Archive for the ‘Tribulations’ Category

I do not normally run around naked at 2 AM with the blue beam of a flashlight sweeping my roofline and treetops for the crush of a massive fallen tree.

An hour earlier I had been reading peacefully in bed, my softly backlit iPad wooing me back to sleep. That was when The Crash of Tuesday Last yanked me screaming from bed while outside the terrifying death-groan of an oak tree ripped chunks of timber and brick masonry from my rooftop.

Except for the naked part, I must have looked like a bare-footed Agent Mulder in an X-Files episode searching the treetops in the dead of night within the beam of an FBI-grade Magna-Light. Rain fell. I was cold. Thunder grumbled overhead. I found nothing.

The next morning, with the benefit of a spectacular sunrise, I searched again. I found neither fallen tree limbs nor damaged roof. Just another nighttime mystery.

Until yesterday afternoon when I opened the door to my spare bed/storage room and discovered my antique glass collection scattered on the floor. Errant pieces of of dark Depression Glass and shards of crystal bowls that had been gleaned through decades of countless yard sales and impromptu garage rummage events… gone, just like that. Turns out that an aging,  wall-mounted bookcase built in 1982 had finally decided it could no longer support the weight.

Some things are not meant to be. But the good new is part of my collection survived, along with idiotic mementos from my fragmented past.

How about that Pat Boone Speedy Gonzales record album? I won it as a prize back in the day, and managed to get it autographed by former Chief Justice, Earl Warren. My family was living near Athens, Greece at the time, and I was a Boy Scout competing in a swimming completion, and… well, that is  another story for another time.

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copyright© 2015 by Simply Tim’s Blog Spot

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Not Much

Ask any guy with a mustache and he’ll tell you, “watch out for POP-TOP cans!”

The other day I grabbed a cold beer out of the fridge, popped the top, took a huge swig. In the process, about 1/4 of my mustache wedged in the crease of the aluminum pull-tab. Normally, only a hair or two is snared. Not this time.

Trying to hold back my laughter, I stepped into my backyard and sat down in a lawn-chair. Everything was as it should be: hummingbirds swooped to and from the feeder like planes at a busy airport; a dragonfly waited nervously on the tip of a cattail; some weird guy was sitting on a lawn chair with a cold beer stuck firmly upside his nose. Someone knocked at my gate.

“Hey,” shouted Jim, my next door neighbor. “You in there?”

“Yes!” I hollered, the word hooting inside the beer can. “Come on in!” Not wanting to look like a total idiot, I tugged the beer can free from my face, a tuft of mustache hair jammed in the beer can’s popper ring. A tear trickled down the side of my face.

“What’s happening?”

I took a sip of beer. “Oh, not much.”

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Ever since a doctor sewed the tip of my thumb back on way back when I was young and foolish, I cringe whenever I hear the phrase: “You’re going to feel a slight prick. . .”

That’s what the doctor told me as he guided a novacain-empowered syringe the size of a soda straw slowly into the soft pink pad of my left thumb and proceeded to explore the surrounding areas up to and including my elbow. It was at that moment I realized torture was not for me, that I would yield all information to a captor without a moment of hesitation: “OOOooooo – stop, stop, stopstopstopstopstop! My birthdate is… the last 4 digits of my social security is… the magic code on the back of my credit card is… my mother’s maiden name is… just stop, stop, stopstopstopstopstopit!

Which is why, to this day, when I watch action movies where the hero is being burned, fried, electrocuted, dissected or disfigured, I say in a faint whisper that only I can hear, “You’re going to feel a slight prick.” And my thumb immediately begins to twitch.


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One day while complaining about my memory in a kinda old-dude sort of way, a friend I have known since high school informed me, “Tim, your memory has NEVER been good.” I felt a brief moment of elation; a low-level epiphany. “Wow,” I thought. “Maybe he’s right!” Just to be sure, I asked Mom — who is 93 years old — if she thought I had had memory problems while I was growing up.

“Tim, you were a piss ant,” she said. “Your brain always ran faster than your body.” Back then, things were simple. Attention Deficit hyperactivity Disorder (ADD) had not yet been invented. Besides, having a brain-running-faster-than-your-body sounded way better than the alternatives: it wasn’t my memory that was the problem after all. It was boredom brought on by being forced to conform to tackling one thought at a time. Without knowing it, I had been multitasking ahead of my time back in 1952.

Since then, I have gradually discovered the “multi” piece of multitasking has been leaching from the equation little by little, not unlike a lollipop being slowly licked to death. And that during the licking process, the “tasking” part of multitasking had been left to fend for itself. This was evident yesterday when I was preparing to go to the grocery store. While heading to my kitchen counter to grab my wallet, I was sidetracked into visiting my bathroom to de-pee my morning’s two large cups of coffee. How can one comfortably shop if one has to pee?

Turns out that on-the-fly pee was my undoing.

Forty-five minutes later I had finished shopping and was ready to check out. When the cashier tallied my groceries, my wallet was nowhere to be found. Hell, no — of course not! Multitasking had left it and the debit card it contained sitting on my kitchen counter. De-peed, and wallet-less.  “No problem,” I told the cashier. “I’ll just pay by cash!” There I stood, rummaging around in my pocket for my wallet all over again. The cashier rolled her eyes.

