A Less-Holy First Communion: Chartreuse & Cornflower Blue


I can’t really remember when I first realized the concept of color. Presumably it was before or during kindergarten at Chapel Hill’s Little Red School. The nuances, hues, and complexities of colors followed, though I can’t say when.

The next year, however, we learned the color charts and became experts on not only the world but primary colors as well.

To my excitement, my mother bought me a bigger and better box of Crayolas. Perhaps, it held 18 crayons, maybe not. My memories of those years are safely locked away in a desk drawer, keeping at bay the more curious pusses. Naturally, I misplaced the key.

My point is that I had moved up some unspoken notch, improved a skill, or experienced a minor rite of passage. In Mrs Sawyer’s first grade class, I kept a cigar box in which I hid “whatever size or how many ever” of crayons.

One spring day, my mother was preparing to take me to school, a newly built Catholic school, with actual nuns, and potential uniforms. As she grabbed her keys, I studied her eye-catching blouse. The color was odd and one of which I was unfamiliar. As she turned the ignition, I blurted my query and quickly paused. I never blurted as a child. It was unmannerly, rude, and unaccepted in a parochial school such as St Thomas More.

My mother never noticed my unseemly enthusiasm. She just started talking and talking about nuances, hues, prisms, and the infinite number of colors in the spectrum. Of course, she worded it differently as I am prone to embellish. We soon came upon the red brick structure. I finally had to ask: “But what color is your shirt?”

She quickly corrected my use of shirt and replied a reserved, yet warm: “chartreuse”. Finally. It took almost fifteen minutes to get an answer.

“Chartreuse, hmmm” I thought. It quickly became my favorite color, although I couldn’t pronounce the word for at least a year. That yellowish green color was wonderful and exotic and special. And it was at once my color.

I soon (if soon can describe two years later) graduated to a bigger box, the overwhelming but altogether satisfying “64” count one. I searched for chartreuse but never found it. I did, however, find “Cornflower Blue” and “Burnt Sienna”. My look of puzzlement faded away in a quick blush. It had a pencil sharpener.

I am now more than a half century older. Those days are long gone. Chartreuse, though, is still my favorite color. I always notice it first, if it was indeed on the fabric wall, home furnishings, liqueur bottles, or paintings. The last I use as a “catch all”! I detest the word “artwork”. It’s bland, unemotional, and wholly without direction or purpose.

Please. Gentle Reader, forgive me for squeezing illustration, sculpture, watercolors, oils, and the like into one tiny, limited, and now teeming word. I will say three Holy Marys. And I will surely recall Sr Jane Raphael’s serious and intimidating glances during our studies for First Holy Communion.

Sr Jane married the parish priest two years later, by which time Hal, Margy, Polly, and I had moved to Greensboro. There, it would be Srs Mary Joseph and Mary Fitzpatrick that would show me the greater range of modern “nunnery” and the like.

Go ahead and ask me.

Truthfully? Yes, I still always smile and look for chartreuse and cornflower blue. The temptation then wakes up and I lull it back into blissful oblivion.

Downstairs on the dining room table rests a proud, unspoiled, and upright uber-box of Crayolas. My friend Marty who now lives in Iowa, sent them to me at Christmas. They should occupy many long, and otherwise idle hours, in the hospital. I suspect there are some new colors or at least new “names”.

Alas. I suspect I need never need search for crayons again.

Wanna come over and spend the afternoon coloring?

(Image: “Periodic Space” by Zamfir Dumitrescu, 2009.)

That Typical First Date Sigh

Like many of my wide-eyed peers, the late 60’s saw both my innocence lost and an awareness found. The drama of partisan politics, an inevitable move toward late night television viewing, and a Dion tune all changed my freshly stuccoed kingdom of escapism and awareness.

The world was indeed spinning around us and I wanted in. But those topics are poised fodder for future posts, but their mention sets a stage, albeit tenuous.

I was in Sr Mary Patrick’s sixth grade class at St Pius X Catholic School. I felt rather grown-up and my parents seemed to think so. It was finally time for me to ponder the “magical mystery” world of dating.

