Essay: My FWB Neighbors (4 of 4)

This is the last of my four-part neighbor-knocking recall from our time on the Redneck Riviera (Florida Panhandle).

 

Part 4 of 4: Meet Dangerous Dixie

Directly across the street lived an inspirational hero named Dixie. I met her when she was 97 or 98 years of age. I went to the 99th Birthday bash at Dixie’s home, the same house she and her late hubby moved into 50 years prior, in 1964, when the houses and the neighborhood were all new.

A wee bit bent over, Dixie walked unassisted and talked bitingly sharper than many folk decades younger. If I had a favorite people list, Dixie would be in the top five. I don’t know what it was about the little bull dog that we found so compelling, but Dixie was a treat to behold. A pill, but one you must love.

Meeting and making new friends when they are in their late 90s (Dixie was 30 years my senior) is like no other relationship. There were many things special or unique about her (not all of them sweetness and love), but at that point in life, attitude is more important than ever. One of Dixie’s last great adventures had been an excursion to the Galapagos Islands ten years earlier. She told me all about the trip, remembering many specific details and saying that she got around much better back then, at age 88.

Dixie was convinced that a local lawn guy had dumped a pile of yard-waste at her curb. He hadn’t, but that was not the point. She refused to permit me to dispose of the waste. My wife talked to the guy and offered to pay him to clean it up. He said, “I know she thinks I did that, but I did not. However, I will clean it up without charge.” He did. In Dixie’s mind, he was guilty, and she had won because she had waited him out. We let her go with that.

I have attended exactly one 99th Birthday Party in my life: Dixie’s. She wore two-inch heels and personally greeted each of the many guests. As she would introduce them around the room, naming each guest, she accurately told a little story about each person or couple.

That went on for more than an hour before Dixie finally sat down and took her shoes off. Dixie looked at my wife and asked if she still drove. Dixie’s Mercedes was parked in her driveway, but she had only recently stopped driving. When Yolonda said that she did drive, Dixie said, “Good. Because we need to get out and do some running around and have some fun.”

I don’t know what doctor thought a cardiac pacemaker would be good for Dixie at 99, but a few months following the party she had that surgery. Some weeks later, Dixie was found dead in her split-level home, ostensibly from some form of cardiac failure. Dixie’s 100th Birthday Party was combined with a memorial of her passing as well as celebrating her life. I knew Dixie for less than two years of her long life, but I will not forget her.

In many ways, I would like to be like Dixie. However, I could never measure up to her spark, enthusiasm for life, or love of nature.

Look both ways in life, even when there is a lot more was than will be. Mind your gaps.

 

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Essay: My FWB Neighbors (2 of 4)

Part 2 of 4: Parents and Children

This is the second of my four-part ‘tattletale’ series about our neighbors in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. I had three kids, and my kids have kids. So, I have some street cred opinions about this.

I never met the man who lived in the house to the right of us before he died. A younger couple with several children and a dog eventually moved in. I forget their names.

Their children were girls and the girls always seemed to have friends around, so I never got a good head count. I think someone in the family had enemies as evidenced by regular TP in the trees and spray paint (much more serious with ugly messages) on the house.

I recall seeing the children routinely jumping off the roof of the house onto the trampoline in the back yard. It looked like fun, albeit dangerous. Yet, I recall no 911 or EMS calls – at least not for that address. Except for our house and that one, all other homes on that cul-de-sac had at least one emergency call during the time that we lived there.

I think the youngest of the daughters was regularly under severe attack from zombies or some other mean and vile creatures, and their dog tried to save her. I could tell this by the blood curdling screams (her talent) and the crazy loud insane barking which provided accompaniment. We lived with it – but she and their dog both had very capable lungs. Her sudden screams were startling and a bit funny.

Then one night the kids were about 20 feet from my bedroom window and playing loudly on the trampoline. It was a weekend night, so being up late was no big deal. However, after midnight I got a flashlight and decided to join the party. I did not turn on the flashlight until I was at the fence, thus eliciting more screams. Yes, I scared the crap out of them. And yes, I intended to.

I advised the girls that I appreciated there was fun was to be had, but I wanted to sleep and my bedroom was nearby. I asked if there was an adult nearby. They said there was not. I got lots of “No sir” and “Yes sir” answers to my questions, so the kids were polite and just having fun. But still. My intervention stopped the noise. I don’t know if parents were ever aware of the situation, my complaint, or were even home.

I suppose my wife and I may have been overbearing parents compared to those folks. They had cute and polite kids, but I never saw the children and the parents in the same place at the same time. I seldom saw evidence of adult supervision, period. All of this was more experience than problem, if that makes sense.

