Sunday, November 22, 2015

No Time For Blogging

I have been forced to actually work this week and last.  It no longer suits me.  

So no blogging this week.

If we don't talk before then have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

My Sunday Feeling

I haven't had as much time this Fall to substitute teach as I have the previous couple of years.  I have been practicing law a little more than I have since leaving Uncle.  Most of it has been Legal Services stuff.  They tend to call me in on stuff involving money or property or Federal Court.  They don't get a whole lot of that kind of business. 

I spent a good bit of last week helping with a housing discrimination case down in El Dorado.  Next week I have depositions in a really interesting case in which we opened a Probate for our client's daughter.  Client's boyfriend, the child's father, got whacked a year or so ago.  Shortly thereafter, Quitclaim Deeds purporting to bear the Decedent's signature which were allegedly executed prior to his death popped up which purport to convey certain real estate owned by him to a woman who claims to be his cousin and boon companion.

My client contends that the decedent's signature is a forgery.  It sure looks like it to the untrained eyes of me and co-counsel.  So we filed an action in the Probate case to cancel the Deeds for that reason.  And away we go.

This is actually fun.  You can't make this stuff up. It's a lot of work.  But fun nonetheless.  

However, I was able to go spend last Friday with the Middle School kids at St. Edward's downtown.  Which once again raises the entirely legitimate question of how a Methodist lawyer got himself in the big middle of Catholic secondary education in this here town.  This is certainly the question raised by many of my greatly amused Catholic friends.  But here I am.

I got asked to help out at St. Edward's last Spring.  I was kind of apprehensive because I had never spent time with kids that age outside of baseball.  I certainly had no experience with girls that age.  It worked out all right.  I discovered that I get along with sixth graders which was unknown to me.  I got along with everybody else too.  And they behaved for me.

I am not above this sort of commerce and so last Friday I offered the 6th graders a bribe.  They had never seen a fountain pen before.  So I told them if they behaved we would take some time at the end of class for them to write with my fountain pens.  The fact that I carried two astounded them. Worked like a charm.

I like it over there. 

However, I suppose I am sufficiently exotic to them that they had questions for me.  Mainly about my "favorite" things.

"What is your favorite color?"

"I don't know.  I'm wearing black, blue and khaki today.  I wore a lot of blue and gray when I worked all the time.  Kinda like a uniform. But I don't have a favorite."

"What's your favorite TV show?"

"I don't watch much TV except for sports and the news."

" What is your favorite sport?"

" I'm mainly a golfer now.  But I played pretty much everything but soccer when I was your age."

"Why didn't you play soccer?"

"Because nobody played soccer back then."

" What's your favorite football team?"

"The Saints. Lord help me."

"Do you like Notre Dame?"

"I hate Notre Dame."

That one actually drew a gasp.

"What is your favorite soft drink? Coke or Dr. Pepper?"

"I don't drink soft drinks." I decided it was best to let it go at that.  

"What is your favorite pizza place?  Papa John's or Pizza Hut?"

"I try not to go to chain restaurants."

"What is you favorite video game?"

"I don't play video games."

"You don't?  

"I think we are establishing here that I'm just not much fun. Sorry."

At that point I was saved by the bell-literally- and they scurried out. 

But it occurred to me that maybe the tastes of these kids are largely shaped or influenced by the advertising with which they are bombarded.  I am pretty much impervious to advertising. There is no car ad in existence that could entice me to a showroom floor.  But I had to at least quit tuning them out once I started doing consultant work for the Better Business Bureau a couple of years ago though.  I know at least take notice.  

Part of it is their age.  Things are pretty black and white at 12.  So when I was asked about my favorite food, I had to tell them that I didn't know. That I liked all kinds of foods just like I enjoy all kinds of music.  That it largely depends on my mood.  

Then again, I'm 45 years plus older than these little guys.  I have experienced and done more.  My tastes are broader and not informed by the media. At least not much. My responses to their questions were the nuanced answers of an adult.  Sixth graders don't do nuance much.  

But I wonder about them and the messages they are getting.  I'm not so sure it's a good thing.  