For three nights of sitting next to the phone, I was still unable to dial the seventh number. My father teased me. My sister giggled as she spied from the doorway.

I did it. I took a deep breath, sat back, and prayed she would answer the phone quickly. She, of course, didn’t. But alas, at least she finally did.

To protect her anonymity, some 46 years later, I will not reveal her name for she may be on Facebook. It is far more genteel to refrain from discussing such matters. Her initials, however, were the reverse of mine, SMcD.

My, how the sharing of details can lead to prosaic digression.

Anyway, Oh Patient Reader, I asked SMcD if she’d like to go to a movie the upcoming Saturday. She agreed without pause. On the other hand, she was caught off guard, of that I am certain. The lesson was to lead with spontaneity whenever possible.

Too much planning and notice often get lost in some neurotic and muddled puddle of anticipation, excuses, and uncertainty. Perhaps wavering, ambivalence or ennui follow. Beats me, Gentle Reader. I was only eleven years old.

That Saturday, my father dropped me off at my friend’s house in Fisher Park. The once opulent movie theater was only blocks away. We could simply stroll at some prepubescent pace. But we didn’t.

I was too excited. We had tickets to see “Yellow Submarine” and I was in my version of a frenzy.

The film was thrilling. The rapid cuts of color, music, song, and images were exhilarating. We had buttered popcorn and Cherry Cokes.

As we were exiting the theater and chattering away, the wind blew some particle of dust into my eye. I couldn’t get it out. Further, I was one of those repressed types that clamps down quickly on his/her eyelids. We kept walking so I could better conceal my frustration and panic. I had an idea.

Lane’s Drugstore was a nearby. We could get ice cream there. More to the point, the Pharmacist, Mr Stang, was certain to have a solution.

He rummaged through several drawers and emerged from underneath some cabinetry. Victory was, perhaps, mine. He brought over an eyewash. I had never heard of such a product but was approaching desperation. I prayed that the culprit would just disappear quickly and I could regain my composure.

Folowing Mr Stangs instructions, I raised the small cup to my eye to essentially rinse my cornea. However, I probably had no idea what a cornea really was.

I felt a chill, swooned a bit, and fainted … just steps away from the soda fountain. A silly sense of doom and embarrassment killed my appetite but I had a cone anyway. It would’ve been rude to allow SMcD to feel self conscious.

Over the next few hours, I walked her home and then to my father’s office where he was working and waiting for me to stop by. Hal’s Limousine Service seemed to always pull-up to the curb for a heavy tariff.

I scurried to my room to sulk a bit and examine my eye. With neither notice nor awareness as to when it actually happened, the fleck was flicked.

I turned on my radio and grabbed a book, planning to read for a bit before dinner. Recklessly and dramatically jumping onto the bed, I landed in the center with waning springs.

Peeking inside, I jumped for joy INTERNALLY. The “Yellow Submarine” album and a Heath bar were well-concealed in a bag. My mother was a pro at her rather consistent Saturday regime of shopping and errands. And I usually accompanied her.

For the rest of the day, save for dinner, the Beatles tunes filled the airwaves … from my room to my sister’s. Over to my parents’. And down the hallway to the rest of the house. One could probably hear a resounding “we all live in a …!” from outside the garage, if not beyond.

But I didn’t care. I had a new Beatles LP; my eyes were speckless but gleaming; and I had stepped across a soon-to-be teenaged milestone.

I had successfully completed my first date.

(Image: “Meat Train” by Mark Ryden, 2000.)

Re-Discovery Day: Statement and Rewards

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“Their courage nerves a thousand living men (and women).”  Minot J. Savage

Enjoy the day, friends.

Of course, Henry is spearheading the celebration here. Nothing too heavy or intense.

Gratitude. Nostalgia. Inspiration.

Mind you: there shall be no Criminal Minds marathon queued. They are often mindless, but always “up in thirty”.

(Image: “Scalia Reggia Di Caserta” by Ignacio Goitia, 2015.)

We Never Really Know the Same Motherly Spirit


Only a few minutes remain in this Mothers’ Day. Sunday night at Marklewood will then be steered via automatic pilot for “wee hour” television viewing. “Eastenders” on PBS is usually the one casualty and therefore saved for later in the week.

