14 Years

In 1972, Donna and I took an extended honeymoon to Spain and Portugal. In Spain, we traveled around – sightseeing and attending the corridas of famed matador Diego Puerta in Madrid, Cordoba and Sevilla.  And we took pictures galore. In Ayamonte Spain, I traded three ice cream cones for a photo of three little boys (“It’s okay – he’s a tourist” said the woman working the open air shop). Then there was the fishing boat where the six men were quick to pose following my request. And in Lisbon, we walked the gardens of Jeronimos Monastery.  A gardener – wearing a black turtleneck and jeans – was suspended on a board over a large circular clock garden.  Clipping flowers.  He smiled, tipped his beret and posed.  Snap.  Snap.  Snap.  

Fast forward nearly 15 years.  Donna and I returned to Spain and Portugal with our 10 year old daughter, and friends, Diane and David and their son Dave.  Before leaving, I had the photograph assemblage mentioned above blown up to eight by tens.     

In Ayamonte, we went back to the same ice cream shop and I showed the same (now older) woman the photo of the three little boys.  She gasped.  And identified each one.  She asked us to be at her store in the morning.  And we were – greeted by a crowd.  And the three little – now grown – boys.  We gave each one an 8″ x 10″.   One mother cried on seeing the photo as she had no pictures of her son as a little boy.  

The fishing boats were gone – replaced by a small office of the Guardia Civil — the national police who sport the tri-cornered hat.  An officer identified one fisherman as the father of Ayamonte’s head of Guardia Civil – who marched over.  And began weeping when I gave him some 8″ x 10’s”.  His father had died a few years before.  He handed me his card – “if you ever need help in Spain, you call me.”  I still have his card. . . . .

And in Jeronimos, we found the gardener — now in a drab gray uniform.  Raking leaves.  And three weeks from his retirement.  He saw his photograph.  And his eyes filled with tears.  At his request, we buzzed through two rolls of Polaroid film taking pictures for our gardener friend – and each member of his entire gardening crew.  

Beer for My Horses

When I was a State’s Attorney at 26th & California, I prosecuted very bad people.  It was 40 years ago but I still go back every couple years to testify in parole hearings (objecting to release) for the really bad ones (3/20/14).  Murder trials – jury and bench – were very emotional.  Think of your worst nightmare and know that there are people out there who are worse.   In one capital case, a chap had one-by-one murdered perhaps 15 people (or was it 18) as a hired killer.  He would slit your throat as easily as he would hold the door open for an old lady.   Jury verdict:  guilty. 

Our culture of violence is a breeding ground for abomination (1/2/13).  We glorify the new “Game of War.”  We see horrific violence in video games for children.  Hollywood offers disturbing and hateful brutality and immorality.  And some cheer the blood and guts in ultimate fighting (who can watch this stuff?).   Yet remember people — we are now reminded that it is Bibles, the Cross and the Pledge of Allegiance that present shocking dangers to our Society!  But I digress. . . . .

In 2003, Toby Keith and Willie Nelson released a music video that most can relate to.  “Beer for my Horses” won the Country Music Awards “Best Music Video” award later in the year.  It’s a first since in this video – no one sings!   It’s the kind of music that will make you narrow your eyes and smile.  You’ll want to raise up a glass – and share a a bottle of Dos Equis with a large four-legged pal.  Watch –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1JOFhfoAD4     Maybe this is a way to deal with the boys and girls from ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and the bad people on our own shore.  Beer for my horses . . . .

Louis L’Amour

In 1981, there was a center column article in the Wall Street Journal about an author who wrote about the Old West — Louis L’Amour.  Having spent some formative time out West when I was young, I read the article with considerable interest.  A few weeks later, while walking near my house with my 5 year old daughter,  we happened on a garage sale and went in.  In rummaging through the books, I found a battered paperback copy of Shalako by Louis L’Amour.  Hmmmm . . . . . Louis L’Amour.   For one thin dime, I bought the book.  And read it.   And was hooked. 

In the ensuing years, I read all 105 or so of his novels.  I think I still have them all – in a box – in the attic.  Some I’ve read twice.   What drew me to Louis L’Amour (1908-1988) was more than the tales of the Old West.  It was his inimitable style.  The good guys were good.  Good men.  Tough yet compassionate.  The women were always good.  Nurturing.  And sweet.  But mess with them and they’d carve you up one side and down the other. . . .  And the bad guys were very very bad.  And I relished when the bad guys got their just reward.  Which they usually did.   Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses. . . .

Some of L’Amour’s books have become movies.  Ironically, Shalako – my first read – had been a 1968 movie starring Sean Connery, Brigitte Bardot and Honor Blackman.  I’ve never seen the movie.  It’s still on my list.  If you’re looking for a light – meaningful – read, give Louis a try.  You won’t be disappointed.   

