Happy Father’s Day

Glad Dad

this very day it’s been about
those many years you called me out
by a that tag without a name
with rules never quite the same

i must admit and i’m truly glad
yet sometimes i was very sad
the years i called my father dad
now it’s this time for me to add

it was easy as you may see
in the game of one two three
to wish the better for me to see
dad is neither simple or free

days were good yet sometimes bad
i still love my kids to call me dad
my special treasure to be had
their father’s name my greatest fame

Look both ways and mind the gaps.

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Essay: My FWB Neighbors (3 of 4)

 

I have always liked the Diamond Rio song, Norma Jean Riley, so it follows this dribble for no other reason than I like it.

Part 3 of 4: Norma Jean (not Riley) and Mac

I met Norma Jean and her hubby, but I recall little about either of them. He was quiet; she was not. I had no judgmental opinion, but my wife seemed to like them. That means they are “fine.” They were longtime residents of the neighborhood and had raised their kids there and all of that. But, we all have our foibles, right? So, I will set this up for you.

We rented the house on the cul-de-sac we lived in for three years. When we announced we planned to move, the owner put it on the market and sold it. The couple who bought the house had children, were of some middle eastern ethnicity or nationality, and of the Islamic faith. I never met them, but I may have seen them when they looked at the house, since it was being shown while we lived in it.

As I understand, after we moved (bless her heart) sweet ol’ Norma Jean, who is of the Southern Baptist tradition, went to meet and welcome her new neighbors. It’s what we do. Being neighborly, right? In classic, southern, Bible Belt fashion, she invited her new neighbors to attend church and especially invited the children to Vacation Bible School.

The father of the children explained to sweet Norma Jean that he and his family were Muslims. He added that while his family would be following their own religious tradition, Norma Jean and her hubby were invited to a sit-down discussion of religion so that they might understand Islam better.

I don’t know what Islamic sect or part of that tradition the family followed. The conversation ended there. I’m sure Norma Jean sweetly declined the invitation. But then, bless her heart, Norma Jean shared the experience and her take on it all with my wife.

Apparently, Norma Jean was quite upset (shocked?) by the invitation for a chit-chat on the topics of Jesus and Mohammed. In righteous indignation she contacted my wife and shared her venomous opinion of such a request. “I have never been so insulted,” is how she felt about it.

I asked my wife how Norma Jean could in good conscience invite a Muslim family to a Southern Baptist church and to Vacation Bible School, but be offended by an offer to compare notes, quid pro quo, especially about two of the three Abrahamic religions of the world.

Some things I will never understand. Most people I will never understand. Southern Baptists and Muslims are two groups that fit both categories. But, that is fine since it is unlikely that they understand me either.

Look both ways in comparing notes with others. Turnabout is fair play but mind the gaps.

Essay: My FWB Neighbors (1 of 4)

We moved from San Antonio, Texas to the Florida Panhandle (aka southern Alabama or the Redneck Riviera) in 2012. It was to be my last assignment before retiring three years later and subsequently relocating to live near Seattle for a few years.

I got the idea to blog about my neighbors from reading one of Joey’s posts. To be brief, I’ll post it in four parts, each with a featured glimpse of one of the real-life characters/neighbors I met whilst living in the Sunshine State.

Part 1 of 4: Wheeler-Dealer Danny Boy

Not the real guy, but almost.

The neighborhood was built in 1964 and was mid-century semi-modern (i.e., small and old). A man who was a native of either the Empire or Garden State named Danny was my neighbor and lived in the house to the left of ours. Several feet separated our long, sloped driveways.

Danny was an interesting character. If I were to write a book titled, Wheeler-Dealer Meets Reality, Danny would be the main character. His first name was the same as my estranged half-brother and I noticed similarities. Danny’s house was in an uncertain stage of foreclosure. For whatever reason (I neither knew or cared) Danny-borrowed using his home as collateral when the housing market value was increasing. He told me that several times he went to the bank for more as the assumed value increased.

After the collapse of the housing market, Danny owed far more than the property was worth. So, he stopped making all payments. He moved out for a while, opening the door for repo, but then (with legal advice) he moved back in so that they could not repo so fast and easy.

Danny went to different doctors for medical care and used two services. VA for free and some other docs covered by his mail carrier’s insurance. The way he explained it to me was, “I kind of play them against each other.” I cannot recall responding to that comment, but I know what I was thinking. Irony is coming.

I am not sure exactly what marriage Danny was on, but it was number three or four. I never asked him if trading in wives for newer models was precipitous to his financial problems. For as long as I knew him, Danny was deep in debt, in default, and living in a house that was going to be taken away “any day now.” But living there virtually for free. He kept the lights on, but was no longer buying his house. Danny was interesting and while I liked him, I was not gunna follow any of his get rich quick plans.

