Category Archives: Lexington-Today

Frogs and Dogs

I posted a picture of the knot of frogs that inhabits our little pond. That’s what a group of frogs is called. I’m inordinately proud to know that.

I like the frogs.

One night recently, our wonder pup, Chloe, cornered the largest frog who had wandered a few feet away from the safety of the water. I had to intercede and provide the frog with a corridor to safety. There was a hop, a dive, and a splash – all was well. Chloe gave me a glare that screamed; “I don’t know you anymore.”

I like the dog, too.

The frog was being a frog; venturesome and stupid.

The dog was being a dog; a gleeful hunter.

Let them be what they are. Value them for what they are.

Sure they have their limitations, but as frogs and dogs, they’re jes’ fine.

Those limitations however, as charming as they are, are limitations. They prevent me from asking/hiring/electing them to be something other than frogs and dogs. For example, I believe Chloe’s penchant for chasing squirrels would make her unsuitable for driving my car and the frog’s constantly damp condition would render it unwise to assign electrical repair needs to him/her.

Nor would I nominate or elect either of them to be President.

But…as dogs and frogs…I like ‘em jes’ fine.

Christmas Whackers

I got tools for Christmas.

I’m sorry. I shoulda warned you before I said that. You might have been standing in a place where it’s hazardous to faint.

But it’s true.

My personal foundations are shaken. I’m questioning every tenet by which I’ve navigated the years. How has it come to this? Tools…and all the expectations and assumptions that accompany them…given to me…whose past attempted claims to the adjective “handy” were usually rebuffed and ridiculed with cause decent, and alas….

Janie gave me tools for Christmas.

She has followed and encouraged my perennial struggle to rein in the sly and raging ambitions of the trumpet vine under which we live. She understands my frustration when the vine soars high above my reach and threatens to initiate unholy congress with the overhead wires that power our house and allow our home to communicate with the rest of the planet. She knows of my aesthetic dissatisfaction with the ugly dead arm of a high branch on our 40-year-old dogwood. She senses my fear that the lower branches of the tupelos out front are scaring the strollers in our neighborhood.

Thanks to her, I now have new armaments to aid my battle.

I now have a wicked, 12-inch tree handsaw with apocalyptic teeth that devours with utter disdain bark, pith, pulp, and small student vehicles parked illegally.

I now have an extension that will allow me to clip twigs and branches from another area code.

Great…I think.

Chloe, the pup of wonder, worries that, these new weapons in my hands might lead to the wrong limbs being severed.

Janie coos “You missed one there, cowboy.”

I’m a lucky guy.

Whackers for Christmas.

Ouch.

Turning Toward the Morning

One of my favorite voices belongs to a singer/songwriter/sailor/boat builder from Maine. His name is Gordon Bok. I’ve never sailed nor built a boat and I’ve never been to Maine. Thus, I don’t always understand what he’s singing about. He sings about north winds and waves and storms and nautical conversations with meteorological entities. He describes negotiations between fishermen and the elements. He keens of the fearful waiting of a fishing community awaiting either a reassurance of their loved ones’ return after a storm, or a mortal tally of the lost.

No, I don’t always understand his jargon or his tales, and I suspect that often what I do understand is incomplete and inaccurate.

But he sings so beautifully.

One of his songs, Turning Toward the Morning, resonates with me as this difficult year swirls around its sordid drain. In it, Mr. Bok describes;

“When October’s growin’ thin and November’s comin’ home, you’ll be thinking of the seasons and the sad things that you’ve seen. And you’ll hear that old wind walkin’, hear him singin’ high and thin. You could swear he’s out there singin’ of your sorrow.”

I heard that old wind.

I heard it a few years ago in a small vacation rental on the moors of Nantucket Island. It never ceased. It whispered and rumbled and insisted. It sighed and soughed and implied. It whistled and crooned and threatened. It was intimate and indifferent and in control. Janie and I fled back to Kentucky.

I hear that old wind now.

I hear it on the news. I sift the news of its reality show trappings as best I can. I know they’re driven to create desire in me for reverse mortgages, free transportation to my yearly checkups, clean gutters, drugs with manufactured names I can’t pronounce, miracle pillows, and miracle spring water. I don’t mind this hucksterism. Hell, I grew up thinking I could order eyeglasses from my comic books that would enable me to see through people’s clothes.