True, it’s a mindless soap that fell into excruciatingly repetitive story lines long before ABC’s Susan Lucci was halfway through her string of Daytime Emmy nods.

Back on track: There have been only a handful of mothers whose life, love, and profound nurturing I celebrate: my grandmothers, Dorothy and Paula, my mother Margaret, and my sister Paula. My grandmothers, however, weren’t necessarily of the equal opportunity variety.

The older Paula doted on my father, denying any real acknowledgment of my sister’s and my accomplishments. Dorothy, on the other hand, treated me as if I were the only male in her family, which was essentially true.

Conversely, she viewed my sister as too much of a rebel and was mortified that my sister converted. I never saw my grandmother go to church nor heard her even utter the name of one. She did remain well-versed in the traditions of parental martyrs.

Dorothy encouraged me to follow my instincts and heart. She consistently nagged my mother and my sister, often in a hateful, “Queen Bee-esque” manner. Yet, she allowed me the privilege of manhood or, for that matter, adulthood.

My sister Paula, whom I still call Polly, broke traditions from both family sides. She raised her three daughters with little help, unyielding in her sacrifice or devotion. She was perhaps the only supermom I ever knew.

But Mothers’ Day belongs to Margaret. Her graveside memorial was held on Mothers’ Day 1991. And to me, she was always perfect: kind, attentive, encouraging, and proud of her children. She’d celebrate the day with a couple of Manhattans. I’m certain that Angels are permitted to drink alcohol, though probably not a whiskey cocktail.

Alas! The “Eastenders” theme is queuing and Peggy is back with her misguided maternal small-mindedness. She was the blonde who romped with Benny Hill and then eased into small screen bitchiness. Nonetheless, Henry has wished her a Happy Mothers’ Day. If he so much as hears that voice, he is quick to jump onto the bed and actually watch the program (or at least go through the motions!)

That puss is such a devoted fan.

(Image: “Mothers” by Seymour Chwaste, Pushpin Graphics #64, 1976.)

Thank God I’m a City Boy!

This afternoon on the way home from our separate physical therapy sessions, a familiar tune started playing on some erstwhile Sirius radio station. With neither thought nor realization, the lyrics stated rolling off my mind’s tongue. I know better than to ever sing aloud in front of another person or, especially, myself.

Trust me. Freedom from such torturous screeching is well worth the tolerance of a weak, if not awful metaphor. Jon had not even an inkling of what I was thinking, nor was he aware of his bliss.

Surprisingly, I remained a stanza ahead of the radio and missed ne’r a beat nor a lyric. The song was clearly etched into my sub-conscious. Its title and the chanteuse’s name, however, both escaped me.

Anxiously, I remained a rather still passenger. I know better than to ask Jon a “music trivia” question. Hell, he couldn’t even identify a Madonna hit, let alone have success with this pop singer.

I’d like to blame my heart’s ejection fraction for my loss. Nonetheless, it could have simply been an unprompted mid-dotage moment. The song reminded me of my teenage years so my assumption was that it scored on Billboard in the early 70’s.

The disc jockey’s voice grew and I stopped just short of breathing. I had been reliving an Anne Murray song.

It was plain but complex: an unlikely, in fact unlinked, song was toward the middle of my life’s ever-evolving soundtrack.

There’s that dreaded rub. Was I becoming my parents? Would I start humming “The Last Farewell” or some Tony Orlando and Dawn tune?

Yikes. Remembering that familiar sound bite scared me right into a Casey Kasem stupor. I “reached the stars” just like he always urged his passionate listeners.

Unfortunately, At least for the time being, I did not “spread my tiny wings and fly away.”

I was far too busy reciting to myself a new mantra: I will not sing along nor aloud to any John Denver song. Let Wolfman Jack bear witness.

That is, unless my senses are “filled up”.

(Image: “Working as One” by Chris Buzelli, 2015.)

Monday, Monday

Russian Typewriter

Oh, my dear Miss Karen. You would’ve loved a day like this one, as Billboard did long before any talk of war or hormones. The pusses anticipate that those legendary showers might return this very April after many seasons of May arousals. May flowers, similarly, are ashamed of their bloomers and their lateness in bursting.