One day a pre-teen boy knocked on my door. He was a pleasant lad between the ages of 10 and 13. He asked me if he and his friends could use my driveway, which was probably the largest hill in Fort Walton Beach, to ride their bikes (and skate boards and whatever else with wheels) down. I was impressed that he asked, so I said yes provided that their parents knew about the deal. I agreed to this in a town where all children’s swings in the parks had been removed for fear of litigation. While there were some minor crashes, no serious injuries resulted, and I have not been sued. The kids had fun almost every day and I liked the idea that I contributed. It was my driveway on my rented property, or so I thought.

I forget how I learned that Danny had told the kids to go away and that they were not allowed to use my driveway for recreation. But, he did exactly that, and I was pissed. Before I could calm down enough to confront him, Danny had a severe heart attack and was hospitalized for bypass surgery. He recovered, and I decided to let it go. The kids would not return, even if I explained the problem. Danny and his wife eventually moved (evicted), and his home was finally repossessed by the lenders or banks, flipped, and then sold. I don’t recall the new neighbor’s name, but they were not as interesting as Danny. Normal neighbors can be boring.

Look both ways to see your neighbors. Mind the gaps and the children.

Poetry: Everybody Has a Mother

52 years ago.

Everybody Has a Mother

I had a mom. And I loved her too.
Then she died, as all mothers do.

Now I have this woman here,
Texas gal and hell-of-a-dear.
Not my mother, no siree,
Nor sister or brother, but oh is she
Mother to the progeny,
who are something
that’s part of me.

She is my lady,
you can see,
love ‘er to bits like a
long-time lover
should.
She’s their mother.
They all love ‘er –
she loves ’em too,
as mothers do.

I love her so,
And likewise them.

Mom o’ my children,
all Texas born.
Now all growed-up
with kin a their own
Tex-bred kids
of one kind or other.

We love ‘em all,
short, fat, skinny and tall.

We love ’em up,
but she Loves them
more than I,
‘cuz that’s what Moms
can do. Love them all
a lot, you see,
more than you and more ‘n me.

Daughter, sis, and cuzin to some,
Wife to me, a very special one
Good sport of a kind and sort,
Mom to three,
Oma to more.

Yolonda,
this poem, my dear lady,
is just for you.

(Bill Reynolds © 12 May 2018)

Y’all be lookin’ both ways cuz Momma be comin’ with a spoon.
Mind the gaps.

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

Poem — NaPoWriMo: It’s Never Just a Game

The day 16 poem prompt of the 2018 National Poetry Writing Month challenges me to write a poem that prominently features the idea of play.

My poem is about my memory of a game we played as children – a game still played today, albeit differently. It has been played for over a hundred years by boys and girls, now also by men and women. Essentially, it is street or vacant lot baseball played with a broomstick for a bat, bases like the manhole cover or the flag pole, and most often a rubber ball.

My gang used all sorts of balls including wiffle balls of various sizes. No one wore gloves or any form of protective gear. Our classic favorite was to use those small plastic practice golf balls with all the holes in them to increase the challenge. They could bounce off any window or person with no damage. No coaches, no adults, highly flexible rules, and we worked out our disagreements without paying lawyers.

My poem is this old fart’s memories of playing the game and living totally for the moment, for the game, to be as good as we could be, and to have fun for the sake of play.

We used handles cut from broom sticks or mops. I do not recall anyone buying a ball, but it would not surprise me to learn that the ones we used were found, or “found” (as in the bottom of dad’s golf bag). The first commercially produced stickball bat came out in the early 1950’s and sold for 89 cents. Today, you can buy a high-tech, Easton T10 Thunderstick stickball bat for $50.00.

One of the problems today is that it has become difficult to find a good wooden broom or mop handle not being used, and games like that have fallen out of favor. However, I have included a photo and video about the game. In both cases, commercial bats are used.

It’s Never Just a Game

I was in the game that day
when it was a hot midsummer afternoon
when we played in the Courtright elementary school yard
when Jimmy Lipinski hit a double off of Joe Mullins’ chest
when time outs were for injury or just to pee.

I was in the game that day
when the fight broke out between Balochi and the new kid
Smitty was new and wanted us to play by New Jersey rules,
Balochi and Smitty became close friends and grew old together
and we learned to play by Jersey rules, East End rules, and league rules,
but mostly we made up the rules based on many things.

I was in the game that day
when Teddy tripped on second base and broke his nose
when the Daniel’s kid at shortstop lit a cigarette in the third
when the school janitor came and ran us all off or he would call the cops,
when we vandalized the school cuz the Janitor was a dick,
when I got my first hit, and when I hit my last.

I was in the game that day
when Lipinski made his behind the back flyball catch
when the worst player on the team hit a grand slam
when cuts and scrapes and twisted ankles were part of growing up,
when it started to rain that day and we played on anyway,
when the game was just the game, and both sides always won.

I left the game that day
when we walked away cuz it was getting dark
when we were thinking of what in life came next
when we thought there were better things to do,
when we walked away one last time
from the game we all so loved.

Let’s go play some stickball.

(Bill Reynolds 4/16/2018)

Look both ways as you play the game.
When at bat, mind you, hit the gaps.

Click link to National Poetry Writing Month