The guy the State accused of killing my client's boyfriend and an associate who was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time was charged with everything they could think of.  2 counts of capital murder, arson (he is alleged to have set the house they were in on fire), 2 counts of corpse desecration (secondary to the arson), unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited person (naturally he was out on parole when this all went down) and spitting on the sidewalk on Sunday.

He was tried a couple of weeks ago.  The jury hung up 11-1.  He is back in prison (they revoked his probation when they arrested him a year ago. Duh.) awaiting a retrial in May.

Like I said.  You can't make this stuff up.

The sixth graders' world may not be subtle or nuanced.  But at least it is safer than the real world.  

It's too bad it can't stay that way.  



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran's Day 2015

The Veteran's Cemetery is a heavy place.  I generally get out there to see Buck at least a couple of times a year.  And I never get over the optics of white markers "row on row" to quote the famous poem as far as you can see.

They put American flags out throughout the grounds on Veteran's Day and on the Fourth of July.
On gray days like Veteran's Day 2015 and 2014, the colors literally pop in front of you.  The stately white monuments seem to strain to reach up to the sky.  At least that is the illusion my mind plays on me as it attempts to process the final resting places of Americans that are denoted by so many markers. The red, white and blue flags remind you that you are in a place of shared sacrifice.  Sure, not every soul interred there was killed in action. Not all of them saw combat.  But they all share the common bond of having worn the uniform.

Which I never did.  My father and I never saw eye to eye about, well, anything.  He was a very good man.  And I would imagine that I wasn't exactly a day at the beach as a young person.  He joined the Navy at 18 and went off to the Pacific Theatre with the Seabees.  Can you imagine?  The enormity of what he did, being the bookish and painfully shy man that he was, is overwhelming to me.  And so I go pay my respects. Day late and dollar short at this point. But it's the best I can do.

Arkansas weather is by definition crazy and unpredictable.  Last year was freezing cold. This year I played golf in my shorts the night before.

M and I were just getting to know each other by this time last year.  I was standing out by Buck's grave when she called last Veteran's Day.

"Aren't you cold?" she asked.

"Yeah," I replied as I threw my scarf over my shoulder and turned my back to the howling wind. "It's cold."

"Don't stay too long."

"I won't."

"And you need to find somebody to hug."


"Anytime a person visits a loved one in a graveyard by themselves, they need to find somebody to hug."

"Never heard that one before."

"Well, you need to do it."

By the time I got out there today, an unseasonably clement gentle rain was falling.  From my vantage point where Buck is buried, I could see out across the plain that serves as a huge columbarium.  There are plaques in the ground to note the resting places.

There was a lone woman out there in the middle of the plain.  She was sitting on the ground under an umbrella. She was wearing jeans and her legs were open, astraddle a plaque there on the ground.  She sat there motionless for as long as I was there.  Eventually, she got up and walked to her car, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.

I remembered last year's advice about going to the graveyard alone.  If the lady had been closer to me I would have offered her a hug.

M and I are together now.  It's hard to extrapolate from memories that are damn near over 40 years old at this point. Indeed, it's almost like he never existed at this point. But I think Buck would have liked her.  I wouldn't call her shy.  But she is a quiet sort who has her nose in a book whenever she gets the chance.   Quiet people, like water, find their own level. But I'm making stuff up.

Maybe that's why I go visit my father a couple of times a year.  It's proof he really existed.

And that he, along with other (mostly) boys, did this amazing thing.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Two Weeks In A Row

Between actually practicing law and attending ball games and fundraisers I have had no time to pick up the pen.  Er, keyboard.  

Let me clear some things out.  I will return then.

Talk among yourselves.  

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Day of Rest

No time for blogging this week.  I'm actually having to do some work and it doesn't suit me anymore.

Talk among yourselves.....

Sunday, October 25, 2015

My Sunday Sexagenarian Feeling

The doctor took the stethoscope out of his ears and reached in his pocket for his prescription pad.  I have been sick off and on for a month due to allergies and sinus stuff.  The bronchitis returned last weekend so I went in to get a steroid shot.

"The deal with patients like you," he said as he wrote me a scrip for antibiotics and cough medicine. "Is that y'all never met a day that you didn't find something to like.  And that's a great thing.  The problem with guys like you is that you never rest when you are sick. You're always pushing."

