still…we’re there…on another planet…looking for life.

How foolish.

How wonderful.

I’m so proud.

Our Martian dune buggy will gather samples of rock and soil that it can only send back to Earth if we go and get them.

If we go and get them! And, I gather, we have plans to do so.

What imagination!

I’m so proud.

The last four years have been dominated by resistance. Now, I suggest we let perseverance rule.

Let our imaginations persevere. Let our scientists persevere. Let our children learn and persevere and become the best and brightest they can be. The best teachers, scientists, writers, plumbers, actors, policemen, dancers, farmers, senators, singers, mayors……astronauts………the best.

The best.

We’ll need‘em on Mars.

Hell, we need’em here…now.

Wanted: Tree Planters

It doesn’t take long to plant a tree, but after you’ve done it, you’ll have a goodly wait till you get the full benefit of what you’ve planted. When I was in my twenties and thirties I planted trees and shrubs. Then I sat back and waited.

I had time.

Planting trees was a selfish act. It was for me.

I had time.

Now…maybe not so much time.

I planted trees where I could see the result.

I had time.

Planting trees was a selfish act.

I had time.

Now…maybe…

I’ve visited places that people gush about; Arizona, Alaska, Mexico… I liked ‘em, but there were few trees and of few varieties. I missed my trees.

Planting trees was a selfish act.

Hollies, tupelos, dogwoods, chincopin oaks, ginkgos, maples, magnolias, spruce, birches…

I cherish them all.

Planting trees was a selfish act.

Now, at this certain age, I know planting trees is for the pleasure of others. I will still plant them. They still fill me with hope for what will come. It is still a selfish act.

Yesterday, I saw hooligans and terrorists rampaging in our nation’s capitol.

I didn’t see any tree planters.

Tree planters have hope.