No, I need the news services for the facts I can glean, not for that old wind “singin’ of my sorrow.”

I hear that old wind in the concerns of my friends.

My friends are smart (most of the time), optimistic (most of the time), and want to do the next right thing (pretty much all of time). But, for the most part, they are not spring chickens. They fret to near bitterness that they will not get to see the results of the great repair job that began on January 20, 2021. That old wind murmurs that it will take time to inoculate everyone to thwart the pandemic, it will take time to re-staff and refocus our efforts to build the better country we were building before the vandals were allowed entrance, it will take time…

So what.

We still must begin.

We have begun before, and I for one enjoyed that beginning. I’ll enjoy this one as well.

Mr. Bok scratches his head over our fretting;

“It’s a pity we don’t know what the little flowers know. They can’t face the cold November. They can’t take the wind and snow. They put their glories all behind them, bow their heads and let it go. But you know they’ll be there shinin’ in the morning.”

Put your glories all behind you. Bow your head and let it go. There are new glories to create.

Ronald Reagan’s campaign told us “It’s morning in America.” (LOUD BUZZER) Wrong! Thank you for playing.

The morning is now.

It always is……now.

It will be glorious and exciting. Just what us geezer-refugees from the Age of Aquarius need…a mission bigger and longer-lasting than ourselves.

Mr. Bok;

“If I had a thing to give you, I would tell you one more time that the world is always turning toward the morning.”

It is the dawning.

Be there…

…shinin’.

Snarling Charles & the Case of the Purloined Letter

(With apologies to Edgar Allan Poe)

The geese were flying south and the geezers were gathering outdoors.

It was late October in Lexington, a season that normally chased flocks and folks towards shelter. But this was a spectacular unseasonably warm sunny morning. It had been predicted days before by the Gospel According to the Weather Channel. Thus, these codgers had arranged to assemble for one more chinwag before winter drove them indoors and Covid drove them apart. As Snarling Charles passed through the gate, the host’s fire pit, fountain, and grill were roaring, and the house pup was busy establishing Trumpian relationships trading nebulous promises of affection and loyalty for immediate material riches such as surreptitious scraps of edibles.

A jolly time seemed in the offing.

Heightened celebration was in the air.

Charles had received a phone call from his wife on his drive to this convening of convivial complainers. She had gleefully given him the news that CNN had just called the election for Biden. Charles had harboured (spelling is correct – Charles being the anglophile that he was, the “u” was ubiquitous) hopes that he could break the news to his colleagues, but alas, TV is faster than Lexington’s rambling lanes. The champagne was already flowing and the burgers were sizzling when he arrived at the gate. The pup was entertaining her own notions of a canine American dream…with mustard.

After hopeful toasts to the eminent end of a national nightmare, the usual litany of personal medical updates ensued, and was capped with the group’s retelling of theatre horror stories which had been burnished and improved since their last recounting.

Then someone remarked to Charles that they had noticed his latest “Letter to the Editor” in the local paper a few days before.

Charles, who had melted his snarl to a mere smirk in the glow of champagne, charred beef, and good companions, immediately snapped to attention. One eyebrow and one lip corner reached for the heavens; “Oh really? I didn’t see that.”

Charles was a writer.

Charles was a successful writer, and more importantly, a good writer.

People who speak French well, speak French whenever possible.

People who swim well, spend as much time in the water as they can.

People who write well…

Charles was a lousy poker player (that snarl…). He didn’t play poker very often.

He wrote well. You guess how he spent his time.

One of his most effective writing outlets was writing Letters to the Editor. They were sometimes pithy. They were sometimes pissy. But they were always strongly stated and well-written; rants perhaps, but rants with vocabulary, grammar, and panache.

This particular letter had been about standing ovations in the local theatres.

Now…

…in a nation where white lawyers and their wives are standing barefoot in the lawns of their mansions brandishing guns at people of color, and…

…a quarter of a million people have died from a virus in eight months, and…

…wildfires are consuming California, and…

…people in Flint, Michigan cannot safely drink the water from their faucets…

…we might have more pressing issues than surplus, unearned standing ovations in the local theatre.

But for Snarling Charles, this was one more thing that needed to be addressed and it was something to which he could bring some expertise.

Good for him.

As he put it in his letter;

“The automatic leaping to their feet of audiences in our town for any and every stage production, regardless of quality does a disservice to the labours of our best performers.”

