Well, it’s spitting a little snow. It’s the first of the season. Ordinarily, this would be an occasion for joy and celebration – new snow being the thing of beauty and marvel that it is. But this is different. The ground is not frozen. It’s not cold enough. It’s going to be a royal mess.

The National Weather service warns of heavy wet snow in large amounts falling on trees still laden with leaves which will hold an unusual amount of the sticky stuff and likely cause limbs and whole trees to fall across roads and power lines. For those of us who are lovers of electricity and free access, this portends trouble, or at least inconvenience. I just hate inconvenience.

Of course, it may all be overblown and turn out to be a false alarm. Not likely. I have the generator all gassed up and ready. I even toped off the VW with overpriced diesel. I have extra water and a supply of other necessities that could be, ah, necessary. Plenty of wood laid in. If readiness counts for anything, I am there.

I even have a couple of books on hand. I am half done with one by one of those “machine” authors who have a stable of writers who can clone his stuff as good as he can. I can’t believe I’m admitting this. This one is about a husband and wife team who are financially independent to an absurd degree. Who search the world over for terribly interesting objects which are always being sought at the same time by the most ugly of bad guys. They have the inexplicable ability to know just the right person in any remote part of the world who is unbelievably always ready to do the most impossible things to rescue them from certain peril.

I am impressed by their sophomoric bantering in the face of the kind of danger that would make me reach for the Kaopectate. It is so bizarre that it is entertaining. Mindless for sure. Maybe that is the quality that holds me to the story, if that is actually what it is. Oh well, sometimes the mind needs to be indulged with a touch of, well, mindlessness. Just the thing on a stormy night. Stay tuned.

Parental birthdays always being up old memories and the feelings that accompany them.  My father’s 114th is November 1.  He was an older man – by current standards  – when he married.  During those early years he managed to roam about the country and spent some time in Kansas as a telegrapher on the Union Pacific Railroad.  He later turned to barbering.

He was musical.  He sang in the choir.  I have a photograph of him with an alto saxophone.  He used to sing old ditties to me to make me laugh.  They were all of a vaudevillian genre it seemed.  One that has stayed with me follows.  If you’d like I’ll sing it for you.  You like?  The words follow for you who desire a more in depth experience, and perhaps wish to sing it along with me.

Well, she promised she would meet me when the clock struck seventeenAt the stock-yards just five miles outside of town;Where there's pig's feet and pig's ears, and tough old Texas steersSell for sirloin steak at nineteen cents a pound.   She's my darling, she's my daisy. She's hump-backed and she's crazy,   She's knock-kneed, she's bow-legged and she's lame;   And though they say her breath is sweet, I would rather smell her feet   She' my freckle-faced consumptive Mary Jane.

 

If you are still here after that, you must have less to do than I do.  Actually I am making a couple of loaves of potato bread.  And yes I have been thinking of my father.  On his birthday, I have a kind of ballad I composed a while ago that I’ll share.  You’ll be happy to hear that it is not musical in case you were thinking of taking a trip that day or maybe making some bread.

I am not at all sure that we are ever done with our parents.

I think it’s a “he”. I’m not that sure, but for the purpose of this piece, this fly shall be male. And, he is doomed. He is on the threshold of eternity. His days of skating across my bald head, nibbling at my exposed toes as they point toward my fire, prancing up my arm or even resting on my glasses as I type this, are numbered. It’s a low number. You might even say that his hours are numbered.

There are 16,000 types of flies in North America. Kind of makes you think of going out and getting an industrial strength insecticide bomb doesn’t it? But wait, there are only five common types that you are likely to encounter and of that five only three that usually become a nuisance, and only one that makes you want to bring out the double barreled shotgun. There is the house fly, the blow fly, the fruit fly, the phorid fly and the drain fly. We’re talking house fly here.

With a conscientious program of hygiene and proper disposal of the old banana or apple, one can, for all practical purposes, eliminate the fruit and blow types.

Over the years I have employed all the house fly elimination techniques known to western civilization. They range from spraying Flit™, a petroleum based product which would kill anything in appropriate doses, including humans, to hanging that ugly and septic fly strip from the ceiling. Somewhere in there is the fly swatter. 87% of respondents cited the flyswatter as their preferred weapon in the house fly wars. If you count the rolled up news paper with a rubber band around the handle end that number would reach up toward 100% I am sure.

There are two real fly swatters in this house, neither of which can be found. So I am employing the rolled up paper model. It’s not as quick as the real thing but when a little stealth is used, it can be just as effective. Alas, he has escaped my attempts on his life all morning.

Short of the shotgun, I have a “house and garden” spray can somewhere that will do the job when I get good and tired of this particular pest. I am at that point now. I know all about the environmental implications but I don’t care. Only once or twice a year do I bring out the chemical weapons of mass destruction. Can you blame me? Probably some of you will. Well, please understand me when I say, “I don’t give a shit”. One shot and this S.O.B. will be “legs up” within a few minutes if not seconds.