Hakuna Matata

It’s in the Bible – “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you.  He will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22).  And Proverbs 12:25 “An anxious heart weighs a man down but a kind word cheers him up.”  And then there’s John 14:27 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  This is good counsel for all.  The message?  Don’t worry.   

Numerous sages have offered comment on the subject of worry – “Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen.  Keep in the sunlight” (Benjamin Franklin).  “Drag your thoughts away from your troubles.  By the ears.  By the heels.  Or any other way you can manage it” (Mark Twain).  “Sorrow looks back.  Worry looks around.  Faith looks up” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).   “You’re only here for a short visit.  Don’t hurry.  Don’t worry.  And be sure to smell the flowers along the way” (Walter Hagen).       

 While there is wisdom in these quotations, there may be a better way to convey the message.  I can think of no better way than “Hakuna Matata” (Swahili for “there’s no problem“).  “Hakuna Matata” is a song title in Disney’s “The Lion King.”  My granddaughters associate me with Pumbaa (which means “silly” in Swahili) – the odoriferous warthog who “sings” the song.  But listen to his message.  Watch for 3 minutes and 49 seconds.  You’ll smile.  I promise.   Oh watch it.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbY_aP-alkw     

My “Take”. . . .

When Kavanaugh’s appointment was announced, every Democrat immediately responded that they would vote against him.  The interview process meant nothing.  His background?  Zip.  Nor advice and consent.  It’s been that way for other Republican nominees:  Alito, Bork, Thomas, Gorsuch and now Kavanaugh.

Democrats are driven by power.  And a single troubling issue.   No compromise.  No conciliation.  Now Democrats are encouraged to assault Republicans.  Drive them out.  And deny conservatives a right to speak – as has been de riguer on college campuses.  Demonstrators are paid to create turmoil.  And attack conservatives.       

It’s different if Senator Ed Kennedy kills a girl while he’s drunk. It’s great for Senator Bob Byrd to head the KKK in West Virginia.  The Clintons (need I say more?).  For Senators to lie about military service or ethnic heritage. But for a Republican nominee to be accused (zero corroboration) of groping a girl when he was a juvenile (remember –those under 18 are not “adults”), then he must be unfit.  When Kavanaugh defended himself he was decried as having no judicial temperament.  If he had taken the accusations quietly.  “Oooh. . . he must be guilty.” 

In my post of September 20, 2018, I commented that a third of Americans believe that a civil war is imminent. Well Pilgrims – raise that number.  Because a lot more folks are really angry.  Those who care nothing about truth.  And those who do.   Can we do anything to stop the madness?  Can you?  


Mister Lucky

Call me Mister Lucky.  I find pennies, nickels, dimes, cash, wallets, watches, jewelry and diamond rings (see August 2, 2012).  Our local paper had my picture under the heading “Mister Lucky” after winning the Illinois Lottery with an office group (see January 4, 2015).  

So. . . . last month, we were on a cruise in the Baltic.  Wonderful experience.  On the first evening, Donna and I walk from our stateroom to the elevators.  To go have dinner. WHOA!  There on the floor is a wad of greenbacks.  I pick it up.  I look down the halls.  Not a soul around.  It’s five twenties.  A hundred bucks.  My Boy Scout mentality compelled me to report finding “some currency” on Deck 8.  I did not add the detail of denominations or nationality (I am not as dumb as I look).   So with this newfound stash of cash I decided to hit the shipboard casino.  The first night, I surrounded our lucky number with chips.  Half hour later – I was $855 richer.   My number had come up four times. . . . . .

With this increased largesse I visited the casino on a few additional nights thinking that before too long I would own the ship and the Regent Cruise Line.  But that didn’t happen.  The $855 slipped away and I debarked in Copenhagen only twenty bucks richer than when I started.  Oh – and no one claimed the twenties . . . .    

Cold Desserts

I have a righteous mind (see September 3, 2017). I am right on everything.  And so it is — when it comes to food.  And desserts.   

I like blueberry pie.  Cherry pie.  Bread pudding.  Carrot cake.  But desserts are not meant to be heated.  They are intended to be served cold.  Like – out of the fridge.  Heat your filet.  Or mashed potatoes.  Or French toast.  Or scrambled eggs.  But dessert?  Never!! 

Those of you who have been with Donna and me for dinner know that if I order dessert (“if” . . . . HA!) I will order something that will be delivered COLD.  I love bread pudding and so I will ask for the bread pudding delivered from the refrigerator.  Or freezer.  Wait staff look at me like I’m a moon rock.  Room temperature?  Yuck.  Warmed?  I’m gonna be sick.  All desserts should be served cold.   

So when it comes to desserts, it may be de gustibus non est disputandum (see August 3, 2017).  But I know I’m right. . . . .