“Tell ya what, I’ll drive home and get both wallets…” My purchase was nulled and my cart moved to a walk-in cooler, awaiting my return.

Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb all the way home.

This time, I immediately grabbed my wallet off the kitchen counter when I got home, but those morning coffees were still diddling with my bladder. I decided to de-pee myself once again.  Afterwards, I walked back to my kitchen to retrieve my wallet, which — you guessed it — was now sitting on the bathroom sink where I had left it while de-peeing. It took a while before I sorted it all out: my multitasking brain had become entangled in a Star Trek “space time continuum”, and was just a bit slow catching up to my pre-grocery-store, early morning pee-stop’s multitasking mindset. I drove back to the store, paid for my groceries, and drove home. Later, I called Mom to let her know she had been right — I was a piss ant after all.

She had no idea what I was talking about.

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100 YEARS_CanadaGeese_600w

I’ve been taking pictures of Lake Gaston since 1982 when Mom and Dad purchased a small lake-house. Through the years I have built up relationships with a few vendors who sell my pictures and posters and paintings and greeting cards and postcards. (I will never get rich but I enjoy the work and the occasional infusion of pocket change.) During those same years I witnessed the inevitable trend of people switching to email over all other forms of preferred communication methods; in no time purchases of my postcards and greeting cards dropped to ZERO. I am now considering wallpapering my basement with the 23,000 some-odd unmarketable postcards I have in storage.

No wonder the U.S. Postal Service is going bankrupt.

While chatting with one of my vendor/owners yesterday, it was suggested that I do something special for Lake Gaston’s upcoming milestone birthday. So I tinkered and twiddled for hours with the above 8 1/2 x 11 inch Photoshop image, eventually printing 10 of them on exceptional acid-free paper and painstakingly inserting them into modest picture frames. (Nothing fancy, but the pictures will certainly outlive me.)

Framing photographs or artwork is a nightmare. Little speck-thingies and other sorts of fingerprint-thingies that weren’t there moments before, mysteriously show up under the glass as if you had performed the framing dance while sitting in a dandelion field on a windy spring day. When the pictures were nestled cleanly under glass, I was off to sell my wares.

My first visit was to some friends of mine who own a local Mom & Pop sign shop, for whom I do occasional freelance graphic artist work. I showed them one of my framed Lake Gaston Birthday photographs — was that a little speck-thingy hiding in the corner? — and asked, “Do you think they will sell?”

“Yes, they will sell nicely.” A strange kind of silence followed. “Fifty years from now…”

I lost interest in the speck-thingies and drove home. Lake Gaston was celebrating its 50 year birthday, not its 100th. Sigh.  Just another senior moment kind of day.

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As I sat in my vehicle at 7:30 AM letting the engine warm up, my hands began to freeze on the steering wheel. Little by little, the defroster overcame the frozen patches of frost on the windshield; my seat warmer began to heat my butt up to driving temperature. It was December 14 and I was beginning my Lamb Quest.

Flaps down. Vehicle trim. Power on. Move from “P“ark to “D“rive.

“Ensign Crusher — engage!

And there I was, walking into my grocery store, eyes straight ahead, la-la-lalling down the coffee aisle, headed straight for the meat coolers where all those day-before-expiration-date-price-reduced legs of lambs were waiting. Man, oh, man, I was psyched. Five of them! I grabbed the first one.

The red REDUCED FOR QUICK SALE price label was missing! I pushed up my trifocals, focusing on the label. The leg of lamb was so close to my face I could smell sheep lanolin and hear the bleating, “Bahhhh, bahhhh, BAH.” But it was not a lamb bleating I heard. It was a MOAN coming from — me. “Last sale Date: December 15.”

I was a day early.

Miserable and dejected, I clutched the steering wheel and began to drive home. The rain changed to snow.

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Sometimes, when I wake up in the middle of the night, my brain begins to think rather than falling back to sleep. Like last night, when I woke up puzzling over a Dean Koontz novel I had been reading immediately before nodding off. Reading often puts me to sleep. No offense, Dean. One of the characters had just died of a heart attack.  A sputter here, a synapse there, and — bingo!  I began wondering where the story would go next.

Too late. I was wide awake.

At times like these I have often found that taking a very, very hot shower helps prepare me for a re-visit by the Sandman. Something about the influx of heat and the sound of the shower striking my skull is what does it. My master shower happens to have one of those shower-chairs (with armrests and a back) sitting in the bathtub, which makes taking a shower a lazy and comfortable experience.

“Pssssssst”, went the hot water. INnnnn went the heat. Pitter-Patterrrr went the friendly little water-sounds on my naked scalp. So pleasant. So nice. “AHhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” I awoke about an hour later, screaming — eyes wide open — within a very cold, 50-degree rush of well water. I had fallen asleep in the shower chair.

Man, oh man, I was so totally AWAKE even Dean Koontz couldn’t help.

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