I_have_had_it.

It seems to me, and that’s an important distinction to keep in mind, that the death of Steve Jobs is causing an enormous upheaval of comment and speculation in the pundit division of the Apple world. There is an entire segment of broadcasters, bloggers, writers and hangers on whose existence depended on what Steve Jobs did. Now that he is gone it seems that there is an unusual level of anxiety about what is next. Not what’s next from Apple, but what’s next for them! They seem anxious to me. Unsure. Many of them are broadcasters, journalists and what I call, micro experts – knowing a lot about a ridiculously confined area of knowledge. But there is one thing they all share: the ability to talk incessantly while saying very little.

Jobs was a star in the most serious of terms. He played the media and had a field day with the music industry. He designed products that revolutionized the way we do our lives. Few people can say that to any degree. Not only was he a star, he knew stars.

He was a private person until he walked on the stage to introduce a new product. Then he was himself the star. I remember driving 50 miles one January to sit with a friend and a bunch of his fellow teachers who were streaming a keynote on a large screen at a high school in mid-coast Maine. I was excited. Everyone was excited. What would Steve tell us that would define our MAC experience for the next six months to a year? What would be that “One More Thing”?

Apple INC is not folding. Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs but he is in his own right a big leaguer. There will be one more thing. The blogging motormouths will have more than enough about which to speculate and pontificate.

I, on the other hand, can’t wait until tomorrow to get the new mobil operating system (iOS) download and other goodies. Do I need these things? Come on, you have not been paying attention. NO! I don’t need this stuff. I WANT it. Need does not enter into the equation. I need water, food and shelter. OK, maybe a little tenderness. But I confess – I love my MacBook Air and iMac. I can’t wait for November 18 when I am eligible to upgrade my iPhone! Hey, I don’t fish, hunt, gamble or trade cars. I suppose that is the only justification pundits need to continue their work as well. Onward and upward folks. The idea is to have a little fun along the way.

It was freezing this morning at dawn.  A few coals in my little Waterford box nurtured a small fire that quickly pushed back the morning chill and I began to plan my day which was shaping up to be a day on the road.

The sun was blazing in a sky that poets dream of and which were marred only by the contrails of stratospheric jet airplanes leaving behind their spidery webs catching nothing in them, conjuring up mythical scenarios of secret missions to make this country save for democracy or hauling freight or diplomats or soldiers or maybe it’s simple proficiency flying to stay current according to regulations.  One can only hope that their catalytic converters are purifying their exhausts and not adding to the growing ozone problem my caused by my four cylinder VW.

I had a short list to do, but the destinations on it were miles apart on a kind of irregular triangle.  So I climbed into the cockpit of my four cylinder VW and shot off down the interstate, leaving no visible contrail, to go see yet another doctor.  This time it was a podiatrist.  

My big toe, which I have always been proud of, was feeling funny.  It began while on a hiking vacation and has not gone away.  I explained how it was feeling and he shook his head knowingly as he told me he had seen my X-Ray which showed some joint deterioration, which, he added, would cause exactly the kind of thing I was describing.

I looked at him and asked if he was speaking of arthritis and he said, bingo!  He said I have what orthopedic people call “boomeritis”.  It is caused by this huge generation of older people who just won’t act like old people and therefore cause their joints to wear and tear more quickly and become breeding grounds for that ubiquitous joint disease – arthritis.  He said that I was going to have it anyway and that activity just makes it show up more, ah, colorfully. (A word of clarification: I am actually a generation ahead of the Boomers.  A pioneer, so to speak.)

Similar conversations have occurred with other doctors about my thoracic spine, my right shoulder and my left elbow.  Conversations with these people always end with a reminder that all this goes with the territory.  Mr. Spock said to live long and prosper.  He didn’t say anything about living long painlessly.  Anyway, I am sure Dr. Crusher would have passed her magic wand over the joint in question and made it all better now.  Cortisone can do pretty much the same thing for a while but so far it’s not that bad.

Next on the list was to get the left headlight bulb replaced.  I’m tooling down “95” to get to my favorite auto service station in Auburn.  The trees are trying to turn and have not yet made the full change, but it’s early yet.  It was a fantastic day for a ride even on the interstate.  With the headlight replaced I headed to my favorite barber shop which was back in the other direction.  On such a beautiful day I do not complain of driving through some of the most beautiful countryside in the world.  

Yes, I do have my hair cut.  For the past couple of years I have managed to keep it out of my ears myself but it had gotten out of hand and about three weeks ago I went to see Bill the barber and confessed that the mess he was looking at was my handiwork.  He laughed and agreed to handle it.  I asked him how much and said – Nothing.  I said, It’s that bad?  He nearly choked on his laughter.  Today I made amends and paid the going rate and we are on the track to being well groomed.  Well not too much so.  I am, after all, a crotchety old guy with arthritis.  A little raggedness fits the role.   I have to look the part.

I believe i’ve got it down pretty good.