Sunday, January 29, 2017

IS 70 JUST A NUMBER?

I keep telling people that I will be turning 70 in a couple of days, February 3, maybe in hopes that they will buy me a celebratory beverage for reaching one of those milestone numbers. Many keep telling me that age is only a number, but it’s my number. However there is a finality in a number used when describing ones age. We all know that life, as we know it, in human form, will eventually end and at 70 I am closer to that end than I was at 30 or 40. That is not a bad thing, just life.
As a VFW member and part of the Military Funeral Honor Guard I have the opportunity to offer a respectful last thank you to fallen vets anywhere from 50 to 75 times each year. Many of the vets are my age or younger and it reminds me that we are all here on this earth for just a short amount of time. Some of us longer than others. It makes me very aware of my own mortality and reminds me that I really should be taking advantage of each day that I get to spend here.
A friend of 45 years passed away this past Thursday at only 79 years old. At 40 I would have said that she had lived a long and full life, which she did, but now that is only nine years older than me and I’m thinking, “79 is just too young”. A friend’s wife is in hospice and a 10 year old relative of one my children is in Children’s Hospital of Milwaukee battling terminal cancer. Yes at times it does seem depressing and then I look at my wife cross stitching bibs for two of my cousin’s daughters who are having babies. Life goes on and that is good.
I was watching “Outdoor Wisconsin” last night featuring a segment about kayaking around the Apostle Islands and commented that I felt bad that I could no longer do some of the physical things I used to do and that there are so many places I haven’t seen.  Then a family member reminded me of all of the places that I’ve been and all the things I’ve done that others have not. I was fortunate to visit countries with the Navy that I probably would not have picked to visit and experience cultures that I had only read about.
I have met so many people, known some forever, some for just a short time and some just in passing, but all have touched my life and in many cases caused me to look at things differently for which I will be forever grateful. Some have no idea how much that short contact meant to me or affected me. I wish I would have told them but I may not have even realized it at the time.
I will be asking for just one candle on my birthday pie because it will be the first day of my 70’s. Still looking forward to visiting new places, learning and experiencing new things and meeting new and interesting people. I will ask to have the same single candle on my 80th and 90th birthdays.
I will only look back to the past for the great memories that it offers. I will enjoy and be grateful for today because it truly is a gift and I will use it wisely. I will keep looking forward to the blessings that I expect tomorrow to bring.

LIFE CONTINUES TO BE GOOD!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

THE WORST AMERICAN NOVEL




It was a dark and stormy night. I was safely, I thought, securely wrapped in the cocoon of my warm blankets, ready for a long and comforting night’s sleep. Next thing I knew I was somewhere between being fast asleep and waking. Or was I just simply dreaming? You’ve been there, haven’t you?

Suddenly there was a blinding flash of light reminding me of our ships six inch guns firing during the war. I’m waiting for the retort of those huge guns. Waiting to hear that explosive sound that would shake the ship and resonate all the way into my chest. Still quiet. It’s probably just lightening, but where is the loud thunderclap that always follows. No frightening explosive noise. No rumbling. Had someone fired a gun at me? No pain as I would expect there to be and once again no deafening noise. Maybe it’s the light at the end of the tunnel. No it can’t because I don’t hear the roar of the train. Could be those awful bright car lights that thoughtless people leave on even when they see me coming towards them on that pitch black back road? Or was this the end, I mean the real end and I’m seeing the light that everyone talks about that has died and come back to life?

I hear my head saying it’s only a dream. Go back to sleep. But the light keeps getting brighter and brighter. It’s as intense as a welder’s torch and I can’t turn it off.

I finally see the light! It’s the cartoon light bulb. It’s getting brighter and brighter! I’m going to put the band back together. No, I can’t put something back together that I never had. It must be, it must be, the on- going idea of writing the Great American Novel. Wait, I tried that and have been editing my books for literally years with no satisfactory outcome, meaning no published books. Oh that’s right. Books don’t get published unless they are actually submitted for publication. I see the problem here.

Writing groups keep telling me that I use clichés and my plots and characters are the ones people have used for centuries. I guess their feedback means even my plots and characters must be clichés. Then they tell me to write what I know. Well what I know comes from my life experiences and books I read. So my whole life must be a cliché. So what was the caption in the Light Bulb?

Write the Worst American Novel and millions will buy it just to see how bad it really is. Can I do this with enough skill that the reader won’t realize it was all tongue in cheek and how many clichés can I actually get into one novel? Sometimes it just feels good to be silly! What’s the worst cliché, character or plot you have ever experienced? Let me know and I’ll try to include it in my “Worst American Novel”.