He was proud he had written it. He was happy to hear it had been published. He was sorry he had missed it.

When he returned home, he indulged in a little more celebratory sparkling wine with his missus, walked the good dog Nigel, and delved in the past few days of the local paper until he found his missive.

Sure enough, there it was, just like he wrote it…sort of;

“The automatic leaping to their feet of audiences in our town for any and every stage production, regardless of quality does a disservice to the labors of our best performers.”

“Labors?”

Where’s my bloody “u”?

I Could Not Be Happier

Today I was driving through a beautiful neighborhood on a sunny, 70-degree day in Lexington. The trees were autumnally spectacular. I was on my way to a spacious outdoor courtyard to meet a half dozen geezer theatre friends for a socially distanced brunch. I have worked and played and laughed with this group for over 250 years combined. We used to meet with some regularity until covid drove us into our burrows. This was to be our first assemblage in eight months.

I could not be happier…I thought.

Then the phone rang.

It was the wife of one of the geezers, herself a friend of more decades than it would be polite to specify.

“Rodge! Tell my husband to turn on his phone!”

“Julieanne, is something wrong?”

“Just tell him to turn on his damn phone! Biden won! He won! They just called Pennsylvania!!”

I hung up and drove on. The phone dinged with a text. It was from my wife, Janie; an emoji of a champagne bottle launching its cork.

I arrived at the brunch, ridiculed my occasionally Luddite friend for walking around with a useless phone in his pocket, and announced the electoral headline in spontaneous duet with our hostess as she emerged from the house having just learned the same news. Champagne flowed and flowery toasts were deployed. Old friends were reunited. Old stories were told again. Our laughter rocked the world.

I could not be happier…………I thought.

But there was something missing.

At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Then I thought back to election night, 2016.

I went to bed that election night stunned and morose. The momentum and the arithmetic was undeniable: Donald Trump was gonna win.

Janie had already gone to bed. I didn’t wake her with the news.

The next morning, as she learned the result, I watched the subsequent waves of incredulity, indignation, sadness, fear, and finally anger.

“What do we do to fix this?”

We were together for the bad news.

We should be together for the good news.

I excused myself from my jolly brunch brotherhood and headed home.

Janie met me at the door. There was a hug and a kiss. Champagne flowed and the toast, though not flowery, was precise and jubilant; “Now we can begin.”

I could not be happier…………………………this time I know.

The Gargoyle Vote

A hall-of fame bluegrass autumn evening prompts me to open the library windows and allow its pleasant invasion. The temperature is perfect, the humidity is low (rare for Kentucky). The sounds of the evening stream in to complete this urban hermit’s bliss.

What a change from the harsh invasion of last night.

The sounds of last evening screamed in to annihilate any bliss.

A red, shiny, snarling, sneering, pouting visage filled the TV screen. It was a face I’d seen before on the gargoyles of French buildings; looming and leering, hungry and angry, auguring vengeance on any lack of subservience, real or perceived.

It was a face I’d seen before in the Marvel comic books I collected in the 70’s. It was the screaming face of Peter Parker’s boss, J. Jonah Jameson. It was the leering face of the Green Gargoyle. It was the rampaging, obese face of the Incredible Hulk (“Don’t make me mad”). It was a cartoon face. It was not human.

I knew that then.

I know it now.

There’ll be no voting for gargoyles at our house.

This evening’s sounds are mostly gentle and reassuring.

The soft plash of the frogs, the muffled rumble of a squirrel on the roof, the martial rhythm of the cicadas, Little George and his dad recreating Tyler Herro’s finest moments on their hoop in the yard behind us, and the UK Marching Band practicing for this Saturday’s first home football game of the season.

I start thinking about football. It’s kinder than roaring gargoyles…barely.

I like to watch some college football and I usually get caught up in some of the pro football playoffs.

But it appears to me that the game has become purely a game of physical attrition. Whose third-string quarterback can beat whose fourth-string left tackle? Which team has the most pass receivers unencumbered by crutches? Which team has the fewest players undergoing the concussion protocol?

Why would any parents allow their children to participate in such an exercise?

For my occasional entertainment?

Why would anyone allow their children to become a gargoyle on TV?

For my occasional entertainment?

Gulp!

Folks, please, don’t bother for me.

I can always find a good or dreadful movie to watch.

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.