Archive for Life

Sand

The hot wind hit Angel like a warm towel. The sand aloft in the air scratched like the fabric. The sand, it was hard to walk through the sand with no socks — only shoes that he was forced to empty every block or two. The sand was everywhere in the city. It piled along the buildings and alleyways like the snowdrifts of years past.

Gone were the plows to clear the way for traffic. Occasionally the wind would reveal a patch of pavement. Sometimes Angel would spot a crosswalk or a yellow line that ran down the middle of the road.

Block by block he worked his way across the city. The sun baked down on him. Without his clothes his mile-long walk would have given him cancer, or at least an excruciating sun burn.

He walked it every week. He walked among the empty streets and buildings of this once magnificent, second city. This place had survived a tragedy before, a great conflagration that destroyed nearly everything. There was no escape for her majesty this time around. The devastation was complete, along with every other city around the world.

Ten years had passed since the last remaining vestiges of the world’s military squared off for the slivers of fertile land near the poles. The final battles took place in Antarctica. The West won, but their prize was short-lived. Even the southern continent succumbed to the warmth. The heat and the dryness obliterated crops, as they had done across the globe years before.

On he trekked, climbing over rusted relics that used to move along the streets, but were now buried in tons of silicon and grit. He climbed down from upper streets to lower streets on scattered fences, jumping into dunes when the makeshift ladder fell short.

Only the wind, the sand, the sun and the decay made any sort of sound. Glassless behemoths stood and howled, as if to call out in slow anguish while the years tore them down. Pitted walls gouged by the relentless beating of the air made them look as ancient stone in some places, relics and ruins in others.

The air was thick with heat, but short of oxygen. More than the shoes, exhaustion slowed Angel’s pace.

A world had gone wrong, infested with a short-sighted species that valued power over existence. A world that had been abandoned by logic and empathy had no recourse to right the wrong, and no way to cry for help.

This is only the beginning of a story based on a very strange dream. I also have a book coming out soon. If you’d like to be informed about my writing escapades you can follow me on Facebook or sign up for my mailing list.

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Michael’s Chimes

This is a story about Michael, a dear friend who recently passed. I told this story during his funeral service.

First, some housekeeping

If you are the owner of a small, green SUV with out-of-state plates – You may have gently bumped and dented Michael’s car.

So – over the last few days if you’ve been experiencing some strange things going on in your house:

  • Bumps in the night
  • Missing keys
  • Books removed from their shelves and stacked into vertical pillars
  • Or an unexpected toilet flush during your shower

Now you know why.

Wedding

Wind Chimes, CC https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

Photo by Mark Larson

Larry and Mike, Mike and Larry – a few years ago they gave my wife and I a gift of wind chimes. We let them sit there on the shelf for a year before I could track down the proper mounting hook that would allow us to put them outside our bedroom window. I finally found the hook a couple years ago and now they chime for us if the wind is just so.

In the middle of the night last night the wind was perfect.
I woke up to the sound of it tapping away a melody on the chimes. The wind on the chimes told me how to write this story.

At first their music reminded me of our wedding.

Thirteen years ago we managed to coax Mike and Larry to recite poetry at our wedding. It was at the end of our ceremony. The two boys got up and Michael took the microphone in his hand while Larry held the paper upon which the poem was printed.

It was titled Love, written by Roy Croft. It had six verses, and they were to alternate reading each verse.

I love you,
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.

I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.

I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can’t help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.

I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple;
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.

I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good,
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.

You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After All

As they read this poem the microphone began to shake in Michael’s hand. First it was a small tremor. And it grew little by little as each verse was recited. By the final verse the tiny colony of microphone lint was experiencing a 7.2 earthquake.

Carol

The chimes went on from the ceremony to the reception where we ate and danced. And Michael met my aunt Carol. And they danced and danced.

Having only met Michael once, 13 years ago, my aunt Carol asks about him every time I see her. Having only met Michael once, she will miss him.

Dealing with Life

The chimes then did something unexpected. With perfect pitch and timing they played the first four notes of the Star Trek theme song. – Of course they did because I said they did.

Captain Kirk once said: How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life. Based on the outpouring of attention, flowers, and companionship we can see that love is prevailing in both.

In the house yesterday I imagined Michael as a giant, like the ones the enterprise crew would face every third or fourth episode. This enormous man, 4-stories tall, was crouched down by the house with his arms wrapped around it. He was smiling at us – and sticking his finger through the window to bump someone just enough to spill their wine. And he laughed, because it was funny.

I think I will keep that vision of Michael. It’s comforting to know that he’s still there, his mischievous self, hugging the homes of his loved ones – and, occasionally, blowing on the wind chimes.

Michael’s Services

Saturday, March 4th

Open House 2PM – 7 PM
Larry and Michael’s home

Sunday, March 5th

Grein Funeral Home
2114 W Irving Park Rd.
Chicago, IL 60618

Viewing 10AM – Noon
Celebration Service Noon – 1PM
People are asked and encouraged to bring stories of Michael to share during the service.