The Fool’s Day is Wednesday: Marigold’s first and Henry’s twelfth. My beloved and I have shared a baker’s dozen of such silly, yet somehow important days. We no longer discard them. Instead, we rinse them off. And somehow, Lord knows, our talks always turn to recollections. We seem so anxious to share them before they are lost in a sealed vacuum of memories.

I best begin my day and its welcome regimen, and ready myself for the nurse.

On this day of raining pets: stay warm, be kind, and keep your galoshes handy, my friends.

And remember that the day still can’t be trusted. Oh, Casey we miss you!

(Image: “Russian Typewriter” by Lucy Gaylord-Lindholm, oil on panel, 2012.)

Come On In, Dear Boy. Have a Cigar Box


Each year, on and around Labor Day, it was again time to shop prudently for school supplies. Those of you who were obsessive pre-pubescent scholars know well that rush. A shot of some euphoric, sublime, and self-organizational adrenaline would take hold of one’s entire being. Margy, the aforesaid mother in my silly musings, and I would go on a cigar box hunt.

The discarded boxes were covered on all sides with some great lithographic illustration, often depicting two people sharing an old Havana moment. The heavy cardboard boxes came in all different sizes, of course on the smallish side. And they were perfect for storing pens, pencils, quills if you must. One might also hide a small toy or memento inside.

It was indeed a treasure box hunt. We made the rounds asking tobacco merchants if they had any “obsolete” Macanudo, Padrón, or Oliva containers. Ultimately, our search was usually rewarded with a gem, albeit with a lingering, sweet tobacco fragrance.

I would always select a spare box … just in case a replacement was in order. In the event of torrential rain or unseemly acts of playground aggression, I’d be back in business as soon as I got home and grabbed a YooHoo. Being prepared in such a way is one of the 1,047 invaluable tenets that the daunting Daughters of Charity at St Pius X preached.

And I survived. Once as I completed Freshman Orientation at UNC, I quickly welcomed redemption, rehabilitation, and recovery from my many years of parochial school and lessons of self-deprecation.

Oddly, that cigar box “rush” continued to come around every Labor Day, until I was 25 or so. Of course, I kept all of those obsessive urges in check. I best appear well-acclimated to adulthood.

Flash forward. Flash forward through my years with the anti-Christ. Flash forward through my dalliance with the Icelandic twenty-something. Flash forward through those enriching years with Michael … and his last year of deteriorating. Somewhere, I started smoking cigars.

As I would peruse the vast selection, I realized that the tobacco purveyor would have many, many glorious boxes. They were ideal for storing sewing accoutrements, receipts, batteries, and of course pens, pencils, quills if you must.

A cigar box is also perfect to store all those moments of memories that are too burdensome to carry around all day.

There is one such box on my desk, hidden behind my monitor Miranda. Yes, I do still name every appliance or electronic “thing-a-mabob” under the tin roof here at Marklewood.

That’s where I hide my quills from the pusses when they’re on one of their frequent, naughty, and curious escapades of “not-so-careful” rambunction.

Thank you, Pink Floyd.

Spilling Some Thoughts Regarding Clever Inkings

Austrian artist Paul Flora (1922-2009) is known for his clever, whimsical, caustic, and occasionally colored black-ink line drawings. I’d guess even more so than I am for my over indulgent and undiagramable run-on sentences, “ad infinitum” as it were.

How can either the serious bookworm or light fluff-browser not like Flora’s work. I find his art amusing, intimate and sensitive when the subject touches on the bleak. It is always psychologically accessible. After forty years in the literary desert known as the Bible Belt of the Southern U.S., His marionettes, birds, and fez-donners all make me smile and stop to reminisce.

Flora’s unmistakeable style at once can take me to the nostalgia of my schoolboy years, surpassed by only Sir Elton’s “Good-Bye, Yellow Brick Road”. While the hour may now be later, the details a bit sketchy, and the sweetness mellowed with time, my cloudy mind’s eye recollections exaggerate the enjoyment in thumbing through German books and Illustrated journals.