It was only a few more months before we moved. Following one of the loud, panicked, world-ending screams, I looked at my wife and said, “I wonder how much I will miss living here.” Shortly after our relocation to a Seattle area 55+ community, I made the comment, “The silence here is deafening and disconcerting.” It was too quiet. For a while, I missed the little boogers.

Look both ways. Children are everywhere. Mind the gaps, too. They hide there.

 

Poetry: A Blaze of Glory

Warned ya: F-word used cuz I do.

A Blaze of Glory

I should be dead.
Hush! Be quiet.
Listen to me.

I shudda been dead years ago.
Every rock wall or cliff I ever saw
was for climbin’ up or down
got kinda hairy sometimes, ripped pants,
scrapes, scratches, and snakes
got bee stung once.

Every train was our ride, tracks for playing
and high trestles for wide river crossings.
A train’s comin’?
I knew two guys who
killed themselves
jumpin’ off a them bridges.

Every roof was to be jumped from
after a building’s been climbed, got
wrenched, twisted, and sprained —
never broken.

Me and Jimmy swam
butt-naked
in that filthy, dirty, Susquehanna
in our bathing suits, which means naked.
Immunity.

We climbed up shit.
Like towers, bridges, trees, buildings.
Shinnied up rusty poles. If we fell,
we’d die. Motivation!
If a train came, we’d die.

Fucking people jumped
from there
into the river
to kill their selves.
My uncle did – Dad’s brother,
Was his name? James maybe,
Something. Yes it was James. Same as Dad’s dad.
His sons said he was trying to save a dog.
Uncle Jimmy weren’t savin’ no fucking dog,
But glorious if he had.

We poached – fish. Got shot at!
Fuckers missed us – on purpose likely.
When you get shot at,
you hear the bullets buzz past.
Crack, crack,
buzz
buzz.
We left — pronto.
Fish were prolly scared anyway.

It was fun to be
scared. And nothing
scared us more than
death.
But Jimmy and me – we
would live forever.

Then Jimmy died
after heart surgery.
Took him off a machine that
breathed
for him – how fucking
inglorious!

I’ll die too.
Too fucking late for
glorious.
Or is it?

Tom died too. Jumped
off a tower. ‘chute didn’t open.
BASErs say gear malfunction.
Midnight. New Year’s Eve.
BASE jump. Glorious.

Jack died of fucking cancer.
He knew. He called me cuz
he knew. I knew too. When his
wife called to tell me. I
fucking couldn’t talk – I
went totally fucking Dumb.

Give me the Light Brigade.
Fuck pas. Gimme a rifle,
a cause, a revolution, a reason.
Fernando!

Teach me how to
die. All the lessons of
life – not one teaches
me how to die.

Love hard, live fast,
die old. But die for a reason.
If yer gunna die, have a cause.

¡viva la revolución!
Aces’n eights ain’t my hand.
I’m not motherfucking dead yet.

There’s more.
More to tell, more to do.

I toast my comrades: to their glory. Salute!

(Bill Reynolds, © 14 May 2018)

In life, there is a reason for each season. Look both ways and mind the gaps.

NOTES: While I think a poem should stand on its own without gloss, my editorial reconsiderations include these.

If you like, read the Charge of The Light Brigade (esp. last stanza) by clicking here.

Pas is physician assisted suicide.

Fernando is the song by ABBA, click here to listen.

 

Poetry (sort of) — NaPoWriMo: Warnings Cautions & Notes

The day 25 NaPoWriMo prompt encourages me to write a poem in the form of a warning label about myself.

For humor, I decided to twist the prompt a little. I also added too many warning memes for the same reason. Sorry. I hope you laugh. I did.

When I flew airplanes for the US Air Force we used (and carried with us while flying) many technical instructions, called tech orders. All military flying has similar things but may call them something different (i.e. Navy is NATOPS because thou shalt not out acronym the US Navy). The most important of these weighty volumes, now probably carried electronically, was titled a Flight Manual (dash-one in AF jargon). If yer familiar with this, you’ve prolly guessed where I am going.

My poem has three parts: warnings, cautions, and notes. (We had to memorize warnings and cautions.) I am using the same definitions in my poem.

Warnings are operating procedures, practices, etc., which, if not correctly followed, could result in personal injury or loss of life. Cautions are practices that could result in damage or destruction of equipment, loss of effectiveness, or long-term health hazards to personnel. I will add hurt feelings, pain, and tears to the list. Notes are things essential to highlight. The folks who write that stuff don’t just make it up. One never wanted to be the reason for a warning, caution, or note being added to a tech order. But this is supposed to be about me. I used third person, casual.

 

Just so ya know.

I – Warnings

Irrationally defensive of loved ones.
Capital punishment opposer,
…but willing executioner, if necessary.
45 years with US DoD, never kilt a body,
…but might try anything once.
Game to breaking rules & taking chances,
…not tough enough to be too stupid.
Drives safe and wears seat belts,
…but known to play road-rage roulette.