Anteprima
5316 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640

Remembering Mike 1:30PM – 4:30PM

 

Donations or Flowers

Michael loved his flowers. However, if you would like to make a donation in lieu of flowers, we believe that Michael would have preferred to take care of animals in this way. The choice is entirely yours, and Larry appreciates your expression of love either way.

He and Larry donated to Guardians of the Green Mile, a dog rescue. Any donation to them would be a lovely gesture.

Another favorite organization is PAWS Chicago. They happened upon their lovely Elliot at PAWS. A donation there would also honor Michael.

Photos

Larry and Michael’s family would love to have your best photos of Michael among his friends and family. Please upload them to this google drive if you are willing to share.

 

 

 

The Ice is Melting

Melting ice in a glass of whiskey

The cube floating in my tumbler was eroding at the base, like an antarctic berg. The bourbon was showing no mercy as it licked away at the floating block. As the material transitioned from solid to liquid, it began to change the flavor of my drink. Eventually my beverage became so watered down I could not manage another sip. My barrel aged whiskey was destroyed by the melting ice.

Some of you may deny that the ice melted in my drink. Perhaps you cling to the testimony of the 3% of scientists are are sitting in the pocket of the freezer industry. I will tell you, I have seen this with my own eyes, tasted the flagrant sourness of overdilution. It is the truth.

That’s a fun allegory, but I hope the message is clear. We’re in a pivotal period in human history. We have flexed our muscle against the Earth’s will. While I fully believe that Mother Nature can destroy us if she wanted to, I don’t think she’s going to bother. We are doing it to ourselves, and we’re taking her down with us.

It should occur to you, as it did to me, that we’re in charge now. We have the power to shape our home. We must now find the will to prevent ourselves from destroying it.


This post was inspired by Before the Flood, a film about our unprecedented impact on the climate.

Before the Flood

Gun debate – do we draw a new line?

In light of the California, Oregon, Colorado and other killings this year, as well as the upcoming presidential election, the gun issue is top of mind for me and many others.

I have to admit – I am on the fence about it. And I read social media posts from both sides. I’ve got friends posting as strong 2nd amendment supporters, and other friends posting for more gun control.

Gun on US Constitution - Right To Keep and Bear Arms

Pro gun control

I hear that once a day, on average, we have a mass shooting in this country. Not a gang-banger, not a cop taking down a suspect, but a mass shooting. They don’t always make the news, but apparently it happens – it’s kind of amazing really. The reasons are usually varied – lonely, angry young man shoots up a school, another man watching too much TV without the self-awareness to process it shoots up a health clinic, and an angry coworker planning an execution with his wife. It’s always a person pulling the trigger, but it’s always a big, bad gun as the weapon of choice.

Bullshit

Some of the 2nd amendment folks like to cite the fictitious scenario where a home invader is deterred or dispatched by a gun wielding homeowner. This argument only works in the echo chamber. Too much research has been show that the guns in the home are more likely to be used in domestic violence than fending off a burglar.

Pro-2nd

On the other side we have things going on like the Oath Keepers defending a miner’s rights from government overreach with a legal show of force up in Oregon. Vice news has a very interesting story on it. While the 2nd amendment doesn’t refer to protecting citizens from government overreach, I see the logic in this application of the law.

Genie’s out

Gun sales are going up and to the right. It’s great news for gun makers. I would imagine that they will be placing some heavy bets on republican candidates. They don’t need their horse to win the race, they just need to keep fear about “Obama taking your guns away” going so that sales continue to surge. I think a lot of people are buying the guns because they figure that sales of the good ones are going to be restricted soon.

A bit of soap box

because I’m mostly a bleeding heart

I’ll be honest, one of the deterrents of coming out on the 2nd amendment side of this argument is getting lumped in with some of the gun nuts. It’s amazing, especially during a political season, how often they throw in pro-gun comments on seemingly heartfelt, sometimes tear jerking threads. IMO – inappropes. They don’t end up convincing anyone – They’re talking amongst themselves. They also don’t do their argument any favors.

Weapons

The crux of this argument, for me, is whether or not assault rifles are restricted. In much the same way you aren’t allowed to buy a surface-to-air missile, you wouldn’t be able to buy or own an assault rifle. The anticipated result would be fewer fatalities since a shooter would not be able to shoot as quickly, and fewer incidents since a would-be shooter wouldn’t be as interested in killing if he or she can’t kill a lot of people quickly.

The gun dance

I’ve been trying to dance around a pro-control stance by looking for commonalities amongst the shooters that point, collectively, to some other societal problem that we can address without restricting guns. The three killings I’ve cited here all seem to have drastically different circumstances. The primary commonality is guns.

So – I have no quippy image to post to express my opinion, no quote from a founding father and still no side on the debate. But there’s the debate… for me.