I only knew two or three words and always had to imagine the narrative, keeping “mum” as to details. Eavesdroppers probably thought I was either mute or schizophrenic. I never let on. Besides, my homework was certainly waiting and I could always “talk my way” back home before I was made by my friends Damian or Mark..

I was still on the cusp of puberty with years ahead to mull over and hone my persnickety view toward art and its glorious forms.


Note to Yellow Pages: My Fingers Need to Sit Down

jean-cocteau-dans-son-atelier 1916 Moïse Kisling

Alas! My more poetic moods seem to have sadly morphed into late night silliness.

I miss Tom Snyder and Dick Cavett, and their oddly provocative, but long-gone night owl fodder. The latter always gave me motive to sneak out of my bedroom at such an hour. My father was always sound asleep on the very serious nailhead trimmed leather sofa and down for the count.

Time has fought me that “Law & Order: SVU” and “Criminal Minds” are not the solutions to my inability to sleep. However, my over-extended neuropathetic fingers are exhausted and indeed pathetic. They are weary of the keyboard.

Lord, DON’T I miss spontaneity, drive … and the ample energy and time for both!

The only prompt looming for me to wistfully retire is the possibility of my beloved scolding me.

(Image: “Jean Cocteau dans son Atelier,” by Moïse Kisling, 1916.)

Lyrical and Listless


Ever since I was in middle school, I have entertained myself on the coldest of December evenings by tabulating my year-end list of favorite music tracks of that year. Tidily kept in a rarely-opened drawer, the tallies have, for the most part, required a degree of culling. For an obsessive music aficionado as myself, narrowing the number to even a hundred has been challenging.

In recent years, however, I have been hard-pressed to advance beyond any brainstorm. Rarely have there been more than a few dozen songs that “trip this trigger” of mine, albeit tarnished, yet not impaired. And this year, I dare say: I’d be hard-pressed to submit a paltry “top ten” … with either generosity of criteria or a bartender’s pour. For us music mavens of Marklewood, 2010 has been an exceedingly dismal year.

Some folks might offer that one’s interest in popular music and such silly private cataloguing might diminish with maturity. I assure you, however, that my passions have never subsided. I still follow new releases fervently, read “Billboard” regularly, and follow music trends throughout the world. Yet, as I sit and jot, only a few chart entries come to mind with little coaxing.

True, there have been some stellar offerings by Martina and the Diamonds, Chris Garneau, Antony & the Johnsons, among others. But overall, this year of music has left me uninspired and therefore “listless”. I have dutifully and enthusiastically maintained my tradition since 1968. This year, however, I may just as well leave that drawer undisturbed, with hopes for a better new year.

I have, however, found myself drifting away into the past worlds of AM radio, eight tracks, cassettes, and vinyl. Visuals from my life’s sound-tracking have kept me jotting, racing, smiling, and fumbling with my ipod, Leopold II. (Many of you may remember that I tend to name appliances, electronica, cars, and plants.)

After a few hours of sifting through memories, playlists, and the statistical data that is a by-product of obsessive cataloguing, I have come up with my boldest list yet: my ten favorite songs of the past half-century. I offer them now, in no particular order, if for any reason to prove a point. When Jon and I listen to music, he often hears me exclaim: “oh, that’s one of my favorites!” and replies with: “oh, you have thousands of favorite songs!”

“Sebastian” (Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel), “How it Ends” (DeVotchKa), “The Road to Hell” (Chris Rea), “Excerpt from a Teenage Opera” (Keith West). “Love Lies Bleeding” (Elton John) … those are the easy choices. They are complex pastiches of layered melodies, vocals, and lyrics. They, my friends, arouse the aforementioned “trigger”.

There would certainly be a few dance tracks: “Nobody’s Supposed to be Here” (Deborah Cox), “Con te Partiro” (Donna Summer), and “Another Night” (Real McCoy). There have been myriad titles that, in a previous phase of life, might have made the cut but they have been sadly played to death either on my trusty walkman or on some classic FM station, back when radio stations were a more viable option. I need never hear “Bad Girls” or “I Will Survive” again. That phenomenon might explain my fondness for cover songs or at least my willingness to give them a listen.