Goats are fake ewes.

II – Cautions

Given to fits of laughter for no reason,
…or at the most inappropriate times.
Thinks snarkasm should be Olympic sport,
…it’s his only chance for a gold medal.
Sheepishly grins at who thinks him harmless,
…often delights in being misunderstood.
Understanding & compassionate listener,
…until your whiney-ass is drama royalty.
He don’t hunt, fish, play golf, or ride a Harley,
…he writes poems, loves animals, & gots a soft heart,
… he’ll edgimacate any who sees it a weakness.

III – Notes

Thinks blunt synonymous with
…clear, concise, and brutally honest.
Loves to use foul language at random.
Likes to argue without knowing why.
Thinks Irish are the soul of humor.
Is way past old enough to know better,
…pretends to no longer give a shit.

Anti-masturbation?

(Bill Reynolds, USAF, Retired, 4/25/2018)

Can’t you see, Ah, Lawd, can’t cha see wha’ dat woman’s been a-doin’ ta me?
Look both ways, my way and yours.
Mind the gaps, cuz Ima’ways right.

It’s them damn atheists again.

Breathing is optional.

Doc asked me what motivated me to quit smoking.

Click link to National Poetry Writing Month

 

Poetry – NaPoWriMo: Who Invited You?

The prompt for day 22 of the 2018 NaPoWriMo challenges me to write a poem based on one of six statements asserting something impossible. The poem I write is to have the impossible thing happen. The statement I chose was, A mouse can’t eat an elephant. The elephant and mouse are metaphors for something big (me) and something small: a single cancer cell.

Who Invited You?

Who invited you? This is my party.
You have the wrong cell number,
You were discovered, disguised and in hiding,
Much too small for anyone to see,
And yet, you are a danger to me.

In this dance, docs will lead. I take the next step,
To erase the board and clean the house,
To take out the trash and to purge all the systems,
Flush out the waste and to remove all the danger.
You will be annihilated, to the last little cell.

In the end, you may win, but right here and right now,
the game plays on, and I’m doing the pitching
to cleanse you from my body and soul.
The hurt in me may not be known to you,
But my fear of you continues to grow.

The old man sitting next to me,
Willing to fight what he can see,
It’s you he refuses, cuz he sees only me,
Together we look for the end of the game,
Someday, maybe, not today, not today at all.

(Bill Reynolds, 4/22/2018)

Look both ways and keep your eye on the ball.
Mind the gaps and swing at the strikes.

Click link to National Poetry Writing Month

Poetry — NaPoWriMo: Envy ‘Neath a Window

The day 19 poem prompt of the 2018 National Poetry Writing Month challenges me to write a paragraph that briefly recounts a story, describes the scene outside a window, or even gives directions. I was to erase words from that paragraph to create a poem, or to use the words of the paragraph to build a new poem. Here is my result of that effort, without the paragraph.

Envy ‘Neath a Window 

With Mom I sat
As she was reading
Not to me – getting bored
On a raining summer day.
I’d catch some death of cold
She would say
From being wet with rain,
On that cool summer day.

Something ‘neath the window?
I walked to see a mouse.
I said no words, nor did he,
As I looked out the window.
My first envy feeling was seeing
Friends playing in the rain.

Making themselves damn fools.
I learned, in the adult version
Is as they call it, having a good time.
Damn fool for just sitting here.
“Mom, may I…?”
Envy. I felt it.

(Bill Reynolds, 4/19/2018)

Look both ways and love those rainy days.
Mind the gaps or hydroplane.

Click link to National Poetry Writing Month

Poem — NaPoWriMo: Anecdotally in the middle

The day 17 poem prompt of the 2018 National Poetry Writing Month challenges me to write a poem re-telling a family anecdote. I picked three, all involving stories about one of my sons.

Our middle child, Steven, had three incidents resulting in family anecdotes. I hope he forgives me for blabbing to the blogosphere. I just got his permission to publish this.

 

Steven in the middle

 

Anecdotally in the middle

Home before dark meant street lights on, it was time
But in friend’s house with curtains closed
Did not notice when lights came on
So sorry your friend has no clocks at home.

Teacher calls to announce rule was broken
Thou shall not eat departing school cafeteria
Why did you break such a simple rule, my son?
I was not eating. I was chewing. No rule broken.

Where is your new jacket, my son?
I don’t know where it is, dear father.
You lost it already, says I with surprise.
Not lost, says he, just don’t know where it is.

Now, mid-forties, with charges his own
This engineer surely missed his call
A gifted barrister would be so natural
The Prez needing new lawyers and all.

(Bill Reynolds, 4/17/2018)

 

Same guy with a touch of gray

 

If you’re in the middle, look both ways.
Mind the gaps.

Click link to National Poetry Writing Month