Monthly Archives: October 2011

Sleeping Well



I looked a dying woman in the eye

The curtains were drawn to block the bright light of day
A monitor drew lines toward numbers evaluating their arc
Daughters and husband sat, present yet absent, in far away corners
Stealing glances toward the thin, frail figure in the hospital bed

She stirred
Using her last ounces of strength
To find a position that would end her pain

Finding her hand through the cotton coverlet
I grasped it lightly and called her name
The name of a bird
The same bird who
At that moment
Just outside
With bright red breast
Was singing the arrival of new life

In her face I saw a hunger
Though the gnawing within was not for food
Her body
Shedding it’s ties to life
Had no desire to be sustained

Her eyes cried out
It’s me
I’m in here
Please don’t go away

The Cheez-Its Will Have to Wait

“G’night. Oh, wait! I just forwarded a voicemail down to your phone. It’s from a guy named W* down at the motel. He needs some kind of help.”

That’s the last thing I want to hear.

It’s late on a Sunday afternoon. I’m ready to go home after a long day of doing the usual Sunday things a minister not of the “Senior” designation does at the church.

I really don’t want to listen to that voicemail. I’m looking forward to…I don’t know what…probably sitting back in my chair and firing the remote at the television in search of…I don’t know what. It doesn’t matter. There’s a brand new box of Cheez-Its in the pantry!

“He sounded kind of distressed…”

Gee, thanks. Why did you feel it necessary to tweak me that bit of information?

I really don’t want to listen to that voicemail.

I turn left down the hall that leads toward home, my chair and the TV remote…and the Cheez-Its.

There’s a satisfying sh-THunk! as I hit the crash bar on the exit door and feel the cool freshness of late fall.

Dead stop. The battle is engaged.

Ahead lay the long anticipated short stroll home, the chair, the remote…and the Cheez-Its. Behind rises a light, flashing on my desk phone.

Voicemail waiting. Voicemail waiting. Voicemail waiting.

I wonder if there’s anything worth watching tonight.

A half a dozen steps forward. The hydraulic closer pulls the door shut with a firm click-THump.

I pull up short.

Man that breeze feels great. It’s a great night for a walk.

A half a dozen more steps.

Dead stop.

With a long, blowing exhale, I turn toward my office and that dreaded flashing light.

The Age of Jazz

Jazz is more meaningful to me now than I would have ever imagined it could be. I played in a jazz ensemble in high school. Still, I think jazz requires a certain maturity. That maturity need not be connected to chronological age but, in my case, age seems to be seasoning me.

My high school jazz ensemble years were salt and pepper years. Basic, fundamental seasoning to life. Now that as my hair has turned salt and pepper…mostly salt…the exposure through life and living to an ever growing rack of spices and herbs has molded a palate capable of appreciating more and more subtle variations.

Subtleties seem to be disappearing everywhere I look. It’s making me more and more hungry for attention to detail by artists in the kitchen, in the winery, in the distillery, in the recording studio, in books, articles, blogs and debate. An appreciation of that surprising little turn of flavor, that complex, evolving nose of a nice red wine, the movement of warmth and smoke over the regions of the tongue from a finely aged single malt. A flash of admiration, even jealousy, when reading a turn of phrase that paints as richly as a palette of the finest oils in the hand of van Gogh.

What have I missed in the last 50 years?