The final two are Al Stewart’s “On the Border” and Gerry Rafferty’s “Right Down the Line”, usually not the hits that one mentions first when discussing those two artists. Their arrangements, however, are pop perfection and stray a bit from the norm at their time of recording.

True, there are no Pet Shop Boys, Madonna, Timi Yuro, Electric Light Orchestra, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, or Fine Young Cannibals entries on this most miniscule of lists. I assure you that they each had at least one hit that hovers near the top, “bubbling under” as it were. In fact, I dare say there are several hundred that could be my “number eleven”. Unfortunately for my list, although fortunately for you, this has been an exercise on narrowing my wide expanse of “likes” to a few choice tunes … just to prove a point to myself and, perhaps, Jon.

I will though offer my fairly honorable and humble mention of those Fab Four musical moments, although I have been “Beatled” since puberty and have thus acquired a reluctant immunity. Paul’s “Another Day” and “Band on the Run”, John’s “#9 Dream”, Ringo’s “It Don’t Come Easy”, and George’s “What is Life?” … all of these 45’s rocked my adolescence and were retired from play, after months of maniacal overplay. Mary Hopkin, that virtuous and nubile Apple maiden, caught my fancy for the clever beat with her version of “Goodbye”, which I have yet to retire, some four decades since acquisition.

I appreciate your indulgence on this chilly wintry night. I know the perfect CD to soundtrack my moment and would be more than willing to serve as your late night deejay. Chances are you’d be surprised at the selections. Jon, though, would remind you that such an invitation should be extended with a warning. Perhaps that is why he, without fail, makes certain that I have the most up-to-date headsets. Some obsessions are best enjoyed alone.

(Image: “The Little Prince” by Bin Lee)

Sock it to Me!


When I was a young boy, my Great Aunt Ruth always gave us extremely well-planned Christmas gifts. She was thoughtful, extravagant, and knew how to combine whimsy with practicality. Except with my father.

She gave him a box of socks from Garfinkel’s every year, until the resounding pangs of marital dissolution echoed throughout our house. His holiday was no longer her concern.

I was just thinking, as I gazed out the sunroom window and into the darkness: the gift of hosiery actually sounds very nice.

Hear that, Henry?

De-Winging the Modern Fairy Stereotype

Over the past few days, the topic of fairies has worked its way into otherwise mundane conversation several times. The first instance was when comparing tales of kindergarten angst with a childhood friend. The second time was in an impassioned discussion of conceptional fairies in 19th century Academic Art, or some such falderal. That got me thinkin’!

The mind indeed can be a terrible road on which to navigate. I tend to dawdle, explore, and altogether lose sight of my destination. If my thoughts really do race, they do so along a strip of antique shops. That should be: antique shops, flagged with bright “Going Out of Business” signs.

As it happens, I started exploring the on-line portfolios of several artists that are known for their depictions of fairies and their counter-ilk. I spent literally hours exploring: Warwick Goble, Edmund Dulac, Dorothy Lathrop, Ernest Kreidolf, Frances Sterritt, Hans C. Andersen; and

Arthur Rackham, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, Sir J.M. Barrie, Margaret Tarrant, J.R.R. Tolkien, Rene Cloke, and those Doyle men. Charles Altamont Doyle, his brother Richard, his father John, and his son Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were all known for their painterly studies of such winged and enchanted spirits.

I do not claim to be an expert in any manner on the topic of Victorian Fairies and their aficionados. I still cannot help but think fairy-dom was a bit manlier in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s than they are today. Enchantment and fantasy were still strong positive words, neither the lexiconic pariah nor invitation to chuckle.

I put the entire blame on entirely on Cicely Mary Barker (1895-1973), the wildly successful illustrator from Croydon, Surrey, UK. At age 23, she submitted a book of fairy drawings that became the basis for a large scale postcard launch. Its rapid success led to books and more books and even more books, in which Barker was touted as the Fairy Maven.

Barker’s fairies were, if anything, formulaic and unfaltering. They were slightly pudgy (or if you prefer, cherubic) prepubescent girls with hats of inverted flower blossoms. While a few might’ve been boys, they were probably intended to be androgynous.