I never thought about it like that before.  In retrospect the good doctor is on to something.  While I will never be confused with Fred Rogers or any other Mary Sunshine type you may think of, I do tend to find something to like about most every day the Lord sends.  Especially now since I don't practice law all the time anymore.

Perhaps that is what has sustained me for much of my 60 years, the first day of which I enjoyed yesterday.  

Yesterday, I became the first male on my father's side in 2 generations to hit the big six-oh.  While I can't say that I obsessed about the bad hand I've been dealt genetically or went screaming in the night about it, it is fair to say that I have been aware of, not so much my mortality, but just how any of a number of things that happened along the way could have jumped ugly.

Around 1986, I was mugged at gunpoint.  My Tulane classmate Jeff Adams had the same experience right after graduation.  He got his head blown off.  I didn't.  About 5 years later a drunk in a Tahoe ran a red light turning my Chevy Nova into a concertina.  I walked out with a small laceration in my ear.  

Around 1993, I came home from work to find 3 guys robbing my house.  I must have scared them as much as they scared me. They went out the back while I went back out the front.  Surely one of those assholes had a gun.  I certainly didn't.  All they got was stuff.  You can replace stuff.  It worked out.  

About 2008 I was diagnosed, much to everyone's considerable surprise despite my sorry family history, with coronary artery disease.  It is in the left anterior descending artery which is popularly, for lack of a better word, referred to amusingly as "The Widowmaker" for it's documented ability for killing people dead.  Heart disease claimed my father and his father.  I'm asymptomatic.  I crush every stress test they throw at me.  

My cardiologist says I have a better chance of getting shot than having a fatal heart attack.  Whatever that means.  My PCP goes so far as rating my chances for such an event as "zero" despite the sludge in my system.  I am fortunate to be living in the era of statin drugs and stents.  My dad was not so fortunate.  Also, unlike my father and my grandfather I don't smoke.  Smoking will kill you graveyard dead about 5 different ways.  

One of the reasons I don't smoke is because I  have suffered from upper respiratory problems all my life.  I had pleurisy as late as last May. Some folks get colds. I acquire stuff out of a book by Dickens.  I catch these things and I get over them. Around 2010, Hugh Tedder, another Tulane classmate, caught the flu.  He died. He left two daughters.  Where's the fairness in that?

I don't much ascribe the hand of God in sparing me all these years.  That would suggest that God routinely intercedes in human history which I can't say that I see from the evidence before me.  Or that if he does, he is perverse about it.
So I can't say that I can provide an explanation for how I arrived at this charmed state of affairs. 

But as the doc says, I do tend to find something good in every day that I am lent breath.  I enjoy spending time with the boys at Catholic High.  Even when they piss me off. I practice law just about as much as I can stand.  I think my current caseload stands at 3.  I still pretty much suck at golf but it no longer troubles me enough to try to improve.  I am playing guitar and singing with the help of an exceedingly patient and frequently amused young professional musician.  

I have stumbled into a relationship with a beautiful, kind, and tolerant woman.  She is lovely in every way.  Far better than I deserve in any event.  

Last night we attended a party where I was surrounded by family and friends.  Good food and drink.  Much story swapping and laughter along with a few tears. How did I get to this pass?  Call it pure dumb luck.  Call it what you will.  

But I realize that I am the most fortunate man on Earth.  And I don't take it for granted one little bit.  

The doc handed me the scrip. 

"Have fun at your party.  Take a little of the cough medicine about an hour before you go.  Eat and drink what you like as long as you got a driver," he said. "Just see if you can find something good the next couple of days that involves reading a book or watching sports.  Because I want you to rest. No working out. No golf. Chill out.  You're in remarkable shape for 60. But you are 60. And you need to get well."

I started to walk out of the room.  The doc called my name.  I turned around. 

He gave me a fist bump.

"Congratulations, man," he said. "You did it." 

So it would appear.  

And I don't have to think about this stuff anymore.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Day of Rest

No post today as I have been busy with all things HarvestFest this weekend.

Talk amongst yourselves.