The internet is now teeming with Miss Barker’s fairies, if bookstores were not enough of a saturation point. She has single-handedly spoiled fairies for the rest of us from now until the totally unforeseeable future.

I contend that not all fairies are cute, pert girls with opalescent wings and a phallic wand. There are probably some that are grumpy, slovenly, and soul-less spirits with addictive personalities. Unfortunately, the fairy closet appears to be rather crowded.

Well, I believe in fairies. Of all types. Except for cutesy Edwardian stereotypical ones. Seriously.

Tonight, I salute the Doyle family and their descendants.

Blaming Linus and Cindy Lou Who

I refuse to believe that Christmas is only two weeks away.

It seems that it was only yesterday that my sister and I were watching holiday TV specials such as “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” and “The Grinch”. And then POOF. The 60’s just up and disappeared without so much as an AM radio Public Service Announcement.

Admittedly, those shows frightened me quite a bit. There might even have been some emotional scarring and peripheral psychological trauma. That statement was a dozen years of therapy in the making.

A few years later, Polly and I rarely shared television interests. And then my life changed. I discovered the rascally and iconic California Raisins and realized that they were indeed the spawn of Satan. They even had that crazed look in their eyes.

And then there was Anita Bryant. Cindy Lou was just the Who “without a clue”!

Cockle-Warming Nostalgia and Painful Neuralgia


This evening, I attempted the failing task of recalling special “Trick or Treat” rounds when was a wee lad. However my  perspective and narrative may be affected by the critter crackles from the front yard across to the woods. I don’t know exactly how many chickens are reluctant guests at Marklewood, but there is definitely a robust, focused, and somewhat aroused rooster.

The outdoor pusses seem to be leaving them alone. They have the air of not wanting to bother. I suspect though that they are visualizing extra large chicken nugget. Even after all this time spent with my various pets, I wonder about a cat’s desire to make every day special. Treats. Table scraps. Treats and table scraps. Every once in a while they remind me of their preference for premium brands for both food and litter.

As I type away, pinched nerve and all, Eve, Yorick, DeWilde, Kitty Carlisle, and their cronies are planning somme act of aggression that will end with sweet dreams of a spectacular dinner menu. The daily special is rather obvious.

Those thoughts reveal funny musings of the future. Yet, my intent was to reminisce a bit. My pinched nerve is throbbing and doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. I shall go to bed and pray that, upon awaking tomorrow, my waylaid nerve has righted its wrong. It will hopefully return the reins of my pain management. Nettie, ( I name everything!) purloined both my time and attention and, for almost two long months, has made my life “all about her!”

So if you run into me at the Harris-Teeter, feel free to inquire about my very first time. My mother had decided that I would dress as a cat … while Scott’s mother preferred that he wear a dog costume. Since Chapel Hill still had that small town feel and pace, the two of us went alone. We returned a few hours later with our grocery bags teeming with penny candy and the occasional bar.

Or you may want to ask about a particular night about fifteen years ago. While four of us sat on the floor enjoying martinis, a dear friend was dressing at home. He wrapped about twenty yards of some lacy fabric around his body. He found a well-coordinated and appropriate pair of high heels, in no less a man’s size 10. And topped it off with a blond wig and an “exuberant” turban.

As I was making sure that all the shutters were tightly shut, and that those candy-seeking invaders would skip my house. The house was dark , with stretched and eerie shadows gave the front yard definition and a Gothic feel.

You might be curious about, perhaps, some Halloween party that fell into debauchery and misbehavior. You’ll enjoy tales of ’84 in New York and those of ’95 at the beach.

Whew! And a lurking “Oh my!” is beginning to overwhelm me. Painkillers don’t even seem to give me much relief. Resting in a prone position and staying extremely still removes at least the throb. So at this earliest of morning hours, I best sign off and, walking carefully and intently, head to bed.

I can listen to the most recent “Gotham” while Jon is glued to the television.

That experience probably isn’t much different from that of my parents and grandparents. TV had yet to dawn.

Speaking of which …